Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Maybe a Trip Just for Fun?

Today, we're talking about a trip somewhere that there is sunshine and ocean and birds and lots of light, and happy things!

Bill has a ton of reasons that he doesn't want to travel, but I'm working on him. Yet not pressuring him, as he has several conditions that would make traveling really challenging for even the bravest soul.

And we do have a doctor appointment on January 6th.

Maybe just some day trips, then. Anything for a nice change of scenery before he starts teaching and chemo, both in January. We have to figure out our dogs, but would like to take them with us because we'd miss them. Then we'd have to winterize the house and especially the plumbing if we were gone more than a day. But it can be done!

Well, Christmas is behind us now...and we're looking forward to 2011, both so happy to be with each other, treasuring every day, so grateful for this gift of time, and this period of health--may it last forever--and for our senses of humor, and for all the people who love us, and all the people we love.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Things are Better

Just a word to say things are MUCH improved here, in terms of moods and emotions.

Sorry for those dreary posts: we were having a ton of bad things going on all at once, but now they are resolved. All our troubles have kind of just flown away!

Here's hoping I never post anything THAT depressing again! Sorry bout that!

Love to all,
The now-quite-cheery B&B

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Laugh a Minute Up Here!

Hey, we weren't cheerful enough, ALREADY, when suddenly, last night, the power went out.

And the phone.

And the Internet.

And half of our candles.

And the HEAT.

(Heat going out--best part--it's fun to worry about all the water pipes that might explode, as you feel the inside of the uninsulated SUMMER house converting in fractions of seconds to an Arctic tundra). And outside, it was about 5 degrees with wind about 60 mph. And the whole family and all the dogs sitting in a pitch-dark house the size of a postage stamp.

Oh, yes, I MIGHT have been in my Arctic tent, being happy about it all, but nooooooooooooooo. The CHILDREN thought the tent was FOOLISH, saw no humor in it whatsoever, and made me take it down several days ago.

Yeppers. No Arctic tent, after all that time of being ready.

The only thing that WOULDN'T go out was the entire collection of DOGS! Yeah. The roaring of the wind and the snow piled against the frosted-over doors SCARED them--but not to worry: they just used the rug instead. That was pleasant. To discover. In the pitch dark.

A great holiday memory, altogether. Oh, wait. No, wasn't!

Here's to 2011, and putting houses on the market, and moving to Costa Rica.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dec. 21 Appointment: Bill is A-OK!

Just back from the long haul to Winston, and Bill is pronounced to be fine. Yay!

Kind of a pointless trip, though. Understatement.

From the alarm going off until the time we got home was nine hours (!) and we only saw Dr. Shen for 8.5 minutes during which time he looked once at Bill's scar. No blood tests, nothin. What the heck???????

He's such a nice doctor, though. He has this grin that looks like he is right on the brink of laughing. It's actually the main thing you notice about him, and he is always grinning like that--even after the surgery. You want to say, "What is funny?" because he looks so happy! So it's hard to complain. Not hard enough, obviously, because I just did. haha

Anyway, in the optional reading section of this post, I demonstrated to Bill, on the way home, that a McDonald's french fry is nearly INDISTINGUISHABLE from a rolled up piece of McDonald's paper napkin, if the napkin is salted OR dipped in ketchup.

Bill actually went along with this demonstration. He keeps insisting we eat at McDonald's, a place that I find more frightening than a haunted house. This was only the third time in my adult life that I've agreed to step inside one.

Anyway, I was sitting there and decided to taste a french fry. But all I could taste was salt. I said, "These are known for being horrible fries, right?" He says, "No! McDonald's fries are supposed to be the best!"

So, having nothing else to do besides wait for him to finish eating, while I listened to the astonishingly thick accents of the people talking around us (how do they retain these ridiculously deep accents while owning television sets and hearing that OTHER PEOPLE DON'T "KEELS BARS EEN THE WUDS WIFF RAHFULLS"??

...wait, where was I going with this story?

...oh yeah, so I got bored and started tasting these french fries and could NOT believe they tasted so much like paper! Except for the salt. And the ketchup.

So I made Bill taste a plain fry, with just salt, and he agreed he could taste nothing but salt. Then I wiped the salt off one and he agreed that there was NO taste at all. Then I dipped a fry in ketchup, and we both agreed it was fantastic. Therefore, the McDonald's ketchup is seriously excellent.

Bill said, "I think McDonald's has simply devised a brilliant ketchup delivery system."

He ACTUALLY said that, and I almost slid out of my chair laughing.

But then I rolled up a piece of my napkin and chewed on it for a while. It was, and I am serious, better than the french fry--had MORE flavors going on! So I got him to try a piece of napkin rolled up, and he AGREED that it was better than the fries.

Then we dipped the napkin in salt, and it EQUALLED the fries.

Then we dipped pieces of napkin in ketchup, and they were BETTER than the fries!

A man at a nearby table was watching us, with a concerned expression on his face and, this is true...he held a french fry in had been on the way to his mouth...all during the napkin portion of our luncheon experiment.

So, in short: the trip was a worthless Medicare-billable piece of wasted time, EXCEPT that Bill and I are now Firsthand Witnesses to the fact that McDonald's napkins taste better than their fries. We invite--nay, encourage--you to try this yourself.

Next appointment: January 6th with Dr. Torti. That's when we get the prescription for starting the chemo, and then things will be moving again. I'll keep writing on Sundays, just to stay in touch.

Love to all, and kudos to McDonald's everywhere for the world's greatest ketchup delivery system, if you're willing to eat the napkins.


Monday, December 20, 2010

oops! Missed the Sunday post. Sorry!

It was a simple space-out. I forgot it was Sunday!

Now that will REALLY get some folks a-prayin' fer us! *grin* *love-wink*

Bill is okay, but having some strange issues.

TOMORROW, Dec. 21, we go see Dr. Shen, and I will make sure I tell him all these things Bill is struggling with, because Bill won't tell him. (D-e-n-i-a-l.)

I almost wasn't going to go tomorrow, since it's such a simple checkup, but then I remembered! My naughty cowboy will say everything is fine, and that would be a liddle biddy ****cowboy fib****.

So I have to go and act like a stage mother. The doctors always look like they sorta wish I weren't there, because I have allllllllll the symptoms on a list, and they have to hear them allllllll, and I have allllllllllll the questions I've built up by googling. I just know they are rolling their eyes when they see me coming.

But I'm nice about it--humble even! Bill? Tell them! I'm not pushy, rude, or weird. I just can't let things go by, but I say it nicely, very respectfully and politely, right Bill? Tell them I do!

[Here's Bill's voice, fake-overdubbed onto this blog's sound track: "Beth is very appropriate when she speaks to medical professionals." See? I told you! (Well, yeah, I wrote that, but you have to admit: It really sounded like him, didn't it?)]

Anyway, here are his symptoms:

1. His incision is KILLING him! He has really serious pain at the top of his incision.

2. He has unexplained cramping pains all around his abdomen, that strike him all day, even when he is doing nothing. They're BAD! He says, "OWWWWWWW!" out of nowhere, and scares me to death.

3. He is really, really, really exhausted by the slightest things. And that seems to be getting slightly worse, instead of better. You'd think, oh, it's the surgery, but he did improve at first; but now he is anti-improving.

4. He has something else wrong which he refuses under penalty of law to tell me about, and even says that I will have to step out of the room when he tells the doctor (OMG), and FURTHERMORE, he tells me to S-T-O-P A-S-K-I-N-G H-I-M W-H-A-T I-T I-S.

Ohhhhh, well THAT makes me feel better! NOWWWWWWWWW I'm not worried!


So, tomorrow afternoon (we should be home by, I'm guessing, god-willin-and-the-creek-and-the-ice-sleet-snow-storm-drizzle-rain-don't-rise, about 3 pm), so I will post to you and tell you how it went with Dr. Shen.

Till then, I'm hiding in my Arctic tent, which is, by the way, still set up in front of the fireplace and, when I'm not working, this is my favorite place to sit. I'm typing this blog from inside it right now! It's warm in here,'s my own little fort.

Love to you. Seriously, love. And MERRY HOLIDAYS, but I'll post before then.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

So-Called "Monster Storm" Might Knock Out Our Internet

If we don't post on Sunday, it's because we will have no Internet. I mean, we MIGHT have Internet, and then, we will post, but YOU might not have Internet, if you live in the northern 75% of the US, so then you couldn't read it anyway.

Bill is doing better every day. He even drove the car yesterday, and helped me in the yard a little today, getting ready for the huge storm. He is eating normal food, off the Ensure, and his biggest problem now is unending pain and cramps in his surgical area, liver area, which pain is still within the normal range. No fever.

Looking at a map just now, a radar picture of this storm: it looks like a gigantic hurricane, with its eye over Des Moines right now. It is spinning counter-clockwise, and the top half is snow, bottom half rain. It goes from Alabama in the south up into Canada. That's how BIG it is!

Here, all the reports tell us that Saturday night, we get tons of rain, then it quickly freezes into nice black ice over everything, then turns into snow, then into a white-out blizzard with hurricane force winds, cracking trees, downed power/phone/internet lines and not letting up till the end of Tuesday.

Well, we had to get ready in case that happens, but I sort of don't believe it will be that bad.

We have an Arctic (good to -60 degrees) (HAHA) (why is that funny, Beth?) tent set up in the house--IN the house--in front of the propane fireplace in case power goes out. We have camping supplies, water, canned food, matches, candles, and a grill out back and tons of charcoal for, eg, making coffee. If the propane for the fireplace runs out, both cars are full of gas, so we and the 4 dogs will move into the cars which sounds like actual fun to me. I love drama!

My favorite thing about ice storms is trees cracking. Unless they're anywhere near my house or the houses of people we like. People we don't like, who cares. JUST KIDDING! But you stand at the door and listen, and it sounds like lots of firecrackers going off, small explosions that crack and echo, as trees just kind of explode, when the ice makes them too heavy, then the 50 mph wind gets involved.

They're saying MINUS-20-DEGREE wind chill factor here, once the wind starts. Which makes a pretty GOOD Wine Chill factor, but a very BAD Windshield Factor, if you have to scrape the ice.

So, as I was saying, Bill is doing better, and if we don't write till next week, it means we lost internet. You can see why we might.

Love from the Tree-Poppin' Wine-Chillin' Arctic-Tentin' Cowpokes!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Nothing like a silly Jib Jab Felice Navidad video...

I hope this works, when you click the link. I tried it, and it worked for me....if it doesn't, I'll take it down. Bill and the family dancing in Mexico to celebrate Felice Navidad! Have your sound turned on, too:


Monday, December 6, 2010

OOOO! Fun! We got the path report.

After about 5 different types of shenanigans on my part, to get the hospital to mail us the path report, finally plan #5 came through for me, and I received by FAX today, both the pathology report and the surgical report. (Always ask for these after an operation. Firstly, because you literally own them. Secondly, because the path report gives you the details, stuff the doctors don't even tell you (!), and the surgical report is like an ongoing dictation of everything that happened during the surgery and is fun to read.)


No negative surprises. Hooray!

1. The three spots were indeed tumors from his bladder that had metastasized. Since he had stage 2 prostate cancer also, I wanted to know if perchance the tumors were from that. No other tumors on liver, and they even held the liver up and did a scan of it during surgery to make sure.

2. They took Wild Billy's gallbladder out! We didn't know that. It was fine. Also, a lymph node came attached to the gallbladder, and that was fine, too.

3. The surgeon did a visual check of the abdominal areas he could see and didn't see anything else suspicious. Always good! They didn't seem to do a special check of that kidney thing, which I wish they had. But I think it might've been impossible to see.

4. Then they washed him out with warm saline solution (sounds cozy!) and closed his incision with some kind of dura-glue stuff. That's why no sutures. Oh, that Dr. Shen has tricks up his sleeves! Gotta love the guy.

But see, all of the above information, we wouldn't have ever known if we hadn't learned to ask for these reports. (And they don't love giving out these reports, so you have to get a hang for the strategy. Took me five attempts to get my victory. Ask me, if you ever need to know how to do this.) So there ya go. Info that I hope you never, ever need.

(Back at Duke, when I first asked Dr. Duke Surgeon, El Creepozoid, to send the path report, he LITERALLY said to me, "What does this look like, a FED EX office?" and wouldn't send it. Wow. I got it another way. Also left Duke.)

Love from the utterly snowbound, blizzarded, ice-cold, WhatGlobalWarming Drennans!

Sunday, December 5, 2010


It's Sunday. We're snowed in. The wind is howling.

Forgot to buy the stuff for spaghetti, and now I'd have to dig out the SUV to go buy it, so we're having leftover fried chicken, biscuits, rice, gravy; could be worse.

Our TV dish is also snowed in. No TV.

At least, so far, the computer cable is working, and the heat. Blessings counted. We've certainly lost those before. Mountain life.

OK: to the point. Bill seems better. He still won't take his pain meds, and his incision hurts, and today he felt dizzy all day, but he eats about a cup of food at a time, and is sitting up a lot more. So I'd say he is better. His color is improving.

But the better he gets, the sooner he starts chemo.

Ew. There went another roar outside, and the snow looks like white fog going sideways. I better hit "send" before more troubles befall...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Better! I Think?

I just asked Bill what I should say to describe his status right now, and he said to tell you he has "considerable abdominal pain" and "persistent fatigue." Ha. He always has to talk like a Prof.

So of course I said, "CONSIDERABLE abdominal pain?"

He said, "Well, it's kept under control by the pain pills, and I'm trying not to take the pills."

"Why in the wide, wide world of sports would you try NOT to take your pain pills?"

"I don't like to be sleepy all the time."

Ohhhhhhh, yesssss, lest you wonder: I have suggested talking to the doctor about DIFFERENT pain pills that would meet his needs.

"Nope. Don't wanna talk to the doctor."

Well, there ya go! If he were a woman, he'd be a Cat Stevens song: Lookin for a hard headed woman, headed woman...

As it stands, he's merely a hit single from Sufjan Stevens' new album: There's too much riding on that, too much, too much, too much love...

I'm not sure the above two paragraphs make any sense, but what does?

He's eating a little more food, is less Ensure-dependent. And right now, he is sitting on the sofa in the sunroom doing a crossword and talking to Raggy, our temporary auxiliary backup dog.

Tonight, we will watch last Sunday's episode of Dexter, and then a Netflix of MadMen--still on season two. Oh, hey, last night I dreamed about Don Draper. He was being a jerk because I borrowed a chair from him. Hmmmmmm. And what might THAT mean? I returned the chair, after all, and had to walk across a shallow ocean in India to do so. Stupid Don Draper.

Later, taters!