Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mom's The Only One Not Sick

Tuesday December 24, 1991

Frank goes to breakfast in the valley with Robbie. He is home about 10:30 and is sick. He has a sore throat and aches all over. He is miserable.

We all go to the movies to see "Father Of The Bride". It's funny! We go for yogurt. Ric refuses to buy one for Justin. Chris gives Justin money to buy one. We would have done so. I'm angry at Ric. That was cruel. No reason I can see. Later Chris tells me Ric was mad at Justin because he didn't thank him for the movie. Dumb, real dumb!

We come home to relax. Chris tires easily. I make popcorn for Justin. I comment at dinner, "I'm the only one not sick and I'm supposed to be." I do feel good except for aches and pains.

I'm working hard cooking, cleaning, etc. No help at all from Chris. Thank God for my precious helpful Frank. But I enjoy doing it and having them here.

That WAS dumb AND cruel, and obviously I felt bad since I gave Justin money for yogurt. Ric and I have two teenage boys now and we give them money for the movies almost every weekend. They rarely say "thank you." I think Ric has always been easier on his biological children and harsher with Justin. No wonder Justin resents him.

This is my last entry for August 2011, my 259th entry since I began, my 40th this month. There have been 10,000 hits on my blog on the Internet since I began. I'm glad someone is looking. I am 58 years old now, the same age Mom was when she passed away. I have completed 9 months of mom's journal and have 16 months to go. I am always excited to turn the page to see what comes next. So far her days have been filled with adventure, friends and family. I know as I continue, it will become more painful to turn the page. I have enjoyed creating this legacy to leave behind to my children and to those who knew Mom.

Chris & I Go Shopping For Maternity Clothes

Monday December 23, 1991

Up at 7:45 feeling good, except for all my joints and muscles aching. That gets better after awhile. We have another big breakfast, a sausage souffle I made last night.

I cut Chris' hair and leave at 11:45 to get my nails done. When I return Chris and I go shopping for maternity clothes for her. She has nothing to wear. We get lucky. K-Mart has lots to choose from and she buys 5 outfits.

We have a great steak dinner and go square dancing.

Frank and Ric went to the valley today for a part to repair my oven. Frank took Justin shopping and bought him another car as his was malfunctioning. Justin is happy.

I think Mom would have liked to be a cosmetologist. She loved to cut my hair, style my hair, perm my hair from the time I was a toddler. Frank got the same services from Mom.

It's no wonder I had no maternity clothes. First of all I didn't need any clothes to lie in bed all day with 24 hour "morning" sickness. Secondly, I was not able to get out of the house to go shopping due to being in bed. I am amazed that I was able to drive down to Los Angeles for Christmas because my memories of this pregnancy were having to pull off the side of the road to throw up frequently whenever I got in the car. Studies show that mental health is closely related to physical health, so I guess being able to spend time with my mom and celebrate Christmas with my family lifted my mental health so that my physical health improved. Being able to go shopping with Mom was fun. I think those 5 outfits lasted me most of my pregnancy. The photo above is from my baby shower in June 1992. That outfit was my favorite, and so comfortable. I looked like a house at 8 m
onths pregnant! On the left is my dad Bob Lucky and on the right is my sister-in-law Maria.

Chris & Ric Visit Her Dad

Sunday December 22, 1991

I'm up at 8 a.m. but very tired. We fix a big breakfast for Steve & Dee, then the rest as they slowly arrive from bed. Steve & Dee and Mom head home about 10:30. Mom goes only to Pasadena and will go home tomorrow.

Chris, Ric & Justin leave for Bob's house about 12:30. Frank and I go into high gear cleaning house and changing all linens on beds and baths and washing clothes. Big job.

At 5 p.m. we are finally cleaned up and ready to go to Turner's open house. We go but stay only an hour. At home later we fix left-over dinner for Chris, Ric and Justin. We all watch TV til 11:15.

No wonder Mom is tired after staying up past 1 a.m. the night before. Thank goodness she had a break from company for most of the afternoon, although it wasn't the least bit relaxing. Thank goodness Frank was right alongside her cleaning, vacuuming, making beds. He was a big help to Mom.

Ric, Justin and I went to visit my dad in Granada Hills for Christmas this day, as we did every year until they moved to the Colorado River near Parker, AZ after the Northridge earthquake in 1994. My mom and dad were married until 1972. They divorced when I was 19 and my brother Gary was 16. Dad (Bob) is pictured above with his mother Alda and two brothers George, on the left, and Clyde, on the right. It was Grandma Alda's 75th birthday party in July 1985 when this was taken.

Grandma Helen is still very independent in 1991. She drives her pick-up truck from Desert Hot Springs to Pasadena to stay with her son Gene Thomas and daughter-in-law Cathy Thomas, then drives the rest of the way to Mom's house in Simi Valley. She does the same routine going home. She was very blessed to have good health and outlive her daughter. She lived to the ripe old age of 89. Up until the last few years when she lived in an assisted living home, she was able to live independently.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Christmas With Our Family

Saturday December 21, 1991

Our big day! Christmas with our family. Frank leaves to pick up his folks at 10 a.m. I fix breakfast for Chris, Ric, Justin & Mom. I'm pretty much ready when Phil arives with the kids at 12 noon. Everyone is here by 2:30, all 21. I serve hors d' oerves. We eat all day. We let all the boys open their radio control cars from us. They love them and have a ball.

Phil has come without Deb so breaks the news to all that they are near separating. The folks are upset.

We have a great dinner of pizza, lasagna, spaghetti, shrimp, salad, etc. after opening all our gifts. Marty and Kathy come by to eat about 7 p.m. and everyone stays til 11 p.m.

It was a wonderful day. Frank and I get to bed about 1:15 after cleaning up.

Our family wasn't exactly like the Norman Rockwell painting above, but more like a modern-day version of two merged families with stepchildren. Too bad Debby and Phil couldn't hold it together for a few more days just to get through the holidays, if only for the sake of their two young children, Joey and Sarah.

Nothing made Mom and Frank happier than having their blended family all together, Frank's 3 children Phil, Paul & Delores, with their kids, and Mom's children Gary and me with our kids. They loved to entertain even though it meant a long exhausting day and not getting to bed until after 1 a.m.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Two Christmas Parties

Friday December 20, 1991

Feeling pretty good these days except my thumbs and right wrist ache alot. I'm still preparing food to serve tomorrow.

At 10:45 we are on our way to Sherman Oaks for a Recreation & Parks Christmas luncheon. Frank enjoys seeing alot of old friends he used to work with, especially Jackie Tatum.

At 5 p.m. Marty & Kathy and Robbie & Delores arrive. We go to dinner at China Palace and then head for Ventura Harbor where we meet up with all our square dance friends. We tour the harbor on a party boat and see all the Christmas lights on boats and houses. It's really neat.

Chris and family are here when we get home. Marty & Kathy stay to visit for an hour until 11:30.

Wow, what a whirlwind day! Her life is so incredibly hectic that just reading about it can exhaust me sometimes! Two Christmas parties in one day! I retired from Pacific Gas & Electric in 2008 after 33 years, and my last boss always invites me for the department Christmas breakfast every year. I try to stop by the office once or twice each year to visit, but most of the guys I worked with are out in the field during the day, so it's nice to see everyone once a year at Christmas. This will be the fourth Christmas since I retired. Not sure how many years my old boss will continue to invite me. I worked in the Telecom Department for 12 years. So nice that Frank got to go to the Christmas luncheon with the guys he worked with at the City of Los Angeles Recreation & Parks Department. He enjoyed his job very much, but decided to retire when Mom got cancer so he could take care of her.

The Ventura Harbor boat tour sounds like fun. It is still pretty warm in So. California in December so it was probably a nice evening out on the water, and hopefully not too windy. They have a great life, filled with adventures and good friends.

It was nice to visit with Marty & Kathy. Marty was Mom's boss when she worked as a medical supplies purchasing agent years before and they continued to be friends after she took early retirement. We went camping with Marty & Kathy every year at Lake Don Pedro near Modesto, CA. They were good friends to Mom and Frank. Kathy even sat at Mom's bedside her last few weeks in the hospital. I have lost touch with them, but heard that they moved somewhere in Arizona several years ago.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mother Arrives for Christmas

Thursday December 19, 1991

This is grocery shopping day. I'm full of energy, thank goodness. I buy $200 in groceries at 2 markets.

Mother arrives about 2 p.m. from Gene & Cathy's. Frank is still very busy finishing his Christmas projects he has made. Mother seems good. She hangs out in the garage to watch Frank for awhile.

$200 in groceries! In 1991 that's alot of money. Hosting a family reunion is not only a big effort, but also a big expense!

The photo above was taken 3 years earlier at Christmas. From the left are Mom, myself, Gary, and Grandma Helen.

Christmas Cookies

Wednesday December 18, 1991

I'm up and cooking today and making 2 cakes and alot of cookies. I enjoy it but am very tired by the end of the day. So much standing. I feel really good these days.

Looking forward to our Christmas party on Saturday here with all the family.

Besides the Christmas tree with decorations and the hundreds of handwritten Christmas cards, one of my fondest memories of Christmas in our house growing up was Mom making spritz cookies with a cookies press like the one shown in the above photograph. Our entire kitchen table would be covered with cookies sprinkled with green or red or glazed with frosting. She loved doing it even though it was alot of work.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Silent Migraine"

Tuesday December 17, 1991

Slept pretty well but hot again using just a sheet. It was really a cold night. Frank walked to the dentist and back.

In the afternoon we went to Kaiser for my eye doctor appointment. He did lots of tests and told me the spells I've been having with the aura of lights that blurs my vision for 5-10 minutes is a "silent migraine". People who have migraine headaches get the aura also. I'm lucky I don't get the headache part as well.

We hurried home for a nice dinner and TV.

Below is a description of migraine headaches from WebMD:

Migraine is a neurological disorder that generally includes headaches. But it doesn't always. Some people have "silent migraine" -- a migraine without the symptom of headache pain.
To understand silent migraine, it helps to know the four distinct phases of migraines.
Prodrome. The "prodrome" phase warns that a migraine is coming. Symptoms include changes in your mental state, such as irritability or confusion, and physical signs such as thirst or diarrhea. One out of every four migraine sufferers experiences prodrome symptoms as early as 24 hours before the migraine pain attacks.
Aura. The phenomenon called aura is best known for its unusual visual symptoms. But other sensory, motor, and language disturbances can occur. About one in five migraine sufferers experiences aura. Aura is a phase that typically lasts about an hour.
Pain. Migraine pain itself is often on one side of the head. It's often a throbbing pain and may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. The pain phase can last from several to 72 hours.
Resolution. After a migraine, many people experience deep fatigue and general malaise for up to 24 hours.

WebMD goes on to explain some of the triggers for migraine. One of those triggers is the hormone changes of menopause. Since Mom is experiencing night sweats, which are related to hormone changes, it makes sense that this is also causing her silent migraine episodes.

I Have No Will Power

Monday December 16, 1991

Up and doing the wash most of the day. Frank works with wood in the garage all day. Feeling pretty normal. Eating too much these days and gaining weight daily. I must stop but seem to have no will power.

We go square dancing. I dance every dance, no problem. My biggest complaint today is my arthritic thumbs and wrists. We go to Hudson's Grill later and I eat again. Food I don't need.

Square dancing every night will certainly burn the calories, but if she is eating dinner before dancing and then going out afterwards, she is eating 4 meals every day. Hudson's Grill seems to be the restaurant that their club frequents the most. According to their website, they closed down in 2006.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Open House at Guy & Lisa's

Sunday December 15, 1991

Crazy dream upsets me and wakes me at 6 a.m. Can't get back to sleep. Get up at 7 a.m. to get ready to leave at 9 a.m. for square dancing at the Police Academy to raise money for the Midnite Mission. Marty and Kathy meet us there. Not a great turn-out (6 squares) but we have a good time. There are 3 callers. Frank and I get a Purple Heart for dancing in a square with 3 callers. We run into Carol and Ray.

After the dance at 12:30 we go to Lawry's for lunch. They are closing Lawry's January 3. We have a good lunch.

We arrive at Guy's Open House at 2:30. They put us to work. They have a good turn-out and lots of food. We see Gene & Cathy, Perry & Cathy. Lynne is in New Zealand.

We arrive home at 7:00 tired.

I wonder why Mom doesn't mention what her dream was about. Maybe that's her way of not giving it power over her.

I did a little research and found that there are hundred of fun badges that square dancers can earn. The Purple Heart is earned by dancing with 3 callers.

Guy Thomas is Mom's nephew. I'm so happy that Mom held a family reunion a few months before this journal entry and took a photo of the extended family, shown above. In the top row on the left is her husband Frank Reina. Next to Frank is her nephew Guy holding his daughter Allison and son Patrick. Next to Guy is Mom's mother, Grandma Helen Richardson. Next to Grandma Helen is Mom at the center. Next to Mom are me and my husband Ric, then Mom's nephew Perry and his wife Cathy, both of whom are mentioned at the Open House. In front of Frank in the second row is Lisa, Guy's wife. Next to Lisa is my Aunt Cathy Thomas holding Perry's two girls Lindsay and Brittany. Next to Aunt Cathy is my cousin Lynne and then Uncle Gene, Mom's brother. So my Uncle Gene and Aunt Cathy had 3 children, first Perry, then Guy, then Lynne. My brother Gary and his wife are in the center of the front row, and left of them are their 2 boys Joe & Gabriel with my son Justin Reyes between those two.

Donna Has No Religious Faith

Saturday December 14, 1991

Spoke to Donna (Mom's best friend) for an hour this morning. Kinda a downer to talk to her. She has no religious faith and doesn't understand that God is taking care of me right now while I'm waiting to meet with a new doctor and get started on a new kemo. I'm not worried but she had a fit.

Called Chris and she is feeling better. Two days out of bed, but earlier in the week she was really sick. She's 10 weeks now. She saw the baby and heartbeat in the ultrasound last week.

Frank finished wrapping the gifts all day. I accomplished very little.

We have a real good dinner and watch TV.

I guess that is one of the job duties of the best friend: to worry. Five years earlier Donna was diagnosed with breast cancer and Mom had a fit too. Donna had a large lump in her breast that had been growing for several months. She did not tell anyone and did not go to the doctor for fear it might be cancer. Finally her husband noticed the lump and made her go. Mom was so upset that Donna was not taking care of herself. So now it is Donna's turn to be upset.

On the other hand, I am so impressed that Mom's faith was so strong that she was not the least bit worried. That takes a special kind of faith, the kind that the Bible speaks of in Phillipians 4:6-7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests for God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Hey, Mom and Frank finally ate dinner at home!

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Old Night Sweat Return

Friday December 13, 1991

Didn't sleep well. The old night sweats returned. Frank had the electric blanket cranked up and I was sweating with just a sheet.

Up at 7:00 to be ready to go to breakfast with Phillip at 8:45. He arrived at 9 a.m. so we went to Country Folks and had a great breakfast. Phil asked us to go shopping with him. He needed some clothes badly. So we did. With our help and encouragement he bought 2 pair of jeans and 6 shirts. He left very happy at 2:30. Afraid of what Deb would say, he left everything here except one outfit.

I made artichoke squares and we dressed and went to the club Christmas party. There was a good turn-out and we had a very nice time. We partied from 7:30-11p.m.

I ate too many different things and felt ill most of the night. I guess I'll never learn.

Two nights ago I had the same problem. I had a large bowl of clam chowder at 9:00 at night, having been too busy running around doing errands to eat dinner until then. At 10:30 I went to bed. 3 hours later I was awake with indigestion, burping up clam chowder. I took a Prilosec and was able to go back to sleep 1/2 hour later. Boy does that stuff work like nothing else!

What!!?? Does Philip's wife not see the bills? Perhaps he paid cash for his clothes. I check out the website for our two credit cards everyday to see what damage my husband has done today. He is a shopaholic like Mom, althought most of his purchases are made on Craigslist or at thrift stores, thank goodness. It's also a good idea to check on-line regularly to see if anyone has stolen your identity and been charging things without your knowledge. If you wait until the statement comes in the mail weeks later, alot of damage could already have been done. My bank, which is Wells Fargo, called me a few months ago to ask me if I had made some purchases on my debit card. They could see that I only use my debit card at the ATM machine, never to make purchases. I'm so glad they called immediately, because I had not made the 3 purchases. The bank immediately cancelled the card and issued a new one with a new account number to me. They did not hold me responsible for a single purchase. Good service!

My Nose Is Still Running

Thursday December 12, 1991

Slept pretty well. Main job today is finish the Christmas cards. I started Tuesday. It takes me all day.

My nose is still running and I have large hemorrhoids. I take a sitz bath to try to relieve some pain. It helps.

Mervel calls from Kaiser. She has talked to Dr. Bix. Dr. Bix says she didn't receive any messages from the nurse or Dr. Russack when I was in the hospital. She wants to talk to me. I say "tell her to call".

We have a lovely game hen dinner.

Sounds pretty fishy to me that Dr. Bix didn't get a single message even though several were left for her!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Discussion of the Portable Pump

Wednesday December 11, 1991

Up at 7 a.m. to get ready to go to Kaiser Sunset Hollywood Clinic to meet with a team of doctors to discuss the pump. Dr. Senarad doesn't think I'm a good candidate because he has nothing to measure how well it is doing. My cancer does not show up in a CT scan. He suggests I have another CT and if there are visible tumors now he will reconsider.

We stop for lunch and then go to Woodland Hills Kaiser where I make an appointment for a CT for Christmas Eve and I have a mammogram.

I have a talk with the head of Oncology. I state my case against Dr. Bix and request Dr. Schultz. She will look into it and call me tomorrow. It's been 8 days since Dr. Bix said I'll call you tomorrow through Dr. Russack.

We go to the movies to see "Hook" and eat out--tacos.

The use of a portable pump and port-a-cath allows medication to be given over several days in the home rather than as a patient in the hospital. The port-a-cath is placed under the skin on the chest as shown in the above illustration. The catheter is then inserted into the superior vena cava vessel at the entrance to the right atrium of the heart.

It's been 20 years since Mom had her CT scans. Imaging techniques have improved and lower doses of radiation are needed for the images. It's a shame that her tumors did not show up on the CT scans in 1991 even though they saw them when she had surgery.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Christmas Cards

Tuesday December 10, 1991

Today is laundry day and I begin to write the Christmas cards. Frank begins to wrap gifts.

I'm having constipation problems and getting a great set of hemorrhoids. Otherwise, I continue to feel great.

Great, other than feeling very tired!

Mom spent days writing personal letters in each Christmas card she sent out, and there were always hundreds. She did not have a computer in 1991 nor a copy machine, so each letter was carefully written by hand individually. She did this faithfully every year. I guess that's why it is important to me to send Christmas cards every year, even though the number I receive has definitely dwindled over the past 10 years. It seems to be a lost tradition. However, I use a computer and type my letter, which is generic. Everyone gets the same letter.

We Are Angels

Monday December 9, 1991

Had my nails done in the a.m. We decorated our Christmas tree the rest of the day. It's a big job but the house and tree look wonderful when it is done.

In the evening we go square dancing where we are angels to help Marty & Kathy and Robbie & Dolores learn. We have a good time and go to Hudson's Grill afterwards.

Angels are the wonderful people who introduce square dancing to others, bring others to square dance classes, and help the caller or teacher by filling the squares so that all class members may dance. Mom and Frank enjoyed sharing their passion with their friends. It was great exercise and certainly a great way to make many friends.

Maria Makes Chicken Enchiladas

Sunday December 8, 1991

Lazy morning and off to a party at Biddeo's house in Montrose at 1 p.m. Brother Gene is there too. It's a quiet party. We stop at Gary's on the way home. Maria makes chicken enchiladas for us. They are delicious. I'm very cold all day today and very tired tonight. We get home about 8:30. I'm in bed by 10 p.m.

My nose has been running for days now. It's not a cold but it's a funny time of year for allergies. My kemo medicine I take by mouth definitely makes me tired.

I guess so! Chemotherapy is toxic. No wonder she's tired.

Maria is a great cook and often entertains family and friends. Her mom taught her young how to make Mexican tamales and enchiladas.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Decorating for Christmas

Saturday December 7, 1991

Lazy day. Up at 8:45 a.m. Brought in our Christmas tree. Frank put the lights on it. I began to decorate the house as I dusted.

Marty and Kathy want us to go to dinner, but we have eaten out too much lately. They come here to dress and we all go to the Fun Dance.

After the dance we go to someone's house for snacks and drink.

After the last few days of posts I was thinking the same thing: Mom and Frank go out to dinner almost every night, and they often go out to breakfast too. Besides the extra calories, they are spending lots of money on extravagant meals.

While Mom and Frank's Christmas tree never looked quite like the one pictured above, she always did love Christmas even when I was a little girl. We had an old trunk that was kept in the rafters of the garage. Every year we would get down the old trunk about the first week of December and gingerly open the lid so as not to break it. Inside were ornaments, tinsel, lights, and strands of garland. In the 50s we had a natural tree, but in the 60s I remember the fake white-flocked Christmas tree with red ornaments that we put together and set in the corner next to the decorative block wall between our living room and kitchen. A spotlight shone on the tree with a turning disc that changed the tree from green to yellow to blue to red. It was oh so modernistic at the time. We also had a decorative indoor manzanita tree for a few years that we decorated with ornaments. Mom loved holidays, and especially Christmas!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Debby Wants a Separation

Friday December 6, 1991

We're up early and walk to Eggs & Things for breakfast omelette. Afterward we walk into Target and across to magazine store. Then I'm too tired to walk home. Frank walks home. I wait at Mervyn's for him. My high energy days are gone. I started back on my medication last night. I am looking forward to being off my medicine so I can feel really good again.

Phillip comes over to get the pink slip on the Rabbit. He gives us some bad but not surprising news. Debby wants him to move out. We talk and cry for hours. He's really glad he shared this with us. We are too. He will hold his ground for now. She should leave if she's unhappy. We go to the valley to pick up a petticoat for me. Stop and visit at Gledhill. Try to connect with Gary and Maria. Come home to eat at China Palace. Pick up a movie and come home to watch it.

Ouch, this hits home for me. My first husband told me he wanted a divorce in 1984. I waited and waited until a year went by, and he never moved out. It was a very tense year under the same roof. Finally I found a condo to buy, John bought out my share of the house, and I moved out. Would things have been different if I had not moved out? Did our 4-year-old son feel like I had abandoned him since I was the one to move? At first it was fun for him to have 2 houses to live in but after a few months it got old. He wanted me to move back home, and that's when I had to tell him I would not be moving back.

I'm glad Phillip was able to talk to Mom and Frank. Whose idea was it to "hold his ground"?

I can't believe Mom's doctor put her back on the same medication that destroyed her intestines!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

We Buy Lots of Square Dance Clothes

Thursday December 5, 1991

Up and ready to go to see Dr. Bienstock this morning. I feel great! I have lots of energy. I have cereal for breakfast. I've had only 2 loose stools since I got home. Everything is about back to normal.

We go out to lunch but I don't enjoy the chicken fettucine so eat only half. Then we go shopping and buy lots of square dance clothes. It's fun buying together. From there we go to Shirley & Jim's for a surprise visit. They are so happy to see us. We stay a couple of hours.

From there we go to Marlene's shop to visit with her and Gary and to check on our club outfits. Not ready. From there out for spaghetti dinner. It's great and I eat alot. From there to Home Club. We buy our Christmas tree too early--so what! Finally home at 10:30 still raring to go.

Hah! Looks like Mom is NOT taking the advice of her horoscope yesterday to take things at a snail's pace. Like I said, she has a very hard time taking it slowly.

Mom's Horoscope is Tucked in Today's Entry

Wednesday December 4, 1991

I wake early from my recent hospital schedule. I weigh myself. I have only lost 12 pounds. I am still full of energy. I eat soft foods. I have 2 loose stools in 24 hours. Not bad. I'm finally almost well. I take 2 more Lomitil.

In the afternoon we go to the movies to see "For The Boys" with Bette Midler. It's really good.

At home we eat turkey, dressing, gravy, and green beans for dinner. All is well--very well.

Tucked in Mom's journal at today's entry is a newspaper clipping. On one side is the movie schedule for Agoura Hills Cinema showing the movie "For the Boys" (rated R) starts at 4:00, 7:05 and 10:15. On the other side is her horoscope for December 4, 1991. She must have thought it was significant because it is the first time I have found anything tucked in her journal. Under GEMINI it says: "Remain calm and observant today. Although you are raring to go, it may be smarter to take things at a smail's pace. See how the land lies before making significant moves." Sound advice for a woman who can't stand to slow down. Mom's birthday is May 26, 1934.

Mom finally got her Thanksgiving dinner, a week late. Better late than never!

Monday, August 15, 2011

I'm Ready To Go Home

Tuesday December 3, 1991

Bad night! Evelyn and I both made several trips to the bathroom. Lots of visits from the nurse. By 5 a.m. I give up. They are here to weigh me at 6 and then take my blood. I have now lost 18 pounds. I feel alot thinner in my nightgown. I guess my slacks will really feel different.

I'm ready to go home! I can't stand this place another 24 hours. Dr. Russack doesn't want me to go home yet. The dietician agrees with him. He does agree to disconnect the IV. They bring me some liquids at 10 a.m, 12:30 and 6:00.

I have showered and washed my hair by 7:30 a.m. Sure feels good. I'm very restless. Up and down and alot of walking. About 3:30 I get a new roommate, a 40-year-old black.

I wait all day for Dr. Bix. The nurse calls her twice for me. Dr. Russack comes again at 5 p.m. He calls Dr. Bix twice. She's too busy to come see me. I offer to go to her office. I'm very upset about not seeing her.

Larry, Bernice and Frank come. No diarrhea all day. I feel full of energy. I go home about 7 p.m.

Thank goodness after waiting all day Mom finally got to go home. I wonder if Dr. Bix finally showed up? I know how she hated hospitals and for her to admit herself meant she was really desperate. But once she is feeling better, she is determined to get out of there.

74 Year Old Rebel

Monday December 2, 1991

Well, I'm not going home today. I ate some scrambled egg and toast. Then Dr. Russack came in and decided no food or water for another day or so. Dr. Bix is not here today. I hope she'll be back tomorrow.

Just another day in paradise. Evelyn got her tubes out. We went for a walk. She stopped at the restroom and smoked a cigarette. She's a 74-year-old rebel. She knows it's against the law.

My stomach feels fine all day. I feel good. Kathy calls and may come to visit again. Frank visits from 3 to 5 p.m. I'm sure he's tired of driving over here every day.

Evelyn has trouble with controlling her bladder in the evening and dribbles from her bed to the bathroom. I can't get someone to clean it up for 2 hours. After one hour I clean it up with a towel. I'm angry. They're very busy with new patients coming in tonight.

Mom was not too patient and never did like messes.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Wicked Witch of the West

Sunday December 1, 1991

Boy, did I sleep good from 12-6:30 am. I had to ask for a Hepburn sleeping pill last night. I couldn't relax. I tried everything, even reading late. I was uncomfortable being in the room with the wicked Witch of the West. I sat in an empty room last night watching TV from 7-10 so as not to bother "the witch".

I had a lovely talk with Dolores in San Diego yesterday. She was so sweet.

The doctor came in at 11:30 and said I should start liquids this afternoon. He thinks I'll be fine. Hold on to your seats, here we go...

Had broth, jello, juice for lunch. It went straight through. Dinner was meat, potatoes, beans & cake followed the rest of the night. By 4:30 am it was all over but the gas.

Frank & Kathy Murphy came to visit in the afternoon and I got moved to Room 4101. Evelyn is a sweet old 74 year old. We talk alot.

I am unable to find any kind of sleeping pill by the name of Hepburn. Perhaps it is a slang term? Too bad Mom had to leave the comfort of her bed to watch TV from 7-10 p.m. It's not like that's the middle of the night!

I wonder if Frank and Kathy had something to do with getting mom moved to another room? Fortunately she got a more pleasant roommate! Looks like her intestines are not ready for food yet.

IV Fluids

Saturday November 30, 1991

I sleep from 3:30 am to about 9 am off and on. I have the IV in my right wrist so writing is a little awkward. I will be on the IV for 2 days to take care of my dehydration and low potassium and salt. I will take nothing by mouth except a Lomotil every 6 hours for diarrhea. I don't even get water except to swallow the pill.

I feel so much better today, no diarrhea, no dizziness, no nausea. I feel like going home. If only I could take the IV home.

I knew immediately I would not like my roommate. She's so mean and rude. She never says please or thank you to anyone. Her daughter is so sweet. So's her husband. My roommate is about 75 and says she has one lung and is here to die. She got very mad when her daughter got friendly with me. Later around 4 pm I had 2 15-minute phone calls and she complained I'd been talking all day and all night. She hates TV and hates me to watch it too.

Yikes, the roommate from hell! No wonder mom wanted to take the IV home.

Mom Checks Into Kaiser Hospital

Friday November 29, 1991

I wake up empty inside and hungry for french toast and orange juice. I enjoy it alot but soon feel awful again. The pains, cramps and diarrhea make me weak and sick. I've lost 12 pounds in 12 days.

For lunch I enjoy a turkey sandwich. I spend the day in bed again. I can't take much more; my intestines are really in bad shape.

Chris calls. She is feeling alot better. She's up, dressed, and has done some housework. I tell her I just decided to check into Kaiser Hospital.

Gary and Maria and boys were to leave early this morning for San Francisco. I just heard there's been a terrible series of wrecks on Interstate 5 due to blowing dust. God, I hope they got through before the 200 car wreck with 20 killed.

At 10 pm we are at emergency to check me in but it is 3 am before I get to a room.

The Woodland Hills Kaiser Hospital is pictured above. This is the closest Kaiser facility to Simi Valley where Mom lived and is undoubtedly where she checked herself in. Unfortunately, my experience with the Kaiser ER has been exactly the same. No matter what time or how crowded the emergency room is, the wait it unbearable. Only those coming in by ambulance with a heart attack or with blood flowing and broken bones sticking out are seen immediately. Everyone else has to wait for hours. The last time I needed to go to the ER, I decided to just wait til morning and make a doctor's appointment. I got in just as fast as I would have to sit in the waiting room all night.

The following article about the massive accident on Interstate 5 that day appears on
A massive car and truck collision in Coalinga, California, kills 17 people on this day in 1991. More than 100 vehicles were involved in the accident on Interstate 5, which was caused by a dust storm.

Interstate 5 runs north and south between Southern California and Northern California. On Saturday, November 29, there was considerable traffic on the highway as people were returning home after Thanksgiving. The area of the highway near Coalinga in the San Joaquin Valley is usually prime farmland. However, in 1991 many farmers had decided not to plant their fields because of severe drought conditions, leaving long stretches of dusty soil near the highway.

As the winds strengthened to nearly 40 miles per hour on November 29, dust swept over the highway, severely hampering visibility. Suddenly, a chain reaction of collisions developed over a mile-long stretch of the highway. One hundred and four vehicles, including 11 large trucks, were involved in the massive collision. It took hours for the rescuers to find all the victims in the continuing dust storm. Seventeen people lost their lives and 150 more suffered serious injuries. Meanwhile, thousands of people were trapped in their cars for the nearly an entire day until the highway could be cleared enough for traffic to pass.

Thanksgiving Day

Thursday November 28, 1991

Thanksgiving Day.

Well, I've lost 9 pounds in 9 days now. I feel worse again today. This will be a lay down day. I'm weak and dizzy and also thirsty. I'll probably need more IV tomorrow per the nurse on Tuesday.

I'd love to taste the turkey Frank is BBQing today. Maybe tomorrow.

The oatmeal goes through very fast. I feel like doing nothing today. I don't even want to talk on the phone.

I decide to enjoy some turkey, dressing and gravy. I can only manage 3-4 tablespoons but it does taste good.

Frank has alot of turkey to eat by himself!

I Manage to Make a Pecan Pie

Wednesday November 27, 1991

No better today. I did sleep well and felt somewhat better when I first got up. I even had some scrambled egg and toast but an hour later I was in the bathroom and every 15 minutes all day. I decide not to eat to solve that. I manage to sit and stand most of the day. Frank does all the chopping and I put together turkey dressing. Later I manage to make a pecan pie.

I'm a little hungry at 8 p.m. so eat some flavored rice. It tastes good, but gives me terrible gas and pains all night. I'm up often, don't sleep well.

I feel good enough to talk on the phone today.

Looks like Mom is determined to celebrate Thanksgiving with traditional turkey and stuffing, and even pecan pie. Who is she making it for? She can't eat!


We're at Kaiser at 9:30. My IV takes 4 hours, 2000 cc, 2 bags. I only eat a spoonful now and then but must go to the bathroom every 15 minutes to release water. Hopefully, the IV will help my strength. I'm so weak, I can hardly get around. The doctor says this is a typical reaction to my FU5 kemo injection and I should feel better Sunday.

We call Donna tonight and call off our trailer camp trip up north this coming weekend. I'm much sicker tonight. Feel like giving up. Go to bed early. Too sick to answer the phone today.

So Mom and Frank must have planned a camping trip after Thanksgiving dinner. Mom's cancer treatments are finally getting the best of her. As the eternal optimist, it takes alot to make her feel like giving up. So glad I cancelled Thanksgiving dinner!

According to Wikipedia, FU5 is the acronym for the chemotherapy drug Flourouracil. It has been used to battle cancer for over 40 years. "Like many anti-cancer drugs, 5-FU's effects are felt system wide but fall most heavily upon rapidly dividing cells that make heavy use of their nucleotide synthesis machinery, such as cancer cells (other parts of the body with rapidly dividing cells include the cells lining the digestive tract)." The cells in her intestine are being rapidly destroyed. That's why everything she eats goes right through her and she is getting weaker and weaker! I hope the 2000 cc IV she got today was fluids to rehydrate her and not the toxic FU5!

I Just Let the Phone Ring

Monday November 25, 1991

I'm so sick--nausea and diarrhea. I have had no luck with Imodium AD. Nothing I eat will stay with me. Within 1 hour what I eat has gone through as water. I call Oncology. They tell me to come in tomorrow at 9:30 for a 4-hour intravenous and blood tests. I feel awful. Can't eat. I've lost 7 pounds in 7 days.

Frank goes out to dinner with Marty, Kathy, Robbie & Dolores. I ask not to see anyone. Then they all go square dancing and Frank comes home. I go to bed early and sleep well. I don't even feel well enough to talk on the phone today. I just let it ring.

Wow, de ja vu! Isn't that what I just said on yesterday's post? I felt too awful to talk on the phone. Now Mom has the same problem. In 1991 she probably had an answering machine, but definitely did not have Caller ID, a convenience we enjoy today to see who is calling. She must have insisted that Frank go square dancing. He probably didn't want to leave her.

Thanksgiving Dinner is Cancelled

Sunday November 24, 1991

I must feel better today. I have things to do if we are going up north this week. I slept well. I feel a little better. Ric calls to say Chris is still sick and crying and has decided to call of the Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. Would I call everyone?

When I call Cousin Shirley at 11:30 a.m. she has been drinking. I am so disappointed. Later Marc calls and confirms she is back on the bottle bad. They are all very disappointed about Thanksgiving dinner. I call Donna & Bob. They understand.

I divide my grocery list with Frank and we manage to get all our groceries for a week. By evening I'm feeling awful again. the diarrhea has returned.

Thank goodness Mom was feeling a bit better this day. I was so sick the last thing I wanted to do was talk to anyone on the phone, even Mom, and that's saying alot because I loved talking with her. Too bad her Cousin Shirley from Citrus Heights was drunk so early in the day. She suffered from alcoholism most of her adult life, and Mom was one of the few who would put up with her behavior. I guess that's because Mom had 2 alcoholic parents. Marc is Shirley's son and apparently they were all invited for Thanksgiving. The last time I remember visiting Shirley, she was drinking and smoking like a chimney while I nursed my brand new baby in their living room. This was 1981. I thought it was so rude. One other year prior to Justin's birth they came over for Thanksgiving and were very offended that I would not let them smoke in my brand new house on a rainy day. They went out to the garage. I'm so glad I didn't have to deal with the smoke cloud when I was already so nauseous! As much as I hated to disappoint everyone and call of Thanksgiving, it was the best decision for myself and for Mom.

Weak & Tired Today

Saturday November 23, 1991

Didn't sleep much until the last 3-4 hours but awake at 7:15. Not feeling as bad as yesterday but not feeling very good. I lay in bed til 9 a.m. I manage some oatmeal and back to bed. I feel very weak and tired today, but my gas, diarrhea, nausea and indigestion have passed. My stomach just feels weak. I eat carefully and little all day.

Showering tires me back to bed for 10 minutes. then up and dressing tires me back to bed again. will I ever make it downstairs? I do, finally, at 12:30.

I do not take my kemo medicine today. I eat 1/2 banana for lunch and little more for dinner.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Nausea Too

Friday November 22, 1991

Didn't sleep hardly at all. I have severe diarrhea from all the Riopan and Maalax but the indigestion pains and gas are not much better. I talk to Dr. Bix through her nurse and she says OK to stop medication and OK to skip injection on Tuesday to feel better for our trip to Chris'. I start to feel nausea so begin my nausea medication.

Chris is still sick in bed with pregnancy sickness. I'm not too sure about Thanksgiving dinner at her house with 21 people. She'll decide on Sunday.

I eat lite and bland but still feel awful. I don't do much but lay around today. Poor Frank, I'm not much of a wife to him lately. He keeps super busy in the garage as usual.

What a pair Mom and I are! Both sick as dogs with nausea. I remember feeling bad when I had to cancel Thanksgiving dinner at our house back in 1991, but now that I see how awful Mom was feeling too, I am thinking it was actually a blessing.

A Day with Mother

Thursday November 21, 1991

Slept til 6, up and hurried to leave for mother's in Desert Hot Springs by 8 a.m. My bowl of cereal doesn't set well and indigestion and malaise set in. I manage to nap in the truck some and we arrive at Mom's in 2-1/2 hours.

She seems to be pretty much the same. Her complaints are fatigue and joint pains. Not too bad for 83 years old.

I spend most of the day lying on the couch talking with mom while Frank removes the kitchen cupboard so he can push her new stacked washer/dryer back against the wall. He does a bunch of other little fix-its for her.

Mother gives me Riopan Liquid for my gas. I eat very little this day. I feel worse and worse.

Wow, Frank is so thoughtful to drive all the way to his mother-in-law's trailer in Desert Hot Springs to do handyman chores. And in spite of feeling so awful Mom is determined to drive with him. She never did have any trouble sleeping in the car. Often when driving in the car she would be talking and then it would get real quiet. I would look over her shoulder and see she was sound asleep. To visit with her mother and have to hear about her aches and pains could not have been a pleasant day when she was feeling rotten herself.


Wednesday November 20, 1991

Tired today. Didn't do much. Didn't sleep well last night. Still, we did manage to go to our square dance workshop and then out to dinner with all our friends. Tonight we went to Jesse Cates. I ate the salad I made at the salad bar and 1/2 my poppy seed roll and a glass of wine for a treat. I ate 2 bites of my potato and 4 bites of chicken. Took 95% home.

I think eating like this at 9:00 is too late for me. I didn't feel well and didn't sleep well at all.

My guess is that Mom didn't sleep well because she had chemotherapy the day before, but certainly eating late at night could give her indigestion and cause her to not sleep well. Digestion requires gravity to keep the stomach acids in the stomach where they are supposed to be. When I eat too late at night I often get heartburn and burp acid into my throat. Mom is eating late at night almost every time they go square dancing. How can she keep up this pace while battling a life-threatening illness?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Kemo #3

Tuesday November 19, 1991

Awake at 7:12 after 8 hours of pretty good sleep. Only 2 trips to the bathroom. I still have diarrhea but my terrible indigestion is better thanks to lots of Mylanta liquid.

By 10:30 we're off to Kaiser for Kemo #3. the waiting room has few in it today but it is still 1:30 when we leave. We go to Sizzler for a nice trout lunch. We make a few stops and end up at Costco where we spend alot of money and buy a few Christmas presents. I last a couple of hours but have to go to the car and let Frank finish and check out. I'm so tired from this darn diarrhea.

At home I hear from Chris. She is sick in bed (2 days) nauseated from her 3-week pregnancy. I wonder who will really fix the Thanksgiving dinner for 20? I hope she feels better soon. So far not so good.

It sounds like the kemo treatments didn't affect her too badly, since she went out to lunch and then shopping afterwards. I wonder if they had Prilosec in 1991. That's the only thing that works for me when I have indigestion.

Yikes, Thanksgiving for 20? I don't remember who was supposed to come, but that's a pretty big crowd. My nausea started very early in my pregnancy, almost the same day I took the pregnancy test, and continued until I gave birth. I couldn't even work much less make a Thanksgiving feast. In fact, just the sight of food would make me vomit.

Diarrhea Won't Keep Her Down

Monday November 18, 1991

Frank is up and walking to the post office this morning. I can't go. I have to stay close to the toilet because of this darn diarrhea. Anyway, I want to save myself for square dancing tonight. I take Smokey out to the trailer for awhile and after about 15 minutes he settles down and starts to relax.

Marty and Kathy come early. Marty has made us a new screen as a favor. How sweet. We all go square dancing and have a great time. Lots of laughs! I'm feeling pretty darn tired at the end so we go straight home instead of going to Hudson's Grill with our friends.

I've had indigestion and some diarrhea all day.

First constipation and 2 days later diarrhea! Must be some of the symptoms of her kemo 6 days earlier. No wonder she's tired at the end of the evening of square dancing! Tomorrow is Kemo #3.

Joe's Birthday Party

Sunday November 17, 1991

We have a nice scrambled egg and toast breakfast for a change of pace from cereal. I have a hard time getting going this morning. I'm really tired from dancing so hard last night. I don't ever remember dancing so hard but we really had a wonderful time.

By 12:30 we're off to Joseph's birthday party in L.A. Gary makes hot dogs and hamburgers. We enjoy the food and cake. Joe likes the sweats we give him. We enjoy everyone.

We stop at Lemona house on the way home to install another smoke alarm. Mona and Kirt are there babysitting. Mona can't stop thanking me for renting the house to Laura and Terry. There is too much furniture in the living room.

Joe is Mom's step-grandson who was adopted by my brother at a very young age. He is pictured above standing in the front row in front of his older brother Gabe in 1989. My son Justin stands in front of Mom. My sister-in-law Maria had Joe and Gabe from a previous marriage. She and my brother Gary had two more boys (twins) in 1996, so they raised a total of 4 boys. Gary and Maria had to wait to be grandparents to get a girl. They now have 3 granddaughters and 1 grandson.

The birthday party was in downtown Los Angeles at Maria's dad's house, where he and his wife raised 9 children in a small 2 bedroom house. Their family is very close and there is always some kind of celebration to attend at the Los Angeles house with so many birthdays and holidays.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Smokey The Cat

Saturday November 16, 1991

My constipation continues with hemorroids and bleeding. Other than that I have a good day. I think my diet is to blame. I need more fruits and vegetables.

We take Smokey with us when we drive the truck out to Camping World. First he pees from fright so we come back home to clean up. Taking off again he cries and we pet and talk to him. Finally he settles down. When we get there I walk him in the dirt. He rolls and gets really dirty. He does pretty well on the way home.

At home we decide to give him his first bath. He does pretty well. After much brushing he feels like a new cat. I even used the hair dryer on him.

Dolores, Robbie, Marty & Kathy arrive and we all ride in our car to Thousand Oaks for a square dance. We have a great time! We are all really tired and leave 15 minutes early. We all go to Hudson's to eat and meet up with all our club friends.

Ok, so I have never been a cat person, but I have owned a couple of cats in my life. My one experience with driving with a cat in the vehicle was that cat screaming bloody murder all the way to the vet. We had to keep him in a carrier to prevent him from running under the brake pedal or accelerator or to keep him from scratching us in his panic. I tried to give my cat a bath once and got myself scratched up badly even though there were two humans holding him down. I figured he can clean himself; that's what all the licking is about! And using a hair dryer on a cat???? How did she manage that?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Is Mom a Shopaholic?

Friday November 15, 1991

Up early and off to meet Robbie & Dolores in Mission Hills. Robbie drives us to Dodger Stadium for the RV show. I'm fine from 10-12. I'm tired and my feet and back ache from 12-2. We have a late lunch in Glendale and then go back to their house to visit some. I'm really tired when we leave at 5 p.m. On the way to the freeway I spot a sign "Boutique". Suddenly, I'm not tired anymore. We stop to buy several gifts.

At home we relax and watch TV. By 9:30 I can't stay awake.

I'm a bit constipated lately and having hemorrhoid problems. A few odd pains here and there in my belly and especially under my ribs left side. Dolores Robinson says she has the blurred vision problem too and knows several others that have it. She says it is a migraine without the pain.

Sounds to me like Mom is a bit of a shopaholic. One minute she's exhausted, and then sees a boutique sign and gets an adrenaline rush. When I was a little girl she would take me on her shopping excursions all the time and I was bored to death. Perhaps that is why I hate to shop now. Unfortunately, I married another shopaholic, who gets a big charge out of the "great deals" he finds at thrift stores. We went to visit Solvang a few weeks ago, and I spent most of one day being drug from thrift store to thrift store in Solvang and the surrounding area. Doesn't do a thing for me except run up our credit cards. For Ric it is an adrenaline rush.