Saturday, December 31, 2011

I Still Pray Every Day

Friday March 13, 1992

We slept in til 8:45. Frank really needed that. After breakfast he so patiently and carefully and lovingly colors my hair for me. Then he is off to the Gledhill house to replace the garbage disposal. He's gone about 3 hours.

I do some housework, make some phone calls, and finish my sewing, getting new clothes ready for the cruise. I'm feeling very well these days. Still a bit slow getting started in the morning, but then mornings have always been my slow time. I still pray every day at least once. I ask God to be merciful and touch my body, healing it, killing all the cancers and allow me to live to see the grandchildren grow up to adult. Then I pray for everyone I know in need.

Wow, that is so sweet of Frank of color Mom's hair, and the way she describes it is like a tender act of love. He is such a thoughtful man.

Yes, it takes me a while to get moving in the morning too. I never could undersand how some people can bounce out of bed excited to start the day.

Mom only went to church on Easter and an occasional Sunday. She never talked to me about her faith or about prayer. I think to her it was private and personal. I do not know if she prayed every day before her cancer diagnosis, but getting the news that she had a terminal disease seems to have brought her closer to God. As much as we like to think we are in control of our lives, in fact, at some point, most of us come to understand that we are in control of very little, actually, and that we need to trust in God.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

We Cruise in 19 Days

Thursday March 12, 1992

We're up early. Frank leaves about 8:30 for his folks' house and his trip to Loma Linda to see Uncle Ricky.

I spend the morning cleaning our bathroom thoroughly. In the afternoon I begin to shorten dresses and pants I plan to take on the cruise in 19 days. We'll fly out March 31 at 10:30 p.m. I have chemo that morning. That should be no problem. I don't seem to feel any the worse after chemo. The main problem is we'll be lucky to get 2-3 hours of sleep on the plane. We'll arrive in Miami at 6:30 a.m., rent a car and head to the Keys where we'll stay with my cousin Bucky for 3 days, then return to Miami for the cruise.

I call Mom, Chris and Joan Larson. Joan has just found out she has cancer again somewhere in her body (CA125). She'll have a CAT tomorrow. I must include her in my prayers.

Joan Larson lived across the street from the Lemona house where I grew up for 20+ years. So sad that her cancer is back. Mom was a great source of encouragement to Joan, as they battled this deadly disease together.

Yikes, that doesn't sound like fun to leave Los Angeles Airport at 10:30 p.m. and arrive in Miami at 6:30 a.m. I hope Mom is able to sleep on the plane. I have never been able to sleep on a plane, and the few times I have taken long plane trips, especially from west to east, I end up being sick and terribly jet-lagged for a week. Too bad they couldn't have planned a morning flight. At least they would have arrived in Florida somewhat refreshed before visiting her cousin.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Income Taxes

Wednesday March 11, 1992

Awake at 6 a.m. and not able to go back to sleep. I get up and begin to get ready for our 9 a.m. appointment with our accountant to have our income taxes done. It's always such a relief to have our taxes out of the way for another year. We will have to pay an additional $1600, but luckily we can deal with that.

Today is spent doing laundry and putting things away from our trip. The dogs and cat are glad to have us home, especially Smokey the cat. Marketing and banking, and I'm exhausted.

We have a nice dinner at home, eating the artichokes we bought near Castroville yesterday.

Frank's mom calls and asks him to take her to Loma Linda tomorrow to see her brother in the hospital. He had other plans but we decide he must be a good son, but I must stay home to rest from our trip.

Castroville is just north of Monterey on the coast. It boasts of being the artichoke capitol of the world. There are roadside stands all along Highway 1 selling artichokes and other fruits and vegetables. This area of Central California is agricultural. It was the area John Steinbeck wrote about in Grapes of Wrath and Cannery Row.

So thoughtful of Frank to drop his plans to take his mother for a visit with her brother.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Santa Cruz

Tuesday March 10, 1992

Up and on our way to Santa Cruz by 10 a.m. both of us are feeling a big cranky in the morning. Frank gets cranky if I'm cranky. I'm tired and achy and am very hot and sweaty after my shower. By 10 a.m. I'm OK.

It's a pretty and interesting drive. We are checking out campgrounds too. When we get to Santa Cruz we go to see the boardwalk, pier, and the beach. Most of it is closed for winter. It's brightly painted buildings on the boardwalk and rides. We are almost the only ones there. We gather driftwood on the beach for our neighbor Doris. We eat pie only at Bakers Square for lunch. How naughty. Frank's idea.

We arrive back at Laguna Seca to get the trailer at 3 p.m. so it's 10:30 p.m. when we finally get home to Simi Valley. I helped drive about half the way home.

Mom mentioned earlier in her journal that she always had the large overhead fan on after her morning shower to cool her down. I imagine in the trailer there was no such fan and probably poor ventilation for the heat and humidity, so she is hot and cranky. I am wondering if this problem is like hot flashes from menopause. Mom was on hormone replacement therapy (Premarin) after menopause to help ease her hot flashes. I have often wondered if this medication could have brought on her ovarian cancer. It is rare now for women to be on HRT long-term like mom was because it's been found to be linked to heart disease, breast and ovarian cancer. After she was diagnosed with cancer Mom quickly went off her medication and it looks like her hot flashes came back just as quickly.

That drive along Monterey Bay between Monterey and Santa Cruz is one I am very familiar with. It was very pretty and there are many charming communities on that route. The Santa Cruz Boardwalk was founded in 1907. It is California's oldest surviving amusement park and one of the few seaside parks on the West Coast of the United States. The photo above is obviously taken during the summertime when it attracts lots of locals and tourists. In the wintertime, anyone can walk along the Boardwalk, but the rides shut down.

Point Lobos

Monday March 9, 1992

Up at 7 a.m. so we can be at The Tinnery for early breakfast - buy one get one free. Breakfasts run about $6.00 and the small orange juice I have costs $2.50. It's about 4 ounces--too much!

We drive along the sea, stopping to take a 1 mile hike where it is especially interesting. Then the road takes us inland for awhile and we end up at Point Lobos. It's a State Park $6.00 per car. What a fabulous place. We get free binoculars to use from the ranger. We drive, hike, drive, hike, eat our packed lunch, and hike some more. Not too much up and down so I do very well. We see lots of birds and sea lions and beautiful scenery, rocks, cliffs, flowers. It's a wonderful day.

At 5 p.m. we are back on Fisherman's Wharf for early bird dinner at Red Snapper. It's great! I go to bed at 10. Frank stays up to watch a movie. What a great day! I'm feeling very guilty about not seeing Chris this trip. I tried to call her again today. No answer.

This was in the days before cellphones were commonplace. It must have been frustrating for Mom not to be able to get hold of me. Nowadays I have my cellphone on me most of the time, so can be reached even when I'm not home. There are a few places we camp that have no cellphone coverage, but for the most part, I can be reached day or night.

Point Lobos is a state park south of Monterey and Carmel. It is one of the most beautiful parks in California. The scenery is spectacular and it is still $6 per vehicle. This park is well worth the fee, with numerous hiking trails along coves, cliffs, and dense vegetation with flowering trees and shrubs.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Dinner At The Tinnery

Sunday March 8, 1992

Up at 6:30 a.m. and into the shower so we can leave at 8 a.m. for the gospel hour at the Jazz Festival. I really enjoy this singalong of old church songs. I know most of the songs by heart. They hand out song books. Frank sings all the songs too. Surprising for a Catholic. He seems to enjoy it. We sit with Bob and Sharon for awhile. They head home.

At noon we are on the wharf eating clam chowder soup from the center of a loaf of San Francisco french bread. What a treat! Great chowder. We spend the afternoon on Fisherman's Wharf in different places, listening to Dixieland Jazz until 4 p.m. We shop for rings for me. I buy 3 fabulous fakes. I'm too fat to wear any of my good rings and I need these for the cruise. I call Chris and Justin.

We take a lovely drive and have dinner at The Tinnery on the water. A beautiful view and a wonderful unique dinner. Home for a movie at 8:30 p.m. Pretty tired.

I never knew that Catholics don't sing! Come to think of it I have never heard Frank sing, but I also have never heard my dad sing, my husband sing, or my boys sing. I guess singing is a girl thing. I'm sure some of you guys reading this will disagree, but I'm just speaking from the perspective of the men in my own life.

This sounds like such a fun romantic weekend. Thank you Frank for being so kind and generous with Mom.

I Think of My Dad Often

Saturday March 7, 1992

Awake at 7:20, time to get up, but we just snuggle back to sleep until 8:30. Wonderful! Our queen-size bed in the trailer is very comfy. Frank walks around the Laguna Seca Campground while I get ready. By 11:30 we're on our way to our second day at the Monterey Jazz Festival. We spend most of the day on the wharf in 2 of the 4 rooms featuring jazz. We see our square dance buddy Bob Holmes and his new girlfriend.

What a great day! So much fun, good music, toe tapping, hand-clapping, reminiscing and feeling close to Frank. I didn't realize how much we really needed this fun weekend. It's so easy to forget your troubles here. Lots of laughs and sing-alongs. Some songs touch a tender spot and bring tears to my eyes. I think of my dad often. He sang so many of these old songs to me. We hold hands alot and dance some.

Feeling real good. Some low abdominal pain.

Wow, that sounds like fun. Although her life at home is busy with friends and activities, I think she was appreciating that this weekend was just the two of them enjoying their time together, laughing and singing, sometimes even crying. While Mom's father Gerald was an abusive alcoholic to his wife and stepson, to his daughter he was absolutely devoted. She was a princess in his eyes. I never heard that her dad sang songs to her. That is very touching. He died of lung cancer (a heavy smoker) in 1954, when I was just 1 year old. The photo above was taken of him in 1926, still a young and vital man.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Monterey Jazz Festival

Friday March 6, 1992

Up and finally ready to leave for Monterey about 9:30 a.m. pulling our 5th wheel trailer. It's a great trip of 6 hours except for the last 2 hours when we do hit rain.. It's raining lightly when we pull into the Laguna Seca Campground which is 20 minutes from the Jazz Festival in Monterey. It takes about an hour to get all set up. We have dinner from the microwave oven, then clean up and head for the Jazz Festival. In the dark (6:30 p.m.) we accidentally find our way to exctly where we want to be at the wharf parking lot. We buy our $40 tickets and head into the first show, Black Dog Band. We see several groups and really enjoy them. We leave for home about 10:30. We're in bed about midnight. I continue to feel real good.

Wow, that was a long tiring day, but Mom was going strong until midnight. I'm so impressed by her energy. After a 6 hour drive I would have just chilled for the night.

The Monterey Jazz Festival is the longest-running annual jazz event in the world. It premiered on October 3, 1958 with San Francisco jazz radio broadcaster Jimmy Lyons as its founder. Over 43,000 fans attended the 54th edition of the two-day and three-night festival September 16-18, 2011. The festival featured over 500 artists performing on eight stages spread over the 20-acre Monterey Fairgrounds in Monterey, California.

I Shouldn't Feel So Good Today

Thursday March 5, 1992

My main objective today is to get all the figures together for the income tax appointment we have next week. I feel surprisingly well and energetic today, almost normal. I shouldn't feel so good today. I had chemo yesterday and last night started the pills I take for 5 days every 6 weeks. Oh well, enjoy it while it lasts.

It takes all day to do the tax prep, but it goes well and I stop often for a break. We have dinner, then start to pack the trailer for our 5-day trip to Monterey. We make some phone calls and by 11:30 we're in bed.

Frank's mom is really concerned about her brother Ricky in the hospital. Chris is feeling real good and was out to dinner tonight. I've been praying every night for both of them and others.

I was so wrong about the chemo. On yesterday's post I expected Mom to feel worse after chemo, not better. She had so much more energy after her treatment.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chemo #9 + EKG

Wednesday March 4, 1992

Up feeling pretty good. We go out to breakfast at 9 a.m. At 10:50 we are at Kaiser for my chemo. Dr. Swartz is very concerned and I have an EKG which is normal. He says if I have another episode like yesterday I should call 911.

We do some shopping at Fallbrook Mall and drive home about 3 p.m. I am exhausted. I wonder if I have enough energy to go to Monterey this weekend for the Jazz Festival. I sure hope I start feeling better soon. I need a whole lot more energy to enjoy life.

We have a quiet evening at home.

Sandy Dennis (actress) died from ovarian cancer yesterday.

Sandy Dennis, the star of the 1967 movie "Up The Down Staircase" about a teacher in Harlem, died at the very young age of 54. I notice that for the past two nights she ends with "We have a quiet evening at home." I presume that means she passed on square dancing. I wonder what is the reason for her exhaustion and chest pains. I'm sure having chemotherapy is not going to make her feel better, and will probably make her feel worse.

More Chest Pains

Tuesday March 3, 1992

Frank gets up early to walk to the senior center for his carving class. I sleep til 9 a.m., go down for breakfast and back upstairs. Dr. Russack has called and says he will arrange for a treadmill test for me. At 10 a.m. I am resting in bed when my chest tightens with some pain, mostly on the left side. It really scared me. I tried to control it with concentration and relaxation.

I'm exhausted all morning, but finally feel better in the afternoon. I feel fine the rest of the day but not much energy.

We spend a quiet evening at home.

The Mayo Clinic notes that there is a range of symptoms of heart attack that can vary significantly. The signals differ from one individual to another, and men have different symptoms than women do. In women the symptoms are generally more subtle than in men. The following symptoms could indicate a heart attack:
1 Chest pain includes severe pain as well as less obvious sensations including, pressure, aching, and a full sensation. The symptom may disappear and reappear.
2 Pain or discomfort in other upper body areas can be a sign of heart attack. Sensations may occur in the back, neck, shoulders, and arm and in the lower region of the face. It is important to keep in mind that this discomfort may not be accompanied by chest pain.
3 Dizziness may occur to the point where you feel as if you are going to lose consciousness.
4 Excessive sweating for no apparent reason can signal a heart attack. The onset is sudden and accompanied by cold, clammy skin.
5 Stomach pain resembling heartburn may occur. Many people mistake a heart attack for heartburn.
6 Nausea can reach the point that you become ill enough to vomit.
7 Difficulty breathing can be frightening as you may feel that you can’t get enough air.
8 Anxiety is another symptom that may be overlooked. Some people experience overwhelming feelings of dread during the midst of a heart attack.

So Tired

Monday March 2, 1992

A quiet day. I have very little energy in the morning and have a hard time getting started. I manage to get to my nail appointment at 10:45. After I finish the wash and get the bills paid we go out to the bank, post office, and do a little shopping. I am eager to get home, tired. I find enough energy to fix dinner but feel too tired to go square dancing. We go anyway. I dance most dances but am too tired to really enjoy it like I usually do.

We come home afterward to relax in front of the TV before going to bed. I called Chris this evening. She's doing fine but very tired.

We are both exhausted this day. Parallel lives perhaps?

Monday, December 19, 2011

I've Known Carol Peveler Since Second Grade

Sunday March 1, 1992

A lazy morning with a nice egg and tortilla breakfast. I make a few phone calls and Cathy Thomas calls to say Chris has gone home this morning from the hospital. I call her about noon but she has been napping since she got home.

Shirley and Jim pick us up at 3:30 to go square dancing in Northridge. It should be a big dance with 5 callers. My old friend Carol Peveler will be there. I saw her last in September. She wants to see how I'm doing and dance with us finally. Because of her we are square dancers. I've know her since second grade.

We have a great time dancing and then the 5 of us go out to dinner at the Olive Garden, a place I've been dying to eat.

Later at home I have my old chest tightening experience. It lasts 2 or 3 minutes. I am doing nothing when it happens.

So sweet of Aunt Cathy to call me to see how I'm doing and then report back to Mom. Since Mom passed away Aunt Cathy has taken over as surrogate Mom to me. She doesn't check in with me weekly like Mom did, but almost monthly. No wonder I was napping when Mom called. I can never sleep in the hospital. They always come in every 2 hours during the night to take blood pressure readings, temperature, etc. I am always exhausted which is why I am anxious to get home.

Carol Peveler Ziegler was Mom's oldest friend. They had known each other even longer than her best friend Donna. Carol was the one who got Mom and Frank hooked on jazz. They attended jazz festivals together in Monterey, Sacramento, and Los Angeles. Carol also got them involved in square dancing which became their passion as well as their social life. It seems like Mom has an entry that includes square dancing almost every day, and not just in Simi Valley, but other towns as well. After Mom passed away Frank married a single lady from their square dancing club, Millie. They were married for 7 years but the marriage ended in divorce. A few years later Frank hooked up with Mom's friend Carol and they were soon married and moved to a retirement community in Lincoln, California. They drove to Sonoma County for my son Justin's wedding this year, which was the first time I had seen them in years. The photo above was taken this year of the two of them and came with their Christmas card. They are still square dancing every day well into their 70s.

Chris May Go Home From Hospital Tomorrow

Saturday February 29, 1992 (leap year)

After lunch Frank and I drive out to Camping World to shop. We stop at Gary's on the way home. They seem really glad to see us and urge us to stay longer than we'd planned. We had gone out for a taco lunch so decline their invitation to stay for dinner of tacos.

I call Chris in the hospital to see how she's feeling. She says she has a fever but they have taken out her IV. She may go home tomorrow. Gary talks to her for a long time. That makes me happy. I want them to be close and caring about each other.

We visit our Gledhill rental regarding a leak under the sink. Back in Simi we go out for Italian dinner.

My dad is the middle son of 3 brothers, my husband is the oldest son of 3 brothers. Neither of them are close to their siblings. When I had 3 boys my hope was that they would be close as adults. So far they seem to have a pretty good relationship with minimal friction. As for my brother Gary, we are not close because of the long distance between us (400 miles), but I know he is always there for me if I need him. He's a good man.

After 3 nights in the hospital for an appendectomy, I was anxious to get home. 20 years later I doubt they even keep the patient overnight for an appendectomy. In 2008 I had back surgery, elbow surgery and gallbladder removal. All 3 were outpatient procedures.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Chris Had an Emergency Appendectomy

Friday February 28, 1992

Awakened at 6:50 a.m. by a call from Chris. She's in the hospital. She had an emergency appendectomy last night. She feels pretty good but is very concerned about the drugs they had to give her and their effect on the baby. They all assured her there is nothing to worry about but...?

I go back to sleep after her call and sleep til 8:20. I feel better, more rested today, but I don't feel up to walking. It's getting harder and harder to carry this extra 50 pounds. Today, I will start eating only when I'm hungry. I eat my first meal at noon. We go to see Kurt and Karl from 4-5 p.m. At home we get ready to leave at 7:15 for square dancing in Reseda with many of our friends. After dancing we go to Bakers Square and fall into bed at 12:30.

I called Chris at 5:30 and she's had a good day, walking alot. She sounds great!

Back on October 3, 1991 Mom's entry in her journal says that I had an attack of appendicitis and spent the day in the hospital. That time the symptoms went away on their own. Too bad I didn't have my appendix removed at that time. This time I had the exact same symptoms, but was half-way through a difficult pregnancy, with nausea, tachycardia episodes, and now this. When the symptoms began I knew exactly what it was. I went to the hospital and told the nurses I was having appendicitis. I was told they would let me stay for observation, but that it was probably just my uterus contracting. Having already gone through labor with Justin years earlier, I knew the difference between contractions and appendicitis. I insisted they check it out. I had an ultrasound and it was determined that my appendix was indeed inflamed. Then I started vomiting, which is a symptom of appendicitis, although for me that was just like any other day of this pregnancy. Dr. Louis Sauer, a woman surgeon, performed the appendectomy under general anesthesia. It involved an incision in my swollen and ever-expanding belly, which of course left a good-size scar. I was surprised that appendectomies were not done orthoscoptically like gallbladder removals.

So Mom states she is starting her weight loss program, and the first thing she does is skip breakfast, exactly what all the experts say NOT to do. She still went to Bakers Square, but doesn't say if she has pie, which is their specialty. Eating late at night, which is my problem too, is a good way to pack on the pounds.

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's Almost Impossible to Kill All the Cancer Without Killing The Patient

Thursday February 27, 1992

Up and off to see Dr. Bienstock, my surgeon. He examines me and says everything feels OK. He tells us it's almost impossible to kill all the cancer cells without killing the patient. The hope is that the body will naturally kill of what's left. He said I'm an average patient with ovarian cancer. I wanted to hear that I was doing better than most.

Instead of going to lunch we go home and Frank cuts a piece of plexiglass for Gary's garage door. Then we go to see how Gary is doing. He has taken 3 days vacation to work on his house. He's doing well.

We come home and take a walk with the dogs. I am awful tired after 15 minutes, but make it for 3 minutes.

The 5-year survival rate for a woman diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer was and still is only 11%. Because there are no symptoms of the disease until it has spread to other organs, most women are diagnosed at Stage 4 (advanced) cancer. Of course Mom wanted to hear that she was one of the 11%, not just average. Perhaps just a bit more encouragement from her doctor might have been a boost to her morale if not her immune system.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Looking At Old Pictures

Wednesday February 26, 1992

We're up early and off to Mothers in Desert Hot Springs to do some repairs. We have a nice ride down except for wind. It's not windy at Mom's. She takes us out to lunch.

Frank is putting in a kitchen cabinet. I call the lady who has mother's chair for re-upholstering. She had promised 2 weeks and has had it more than 2 months. I tell the woman I work for LAPD in Bunko Department. She promises the chair for next Saturday and insists we come look at what she has done.

Mother and I spend time looking at old old pictures. It's good time together.

At Mom's place about 2 p.m. I have a serious lasting chest pain on the left side. It scares me.

On the way home we stop at Loma Linda Hospital to visit Frank's Uncle Ricky. We see all the aunts and uncles.

OK, I am laughing out loud right now! The Bunko Department??? You have got to be kidding! Do they even call it that? This just does not sound like my mother at all.

Hearing that Mom spent the day looking at old photos with Grandma Helen just touches my heart since I have been workingi on putting together photo albums all year. I have photos that date back to 1934 when Mom was born and even a few older ones from the 20s of her parents. Her Grandma Johnson came to the United States from Sweden around the turn of the 19th century as a teenager, and I even have one photo of her taken around that time. To be able to sit down with my children and share these photos and the memories that go along with them is my dream. The above photo was taken of Mom around 1942. She looks to be around 7 or 8 years old.

I hope Mom is going to make a doctor's appointment to check out her heart. That chest pain sounds pretty serious.

What Can I Squeeze Into?

Tuesday Februaery 25, 1992

Frank leaves at 6:00 to go pick up Phil in Palmdale. They are at Mountain High for a day of snow skiing.

I have a day to go through all my spring and summer clothes to see what I can squeeze into. I don't find much but I have been buying lately so I have enough to take on the cruise April 5. I spend the whole morning. I shop the afternoon and go to the nail salon to get my nail fixed

Frank comes dragging in about 5 p.m. but agrees to take me to "Splash" for a $4.00 BBQ tri-tip dinner.

Wow, that's an inexpensive dinner even for 1992. How sweet is that for Frank to take Mom out to dinner after a long day skiing and then driving home?

I can so relate to mom having many sizes of clothes in her closet. I used to have 2 or 3 sizes in my closet, but now I just keep the ones I can't fit into in boxes in storage. My closet currently has only size 18. My size 14 clothes are in storage. I skipped right over size 16 when I gained 30 pounds while in a cast with a broken foot 21 years ago. I never lost the 30 pounds, but I still have all those clothes in storage! Someday....

Mom had a 3 bedroom house. The master bedroom closet had the clothes for the current season, and the other two bedrooms had clothes for the off season. In addition she had a separate movable rod for her square dancing outfits. Mom loved to shop. In addition to all my size 14 clothes in boxes, I have a dozen boxes of Mom's size 14 clothes, as well as her size 16 clothes.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sweating Profusely

Monday February 24, 1992

Slept in, almost 10 hours of sleep. Feel much better when I do get up. Frank takes a walk while I do the laundry. I must call Dr. Russack today. My problem with perspiring so profusely all the time is really becoming a problem. I guess a treadmill test is in order.

A treadmill test? My first thought is hot flashes from menopause and adjusting to a hysterectomy last October. Her hormones are probably out-of-whack.

Chris Went to the Emergency Room

Sunday February 23, 1992

Telephone day. After a big waffle and egg breakfast I call Chris. Ric brought home a new puppy this week. More worry for her with rainy days and puppy poop on her carpet. But she is thrilled. She loves it. Justin named it Jessie.

Chris tells me she was in the emergency room yesterday because her heart was racing for an hour or so. They finally had to give her a drug in her vein to slow it down. She didn't want that. She's worried what the drug might do to the baby. More worry for me too. They gave her pills to take to prevent it from happening again. Talked 2 hours to Donna. Then Mom and Myra. Went marketing.

Drug my tired body to class square dancing in Northridge. Too tired to enjoy it much.

No doubt about it 1992 was probably my most difficult year. Besides the constant nausea and exhaustion, as well as moving not once but twice, I had medical issues during this pregnancy. This was the first medical issue that year.

Since I was a little girl in elementary school I remember having episodes where my heart would start racing. I remember telling my pediatrician about this one time at a doctor visit and he dismissed it as something everyone has. When I was little my heart would race, I would get sweaty and nauseous and finally throw up in the classroom or on the playground. I was so embarrassed. As I got older I found that if I took a big breath and leaned over to exert pressure on my heart with the air in my lungs, I could usually get my heart to slow down, especially if I caught it quickly. As the doctor told me in the emergency room, during pregnancy a woman's blood supply increases by 50% and there is alot more pressure on the heart. Most of the time my heart would begin racing as I was waking up in the morning, so was completely unrelated to any kind of stress. During my pregnancy, because of the extra strain on my heart I had more tachycardia episodes than ever, about once per week instead of my usual once per month or so, and my usual method of slowing down my heart did not work any more. On this morning I woke up with my heart racing and after an hour my husband finally drove me to the emergency room at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. My pulse was 180 beats per minutes. My blood pressure was 80/0. That was dangerous for the baby. I was given some medication to take after the medication in the IV finally worked to slow my heart down, but I did not like the way it made me feel. My heart felt like it was beating irregularly all the time. Before I got pregnant with my last child in 1994 the doctor recommended I have heart surgery to correct the electrical malfunction in my heart so as not to endanger the baby. I had this done at the San Jose Kaiser Permanente hospital in July 1994. A catheter was inserted into my groin after I was wheeled into the OR. I was completely awake and could see the catheter enter my heart on the overhead screen. Then I said, "my heart is racing." The surgeon told me that they were inducing the tachycardia in order to find out which part of my heart was causing the electrical malfunction. Once they found it, they burned that part of my heart with the device inserted through the catheter. This was called ablation. I was released to go home that night.

The following month I did get pregnant with my last son Ryan. Perhaps it was just a coincidence, but he also required heart surgery, when he was 5 years old, having been born with a hole between the two upper chambers of his heart. They caused backwash as his heart pumped blood. His surgery was outpatient as well and the device that was used to close up the hole went through the groin too.

As for the puppy, Jessie was 8 weeks old when we got him, and yes there was indeed lots of puppy poop to pick up off my carpet, something not at all pleasant when battling constant nausea. But he turned out to be one of my favorite dogs and was a big part of our family for the next 10 years.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

O'Melveny Park

Saturday February 22, 1992

Gary called and asked us to go hiking at O'Melveny Park with them today. We arrive at 11:30. At 12:00 we go to Millie's for lunch then to the park. The park has been devastated by the rains. The bridges are washed out as are the roads. Still it's very interesting and we skip across the river (stream) in several places and climb to the top of the hill.

Later we go to a furniture store to check out furniture for Gary's new house. At 7:30 I manage to arrive at the square dance. Actually I'm not too tired and we have a good time.

Maria and I had some good talk today while we were walking.

Glad to see that Mom's spirits were up today and they were able to go for a hike. Gary must be feeling pretty confident that the escrow will close on his new house if he is already looking for furniture.

Cousin Shirley

Friday February 21, 1992

Heard from Cousin Shirley today. Sounds like she's doing very well. It's so great to have her alcoholism out in the open. She's very frank when she talks about what she's been through and what she's going through. She's very happy with the Assembly of God Church she has been attending. She doesn't feel judged there when she wears slacks and lots of makeup. I still think she needs structure to her life and mainly a 9-5 job. She really has no income from real estate.

We go to the movies to see JFK at 4 p.m. and then pick up a movie "Silence of the Lambs" to watch at home in the evening.

Mom's Cousin Shirley is pictured above on the left side. She always wore tons of makeup and I never saw her without it. Mom was always her main support person even though they lived 400 miles apart, Shirley in Citrus Heights, California and Mom in Simi Valley in So. California. I'm glad to know that during this period of Shirley's life, she was trying to get sober and reaching out to others in her community and in AA.

Looks like Mom had no side effects from her chemo yesterday.

Chemo #8

Thursday February 20, 1992

Didn't sleep well. Awake from 5 a.m. Got up at 7 a.m. and into the shower. I lock the bathroom door. I'm too embarrassed about my weight. I don't want Frank to see me undressed. I usually go up to shower after Frank has finished in the bathroom. Frank is upset when he gets up and the door is locked. I'm so hot after my shower everyday. I turn the fan on and sit down to cool off for 10 minutes. Frank would freeze.

We go to breakfast at IHOP and then to Kaiser for my chemo. It takes 2 nursea and 6 tries to find a vein to inject. I'm weak afterward.

We pick up a movie and a yogurt and spend the afternoon and evening on the couch. I have no energy today and it's cloudy and drizzly.

It sounds like a depressing dreary day for Mom. When I don't sleep well, I feel depressed and out of sorts too. When the sun doesn't come out, it makes my mood even worse. After not sleeping well, Mom felt bad about her body and everything just seemed to go wrong this day. I have had that experience of being poked several times when the nurses try to find a vein for an IV. It is very painful. My veins have always been hard to find. I wonder if her bad mood will give her side effects from the chemo this time. I hope she took her anti-nausea medication.

Walking to Hudson's Grill

Wednesday February 19, 1992

I feel pretty good today. I slept in til 8 a.m. Frank went visiting in the valley in the morning. At noon we walk down to Hudson's Grill for lunch. By the time we walk back home, I'm tired but feel like I could do it again tomorrow. Maybe I'm finally ready to get back to our 4-mile walks. I know I'll never lose this weight if I don't get back to walking.

My fingernail that broke off is still very tender and my right wrist is still in alot of pain. My hips ache alot if I stand too much and when I walk but only the first 15 minutes. My hair is back to normal. It is as thick as it was a year ago and looks pretty good.

Hudson's Grill in Simi Valley was open from 1986 until 2006 and was located in the Sycamore Village Plaza. That's about 1-1/2 miles from their house on Ambergrove Court. To walk there and back would be a 3-mile walk. At a fast pace, that's good exercise. I try to walk about 3 miles per day, which takes about an hour. Walking is such great exercise and does help to alleviate alot of those aches and pains that Mom is experiencing.

Apple Farm

Tuesday February 18, 1992

Frank leaves at 8:30 a.m. for his carving class. I'm feeling tired and listless this morning. No energy. Had some worrisome pains in my abdomen during the night but slept well.

Spoke to Phil this morning. He reports things are still improving with Debby. They have planned a weekend away together next weekend at Apple Farm in San Luis Obispo. That sounds great! Frank and I were there a few years ago. It's a wonderful and charming hotel.

We eat a bite out and go to a 12:30 movie. then take a short walk with the dogs. After dinner we go country western dancing in North Hollywood with friends.

Phil is Frank's oldest son. He and his wife Debby were having problems in their marriage. Perhaps a romantic weekend might help a little?

Chris Had a Traumatic Weekend

Monday February 17, 1992

Up and doing laundry before I get my nails done at 11 a.m. Trying to keep Smokey from falling off the wooden bannister I break my middle left fingernail way back into the meat of my finger. It creates alot of pain. Luckily my manicurist is able to fix it quite well. I'm able to go square dancing in the evening with a bandage for protection.

I finally reach Chris this morning after trying all weekend. She had a traumatic weekend getting moved back into her condo with very little of her belongings. She's not comfortable or happy. she will live about 4 months in a very unstable home until the new house is finished the end of May. I'm very worried about her. I must pray for everything to work out well for her.

Frank went to Gary's to help him repair his shower this afternoon.

She must have been on the receiving end of alot of teasing that night with her middle finger bandaged. I'm not sure how she managed to square dance without banging her finger. There is certainly lots of hand contact in square dancing.

I don't know why mom said my condo was unstable, but it was certainly a very temporary living situation. We put most of our belongings from our Windsor house in storage, knowing that we would be living in the condo only 3 months. Only the essential furniture and possessions were moved to the Santa Rosa condo while we tried to refinance it in order to pull cash out to buy the new house that was still under construction in Windsor. We could only refinance and pull money out if we were living in the condo. Four months into my pregnancy with Derek I was very tired and still nauseous, so going through a move was very difficult.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Nice Walk with the Dogs

Sunday February 16, 1992

Just an average day. In the evening we go to Northridge with friends to square dance with Larry Ward. We have a really good time and learn many new calls. Larry makes it alot of fun. We go out for coffee after with Robbie and Delores.

We took a nice walk with the dogs in the afternoon.

Even just an average day includes square dancing and out with friends. I had no idea Mom and Frank were so social. There were plenty of places to take the dogs for a walk. Their home was in a newer subdivision that backed up to hills. Simi Valley is in fact surrounded by low hills as the above aerial photograph shows.

Las Vegas in the Spring

Saturday February 15, 1992

We wake up to heavy rains again. We have a grand sausage and eggs and bisquit breakfast. In the afternoon we go to Gary's. Frank gives him advice on fixing the problem he has in his shower. We visit awhile and discuss the new house. We come home and watch movies in front of a roaring fire. How cozy. I'm feeling fine but fat, very fat.

Talked to mother this morning. I told her we will take her to Las Vegas this spring. She said she'd love to go. She's still doing great at 83 but you never know. I'm happy to be able to help her have some fun in her old age.

That is so thoughtful of Mom and Frank to offer to take Grandma Helen to Las Vegas, just as it was thoughtful to spend their Valentine's Day yesterday with Frank's parents. I hope my boys will be as thoughtful in my old age.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Aspen Center

Tucked in with Mom's entry for February 14, 1992 is a newspaper clipping from The Enterprise newspaper dated Friday February 14, 1992 under the Health section of the paper. The title of the article is "Guests tour Aspen Center". It starts "Visitors streamed through the doors of the Simi Valley office of the American Cancer Society in a slow but steady pace despite havoc wreaked by weeklong torrential rains." It talks about how visitors attended an open house and tour of the new surgery center. Towards the end of the article are the following 4 paragraphs:

"Frank Reina, 56, and his wife, 57-year-old Dolores, were fascinated by the tour.

My wife does have cancer. We're interested in what's going on and interested in this facility. It's right in the neighborhood, Reina said.

His wife, who suffers ovarian cancer, said the Cancer Society provides hope with their efforts geared toward research and cure.

With six grandchildren and one on the way in July, I have alot to look forward to. I have a good reason to live, she said."

Strange that she does not mention the tour of the surgery center in her journal. I guess with the busyness of her life, the tour was not worth mentioning. That grandchild she mentions that was due in July was my son Derek, born July 14, 1992. So sad he never knew her.

Valentine's Day

Friday February 14, 1992

Up and moving fast for a 10 a.m. doctor appointment in Granada Hills. But first we exchange Valentines and gifts. Frank gives me a beautiful card and a candy box that has a beautiful black nightgown inside the heart shape. Then he gives me the beautiful heart shaped box of candy. It's red velvet with a beautiful silk flower on top. It's my first beautiful heart-shaped box of candy I ever received. I love it all.

Frank likes my card and the pretty sweatshirt and huge heart-shaped chocolate chip cookie that says "I love you" on top.

We decide to go to Frank's folks. We all go to lunch. A miracle happens. An old friend of Frank's sees us at lunch. He offers his secretary to notarize a bunch of legal documents for mom and dad. Later we go out to dinner with them and finally get home exhausted at 9 p.m.

Well, the gifts and card sound very romantic, but spending the day with the in-laws definitely does not, especially after hearing mom describe them in previous posts. I hope they weren't too exhausted to cuddle at least.

Good to Have Such Good Friends

Thursday February 13, 1992

The weather is somewhat better today. We take a nice walk with the dogs. We call our friends in the valley and arrange to meet them in Woodland Hills at a square dance. It's good to get out of the house and be with friends. A great dance! We have so much fun. After the dance we all go to Baker Square for coffee. Good to have such good friends!

Shirley called this afternoon to thank us for the flowers we wired her for Valentine's Day. She really loved them and all the cards I've been sending her. She has them all on her coffee table. She's attending church regularly with a friend. She sounds great!

Good job Mom. No pie tonight, just coffee. Hope it was decaf! What an encouragement she was to her cousin who was trying to recover from her alcoholism.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Flood Rescues

Wednesday February 12, 1992

We wake up to heavy rain. There will be more flooding around So. California today. We're fine and safe. We have good drainage. Luckily we have no need to go anywhere the last few days since these heavy rains so we've stayed home when it's raining. Luckily I have no doctor appointments until Friday morning. We spend the morning watching flood rescues on TV. Frank calls the Simi tenant. The roof is no longer leaking. Thank God! We spend most of the day inside, ironing and mending, etc.

The above photo was taken during a flood in nearby Thousand Oaks earlier this year. Looks like some people just don't know how to drive safely in the rain!

A Leaky Roof

Tuesday February 11, 1992

The rain has let up this morning but the skies are still threatening. Frank and I head over to the rental house in Simi Valley to repair the roof. It's leaking around the swamp cooler. I hand him tools. He does a great job. I really think we fixed it temporarily. We'll have to get a new cooler and new roof this spring. Thank God there was a break in the storm so we were able to do the repairs.

We decide to stay home tonight and miss our class of country western dancing. We enjoy some TV programs that we don't usually get to see.

I don't know how landlords who are not handymen can possibly break even. Frank is a pretty handy guy like my husband Ric. With rental houses, it seems like there is always something to fix, a vacancy to fill, or a tenant problem. It is definitely not a 9-5 job.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Rainy Day

Monday February 10, 1992

Up late today, 8:30 a.m. It's been raining hard all night and still is. It's dark outside. A good day to sleep in. I change linens and do the wash.

Frank clears a place for the water to run out of the dogs' yard and clears a rain gutter while it's pouring rain. He enjoys it. It reminds him of when he worked for street maintenance and had to deal with floods and landslides in the rain. I make no effort to stop him. He needs to feel his manhood.

We go to the florist and order flowers for Cousin Shirley for Valentine's Day. It costs $34.00 but she'll be so pleased. It should give her a boost.

We stay home from square dancing. Frank has a stomach ache. One of our rental houses has a leaking roof we just heard.

The average annual rainfall in Simi Valley is only 14 inches, compared to 30 inches in Santa Rosa. This was a rare rainy day in February. I'm surprised Frank didn't have pneumonia after working in the rain all day, not a stomach ache!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dreaming of Gary's Future

Sunday February 9, 1992

Laid back day. Did some shopping. Watched the Olympics. Feeling pretty good. Main complaint now is my wrist and thumbs. My cough is almost gone.

I can imagine how happy Gary will be here in Simi Valley. There are hills close to his house to hike and explore. There are more, all around this valley. Gary loves to hike and explore. The bike trail along the arroyo through the valley is 1/2 block from his new house. They all have bikes. They'll love that. And then his house. I imagine he'll swim often in the pool and spend many restful hours in the spa. They'll have lots of wonderful parties in the large yard and patio. The best though, if the many cozy evenings in the beautiful living room in front of his beautiful brick fireplace. Simi Valley is a bit of heaven.

I am incredibly touched by how excited Mom was about Gary's new house, and how she was imagining his life there, not knowing whether she would be a part of it or not. I feel a little sad that I moved to Northern California back in 1974 and because of the distance she was not nearly as involved in my life. We were very close, and talked on the phone for 1-2 hours every week, but I missed out on alot by moving away. Simi Valley is very beautiful, much warmer and more arrid than Santa Rosa, but I am willing to put up with winter rains and colder weather in order to be close to redwood trees, vineyards, lakes, rivers and the Sierras. Gary and I share a passion for hiking and exploring. It must be our Scandinavian ancestry.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Chris Is Moving Too

Saturday February 8, 1992

Up late. Had a 1 hour talk on the phone with Kathy Murphy.

Chris calls. We talk at least an hour. I'm so concerned for her. She is back at work 8 hours a day and trying to pack up to move in her spare time. They are moving back into her condo next Friday. New renters are moving into her house on Saturday. Her new house will be finished in late May. She must either refinance for cash out on her condo or sell it before June 1. She's so tired being 4 months pregnant.

Now I can worry about both of my children and their real estate woes. Gary still must pick a lender and soon! He must decide to either rent his house or sell it soon.

At 4:30 Gary and Maria go to meet the inspector at the new house. Joe and Junior stay with me. When they return I have a complete turkey dinner ready as a celebration for Gary's new house deal.

Ric and I had purchased the house shown above in Windsor in October 1990 in Deer Creek Subdivision. A little over a year later the builder started a new phase of the same subdivision and we fell in love with the new floor plan and a large lot that backed up to open space. The only way we could raise money for a down payment was to sell my condo, which was rented out when we moved to Windsor, or to refinance and pull money out. In order to refinance and get a good interest rate, we had to live in the condo. So even though I was so nauseous and so tired from my pregnancy and was trying my best to work full time in spite of my nausea and fatigue, I had to come home after a long day and spend my evenings packing up our house. Then 3 months later, after the refinance was complete, and I was 7 months pregnant, we got to do it all over again and move into the new house that was being built. The timing could not have been much worse!

God Is Great. God Is Good!

Friday February 7, 1992

We take care of business around the house. At 4:30 we go to the movies to see Prince Of Tides. It's a good movie about a man with a dark childhood he has refused to face until now.

We spend the evening at home and watch a movie.

God is great. God is good! I feel so good as far as my ovarian cancer is concerned. I still believe God will heal me. I have just put my problem in His hands and I really never think of it except when I pray--often. I ask Him to touch me, heal me, take away the cancers. If I'm wrong, that's OK too. I intend to live every day as normal as is possible, making plans for the future and enjoying every minute of my life.

Her absolute faith that God would heal her reassured all who loved her that she would win this battle. Even in her final days, I was in denial that she was dying. After all, she had been reassuring me for 2 years that God would heal her and not to worry. I love her statement that she intends to live every day as normal as is possible even if God did not answer her prayers. She certainly did that!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Counter Offer

Thursday February 6, 1992

Up at 7:30 and dressed waiting for Jody the realtor to pick up Gary's check for deposit on the house he made an offer on last night. Frank leaves at 8:15 to go to Doris' class she teaches on carving at the senior center.

I feel drug out this morning so just lay on the couch til 10 a.m. I had kemo on Tuesday and my cough was really bad last night. I think my cough just wore me out, plus I didn't sleep well last night thinking about the house Gary made an offer on.

Jody finally calls to say the seller has counter-offered and has a second offer also. I'm pleased it looks good. I feel better after my shower, good enough to go shopping for a couple of hours. My cough is much better today but my right wrist is sore as ever.

Mom's entry from the day before says that her cough stopped when she went to bed. Looks like it started up again and kept her up alot of the night. Insomnia is epidemic in this country. Like Mom I often lose sleep when I am worried, but I also lose sleep when I am excited about something. She was just as excited, or maybe more so, than Gary, about the house he was trying to buy. I hope when my children buy their first house, they allow me to come along house shopping with them. I love to look at houses. I remember even as a teenager going with a friend to look at model homes just for fun. Buying a new house is very exciting, and if Gary made this move, he would be closer to Mom, just a couple miles away.

I am laughing out loud at Mom's statement that she went shopping for a few hours even though she felt sick. For a shopaholic shopping is therapeutic. For me it's just plain exhausting.

Gary Makes An Offer

Wednesday February 5, 1992

I'm up and fixing breakfast when I realize I have forgotten to take my anti-nausea pills last night. I feel a little nausea, but it doesn't last. In the afternoon I go drive by some more houses for Gary. Frank is having his nails done.

At 5:30 we meet Gary and Maria and boys and Jody, the realtor. We spend a long time looking at the house. Gary decides to make an offer on this house. The house is great and neat and clean but no linen closet or guest coat closet. At 9 p.m. he has finished signing all the papers and we all go to dinner at Country Folks. After dinner we follow Gary home to pick up his deposit check for Jody. We finally get home at 11 p.m.

I have coughed my head off all night long. My cough is awful but stops when I go to bed.

From Mom's entries it sounds like she got a manicure every week or two, but this is the first time I have heard that Frank got a manicure too. Sounds pretty nice!

What a long process to make an offer on the house. They all must have been starving after waiting until 9:00 for dinner! The house had been through a remodel, which is why there was no longer a coat closet. But during that remodel the kitchen was expanded and a small family room was added at the back of the house adjacent to the pool. It is a ranch style single-story home built in 1961 on a large corner lot. The house is about 2000 square feet.

I remember Mom coughing all the time, especially in the morning, even when she did not have a cold. Perhaps she had some allergies.