Thursday, March 28, 2013

My Bowels Are Working Better

Tuesday December 15, 1992

I'm lazy today. Don't do much of anything. My bowels seem to be working about 1/2 normal size today. Maybe the tumors are shrinking and not squashing my bowels like they were the past few months.

She is lazy today. She wrote hardly anything in her journal. But that's OK, I'm glad she is resting.

Coffee Kept Me Awake

Monday December 14, 1992

Up at 7:30. Didn't sleep well. Coffee kept me awake until 2:30 a.m. We go out to breakfast with Donna and Bob at Eggs & Things. Bob buys. They leave for home about 11 a.m.

I still feel pretty good. I do go back to bed for a nap.

We go shopping and out for Chinese dinner, then over to visit Gary and Maria to see their Christmas tree.

It's too late for Frank to go square dancing.

Wow, I had no idea Mom ever drank coffee. Growing up I specifically remember that she always said she loved the smell of coffee, but didn't like the taste. I do remember her taking No Doze over-the-counter medication to stay awake while driving. Riding in the car put her to sleep after an hour or so, and the No Doze was a big dose of caffeine. She did say on yesterday's post that she was up until 12:30 a.m. visiting with Donna and Bob. Was she drinking coffee at that hour? I am pretty sensitive to coffee, although I do enjoy it with cream and sugar. If I drink any coffee past noon it will keep me awake that night.

Mom doesn't say anything about buying a Christmas tree this year, so I assume she didn't have one due to her illness.

Family Dinner

Sunday December 13, 1992

Prayer is answered. I awake feeling good. We're ready to go to Phil and Deb's about 10:00. We read the Sunday paper and leave about 11:00. We are first to arrive. We visit with Dee and Deb. Phil and Steve have gone to Pick up Frank's folks in L.A. They arrive about 1 p.m. Paul & Judy & Tayler arrive about 2 p.m.

We have a nice lasagna dinner about 3 p.m. We open gifts. Steve & Dee must leave early to pick up a friend at the airport from Australia. We stay until 5:30. Stop in Simi for a hamburger.

Donna and Bob arrive about 10 p.m. We talk until 12:30 a.m. I feel real good.

This is the first time I have heard of a Reina Family Reunion. It sounds like Frank's oldest son Philip and his wife Debbie hosted the early Christmas dinner in Palmdale. How nice! It must have been somewhat difficult to get everyone together as Frank's parents lived near Los Angeles Airport 70 miles away and needed a ride, and Delores (Dee), Frank's daughter, and her husband Steve, lived in San Diego, 170 miles away. For Mom and Frank to travel from Simi Valley was only 60 miles, about a one-hour drive. Frank's youngest son Paul and his wife Judy lived right there in Palmdale.

What a busy day for Mom. I am so glad she is feeling better. It sounds like Dr. Semrad was right about her tumors shrinking and the fluid in her abdomen being gone. For her to have such a long busy day and be up past midnight visiting with her best friend from Pollock Pines, she must have been feeling great. Praise God!

Monday, March 25, 2013


Saturday December 12, 1992

Bad night! Hot spells and nausea. Didn't sleep much. Up at 8:30. Made waffles for us.

Frank colored my hair. I finished the Christmas cards. He went to Newbury Park to meet the new tenant to let him put some boxes in the house. Rent starts next week.

I seem to be jittery and shaky today. Don't know why.

I can't imagine a worse smell than the overwhelming odor of ammonia from the hair color chemicals when Mom is already nauseous.

I definitely do see a difference in her handwriting today. It is very small and jerky. I'm surprised she decided to write Christmas cards today.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Friday December 11, 1992

Up at 8:00. Feeling good. Have french toast for breakfast. Decide to take my other anti-nausea medicine. I take it all day and feel better. I eat but still not much at once. So I try to eat often. I work on the Christmas cards. I hate doing it because my handwriting has gone to pot. I don't know why. It's such a scribble. I can hardly read it myself.

I feel well enough to go to the Christmas potluck party for our club. But when I go up to get ready I have a sweat attack. I try everything but it won't go away. We arrive at the party still sweating. So embarrassing! Good to see old friends. We stay about 1-1/2 hours. I'm tired. Must go home. Did eat some.

So glad to see that Mom's doctor gave her some anti-nausea medication, and that she has decided to take it frequently. Also, eating small frequent meals and drinking plenty of fluids is a good way to manage the nausea.

As for her handwriting, it does seem to be a little less flowing, but otherwise it is perfectly readable, not a scribble at all.

According to Web MD, fatigue and nausea are the most common side effects of chemotherapy along with neuropathy (numbness or tingling in the fingers and toes). It also states "Although chemotherapy affects every woman differently, overall it's a much better experience than it was a couple of decades ago because now doctors have more drugs available to relieve or even prevent side effects."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Compazine & Benadryl

Thursday December 10, 1992

Dr. Semrad said to take Compazine and Benadryl together for the nausea so I take it before arising and I will take it 3 times a day to see if it helps me feel better. I manage a muffin and orange juice. Later we go to Thousand Oaks to finish our Christmas shopping. We do good!

Frank finishes wrapping all the gifts tonight. What a gem! We have frozen dinners. I manage 1/2 a spaghetti entre.

I took Compazine for my pregnancy sickness in 1991-1992. It didn't do a thing. I was sick as a dog 24/hours per day for 9 months. I'm not sure why the doctor advised Mom to take Benadryl. My experience with Benadryl is that it puts me right to sleep, but perhaps taking both medications together will prevent that. When she says "we do good", I think she means I do good (I'm not nauseous), so it looks like the medication is helping her.

What a sweetheart Frank is to wrap all the presents. I'm sure that was something Mom normally took care of.

Warning Buzzer

Wednesday December 9, 1992

Bad night! The warning buzzer on the pump went off every 45 minutes from midnight on. We took turns turning it off and on again. So I was awake from 6 a.m. I got up feeling fair. We arrived at Dr. Semrad's at 9:45. I have my blood taken and take the results to the doctor. I undress. Dr. Semrad comes in with a woman doctor. They examine me. She will be my doctor for 4 weeks while Dr. Semrad has knee surgery. Dr. Semrad says my nausea is caused by the medication. He says my fluid is almost gone. He thinks he feels improvement.

We go right home. I feel ill so take a pill. Later we have lunch and go to get a larger rental car. Then do some shopping.

I take a pill and manage to eat a normal dinner. Later I have ice cream. It causes more trembling. It's terrible. Go to bed at 10 very tired.

Why was the warning buzzer going off every 45 minutes? Was the tube disconnected? What a horrible night. No wonder she was exhausted. Whatever the reason I hope she talked to the doctor about it. It sounds like he gave her some anti-nausea medication. I hope it helps.

Bundled Up

Tuesday December 8, 1992

Frank is sore in the groin. It's swollen. We go out to breakfast. I feel pretty good. The breakfast tastes good. It's a waffle, bacon and egg. Frank enjoys his too. Later, at home, I don't feel too good, nausea and tired. I manage to do the wash but can't get to the Christmas cards. Frank goes to his carving class.

Later that night I feel too ill to fix the pot roast dinner. Frank fixes it and eats and enjoys it. Much later I eat a little. I get very cold again. I bundle up with coats and blankets.

It seems Mom has not learned that every time she eats she gets nauseous, and more than that even flu-like chills. Small portions of bland food might go down OK, but certainly not bacon. I hope Frank is not about to have a medical crisis too.

Mom always sent out hundreds of hand-written Christmas cards every year, not just a short note, but several pages, each one individually written. Her example led me to send out Christmas cards every year, not individually hand-written, but a Christmas letter mass produced. I guess I'm old-fashioned, but I always enjoy getting cards and letters from friends at Christmas, and I hope they enjoy mine too. In this age of technology, I have noticed that the number of cards and letters I receive every year has dwindled down to almost nothing. I guess this tradition has become outdated.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fender Bender

Monday December 7, 1992

Bad morning. Feeling nausea and light-headed. Frank makes me some toast. I lay on the couch an hour. I must get ready to have my nails done at 10:45. Finally, I sponge bathe, fix my hair and put on some makeup. I'm 15 minutes late for my appointment. I leave there about 12:30 feeling much better. I eat some soup for lunch and we go to finish our Christmas shopping. Home by 3. I read and nap from 3:30-4.

By 5:00 I have the shakes again. My fingers all turn white and frozen. Finally, warm water and my warm coat help. I don't feel well. An apple is my dinner.

Frank goes to the market and someone pulls out in front of him. He crashes into him, but no one is hurt. The man is sorry. The cars are drivable. Frank goes square dancing.

Mom seems to be constantly pushing herself no matter how rotten she feels. Christmas shopping is exhausting even in the best of circumstances, but for someone who has chemotherapy drugs coursing through her body, it might be a good idea to just rest. The fact that she didn't even have the energy to shower makes me wonder why in the world she is having her nails done today and then out shopping. In a way it's good news that she is feeling nausea since that means the chemo drugs are working. I'm wondering if Dr. Semrad gave her some medication for the nausea.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Judy's Baby Shower

Sunday December 6, 1992

I prayed last night that I would have a good day so I could go to Judy's shower in Palmdale. I have a pretty good morning, eat an egg and toast and juice. By 11:30 I'm ready. We have a sandwich for lunch and pick up Maria at 1 p.m. It's a cloudy, drizzly day.

The shower is very nice with about 20 there and I feel really good. Frank spends the afternoon with Joey, Terry and Frank.

We get Maria home about 6 p.m. We all decide to meet at the Sizzler for dinner at 7 p.m. I don't feel very hungry but do enjoy some clam chowder. My dinner of salmon and baked potato goes home with me. I feel ill later and get chills and trembling I can't stop. Finally the heating pad helps.

Whoa, I wonder what that's about? I wouldn't think that abdominal tumors would cause chills and trembling. I'm so glad that Mom got to go to Judy's baby shower. Just 6 months earlier Judy Reina, Frank's daughter-in-law was the hostess at the baby shower she gave me a month before Derek was born. She is pictured above with Frank's son Paul and their two children Tayler and Nick. Nick would be born just before Christmas that year.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Thousand Oaks Mall

Saturday December 5, 1992

A tough morning of nausea and weakness but by 1 p.m. I'm ready and I feel pretty good. Off to shop at the Thousand Oaks Mall. We're there about 2 hours. I drink an Orange Julius. That hits the spot. Later I have a turkey dog (corn) on a stick and a lemonade. The lemonade tastes great. The hot dog makes me feel ill a few hours later.

We manage to almost complete our Christmas shopping. We stop in Simi at a couple more stores. I'm exhausted. Frank brings me home. He eats a lite dinner and goes to Northridge to shop a little more. I eat a banana for dinner.

Wow, two days in a row of Christmas shopping. That must have been exhausting! I think it's kind of sweet that Mom and Frank enjoy shopping together. My husband Ric likes to shop, but I hate to shop with him. His style of shopping is like a marathon race, mine more like a stroll. He does almost all of his shopping at Costco. I prepare the list of groceries we need, which he usually loses somehow between home and the store, and then he makes a mad dash through the store quickly loading up the cart and then has a technique of scouting out the shortest and fastest line at the check-out to get out of the store quickly. The few times I have gone with him I just get upset because he leaves me in the dust while he races through the store.

Christmas Shopping

Friday December 4, 1992

As usual I feel poorly in the morning but by afternoon manage to go do some Christmas shopping with Frank. we have it down pretty good. We look and decide together what to buy, then I find a chair or go to the car while he stands in line to pay for it.

About 6:00 we meet Gary and Maria for dinner at La Fuente Mexican. I'm hungry. I only had an apple and cheese all day. We all enjoy our dinner very much. I don't eat all so bring it home.

Gary and Maria come home with us to see the pictures from last weekend at Chris'. They all stay to watch a movie. After they leave I admit I'm sick from the dinner. I feel nauseous and burp all night. I still feel ill the next morning, but I love having the kids around.

I'm so glad that Mom got to spend so much time with my brother and his wife Maria in her last few years. When they bought their house in Simi Valley they were only a couple miles away, which made it easy. I feel sad that I lived so far away that I could only visit with her by phone most of the time.

It sounds like it is time to give up spicy food since her intestines are so squished by the tumors. No more Mexican.

Monday, March 4, 2013

We Make Love

Thursday December 3, 1992

Up at 8:15, lazy. After breakfast, I call Mother and Cathy Murphy. Mother sounds good. We make plans to pick her up to bring her here for Christmas. Cathy and I have a good visit.

Frank returns from carving class and we make love. My idea. It's wonderful that I can still enjoy it so much. Frank still gets turned on even though I'm fat and have this tube coming out of my chest. It's so wonderful to lay together in our embrace.

It's 3:30 when I'm finally dressed and made up. I feel pretty good the rest of the day.

Mom hasn't mentioned too much about their sex life lately, and I assumed she just wasn't feeling up to it. I think it is incredibly tender and sweet that these two lovebirds are still able to do it without worrying about dislodging the tube from her chest. I'm pretty sure it would create a big distraction for me.

The Woman In The Wheelchair

Wednesday December 2, 1992

Up at 7 a.m. without an alarm to get ready to go to see Dr. Semrad. We make good time and arrive at 9:45 a.m. They try one last time to draw blood from my catheter. No luck. The important thing is the kemo goes in OK. I've lost another pound. My appetite is poor most of the time.

I have seen the woman in the wheelchair several weeks now. She's about 50. Her skin is sallow, she wears a robe, her head hangs down. She looks like the end is near. I ask a nurse. Yes, she has ovarian cancer. Is that me some time down the road? I pray not.

We Christmas shop our way home. We buy alot. I'm pleased and tired. At 6 p.m. we meet with the new tenants and sign a lease.

I feel too ill to eat dinner, but about 8 p.m. do eat some soup.

I think the sight of this woman in the wheelchair had a big impact on Mom. She did not want to spend her last days in the hospital. She wanted to die at home. Even at the very end she would insist on having her hair and makeup done and would wear a pretty nightgown and robe.