Monday, October 27, 2014

Joan Larson

Sunday February 21, 1993

I took pain pills every 4 hours all night. I don't feel too well when I get up at 9. I eat some yogurt. I go back to bed about 11 for awhile. I call Joan Larson. She has bad news. She now has 5 tumors and has decided to accept her death in about a year. Her other options were surgery to cut off blood supply to the tumors or AZT. Both had terrible side effects. We talk a long time. I understand. She's worried about Hal. He seems to be mentally slipping.

I'm finally up and dressed by 2:30. John March calls me from Arizona. We talk a long time. I read awhile and take a nap.

At dinner I feel awful. I turn off the pump. Later I eat more of last night's egg fu yung.

Joan Larson was our neighbor across the street from the Lemona Avenue house where I grew up in Mission Hills. She died of colon cancer a few months after Mom passed away. After Mom's death she phoned me to tell me how much she appreciated Mom's support and understanding as they battled their cancer together. I didn't know that AZT was ever used to treat cancer so I did a little research on Wikipedia. Today it is used for treatment of AIDS, with little mention of it being a cancer drug. According to Wikipedia, "AZT is the first U.S. government-approved treatment for HIV, marketed under the brand name Retrovir. AZT was the first breakthrough in AIDS therapy, significantly reducing the replication of the virus in patients and leading to clinical and immunologic improvements...Early long-term higher-dose therapy with AZT was initially associated with side effects that sometimes limited therapy, including anemia, neutropenia, hepatotoxicity, cardiomyopathy, and myopathy. All of these conditions were generally found to be reversible upon reduction of AZT dosages."

Junior & Joe

Saturday February 20, 1993

Up at 9 feeling fine until after I eat some cereal and orange juice. My stomach is upset and I just feel weak and tired until 11:30. I'm finally downstairs and ready at 1:45. I have some soup and crackers. We drive to Mission Hills to see how Gary and Maria are doing. We bring Joe and Junior home with us. We drive through Brown's Canyon and stop for ice cream.

The boys watch a basketball game. I read. Gary and Maria pick up the boys about 5:00. I feel pretty good--not great. At dinnertime I send Frank to buy egg foo yung and pork fried rice. I eat a little of it. I'm on pain pills for my shoulder every 4 hours.

My nephews Junior and Joe, pictured above with Mom and my son Justin, were involved in sports from the time they were very young. Both played baseball and basketball throughout school and Junior (now called Gabe) played on the basketball team at CSUM where my son Derek now attends college in Vallejo, California. They are both huge Raiders fans and basketball fans.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Friday February 19, 1993

We sleep in and make love, getting up about 9 a.m. I eat breakfast and go back to bed to let it digest. I feel worse and worse and finally get up at 12:00. I eat a turkey sandwich at 1:30. It sits well. I read and watch TV all afternoon.

It's dinner time and I feel yucky as usual. About 9 I'm struck with the chills. I hurry into bed. Frank covers me with lots of blankets and turns the electric blanket on 6. I shake for 40 minutes or so. Later Frank brings me a yogurt and later a scrambled egg and toast. I'm on pain pills for my neck and shoulder.

It's been several months since I have posted to my blog, partly because we were out-of-state this summer, but also because these last few months of her life are harder and harder to read in her journal. I'm glad she and Frank got to make love this day, but can't help wondering if this will be the last time.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mothers Day

Thursday February 18, 1993

Frank goes to his carving class at 8:30. I go back to bed at 8:45 to watch Regis and Kathy Lee. It's a real effort to climb the stairs. finally at 11 I take my shower. I suddenly feel terrible and go back to bed. I feel sick and weak. Frank brings me some orange juice, a banana and some yogurt. I turn off the pump and begin to feel better. It's 3:00 by the time I'm downstairs. At 3:45 we go to see a movie "Cemetery Club". It's a rainy day.

Later about 8 p.m. we go to Hudson's Grill. I order chicken fried steak. I eat most of it but really don't enjoy it. I feel yucky all evening.

It's no wonder Mom is feeling awful after pumping toxic chemicals into her body for months. The fact that turning on the pump helped her feel better immediately is telling. I wonder if she could turn it off during the day, and just pump the chemicals while she is sleeping?

As I write this entry it is Mother's Day 2014. I posted this photo on Facebook today and got so many responses I decided to post the photo on my blog as well. This photo was taken in 1974 on my graduation day from college (California State University Northridge). I love this picture, and apparently many others do as well. Mother's Day is always difficult to celebrate for me since Mom passed away. She passed away a few days before Mother's Day in 1993. That was the hardest one. I know one day I will see her in heaven and that gives me comfort. I do wonder if she is looking down on me from heaven sometimes, and I hope she is still proud of me. I know she still loves me, even beyond the grave. So Mom, on this Mother's Day I thank you for being the wonderful mother you always were on this earth, for all the sacrifices you made, for all the wisdom you imparted, for teaching me about faith in God, and for being a great example of a Godly woman. You encouraged me and inspired me and gave me the desire to be more like you in so many ways. I miss you and I love you.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I Love Her

Wednesday February 17, 1993

Up at 7. Have been awake since 4:30. I don't feel well when I don't get my sleep. We're ready to leave for doctor at 8:30. Dr. Semrad examines me and says he thinks all the tumors are gone except the one we can feel. He thinks we should leave the pump on as long as I'm tolerating it OK. I had a pretty good week so we go another week. Now he says when we finish with this chemo he wants to try other medication in the pump before we try Taxol. We are somewhat encouraged.

At home I spend the afternoon and evening sitting in the chair, napping off and on. I can't eat dinner but snack later. Frank talks to Cathy Thomas and his mom. Chris calls me. I love her so much and love talking to her.

I hear you, Mom, when I don't get a good night's sleep, I am a mess the next day. As I write this, we just changed from Pacific Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time, and even though it is a difference of just one hour, I have felt jet-lagged all week, and haven't slept well at all.

I love you too Mom, and always looked forward to the weekend when we visited by phone for 2-3 hours. We did have good talks, but how I wish I could have been there in person to hug you and see your face.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Cinnamon Rolls

Tuesday February 16, 1993

Awake from 6. I get up at 8. I start the laundry and lay around. I don't feel any energy at all. I continue to do the wash. By 1 p.m. I'm finally bathed, dressed and made up. Frank comes home from the valley. He's been laying cement at Marty's house. He brings me 1/2 his lunch, a turkey sandwich. He leaves for Newbury Park house to install smoke alarms. I go to the bank.

Rochelle called to see how I'm doing. She calls often.

I couldn't eat dinner but did manage to snack later. Penny Nay comes over at 7 p.m. she has made us some cinnamon rolls and wants us to eat them while they're hot. I'm unable to eat one new but Frank enjoys them.

I don't know who Penny Nay is, but I assume she was a neighbor since the cinnamon rolls were still hot. I do know who Rochelle is however. She is my Dad's sister-in-law, wife of his oldest brother Clyde. Even though my parents had been divorced for many years and had both remarried, Mom made a point of staying in touch with Dad's side of the family. In fact, when we would go down to visit her, she would take my brother and I and all our kids to visit Grandma Alda (Dad's mom) in an assisted living home. Grandma suffered from dementia so she didn't know who we were, but she enjoyed the company. She lived well into he 90s and outlived Mom, just as Grandma Helen (Mom's mom) did.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Marklein House

Monday February 15, 1993

Up at 7:30 feeling good. I go to get my nails done at 10:45. Frank and Gary left about 10 to go to Marklein house to put in a wall. I have a turkey sandwich for lunch. I read all afternoon. I don't feel too well at dine. I don't feel hungry but eat a little anyway.

We go to the square dance class. I watch as usual and visit with friends. We come home at 10 to watch TV until 11:15. A pretty good day.

I remember the Marklein house, pictured above, where Gary and Maria lived until they bought the house in Simi Valley in 1992. One of the bedrooms was opened up by a prior owner to make a den off the living room. I suppose Gary was turning it back into a bedroom to put it up for sale as a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Box Canyon

Sunday February 14, 1993 Valentine's Day

Awake, a good day, at 7:30. Up at 8:00. I wake Frank at 8:30 after my shower. I watch Dr. Schuller until 9. I get ready to go to brunch with Gary and Maria at 10:30. We go to El Torito. It's a great brunch. I eat pretty good. Everyone else eats very good.

After brunch we all go for a drive through Box Canyon and the estates in Chatsworth. We get home about 1 p.m. and walk to next street to Penny's open house. Gary and Maria leave to go hiking.

I read newspapers all day. At 6:00 I begin dinner. I make a meatloaf. I enjoy dinner at 7. I have felt good all day.

What a wonderful day Mom had this day, her last Valentine's Day. I remember hiking in Chatsworth Park as a girl, but had never heard of Box Canyon. From the photos I found on-line it looks like it is just south of Chatsworth and very similar landscape to Chatsworth Park. Even though Southern California is quite congested and metropolitan, it is nice to know there are still some hidden gems.

Oak Desk Chair

Saturday February 13, 1993

I slept well again. Awake at 7:00. I feel good. I have cereal, OJ and 1/2 grapefruit. Gary, boys and Frank leave about 10:30 for Marklein to fix the roof. I bake a cake for dinner. Then I call Maria and arrange to pick her up at 1:30. When I pick her up she wants to go to the Oak Store to buy Gary a chair for his desk for Valentine's Day tomorrow. We find a great chair.

I'm tired after 1-1/2 hours so rest when I get home. Frank returns at 4:00. We start the tri tip steak and baked potatoes. Maria will bring the salad. The boys stay with us while Gary and Maria go to a concert. A pretty good day for me. I even ate dinner.

I don't know what Gary's chair looked like, but the photo above looks just like the oak chair I had at my desk for years. So glad Mom had a good day and could spend some quality time with her grandsons.

Marklein is the rental house that Mom sold to Gary a few years earlier. He lived there until purchasing the house in Simi Valley.

We Make Love

Thursday February 11, 1993

Slept wonderfully last night from 11:10 to 7:15 even though I had slept most of the evening in the chair downstairs. I couldn't stay awake from 8-9:30. I hope I've broken the habit of waking up at 5 a.m.

I make pancakes and sausages for Frank and afterward we make love. We really enjoy.

At 9:30 Frank leaves for the valley to see Robfie and go to Marty's to check out his driveway. Then Robbie and Frank went to lunch with old co-workers.

I am slow and tire easily but am ready at 1 p.m. I eat a chicken sandwich from Carl's Jr. Frank is home at 2:30. We go to the movies at 3:30.

Gary and Maria and boys come over at 7:30 to visit. We offer to have the boys stay Saturday night while Maria and Gary go to a concert in Ventura. I felt pretty good today.

Wow, I wonder what accounted for the rapid change in her mood and energy? From her post yesterday it sounds like she is back on the chemotherapy pump. I suppose it can be attributed to getting a good night's sleep. Frank must have been thrilled to see Mom up early, making him a big breakfast and still having the energy for sex. Very thoughtful of Mom to take advantage of the little bits of time that she has energy and feels good! I wonder what movie they saw. She usually mentions the name, so whatever it was, I guess she was not impressed.

I am so glad that Gary and Maria lived just a few miles away and that they came by to visit. I have no doubt that lifted her spirits. My brother and his wife are so thoughtful. Just two weeks ago they had my 81 year old father come visit their family for Christmas and then drove 5 hours to take him back home.

One More Week On The Pump

Wednesday February 10, 1993

Awake again at 5 a.m. Terrible to lay there for hours. I get up at 7 to get ready for doctor. It has been so nice not carrying the pump.

Dr. Semrad is not there today. I'm very disappointed. Dr. Latino agrees that Dr. Semrad should make the decision with me about the pump. I decide to connect it for 1 more week. I don't have an appetite for lunch but eat a little later. I'm so sleepy I sit in the chair all afternoon sleeping off and on. I don't feel so depressed today.

It's amazing how quickly she recovered when the poison was disconnected and how quickly she suffers from exhaustion and loss of appetite when it is hooked up again. No wonder she's disappointed that her doctor isn't working today. Wondering if Dr. Latino is really his name, or if she just made that up?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Valentine Cards

Tuesday February 9, 1993

Awake at 5. I took a Unisom and Tylenol but no more deep sleep. Frank left for carving class at 8:15 when I got up. I started the laundry and ate a little breakfast. I am feeling anxious, worried and depressed. I can't shake it. I feel almost paralyzed by it. Finally, I take one of Frank's Xanax for anxiety. It helps but I still feel depressed all day. After lunch we go to see the movie Aladdin, hoping that will help. It helps a little.

We stop to buy Valentines, $35 worth for all our family. Is this my last Valentine's Day? will God answer my constant prayer for healing? Maybe I'll feel better after I see Dr. Semrad tomorrow.

I have no appetite for dinner.

I take Xanax when I have insomnia as it helps me to relax, but I don't think it would help with depression at all. I thought buying Valentine cards would lift her spirits, but again, she is wondering if this will be another "last", which it is. I still have that Valentine card from 1993, as well as several other cards Mom sent me while battling cancer those last 2 years. I'm so glad I kept them. The card pictured above is the one she bought for me this day.