We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...
1997's Climb

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Kimmy 11/27

   Today, Kim's oxygen did not quite find its way back...we let her rest in bed until 3ish, keeping her comfortable in an avalanche of pillows.  The temperature outside was so nice, it felt like a spring day, even though we are nearly out of November already!  Autumn has been such a big helper for her mom...bringing her fresh ice water, bowls of fruit, new tissues, etc.  Always ready to lend a hand - she's also been studying quite a bit this extended weekend for a test she has Monday on all the states and their capitals - she's ready!  And, Autumn has put in a lot of time on her science experiment 'Are Dogs Colorblind?'...Bella is apathetic.
    Cody and Tonio helped me out, pulling down the Christmas decorations from the crawl space above our garage.  Cody is such a pro at hanging the lights from the eaves of our house, now, I don't even have to get up the ladder.  Tonio put together the white, metal tree that we keep out front, then he and Autumn cleaned out our St. Francis bird bath on our front porch and placed pine garland in the bowl.  They worked so hard, and the house looks great (a late addition of an huge inflatable reindeer completed the scene, thanks to our neighbor, Tom, aka Clark Griswold, who found that he had not another inch of space out front for it!).
    When we were done, we hauled out a chaisse lounge that our neighbor, Betsey, lent us and were able to get Kim comfortable using 5 pillows and one ice pack, so she could enjoy the gorgeous afternoon.  The bambini's played in the park across the street, enjoying their friends and happy their mom had made it out front for only the second time since 10/19.  We were able to keep Kim in the fresh air for several hours and then Betsey, Brian and Amy helped me get Kim back inside to the comfort of her Lazy Boy recliner.  After a nap, she at a great dinner...and is getting ready to get back to bed, wiped out from her walk to the front porch and afternoon sitting in the sunshine.
    And still, the team at Barnes & Noble persists, having an incredible day yesterday on one of the busiest shopping days of the year!  Planning and executing flawlessly!!  Thank you guys!!
    Wishing you all a happy beginning to the beautiful season of Advent tomorrow - Christmas is just around the corner!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Kimmy Friday

   Today, Kim had another challenging day...she is so beautiful and it is so hard to see the worry lines on her brow and the drawn tired look on her sweet face...we moved her oxygen back up to just over 2 liters and she spent the majority of the day in bed, before moving to the couch this afternoon.
   The bambini's had a good day.  Autumn, Tonio and I dropped the Expedition off at Brake Max this morning for some much overdue work and walked the couple of blocks home, enjoying the sunshine.  When it was fixed, Autumn and I walked back up for it and then ran to several stores looking for some more compression hose for Kim, as her legs continue to be swollen, since she is unable to walk.  Finally, we found one pair left at the 6th store we tried.  We also picked up a new air mattress as the one Tonio and I are sleeping on seems to lose air by morning and we find ourselves rolling down the pitch towards each other...he thinks that's pretty funny.  Cody played some football with his buddy Alex and Jim was steady QB for them.  They had fun.  Then, our neighbors Amy and Tom took Cody and Alex to R & R Pizza for dinner and Cody will be having a sleep over at their house.  He's pretty excited.  We made up some good pasta, with a wonderful sauce that Mrs. Paton, Cody's science teacher, made for us.  It was incredible! We're going to pop in 'Elf' for the kids and us to watch tonight to keep Kim company and keep things quiet for her.
    I'm so thankful for the team over at Barnes & Noble, who put together a great plan and staffing to handle Black Friday today so I could stay home and help Kim.  They are tremendous and working so hard and doing a fantastic job!!  It was pretty weird staying home on Black Friday after 22 years in retail management, typically working a 12 hour shift. I'm blessed to have them to support me.
    Tonight, we rest and pray that Kim's oxygen level finds it way back to her and she sleeps peacefully through tonight (except when I give her her Lovenox injection and pain meds through the night!).  Thank you for your kind words, positive thoughts and prayers...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

   Well, Kim started slowly today...she gets very dry from the oxygen she is on.  We had it turned down to 1 liter when she went to bed last night...but, she woke around 12:30, with a tickle and started coughing.  Her coughing was off and on until about 6 a.m., so she had  a pretty broken night's sleep.  I think I've mentioned before, that once Kim wakes up, she is immediately hungry and typically eats something right away.  She did not want anything for breakfast until around 10 a.m. - this has to be the latest I've ever seen Kim eat breakfast!  She stayed in bed until around noon, getting up to shower, becoming very winded, so we bumped her up to 1 1/2 liters of oxygen.  She laid back down and fell to sleep until 3, when it was time to go next door to Betsey's for Thanksgiving Dinner.  Before we left, we turned her oxygen up to 2 liters and made the short walk next door.  Betsey had a nice recliner set up for Kim and she sat right down, winded from the walk, heart racing.
    Betsey, her mom, Ursula and our neighbor, Amy had prepard an incredible feast.  Kim's mom, Carole made a wonderful pumpkin roll for dessert. They had a long line of tables lined up, which fit nicely in the new expanded great room - Brian had recently torn down the wall between the dining room and kitchen and built a beautiful arch where the wall used to be.  Everyone ate well, we got to watch some football and enjoyed the time with our family.  Amy presented Kim with a beautiful Happy Thanksgiving book that she had put together, inside of which, she had staff members from Rincon Vista, where Kim works as Volunteer Coordinator, write Thanksgiving messages...also, inside were the incredible results from a fund raiser Amy had helped put together over at Rincon Vista where students and staff could donate to be able to wear hats or jeans to school!  We were overwhelmed with the generosity of everyone at Rincon Vista!!  Her principal, Lydia Crain and asst. principal, Brent Edwards, have been so supportive of Kim and our family during this challenging time.
    The bambini's had a fun day and really enjoyed their time at Betsey and Brian's house, playing with their little ones, Mitchell and Hadley and Amy and Tom's son, Alex.  They ate a ton of great food, played outside until it got too dark and too chilly and then played nicely inside until it was time to go.  Autumn said she was thankful for Grammie and Grandpa Jim being able to spend Thanksgiving with us.  Tonio said he is thankful for everything!  He's settling in now to watch Horton Hears a Who with me before we go to sleep.
    I'm thankful that Betsey, Brian, Amy, Tom, Ursula, Sam, Carole and Jim put together such a nice meal and time, that put a smile on Kim's face for several hours today!  She needed it!  Also, I am thankful for the daily support and prayers of our friends and family everywhere.
    And praying that Kim gets a good night sleep tonight and has a better oxygen day tomorrow!
    Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kimmy 11/24

    Ahhhh....another pretty good day!  Kim's nurse, Jim (Steve Buscemi's cousin), stopped by this morning and let Kim know that her oxygen levels looked good, heart rate improved and all of her incisions look very good.  So, we reduced her oxygen down to 1 liter!! Kim was able to help me help her get herself ready for her day today, too.  The compression panty hose that Dr. Struthers suggested, have helped reduce the swelling in Kim's legs somewhat 'they don't feel like logs today', Kim remarked.
    Kim spent most of the day laying low, storing up her energy for the afternoon - we drove her over to Cody's school, Desert Sky Middle School, to watch Cody play in the Turkey Bowl football game - students against teachers!  Grammie and Grandpa Jim, parked the car on the street so Kim could watch from the car, her portable oxygen tank hooked up to her.  She cheered for Cody - it was an emotional time for her, as it was her first outing in over a month.  Antonio and I watched from the sidelines as the students won!  Cody had some good plays, a long kick off return, nearly for a TD and a few QB hurries as he penetrated the offensive line with his blazing speed.  Prior to the game, Desert Sky's principal, Mr. Mortensen, was heard to say "C.C. stands for chump change".  Although Mr. Mortensen's play stood up to his trash talk (nice interception!), the rest of his team was not able to convert the victory!  Mr. Mortensen and his team really do a lot to boost student morale and today was a fine outing for all.
     Following the game, we got Kim back home, where she quickly fell asleep - this short time out of our home has really wiped her out.
     As for the little bambini's, I took them to school with Bella in tow this morning.  Cody walked her, or did Bella walk Cody?, to Antonio's class.  Mrs. Schrantz chose Tonio to be 'Star Student' this week and said he could bring in something special to share with the class.  Bella was something special...barely able to contain herself amongst the throngs of children, she was in her glory!  And Tonio was jazzed!!  Poor Mrs. Schrantz had to settle him down, as Cody dragged Bella off campus.  Later that morning, I went back to Tonio's class to participate in a 'stone soup' feast. Mrs. Schrantz had recently shared that story with her class and put together a fun lunch for her students and parents.  She even had Autumn come down from Mrs. Rudzena's class to join us.  Tonio created some incredible turkey pictures and a placemat - he is very creative.  Mrs. Rudzena had Autumn stay after school to help her catch up on some projects and then took her to Baskin Robbins for ice cream!!  Needless to say, Autumn was not too upset that she missed the Turkey Bowl!!  At home, Grammie and Grandpa Jim whipped up a grillers dream with burgers, dogs and baked potatoes on the grill!  So, with Grammie, Grandpa Jim and Kim's steady improvement, the kids are very happy these days.
      We want to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!!  Our wonderful neighbors, Betsey, Brian, Amy, Tom and Betsey's parents, Ursula and Sam, are graciously doing a huge turkey dinner for our family to enjoy.  We are blessed to have this Tucson family and they have helped us so much over the last month or so.
       I know that I have a lot to be thankful for, including 17 Thanksgivings married to Kim, 27 total Thanksgivings together and 33 Thanksgivings since we first met...not to mention 3 wonderful children and incredible support from family and friends!
      We have a friend in Florida, Polly, a cancer survivor who has helped our family through some challenging times over the last 6 years or so, who sent me this beautiful verse:
 Psalm 32:8  I will guide you and teach you in the way you should go I will guide you with my eye
      Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Kimmy 11/23

   Kimmy had a BUSY day - we started by getting to the radiologist by 6:30 a.m. this morning for her PT scan...we actually beat the receptionist there!  It was freezing, about 38 degrees.  They took Kim back for her scan around 7 a.m. and were excited she had a power port to easily administer the radio active juice into her...she came out around 9 a.m., surrounded by her new friends - the techs who worked there were all commenting 'gee, I wish more of our patients were like you' and wishing her a happy Thanksgiving, and good luck on her journey...once again, Kimberly had brightened the lives she touched.
  As soon as Kim opens her eyes in the morning, she is hungry and typically eats right away...so by 9 a.m., she was starving!  Right in the parking lot of the radiology place is a cafe called 'Creative Cafe' - excellent breakfast!  Kim had a huge plate of french toast and bacon.  Although the test was long, and she had to lie flat, which still gives her pain, she was happy - and, it was her first public meal in well over a month!  It was so nice to share a meal together.  We ran over to Dr. Taetle's office to have her power port deactivated and they said the area looked great and Kim would no longer have to receive the mummy of a tape job I had been doing on her to prep her for a shower...another small victory!
  Once we got home, Kim slept for about 2 hours...then, I had to wake her to prep for her reunion with her primary physician.  Kim believed it had been 6 years since she saw her and I said 7.  Dr. Stuthers surprised us by saying it had technically been 5 since Kim was seen by a nurse practioner at her office for a sore throat!  This visit went well, as Kim's oxygen levels looked great, so we are reducing to 1 liter of oxygen!
   On the way home from the Dr., the sun was setting and it took our breath away - it was as if God was waving good night to us - brilliant red hues filtered through the cloud cover over the Tucson mountains.  Another great moment we were able to share together.
    Kim's legs are beginning to swell, since she is not able to walk much, so the Dr. told us to pick up some special stocking to help with that and an inner tube for Kim to sit on in her Lazy Boy...starting tomorrow, we'll try to walk her a little more each day.  We set her up with her new tools, got her a bowl of soup (thanks Rachel and Mike!) and she fell asleep by 6:30, worn out from her day.
    Meanwhile, the bambini's had a good day in school - I picked up the two little ones and they got a chance to hang out and play with Grammie and Grandpa Jim, which they enjoyed.  Cody had football practice right after school for his school's 'Turkey Bowl' and then stayed to watch his friend Alec's basketball game.  Alec's mom, Dawn is giving him a ride home for us - and they are still out there!
    Thanks to Jodi for looking up which Revelations verse is on the hamburger wrapper at In & Out Burger!  Here it is!
    Rev. 3:20, "Behold I stand at the door and knock.  If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and sup with him, and he with me." 
    Kim has answered that knock and feels at peace with what she is experiencing...after today, I feel some of my own vertigo (or, as Autumn says, my feeling that I've fallen down the rabbit hole) diminishing, thanks to Kim's grace...have I mentioned that she is amazing?

Monday, November 22, 2010

How did we get here?

      How did this all begin?  I've known Kim since we were 12 years old (we are now 45) and can count on one hand how many times she has needed to see a Dr.  But, during the second week of October, Kim began saying she was having pains across the muscles of her rib cage...indigestion, right?
      On October 19th, the pain was severe enough that Kim called Dr. Struthers, her physician that she had not seen since Antonio's birth back in 2003.  She could not get an appointment until October 25, so she was advised to go to the ER at St. Joseph's, where they diagnosed Kim with a bad gall bladder.
      On October 20th, Dr. Atkinson successfully removed Kim's gall bladder.  He met me in the waiting room and told me the surgery went fine, but that was the worst looking gall bladder he has removed.  Then, he said, 'I found something else...' and showed me pictures of Kim's liver.  Gravity tried to betray me as I looked at Kim's liver and was told 'she has cancer'.  I couldn't speak - this was my best friend since 1976 he was talking about, my wife, mother of our children...'Can you help her?'  was all I could ask.
      Dr. Taetle, a world renowned oncologist, was brought in.  Every test you can imagine was performed on Kim over the next few days...revealing adenocarcinoma tumors in the lung and liver.  To complicate things, Kim had blood clots in her lung and legs.  She was placed on oxygen, as, the tumor, clots and recent surgery were too much for her body to handle.  She was also anemic and received the first of 4 transfusions.  A bone scan and brain scan proved to be clear, thank God!  However, the Drs. suspect she may have cancer in her thyroid (who needs a thyroid, anyway?) and possibly pancreas. Kim was placed in ICU for a week.  During this time, she had a power port installed beneath her skin on her left upper chest.  This will allow for easier blood draws, administration of medication, such as her chemo and for future tests, like a PT scan.
      A few days after her gall bladder had been removed, Kim's pain was still very high.  This was made even more disturbing, due to the fact that Kim has a very high pain tolerance.  When she would tell her nurses she was at a pain level of 5 on a scale of 1-10, I would translate that into a 7 for a mere mortal, like myself.  Dr. Atkinson suspected an abscess and Dr. Rau was brought in to place a drain, through Kim's rib cage, through the liver and into the area vacated by the gall bladder.  This was placed on 10/30 and was Kim's largest source of pain until it was removed on 11/18.
     On 11/3, Kim received her first round of chemo, a newer drug called alimta.  Dr. Taetle chose this treatment, as alimta is filtered through the kidneys, rather than the liver, which is already compromised.  Kim did great and had no side affects.  On 11/4, she was sent home!  The bambini's (Cody, Autumn and Antonio) were ecstatic!  They had so terribly missed their mom.  They had been well cared for by our neighbors, Betsey and Brian and Amy and Tom, who had fed them, clothed them, picked them up from school, entertained them and loved them so well for us during this challenging time.  They even kept the house cleaned!!
       Kim's homestay was short lived, as on 11/5, I noticed that her right arm was swelling and she was sent back to St. Joseph's and diagnosed with blood clots in her arm.  Dr. Leon, a vascular surgeon, went in on 11/6 and 'roto rootered' Kimmy's arm and, while he was in there, placed an IVC vent to prevent the clots in her legs from traveling to her heart.  She was placed on the blood thinner lovenox, an injectable, and I was trained on how to administer the shot into her belly.  She is so kind, telling me each time, that she feels nothing.
        Kim was unable to stabilize her breathing, following Dr. Leon's procedure and she was sent back to ICU.  A pulmonary Dr. was brought in and initially thought Kim had pneumonia, but, a bronchial scope showed she was bleeding.  He stopped time for me, as he told me the urgency in stopping this flow...I asked him to get back in the operating room and save my girl!  The challenges with Kim's lung, are, that the tumor is older and being fed by an artery that it is deteriorating.  The tumor has cavitized and the blood vessels in the hollow center are enlarged and weeping.  So, her blood thinners have been reduced to allow her to heal (he initially wanted to perform a double-secret and dangerous procedure to cauterize the vessels, but we sought a second opinion and cooler heads prevailed!) and she is doing better.
       On 11/15, Kim was sent home again!  The bambini's had created a beautiful mural on our driveway, welcoming her home (reminiscent of the 'chalka estrada' event in Little Italy, San Diego during their Columbus Day Festa).  She remains on oxygen, but, we see small improvements daily.  Her spirit is so strong.  Her faith has gotten her this far, as has the incredible support of friends, family and community.  The nurses, techs and Drs. at St. Joseph were all hard working and wonderful for Kim.
        The next step, is a PT scan, which will be done on 11/30, so we can more accurately see what is going on in the rest of her body.  We pray that we will get some good news!