Friday, December 24, 2010

Progess into the New Year

We have been waiting for Sabine's lab results to come in.  They did not make it in time for her meeting with Dr Sheehan this week.  Nevertheless, Dr Sheehan wanted to continue with Sabine's current treatment protocol of Revlimid and Dexamethasone.

But today, Christmas Eve, the data came in and it show that her "cancer numbers" have not only been held in check, but in fact have been repressed.  This is good news and we enter the Christmas season with more comfort knowing that the current chemotherapy she is on seems to be working and that the side effects of the drugs have been minimal.

Christmas blessings to all of you.

Live each day as if it were our last...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Third Week of Chemotherapy

Tomorrow we begin our third week of the Revlimid/Dexamethasone chemotherapy.  So far, so good.  Sabine has been a little tired but continues her daily exercise.  We are having blood draws every two weeks to check her blood chemistry and we meet with Dr Sheehan next Wednesday (just before Christmas)!

This weekend has been especially busy for us as we had two of our beautiful granddaughters (and one of their mothers) as house guests.  It was for the scheduled spreading of Matt's ashes on Restoration Point.  Healing continues.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chemo -- Week Two

Thankfully, I don't have much to report on the new chemotherapy with Revlimid and Dexamethasone.  Sabine seems to be tolerating it well and aside from being a little tired (she still exercises daily!) she is doing quite well in my opinion.

We took blood for testing yesterday and how her blood chemistry reacts is going to be the important factor here.  Dr Sheehan will get the info and we have an appointment with him just before Christmas.

I know you all are pulling for her and sending up those good prayers (or "positive intentions") and I can tell you that such care, thoughts, and actions are powerful and make a difference in her life.

Blessings to all as we approach Christmastide.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Starting Chemotherapy

Now that all the kids and family members are back home and out joint Thanksgiving-Christmas celebration has ended, Sabine will begin oral chemotherapy today which is a combination of daily Revlimid (10 mg) and weekly dexamethasone (40 mg) .

This will put me on alert this week watching for side-effects and any other problems.

We would ask for your prayers that Sabine can not only tolerate this therapy, but that it would be successful!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chemotherapy Begins Again

Let me begin by wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Despite battling cancer, we have much to be thankful!

In Dr Sheehan's office with an early Christmas celebration!
Now onto the news:  For twelve weeks now we have been watching the cancer numbers slowly rise.  We met with Dr Sheehan yesterday and we decided the best course of action now was to launch another offensive against the cancer. 

So, starting next week, Sabine will begin to take an oral chemotherapy regimen of Revlimid and Dexamethasone.  We will do blood work in two weeks to check for negative effects on her blood chemistry and report back to Dr Sheehan two weeks after this.

While this is a setback, we are thankful that we have a number of "arrows" in our quiver to fight cancer.  Thankfully, Revilmid is one of them.  And we even have a few more if Sabine's cancer becomes resistant to Revilmid.

I will be watching out for any negative physical side effects as we go forward.

Yesterday, we held our family Thanksgiving-Christmas celebration which was originally schedule to coincide with daughter Yumi's leave from Afghanistan.  But due to Matt's death, she had to come home early and missed today's celebration.  But we all held her in our thoughts and prayers as we came together around the family table and gave thanks for the love and restoration we have all experienced this year!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Numbers!

We just received Sabine's "cancer numbers" this morning: Free Lambda Light Chains -- 133 mg/L).  While the numbers are increasing, they aren't exploding.  Twelve weeks ago we spotted the increase in our periodic blood tests.  Since that time, they have slowly been increasing and are now at the point Sabine was AFTER her first two rounds of chemotherapy.  We see our oncologist next Wednesday and will probably continue the "watching" or perhaps have to go on some form of chemotherapy.  We will see.  In the meantime, the rest of Sabine's blood work looks great and she continues her usual upbeat attitude and daily exercise.  As I told the folks at the cancer forum we attended this past summer, "Living with Mary Poppins is a real challenge for caregivers!"

So far, so good.  And, yes, life is still good! 

Thanks be to God!

Friday, November 12, 2010

On Alert

In a couple of weeks, just before Thanksgiving, we return to Dr Sheehan for another checkup.  It has been 6 weeks since the last time we saw him.  As many of you will remember, earlier this summer the cancer returned with heightened "numbers."  Six weeks ago the increase was happening, but not rapidly.  Soon we will find out what our next step is?  Chemotherapy? Or more "watching and waiting" for another 6 weeks?

For the past four weeks we have been monitoring a persistent cough that Sabine has acquired.  On Monday she went in to urgent care and had an xray taken.  The doc thought he heard something in her lungs and ordered an xray.  Doxycycline (an antibiotic) was prescribed.  At first they thought the xray was clear, then called us back because of something suspicious.  Sabine's primary car doc then scheduled another xray at the end of this month.  Waiting.

Of course the question we have is whether or not this lung thing is a result of the cancer or is it something else?  Sabine continues regular exercise and seems her old perky self.  That's good.

But caregivers like me watch their loved ones like a hawk.  Not wanting to frighten them but being careful and watchful.  We have seen too many in our cancer support group deteriorate and deteriorate quickly.  I am not alarmed.  But I remain on alert!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fighting Blood Cancers

Our seven-year-old granddaughter, Gracie Couper (Matt's daughter)

is raising money through the Leukemia - Lymphona Society to fight blood cancer's like Sabine's.  Here is a letter from her mother, Heather:

"Hi everyone!

"Gracie and I are raising money for a very important cause, through The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's 'Light The Night Walk:' finding better treatments and cures for blood cancers so patients can live better, longer lives.

"We have joined team 'Havianna's Hero' again and are excited to be walking with Havianna this year on November 5th. She will be one of the survivors caring a white ballon.

"I'm asking you to help by making a tax-deductible contribution! Please use the link in this email to donate online quickly & securely. You will receive an email confirmation of your donation as soon as it is made. I thank you in advance for your support which will make a difference in the lives of thousands of patients battling blood cancers.

"I really appreciate your generosity!!

"Thank you, Gracie and Heather."

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Oh, oh... forgot to tell you that Charlotte was hit by a car while crossing an intersection in Mt Horeb and is okay.   Sorry! 

Charlotte was conveyed to Meriter Hospital, checked out, and then released the same day with a full leg cast.  Yesterday, she went to in to see her physician and was informed she had a broken tibia.  No weight on her leg for six weeks! (in the midst of all this we have about thirty family members on sight for my son Matt's memorial service!).

Could have been worse... an 86 year old woman is hit by an automobile and only breaks a leg!  If am afraid that two deaths in one week would have been even too much for Sabine!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What a Trooper!

Not only Sabine fighting a most viscious cancer, she is also able to come alongside and minister to her grieving husband -- me!  Last week my son, Matthew, died unexpectedly and tragically.  You can read all about it at my "spirituality blog" at

But what you don't get by reading the blog is that this has been a tremendous loss and struggle for Sabine.  Although she is the (and I hate the word) Matt's "step-mother," she has been a big part of  his life.

The good news just before I left for California to make "arrangements," we received a 6-week report on her "cancer numbers."  While they have increased, the rate seems to be pretty slow.  And Dr Sheehan so far doesn't want to see us for another 6 weeks.  Good news!  But Matt's death has been difficutl for all of us.

And while I was away for the past 6 days, Sabine's dialysis at the clinic was very difficult for her.  This morning (thanks be to God!) I made all the connections (sticks) with one attempt and the treatment went well.... almost... as we were in treatment we got a call from a friend in Mt. Horeb that Sabine's mother, Charlotte, had been in an auto accident and was being conveyed to Meriter Hospital in Madison!  One of my best friends is a resident chaplain at Meriter and he was able to meet Sabine's mom in the emergency room.  (Interestingly, he is also going to officiate at our son's memorial service this Saturday).

As my friend relayed us the information on Charlotte, he concluded by saying, "You know being in relationship with you, David, is quite stressful!"  If Sabine was there I would imagine she would agree!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Weekend Get-away!

I think a big part of the caregiving and cancer-fighting business is to take a break whenever you can.  We have always loved weekend getaways (fondly remembering them in the b.k. days [before kids!]).

This past weekend we attended Sabine's 35th college reunion at Gustavus Adolphus College in St Peter, MN.  (Actually it is part of my history, too.  My first semester at college before I got antsy and joined the Marines was at Gustavus.)


Gusties lost a close one to the Norwegians from Northfield.

Go!, GUSTIES!  (Sabine spent 4 years at Gustavus and never attended a football game.  This is her first!

Sabine's 35th Class Reunion Homecoming!

Sabine with her first Gustavus shirt.

Great to see the social justice is still an active collegiate pursuit

The King and Queen!
We stayed at the Locust Street B&B, attended the Gustavus-St Olaf homecoming football game, met the Homecoming Queen (who was staying at the B&B, took a class picture on the steps of "Old Main," and attended a performance that evening by comedian Scott Novotny (who wrote for Saturday Night Live in the 70s and was a fellow theater major with Sabine) and then woke up on Sunday morning, attended Church of the Holy Communion (Episcopal) and then tried to get home after finding numerous road closings due to the flooding in southeast Minnesota.  But we finally made it home just in time to attend the American Players Theater's stunning performance in Spring Green of South African playwright Athol Fugard's "Exits and Entrances."  Whew!  A great weekend.  Today (Monday) Sabine gets blood drawn for her appointment with Dr Sheehan next week.  We will then see where the cancer is going (hopefully and prayerfully it hit a dead end!).  Dialysis went well today (bulls eyes on both "sticks!").  Life is good!
Scott just loves crowd comedians!
Add the B&B with Scott Novotny's crazy glasses.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Quite the Week

Sabine's fistula-gram on Monday had some good results.  According to the docs, the fistula looks good and there are no blockages visible -- and the stint that was put in a while back is firmly in place.  So what happened last week?

Nevertheless, the cannulations (needle-sticks) went well in our new arterial site and the old venous buttonhole is now working!  Go figure. 

So the week has gone well until this morning when we were encountering some high arterial pressures.  The procedure is to adjust the needle, raising it, doing some half-twists... still high pressure.  When I was adjusting the needle it inadvertently came out!  Now that's excitement, spurting blood, a loose sharp needle and the dialysis machine screaming alarms.  We got the bleeding stopped but could not get the machine running again because it picked up too much air in the system.  So it's "shut down" time.  Bagging the cartridge in a bio-waste bag and consulting with our nursing staff in Madison.

Sabine has an acupuncture appointment early this afternoon so we will put off another dialysis try until she returns.  And as for the cancer, still watching and waiting.  An exciting day for the retired -- too exciting!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Houston, we've got a problem..."

It's been a tough two days!  One of those "just went you thought it was safe to go back in the water" days.
After months of relatively easy dialysis connections and treatment, it all fell apart.  Suddenly, I was not able to make the "cannulations" and we had to abandon the "blunt" needles and go to the "sharps." 

This meant that I had to start two new puncture sights above the old ones.  Not an easy task via telephone.  But we did it and things went fairly well.

Then we encountered high arterial and venous pressures and had to abort the treatment.  The second time it happened we ended up going to Madison and getting some help from the staff at our dialysis center. 

Even there they had trouble getting a venous connection (it made me feel a little bit better that it wasn't me as I saw the professionals struggle!).  Finally we were able to make the insertion and begin the treatment with the home dialysis machine in the center. But even there our troubles were not over and we had to terminate early when a perforation occurred.

So what's going on?  Problems with the fisula again?  Most likely.  We are being scheduled for a fistula gram at the UW Hospital to check for a blockage or other problems in the area.  And this morning, at home, I was able to use the new arterial site with a sharp needel and then use a sharp in the old buttonhole when the blunt needle didn't work.  Then the connections were make and we had a good "run."

These are the times that being a "marriage team" works!  We solve problems and take necessary action without bickering or yelling at one another.  At the same time, while I feel the stress of all this, it's not my arm that is getting the multiple needle sticks!  Sabine (again) has been a real trouper (but that's one of the reasons I love her so much, she's always been a great trouper!).

What's ahead?  We will have some hurdles to jump over in the next weeks and some problems to solve -- another in-patient hospital visist to look at the fistula, possible some intervention to clear the blockage, consultations, and then we will begin to work on creating two new alternate needle/cannulation sites and, hopefully, can reclaim those two blocked "buttonholes."

In the meantime, we are "watching and waiting" with regard to the cancer.  We would ask you to continue to pray for Sabine's healing and calm resolve as we wait for the six-week blood test that will determine how those nasty cancer cells are doing -- I pray they are having a tough time and will soon give up!

Thus ends our battlefield report!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Run, Sabine, Run!

Not letting a little cancer flare up crimp her style, Sabine takes first place in her age category at the 2-mile "Dylan's Run" on Lakeside Park in Milwaukee!  Go, girl!! (I had to work while Sabine and other members of St Peter's support autism research!)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Sadness Realized

It is sometimes difficult to understand the emotional roller-coaster cancer victims and their loved ones experience.  Sabine was visibly upset when she heard that our friend, Dennis, from our cancer support group had taken ill last week.  We had known Dennis for over two years now.  Yesteday, we heard he had died.  This morning, his obituary was in the Madison newspaper.

Dennis was one of the more healthier persons in our group.   To see him suddenly and rapidly go downhill was unsettling to both of us.  Sabine and I were at supper in Middleton when I told her about the email I received concerning Dennis' death.  For both of us it was another wake-up call.  Things change in this cancer game and they can change quickly.  Only a few weeks earlier, we were planning on attending a summer evening concert with Dennis and his wife in nearby Mt Horeb.

I am writing this because I know that the journey most cancer patients and their loved ones are on will not have a happy ending.  I want this life we have together to go on.  I want to hear Sabine say again and again like she did this weekend: "This has been my best summer ever!"

I tossed and turned in bed last night thinking of Dennis' wife and children.  How fleeting this life is.  How important it is to fully live and celebrate each day -- one day that day may be the last day we will have together.  This is the thought that remains hidden in my psyche; that the most terrible event in my life awaits me.  God give me strength.

Our hearts and prayers go out to Jane and her family.  May Dennis' soul rest in peace.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Watching and Waiting

We met with Dr Sheehan yesterday at University Hospital and discussed the lab tests.  Yes, it looks like something is going on with the cancer.  But Dr Sheehan suggested that given the increase in Sabine's "numbers" being rather minimal from what it once was, we should "watch and wait.

So, our attack now is to do exactly that.  We will take the light chain test (our cancer "marker") in six weeks and see what is going.  If the increase is slight, we will wait six more weeks and then meet with Dr Sheehan to formulate a strategy if the increase continues.

Right now, Dr Sheehan is not keen on a second stem cell transplant.  He feels we have a number of chemotherapies that can be used to keep the cancer in check before we think about another transplant.

While Sunday was "crash-day" for both of us, we have recovered and Sabine is back to being her bubbling, positive self (and, therefore, so am I!).

She wore her "half-full" t-shirt into her consultation with Dr Sheehan and was also wearing some wildly decorated "flip-flop" shoes Helen Ackley (from our congregation in North Lake) had made for her.

In the meantime, "celebrate life every day!"  A good motto for all of us -- whether we are fighing cancer or not!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tick, tock, tick, tock TICK!

I always feel a bit anxious before Sabine's visit to her oncologist.  I think I have described it as hearing the tick-tock of a clock (is it a time bomb?)  Last week, Sabine took the customary blood tests in preparation for her meeting with her oncologist, Dr Sheehan, this coming Wednesday.  All but one of the blood tests had come back and in my layman's opinion, all looked good and within "normal" ranges.  But one was missing.

It was the primary cancer test -- the test that would tell us if Sabine's cancer was still in check (since the stem cell transplant a year ago), or not.  It is called the serum light chain test.  Usually, we get the test back from the lab in California about the same time we get the other locally-tested blood work.

So we checked and checked last week and nothing appeared on Sabine's test results chart.  We checked with the local lab who said that it should be coming back any time now.  I have to admit that I wasn't too worried about the results because I would have bet the "numbers" would be okay.  After all, Sabine had plenty of energy these past six weeks and we (except for dialysis five times a week) were living a pretty normal life, running, biking, and kayaking with a lot of other activity including a weeklong visit from numerous family members!

But last night we stopped by to visit some friends of ours who are also members of our cancer support group.  We missed last week's meeting because of the family gathering and now they were giving us an update -- and it wasn't good.  A man we had gotten to know quite well from our group suddenly was in palliative care -- his cancer had come back with a vengeance.  He had plunged downward rather rapidly after his second stem cell transplant.  I could see that Sabine was very upset when she heard about what had happened to him.  Last year alone, we lost two members of our support group to the cancer each one of us battles.  Each death is shaking reminder of this untreatable cancer!

This morning, on the way to lead worship in North Lake, I casually checked my email messages.  There was a notification from Sabine's physician that she checked on the lab test and was sure it would arrive by the time we saw Dr Sheehan.  But there also was another message -- "new test results."  I pulled the car over and went to the website of Sabine's healthcare provider and pulled up the new test results.  It wasn't what I had expected -- the numbers had doubled and were now out of the normal range!

 It was a "kick in the stomach" for both of us.  But what does it mean? The cancer was now growing again, but how much?  Is this significnant?  What's  next for us?  Well, right now we don't know and we must wait in this interim period until we consult with Dr Sheehan.  But we had watched these numbers double before when Sabine went through her last chemotherapy.

I could see that Sabine needed to process this downturn.  She asked for some time alone and urged me to continue to North Lake and lead the worship service.  I was shaken, but felt I could carry on.  I prayed all the way.

When I got to church, our friends noticed Sabine was not with me.  "Is everything okay?" they asked.  The grief started to well up again.  This was too much like when I first heard "you've got cancer!"

I had two choices here.  I could "suck it up" -- "the play's the thing!" -- and be a good Thespian.  Or, I could share this grief with my small congregation.  What would I want if I was sitting in the pew?  What would I expect from my pastor -- to tough it out, not to share his life when he had preached so much about being real and developing an authentic Christ-like community?

I don't enjoy sharing my grief in public.  I dislke public crying even more.  I still think of myself as a "tough guy."  But this was my community, these were my friends who had supported me and Sabine these past three years of cancer.  I decided I owed it to them to be authentic.  "Tough guy" wouldn't cut it.  I decided to share my grief and sadness.

After the gospel reading about a woman who was healed by Jesus, I stood up and read two verses of the psalm we just read (Psalm 71:17-18):

Since my youth, O God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, O God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your might to all who are to come.

I was then planning on making an announcement concerning the lab test results  -- but I could not.  I became chocked up and could not speak.  So I sat down and asked my friend, Andy, who was assisting me with worship, to tell what I had shared with him and his wife earlier.

Andy made the announcement and then offered a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer, "A Prayer for a Loved One."  By that time I was able to collect myself and fill in more details and then we all prayed again for healing and strength for Sabine and each one of us.  I recited the 23 Psalm... "lo, though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, you, God, are with me..."

The rest of the liturgy moved along until I moved to distribute communion to the congregation.  As they person held out open hands to receive the sacrament, I noticed red-rimmed, loving eyes shining up at me -- bouying me and Sabine up on the journey ahead.  I knew again why I was a Christian.

When I picked Sabine up she had just bought a new t-shirt and was wearing it and  smiling.  "I just needed some time" she said, "to think, pray, and pull myself together!"  Our prayers had worked! And Sabine was back to being her same positive, loving self.  On the t-shirt?  A cup with the inscription, "Half-Full!" (not half-empty!) I told her again how much I loved her and how we would, together, "press on!"

Monday, August 16, 2010

Some of the Couper Clan Assembles

As we approach our 6-week "numbers-check" with Dr Sheehan, Sabine helps me organize an assembly of the Couper Clan at our farm in Blue Mounds.  Here's a good share (but not all) of the nine children and eleven grandchildren!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Summertime and the Living is Easy...

That tune has been playing in my head these last few weeks.  But as Sabine and I enjoy the summertime, we know that we have some blood tests and visit to Dr Sheehan coming up this month.

I don't know if Sabine thinks like I do (I mean I don't think she has ever read this blog -- I guess she doesn't have to because she knows me so well after 30 years of living with me!).  But, as I have shared with my caregiver support group at Gilda's House, I hear the clock.  I hear it ticking in the background.  After we get a clean "bill of health," and are walking out of Dr Sheehan's officer, I can barely hear it.  But as the time arrives for the blood work and visit to check on how we are doing controlling this cancer, the "tick-tocking" is a loud background noise.

I appreciate the time our health care providers have given us.  The stem-cell transplant seems to be a miracle in itself.  And our home dialysis is time-together and satisfies my hidden desire to be a medical practitioner (perhaps in another life?).

Nevertheless, life is good.  I am exceedingly thankful.  And, in the meantime, let's keep dancin'!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sabine in Milwaukee

Sabine outside the theater and browsing around Milwaukee after enjoying "Wicked!"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Back on the water!

After two summers of having to avoid water (the tunnel catheter in her neck), Sabine is back into water sports.  Making hay while the sun shines, as she plans lots of summer kayaking adventures on our lakes and two great boating routes: The Wisconsin and Sugar Rivers!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Summer Report

As I have always said during the writing of this blog -- "No news is good news!"  So that's why it has been so long since I have posted here!  It has been a summer of "good news!"

Sabine loves summer in southern Wisconsin and this summer is a great one!  We have had visits from Sabine's high school friend, Shirley, visits from neices Teak, Meg and Kim and their families and another "relative" visit in August as a number of Coupers gather at New Journey Farm here in Blue Mounds.

We  had a hospital "check" yesterday to look at the important fistula in Sabine's arm -- there was a slight blockage and Dr Chan "ballooned" it open.  The fistulat looks good and has been functioning well.  My competence as Chief Cannulator is increasing and our five day dialysis sessions each week is becoming almost routine.

We have season tickets for the American Players Theater in nearby Spring Green and recently attended a wonderful performance of the Bard's "All's Well That Ends Well."  We continue our weekly support group meetings at Gilda's House in Madison.  Sabine goes to the patient group and I attend the one for caregivers.

Our new screen house poolside has been in great use as we often take afternoon naps and have a glass of wine before dinner.  Now that the tunnel catheter is gone and Sabine is able to engage in water activities again, she is eyeing the possibility of us becoming kayakers.  We have the Wisconsin and Sugar rivers nearby which are both active kayak venues. 

She has a check-in with her oncologist, Dr Sheehan, in August and we anticipate another postive report on Sabine's progress.

Here are a few scenes, so far, depicting our summer:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Post-Transplant Life

Wow!  It's been almost a month since my last post!  And I know what that means -- it means life is good without cancer staring us in the face everyday.  A year has passed since the transplant and we are reaping the rewards of our nation's commitment to science and research.  It is a blessing and a demonstration of how God works through his people.

Home hemodialysis is going well (using fewer needles each week) and we are down to four bags of dialysate solution which means the dialysis procedure is going well and that cuts 30 minutes off the daily "blood washing."

Sabine loves our Wisconsin summers and we have just hosted a number of family members at our farm and have greatly enjoyed our newly constructed screen house (where I can be found most afternoons napping!).

We continue to worry about out children (isn't that part of parenting?  Even as they approach middle age?) -- daughter Yumi is serving with the US Army in Afghanistan in the northern region and is serving as a logistics officer to the Afghani police (an assignment which greatly worries us).

Nevertheless, we are both hopeful and prayerful people and know that all things will eventually work for the best.

You may not hear much from me this summer and this is, to me, a good thing!


Monday, May 24, 2010


After 2-1/2 years, Sabine has the plastic tubes out of her neck, secure "buttonholes" for hemodialysis, and some warm weather and..... SHE'S BACK IN THE POOL!


Sunday, May 16, 2010

One-Year Anniversary!

Yesterday, Sabine celebrated her one-year anniversary of her stem cell transplant last May with a 50K bike ride to benefit the new Transplant House in Middleton.  After a week of cold and rain, yesterday was sunny and nearly 70 degrees!  This was our third time on the used tandem we picked up last fall.  The course was hilly (which means a lot of work for tandem riders) and some blistering downhills in which we left most of the pack in our dust!  A GREAT DAY!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spring -- I think

This has been one cold spring season.  In March I was out riding my bicycle and then the cold spell hit.  But last week Sabine and I did get out on our new-used tandem.  We put big panniers on the back so we can commute between the farm and Mazomanie.  Wasn't too bad.

I know Sabine is looking forward to swimming this summer -- and with the solar blanket our pool is already over 70 degrees (and on a few nights it has dropped to freezing).  In fact, this Sunday, on the way to church, I had to scrape the frost off the windows.

The "cannulations" continue to go well for a whole week and then after a day off those veins are sliding around like a sausage in a pail of water.  We have persisted and finally have found the fistula and have not had to resort to using a sharp needle to make the connection.

We have become members of Gilda's Club in Madison and every Tuesday we go there for a potluck dinner and separate cancer patient and caregiver groups.  It is another support base for both of us.

Things have gone well as we have returned to our old parish in North Lake on a Sunday by Sunday basis.  It has been good for both of us to reconnect with the folks at St Peter's!

Friday, April 30, 2010

How Come I'm Not Perfect?

Yikes!  I have had two days of misery trying to connect (cannulate) Sabine's fistula so that we can wash her blood (hemodialysis).  I have spent nearly an hour each day trying to access her fistula and for about an HOUR of multiple "sticks" no luck.

This is problem-solving par excellence!  I do what I think is the very same thing every day and some days it works and some days it does not (at least for a while).  We haven't been completely shut out, though I have called the dialysis center for help and consulation -- we have not had to abandon the treatment and drive to the center in Madison (at least yet!).

So, I am begining to realize (again) I am not perfect.  I was I was.  But it just ain't the way life is.

God must be teaching me a lesson.  Maybe that's it.  And also teaching me the importance of patience.

For this, O Lord, I pray....

Some photos which, more than words, express what happened this morning.  The "trash" and then, finally, a good "connection" and blood run!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dealing with Grief

I wrote this at one of my men's group follow up sessions on dealing with grief.  I find poetry to be especially helpful in going through a cancer diagnosis.

Sabine’s cancer sadness
was a
on my back
look (i would think
they’d say)
he’s so strong
there’s a
on his back
and he
shake it
i would gulp my
swallow my
two years have
the monkey
still is
(a frequent
passenger) he’s
quite visible
a passenger
with whom
i now
find comfort
proud to carry
(they now say
no longer noticing
the monkey)
how much

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Gracious Interim

What can I say?  Life has been good.  I even went to a men's retreat in Omaha (with a bit of anxiety I might add!).  And Sabine went to the dialysis center that Saturday and they were able to access her fistula without a problem!

So what does that look like?  I have inserted a photo of Sabine's arm showing the two access points (the top is the venous access and the lower "buttonhole" access for the arterial connection.

We have another month before we have to meet with Sabine's oncologist and review her "numbers."

In the meantime, she has been hot-tubbing and looking forward to our pool opening in a few weeks!

Travelling?  Not during summer.  For it is our little "patch" in the rolling hills of southern Wisconsin that Sabine deeply loves and wishes to spend her time.  Winter is another thing and she will want to head south for a week or two.

Have a blessed summer!