Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Visit To The Naturopath

When Mom was first diagnosed we decided that we would do and try almost anything to help her.  I started reading as much as possible, and I got Mom a lot of books that I thought might help as well.  I spoke with my chiropractor and my acupuncturist (two things we still need to start), and I started researching nutritionists.  I found a nutritionist, but then I also found someone else in the practice.  I found a naturopath.

There are apparently two types of people who call themselves naturopaths.  The first type studies natural medicine for about 6 weeks and calls themselves professionals.  The second type, the type we saw, is actually an M.D.  The doctor we saw had gone through 4 years of med school and residency and then went on to study natural medicine.  There are very few of those who exist, but I'm glad we found the one we did.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  I figured we'd chat a bit about nutrition and maybe go into some vitamins and odd concoctions.  I certainly did not expect all that we got.  I did not expect to discuss Mom's medical history since she was 11 months.  I did not expect to discuss my medical history or that of my maternal grandparents. I did not expect to discuss genetic tests and lab work, and I definitely did not expect to talk about traditional western medicine.

That, however, is exactly what we discussed.  We spent 2 1/2 hours discussing various illnesses in Mom's life, and how her immune system works.  We discussed how the way her body breaks down different compounds (a process called methylation) could affect her personality and the way she responds to different medicines.  We discussed different cancer markers and how that might tell us how she's responding to chemo.

One of my favorite moments came when, after talking a bit about how mom responds to different medications and alcohol, the naturopath said, "It sounds like you fit perfectly into this group of people.  I bet you're a very impatient person as well."  Mom said, "Not really," but I said, "Oh yes!"  It was perfect.

It was a great visit, and we have a follow up schedule in two weeks.  I can't wait!  I was so impressed with everything, and I truly believe that this, combined with chemo and other treatments, will truly help mom.  Here's to hoping!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Letter To My Daughter

My Dear Anna,

I can't believe you will be 15 weeks old tomorrow.  You have already grown so much.  It seems like just yesterday you were a tiny 6 lb 2 oz, yet you are now roughly 14 lb.  We have a doctor's appointment in a couple of weeks, and I'm terrified by what the scale will say.  How could you have grown so big so fast?

Life has not been fair to you so far.  What should be a fun, joyous time of us learning each other, has turned into a fairly hectic, somewhat stressed time overshadowed with illness.  You, my darling daughter, have been a trooper through it all.  While other babies only sleep for 40 minutes at a time, you sleep for a minimum of 7 hours each and every night.  You've had nights where your dad and I have had to keep you up late so we can accomplish tasks, yet you haven't complained.  You've had long days spent at the kennel with barking dogs all around you, yet you're generally quite happy about it.  Sure you've had your bad days, but what baby doesn't?  You're starting to teethe, and you sometimes have tummy troubles, but all in all you're wonderful.

My favorite times are those where you just want me, your Mommy.  Today was one of those days.  You just wanted to see me and be around me.  Daddy held you this morning, yet you cried until I was in your sight, talking to you.  Mary Beth, our groomer, held you this afternoon, and while she can usually make you smile and laugh, you cried until you were back in my arms.  I was greeted with giggles and snuggles, and they warmed my heart.

I want to apologize if I seem stressed.  I want to apologize for not being able to dedicate all my time to you.  I worry constantly that these stresses may affect you negatively in the long run.  I hate the days where I am so exhausted that all I can do is hand you off to your dad and say, "Take her.  I'm off duty."  It generally has little to do with you.  More often it's simply life that's leaving me so tired. 

Know that I have loved every moment with you.  Even the moments where you're screaming and I can't figure out why I tend to find humor in.  Even though for the first few weeks I was pretty sure you only knew me as Moo Cow.  Even though I've had exhausting days where it's all I can do to nurse and change you, I've loved every moment.  Thank you so much for being so wonderful.



Mom Update: Chemo Round 2

If you asked Mom about her experiences this round compared to last round, she'd tell you this round was much worse.  She'd say she's sicker and in more pain.  She'd tell you it's harder for her to catch her breath, and she seems more confused.  However, if you were to ask me or Hans, we'd have a far different story to tell.

Going into the first round of chemo was difficult.  She had that the week after her stint in the ER, and she had her port put in the day before chemo started.  She was easily confused, and her mental status was like that of a 4 year old (something which is usually a joke regarding my mom, but in this case was quite serious).  She cried due to the pain she was in, and I actually called her doctor, concerned that there was a leak in her port (there wasn't).  She begged to go back to the ER in the hopes they'd remove her port.  She felt a great deal of nausea, and while she never actually vomited she came awfully close.  And then, about a week after chemo, she started to feel better.

Suddenly, she was more of my mom.  What she said made sense.  The way she moved seemed easy (or at least easier).  She went out for lunch with guests and really seemed to do well.  We hit our first chemo speed bump (hair loss), but she seemed to take it in stride.  She got excited over some of the head wraps I got for her, and she just seemed to be happier.  Oh, and she was taking fewer pain meds.  Instead of the maximum dosage of Percoset, she started asking for very small doses of Tramadol.  These were all great signs.

And then we had to start chemo round 2.  Some things were the same as before.  She was beyond tired at the end of each day.  The excess fluids they gave her caused her to swell, and that caused some significant pain.  She definitely experienced nausea (this time with vomiting), but everything seemed to a lesser degree.  She never did need the highest dose of pain meds.  While she needed the nausea meds, she didn't have nearly as hard a time taking them, and she never stopped eating completely like she had before.  She could always stomach a smoothie or popsicle or something.

Now, she's almost back to her normal self.  She's eating regularly (and voraciously).  She's asking me to take short walks with her (great for recovery), and most importantly she's completely coherent.  In fact, she's even planning a girls night with a couple of her friends.  I'm excited for her.

In the mean time, Hans and I finally got her moved out of her apartment, and now we just have to find a spot for her stuff.  Life is busy, but better, so that's good.

Thank you to everyone for all your continued support.  It means so much! 

Monday, September 1, 2014


Well, it has been a whirlwind of a week!  I'm well fed, exhausted, and well-loved.  Essentially, we had a lot of visitors in a short amount of time.

First, there was Hans' old roommate, Dan.  Dan was only here for 2 nights and 1 full day, but he was a much-needed escape.  Whenever he or my old roommate come to visit, I'm instantly transported to those college days.  I'm able to relax a little and forget about bills or appointments or obligations.  It's lovely.  I always try to clear my schedule when I know they're visiting, because I know my only focus will be on them.  The three of us ended up spending some time in Williamsburg, and I had a lovely nap in the car.  Just perfect.

Next, my aunt and uncle flew in from Arizona.  I hadn't seen them in 6 years, so this was a great occasion.  They really helped me out by watching Anna when I had a work emergency, but they were also a much needed break for Mom.  I know she really enjoyed seeing her sister and brother-in-law, and that got her up and moving some more (but more on that later).

Last, Hans' parents came to visit.  They've come down a few times since Anna was born, and it's always fun to see their reactions when they see how much she's grown.  Of course, Anna is their third grandchild, so sometimes it's just comparisons, but I think they like seeing the progress.  My MIL and I went shopping at a thrift store for baby clothes and had a little too much fun, and all in all it was a pleasure seeing them.

And then there's Mom.  Mom has been wonderful this past week.  She's gone out for lunch, she's been up and moving around, she's barely needed pain meds, and most importantly she's been eating.  Her appetite is still small, but she's eating regular meals.  We've pretty much switched to a vegetarian diet, although she's still has some seafood-based dishes from time to time.  Now I just have to figure out how to start cooking all these fantastic dishes we've tried recently!

So, like I said, it's been a long week, but it's been a good one.  Mom starts her second round of chemo on Wednesday, so we'll see how she progresses.  Here's to hoping for the best!