Betty is doing wonderfully well, for several reasons. She is stronger each day as we get further from her surgeries and medication, and on Wednesday of next week, Jan. 30th, we’re expecting our first grandchild! That’s right, grandparents for the first time. In a past blog, I gave my son some great name suggestions for the new child. You may want to check back to that blog and reread the possibilities that I offered up. I felt as though they were inspired. I received an email from my son Josh that stated none of the choices for the baby’s name were acceptable. That I was out of touch with current styles of names. I wrote him back and in no uncertain terms told him that he didn’t know Jack about names. So last week I find that they’re naming the baby “Jack!” I should have told him that he didn’t know David about names! So Jack is scheduled to arrive on Wednesday at 1:00 pm. Betty is flying up on Tuesday to meet with the other grandmother, Debbie, who is already there. Then they will began to plan strategy as to who holds the baby and for how long, thick or thin blanket, socks or booties, cloth or throw away, paper or plastic…. I don’t really know what they will be doing, but I know they’ll be doing it for about 2 weeks at least. I’ve tried to prepare my son for the invasion of the grand mommies, but I don’t think he’s fully ready for the blast. I just hope he gets to see the baby while they’re there. Maybe they’ll text him some pictures so he can watch the child grow. I told Betty that we had enough frequent flier miles for her to fly up to see the grand baby three times. She said, “Well that will get me through February, so what do we do about March?” This could be a long and wonderful year.
Betty takes her last herceptin medication on Monday, Jan. 28th. We still have some issues and still have not completed the scans. However, right now we are doing great. This last year has been most difficult and amazing. We’ve seen the hand of God in so many ways. Thank you for the prayers and the support that so many of you have blessed us with. Continue to pray for Betty if you would a little longer. Continue to pray for the ministry the Lord has entrusted us with. We simply want to be useful in the kingdom. This is my last blog under “RECOVERY CHRONICLES.” We are recovering so wondrously, I feel it is time to move on. We will still have blogs under the other categories, so please tune in to those as we write and try to bring a perspective and maybe some laughter to everyday life. We love you all and thank you again for loving us back. Gotta go now, trying to decide between a puppy or a go-cart. Or I could just get both. Jack will like that! Step aside grand mommies!
So I’m sleeping pretty well one morning not long ago, when I was awakened by this horrible sound. It was a high pitched, whining noise that was very rude at 6:30 in the a.m. Of course I find that any noise at 6:30 in the a.m. is rude. At first I thought it was the cat. Then as I gradually came to my senses, I remembered that we don’t have a cat. We do have a dog that is kind of small and effeminate. Maybe it was him. But then it dawned on me that this irritating assault to my ears was never ending. There was no place for a dog or cat to take a breath. It just went on and on and on and…..oh, the hair dryer. Why’s the hairdryer running? I’m in bed and Betty doesn’t have any hair. Or does she? I went running into the bathroom and there she was with brush in hand and the hair dryer running at full blast. What little bit of fuzz she had on her head was being confronted head on by 1500 watts of steel coiled electric heat being pushed forward at somewhere close to 49.4 miles per hour! Those little twigs of hair were being stretched and strained by the biggest hair brush ever held by a woman. I know this because I bought it for her after she lost her hair from the chemo. I found this monster psychedelic hair brush and thought it would be an encouragement to remind her that one day soon she’d be using this brush to tame her beautiful locks when they come back in and were long enough to style. Well she’s using it, and I afraid it’s going to remove what little bit of hair she has. This is a BIG brush! I said, “Honey, whatcha doing?” She said, “I’m drying my hair.” I said, “Wouldn’t it, at this stage of growth, be better just to use like, a tissue?” She turned and stared at me while aiming the dryer directly at my head and holding the BIG brush like a baseball bat and said, “I’m using the hair dryer and the brush today, do you have any objections?” Now I’ve never been frightened by an appliance before, but suddenly I saw the merit in what she was doing. “Let me get the hair spray baby, cause once you get it all in place, you really ought to lock it in.” And you know what, she got it to look pretty good. And the next day it was better. I told her, “Baby, you sure can do a lot with a little.” She looked directly at me for the longest time, patted me on the head and said, “I sure did Sweetie.” I think she was trying to make a point, but I’m not totally sure what it, hey, wait a minute…..! Well, I hear the dryer every morning now. I didn’t realize how much I had missed it. Her hair is getting longer and straighter and she is looking so beautiful. The only down side, is that for a while we were getting everywhere on time, but I’ve notice lately that the degree of our tardiness is in direct proportion to the length and wetness of her hair. Will we ever be on time again? The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind.
Betty underwent another surgery this morning to finish up reconstruction and clean out some scare tissue. Everything went well and she’s recovering here at home right now. She has a good amount of pain that should be much better by mid week. She’s doing so much better in the last few weeks and feeling better everyday. We still don’t know all that is ahead, but we travel each day in the strength and joy of the Lord. Thank you all again, for your prayers. Many have called and written and it is a wonderful thing to be loved and cared for. We start each day thanking God for his provision and for the people he has sent our way to minister to us. And then, we turn on the hair dryer. We love you all so much. God bless.
We have been on a roller coaster for the last month with all the ups and downs in Betty’s treatment. Her pneumonia has finally cleared up which is a great relief. The herceptin drug she has been on since January has caused her heart to malfunction and we had to suspend the use of it for the last month. Today, we were told that her heart has become much improved over the last month and that we could resume the herceptin this afternoon. So, all very good news. Thank you for your continued prayers and concern for Betty.
We were at the hospital all day today for the test results and the IV drip, so we had a lot of time on our hands. As you may know, we are expecting our first grandchild in February. Our son Joshua and his wonderful wife Emily are the expectant parents. So today Betty said that Josh and Emily had not yet decided on a name for their little baby boy. I sense that maybe the children could use some help with this task. Betty was waiting to take her medicine, so I thought I would try to take her mind off of the situation and throw out some possible baby names. Some that I’ve been thinking about for a while. (Josh, you might want to print this out and keep it handy in case any of these spark an interest.) There are some great names out there for a little boy. But a name should have character and show strength to those who will hear it and use it. I told Betty that I have personally always liked the name David. I’m not totally for sure why, but it just has a familiar ring to it. King David was a powerful king and yet a kind boy. He was a poet, a statesman and a father. It’s a great role model to set for a child. I said to Betty, if David is too formal, then maybe they should consider the name Dave. It’s shorter and kind of jaunty. A good choice for a pleasant, amiable son. If casual is a desired trait in a name then maybe they should think about something like Davey. It has a great distinction about it, especially if combined with other familiar aliases such as Crockett! Now there’s a name! Davey Crockett Crain! With a name like that, you can be certain this kid’s gonna be known all over the place for something. If classy is what they are going for in a name, how about Davareno. Man, now there’s a name that just sparkles. I can see it up in lights! It’s electric! I was really on a roll with all these wonderful name possibilities when the nurse called Betty for her treatment. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen her run to take her medicine.
We’ve had a great day together, even if it was at the hospital, just rejoicing in God’s blessing and healing. Thank you for taking us to the Father and I invite you to rejoice with us in the answer to so many prayers. We are blessed and grateful. Love to all!
Davareno (Let me know Josh!)
This is just a brief writing to let you know that the scans that Betty had last week to determine where we stand with the cancer were inconclusive. The reason for that is, she has developed pneumonia and her lungs are not clear enough to allow the doctors to view the area. There is also a problem with her heart that has been caused by the Herceptin drug that she has been taking since January. We had heart scans done this week and are waiting for the results to come back. If you could continue to lift her up to the Lord, we would greatly appreciate it. It seems as though we get two steps forward and three steps back sometimes. The comfort is in knowing that our Heavenly Father never misses a step. Thank you for your prayers so far in this journey. It continues and we just rest in Him. Love to all.
It’s been a while since my last writing. Betty started radiation treatments and we were on the road everyday. For seven weeks, five days a week we went to Tyler. It got to be routine. Get up, get ready, get in the car, drive to Tyler, go to treatment, eat lunch, go home. That’s a lot of getting, eating and going. The eating got to be a real problem. We tried every burger house, chicken house, steak house and out house in Tyler . We love “Whataburger”, but after about 5 days in a row, it turns into “What, another Burger?” We found a place called “Poncho Panda!” It’s a Mexican/Chinese food place run by what I think is a Russian guy! Is that legal? The hostess at Olive garden saw us so much that she went from saying “Hello Mr. Crain, follow me to your table, I’m sorry for your wait,” to “Hey Dave, hurry up and sit down, we’ve got hungry people behind you!” A few weeks ago Betty felt like cooking and she made fried chicken. Oh my! Had the chicken known what a service he was providing for me and what a wonderful blessing he would become, he would have gladly run forth to the chopping block, or hammer or whatever they use, to donate his life. It was fried to a golden brown with the perfect amount of salt and pepper and crisco. It was tender and juicy and full of delight to every taste bud that was privileged to encounter it. I laugh in your face Pancho Panda!
Betty has completed her radiation with some complications. The burns from the treatment were severe. She ran a fever for several weeks and had to go back to Tyler because of possible infection. Her energy level has severely dropped and she can go for a while then just runs down quickly. Her hair is coming in really well. It’s not long enough to comb, but it’s long enough that I can pull it. She tells me to stop it. She went with me to Quitman, TX to a revival last night. It was the first time she’s been with me since her diagnosis. It was really good for me to look into the audience and see her there. I’ve missed her so much. We will have scans done this month to see where we stand. Your continued prayers and support have been felt and are more than ever appreciated. It’s been a crazy trip. Lots of ups and downs. However, a big “up” came last month when we found out that our oldest son Joshua and his wonderful wife Emily are going to have a baby in February. Betty got a little hyper at the news. I keep having to “reel” her in on all that she wants to get “the baby.” As for me, I just take it in stride. I’m hoping for a boy or a girl. One or the other will be fine. No big deal. It’s just another child. But wait till it sees the pony I just bought! Love ya’ll!
I didn’t know until our life was invaded by cancer, that the last day of chemotherapy is a major hurdle. There is a large bell hanging on the wall at the treatment center that is rung by those who have completed their course in chemo. Family members sometimes come and make it a celebration. I began to think about that in Betty’s second month of treatment and the fact that the last day of this horrendous treatment would be a great day to have a party. I called family and a few friends to see if they could assemble. Then I called the boys, Josh and Caleb to see what their schedules were. Josh and Emily had just moved to Pennsylvania to a new church and Caleb and Nadine were in Colorado. Josh’s work was very busy and Caleb would be in the middle of finals at Ft. Lewis College in Durango. I said, “Boys, we’re celebrating your Mom’s last day of chemo on April 20, and it would be great if you could attend.” Without hesitation they both said, “We’ll be there!” So it was on. Now, to keep it a secret! For the next month, everybody that was related to Betty or had a close acquaintance with her lied through their teeth to her. Flight arrangements were being made, banners were being constructed and big pink buttons were being printed that read, “NO MO CHEMO.” Betty asked several family members if maybe they could come for her last day of treatment and most all of them said they were regrettably busy. More lies! The party was in the works. The nurses knew it, the staff at the oncology department knew it, friends knew it, relatives knew it. People we didn’t even know, knew it. Everybody but Betty knew it. What a terrible weight that was! It was like sin without confession. I’m just guessing here…, but it was a heavy load!
While she was taking her last treatment, the crowd gathered. She had no idea that basically everybody she knew was waiting for her and the bell. Doctor Vukelja, Betty’s oncologist came to help her ring it. As her hand was on the rope, I said, “Hey let’s open the door to the lobby so everyone can hear it. The door opened and there they were, a sea of familiar faces belonging to those that loved her and prayed for her and came to support her on this new road. Then the boys stepped out of the group and it was basically over. I asked the doctor if they had cardiac paddles on hand for when her heart stopped. I could just see the headlines: “Lady beats cancer but dies of heart attack!” Her face was priceless. I will never forget it. All these awful months of surgeries and treatments and medications and needles, for just a brief moment in time were washed away by a flood of joy and peace provided by family and friends. It was my first experience of laughing and crying at the same time. We yelled and cheered and applauded. She did not faint or collapse, though she did falter for a brief moment, but when she recovered, she rang the thunder out of that bell!
Eating at our house is very different lately. It’s very strange what Betty has been hungry for. Her taste buds are so messed up that what used to taste great to her is horrible and what she used to dislike, is sometimes very delicious. I’ve mentioned this before, but chili, for example, was not her most favorite dish. Maybe it had to do with the fact that it’s the only thing I know how to cook, (and when I say cook, I mean microwave out of the can). Whenever she has been sick over the years of our marriage, I make chile. She relates the two together. Sick and chile. Consequently, one tends to bring on the other. So, we don’t do chile much. Recently, however, we’ve been eating chile nearly every day. She really has a “hankerin” for it. (look it up!) Not just out of the can, but she is using a recipe from Betty Crocker to make it from scratch. We’re really getting “chile-ed” up around here. Because of all this, I find my self up quite late at night. One such night, as I was fighting the chile demons, I was almost asleep, you know, that state where you’re just about to doze off and you know it. Sleep is finally coming and you’re about to drift away on a soft fluffy cloud of rest. In my ear, from Betty’s side of the bed I hear a whisper, “Hey, you want to go to Denny’s?” Are you kidding?. Betty, it’s 2:30 in the morning why would I want to go to Denny’s? “Because I’m hungry for pancakes!” Though that was a pleasant change from our current dietary plan, I told her, hey, listen it’s very late and I’m very tired and I’m battling a chile addiction and there is no way in the world I’m going to Denny’s at 2:30 in the morning!.....
So, we’re on our way to Denny’s at 2:30 in the morning, and she’s trying to decide what kind of pancakes to get. Strawberry, blackberry or plain with lots of hot syrup. You know, Denny’s, in the middle of the night is a spooky place to be. What a strange crowd. There were seven people there. I guess they were people, it’s hard to tell from the way they were dressed. It looked as though there had been a clothing sale at the Wal-Mart dumpster. I commented to Betty how poorly everyone was atired at this time of the morning. She said, “Have you looked at yourself?” Which I did. I was wearing old hush puppy shoes with white socks, black shorts with caulk stains and a mustard colored shirt (real mustard) from 1980 that reads “Who Shot J.R.?” I blended in wonderfully. She looked over all the menu of pancakes, waffles, blintzes, (what ever they are). She studied it all with a keen eye for quite sometime and then looked at me and asked, “Do you think they have chile?”
We are very excited to tell you that Betty takes her last chemotherapy treatment tomorrow, April 20th. She still has radiation scheduled and will continue her treatment of the drug Herceptin for the remainder of the year. We have a long way to go, but we’re doing great! God has sustained us at every crossroad and every bump in the path. Thank you again for all your prayers. We don’t know the final outcome but we are well acquainted with the One who does. Next week will be difficult for Betty as we have noticed that the side effects are, to some degree, cumulative. The hard chemo lasts 28 days in her system and she takes it every 21 days, so there’s some bleed over that is sort of stacking up on her. She’s fighting all the way though, and we’re looking forward to the final dose of these really hard drugs. Tomorrow night, in Tyler, Betty will be at the “Relay for Life” rally. She was chosen as the “Hero of Hope” for one of the relay teams there in Tyler. We’re very excited to be a part of this most worthy cause. The relay starts at 7:00 pm with the “Survivors Dinner” at 5:30. I hope we don’t have chile! God bless.