Sunday, May 27, 2018

Dear Kids,
         Happy Birthday to Dad and Dallin!  We’re looking forward to seeing a lot of you at the party this evening.  It’s supposed to rain around noon, but it’s also supposed to clear out by early evening. We can have a lot of fun whatever.  Thanks to all of you who went in on Dad’s present!  He already knows about it; in fact, it’s in our garage right now.  He goes out and visits it several times a day.  Thanks to Bevan for finding it!
         Our medical news is getting better.  Dad’s neck has nearly stopped bleeding, and it’s mostly closed up.  I’m doing a little better, too.  I’m feeling a little less pain, and   Dad says my incision is starting to heal. (I can’t see it myself, so he gives me regular reports.)  I’m grateful for any progress at all, and I thank you for all of your prayers.  I know that’s helped.  My troubles have gone on for a long time, but your prayers have helped me feel better about my whole situation.  I talked to my radiation doctor a couple of weeks ago, and he said that when I’m all healed up, I should meet with a medical oncologist and have him look at my films–something about the nerve endings being close to my tumor, and evaluating the “pathology” of it all.  I didn’t quite follow.  He said they might recommend a “little bit” of chemo.    I hope they won’t find anything more.  I don’t want to cross any more bridges when I come to them.
         We’ve had beautiful weather this week, and on Friday Dad and I turned on our sprinklers.  We only had a couple of breaks in our drip lines, but nothing major.  It was just fun to be outside working in the yard again.  Yesterday I spent about half an hour raking dirt, and I’m hoping to be able to handle more as the days go on.  It’s funny–I’m OK  moving around, but if I stand or sit, I’m in a lot of pain.  So church is a problem.  Last week I went to the first part of sacrament meeting (in Francis 2nd ward, because my beloved Spanish branch has been dissolved) but I had to leave right after the sacrament.  It was too hard to sit.  Today I’m hoping to make it longer.
         It’s hard to believe summer is here!  It’s time to think about summer fun.  The big Allen family reunion at Riverwoods park is July 28th, and Lucy’s baptism will be that evening, in the Provo River.  I hope it’s a nice hot day.  At least Seth won’t have to cut through any ice, like some people have done to be baptized.
         Then, August 2-4 is our Ackerson family reunion. (Or will it start on the evening of the 1st?)  I’m excited about Pineview.  We’ll have a wonderful time, like we always do.
        Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Dear Kids,
         A week from today is Dad’s birthday, and Dallin’s, too.  There will be a birthday celebration/dinner here at our house at 5 pm.  Donna is planning the dinner, so you can call her for a food assignment.  If you need an idea for a present for Dad, you call or text me.   It’s supposed to be warm here that day, with only a 10% chance of rain, so we can have a lot of fun outside.  Be there or be square!
         Our medical adventures go on and on.  Dad’s neck bleeds every day, but just a little bit, and it’s old blood.  We saw his doctor on Wednesday, and he wasn’t at all concerned.  He said this could go on for a long time, but it’s very upsetting for Dad.  For me, too, because he’s ruined three garment tops, and I have to wash them every day. If he wears them over and over, he won’t ruin any more.  Dad thought Tina would be interested in his gooey neck, since she’s a jungle cat way down deep, but she doesn’t like old blood.
         I’m still the same. I saw my doctor on Wednesday, and he said my incision is starting to heal, but I can’t feel any difference.  If anything, it hurts more than ever.  He said that’s just part of the healing process, which made no sense at all to me.  The pharmacy is balking now at refilling my ultram prescription, so I have to get my doctor to prescribe it differently, and see if that will help.  I wish there were more to my life than constant pain.  I’m able to do a few minor projects, but I can’t play the piano, because it hurts me so much to sit.  It hurts to stand, too, although I can walk around a little bit.  So everything I can do lying down, I do.  But it’s a boring life. The worst thing is that it’s beautiful spring weather outside, and I can’t go out and work in the yard.
         But there are good things.  Jana McGettigan and Cami Cook came to visit me on Thursday, and they entertained me wonderfully with their news of the outside world.  Our old neighborhood chapel at Bangerter and 4100 South is going to be demolished to make way for a traffic overpass at that intersection.  Where can they possibly build a new church around there?  Maybe John is right, that we’ll all be going to a 2-hour Sunday block soon, and they can fit four wards in each building.  That way, they won’t have to build so many chapels.
         Another good thing is that people from our ward have been bringing us food and goodies. This week we got chocolate frosted cookies and cin-a-bons.  There are other invalids in our ward, but we’re probably the only home that has two of them, so we get a lot of attention.
         So life is good.  I love you all!  Mom

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Dear Kids,
         Happy Mothers Day to all my wonderful daughters and daughters-in-law.   You are all doing so well raising your children and organizing your families and being wonderful homemakers!  I’m very proud of you all!
         In case anybody didn’t hear about Dad’s surgery adventure, I’ll recap it here.  Tuesday morning he had the squamous cell carcinoma cut out of his neck, a circle about an inch and a half across, and as thin as a piece of skin.  The doctor was able to pull enough loose skin together to sew it up, without a skin graft, and it looked really good.  (If a Frankenstein scar can look good.)  Dad was supposed to go home and take it easy, and he mostly did, except for going up and down the stairs a couple of times.  So what happened next wasn’t his fault.  About 2 pm the incision broke open and blood started pouring down his neck, soaking his shirt.  I honestly thought he was going to bleed to death.  I had him hold gauze pads over the wound, but the blood poured through anyway.  I was (miraculously) able to get his doctor on the phone, and he said we both needed to calm down.  (“Each of you take a deep breath,” he said.)  Nobody has ever bled to death from this procedure.  He said to keep applying pressure, and it would stop bleeding eventually.  It did, but not until late that night. The next morning we met the doctor in his office, and he said it looked OK.  Dad was supposed to hold ice packs over it, and we needed to drop by again later in the afternoon.  (Since it was Wednesday, we were in Salt Lake anyway.)  So we came back at 3 pm, and the doctor said it was going to be fine.  It looks terrible, but it’s gradually getting better, and Dad is feeling better.
         Unlike me.   My incision is still open, and still hurts terribly.  My doctor said this could go on for another four weeks.  I guess I’ll stand it somehow.  I discovered I could double up on my pain medication–just because our insurance coverage limits me to just  one pill every four hours, I can pay for more out of my pocket.  As long as the doctor prescribes it, the pharmacy will fill it.  Anyway, it’s not a narcotic, but ultram.  Katie told me it doesn’t do any good, but it’s helping me.  That, and everybody’s prayers.  So I’m taking two ultram every four hours, and making it through each day.  Someday I’ll look back on all this and think it was good for me.  Right now I can’t see the big picture.
         So I dyed my hair pink.  It was easy.  I bought a pouch of pink dye off Amazon, and it only took a little bit to really brighten up my hair.  It will wash out eventually, but I’m enjoying my new look now.  If you can’t do anything else to make your life better, at least you can change your hair color.
         Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Dear Kids,
         On Monday, Dad got the results of his biopsy, and as you can guess (the way things have been going for us,) it wasn’t benign.  It’s a squamous cell carcinoma.  He’s going to have it removed on Tuesday, not by our regular dermatologist, but by a Mhos doctor in Sugarhouse.  (Mhos is a special procedure, named after the doctor who invented it, where a lab technician examines each piece of tissue the doctor removes, until the area is finally clear of the cancer.)   Because the area is so large and flat, Dad might have to have skin grafts when they’re done.  What is it with us, that every medical thing is as bad as it can possibly be?   I’m just glad we have good medical care available, and that our insurance has an out-of-pocket limit. (Which we’ve just about hit.)  Anyway, Dad can use your prayers for Tuesday.  He’s very nervous.
         And naturally I’ve had another hitch in my recovery.  Things had been going really well, and last Monday I even drove a jazzy around Walmart.  But Monday night I started feeling a lot of pain from my incision, so I called my doctor Tuesday morning.  I saw him Wednesday, and he said my incision has totally opened up.  He blamed it on the radiation I had, which he said is still working on my body tissues.  I thought he might stitch it up again, but he said the best thing is to leave it open until it heals itself, which he promised would happen.  He told me to soak it twice a day, and he showed Dad how to pack it with gauze.  And I still have my home health nurse coming.  Between the two of them I’m well taken care of, but the pain is really intense.  So I still need your prayers.  You won’t run out of people to pray for, as long as Dad and I are around.
         The only nice thing about all this is that people are so good to us.  Especially you kids!  We really appreciate all the help (and food) you’ve given us. When you’re sick you see the best side of everybody!  Yesterday morning the Spanish branch president brought a crew to work on our yard.  They mowed and trimmed and pulled weeds, and it looks really good now.  Dad and I have been doing what we can, but it was nice to have the extra help.  I can’t count all the people who have helped us out!
         It’s supposed to be warm today, 76 for a high, and our fire pit is crying out to be used.  So if any of you who come tonight, we can make smores!  I have everything we need. And I bought more of those colored IKEA cups, so there’s one for every grandchild now, with his or her name on them.  My stack is gigantic.
         Jane and Joe came to visit yesterday, and while Joe took Dad to get a hamburger, and drive around, Jane and I had fun talking and watching a movie (Ball of Fire.) It’s sure fun having them live close by now.  We’re so lucky to have lots of family around us!
         I love you all!  Mom