Friday, February 26, 2010

Major Progress

In a previous blog, I indicated Cindy is now driving a vehicle. Beyond is proof:

Today was a big day. It was Cindy's first visit to the physical therapists. They will also be fitting Cindy with her prosthesis.

When meeting with the owner and some of the therapists, they indicated that Cindy is healing at a rate that they have only seen in one other patient thus far. If all continues according to plan, she will be in a prosthesis in as early as two weeks from now.

They fitted Cindy with a silicon liner, which will prepare her for the sizing and fitting of a socket. Once she has completed this task, she will be fitted for a plaster cast, which will be used to make a foam cast, followed by a final cast that will fit into the prosthesis. Below is Cindy just after she was fitted for her first liner. As her leg shrinks, which it still needs to do for the proper fitting of the prosthesis, so will the size of her liner.

To see the picture below as it is supposed to be viewed, lie on your right side and look at the picture with your head on the ground. (Sorry, but I was unable to turn the picture so this is the best I could do) :-)

As for the posthesis, they will give Cindy a "training wheels" version, which will provide additional balance but not as much mobility as the permanent prosthesis. Karen, who we met on our previous visit has the same prosthesis that Cindy will eventualy receive. You can barely see that she has a limp, and when she is wearing long pants, it is impossible to know she has an artificial leg.

This week, Cindy's brother Warren stayed with us while I was away. Since you have been hearing about him, the picture below allows you to see him. Warren was a huge help to us this week. He returns to the balmy, tropical Baltimore weather tomorrow...and his younger brother, Jim, arrives for a brief visit. Amazing that we have both here on the same day and they will not get to see each other. The great news is that Cindy and I will get to see both!

Next parents return for a four day visit...and our cousins Jeff & Karin stop by as well.
Busy times ahead! It is so gratifying that so many people wish to see Cindy.

By the way...we picked more ruby red grapefruits from our tree than we can possibly use. If you would like some free delicious grapefruits, please let us know and we will save some for you!

New Blog Later Today

Cindy will be going to her first physical therapy session and (hopefully) prosthesis fitting.

A blog with pictures will be posted later today.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Today's Update: A "10" on a "10-Scale"

Today we had our quarterly visit to the Moffitt Cancer Center.

Our first stop: Cindy had a CT scan, followed by an MRI. The reason for these two tests:
  • Check her lungs to see if the sarcoma is reappearing. If it does return, the lungs are typically the first place it will be visible.
  • Check Cindy's liver to see if the growth that was biopsied in December has grown. It was not deemed to be cancerous at that time, but if it grows, they may want to biopsy it again.
  • Check Cindy's kidneys. Since she has been diagnosed with Stage 3 kidney failure (there are only four stages) from all the chemo she received, they need to ensure the kidneys are still functioning properly.
Below, Cindy and I, along with her brother, Warren (photographer extrodinaire), are on our way to the testing area.

Once Cindy completed her MRI and CAT scan, we went to meet with the battery of doctors who typically see us on our visits. Of course, the first person to meet us was Christine, who you may remember is the physician who worked with Cindy and was with us when Cindy took her very first step without her "other" leg.

Then the other doctors began to arrive...and each gave us great news!

  • Cindy's lungs are clear. There are no signs of growth.
  • The growth in her liver has not expanded in 6 months. They will take one more MRI three months from now. If it still hasn't grown by then, they will stop checking as they will be certain it is not cancerous.
  • Her kidneys look great and they are functioning at a normal level!
Along with this great news, they also removed all of the stitches in Cindy's leg. It is healing extremely well and there is no sign of infection. She will be on IV antibiotics for two more weeks and then she will no longer have to take any antibiotics (IV or oral).

The picture below is Christine, Jay (the nurse who stayed with Cindy and held her hand during surgery) and us.

WARNING: If you are squeemish, you may not want to look at the picture below as it shows "Little Lu" in all its glory. For us, we think it looks great, but not everyone reacts the same way to something that is a bit out of the ordinary.

If you don't wish to look at the picture, you may wish to leave the blog now. We understand completely. We are posting the picture because this is Cindy. Note the smile on her face. She is happy and healthy...and for us that is all that matters.

So with that in mind, I will end the blog above the last picture. Cindy begins physical therapy on Friday. At that time, she will be fitted for a prosthesis...we can't wait!

I will report more at that time, if not sooner.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Weekend Update

After a challenging week in which Cindy was up all night for two straight nights, we finally learned why this was happening. Cindy decided to play doctor and took herself off of a prescription medication she was taking. The side effect of doing so caused her to have massive bouts of insomnia. The good news is that her nurse verbally took her to task and now she is taking the medication again...and sleeping through the night.

Tomorrow (Monday) we are going to Moffitt for Cindy's quarterly cancer check (MRI's, labs, etc.) and to have the stitches/staples removed from her leg. This is always a bit of a nervous time for us because we always worry about the cancer returning. Hopefully we will have good news to report on tomorrow night's blog update.

Gotta go! We are picking Cindy's oldest brother up from the airport. He is coming to stay with us for a week to see his sister and watch over her while I am traveling amazingly generous gesture!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Healing Process...Cindy and our Garage Door

Our garage door was replaced today. You don't realize how much you miss it until you don't have use of it. Last Friday we had a driving rainstorm and low temperatures. Wheeling Cindy out the front door and around the house to get to the driveway in her wheelchair was one of the coldest, wettest, more unpleasant events we experienced in a while. I don't think we will ever take our garage for granted again :-)

We both feel really bad...not because the door was damaged and needed to be replaced; but because a wonderful person with a heart of gold came to visit and offer some friendship and happiness to Cindy - and instead left feeling upset. To that person who shall remain nameless...we loved that you cared enough to come by and hope you will do so again - SOON!

Further updates...Cindy is now driving a bit. That is a huge step (sorry for the "step" pun) in her road to recovery. It is still challenging to walk with her "uni-leg", but she is managing to balance much more steadily each day.

The severe pain she has been having from the phantom pains has not been as intense lately. We can't even begin to tell you how wonderful that is.

Cindy has two more weeks of IV antibiotics. We can't wait until she concludes that process as it takes on average two hours each night to infuse. At least she has been enjoying the Olympics while she "drips".

This Sunday, Cindy's oldest brother, Warren, is flying down to stay with us for a week while I am away for a few days. We can't even begin to express how much that means to us. While Cindy is becoming more mobile, we are still not sure she is ready to solo overnight yet.

Everyone...please continue to stay in touch with Cindy and for those who wish to, please keep visiting! It thrills me to see how happy she is when friends visit with her.

That's it for now. More soon!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Next Chapter...

Once Cindy has her stitches and staples removed (2/22), she will begin the next chapter in her life...walking again.

Our daughter-in-law, Katie, Cindy and I visited the location where Cindy will have her prosthesis fitted and where she will do her physical therapy to learn how to walk with her new leg.

Pictured is Karen, who will work with Cindy. She is an amazingly nice person and has had a prosthesis since she was 13. The place makes you feel very welcome and warm...and encouraged. Pictures adorn their walls of patients that are missing limbs. Each is competing in a physical activity...which includes surfing, running, biking...and even pitching a baseball game with an artificial leg! Karen (above) just came back from a ski trip with her two daughters. In other words, there is nothing that a person with a prosthesis can't do if they set their mind to it.

Cindy is scheduled to begin working with them very soon...she is healing that quickly!

I'll update the blog again as we begin the new journey toward Cindy's first steps.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Tomorrow we are going to visit the location where Cindy will be doing physical therapy when she receives her prosthesis. I will be taking my camera with me and will post pictures on the blog.

You'll never believe what happened to our house yesterday! I have been sworn not to say anything on this blog for a few days. Oh, heck! I can't help myself...When we say, "Park in the driveway and come through the garage"...we mean by foot...not by car! 

Sorry...I couldn't resist...but I will not give up names until I post pictures after it's fixed.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Cindy is showing signs of improvement. The phantom pains were not as bad over the last two days.

Our thanks to Kristen for staying with Cindy last night while I was away.

To all of our friends and relatives in the DC/Balt areas who are experiencing 4 feet of snow...all I can say is we are thinking of you down here and hope your lights stay on and your house stays warm.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Cindy saw her surgeon today and the healing process is going extremely well (which has never been the case for us due to the constant infections she has endured).

Everything looks great, with just a little redness around one of the stitches. This is incredibly positive news.

Cindy has a magnificent attitude which is helping with her healing process. She continues to look forward to being more mobile and returning to work as soon as she is able.

The phantom pains continue to cause her extreme discomfort. It is similar to being prodded with an electrical current at regular and unexpected intervals. We can only hope that this diminishes soon, though there are no guarantees that it will. The good news is that since her really bad episode last Friday, she felt a bit better on Saturday and Sunday. It could be because her daughter-in-law and I are totally revamping her wardrobe; donating to charity most of what she owns  and buying her all new clothes to represent her new life as a mobile, non-wheelchair restricted person!

We are also planning our annual summer vacation to Palm Island...which I promised her we would do as a post-surgery present. She can't wait to be walking on the beach again with her new prosthesis! I can't wait to tell everyone that a shark bit off her leg! :-)

That's it for now.

Take care!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Weekend Update

The leg has been causing Cindy a great deal of pain lately. Last night (Friday) was especially trying. Today was a better day. The pain was still there, but it wasn't as ferocious as yesterday.

On Monday, Cindy will be going to see the surgeons to learn how the leg is healing.

The good news is she will not have to try to maneuver through 30+ inches of snow to do so. (We feel for our friends and family in the Balt/DC area)!

I'll provide an update Monday evening.

Happy Sunday!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Phantom Pains

The leg is gone but the brain does not realize this. Cindy's missing leg hurts, itches and feels like it is still there.

It's remarkable that something that is not there is acting like it still is.

Here are the medical stats: 70% of amputees experience phantom pains in year 1. In year 2, 40% still do.

We are hoping Cindy will be among the 60% who do not.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My Wife Is Going To Kill Me!!!

Because I'm away, there is not much to report blog-wise. Cindy and I spoke this evening and she had another great day.

Unfortunately, I tend to get a bit homesick when I am away for more than one night. When that happens, I sometimes look at family pictures on my laptop. Yes, it's waxing nostolgic and it is a bit "sappy", but "it is what it is". tonight I was looking through some oldies but goodies and thought I would share a few with you. Some of you have known us this long, but for those who have not, below is the essence of Cindy and why I am so mesmerized by her, even after 29 yrs of marriage.

(Note: Cindy will likely kill me for this...but it's worth it!!!)

So here goes the picture show...

I'd marry her all over again!

Why we are not invited back to parties...

I believe this is why Kevin joined the Army.

and lastly...Paula Deen and her husband meets a celebrity in pink!

I'll be back home tomorrow night. If I survive my wife's wrath, I will blog again soon :-)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Great News!

The pathology report came back and there was no cancer found in the leg that Cindy "lent" to the pathologists. I am concerned because we got the feeling they don't plan to give it back! :-)

The higher than normal level of antibiotic in Cindy's bloodstream is now back to normal and she will resume taking the two IV antibiotics prescribed to her...just not as much.

Kyle's girlfriend, Kristen is staying with Cindy while I am away. It is very uncomfortable to be out of town, but I know Cindy is in good hands...especially with those of you who have been providing her with food and gifts. It is gratifying to see all the love everyone has for her.

Kevin called from Afghanistan today to let me know that although some bad things happened there which he is afaid we may see on the news, he is okay and was not affected by what happened. Only 9 more months to worry about him...Unfortunately, Kyle joins him in Afghanistan in Sept, so we don't get a "worry-break". least we don't have to worry about Cindy!

Have a great day!

Monday, February 1, 2010

A big THANKS, and updates on meals for those who are on the schedule

Hello all,

We cannot thank you enough for all of your love, support and offers of help these last few weeks. It means the world to Cindy and Rob, and to Rus and myself.

Cindy is feeling far better than we ever imagined possible (YAY!), and so it looks like meal needs won't be what we anticipated prior to surgery. So, with that good looks like the last need we will have for a meal will be this WEDNESDAY (February 3rd). I will email those of you who signed up for meals after that date to touch base personally.

Again, we cannot thank you all enough for taking the time to help and make sure Cindy and Rob were well cared for in the first days/weeks at home. :-)


Amy :-)