Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Medical Update

Been a while, so we thought we should update everyone on the latest medical info.

I've had several scans/MRIs since we left Ohio.  The chest/abdominal scan in August had some differences, so they wanted to get another look in October.  That was our first order of business here in Texas.  Due to some communication breakdowns or un organization, we did not get those results until today's visit.  Can't tell you how frustrated we both were.

I was also due for follow up Brain and Spine MRIs.  Finally was able to get those scheduled before today's appointment.

The doctor here wanted to check how the heart is handling the treatment, so I had an echo done last week.  Results show the heart is doing well.  Love getting good news!

The other results are not so clear.

The chest/ab scan shows mixed response to treatment.  The larger masses have diminished in size, but the overall number of metastases have increased.

The brain appears to be stable.  (Insert joke here.)

The spine still has signs of disease with no changes to note at this time.

So,  with all that, the doctor is recommending that we stick with the current treatment plan and retake the scans again in February to see how things are going.

Now, time to get ready to relax for the holidays.  Merry Christmas!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Tuscaloosa Fun

We sure enjoyed our time in Tuscaloosa.  Met a lot of great folks that made us Buckeyes feel very welcome.

Wish I would have felt up to driving in to the campus just to get a look at how they tailgate.  They have an area similar to the Grove at Ole Miss.  The Quad becomes party central on game days.

Would love to come back and enjoy another college football Saturday with these folks again.

Roll Tide!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Nashville then on to T-Town...

Had a great time visiting with Connie's Dad (and sister), along with some of our Buckeye Heartland friends in Wilmington at Thousand Trails.

Left Monday morning around 10:30a and got into Nashville (without any drama along the way) around 5:30 EST, 4:30 local time.  Love Nashville.  Stayed at Two Rivers Campground where we spent a month in October of 2011.  To recap Thousand Trails (which ran $43/night) had grass, uneven sites, water/electric only and was located in the middle of ding dong.  For $2/night more, we got a level, gravel site with full hook ups and we were 7/10 mile from Opryland.  Don't get me started.

Saw 'Miss Peggy' (so glad as its her last week there) and Lisa.  Nashville is our Carmen's birthplace, and Lisa is the fantastic story maker that made that happen.  Brought a smile to get those two back together again.

 Tuesday, we hopped on the Downtown Shuttle to take on Broadway.  Love this area.  Best live music we've happened on.  In 4 hours, we heard Modern Country, Old Country, Rock, Metal, Dueling Pianos all done very well.  We were both over served which made the shuttle a great idea for $10pp round trip, and we had a tremendous time.  Visited Tootsie'sRobert's Western World,  Rippy's RibsCrossroads, the Big Bang, and, of course, Margaritaville.  (It's bad when you have to go back through your receipts to remember where you've been, isn't it?)  No covers at any of these places, but you needed to have some tip money for the band.  We did a lot of "holler and a swaller".

Wednesday was a recovery day, and Thursday was travel to Tuscaloosa, AL the home of the Crimson Tide.  Again, no travel drama which we're thankful for.

 We're staying at the Elks Lodge here in T-town.  They have 7 spots with water/electric that they rent out on Football weekends for $40/night.  Great sites.  Went into the lodge last night, was asked if I brought any potatoes (um, that's "Idaho") and met a couple of really nice guys from Coshocton and Wheelersburg.  Always meet Buckeyes, even if they're dressed in Crimson.  We'll be here through Sunday.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Travel Blog once again becomes a Travel Blog...

 Time for this blog to revert back to its roots and talk about our travels.  Thanks to all for your prayers and support of Connie, we both appreciate it.
We left Ashtabula (the home of Ohio State Football coach Urban Meyer, by the way) on Thursday, October 10th.  Kister Marina was a great time, a great place right on the Ashtabula River, and we saw a lot of old friends in addition to making several new ones.  Can easily say we had a great summer.

Our plans were to head to my Mom's area (Cardington, OH) for a couple of days, then Connie's Dad's area (Wilmington, our hometown) for a couple of days.  We got rolling casually late and about 49 miles from our exit I started noticing some smoke coming from our driver's side tires.  Immediately pulled over to see that one of our tires had let go.  <sigh>  Tires have been a big issue with us.  We've loved our rigs, but they have come with some cheap ass tires.  Had some good news as our Good Sam Roadside Assistance was very handy.  The spare was easy to get down and put on.  Only cost us about 90 minutes.

You can barely see our
rig on the horizon of this
huge parking lot
We had left things open, since Connie's treatment was Wednesday (10/9) and didn't know how she'd feel.  That being said, we didn't make reservations.  Every campground is having its 'year end', everybody get together.  So, when we arrived at the Cardinal Camping Center, we were basically put in steerage.  Gravel parking lot, 50 amp and water, but no sewage.  Not a biggie as we weren't really "camping", just storing our house for a few days.

Our daughter Bethany came down after work on Thursday, and we spend a wonderful day with my Mom shopping at Polaris (while I had the tire swapped out at NTB Polaris), just south of there.  Mom wanted to make it our "Christmas" shopping, and was a little frustrated that there was more 'shopping' than 'buying'.  Had a great dinner at Max & Erma's, then stopped over to see our friends Dave and Jean and their daughters.

Got up early Saturday morning (7:30a is early for us), walked the dogs, got the chair put back in the basement, and changed the tire.  First time on this beast, everything went very well.  Was done by 9:00a.  As I was sliding the spare back under to go up, I saw something in the remaining tire:  a screw.  Couldn't believe it.  Now, we've got problems.  Noon check out, and a had a run back into NTB Polaris.  Guy there was who waited on me the day before and I think he felt sorry for me.  Got me right in and out, so that by 10:15a, I had it on the rig and we could start tearing down.

Pretty uneventful ride until we got to our SR 73 exit for Waynesville and the traffic was backed up incredibly.  I guess there were was a big festival (Sauerkraut Festival), the Flea Market, the Renaissance Center and everything else going on.

We got into the Thousand Trails Wilmington at about 2:30p.  You'll have to read my review after I post it, but it's not going to be glowing.  Met some friends from our "Heartland Family" here, and Connie's Dad and Aunt came out and we had a wonderful dinner and time together afterward.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

September - Where Does the Time Go?!

Once again, it has been a long layoff from posting.  We have had a lot going on in the month of September.

For starters, we made a visit to Wilmington on the 4th.  Nothing special, just checking in with my parents.  We spent time together enjoying the time together.

Sloopy offering her love and support.
As it turns out, that would be the last visit with Mom.  She unexpectedly passed away on September 13.  So, another trip to Wilmington.  We stayed a couple of days to help Dad with some of the paperwork stuff.    The Clinton County Senior Center had a wonderful potluck for us after the services. Was nice seeing friends and family - despite the circumstances.

Down on the farm.

During some down time, we had the opportunity to visit the farm where my maternal grandparents lived.  The dogs (Sloopy, Carmen & Tucker) really enjoyed running around and checking out all the new smells.

Back to Ashtabula.  The weather has certainly turned more to Fall.  We have had some nice afternoons that have allowed us to sit outside and watch some baseball and of course, college football.  A few visits from friends have made those afternoon and evenings very enjoyable.  All this gave us great excuses to use the new smoker grill.  Yum!

Sad time of year as we have taken the raft out of the water and put it in storage.  This year, we will leave it here since we have not made much use of it in Texas.

Yesterday, I had a followup brain MRI.  The good news is that the big tumor had not grown.  The bad news is that it had not shrunk,  either.  The doctor wants to take another check in 2-3 months, so we will have that done in Texas.  Next up is the followup spine MRI on Friday.

Folks here at Kister Marina are starting to pack up and head home for the winter.  We too, are starting to get organized for our trip south.  At this time, our departure date is scheduled for October 11.

Go Buckeyes!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

20 days in one post

Sorry for being absent for so long.  I've mentioned before how I have to drag myself to write.  I wish I enjoyed doing it more.  I read so many blogs that I can tell, these people enjoy writing.  Never been me.  Not something I can "learn" to do, but I'm trying.

Connie's treatment on the 9th went, according to people who know, very well.  With this radiation surgery, as we found out with the brain radiation in March/April, takes a while to 'see' progress.  The radiation works for literally months as it melts the tumors.  Connie will get more CAT scans, etc. at the end of September.

We took off for a little personal time to visit our friends from Bellevue, OH for her birthday.  Took a day trip to Sandusky on the 13th, then loaded the rig on the Miller Ferry for a trip to probably our favorite place in Ohio:  Put-In-Bay.  It was celebration, but it was also recon to see if next year, we can spend a week out there.

Great times, saw Calabash at the Roundhouse, had a couple of beers on the Boardwalk overlooking 'the balls' where we used to park the boat, and Mustang Sally at the Beer Barrel.

Also, had a wonderful surprise that our good friend from Columbus, Craig, and Dennis and Karen's daughter Ashley, made the trip up.  Such good times with our friends.  We don't do it enough.

Friday, the 16th, we stayed over to Sandusky to watch Wally and the Beavs, another of our favorite 'bands of summer'.  Watching Wally and the Beavs, for me, is like looking into a what could have been mirror had I have decided to play and gig instead of not.  Guys look like they're having a blast, they play well, they play the tunes I would be playing and gigging with had I have chosen that route.

Came back to Ashtabula and met with our friends, Ed & Loretta, from Sea Breeze RV park in Texas.  They're trekking cross country from their home in New Jersey to Seattle to take their great grand son back to school.  Fun showing off our town, just shooting the breeze with friends.

The Wine and Walleye Fest was held last weekend (the 23rd - 25th) and it was so good to see our town alive and Bridge Street, in particular, welcoming so many guests for a weekend.  Said hello to people we hadn't seen in years.  The lighted boat parade was fun to see.  With the advancement of generators, makes that really a neat option.

Started last night hopping back up on a podium and running a rehearsal for an Alumni Band performance at the high school where I taught.  Felt like I never left.

Connie having a treatment this morning, and we both hope it doesn't knock her flat, but to quote Yogi Berra, "we never know until we know."  Always clear the schedule from Wednesday through Sunday.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

We've Been Having Some Fun!

Again, it has been a while since we have updated everyone.  Sorry about that, but we have actually been out and about having some fun.  All, of course, mixed in with more appointments.

The MRI and mapping simulation for the Novalis Radiosurgery was done on July 31st.  The actual procedure will be done on Friday, Aug. 9.  This will treat the tumor on the spine and hopefully reduce the back pain.

Bubba Watson on leaving #16
David Feherty posing for Bob
Thanks to our friend, Rich, we were able to enjoy the Bridgestone Invitational Golf Tournament in person.  I was feeling good and able to get around fairly easy.  It helped that the tournament offered shuttles from the parking lot to whatever hole I desired.  I went Thursday and Friday and really enjoyed it.  Bob took Saturday off and went back on Sunday with our friend, Don.

Another cool happening was that I was reconnected with a high school friend, Joni.  Could not believe it when I saw her facebook post that mentioned she was at Ashtabula Yacht Club!  That's right next door.  Was able to hook up on Monday for a visit.  Hoping for several more this season.

Like I said, we've been busy having fun.  Looking forward to our Put-in-Bay trip next week!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

More Doctors Join the Team & More Planning

Again, hard to believe it has been over a week since we posted.  Would love to say we have been busy running around, but just not the case.  Bob has been busy with our travel agency (that's a good thing).

I had lab work done on Tuesday in preparation for the recurring 3 week Wednesday treatment.  All went well.  Even felt good on the days after this time.

Friday had us off to Cleveland again to visit yet another doctor (Spine specialist - Dr. Krishnany).  He was concerned with the pain I have been experiencing and ordered a standing x-ray to gather more information.

The weekend came and went with nothing exciting to report.

A new week brought about new appointments (and even more doctors).   Started the day with another brain MRI.  Since we met with the brain doctor in the afternoon, we received the results same day. Word is that it looks good as there was no new growth.  So, time to move on to the spine.  All indications are that I will be a good candidate for radiation to the spine.

The procedure for the spine sounds very similar to the CyberKnife that was used for the brain.  But, with new procedures, comes new doctors.  This radiation (Stereotactic Spine Radiosurgery) requires not one, but TWO doctors.  Welcome to the team Drs. Angelov and Chao.

Both doctors "worked us in" on Monday so we would not have to return another day.  Even if it made the day extremely long (11 AM to 5:30PM), it was nice that they did that for us.

Each doctor had to explain the radiosurgery procedure at great length.  Next step is to have the mold made (again, similar to the mask that was needed for the brain).  That is currently scheduled for July 31. Once that is done, they will work on the "mapping" to pinpoint the radiation.  Probably will not get rolling for another week or so.

That's the latest.  The really good part of Monday was getting to go see Bethany's new office.  Then later heading back to the Davis house for the evening.  The dogs sure enjoyed playing together and we enjoyed visiting.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

One week and 1618 miles: miles 916 - 1618

We arrived back to Bethany's Friday evening (mile 1329) to find out that she had a flat tire and we needed to have her car in to the shop by 7a Saturday morning.

Got that accomplished, then it was time to take Connie's parents back to SW Ohio while Connie stayed with Bethany and James.

Got the car hooked up and about the time we should have had lunch, we were going to be at my Mom's house (mile 1435) so we arranged to pick her up.  We went out to Edison's Depot, which was kind of fascinating.  Apparently, during Edison's time, the village decided to rename itself after the inventor.  He wasn't born there, didn't live there and didn't die there, but the little village just took it upon themselves to honor him.

Connie's parents decided to head on to Wilmington by themselves, I spent a little more time with my Mom, then headed back to Cleveland.  Got back to Cleveland (mile 1541) around 4p and we spent the evening with Bethany, James and the kids.

Pretty neat the way our two girls and Bethany and James' dog Tucker get along, play, romp, wear each other out.

We had dinner out at a local tavern (Stamper's) close to the kids house in Fairview Park.  Food was decent.

Afterward, we watched our first two episodes of Duck Dynasty.  Not sure what the buzz is about, but at least we can say we've seen it.  Spent the night in the spare bedroom (different bed #5), had some pancakes in the morning and off we went for Ashtabula.

Arrived back to the rig almost 7 days and 1 hour after we left (mile 1618).  Drove about one way to Billings, MT.  Everything was good here, took about an hour to unpack and we were back to semi normal.

One week and 1618 miles: miles 487 - 916

We left Bethany's house fairly early on Wednesday morning (mile 487) and headed for Baltimore MD.

You've 'arrived' when you have
your own, personalized
timpani stool
I had contacted one of my former students (James Wyman) who had recently been appointed principal timpanist for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.  James met us outside Meyerhoff Hall when we arrived into town and gave us a tour.  What a beautiful facility.

Very proud of James.  Taught a lot of talented students, some of whom wanted to make music a profession.  Was worried James was never going to leave NE Ohio area and his talents wouldn't be truly appreciated.  He looks to be in a terrific place.

Stayed the night at the Holiday Inn Columbia in Jessup, MD (different bed #3).  Lots of Munzees around, capped quite a few of them, put out a few.  Had dinner at T.G.I. Friday's which was a bit of a disappointment, but we still enjoyed ourselves.

Thursday, we did some morning business at the hotel, had a great breakfast (for a hotel) then headed to the Inner Harbor.  We'd been there before, but we decided to do a different corner than we had been to before.  Afterward, we headed to Fort McHenry.

Oh, say can you see
(this flag?)
As a band director, I had told the story of the writing of the Star Spangled Banner many times.  I had seen the actual banner quite a few years ago at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.  However, I had never been to Fort McHenry.  Its different when you tell a story vs. you're standing where the story actually happened.  Love that part of history.

Our purpose for our trip to Baltimore was at hand as we boarded the Grandeur of the Seas.  She had a fire in late May which had kept her out of service until Thursday.  We did a 1 night cruise to nowhere and saw most all of her staterooms and public rooms.

They've done a pretty good job of modernizing her.  Neither of us were overly impressed with the way they chopped up the Viking Crown Lounge, but otherwise,  we liked everything about her.  Was excited to see the new aerial display in the centrum but walked away a little disappointed.  Its possible I set the bar too high.

Also had the pleasure to meet face to face one of our newest outside agents (Janelle) and her husband (Jeff).  She's 'Nancy Newbie' (her term) in the travel business, but she reminded us of us.  Gathering every insight, trying to get ideas, learning about the industry, etc.  She's going to do very well in the business.

Spent the night in an oceanview room (different bed #4), had a decent (although too early!) breakfast the next morning and off we headed (mile 916) for Cleveland on Friday.