Friday, July 31, 2009

Day 19, Cycle 1

Here's a new visitor to our garden...a mourning dove (at least he/she looks sort of like the one in the bird book). I was sitting out on the front the porch the other morning and I kept seeing this bird fly in grab some dried stuff from the garden and then fly off. I kept snapping pictures till it finally came into view and I was able to get the whole bird in the picture. It was very industrious...guess getting nesting materials. I used the photo to identify it to the closest in our bird book. Graham (7) and I have plans to make a bird note book (complete with pictures) of the birds we have seen and taken pictures far it is just a plan...but we definitely have pictures when the right time comes along to create the notebook...the notebook is bought and ready for the to find the time! And, we have seen lots of birds right here in our front yards. Amazing what is out there if one just sits quietly and waits. Reminds me of one of my favorite Bible verses: Psalm 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God."

I grocery shopped today. When I got home, Graham, Abigail and Woody helped me carry the grocery bags in and then helped put things away. Abigail and I made a salad for a salad luncheon that I'm going to tomorrow. Woody read Abigail several stories. Graham built Big Ben with his K'nex. Woody helped me some when I got around to fixing supper. Woody got home early from work today and when I asked if he went in a bit earlier, he said "no" that he had worked through lunch...he got so busy that he didn't realize that it was lunch I'm assuming that he didn't walk at lunch today. I just checked and I was right about my assumption! When I went down to check as to whether he had sawed any more on the tree, I found out that he had cleaned up the kitchen after my cooking mess of making supper...nice surprise! He said that he sawed another two feet off the tree trunk this evening. He was studying his Sunday School lesson, when I interrupted to check about the tree sawing and to see if there was anything that I "needed" to add to the blog! I think that he has had a pretty good...pretty busy day. Now for a good relaxing weekend!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Day 18, cycle 1

Look what came right through Nathan's yard three days ago. I didn't have my long telephoto lens on my camera, so not the best picture, but you can still see the little fellow! I left the birdhouse that is in our garden in the picture to show you how close he was. I happened to look out my kitchen window and saw a deer in Nathan's front yard and ran for my camera. I didn't realize that it was a fawn till I had taken a couple of pictures. He just stopped mid-street and stared at me when he heard our front door open and close. I'm sure that I scared him. I'll bet his mama was ahead of him wondering why he stopped! He walked slowly into the across the street neighbor's yard and continued to walk till he got to the side of their house and then he took off running.
Woody went to work as usual, walked at lunch, came home, sawed another three foot piece off the tree, and then has read and relaxed in his recliner. He continues to feel fair to middlin' as he tells all the techs, nurses and doctors when they ask how he is feeling. They are never sure just exactly what that means! He has to explain that it doesn't mean great nor does it mean bad...but that it means that he is feeling somewhere in the middle...which is a pretty good place to be...especially given his health circumstances.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tree update!

This lets you see the tools Woody is working with: gas can for a saw horse and the one and only saw that he has used to accomplish this fallen tree task!

Here's the brush pile that he has created!

Woody's goal for after he got home from work was to cut three more feet off the trunk of the tree and he met his goal. As you can see, he has done remarkably well at cutting up this tree with just a gas can, a hand saw, and his own muscle power! (July 25's post will let you see the fallen tree prior to Woody starting to saw it up.)
Woody went to work early this morning, walked at lunch, came home and sawed on the tree, and then relaxed in his recliner reading and "resting his eyes." Sounds like a good day to me!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

On the road again...and back home again!

Some images along the road home
(guess you can tell we didn't drive the interstate!)
Entrance to a subdivision

Vulture on a barn roof

First fence view

Next fence view

And, the heavens opened!

We got to Melany's today just as the rain started in Murfreesboro. We loaded up into her vehicle and headed off to Vanderbilt. It rained on us most of the way there. We got to Vanderbilt right on time. Woody was called back almost immediately for lab work. And, it wasn't long after he came back to the waiting room that he was called back to the little waiting room outside Dr. Sosman's exam rooms. We sat there for a while...but not overly long and then we were taken to a room. We did have to wait for Dr. Sosman for some time. But, definitely not as long as last week. We were getting a bit hungry and Woody's stomach kept reminding us that it was time to eat! After seeing Dr. Sosman, we grabbed a quick bite to eat at Vanderbilt and were on the way home by 2:30. We got back to Tullahoma around 4:30...even stopping to take a few pictures and having rain part of the way back. (Total travel and doctor time today = 7 hours. 2 hours less than last week!)

Everything was very routine today at Vanderbilt. When the research nurse questioned Woody as to how he was doing, she very shortly decided that she and the doctor needed to tell Woody their ailments! All his blood work looked very good. Woody asked Dr. Sosman if it was a goal to have his blood counts change. Dr. Sosman said that they do want the chemo to do something to the marrow to show that it is working (they will know that it is doing that when his blood counts start changing--I think dropping). So probably if everything stays the same with his blood counts, then on August 10th they will be upping the dose of the known chemo drug. Also, the research nurse told us that we will probably always be "blind" as to whether he had the research drug or not.

We will be going back next Monday, August 3rd, for a repeat of today.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that Woody got up this morning and since he wasn't going to work due to his appointment, he went outside and worked on sawing the tree up more. I was amazed to see how little of the tree is left!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Last Monday in July

Just for a smile!

Woody got up early this morning and headed to work per usual. He walked at lunch. And came home to relax after work. I made homemade lasagna for our dinner tonight. I was rather messy in the kitchen and Woody has come behind me very nicely and cleaned up after me! Like old times! He has been reading this evening, as we still have no TV matter which way we rotate the antenna. At this rate he will be going through books even faster than usual...thank goodness for libraries!

This little bear in a bee costume I machine embroidered on a collar of a dress I made for Joy (the dress is yellow with little bees all over it). This design just makes me smile when I see thought that I would share a smile with all of you this evening!

Today is day 15, cycle 1 of Woody's chemo drug study. We go back to Vanderbilt tomorrow for Woody to have lab work and to see Dr. Sosman. I'm hoping that it won't be toooooooo long a day. I'll report about our visit tomorrow evening in the blog...we should be back long before evening...but one never knows when it comes to Vanderbilt!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Day 14, cycle 1

"Any more in there?"

This has been pretty laid-back start to a new week....guess that is how Sunday is supposed to be. We got up, went to Sunday School, both taught our classes, and then came home. It has been very quiet around our house for the last several days as we have not been able to get a TV signal. Digital TV is not progress in the technology world for us! Oh, well...we are probably better off without it. But it is a diversion for least white noise for his "eye resting" times. Woody has read a good portion of the afternoon and evening...taking periods of "eye rest" while reading.

Woody has been in the drug study program for two weeks now. In my opinion this past week has been one of the best that he has had in a very long time. I don't know if it is because he hasn't taken any pain medication for quite a few days has gotten the effects of that out of his system; or if the chemo drug is perhaps working so he is feeling better...or if it is just God's timing for him to feel better for a while...but whatever the reason it is good to see him seemingly feeling better. Now...his story about how he is feeling might be different than mine! His main "complaint" health-wise at the moment is that he has sinus drainage. He took one Benadryl capsule to help with his drainage a couple of days ago and hasn't taken he really hasn't given Benadryl a chance to dry up his sinuses. But it is up to him to decide if it is enough of a problem that he needs to take a pill for it! I'm pretty sure that his plan is to take as few pills as possible prior to cycle 2 of the drug study which starts August 10th (and they may be adding a higher dosage to one of the drugs...which could mean more pills). At the moment he is only taking his daily blood pressure pill. Twenty-two pills a day during the first week of the drug study about did him in...looks like an aversion to pills has started once again!

Our Monday pattern of going to Vanderbilt is being broken this week and we will be going on Tueday. Dr. Sosman isn't going to be in the clinic tomorrow so Woody's appointment got moved. He has lab work scheduled a little before noon and an appointment with Dr. Sosman a little before 1pm on Tuesday. Can't help but wonder how long a day it will be!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Day 13, Cycle 1

Woody got up early this morning and walked his 12 mile route. After he came home, he worked a little more on the tree that is in the pictures. This redbud tree had been leaning for quite some time and with the last heavy rains it decided to lay down the rest of the way. So Woody has been sawing away on it a little at a time. He sawed off a few more limbs and took them out to the limb pile by the road. Then he went to the library. He came home with books and DVDs. I think that he needs to start a DVD list like his book list (he writes every book he reads on a list that he keeps on the computer...the list is VERY long since he reads so much and because he has been keeping the list for years). The reason that he needs to keep a DVD list: of the three movies that he brought home he had seen two of them already. Besides watching DVDs he has read this afternoon and evening...and I think done a bit of dozing.
I'm late posting tonight because I decided to start a file on the computer with pictures in it to use on the blog. Sometimes it takes me more than twice as long to find just the right picture and get it ready than it does to write the I decided to save myself some time by getting a lot of pictures ready so I can just go in and choose the right one for the day! Now...I spent a LOT of time doing that and then when I decided what I was going to write about tonight...I had to go find the tree pictures as they weren't in the new blog picture file! Oh, well...there are now lots of pictures ready and waiting for just the right blog in which to post them. Working on the pictures made me that called for a nap...and when I woke up it was past time to fix that's my excuse for being late with the blog...and I'm sticking to it! (And, supper was very good...though late!)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Attitude can make a difference!

To me this blue jay looks like he has quite an attitude...not sure that it is very positive! Woody is approaching this whole scenario in his life with such a positive attitude and I do think that has made a big difference in how everything has gone so far!
Today, again, has been a fairly normal day. I think that he has been sleeping fairly well...but he says that it seems to him that when he finally gets to sleep it is time to wake up. But I know personally that he "saws logs" for a good part of the least the part that I can't sleep! He walked at lunch. He stopped at a local fruit market and bought tomatoes on the way home from work. Then when he got home I had him check the front tire on the car that I drove today. He then went and filled it and the others with air. He has been sneezing quite a bit today so a little while ago he took a Benadryl, which must have made him he was dozing when I went downstairs a little while ago. He did say that he had had some pain in his shoulder area but that it wasn't constant...not bad enough he said to take any pain medicine.
We are looking forward to a relaxing weekend.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 11, Cycle 1

This is a close-up of a lantana bloom. Aren't the individual parts of this flower head unique?! Unless you look closely, you often don't see details...sort of like life!
Pretty much a "same ol', same ol' day" for Woody, as he did his usual getting up early and going to work, walking at lunch, and coming home to relax. This evening he has definitely had a sinking spell...and has really relaxed (as in slept) for a while. He hasn't had any pain medication again today. He said that he did have some "scapula pain" this afternoon, but that it went away without taking anything for it.
Abigail continues to do well. She even came over and sat on our front porch and rocked for a little while this afternoon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Vanderbilt = Another Long Day!

Abigail did fantastically with her surgery. (We felt the prayers!) All the doctors, nurses, assistants, etc. bragged on how well she did. The nurse she had both before and after her surgery gave her an A++...and wrote it on the pillowcase with an arrow that pointed to Abigail and then presented the pillowcase to her when it was time for her to go home. A very nice experience...if such a thing can be "nice!" The doctor felt that her surgery was successful. He patched up the hole in her ear drum and removed a piece of skin (or something) from the back of the ear drum.
We (Nathan, Abigail and I) left this morning a little before 7am and got back a little before 7pm. We had rain for a good portion of the trip both going and coming. On the way back we were in torrential rain at times. We also had to face Nashville rush hour traffic. So those two things really slowed the trip home. Abigail was a trouper...well...really...she slept most of the way home due to pain medication and the anesthesia. There were times that it seemed that we would never get home. I know that Kathy and the children on this end felt the same way. It's been a long day for all! And we are all saying: "There's no place like home!"
Report on Woody: he went to work, walked at lunch and got misted on, came home to rest and relax. He hasn't taken any pain medication today. He seems to be doing very my estimation.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day 9, cycle 1

Late posting...been rocking a baby and reading stories to some little girls! Nice end to a busy day!
Woody has had a rather "hum drum" day compared to Vanderbilt trip...that makes for almost a "normal" day. He went to work early and walked at lunch and came home from work to relax. He tried to make it on taking only one pill today...his blood pressure pill...but around 4pm his elbow got to hurting so badly that he did end up taking a pain pill. The pain in the elbow has nothing to do with his melanoma or radiation...but due to the fact that he was doing elbow bending exercises to attempt to give him more flexibility with his arm. He still can't bend his elbow completely due breaking his arm in the bicycle accident back in September 2008.
This is the second day in this cycle of the drug study when he doesn't take any chemo drugs. I didn't mention last night something that Dr. Sosman told us yesterday. When Woody starts cycle 2 on August 10th, he may be given a larger dose of the known chemo drug (temozolomide). I think that this depends on what his lab work shows over the next couple of weeks. If his blood counts haven't gone down too much then they will increase the dose.
Be in prayer for our 5 1/2-year-old granddaughter, Abigail. She will be having surgery tomorrow morning at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital to patch a hole in her ear drum. I am going to go with Nathan and Abigail. Vanderbilt here I come...again...but it will be a new experience for me...their children's hospital. Soon I will pretty much know my way around all the parts of the Vanderbilt medical complex!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Day 8, Cycle 1

Now where would you go if you were told to check in at 1501? You will probably have to enlarge this picture by clicking on it to see what I am talking about. But there are four windows each with 1501 on them. Just a little confusing? This is where Woody was told to go for his EKG. All we were looking for was the 1501...which we had the blinds closed so we knew not to go there...but the other three seemed fair game! But there is only one that you are supposed to go to for checking in for an EKG...if one reads the "fine" print on the windows it does tell you...but we didn't look that closely! Woody had to be directed to the correct window.

It was another loooooooooooong day. We left the house a little before 9am and didn't get back till a little after 6pm. Woody drove to Melany's in Murfreesboro and then she drove us on to Vanderbilt. We got to Vandy right on time and had the EKG first and then he went to the lab for blood work...9 vials this time. Then we ate lunch. We were actually called back more than an hour prior to Woody's scheduled appt. time and put into the "inner sanctum" of a waiting room outside the doctor's offices. Our original research nurse introduced us to another research nurse and eventually the new nurse called us into a conference room to get all the empty medicine bottles and talk to Woody about how things had gone through this first cycle. This all happened prior to our "real" appointment time. Then we went back to the waiting room...and we waited...and we waited. Finally we were taken back to the room where we were to see Dr. Sosman and we waited...and we waited...and we waited...and...finally he came in a little before 4pm (our appt. time had been 2pm). He probably spent 10 min. with us. We were out and in Melany's vehicle by 4:30pm.

So far all is well with Woody according to the lab work today. His EKG was fine. I think that Dr. Sosman was very surprised when he found out that Woody took 12 mile walks on the weekends. I think at that point he didn't see any reason to even check the results of the EKG! He said that as long as Woody felt like taking long walks that it was ok...but for Woody to listen to his body and if it told him to slow down then slow down!

Dr. Sosman did talk to us about Woody's scans that he had prior to starting the study. I already had looked online at the results so pretty much knew what he was going to say. There are no new places showing melanoma and that the original places that they are watching had increased some but only a very small amount. He indicated that he was pleased that there wasn't more progression with the melanoma.

Woody's next appointment is next Tuesday...Dr. Sosman won't be there on Monday so the normal Monday appt. was changed.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Day 7, Cycle 1

Woody just finished taking the last of the pills for Cycle 1 of the drug study. Tomorrow is Day 8 of Cycle 1 and that means that we will head to Vanderbilt for the first of his weekly lab work and check-ups. Tomorrow he will also have an EKG. We will take back all the pill bottles in their caution bags.
Today has been a pretty laid-back day for both of us. We both went to Sunday School this morning. Woody taught the 8th grade boys class. Pretty much the rest of the day he has relaxed in his recliner reading and watching TV. He seems to feel better today...perhaps it is just knowing that he will have a respite from taking the volume of pills that he has had to take for the last week! He has three weeks off from taking the chemo drugs...but that doesn't mean that they stop working. The research nurse told us that it takes about 10 days for the drugs to start "messing" with his blood counts...making the white and/or red counts go down so that he might be more susceptible to germs.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Too many pills??????????

As you can see from the picture, we have had a beautiful day here in Middle TN for Woody's day 6 of cycle 1 of his drug study. The temperatures have been unbelievable too...74 deg. F for the high!
Melany came to pick up Erin mid-morning. They were about to leave when Nathan and family returned from little Elijah's first RV trip. They had a gig in East TN last night. This was perfect timing as Melany really wanted to hold little Elijah and was sad that she wasn't going to get her "baby holding fix."
Shortly after lunch I phoned in some of my prescriptions to our local independent drug store. I told them the numbers that were on the pill bottles and then was about to tell her my name and she said that I didn't have to...that she knew who I was! Too many pills???? (Of course we do live in a rather small town and I'm pretty sure that they have caller ID for the last name...but still..!)
This evening we decided to invite Joy (3 year-old granddaughter) to come over for a story and a bath. Woody read her a story while I got her bath water ready. Just as Woody was finishing reading to Joy, he started feeling like he was going to be I scurried Joy upstairs. When I checked on him, he said that he was okay...that he had gotten a little sick...and that he was feeling much better. The reason that he had started feeling nauseated was seeing the pill bottles and then realizing that it was time to take the drug study pills. Too many pills!!!!!!!
Do be in prayer that he doesn't get into this "frame of mind" about taking pills. This happened to him when he was in the hospital when he was taking IL-2. And, we had a terrible time getting him to take pills of any kind. The nurse would tell me the ones that he had to take and the ones that could be skipped. But, with this drug study he can't skip any! One thing that is good at the moment...tomorrow is the last day of cycle 1 so no more excessive amounts of pills for three weeks!
Woody got up early this morning and walked about seven miles. After Melany and Erin left, he went to the library and stopped and bought some sweet dark cherries...yum!!!!!!! He has spent a good part of the afternoon and evening in his recliner reading and resting and trying not to think about pills!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Day 5, Cycle 1

Resting mode...sort of like this butterfly...if we sit...we rest...some times rest more deeply than other times!
Woody did start feeling queasy in the afternoon again. When he got home from work he had what he called a "sinking spell" and he said that he just let himself keep sinking deeper till he was asleep.
I say that he seems better today than yesterday. When I said that to him, he said: "If you say so." Not sure that he believed me, but he definitely hasn't slept quite as much this evening as he did yesterday evening. He says that he feels pretty good in the mornings, but not so great by afternoon.
He went to work as usual this morning. He walked at lunch. He has rested in his recliner after getting home. For this first cycle of the study, he took the last of the one chemo drug this morning. Saturday and Sunday he will just take the study drug in the mornings and evenings. He will return to Vanderbilt on Monday for tests, lab work, and see Dr. Sosman. After Sunday, he won't take any drugs for this study for three weeks, when he starts cycle 2.
I feel that we have all had a better day today in our household. We're looking forward to a restful weekend.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Day 4, Cycle 1

Not the best of days...Woody hasn't gotten sick, but has felt queasy today. When it was time to take his afternoon pain pills, he said that he wasn't sure that he really should take them as taking them might make him sick. He did have a "sinking spell" after lunch at work...but that happens at other we can't chalk that up to the chemo drugs.
The way he described how he has felt since coming home: "zapped." He slept while Erin and I got supper. I wasn't sure that he would want to eat, but he said that he did. He said that the pasta and red clam sauce tasted good, but he didn't eat all of his salad (a favorite...usually). Graham had come over to finish a puzzle and just went in to say good night to Goosey and he was asleep enough that he didn't hear it's obvious that he isn't feeling the greatest.
Woody did walk at lunch today. Also it was a red-letter day: Woody was able to put his wallet in his left back pocket with his left hand...and get it out with his left hand...a first since he broke his arm in his bicycle accident back on Sept. 15, 2008--almost 10 months to the day! Definitely the highlight of Woody's day!
I haven't had the best of days either...a weather front somewhere out there has gotten to me and I have hurt all afternoon. Erin has type-1 diabetes and she has had a bit of trouble keeping her blood sugar levels regulated all around not the best of days for any in this household today!
Tomorrow is the last day that Woody has to take the one chemo drug, and will not have to take the nausea pill after tomorrow morning, for this maybe he will get to feeling better after tomorrow. One of the hardest things about taking these chemo pills is getting the bottles open...he has the one hand that doesn't work well and I have between the two of us, with great effort, we finally get them open.
By the way...this is my 200th post since starting this blog on January 7th of this year. Wow...that's a lot of words!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Day 3, Cycle 1

This is over-the-hump day for Woody's Temozolomide chemo pills and his nausea pill...he only takes them for five just two days to go of taking so many pills at one time in the morning.

I went out to take a picture of a flower and look what got in the way...the across the street neighbor cat, Storm. He is telling me with this look that I had better pet him "or else!"

This has been pretty much a "same ol', same ol' day" for Woody. He said that he only had a brief moment when he thought that he had that bad smell/taste. He got up as usual and went in early to work. He walked at lunch. Came home to relax in his recliner. He has read and watched a bit of TV this evening. He has felt rather "sleepy" at times, but that is pretty normal for the evening. He did say that this afternoon at work he forgot about taking pain pills till several hours after they were due...that hasn't happened for a while.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Day 2, Cycle 1

Woody has completed day 2, cycle 1 of his chemo drug study. He woke up around 4am, but didn't get up till 5. He took his nausea medicine, got ready for work and headed out the door by 5:30. He got to work around 6 and took his chemo pills (10). During the day he drank a lot of water trying to make up for yesterday's blood loss due to all the labs and also for not really drinking much yesterday due to being either at Vandy or on the road for so many hours. He walked at lunch. During the afternoon he got that bad smell/taste again...he said that it is really bad...but it didn't last too long thankfully. During the afternoon at work he got pretty tired (what we call a sinking spell). When he got home, he didn't feel like doing much except collapsing into his recliner. Friends brought us and Nathan's family a yummy supper. So we are feeling very well fed and lazy this evening!
Woody just tallied up how many pills he will take by bedtime and it came to at least 28 when you count in the chemo, nausea, and pain, etc. pills. He's hoping that just taking the pills doesn't make him feel nauseated! When he was in the hospital for his IL-2 treatments, he had a terrible time taking pills...but he was extremely nauseated at that time. So hopefully this time he doesn't feel nauseated due to the chemo...since he really has to get these down for the study to be accurate!

Monday, July 13, 2009


Well, Woody is underway with day 1 of cycle 1. The pill bottles in the picture are just for this seven day cycle. He took 10 pills when he took the morning dose of day 1. During the span of three hours he "gave up" 15 vials of blood. We got to Vanderbilt at 9:40 am and immediately took his nausea pill. He had his first lab work a little before 10am and then the research nurse brought out his chemo meds in these "Caution" bags (click on picture to enlarge so you can see the warning). He took his first chemo meds at 10:30. Then he had more labs done at 11, 11:30, 12:30 and 1:30. He saw doctors after the 12:30 lab. Then while we waited for the 1:30 lab the research nurse came out to talk to us and see if we had any questions. The chart at the bottom of the picture is the chart for one of the drugs. He has to fill in the time that he takes each dose, when he ate last, etc. There is a chart on the back for the other drug. The lone pill bottle out of the "caution chemo" bags is his nausea medicine. He only has to take that in the morning and will only take it for the five days that he takes the one drug.
Let's just say that it is all a bit confusing. And, he (Woody), who has taken so little medicine in his life, is now taking lots!
For the first time today we ventured out to Vanderbilt on our own. Woody drove both ways...he wanted to give it a try on a day that he was pretty sure that he would feel well enough.
As to side effects...none so far...except for a passing moment when he said that he had this bad smell/taste...and it was only momentary.
He just took his evening pills (4 chemo plus 1 pain pill) cycle 1, day 1 is completed!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Blind in one eye and can't see out of the other!

Thought that you might like a little more information about a double blind drug study. In a double blind drug study the two who are "blind" are the patient and the physician...only the drug company knows who is taking which drugs.
Here's a definition that I found: Double blind: a testing procedure, designed to eliminate biased results, in which the identity of those receiving a test treatment is concealed from both administrators and subjects until after the study is completed.
A six month double blind study seems to be the "gold standard" for the AMA to get drugs approved. Sometimes six months isn't long enough to prove the effectiveness of a drug. Woody has read about a drug that is quite effective for rheumatoid arthritis...but it has never been approved for RA because for the first six months it makes the patient sicker...and then starts showing positive results after six months of taking it. So time periods in these studies are not always long enough to show the positive results of a drug for a certain ailment.
The picture above shows the papers we were given that have information about the double blind study that Woody is going to start in the morning (July 13, 2009). And, I'm sure that lots more papers will be added to these over the weeks that follow.
Everything is very controlled in studies such as Woody is about embark: keeping records of times that he takes the medication; the way he takes the medication (fasting, not fasting); keeping records of how he is feeling; weekly labs with the same lab; weekly doctor visits; periodic scans, etc.
The drug company, Abbott, that is sponsoring this study pays for the study. The drug company will pay for the two drugs that are involved with this study and will pay for some of the testing that has to do with their research. Some general/standard care tests will be paid for by our insurance.
There are 300 people across the United States involved in this research study. Woody is one of ten people at Vanderbilt who will be involved in this study.
This study is researching two investigational drugs for melanoma...which means that the drugs haven't been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat melanoma. Everyone in this study will receive the chemo drug, Temozolomide, which is not approved for treating melanoma (but has shown some positive effects on melanoma), but is FDA approved to treat two types of brain cancer. This research study is attempting to see if Temozolomide when combined with ABT-888 (also not approved for melanoma) is more effective on melanoma than Temozolomide alone.
1/3 of the participants will receive Temozolomide with 20 mg twice-a-day of ABT-888
1/3 of the participants will receive Temozolomide with 40 mg twice-a-day of ABT-888
1/3 of the participants will receive Temozolomide twice-a-day with a placebo (a pill that does not contain any active drug)
This study could last as long as two years, but will depend on the response of Woody's melanoma cells to the drugs. He can also quit the study at any time. He will be monitored very closely during the whole study...physical exams, lab work, and various scans. The research nurse indicated that they would be able to tell fairly soon if Woody is getting the two drugs or the placebo...guess time will tell! I just pray that what he gets will be effective.
We'll give you a Vanderbilt update when we get home tomorrow. It will probably be another long day at Vandy.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Garlic harvest day

Woody started out the day with a long walk. He walked from our house out to the movie theater and back home...approximately 12 miles. Then he waited till the neighbors had finished their breakfast to find a willing "Peter Rabbit" (Graham) to help him harvest our garlic. While I ran errands (Yes, I did remember to pick up his prescription that he needs Monday.), Abigail came over to read to Goosey and Erin...then Goosey read to them...and then Abigail and Erin decided to play a board game....but didn't get too far on it before it was lunch time. So after lunch Abigail and Graham came back to play "Life," one of Graham's favorite games...I think it has to do with the little cars. They played for a while and then it was Joy's turn to come over. Esther missed out on the time over here today, but I did go over there to give her some loving for a little while when I walked Joy back home. At some point, while Erin, Graham, and Abigail played Life, Woody went to sleep...and slept very deeply for quite a while...I don't think that he ever realized that Joy had come over to play. He says it was due to him not sleeping well the night before...but it's also due to his pain medication...that he gives into taking more regularly when he is home on the weekends.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Another call from Vanderbilt

This morning the research nurse called with further instructions for Woody to follow Monday. He isn't to eat anything 2 hours before his appointment and he can only drink water. She called to say that she was phoning in a prescription for a nausea medication to our pharmacy. He is to bring that medication with him and is to take it as soon as he gets to Vanderbilt. I'm sure that all the above instructions are to help keep him from getting nauseated when he takes the chemo drug. She also suggested that we bring some food (she said a little picnic!) as the appointment would last well beyond lunch time. The research nurse keeps saying that she doesn't expect this chemo regimen to change Woody's routine much...and that he should be able to continue to work while he is taking part in the study. She says that the nausea med should keep him from feeling/being sick. Please be in prayer that this will be as easy on Woody as possible and for God to give him strength to withstand whatever is ahead of him with this drug study...and that if it is God's will that this could be the answer to stopping the progression of the melanoma.
I called the pharmacy to make sure that the prescription had been phoned in and that it had been filled. We will pick it up tomorrow as we will have to leave before the drugstore opens on Monday. We have a big note on the kitchen table to remind us! Plus I have asked Erin to remind us. So maybe between the note and Erin we will remember!
We had visitors just as we were finishing supper this evening. Nathan and all his family came over...little Elijah's first visit to Grammy and Goosey's! Then he got to be rocked on the front porch for a little while. We have quite a few little "cherry snitchers" in that group...they helped us eat our dessert of fresh cherries!
Woody got up at his usual time and headed off to work. He walked at lunch. He and Erin went to the library after he got home. I think that he feels better this evening than he did last evening.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thursday happenings

We have had a busy day. Erin helped me with our grocery shopping this morning. Then after lunch Graham, Abigail, Joy, and Esther came over to our house to play and nap while baby Elijah went for his first pediatrician check-up. The doctor pronounced that he is doing great. Erin helped entertain the three that weren't napping and all had a great time...or so it seemed! Erin helped me fix our supper tonight.

Woody hasn't felt the greatest since coming home from work...first he was sleepy and then he was hurting. He did take some of his pain medication and seems to be hurting less at the moment. He did rest some after supper and that probably helped a bit too. He went to work at his usual time this morning and walked at lunch.

I'm waiting on a call from next door. Grammy is going to go over and rock a baby for a little while...I have only held him once and need some more "Elijah holding time"...and both Kathy and Nathan seemed to welcome my suggestion!

Vanderbilt's automated appointment confirmation call came last guess Monday's appointments are now confirmed.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Goosey & Abigail made Blueberry Dump Cake! Yum!

This is Elijah Zion Dorrell's smallest big sister, Esther-Noel (almost 2), enjoying what his biggest big sister, Abigail (5 1/2), and Goosey made this afternoon. Yummy! Esther told them that they were good cooks!
Baby Elijah and his mommy were dismissed from the hospital a little before 5pm today. Melany, Erin and Alex came up around lunch time and made a stop at the hospital. I was at the hospital with a friend so ended up taking Erin and Alex back to our house and Melany stayed at the hospital a little longer to help Kathy till Nathan got back (but really to get to hold Elijah a little longer). Graham, Abigail, Joy, and Esther went to see their mommy and baby brother this morning and then came over here to spend the afternoon with us till the homecoming. The four neighbor grands enjoyed having their cousins here. And...having the older grands playing with the younger ones really helped Goosey and Grammy! Erin (almost 16) is going to stay with us till the end of next week. I must say that it has been a busy day...and I am so thankful that Woody took a day of vacation today to be here...he has been in the "thick of things" all day! We all ate over at Nathan and Kathy's tonight...a welcome home Elijah supper! We ate some of their once-a-month cooking...a yummy lasagna and we took peasant salad and blueberry dump cake over to round out the meal. After we ate, I was able to get a picture of all seven of our grandchildren together.
The research nurse from Vanderbilt called today and talked to Woody. He is to be at Vanderbilt by 10am Monday (13th) to start taking the chemo pills and have lab work. Then we will hang around for a period of time for them to see how he is doing and also for more lab work. I looked online and saw that they have weekly appointments set up for him starting the 13th of July going through to the end of August.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Playing the waiting game!

Waiting for Vanderbilt appointment confirmation for Monday, July 13th...and...waiting for baby boy Dorrell's arrival. We're pretty sure that the start of Woody's drug study is going to happen this coming Monday and we are also very sure that baby boy Dorrell will arrive sometime this week...if not before...then on Thursday, July 9th, as the doctor doesn't want Kathy to go beyond Thursday due to the condition of the placenta and also due to level of amniotic fluid. So we will be holding that sweet little boy soon!

We have had a busy day. I went over early to take care of the children while Kathy and Nathan went to their OB appointment. Then after lunch Graham came over to build with his K'nex and to get away from the noisy girls (according to him!). After he had been here for a while, the doorbell rang and two of the three little girls were there wanting to come in to play too. So we made an afternoon of it. Woody joined in on the fun after he got home. He had a Lego project cooked up for Graham and they worked on that for a while. Then Woody read to Joy. Abigail hung out with me in the sewing room. I was machine embroidering boy designs on some little onsies and Abigail was working on art projects.

Woody slept pretty well last night, got up and went to work early as usual, walked at lunch and then came home, played with the children for a while, and then has relaxed this evening in his recliner.

I end this with the phones near me (and a bag packed with books, magazines, etc.) so I can head next door quickly whenever they might need me! I ask for prayer for Kathy (and Nathan) and that sweet little baby...for a safe and as easy as possible delivery of a healthy baby boy.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

One nation under God...still!

Our church choir presented First Baptist Tullahoma's annual God and Country musical presentation..."One Nation Under God." Some of the children were a part of it also and sang a medley of traditional Sunday School songs that many of us learned as children and are still being taught to children today. The song they are singing in the bottom picture is "This Little Light of Mine."

We had a lot of rain in the night that lasted into the morning...much needed rain...I can hear my plants saying thank you! Woody and I both got up this morning and went to Sunday School. We each taught our classes today. Woody also took a walk to the library early this evening to return some books for me.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Spies yesterday, a bandit today!

Can you believe that this bandit showed up in our backyard today? And, he wasn't a little raccoon either...quite large. We were eating watermelon in Nathan and Kathy's backyard and Kathy spotted the visitor in our backyard. And...for those who don't really know where we live...we don't live out in the country...we are just a mile or so from downtown Tullahoma. Yes, we have lots of trees, but really we seem to be becoming an animal refuge! I think that is due to all the building around us...they are taking the natural habitat away from God's little and big creatures.
We had a great 4th of July. We provided the food and Nathan did the grilling. Yummmmmy! We enjoyed the secret dessert too! We have a new member in my Sunday School class and she is new to town so we invited her to come eat with us. A good time of fellowship and eating was had by all.
Woody got up quite early this morning and took a long walk...about 8 miles. Then he really helped me once again in the kitchen. He enjoyed the traditional July 4th fare...a hamburger, baked beans, potato salad, corn on the cob, squash casserole (not traditional...but fresh squash from Nathan and Kathy's garden...couldn't pass that up!), the secret new recipe for Blueberry Cheesecake Bars (we ate the bars...not the recipe!), and fresh squeezed lemonade. And, then this evening, we went next door and had watermelon...definitely the that we have had watermelon...and I got the traditional picture of the four little grandchildren lined up eating their watermelon. Abigail says that it was very messy!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Spies abound!!!!!

Look what showed up outside our kitchen window this afternoon. I had been cooking most of the morning and had gone upstairs to rest. The phone rang and I went downstairs to answer it. It was Nathan. I was talking to him and all of a sudden I saw a little head appear in the window, then that head disappeared and another one appeared! Graham and Abigail were playing spy...they were trying to figure out the secret dessert that I had planned for our 4th of July lunch. One would hold the ladder while the other one went up to spy! Their little heads kept popping up. Graham also climbed up in the bush outside the window...he found an empty bird nest. So to play along I would lay out ingredients that they could see. Whoever was looking in the window would report to the other what they were seeing. It was very cute and very funny. At one point they both brought something over to the house to give me...they rang the doorbell and then asked me to go upstairs...and they snuck into the kitchen to check things out. When the first part of the dessert went into the oven they thought that I was finished and my spies disappeared...but they didn't know that there was more to the secret treat...they had only seen the bottom crust! They both came inside later while it was in the oven and Graham finally saw the recipe and was able to read "Blueberry Cheesecake Bars." Yummy...Woody and I had to test the new we split one after we got the rest cut and put away in the fridge for tomorrow.
I have cooked a good part of the day. Woody has helped by doing the grocery shopping for this week...and also helped by going back for an ingredient that he didn't get the first time around. He has gone behind me in the kitchen and helped me clean up while I cooked (sort of like old times). Woody walked first thing this morning...about two miles. He watched the DVDs that he got at the library the other day and has watched a bit of television...when the TV would cooperate and let him see a picture. And...he has read. So a relaxing day...but he still did quite a few things...wasn't just a couch potato day!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

One day after...

Been sort of a slow day...recuperating from yesterday. Woody overslept (for him) this morning. (He usually wakes up about an hour before he has to get up and just lays in bed till time to get he woke up about 15 min. before he usually leaves for work.) I had trouble waking up too. Days like yesterday can really wear one out!

Today was a day to refill some prescriptions...when I called the pharmacy they didn't have the one that the research nurse had called in earlier in the week. All I could think was...we spent all that time there yesterday and could have gotten a written one from them! Since Woody wasn't totally out of his pills, I was waiting to pick up his when I got some of my medications refilled and hadn't thought that maybe I should call to make sure that we could get his. But all worked out...I called the research nurse and she recalled the pharmacy...and it was ready when Woody stopped after work!

Woody went to work, walked at lunch, then came home to relax. A couple of hours after he got home we both went over to take care of the neighbor grandchildren while Nathan and Kathy went out to dinner with friends. Their last date before baby (maybe)! We ate supper with the children. Woody read to whomever wanted of his favorite things to do is read to the grandchildren...and they love the stories! He is looking forward to a relaxing three-day holiday weekend!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Testing! Testing! Testing!

Some pleasant looking at the fountain...some scratching of the head as to just what the signs meant! And, then there were just the downright unpleasant moments as shown at the bottom of the page! His EKG looks pretty least to us! Now for a run down of the day: we left our house at noon, got to Melany's a little before one, looked at Alex's newly decorated room, and then headed off to Vanderbilt. Major traffic jam on I-24...we went at a snail's pace for some time. Melany dropped us off at the cancer clinic at 2:25 (exactly our appt. time and we thought that we were going to get there early!). Woody first had lab work done. Then a study nurse came out to talk to us and to take us back to a room in the clinic for Woody to be checked out by a doctor...well...a Fellow who was a female...good joke for Woody. While we waited for the Fellow to arrive the "regular drug study nurse" (as in the nurse we have been talking to for a while about the drug study) came in and talked to us (she had been in a meeting). Then he got checked out by the Fellow. Then the study nurse took us to where he would get an EKG. After the EKG we headed to the radiology dept. where he had an MRI of his brain and a CT scan of his torso. Then we were free to leave. All that happened between 2:25 and 6:50. We were back to our car and on the way out of the parking garage by 7pm. We got to Melany's around 8. We went in for a potty break and also for Woody to drink some water (he is supposed to drink 3 large glasses of water prior to going to bed tonight!). Shortly after getting on 231 on our way home we came upon an accident that had just happened...didn't look good. We got by the accident prior to emergency vehicles arriving. We got home just around 9. Let's just say that it has been a long day at Vandy...once again!
We will be hearing from the drug study nurse probably tomorrow as to the results of some of the tests and also as to the day that he will begin the study. At the moment he is tentatively set to begin the study on Monday, July 13. If not the 13th, then it will be some day next week.