Thursday, November 07, 2019

Catching up (health update)

I have a lot to write about, but I think the most important parts are

  • parents' visit
  • The Cushions
  • health update.
I'll start with the last, because it's the easiest. I don't need to round up photos or links or explanations to go with it.

Almost two weeks ago I had Keytruda #7 in Kyiv. It all went well. My friend Anne sat with me, and we enjoyed a good lunch together afterwards. The doctor explained more of why they were so worried about my stomach troubles and weight loss. That could be signs of colitis, an autoimmune response in my colon, which would be very serious and would stop treatment. Keytruda is supposed to activate the immune system against cancer, but it can go overboard and start attacking the body. However, now they don't think that's my problem. Mine seems to be milder, probably just from antibiotics and other stress on my system. It is finally starting to get better now, so maybe I'll be able to gain some weight back, too. Although, now that they've seen how I handle treatment while underweight, they're not nearly so worried. Also, my blood work all looked good, which makes the doctor think there wasn't anything too serious going on. Even without the allergy medicine again, I haven't had any reaction.

Next time will be November 15. Asya wants to go with me. Then the time after that (early December) they'll do another scan, so Will and I will probably make that trip together.

I'll write about my parents' visit (they're home safely now) and the adventures of the cushions whenever I find time.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Nothing really new

My faithful little "dog"
We're doing well here, very busy getting ready for my parents' visit. They're arriving on Friday! Also, three completely different things came together this morning, so poor Will was trying to talk on the phone, keep up with emails, and do math with Bogdan all at once. He even had to use my phone along with his to get it all done.

One of those things was an announcement from the US Embassy that they'll be in Kherson on Thursday. Two of our children need new passports. I had kind of been thinking that we would get them during fall break from school, but then when my parents were able to come, of course their visit outranked a passport trip to Kyiv. The embassy almost never comes here, so this is really great. But it means we need to get an appointment and pull together documents right away.

The Agape Photo Project started in our region last week. Our three older children helped at the orphanage here in town. This week the team will be traveling to more orphanages, and our kids (and maybe Will?) will also go on some of the trips. Raia is probably actually going to be doing the photography on Wednesday.

A Photo Project helper
We bought a scale last week and were happy to see that I was up to 50 kgs, which is where the doctors would like to see me. I'm back below that again now, but not far. I've felt good this whole time and don't think they'll have any problems with giving me more Keytruda on Friday. Train schedules have been a bit weird, but I just now got myself a return ticket for Saturday; I already had one to go on Thursday.

I'll close with photos from our nature walk this morning. (I liked that as we left the house this morning, Babushka O. from across the road stuck her head out and asked if we were going on a nature walk, as if that was what everyone does. We're no longer the weird homeschoolers.)

Friday, October 11, 2019

Papa picture

The art school posted photos from Bogdan's class of the kids' portraits of their fathers. They also sent out a few photos of the works in process over the past few lessons. Oh, and there was one of Asya, too.

It's one week since Keytruda for me, and I'm doing well. No side effects, except that I want a nap every day, and I'm usually ready for bed by 8:00. I'm going to buy tickets for the next trip now. And--this is the fun part--it's for the day my parents arrive for a visit, so they'll be here when I get home afterward.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Keytruda #6

Thank you so much for all the prayers and support. My trip to Kyiv and back was quite uneventful. Two overnight trains in a row is rough, but I made it. Everything went really smoothly at the clinic, too. No trouble with the IV or anything. I was worried about that, after the IV disasters here recently.

The one complication that did come up is that I am now officially too underweight for the Keytruda dosage. Apparently it's all or nothing, too; when medicine is worth its weight in gold, you don't just dump a little down the sink before giving it to a smaller person. My own doctor examined me very thoroughly and decided that she couldn't approve it, just because of my weight. So, she called in the head of the chemo department. That doctor also examined me and very tentatively approved. She cancelled the sleepy medicine, too. (That's the allergy medicine they've been giving me to avoid a repeat of the little rash I got after the first time.) Without that, I'm tired, but I didn't have the extreme sleepiness during and after that I usually get. But, she said that if I have the slightest reaction of any kind, we're done with Keytruda for now.

I felt so much better than usual that I went to the botanical garden and walked and sat and took pictures after I left the clinic. That was wonderful! I even saw a squirrel there.

It is so good to be home now, too. Bogdan can't stop hugging me, and I'm loving that. I'm tired, but I'm loving my soft bed after the trains.

My next appointment is very tentatively scheduled for October 25, but they said not even to buy tickets yet. We're supposed to see how things go for at least a week or more, then they will confirm, if I'm doing well (and gaining weight?). So, please keep praying!

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Raia and the Americans

I think Raia has mostly recovered from her hard-working, fun week as a translator. Thank you for praying for her! We hardly saw her all week, because she left so early and came home so late every day, or some nights she just slept on a couch there. It was a great experience for her. I have a few photos of her with two of the Americans and two of the kids they were caring for:

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Asya's birthday

One week ago was Asya's twelfth birthday. She had a great time celebrating! First, she got the bicycle she had been wanting (and needing. Our kids do a lot of commuting on their bikes.) Then Will took her and her friends to the big mall. They planned to go bowling, but it was too full, so they ended up at Jump Park, the trampoline and climbing place. After playing hard, they had dinner at MacDonald's. Asya was so sweet and flexible about all of it. Changes in plans didn't bother her at all. It was all exactly what she wanted, no matter what happened.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Thanksgiving Fest

I am slowly getting less itchy. After the IVs there was a nice jump in comfort level, and then the rest of the week has been slow progress. I was happy to switch from shots to oral medicine a few days ago. Most of the spots are finally gone, and pretty much only my hands still really itch badly.

Saturday I went to the Thanksgiving Fest put on by the churches here. It was so good to get out and see so many people. We hadn't been planning on it, because I'm really avoiding crowds and germs, but I just couldn't stay home. I wore a mask in the bus, and then sat on the edge at the park and felt happy and thankful. We even saw the doctor who had prescribed the antibiotics there.

Jaan ran a game where kids crawled through a spider web. His friends were nearby with a box labyrinth that Bogdan really liked. Raia came with the Americans she had been translating for all week. Asya went to the park with us, and we brought one of her friends along, and then she disappeared with a whole group of friends for the rest of the time, so I didn't get even one photo of her.

Also my flowers at home are still really flourishing:

We've set my next appointment in Kyiv for Friday, so please pray that all the itchiness will go away and that I can stay well and go!