Thursday, March 6, 2014

Love Always, Michelle

After her last post, Michelle underwent a painful chemo regiment that she ended up having a bad reaction to.  Subsequent scans revealed that once again, in spite of treatment, the tumors on her lungs and liver had continued to grow.  The treatments had made her sick and she had not been able to make a follow-up post.  Then things took a terrible turn for the worst.  Before she passed away, she had asked for us to make a post on her behalf to explain her absence...

     It was just a couple of days before Thanksgiving.  Michelle's sister Klair and our niece Vicktoria had come to visit for the Thanksgiving holiday from North Carolina.  Thank you Barbie for helping to raise the money that made that trip possible [Michelle specifically asked for this to be included in the post].  Michelle was experiencing a bad headache and her pain medicine was not helping.  She began to loose her eyesight, became disorientated, fell down, and was conscious but unresponsive.  She had a seizure in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and second seizure after she arrived at the emergency room.  They performed a brain scan and discovered that the cancer had spread to her brain.  The tumor itself was golf ball size and the swelling around the tumor was extensive.

    They did not expect her to pull through, but she did!  The swelling was brought under control using a steroid and she started taking anti-seizure medication for good measure.  They encouraged us to take hospice, but Michelle was too courageous to go down without a fight.  Hospice was turned down so that she could continue to pursue active treatment.  She began taking radiation in order to shrink the tumor.  This left her weak and caused her to start loosing her hair again.

     About two weeks before Christmas, the swelling came back and we took another ambulance ride to the hospital.  They increased her steroid dose and performed another brain scan.  The tumor had responded to the radiation and shrunk by a couple of millimeters.  Again they pushed for her to accept hospice but, in spite of the edema and always a fighter, she chose to continue her radiation treatments while at the hospital.

     They increased steroid dose, got the swelling back under control, and Michelle recovered in time to come home for Christmas. Our oldest son Keegan had put the tree up for her and decorated it himself.  We had also rearranged the furniture in the living room to accommodate a hospital bed.

We had a good Christmas.

     At this point the high dose steroid regiment had began to take its toll on Michelle's body.  She was losing a lot of weight and she was having trouble eating and drinking.  We called home health for assistance and they sent a nurse to assess her.  It was the morning of January 8th and she appeared to be quite healthy and cognitive.  She told the nurse that she was concerned about her inability to consume sufficient nutrients and fluids and she requested an I.V. and a feeding tube.  He got the I.V. approved almost immediately and it arrived by courier later that evening.  The request for the feeding tube, as it would turn out, did not get approved in time.  

     Overnight her pain began to increase.  Home health and her oncologist pushed again for hospice.  Hospice offers top of the line pain management at the expense of having to discontinue all active treatments including ambulatory service.  Because we needed to get her pain levels under control, we agreed to meet with them.  They arrived at a little after 10am the morning of the 9th but by then it was clear that we were out of time.  As her MIL laid beside her and as I clung to her, she passed away at 10:40am before the consent papers had been signed.  In a way, she had refused hospice one last time.  She had fought to the bitter end and through it all; she never, even for a moment, gave up.

     My plan, at this point, is to make at least one more post.  Michelle had started and published plans for a kitchen makeover last year that was not completed.  It is my intention to complete that makeover and publish the result.  My goal is to have the project completed and published around this time next year.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sweet Michelle


A commemorative post will be made by Michelle's family in the upcoming weeks.  This is a temporary post to make her followers aware that on January 9th, Michelle lost her battle against cancer.

A "celebration of life" service will be held at Christ's Church of Oronogo [Missouri] on Monday, January 13th at 3:30pm.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Strong And Courageous

I've been rolling around in self pity lately. We won't put a time frame on how long the wallering has gone on-I'm still doing it after all. What I'm trying to do and it seems to be taking a while this time is get back on my feet after my last trip to Houston. I'm still trying to work out the disappointment and broken heart. I haven't been able to write but I think it might actually help-I know it has in the past.
I had an appointment in Houston, I'd been going weekly overnight trips, taking the trial pills, getting to know my doctors, getting to know my way around MD Anderson...this trip included the CT scans to see what the tumors are doing and if the trial pills were doing anything. I had all the tests the day before and the doctor appointment the next day.
The news is not good. CT scans revealed the tumors are larger...which means the trial drug isn't working. So it's over. Just like that.
I'm upset.
I'm very disappointed and quite devastated. I thought this was going to be IT!! I realize there is no cure for my cancer, but the drug promised to stop the growth so I can live with the cancer and it didn't.
I am still working on emotionally dealing with the let down and physically...well, it's a work in progress too. The part of my lungs that the cancer is pretty big is constricting my airways, so I get winded walking from one end of the house to the other...reading books to Logan aloud has become difficult too.  I'm just going to have to take it slow(er) and start coping with what I can do now, not what I can't do any more.
So what are we doing next? I start chemotherapy again, next week, with a new drug. It's just one day a week for 3 hours (that includes, fluids, nausea meds, etc.). We will see what this drug does, it's got a laundry list of side effects that I'm not looking forward to, but gonna do it anyway.
So while God works on my broken heart and body, I appreciate your prayers. So many of you have emailed me and reached out on FB, thank you!


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fall Mantel 2013

I've been thinking about decorating for the season for a while now-I'm always inspired by Fall! By the time the season gets here, I have a pretty good idea what I want to do. I even do some sketches as ideas come to me.
I didn't even get around to showing you my Summer mantel...this is how it's looked for several months.

When Justin and I were at Ikea last week, we bought this botanical canvas. I didn't know how much I would love it until I got it up on the wall.
 It's a large piece and it matches in scale the sconces that I have....It really makes a statement and I let it guide me in the rest of the living room. I wanted to do something different for Fall. I use all the colors, brown, black, orange, and even blue....but the deeper green-that I've never used.
With my energy level being super low-the fireplace is the only area I'm going to decorate this year. I'll probably work on the porch as well, but we'll see. I made this little apple wreath to hang down the face of the fireplace. I've always admired the fresh apple versions but these are little artificial apples and will last year after year. All I did was cut a wire clothes hanger and push the styrofoam apples on one at a time and finished off the top with some burlap.
 Along with the emerald green, I decided to do a more muted palette vs. shocking orange which I've done in the past. I'm really liking it for this year.
 The lanterns I bought last year during Christmas time, so I am really happy to use them for fall this year.
 I seem to always anchor the mantel with an arrangement and this year is no's what I do and I love doing them -so why not! This one is pretty tall, reaching all the way to the ceiling with the branches. Maple leaves, millet, hydrangea, berries and curly willow-all things I love to work with.
 Little mushroom images (from the Graphics Fairy), I printed them here at home, cut them and literally taped them to the mirror with washi tape.
 The little revamped garden stool from yesterday. Click HERE to see the before. It's the same shade of green as in the canvas and it looks fantastic up against the walnut buffet. This makes me happy about my decision to do a bold green!
 I'm still enjoying my ikat curtains and haven't changed them in several months-that's always a good sign.

 An evening shot-so cozy with the battery operated candles! ;)
I hope you are inspired and Happy Fall!

Joining Sarah at Thrifty Decor Chick

Monday, September 23, 2013

Emerald Green Garden Stool

 I couldn't believe my luck while perusing Goodwill several weeks ago, I happened upon a pretty little garden stool. A garden stool has always been on my want list, but some of the prices of them are I practically ran when I spied this one.
 It wasn't the color I would have chosen, but if you are here reading, you know of my love of spray paint-heck, your love of spray paint-we have that in common I'm sure. I liked the unique style as well, so no chips or cracks and this baby came home with me.

 As with EVERYTHING I spray paint...clean metal primer is what I use as a base. I let it cure overnight.
 This botanical canvas from Ikea became my inspiration as soon as I hung it, so my color choice was pretty easy.
I used 'Meadow Green' from Rustoleum and I really liked the finish. I typically use Krylon, but I decided to try something new this time. I barely used the whole can even with the three coats it took for total coverage.

 Once it was totally cured (it's sooo important to be patient with the painting process) I brought it inside to use as a little accent table next to our charcoal chair.
 I did some foo-fooing, of course, but in reality, it will remain empty to actually be used.
 I love, love, love how it turned out and really excited how the bold green is looking.
 As you know, Emerald is the color of the year for 2013 and leave it to me to wait until practically the end of the year to incorporate it! Have you used Emerald some way in your home?

I will be sharing my Fall Mantel with you tomorrow, see you then!

Monday, September 9, 2013

New Fall Wreaths!

I spent a few hours in my studio this weekend and some fall wreaths happened. ;) It's been a while since I have felt up to designing, but fall always gets me inspired, so I ran with it.

You'll nearly always find a lotus pod or pine cones in my designs, no matter the season-two of my favorite elements.

Aside from plaid ribbon that is! This ribbon is a favorite and I already know I should have bought more.

But on the other hand, sometimes I don't use ribbon at all (yep, I'm a Gemini). I try to do different styles and this free form is probably the hardest for me....but once it happens, I end up really loving the result. The trick is not to think about it too much. Concentrate on line and texture and of course composition. This one sold late last night, so it will be going to it's new home this week.

Oh and sunflowers, how I love them too!
Studio time makes me happy. Are you getting ready for fall?

You can view my shop by clicking HERE, or click on my shop name on my sidebar.

I am almost done with my weekly trips to Houston, this week is it then they move to every other week-provided everything is still going well. Taking the trial medicine has been OK! I have been extremely tired which is my biggest frustration (what's new) and I've started noticing some abdomen pain (probably from the cancer itself) and joint pain recently. I'll be telling the doctors about it this week. Thank you all for the continued support and prayers!


Sunday, September 1, 2013

What's Happening Now

 I feel like I'm a lot. It dawned on me when I was looking through pictures of this time last year...hardly any pictures of my boys or our life, not any of crafts, projects, or tablescapes either (which I realize is not important, but still a big part of me). You guys know I take pictures all. the. time. and of everything. I haven't been present for a very long time and it bums me out. I realize that chemotherapy was occupying the majority of everything.....I just haven't been myself. Looking at pictures and the huge gap in time made me painfully aware.
I'd like that to change, but I really don't know if it will. My latest CT scans are positively depressing. Tumors are growing and more appearing, and there's another mass growing in between my liver and stomach.

Thanks to the beauty that is Instagram,  I have some pictures of my trips to MD Anderson. I've finally started the trial medication and the doctor said  we are "cautiously optimistic" that the medicine will stop the cancer from growing. For some reason cautious and optimistic used together isn't very soothing, but I know I'm in God's hands and well, that's soothing.
I've been taking the drug for 10 days now and been to Houston 4 times. I find Houston VERY intimidating, busy and crowded. I just have to get use to it, I know. 
Palms. Can we talk about palm trees? I find it very strange, maybe because I spent my life on the east coast, to see palm trees in Texas. Florida, yes, South Carolina, yes...Houston? Are the winters mild? Must be....I should Google that.

The day the trial started. I've been fasting since midnight, coffee deprived and completely cranky. Give me the flippin' medicine already....errr....I mean, I'm so thankful they chose me to participate in a potentially life saving study.

Down the hatch. My MIL took this picture for me. 4 little capsules and a 7 hour blood draw-meaning I had to stay in the hospital and they drew blood every hour to make sure everything was going ok.  I had another blood draw the next day (Friday) and was able to leave. We got home late and I was soooooo exhausted. We left Monday returned on Friday and I felt much like a lab rat myself. Luckily, Elaine kept Logan for me because I slept Saturday and Sunday away.

 But then I was better and able to listen to this guy talk and tell me about his week with daddy and me-maw-maw (great-grandma)

 I also went to my hair stylist for a least that's what I wanted. I got a holy crap that's short cut instead. She is extremely gifted with a pair of scissors, but I was bald just a few months ago-I feel like I'm practically starting over again! I know, it'll grow out again. Justin asked me: "Are you ever going to let your hair grow long again?" I'm getting back to him on that.

Back to Houston again (keep in mind I have to go back weekly for a month). This time I went alone because it was just two days and I decided to fly. They took a shocking amount of blood and I made the flight back out that afternoon. I met a lady in the lobby while waiting for my shuttle to the airport. She has thyroid cancer and we "talked shop" for about an hour. It's nice to talk to someone who has cancer that understands what you're going through, as weird as that may sound. I have friends that I have made here that I write that are battling too, I finally fit in a club! ;)

Back home again...Football season has started. He's been training and practicing for months now. I knew it was coming and it's finally here. If you live in or around Webb City Missouri, football is where it's at (I got 2 turntables and a that song ;) Anyway, scattered-11 time state champs and Keegan is proud to be a part of it. Friday morning happiness.

I made it to the game. In the sweltering heat, and stayed the WHOLE game (barely). It was crowded and hot and no one cared. We won-a great start to the season. Selfies with this guy too? I'll take it.
 P.S. I refashioned a tee shirt that wasn't girly enough, you can see a little of it here. I used THIS tutorial and while Cathy's tank is much more sophisticated, I loved the look for the football game too. Pom-pom shoulders!! I'm channeling the inner cheerleader I never was!! 
The only thing I did differently; I tied the shoulder strings in knots to hide the stitching instead of gluing on beads, you'll see what I mean when you get over there, and I used 7 instead of 5. I did this literally the same afternoon as the game.

So even though I don't feel like I'm doing enough, I'm not present enough-I need to start thinking about all the things that I am doing and know it's enough. Man, that's hard to do. 
Thank you all for the thoughts and prayers, I can't say that enough.
I hope everyone has a GREAT Labor Day!