Thursday, August 28, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I'm usually behind the camera so today I thought I'd take my own picture with my sweetie.
Besides needing a haircut, look how amazingly great this looks! Really unbelievable.
It's been 5 weeks since surgery.
Yesterday we had a post-op with Dr. Spetzler. Everything is going great with recovery. He basically told us that if everything goes well we should never have to see him again. He told us that the surgery went exactly how they hoped and the recovery is going just as well. He said they can never predict how someone will do with a low-grade glioma (specifically, astrocytoma grade II) but Dr. Spetzler sees the most difficult cases in the world and he thinks Travis will do very well.
Today we consulted with Dr. Daniel Rubin, a Naturopathic Oncologist. We really liked him and felt like he was on the exact same page as us. He answered all kinds of questions we have been gathering from our extensive research over the past few months. He was very good at putting everything together for us in a concrete treatment plan. He started Travis out on a variety of immune-boosting supplements and ordered some tests. He is in favor of radiation and will help Travis keep up his energy and health during the course of radiation treatments. We now have to decide when to begin.
Dr. Rubin also gave us some interesting "food for thought" about environmental products that have a toxic and carcinogenic affect on us. By the end of the appointment, my head was swimming with all the info he gave us, but he assured us that we can make small changes over time and eventually get to where we want to be. Wondering what I'm talking about? I'll talk about it later when I have a chance to read some things over a bit more. Let me just say, I'll have to get rid of my favorite (very pliable) purple tumblers that I drink my water in every day. Apparently, the ingredient that makes plastic really pliable is toxic and over time can be bad for you. I know that sounds strange, but have you heard about water bottles and not freezing them or heating them up because it releases a toxic chemical into the water from the bottle? The chemical is called phthalates. (the ph is silent) If you want to know exactly what it does go to ewg.org. Like I said, it is overwhelming. There is so much to learn. I'll share the good stuff as I can.
By the way, we welcome visitors and treats! I think we have scared away friends, neighbors and church members who don't want to "intrude." PLEASE feel welcome to drop in and see us. We love the company! We are doing great.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Travis and Olivia share August 15th for their birthdays. Poor Travis...10 years ago I ruined his Saturday birthday plans to golf with his brother when I went into labor and he's never had the spotlight on his birthday ever since.
To celebrate her birthday, Olivia had a girls' night with some of her closest friends. She chose a mermaid theme so they swam, made shell necklaces and had sorbet out of coconut and pineapple skins. They also watched Nim's Island. I taped them in the pool acting like mermaids and acting out a skit in the pool.....all Olivia's idea. I think the evening was a success and everyone had a great time.
Travis and I celebrated on Saturday night with our friends, Jim and Tiffany. We ate at Kona Grill and then got a treat at Paradise Bakery. The bowling alley had about a 1 1/2 hour wait so we decided to try a movie. While waiting for "Swing Vote" to start, Travis decided he was not up for seeing a 9:30 movie so we got our money back and went home! Kind of funny, but a good call. We weren't sure about that movie anyway. I haven't heard anything about it either way.
On Monday we met with Dr. Kresl, a radiation specialist. He told us all about radiation and what it would do and what it would involve. He explained that it's not a cure but a way to slow down and shrink the tumor. Apparently, gamma knife isn't indicated in the brain stem without great risk of damage to vital nerves. If we do radiation, Travis will go in every week day for about 6 1/2 weeks and get a small dose (31-33 times total). Over time, the tumor cells die and the regular cells in the area regenerate. When done slowly, it allows the good cells to recover and the tumor cells to die and break up. It doesn't get rid of the tumor but definitely slows things down. The side effects are nausea and general fatigue. People also experience pain in the area because as the tumor cells die, scar tissue is created and inflammation in the area occurs. We are meeting with a naturopathic oncologist, Dr. Rubin in a couple of weeks. We are researching as much as we can before we make more decisions concerning further treatment. Travis continues to get stronger and better. He is still doing physical therapy twice a week. He has more energy and much less pain as time goes on.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Introducing the newest member of the Williams clan!......Meet Little Piggy!
Olivia turned 10 on Friday and since she has been begging for a dog we figured she would be satisfied with just about any mammal. We went to Petsmart for a hamster and came home with a guinea pig.
The kids are in love and Little Piggy is adjusting well. A funny story about how I came to pick this particular little guy....I was looking at the selection of guinea pigs and an employee told me they had one up for adoption. His previous owners brought him back with a respiratory infection the first time and then back to the store with a broken leg. I told her I would see him but was skeptical about a "damaged" pet. She took me to the "Employees Only" area and into a little back room where they had him a a small cage. I took one look at him and had to have him! He is the prettiest color and has a sweet temperament. He kind of drags his back foot a bit because it healed a little crooked. The lady made me promise to love him and take good care of him and then I took him home for free! What a deal. I saved myself $35. Travis says we should get Little Piggy a buddy!
Actually, our cat Max thinks Little Piggy is his new toy. He has been camped out by the cage in Olivia's room since we brought him home. Piggy is still a baby of about 4-6 months old. I'm not sure if he is safe from Max yet. We'll have to see later.
I'm excited about this new addition. Guinea pigs are apparently intelligent, social and gentle pets. They bond with their owners and even whistle when you come into the room. That sold me because everyone told us that hamsters bite and always try to get away from you and their cage. Little Piggy doesn't bite but he kind of licks and nibbles at our fingers. He's so cute.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Calling all Twilight Series fans! I spent the last several days with the 4th and last book of the series in my hand whenever possible. I took my time, read slowly, savoring each moment of my favorite guilty pleasure. I put off everything else I could....it was all I could think about for 5 days. Anyway, it may be silly but what a fun escape! I'm actually in a bit of a slump because I'm done and wish I wasn't. I won't give anything away if by chance, another fan hasn't already finished it, but it definitely didn't disappoint. I loved the direction she took the story and think she wrapped up the series well. Two thumbs up.
Okay, so I'm back to reality again!
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Olivia's first day of 5th grade. So cute! We even took time to straighten her natural curly hair. I can't even believe how grown up she looks. She is such a darling, sweet and fun girl. I'm sure she will have an awesome and fun school year.
Ethan and Ella's first day of ALL day kindergarten...my best leverage to convince them of how much fun ALL day will be is that they get to take a lunch to school. After 3 days, the novelty has worn off and it's kind of tough going ALL day! Notice all the ALL day...it's a big deal. I'm adjusting better than they are. But they have an adorable teacher and lots of fun adventures ahead of them this year.
Here they are on the second day of school...their 6th birthday! They were thrilled to take cupcakes to their class. I also delivered Happy Meals from McDonald's to school for lunch. They thought that was cool and it hopefully made the day more special for them.
As if the week was not crazy enough, we had a birthday party with lots of cousins and a few friends on Friday evening. We kept it simple with the slip-n-slide and water balloons, pinatas, hot dogs and cupcakes. Sadly for me it was an hour and a half of pure torture. I made sure the kids had fun but made a huge discovery..... it is time to have separate boy and girl birthday parties!! I'm not doing anyone any favors by trying to get away with combining the two. 20 kids running around they backyard while I'm trying to teach 3 year olds how to toss a water balloon to a partner is complete madness. My head has finally stopped spinning. Am I being a little melodramatic? Absolutely not!
But I have to say, I will continue to torture myself endlessly because I just love to see my kids happy. They look forward to their birthdays all year long. I want them to look back and have special memories and know how much I love them. I may grumble and complain but I will voluntarily do it again and again. Part of motherhood is a little self-sacrifice, right? Did I mention 3 of my kids have birthdays in an 8 day span with my 4th child a month later? Then I can gear up for 11 months to do it again......stay tuned for another party this weekend.
Just an update for those interested in how Travis is doing:
What else can I say but he is doing so remarkable! He is doing rigorous physical therapy twice a week and he is also hitting the gym on the other days. He worked a couple of times this past week. He is also able to get some work done from home. Each day gets a little better. His head looks unbelievably healed up. His hair has grown back and his scar is hardly noticeable. It hasn't even been 3 weeks since surgery! Sometimes he still has some instability and dizziness when he walks. He also has some pressure and pain in his head from time to time. It's all about pacing himself and taking time for plenty of rest. I continue to chauffeur him around but think he will be back behind the wheel soon. He feels great and even made it to Church for the first time today. We meet with the radiation doctor next week for a consult. But our focus right now is getting him completely healed from surgery.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
I just spent the entire day getting ready for my 3 older kids to start school tomorrow. I can't believe three of my kids are going to be in school all day......from now on! That seems completely weird to me. I had to pack supplies in backpacks (lots & lots of supplies!), lay out lunch fixings (I now have to pack 3 lunches each day...that seems a bit overwhelming), have the kids lay out their new school clothes, and fill out tons of paper work from the teachers. It seemed like a lot more than usual. Anyway, today was their last day of summer and part of me is a little sad. But the bigger part of me is so excited for the new school year and all the adventures to come. I do like schedules and structure so this is good. I'm thinking of all the time I will have now. I'm sure I'll get caught up on everything I've been meaning to do. Yah, sure! I can always hope. Well, a very big morning awaits me and it will be here in no time.
By the way, Travis went into work for a few hours today. Isn't that awesome? It did wipe him out and he took a 3 hour nap when he got home. His body is working so hard to mend itself. But he is getting back to his normal self a little more each day.
Monday, August 4, 2008
Okay, so Travis just read my last post and said it was pretty down. I'll admit that sometimes I have a hard time with all this. What sane person wouldn't?! My mantra has been to be as positive and upbeat as possible but sometimes a person has to be allowed to be sad and frustrated and yes, a little bit angry. Alright, I've said my peace now and I'll move on! Travis is just beyond words.......AMAZING through all this. We are really okay and tomorrow is always a brighter day.
Travis and I just got back from a follow-up with our neuro-oncologist, Dr. Ashby. Travis got his stitches out and his incision is healing very nicely. We discussed future treatment and what options we have now. Dr. Ashby is skeptical about gamma knife. She said it is not used in the brain stem because it is such a delicate area. Gamma knife is a single high dose radiation treatment that is effective on small very differentiated tumors. She said that regular radiation is delivered over several weeks in very small doses. This is more effective for Travis' glioma. The whole neuro team meets today and they will discuss treatment options and make recommendations. We are leery of radiation and it's side effects. Dr. Ashby said this is really our only option now. She said that in her career she has only seen about 10 cases like this. Doing radiation usually adds about 2 years to the remission or low-grade status of the tumor. But in most cases these tumors become more aggressive at some point down the road, usually several years later. We will meet with Dr. Kresl, a radiation specialist to discuss radiation options with him.
I feel like we are kind of back at the beginning now. Except for a major brain surgery that Travis has to recover from. We feel stronger than ever that the nutrition link is going to be key is beating this. We are planning to meet with a naturopathic doctor to work in conjunction with our neuro-specialists. I guess I was really hoping that Dr. Spetzler could get most of the tumor and they could zap the rest with gamma knife and that would be it. Done. Gone. All better. That would be so much easier than the reality of our situation. For now we will continue on the path we are taking and realize that this is a long-term challenge we will deal with.
Friday, August 1, 2008
Travis and I enjoyed a most relaxing time at home without any kids! My cousin, April invited all our kids over for a sleep over and they ended up staying for 2 nights. (except Ella who came home tonight) She is really the best! My kids are having a blast and Travis and I can rest up. I think I have been sleep deprived a bit lately. Today we saw the first matinee of Batman. Besides being LONG it was incredible. We both enjoyed it. Travis is feeling great....obviously if he wants to go to a movie. He starts physical therapy on Monday. We have been taken such good care of by so many friends, ward members and family. I haven't had to worry about dinner all week and the kids have been having one play date after another. They are in heaven. Anyway, nothing exciting to report but I feel like it's important to stress how well Travis is recovering. His balance and coordination when walking are probably the most significant weaknesses he has. But his physical therapy will do wonders for that.