Sunday, June 28, 2009

Week 3 Begins Tomorrow ...

It's hard to believe that I will start my third week back at work tomorrow. For the most part, everything has gone just fine - I've answered all the e-mails, returned lots of phone calls and hugged many, many friends as I've passed them in the halls. My amazing colleague made a list of all the projects still in play and we divided them up. Basically, if it has to do with social media or Web sites or medical news in the Children's Cancer Hospital, it belongs to Sara. I've got a couple of newsletters, multiple events and the Children's Art Project back on my plate. The good news is that there are no looming deadlines, which gives the ol' Brainiac an opportunity to get back in the groove.

I made another trip across the street on Friday - had to attend the CCH Beach Bash. Though I was hoping to get a tan, it just didn't happen. However, I felt lucky to make it back to the office - WOW, it is hot out there. I'm trying to work out some transportation that will get me to meetings and events over in the main bldg. - at least for a while - but so far I've had no luck. The shuttle service is not optimal from my bldg. - thought I might twist their arms to beef it up or at least allow me to use the "Special Request" shuttle, but that doesn't seem to comply with the rules. I'm going to push a little harder next week and try to make that happen.

I have a trip to Dallas on the calendar for next weekend.  My sisters and mother have found "the perfect place" for me to get a mother-of-the-groom dress so I'm going to go shop and see if this is indeed a fact. I'm hoping so because I've not seen much here in Houston (not that I've done all that much shopping, but ...). It would be super to cross this off of my to-do list. I also need to start thinking about the other little details for the rehearsal dinner - like the invitations. I do have a little time on this, but not much. I was so on schedule until I got sidetracked on April 1. At least I can be thankful that we had the location and the menu lined up before I had so many other things to think about.

This week should be better than the last two - I am very slowly regaining my energy and getting up and about helps this. Oh, I just finished round 2 of the oral chemo - so far, so good so keep your fingers crossed!

Stay cool and don't fry your brain - xxxgbg

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Full Time - What Was I Thinking?

You know that it's just too much when you start counting down the minutes! I've had three full days back at work this week and all three afternoons I've been guilty of watching the clock. But, it's getting better - I know it is.

Today, I had a meeting across the street. I had the luxury of being driven over, but I had to walk back. That was actually a good thing because I got some exercise, but boy oh boy, it was an exhausting trip back to the office. It was long and it was hot. However, I was with my colleague who was smart enough to bring along her purse so we (really she because I sat on a bench on the skywalk while she went down to get it) picked up lunch on the way back. That was a nice treat!

There's lots to catch up on at the office - e-mails and projects and just things in general that have happened while I was out. It's good to be back with people again - and good to be feeling good, too. Now if it would just get a little cooler outside, I think I'd be pretty happy.

Happy Summer - gbg

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Today's the day - 39 years of wedded bliss. We're celebrating with a dinner out and I've been resting up so I can make it through the night.

The day has been busy - we (me and my trusty driver Clif) started by picking up a lamp that I had taken in for repair and then went on to purchase part 2 of my sister's birthday gift. Then we went to 4 different places to check out possibilities for a mother-of-the-groom outfit. In between, we stopped at Kenny & Ziggy's to split a pastrami sandwich - I even turned down a piece of pie in hopes that I will still be hungry for dinner tonight.

As for the outfit, this was just the initial exploration. I still have a few other places to visit and I also need to wait for the bride's mother to make her choice before I decide. Of course my husband thinks I should wear my mother-of-the-bride outfit - can't seem to make him understand that this just won't work. He also doesn't understand my reluctance to wear it to other occasions - as if there is another occasion worthy of this fine outfit. Instead, I just spend a lot of time looking at it :)

I have my feet up, am feeling fine and am looking ahead to next week when I start round 2 of the oral chemo and also plan to be on a full time work schedule. Wish me luck.

Happy Fathers' Day to all -
Your Friend, the Brainiac

Friday, June 19, 2009

TGIF !!!

Yes, Thank God It's Friday. It's been a very long week, but thanks to my colleague Sara, you saw that I did make it back to the office.

On Monday, I was greeted with a wonderful welcome - my office door was fitted with new "saloon doors" that supposedly opened to the Miller Lite Saloon. Inside, it was Party Barn Central with glitter everywhere, shiny stars hanging from the ceiling, a neon pink feather boa, blow-up microphones, a beach pail full of candy - it goes on and on. My door was covered with a photo essay of me wearing a variety of hats all photoshopped on - everything from Aretha's inaugural chapeau to the most bizarre headgear you've ever seen. The theme was the top seven things I would rather do than have brain surgery (I could actually take it a little further than seven, but this will do). After lots of hugs and good wishes from all my friends, we went around the corner for a delicious breakfast - all kinds of fruit, sweetrolls, muffins, an egg casserole, juice and more. I spent the majority of the day hugging old friends and answering e-mails - somewhat of a sensory overload, but so heartwarming. I was glad to be back!

For the most part, I worked half days this week with the goal of full time next week. The exception to this was on Tuesday when I had some patient-related appointments across the street so I stayed for the afternoon. Clif was to pick me up at 5 p.m., but unfortunately he had a glitch with his day so it was 5:55 p.m. before he got there. I was pretty much a puddle and asleep by 7:30 that night. Speaking of Clif, he's been such a super sport about "driving Miss Crazy" this week. I know that I interrupt his work, but I sure appreciate him fetching me to and from. When he has conflicts, I have many offers from friends to help out.

Still, what they say is right - and it's kind of backwards. The more I am up and about, the better I do. I have still been taking a nap every afternoon - deep, deep sleep for a couple of hours. I still have to make myself get up in the morning. And, an hour is still pretty much my max for continuous concentration. BUT, I can walk further and feel more upwardly mobile. That's a good thing!

This week I had an appointment with Integrative Medicine to discuss my extreme fatigue and what I can do with diet and exercise to get my pep back. The diet recommended is mostly plant based - there was no mention of fried shrimp or chicken fried steak on this menu. Mostly, I'm to spend my shopping time wandering the aisles of Whole Foods in search of organic fruits and veggies. And, Whole Foods also has the supplements I'm supposed to be adding to my diet like B12 and flax seeds. In fact, it seems that almost everything I need is available there - and I can get some walking in, too.

Next week I begin my second round of oral chemo. Keep your fingers crossed that it goes well. I'll also see my doctor again so maybe I'll have more news. In the meantime, I'll just keep on keepin' on. Thanks for being patient and checking in.

xxx from your old friend, the Brainiac!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gail's Return

Hi everyone,
I haven't needed to post in a while since Gail has been doing such a great job of keeping up with her blogging. However, Monday was a big day for us at M. D. Anderson with Gail's return to work. I thought I would post some photos from that day. We're so happy to have her back! Thanks to all who helped decorate (you're so creative!), brought food and stopped by to welcome back Gail. Eli did a great job capturing the moment...these are just a few of the photos from the morning.

(Gail demonstrating all of the lectures she has received about eating healthier and exercising)

(Note: She skipped the donuts and opted for fruit...doctors orders!)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Just Saying Hi

It's a lazy weekend - I'm working on a suitable mindset to go back to the office on Monday. Seems pretty weird since it's been almost two months. You can get into a lot of bad habits in two months!

Brian came over today to work on clearing out his bedroom and there's a considerable amount of work to do. To be fair, most of it is not his fault - you can't imagine the things he found in there. Apparently, his father found a place to stash his stuff - interesting assortment of tools, camping gear, scouting items, holiday decor, etc. I'm left with a somewhat cleaner room (you can walk in it) and various piles around the house. Wonder where I'm going to put all of this now?

Tomorrow I am going to decide what I'm wearing on Monday and contemplate getting up lots earlier than I have been. I feel just fine - but occasionally I get this weird "fragile" feeling - this, too, will pass, I'm sure.

I'll let you know how it goes at the office - one thing's for sure: there will be a lot more people than I'm used to.

Best - gbg

Friday, June 12, 2009

Out On the Town ...

Two special friends thought this would be the right day to nudge me towards civilization - and I think they made a good call.

We had lunch at Nordstrom's bistro - yummy, yummy! It was fun to catch up with them and we discovered that between us we have two babies and three weddings coming up soon. I think we left feeling kinda old - or maybe responsible is a better word?

On the way out, we stopped and all bought some cheap knockoff sunglasses. Now we are movie stars!

I'm going to be resting up this weekend for my return to the office on Monday - this morning I had to stop to really think about what my office phone # is. Good news is that I remembered it without having to look at my business card - bodes well for the work I will be doing next week!

Hope that everyone has a great weekend - stay cool - xxxgbg

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Celebration Time!

I have great news to share - and it's not about me. The last of the unattached Goodwins has taken the plunge:

Braden Goodwin is engaged to Maren Van Sickel!!!

We are so pleased to know that very soon we will move from six to seven (Brian and Tiffany - big day is 9/19/2009) and finally to eight (date TBD). We met Maren when Braden brought her to our nephew's wedding two years ago. She made an immediate positive impression - I knew she was "the one" right away - glad that Braden finally realized it, too.

This is a great start to the weekend - just what I need to boost me towards a positive return to the office on Monday. Hard to believe that it's that time already.

By the way, I am walking every night and working to get my energy back - hard to do when it's so hot out there!

Best to all - gbg

Monday, June 8, 2009

Countdown Week!

It seems impossible that this is my last week at home in recuperation mode.  I am gearing myself up for the big return - getting ready and making myself presentable, what to do for lunch, how to launch back into the projects I left behind and - biggest question - how long can I sit in that desk chair? Next Monday will be a really big day for me!

In the meantime, I'm going to do my best to get ready. I have been walking - and I have to say that I don't really like it. I know that I need to get some exercise, but I still don't like it. However, I've made it around the block the last three nights - cheers, please!!! I will admit that it's gotten a tiny bit easier, but not easy enough. I know, I know - that's going to come. Those of you who are always bugging me about this can relax - I know what I have to do.

Clif and I are also practicing getting our own meals - kinda hard to do when you're used to delicious dinners being brought to the front door, but necessary nonetheless. Part of the problem is that healthy eating is especially important for me right now and healthy eating is not my habit. I having to forget my favorite pepperoni pizza and chicken fried steak and think more about fresh fruits and vegetables. Wonder what we'll have tonight - I just finished off the pineapple.

I am turning the TV up loud - the next door neighbors are getting a new roof and it's noisy out there. This could be a good thing - might interfere with my afternoon nap :)

Good day to all - gbg

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Heading to the Normal

Good day yesterday with Mother and Kim - we picked up cute Sara Farris for lunch and enjoyed our Village visit. They returned me home for my afternoon nap and then hit the grocery store to pick up the dinner fixings. Cook Kim and Chef Sara (my mother) put dinner together and worked on cleaning out the frig (huge job!!!). 

Kim also tackled the parlor, hauling out things I haven't seen in forever - they're gone now :) This was a trip back to the past - Sara Kate's Beanie Babies, little, tiny purses and even a dress I bought for her to wear to the senior prom that went through many alterations, but never made the cut. We also found enormous numbers of Children's Art Project t-shirts and Children's Cancer Hospital polos - not sure yet what to do with these. There were also plenty of Boy Scout shirts, ski gear and weird odds and ends - debate still going on about the fate of these things, too.

Brian and Tiffany came over for a delicious dinner - it was a Braden favorite: flank steak with zucchini casserole and some special rice. Dessert was some chocolate treats, which arrived just in time yesterday afternoon (thanks Katrina!). Haven't had this meal in forever - we all enjoyed it! 

I have to add this part - we finished the night with a brief walk - and only because I promised. I imagine that I'll be hitting the pavement pretty often now - gotta get that energy back.

The Dallasites depart today - it will get quiet around here quickly. Next week is the last one before I return to the office - time has passed so fast - hard to believe that I'll be back in the old routine so soon. Next week, I'll be dedicated to getting into semi-shape before I'm back to work.

Have a great weekend - and stay cool - xxxgbg

Friday, June 5, 2009


Oh, yesterday - good grief - who knew that they actually do MRIs at 6:30 a.m. at MDA? It was a very early morning, but I managed to sort of doze through all of that bamming and banging. Then my sister Kim and I enjoyed a smoothie before making the scene at the Place ... of wellness to collect an enormous number of brochures. Then we waited in the Clark Clinic lobby for my mother and other sister Shannon to arrive from Dallas before going upstairs for my 11:15 doctor's appointment.

It was a long morning, but the wait was worth it to get the good report from the MRI - doc says that things are lookin' good up there - always nice to hear. However, he did give me my fourth or fifth lecture of the day about exercise and, of course, my need to do it. Now, I've never been one to move much - I do enjoy my chair - but I've promised to try. He assures me that if I don't, I'll regret it - use it or lose it as they say. Ugh ...... that means a walk around the block today - and forever more.

Today, we're going out for lunch and then we'll get things for dinner together. Brian and Tiffany are coming over to eat with us - I think we're having flank steak and zucchini casserole - yum!
Mother and Kim leave Saturday a.m. and then it's time for me to go about getting ready to go back to work in another week - hard to believe!

Right now, it's shower time for me and then we're off on the day's errands - sounds like a busy day for all of us. 

Happy weekend - gbg

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sister Act

My sister Kim, the one who was voted off the island for going to Mexico, is coming for a visit this evening. She'll be joined by sister Shannon and my mother tomorrow because everyone wants to go to my doctor's appt. with me on Thursday a.m. :)

The bad news is that I have to be at MDA at 6:30 a.m. on Thurs. for an MRI. I actually thought I would be back at work when this appt. was scheduled so I decided not to change it. That didn't happen, but I still didn't change it. After that is over, I will have three plus hours to kill before the next appt. at 11:15 a.m. I think that I will visit the Place ... of Wellness for some of that time to see if they have any suggestions to help me conquer this stupid fatigue. I'm pretty sure that they will tell me to walk - I'm going to give them Sara Kate's phone # so they can discuss this together.

Speaking of SK, I got a book from her yesterday called "Cancer Fitness" - she ordered it for me from Amazon and I must say that it made a lot of sense. I spent the afternoon reading it and have concluded that she's probably right - I need to get the move on. I always hate to admit that I'm wrong - but, in this case, I believe I am. No idle promise here, I am starting an exercise program - the book says you can begin with 10 minutes and work your way up. Sounds like my idea of moving about.

I'll spend today tidying up before the big visit - housekeeper will be here tomorrow to do the big stuff. Have a great day and stay cool - xxxgbg

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Still Feeling Kinda Rocky

It must be that chemo pill that's taken me down - I really haven't felt the same since Friday. I have an upset stomach, I don't want to eat much of anything and I am so, so tired. The best thing that has happened is that a friend called to tell me that sleeping is just what I'm supposed to be doing - good news to me! Now I just need to convince my daughter about this - that's sure to happen!

So, I'm trying to perk up. I have plans to talk to the Wellness Center at MDA this week - it's not possible that I am the only person who is this tired after surgery. I'm hoping that they will have a miraculous cure for me that doesn't involve having to get off another pill. Abandoning the steroids was not fun - but it's done (good for me)! Now, there has to be something that gives energy besides walking around the block - I just can't do it.

I am exposing my less than positive upbeat attitude - sorry about that. I try to be happy-faced - doesn't always work. By the end of the week, I'm certain to be back to my sunny self - doncha think?


Monday, June 1, 2009

Taking My Time

It's countdown time - I am set to go back to work in two weeks. Actually, I was originally supposed to return today,but saner minds prevailed and I have added a few more weeks to see if I can't regain some of the energy I have lost.

The good news is that I have made it through the first round of oral chemo with no real issues. Now I have 23 days before the next five days of pills. It's nice to cross some of that off my list of challenges.

It was a long slow weekend - I did a lot of vegging and hope that I have caught up on my sleep. Somehow, I just couldn't get moving, but maybe today will be a new day. I have lunch plans out of the house with a friend - good to get out in the world!

My mother and two sisters are coming on Thursday to go with me to my next doctor's appt. - it's great to have an extra set of ears (or three) and I'll enjoy a visit with them, too.

Best to all - Gail