Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Grrr. Sideways videos

Tucker and Aubrey skiing at Deer Valley yesterday. Sorry the videos are sideways. I thought I was filming correctly, but obviously I wasn't.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Ski Day at Deer Valley

Tucker and Aubrey had school off today, so I previously scheduled to close my office in order to take them skiing.  I had 4 tickets left for Deer Valley this season that we needed to use, so we made a great day out of it.  We started the morning off with the amazing french toast at Kneaders for our breakfast.  So delicious.

It's quite the chore getting little kids dressed and geared up for skiing.  After what seemed like 15 minutes in the parking lot, we were finally ready to go ride up on the gondola.

Tucker and Lisa sitting in the gondola.

Aubrey and me.

We decided that Aubrey still needed to get her ski legs back under her so we headed over to the magic carpet ride for a few runs until she got warmed up.

They had these gates and hoops for the kids to ski through.  Aubrey started getting back in a groove in no time.

Lisa and I had fun ducking under each one as we followed the kids.

Once we were convinced that Aubrey was ready to go we headed up on the mountain.  Tucker is still a great skier and does blues and double blues with no problem so he had fun playing around with the magic carpet runs.  

Aubrey still struggled with turning and making the wide s-turns on the mountain.  It took us a couple of runs until we figured out some terms that she could understand.  When I finally started to tell her to go sideways, it's like the light went on in her head.  After that she was great.

Lisa in her new puffy coat she bought this winter.  We have finally outfitted her sufficiently so that she doesn't feel cold when we go skiing.  That, in my opinion, is quite the accomplishment.  Ever since her brain tumor surgery, she is always cold.  Well, I shouldn't say always, because she was quite warm and comfy today with her snazzy coat.

Tucker doesn't like any wind in his face so he pulls his neck gator up to cover every last square inch of his face. He's kind of a funny sight.

Here are a couple of family photos with half of our children.  Next year we will start Cole.  And then a year or two after that we will be ready for Blake.  I'm excited for the day when we can go skiing with all of our children.  And I'm even more excited for the day when all of our kids can keep up with us.  It's been something I've been looking forward to for a long time.  Some of my favorite memories growing up were of ski days with my whole family.

As you can tell from the photos, the weather and temperatures were great.  I was afraid it was going to be spring skiing conditions, but with the storms over the weekend and the low temps, it felt like prime winter skiing to us.  A gorgeous blue bird day on the mountain.  Not much more you can ask for.

Multiple Extractions

Poor Tucker is taking after his mom with his his dental woes.  He has severe crowding of his teeth (much like Lisa did when she was young).  There is no room for his adult teeth to come in.  I recently met with my orthodontist to consult what our options were.  Here is the x-ray of his face that shows how crowded everything is.

His orthodontist and I agreed that we needed to extract 3 teeth immediately to allow some of his permanent teeth to come in.  In about 6-12 months once his permanent molars are in, we will then do a platal expander and some brackets.  So I brought him in to my office, numbed him up and extracted #M, N, and R.   Dude was a champ.  Didn't whine or cry at all.  He does now have a gapped smile, but we think he's still cute.

He was so proud of his 3 teeth and was extremely excited for the tooth fairy to come.  He even left the tooth fairy a note asking if he could leave the teeth behind so he could show them to his friends.  This tooth fairy was more than happy to comply.
You can see that the three roots were no where near resorbed, so there was no way they were going to come out on their own.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

No Mo CheMo!

I had an MRI a couple days after we returned from Mexico and also started my last round of chemotherapy. My MRI looked great. No sign of tumor growth. It was a week of celebrating with chemo ending. The trip was just what I needed/again and now I'm hoping I'm returning to my new normal state - sans chemo drugs in my body.
Dressed for my MRI.
About to enter the MRI machine.
 My last 3 pills.
 Award I was given along with a bag of rice to warm up or freeze for aches and pains.
 I also saw my ENT last week for a tube check. Remember I had tubes placed in my ears last spring. The tubes fixed my original ear problem and my trips to the ocean have been good. The tubes will probably fall out in 6 months to a year. Then I'm hoping my ears will be fine still and I won't have to get new ones. I am not a fan of my ear plugs and didn't wear them at all in Mexico and only parttime in Hawaii. I like to be able to hear.
I made a slideshow video showing my life over the past year.It's on youtube but I couldn't get it to upload on the blog, so go to the link. It's almost 10 minutes and has music to the pictures. If you are on facebook, you've probably seen it, if not, enjoy.

Yesterday I went to see a gastroenterologist to see if I have an ulcer or other problem. I've had horrible bouts of heartburn over the past 6 months that my oncologist can't explain. My doctor is really nice and prescribed a new drug and told me to stop taking another. I'll go back in a month to make sure I'm improving.

I thought I'd add part of a blog post I started last fall. It shows that this has not been easy for me and I have not always bore it with a smile on my face.

"I have so many thoughts and feelings that roll through my head daily. I decided it’s time to just get them out there, besides in my daily journal. Keep in mind that I’m writing this on a “not so good” day, so I may be more negative than I typically am. But don’t interpret that as me giving up, I’m not, I just need to vent. I started to write this a month ago, during/after my last chemo cycle, began to feel better and then decided to not post. Now I feel crappy again and it’s much easier to complain when you feel sick.
This is one of the main things I wanted to write about. So many people compliment me on my positive attitude throughout this cancer challenge. Well, let me tell you that I am not always positive. I try to think/stay positive, but bottom line – CANCER SUCKS!! Bigtime. The diagnosis, the surgery, treatments, prognosis’, side effects, and the just not knowing. I hate my bad days. I feel lousy, like a horrible wife and mother and I just want to sit around and sleep and make the pain/uncomfortableness go away. I have medicine, and I take it, but it doesn’t always work when I need it to. Give me a couple days, and I will probably feel like my “new” old self but today, I’m too sick to exercise, and I want to curl up on my bed, forget about my kids/duties/responsibilities and sleep or watch netflix.
I’m super bugged that after 5 months of maintenance chemo, my body is not on a regular side effect schedule. I try to plan what life I have around when I’ll be feeling good, but that has been different every month. And, on top of that, I legally wasn’t supposed to drive for most of this year. I’d be lying if I told you I was strict and didn’t. But, I do have a life, kids, a husband and errands I need to run. I try not to go too far (stay in my valley), but I have driven down the canyon a couple times. I have wonderful family and friends that have helped me so much during the year, but I get sick of having to ask for so much. Good news is, I am seizure free for now, hopefully forever. One small miracle at a time."

Just a small glimpse into my life. I'll update as the months go on as to how I'm doing. Thanks again all you readers for your support for myself and my family.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Viva la Mexico!

Lisa and I recently returned from a much needed vacation in Mexico.  Some of my patients were incredibly generous and donated a week at their house in Akumal for Lisa to use during her long bout with chemo.  It's the same house we stayed at last year.  It turned out to be a huge blessing for her to have this to look forward to throughout her battle and keep her motivated to keep fighting.  We decided to schedule the trip right before she started her final round of chemo at the beginning of March to try and re-energize her batteries before her last hurrah.  We also invited my cousin Jayson and his wife Anne to give them a much needed vacation as he has been having his own incredible health problems.  He has had a nasty bout of lupus over the past year and a half.  So it was a great opportunity for Jayson and Lisa to rest up and have some fun after such long, tiring, and frustrating struggles.  Also, it was wonderful for their spouses, Anne and me, to catch our breath, as we have been so busy trying to juggle our normal daily tasks along with caring for spouses that have been struggling with health problems.  Needless to say, the past year has been a difficult, stressful one for us.  A huge thanks to my wonderful mom who stayed with the kids at our house while we were gone.  She was wonderful with the kids.

I'm going to break this up into a day by day summary of some of the things we did.  Get ready for a smorgasbord of photos.

We flew in to Cancun late Saturday night with Lisa's sister Heather, her husband Dan, Lisa's brother Kevin, his wife Lisa Marie.  My cousin Jayson and his wife Anne arrived about 15 minutes after us.  They were actually scheduled to arrive 4 hours before us, but because of the snow storms in Utah, their flight got delayed until their incoming plane was able to land in Salt Lake City.  We picked up our rental cars and drove straight down to Akumal.

Sunday morning we woke up, had some breakfast and then went snorkeling in the bay right in front of the house.  After seeing my brother Carson use his underwater camera so successfully last year, we decided to get one ourselves, and we were very pleased with the pictures it took.

Here is a picture of most of the group getting ready to get in that warm Caribbean water.

Dan and Heather

Yes, I did wear the short shorts.  And for anyone who thinks they are "inappropriate", go to the BYU swimming pool and go swimming.  They don't allow you to bring your own swim suit but make you wear their own.  So as you are checking in they will give you some to use.  You will see which swimming suit they give as "BYU issued apparel" is in fact very similar to what I wore.  So before any of you have a stroke, relax, breath deep, and take a step back from the edge.
Last year we took a photo on the beach that made my brother Carson look like he was 8 feet tall.  My cousin Jayson begged me to recreate the photo for his sake.  I must say, he does look like he's 8 feet tall.

Here is a photo of my beautiful bride of almost ten years enjoying her vacation in Mexico.

Lisa took a few photos of some fish right there in the bay.  I won't include all of them because the photos we took in Cozumel turned out even better.  But you will see that we saw lots of aquatic life right there in the bay in front of the house.

This is my favorite fish there.  It's the juvenile damselfish.  It has those beautiful florescent blue spots.  It's hard to get a good photo of them because they are so shy.

In honor of Lisa's tumor, here is some brain coral. 

Monday morning we got up and it was too windy to go fishing like we hoped, so we went to Playa del Carmen and took the ferry over to Cozumel.  The wind doesn't bother you as much in Cozumel as it does in Playa because you are on the leeward side of the island.  Here is a view of the gorgeous, bright blue water by the ferry in Playa del Carmen.  I could look at that water all day and never get tired of it.

Once we got over to Cozumel, we walked down to SeƱor Frog's for some lunch.  Here is Heather's festive balloon hat.  We won't post a picture of my balloon hat.

After lunch we took a boat ride down to three separate coral reefs for some snorkeling that lasted for a couple of hours.  The reefs at Cozumel are the best I've seen.  Again, check out the gorgeous water behind Dan and Heather.  So awesome.

There were tons of fish of many different colors.  It was beautiful.


Here is a sea cucumber that one guy grabbed for us to see.

We saw this giant parrot fish come up towards us which was awesome.

On Tuesday we got up to see if we could go fishing, and again the weather wasn't right for it.  So instead Jayson, Anne, Kevin and Lisa Marie went to the ruins of Tulum.  Lisa and I have been there twice, so we elected to hang out at the house, do some more snorkeling, and play some games with Dan and Heather.  Around lunch time we all met up in Tulum to exchange some money at the bank and to eat lunch.  After lunch we headed out to Coba.  Lisa and I hadn't been to Coba in 10 years, but loved it so much last time we went.  They didn't offer bikes when we were there previously, but do now so we took advantage of that and rented some bikes to get around.  It was so fun. And the weather turned out to be perfect for touring Coba. Because it is located inland you don't get the cool ocean breeze.  It can be really hot and muggy there.  But fortunately for us the skies were overcast and we even got some rain showers to cool us off more.

Here is a photo of Lisa getting ready to ascend the main temple in Coba.  It is the tallest in the Yucatan peninsula, and you can still climb on it, unlike the ruins at Tulum and Chichen Itza.

Here is a cool panoramic view at the top.

This picture will give you some insight into the personalities of our group.  You can see that Dan and Jayson are goofballs like me.  

And here is the more "serious" photo after the girls got mad at Dan and Jayson for "ruining" the photo.

It was a fun day in Coba.  It's hard to pick a favorite ruin site down there, but I love Tulum for how beautiful it is and for all the religious symbolism.  I love Chichen Itza for it's immensity, and I love Coba for how hands on it is.  Many of the ruins there in Coba are either still covered up by the jungle or only partially excavated.  It gives a very primitive feel to it.

 Wednesday morning we were finally successful in going fishing.  The weather was cooperating.The four guys went out for a 3 hour tour.  Sing it with me now, "A three hour tour".  It was a beautiful morning on the water.

While Dan and Kevin hooked fish, Jayson was the only one to haul in fish.  Here is a photo of his amber jack.

Here I am with my only "bite" of the day with the coral reef I reeled in.

Here is Jayson with his banana fish.

And here is his barracuda.

Jayson has been battling a nasty case of lupus that is the most aggressive his doctors have ever seen.  While we were out fishing he had a couple of lupus "attacks" and threw up a few times.  We tease him that he was chumming for fish because each time he threw up, he caught a fish.  Maybe next time I can get him to throw up on my side of the boat.

After our fishing trip our guides filleted our fish for us and we went back to the house and cooked up the barracuda.  It was down right tasty.  We hung out at the house for the remainder of the day doing some more snorkeling and kayaking and reading while chilling in the hammocks.  That evening we went back into Akumal and took our, sorry, Jayson's amberjack to the restaurant La Buena Vida where they cooked it up for us.

As we parked the cars there was a coati (ring tailed raccoon) hanging out looking for scraps.

We sat right on the beach and had an awesome view for our dinner.  The amberjack that they prepared for us was delicious.  For those that might not be fans of seafood, you need to try it fresh.  And I mean truly fresh, as in caught within the past couple of hours.  You might find that you like it.


That night after dinner we hung out at the house.  Anne was taking an online math class and unfortunately had to do some homework while she was on vacation.  She was very diligent though and finished it up.

 Thursday morning I got up early at the crack of dawn to take Anne, Heather and Dan to Akumal bay so I could show them some of the sea turtles that come in there to feed on the grass in the bay.  You have to go early and beat the crowds before the turtles leave the shallow bay and go back out into the deep water.  We were fortunate to see 4 turtles in that bay.  We swam with them for awhile, and after getting our fill we went back to the house for breakfast.

We hung out at the house that morning getting ready to skype with Lisa's dad who was attending the Utah Dental Association's annual convention.  They were presenting Lisa's grandpa with a distinguished service award for 60 years of incredible service to the dental community.  It was so cool being able to see the ceremony live and watch him receive his award.  A big thanks to Ken for making that happen.

Here is a fun panoramic view from on top of the house.  It's one of my favorite spots to read a book.  You have such amazing views up there.

After the skype session and lunch we went to el Gran Cenote for some more snorkeling.  Jayson stayed home to rest up for our Friday adventures.  His lupus has really bogged him down physically, but he was able to do a ton throughout the week despite its nasty effects.  Regardless, after a full week of playing and being on the go, he decided to rest up while we went to the cenote.

For those that don't know, a cenote is a cave that gives access to an underground river.  This one was awesome.  Here are Lisa, Heather and Anne getting ready to take the plunge.

If you look at the bottom of this photo you can see a scuba diver.  These cenotes can extend underground for many, many miles.  It made me wish I was scuba certified and could go exploring those caves.

Friday morning Jayson, Anne, Lisa and I headed out to Chichen Itza.  If you go early you can beat the crowds and get some awesome photos of the ruins before the swarms of tourists inundate the area.   Again, the weather cooperated wonderfully and we had overcast skies and a cool breeze while we were there walking around.

 One little side note about the main temple at Chichen Itza is with regards to the acoustics of the temple.  You will find that everything with the temple was done purposefully.  From the number of stairs, to the number of platforms, to it's position, etc.  Well, it's unbelievable how they were able to construct the temple so that a person clapping in front of any of the stair cases would hear an echo that sounds just like their sacred quetzal bird.  Check out this video I took of our guide demonstrating this phenomenon.

After Chichen Itza we drove back to the house and hung out for that afternoon.  Here is a photo of the domed ceiling they have in the house that is made of brick.  It's a cool site to look up and see.

Lisa hung out on the beach and read her book.

I hung in the hammock and soaked up the good life as well.

That night we went out to dinner at Lol Ha in Akumal and had one final, fantastic dinner.

The view reminded me so much of a Corona commercial.  I think I found my beach.

Here is our departing photo of us standing in front of the house Saturday morning.  We packed our stuff and headed back to Cancun.

It seemed like it took us forever to get home.  When we landed in Houston we had to stay on the runway for an hour until a gate opened up for us.  Dan's face pretty much sums up how we were feeling at the time.

It was a great trip to Mexico.  Lisa is now in her final round of chemo and then she will be done.  Hallelujah!
Addendum:  Somehow these photos didn't load last night. I forgot to mention that Thursday morning we went to Puerto Aventuras.  They had this dolphin show going on that was pretty cool.  After the dolphin show we went to the CEDAM scuba diving museum. 

This is a view from on top of the house that Lisa captured on Friday.

And this is the view from on top of the house looking inland.