Saturday, September 30, 2006


I know. You were probably shocked when you got on your computer and saw that everything had changed here at DARKSAYINGS. There is a reason.

First, we are celebrating 5000 visits in the short, 20-week history of DARKSAYINGS. Second, we are recognizing NBCAM.

When we hit 6000 or November we'll probably change back to the more familiar DARKSAYINGS: Black. Until then, you'd better wear your shades.

Our 5000th visitor was on the blog @ 5:41 PM, Friday, September 29. They were using a computer with Windows XP, Internet Explorer 6.0, using Qwest internet, and in the Pacific Time Zone. (I know it's almost creepy that I know this stuff.) C'mon. 'Fess up. Was it you?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

What a difference a day can make

Or two days in our case. A little medication switch and a lot of prayer.

Anne-Marie was strong enough to leave the house for an hour or two.

For those who don't know

Friends who are not acquainted with Anne-Marie's family may not know that Anne-Marie lost her mother to the same disease she is currently fighting.

Mary Jean Huffman passed from this life two years ago this Monday.

Mary Jean and Anne-Marie were best friends. The loss was immeasurable for my wife and the family. We honor her memory.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Anne-Marie is in extreme pain due to the side effects of the medication she is on. The oncologist that is on-call for this weekend has been notified. If this resolves tonight, we will not have to go to the hospital and/or hematology clinic. Pray for us.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

On the lighter side

After shopping for plans and phones for the past two years, we finally got new cel phones yesterday. Because Anne-Marie hasn't been using hers for the past few months, I decided to cancel her line and get her a new one next year. When I called to cancel service, our longtime carrier Cingular made us an offer that was hard to pass up.

The net result: a new, very practical wireless plan and two new phones. After 5 years with my Nokia 8260 (featuring: ringer, little buttons with numbers on them), my new Samsung C417 (featuring all of the above, plus: color screen, camera w/4x zoom, speakerphone, internet, Bluetooth, IM, calendar, a bowling simulator, defibrillator, food processor) looks like something out of science fiction.

The two places my Nokia didn't get reception were at work and at home. The new phone is on the new network, so this very undesirable glitch has been eliminated. Now I'll be able to talk to you all without saying, "Can you call me on my work phone?" or, "Sorry. I'm cutting out. Just pulled into my driveway." Starting this week, it'll be, "Would you like to talk by voice or IM?" "As a matter of fact, he's right here! Let me put you on 'speaker'." "Hold on; let me send you a cameraphone pic of the cop who's pulling me over for driving in the oncoming lane because I was messing with my phone!"

Imagine the possibilities!

If any of you want to call us on our new phones--which I'm sure you do, if only to say you had the experience--e-mail us using the link to your right and we'll send you the numbers (which haven't changed from our old phones). Until then, I think I'm gonna do a little cel phone bowlin'.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Update: chemo 3 recovery, 1 week later

This has been one of Anne-Marie's worst weeks. She's had a fever for a few days and has been very weak. Dr. Smith has prescribed antibiotics to fight off what may be a viral infection.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Chemotherapy schedule

Friday, October 6, 12:30 PM
Friday, October 27, 11:00 AM
Friday, November 17, 11:00 AM
Friday, December 8, 11:00 AM
Friday, December 29, TBD (tentative date)

Chemotherapy 3

Thursday, September 14, was Anne-Marie's third chemotherapy treatment.

Kara took Anne-Marie again this time. It worked well with her schedule because her mother was in town to watch her three little girls (maybe I'll post some pictures sometime).

Anne-Marie had already been to see Dr. Burgess the day before and was in a lot of pain. She went to the chemo appointment on a heavier dose of pain medication than normal, which made her very drowsy throughout the entire day.

All the blood work came back OK, so Anne-Marie was cleared to begin the chemo.

Extra anti-nausea medication was included in this treatment along with Ativan, adriamycin, and cytoxan. She was also prescribed and scheduled for a white blood cell booster injection (Neulasta). Mom brought her back to the Professional Plaza for that on Friday. The increased stimulation of white blood cell production should increase Anne-Marie's blood count and prevent her from returning to the hospital on the "low week" of the cycle.

The remaining chemo treatments have been scheduled and listed in the post above.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

5th Anniversary: The Prequel

Last Monday, Labor Day, was my 27th birthday. We celebrated with a barbecue. We ate cake and ice cream like at any party. Anne-Marie was midway between chemo treatments and was having one of her good days.

Around 10:00 PM, after everything settled down, Anne-Marie's temperature began to rise rapidly. I was walking down the hall at 11:30 when I heard what I thought was an alarm go off. I was only half correct. Anne-Marie had taken her temperature and the high pitched squeal from the digital thermometer in her hand was meant to warn that her 101.6 degree temperature was dangerously above normal.

By the agreement that we made with our doctor, we were obligated to call the 24-hour emergency phone number at Northwest Cancer Associates. When I got on the line with the operator, he immediately put me through to the on-call doctor. The doctor, thankfully, happened to be our own: Dr. John Smith. Dr. Smith ordered us to go to the emergency room at Willamette Falls Hospital in Oregon City to get a C.B.C. (complete blood count). "What an over-reaction!" I thought.

We arrived at Willamette Falls at 11:50 (still my birthday), and were checked-in to an empty emergency room. The ER doctor told us that Anne-Marie's blood count was dangerously low--she had 94 white blood cells and no disease-fighting white blood cells--and that she was at serious risk for developing a bacterial infection. She needed to be admitted to the hospital.

They gave us the choice of being admitted there or driving to Providence Portland Medical Center, where our Dr. Smith works. We chose to go to Providence.

We arrived at Providence at 2:00 AM. We got settled in the room by 4:00 AM in the 5th floor medical unit, because the oncology unit was full. The head nurse informed us that our nurse, "Angus," would be by shortly. (Not Agnes or Argus, but Angus.)

Angus was a short, medium-built, awkward sort of guy. He sounded like Jimmy Stewart: talking with his mouth mostly closed and then adding the obligatory, contemplative "...Yeah..." at the end of everything he said, as if he wasn't exactly sure if he was right or not. (i.e., "What Ah think Ah'm gonna do is, ahh, werr gonna give yuh this, ahh, Ah. Vee. ...Yeah... that's what werr gonna do.)

All in all, it was turning out to be a nearly normal day. One minute sitting around eating burgers with the folks; the next rushed to the hospital and placed under the care of a guy named Angus.

Dr. Smith came in at 8:00 on Tuesday morning and told us that we wouldn't be going home for "two or three days." He also attempted to tell the staff that the "Mask and Gloves Required!" sign on the door was completely unnecessary, because he was not concerned about Anne-Marie catching a virus, but that she would develop a blood infection. They, for whatever reason, ignored him. I sure felt bad when Pastor Gleason came in later that morning to pray for Anne-Marie all dressed-up in that stuff.

Phil and my mom came to visit during the next few days as they did blood tests and waited for the desired results. So did Brian, Angela, and the Harrisons. Mom ate dinner at the hospital with me. I tried everything on the menu. I think the food at Meridian Park is better.

Finally, on Friday morning, our 5th anniversary, I told the nurse, "I don't care what you have to do. Get us out of here!" Dr. Smith came in that morning and let us know that Anne-Marie's blood count still wasn't high enough, but that they would test again in the afternoon. If the count was up, he would release us.

It was, and he let us go. We left the hospital at 6:30 PM; got home at seven; left our house for Astoria at eight; arrived at our bed and breakfast at 10:30 PM. What a way to end my birthday and begin our anniversary!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

5th anniversary trip to Astoria

Believe it or not, we still went on our annual trip to Astoria!

After an hour home from the hospital, we threw our stuff in the car and headed for the beach, where we'd made reservations for our 5th anniversary at Franklin Street Station Bed & Breakfast.

We arrived, after driving through a wet and rainy Highway 26, at the North Coast around 10:30 PM: just in time for bed. What a crazy way to spend our 5th!

The host of the B & B graciously placed in the 9:30 breakfast time slot, and had big, fluffy waffles and sausage ready for us when we came downstairs.

About the time that breakfast was ready, a transformer across down exploded. A bright flash illuminated everything and the whole house shook. The north side of town lost power.

It was strange to walk down Commercial Street in the heart of downtown, which apparently is the dividing lines between the north and south power grids. Business owners on one side of the street were sitting on the sidewalk looking across the street at their south side counterparts who were doing business as usual.

Because Anne-Marie had less energy than she usually does, we did more driving than walking this year. We drove to Seaside, Long Beach, and all around Astoria looking at the river and old victorian-era houses.

Our room was very comfortable. The best part was a private deck with a view of the Columbia River and downtown Astoria. (Some pictures are at left.)

Saturday night we went on ate our annual meal at Baked Alaska. The restaurant sits on a pier and has a 180 degree view of the river. We love to go there and eat salmon while the ships come in at sunset. I highly recommend the flaming cookie for dessert!

Sunday we went, as always, to Sunday Market downtown. Anne-Marie found a hibiscus and a butterfly bush that we jammed in the car for the drive home.

Before we went home, we went north to Ilwaco, Washington, for a spontane
ous visit with some old friends, Pat and Marina Smith, who recently moved to the area. It had been
years since I had seen them but, with Marina's recent diagnosis of lymphoma, we've recently renewed contact. We had a wonderful time visiting with them over lunch. Please pray for Marina; she has many more months of treatment to endure.

We headed for home after lunch.

Thanks to Becky, our gracious innkeeper, and Ross Hoevet Family Dentistry for helping make the trip possible.

Picture Key (t to b):
1. The B & B
2. Me sitting on deck
3. Anne-Marie on our canopy bed
4. Anne-Marie in our kitchen mirror
5. Us on the deck
6. Me (Hotel Elliot in background)
7. Us on the deck again
8. Anne-Marie at Baked Alaska
9. Marina and Anne-Marie

Friday, September 08, 2006


Release postponed

We will not be leaving until this afternoon.

Happy Anniversary

I love you, Anne-Marie.

5th anniversary

As I lay here, I'm pondering many things.

One is of that special day five years ago: September 8, 2001. Anne-Marie and I were married with no idea of what was to come. No guarantees.

"You'll won't know what it's like 'til you're married yourself," they said. They were right.

We left the next day for Baja California, Mexico. We woke up two days later and found out that our lives had changed forever for the second time in three days.

On the morning of September 11th, 2001, we didn't know if we would ever make it back to see our new home. We didn't know how or when we could make it back to America. We didn't know anything.

Somehow we made it back home; somehow we made it through.

Another thing that floods my mind this early morning is the thought that, five years later, September 8, 2006, I'm writing this from my wife's hospital room. We're fighting to keep her alive. This isn't how we'd planned it.

No idea what is to come. No guarantees.

You won't know 'til you get there.

But, somehow...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Blood count still rising...

But not fast enough. Dr. Smith says we will not go home before tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Moved from Medical 5R34 to Oncology 5R31

Dr. Smith got his wish this evening; a room opened up in the Oncology wing. They moved us so he could have all his patients on the same side of the hospital.

Blood count rising

blood count yesterday: .9
blood count today: 1.1
normal count: 3.5-11.0

Release tomorrow probable

Dr. Smith told us that if Anne-Marie continues to make progress as she has been, a Thursday release is likely.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Blood count still low; temparature normalizing


They have complimentary broadband at Providence!

I will attempt to leave a series of short updates in the next 24 hours.


Last night Anne-Marie was hit with extreme fever and chills. We called Dr. Smith and asked his advice. He recommended going to the emergency room at Willamette Falls Hospital here in Oregon City.

At Willamette Falls they did a complete blood count and found that Anne-Marie's white blood cells were dangerously low. They sent us to Providence Portland for the next few days. That is where we are now.

Saturday, September 02, 2006 - Version 1.1

The new template is now up!

Comments are back online (no spring-loaded comments yet, though). Photos are fixed. HTML editing will allow me to add the SiteMeter back on.

This is what I've been waiting for!

edit: I changed comments to pop up in their own little window. Hope you like it.