Saturday, July 2, 2011

Long time no post

Hello blogger world,
This is July 2, 2011, 7 months have passed...... I can't believe it, its all surreal still. There has been so much change go on and so much that Sandy wanted to see and be a part of. I know she is still a part of it, always watching over us and knowing what is going on. I just wish the physical presence was there as well.

Every day it seems as if someone asks "how are you doing?". I go with the generic everything is going ok or good. Which I believe they are as good as they can be for what we are dealing with. The kids and I have our health, a roof over our heads, and food to eat. I can't say as things are going great, because to be great would be to have our family of four still and none of this debt that I am avoiding. I don't see how getting into all of that with someone that asks how things are going would accomplish much and I don't want people to feel pitty for us. There are people out there that have it much worse than us.

Its also hard when people ask the kids where their mommy is or they ask me where she is. There is always and awkward pause then I explain to them about the situation. Then there is another pause and an oh, I am sorry. Then usually we go about our separate ways. It does, but doesn't bother me. I don't mind talking about Sandy in fact it helps me, but when the kids are around and they look at me with their big eyes I can see how much it hurts them. I talk to them and they talk about Sandy and we always have good memories to share. There is a lot of things that would be easier with Sandy still here to help out, but we are making our ways and starting new things and it is a learning process. People also say that they couldn't imagine doing what I do on a daily basis. I think anyone in my situation would be just as capable if not more capable than me on doing the things I do. There is a lot I need to work on, but again it is a learning process day by day.

Well I just wanted to give a little update on how things are going. They are going ok and we are doing fine. We still have an amazing support system. Thank you for everyone involved.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Still Blogging On

Dearest Sandy,
Hey baby, I know you are still and always will be looking on us from Heaven and I feel your presences daily. I still wait to tell you things daily and wish you were here to really be able to tell them too. The past week and a half have been difficult with Payton running a fever and it even getting up to 104.5 a couple of times. He would always cuddle with you before and you would know exactly what to do. I just did what I thought you would do and finally he has been fever free for two days now! He has gotten his full appetite back and is the same big man. Grace is doing well. We just went to a birthday party for one of her classmates today and she got to play laser tag. It looked like a lot of fun. The parents of kids in her class are very nice and supportive. I am amazed still at the amount of support and assistance we have received from everyone that knows us and even those that do not. I am going to probably get involved in some sort of cancer walk, hopefully melanoma this year. I want to teach the kids how to help others even more. I know how important it was to you, even doing things for the lupus walk when you were very ill. I love you and think about you all the time. Most of the time the days go by well and I think of all the memories we got to share with each other and the hopes and dreams that we wanted to do in the future and still want to pursue our dreams. I love you sweet sweet Sandy. You were, are, and always will be an amazing inspiration and I hear it from other people on a daily basis as well.

Love always,

Andrew


PS: Donations made to the Pinnacle Sandy Towle Fund and to the Paypal link on this blog are being transferred into accounts for each of the kids for a college fund. I do not want them to go through debt and hardships like I, and a lot of other people have had to go through.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

testing this out

Dear Sandy,
We still and always will miss you tons. Not a moment goes by that I do not think about you or wishing I could share the moment with you. Grace and Payton are growing so much, not only size wise but in every way. I see you in them every time I look at them. We push on through each day and they bring you up occasionally. I cannot imagine what it is like to be them and to lose their mommy. You were their lives through everything. I was gone for the Army for almost six months and it was you that was there for them. I went through the police academy for 10 weeks and it was you that was there for them. There is so much that you have done and it shows with how bright both of them are and how well they get along with each other. I try to think of how you would do things with them and do it that way. I know I could never be as good with them as you were. We read every day even if just for a little bit. Grace has already read the first two Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and is almost done with the third. You had so much patience with them through every thing and I have definelty gotten better with that. Payton is getting signed up for t-ball this year and Grace is going to play as well. They are both excited. I am also going to get Grace back in gymnastics. She talks about it all the time. I love you sweet sweet Sandy and would give anything for you to be back with us.

Love always,

Andrew


ps. this blog was shut down for a little while by google because they said they detected suspicious activity. I don't know if that means someone has hacked it or what, but it should be taken care of now.

Monday, January 10, 2011

its been awhile

Dearest Sandy,
I know it has been awhile since I have written to you via your blog or facebook. It gets hard to express my feelings and share things on here. I pray for you and hear you respond and feel your presence everywhere and in everything I and the kids do. There has been a lot going on and I have been trying to keep us busy and our minds going. I ask daily Why? Why you? Why us? Why like this? Why so soon? Just WHY?
Since I have last written, Grace, Payton and I made the trek to Iowa over our Christmas Holiday to spend it with my family. Before we left we celebrated with your family down here in TN. This was a very difficult time to go through knowing how much you loved Christmas and enjoyed spending the time with family. We had several friends and family members pitch in and make this Christmas extra special for G and P. They received so many gifts it was incredible to watch them open and keep celebrating. We even had more gifts for the kids and me when we returned to TN waiting in our dining room. It was an amazing surprise and Santa even left his hat on the tree and another had in the living room. The daily grind is just not the same without you babygirl. We get up and get ready for the day and I always reach to your side of the bed in an attempt to get you up with me as well so we can enjoy the activities ahead. Grace has been reading The Diary of a Wimpy kid books and finished the first one in about a week. It reminded me of you and your speed reading going through a series of books in about a week. After she did that we went to the book store and I got her the next two in order so she could work on them. Payton has been playing with his cars and trains a lot and we have been having a lot of fun. Today was my first day back at work. You would love my schedule now sweetie. I got a position at the courthouse and rotate weeks either 0700-1530 or 0800-1630 and I get weekends and Holidays off. Its like being on a normal schedule for a change. I wish my time off was spent with you. I go through pictures on the phone and on the computer on a daily basis just to see your smiling face. You brought so much joy to so many people and still continue to with your story. It snowed a lot last night and the kids got to play in it with your mom and Mr. Lamb today. I still do not quite get how to cope with not having you around. It is a daily struggle especially doing things that you loved to do, but haven't been able to in a long time. I cuddle with the kids a little more now and have so much more patience with them, I'm still working on more, but you taught me so much with our wonderful children. You were the most amazing mother and wife that we could have ever asked for. I was just thinking of our dreams of owning a little white farm house with a few acres and growing old together in it and having our grandkids come visit and we could sit in our rocking chairs on the porch watching them run around. We had so much planned for our future that it should have never been cut so short. Why after all the doctors that we went to over the last five years could they not have found the cancer any sooner than they did with all the blood work and tests you have been through. There should have been some way they could have caught it before it was stage 4. Stage 1 and 2 are easily treatable in most cases. I do not know anyone that has been to the doctor more than you over the past several years. I get so angry and frustrated. Baby I want you to know that I LOVE YOU and ALWAYS will. You kept saying that something did not feel right, but it was always blamed on the lupus. I sure hope you are resting in peace now, you went through enough for anyone in several lifetimes baby. I should probably get a little sleep now since I have to be up early for work.

Love always,
Andrew

Sunday, December 12, 2010

letters to Sandy

Sandy,
I find it somewhat easier writing to you often as opposed to just talking about you. I know you can read these and know what is going on with us, but I like to put it out there for you as well. Grace has been reading more on the book that we held back on until something like this happened. The only question she has written in it is ?How do people get cancer?" I've told her different ways it possibly happens but there is too many ways to cover them all and I don't want her to feel afraid she may get it just by going outside or however, and I think she has a really good head on her shoulders thanks to your awesome mothering skills you had and the things you taught her. Payton is still pretty quiet about it all and very attatched to me. He still brings up that "at least Mommy is not in pain anymore" pretty often. I know how much you hated cemetaries and going to visit graves and you never would, but I am going to visit you very soon. I haven't been able to yet. The kids and I are going to Iowa to spend the holidays with all of my family and are leaving on this Friday. We will be gone a couple of weeks and then come back home again. From what I hear the kids are well taken care of for Christmas gifts this year, I know you would love to see their faces when they open something new and absolutely love it. Today in church Pastor Spence was talking about reaping what you sow and not only meaning money. I can definetly see you sowed some strong seeds down here for us. All of your friends and family and anyone that crossed pathes with you was touched and they are returning it on us tenfold. I'm looking at getting a new/program vehicle for me and the kids. I'm very torn on what to get. I really want a smaller SUV with a few options and things, but they seem just a little steep. I have driven a Ford Focus and it was too small. I want good gas mileage, but also room to grow. Whatever i end up getting I want to keep for the life of the vehicle and want it reliable for us to be able to travel in. A hybrid would be awesome, but they are even more. I am paying in cash so I don't burden myself with more payments. I know once I get in something that feels right you will let me know. The escape we had before we had Payton was nice so that is an option again. Your koala that clips to the visor in every vehicle we have driven is in the buick right now and I pointed it out to the kids that you were riding with us and watching out for us. They thought that was cool. Well I feel pretty drained now so I am going to let you go. I love you very much sweet lady.

Love always,
Andrew

p.s. we got a tennessee snow and they cancelled school for Grace tomorrow, so we are going to pick up around the house and play games.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Birthday

Dearest Sweet Sandy,
I am lost without you here. Everything has changed. My world has stopped, but I see other people still going. I wonder how/why. I continue to get flooded with the amazing support system you have put in place for me and the children. It is all very overwhelming, but much needed. I think in a round about way you set it all up on purpose so we would not be totally alone, I believe that you tried to prepare us for you to be in Heaven and not in pain any more. I thank you for all you have done. I have grown just by knowing you and being in your presence over the past seven years. I cannot believe I only got to be with you for seven years, I feel cheated out of great times. The dreams we had of growing old and sitting outside watching our grandchildren. Things happen every day and I see you there with us, I hear your voice. You are with us I know it. I have all the subtle reminders every day. Today 12-6 is your birthday. You always loved your birthday time/ week/month everything about it. I never got the chance to do much for you or wow you like I always wanted to. I really thought this was going to be the year. I still think the children are going to have the amazing Christmas you wanted them to have thanks to the support system you have put in place for us. I know you are in Heaven and celebrating your awesome life with family and friends that have made it there with you. I just feel numb baby. Payton got sick tonight and said he had a headache, so I gave him some tylenol and he wanted me to law down with him. He fell asleep shortly after we laid down it was precious. Later on he said his head still hurt and he went to the restroom and got sick with a fever and all. It was a time I really needed you. He needed you. You always had a way of comforting both of our children that I can never replace and I could see the hurt in his eyes that you were not here. He is such a strong little boy and I felt the love that you have put on him while I was cuddling with him. He has been resting since I got him to fall asleep again so you do not have to worry. I know you will help us through these times from above. Grace has troubles every day and night and screams out for her mama. She misses you more than anything she wants to feel you again. People say that time heals all. Time......... I do not know how much time........We will continue to fight and persevere through the good times and the bad just like we did with you here. Things always seemed to find a way to work out for us one way or another. I'm going to get some help with our finances so I can get out of this debt and not make the same decision that we did in the past baby. I want the kids to not have to hear me talk about it any more and have good lives. We still have your benefit account and your parents also set up an account for our sweet children for their education. We are well looked after and have you as a precious precious angel looking out as well. Thank you for everything you have done and will continue to do for us. Your service to celebrate your life was beautiful. The songs, the eulogy, the message, the precession, I could not have asked for it to be any better. I LOVE YOU and ALWAYS WILL. I will continue to exclaim this. I have not made a decision yet whether to keep posting on your blog, or to branch off and do one of my own and try to keep your message going of positivity through anything life throws at us or stop it all together. Only time will tell what I can handle. Today is going to be very difficult, but I do not want you to worry. I want you to celebrate your life and your birthday with the angels just like you would with us. I want to wish you a happy birthday babygirl.

Yours always,
Andrew

(sorry if it does not make sense or there are errors, i cannot reread what i wrote and edit it at this time but wanted to go ahead and publish for Sandy to see)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

the sinking feeling

Hello as you guessed this is Andy doing another update. There is a lot of people out there praying and thinking of us and it is definatly felt and appreciated. Our support system is amazing from friends, family, strangers, nurses, web people.

Now on to what you are wanting to know about.

Sandy is in the hospital at MTMC in room 545. The doctor has pulled us aside and said things are really not good. Said the progression of the cancer at this point is irreversible and it has all happened so fast. Its not an exact science on how quickly things happen and it happens differently on every person so I don't want to think about or give a time frame, he just said things won't go on like this for long. I have made the decision with the medical professionals not to take her to ICU where she would be closed off from friends and family from visiting except one at a time for 15 minutes at different intervals throughout the day. Sandy is still so positive when she has her moments of clarity, yet most of the time its very disheartening to try to interpret what she wants/needs/ or just wants to communicate through to us. Our nights consists of sleeping with the bed alarm on so when she needs to get up and use the restroom I get up quickly with her and help her in and out. We had a couple nights that were very rough in this aspect and I didn't get much sleep at all. Last night I had the nurse give her, her ativan for anxiety about 8:30 or so in order for Sandy to rest then again around 1 after she got up to use the restroom. This seemed to help the night a lot for her and for me in getting more rest. Right now the plan is to keep her as comfortable as possible. This is the hardest blog I've written to date because there is so much I want to say, but my head is racing and I don't know what to say and write out and what would be too much information. Things right now are just not good and emotions are at an all time high. Thank you all for the thoughts and prayers and the visitors that come by and phone calls, emails, texts messages. It is all greatly appreciated and helps.

The kids are doing good and have good visits with their mommy in the hospital. They draw pictures and bring up and hang in Sandy's room. Grace gets to talk to a special friend at school that her mom battled cancer and won and it really helps her out. She also has an amazing support system at her school with her teacher and counselor both are amazing women and I have talked to them several times. I think I'm going to stay the night at home tonight so I can take Grace to school and go in and speak with her teacher and counselor and give them an update of what is going on. Payton gets to spend a lot of time with us and other family that is in town visiting. My sister and her husband brought up their five and a half week old baby to get to see Sandy and they kept the kids for us when they were here and Sandy's parents have been sharing watching them. My parents just drove down from Iowa yesterday and are helping out tremendously as well staying with the kids and getting to visit here. If anyone wants to contact me, I get the e-mails from the comments left on the blog or you can e-mail me directly at abtowle@gmail.com. If you have my number you can call or text it or get a hold of me however you can. I also keep Sandy's phone on me now because I don't think it would be a good idea for her to have it in her state of mind, but if she wants to call someone we help her and put it on speaker.

I know a lot of people that read this blog may be going through situations like this or have in the past, you can e=mail me and share your stories with dealing with it or going through it. I need advice. I'm not big on asking for or even receiving help when its right in front of me, but things have changed. I'll try to keep this updated as I can. I hope everyone has a good day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

......

Hey everyone, its Andy posting and update. This is not one I want to post, but feel as I need to. Today, 11-24-10, I was helping Sandy around the house walking from the couch to the bed to the bathroom and back to the couch and she looked at me and said that she needed to go back to the hospital and could not do it like this anymore. This coming from Sandy, if you know her or have read her blog posts or have heard about her is very disheartening. Sandy is not one to want to go to the dr or the hospital. It is a last resort for her. She got taken off of her trial drug last thursday because it had stopped working. For the past three weeks Sandy has gotten steadily worse in functioning, but since Saturday I've noticed a big difference in her energy, strength and all around demeanor. Sandy has no strength at all and even going out of the house or even being awake for an hour at a time wears her down and makes her sick to her stomach.(as if she wasn't already sick to her stomach). Well her local oncologist came in today and said from looking at the scans they did today as compared to the last ones a few weeks ago he wanted to give us a straight answer and not beat around the bush. He stated that it may be as little as days if that for Sandy. (we are praying and hoping for the miracle that will prove this wrong and be something for the medical books to write about) Sandy is not one to give in like I said before. She even joked with me and her best friend Lindsay that she has to have more than just days because we got given tickets to go watch the Tennessee Titans play on December 5th and she couldn't miss that. I don't know what else to write on her but Sandy does enjoy visitors, cards, e-mails, or just thoughts and prayers and she is admitted to MTMC in room 545. I still say that 5 West has the best nurses of anywhere. On another note as of 11-22-10, I have been married to an amazing woman for 7 years and I want to be selfish and have many more to come so bring on the prayers! Oh my sister, her husband, and my 5 and a half WEEK old niece came to visit so Sandy could meet litle Sophia and they are watching our kids at our house until they have to head back to Iowa on Friday. Sandy really perks up when she sees Sophia, its an amazing site.

Friday, November 12, 2010

oncology AND food

Big THANKS to the LOVE BOMB! How cool was that getting all that support and lovely comments!?

This week at my oncology appointment we talked about my pain care and the importance of it working so that I am able to keep food down. The problem is that if I hurt too bad, I start throwing up, and then I get dehydrated and it just gets to be a mess. So, what's the difference between home and the hospital? How I get my meds. In the hospital I can do a lot of things via IV. We are trying to get a PCA pump that I can have at home ( it will administer pain meds on a constant basis ), so that I can greatly reduce any other type of pain medication I'm taking, and that will reduce my nausea. Then I can also eat and drink water! Which would keep me out of the hospital.

Seems like a no brainer, but I have to get right dose (which we think we have), then I have to have a physician that will sign off on it (I don't think we have one of those just yet). I was told if I would just join hospice none of this would be a biggie, and hospice would set it up so I was "comfortable". BUT, here is the thing. I can't still be on trials and "fight" (for the most part) if I join a hospice program. Hospice is like saying you'd like palliative care to just take the driver seat, and you'll fight what you can. Well, I'd like to have palliative care in the passenger seat allowing me to be comfortable WHILE I fight. Makes sense to me. Who wants to choose between being pain free-ish and great limiting your ability to fight for your life and choosing to fight like hell but feel that way too?

In other news, my mom has been staying with my during the nights this week so the kids could have a more "normal" week and that has been really nice. I get to ask her to climb in bed with me, and then cuddle. :) I love my family.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Andy's update

Hello all,
As most of you know Sandy is in the hospital currently. She went to her primary care doctor last Tuesday due to troubles breathing and pain in her lower back still, which she waits to see a doctor until she physically cannot do things on her own. Needless to say he admitted her and we are at MTMC room 545. I've been trying to keep things updated on facebook, but know that not everyone has that or is my friend on their. First off I'll start with the good news before I go in detail on what is currently medically going on. Sandy has a friend in Indiana that she grew up with and is involved in a small group at church there. They have been praying for Sandy and us and when they found out that I wrecked the van and were looking for a vehicle a young couple whome I had the pleasure of meeting decided to loan us a car for the time being and said it just sits in their garage most of the time. That was and is amazing from people we do not even know. Thank you all again it is nice to be mobile once again.

Medically: Sandy is in the hospital due to uncontrollable lower back pain, uncontrollable nausea, having a difficult time breathing, being dizzy. Most of this is explained from the tumors currently and the current trial she is on either not working or working very slow at this time from the last hospital visit. Yesterday she had an MRI of her back/spine area to see what was causing the pain. This morning the oncologist came in and said that there are spots on her spine/ pelvic area. He also said that she is to stop the currently trial now and they will do radiation on the lower back to help ease the pain, but it may take a couple weeks for that to kick in. He also state that by doing the radiation and decreasing the pain it will in turn be able to get her off of some of the pain medications soon and should help ease some of the nausea. They all seem very dependant on each other to me but they are the experts and I let them do their work. Sometimes it feels as if I could have my medical degree by now. We have also spoken with palliative care team here which is a fancy word for help get you comfortable and ease your symptoms team. They are in the process of concocting a plan to help with the medications and possibly reduce some by getting some that work better for her and so forth.

We did get a refferal to speak with hospic over the weekend, but after speaking with a very nice nurse came to the conclusion that it is not an option yet. Sandy and all of us surrounding her still have fight left in us and are not willing to lay down and just stay comfortable. The option now is trying to get hooked up with a good home health program that works well with her doctors and let them help us around with Sandy and things at home.

Sandy does enjoy visitors and cards or just thoughts and prayers. Right now she is at MTMC in Murfreesboro in room 545. Hopefully they can get things in order for us and we will be able to go home soon. This is getting kind of long and drawn out but I have to say thank you to my parents for coming down and spending the week helping out, Sandy's parents and family for helping out, all the friends and family that have come to visit or praying, all the nurses and doctors at MTMC and TN oncology everywhere in between they are all amazing.