Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Farmer Lynn and Stage 4 Lung Cancer

Farmer Lynn learned he had stage 4 lung cancer in June 2014. Stage 4 is the worst stage of cancer, meaning that the cancer has spread pretty much everywhere. One important word the doctor used to tell him this was "incurable". Although he fought for extra time living with sessions of chemotherapy and radiation, that important word turned out to be the most important one. Really we knew it was, but he had appeared to be responding well to the chemotherapy and to the holistic approaches he was doing on his own. Twice though he had to pause chemotherapy until his body could continue with it. Then the intervals between sessions had to be longer than planned as his bloodwork was not strong enough to allow chemo on some scheduled days. The cancer took advantage of those treatment delays. Finally at the beginning of November 2015, he was in too much pain from the tumors and we had to call for transport to the hospital. He had to wait for over an hour in the ER waiting area, still in terrible pain. Finally they brought him back, ran some tests and a scan, and one of the ER doctors asked us what our plan was. Neither of us knew what that question really was about and neither of us knew how to answer it. What the doctor meant was did he have an understanding of the "incurable" part about his illness (yes), did he have the medical & legal forms taken care of (yes), and did he want to be resuscitated if his body failed him in the hospital (no). They found Farmer Lynn a room on the cancer floor and the next few days were a blur of various types of tests and scans. Several different doctors were involved. As they struggled to find him some pain relief, they also began a series of operations to repair areas where the bones were either broken already or appeared to be right on the verge of that. Here's his sister visiting in the hospital:

Then he began physical therapy as well as palliative care. Here's the beautiful Christmas tree in the Family Room at the hospital. 

In December, he was transferred to a "nursing home" to receive further physical therapy before returning home. A week later, the PT head came and told him they felt that continuing physical therapy was too dangerous for his fragile bones. So he finally got to go home, his goal since leaving home over a month before. He had worked hard on his PT assignments and was able to use a walker to get around and look after himself. However, as he entered the house, he fell right at the threshold. Hospice was going to be looking after him and was already on the way, but at learning of the fall, they sent extra people to be able to pick him up. So he got settled into his hospital bed in the living room right in front of his TV.  This is a photo of two of his three grandchildren:

And this is his oldest grandchild, his first:

Hospice and a private CNA looked after him the rest of December. I slept in the recliner in the same room, inching it closer and closer to his bed until finally I was beside it, the way it had been in the hospital. The last week of December, he didn't eat much at all and slept most of the time.Towards the end of that week, the Hospice nurse was looking at me in a different way, kind of a hard seriousness is the only thing I can say to describe it. My daughter came and spent the nights on the living room couch. Her wedding anniversary was New Year's Eve so the CNA came to spend that night while my daughter and son-in-law celebrated their anniversary. Early on the morning of January 1, 2016, he died. I know he was at peace with that, having a strong faith that God would continue to look after him after this life as He had during it. He had written his own obituary when he learned of his cancer and made only a few changes to it during the year and a half he was sick. It read:

Lynn Harris, 58, died of lung cancer on Friday, January 1, 2016, at home in the company of those he loved and those that loved him. He was born in Harmony NC on March 9, 1957. Lynn was raised in Harmony and went to North Iredell High School and Surry Community College. He worked as a factory supervisor and mechanic for 30+ years. Lynn was the kind of person that it was a blessing to get to know. He had a deep abiding faith and shared it with others. He would cup his hands and say that he felt he was “in good hands”. Lynn had a wonderful sense of humor and was fond of saying, in response to "How are you?": "Well, I woke up above ground". He loved the outdoors, its plants and animals especially. He lived in Iredell and Yadkin counties most of his life. In the late 1980's and early 1990's, he was part of the area’s "Deuces Wild" rock band, of which he was a founding member.

Lynn is survived by his parents, two sons, three grandchildren, and many other family members. A private service will be held at a later date. Memorial contributions would be appreciated to The Underground Railroad Project (to rescue children from human trafficking), 700 N Valley St, Suite B, Anaheim, CA 92801; or the Wounded Warrior Project (to meet the needs of injured service members), PO BOX 758517, Topeka, KS 66675

The Yadkin Yard, and this blog, were favorite projects of Lynn's. He loved everything about the yard, its plants and views, sunrises and sunsets, deer and rabbits and birds. He was also interested in the inside plants and his Bonsai plants. Actually I don't think he ever met any kind of a plant that he didn't like. The house, patio, and front porch were full of his plants as well as his baby plants in various stages from cuttings to almost full size. He had plans to sell those plants and was researching all about that prospect. He had begun plans for the yard including starting a rock garden in the backyard, two grapevine areas, a straw-bale method vegetable garden that was very successful, a larger garden out further in the yard, and cut a path through the weeds and trees to the small stream at the back of the property. He watched YouTube videos to learn things that he didn't already know, particularly about caring for Bonsai plants and the process involved in straw-bale gardening. He had an elaborate setup of soaker hoses on a timer and was very proud of that project. I was not physically able to continue all of his yard projects and so was planning to stop this blog at his death. However, you can't stop a yard! The Yadkin Yard lives on in his design and with all of the loving care he poured into it. And so the story of the Yadkin Yard, and the Yacking about it, goes on...

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Juicing for Healing

This post was written last year in draft form by Truth Seeker, aka Farmer Lynn. 

One of my "medicines". I started juicing after learning of my cancer, easy way to "cram" good nutrients in me.

I did my usual research on the Web about the juicing machines people liked the best. One that kept being mentioned was the Oster juicer so that's what I bought. Here it is with two healthy glasses of pure juice.

I followed a general recipe of 2 celery sticks, 3 carrots, and 1-2 apples. Then I added whatever we had on hand (pears turned out to be a good addition) or that I had learned were good for me but didn't like (kale, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower are in this group, lol). You don't cook any of these prior to juicing; everything is raw. I cut them up somewhat to make it easier to go through the juicer. 

Then I started running these fruits & vegetables through the Oster.

The juice comes out separately from the remains of the process. You can use the remains in your compost bin or just throw them away. The juice will be cold because most of the ingredients came from your refrigerator. I found it helpful to at least rinse off all the Oster parts at this point rather than letting it sit. It's so much easier to get the food off right away. Then I'd drink the juice. My body reacted as if it had been waiting all its life for this amazing juice. It clearly was a hit there inside me! I drank one glass a day and really tried to do this each day. 

Another "progress update" since getting off of the triple chemo attack and down to a single chemo, 2 months later now my fingers and toes still have issues. But last week, for the first time since Oct'ish I was able to play guitar, or place my fingers on the strings, "playing" would be for someone else to decide. Before I knew it I had knocked out a 30 min non-stop session!

Grapevines in the Yadkin Yard, Part 2

The Yadkin Yard has two kinds of grapes -- muscadine and concord. The muscadines grow wild EVERYwhere in the yard.

This photo is from Father's Day weekend last year. Both sons came and created the structure for the concord grapes to grow on.

Before this was built, the Concords were just planted in a pot over in the mulched area. 

The grapes really enjoyed their new setup and quickly showed it!

The Muscadine Grapevines have their own ideas about structure and placement ...

The muscadine and scuppernong grapes are native to North Carolina and definitely to this area of Yadkin and Iredell counties. There is a good blog post by Kevin Campbell about these grapes at "New Life for Old Living".  Now we'll see if any grapes turn up in the Yadkin Yard. If so, I'm making jelly.