Monday, May 25, 2009

A flip in a chopper is just as good a motivation as you can get if you ask me! I've been amazed at how much easier his food goes down when he knows that he won't get a flight, unless he has had all of his breakfast! :) He has had quite a bit of pain in his jaws this time around & meal times have not been as easy as we would like.

The distraction of having the game capturers here also kept him preoccupied - which was a REAL blessing. He motored through his school work too - in anticipation of being able to go to the site where they had the bomas all set up. They love to get onto the lorrys and watch what is happening. On Sunday I joined them - taking a picnic basket and a shade umbrella. I also took my mending basket too!!! It always lands up being quite a long day, sitting around waiting for action... then when the animals come it - it's always so quick you hardly see anything.

On Friday, Micaela and I were able to go to Tzaneen to spend the afternoon and evening with Ilse. Her daughter Julise, was performing in several dance items their school's Culture Evening. It was a real treat for us to be included in this special evening! Julise danced so well, and we all thoroughly enjoyed the evening. On Saturday morning, Micaela and I spent a few hours at their Mall, looking for some winter clothes for her. Louis Trichardt does not have the same choice and variety as Tzaneen!

Got a busy week ahead - looks like Jen is coming down for more shopping in a few days, so it will be nice to see her again.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Ball with a Bow...

I've been going back a little and thinking of all of the amazing things that really should be shared. This certainly is one of them, and involves our very dear friends from Tzaneen - Abraham and Ilse de Villiers. Abraham and Corne (Abraham's bow hunting mentor) came out to the farm a few Saturdays ago, to do some measuring and calculating for some work that Corne is going to be doing for us. In the course of the afternoon, JohnD was able to spend some time with the men.

To cut a long story short, Abraham and Corne, with the contributions from the Allesbest Farm folks - gave JohnD a Matthews Compound Bow!

It was all a big surprise, and JohnD was just delighted to unwrap a "real bow". Funily enough, Ken had started making him a bow, and he had started asking all sorts of questions about a "real bow". Abraham and Corne's timing was just amazing.

Well, with this new challenge, it has been just wonderful for JohnD to practice his drawing and aiming skills. His little shoulders and arms are WORN OUT! He proudly told me yesterday evening that he has "actually hit the bull's eye five times now Mom!"

With the location of the port-a-cath on his right shoulder, he is unable to shoot the rifle any more. He was getting pretty good at aiming / shooting with his left hand, and he even got two doves while Biz was here. :)

If he continues to practice so hard and do so well, I guess it will not be long and he will be hunting with it!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Half way on First Phase...

Last week Monday (the 11th May), saw us back on the road to Pretoria for session #3 of chemo. With knowing the drill now, it's certainly a lot "easier", in that JohnD knows what to expect. He understands what his reaction to the medication is going to be, and he really manages very well. It's four days in the hospital each time, followed by about 21 rest and recovery days.

He kept himself entertained with the TV cartoons, and with my recent shrew invasion on my cupboard - I had a basket FULL of mending to do!!! We also went armed with our DVD player, loads of books to read, and games too. I really don't know why I pack so much each time, as when he is not feeling well - it all just sits there and looks at us! Then I've got to pack it all up and just lug it all home again. The ward was full this time around, and with so many around us - all fighting this battle - you certainly become aware of how blessed we were to have discovered it and removed it! We are blessed.

The biggest small victory for me was overcoming the challenge of driving in Pretora for the very first time, on my own... without a GPS! I didn't get lost or make a single wrong turn - either going there, or returning home. "Well done me!" Now we won't mention the contents of the call to Ken at 8am in the six lanes of rush hour traffic, with all of the road works on the go!!!

The kids had a ball with some of the tatoos that came in a parcel from the States, and we certainly giggled when JohnD stuck them where he has never been able to stick them before!

His recovery at home seems to take about three days and then we find him eating again, and returning to his normal routine. YES - complete with the usual dose of mischief too... which is good for us all.

While Biz was here, we all had some fun with dye and the t-shirts...

We said bye to Biz today, which was very sad. She was with us for a month, and was such an amazing help. We had our first group of hunters in while she was here - so her timing was perfect. They were Carl Hice and Wes Stockburger - from the other side of the world - literally! Alaska! It really is good to have guests again, and get back into the swing of hunting. We were also blessed to have Terry & Jo Ann Blauwkamp from Michigan return this year again - for their manangement hunt too.

I guess it's back to routine again. We had a game count yesterday morning - the kids got to fly home from school (Dad and Mom's home!) in a chopper!!! Needless to say they arrived with big smiles.

Friday, May 1, 2009

John D Update

Thank you for all of your prayers and letters of encouragement. Each day, we are witnessing the power of prayer and the mercy from our Father. We are so grateful to be blessed with such wonderful family and friends.

On Feb 27th, JohnD had a severe attack of pain over his left side of his chest. We immediately rushed him to the hospital, very anxious that something was seriously wrong. On examination of him, the Dr could not find anything of concern, and suggested that x-rays be taken, to rule out possibilities of problems with the lungs. On the chest x-rays, the large tumor was easily visible, located behind the heart, above the spleen, and inside the lung area.
On the 4th of March, we were referred to a thorasic surgeon at the Zuidafrikaans Hospital in Pretoria. He placed JohnD on the theatre list for the next morning. He removed the tumor, and we then waited for five long days for the diagnosis. My sister, Claire, flew in from Sydney to come and help. She was an angel in all aspects. Her training as a ICU nurse was a tremendous source of comfort to us. While waiting for the results, JohnD had to be taken back into theatre a second time, as there was a build up of fluid on his lungs . While he was under, they did the lumber puncture - to establish the condition of his bone marrow.

After 11 days in ICU, he was dismissed from Hospital, and we came home for four short days. Ken then took JohnD back to Pretoria on the 19th of March to have a port-a-cath put in, and to start with the first session of Chemo. Claire returned to Sydney, and Jenny was able to come and spend a week with me too. She was such a help with both Micaela and JohnD, and also in the office!

Since the first round, he has lost his hair and had some rough days, but we moved on to the second round with more of an idea of what to expect which definitely helped. Another big blessing this time, was Samantha’s home. (She lives in Botswana currently) The house is located just 5 minutes from John D’s room, which as you can imagine, was ideal for us and our family. We were very comfortable. God has been extremely faithful in putting us in the proper hands. John D’s doctor has been tremendous. He has spent immeasurable amounts of time with us answering our questions and addressing our concerns and he is especially good with John D. I have never experienced a more attentive and caring doctor, truly a blessing to us.

After four days of all the various medications, it takes about 2-3 days for John D to start feeling somewhat normal (whatever that feels like). He has the common side effects that he battles with the most, but he is being strong. His friends and my cousins came to visit while he was in the hospital which is always a treat for him. He has gotten to have some play dates here at the house, where he still plays like a 9 year old boy, with a few precautions of course.

We are all doing a bit better as we settle in to a new routine. After giving up pets and making double sure not to spread any outside germs, we are beginning to be able to find a new normal. God has provided strength and a renewed peace of mind with time. For that we are grateful.We are all counting down, only 4 more rounds of treatment to go, and we trust that this battle will be finished. We trust that it has already been fought and won; we just have to make it to the end of this road.
The ranch is showing signs of the change of season, with winter approaching. We are delighted to have four new baby buffalo, and we are looking forward to the arrival of our first hunters from the USA this coming Sunday. We have BIZ with us from the US at the moment, for a month, and she is a tremendous help. She arrived while we were in Pretoria, so that was a lovely surprise for both children. She spent three months with us last year, and is like one of the family. The children continue diligently with their schooling at Dad & Mom’s, providing a much needed haven and sanctuary for them.

Thank you again and God bless Love Ken, Jo, Micaela, JohnD, Dennis & Carol