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A Walk in Our Woods

It’s been a little over a week since Ken passed, and I’m not going to lie to anyone, it’s awful. I thought the hardest thing was Ken’s diagnosis and watching him suffer. Being alone and losing your soul mate, the one who understands, loves and knows you the most is simply gut wrenching. You feel empty, like you can’t breathe and there is no escape.

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I’ve started to walk around our neighborhood block and I feel like a character in Dante’s inferno walking in a circle of suffering. I’m trying to add routine to my life to help alleviate some of the pain. On a walk one morning I spotted a cottontail bunny and looked at the expansive sky to feel my breath again and try to garner a glimpse of happiness.

I finally walked alone for the first time into the woods where Ken and I walked daily, Deepdyne Woods. It was hard to see the places we were before, the benches we took a rest on and shared so much together. While it was difficult it was a necessity to both feel Ken again and to continue on.

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The bench we sat on

 

Heart Opening

Yoga was a very important part of our lives, in fact we used to practice daily. Ken was doing handstands and the wheel a few days before his first seizure. Today, I ventured back into our studio and when the teacher saw me, we hugged and I cried. I asked to sit in the back corner in case I needed a speedy exit. I made it through the class okay and the most beautiful part was trying to reconnect with my breath. We did pranayama breathing or alternate nostril breath, which is wonderful for anyone especially going through a stressful time. This increases parasympathetic activity and lowers systolic blood pressure as well as respiratory rate. We so often forget to breathe and be mindful and compassionate. I felt my heart opening doing fish pose laying with a bolster supporting my back. I’m glad that I’ve returned to what we both loved and will try to be grounded and stay true to my practice. At the beginning of the class they ask you to set an intention which mine was always for Ken to heal and for the tumor to go away. Now my intention is for Ken to be with me on my return journey to yoga and to be with me in our practice. I think this will be a very healing aspect on the journey to recovery.

LOVE

Ken’s party is coming together and will be a celebration to honor his life and love…

keboface

Celebrating Ken

Ken’s Mother held a memorial service for Ken this past Sunday. The priest did a good job of balancing his thoughts on Ken’s beliefs and also speaking to Ken’s contributions including this blog.

Here is the bio that was on the church bulletin… 

Kenneth William Maudsley

Kebo

Ken was born in Hollywood, CA on May 3, 1970. He graduated with honors from Gadsden High School where he was voted 1 of the 10 Most Notables and he went on to attend Huntingdon College in Montgomery, AL where he graduated with a BA in Fine Arts & Mathematics in 1992. Ken was an active member of Sig Ep fraternity. He completed his education with an MS in Statistics from Auburn University in 1994.

He then moved to Atlanta where he pursued his interests in graphic design and also met his wife Tina. He had been working for the past 12 years as a Vice President of Digital Strategy at Max Productions.

Ken & Tina were married for 15 years and then Ken was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme  – GBM (terminal brain cancer) in August of 2011. He was mindful of the power of positive thinking and making every interaction and relationship a positive experience.

Ken enjoyed gourmet cooking, painting, scuba diving, driving & working on his motorcycles, travel, and spending time with his cats Mila and Pickles. He was a member of the RB Motorcycle group where he designed their t-shirts for the past 10 years. His blog, Glioblasted.com, has been an inspiration to hundreds of people including GBM patients and caregivers. He has worldwide followers who he has given advice & guidance to for the past two years of his fight. Ken & Tina’s personal journey and their willingness to share will live on as a legacy for the future.

After his diagnosis, Ken wrote this mantra…

“To live healthy.

To let love rule.

To release my creative genius.

Get better…every day”

 

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Ken will be cremated tomorrow & his ashes will be delivered to me on Friday. Our friend Phil made this beautiful vessel out of cherry wood to hold Ken’s ashes (the top is made out of figleaf maple burl). The top piece is Ken holding his arms in the air & is so special because that’s what Ken liked to do on vacation as in the featured image above of Ken in Maui, Hawaii at the Seven Pools.

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I hope to continue this blog to tell more of Ken’s story through the celebrations and then at some point start writing from the Caregiver’s perspective.

We will be holding an Atlanta, Georgia celebration to honor Ken Saturday, July 13th.

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No more pain

This is undoubtedly the hardest post I will write, but it must be done (this is Tina). My beloved Ken passed away this morning peacefully and his dreaded fight with GBM has now come to an end.

Thank you all for the beautiful comments, support and love you have bestowed upon Ken and me on our journey.

Love,

Tina

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Transitioning

Hi everyone,

This is a post from Tina, not Ken. I wanted to provide everyone with an update that Ken’s situation has gotten worse. He has had two seizures in the past 24 hours, is sleeping now most of the time and is eating less.

I want to thank everyone for their continued support with donations, meal train and all the other things that have helped us to get through this awful time.

All my love,

tina&ken

Tina

Seizure Free

Since my last seizure Memorial Day weekend, I am happy to report that I haven’t had any seizures! I attribute this to the change in my diet by upping the level of MCTs, medium-chain triglycerides, to 100% by adding more liquid coconut oil. Medium-chain triglycerides are generally considered a good biologically inert source of energy that the human body finds reasonably easy to metabolize.2013-05-07 18.13.47

tina&kenwheelchairpic

 

 

 

 

 

CDX-110 Update

We are glad to report that the medicine will hopefully arrive in two weeks time. I will be weaned down on my dexamethasone medicine from 4 grams daily to 2 grams so that the experimental medicine can boost my immune system to fight the cancer.

Atlanta Cancer Care Fundraiser Video

Tina and I were interviewed to be included in a fundraising video for the Atlanta Cancer Care Foundation (see link below).

Ramp Progress

rampowlpic

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My sister Sharon has been visiting for the past week. She’s been a great help with meals and she’s added to the ramp.

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Enabled

Enabled

We have useful tools that we need to deal with this stage of my illness. Our handicapped tag finally arrived & I have a hospital bed for when needed (I continue to scale the stairs at night to get into my own bed).

CDX-110 Update

Northside Hospital sent the contract to Celldex last week and they have sent back some of the documents needed to the clinical trial coordinator here in Atlanta so that she can start the preparations to be sent to the FDA for final approval. Hopefully, all will go smoothly now and I will get the medicine soon.

New Equipment

I received my twin sized hospital bed a few days ago which is located in the library of our house downstairs. This way I can look out at the garden and hear our fountain outside. Our physical therapist also recommended that Tina use a gait belt to help me with moving around, transfers and to ease/prevent falls.

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Hospital Bed in Library

How am I Doing

Well, I have had two more focal seizures this week; one probably due to caffeine, drinking strong, Finnish coffee (caffeine is a potent stimulant and trigger for seizures – Tina tried to warn me not to have the coffee but I insisted) and the other from overexertion, both of which are triggers for seizures. My threshold for seizures is definitely low. As a result, our dietician has modified our diet too by increasing the MCT oil or liquid coconut oil in all of our meals. We have been eating modified meals since Wednesday evening and my glucose this morning was the lowest it has ever been, 65 which is great news! GBM cancer cells depend on glucose for energy supply and survival. When glucose levels are reduced, normal brain cells metabolize ketone bodies for energy. Brain tumor cells cannot do so. This makes the tumor cells vulnerable to death using therapies that target glucose metabolism.

I am experiencing more fatigue but am keeping my energy level up by continuing physical therapy and painting my wheelchair ramp.

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Closeup of Healing Floral Designs on Wheelchair Ramp

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Wheelchair Ramp

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Me Painting my Ramp

I had another pranic healing session yesterday and am hoping to start Qi Gong next week (my neighbor teaches and has offered to come to the house to do one on one sessions).

 

Compassion

We went to the Dr. this week and were told that the paperwork has been submitted for compassionate use of the CDX-110 drug. Once it has been approved by the legal department at Northside Hospital it will then be sent to Celldex, the makers of the drug, for approval. Then the clinical trial coordinator at Atlanta Cancer Care will draft a unique protocol specifically for me to be sent to the FDA for final approval. All of this could take 6 more weeks to get approved before I get the medicine.

My labs are good and my platelets have fully recovered.  2013-05-14 17.32.50

We have been on the ketogenic diet for one month and it is still going well. I learned from my dietician yesterday that I’ve been in ketosis for 3 weeks time! I will now take the following supplements to increase my energy level: Vitamin D, Calcium and a Multivitamin.

My physical therapist paid me another visit this week and I’m learning more exercises to increase my strength, gait, mobility and transfers.

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Got my handicapped parking tag today too!

handicap

 

 

Ketosis

In a recent previous post I reported that doctors told us I may have weeks to live. So I’m reporting now that I’m still alive and kicking. I feel well. We believe the ketogenic diet is going well and helping. Headaches have diminished and I have decreased my Dexamethasone, steroid dosage by half. I have good energy. I am falling less. Walking about has gotten better.

Blood glucose and ketone levels seem to be in ranges where we would like them to be. In fact, I believe that my body is going through ketosis which hopefully will shrink my brain tumor.

We finally got a visit from a physical therapist to explain how to use some of the equipment, i.e., walker and cane, and she also gave me exercises.

Phoenix Tears
PHOENIX TEARS

I finally got a batch of Phoenix Tears, the oil from the hemp plant. There is much evidence that cannabis has great medicinal and healing value.

I still have a bit of the chemo Lomustine in me which isn’t enough to count as a treatment. So, my current treatment is the ketogenic diet and now hemp oil. If we actually get tumor reduction, we won’t know what treatment to credit, but I guess that will be okay.

Ketosis-bound

I have mentioned the ketogenic diet that I have been on and how labor intensive it is. I should probably share some more details about it and why we are doing it.

As far as I understand, our bodies convert carbohydrates to glucose which is then transported around the body and is particularly important in fueling brain function. However, if there is very little carbohydrate in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies pass into the brain and replace glucose as an energy source. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood, a state known as ketosis, leads to a reduction in the frequency of epileptic seizures.[1]

What is the Ketogenic diet?

The Ketogenic diet is primarily a medical diet for children with difficult to control seizures. The diet is high in fat, moderate in protein and low in carbohydrate. Fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh prepared meat, poultry and fish, heavy cream, butter and vegetable oils are staples in the diet. All foods must be carefully prepared and weighed according to a person’s individual diet prescription. The Ketogenic diet is inadequate in many micronutrients and must be enhanced with appropriate vitamin and mineral supplements.

So I’m not a child with epilepsy — why am I doing this diet?

Tina an I have heard enough anecdotal evidence to convince us that it might be worthwhile. Maybe it will help with my seizures (if I am having seizures (it’s hard to tell sometimes). Maybe it will give me more energy. It is going to reduce the size of my tumor (that is not fact, just my positive thinking. And it is not out of the realm of possibility). We are consulting with one of the dietitians who is intimately involved in how the diet works and should be managed.

What’s involved?

MeasuringOn a high-level, the dietician has created customized meals for us to prepare. Every ingredient has to be weighed. Tina spends a lot of time preparing and cooking.

Testing

We have to monitor my glucose levels daily and we check ketones daily as well as body weight.

breakfast

Breakfast today was eggs with Hollandaise sauce and raspberries with fresh whipped cream.

What are the meals like?

I think they have been delicious. Some of the ingredients are not what you would consider to be part of a healthy diet because of all the fat and oil. For example, one dish is fish, like halibut topped with a spread of mayonnaise and parmesan cheese, then broiled. It’s delicious. Lunch and dinner are almost always served with a fresh salad with a yummy dressing of olive oil, flaxseed oil and balsamic vinegar. Most meals end up taking about an hour to prepare.

Has It Been Worth the Effort So Far?

Tina and I agree that the answer is “Yes.” I wake rested and sometimes early. Morning headaches have decreased in frequency and intensity. My strength and energy are improving. I haven’t been falling as often.(Yes, sometimes I just fall. Actually it’s more like, I’m standing or making my way to another room, my legs weaken, I get a little lite-headed and know I better find a spot to sit or lie down, but in the process of me trying to process all that information, legs give out). It’s sad, hard for me to understand that I can’t maintain enough strength to lower myself down to safety. It’s scary for Tina of course.

What Else Are We Doing?

Not too much. Because the last MRI showed slight tumor growth, we discontinued taking the chemo (Lomustine). We are still waiting to hear whether I qualify for compassionate use of CDX-110, but we are no longer excited about that option and would probabley decline if it is offered, but that remains to be seen.

What Else is Going on?

keto-approved chocolat cheesecake dessert wasn't that great but I appreciate the effort my wiwtr put into mqking it.

keto-approved chocolate cheesecake dessert wasn’t that great but I appreciate the effort my sister put into making it.

May 3 was my 43rd birthday. I admit to missing having a big, sugary traditional slice of birthday cake, but I’m proud I was able to maintain the diet. There are some very nice treats the diet allows me, so it’s not so bad.

Family and friends are visiting. We try to get outside for sun and fresh air. I continue to work with my pranic (vital energy) healers and am looking forward to a masseuse coming to the house tomorrow to work on me. Luckily it is someone who I have been going to for years so she will know how to whip me into shape. We’ve been sitting a lot as you can imagine.

Thank-you’s

Friends, family and neighbors have been bringing us food, the fish and ingredients we need for the diet and this is a huge help from an expense and time perspective.

ramp

Cos and Phil building a wheelchair ramp to our front door!

My neighbors are building a wheelchair ramp to my front door right now.

Rob and Ken

Me and Rob

Prayers

I think most of my acquaintances know I’m atheist, but I always appreciate all the prayers and positive vibes. I have to share this story though. A former boss of mine stopped by with his wife to visit and he asked if he could say a prayer for us. Rob, your prayer was so beautiful and touching, it brought tears to my eyes. It was like a poem and really touched Tina and I. Thank you.

Daily Routine

Two weeks ago I had a pretty regular morning routine, which I compiled from various Ayurvedic Healing references. I’m not so consistent with routine now, but a general description would be: Wake before the sun rises.

While still in bed say a prayer, think about something I am grateful for, affirm the possibilities that lie before me (sankalpa), absolutely anything may happen on any given day!

Drink Water in the Morning

First thing in the morning drink a big glass of warm water with a squirt of fresh lemon juice and a spoonful of raw honey. This help encourage a regular morning bowel movement and flushes out toxins. I don’t do this step anymore because of the diet and the effect of honey on my glucose.
Freshen Up! Clean the Face, Mouth, and Eyes to Awaken the Senses
Splash the face with cold water and rinse out the mouth. The senses are how we take in information from the world around us. Sharpen and refine the senses to bring greater clarity to your perceptions and your experience of life.
Wash eyes with cool water and massage the eyelids by gently rubbing them. Blink eyes 7 times and rotate eyes in all directions.

Clean the Teeth

Gently scrape the tongue from back to front using a tongue scrapper. This removes bacteria from the mouth and stimulates the digestive system. The tongue is the mirror of the intestines. When there is a white coating on the tongue that indicates toxins (ama) in the digestive system. If you wake up with a thick white coating on the tongue and bad breath skip breakfast. The body is still processing yesterday’s food.

Gargle

To strengthen teeth, gums, and jaw, improve the voice and remove wrinkles from cheeks, gargle twice a day with warm sesame oil. Hold the oil in your mouth, swish it around vigorously, then spit it out and gently massage the gums with a finger. I Don’t regularly gargle with oil because it’s kind of gross, but from time to time, I do it.

Have a bowel movement. Improper digestion of the previous night’s meal or lack of sound sleep can prevent this. Drinking warm water, followed by sitting on the toilet at a set time each day, helps to regulate bowel movements. Bowel movements are a great self-diagnostic tool.

Nasya

Putting 3 to 5 drops of warm ghee or oil into each nostril in the morning helps to lubricate the nose, clean the sinuses, and improve the voice, vision, and mental clarity. Our nose is the door to the brain; nose drops nourish prana and enhance intelligence.

Apply Oil to the Head & Body (Abhyanga)

Massage is an excellent way to detoxify and nourish the tissues in the body. The rubbing and stroking actions dislodge accumulated toxins, which then move out of the body through the digestive system. Gentle daily oil massage promotes healthy aging, improves circulation, calms the nervous system, increases vitality, strengthens vision, prevents dehydration, nourishes the skin, stimulates the immune system, remedies insomnia, and restores balance in the body/mind. Massage oils are an ancient and effective medium for delivering plant medicine. Be thorough and don’t forget the bottoms of your feet, ears and hands. Let the oil soak in for approximately 20 minutes before taking a hot shower or bath.

I apply Frankincense essential oil to my entire head. Frankincense and sandalwood help increase the amount of oxygen in the limbic system of the brain, particularly around the pineal and pituitary glands which leads to an increase in the secretions of antibodies, endorphins and neurotransmitters. This rationale for me also falls under the category of, it can’t hurt to try even if it sounds a little far-fetched.

Budwig Cottage Cheese, flax oil, flax seed protocol: Before the ketogenic diet, I was diligently following the Budwig protocol because there was enough compelling stories of it helping with cancer. If not for the ketogenic diet I would still be following that plan.

Get Moving!

Exercise restores and rejuvenates the body/mind and alleviates stress and fatigue. Take advantage of the abhyanga massage oil’s absorption time (20 minutes) with exercise. The heat you generate through movement will help the oils penetrate more efficiently & effectively.

Regular exercise, especially yoga, improves circulation, strength, and endurance. It helps one relax and have sound sleep, and improves digestion and elimination. Exercise daily to half of your capacity, which is until sweat forms on the forehead, armpits, and spine. Do warming yoga postures like sun salutations, take a brisk walk.

Breath=Life

The breath, called prana, is a powerful tool for health and well-being. It is a conduit that unifies the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies. Make part of your daily practice pranayama breathing exercises like kaphalabati (breath of fire), bastrika (bellows) breath oranuloma viloma (alternate nostril breathing). Poor oxygen in the body’s cells gives rise to muscle aches, poor digestion, dizziness, depression, irrational behavior, weakness, irritability, memory loss, circulation problems and stomach acidity.

Basic Nadi Shodana

Facing east or north, sit comfortably on the floor in a crossed-legged position, or upright on the edge of a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Gently exhale all air. Close the right nostril with the right thumb and inhale slowly and deeply into the belly through the left nostril. Close the left nostril with the ring finger, release the thumb, and slowly exhale through the right nostril. At the end of the exhalation, inhale through the right nostril, then close it with the thumb and exhale through the left nostril. This makes one round. Begin with 10 rounds and gradually increase to 40.

Don’t just do something, sit there!

Meditate at sunrise and sunset for at least 15 minutes. Meditate to relieve stress, meditate for clarity of mind, meditate for your health & well-being, meditate to bring balance and peace into your life! There are numerous techniques. A couple of the more common techniques are focusing on the breath or repeating a mantra. Conscious Breathing is a basic yet profound concentration practice. Simply bring your attention to the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves your nostrils. Keep your awareness on the duration of each breath, and when the mind wanders from the breath, just notice that and bring your attention back to the sensations of the breath. If the mind seems very distracted, you may find it helpful to label each breath “in” or “out” and each thought “thinking.” Try not to control your breath or visualize it; simply note the sensation.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketogenic_diet
[2] https://www.ketocalculator.com/ketocalc/diet.asp

 

Brother-in-law, Albert. taking good care of my FLHT since I am unable to ride.

Brother-in-law, Albert, taking good care of my FLHT since I am unable to ride.

Celebrating Small Victories

We just celebrated me successfully sitting down without assistance from anyone. How SAD is that (celebrating simply sitting down on q big couch nonetheless?.)
Let me — elaborate: lately, some of the most basic tasks have become difficult or rather my mind or body give out before I can do something simple like lift a foot up a step. My body has been weak for a while, but now things seem to be more like neurological deficits, maybe little seizures. This past week was particularly challenging. Luckily we had good friends and family visiting to lend a hand — to help me move from spot to spot and make it to the bathroom or into the house after going outside for some fresh air and vitamin D. Also, to pick me up from lying on the floor. Sometimes I just have to find the floor and lie down before my quivering limbs drop my body limp. It doesn’t seem to me like I’m so feeble but it has been bad. And I know I’m still ahead of the curve. Many brain cancer patients are worse off.

Hopefully that helps illustrate how difficult things can be for me/us these days. I wish I could convey more clearly what life is like for Tina and I now. While things are difficult, it seems like we adapt and things aren’t that bad. I shouldn’t speak for her though.

That little celebration was on the heels of a week fraught with accidents and difficulties. Now, as I finish this post, I’m proud to report that I was able to move about the house and ascend the staircase to our bedroom unassisted (always supervised by Tina, but at least on my own.) If that changes we may have to get a hospital bed brought into the living room. Typically, when a person is admitted to hospice it technically means they are no longer pursuing aggressive treatment. Our mindset is aggressive still though, e.g., we are still fighting hard and are also waiting to hear back to see if I got approved for compassionate use of CDX-110.

Some useful equipment we have begun using are a wheelchair, walking cane, handheld urinal, protective underwear and shower chair.
Lane, Mattt, Allen, KenI am proud and thankful to have friends that I regard as close as family and who consider us family. People who came into our home this week and made sure we had all the help we needed; helped keep us calm and relaxed and happy.