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Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday From the Heart: A Strong Shepherd

So, it is time to confess...I have been living with an underlying fear through all of this that has been popping up occasionally haunting me. And before you all get in line and say "everyone would have that kind of fear" I will say, "sure, but are we supposed to"? Yesterday my loving Shepherd stood up to me and from the words of Philippians reminded me that fear and anxiety will no longer be part of this protocol.

I spent the first part of this week feeling awful. Yes, it was partly from the affects of the second surgery and partly from the concert and over doing it at the fair, but a lot more than I would have admitted is the fact that this time around there is more than just healing from a surgery, chemo is coming and venturing into the unknown is not something I do very well.

Gently, I was reminded that sheep are not burden bearing animals. I have a Shepherd so stop trying to carry this burden...of course. Do I trust in my God who knows every end at the beginning? Do I trust my God who knows every single microscopic cell in my body? Do I trust that I can actually just be still and watch Him work all these things around me, performing exactly what He has purposed?

Worry is sin...I heard it yesterday from two different Bible teachers - coincidence? I would say no, not the day before my oncologist would be laying out the plan for the next phase of this journey. Anyone can worry and act as though they don't know who He is, He wants me to act like His child, a sheep in His pasture.

So I have to ask myself...am I His? Than I need to start acting like it. In case anyone else who belongs to Him has a tendency to worry, lets review the benefits of being in His flock. (for those who have never thought about it or never made that decision, Psalm 23 is where you can find this comfort)

Because the Lord is my Shepherd:
  • I will want for nothing
  • I will graze in green pastures
  • I will be led beside still waters
  • Restoration for my soul
  • A righteous path as I follow Him
  • No fear of evil in the valley of the shadow of death
  • Comfort by His rod and his staff
  • I eat in peace in the presence of my enemies
  • My head is anointed with oil
  • An overflowing cup
  • Goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life
  • I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever
There can be a separate post that focuses on each one of those very important things to remember. All I know is I have not let the Shepherd carry ALL of my load. And trust me, I am no burden bearing animal! I was dreading with a very unhealthy fear hearing which day on my calendar would be the day that chemo starts. In His perfect timing and a little gentle reprimand the day before my appointment, He gave me a better perspective and with that rod, steered me back on the path.

So, that being said, what did I find out today? Well, chemo will start on August 16th. As I shared in my post yesterday, I will continue reading and finding ways to build up my strength naturally as I begin and continue through the chemo treatments. If all goes as it is supposed to, I could be done on December 20th which would make for an extra helping of celebration this Christmas! I walked out of the doctor's office feeling much lighter and ready for the challenge ahead. I am not carrying this load. Praise the One who can!

Specific prayer requests:
  • reduction in the drainage from the lymph node site under my arms. I still have a drain from the first surgery in place. Hopefully that can be removed in the next week.
  • safety for the three children in our home who will be off on various trips during the next week.
  • continued healing from surgery so that I will be ready and strong for the start of chemo.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Survival Files: What I Am Learning

In the last month-and-a-half many have sent me tips and given me a heads up about what helped for them or a loved one who was or had gone through cancer. I am taking today to let you all know that I have been researching for some time and although things are overwhelming still, I was very overwhelmed the first time around and I am a little sad I didn't take more time then to read more and find out what was going on inside of me.

Since then I have learned a few things:
  • most cancer (especially DCIS) is slow growing and can take 8-10 years to form a lump of any kind. If your diagnosis is DCIS, you have plenty of time to make informed decisions about what to do and how to go about treatment and you certainly don't have to have a double mastectomy!
  • trauma to the breast can cause cancer cells to go from a dormant state to actively growing (trauma could definitely include six surgeries) What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer - John R. Lee
  • DCIS will clear up if hormone levels of estrogen/progesterone can be balanced and the environment in our bodies is no longer cancer friendly. Some DCIS has been known to remain in a body and never grow into a lump at all. 
  • our body needs iodine - most of us have very low iodine levels that affect much more than I ever knew. Iodine and Your Thyroid - Thompson
  • based on the average diet, most people can be diagnosed with some form of leaky gut, and this affects every part of our overall health.
  • many women are suffering from symptoms of estrogen dominance and it is wreaking havoc on their bodies, they commonly hear from their doctor "you are getting older..." What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause - John R. Lee 
This is very general of course and there are a lot more details. I started my real serious reading earlier this spring when I didn't like the fact that the doctor who was taking care of my thyroid told me that in six months he would ultrasound again and if my thyroid nodules had grown any he would take out my thyroid.

I didn't like not knowing what was going on so I started researching the thyroid to see if there was anything that we can do to reduce the size of the nodules. Through that research I was able to find out more about what I would have done different three years ago. In the coarse of this reading, I have now been diagnosed again with breast cancer and I know that the environment in my body is obviously a great place to grow cancer.

There can be very passionate people when it comes to cancer treatment. Some know that cancer cells are present in our bodies all the time and if our bodies are strong and working properly, our immune system can take care of them before they are detectable or can cause harm. I know some see the cancer treatment world as a money making pharmaceutical driven empire that herds people through the given treatments based on statistics that haven't improved much in the last twenty years.

As you can see above, looking at my reading material of late, I am following my doctor's protocol. But, as I do, I will be continuing to work on strengthening my body. I have learned in the book Eat Dirt the importance of getting my leaky gut under control and feeding my immune system foods that will keep it working.

Today Mom and I stopped in to the health food store down the street from us. I have read about a lot of things that I want to start incorporating in my diet especially as I look ahead to chemo. Without a specific list I wasn't sure what I was looking for but we browsed and I checked prices on a few things that I know I would like to get soon. After she dropped me off I got busy around here on a few things that I was planning to do. She came by bearing gifts about an hour later.

She had two bottles of an organic kombucha tea that she had found at the grocery store. We had asked the owner of the health food store what it was and we did find out it was a type of fermented mushroom. Not thinking that sounded too yummy, we were curious about it. She had found some at the store so we tried it. It was surprisingly good. Definitely something I could drink regularly.

I am also going to start drinking Trim Healthy Mama Good Girl Moonshine which I was able to get the ingredients for earlier at the store. All in the process of getting my gut back in line and working properly. I would highly recommend Eat Dirt if you haven't read it.

So, you could say I am combining my treatment. My number one question for my oncologist was "what is going on in my body that is making it a breeding ground for cancer?" In the documentaries I have watched and the books I am reading, I am finding out a lot. It is very overwhelming, but once I break it down and focus on one area at a time, there are definitely changes that can be made.

There is a lot of passion on both the medical side and the homeopathic side of cancer treatment. I am using essential oils, changing key things in my diet and adding a few things that before would have been strange to daily routine. I am also healing from surgery and looking ahead to chemo treatment and possibly radiation. I am praying to a big God who knows how I was knit together in my mother's womb and I trust that He will continue to show me the best way to take care of me. I am already thankful for the changes He has made.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Good Kind of Exhausted

 This was Stacey on the first night after returning home from day camp. She ate supper and promptly crashed on the couch.

Today is the last day of session three. Both girls volunteered for all three sessions this year.

I love that the girls enjoy helping out. It is nice that they can be a blessing to those little ones at camp. Matthew went with them last Thursday and Friday for session two. It is his last year as a camper at day camp.  Everyone is growing up fast!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Survival Files: A Deeper Shade of Blue

It hasn't been the best couple of days. I think that the concert being something I was really looking forward to this summer, and then making it there and enjoying "regular" family fun and inspiration made Monday morning a little rough. It actually was so rough it turned into Monday afternoon and then early evening.

It was about 4:15 p.m. before I even emerged from my bedroom on Monday. I had woken up a couple of times and even ate a sandwich for lunch that Stacey made for me. I had been up in the night with a really sick stomach. I had been dealing with some of the negative affects of anesthesia on a digestive system this time around. Unfortunately it was the early hours of Monday morning that the nausea decided to strike.

So, you can say that I took Monday off. Unfortunately, it came time to go to bed Monday night and my mood had not lifted at all and I was afraid I was dealing with a little deeper shade of blue than I had seen in awhile. I was able to read myself to sleep and determined that when I got up this morning it would be a new day and I would feel better.

Me determining didn't seem to bring wanted results and I got up around nine this morning and felt no better. I am trying to decide if the incision hurts worse because it is mad that the doc cut into it again, or if there is a weird kind of pulling from the way the huge bandage was placed that is causing the discomfort. The curves of cleavage doesn't make it the easiest place to put a 4x8 bandage. The latex or plastic is very firm too.

I hate being a downer to be around so I spent the day working slowly - ever so slowly on the pile of laundry that had to be folded in the laundry room. It made me feel like I was accomplishing something although the ever so slowly part was a little discouraging. But, I sat and watched some television and got up with every load and folded it load by load. Definitely doable.

It was about 1:30 p.m. when my mom popped over to check on me. Well, I can't put on a smiley face and pretend to be right as rain when she asks "how are you doing today?" I did feel like I had gotten something "normal" done and it really was a good feeling but there are so many things I am not doing.

The two of us tackled the green beans that were picked Monday night. They were mostly too big because we hadn't gotten out there but after picking through them, we got quite a few snapped and have a good bowl full that will go with a couple of meals this week. That was nice, just snapping and talking. I also remembered that I was supposed to get a call about my blood work last week and hadn't heard from anyone.

The night started with a simple game of go fish
So, I called...my iron stores went from 9 (normal is 200 or higher) to a whopping 699 after the infusion. The chemo nurse said they like to have it up to 800 pre-chemo so I am a lot closer to that! I am just mentally picturing how my iron rich blood is flowing through my body and helping the healing this time around!

This kid...what can I say?

It went uphill from there. I sat down at the computer and did some work for our pack for the upcoming scout year. I answered a few emails too and made a list of a few other things that I need to get done this week. That really helped lighten the dark blue hue as well.

The girls came home from helping at day camp (our church's version of VBS) and got on supper right away making shrimp and grits and a few of us had some of the fresh beans from the garden. Then there were cards...we played cards. A little voice said "hey Mom, wanna play Go Fish?" Yes I do! So that is how it started. Stacey and Matthew played the first round and then we decided to war.

Three of us were having so much fun, others wanted to join
Somewhere in all of that, Ryan offered to walk down to The Freeze which is about three blocks south of us and get some ice cream. He is a working man now so he offered to take his own money. He knows how to cheer me up! He dished us up and watched as we were finishing the game of war actually taking Matthew's place who was having trouble eating ice cream and playing cards at the same time.

Nothing like chocolate ice cream dished up
in a soup bowl!

The game was so rousing that everyone wanted in on the next game. (Zachary doesn't usually play but he loves to be in the circle watching from the front row). Someone decided we were going to play war with two decks and low cards win. Hmmm...guess who went out after the first round? Yep, me! But I got to watch and listen to my kids having fun and hear David playing the piano in the background - one of those things he does rarely these days.

Someone decided we should play war with smallest
number wins!

The game went on about another fifteen minutes before Matthew was out and so he and Zach and I went to read stories and get tucked in. Meanwhile the triplets went head to head. I kid you not, it was another forty minutes until Ryan went out and it took over an hour for Dawn to finally emerge victorious!

The night ended with triplets duking it out to win the war.

The dark shade of blue that I woke up to has lightened up. I still need pain meds to do anything and there is still a lot of healing to do. The kids need to be ready for the next week of activities and eventually the start of a new school year. I will be honest, I want to do everything I can because I find joy in being their mom and doing what I do. A body can get tired of feeling bad. Then thinking about how there is more than just surgery this time around and whoa...it can get ugly. I don't like it there and I pray I don't ponder there too long. Today was one day and it was a good day because God had control of the paint brush. I will focus on one day at a time and let Him control my shades of blue.

 Philippians 4:8 Finally, Brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Night at the Fair

I woke up today knowing it would be a long day because my endurance isn't very high right now. About half way through, I wasn't sure if it was going to end up being a good day or not. I hate how the enemy can high-jack our plans sometimes and take them down a road that we didn't plan to go on.

Coming from a big family, I understand how this works. Even with that, I still get caught off guard. As silly as it sounds, it all usually stems from the fact that we have seven people to get ready and out the door and unless there is some thought behind the plan, it rarely happens smoothly. Today was no exception.

Down the road we started in the van, all of us riding along in various annoyed and frustrated states of mind. I won't get into the details or try to pin a blame on anyone in particular but I think that I need to spell things out to people a little clearer. Just because we all have the same goal in mind (getting to the fair), we don't all have the same idea of how it is going to happen.

Instead of focusing on that part of the day, we got to the fair and it was pretty easy to get around. Not a lot of people thought it would be fun to go around the midway and ride in the warm summer heat. Ryan and Dawn wanted to ride so we bought them and the little boys a wristband but after the first couple rides, both Ryan and Dawn were having queezy problems.

We probably walked the midway for an hour and a half and everyone was thirsty and wanting to eat. We had packed a cooler to eat out by the van instead of spending $15-$20 a person on fair food. We found a great shade tree and ate the food we brought.

We had arrived with Johanna and Bryan and the girls and so we had put out our blankets and camp chairs in the lawn before we had gone to the midway. We enjoyed Hawk Nelson and Tenth Avenue North but our favorite is For King and Country.

It turned out to be a wonderful night. There was a great breeze and we weren't at all too warm. For King and Country are such amazing showmen. Their concerts are so inspiring. Tonight did not disappoint! I am so glad we pushed through the frustrations to get to the blessing that this day ended up being for our family!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Survival Files: Best.Surgery.Ever.

Working while we wait
If I were to name my favorite surgery experience, I would have to say that Wednesday was it. There was one surgery back in the beginning when they wheeled me in and I remember conversations with the nurses in the OR but all of the others since then I can't. I asked the anesthesiologist if maybe the "calming" medicine they put in the IV just before they take me in could be left out of my orders this time around.

I have pin pointed the problem I have when I am waking from surgery. I really think that the little bit of sedation on the front end has been causing me grief when they are trying to wake me up. I was right! This surgery was a dream! (I know, that sounds a little weird) but I do have a few to compare to. I had a full conversation with the team in the OR before the sedation started. AND...best news, it really did only take about an hour to wake up and be ready to go home. I has taken up to three hours in other out patient surgeries.

Watching TV and "enjoying" Olive
Garden commercials on a very empty
The only downer of the whole experience is those stupid veins in my left side! The nurse tried the IV on my forearm with no luck. So, to my hand it was. She said "there is scarring on this vein". She understood after I told her that in the last month I had two iron infusions, both given through that hand.

An hour and a half later when they came to get ready to take me to the OR, the nurse noticed that nothing was dripping. Nothing had gone into my body so she tried wiggling the IV around and messing with the tubing a bit. She needed to call in a friend. Those few short moments had me anxious and on the edge! Thankfully after another try and moving my hand this way and that, it started flowing.

I will be honest and say that if they would have had to take it out and find another site for the IV it would have been my "one last thing" that would have pushed me over the edge. The port area isn't healed enough to use yet but I can already tell you that I am glad they won't have to stick me with needles in my less than stellar left arm veins!

Once the surgery was over, the grogginess wasn't there and I felt like I could get out of bed and on my way. I got home to my recliner and was comfortable all evening, having conversations, watching television, and hearing about the girls' day at church day camp where they are serving this week. The only thing different from the night before is that their is a new pain in my chest where the healing from ten days ago was reopened. Pain meds are good though so I am set with that. And...nurse called and told me the pathology report shows no more cancer. That is the best news!

Specific Prayer Requests:
  • Patience with my healing body
  • Reduction of pain in the incision area
  • Continued encouragement from the things I am researching on how to get to the bottom of why cancer likes to grow in my body. I am looking so forward to having a strong body again.
  • PRAISE: the calming meds I take at bedtime are helping me to get to sleep!
  • PRAISE: no more cancer in the margins
  • Fun at the fair and For King and Country concert on Sunday!

"Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might!" Ephesians 6:10 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday From the Heart: Famished

The afternoon I spent in the basement on Tuesday was awesome. The last time I went through my CD bin in storage I had pulled out a CD that I hadn't heard in a long time. It was a perfect medicine for my heart even though a couple of months ago when I put it by my CD player, I had no idea what was ahead on this road.

I wanted to find something on YouTube to share from this CD but they were a new Christian band in 1999. The only thing I found was a single they recorded in 2011 which is great too if you want to check it out and add it to your patriotic playlist, Row Upon Row.

The songs from this album that have always spoken to my soul were recorded before the days of YouTube so they are not to be found there today. A few other groups have recorded them and I found a few of them. No one can record these songs like Three Strand did, but I did want to share a recorded version of these song because the words have been so very powerful in my every stage in life, but again hit home and cause me to be so grateful for music when our hearts don't know the words to pray or we wonder how we could possibly praise.

The reason I bought this CD back in the day was because of the song Jesus, I Will. The group Faith First have a version of this on YouTube and it is the closest I could find although it feels like they are in a race or up against time and the harmonies are quickly whipped through. The message is there and it has been a song I have sung during times even when it is hard to choke out the words.

Break Me, Lord has meant a lot to be through the years and although this is a version that is not really at all like the recording on my CD, the song is always a reminder of what God is working out in us. There is breaking, there is healing, there is covering and all is done so that we are able to stand and be strong in Him.

So Amazing is a full out praise of my Lord. He truly is so amazing. The group called Heritage Singers recorded this and they also have a video that you can find here that gives you a little more of the feel for Three Strand's version and I don't know why Heritage Singers didn't actually record it this way in their CD. You can't hear the song in the full version, but the instrument arrangement is closer to the one I love. I have always thought that this would be an awesome song to sing with all of the great harmonies. God has heard me belt it out myself, but it would be so awesome to praise Him in harmony together with a few other voices.

The whole CD is amazing and would definitely be worth checking out, or if you happen upon it at Half Price Books or a garage sale, pick it up and let it soothe your soul.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

My Sidekick

I mentioned earlier this week about how I was putzing down in the sewing room. I actually got a fun reminder back to the days when it was just Matthew and I during the day. There is an entire basement for him to play in (not to mention that before I went downstairs, he was upstairs playing) and yet, he grabs his army guys and pulls up a chair not five feet from me while I sewed.
My view from the machine

I actually still have a bag that I used to have right next to my sewing machine of lacing blocks. They are blocks to build with and shoelaces to lace through the blocks. They are special "sewing" toys that Matthew could only play with while Mom was sewing. He hasn't played with them in years but the whole proximity thing with him is still very much a thing. He is my social boy.
All set up for a battle

The little purple guys are his army. I think they were part of an Avengers game we had awhile back. I really don't think the game was ever played the way the instructions said to, but they have played a lot with the purple army.

He hung out with me for a little while during the first part of my time down there. We took a break and went upstairs to do some chores and by then he got interested in things with his siblings and didn't need to hang out with me in the basement. He cracks me up...the sound effects, the theme songs...it is all part of his play. I should have recorded a video clip to share. It was too funny!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Survival Files: Good News: Today is the Day!

Cherry pitting in the living room
I got GREAT news yesterday! A surgery for today had been cancelled so they asked if I would like to move into the empty time slot! Yes please! So today is the day that I will have this last surgery to get rid of the remaining cancer in the margins. There is also a much better chance I will feel like heading to the fair on Sunday afternoon and hearing the concert with the kids! Isn't God so great to be in the little things? I love Him!

I love this guy too! He took me on in a few competitive games of Left/Right/Center. I was sitting in the "winning" spot he thought and so after I had won about 4 games, we switched places. Sure enough, the three games we played after that were won by Matthew. (sitting in the "winning spot") Go figure!

 Along with that, yesterday I got around some. I didn't take pain meds when I got up so I could drive to a scout meeting with one of the girls from the scout office. We talked recruitment and popcorn sales coming up - do we have everything we need? I got home at about 1 o'clock after stopping at Walgreen to get a couple of prescriptions filled. I need some more pain meds and I am finally filling the prescription for Lorazipam to help me fall asleep at night. I am tired most of the day but when that head hits the pillow...can't fall asleep. But, I am not going to deal with that anymore.

Along with the prescriptions I picked up a box of gloves so that next time I am cutting up fruits or veggies for freezing I can protect my cuticles and finger nails. They look like I spent four hours cutting up cherries for freezing! Oh wait...I did. I did think though before getting started that I wish I had some gloves to wear. I usually have some for those times I work with raw chicken and other messy foods. I have recently gotten to the bottom of the box and so I didn't have them for the cherries.

It will take a few days for the cherry color to wear off and my hands return to normal. Meanwhile I have to explain that it wasn't some horrific crime scene that I played a part in, but instead a huge bowl of cherries that needed tending to.

I putzed a little bit in my sewing room after I got home too. I am not posting a picture of that today since there wasn't anything completed, but I will be excited to share when the project is done. Thankfully although no driving is a rule with pain meds, operating a sewing machine is not on the list of prohibited things. It does my heart good to have fabric in my hands...fabric, yarn, embroidery floss...whatever, you get the picture!

Surgery is scheduled for 3:30 this afternoon. I am glad that I am no longer the last slot of the week when everyone would rather be finishing up their week and going home. Mostly, I am glad that it will just be done and that I will be home sleeping in my own bed tonight...there really is no place like home!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

It's the Little Things

There has been very few things in my life over the last few months that has bugged me more in my day to day life than the fact that the drivers side sliding door of my van is permanently locked.

It got that way one day last winter when Ryan unscrewed the lock on the door. When he went to put it back on, it dropped into the hole and fell into the side door panel.

David told me that he thought they could get it out and back on the lock mechanism. It has just taken awhile for David to find some extra time to help Ryan pull the panel off of the door and get it out.

Today was the day! Woo Hoo! They were able to get it out and the door fixed. I realize that with all of the things going on in my life right now, this may seem like a tiny little thing but in reality, it was is a huge deal to me! Now whether it is groceries, or a car load of kids, there is access to the back of the van from both sides!

I do remember back in the day when all vans only opened to the back on the passenger side. I told the triplets that the van that drove them home from the hospital only had one door in the back. How in the world did we get by?

Well, we don't have to get by anymore and I am so glad!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Survival Files: Monday, Monday

The appointment with the surgeon this morning went well. One of my drains was able to be removed and the other one is not too far from coming out too. Just in time for the next surgery. Since we decided to get this surgery done this week we ended up with a not so desirable time slot of 4:30 p.m. Friday. It will most likely be an outpatient if all goes well.

Doc said that she has already talked to the pathologist twice going over the report and knows exactly where to go and what to take out once she gets in there. Hopefully, it will be a quick fix and we will once again be moving forward. We were also informed that all this time I could have been taking showers since we were given the wrong discharge information. David was wondering why they would put a waterproof dressing on the incision and then tell me not to take a shower. Oh well, I can now be extra thankful when I smell clean and fresh! 
This waterproof dressing is going to haunt me for a few more days though. The sticky stuff is mostly still stuck to my skin. I did do a first attempt scrub when I got home to try to get it off. The itchiness is not nearly as bad but I am still sticky. As you can see from the picture, the scar comes up pretty far this time so I will have to adjust my wardrobe for that...or maybe not.

I have tackled a few other things today though and am happy to say I am re-registered for the new school year as a substitute teacher. I loved doing that last spring and hopefully I can get out on some of my good days and continue to spend some time in the classroom. It feels good to make plans for the normal part of my life.

The challenge I will have though after my appointment and surgery Friday is getting to the Jones County Fair on Sunday to see For King and Country with the kids. That is a big "must do" on our family list for the summer. I will probably not be able to go with them, but I will not let them miss out because of me. So, we will see. It is a small surgery, she said she was going to reopen a couple of inches of the incision and close it up again, maybe it will be possible with the proper pain meds. I would like to see the concert too! I guess Saturday we will have to see how I feel.

Over all, we have been set back two weeks with this extra surgery. I am starting to get used to that and be okay with it. Not thrilled, but okay. This afternoon I am going to take it easy and probably pit some cherries and get them ready to freeze for later when I am in a better place to bake. The zucchini and cucumbers are starting to come in. In fact, they are both a little too big because we didn't get out there last week to get them picked. Thankful, the zucchini can just be shredded and put in the freezer.

David has mapped out the rain forecast for the week and we (hopefully me too) will be out there getting things mulched and picked. Green beans are coming in and they will need to be tended to. Life continues to move forward and I will too.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Good Day

My mom had arrived before I woke up Saturday morning and was washing my front windows. These are the ones we were talking about on Friday when I debated whether or not to leave the cobwebs growing to be ready for Halloween in October or get them cleaned up. (Ha Ha) Mom listens closely to those kind of conversations and was over to clean up for me. I was very grateful. She spent some more time with me after the cleaning watching a couple of sewing shows I had DVR'd to watch with her about purses and bags.

Not long after my mom left to get some things done at home, my aunt Jo arrived for a visit. She did not come empty handed! Matthew helped her unload a box of blueberries, cherries, a bag of cookies, a loaf of blueberry/zucchini bread and a box of Amish pastries!

I hadn't realized how long it had been since we had been able to catch up. I haven't seen Jo since December when we went to visit for her birthday party. Since then she has had her thyroid removed to find cancer and been through treatment for that and well, lets just say a lot has been going on involving doctors for both of us.

We visited all afternoon and I got to hear all the news with my cousins and their families. Mom stopped back over when they got home and we visited some more. I lost count of how many times we said goodbye before Jo actually left. It is that way when we visit the Kramers too. She had to get on her way and we said our final goodbyes. Our visit was a wonderful distraction.

One of the stations on television was showing all three of the Toy Story movies today and we are a sucker for Buzz and Woody. I spent the evening with David and the kids eating his wonderful seafood mac and cheese and gently snuggling with Matt watching Toy Story. I am obviously a little emotional lately because I did get teary at the end of number three. I love that today was kinda normal and a whole lot of fun.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Survival Files: Friday's Visit to Oncology

When your doctor has the report in her hand, looks at you and says "I really didn't want to have to tell you this..." Ugh! What now? Well...cancer in the margins. Two of the tumors that were taken out came back from pathology showing cancer cells in the margin or the tissue surrounding where the tumors were taken out.

Drowning my sorrows in a dark chocolate
coffee cooler
So, depending on what the surgeons say on Monday, looks like I am back in for another surgery before we get started with chemo. Yuck! There was some good news in all of this and that was that there were 23 lymph nodes removed (no wonder I can still hardly move my arm without pain) and only the one that was biopsied showed any cancer. WOO HOO! So there is definitely something we can celebrate there! I asked about my iron levels after the infusion and she sent me to the lab.

As we left there for the lab I really felt that if I talked at all I would start crying so we got to the lab and I was called back pretty quickly. Understand, there is very little to offer when I put out my left arm, and even less when there were two veins that had recently been used for blood draw and IV in the hospital.

The one who started the blood draw had to call someone else over to help and she used a small vein and a butterfly needle and syringe. I am looking forward to the results of the blood test even though I was feeling pretty down about the whole visit. When I saw the blood fill the syringe it looked thick and dark red. I haven't seen blood come from my body that looked that good in forever! I have been anemic for a long time.

As I let it all sink in David took me to the coffee shop there at the PCI building and I decided to order a large...with whip cream. It helped to have something to drink while I got used to the thought of another surgery. More than likely it will be out patient and I won't have to spend the night. I only say what I am guessing because I won't really know anything til Monday.
Matthew and Zachary acting out Elephant and Piggie

I am thankful for my family. I am thankful that I could come home and crawl into bed feeling defeated and just rest. My mom popped over the to find out how the appointment went. I shared with her what we learned and she hung out for awhile and we got my mind on other things. I was covered in my blanket and she was thinking of some old fabric that she might still have around to give me to work on some patches while I am still recovering.

Then, I got a message from my aunt that she may be coming through town tomorrow and could stop in and visit. Then my kids...they are just fun to hang around with! Matthew and Zachary decided to act out the first four books from their Elephant and Piggie collection. We have recently purchased the last book to make our set complete. Part of my recovery was going to be reading every single one of them together.

We ended up playing a game of Apples to Apples for a couple of hours with Grandma playing for her first time. It was a lot of laughing and fun. I was even able to start a new yarn project with the rest of the new yarn. I may report more about that as there will be more to show as I get farther along. All in all my treatment is what it is and we will deal with it.

My timetable is out of my control right now and I am thankful for sweet distractions. Another bit of good news is that the doctor told me that if I hurt to take the pain meds. I should not be rationing them out and taking what I "can get by on". She is right...today was the most comfortable day I have had all week. Mentally it is much better to have as little pain as possible. For now I am going to enjoy the weekend with my family. Monday will come soon enough.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Friday From the Heart: If You Can't Say Something Nice...

I have started this post three times already and have gone back to a blank screen every single time. Who wants to read a downer kind of post with me whining about how I am not recovering as fast as I want to? Nobody!

So, I have posted myself a little reminder and will stick to the facts of this my first week of recovery since today we hit the one week mark.

I have trouble with pain meds. The faster I take them, the faster they are gone. I always have this fear that I will need more if I take them too fast. Every single time (not excluding this week) I hit about Wednesday and think that I should try a stint with ibuprofen and see how I do. Then, at the end of said stint I find myself frustrated and sad because my body still needs help with the pain so that my mind doesn't go crazy. But I am THANKFUL...

Thankful to my mom who offered to drive the girls and I to church so we could attend our Philippians bible study. That was a highlight of my week. I can't say that we thoroughly worked through our homework this week, but just getting out of the house and finding encouragement in God's word was a huge boost.

Thankful to a few friends and family who provided food for us to eat that I didn't have to think about. What a blessing to be able to rest and know that food was on its way.

Thankful for my kids keeping up with the kitchen work so that when I walked into the room my bare feet didn't pick up crumbs from yesterday's dinner that were still on the floor. Tomorrow we will focus on how to add laundry in the mix.

Thankful that my husband suggested going against what we were told at the hospital and change out my surgical vest and wrap to the clean new one we were sent home with so that I could stand being with myself after five days of recovery in the middle of the summer. A sponge bath was a huge morale booster!

Thankful for the cards and words of encouragement from friends and family members and even the special gifts from people I don't even know to remind me that I can do this...all of this!

Thankful for hands that knit and a great project to work on that sends my energy to a different part of my brain that isn't constantly thinking about all that is starting to become my life. (The hat will be ready to show pretty soon so stay tuned!)

Thankful for doctor appointments coming up so that my list of questions can stop getting longer and instead get answered.

Thankful that my sister has a hair salon in her home a block behind our house and has been sweet to let me come and get my hair washed and styled a couple of times this week.

Nothing huge or earthshaking this week but if you would like some specific things to pray, her is what I would say:

  1. Patience with my body as I heal and contentment with rest.
  2. Pain to get less in my right shoulder and arm area where the lymph nodes were removed.
  3. Peace with the fact that I am healing from surgery to start chemo.
  4. That we will see successful healing of the main incision when the doctor looks at it at our appointment on Monday.
  5. Iron numbers up significantly after the two infusions.
Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. I am truly blessed!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Force Awakens

Last night was family movie night in the living room. It was a mentally draining day for me (maybe a little more about that tomorrow) but it was nice to get the mail and see a Netflix DVD that I was interested in watching. 

The Force Awakens (Star Wars 7) arrived and since Matthew or Zachary had not seen it before and the rest of us had only seen it once or twice in the theater, we made it a movie night and it was a nice distraction from my thoughts and a great family time!

We didn't take Matthew and Zachary to the theater when the movie first came out not knowing if they would like it or want to sit through the whole thing in the theater. They haven't always stayed interested in the other movies when we have had Star Wars marathons at home.

Zachary now wants to start at number one and watch them all. That should keep us busy in the weeks ahead!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Warm Hugs and a Green Thumb

You may not be able to see real well unless you look closely, but there is corn growing in my rock bed under the kitchen window in the backyard. It bothers me.

Dawn has asked that we not pull it to see if it will grow into corn. I believe a compromise has been reached with her father that she can transplant it when it is big enough to a place in the garden. It is a plant she has never grown before and she doesn't want to pull it.

She is a regular green thumb. She has taken leaves from my jade plant and gotten them to propagate. She also informed me the other day that she had found a clipping from Grandma's moss rose plant that we gave her for Mother's Day in the back of the van. She wanted to try to get it to grow. It now actually has a blooming flower on it. Go figure!

She definitely is able to love things into good health! Her hugs are good medicine and obviously her touch has a way of making things grow! Although she got some sad news that one of her snails had died when she woke up to tend her aquarium this morning, she didn't let it get her down. She tended to the living (her huge 6 inch goldfish is a freak of nature) and repotted the green living things in her life.

I may tell her to go out and transplant a few of the corn plants to the garden, then we can pick the rest of them out of the rock bed. This is the negative to hanging the bird feeder outside the kitchen window to me. The birds are messy eaters and corn and other seeds end up in the rock bed. For Dawn, that is just one more big perk to birds eating outside my kitchen window!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Pain Med-Induced Fog Knitting

I got a chance yesterday to work on a hat with the new yarn I splurged on with a gift card to Stitch Together from my cousin Kayla. I picked a pattern that is a little more difficult than my usual choice because with the upgrade in the yarn, I figured I would knit something a little more challenging. I spent most of the day in bed resting in varying  stages of recline while I worked a little on the pattern.

I was hoping to work through some of the tough parts before surgery so I wouldn't have to use my brain too much to keep going on it this week.  With everything that has to happen before surgery, I didn't get to it. So, pain med-induced fog knitting it was. I had tried to reduce my pain meds a little along with using ibuprofen but I wasn't really ready for that yet. Especially if I was going to try to concentrate on a difficult knitting pattern.

That said, when I woke up this morning and looked at what I had done, I knew something was wrong. It is not unlike me to work a part of a new pattern three or four times before I get it to work. It is part of the learning curve for me and rather than knit swatches to see if it works, I just use the yarn and the pattern, taking anything out that needs to be reworked.

Yesterday I had knit rows 21- 50 when it said "Rows 51-60: Repeat Rows 29-38" I had stopped because there were less and less stitches on my needles as the day went by and I knew that I was not doing it right. Going back over the YouTube videos I had watched in my head, I had a pretty good idea which part I had done wrong. With that little bit of confidence I took out the knitting from yesterday back down to row 21.

Today is going much better. It helps that I was able to get up and go over to my sister's who washed and styled my hair for me. I have sat in a chair most of the afternoon visiting with a friend and ibuprofen is the only pain meds that I am using. I will probably use the oxycodone later as the evening wears on since I tend to have more trouble in the evenings.

I have had a little bit of nausea this afternoon so I am going to fluff up some pillows and recline a bit as the afternoon rolls toward evening. So far I have finished row 29 of my hat and I figured out what I did wrong the first time. The proper amount of stitches are still on my needle. Just like healing, I have to take my knitting pattern slowly and patiently so that it all turns out great in the end.