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Saturday, February 25, 2017

It's Been 15 Years

I guess I was speeding on the way to Bible study on Thursday morning. I don't know...the police officer said 39 in a 25. I wasn't paying attention to my odometer. My bad. She was sitting in her car at the bottom of the hill across from the football field. I don't always take that road, but I had decided to use the last of my Scooters gift card that morning and the little drive thru in Marion was where I was stopping before tootling on down the road.

I won't lie, it has been a rough week. Cancer treatment aside, I have been too fretful of earthly cares. So, I spent time this morning with my playlist and as I came down the hill I was singing loudly and pretty much crying my eyes out. SHOOT! Was the first thing that I thought...but not because she stopped me. The rest of it went like this in my head..."SHOOT! I am crying, she is going to think that I am crying because she pulled me over! Good grief!"

Not true at all. I am not known for my ability to drive the speed limit. I do what you would call "keep up with the traffic flow" (well, not down the hill past the football field but really, who can drive 25 miles an hour on that stupid road?) That said, my last ticket was in 2001 so I probably was due. I chose the playlist with all of my favorite God songs. I needed to get my mind on Him and off of the stuff that was weighing me down. It worked well until that hill.

I pulled over and was able to clean myself up a bit before she got to the window. You know, they always sit there in the car for a few minutes checking my plates and anything else that would be helpful before walking up to a total stranger in a red van. She wanted my license and registration along with insurance. Well, two out of three ain't bad. I am supposed to have the registration in the glove box too...I seem to remember that from a previous brush with the law. Oops, not there this time, it is a relatively new to us van after all.

It is funny through the whole thing that I didn't feel upset about being pulled over as much as I was upset about my music being interrupted or that I would now officially be late for study. I have heard of people getting warnings when they are speeding and I can't relate to that at all. I have never been offered a warning except for that one time when my registration was expired a few years ago and I had two feverish kids with me on the way to the pediatrician. Speeding tickets, I have always gotten a ticket when I have been pulled over.

I was pretty sure that having on a cap with an obvious cancer treatment loss of hair look would be my very best chance of ever getting a warning. With as many compassionate looks of understanding and sadness when I go out in a scarf or cap, it was my best bet. But, no such luck yesterday. She came back and explained the ticket to me and told me where I could go for my court date. She told me she dropped my reported speed to 35 so I wouldn't have to pay as large a fine.

Great...so my police officer falsified the record of my speeding. Last time I got a ticket it was $62, this time it is $114 and that is only because the officer "lied" on the ticket about my speed. Best chance of getting out of a ticket and I am still paying over a hundred dollars. That is just the way it is I suppose. She got through with the explanation and said "Have an nice day. Slow down and be safe".

I cranked up the music again and continued along my way. It was a beautiful day, the last of the beautiful ones for awhile so after I got my coffee I opened the sunroof on the van and continued on my way. After all, fifteen years without a speeding ticket is a pretty good record!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Trying To Get That Feeling Again...

I have been knitting and crocheting slowly lately as my finger tips have little feeling in them. I am typing better after I have been doing more and that is good. The problem I have though is that I want to get to a cross stitch project that I want to complete.

I got it out last week and it isn't too bad working on it. Of course it is slower going and getting needles threaded is a little taxing but that very well could be because of my eyesight not quite being what it should be at my age. We have had influenza A in the house and so there has been a lot of television watching. 

It is actually a little more fun to have sick 14 year olds than it is to have a sick 7 year old. Stacey and I started the tv series Lost on Netflix and got quickly sucked into it. When Mr. 7 year old is home the television is playing Pokemon or Phineas and Ferb. I don't get as much done around the house when the big kids are sick. Unless I am cross stitching.

The part of the pattern that is currently being stitched as you can see is mostly ecru and white. UGH! How tedious, how boring. But I have been working on it and seeing progress and that is making me happy.

While all of the sickness and radiation is happening I am also going to acupuncture to try to help get some feeling back in my hands and feet. I was told yesterday that it is working because my sensations are now more "prickly" than they are numb. Okay, I will take what I can get.

It is an alternative medicine practice so the jury is still out about how it will work. It isn't as bad as I thought getting multiple little tiny needles stuck in my hands, feet, ears and face. I am holding out some hope that this will be helpful in the end. My muscles feel really sore after for the rest of the day but then the next morning I usually feel. I said FEEL. That is what we are working toward.

After Thursdays session last week my ring finger on my left hand hurt when I bent it. It was still sore on Friday but there also are more pricklies so I will say we are still on track.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Fifth and Final Good-bye To Two Front Teeth

My last one lost his last one. It is always a little bittersweet for me when a child loses his/her top front teeth. In no time at all the new permanent teeth grow in and then they no longer look like a little one but instead a big kid with big teeth ready to go on to bigger and better things.

Matthew lost his second top front tooth this week. Of course he beams happily and I am happy for him too. Just a little. He has been a "big kid" at heart since about 8-9 months old!

Being the youngest of five he has watched his big brothers and sisters and takes on every challenge head on. This tooth has been loose for awhile now and being a Sloan kid, the baby teeth seem to hang around a lot longer than their classmates and that has been a little frustrating for them. Frustrating for them maybe, but it makes me smile.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Show Choir!

Show Choir Season has begun! Last Saturday we were at Washington High school. It is my third year to be there at their annual MO Show show choir competition. I love it because I can not only see my kids in Vernon Velocity but also, my niece who sings with the 10th Street Edition from LinMar.

This year I thought I was smart and parked in the north parking lot closest to the auditorium since that is where the middle school choirs sing. We got to the door and no one was their so we found the information desk and asked about where we needed to be. We were told that in previous years the auditorium was hard for parents to get in and out because there were so many people. This year all the groups would be performing in the gym.

So, hiking down to the gym was what we were still going to be doing. It was nice though, except for the fact that when we got to our places in the gym on the bleachers Mom and I realized that we should have brought our bleacher seats. Mine was in my van. Stacey was with us too because she always likes to watch the choirs and meet up with some of her friends from our Arthur Elementary days who sing in Franklin's group. She also has a couple of McKinley friends from basketball.

Dad joined us right before Velocity sang (at 9:40 in the morning) and they did GREAT! We had heard them at the VMS variety show where they usually debut at the beginning of each year. I will have to say at that time, I was a little scared for them. The band had a hard time that night and so they have had a lot of extra practice. It has paid off because I couldn't believe it was the same show choir. Plus the stage at MO Show gave the singers/dancers a lot more room to move around.

My niece Marissa being in high school was performing in the afternoon and happened to be the last performers of the afternoon. So with Dad going out to get our bleacher seats we decided to stay for an afternoon of good show choir performances.

The day ended with VMS taking third place after Taft and McKinley (our toughest competition) and Marissa's choir 10th Street Edition taking home a grand champion trophy in the high school division. Mom and I shared conversations much of the day and at one point we both were asking "why do we feel so exhausted when all we have been doing is sitting and watching show choirs all day?" It was an exhausting day, but it was a fun way to spend a Saturday!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday From the Heart: Teenagers

These three. It has been a week of heart work in  my house. I won't go into details because it is their stories, but God has made each kid and each heart to feel and to function differently. That is my parenting challenge and really for me, it is my great joy.

While sickness is going through the house this week I have been able to have a lot more discussions with the kids about what is going on in their lives. I have also been able to work on some conflict resolution among them too.

We have talked about the important lesson of flexibility and understanding when our own plans have to be altered because of others in the family. We have touched on the importance of family members being on the same "team" even when we are out and about. We have also been reminded that when you go into places where you feel you are alone or the only one standing up for what is right, you take God with you every single time. He is available and you can talk to Him in each and every moment of stress or struggle if you choose to.

We have laughed, yelled, gotten teary (well, maybe just me), and we have learned a bit about anger management and loving each other. I have said it before, there is a certain joy and excitement the days our children are born but for me it just keeps getting better as they become people who think and act in their own unique ways. When tucking Zachary in last night he asked "Mom, I need your help." Right away I was worried that he too might have an important life problem to solve. So I asked him what he needed (hoping I had the answer) "Well, I am not sure that I am ready for my spelling test tomorrow". Deep breath and smile...I can handle that! So we got the list and went through it before we turned the lights out. Whew! That was an easy one.

It is good to have the practice of "peopling" (as Dawn calls it) right in our living room, our kitchen, our bathroom or the van as it pulls out of the garage before we go out and interact with the rest of the world. God does hear from me often about these three and my request is that they will be ready and have all they need to grow into the adults that God wants them to be, doing what He has called them to do. I can really stress about that if I want but I much prefer the times when I see a glimpse of adulthood in their words and actions. I cherish that and am thankful every day that I get to experience their lives with a front row seat!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Radiation Still...Every.Single.Day.

Almost four weeks done of radiation and I still don't have the office figured out. Almost every day it seems like a ghost town, not many seen in the hallways, empty patient rooms, and only three times have I seen another person in the back waiting room.

I go at 1:00 every afternoon. Most days I am right on time, sometimes I can be up to 15 minutes early and twice now I have been a little late (five minutes or so when the lights are all red). Today was one of those days. I got sweetly and quietly reprimanded for my lateness because they are scheduled "one patient after another and we don't want to get too far behind".

No one was in the waiting room in the front or back when I got there of course because I was late. After I was done there was no one sitting there waiting to be "back to back" with me. There were some waiting in the front waiting room for people who had been taken back but I had no idea where those people were because once again I walked down an empty hallway with patient rooms all empty before I reached the front.

I am still confused. But how am I doing? Well...I have the little plus mark on my skin to tell them where to line up the two green lines before we start. I get up on the table and there is a sheet between me and my mold. With millimeter and centimeter jerks and twists of the sheet they get me exactly in the right place. Then they say "okay, ready to go" and they leave the room.

The machine is positioned above to the left of me and I get a zap in that position. Then the machine moves around the front of me and to the right all the way behind where I can't see. There I get another zap. After that one they come back in and put a bollis (however you spell it) over me and cover that with a sheet so the material that the bollis is made from doesn't reflect in their pictures. The bollis is supposed to trick the machine into thinking that my skin is either closer or father away than it really is. They have told me this part is what causes the most redness to my skin. I don't pretend to know what all that means.

The machine (the big EYE) moves up a little on my right and I can see it out of my peripheral vision. Then it zaps me again. The final zap is after the machine moves back over to my left where it rests at about the ten o'clock position. The zaps are all about 20 seconds except every once in awhile the second zap is only about 7-8 seconds. Again, I don't pretend to know the science behind all of this.

March 9th is my last day. I will be glad. It is a bit inconvenient to go every day and I know I need to be there promptly and I am not arguing my reprimand at all, I am just once again coming up with more questions about this office than answers the longer I go. One question I have had is why if I can have a sheet over me when they use the bollis, do I have to undress from the waist up when I go in? If the radiation goes through the sheet and the bollis, wouldn't it go through a shirt too? Just makes me wonder.

My skin looks like sunburn complete with tan (or I should say burn) lines where the machine stops each day. It really isn't too bad except for my scar. It seems to be really aggravated by the radiation but some coconut oil with frankincense, lavender and a couple other oils feels great. I have a little fatigue but it is manageable.

People have asked if I feel anything when the radiation is going and I don't. It is a lot like an x-ray. You see the machine, you hear the  noise but feel nothing really. I am still battling the fluid build up and I am pretty faithful in my wearing of the arm sleeve and glove even though the glove drives me absolutely crazy!! This week my weight is up and my boots don't fit well so I know I need to keep drinking my water.

This too shall pass...

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A Little Pep

We are in the midst of preparations for high school times three! It is a lot to keep track of that is for sure! Last week Dawn and Ryan got their first taste of pep band at the girls basketball game. Our high school girls are doing great and are looking at another trip to state.

Meanwhile, Stacey can hardly wait to be part of a high school team next year and Dawn and Ryan are looking forward to pep band and all the other new things that will fill our schedule. I told Stacey as we walked out of the game Friday night (it was senior night) that I can't believe that in four years that will be her...a senior. She of course thinks four years is FOREVER! I know better...time is going to FLY!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Some Answers for Stacey

Oh boy has this been a long haul for this girl! She was told in Cedar Rapids a year and a half ago that she had a hernia on her shin. At that time we found out that she can do any of her normal activities as long as she can stand the pain. The hernia wouldn't get worse, it would just always be there.

Well, a year ago now she was having a terrible time with the pain as she went through basketball season and into track. It was during track season that we went in to the orthopedic doctor at PCI here in town. He told her that there was a substantial amount of stress on the bone and it looked like shin splints x 100. He put her in a boot for two weeks.  Boo...out of track for two weeks.

Finally we got referred to the University of Iowa Sports Medicine team and Dr. Peterson. If you remember back last fall, he injected steroids all around the hernia which is the treatment for hernias that hurt. Pain should go away in a couple days we were told. No such luck, in fact there was new and different pain to deal with.

So, back to Dr. Peterson who explained what exertive compartmental syndrome is and that we want to test for that. So, that happened last Thursday. Not fun...
Here is Dr. Hall marking where the needles will be inserted.
(Stacey was holding in a lot of anxiety)

Dr. Hall is getting the huge needle ready to poke into the
two areas marked on Stacy's calf (thankfully since there
is no pain in the back of her calf, he only tested the front
two compartments of her leg).

There goes the needle. Dr. Hall is getting a reading. At resting
it is already high. After the first reading, They took Stacey to
the treadmill where she was told to run until she couldn't stand
the pain and then it was back to the exam room to reinsert the
needles and see what is happening in those front two compartments.

All done...Whew, not quite as bad as she thought!

All in all I think the nurse scared her when she went through and explained the process of the test. Then it took the doctor a little longer to get into the room so she had to ponder what it would be like for a little extra time. She reported that it hurt a lot but not as bad as she imagined. Oh, and it hurt way worse after she ran.

Stacey has been studying and researching compartmental syndrome and as she was putting together her whole story she is amazed to remember back a year and a half ago an injury she got that could have started the whole thing. It usually develops after an injury, some cases include a hernia as a symptom. It all is making sense.

We are still waiting for the doctor's office to call and find out what Dr. Peterson recommends. Dr. Hall had told us before we left that her numbers were definitely in the high range.

Monday, February 6, 2017

A Little Guess Who

Every once in awhile I like to get this scrapbook page out and play the guessing game. There are three pictures of each of our kids as a baby. I can still tell, but it seems to get harder as the years go by...

Those who know my kids...can you tell who is who?

Sunday, February 5, 2017

A Little Bit of Compression

Who in the world wouldn't want to be THIS girl? I mean, I can hardly wait for summer to be able to put on my capri jeans and button down collared tank top and buzz around town in my compression sleeve. Life is so good. In fact, I bet some of you are jealous just looking at her. Yeah, well, I have just arrived at this level of happiness and joy!

Funny thing, I have yet to feel as happy as she looks when I wear my sleeve. Actually, I am pretty happy that it is winter and I can hide my sleeve inside a long sleeved shirt. Let me tell you the story of my compression sleeve and glove.

A couple weeks ago my trainer and I were talking about my fluid build up. I had gained 15 pounds in two weeks during the last part of chemo. I don't know if I had reported that to all of you or not but it was awful for my body. I could hardly walk up the stairs because of the fluid in my legs. When I was in using the bicycle during an open gym time he asked me if I had seen physical therapy. No...and he wondered why.

I found out the next week from the physical therapist that in October they made it part of the protocol for those who have had multiple lymph nodes removed to see physical therapy and get fitted for an arm sleeve. I was diagnosed in June and had surgery in July so I started with all of this before that came into effect.

It took some doing to get the script written and sent over to Fittings Unlimited. But after checking in twice last week, I finally got in on Friday to get what I needed. What an interesting hour and a half. I was ushered into one of their fitting rooms and given a silky gown. The sweet woman who was helping me worked at half speed which I thankfully picked up on quickly because knowing that made me settle in for the long haul.

There are quite a few measurements that are needed to make sure that the sleeve and glove are the right size. At one point she asked me how many lymph nodes I had removed and I told her 24. She responded by looking me right in the eye, leaned in and saying "you will be wearing this for the REST of your life". Hmmm...how encouraging. As she measured and during the process at numerous other times she looked me in the eyes and repeated my fate to be sure I didn't miss it the first, second or third times. Like I said...happiness and joy!

I just nodded and let her continue. She did mention at one time how young I was to have to be wearing this for the REST of my life. Well, I know that I will be wearing it through radiation but after that I haven't been told that it is a requirement by my doctor so we will see. I was under the impression from the physical therapist that I would wear it when the lyphodema acted up.

Thankfully, it looks like insurance will pay for part of it. I actually think that I could be happy tootling around in my sleeve, it is the glove that drives me crazy. It is good for my yarn and sewing projects because it gives me some extra support when my fingers are working but other than that it is in the way when I am in the kitchen cooking, typing and any jobs that include water.

My time at Fittings Unlimited ended with my new friend adding and subtracting by hand on a little slip of paper instead of quickly punching the numbers into the calculator that sat right next to her right hand as she calculated in her head...slowly.

I just smiled and put together this blog post in my head while I waited thankful that I didn't have anything else to do all afternoon.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Friday From a FULL Heart

What a crazy week! I can't believe it is already Friday and I haven't posted since Monday! I have been using my new PaperMate Injoy gel pens though, and it has been fun! BUT, I digress...I came upon a problem when I went to post about the benefit and that was the fact that I had no pictures. The girls at the front check in table took my purse for safe keeping but my phone was in there too. So, I didn't get any pictures of my own.

No worries today because I have seen some on Facebook and have taken them to use. I can't believe how fast this week has flown by! Jumped right back into the busy-ness of life after floating around for a couple of days having a hard time believing that the benefit actually happened. Let me give you some of the details...

 It was held at my church New Covenant Bible Church in the activity center. There weren't too many people yet when I got there so we went around and looked at the over 200 silent auction items! I can't believe the generosity of the community when the committee called or visited to ask for support. So much to bid on and a little bit of something for everyone.

I was excited to have gotten my quilts done in time so in total I was able to offer three quilts to the auction. The amazing group of ladies were all decked out in their green "Team Jody" shirts and I had to smile (and smile today still) to watch each of them do what they are gifted to do. I can't thank them enough...Angie Carlile, Heather Moore, Michelle Hocraffer, Jen Watson, Reanna Sheets, Melanie Snodgrass, Donna Kephart, Jessica Longwisch. And then there were so many more supporting them who stepped up to help. So many to list!

Right away I got blown away with some of my long distance friends I haven't seen for so long who started arriving. This picture here is some of my friends from MY youth group and adult leaders (ha ha...we are all adults now!) from when I was a teenager! My three brothers and sister are there too.

Speaking of brothers and sisters, all of my mom's siblings were able to come and that is always a great reunion! (We aren't always lucky enough to get a good picture)
(Uncle Jim, Uncle Jay, "Auntie Jo Gracie", Uncle Jule, and Mom)

Here are some more siblings! The Kramer cousins (and a little Friedman cousin too)
Kelli (holding Carter), Kalissa, Kasjen, Kayla and Karl (it was great to see Jason, Spencer and Craig too!)

Here is the last group of "reunion" from the triplet's elementary days at Arthur Elementary. It was fun to see some of their friends too!
Everyone has grown and changed so much! It was fun talking to their moms about all the things that they are doing. Everybody is taxiing and cheering and paying for sports or show choir pictures! Not so unlike us. So you could say that although some things have changed, not everything. We are all busy!

When I got home later Saturday night there were people I remembered seeing across the room that I never got to hug or talk to. That made me a little sad but overall I left with my love tank full (and the winning bid on my new green purse). Wow, it was much more than I imagined it would be. I will be processing the whole thing for the next few months I am sure and it will be one of those "once-in-a-lifetime" kinds of day.

I don't want to forget one of the biggest surprises of my day. Of course, it was from my very "out of the box" thinking brother Jeremy. He wanted to get my blog put into a book and Loretta searched until they found a company in the Netherlands. Along with my daughter and husband (who were the sneaks that found my log in info to get access to "Living the Miracle", Jeremy and Loretta presented me with this:

Starting all the way back in June of 2013 with my very first cancer post, it has every post dated and in order from then until the last day of chemo post last month. What a treasure! Yes, I spent most of the morning on Monday just pouring through the past four years laughing and tearing up.
Having the blog in my lap and reading through the happenings of our life in the last three and a half years conjured up many different emotions. It also made me realize how much we have been through, how much we are still going through.

The book is complete with comments from anyone who commented on certain posts too. How precious is that to have it all there bound in this great book. I am blessed with the ability to write and share with those near and far what it means to live a miracle because in our house God performs them ever single day. How He can take seven very different people and keep this house running with all of the different responses to life situations. He is the master conductor and I can sometimes hear the beauty of harmony within the walls of our home. Not every day is like that but I will continue to follow His lead knowing that my life and the life of those I love are in His hands.

Here is mine!
My prayer list has the names of some people who are going through much more than we are right now and it keeps us busy constantly bringing them to God's throne. This is a "from the heart" post so I will share what I shared with my 2nd grade Sunday school class these last couple of weeks. Prayer brings us right to God's throne. For anyone who has a hard time feeling like their prayers go anywhere do what my 2nd graders are doing. Read Revelation 4, take a blank piece of paper and draw what you see when you imagine what the throne of God looks like. It doesn't matter if you are a master artist or you use stick people. There is constant praise going on around the throne of God.

The kids last Sunday, were surprised when we read "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty..." One of them piped up and said "Hey! That is in one of our praise songs"! Yes, I smiled. We can join in the praise any time we want, it is constant around the throne. I have had more reverent kids during prayer time the last couple of weeks and my prayer life has been enriched every time I think about bowing before that throne of grace. It is grace that has been washing over me lately. It is God's hand working in my life as my kids grow and He fills in the holes where by parenting skills are lacking. He has, by His grace brought the kind of peace to my heart that only He can when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. We carry on knowing that someday we will cast our crowns before that throne.