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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Snow? Oh yes. It's November.

Yesterday I looked out the window and saw snow. Illinois is strange like that. Some years I won't even see a flake until January and some years we'll get a lot as early as November. I didn't believe it when my daughter told me. Simply because we just came out of October and that does seem to soon for snow. It was 76 degrees just a few days ago. So what is up with the snow? I kind of like it. But I also remember what it looks like when it gets huge and the plows get to it. Dark, muddy and wet. Yes, snow loses it's beauty once it's touched. I am however kind of looking forward to the holidays. I think because it will be the first Gabriella is old enough to enjoy. She was just a month old last year. This will be a fun Christmas. Her birthday is in just 9 days! I am so excited my miracle baby is almost one! She's so big. She pulled into a standing position this week and clearly said "I did it!" Now it was clear to ME but no one else heard it. I was alone. I have been trying to get her to do it for everyone else but she doesn't seem to want to. Finally my daughter Mikayla heard it. Now we look like nerds trying to get her to do it again. What is it about babies that turns us into goofs? I am going to include another pic of Gabbi when she was a teeny tiny baby. I love looking at these just before her big day!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Toning it All Up after Bedrest?

Prior to getting sick I was in college. I had gone back to initially pursue a career in dental hygiene. I hadn't been sure of what specifically I wanted to do and that seemed good. I got married young but back in the day when I had thought I was going to college and not getting married I was actually planning on going into radio and television broadcasting. I had always been told I had a firm, fast, yet clear speaking voice. Even my college speech teacher told me I should go into public speaking. There was an older woman in that class who after a persuasive speech I gave, said I should be a lawyer. I found this humorous though because I hate arguing or debate of any kind. I sort of withdraw from it. It's just not my thing. I can get very emotionally involved in it but that's why I hate it.

Anyway I changed my mind after awhile in school and realized I wanted to go into nursing. I had never thought I could be a nurse but realized it was something I could do and I could do it well. I changed my goals. We moved and I signed up at the local college there and signed up to finish a few prerequisites I still needed. I was finding it more and more difficult to make it through classes. It was so hard to breathe and though I was seeing doctors I still felt like it was too much. It was so much effort to just get there, walk up the stairs and sit through class. I found the algebra class to actually be pretty easy. Since it was a night class there was quite a lot of older people and they seemed to all have forgotten how to do algebra. I had taken a refresher course the year before. It was a breeze for me. Luckily when I called my teacher to tell her I had cancer the week of the final she told me I didn't have to take it. I would still get the A. I was so thankful!

After that I didn't get out of bed except to hit the bathroom for at least a month. I was put on strict bedrest during my pregnancy as well. I had no idea how flat your uh, backside can get by lying in bed for that long. I had been working out so hard before I got sick. I did a fitness class that required 29 hours to pass. I took a Yoga class 3 days a week. I was in the best shape of my life and here now, all that tone? Gone. I am a small person but a small person with no tone. I started to resemble a stick. So my goal has been to tone up and firm things back up. It had hurt to just walk in the beginning. Now I feel like I have the energy and determination to get back what I lost. I don't have access to the fitness equipment anymore. I own a treadmill and that's it. I'll miss the other machines. Regardless I have to share my favorite Pilates DVD. Don't run! haha Anyone can do this DVD. What I like about it, is it is divided into 15 minute segments. Come on. All of us can spare 15 minutes. You pick the segment you want. Abs, Arms, Thighs or Butt. Then, you do it. I try to pick 2 per day. That's a 30 minute workout every day. Even with four kids I can squeeze it in. Usually I do when the other kids are at school. Right now it's definitely making me sore. I used to do this and feel nothing. So I know I am out of shape! I hate it. I was known for being in shape. Actually people were shocked that I could be sick. I was the health nut who watched what she ate and worked out. Oh well. I need to work on watching what I eat again. I need to get back on track. I have better reason now to eat healthy than ever before. Try the DVD. You won't be disappointed. Firm things up for 15 minutes at a time! I fully recommend it. I find the woman to be less annoying than others on similar DVDs. I am looking forward to being firm and tone again.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

How It Feels To Be the Caregiver

One thing that used to be a touchy subject for me and my husband, was who my cancer was harder on. Yes it sounds crazy doesn't it? Of course I had it more rough! Or so I always told myself. Yes, I had a terrible time and I was the one lying in bed for a month. I couldn't breathe and with each gasping breath I did take it caused great pain. I couldn't eat without being sick. I couldn't sit up without gagging, coughing, choking. Then my husband made me realize how incredibly difficult it was. I caught him one night watching me while I slept. I just opened my eyes in the middle of the night and there he was sitting on the floor by my bed, staring at me. I felt loved. It wasn't until later I realized he was afraid I would stop breathing in the night. My breathing was loud, wheezing, gasping.

It finally hit me. He asked me "What would you do if you had to listen to your child breathe like that at night, knowing they could die?" I get stressed out and worry when my child gets the flu. How much more would I worry about cancer? I hate stress and worry. It can eat a person alive. That's what it was doing to my husband for a year. He said he watched me sleep a lot. I do know for a fact he would stay up all night long and only take naps when he knew I was awake or that my older daughter was home from school. He was afraid to leave me for a moment. I was carrying his child as well so it didn't help. He drove me to every single appointment. He never missed a single sonogram for the baby. He was at every chemo treatment. I couldn't have done it alone. If I talked like I might not get through or what would he do if I didn't, he'd immediately tell me that was not even an option so I may as well shut up. I chuckle about it because I love it. I love that he gave me no choice!

I spoke earlier about what do you say to a person who is diagnosed with cancer and the truth is all you can do is support them. Tell them you are thinking of them, you love them, or tell them they're strong, you know they can do it, definitely don't ever refer to it as terminal or without hope even if that's what you have really heard. Otherwise there is no right or wrong thing to say. It's hard to be the person that doesn't have cancer. You love someone who is so sick and you feel at a complete loss. You can't save their life though you want to. You feel totally helpless. My husband felt that way. I saw it more clearly after I got better. He once told me that after I was declared in remission he could then have his stroke. I told him he better not dare. We are getting through it together! I think much love and respect needs to be given to those who are losing sleep caring for and worrying over a loved one or friend who is sick. That in itself is painful like a disease. So from a patient I want to give my love, respect and humble adoration for all you caregivers out there who give so much of yourself helping those who need it, when they need it most.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Plans to Travel....North Carolina

My family and I plan to make a trip to North Carolina sometime soon. We are hoping to travel there in January. It's for a special occasion. I had some family move there in 2007. My mother and father in law to be exact. They felt incredibly bad that their move came at the precise time I was diagnosed but luckily by the time they actually left town the chemo had begun helping. I was breathing a bit better so they reluctantly continued with the move. I miss them dearly. I have never been to North Carolina so I am pretty excited. I am wondering what things there are to do and from what I hear there are some nice mountain views.

I am a born and raised Illinois gal. Yes. I said gal. Still I love the flat, wide open spaces. It's fall so the corn is coming down fast. You can see for miles and miles. The leaves are not only changing color but now barely clinging to the trees. It's been warm. Yesterday I saw it was 76 degrees. I am wearing a tank November. Wow.

I hope to turn this trip into a real vacation. I am excited about visiting family but really I haven't taken a real vacation in a long time. Honestly who has the money these days? There are so many other things that we need to do with our money but this is a good excuse to take a trip. I love the ocean but have seen it only twice. I can still see it clearly in my mind and I know without a doubt I'll see it again some day.

Before I got sick I was terrified of flying in any way. Now, I am still nervous about it. I won't lie. But I'd do it. I still have never been on an airplane but I had to be on Life Flight two times. The first I was pretty out of it. I was on a magnesium drip to stop some preterm contractions brought on by my chemo treatments. The contractions were mild but continuous and the hospital I was at was not prepared to deliver a 30 week baby if necessary. I didn't really experience that flight too much. The second time was when my water broke at 36 weeks. I was still a tiny bit early and with my high risk situation I wanted to be at the best hospital so again I was Life Flighted to a better hospital for the situation. This time I was wide awake and alert. I was terrified I'd go into hard labor on a helicopter but I didn't. It was cold so I was bundled pretty tight on the gurney. They positioned me so I could see out the window. The sun was just coming up. It was such a symbol. Here I am going to go have my baby and the sun is just peaking over the horizon. Illinois looks like a patchwork quilt from the sky. Maybe everywhere does, but this is my only experience seeing it from a bird's eye view. It was gorgeous and I loved the whole trip. I wasn't scared. I hope to do a lot of traveling now. There is so much I no longer take for granted.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What Do you Say to Someone Diagnosed with Cancer?

It's hard really to know what to say to anyone who has gone through any kind of hardship. You never know what to say and you always feel like it comes out wrong. When I was diagnosed my doctor was very positive about me being cured. I was given the high statistics and I felt pretty good about getting better. The pregnancy was very scary but honestly I tried not to dwell on those thoughts. I stayed positive. I still have no idea how I did it. I did though and I think I could do it again.

I got a lot of comments after my diagnosis but a few stood out. I was on the phone with a family member when she handed the phone to a family friend who pretty much started crying into the phone and saying she'd looked up information on the Internet and it wasn't good. It was so bad. I felt like I had to comfort her. She didn't have the facts right but this was immediately after my diagnosis. I noticed people will treat you like you are already dead. Some people stopped talking to me at all. I knew some were worried because it took a lot out of me. I panted and you could hear me having trouble breathing but I really felt like some people were scared because they thought I was dying. I never looked at myself like I was dying unless others treated me that way.

I really did need to hear from friends and family though. You may think a person diagnosed just wants to be alone but for me that was so far from the truth. I wouldn't take calls if I didn't feel up to it. If I took the call it meant I wanted it...or maybe even needed it. I needed comfort, love, support. It all made a great deal of difference. Most people would call my husband and get updates from him. I would drill him each day about who called and what they said. Knowing that people cared gave me that much more strength. Don't ever talk to someone with cancer like they are dying, or talk down to them like you feel so sorry for them. My hubby did the best thing. He told me I was getting better and that was that. I couldn't say what if. I had no choice in the matter according to him. It always made me chuckle. It also made me stronger.


What a Way to Wake Up

Yes I didn't wake up in the most pleasant way today. I have felt a sore throat coming on since Saturday which is not good since I really just got over a nasty cold. Gabbi did too and now I'm afraid of passing it on to her again. Anyway, I woke up and it felt much much worse. It's pretty scratchy. I realized I had fallen asleep with the TV on. It's about 6 a.m. and I look up at the TV and there is a teeny tiny newborn baby having a seizure and foaming at the mouth. Ugh. That is not what I need to see or feel at 6 a.m. It turns out it was House on TV. Figures. I turned it off pretty quickly not wanting to get involved with something like that so early. I can think of much better ways to wake up.

Last night a Dora the Explorer special came on TV. Now, I really personally can't stand the show. I think after she sings the backpack song a few zillion times you really don't ever want to hear it again but my kids enjoy it. Gabriella thinks it's great. I told my girls it was on. My oldest was not interested of course. She's too cool for that but this is what the younger three looked like. It was so cute. I had to snap a pic.

Monday, November 3, 2008

How I Deal With Not Feeling the Same

I guess I always thought once someone beat cancer they went right on back to feeling just as they used to. I really believed after a year I'd be my usual old self again and really for the most part I am. The talk I had with the doc at my last appointment really opened my eyes about all the pressure I still have in my neck. I must stress it is NOTHING compared to what I felt when I was sick. It doesn't even compare to how I felt for 2 years before I even knew I was sick. I used to feel a lump in there like all day every day. I felt as though someone had their thumbs jammed into either side of my neck and I felt like I was standing on my head all day long. If my hubby hugged me I'd gag and choke and cough. I really should have known something was terribly wrong but I believed the docs insisting it was my thyroid. I felt constantly frustrated that they wouldn't help me. I didn't know what else to do. I figured I had to live with the discomfort.

Back on the subject at hand though. I have pressure in my neck veins. It does feel like the sensation you would get when standing on your head...but just in my veins in my neck. It's hard to explain. It's a fullness and it's annoying. I discussed it with my oncologist and basically since my vein on the side of the tumor was almost totally blocked off, my blood started working it's way around the problem. It's not quite as efficient. I see new little veins sometimes when I sing or talk a lot. I can tell the veins really pop out and so could he. He said it might get better or more likely I'll get used to it. I love to sing and this does cause some problems with it. It's not major but it makes me hold notes a little less long and it also makes me VERY aware of the bulging veins in my neck. I am worried everyone is looking at me thinking that I am straining myself but truly I am not. It's just like that. I also have this thyroid nodule in my neck that you can see. It's not huge or obviously you'd see it in all my pics. You could see it if you met me and I told you where it was. There are so many things I have to get used to. The scars on my chest I think I am finally accepting as a part of me. I wore my Halloween costume and didn't think much of it until my daughter asked if it bothered me. I shrugged and realized that did not bother me. I think that alone is a pretty big step. I can't wait to be totally used to the different pressure in my neck and I remind myself to just be thankful that it's not like it was!

I was Tagged

I was tagged by Mommy's Little Corner. I'm supposed to share 6 random things about me and pass the torch to 6 other blogging buddies. Here goes..

1.) I love to bake and my speciality is Chocolate Chip Cookies.

2.) I have well over 100 cousins, second and third cousins

3.) I get teary eyed every time I watch A Baby Story even if I promise myself I won't.

4.) My grandfather was a pastor for 32 years before he passed away.

5.) I am always running late. I have to get up about an hour early just because I always think I have enough time when I don't.

6.) In high school my hair was very long and big like Texas hair. lol Ok...maybe not *that* big but you know, big.

I am supposed to tag 6 other bloggers so here goes:

Pink Stinx

Random Ramblings

Mom With Brownies

Neurotic Mom

Following My Calling

Happy to Be Called Mommy

All the sites here are tagged, but I don't want anyone on this list to think you have to do it! I just needed to tag a few blogs so I chose yours.

You Ever Have One of Those Days?

Saturday was the day of our party and for the most part things went pretty smoothly. Everything seemed fine until I decided to do a load of laundry quickly before people got here. I walked into the laundry room and noticed the machine had been quiet for quite some time. I figured maybe it was just in between cycles. I opened the lid and it was full of water. I closed the lid and waited and waited. I left, came back, nothing. It was full of water and not draining or spinning. Ugh. I have no experience fixing a washer and neither does the hubby. He is good with machines but has never worked on a washer. I tell him I think it's broken. He's so busy trying to set up the music and stuff for the party he just sort of sighs and claims he'll get to it. I give up and go off to finish getting ready.

I had loaned the hubby my laptop so that he could play music through it. Not moments later I hear, "What's wrong with your computer?" These are frightening words and ones I really didn't want to hear. It was fine and had been fine. He says the mouse doesn't move at all. It's stuck. So I of course assume he did something which makes him none too happy.

The rest of the night was fine other than myself feeling a scratchy throat coming on AGAIN. I just got over that cold. Hubby went to look at the washing machine yesterday. I had been complaining of the clothes sitting in that water. Ew. So long story short, he saw the problem and it was fairly easy for him to resolve. He fixed it! I was beyond thrilled. Then he realized that he indeed did something to my laptop but just didn't realize it. He pushed the Fn and F7 keys which locks my mouse pad area on my laptop. He just hit the buttons again and it's back to normal. So things are resolved that I thought were going to be awful. I still feel this sore throat coming on strong. I worry more about passing yet another illness onto the baby than myself being sick.

Gabbi will be one in 14 days!!!! My little miracle baby is almost one and I just cannot believe it's been almost a year since that day. I remember it like it was yesterday. Thanksgiving is upon us as well. I love this time of year.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween Party Success

The Halloween Party went very well. It was a lot of fun. My mom came over so that she could keep the kids upstairs. We just let them stay here so they could play in their rooms and Gabbi could sleep if she needed to. They came down and enjoyed the party every now and again. My friend taught the older 3 how to do the YMCA. It was funny. They loved it. But for the most party they were told to stay upstairs and play in their rooms. They didn't really understand why. I wanted them to know that they had their parties and this was mommy and daddy's party. lol

The hubby came as Captain Jack Sparrow and I came as a ladybug. He looked great and I liked mine too. The skirt was a bit short and I felt like I was struggling with yanking it down all night but it was a lot better than the problems I had with my other costume!

My cousin came in and shocked me to death dressed as his girlfriend. Haha That was interesting to say the least. All in all we had Caesar, Cleopatra, a Gypsy fortune teller, an escaped convict, ladybug (me), bumble bee, Captain Jack Sparrow, a vampire lady and a few others I think. It was great. We sang and danced a little and socialized for the most part. I had a great time.

Here is my friend teaching my girls how to do the YMCA

I'm glad we weren't sick anymore and got to enjoy the party.