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Friday, April 29, 2011

Hair Update

As I headed out the door this morning, it dawned on me that my hair might never be this long again so I set up the self-timer and snapped a few pictures of Rory and I.
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And then the "after" picture. Camden has told me about 30 times since he got home that he really likes it the other way better. Such a lovely child. (picture courtesy of Camden)
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Friday's Plans

I feel as if someone should have warned me that having two ports implanted in your body is more than a little painful. I guess my first clue should have been the fact that I had the full-fledged anesthesia treatment plus an overnight stay in the hospital, not to mention the fact that they sent me home with double the amount of pain medicine than last time, but I have been quite surprised at how much these things hurt! And now that I'm on the downhill side of it I can laugh at the fact that my first morning home, I woke up after sleeping straight through the night flat on my back to realize (a) my pain medicine had definitely worn off (b) I was seriously stiff from being in that one position all night, and that (c) I.could.not.move. So not kidding. I had to call Brian to help me get out of bed. Go ahead and laugh, but you try having two abdominal surgeries in less than a month plus a little work done on your shoulder and see if you can get out of bed by yourself. :)

Fortunately, I felt less stiff and less pain as the day went on, and I was even able to go to Camden's baseball game last night (something I haven't done since before my first surgery). As long as I keep up with the pain meds, I'm pretty good. On today's agenda is my big haircut (I guess I wore my last ponytail last night) and then I'm attempting a photo shoot with a friend and her baby. I know. Possibly not my best idea, but I'm going to give it a shot.

Nothing cuter than little boys in baseball uniforms.
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Oh, and since I'm sure you're all wondering, thanks to a friend who sent me Mary Kay eye make-up remover, the marks are gone from my neck as well as all the crazy tape marks from my multiple IV's.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Jello

The weather is just beautiful today (after DAYS of thunderstorms and tornado warnings) so Rory and I headed outside to sit while she ate her snack and we waited for Camden to get home from school.
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Okay, seriously. Done with the pictures now.
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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A List

I think I could write a book on all my experiences in the hospital from the last month, but I'm fairly certain it would bore everyone to tears. However, I have put together a little list I'd like to call "Why I'm Convinced my Doctor Hates Me." (And I should totally note that is not Dr. W, who we love. This is Dr. F who is only responsible for my port surgery, thank heavens.)

Reason #1. She made me do a 48 hour fast before my surgery despite the fact that all the anesthesiologists and nurses said that a 12 hour fast is typical.

Reason #2. She wrote on both sides of my neck (totally visible in a t-shirt) as well as all over my abdomen in permanent marker. I have scrubbed several times, and it's not going anywhere.

Reason #3. She put me on a liquid-only diet after the surgery (I seriously shed a few tears when I heard this while I was waiting in recovery). My night nurse put a call in to the doctor on call and they couldn't figure out why she would have done that and released me to eat. So at 8:00 last night Brian made a run to Panera Bread for some soup for me. We decided it was almost like date night to eat carry out and watch TV on a kid-free evening.

Reason #4. Everyone else got to go home the same day after port surgery, but I get to stay a day and a half. (I'm still here, by the way.)

Reason #5. She did not put me on any kind of pain management so I feel like a drug addict every time I call and try to get something to help me feel better.

Disclaimer: While all these things are true, I'm writing this mostly tongue-in-cheek.

And a quick picture from several weeks ago.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday's Tidbits

Today I'm having my port-a-catheter and IP port put in so I'll be spending the day and night at the hospital, but here are a few tidbits I wrote down so I can keep my regular blog schedule. :)

I finally downloaded a book and started reading on my iPad. While there is something to be said about having an actual book in my hand, there is also something to be said about having multiple books at my fingertips in one little toy.

Over the weekend Rory got in trouble right before lunch and we decided an appropriate punishment was to take away her Easter cookie that I'd already laid out for her. She was sobbing, of course, and Camden turned to us and asked if he could take her punishment for her so that she could still have a cookie. Yes, I cried. And, no, we didn't let him do it. We told him how sweet it was and kind of him to offer, but that we thought Rory probably wouldn't learn anything if we let him take her punishment.

My staples are gone, the industrial strength tape they used after removing the staples is gone, and despite what the doctors keep saying, this scar is not pretty. Good thing there are no bikinis in my future anyway.

I have an appointment Friday to get my hair chopped off. Since I'm going to be shaving it off in a couple of weeks, I decided I needed to go a little shorter to make it easier. Anyone want to send me links to cute short haircuts? I won't be able to rock it for long, but maybe it will be cute for a couple of weeks.

Camden told me Thursday morning before school (the only day I took him to school since before my surgery) that he was really happy to have all four of us back to normal. Me too, buddy.

Pray for Camden and Rory today and tomorrow. Rory immediately started crying when she realized I was going to the hospital even though we assured her over and over that it was just one day this time. And Camden is old enough to be worried about me, but not really understand why he's worried. They're both also pretty freaked out about the fact that I'm going to lose my hair.

And my favorite quote in a long time from Camden, "Is it just me or are you getting shorter?" I seriously laughed long and hard. Several of you have mentioned how big he's looking, and it's true. The child has hit a serious growth spurt recently, and is just looking so much older. Someone, please stop time.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Early Morning Egg Hunts

So I mentioned that we did not get to have an egg hunt yesterday because of all the rain. We had told the kids that if they wanted to put their eggs away then we'd hide them for them today. Unfortunately, rain was in the forecast again so at 7:30 this morning Brian decided we better wake Camden up (Rory was already up, of course) and let them hunt eggs.

So at 7:30 with a very gray sky and a few raindrops already falling, the kids (and adults) still in their p.j.'s, we had an egg hunt. It was all over in a matter of 60 seconds or so which is why there are very few pictures. Anyone who can keep up with a 4 and 7 year old as they race around the yard picking up eggs is a photographic genius. And, clearly, I am not.

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And the thunderstorm hit literally as we came inside the door.

Today is day #2 of fasting before my surgery to have my ports put in. And let me just say, that I am feeling cranky right about now. I think poor Brian and the kiddos should probably just stay out of my way because the hunger pains have definitely set in. I also have a bottle of magnesium citrate in my future, but I've been putting it off. Sound fun?

Happy Monday!




Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

Due to the lame mother who did not dye eggs with her children, there are no cute egg pictures. Due to a kill-joy mother who decided they already had a ton of candy and didn't need an Easter basket just for more candy, there are no Easter basket pictures. Due to the booming thunderstorms and flash floods surrounding us, there was no Easter egg hunt after church so no egg hunt pictures either. There are, however, these two quick pictures I snapped during a brief moment of sun this afternoon.

I feel as if I need to clarify I did not plan on matching outfits for Brian and I. :) My dress came first and then I liked this specific shirt and tie best. It just happened to perfectly coordinate with my dress.
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The kid's outfits, however, match on purpose.
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Despite the thunderstorms, we had a lovely service at church this morning, brunch with his parents and another couple, and then a not-so-quiet evening of a prednisone-charged Rory and Camden. :)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Children of God

I already love this band, but after watching this video, I love them even more. My smile got bigger as it went on. Make sure to watch it all the way through. :)

2011 Project 365, Week 15 & 16

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Friday, April 22, 2011

When Brian gets ahold of the camera

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(And, yes, this would be the child who was sick enough to be in the hospital yesterday. Clearly, those steroids are working!)

Playing Frisbee

It is entirely possible that the photographer got beaned with the frisbee while taking these pictures. :)

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I managed (yet again) to not take pictures of the adults involved in this game of frisbee. I have got to do better at capturing the parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles in our life.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

To Make You (and me) Smile

How about some happy photos?

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Overwhelmed

Yesterday Brian and I spent a very long day meeting with the port doctor for a consult, the chemo nurse, and then pre-op stuff for next week when I have the port procedure. I should have known the day wasn't going to go especially well when we spent over 2 hours in the first doctor's office only to be told that I was going to have to stay in the hospital overnight and could not eat for TWO days prior to the surgery. Not expecting either of those things, and it deflated me pretty quickly.

We both perked up for lunch and had a blast with my friends. Okay, they're Brian's friends too because he's married to me, but they were my friends first. :)

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(I won't mention any names, but some of these people were very excited at the prospect of appearing on the blog.)

We moved on from lunch to a meeting with the chemo nurse, and it's just too depressing to share. I honestly planned to give you all the gory details, but I'm sure I'll complain enough about them as I experience them so I'll spare you for now.

We moved on to pre-op for my surgery next week and spent another couple of hours waiting around for paperwork and a chest x-ray only to have the same registration employee (who was sweet) and the same pre-op nurse from last time (who told the same corny jokes we heard 3 weeks ago).

We finished up the day by making a quick grocery trip since Brian was with me and able to carry groceries (I still am not supposed to carry anything over 5 lbs for another 3 weeks). We were both exhausted by the time we made it home, spent a few minutes with the kids, then kind of crashed for the evening.

I feel as if I've been fairly positive about this whole situation so far, but yesterday was just too much to take in all at once. It is so surreal to hear about all these things that will be happening to me and my body and to know there is nothing to do except move forward and accept it. It is not easy to look at the next six months of your life and know you will be drop dead miserable for most of that time. I know it's worth it, but not easy.

So now that I've told you about yesterday, let me tell you about today. Rory's little sniffles from the other night transformed very quickly into a full-blown crazy asthma attack. I was away from her all day yesterday, obviously, and noticed as soon as she got home last night that she was wheezing a bit, but she was happy, playing, etc. It only took an hour or two after bedtime for us to both get concerned and it was a very long night full of coughing, wheezing, and albuterol. When I took her in to see the doctor this morning, she immediately perked up (which happens every.single.time) and I know the nurse thought I was crazy for bringing my "well" child in to see them. But I was right - the doctor said she was very sick and he really didn't want to send us home, but to the hospital. I am fairly certain the desperate look on my face convinced him we could handle the treatments. Since we've done this whole routine several times, he said he knew he could trust us to be very watchful and to take her right away if she wasn't better. Here's hoping two steroids plus the albuterol will help her feel better right away.

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And if that's not enough, today was my first day back behind the wheel (woohoo!), but I've been having some stomach problems as well as dizziness, which is not alot of fun. I'm hanging on for dear life until Brian gets home from school today and then I'm crashing.

And to end this on a positive note, despite the fact that I'm feeling very overwhelmed at the moment, good test results for my mom, a good cry with my encouraging sister-in-law definitely helped as well as the three cards and a sweet gift that came in the mail today. Thank you much, my friends!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday's Tidbits

Thursday before my doctor's appointment, all I could think about was what should I wear to see an oncologist. How stupid is that!

When Rory can't hear the TV, she asks me if I can "turn it up just a tap." 

Rory spent most of the morning yesterday playing outside by herself. She was hilarious to watch as she played school, gymnastics, baseball, etc. It was really funny when she went inside and put her Supergirl costume on over her clothes and then headed back outside to continue playing (see pictures below).

My mom headed home first thing this morning so this is my first day alone. We loved having her here and she was an enormous help, but I'm also glad for a couple of weeks of normal schedule before chemo starts.

While I was still in the hospital, Brian told the kids that I had cancer. Rory paused and said, "Well. This is serious. This is an emergency." Camden responded in a very sweet way and immediately referenced a Bible story that gave an example of how to respond in a tough situation. It was precious.

I smelled this Philosophy set in Sephora on Saturday, and it is amazing. I have a gift card burning a hole in my pocket, and I just might have to pull it out.

Rory and I were both up until after 2:30 last night. She has a cold and laid in bed whining/crying because her nose is stuffy for hours. She doesn't have a fever or a cough. I am very sorry she doesn't feel well, but what I wanted to yell tell her is that if she would Just.Stop.The whining/crying, her stuffy nose wouldn't be nearly so bad. She is SUCH girl when it comes to the being way too emotional department. A nap is most definitely in our future.

And speaking of colds, for obvious reasons it would be best for me to not catch Rory's. However, my constant sneezing this morning is probably a good indication it's too late for that.

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I kind of love this picture.
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Update: Rory just got up at 8:30, and still no fever (which is good!). Now how in the heck do I convince her that sobbing does not do anything to make her feel better.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Retail Therapy

Thanks to a couple of timely (and larger than usual) consignment checks, my mom, Becky, Elizabeth, and I had a girls day out Saturday. It was fabulous! We went to a shopping area about an hour away and shopped to our heart's content. Okay, actually we would have kept going except my pesky stamina kept getting in the way. I took several breaks throughout the day; we had a long lunch at Chuy's (which just might be my favorite new restaurant even if I couldn't eat some of the more tasty salsa and dips); and finished the day at Ivey Cakes (this shop catered Carrie Underwood's wedding and has been featured on Cupcake Wars if you care about that sort of thing). We bought cupcakes for the kids and ice cream for ourselves at Coldstone Creamery. Ice cream is my absolute favorite dessert, but because of all my stomach problems (a.k.a. cancer that we didn't know about), I haven't eaten it since my birthday in November. It was wonderful. :)

We've been getting so many look-alike comments that we decided we should really take a picture while our hair is still similar.
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I'm telling you - it was a good day! Dresses for all of us, Easter outfits for the kids, and two pairs of shoes. Definitely a good day.
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170. beautiful purple ribbons
171. wearing my own clothes
172. Rory's sweet voice praying for me over the phone
173. technology and new toys
174. 4 uninterrupted hours of sleep
175. unexpected visits from friends
176.  beautiful brand new babies behind the window
177. orange juice
178. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Cor.12.9.ESV
179. Hawaiian Orchid pink nail polish
180. beautiful blue sky on the drive home
181. home
182. food, food, food
183. sweet tea
184. Rory's hair in french braids
185. the blessing of 8 whole days with Brian 24/7
186. cleansing tears 
187. safe travels for dad
188. "I will give You thanks with all my heart; I will sing Your praise before the heavenly beings. I will bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name for Your constant love and faithfulness." Psalm 138:1-2
189. beautiful, beautiful weather with blue skies, cool breeze
190. pink cards written by Camden and his classmates
191. my mom's homemade chicken and dumplings
192. chapter five of One Thousand Gifts and the discussion here
193. a visit from Becky
194. good news from the doctor
195. no more staples
196. a fabulous girl's day
197. a large box full of blessings from friends
198. internet friends
199. weight loss
200. new white shoes and a beautiful blue dress
201. the reminder that our comfort comes God, who never lets us down
202. safe travels for Becky
203. Rory outside my window playing sports alone with joyful abandon
204. perfect spring weather

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Thank You Isn't Enough

People have been extraordinarily kind to our family in the last few weeks since my surgery. There hasn't been a day that I haven't received cards in the mail, phone calls, and emails with encouraging words. Many have sent money, gift cards, or gifts for Camden and Rory.

But yesterday topped it all. We received an enormous box from a group of my fellow adoptive parents who read my blog and have been friends through our journeys to adopt Camden and Rory. We have shared tears and triumphs through our adoption forum as well as our own personal blogs. Out of the 58 families who participated in this gift, I've only met two of them in person, but every single one of them has felt like a friend over the years. We are just overwhelmed with their generosity. There were gift cards for me, Willow Tree Angels, hair bows for Rory, bath stuff, books, a prayer shawl, and many, many other goodies, as well as a large check. The kids are just over the moon with excitement over their stickers, books, Wii game, Fancy Nancy and Star Wars items. Really, I just don't have enough words to say thank you, but there's nothing else I can say except thank you to Melissa, Melody, Claire, Jill, Kimberly, Allison, Christine B., Kelly, Tara, Julie P., Chelle, Jolie, Carrie, Heather, Tracy, Elizabeth, Christine L., Carla, Rebeca W., Christa, Erin, Laura, Adriana, Jill B., Cheryl, Teresa, Michelle, Laurie, Stephanie C., Rebekah, Amy, Heidi, Beth, Denise, Michelle B., Mandy, Jessica, Gloria, Kathy, Jean, Steph, Katie, Jennifer, Joy, Janel, Miranda, Jodi, Stacy, Amy D., Lisa W., Gina, Jennifer, Julie R., Kimberly, Lisa F., Felicity, Lee, and Kristin.

And a special thank you to Melissa who did such a great job shopping and then mailing this enormous box to us!

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And this just cracked me up. Camden lined up all his stuff so he could look at it better. :)
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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Treatment Plan

I posted this status on Facebook, "Things went well this morning at the oncologists." Brian says I may have overstated it a bit, but the truth is things did go well. As has happened on all of my other major medical days, I have felt an unnatural calm that can only be explained by prayer. Dr. W is very pleased with my recovery, and has a plan for me. I will be having two ports installed (is that the right way to state it?): one in my abdomen and one in my clavicle in preparation for chemo treatments. I will have 5 months worth of treatment in 3 week cycles. Day 1 will be chemo in my clavicle, Day 2 and Day 8 will be chemo directly into my abdomen. The good news is that this kind of treatment plan has a higher cure rate. The bad news is that it's pretty brutal on the body. (This is where being young and healthy comes into play.) My first two treatments are tentatively scheduled for May 4 and 5.

Dr. W gave me an 80% chance of success with this treatment plan, which is a very positive number. As always with cancer, there is a chance of recurrence, but we're not going to worry about that right now. One other major component to this is genetic. My younger sister, Liz, and I tested negative for the gene mutation that caused Becky's cancer. Today I was tested for the full range of genetic mutations. It would be very uncommon for a family to have two separate mutations, but it's also very uncommon for a 35 year old to have ovarian cancer so we'll just have to wait and see. Obviously, this has strong ramifications for Liz as well as my female cousins and other members of our family. While I have always been grateful our family was formed through adoption, this makes me even more grateful because there is no chance I have passed this on to Camden or Rory.

I am not looking forward to the next several months of my life, but I have almost 3 weeks to relax and enjoy feeling good. I am confident that despite the difficulty, things will be just fine.

If you're looking for some specific prayer requests besides the obvious, please pray that our insurance company will cover the genetic testing which will cost approximately $4,000. We also need prayer regarding our current job situation. Those two things weigh heavy on our mind at the moment.

Oh, and because I know you're dying to know, I had 46 staples removed today. Surprisingly enough, it was not painful. :)


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

First Outing

So today I had my first outing since surgery (March 30!). My mom, Rory, and I went to Kohl's and Sam's. We were gone for less than 3 hours, but it pretty much wiped me out. It was so good to put on real clothes (a.k.a. no workout pants) and see green leaves, flowers, and blue skies, not to mention retail stores. I realize that a hospital stay and cancer might not be a preferred weight loss plan, but it's pretty successful. I've lost 20 pounds since my doctor's visit 2 weeks ago, and it made my time the dressing room in Kohl's alot more fun today. I came away with shirts two sizes smaller than usual. :)

Tomorrow morning is my appointment with the oncologist to possibly remove my staples (which reminds me I really want to count these things before they're gone) and to talk about my treatment plan. I'd be lying if I said that there is not some fear in me about tomorrow. I've watched my sister go through cancer treatment, and it is obviously not fun. I'm scared to have scans to see if the cancer has spread; I'm scared to have a port put in; I'm scared to lose my hair; I'm scared of pain; I'm scared of our future; I'm scared of the fact that Brian has been replaced in his job at church, our salary is about to be half of normal, our move to Texas is postponed, and we're going to have to move from our house; I'm scared of too many things to list. But as always, God is faithful. And He has once again placed so many scriptures, books, songs, friends in my path to comfort me and to remind me that there is always a plan even if we can't see the picture all at once. Tomorrow really isn't anything to be scared of; it's only the next step in this journey that our family is on, and I won't be alone.

Picture of me and the kiddos from Sunday. Yes, my hair is in french braids and I look all of 12.
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And look what showed up on my doorstep this week!
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dandelions

On my first day home from the hospital, we took a little walk. Rory saw the dandelions and asked to stop and blow them. I had my camera, so I said yes. Okay, I would have said yes anyway, but definitely because I had the camera. :) It was really good to take pictures outside of the hospital!

And despite what it looks like, she was not posing - just somehow doing this scrunching up of her shoulders to blow.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

2011 Project 365, Week 13 & 14

Thanks to Becky (and a few days where I just might have fudged on the date), I was able to stay on top of Project 365 over the last couple of weeks.

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And a few pictures that didn't quite make it to the official P365 page.

Home sweet home for 8 days
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With Becky
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With Rory
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With Camden
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Our April family picture (why is hospital girl the only one standing?)
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Family visit the night before I was released
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And one last family picture (finally in "real" clothes), and I'm clearly feeling the effects of a full day as well as the effects of not being able to wash my hair for 8 days. Oh, I wish I were kidding.
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And a quick self-portrait right before I checked out.
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And I most definitely did not scrap this since I've been home, but never shared it from several weeks ago.
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