Thursday, June 12, 2014

TBT/ Thankful Thursday

Throwback Thursday... cause every blog post needs a picture!

Hmm...  September 2006.  The car was about 2 weeks old, Evan was 4 1/2 and Colby was 11 months old.  Just cause it's a cute picture!

Thankful Thursday...

A year ago today was surgery.  Thankful that we are a year away from that.  There are still plenty of days when I look in the mirror and feel quite mangled, despite reconstruction, but I don't feel so broken, lost and sick.  Thankful that we had Mike, Lynn, Rose, Becky and my mom with us at the hospital that day, and many more before and since then.

We have used the pool pass more in June than we did all of last summer - making some better memories this year.

Good liver function tests at the Primary Care doc's after some bad ones at the Onc a few weeks ago.  It's kinda scary when the Onc says come back in 6 weeks and probably scan after being on a 3 month schedule.  Thankful to be able to take back normal numbers to him.

Five acres of farmland that represented hope and our future when I needed something to focus on last year.  We will close on our 5 acres in the country next week, selling to someone who will plan his future there.  I got invested in and excited by someone else's dreams when we bought it, not really thinking through who Tom and I are.  That was ok at the time, as it served as an anchor last year in the midst of our storm.

Thankful for a getaway in Branson last week.  It was short and jam-packed, as we followed my niece's band itinerary, and apparently high school kids should not have any down time to get into trouble 2 states away from their parents!  Her band opened for the Haygood's, then Silver Dollar City, then Dixie Stampede, then the Titanic Museum, then Meramec Caverns, then home!  Shwoo, a crazy 3 days.  But so glad to see my brother and sister-in-law and their family, and to be able to take my mom as well.  The best part had to be her giggling like a school girl on one of the water raft rides at SDC.
Grandma Betsy and Colby, waiting for Evan and cousin Erin to ride the roller coaster behind them.

G'ma B and Evan in the cave at Meramec.

And one big thankful... for the father of our kids.  I'm not sure which one of us has it worse (or better) this summer - him working while we are snoozing in the early mornings, or me chasing kids mid-morning and working evenings.  I'm thankful he's in this crazy game of life with me, sharing and tag-teaming kids, dreaming and scheming for our future together, taking care of me and this bum arm & chest.  You weren't so sure of yourself when the rugrats were little, but you do a great job with them now that they walk, talk, mostly listen and are housebroken.

Love you and thank you, Handsome.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Square Pegs, Round Holes & Being an Adult

We've been dancing around my dream house for a couple of weeks now.  And it's no secret that I am a little spooked by money and decisions.  We walked away from it today.  And I am relieved.  I am okay with our decision.

On paper, it sure looks like we walked for piddly little stuff, but it's been a square peg in a round hole from day one, and I have been the one trying to force it to work. 

We looked at an auction house a month or so ago.  We also were offered the chance to buy a new-to-us minivan.  I told Tom then (before emotions got involved) that it was one or the other - he really shouldn't let me say yes to the minivan and the house in the same short timeframe.  And the house was 1977 original everything, and 4 levels of stairs.  Minivan bought, and I love it, even if I don't get to drive it much.  Tom is the minivan dad.

Square peg.

A couple from church have moved, and their much newer house was on the market.  3 bedroom ranch, stairs optional.  A full basement that I never have to visit when I am 65 and he is 80.  But past the very tip top of my comfort level, and would take all of our savings and our land assets just to get into it.  I tempted fate and looked and lusted anyway.  We found a buyer for our 5 acres in the country (why did I think that was a good idea?  Who the heck is mowing that, really?)  and it seemed like an okay thing to look again and progress.  And then I saw my first payroll-deducted check in the grad school world, and it was harsh.

Square peg.  

And the couch broke along with the washer eating our clothes in the same couple days.

Square peg.  

My dad brought me a friend's bedroom set, and I helped Tom move it into the garage, 30 feet and 1 big step into the storeroom.  And it was all I could do to help him.  Moving seemed to become a much larger task when I tested my arm that little bit and realized I am gimpier than I care to admit.

Square peg.  

The quote above came across my facebook news feed in the midst of negotiating.  I don't like how Dave Ramsey earned his money either time, but he must be doing a few things right.  If we continued to force the house and I was diagnosed with mets next month (and yes, while crappy cancer is gone, it's still recent enough to dance around in my head full of "what if's"), I would jeopardize my family's security.  Our safety net would be in a house that would tear me apart.  I can't do that.  Tom's too close to retirement.
And I sat and calculated and negotiated, both their point of view and mine.  I have no idea what their equity is, but their purchase price is publicly available and the standard 6% realtor's fees, and we were asking them to take at least a $12,000 hit.  I might be guilty of having a conscience.

Square peg.  

And Tom saw how much I wanted to make it all work but it was stressing me at the same time.  There are very few carbs left in our house, and not a single ounce of chocolate.  It was a nutella from the jar, banana optional, kind of few weeks.  I was in tears last night over a contact down the drain - I can't take money from savings to buy a new pair if it's not in the p trap - taking apart the sink is not what my husband needs to be doing at 2230 - so stupid of me to not plug the drain that I made him fix for me for this very reason a few months ago.  The contact was rescued, but the feelings remained.

Square peg. 


And today, I will write my 12 page paper.  Plan a little vacation.  Pay some bills that I couldn't map out without a little help from savings.  Progress with the land sale.  Put a little more in savings.  Be an adult with the reality of my life.  Love our little house and the blessings it has offered us in keeping me at home more than at work in this season of kid-raising and cancer recovery.  Mow the yard before it rains the rest of the week.  Work on that college fund that Kid #2 needs, that I promised myself this was the year, at least til a truck transmission stole it.

And quit trying to put square pegs in round holes, cause eventually God gets his point across.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Random Wednesday Thoughts

I'm dying for some spring, anything spring-y.  Would love to see a simple crocus blooming.  Woke up to this instead.  That is a pretty monochromatic white.  Even the trashcan is snowed in!

Saw this yesterday before the snow.  It gave me hope.  Glad to have the taxes delivered in person to the accountant, whose office is near Skyview.  Come on, Wyatt, Big Money, Big Money!

Insurance is a mixed bag sometimes.  Tom's cpap machine is dying.  Home health suggested that it's probably time for a new machine for him.  Insurance will pay for us to rent a new cpap machine for $60/ month.  Forever, or until he meets his deductible this year.  Then we start the rental all over again next year.  Hello, I can pay cash for one for $500 and be done!  I hate monthly payments of any sort, and it's not like osa goes away.  Hence the taxes out of my hands early.

We were making the bed yesterday morning and I was crabbing about how I hate the pillow peninsula in the middle that I keep my arm propped up on.  We have never been super-snuggly, but it's kinda nice when your husband reaches out to hold your hand in the middle of the night.  Except the only part of my hand not covered is my fingertips.  I was feeling sorry for us, and Tom reminded me that the pillow pile represented life and survival.  Perspective, Folks.  It's all about perspective.  I will try a pump and sleeve for my arm in 2 weeks, kinda like the leg pumps at the hospital, that I would wear for an hour or so a day, and need to make an appointment to get a more permanent night-time sleeve that looks a whole lot like a giant oven mit covered in pantyhose, fingertips to armpit.  Dang, won't that be romantic!!

Loved seeing these moments last Saturday morning.  Evan is playing Upward basketball, and scored the 2nd & last baskets of the game.  Colby is doing swim lessons at the local rec center.  Trying to keep them both moving in the cold & snow.

Procrastinating my homework.  Yep, believe that is what this post is.  I *hope* I am back at work in two weeks.  Got a group project to do and a paper/ presentation to write before then.  Maybe Evan can teach me how to use PowerPoint!

Health-wise?  Back to the Plastics doc next week.  He will examine & make sure the seroma isn't re-accumulating.  And I hope hope hope he will release me to do some Range of Motion, ya know, before my shoulders freeze and I have to find an ortho doc for that.  And before I go back to work.  If I can't lift 2 lb weights, I can't move 300 lb patients.  I would love to walk on my treadmill.  It's kinda hard to keep my weight in check sitting in a recliner or at the kitchen table reading, when the kitchen is 15 feet away.

Monday, January 20, 2014

One Year Ago

One year ago, I numbly helped others with the annual Pinewood Derby.  I held my elbow close to my chest and defended my left side fiercely from accidental bumps.  This weekend, I enjoyed it as a spectator, still protecting the arm & jp drain, my youngest so incredibly proud of his 2nd place design trophy.  Camouflage and guns win every time, and that's a paint style at his skill level!  And it worked out perfectly that everyone in his den got a ribbon or trophy for speed or design.

One year ago, I sat in the Radiology waiting room of the local community hospital waiting for copies of mammograms and biopsies, and raged against the stupidity that I could not make an appointment at the Medical Mecca because it was MLK Day and the University folks were off for the holiday.

One year ago, I texted a few words to a friend, and had 3 girlfriends waiting when we got home.  That is Girl Power!  The text was "Rally. Where? Both +."  She could translate exactly what I meant, and what I needed.  And I have been held by my church and community ever since.

One year ago, we took our kids to Incredible Pizza as a treat for the afternoon, and failed miserably at reclaiming the day.  They had a good time then, but haven't asked to go back, and I skipped that Groupon when I saw it again a month or so ago!

One year ago, I called my boss in tears, and she said "Take the time you need.  We will still be here."  It hasn't been without it's bumps dealing with FMLA and medical leaves, but it has ended up ok in the end.  I may live in the land of "no work, no pay" but I still have a job to go back to.

One year ago, Tom held me and promised we were in this together.  And he has been there every step of the way, working (hey, one of us has to!) and raising kids sometimes for the both of us.  I love you.  I need you.  Thank you.

I can't wait to see what this year brings, since it has to be better than 2013!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wonderful Wednesday

I was going to try a Wordless Wednesday, but thought I should update from Sunday night's post. 

Dr. Brandt was called in on Sunday evening for another lady's complications and stuck his head in to see us, too.  He didn't have a clear plan for the daylight any more than I did.  So... consents were signed for any possible scenario, and back to the OR on Monday we went.  He opened the incision, washed out with saline and antibiotic solution, placed a new implant and left a drain.  Oh, Jackson-Pratt, how I dislike you!  Three surgeries now in 6 months - there are no nerves left to feel pain near the incisions.  But the drain is kinda like being poked with a sharp knife, every time I move.  When it quits draining fluid, it can come out - probably in a week or so.  This was the best scenario of the choices we had to choose from.  I was going to be one unhappy patient if I had an implant on one side and a bra prosthesis on the other!  And my tolerance for intervention is lowering by the procedure, so I am not sure if I would have re-stretched and attempted reconstruction 6 months from now.  We braved the foot of snow and -10 temps to come home late on Monday night.

The Wonderful part of Wednesday?  I feel good enough to go to class.  Far from great, but I can sit through orientation and a lecture.  There is still forward motion in my life.  Cancer and its treatment has consumed me mentally and physically for far too long.  I am ready to focus on something outside of myself.

Bring it on, Grad School!


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Snowed In Sunday Edition

So... implants went in last Monday, Surgery was pretty smooth, and we were alome about 2 pm. Tuesday was uneventful. Wednesday was a wonderful shower~ 20 minutes of heaven. By Thursday I was off of pain meds & feeling pretty dang decent. But my incision was a little red & draining. By Friday, there was no denying. It was ugly. So off to the doc we went, and he was quick to send me from the posh West County office to the Big Hospital downtown, also known as "work" to be admitted. And here I still am, in the middle of a bitter winter storm. Dr. Brandt's surgery day here is Monday, so we are here if he thinks the implant needs to be removed in the morning. His debate Friday was just where the infection really is. If it's in the tissue, it should respond to IV antibiotics. If it's in the space where the implant is, it won't get better with antibiotics and it will have to be removed. Which means another surgery to put an expander implant back in. And re-stretching radiated skin, whick does not work well. And yet another surgery to put an implant back in. And at 7 pm on Sunday night, I still don't have a good idea how tomorrow will go. It looks better than Friday, but that skin is discolored from the radiation anyway, It is hard for me to tell. My white count was not elevated on Friday, so no real signs of overwhelming infection. I have not had a fever at all. The antibiotic dose in my blood today was low, so doses of 2 were increased. I am npo forsurgery tomorrow, but really hoping to escape that and go home with several weeks of abx - maybe IV, maybe po. Ten inches of snow fell today, and temps in the negative in the world outside. School is canceled- my bet is until Wednesday. Cause we haven't been home for 2 weeks already! The boys are so x-box overloaded by now. My 23 hour surgery observation floor has been turned into a staff hotel. My day nurse slept down the hall last night, and I think she is staying tonight too. In my 15 years, I have never had to stay here. I hope management is taking care of them with food vouchers and combat pay. There is an Applebee's and hotel attached to the complex. Applebee's closed today. Aww, comeon, we are a captive crowd, The boys and my mom are snuggled in at home. A crazy friend ventured out to take them pizza. Friends and family delivered milk, eggs and bread before the weather turned. There is 30 or so crock pot meals she can cook as long as we have power. And the parents are not home to kick them outside or turn off the electronics, so enjoy the party, Kids! Tom has been with me since Saturday afternoon. But this is a really lousy romantic get-away, I must say, But he does take good care of me, and keeps me from going stir-crazy. And that is the snowed in Sunday edition. I am so glad the techno-hubs figured out nook blogging, but will be glad to get home to our real computer! Forgive the typos as I might be nook keyboard challenged.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thankful Thursday - last of 2013

Thankful for the many blessings in this cancer journey.

Thankful for a husband who takes the time to help with my arm.  As long as I get up with him in the mornings, he makes time to help me wrap morning and night.

Thankful for a Christ child born, a tree full of gifts, a family to spend the holidays with, a table full of food.

Not thankful that the tree is put away already.  And the pile of stuff I keep adding to of things that didn't quite make it back into the Christmas boxes in the garage.  Dang it!

Thankful for what will be about 36 frozen crock-pot meals.  The picture doesn't show the 20 or so pounds of chicken parts.  Thank you, God, for below freezing temps a few days ago so I could just leave that on the back porch!  The site I am using for this round is
I used another site during radiation, but most of those recipes turned out pretty bland.  I had to buy a whole lot of spices for these recipes, so it should be interesting dinner at my house for the next two months.  I still have about 6 or so recipes to assemble, right after I buy some more garlic and find some more time!

Thankful for one more round of, too.  While I am trying to be prepared, let's get real, it's much nicer when someone else cooks!

Thankful to be winding down this year.  While I have chosen to be thankful through the crumminess, it has not been the year I wanted.  The boys both noticed that while there were gifts from Mom and Dad and Santa too, there wasn't as much as in years past, for more reasons than just money.  We have tried to give them experiences along the way this year, but those are sometimes forgotten in the wrapping paper frenzy.  Tamoxifen mood swings didn't help any of us in the last week, either.  A year ago, we had thoughts and dreams to be in a new house by now.  Maybe, hopefully, prayerfully, next summer.  Anyone want to buy a great little 3 bedroom house with a huge garage?  I didn't have a thought in the world of changing jobs a year ago, but am starting grad school in a few weeks (Masters in Healthcare Informatics through SIUE and BJC) with the vague plan to work my way out of patient care at some point.  I have no idea what my arm will look or feel like after surgery next week, but I am sure that I need to plan for the future and not be schlepping patients to CT scan (or coding them on Christmas) when I am 65.

Thankful that God forgives when I am angry, and selfish, and frustrated, and angry, and want my life all fixed and better NOW.  Did I mention the mood swings?  Yeah, I am not winning "Mom of the Year" this year.  And it's all about me.  And why do my kids have to learn the hard lessons so young?  Yeah, angry amidst the blessings.  But this week we've had some good talks about chore money, hard work, spending wisely all year long and saving for stuff you really want, as we have tried to put a positive spin on Christmas.  Dang it, Clark Howard, and Dave Ramsey, and Suze Orman, it was much easier when Santa just mindlessly swiped plastic!  So a learning opportunity for the big kid, a blessing amidst the crumminess.

Thankful for one more year surrounded by a great community, two churches, friends, coworkers, family, all holding my little family together, every single day.

Maybe I should clarify some of this.  Sometimes, I just need to vent.  I am not looking for anything from anyone to fix my kid's world.  He asked for a 3ds xl and a specific game for Christmas.  We gave him a DS several years ago, and the boys managed to lose most of the little tiny game cartridges after a while.  I think he traded it in maybe last year for who knows what at Gamestop.  When he asked for the new version (and basically that's all he asked for) this year, I could not bring myself to spend $250 on that.  So the aunts and uncles and Santa and the parents all teamed up for giftcards for him.  He is still a little short.  Last year, Santa would have just swiped plastic and been done.  The more we do that, the less we have for a nest egg to build.  What I didn't realize is how much he has picked up on the balance between bills, no paycheck for no work, and trying to be frugal and realistic for the next two months.  He has been upset the last couple days about asking us to help him pay for the only thing he really wanted, and worried that if we helped him, that was taking money away from the weekly bills.  He will be fine with life's decisions, and was talking on his own about waiting for his birthday in the spring to get it.  There is money tucked away for life, and it's not the end of the world if we don't get to build this summer either while we try and rebuild my body and income and our dreams.  It's just been a hard couple days of parenting, and disappointment for him caused by me and my own stubbornness, and sometimes Christmas isn't Hallmark.  Stupid cancer.  I want to give him the world carefree, not lessons in budgeting, planning and saving.  But when he spends his chore money on silly xbox stuff throughout the year, I don't have as much sympathy.  Sometimes I don't know the right parenting answers, and sometimes there just isn't a right answer.