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.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Fantastic Friday

My facebook post for Monday was about 3 days of work, 7 medical appointments and a full moon Monday morning.  Now, we are past 3 pm Friday, and maybe on the downhill slide into the calm before the storm.

It was a good 3 days of work.  I was even willing to pick up another 4 hours this weekend.  Maybe I am feeling guilty for not working at all over the holidays.

Seven appointments, yikes!  Nine, if I include Tom's stuff.  Pre-surgery check-in, PT/ Lymphedema, eye exam, labs, rad onc, med onc and plastic surgeon all this week.  We had a date night after we both had Tuesday afternoon doctor appointments.  Life is a tragic comedy sometimes, and I'll take a quiet dinner out any way I can get it!  From the cancer folks, all is mostly well.  Vitamin D takes a hit with treatment, and mine is low.  Supplement even more than I am.  Easy enough.  I need B complex vitamins, too.  Thyroid is ok, we decided.  There was some question of it being a casualty of radiation, but tsh and t4 levels are back where they belong.  We will do a bone density scan next time. 

Plastics was easy - ready for surgery at the end of the month.  Tissue expanders (the temporary forms that we used to stretch and regrow skin) will come out, and saline implants will go in.  It's another 6 weeks of downtime.  My post-op instructions will amount to moving as little as possible, and arms less than 45 degrees from chest.  I'm getting geared up for it.  There is a mental list of crock pot recipes I want to get made and frozen before Christmas.  Five or so boxes of cereal, 4 boxes of pancake mix, tp and paper towels have been collected in the basement, and a list of stuff still to get on the fridge.

Lymphedema... it's still not much fun.  I am usually wrapped fingertips to armpit with 60 or so feet of bandages.  If I am a really compliant patient, I have a huge foam form and then all the bandaging.  And I should be doing stretching twice a day and massage once a day.  I usually have to rewrap my arm at least once in the middle of the day.  And if you have seen it in person, you can tell it's pretty motion-restrictive.  It's hard to touch fingertips to thumb to grasp anything for very long.  It's hard to bend my elbow.  Can't exactly wash dishes or prepare food, either.  An average day it seems is about 3 hours worth of arm care.  Who has time for that!?  Tom has become quite the arm wrapper, and I am oh so glad.  I do ok in the mornings, but at night, I am way past tired and grumpy.  I still fight fatigue easily.

It was 70 degrees outside today.  That meant a walk in between the 4 med appts.  I forgot how much I need to exercise.  I was in a foul mood after the onc made a stupid comment.  A walk and some music will soothe many things in my life and my head.  And now, it's about 40 degrees and storming.  Crazy weather!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thankul Thursday

Hey, I'm still here.  I kept up with the daily thankfuls fairly well on facebook, but blogging takes a bit more time, so got neglected.

How bout I start fresh?

Thankful for two boys watching The Sound of Music with me.  I thought they would hate it, but Evan was mad when he realized it's on til 10, past his bedtime.

Thankful for a Santa and an elf, for a Christmas stocking holder.  A friend makes wooden crafts, and I finally got her to make me a stocking holder that stands on its own, and I can't wait to see it.  I've only bugged her for two years!  It's impossible to hang stuff on our plaster-concrete walls.  And somehow, it's already paid for.  Thank you, Santa.

Thankful for the beauty of the first snowfall.  School isn't cancelled yet, but I am betting it will be.  It's beautiful outside, peeking from the warmth of the front door with the neighbor's Christmas lights twinkling.

Thankful for a week with my mom, even though she left a bit early with the ugly weather forecast.  She joined Tom's family for Thanksgiving, we all traveled to my dad and stepmom's for a couple days, and stayed for 3 6th grade basketball games and a long morning of doctor's appointments today at the Barn.  I miss her dishwashing already.  It is kinda weird though, to tell her how to fold laundry and which dishes were not machine-wash.  Pretty sure I should just be thankful she's doing my laundry and dishes!

Thankful for a new garage door opener.  We put off that purchase for several years, but caved in for a Christmas present for me.  The arm is gimpy, and it's hard to stretch to pull the door closed.

God blesses us, every single day, and we are so lucky.