The Gang's All Here!

The Gang's All Here!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

"That Girl"

I think Karma has been spying on me, waiting for me to take something for granted. Life was just going too smoothly apparently, and I had begun to get too comfortable with the way things were going. Silly, silly me, I know better than that, I do. So, Karma threw a nice, shiny wrench into my regularly scheduled program. What's that you say? Oh, right, Karma's a bitch...

So, on Friday, I had my "normal" (<--- ahhh, I love my version of normal these days) Herceptin treatment. I was looking forward to seeing my friend Kate and catching up. I was called back to have my port accessed and the fun began. In order for me to recieve any type of treatment, my blood must first be tested. The nurse got me hooked up and did my heparin flush. No blood return. Oh crap... not today, please not today was all I could think (frantically). She had me move into several different positions, I guess I would call it chemo yoga :). Still nothing. She took me back to the chemo lounge and had me lay down. And nothing. At this point I was starting to get a little concerened. The nurse decided to take the blood from my arm (I just love having IV's, don't you?). Luckily, my veins cooperated and off to the lab went my blood. After having my treatment approved, I mentioned to the chemo nurse that my port wasn't working. She seemed annoyed (trust me lady, no one was more annoyed then me! And really, like I wanted my port to misbehave...) and said that I would have to have a drug called TPA (think Draino for ports). That's all well and good, but the drug has to sit in my port for 30 minutes and then they have to try and access it again. I did start to panic then because I was on a time crunch, needing to get home so my nanny could leave. Ugh, I was so frustrated! Anyway, by this point I was the center of attention in the chemo lounge with half of the staff trying to figure out what to do. I really don't like being the center of attention. I'm used to being the one in the chemo lounge casually observing everyone else's drama. Ultimately, we decided to have another IV placed in my arm so I could recieve treatment and then have the TPA injected into my port to save time. Normally an IV stick isn't a huge deal, but I can only have IVs in my left arm. I had lymph nodes removed in my right arm during my mastectomy, therefore, any needle sticks or blood pressure to that arm significantly raise the risk of lymphodema. I definitely don't want to deal with that! So, another needle stick later, I finally started my Herceptin. Kate stuck around to keep me company which was really sweet of her. That, and she was getting a kick out of me being the one with drama instead of her (her port has issues fairly often).

After my 30 minutes, my favorite nurse came by and decided she would be the one to work on my port, yay! She gave it a good 20 minutes, had me do more chemo yoga and that damn port still wouldn't work. Sigh... luckily they let me go home and said we'll worry about it next time. Something to look forward to (<--- extreme sarcasm here). Keep your fingers crossed for me that my port cooperates because I really, really don't want to have another surgery just to have that silly thing replaced. So, thanks Karma, for the nice little reality check. I had almost forgotten that I had cancer at one point...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Under Pressure

Somehow, it's already Wednesday... not sure how that happened so quickly?!? I spent hours yesterday putting together a proposed agenda for our Ireland trip. It's a labor of love for me, so they were pleasurable hours spent at least! You should see my outline, it's perfectly organized and easy to read. I'm not sure Steve is as appreciative of my outlines and margins, but oh well. I'm nothing if not efficient! Of course, the ironic part of this whole plan is that neither of us have the first clue as to what we'll "actually" experience. But, I'm looking forward to "winging it" and exploring Ireland on our own.

I've struggled (as I think most of the country has) this week trying to wrap my brain around the whole Boston Marathon bombing. The first question that comes to mind is, why a marathon? Surely there isn't a more resilient, hard working and dedicated group than marathon runners? Is the bombing supposed to represent something about running, or large groups of people gathered together to support loved ones and friends? Congratulations, Mr. (or Miss I guess) Von Terrorist, you got your 15 minutes and managed to put a dent on an otherwise very positive event. And thank you news media for once again covering this story way past excess. But you know what? Boston is a fabulous city and, to quote a former student of mine, "they ain't scurred (scared)". I hope the people of Boston are able get back to their regaularly scheduled lives as soon as they can and show this moron that the American spirit is here to stay. Gosh, I just get so angry that someone could do this.

This is terrible (and I'm not making light of this awful situation), but my second question regarding the Boston bombings was, don't pressure cookers have to be plugged in? How on earth do those things work without electricity? Obviously, I'm not much of a chef but does it run on steam or something? So yes, appreciate my ignorance regarding kitchen appliances, but I was curious about that. Seems like nothing we use these days is safe from missuse. Jokes aside, my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Boston - we love you!

In other news, we spent a nice weekend with Steve's parents, who came to visit us. This week, Stella is back to school - last week was spring break and a huge reality check. Now I know why parents dread summer - what to do with the kids every day, all day? It was nice having her around, but wow, going to need to find something for her to do this summer! This morning I had a random call from the hospital - time to have another PET Scan... oh boy! I'll be having my next scan the first week of May. Count me in as stressed already...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Fraternity Party

I think I've officially entered into overdrive. We have literally been so busy lately (which, all in all, is a really good thing!) that I haven't had time to do anything, including updating the blog. Over the weekend, the kids and I bolted for Charlotte since my darling husband hosted "boys weekend" at our house. Yay!! As you might imagine, I was super excited (dripping sarcasm here) to leave the fraternity party unsupervised, but honestly, I decided to take the "out of sight, out of mind" approach. Plus, by me not here to witness said frat party, I think everyone was much better off. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't love these guys, it's just that well, hosting boys weekend holds about as much appeal to me as supervising freshman boys during study hall... and that's a post for another day. So, anyway, the kids and I fled to Charlotte to escape March Madness (the boys spent the weekend attending the final four, Braves game, etc) and hang out with the Charlotte Hinmans'. Of course, my brother-in-law was here in ATL with Steve, so it was Missy, myself and our four darling children, all 3 and under. I know, it's hard to imagine a more peaceful weekend. We made the most of our time together and did the things we love to do when we're together. Drinking and eating! Yup, since the men were out having the time(s) of their lives, we decided that warranted us eating out for every single meal. Good reasoning, right? The kids were very good and the food was fabulous. Missy and I refer to it as our Charlotte "Food Tour". What's not to love about eating out and having someone else clean up the mess? And, by the way, four kids three and under can make one hell of a mess :).

Upon my return to Atlanta, I was happy to find the house still standing and the boys in good spirits. A successful weekend for everyone! I had a chance to catch up with some girlfriends from my teaching days last week. It was so, so, so wonderful to see them all and hear about what they've all been up to. I can't say that I miss teaching, but I do miss my friends and co workers so much.

I've spent this week getting the house cleaned up and trying to get organized. I went on a rampage in the laundry room - stepping on any number of kid-sized shoes, running gear and various assorted other crap makes for a real challenge when attempting to do the laundry. When did we acquire so much junk??? And why, oh why can I only ever find one shoe of a child's pair? Where on earth do they go? It's the most frustrating thing! So, yes, I went a little "clean sweep" in that room and I do have to say it's much improved. I'm not sure Real Simple Magazine would agree with my organization techniques (by the way, I LOVE that magazine - can someone send them to my house?) but everything is off the floor at least.

Steve's parents are in town this weekend and we're looking forward to spending some time with them. Hopefully the rain will wash away the cloud of yellow pollen that is Atlanta right now, holy cow it's gross! Happy weekend everyone!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The New Normal

I've just finished taking a look at my calendar, and oh yeah, from now until the end of June is going to be non-stop and action packed. When did THAT happen? Oh well, lots to look forward to and fun things on the horizon! I just hope I can keep up with everything!

We had a nice, low-key Easter here in Atlanta. I had treatment last Friday which went fairly smoothly. My port was acting up a little bit (probably because it's tired of being used!) and didn't want to give blood. That's a problem because in order for me to receive treatment, I am required to have my blood tested. Why do they need to test my blood? Mainly because the staff wants to be sure my body can handle the treatment (meaning counts are good) and to make sure that my port is working correctly. So, after some strange body positions and several nurses, my port received it's attitude adjustment and on we went with Herceptin. My friend Kate was there and we were able to catch up which is always fun. She only has two Herceptin treatments left and then she graduates! I am so happy for her because that means she will be able to go back to teaching in the fall. Of course, her completing treatment is also a little bittersweet for me because I won't have her with me anymore for treatments. Obviously, her not being there is a very good thing, but I will miss her!

Kate and I did have an interesting (well, to us anyway!) conversation about our cancer experience. While both of us are beyond a shadow of a doubt thrilled to be done with the hardcore chemo, the part that comes after chemo, surgery and radiation is almost harder. That may sound strange, but it's absolutely true. You might be wondering why... Well, while actively going through chemo and other treatments, you are doing everything you can to battle cancer and it's obvious by your appearance (no hair, eyebrows, etc). After chemo comes surgery, recovery, radiation and recovery (and some people have procedures done in varying orders). But, once all treatment is said and done, society expects you to be completely recovered and just jump back into life as you once knew it. Outwardly, you present as a person who seems to be "back to normal" but as any cancer patient can tell you, life as you knew it before cancer will never be the same, no matter how badly you try. It's time to accept the new normal and move forward. Having cancer is a traumatic experience, not only to the patient, but family and close friends as well. Expecting a survivor to act like battling their disease never happened is ignoring everything they've overcome and fought so hard to be here for today. That said, no one with cancer wants to be identified by their illness, we are so much more than chemo, surgery and radiation. We've been to hell and back (no matter how easy the ride was along the way) and like it or not, this is who we are today. So, while chemo is the big beast that knocks back the cancer and knocks you on your ass physcially, life after treatment is the toughest part emotionally. Every day I'm learning to understand and come to terms with my "new normal".

All of that said, I still don't think that I would have changed this experience. Yes, with certainty I can tell you that I would have preferred NOT to have cancer and not put my family and friends through this emotional hell. But, so much good has come from my experience that I can't say I regret the appreciation I've gotten from having my life as I knew it rewritten. Some days are harder than others when I remember how easy my life was before my diagnosis. But, most of time I can focus on what cancer HAS done for me, especially when it comes to how much I love and adore my children, husband, fmaily and friends. Cancer was the biggest slap in the face I've ever had but also the most important wake-up call. So, no I can't go back to the way things were before I was diagnosed. But, I have made a promise to myself to live each day the best I can. And that's a promise I intend to keep!