The Gang's All Here!

The Gang's All Here!

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Quarantine

We definitely did not have the Thanksgiving that we hoped and planned for. We were supposed the leave the Saturday before Thanksgiving for Virginia. However, the universe had other plans for us. Stella's class was having a Thanksgiving feast on the last day of school before break. She spiked a low grade fever the night before. which should have been my first clue that our holiday would be of to a rocky start. She had a rough night and still had a low-grade fever the next morning, so I couldn't send her to school for the feast. She was devastated (and I felt like the meanest mom on the planet). She and Simon played at home that morning. She seemed happy and acted mostly like herself, so I assumed she just had a virus. That afternoon, she feel asleep for a little while and then came downstairs with flaming cheeks. I took her temperature which was at 103 (this was after Tylenol). And, alarm bells went off in my head, especially since we were headed out of town the next day. So, I woke poor Simon up and dragged both kids to walk-ins (one of my MOST dreaded of places to be) at the peds office. We waited for an hour to be seen, and Stella's little face kept getting more and more red. By the time we were called back, her temp was over 104...yikes! She was one sick kiddo. The immediately gave her a whopping dose of motrin and a popsicle, which cheered her up a little. The ran a flu test and low and behold, it came back positive. I was shocked!! We had all gotten the flu shot back at the beginning of October. I nearly cried because I knew what a flu diagnosis meant. We weren't going anywhere, anytime soon.

We quarantined ourselves at home and tried to make the best of a sucky situation. For the first time ever, I broke my "no Christmas décor before Thanksgiving" rule and put up the tree. Stella wasn't up to doing much more than watching, but it at least kept her occupied. By Sunday afternoon, Stella was feeling better but Simon woke up from his nap with a fever. Round two of the flu!! I did not leave my house for 6 days... On Wednesday I ended up taking Simon to the doctor because he was complaining of ear pain. Turns out he had an ear infection AND the flu. Poor kid. Meanwhile, I managed to catch a cold during our week of fun, but thankfully, did NOT have the flu. I finally went to the doctor this week and was diagnosed with a sinus infection (shocking).

I did have a check-up with both my OB and maternal fetal specialist last week and baby looks great! They have moved up my due date four days, as baby is measuring ahead. One advantage to being stuck in Atlanta for the holiday, was that we (Steve) had a chance to set up the baby's room. So, we may be completely out of control when baby arrives, but at least baby will have a place to sleep!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Roasted & Toasted

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the official John Riley Roast. It was such an amazing night filled with so many old friends, memories and laughs. Yes, I flew up to Virginia by myself (glorious!!) while Steve graciously stayed in Atlanta with the kids for the weekend. It would have been great to have us all there, but at the current cost of airfare, we decided that I would fly solo for this event.

For all those not up to date on current events of our family, my dad will be retiring at the end of 2014. He's been the Frederick County (VIRGINIA) administrator for 32 years. That's a long damn time in this day and age, especially in government. Some wonderful friends (in cahoots with many, many others) hosted the roast for my dad. Now, like many of you, I've really only seen the roasts done on Comedy Central, so I wasn't quite sure how "wild" things were going to get. Honestly, I'm not sure who was more nervous - my mom or my dad. My brother and I had a great time making them sweat before the event ;).

 More than 200 people attended the roast, which was such a testimony to my dad's impact on not only the county, but state of Virginia. For me, it was like walking through the years of my childhood in the best possible way. We had people in attendance from my very early years (I'm sort of ancient at this point) up until present. How cool is that?!?! I sort of compared it to being at a wedding, but not having any of the responsibility of planning. Seeing old friends and reminiscing about the good days gone by is and always will be the best medicine, hands down.

My dad claims he was skewered, but let's be real, the roasters were very fair and didn't dig up too much dirt ;). There was lots of material to choose from! But, oh gosh, did we laugh until we cried. If you know my dad at all, then you know of the gazillion nicknames floating about, most stemming from John Riley himself. It was so funny to hear them mentioned after all of these years. Lest, we not forget the infamous Chicken Song, which shall now live on in infamy, much to my father's horror. If anyone got a video of that...

On a more serious note, I could not be any more proud of my dad than I was that night. He has done so much for the community, both in leadership and example. His strong values and emphasis on helping others has helped shaped me into the person I am today, and for that, I will never be able to thank him enough. So, here's to you dad, for a remarkable run and a well earned place at the top - Cheers! Also, that was only water in my tequila shot glass Saturday evening ;)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Q & A

I do realize that I sort of left you hanging with that bombshell I dropped in my last post. I thought I'd try to answer some general questions, I know there are lots! So, here's my Q & A session with Oprah. Just kidding... but gosh, that would be something, wouldn't it???

Q: How did it happen?

A: Well, ahem, clearly we know how it happened, although between being told on multiple occasions that my fertility would most likely be compromised after the type of chemo I had AND using birth control, getting pregnant was not anywhere on my radar. In fact, when I missed my period, I assumed that I had gone into early menopause - I was told that early menopause was "likely" after my treatments.

Q: How will your history of cancer impact this pregnancy and baby?

A: I wish that I had an easy answer, but the truth is that we just don't know. I do have several factors playing into my favor at this point. Most importantly, my cancer was NOT hormone receptor positive, which is great news. My cancer was Her 2 + which is not hormone fed. The other positive aspect, is that I have been cancer free for over two years. I am actually more at risk for "normal" pregnancy issues this pregnancy as opposed to cancer. Of course, this is a high risk pregnancy for me - my gestational age alone throws me into this category. I'm ancient in maternal years, awesome, right? Also, given that I had pre eclampsia with both Stella and Simon, I have an over 80% chance of having it again this time around. Yay! But, I'm being monitored closely and so is the baby.

Q: How do Stella and Simon feel about the new addition?

A: Currently, they enjoy talking to the baby, aka my stomach. It's entertaining and pretty cute. Stella has a list of names, in case you were wondering. She's decided that if the baby is a boy, we will be calling him "Cinnamon" (what the hell???) and if it's a girl, we will call her Grayson Hinman. Not really sure where that came from or why only the girl option has the last name Hinman? Simon doesn't really have an opinion, but his vote as to whether it's a boy or girl changes with the wind. Not that I blame him, I really have no intuition one way or the other this time.

Q: Will you be trading in your SUV for a minivan?

A: H-E-L-L no.

Q: How are you feeling these days?

A: I'm still feeling pretty lousy, but I'm hanging in there. The all day nausea is frustrating, but manageable. I have drugs for it, but try to only take them when things are really bad. While the anti-nausea drugs are great, they have their own lovely side effects. Mostly, I'm just exhausted. I'm struggling to keep up with the house, kids, dogs, life, etc. Although, let's be honest, that's a struggle even when not pregnant... My doctor was kind enough to inform me that I will most likely feel this way until the baby arrives. I could barely contain my joy at that statement.

The next few weeks are insane for us (as for all of you, I'm sure). We will be travelling quite a bit to see family for the holiday. I will update when I can. The next peek at Baby Hinman will be on December 2, yay!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Game Changer

First off, the bike race went so well! YSC had a great turnout, and other than it being in the '40's that morning, we had a blast. I am so thankful for our wonderful family and friends! Thanks again to all of you for your love and support!

With that said, go on and grab yourself a bottle of wine and maybe some cheese to go with it. You're going to need it for the this little gem of a blog post.

So... in case you hadn't heard through the very active grapevine, I'm pregnant. Whew, there I said it, finally. Yup, you read that correctly, P-R-E-G-N-A-N-T. At this moment I realize you are either chugging wine, laughing hysterically or saying repeatedly, "what the hell!?!?". Or, more likely, you're doing all three. How pregnant am I? Um, all the way pregnant I guess? Someone asked me that the other day and I was like, well, I don't think there's a half pregnant option? I am 20 weeks along, so half baked!

I'm happy to tell you that baby is doing great and is measuring right on target at 20 weeks. All genetic testing has come back perfect, so fingers crossed things keep going smoothly. To answer your burning question, N-O, this baby was not planned and very much a surprise. We were told on several different occasions that the chances of me having another baby were slim and very risky, were I to actually get pregnant. We would likely have had to go through fertility treatments etc. Chemo wreaks havoc on the reproductive system as I'm sure you can imagine.We were perfectly happy with our family of four. So, you can imagine my COMPLETE shock when I found out I was pregnant. I want to emphasize that we were very much NOT trying to get pregnant, as I knew pregnancy would be a risk to both myself and a baby. And yet, here we are. It has become increasingly evident to me that sometimes, life is just out of our hands. We've decided to run with the surprise theme and will not be finding out the sex until March, when baby arrives.

How am I doing? Cancer-wise, I am fine. I was still on the Herceptin when I got pregnant, but we stopped it immediately and it has had no impact on the baby. My blood work has been perfect and will continue to be monitored throughout my pregnancy. My oncologist was shocked at the news, but then remembered that nothing with me is ever "normal" ;) Physically, I feel like CRAP. By now I'm sure you've noticed my lagging in keeping up with blog posts. That's mainly because for many, many weeks, it was all I could do to get through the day making sure both Stella and Simon were alive. The all day nausea, exhaustion and headaches have really kicked my ass. Of course, this is much more exaggerated for me, because I didn't feel bad at all with either of my pregnancies. So, karma, it really does exist. My deepest, sincerest sympathies to anyone having to endure morning (all day) sickness. For me, I have felt far worse this pregnancy than I ever did on chemo. But, it could always be worse, and as long as baby is doing well, I will endure.

I've really had to do some soul searching these past few months. Emotionally, I've been struggling coming to terms with stopping treatment and bringing another baby into our family. My number one concern is the health and well-being for this baby. And yes, of course my health is a huge factor in all of this. But, despite the complexity of everything we're facing, y'all, I'm pregnant! This baby is truly a miracle and one of the greatest symbols of hope I can imagine. I feel like I've been given a chance to start fresh, a new life to love and cherish. Who could ever ask for more than that?    

Friday, October 17, 2014

Tour de Pink

It's hard to believe, but the Atlanta Tour de Pink event is next weekend, October 25!! Our team, When Irish Chicks Are Fighting will be biking to help raise money in the fight against breast cancer via the Young Survival Coalition. This is an amazing organization dedicated to helping women under the age of 40 with breast cancer. While tremendous strides have been made in treating women with breast cancer, we still have a long way to go in terms of fighting back and winning this war. Please consider making a donation to help in the effort to expand breast cancer research, treatment and education for all of those battling breast cancer.

Thank you so much for all of your support, kindness and encouragement throughout my own personal journey battling breast cancer. I feel so incredibly humbled and grateful to be able to share my story with all of you, to be able to say "I BEAT CANCER!!". How's that for some serious kickass motivation?!?!

Here are some links to the Atlanta Tour de Pink event and our team page.

                **ATL Tour de Pink: link to the event page. You can find out more about the YSC and                           fundraising efforts here

                 **When Irish Chicks are Fighting:  This is our team page!

Thank you!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Exasperation: I Admit it!

I'm still here, promise. I just honestly haven't had much time to myself, let alone time to type, uninterrupted, in weeks. All, is mostly well, I'm just having trouble keeping up with my life these days.

We seem to be lacking in the sleep department lately. If it isn't one kid up at three a.m., it's the other, needing necessary things like water, a story (I mean, really?) or a tissue. Because, you know, it's not a problem for either child to come busting out of their room every five seconds during "nap" time, but during the night? No siree, it's much more effective to start screaming in the middle of night, waking up mom or dad from a dead sleep. Oh, and if, god forbid, BOTH children sleep through the night, the damn dogs are up at three a.m. barfing or needing to go outside. Never mind the fact that we took them out right before we went to bed...

So yeah, I'm a little grumpy and exasperated these days. Simon is testing me on virtually every level possible. Everything is a battle or negotiation. I'm living with a three foot tall dictator. Just now, he's sitting here on the floor of the office screaming his head off because I asked/ told/ begged him not to touch the computer. And, he turned the computer off, rendering everything I had just typed lost in space. Awesome. A battle of wills would be an understatement. It's everything from I poured the cereal wrong (in case your were not aware that there is a correct way to pour cereal...), to the dog licking his shoe (this is a HORRIBLE offense), or asking him to brush his teeth (god help us all). I am drained.

Stella, on the other hand, would be perfectly satisfied if she never had to deal with me again. Everyday I receive a diatribe on the ways that I'm ruining her life. For example, brushing her hair is akin to an attack on national security (a big, freaking deal). Asking her to put on her shoes? An exercise in negotiations for world peace. We won't even discuss what asking her to pick up her toys entails because I get hives just thinking about it. Oh, and right after I had cleaned the kitchen today? She found a bag of cornmeal and proceeded to dump the entire bag all over my freshly cleaned kitchen. Murphy was helping when I walked in from using the restroom...

I know this isn't a super, upbeat post, but honestly? I'm beat. Can someone please tell me that it gets better???? Obviously, I love my children and a lot of the time I spend with them, but wow, days like this (or weeks, in this case) are tough to swallow. Thanks for letting me vent!

And, Murphy just dragged a dead animal into my house. GAH! Tootles...

Friday, September 19, 2014

Summer Break, Part 2

Let me just preface this post by sharing that my children have been on fall break (or, more realistically, summer break part 2) for the ENTIRE week. I am warning you in advance, should you notice a slightly manic, definitely exhausted air...

So, yes, the dear children are on a week long hiatus after a grand total of three weeks in school. In defense (I guess... not really), the county schools started August 4th, so they've been at it for a few extra weeks. But still, people, it's hot, we've been to the pool, the mosquitos are still attacking in rapid numbers and I got sun burned last weekend. I'm just referring to this little sojourn as Summer Won't Die, so let's party like it's June. It's hasn't been terrible that bad having the kids home, but gosh darn it, we had JUST gotten into the weekday/ school/ back-to-reality routine. The kids were at school learning, I was running a million errands and getting so.much.done. That has come to a screeching halt this week, because anyone who has a child will understand the stamina and will power required to run errands with small children. It's a marathon, (a very dirty, knock down marathon), not a sprint. A quick run to pick up a *few* things at the grocery turns into an hour ordeal because I didn't pick the right frozen pancakes and suddenly there are maddening opinions on the right kind of goldfish. You get the point. And let's not even discuss the Mothership that is Target. Might as well strap on a trailer to our cart, because it ain't going to be pretty. I received a 20 minute diatribe from Stella on the merits of Halloween décor yesterday while at Target...

In other news, I'm pretty sure Murphy is trying to confirm my reservation at the funny farm. That dog is going to be what sends me directly to the quick side of Crazytown. The other day, before 9am, she managed to poop in the office (where Steve was working, right next to his desk!!!) immediately after I had taken her outside, destroy a piece of the kids artwork, pee by the back door, steal a loaf of bread off on the counter (and consume it, bag and all) while I walked into the laundry room to grab backpacks and lunch boxes. During the 20 minutes I was upstairs showering, dressing and getting the kids ready for school, she pooped in the office again (carb overload?!?) and chew up a kids toy. After I ran the kids to school (15 minutes, tops), Murphy had gotten into my brand new box of Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Coffee. K Cups were scattered all over the kitchen in varying degrees of destruction. She greeted me with the shredded box in her mouth. I will say, to her credit, she knew I was pissed. She hung her head and walked straight to the back door to go outside. I was able to salvage about half of the K cups, but seriously?!?! Those are not cheap, and HELLO - they were pumpkin!! She capped off that wonderful day by pooping one final time in the office...

Come Tuesday, it's back to the real world for us. I'm not sure I could be more excited!!!!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Last Blast of Summer

I'll apologize in advance- I'm updating from the iPad, so it's likely I'll forget to add words and not proofread ;)

Life in the Hinman house has been busy the past couple of weeks. School is going well for the kids and they really seem to be enjoying their teachers/ classes. I continue to be amazed that Simon has come so far socially. He's chatting up a storm in class and is enthusiastic intelling me about his day. I love it!!! Stella is rocking preK- I'm thrilled she's being challenged academically. She actually has homework every night. Of course, she thinks it's awesome, I've been struggling with the added responsibility of making sure it gets done...

We headed to the Hinman Family Compound in South Carolina over Labor Day for some much needed family and beach time. The kids had a blast at the beach and pool. Cousin time is always a special treat :). The weather was fantastic, although hot.

As for me, I've split my time between doctors appointments, volunteering, carpool and soccer practice. While I do miss the long, lazy days of summer (and let me say that it is still very much summer here, temps in the 90's, hot, humid and storms every afternoon...), it's nice to be back on a schedule! Stella has her first soccer game of the season tomorrow morning and we have one final pool party on Sunday.

Bring on the cooler (notice I said cooler, not COLD) weather, pumpkin everything and college football! Happy fall, y'all!!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Car Connundrums

This week has been crazy! Back to school + car drama = one tired mama. Fortunately, school has been a delight (or mostly a delight for Simon - he did have one of his epic meltdowns when I dropped him off on Thursday...which ended as soon as I left the room and then he had a great day...) for both kids. I have to say I am quite impressed with the Pre K experience so far for Stella. They both wonderful teachers and classmates, so I'm looking forward to a great year!

So, back to the car drama. I mean, really, no Hinman story is ever complete without some kind of car issue. Last Thursday, I decided to treat the kids to Menchies (delicious froyo) or "Mint Cheese" (gross, I know) as Stella refers to it. As we were pulling into the parking space, my brake pedal went to the floor (without braking) and we slammed into the curb. First and foremost, I am still thanking my lucky stars that we were going slow and in a parking lot. Can't even imagine if we had been on an actual road, or even worse, at highway speed... The kids thought it was funny and I managed a somewhat psychotic sounding laugh that they fell for. At that point, 157 warning indicator lights appeared on the dash which is never good. I had been debating whether or not to have any froyo until that moment. You can bet the farm that I fixed myself up a lovely froyo concoction to soothe my frazzled nerves. And it was damn tasty.

I refused to drive the car after that and Steve took it to the dealership on Friday. A whole lot of $$$ and a weekend later, it was revealed that there was a massive brake pump failure. No, that's not the technical term, but you get the point. On the plus side, they loaned us a brand new Toyota Highlander to drive which was lovely. Steve picked up my car on Monday afternoon and I was all set to take the kids to school on Tuesday (the first official day of school). Tuesday morning drop off went fine until I went to restart the car after dropping the kids in their classes. Upon starting, the check engine light and 45 (<--- sarcasm) other lights also came on. I was so PISSED! The check engine light wasn't on at the beginning of all of this mess. Poor Steve got an earful (clearly I know it's not his fault, but he's a man and men are supposed to know ALL of the things in regards to cars, right???). Also, I should add that I HAD to be at the hospital that morning to volunteer.

All of that said, after I daringly drove my car to and from the hospital at highway speeds (I'm a badass, I know...) with the check engine light blaring at me, I rolled up the dealership before I picked up the kids. Luckily, my new BFF Charlie was working (our service guy) and he immediately came out to look at the car and was baffled as to why the light was on. Given my time crunch, he offered me a loaner so I could get the kids - this time a new RAV4, which, while cute, is very small. I was in a full blown sweat (keep in mind it was 2,000 degrees outside and a million percent humidity), by the time I unloaded and then reloaded and installed Simon's carseat and Stella's booster. Is there anything more exasperating than trying to install a carseat when you're in a hurry and sweating a river???? Anyway, I made it just in time to get the kids and blow Stella's mind at carpool with a different car She may never forgive me for that one...

Wouldn't you know the minute I picked up the kids, they called to say the car was fixed?!?! They had forgotten to reset the freaking codes (or something like that, I don't even know). So, we hauled ass back over to the dealership, where I again unloaded and reloaded the carseats. I was a sight, let me tell you! The best part of this whole story? When we got home, as I walking around the car, I noticed that they had forgotten to put the damn wheel cover back on. Christ on a cracker!!!!! So, we'll be making yet another trip to the dealership this weekend and I swear if there's even one more issue, I'd better be walking out of there with a brand new damn car! TGIF...

Monday, August 11, 2014


Somehow it's the middle of August and my kiddos are headed back to school next week! Which is late, ironically, because the county kids here went back last Monday, the 4th. We're hoping to head to the pool one last time this week, if the weather will cooperate. We've been stuck in this "tropical" weather pattern for a few weeks now, so it's been hot, muggy and stormy. My poor house could sure use a break!

I know I haven't updated much this summer, but I think that's a good thing?!?! There just isn't anything to report from Cancerland (always a positive), I'm feeling great and there's no need for any scans or testing at this time. My volunteering has gone well, but I haven't been able to put in as much time as I'd like, due to the kids being home for the summer. I'm looking forward to those hours picking up this fall.

Steve has stepped up his game and is training for another half ironman. He was really into these before Stella was born. I'm so proud of him for picking it back up and focusing on staying healthy! He has a couple of races in late August/ early September and then the half ironman is at the end of September. He should be more than ready for our bike race at the end of October! Speaking of the Tour de Pink, we'd love to have your support as we raise money for breast cancer research through the YSC. You can check out our team page here. I'm riding my bike when I can...

It's been a great summer and I'm a little sad to see it come to a close. But, I'm also looking forward to fall, my favorite season. Here's to cooler weather, anything pumpkin flavored and college football!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Summer Daze

It's been a rather slow week here in the Hinman house. I am not complaining about this, since things are about to ramp up very soon. Next week we have several doctors appointments (including a pediatric dentist to deal with Stella and her thumb sucking...I'm sure that appointment will be joyful...), get togethers and so on. The public schools here have their first day of school on August 4. Holy crap, right?!?!? Yes, that seems early to me, even by Georgia standards. Luckily, my guys don't start until August 18, which gives us a few more weeks of summer! I feel like we've (mostly) made good use of this time off, between travelling, playing at the pool and park, and some good old fashioned time running around in the backyard. It's been a little more difficult to play in the yard the past week as it's stormed almost every afternoon.

Stella has been moved up to another level of swimming - we are so proud of her! She has really taken to the water, which is not surprising given that Steve swam competitively in high school and I was a lifeguard for most of my high school summers. And no, I don't particularly enjoy swimming for exercise (<--- such a dirty little word), I do enjoying treading water and soaking up some sun. Anyway, Stella has become quite the little fish and it's fun to watch her take such interest in it. That's also good, because I'm really not sure soccer is going to be her sport...

I'm also happy to tell you that Simon has really done well with the whole potty training event. I refer to potty training as an event because it does, in fact, take over your life. Be jealous of the delightful conversations Steve and I now have regarding the toilet, poop and so on ;). Simon is also really into riding his bike, which, incidentally, is Stella's old pink tricycle. Thankfully he doesn't seem to mind the color.

So, that's our life right now in a nutshell. The calm before the storm that is back to school, schedules and setting the alarm clock. It'll be here before we know it. YIKES!!!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Weather Geek

It's storming here, and given that the power is flickering, I think I'm on borrowed time with this blog update. So, should this little ditty appear unfinished, you know why! Hopefully my house will not be on fire simultaneously, but who really knows.

We spent a wonderful 4th of July in South Carolina with the Hinman side of the family. Hurricane Arthur paid a small visit, but thankfully we were driving to South Carolina the whole time he was letting loose. We made it just in time to take a late afternoon stroll on the beach and watch the fascinating clouds left behind. My children have become quite the little beach rats (yay, no complaints there!) so we spent the majority of the time soaking up some sand (or gallons of it in Simon's case) and surf. I'd like to say sun, but it didn't completely cooperate. Steve also managed to snap one of the boogie boards completely in half in the wild (it was pretty rough) surf. Have you ever seen that happen? I certainly haven't - it was pretty dramatic! Luckily he was fine and we all had a good laugh over it.

We've spent most of this week getting back into our groove. Lots of laundry, picking up and general errand running. I had treatment yesterday, not really much to report there. I do get a little tired of the looks I get sometimes in the chemo lounge. I'm not sure if it's because I'm significantly younger than everyone there or that I look completely healthy or maybe both. Oh, and I have also achieved VIP status with the nurses in the chemo lounge, which is awesome! But, as someone who has spent two and a half years there, it's nice to feel loved ;) and appreciated. Also, my darling children were fighting so loudly over a plastic stethoscope (we love all things medical up in this hizzy) on Wednesday, that I turned on the vacuum so I couldn't hear them. Isn't angry cleaning the best kind? I feel like it's so much more efficient and therapeutic!

Stella just informed me she turned on the lights. I looked up from typing and realized that's it dark outside... at 5pm. So, I'm going to sign off here and check the weather (as if it's not obvious it's going to do something dramatic outside). Pretty sure I'm right in the fact that this storm is escalating in the wrong direction. Batten down the hatches people, I think we're about to get quite the southern summer storm. I hope this mess clears out before the supermoon event tonight. Total weather geek, at your service!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Pink & Ink

It's been an exciting day for me! Literally two years to the day (minus one), I am finished with surgeries and reconstruction!! This morning I had the "tata's tatted up". (Had to quote a dear friend on that little phrase!).   I may have to do a little touch up in a few months, but that's it! The tattooing itself was easy and very fast. I have a tattoo (for shame, says my mother), so I knew what to expect for the most part. I will say it was quite strange having "the gals" tattooed. I really have no sensation there, but could still feel the vibration from the needle, if that makes any sense? The clinician warned me that they would look terrible for a month or so (always neat to hear those words during a medical procedure) but that eventually (because all I have is time, people...) I should look great. Apparently she looked at my before photos and thinks that her ink will be a close match. That's cool, although I guess I just don't really care all that much? Steve was hoping I'd get something "awesome" for my tattoos, but, well, I do have to look at myself everyday and I'm not sure artwork, cartoons, symbols or otherwise are exactly what I'm going for in that area :).

In other news, I ripped off the proverbial band aid over the weekend and started potty training Simon. Really, is there anything a parent of a toddler dreads/ avoids more? I freely admit that I waited WAY too long with Stella, but I get to play the Cancer Card on that one. Plus, she is possibly the most stubborn child I have ever met, so there's that. Anyway, I am proud to say that Simon has done awesome!! For a temperamental, grumpy and opinionated guy that he can be, he has taken to potty training remarkably well. Fingers crossed it continues! I will share that potty training a boy is an adventure in accuracy. We'll just leave it at that!

I am happy to tell you that I have officially started my training for the Tour de Pink! FINALLY. I am on week two and I *think* things are going well. Who really knows, but I'm dragging my lazy butt onto the bike almost every day. I hope I can keep it up! We're headed to the Hinman Family Compound for the holiday weekend (yay for family and beach time!) and my goal is to get in at least one ride there. It's the perfect place to ride a bike and completely flat!! Happy 4th everyone!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Bits & Pieces

It's been awhile since I've updated! We've been busy getting our summer on and just returned from a trip up to Virginia to see my parents and their new home. We had a great time visiting and my parents have a beautiful new house! Their new community has an absolutely amazing pool (complete with a pirate ship that shoots all sorts of water sprayers) and we were lucky enough to play there almost every day. The kids were excellent in the car and had a blast playing with cousins and new friends! I do wish I had time to catch up with everyone while home. I'm sorry if I missed you this trip and hopefully we can connect the next time I'm home!

My ear infection has finally cleared up and I'm feeling good these days. I am excited to tell you that a few weeks ago I purchased my bike for the Tour de Pink. You might be curious as to how my training is going. I'll be sure to let you know as soon as I start...

Steve and I celebrated 8 years of wedded bliss (well, maybe I should say 8 years of adventures in chaos) on June 17. It's amazing how fast time is flying by. A house that needs constant attention, two kids, two dogs and several cars later, we're better than ever and looking forward to what the next 8 years will bring. I just had the most horrifying thought - in another 8 years, Stella will be 12 and Simon will be 10. We won't mention the ages of Steve and I at that point because I am not physically able to say that number. Yikes...

I had treatment yesterday and have my 3 month check-up with the oncologist on July 10. Fingers crossed that all is well. I am assuming this is the case, as I'm feeling fine. I am probably due for a PET scan at some point, but I won't know until I see my doctor.

Murphy just stole an entire bag of snack size M&M's and came tearing into the office. I guess it was the magic elves who left the pantry door open. AGAIN. She ate another one of Steve's leather shoes last night. I'm off on an M&M rescue and recovery (yeah, right) mission. Try not to be envious of my glamorous life...

Friday, June 6, 2014

Rekindled Romance

Yesterday I decided that I just couldn't take it anymore. After 9 days of not being able to hear out of my right ear at all and waking up with my left ear hurting, enough was enough. I was very hesitant to go to the doctor after my experience with Dr. DB last week. I really thought maybe I was making myself crazy. So, rather than call up Dr. DB to get an appointment (which is probably what I should have done, but I'm seriously done with him), I went to the urgent care affiliated with my hospital, which is close to where we live. I'm so glad I went. The doctor (who, by the way, was once of the nicest men I have ever met) took one look at my ear and said, "Damn, no wonder you feel bad!". Instant gratification right there, people. He said my ears were full of fluid and that my ear drum was bulging. The doc said that would explain why I can't hear out of my right ear. He prescribed more prednisone (yay) and an antibiotic. Woohoo, I'm rekindling my romance with steroids! This marks my fourth round of prednisone in three months, which isn't cool, but if it will help restore my hearing, I'm willing to do just about anything. It seems as though along with killing my cancer, chemo also killed any resistance I had to the allergens here in Atlanta. Neat, huh?

I just wanted to update, it's been a rough two weeks. Feeling lousy doesn't do much for my positive state of mind. I'm optimistic that the drugs will kick in soon and I can get on with enjoying my summer!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Breakup

You know it was bound to happen at some point. All good things must come to an end. I've been absolutely spoiled by my wonderful medical team. Well, that fantasy world came to a screeching halt last Wednesday afternoon. While vacationing in the mountains for Memorial Day weekend, my allergies fired themselves up something fierce. By Tuesday I felt downright terrible and when I woke up on Wednesday I decided a trip to the doctor was in order. My ENT had told me that if I started having trouble with my sinuses again to see him first. I called and was able to schedule an appointment with him that afternoon. That morning, my ear had also started to throb and then became blocked so everything sounded muffled. That was definitely a new symptom, I rarely have trouble with my ears.

Have you ever felt so awful that you just cried? That's how bad I felt by the time I got to the doctor's office. Needless to say, when he walked in, I had tears running down my face even though I was trying to hold it together since the kids were with me. His first words to me were: "why are you crying?", not hello, how are you, sounds like you're feeling bad. And he didn't say it nicely, he said, "why are you crying" like I was some sort of moron for even being there. So, yes, the visit was already off to a bad start. So, I replied like any emotionally exhausted female would and said, "I just feel terrible, I'm in so much pain". Dr. DoucheBag (which is how I shall now refer to him) replied by saying, "well, ear pain shouldn't be enough to make you cry". At this point I just stared at him, at a loss for words (shocking, I know). He went on to say that we've gone over several times about this ear pain - I stopped him at that point and I said that I had never complained of ear pain to him. That shut him up for about 2 seconds before he continued on about how ear pain really isn't that bad. Oh okay, then I guess I can go ahead a register at the funny farm because I'm surely making all of this up. ASS! I so, so, so wish I'd been in the state of mind to make a really sarcastic comeback, but I was barely functioning at that point. What I should have said was, "Oh, right. See, here's the thing. I've birthed two children, had several major surgeries AND been hit by my own car where I was knocked unconscious and broke a few bones. We won't even mention the dislocated fingers. And you know what? I didn't cry during ANY of that. So don't tell me what pain is you FREAKING JERK!!!".

Wow, guess I'm still a little pissed. Anyway, Dr. DB concluded the visit by telling me that there was nothing wrong. I couldn't believe that given how bad a felt, that there was nothing seriously wrong. He must have felt slightly sorry for me, because he did give me a steroid/ vitamin B12 shot to help with the immediate symptoms. Nothing like a shot in the butt to round out my feeling of complete mortification. I will be breaking with up with Dr. DB. Here's to hoping I don't need an ENT anytime in the near future...

We had a wonderful trip to the Georgia Blue Ridge mountains. The weather mostly cooperated and we all have a great time. Some highlights from the trip included gem stone mining (very fun if you've never done that, the kids loved it!), dads and kids fishing, moms relaxing in the rocking chairs on the back deck overlooking the mountains and plenty of champagne to accompany us. We're looking forward to the next time we can head to the mountains!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Travelling Circus

Our trip to Sandestin was wonderful! Steve and I had a great time filled with sunsets, bonfires on the beach, good friends and of course, plenty of free flowing booze :). If you've never been to the Florida Panhandle (or Redneck Riviera as it's sometimes referred to), you are missing something special. The gulf coast is gorgeous and will not disappoint.

Coming back to reality has been a cold, hard smack in the face this week. It's been a double whammy because the kids finished up with school last week, so they've been home with me. ALL DAY, EVERYDAY. I am exhausted. Several times yesterday I found myself questioning how I had two kids home all the time while on chemo. Clearly if I can survive chemo with a newborn and a toddler, I can make it through this summer. But if this week is any indication, it's going to be a L-O-N-G summer. Not that I'm complaining (at least, not loudly), I love having them with me and we do have lots of fun. Now that Simon is mostly talking in sentences and Stella speaks with the mouth of a 25 year old, it's never quiet. I no longer have any personal thoughts because I am unable to turn off the endless chatter. Don't get me wrong, I love hearing both kids talk and laugh (but not scream, which they really seem to love doing) but it's not quiet. EVER. Luckily, we have lots of fun things to look forward to including trips to Virginia and South Carolina, swimming lessons and lots of pool time!

Thankfully, we are departing reality tomorrow. I'm not sure what I'll do when we're in town for longer than a week or two. We're heading to the North Georgia Mountains for some R & R with some good friends. We've rented a cabin and are looking forward to relaxing and being outdoors. Bring on the campfire, s'mores and wine!

I met with my plastic surgeon yesterday and was cleared for my last procedure, yay!!!! The last step is getting my tattoos (I had nipple reconstruction in April, then they tattoo the areolas - it's amazing how realistic they look). My tatt date is scheduled for July 1, which I find to be an incredibly ironic date. July 2 of 2012 was my first surgery and two years to the damn day, I will finally be finished with all of the reconstruction. I'll toast to that!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Poor Choices

I'm a whirling dervish of ADD today. I am attempting to pack AND clean my house at the same time. Needless to say, I'm basically spinning in circles. Currently, I'm procrastinating by updating the blog. Steve and I are headed to San Destin (FL) tomorrow for a kid free weekend away - do you hear the angels singing?!?!?! Each year his company sends everyone (and a spouse/ spice) to an out-of-town destination for a weekend of fun and debauchery relaxation. Last year we went to Savannah and several years ago it was in Asheville. Steve works with such a fun, enthusiastic group, it's impossible NOT to have a good time.

Steve's parents have been kind enough to volunteer to come stay with the kids while we're gone. That would be the reason that I need to clean the house. This house looks like a bunch of hooligans live here. The tumbleweeds of dog hair are almost the size of Simon and I just ran the vacuum last week... Plus, we have the normal arsenal of toddler toys. Last Friday, someone left a truck out and I stepped on it. It zoomed out from under my foot and I landed flat on my hip and face. I'm sure I looked like something out of a cartoon. As I was laying on the floor willing myself to get up and not drop a few F-bombs, Stella looked at me and said, "Well Mommy, it's looks like you need to be more careful". Gee thanks, sweetheart. Once I was able to limp away, I went directly to the kitchen and poured myself a beer (I'm pretty sure it was after 5pm at that point). I won't even mention the 85 loads of laundry still waiting to be folded...

Continuing with all things amazing in my life, I would like to offer you a very important piece of advice. Never, EVER attempt to highlight your own hair at home. You're welcome, in advance. I decided to be cheap and DIY at home. I have to say that was one of the poorest choices I have made in recent memory. As you know, my hair is dark. All I was attempting to do, was add some lighter brown into the dark, boring brown. I've had my hair highlighted (by a professional) a million times, so naturally I assumed I could do my own hair. HAHA LOL! Instead of the highlights being a few shades of brown lighter, they turned out brassy blonde, my favorite (NOT!) with my super dark brown hair underneath. Try to match that level of hotness. Honestly, I looked like a drug dealer in a mug shot looking for a score. Sigh...  So off I went to the store to purchase some more boring brown to cover up my poor attempt at hair styling. I am happy to inform you that my hair is back to brown and hasn't fallen out yet...

Anyway, I'm running out of time to get anything done. Surely I can dust, vacuum and fold laundry at the same time, right?!?!?!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Mommy Fail

I just stepped in dog shit people. No really, I did. In my house. Seriously. I'm beyond irritated, so I'll apologize in advance for what I'm sure is going to be a ranty, ugly mess of a blog entry. Murphy has been on a tear this week. Not really sure what the special occasion is, but she's pooped in the office almost everyday this week. She also refuses to go upstairs without being carried (that's a whole lot of fun right there trying to carry an 80lb + stubborn dog up the damn stairs). I've lost count of the number of toys/ objects/ loofas that she's destroyed this week. Murphy clotheslines the kids on a regular basis outside, not because she's mean spirited, she's just that much of a klutz. You should see the bruise I have on my knee from where she rammed into me full force with her giant blockhead. She was chasing her ball...

This has been one of those weeks where I grossly overextended myself. Even pre-cancer, pre-kids, pre-thirtysomething Erin would have struggled to get everything accomplished. I take full responsibility for my actions because I am terrible at saying no. Unless it involves my children or my dogs, because then? Oh yeah, GAME ON! So, I'm exhausted. It was teacher appreciation week (and my kids have had absolutely fantastic teachers this year), and being a room mom for one kid and along with being a good "participating" mom for the other kid, I had to hit the ground running this week. Which I did, mostly. I had great plans of doing cute little candy-type gifts that I saw on Pinterest for Simon's teachers. My attempt was a joke and I ended up running out to get cupcakes for his teachers instead. Check out these Pinterest Fail (nailed it!) pictures, they are hilarious! If you've ever attempted a Pinterest project and failed miserably, you will absolutely LOVE this website!

Things this week would have been much easier if I hadn't been scared to death that I was going blind. Overdramatic? Most assuredly, but obviously you know me pretty well at this point, so you should expect nothing less! My right eye turned red on Saturday and hurt a bit. Well, that little vision of loveliness rotated between both of my eyes all week. It was bad enough on Wednesday that I threw out the white flag, took out my contacts and have been wearing my glasses ever since. I HATE wearing my glasses all the time. They don't fit correctly and constantly slide down my nose. I'm quite the picture this week between my red eyes and ill-fitting glasses. Also, my hair looks atrocious because I can't seem to blow-dry it with my glasses on. How do people do that?!?! And, no, I'm pretty sure I don't have pink eye because everyone else in this house is fine. I'm guessing it's allergy related. The good news is that today, my eyes are closer to being white rather than the color of fire. Try not to be too envious of my fabulousness, okay?

In my spare time, I had my volunteer hours to complete and 5,000 errands to run. Stella has started swimming lessons at the Y and I made the mistake of calling her out for not listening to her teachers on the first night. She was so pissed at me for saying she wasn't listening, that she ignored me for an hour. When I tried to talk to her about why not listening is dangerous in a pool, she turned it around on me saying that I told her, "she's a terrible swimmer" and "she'll never be the bestest swimmer ever". Excuse me, but what the hell?!?!?! Is this kid 4 or 16? I, apparently, ruined her life with a single comment. Don't worry, she took her mood out on Steve too, poor guy had nothing to do with the situation! Luckily, the second class went much smoother and I managed to keep my big fat mouth shut.

Stella also had her school program on Wednesday. Their performances are always adorable. As the kids were walking down the aisle, Simon saw Stella (he was sitting with me) and yelled, "HI STELLA!!". He ran up to her and gave the biggest hug, it really was cute. Well, cute, until I had to pull him away from her and he started screaming, "MY STELLA!!!!" at the top of his lungs. He then proceeded to throw himself in the middle of the aisle and cry. It's a shame there's not an award for worst mothering in a public place. I'm pretty sure I'd have that one in the bag. Is it happy hour yet?!?!?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Updates in Cancerland

Camp Hope was once of the most amazing experiences I've ever had in my life. Honestly, I knew it would be awesome but I just didn't realize how incredibly awesome it would be. I made some wonderful new friends, 5 of which share my oncologist. Needless to say, we had lots to talk about. I can't really explain how good it feels to be around people who just "get it". I was amazed, horrified, encouraged and touched by each person's experience. That's the funny thing about cancer: each and every person has a unique experience, and no two people share exactly the same journey. Maybe that's why we all bonded as quickly as we did. We could skip the OMG, you have/ had cancer, how are you feeling? stuff and get straight to the living and moving forward part. And, oh, what a refreshing experience that was! I am so grateful and honored that I was able to take part in such a caring, fun and most importantly, meaningful weekend. I should also add that Camp Twin Lakes is an absolutely gorgeous place, filled with so much hope and courage. Please check them out, they are such a special group of people!

Continuing in the realm of all things cancer related, I had major drama yesterday at treatment. My port decided it would be great fun to cop a major attitude and refuse to work. NEAT (<--- extreme sarcasm here). I did bends, twists, breathing/ not breathing, sitting up, lying down, you name it. NOTHING WORKED. This is not good for two reasons. One, it means that something is up with the port and two, I would have to have TPA injected into my port (which is essentially liquid Drain-O, lovely, right???). That's all well and good except that TPA requires AT LEAST 30 minutes to work before they can try flushing the port again and getting blood return (which they have to have because I have to have my blood tested before I can have treatment). Well friends, I got a little pissy with the staff (Irish temper rears it's ugly head) because there was no way on earth I could spend an extra hour or two there waiting for the Drain-O when I HAD to pick up the kids from school. So, I told them what they were going to do (and I'm really not a demanding person, but if I've learned nothing else from the cancer crap, it's that I have to be my own advocate) and if they wouldn't do that, then I was leaving. Well, the stars aligned for a brief moment yesterday and my wishes were granted. STAT. How 'bout them apples?!?!? I even ended up being a few minutes early to pick up the kids! But, in all seriousness, I'm considered an "old timer" at this point and I'm not a complainer, so I'm glad I spoke up. Of course, my speaking up meant getting jabbed with two additional needles, an IV in my hand and Herceptin thru the IV. But, whatever... The good news is that they also put the TPA in my port and it did eventually work. Lawd have mercy...

In other news, Steve and I have decided to participate in the Tour de Pink here in Atlanta. It's a bike race to raise money for the YSC. and their research in finding a sure for breast cancer. We have revived our team: When Irish Chicks Are Fighting that my awesome sisters created when they walked the 3 Day in 2012. Steve and I have pledged that we're going to ride 100 miles - because we are completely crazy we're feeling up to the challenge! Please consider making a donation or coming out to cheer us on October 25th. So, at some point I need to get a bike and do something called "exercise". I'll keep you posted on my training (or lack there of!).

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Officially Official

I really did mean to update the blog last week and time just got away from me. Between volunteering, doctors appointments (which could be a full time job right there) and oh yeah, my children/ household, there just isn't enough time in the day. I know, I know, I'm preaching to the choir, right?!?! We also went to South Carolina for Easter to spend time with the Hinman clan. We had a great trip, minus the weather, which gave us major attitude. The wild temperature swings can come to an end at any point, in case my opinion matters. I of course packed for warm weather and it was about 50 degrees on Easter morning with gale force winds. Lots of happy pictures were taken outside...guess which part of that statement is a bold faced lie... (hint, we took pictures outside).

All is well for me, post-surgery. I had my stitches taken out this morning (big yay!!) and will see my plastic surgeon again in a month to schedule my tattoo session. The tattoos are the final step and done in-office... and then I'm done being put back together! Well, at least that part of me - there are plenty of other areas that need work ;)

This weekend I am attending Camp Hope and I'm so excited!! I had my orientation meeting last night and the bus leaves Friday morning. It's been way too many years since I've been a camper! Steve will be Mr. Mom this weekend so let's all say a little prayer for him that the group is on their best behavior. Two toddlers + two constant attention seeking pooches is enough to send anyone screaming after a full day... I have complete faith that Steve will be fine, but the house could be another story!

My volunteering continues to be a source of joy and fulfillment for me. I was promoted early (go me!) so I am now visiting patients on my own. Today while I was at the hospital, I ordered my official volunteer uniform. I'm officially official, so watch out world!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Another Milestone

Yesterday I had my 4th and (hopefully!!) final surgery. Another milestone to check off the list! I am happy to report that I'm feeling good and haven't needed any pain meds at all. I am glad to not have any more surgeries! I have one procedure left and it's done in-office, so that shouldn't be a big deal. I have also finished my two week megadose of Prednisone and by all that is holy, that is a seriously evil drug. The nausea alone was enough to nearly do me in. I still have another two weeks to go on the Bactrim, but it doesn't seem to be bothering me (or least, not that I can tell). The good news in all of this is that my sinus infection appears to be gone and yay for that! Of course, the pollen count in Atlanta right now is around 10,000 so I'm sure that's not helping my cause. But, it IS gorgeous here, so I'm not complaining.

The kids were on spring break last week, so we made a quick trip up to Virginia to see my parents for a few days. Sorry to those of you that I missed, there just never seems to be enough time once I'm home. My parents have also put their house on the market, so there were a lot of moving parts for this trip. Steve and I attended his fraternity reunion at Virginia Tech last weekend which was lots of fun. We realized that we hadn't been to the event since our engagement, nine years ago...where does the time go?!?!?

April is such a busy month for us, I think I'm only in town for one weekend! I am meeting with my oncologist this Thursday for my 3 month check up. I haven't seen her since last year, which is a good thing (I think!). Not sure if she'll be ordering any scans or not. I've been feeling great, other than my sinus issues, so I'm taking that as a good sign. Well, the chores are calling, so it's back to the grind I go!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The New Team Member

Did I mention that my primary physician referred me to an ENT? I saw her a few weeks ago after finally admitting that my sinus headache might actually kill me. After several weeks and almost finishing a Costco size bottle of ibuprofen, enough was enough. My primary doc was not super excited about me coming to see her again, with more sinus issues. So, she pumped me full of steroids and antibiotics along with making me swear I would see an ENT. Very soon. Conveniently, the ENT she recommended is literally right next to her office, so I walked in and made an appointment for the following week. Make that 5 of my doctors in the same building - how's that for one-stop shopping?!?! Sometimes I feel like I'm managing a team with all of these doctors! The ENT did a thorough exam of my nose (what a gross job, seriously) and shot up some kind of numbing junk. He then proceeded to take a culture of the insides of my sinuses. Absolutely lovely. He called last week to say that the culture didn't show anything "significant", so he wanted to have a CT of my sinuses. I had that done today. It was the easiest scan ever (less than a minute) and we went over my results immediately. I will admit I was quite fascinated looking at the inside of my head and he was kind enough to share my enthusiasm. So, to make a long story short, my sinuses are pretty jacked up and diagnosed me with chronic sinusitis. He's putting me on two weeks worth of steroids and a month (A MONTH!) of antibiotics. Yeehaw. But, fingers crossed this will do the trick and I won't need sinus surgery, which is what next if this infection doesn't clear up.

Speaking of surgery, my final (really hoping this is a true statement!) breast reconstruction surgery is April 7. I'm so excited to be almost finished! I met with my surgical team yesterday to go over the plan and then headed over to the hospital for surgery pre-testing. You know you're at the hospital WAY too much when entire new wings and departments have been added and you can reminisce with the staff over how things used to be. Luckily, this is a minor surgery, so I didn't need much in the way of testing.

I had my normal Herceptin treatment last week and my port decided it would be fun to act like a jackass. After a round of calisthenics, several different nurses and finally lying down flat, the stupid thing finally cooperated. The port is a wonderful thing, but when it doesn't work, life gets complicated. Good times here in cancerland!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Coming Full Circle

I'm a "tad" out of control at the moment. I have started my volunteer position and I am truly loving it. I have found such joy and awe in meeting with patients and giving them a little hope. The most interesting part of my experience so far is that I've found healing in reaching out to others going through something I know entirely too much about. I know it sounds clichéd when I say that I felt a "calling" to volunteer and work with patients, but I can't really find another way to describe it. I said in the beginning of my journey that if I could reach even just one person, and make a difference, that I would be winning. I'm here to tell you, I am SOOOOO winning right now!! So, yes, it appears that I am getting WAY more out of volunteering than I expected, and for that I cannot be more grateful.

I have some more good news to share with all of you (told you I had lots of irons in the fire)! I applied and have been accepted to attend Camp Hope!! Camp Hope is a weekend away for adults with (and recently completed treatment of) cancer. Many of you know that I was a counselor at Camp Fantastic, a camp for kids with cancer in my teens and early 20's (ancient times!). It's hard to explain just how much Camp Fantastic meant to me, but it was truly a magical place where miracles occurred and friendships were bonded for life. I credit much of my (mostly) positive attitude in regards to my cancer treatment with my Camp Fantastic experience and the countless acts of courage I witnessed there each day.  I am so looking forward to being a camper this time around and surrounding myself with new friends and experiences! Sometimes I marvel at how my life has really come full circle.

Life at the Hinman House continues marching on at a rapid pace. Spring soccer has started for Stella, which means practices, games and lots of rescheduling due to rain. sigh... Add to that Steve taking an evening class once a week, me having meetings to attend with my new position, school for the kids... I could go on for hours. I'm very excited for the spring weather and lots of activities, I just hope I can keep up!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Toddler Tales

I've started typing this entry at least six different times today, and every time I am thwarted by my sweet, innocent children. They have been plotting my demise all week, so surely the end is near. Simon has now figured out how to get in and out his bed. Yes, he's been in a regular bed since he was 18 months, but never tried to get out. Consider that skill completely mastered this week. Instead of napping, he enjoys getting in and out of bed, throwing things and running around his room. He's still not anywhere as close to destructive  as Stella, but the no-nap situation is taking its toll. You see, Simon still very much needs a nap, so by the time his bed time rolls around, he's a train wreck. Simon is very, very good at making my life (and anyone in a two mile radius) a living hell when he's tired. And, of course, when he doesn't nap, he doesn't sleep well at night either. Joy! Oh, did I mention that I'm pretty sure Simon is making up for all of the terrible two's Stella did not put us through? She was hell on wheels at three and the end appears no where in sight.

Stella has been a real gem these days to go along with Simon's shining personality. This morning over breakfast, she expressed her concern for my age ever so sweetly...
Stella, "Mommy, you're really getting old"
Me, "Gee, thanks, Stella".
Stella, "I really think it's time for a new mommy, you're just too old."

What the hell, people? I just stared at her because the only response I could think of was not appropriate for a child. Obviously I know she has no clue what she's actually saying, but I'm really feeling the love here right now, let me tell you. Stella has also informed me that I'm doing everything wrong and I talk too much. Such a lovely child...

Well, I'm typing this on the iPad outside, so who knows how many typos/ autocorrections were made. I'm off to pour myself a bottle of wine...Cheers!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Calendar Girl

I met with my plastic surgeon on Wednesday. She has cleared me for my next (and hopefully last!) surgery. I will need some "finishing" work after that, but those procedures can be done in the office without anesthesia. I'll be having my upcoming surgery on April 7, only about a month away, woohoo! The good news is that my surgeon is pleased with the outcome of the last surgery, so we'll definitely be moving forward!

It's been a busy week here in the Hinman Household. Both Steve and I have had commitments in the evenings (on different nights) along with the normal chaos that occurs each week. I sat down to look at our calendar and March/ April are already insanely busy. I will admit it's nice to have things to look forward to, but I just hope I can keep up this pace! Add to that soccer starting up again this weekend for Stella (she's excited and we're thrilled she has the same coach as the fall!), swimming lessons and the list goes on. Oh, and taking on this new volunteer role, not sure what I was calculating time-wise, but that will be a labor of love, so no worries there. I think we've officially entered into the next kid phase: sports and activities and craziness, oh my! Honestly though, this was the part of mommyhood I was most looking forward to :).

In other news, I had an uneventful treatment day on Thursday. After my last debacle there, it was a welcome treat. I was actually in and out of there in an hour and fifteen minutes, which is unheard of! Of course, it's only on the days that I come prepared to be tortured kept waiting that they would be done so quickly. Oh well, I'm certainly glad that I wasn't stuck in the infusion room for hours on end.

Well, it's taken me over 30 minutes to type this as my little "helpers" and ripping/ pushing buttons/ breaking everything in the office, so I need to run. Serenity now!!!

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Next Chapter

The time has finally arrived and I can't wait to share some of my exciting news with you!! I mentioned a few posts ago that I had some big things in the works for 2014 and I'm thrilled to be able to tell you about the most important one. I have been in the process of interviewing for a volunteer position with Northside Hospital in Atlanta (this is where I've been receiving all of my cancer related treatments AND where both of the kids were born). I have been selected to work with the Network of Hope, a volunteer group that provides supportive mentorship by matching cancer survivors with patients and caregivers. I have the amazing opportunity to offer hope and wisdom (fingers crossed on the second one!) to someone going through cancer treatments. I cannot begin to describe how deeply motivated I am to participate in such a worthy cause! From the beginning of my cancer journey, I have said that if I could make the difference in the life of just one person, I would call it a win. So, to have the chance to interact with patients, hopefully bring them a little joy and hope is a dream come true for me. I feel like I have so much to give, whether it be my time or experience. I am so ready for this next chapter in my life and I can't wait to begin!!!

On the homefront, we survived yet another Snice event. While inconvenient and certainly not what we had in mind as far as more "family bonding", the kids did enjoy some sledding and building a snow man. The snow very much frustrates Simon, but he did enjoy kicking it with his boots :). I think the best part about a snow event in Georgia is that usually within a day or two the sun is out and the snow melts. And, the temps this week have been in the upper 60's to low 70's, so I'll take it!! I love having the windows open and airing out the house. In a true nod to spring, I changed all of the linens today - swapping out down comforters for summer quilts. Hopefully I didn't jinx us, but I felt like I was being smothered to death by the down comforter.

Next week I meet with my plastic surgeon to schedule my next reconstructive surgery. It's a never ending game, but I do have to say that the results so far have been amazing. Hopefully I will be finished with my surgeries by the beginning of the summer!

Monday, February 10, 2014


Here we are, Monday again and waiting on another winter storm. Yes, we are all aware of the incoming snow/ ice/ sleet/ sh!tstorm bearing down upon Atlanta (as most of us were a couple of weeks ago, just not the state officials, but I digress...). The governor has even declared a preemptive state of emergency just to liven things up a bit. I can promise you that our fair city will not be caught with it's pants down again :). The forecast is sounding rather ominous and given the fact that I have a million things to do this week, I'm sure we'll be "sniced" in (that's what I'm now referring to as the snow-ice combo we seem to always get here. Try not to be too jealous of my superior mental capabilities...) for the rest of the week. Ironically, my kids are off of school Thursday thru next Tuesday. I was already trying to figure out what we were going to do for the "mid-winter" break (also known as teacher furlough days) and now the weather gods are going to add more days to my conundrum. If it does indeed precipitate, it's quite possible that I may lose my mind. Or what's left of it. Whatever...

I meant to update the blog on Friday but I had a sinus headache that I just couldn't kick. I just couldn't bring myself to stare blankly at the computer screen and I couldn't get the Doc McStuffins theme song to stop spinning around wildly in my brain. I resorted to my time-tested fix-all, which involves several beers, advil and sleep. This was while after the kids went to bed. I think... My poor liver, I know, but desperate times and besides, my liver felt fine... Anyway, my sinus headache is still around, but much improved. 'Tis the season for me.

Perhaps another contributor to my headache was my treatment appointment last Thursday, which turned out to be a royal cluster. My appointment was for 10:30 in the morning, which is when I almost always have treatment. It gives me time with morning traffic and them plenty of time if they're running behind, which they always are. Thursday's appointment was my reschedule from the week before, or SnowJam 2014. I arrived on time and was hoping to be out a little early so that I could run a quick errand. At 12:30, when I still hadn't started treatment, I was furious and frazzled. That's a really bad combination for me, in case you were curious. Please keep in mind that pick up time for the kids is 1:00. My Herceptin infusion runs over a period of 30 minutes at a minimum, sometimes a little longer (which, at $15,000 a pop, you're damn right that I want every last drop). So, mathematically speaking, it was obvious I was going to be very late picking up the kids. I did call the school to let them know I was hooked up to an IV and short of me throwing the IV pole over my shoulder and ramming it into my SUV, I was going to be late. The school staff of course, were amazing and very understanding, but I was SO upset. I am NOT a late person and being late makes me over-the-top mad. Just ask Steve...

I sincerely hope that Atlanta doesn't make the national (or international) news this week. The fact that it was over 60 degrees Saturday and Sunday have me somewhat skeptical that we're going to get much in the way of accumulation. That said, I'll be skeptical from my nice, warm house in the off chance that hell does indeed freeze over and it's snicing in Georgia :).

Friday, January 31, 2014


I'm sure by now that if you're reading this and don't live in the state of Georgia, you might be aware that we had a little "issue" here this week. And by issue, I mean a gigantic gridlock never before seen in our state (and we have an insane amount of traffic)! Given that you haven't been a on a complete media blackout, you know that Georgia, specifically the city of Atlanta and metro area, came to a complete standstill on Tuesday afternoon. While we were under a Winter Storm Warning, the forecasted snow wasn't supposed to begin until the afternoon. So, when I dropped the kids off at school around 9:30 and it had already started snowing, I had a bad feeling. Thank all that is holy, Steve decided to work from home that day. Turned out to be one of the best decisions he has ever made. I had planned on going to the gym and running a few errands while the kids were at school, but instead decided to head home and have another cup of coffee with Steve. It snowed hard for a couple of hours but it wasn't sticking. I put some hard labor into shoveling out more of the upstairs. About 12:30, Steve and I decided that we wanted Chick-Fil-A for lunch and that we'd grab some on the way to pick up the kids. I kid you not, in the 10 minutes that we made that decision and then left the house, the snow had started to stick. In a completely sane sense of judgment, we took Steve's rental car instead of my Sequoia. I will never be more thankful for that decision than I was on Tuesday. Yes, I have a big SUV and no, I don't have 4-Wheel drive. Call me crazy, but it's rarely needed down here. The rental car has front wheel drive and front wheel drive performs quite well in the snow (obviously there are limits to this, especially when snow is more than 6 inches deep). I'm not afraid to drive in the snow and have done my fair share of it, but not here. In fact, one Christmas Steve and I flew out to Colorado to see his parents and rented a Toyota Camry to drive through the Rocky Mountains in a blizzard because it was a $1,000 (yes, you read that correctly) cheaper than renting a 4 wheel drive. The Camry did great, but that's a story for another day. Anyway, as we reached the end of our neighborhood it became apparent very quickly that not only were we not going to make it to Chick-Fil-A, but we were going to be lucky to make it to pick the kids up in time. Our neighborhood sits on the side of a (small) mountain and the entrance is near the bottom. Cars had already spun out in ten places and people were sliding all over the place. We eventually reached the kids and immediately headed home. It took us 2+ hours to get home and we live less than 3 miles from the school. It was frustrating, scary and mind numbing. Stella and I actually hiked the last mile home because we had to pee so bad!

We were some of the lucky ones. The sticking snow quickly turned to sheets of ice and at that point, it doesn't matter whether you have front wheel drive, 4-wheel drive, you can't drive on ice. And that was the problem with the roads in Atlanta. I had so many friends stuck on the interstate for more than 12 hours, some close to 18 hours. I had friends that I taught with who spent the night at their schools to stay with kids who couldn't get home. Busses were still on the road at 3am. It was a terrifying and humbling experience for our city but you know what? I've never been so proud to be a resident here. The generosity, camaraderie and acts of kindness throughout the storm for those in need was a true demonstration of southern hospitality at it's finest. Yes, big mistakes were made by our leaders, but they've owned up to it (mostly). We'll learn from this and move on. I'm happy to call Atlanta home and to see how genuinely amazing the people here are.

January 31st is a huge milestone for me. Exactly two years ago today I received my cancer diagnosis. In some ways it's hard to believe that it's been two years and in other ways, an all-too close reminder of how quickly life can change. This year, I'm not dwelling on the past by reliving my story. I'm carrying on in my normal, out of control fashion and stopping just for a minute to thank my lucky stars that I'm still here and healthy with the ability to be out of control. The statistics would tell you that I should be dead by now, at least according to research done in the 1990's with being Her 2+. Thank god for Herceptin and the amazing scientists who discovered it. I do love proving those stupid numbers wrong! And that, my friends, is what living is all about :).

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Glitterbombing

I think this is the coldest winter I've experienced in my 9 years living in Georgia. I normally brag (to my friends in the north) that I can get by with just my fleece and maybe a scarf. Sometimes I go a little wild and break out my leather jacket if I'm feeling sassy that day. Well, not this winter. I've worn my puffy winter coat more this month than I have in the 6 years that I've owned it. And I bought it for the times that we're in Colorado... I even busted out my wool peacoat the other day and I haven't worn that since I lived in Virginia! So, damnnnnnn, it's cold outside! Although, not cold enough to prevent me from doing some shopping at one of my favorite outdoor malls yesterday. Walking around there was like walking through a wind tunnel, but desperate times and all that. And, I scored two pairs (2!) of boots for $40 at my favorite boutique. WINNING!! I also finally got around to getting my hair cut on Tuesday. It looks a thousand times better, especially without the mullet...

In other news, my children have decided to test what little sanity I have left. On Sunday evening, I made a quick trip to the grocery store (which is 5 minutes from our house) so I was gone a total of 15 minutes. In that 15 minutes, Stella managed to get her paint out of the cabinet in the office, paint most surfaces in that room and then paint Simon a lovely shade of Kelly green. I kid you not. You might be wondering what my husband was doing during the paint-a-thon and I cannot honestly tell you what he was thinking/ doing. But, surely by now he knows that with two toddlers running around when it suddenly gets quiet, major trouble is brewing. So, I arrived home to be greeted by Simon and his green hair...

On Monday night, Steve walked in the door and Stella disappeared. I swear she's part ninja. In the one (1!) minute that Steve and I exchanged greetings (how was your day, etc), Stella found two vials of glitter and proceeded to dump the first one over Simon's head (poor kid is going to have a real warped understanding of art supplies in a few years). The second one ended up on the floor of Simon's toy pirate ship. A neat factoid about glitter: it spreads to every imaginable surface and NEVER goes away. My first floor looks like a disco party gone bad and I'm still brushing glitter out of Simon's hair. That was fun explaining to both of their teachers, that yes, I do actually bathe my children and by the way, I'm really sorry about the glitter shower your classroom(s) are about to receive. I think being glitterbombed is an excellent way to push someone right over the edge. I'm sort of getting used to my sparkly dogs and glitter themed couch... We won't discuss the glitter that comes out of Simon's diapers...

On Wednesday, Simon was kind enough to shove a raisin up his nose. Yes, I was actually in the room and turned my head for one second to see what the damn dog was barking at. I have no idea if it came out or now. I called our nurse line for the pediatrician and she had me do a CPR-type move on him to try and get it out. Needless to say that didn't work (and Simon was not a fan at all) and I refuse to go sit in the ER for 6 hours. And of course, it happened in the 5 minutes before I needed to leave to pick up Stella from school. If the raisin is still up there buried in his nose, it hasn't bothered him in the slightest. I guess time will tell. Is it too early to send in my application for MOTY? I know it's only January, but I'm pretty sure I'm winning at best parenting ever. So, yes, I earned those boots after this week!!

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Fresh Start

It's Friday! Sometimes I feel almost (I said almost) guilty about saying that since I'm not working anymore, but I still love the weekends! It's been a busy week here. I managed to make it to the gym two times this week, which is the most I've been since I was pregnant with Stella. January is such a crazy time at the gym because you have all of the "New Years resolution" people, myself included. Although sometimes I feel like shouting, "I'm not actually new, I've been a member here for 7 years! I've kinda had a lot going on the past few years...". The good news is that my membership card still works and didn't immediately burst into flames when I used it. They also have the same treadmills (they were brand new 5 years ago) so I didn't have to worry about figuring out how to operate the damn thing without killing myself. Bonus!

I've also been going through a major purge: every mess/ disorganized/ pile of crap/ old broken toys (which, - we had at least 100 random, broken plastic pieces of god knows what). Steve and I started with the garage on Sunday, it's now relatively organized and decluttered/ junked. I also vacuumed out my car (which was desperately needed after two toddlers and several road trips). On Monday I tackled the land of broken/ outgrown toys. That little task was l-o-n-g overdue, but gosh, it felt good. The kids (meaning, me while they grabbed things out of sorted piles) and I organized and found a place for everything. Almost a week later, I'm happy to say that this little system seems to be working. We'll see how long it lasts...

On Tuesday, both kids were finally back in school, hooray! I reclaimed my kitchen and sorted through the never-ending pile of mail. I reorganized that room too! It's not quite Pottery Barn pretty, but it's much improved. Wednesday led me to the laundry room, aka: room of uncertain death. You literally cannot walk into that room without stepping a shoe, jacket, dog bone etc. So, I figured out a solution to that little issue, and now, the room is a damn work of art. I might even have to call Real Simple in on this one. So, yeah, I'm a little out of control in the cleaning/ organizing department, but I'm desperately trying to get my house into some sort of functioning order! I'll also add that I finally, FINALLY have the energy to do all of this and not feel like I ran 500 miles by 2pm. And that, my friends, is real progress :)

Speaking of progress, this week I have had some absolutely fantastic opportunities come my way. I can't wait to share them with you! I'll let you know more as I have more details. 2014 is really shaping up to be a phenomenal year for us, cheers to that!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Bullet Dodging

I saw my dermatologist on Tuesday. She took one look at me and said, "That is definitely (some kind, I can't remember) a terrific case of eczema". She was so convinced it's a skin issue, she decided to not do a biopsy at this time. She wants to treat the eczema and then if it's not better in a couple of weeks, she'll do a biopsy. The dermatologist also thinks I have developed some kind of skin allergy/ sensitivity. That's not surprising given the amount of radiation I had and the types of drugs my body has been exposed to. Plus, throw in a few surgeries, outrageous weather (4 degrees in Georgia is just stupid, in my opinion) and it's no wonder my skin is royally pissed off. It was somewhat surreal chatting with my dermatologist as I hadn't seen her since the beginning of this journey. I know she was as excited to see me as I was to see her. If it hadn't been for her doing the original biopsy and trusting her instincts (not to mention her wheeling and dealing to get me into my breast surgeon in a New York minute), I would be willing to bet the farm that I wouldn't be sitting here typing this today. I brought the kids with me- is there any greater fun (and I mean that as sarcastically as possible) than dragging two toddlers to a doctors appointment that has nothing to do with them? Luckily for me, schools were closed on Tuesday due to the extreme temperatures. And no, I wasn't upset that schools were closed, I can't imagine kids waiting outside for the bus in those kinds of conditions. So, after begging the kids to behave and bribing them with a trip to Target afterwards (and a little help from my iPad, thank you modern technology!), the kids cooperated. Chatting with my dermatologist, we realized that our daughters were born on the same day and year, at the same hospital. How's that for fate working in the most amazing way?!?! It really was wonderful seeing her and having a chance to thank her again for playing a crucial role in saving my life.

As for my lovely rash, it has now spread everywhere. I just feel so damn glamorous... The dermatologist wrote me a prescription for a special kind of skin cream. That would be great except that the pharmacy had to special order it and won't arrive until Tuesday of next week. So, please excuse me as I itch myself to death... I do have some heavy duty lotion I'm using from a past incident with my skin and it's helping a little bit. I find wine to be the most helpful in this situation :)

I had a check-up with my oncologist yesterday, mostly so I could relay to her what the dermatologist said and for her to take a look at the rash. I was also cleared for treatment which was good since I had to miss last week. We both decided that I look like I'm suffering from some sort of tropical ailment and had a good laugh about it. And that's why I love my doctor's, they're not afraid to joke around with me or ask questions about how are family is doing. My oncologist routinely reminds me that she thinks I'm crazy for having two toddlers and a puppy...

I turned another year older this week. Can't say I'm particularly excited about that as I'm approaching my late 30's, GAH! I did get a Fitbit Flex for my birthday and have already developed a love/ hate relationship with it. I swear this morning it called me a fatass when I stepped on the scale. This week I'm not really changing anything in my routine, mostly just observing what things are like without making a point to exercise, eat right etc. I can tell you that I've already learned so much and I have a LOT of work to do. So, with that in mind, I'm off to burn some calories :)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Deja Vu

It's been quite a month and that could, potentially, be the understatement of my year. The week after Thanksgiving, I received a call from my oncologist saying that she was concerned as my tumor makers had come back elevated. Anyone who's dealt with cancer knows that this is not good, but also, could mean many different things. What are tumor markers? Tumor markers are described here by the American Cancer Society. The specific one they measure for me is the CA 27.29 marker, commonly associated with breast cancer and some other cancers. All sources are quick to point out that tumor markers are not a guaranteed science and not always a reliable test. That said, my tumor markers have always been steady. They jumped and my doctor took notice. So, what happens when you do have an elevated marker? Most of the time it's a "wait and see" attitude for a few months. Markers are retested and trends are studied. Unless you're me, in which case, all hell breaks loose and all bets are off. My oncologist ordered an emergency PET scan which I had done on Monday, December 9. Why did they act so quickly? Given the very aggressive nature of my cancer, she didn't want to take any chances or waste any time in case my cancer had returned. To say that I have been out of my mind with worry is again, a really big understatement.

The turn around time for my PET scan left me having to choose another site to have the test done, since the main hospital was booked for the next two weeks. I ended up going to another branch of my hospital located about 20 miles north of where we live - it's pretty rural up there. So rural, in fact, that their PET scan machine was actually a mobile unit. Yup, exactly like it sounds, it's a machine in a tractor trailer that travels to the smaller branches in the metro area. Pretty cool, when you really think about it, which of course I did, because what else can you think about sitting outside in a trailer in December waiting for the radioactive dye to move through your body? It was freezing!! I was also nervous because I didn't have my normal PET scan techs working with me. I'm telling you, in the almost two years that I've been at this cancer thing, I've gotten to know most of the techs for the different tests and I like them. It was tough working with different people! Anyway, other than almost freezing to death, the test was uneventful. However, this hospital gave me a copy of my scan to take home. WHAT??? "For my personal records" they said. We all know damn well as soon as I got home, Steve and I pulled those bad boys up on the computer and did our best to navigate through them. Clearly, this was a poor choice and radiologists have advanced degrees for a reason. Worried? Why not freak yourself out even more by comparing your PET scan images to those on Dr. Google. Stupid, Stupid, STUPID!!

Three days can be a VERY long time to wait for results, as I'm sure many of you know. Add to that recovering from surgery (I'm doing great by the way, this has been a breeze compared to the last two) and sorting out the mess from Steve's car accident (he's also fine and we're so thankful for that), Steve and I were about to jump the next plane to Tahiti. We've always known that there's a chance my cancer can return, but I've been feeling great and other than my brief run-in with sciatica, have had no complaints or reason to think we should be concerned. Some of you might even be upset that I didn't mention anything in my blog last week about this, but I didn't want to worry anyone until there was a reason to do so. I HATE knowing that I am causing people to worry (and I KNOW some of you do!).

We met with my oncologist December 12th. When she asked me how I was feeling, I told her that I wanted to throw up, depending on what she told me. Good news, she said, your scans are clear! Cue the trumpets and streamers!! She went on to say that they are baffled as to why my numbers jumped, especially since my PET scan was clean and my bone scan showed nothing.

Fast Forward to Christmas Day. We spent this Christmas in South Carolina at the Hinman Family Beach Compound. I woke up Christmas morning to... a huge bright red rash on my right foob (by the way, a foob is a fake boob...). I literally laughed at first, because the deja vu was uncanny. Literally two years ago to the freaking day is when I discovered my original rash. Don't worry, I quickly moved from laughing to total panic mode. Merry "I'mgoing tohaveacompletebreakdown" Christmas!! So, I spent my vacation between scouring Dr. Google looking at images of rashes to drinking too much wine because that was the only way I could relax even a little. Luckily, I had an appointment scheduled with my oncologist yesterday. I knew she was going to be annoyed (I count on her for that, she never panics and I love that about her. She doesn't like any "hiccups" in our regularly scheduled program). She has no idea what's going on with me and the good news (if there is any) is that the rash has spread to other parts of my upper body. So, she's sending me to the dermatologist for a check-up and a biopsy. My oncologist did say that she really didn't think this was cancer, but we're going to rule it out for good with the biopsy. She also said that my tumor markers are back to normal and that the test I had in November had to be a fluke. Amen to that! So, stay tuned as the drama continues... here's to hoping the 2014 is off to a better start than this week...