Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ahhhh, vacation.

You guys - it happened!

We went on vacation. I can't tell you how many miles we logged, but in 9 days, we visited Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.

It wasn't nearly as restful as I had imagined in my head, but overall, everyone had fun and we got to see some incredible stuff. I was tired and in recovery mode. Our RV rental had mechanical problems. Our 2 year old did not seem to understand how cool it was to be traveling in this manner. BUT, good times were had and good memories were made!

Grand Canyon at sunset

Four Corners

My loves

The Badlands

Mt. Rushmore

Horseback riding through the Colorado river

Playing in the gorgeous, cold Colorado river

God is good.
Life is good.
I am good. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

The current normal

You know 40... you kinda suck. I was doing just fine at 39...

So surgery #2 happened last week and went well. **Interesting side note: according to billing and insurance, I had an organ transplant during surgery! Sometimes your parathyroids grow into your thyroid, which mine had. When removing my thyroid, 2 of my parathyroids came out with it. The doc reinserted and attached them and it was all coded as an organ transplant. 

I also found out I now have valvey veins, which apparently isn't all that copacetic with IVs. One successful IV was started around 1:15pm and decided it was done around 2:00am - 3 attempts and 2 nurses later... success at 3:00am! 

So far, surgery recovery has been the easy part. Pain is minimal and while I've still got some swelling, I'm healing well. However, I feel like I have the flu... all the time! Foggy brain, motion sickness and waves of nausea, trouble with my vision, and tired, oh-so-tired. 

So normal right now is yuck. Like, for real, yuck. I know it's all healing from 2 surgeries in 12 days and medication regulation and stuff, so it's not the new normal, but it is the current normal and I'm already over it ;-) 

Thank you for all of the amazing prayer support and meal preparation that has been gifted to us - we are truly blessed!

Next up: follow up with surgeon on Wednesday for official release for vacation (I'm convinced it's gonna happen folks!). A restful, relaxing vacation, then start the next phase of treatment... 

God is good.
Life is good.
I am good. 

but cancer sucks.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Moving forward, but a slight direction change...

We're still moving forward, but the direction has changed a bit. I had my surgical follow up on Tuesday and it went well. My incision is healing nicely and I feel pretty good. Pathology was backed up at the hospital, so the results from my other biopsies weren't in yet. 

When I called on Thursday to check again, the nurse told me that my results were in and the surgeon would call me back. At that point I knew there was a problem - this is exactly what happened last time. "The doctor would like to speak with you about your results." Fast forward 6 hours and I finally got the call.

I took the conservative approach and had only the tumor and surrounding tissue removed, but cancer is not conservative. It decided it wanted to spread it's wings into the rest of my thyroid and surrounding tissues. So, I'll be heading back in on Tuesday for another, more invasive surgery to remove everything else that is showing cancerous cells. 

But this will be it. I am confident. I am resting on an already answered prayer - one for clarity in decisions for treatment moving forward. Can't get more clear than where I am now. My options are few and the plan is pretty set now. Surgery. Radioactive iodine treatment. Replacement thyroid hormone. Becoming life long friends with an endocrinologist!

If you want to pray or send good vibes, I have 2 primary requests:
  1. For my family - There are 7 more people who are being drastically impacted by cancer and the change in my abilities/role over the past couple of weeks.
  2. For vacation - I know it sounds petty, but we have a long awaited dream vacation for the kids planned and we are supposed to be leaving on June 30th for 10 days. I would love nothing more than to be able to go on this trip.
And with all of that said, I stand by what I said in my last post:

God is good.
Life is good.
I am good.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Moving forward

Surgery is done and the cancerous lump is gone! Everything went as planned (with the exception of my sudden panic when my anesthesiologist hobbled in, seemingly about 90 and hunchback.... but he did his job and did it well!).

I was able to keep part of my thyroid that was still healthy. With a low risk of recurrence and pretty clear margins, the surgeon was confident in leaving a portion there. This means no synthetic hormone replacement for now, which is awesome news! 

Pathology could still tell a different story that wasn't visible to the surgeon's eye, but for now, I'll take it!

The worst part, day 1, was the awful turtleneck bandage! They used lidocaine at the incision and biopsy spots, so while I had a sore throat from the breathing tube, overall pain wasn't bad. Today, the numbness has worn off so the discomfort is a bit more, but manageable.

The redness is my allergy to the bandage adhesive and the small dots are all places where additional biopsies where taken. 

Follow up on Tuesday for pathology, so until then, soft foods and rest! 

God is good.
Life is good.
I am good.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Lump in my throat

I'd love to tell you that I've got a lump in my throat because
  • my oldest son is visiting colleges and starting his senior year
  • my oldest daughter is getting her license and taking the next step in independence that I foolishly imagined as a remote possibility 15 years ago
  • my youngest son just finished 6th grade, a year younger than all of his classmates, with straight A's
  • my 2+ years with my 3 littlest girls, who have a huge piece of my heart, may be coming to an end soon
Yep, all of these have recently been giving me pause, consideration, and a figurative, emotional lump in my throat.

But this time it's literal. I've really got a lump in my throat.

A few blood tests, sonograms, scopes, and biopsies later, it's been determined that little lump is thyroid cancer and the little bugger has to come out.

Surgery is scheduled next week. But remarkably, I'm not nervous (yet). I've got plenty to organize and take care of before then to keep me busy. Plus, I'm placing my bets on a God with enough control over this situation that surgery will take care of everything and I won't need any radiation.

But even having that confidence, I suppose any time you are suddenly personally attached to the word cancer, things change. I know it's all mental, but it feels strange to be going about my day, looking fine, feeling fine, yet knowing there's this thing in you that doesn't belong. This thing that is doing you harm. This perspective-changing thing that feels dirty, invasive. This thing that makes you have hard conversations with your kids. This thing that makes you tell your story over and over, while trying to stay positive and secure.

No pity party needed or necessary.
No cheerleading required or requested.
So many people have it so much worse and I'm good.
Life is good.

This lump in my throat is just a bump in the road. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

This stuff is hard.

Yeah, this life stuff is hard. All of it.

I just read online that if parenting isn't hard, you probably aren't doing it right. If there's truth to that, I'm encouraged that I'm not screwing it up as bad as I thought! 

My family, oh my poor family, you should pray for them because I'm not the easiest momma to live with, I'm sure. I try and try to be patient and loving and understanding and supportive and at all of their "stuff" but oy vey am I dropping the ball. Thank you, Lord, for grace new every day because I need it.

And, really it goes beyond parenting. Extended family. Health. Broken systems. Huge work initiatives. So, so much to balance and be involved in, yet stay humble and patient and kind. 

It's been a long time since an update from me, so in a nutshell:

We're still fostering Ess and Enn - they've now been with us for 20+ months. On October 29, we took in their newborn sister K from the hospital. We don't know how long she'll be staying as the system is pushing hard for her to return home for a trial run to see if bio mom can parent. I'm torn. I'd love to see her be successful, but over the past almost 2 years, I feel really strongly that she cannot successfully parent 4 kids and that sending a 3 month old home as a "practice" child is not in the best interest of this family. 

Ess is almost 4 and she's a little mommy to her sisters. She needs to be snuggled and held and reassured all of the time, but is polite and always thanking me for everything she has. The most painful punishment for her is to be sent to her room, away from the family. She's definitely the social butterfly and most routined of us all, asking every morning what type of day it's going to be ("stay home day?" "school today?" "visit day?" "church today?" "tumbling class today?"). If you've never seen the movie Frozen, just let her know... she'll quote the entire thing verbatim for you. 

Enn is almost 2 and quickly revealing her stubbornness and need for control. Hello, terrible 2's! She's talking up a storm and makes us laugh as much as she makes us sigh! She's quite the dancer too, but our favorite thing to see her do is sing. She has this crazy style in which she only EVER says the final word of each verse of a song. She knows the whole thing but stands ever so quiet until the final word and belts that out. Hilarious. 

Beebs is 11 and growing so fast. He's in 6th grade and made the Jr High basketball team, which is finishing up their season now, seeded first for regionals! He's gearing up for Scholastic Bowl and Chess club too. He is finally settling into a bit of a routine with Jr High and the challenges it brings. It's been a growing process for all of us in helping him get and use the tools he needs to be successful, but we're seeing strides every day. 

Sis is 15 and practicing driving. She's successfully done another year of swim team and speech team at the high school. She had her first small part in a local theatre's production of Peter Pan and just got a part in the spring musical, Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, at the school. She's busy and loving it. 

Wy Guy turned 17. We don't see him too much between school, band, and his job, but we're doing our best to stay connected to him! He's researching colleges which makes my heart hurt. I'm so not ready for this!

So many happenings and I'm so tired, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I just need to reset my perspective sometimes and let go. And remember that this will soon all be gone and what will I do then? I guess, I'll be freed up to write more here...

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

These kids.

Wow - these kids. 

Wy Guy

  • is 16 & heading into his Junior year 
  • is owning learning to drive a stick shift
  • working a real part time job
  • while he's not playing football for the first time in 8 years, he is still making music and joining the tennis team
  • gets his hands dirty and my freezer filled hunting, fishing and frog gigging
  • taller than his momma & still growing 

  • is 15 & heading into her Sophomore year
  • started driving
  • working her first summer job
  • swimming competitively (high school team & local swim club)
  • speech team superstar
  • starring in her first community theatre role in a couple of months (local peeps - come see Peter Pan at Eastlight Theatre!!!) 
  • not taller than her momma :-)  

  • is 10 & heading into 6th grade 
  • swimming competitively year round with local swim club
  • basketball stud (fingers crossed for making the Jr High team this year)
  • joined the school band
  • can't get enough time in the kitchen - kid can cook!
  • almost taller than his momma & definitely still growing

  • turned 3 in March and starts preschool in August
  • is quite the tumbling class superstar
  • is learning to overcome her fear of the water & swim
  • loves being anywhere the rest of the kids are
  • growing like a weed, going from 18 months to 3-4T clothes in the past 14 months

  • turned 1 in April and is small BUT fierce
  • started walking at 9 months
  • is holding out on teeth... still only has 2 but eats everything
  • is a complete momma's girl, bordering on a momma's leech
  • sleeps through the night... FINALLY! Can I get a hallelujah!?!

My heart is full.