Monday, March 23, 2009

Girl's Weekend

In Chapter 16 of Persuasion by Jane Austen, Mr. Elliot and Anne Elliot are discussing "good company". Anne Elliot described good company as clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation. Mr. Elliot described good company as requiring only birth, education, and manners. He described what Anne Elliot described as not good company, but the best of company. This weekend was one that I was not expecting to participate in. It was a long time planned weekend with my college roommates. It was planned with my attendance, but when I delayed my chemo one week I was VERY doubtful if I could swing it. As it worked out, this was one of my easiest treatment weeks. I don't know why, but I worked at it. I did EVERYTHING by the book and still it was easy for me this time. So, on Friday, I thought, "I am going on the weekend. OMG!" One of my roommates picked me on on Saturday, and off we went to meet two more, and drive over to Leveanworth to the Sleeping Lady to meet yet two more. I was nervous, but Grant talked me back from the ledge. As a lot of you know, your college roommates know you like no other. I didn't have sisters or brothers and never had people around me as much as these guys. We were very different people, but for some reason it just worked for us. We arrived to see everyone with wine, sparkling cider, crackers, and cheese. Then, off to the bar and NCAA Basketball, dinner during halftime, and back to the game. We then retired to PJs and pictures - laughing for hours. Saturday was full of marathon training, workouts, massages, walks (that would be my speed), talking and soaking up the sun. More basketball at 4:30 when the bar opened, dinner, and then a very special performance of our final college week on video that one of my girlfriends transferred to DVD from VHS. It was two hours long. At the end we all had our last comments.....I cried on video and I cried watching myself 18 years ago. My skin perfect, my life ahead of me, my prospects open and so optimistic. Then I realized, it all came true except the Mercedes, but I didn't marry that guy which is OKAY! After we walked back to the room, I excused myself with the explanation of looking at the stars in the front of the cabin. I was alone. Then, one of my girlfriends came out to join me. She asked me if I was out there crying and I said, "Yeah." The rest of the girls were in back of the cabin and I could hear them laughing and talking - just like college. I needed the time. When she asked me further what was going on, I just said, "I want more." I did and I do. I want to be at the next reunion, the next wedding, the next baby. Previously, I have been thankful for the moment, but this night I told God I wanted more. More time, health, my boys graduation, their weddings. I told God that I appreciated everything, that I know that I should not expect anything else and that I was not foolish enough to plea with him for more time if it wasn't part of the plan. I just told him that I wanted it. It was done - arrogant or not. I looked back on my 39 years and I have struggled for very little. I have worked for even less. Don't get me wrong, I have always had a good work ethic (even to me by my family), but I have never really needed to work for anything. My husband and I have done well, by our own doing, but we were given advantages of first world countries, great schools, solid morals, etc. What did we ever really need? But I digress....I guess I didn't realize how much I missed these women. We have seen each other over the years, but we had not all been together in over 12 years. We ended that night laughing in bed talking about ridiculous stories of haunted houses, ski trips (good and bad), and life in general. The morning of filled with taking pictures, video, breakfast, and goodbyes. These are my girls. How lucky am I???? This was one of the best weekends I have had in two years. Heck, maybe my life. I didn't think I could do it, but I did. I didn't think it would effect me so much, but I am different. Softer, grateful, and yet greedy. So, it is in my and God hands now, I will be there. Always, now, and forever. Thank you ladies - I love each and every one of you. Love, Ang

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Okay, I am finally ready to talk about

the funeral I went to a few weeks ago on Friday the 13th. Normally, you would think, "Oh, not on Friday the 13th....", but it wasn't the case at all. It was perfect. Grant and I were there because it was a co-workers husband, we had known them for YEARS, and he died of a brain tumor. Of course, it was sad. He was young, had two young children that he stayed home with (like me), and he was loved by many, but especially his wife. So, where do I start???? Okay, at the beginning....we got there right at 7:00pm. The service was just about to start. We met up with some other friends and sat down. So, in a nutshell it was beautiful because it was very him. I LOVED the music (and actually kept the program for ideas for mine...I KNOW - REMEMBER I AM A PLANNER!), the service was positive and kind - the Pastor was amazing, and everyone that was there was there because they wanted to be. The "comments" section was handled by presubmittal via email. The Pastor read them in such a powerful and positive way - it was amazing. No tears, no blubbering people in front of a microphone, no waiting for people to come up and speak - I loved it. Note to self. I hugged his wife before the ceremony and said, "Just get through tonight and tomorrow will be better. You can do this." She nodded. I was going to be strong for this - I was going to take care of her. Well, that all went to heck when I went up for the blessing. She was coming back with her two adorable girls and I had a tear in my eye. She hugged me and asked, "How you holding up?" I was thinking, "Well, besides planning my own funeral, making song selections, and basically stealing your format - FABULOUS!!!!" I just nodded. AND THEN.....I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS HAPPENED, BUT IT DID. I have witnesses. Her two year old gives me a hug because, GET THIS, I was sad. Yep, I am the biggest "taking care loser" ever!!!!! That is when everyone we knew started crying. GREAT. I am hopeless. Head shake in disgust. Anywho, I did make up for it after the service. There was a full reception afterward with wine. I thought, if nothing else, I can get her wine. And I did. I actually made sure that she had a glass the entire evening. At least, I did that well. The reception was actually fun. I saw people that I hadn't seen in forever. We laughed, visited, and no one cried. The kids played and we all ate real food - including strawberry shortcake - note to self!!! When we left it was like 10pm. I got in the car and said, "There is nothin' like a good funeral! I loved that!" Note to self. (Grant hates that by the way, but he doesn't say anything anymore.) So, as for the entire evening, I was contented. We said goodbye well in a beautiful, glorious way. The only piece of advice I would give is if you are going to a funeral, do not take Trader Joe's facial tissue with you. It is not very good at "staying together" and sticks to your face upon getting wet. VERY ATTRACTIVE. In addition, I noticed that I missed a piece under my glasses when we got home. I was thinking, "Great, I spoke and laughed with how many people with tissue stuck to my face. I even met one of Grant's favorite clients at this thing - PERFECT." When I mentioned it to Grant he said, (and I am not kidding), "Oh yeah, I noticed that, but I forgot to tell you." THANKS FOR HAVIN' MY BACK BABE! ;) Love, Ang

Monday, March 16, 2009

Normally I don't post twice in one day,

but I am today. We went to the Bouncy House. WAS I NUTS???? I thought it would be a work out for the kids - NOT ME! The boys had a BLAST. Mason was like a little spider man - up everything, down everything, he truly amazed me. Nolan was cautious and had me go on everything with him the first time. Once he got the hang of it, "I DO IT!" came into play and I was saved HOWEVER there were a couple things that being little he could not do himself and the toddler area apparently was B-O-R-I-N-G. I was able to do most everything but then there was the WALL. I am talking completely vertical 10 foot wall. Now the 20 foot 45 degree wall with climbing rope was easy, but this was vertical and most of the hand holds at the top were missing. I was able to get Nolan up it, Mason did it himself, but I failed three times. Now, not all the women in that place were even trying the wall; most men did it; and then one woman was chatting me up and we agreed that I would help her boy up and she would get both our boys over the top. She was SHORT, so she couldn't spot her boy to the top. I could. She however could get up the wall being seven months pregnant and I couldn't. So, it worked out, but it bugged me. When she left, Nolan wanted to up it again because, after all, his brother was. I let him go and while spotting him I noticed that the left side still had the hand holds at the top. One more try - and I did it. So, we went two more times and they called time out for the session (THANK GOD). But, I did it. One hour of complete play like a toddler - my heart was going and I was sweating. I feel like a threw my shoulder out and it hurts to type this, but I DID IT. I didn't tell anybody about my cancer, I kicked ass, my shoulder will probably have permanent damage but my pride and my fighting spirit were saved. Sometimes that makes all the difference. Now, where is that that heat pad..... TTFN, Ang

Getting ready for Chemo

Well, since the rain started, my nose is doing much better and, while I am tired from a very productive weekend, I have decided to take the kids, by myself, to The Bouncy Place. A friend recommended it to me and they have drop in at 10am today. Me and my boys need some fun together and the weather stinks, so I think this is just the ticket. I have already packed them up for tomorrow, cried that I have to go, and gotten over myself. So, now, OFF TO THE BOUNCY PLACE!!!! Happy Monday, Ang P.S. Yes, I do use presciption toothpaste which helps my teeth not be as sensitive, but it cannot help my gums. Thanks for taking the time in emailing me the suggestion - I have gotten a lot of mileage out of those suggestions, so keep them coming!!!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sweet Nolan

Yesterday, I posted about what life was like and how some complain about the quality of life they have. Here is why I don't. In May of 2007, I was told that I had a terminal illness that would kill me if I didn't start treatment right away. I was never supposed to see my youngest son's first birthday. Well, last month we celebrated his second and yesterday was the first time that I got Nolan a "Kid Hot Chocolate" from the coffee stand. Mason has gotten one for a while, and Nolan has not. He had to content himself with a lollipop, but yesterday I looked back at him and asked him if he too wanted a hot cocoa like Mason. His face LIT UP and he said, "Hot Cocoa!" When I handed him his hot chocolate (which is like luke warm chocolate milk). He proudly took it, looked at me and said, "Thank you Mommy." My heart melted. What a big boy. All the way home he put it in his drink holder and took it out saying, "I got it!" He has NEVER said, "Thank you" with the "Mommy" in it. This is why I put up with what I wrote yesterday. Those moments FAR EXCEED my inconveniences. BTW - Nolan also flung himself into his crib last night yelling, "I GOT IT!" and smiling the entire time. A good Mom probably would not have let him do it, but he was so determined to do it ("I DO IT!") that I could not squash his drive. Happy Thursday, Ang

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What life is like

A few people have asked what is life like for me. Well, I am going to answer it with my routine. I think everyone knows that I have a routine when it comes to chemo. I will spare you that. What I will tell you is my routine outside of chemo. About five days after my chemo treatment I settle into this.....I have to take a sleep aid to get used to sleeping through the night and on the boys' schedule. Part of this is because the steroids screw up your sleep and part of it is because I don't have a schedule when the boys are not around. The boys are up at 6:30 every morning, so you need to go to bed early to get your sleep in. I find that I do better when I drink one meal and eat solid food only twice during the day. So, I substitute something like an instant breakfast for one meal. I monitor my caffeine intake because that stimulates going poop. If this is too much information, stop reading now. I get in the shower and clear out my sinuses. It is a combo of blood and snot. Big chucks of scabs come out because one of the new drugs dries out your sinus so bad they bleed - every night. I check my pillow case for blood and if decide if it so bad that I should change them. For those of you that know me or lived with me, my tolerance for this stuff has changed - A LOT. I go downstairs and boil water on the stove to get some moisture in the air to help my nose stop bleeding. Once one starts, it is hard to get it to stop especially when it is dry like it is right now. I monitor all my meals by soluble and insoluble fiber. When I poop, I either have to take a sitz bath or use a very special and hard to find lotion to return the ph balance to my skin. Yes, my skin DOWN THERE. FUN AND VERY SEXY. In the morning, I may have Mommy and me class which we miss more than we go, but that is Nolan's fault. Why is that kid always sick on Tuesday? Or, we may have Preschool pick up or drop off although that is taken care of most of the time for me by Grant, Grandma, or Grandpa (which is exciting for Mason because of the truck). Or, sometimes, I actually venture out. Most of the time this is with Karissa or Mom, but sometimes by myself and the boys if it is close, like downtown Kent. Did I mention that if it is really cold out I have to cover my mouth and nose when I breathe becuase the cold locks up my throat? Another fun side effect of the drugs. We RARELY eat out. My system can't handle fast food very well and Nolan is a piece of work in a restaurant. In the afternoon, the boys and I rest. Nolan naps everyday, Mason every other, and while I may not sleep, I do lay down for 45 mins EVERYDAY. When we get up there isn't much time so we usually watch a DVD program or play with the train set before dinner. Now, there is dinner which I don't make, I assemble. Because of all the the amazing support in our life, dinner comes to us and on the days it doesn't, I am a master at assembling pieces of left over dinners. I don't have many eating requirements right now, I can balance it usually by what comes, and I love the variety that arrives through the door. It is a little like Christmas three times a week. I always have enough food for us and, on occasion, I send dinner home to my Mom after she has watched the boys all week. The only time I don't eat much is chemo week or if I have mouth sores which I do right now. THEY HURT like a mother and they last for about a week. Luckily, I don't get them often. There are people that have them the entire time. I pray for them. Daddy and the boys then play for a bit and then it is off to bed or bath night. The boys wear one outfit a day unless is preschool in which they are stripped when they get home to cut down on germs. I do do laundry every other day. When the boys are in bed, Grant and I have a few moments to talk or watch one recorded program before I am off to bed. Getting ready for bed is washing my face, filling up and turning on my humidifier (Sarah - you thought you let me borrow it for Mason!?!?!?! Well, I am sure using it more now!!!), carefully brushing my teeth because my gums ache from chemo and mouth sores, putting Aquaphor (super cream) on my hands with a mixture of a very little amount of "Hoof Maker" Lotion my girlfriend gave me. (Her last bottle and they don't make it anymore!) This saves my hands and fingernails which I still have and some people don't. I pray for them too. I read a chapter of my book for book club and go to sleep. I usually sleep well, but there is the occasionally morning I am up (like this one) finishing up a post, covering the boys because it is cold, or eating a little bit around my mouth sores because I couldn't eat all I needed at dinner. I hope that covers it. My "normal" is so normal to me, I don't realize that it isn't until I write it down. It is funny because a lot of people that are first diagnosed talk to me about what there quality of life will be or they complain about the doctor's not telling them that the quality of life will be lowered so completely or they just don't like living this way. I concur, but the difference is that they have a life to worry about. Cancer doesn't mess around. It plays to win and it doesn't much care for your quality of life. The good news is that you are ALIVE. Take care, Ang

Monday, March 9, 2009

So much for Mother of the Year

Sometimes people think you are a saint for simply having cancer. Well, let me put your assumptions to rest....I am not a saint. Three examples follow. A couple rounds ago I was tired, taxed, my skin hurt, my attitude was down and Mason was on the negative bend. You would ask him how was school and he would say, "Bad. Someone hurt me." I would ask more questions naturally being concerned. I worked at Children's and Childhaven for goodness sake. However, I am quickly determined that this was a load of crap. Apparently, his Grandpa hurt him, his classmates hurt him, his friends hurts him, his teachers hurt him, and to top it off, I hurt him too. Okay, so am I to believe that ALL the people in his life hurt him? Nope. He told me Grandma didn't hurt him. She also reads, "The little boy who cried Wolf" to him all the time. See a pattern? He then went on and on about how he needed a bigger room and we needed to move to accommodate all of his friends (you know, the ones that hurt him). He needed his own room. So, after listening to this for a couple days, still feeling bad, and determining that my dear happy son had decided that he was just going to complain about EVERYTHING, I tried to roll with it. I tried to explain to him that we need to look at the positive, focus on what we have, use our words with our friends if someone hurts us, etc. After a couple rounds of that, he clearly wasn't taking the hint and I lost it. The rant went on for at least a few minutes and, if you know me, I can get a lot out in a few minutes. It included things like, "Mason, I have cancer which could kill me and I have a better attitude than you...." and "If you have so much trouble with all your friends we can just never go to school and you can not see them ever again....." and then the kicker (which I am not proud of), "...maybe if you are lucky, I will die before our life insurance runs out and Daddy will get enough money to buy you a new house with your own, HUGE, room!" SILENCE. Pause. I look at Mason and think, "CRAP." He looks at me with those beautiful eyes and, with an inhale, he starts to bawl. He choked out, "I want my Mommy!!!!" I kneel down and hug him. I say I am sorry and then in that moment he is ready to listen......I explain to him that we can't move into a big house for lots of reason, but lets look at it another way....we do have this house which is perfect for us and we have Luke, Sam and Grace next door, we have money to keep it nice and warm, Daddy has a good job with amazing insurance that takes care of lots of Mommy's millions of bills, we have plenty to eat because our friends feed us since Mommy doesn't feel well, lots of great books to read, more toys than they can play with in a day, a swing set, everything. We also have a great school and daycare where our friends are and they really love us. We have Grandma and Grandpa close by and we see Auntie Donna regularly. We have Nick and Joey in our lives, ETC. ETC. ETC. I ended this HUGE list with, "Mason, if we look at what is good in our life, we don't have time to complain or be sad." He sweetly listened to the entire list and said, "Mommy, I want you." I said, "I know buddy. I want that too." Onto example number two......I don't like children sleeping with me. I didn't really enjoy being pregnant either. At least when you are pregnant, they are confined to your stomach. When they are out and sleeping with you, you get their fingers up your nose, feet in your face, elbowed, and head butted. It is like sleeping war. Thank goodness it doesn't happen often and I have instituted the five minutes and then back to bed rule. It is the only way I get any rest!!!! Finally, number three....on Saturday night, I was going for my foot massage at my neighbors. The boys were playing with Daddy and I asked them to leave us for five minutes so that I could talk to Daddy and then they could resume. They, of course, didn't. I was tired from too much going on and I just wanted to get out the door, so I lost it and screamed, "I ASKED NICELY FOR FIVE MINUTES AND NOW I AM NOT ASKING NICELY ANYMORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Mason was GONE, in the living room watching hockey. Nolan didn't move. Probably frozen with fear. I told him to go with his brother. He did and then, pause, "WWWWWHHHHHHHAAAAA!" I looked at him and said, "Nolan, come here. What do you need? I need five minutes with your Dad." He came over and plopped down on my lap. I said, "Fine, but no talking." He didn't talk, just sat there. So, while I feel like it may have been able to take a better approach to all of this, I have to say Mason's attitude has TOTALLY CHANGED. He is happy about school, Grandpa, friends.....everything. It is almost crazy amazing. I think there may have been divine intervention because clearly, I didn't have a great plan. I think I need to pick up the book, "The boy that cried wolf." Mom seems to have escaped all this with one book. So, there you have it, I am hardly a saint, just a Mom that losses it just like everybody else. Love, Ang

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I didn't want to go

Yesterday, I was getting ready and all I could think of is, "I don't wanna go." I didn't cry and didn't need to, I was just teetering on yelling at someone. My Mom asked me how I was doing. I just said, "I don't want to talk about it." So, she rephrased, "Physically, you are okay, yes?" "Yes, Mother." "Okay, then we can work out the rest." I told Elaine, my driver, I wasn't happy about going and she said, "Okay." That in my signal that if I cry don't be surprised. She just looked at me and said, "Most people wouldn't, so that is okay." We talked and laughed about other stuff. My oncologist was funny ha ha with me so that helped. He also authorised that I could go away for a weekend in April before my "next phase" of treatment which also helped. But the big thing was when I went up to chemo I saw an old friend from Childhaven. I hadn't seen him in a long time so it was really nice to visit. He was chatting with a neighbor of his that he introduced me to. I said, "So, you are here too - fun times." She laughed. I followed with, "I guess I can't complain because I am still here to talk about it, so that is good." She replied in a very gentle sweet way, "I don't know when you were diagnosed, but I was 25 years ago and I am still here to talk about it and it is good." And there it was.....the thing that turned me around....get this, her appointment was at 3:00. It was 11:00, but for some reason she had it in her head to be there at 11:00. Selfishly, I am really glad she was there. We talked and visited, not so much about cancer, but other stuff. When I got called back, she stood up to shake my hand (she has known me for approximately 10 minutes) and I kissed her on the cheek and hugged her gently - we have ports. Thank God for her. I didn't cry all day and she quite turned everything around for me. I got my game face back, ate some fish tacos, and slept which I needed to do since I squeezed every last moment out of my freedom. I am doing okay now, you know it is chemo, but I just went shopping on - they are having a sale and I am on steroids.......BAD COMBO. Happy Wednesday, Ang

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Living my life and lovin' it

So, for the past week, it almost felt like I didn't have cancer. I had an amazing week. I am not kidding. As always, everyone brought me food, but I cleaned my house by myself. I know....people are yelling at me, but I am really proud of myself and it is good for me to do that because then I know what I am out of!!! The boys were really good, but poor Nolan. He has an ear infection AGAIN. My doctor is really cool, so we are brainstorming how to get him over this and through the next couple months without having to put tubes in. We came up with a plan that will go through May and hopefully it will work. We will see. Mason did the same thing - back to back ear infections and then NOTHING. With Nolan I don't think I will be so lucky, so we are adding an allergy medicine because he is my drippy kid - always with the runny nose. My dear Nolan, he will get a lot of first dates, but not too many seconds. Kinda like his Father. It took me who dated a lot before I met Grant to appreciate his completely unromantic view of life. For some reason, I saw past all of that and saw his heart. Hopefully, someday some brilliant woman will see Mason's. Yeah, I know I didn't say Nolan. There really isn't any hope for him. With any luck, he will be mine for all time. Mason will be married and, if she is smart, adored. So, life has been good. I even forgot a couple times that I was sick. Mason this morning said, "Mommy are you better?" I said, "Yes and no." Then, I explained that I have to go back to the doctor and will be sick again, but the medicine is making me better. He then asked, "Are you dying?" I said, "I don't know, but if I do, there are lots of people that will take care of you." And, without missing a beat, he said, "Okay." I am glad he can talk to me about it. I know he doesn't "get it", but he will and someday he will remember us talking about it and, hopefully, if I am not here, he will take comfort in it. I am not ready to talk about my friend's funeral, because I am too into planning my own. Now, before you freak out, remember this means that it was a good service and also remember that I am a planner, so it is in my nature to have it all worked out before such an event. Plus, it would totally tick me off if it wasn't "just so." smile. I will close with a story......"My lung biopsy" This story was promised a long time ago and I never got around to it. So, here goes..... My second lung biopsy was last summer to confirm what we thought happened - the cancer came back. I remember my oncologist saying, "We are just making sure it is cancer." I looked at him like, "Do I look stupid????" He relented and said, "It is probably cancer." Ya think?!?!?! Anyhoo....when I went up for my biopsy, I was being treated by all the people that biopsied me the first time. They were glad, and sad, to see me again. Glad to see that I am doing well. Sad to think that it had come back. The doctor that called me Grace Kelly (which I take as a compliment), walked in, saw me and said, "Grace? What are you doing back here???? Are you okay????" I explained and he said, "Okay, well one more time, and then we are done with this!" My biopsy was done by the same doc that put my port in. He is REALLY TALL. I mean REALLY REALLY TALL. So, he comes in and explains what they are going to do, and disappears saying that he wants to ask my oncologist one last thing. Exit stage left. Then, the transport nurse takes me back. The scan tech meets us and the nurse that will be monitoring me follows. We meet the lab technician there that will take my biopsy and test it. Yeah, it is a crap load of people. So, we get in the room and there is some confusion about whether I should be face down or on my side. One was told face down; the other was told on my side. So, they were discussing it and length and I said, "Why are you so concerned? Let's just pick one and we can change it." The scan tech said, "I don't want to look stupid." laughing as he said it. I said, "Well, then, what is most logical?" He said, "On your stomach." I said, "Okay, let's go with it!" So, on my stomach I went. In comes the doc and he said, "I need her on her back!" Remember this wasn't the option that either the transport nurse or the tech originally got orders to do from the same doc. Guess what? EVERYBODY LOOKED STUPID. So, on my back I went. All the lines needed to be adjusted, my gown was not cooperating in the transition and they (the MALE scan tech and the MALE transport nurse) were saying to the FEMALE nurse, "Cover her up! Cover her!" I just rolled my eyes and explained, "I have rectal cancer dudes and, let's see, most people in this place have seen my butt, but I'm good." They started laughing so hard they were crying. So, they get me all arranged and not two minutes later the MALE scan tech starts to explain to me that based on where the biopsy is they are going to probably have to expose......guess BOOB. I looked at him and said, "Did you miss the butt conversation? I thougth you were here, but maybe I was mistaken." He just looked at me like he had never seen anyone quite like me and said, "I have to say this, so let me, and don't make me laugh." I was like, "Fine, but you guys are giving me the drugs to make me disclose all this stuff, so it is really your fault." They all pause......pause....looking at each other....look at me.....and then the female nurse says, "Yeah, that is the thing. We haven't given you anything yet." Oh, well then. OPPS. I breathe in, exhale, and say, "Well, then it should be a real hoot when you do!" and they all fall out laughing again . Maybe it is my roll in life to make them laugh. I am not sure. But I seem to have made an impression on the 4th floor - and I think it is a good one. Off to dry my boys from their bath. Happy week, love, Ang