Friday, July 30, 2010

Drum-roll please... The results are...

My blood work came back decent. Not good, but not bad. The funny thing is that the standards MD Anderson has in place are actually lower than the ones my local Ob uses. My Absolute Neutrophil Count needed to be above 1.5 for MDA, but above 1.8 is where Dr. B wants it. I think it was 1.7. My total white blood cell count needed to be above 4 for MDA, but above 4.2 is where Dr. B wants it. Mine was 4.1 I think.

I've made the decision that as long as they can do both surgeries at the same time (replacing my expanders for real implants & hysterectomy) I'm doing it in Houston. If the scheduling &/or my blood levels aren't good enough for that I may split them up & do the hysterectomy part here & go down to Houston at a later date for my foobs. I think I can live with that.

However, right now I'm slowly getting more & more irked with MDA because I keep sending messages asking if I can still do both surgeries with my blood levels where they are & when I can do it. All I keep getting in return are messages saying my request/questions have been forwarded to the doctor in question. Its been a week since I started contacting them. I still haven't gotten the final word on whether Dr. K (in Houston) is actually happy w/ my blood levels. I just got the results over the phone (Thanks, Sarah!) & asked for them to be faxed to MDA. I didn't ask many questions except to know I barely scraped by... I know how conservative MDA is, so I'm not really getting my hopes up yet. Heck, at this point I'm not going to get my hopes up until they put the IV in my arm & give me that great stuff that 'relaxes' me right before surgery. I think I just need to carry around some of that stuff... You know, like how people w/ bad allergies carry around an epi-pen? I need a relaxi-pen! I get all worked up & then I can't eat or sleep.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Realizations & Rationalizations...

I've come to some realizations this week.

1) Even though I've actually had a hair-style similar to the one I have now, its not the same. I understand that its kind of cute & hip, but I didn't get to choose it. That's the big difference. I was basically forced to undergo this transformation from a woman w/ hair the length she wanted to a baldie and now to a pixie. So while I appreciate the comments about how cute it is, its just not the same as if I'd gone to a salon & chosen this style above all others. Its a constant reminder of the year I've spent fighting this beast. I am winning so I want all signs of my struggle gone from my sight (and other's sight).

2) Another part to the above that also includes my body and self-image is that its fairly easy for me at this point to forget my outward appearance. Sometimes I walk by a mirror and am shocked at my appearance. I can't recognize the face, body, and/or hair in the mirror as myself. In my mind I'm still the same girl/woman I was last year, the year before, etc. Yeah, I'm a year (or so) older, but I'm essentially me in my mind. When I glance in the mirror & see this alternate image of myself in the mirror its kind of shocking. If you've ever gotten a drastically different hair-style you may recognize the phenomenon. The same goes for my body as well. There are actually moments when the foobs don't hurt or bother me, so I can reasonable feel like I'm a whole person. Then I happen to look in the mirror or catch a glimpse of the hollows in my chest above my expanders. Then the memories flood back and the immediate awareness that I'll never be the same again hits me. Even if I look outwardly to the world the same as I did before this experience, I'm constantly reminded of the changes I've undergone just to live.

These realizations may not seem like momentous ones to you. However, to me they are the ultimate. I'm sure as I age I'll come to similar revelations, but hopefully they won't be so sudden and drastic as these. Afterall, I'm a 29 year old woman w/ 2 children. I know I'm going to age & change in appearance - sometimes for the worse. However, through it all there will be remembrances of who I was before all this happened.

I'm also dealing with rationalizations. I have the opportunity to choose to have my surgery here in town by my own Dr. B who delivered both of my children & has seen me through 4 miscarriages & this past year of cancer woes. My other option is to have my surgeries (both the hysterectomy & implant exchange) in Houston by doctors who specialize in cancer treatments/preventions. The vast majority of my family seems to think that I should still go to Houston. However, Andrew & I are lured here to town by the ease it will have over going to Houston again so soon. For both options I have to wait for my blood counts to rise (I still don't know what they are). I have until August 3rd to decide I guess. Hmmm...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Catching up...

I've been neglecting my blog again. Sorry. Things are still pretty much the same.

Rachel's not crawling yet. She pushes herself backwards with her hands & can sometimes convince her fat little legs (I mean little as in their not very long, not that they don't have extreme girth) to lift her fat little butt (again little is that she's 7 months old, not that its not extremely well-padded) to take a small crawl-step forward. However, these crawl steps are few & far-between! She basically likes to pull her feet up and wave her hands around while she rocks back & forth on her belly like an odd-looking rocking horse! Mom says I used to do the same thing.

Simon is still not potty trained. He has had 5 total successes & I can't even begin to enumerate how many failures. We've tried bribing him (toys, food, etc), giving him targets, telling him we'll be happy if he does it right, sitting him on the potty for hours, having him run around naked, doling out gentle discipline for peeing (or #2) on the floor, etc. He has shown that he knows what to do, he just doesn't want to do it. He can also hold it for tremendously long because as soon as we put a diaper on him its fairly bursting w/ pee (&/or #2) within 5 minutes. At this point we're doing all of the above simultaneously in the hopes that its going to click one of these days. Last night after he had 2 'accidents' at mom's house I brought him home to sit on the potty for a while. He did what he was supposed to FINALLY!!! Even though he'd already made a puddle at mom's he filled the potty pretty well! He got a potty dance from me, a "good job" & "I'm proud of you" from Andrew & me, & two toy trucks (a monster/hot rod John Deere tractor & hot rod fire truck). I kept praising him right up until he went to bed.

I sold Febe on Saturday. She's now in her new home in Northern/central Indiana. The family that came out to buy her was really sweet. She's going to be the foundation for their Equine Ministry. They have a daughter of about 8 or 9 that has Down's Syndrome. One of their son's is about 15. The son is the one that's going to work with her primarily until she settles into their routine. However, they hope to use her for their daughter as well as other children in need. They're also going to breed her if/when they find a stallion. Its weird to be horseless again for the 2nd time in a year. However, I know she went to a good place & that it'll work out best for me/us to not have a horse to worry about right now. In the next year or 2 I hope to get to a place again where I can have a horse & actually use it.

Andrew has been feeling kind of bad lately. He went to the doctor & they can't find anything wrong with him. The doctor said he was probably just extraordinarily stressed from everything that's going on in our lives. Andrew's not one to relish being idle, but since he closed his business, he's not had a 'purpose' for his days. I'm not home enough to help him out of the doldrums. So he's struggling a bit. However, I think he feels a bit better knowing that there's nothing seriously wrong with him.

I'm still waiting for my meeting with my local ob/gyn. I've had several people put the bug in my ear that I should still have my hysterectomy done in Houston. Most people's opinion is based on the fact that I *could* have cancer & if that is the case, they want to be sure I have someone familiar with cancer doing the surgery in case there's something different that needs to be done. I'm still leaning towards having it done here though. The chances of me having ovarian cancer are fairly slim (less than 5% I think) due to my age. However, I think the chances of having a more complicated surgery (open abdominal surgery instead of laproscopic) is probably greater than the cancer risk. If I do have to have the open abdominal surgery I'd rather be close to home for my recovery. I don't relish a 900 mile journey home with a big incision in my belly. I'm confident that Dr. B can do a good job. I'm still open-minded though (or at least I'm trying to be). I'm waiting on a reply from Dr. K from Houston on her opinion. Plus I'm going to ask Dr. B what her opinion is on Wednesday. All I know is I want it done ASAP!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tenacious Tuesday.

I heard from Dr. B's office yesterday. I meet with her to discuss my surgery July 21st. Its help ease my mind a little bit to at least have a concrete plan.

I think Rachel will be crawling in a few days - hopefully by next week. She's getting her knees under her and pushing herself forward on her face. Its quite comical to watch. I tried to get some video (using my iPhone), but the little twerp would roll onto her back & grin at me instead!

Once again, I've been thinking. Do the decisions we make really change us? If I could go back & change just one thing, would that make me a different person? Better? Worse? On the one hand, I don't regret who I am, but who's to say that I couldn't be a better person if I'd chosen more appropriately at one point in my life? On the other hand, sometimes the quirks of fate seem to slap me in the face instead of patting me on the back. Oh, I know God is ultimately in control of everything. However, its our free will that really screws things up!

For instance, if I was bosom buddies with someone who then turned around & stabbed me in the back, am I a better person for it - or does it just show that I lacked perception in chosing my bosom buddy? Another instance, when I hid myself away after my boyfriend's death, did I delay the joy that Andrew & I have found? Had we met sooner, would we have more than 2 living children and 4 saints in Heaven? Would I be a better wife, him a better husband? Would my cancer have come sooner or later? If I'd phrased a comment differently, would the response still have been so dramatic? There are so many questions & so few answers. God, the author of Life, is the only one who knows.

Sometimes its the small things that can completely change someone's life - either for the better or worse. Did a harsh word I said to someone in high school irrevocably harm them? Did a harsh word I heard irrevocably harm me? Did a kindness done to me or observed by me foster in me the desire to do the same for someone else? This latter is what I strive to do - live it forward.

Life has dealt me some blows. It is my goal to rise above these blows and cause someone else to have hope, love, and compassion. The only way I can do that is if I have hope, love, and compassion. Lately I've been lacking in hope and quite possibly compassion. Life has been difficult & sometimes, even when you strive to rise above, you can't get above the deep well of negative emotions. I'm crawling up by will, prayers, & my fingernails. I hope that in my struggles I've not brought anyone down. I wish only to rise above and help others to rise as well. God bless!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The waiting is KILLING me...

I'm hoping that statement is only figurative, not quite literal. I'm worried that if I wait too long it *will* be literal though... I'm SO frustrated right now. I got rejected in Houston, my local oncologist says I should have the surgery anyway, so I call my local ob/gyn first thing yesterday morning. I'm waiting on a call back to see if she'll do it... Since I haven't heard anything from her yet, I call her office... They're CLOSED until Monday! I know this is her regular day out of the office, but I just want to know one way or another...

At work we also just got the 'official' word that furloughs are definitely going to be required for state employees. That means that we're going to be forced to take a certain number of days off without pay. Not to mention that the budget shortfall is making them mess with our retirement benefits. Of course, the private sector people think our benefits are so awesome... Well, they used to be, but now we're really just average with a little better retirement/insurance. However, our salaries are generally *lower* than other states as well as private sector jobs in our field. For instance, in Henderson, NV (or really almost anywhere, but here) if I had this same exact job, I'd be making at least $10,000 more per year. So in order to stay close to my family, I thought the benefits of state employment would out-weigh the lower pay. However, it looks like when its time for me to retire (if I make it that long) the retirement plan will no longer be in place. I think its set to run out of money in 2013.

So basically, since our legislators/governors/etc can't balance a budget & keep to it, us 'little people' are going to suffer. You can bet your bottom dollar that they're not going to suffer from this... When they're re-elected they'll throw out perfectly good office furniture & such to order new for themselves. They'll give themselves raises every year while our 1% increment has been denied to us for at least 2 years. They'll spend money wining & dining lobbyists & themselves, but they forget they're sometimes taking food from the tables of hard-working state employees (not to mention tax-payers). They'll give money to people who have no jobs - some through their own faults (drugs, convictions, etc) - but not help those who work for a living.

Aaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!! This has been a *really* crappy week...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A year has passed...

Well, I'm not in a super good frame of mind right now. I'm back to work & trying to keep busy. However, I keep thinking about the past year & where I wanted to be by now.

This time last year I was being strapped to an operating table without anesthetic for my biopsy. I could hear, feel (a lot more than I wanted), and smell the surgeon taking the lump out of my breast. I could feel Rachel (although I didn't know she was a she yet) swimming around in my tensed abdomen. I can still remember the disbelieving expression on the surgeon's face as he told me, mom & Andrew that the lump he removed was cancerous.

It probably doesn't make sense to everyone why I'm making such a big deal out of this. I mean, another month or two really isn't supposed to matter that much. However, I've got some bad feelings. I'm haunted by the fear that my body is going to betray me again & I'll have cancer (ovarian this time) if I don't hurry up and remove the appropriate tissue. I'm also worried that I'm going to lose my nerve to have this surgery. There's also the increased risk of becoming pregnant (and most likely miscarrying) during this dangerous time. I'm going to mourn the loss of my fertility, but there are definitely benefits to that loss - some of which only another woman with problems like mine can fully appreciate. Not to mention I was really looking forward to having my real foobs as opposed to these uncomfortable & ugly expanders. All in all, this surgery was about actually *improving* my life as much as it was about preventing cancer. Its also difficult for me with my obsessive-compulsions to get over the fact that my tidy schedule has been irrevocably ruined. I want to see the end of this cancer monster that has not left my mind since this day a year ago. I want to know I've done everything in my power to eliminate this monster from my life once & for all.

I was hoping that by this time this year I'd have all this behind me. I was working really hard to attain that goal. Sadly it didn't work. I'm still just as unsure about the future as I was then. I'm still as nervous, scared, and worked-up as I was last year. The biggest difference is that now I have a 7 month old Rachel instead of a 20 week embryonic Rachel. I just want to be finished with this scourge called cancer. I want my life to go back to normal. I just want to be normal. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride... :-(

Friday, July 2, 2010


Well, I guess technically I didn't fail, but my bloodwork sure did. I spent the most miserable birthday ever all for nothing. We drove to TX all night on the 30th. I felt nervous & sick so I mostly tried to sleep. That left me sore & groggy when we arrived at 7am the 1st. Then since all of us we feeling groggy we slept all day. I seem to have caught a slight bug, but figured it wouldn't matter. Got to the hospital bright & early this morning met with both doctors who couldn't wait to operate then did diagnostic tests. One of the most uncomfortable & humiliating of which had to be done twice due to computer issues. As if that wasn't bad enough after we left the hospital I get a call from my main surgeon. The bloodwork showed my white bloodcell count to be 3.5 instead of a normal 4. That completely disqualified me for both of my "unnecessary" surgeries... The whole reason we drove all this way. I'm not mad I'm just so deeply disappointed and unhappy that I can't seem too get over it. This is way worse than finding out I had to have implants instead of my own tissue. I know I'm not likely to have any complications because of this wait, but I feel like my life is once again on hold because of this stupid cancer. Not to mention that the low WBC count could have a more sinister cause than left-over chemo. So now I still have a sword of Damoclese hanging over my head. We're leaving 1st thing tomorrow morning. Yippee another 900 mile journey only this time for nothing. :-(

My Chemo-Jane hair-style

My Chemo-Jane hair-style
I just had to have my mom buzz my hair because it was falling out so badly.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.
My loving husband is watching me distract myself with a game on his iPhone.

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs
I even have a fashionable belt to hold up my drains.

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE
The smile is fake because the TEs were irritating!