Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Better Day

Yesterday was a bad day.  I woke up with a headache that hung around all day. I had myself a pity party and while I tried to keep my game face on for the kids, it was hard. I had a couple of meltdowns in the bathroom.  Thankfully I can brush off red eyes as allergies.

I got a call yesterday with an appointment for another CT Scan on Tuesday morning. Here's the catch. It's at 8:30 at another hospital, in another city. The hospital I am doing all this with is in a network with another hospital. So I have to have a CT Scan at the hospital in Ajax at 8:30 (factor in an hour for the drink crap plus whatever other wait time there may be) then I have to drive like a crazy person to get from there to the hospital in Scarborough for my MRI by 12:15. I actually dreamt about this last night, my stress being how I'm going to get that done. I'm going to tell the CT tech that I'm on a time crunch and hopefully I'll get through quicker. I was a little unnerved about why I have to have another CT Scan, this is news to me  but I'll just have to wait until I see my Dr. I guess I'm happy this is going as quickly as it is but it's frustrating.
Part of the problem is that I'm in limbo. I don't know what's happening and I don't have a plan of action. I am a control freak so this is a bit of a problem to me. I'm a planner and yet I can't really plan past the day I'm in. I'm truly forced to live for today, which is all well and good but I have kids who want to know when we're going to Wonderland. I have a vacation booked with my family that I don't know if I'll be able to go on.  I have a job that I don't know if I'll be able to go back to right away.

That brings me to my next dilemma. I'm sure I'm going to have to take a leave of absence but for how long? And because my union doesn't have a collective agreement in place, how much job security/protection will I have? I'm sure they won't fire me but I want to be able to get back into the same school and that might not be possible. I'll have to speak with my union about that.

And then there's Sean's job. His bosses have been fantastic with giving him time off but he's not getting paid for those days off. Eventually that will catch up with us. I think it's probably in both of our best interests for him to take a stress leave from work. That way he can be available for me and the kids without fear of losing all that money - stress leave would be paid.  But the problem with this is that he needs a note from our family Dr (not a problem per se) but getting in to see our Dr is difficult on the best of days. I'm going to call on Tuesday and explain the situation and try to get him an emergency appointment.

And then there's my mom. She is giving up her Red Hat's to be home to take care of the kids for me. The magnitude of this is not lost on me. She loves the Red Hat's. She loved the social life. She loved the connection to people her age, she loved having something fun to do - finally! It seems like my mom's life has been a series of 'taking care of' 's.  Raising kids. Taking care of my Dad. Taking care of my Grandma. Now taking care of me and the kids. It's not fair to her and yet I am so very grateful that she is doing it without my even having to ask.  I truly hope that I will be as good a mother to my kids. And I truly hope none of my kids ever has to go through this.

Today is a better day. It's hard to not think of it constantly and right now I dream of a time (though I can't imagine one) in which I won't think of this  as often. Sometimes days will go by. Much like everything else I've faced in my life; the year from hell (though I think 2006 has officially been toppled as the year from hell...I'm thinking 2011 will be getting that honour) losing Violet and our Christmas baby, almost losing my marriage, losing my Dad.....the pain of those times subsides and though I never forget I don't live, breathe and eat them anymore. I'm sure one day, the same will be said for this.

Cancer will not define me. It is but a small pit stop in my life. Some of them are good pit stops....lovely rest stations with cold water, clean bathrooms and nice parks for the kids to run their steam off in. Others are shitty little holes that you are sure to not sit on the toilet, you want to sanitize the bottom of your shoes before getting back into the car and you wish you'd kept on driving. 

But for now - I'm going to have to put up with this pit stop, make the best of it and look forward to the day when I watch it disappear in the rear view mirror.

Some friends came over the other night. My friends were having some flyers printed for us for our Relay for Life team. My mom and I were going to use them to bring around the businesses for fundraising - getting donations for goods and services. The flyers are gorgeous and I'm going to use them but I thought about how ironic it was that eventually I'll have to change them. The Relay is no longer just about my Dad. And on June 1, 2012 I'll be walking the survivor lap with my yellow shirt.

Yep, today is a better day.  I feel good, I feel strong and I feel happy.

I will beat this. I have to. I have too much to live for.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

So Silly

My mom told me about a friend of hers, a breast cancer survivor, who for the few weeks before she has to go in for her bi annual testing starts feeling every single ache and pain and twinge and worrying her cancer is back.

At the moment I'm feeling every single ache and pain and twinge and worrying that is where the cancer is.

My lower back is killing me. So that must be where the cancer is. Never mind that I've had chronic back since Emily was born.

I have pain in my sinus. So that must be were the cancer is. Never mind that I've suffered from seasonal allergies for two years and they've only just recently cleared up for the season.

I have a headache. So that must be where the cancer is. Never mind that I'm under the worst stress of my life.

I've noticed that when I turn my head from side to side and up and down that I hear a creaking/popping sound in my neck. Never mind that that could be from my headache or it could be that it's always been there and I'm just noticing it now because much like when you are pregnant after a loss and notice E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. I am noticing everything now too.

I'm covered in bruises. So it must be leukemia. Never mind that I've been jabbed with endless needles for the past month and Connor kicked me right on the shin bone with a really hard shoe.

And the sillier part, I'm afraid to take anything to feel better. I have a headache. I have a cupboard full of Advil and my mom has Tylenol. And I know if I took one I'd feel better but I'm afraid to put anything in my body now for fear of making the unknown worse.

I'm scared and I'm frustrated. I just want to know for sure where it is, how bad it is and how I'm going to beat it.

I will beat this. I have to. I have too much to live for.

Friday, July 29, 2011

One More Thing

It just occured to me that I should probably mention - for those of you who are Facebook friends....

please do not mention this on Facebook. Emily is a facebook friend, and I have several facebook friends who I've not mentioned this to. If those friends stumble onto the blog okay, but I'm not putting it out there on FB.

Thanks
Love and Hugs!

Day 1

I went for my bone scan today. I was glad to hear I wouldn't be injected with more of that horrible stuff from the CT Scan but equally unhappy to hear I'd be injected instead with radioactive stuff. It is, after all, nuclear medicine.

My Aunt (my Dad's sister) came with me. Sean had to go back to work and with my mom watching the kids, well, I know I have lots of family and friends who would come and sit with me but it was really nice, especially for the first one to have someone offer and for it to be someone older. Silly, I know but at a time like this you really just want your Mommy and since mine is filling in in other capacities....

So when we got there they injected me with the 'stuff' (it's a tracer, it sticks to your bones so they can see things like arthritis, broken bones that are repairing, and yes, cancer.) They are basically looking to see if it's spread to the bones. The technician/nurse/Doctor (I don't know what she was!) told me I had to be back in two hours but I didn't have to hang around the hospital so my Aunt and I went to breakfast. It was nice to be distracted and to not have to do all that waiting in the hospital. Interestingly enough, the lady who injected me, she read my paperwork and said "okay, so you've been diagnosed with Breast Cancer."  Now, I don't know how she came to that conclusion, perhaps that's my unofficial official diagnosis. At any rate, I don't know how I feel about that. On one hand, I would think it's good - it means that perhaps it's small and that's why it didn't show in the mammogram. On the other hand, I still worry about the fact that it's already made it to the lymph nodes. But - all these tests will give me the answers. Soon I hope.

When we got back I ran into the surgeon. She told me she was pushing for the MRI soon and by the time I was on my way home her office was calling with an appointment for that. It's on Tuesday.  I'm glad, it's getting underway. Hopefully this means that by the end of next week we'll have a clear picture of what I'm facing and how I'm going to fight it.

The bone scan was a lot less unnerving than the CT Scan. I still had to lay very still and the machine came right to my nose but since I'm not claustrophobic it was okay. I was more worried about moving - I didn't want to mess up the test.

So we move forward. I'm looking forward to a full three days of no Dr's visits. It's a long weekend here so I'm off the hook until Tuesday when I go for the MRI. I'm hoping to take the kids to Canada's Wonderland next week. Emily has been begging. She asked me today why I've got so many Dr's appointments. I told her that I might have to have more surgery to get more lumps out so they are doing more tests. It's not a lie, just not the entire truth. I don't think she needs to know any more than that right now.  I don't want her to worry.

I keep thinking about the week of August 22. We're supposed to take the kids to the trailer in Port Colbourne. It's pre paid. We've been so excited about going. I don't want to lose that week. Obviously it's going to be played by ear but if it means I have to drive back to the city one or two of those days....I don't want Sean and the kids to miss that week. We'll see. Fingers crossed!

I know several of you have called me. I haven't been picking up the phone. Please don't take it personally. I've been letting Sean answer when he's up to it but right now I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it all. Truthfully, I can't talk about it yet without crying. I'm not ignoring your calls and for those who are leaving messages, thank you, I am getting them. I will answer the phone again soon, but for right now I'm still trying to process all of this for myself and for Sean and the kids. Please be patient and don't look at my lack of communication as my wanting you to go away. I don't, I just need to get into the acceptance stage of all of this first. It's still so surreal.

I will beat this. I have to. I have too much to live for.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My New Journey

I want to start by apologizing to anyone who may be finding this out through my blog. It isn't meant to be a slight if I didn't call you or email you personally. In light of everything, I'm not exactly in a place that I want to talk to anyone face to face (or over the phone) and individual emails are time consuming. I want to limit my computer time. Priorities have changed.

As you may have figured, the results were not good.

It's cancer.

I have cancer.

I dreaded the notion of writing these words and yet, to be honest, I thought about how this blog post would play out for the past 6 weeks or so and I'd truly hoped my post would be something like "hooray!!! - I'm okay!!!"  But it's not.

I thought about starting a new blog, one devoted to just this. But the more I thought about it the more I decided not to. This one is just fine and the title couldn't be more fitting. Life IS what you make it. And my story WILL be continued.

I'm sure some are wondering why I would pour the heart and soul of my private life out into the internet. Partially because I have people in my life, near and far, who would like updates. It's a tool for that. And partially because, for me, it's a journal. I may not say all these things out in the open but I say them here and it gets them out. And bottling them in will only be counterproductive to my healing.

So, for better or worse, here it is. My New Journey. My battle against cancer. I WILL win.

I don't know what kind of cancer I have yet, they're still looking for it. It's not lymphoma, that we know for sure. The Dr suspects it's in the breast, despite my mammogram coming back clear. That is why I'm having the breast MRI done. I'm also having a bone scan done, tomorrow. My Aunt is coming with me to that. She's a nurse and knows what to ask. And it will be nice to have someone there with me. Sean can't take everyday off work and my mom has the kids for me.

As for the kids, they don't know yet, so if you know me IRL please don't talk about it in front of them. I didn't see the need to worry them and until I know what kind of cancer I'm fighting and how they're going to help me do it, I don't want to stress them out.

But make this known. While I'm sure I'm still partially in the denial stage of all of this, the fact that I'm a 'realist' had me prepared for the worst possible outcome. But I haven't got the worst possible outcome. No one has told me I can't beat this and unless someone does, I haven't got the worst possible outcome. People beat cancer all the time and I will too.

I will beat this. I have to. I have too much to live for.

Butterflies


I've often heard that butterflies are the spirits of those you love coming to visit you.

I hope this is the case.

On the day my Grandma died, after we'd gone to visit her I was having lunch with my mom and saw  a butterfly fly by the window. And I thought to myself, "Huh, I wonder if that's Grandma."  She was still alive at that time.  About an hour later she died.

For the last few days I've seen more butterflies than I can count.  I like to think they are my Grandma, my Dad and my angel babies, all coming to tell me that I'm going to be fine, to not worry.

I hope I'm right.

3 hours to go.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The 2WW

To those in the world of trying to conceive (TTC) and fertility (or lack of) the Two Week Wait (2WW) is the painful two weeks between ovulation and test day.

I've been enduring my own 2ww. The 2 weeks between surgery and results.

After my surgery I decided to release all my worries and fears and enjoy the two weeks, the first two weeks since May that I could truly say I was not worrying, stressing and my life wasn't on hold. And I did that for nearly a solid week.

Then my Grandma died and while that was a hard time it didn't not count towards the stress of my own health scare.

But Monday morning, not an hour before the funeral the surgeon called me. Herself. Actually she called me on my phone but I'd left it home so she took the trouble to track me down on Sean's phone. She wanted me to have an MRI but insisted the results of the biopsy were not back yet.

So much for two weeks of mental/emotional freedom. I got 10 days.

The Dr's office called again this morning and said the results were back and they wanted to make me an appointment for Thursday.

So here's the thing. I should be happy that they weren't insisting I came in right away. That is a good sign. I should be happy that the hematologist is not calling me to come in as well.  That's a good sign.

But I'm still not feeling good about this.

My SIL, who's got some experience in this department has assured me that if this were 'something' I'd not be waiting a few days to be called in for results....but sitting on this end it's still hard to accept.

I guess I should also be happy that my 2ww (which would have actually been almost 3 weeks as my appointment was initially scheduled for next Wednesday and Thursday) is going to be a day shy of 2 weeks.

On a slightly related note, I read a news posting that my brother put on FB. A group of nurses from my Grandma's nursing home won 15 million dollars in the lottery on Friday. I like to think that's my Grandma's way of saying thanks to them for the 9 years she lived there. A parting gift of sorts.

I got the gift of having a (my) Grandma for nearly 38 years but if I could have a parting gift, I'd ask her for the gift of life as equally long as hers. I'd ask her for good health. I'd ask for a clean bill of health on Thursday.

We shall see.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Saying Goodbye

I had to wait on this blog post for a day. Not everyone in the family knew and while I know everyone who reads my blog at the moment, you never know who might stumble upon it. It wouldn't be a pleasant way to find out.

One of my earliest memories of my Grandma was when I was very young, maybe 3 or 4. My oldest brother and I were spending the night at her her apartment. My two other brothers were spending the night at their maternal grandmother's house. My brother must have had a cold or something because my Grandma put Vick's VapoRub on his chest. And I wasn't having any part of his getting some Vick's and not me. So she rubbed some on me too.

When we were little all the family celebration were at Grandma and Grandpa's house. And for each of these occasions Grandma made very special cakes.  They were money cakes. She'd bake a cake, slice it in half, wrap up coins and ice them into the middle  of the cake. It was always a big deal to us kids because naturally the adults would hand over the money they got in their slices to us.

My Grandma had a silver seal and several pieces of Blue Mountain Pottery on her coffee table that I used to love playing with when we visited.

My Grandma made the best shortbread cookies known to man. And they always had the nice little maraschino cherry on them.

My Grandma became Mémère when my younger cousin was born, so as not to mix her up with his maternal grandmother. The name stuck and while the rest of us Grand kids all called her Grandma, the Great-Grandchildren all called her Mémère.  Mémère is French for Grandma. My Grandma was grew up speaking French in New Brunswick. When she was younger she'd occasionally speak to some ladies at bingo en francais and it always amazed me at how it just flew out of her, accent and all. I didn't have the advantage to her being able to help me with French homework though as it was a different dialect than we are taught in school.  And clearly, based on my pathetic grasp of the French language, I did not inherit her abilities. 

I took Marie as my Confirmation name, after my Grandma, Eve Marie.

If Connor had have been a girl, he would have been named after her, Erin Eva.

Once, when I was about 17, I had gone to pick up my Grandma for bingo. She was wearing a white shirt that had red, yellow and black geometric patterns on it. I said to her "Wow Grandma, I love that shirt!" She promptly took the shirt off and said, "Well here you go then, you have it."  That's the kind of person she was. 

When I told my PP sisters that my Grandma had died one of them said to me that her Grandma too was 93 and that she felt so lucky to have been able to know her grandma not just as a child but as an adult too. And I think how right that is. I was so incredibly lucky to have been able to know my Grandma in my adulthood. From the time I was old enough to go to bingo until she was physically unable to do so anymore I spent just about every Sunday with my Grandma at bingo. A lot of time to just be in each others company, hear stories, share our time.  I'll always treasure that.

Many, many years ago when I was still a teen I'd mentioned to my mom that I would love to someday have my Grandmother's tea set. She had a gorgeous pink tea set in her china hutch. At some point my mom mentioned this to her and my Grandma  put my name in the tea pot. Years later when she moved into the nursing home that tea set was packed up and given to me. I'll cherish it forever.

My mom said to me today that my Aunt asked if I'd like to do a Eulogy at my Grandma's funeral. I'd love to. I really, really would because what I wrote above is just a small fraction of what I would say. The problem is, I can type and cry at the same time. I can't speak these words, it's too hard. I'd not get past the first sentence. My cousin will do it instead.

I hadn't seen my Grandma in about two months. We didn't visit as often as we should have, my primary excuse being my children. I always stressed about them running amok in the nursing home and wreaking havoc.

I knew she was not doing well and I'll be honest, I really wasn't sure I was going to go and see her. I have these horrible flashbacks of my Father in the day he died, his breathing being so laboured and inconsistent. I couldn't bear to be there with my Dad and I didn't think I could be there with my Grandma either.  And then my brother mentioned to me that she was in a lot of pain and yelling. It's not how I wanted to remember her.  But I went, because Sean made me see that if I didn't I would have forever regretted not saying goodbye. And he's right.

So I went with my mom yesterday to go see my Grandma. She was in pain and but a shell of the woman I remember seeing a couple of months ago. But she said hi to me when my mom told her I was there. And though I spent much of the time fighting tears and rocking nervously in her chair I was able to do for her what I think I wasn't able to do for my Dad on his last days. I was able to bring comfort, if even for a moment. I rubbed her head and told her I was there with her, that the nurse was bringing her meds and her pain would be gone soon and she was calm.  And as I rubbed my Grandma's head I was taken aback by the striking resemblance between her and my Dad.

I was able to kiss my Grandma one more time and say I Love You and Goodbye.

And an hour after my mom and I left, she died.

The world was a better place for having had her in it and I, blessed for having had her as my Grandma.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hot Hot Hot!!

There is a reason summer is not my favourite season. It's just too freakin' hot. Today we'll be setting some heat records and it's expected to be well into the 40's (that's Celsius for friends down south) with the humidity. Yuck.

Niagara Falls was fabulous, as always, but less enjoyable than usual simple because of the heat. And because it's more economical to walk everywhere (taking your car out of the paid hotel parking to further pay for parking closer to the Falls is not feasible) but the Falls are down the hill (big hill) and the hotels are up the hill (even bigger hill)
And the hotel we stay in (the Embassy Suites) is at one end of the Falls (near the Horseshoe Falls) and the tacky tourist attractions (aka Clifton Hill) is at the other end (near the bridge to the US)
Add to this the surgery this past Friday and the caveat that I sponge bath for the first few days post surgery makes for an uncomfortable and sticky (stinky?) me. 

Next time we go we'll make sure the kids have passports. The truth of the matter is, the US side of the Falls is much nicer, not as tacky and touristy and the park is gorgeous. I'd have liked to spend the day on the US side but that wasn't an option this time.

There was a family staying at our hotel. It was a Mom, Dad, Son and Daughter. They were the cutest freakin' family ever. The first morning I saw them at breakfast they were all wearing matching orange polo golf shirts. I dubbed them the "Matchy Matchy Family". The next morning at breakfast I saw them again, this time wearing matching mint green golf shirts. How cute.
I told Emily that next payday I was going to go and buy our family a set of matching golf shirts in every colour of the rainbow so that when we go away in August we can be the "Matchy Matchy Family" too. She was not impressed and promised to be the lone resister - if we wore red, she'd wear blue. Talk about lack of family unity.  Can't blame her.

Anyhow, here's some pics of our trip. Not the greatest pics. It was too hot to really spend the time taking pics like I wanted to and the mist from the falls was all over the lenses.

My gorgeous family


The Horseshoe (Canadian) Falls



The Niagara Apothecary (made famous by the artist Tricia Romance)


The American Falls with the Maid of the Mist going by.


The view from our room. I actually paid for a city view room (it's much more expensive for a fallsview room) but they gave us a free upgrade so I wasn't about to pass it up. The downside was that we were on the 30th floor, not good for someone who is afraid of elevators.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Niagara Falls Here I Come!!

I love Niagara Falls.

Sean and I used to go there 3 or 4 times a year when we were dating. It was our 'go to' get away. We know the place like the back of our hand now.

When the kids were born we took them a few times, with the obligatory side trip to Marineland (we don't go there anymore though since several whales died and their bears were malnourished (ice cream cones and marshmallows will do that to you ) but I digress....

This is the first time we're going since Connor was born. He won't have any interest in the Ripley's Believe It or Not museum or the Guinness Book of World Records museum but I'm sure he'll love dinosaur mini putt and the fireworks over the falls, so it's a trade off.

And I will love being able to take pictures of the falls and all the beauty with my good camera. So be prepared to be inundated with pictures.

See ya soon!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I Feel So Floopy

I've said it many times before, I'm not a medicine taker. I have to be really suffering before I take something but I thought it in my best interest to not wait until I was really suffering before taking the pain killers the Dr. gave me. So I've been religiously taking my Tylenol 3 every 4 hours.

I'm allowed to take 2 every 4 hours but 1 is plenty for me. I took one when I got up this morning about 30 minutes ago and I can feel it working...I'm in the clouds. Yeah, stoned from prescription strength Tylenol. Sad eh? I know people who take things like percocet and oxycodone and it doesn't help a whit. So either they have a huge tolerance for their pain killers or huge amounts of pain.
Oddly enough, last night I felt like the last one I took didn't work and I was worried I was becoming tolerant.

See, here's the thing. I have an addictive personality. I know this. If I lived closer to a casino I'd be divorced and bankrupt. I consciously limit my drinking because I know I could easily slip into alcoholism. It took me 3 years to quit smoking (I smoked for nearly 20 years) and the thing that helped me over the hump was I liked the initial buzz I got when I put the patch on.   And this buzz I get from the Tylenol 3...I'm really liking it too. So I'm going to consciously make sure that I'm stretching out the times now - 5 hours in between or maybe even 6. I wasn't in as much pain this morning so I don't think I'll need them every 4 hours.

What is so ironic about all of this is that as a teen, when I experimented with drugs...I HATED it. I never liked this feeling, I didn't like feeling out of control or 'floopy' and I certainly hated that buzzing feeling. And I shortly figured out the way to 'pretend' I was getting stoned with my friends so I could save face while not feeling crappy. (apparently it worked because I mentioned this to my bff a few months ago and she had NO idea)

I got to take the outer band aid off yesterday. It's itchy and sticky under there but it's not that big an incision. It's not even really in my armpit, more in the muscle area between my armpit and boob and maybe 2 inches long. But my arm pit is swollen and sore.
I get to shower today but since I'm not going anywhere and will only offend my kids (Sean is back to work) I think I'm going to wait until tomorrow. I'm worried about getting it wet and infection setting in. We're taking the kids to Niagara Falls tomorrow and I don't want anything to ruin the first really fun thing our family is doing this summer.

We reached a milestone in our house the other night too. Emily lost her last baby tooth. The tooth fairy works like this in our house...first tooth earns $10 and you get to keep your tooth for your 'first tooth' box.  All other teeth get $5 and mom or dad chucks them into the green bin the tooth fairy takes them for new babies.  Also, teeth are left in a cup on the kitchen counter, the tooth fairy is getting old and doesn't like to fish around under pillows anymore.

So when Emily lost her last tooth we were a bit stumped. First off, neither of us remembered to hold back $5 (we are largely not a cash family, we use the debit card. I'm thinking Emily won't take debit. And since it was her last tooth we thought it deserved more than the obligatory $5. But we didn't think an IOU was acceptable either.

So yesterday morning we called her into the dining room, shut the door and told her we had something we needed to share with her. But before we could speak she said "Oh what, the tooth fairy isn't real? I already knew that."  

WHAT??!!

Yeah, she knew. I wonder if she knows about Santa too. I'm afraid to ask. I'm sure she knows about the Easter Bunny, we haven't played that charade very well.

Anyhow, she was happy to hear that her very last tooth was going to earn her $20. She's saving her money for another Eaton Centre birthday shopping trip in September.  And she got the privilege of being the one to put her very last tooth into the green bin  give her very last tooth to a new baby.

Friday, July 15, 2011

I Feel 500 lbs Lighter

I can't even find the words to describe the relief. The lymph nodes are out and I'm alive.

I held it together pretty well this morning. The surgeon called and asked me to come in early, the lymph nodes had to be sent to Sunnybrooke by a certain time for testing and a 12:30 surgery time wouldn't have worked.
It wasn't until after I kissed the kids and my mom goodbye and went outside that I lost it, terrified that I wouldn't come home. I cried most of the way to the hospital.

We got in, checked in, waited a bit, told and retold the suspected anesthetic allergy story to each nurse I had to go through. I was scheduled to go in just before noon and I still hadn't spoken to the surgeon or the anesthetist.

They gave me the IV and antibiotics and finally called me in. I felt like I was walking the Green Mile. Dramatic I know, maybe overly, but I was truly that scared.

In the operating room the surgeon came in and asked how I was doing. I said okay and asked how she was going to do it; local or general.
She talked with the anesthetist (not the same one I spoke with earlier this week) and debated how to do it. Now I'm shaking uncontrollably both nerves and cold. And then I start crying. I'm trying not to but I'm terrified.

So I hear the two Dr's talking and the surgeon says "She (me) is very motivated and more than willing to do it with a local" at which point I piped up, "Yes, yes I am!!" So the anesthetist came over to me and explained what her thoughts were on what happened to me 30 years ago. She doesn't think I'm allergic, the thinks this episode was due, mainly, because it was an airway surgery. She said it was possible that they just woke me up to early (the anesthetic stops your breathing apparently)  But I assume my records from 30 yrs ago don't give a clear picture of what happened and since it was possible, they decided to err on the side of caution and just do a local.
The anesthetist stressed to me "You CAN'T move. If you feel pain, you can't move, you must be totally still. If you feel like you have to move DON'T - tell me instead and I can give you more sedation or pain relief...and if need be, if it's just too much I can have the general anesthetic ready to go. I promised, I swore up and down, I was short of promising my first born I would not move a muscle. And I started crying again, this time from relief.

So she shot up my IV with a sedative and wow.....just wow. What a fabulous feeling. I was instantly relaxed, no more shaking and I think I may have feel asleep. I only said "ow" twice and one of those times she gave me another shot of sedative. I could still feel a bit of what was happening; cutting, yanking, pushing, but it felt like when I was getting my tattoo.

It felt like 15 minutes but I was in there an hour. I was able to bypass the first recovery room and head straight to the day surgery room and was able to leave an hour later.

I had oxygen during the surgery and let me tell you, I've never had such a dry mouth and throat. It was actually painful. And because I hadn't eaten all day and now it was 2:00 I had Sean stop at Swiss Chalet to get me some lunch. My mouth and throat were so dry  I literally could not swallow my chicken without a drink. I've had about 3 litres of water since then and it's just now feeling better.

Sean spoke with the the Dr. She told  him her preliminary look at the CT scan showed nothing. I think that's amazing. I mean, if there were something obvious there, she'd see it right away. So this means that, at least for now, I can stop worrying, enjoy my summer and not stress about what may be. I will find out for sure on August 3rd but for right now, I'm incredibly positive.  And relieved that I'm one giant step closer to being done with this crap.

And thank you - yeah you, for being so supportive and sending me love and thoughts and prayers. It's really helped to get me through this craziness. (Jenny, my long, lost sister - you have been my rock!)  2 more weeks and hopefully I'll get to take the ultimate sigh of relief.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Anxiety

I'm having so much anxiety right now.

How will the surgery be done - local or general? And if it's general will I have complications?

What did the CT scan show?

What will my lymph nodes show?

Is the beginning of a new life? And if so is it the new life in which I've had a bad scare and turn over a new leaf and appreciate life that much more or one in which I fight for that very life?

I'm no good not being in control. I'm no good at not knowing. Patience is a virtue...but it's not one of mine. I feel bad for being so distracted and no fun for the kids and easily irritated and I feel like I'm yelling at them and getting frustrated with them for no good reason. It's not their fault and they deserve better.

I've truly never been more scared.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Go? No Go?

I guess we'll see.

So for my dear faithful followers who are no in the PP here's what  know. Not much of anything.

Seriously, I had my CT Scan yesterday. What a horrible experience. And God bless the nurse who was doing it.

For those who've never had the pleasure of enduring enjoying one, I'll tell you how fabulous it is and then I'm quite sure you'll want to run right out and have one too. 

You start your adventure drinking two large cups or water and mixed with some unknown 'this is to coat you bowels' substance. And you have to drink it in 10 minutes. Then you get to wait. An hour. Yippee. After the hour (or in my case an hour and a half) you get to drink another smaller cup of the same water/bowel stuff and change into your skivvies and oh-so-attractive hospital gown.
You go into a giant room (I would suspect it's a giant room in every hospital since this machine is massive) that is kept far too cold for your wardrobe and nerves and you're greeted with this behemoth


They hook you up to an IV and then the fun begins. You lay on that lovely little bed and they slide you into the hole (now I know how a penis feels)  They do a few pictures and then - the best part - they inject die into your IV. This is to get a clearer picture of what they are looking at and then they slide you in and out of the hole again.
Here's the thing. This die, she said I'll feel warm and taste or smell metallic. She said I'd feel like I was peeing. Not to get too graphic on you but that was a mild understatement. My vag was burning hot. And oddly enough so was my neck.  And when it happened, I started having a panic attack because frankly with all this happening I'm just this side of keeping it together. And the nurse, she was fabulous. She held my hand and talked me down until I was not so panicked anymore.

And then I got to do it all again so they could get shots of my neck. 

I know, jealous right? Don't worry, maybe one day you too can have a CT Scan.

Anyhow, later in the day I met with the anesthetist. I explained the situation with general anesthetic as best I could and she was stumped. The problem being that we are going back to an event that happened 30 years ago, coming from second hand information (the Dr told my Mom who told me) and there is no clear records of what happened.

So she laid out a few options.

1 - I can have a sedative and a local anesthetic for the surgery (this is what I'm hoping for) but she's not sure if the surgeon would agree - she said each one is different.

2 - I can postpone the surgery until I'm either able to have A: a medicinal allergy test on the components of the most common general anesthetics (but this could take months) or B until they are able to retrieve my hospital records from another hospital from 1980. (and assuming it's clearly laid out in those records)

3 - We go head with the general anesthetic and hope for the best (the least appealing option)

The anesthetist doesn't want to go with option 3, nor do I.
I don't want to go with option 2 just in  case this is something serious - I don't want to delay treatment any further.
I'm hoping on hope for a local anesthetic.

So this morning the surgeons office called and said I am still to show up for my scheduled pre op and at that time the surgeon, the anesthetist and I will discuss how to proceed. I get the impression the surgery is still a go so it's just a matter of how.

I'm going to ask her at that time about the results of my CT scan. I'm anxious.

So, that is where I am now. 2 more days. I'm officially terrified.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tossing Around Ideas

I'm feeling a surge in my creative juices. (there's an image)

I'm feeling like I want to do something, plan something, get something....I have a few small problems though. I don't know what. I'm short on money (fingers crossed that I don't get any problems collecting unemployment this summer) I don't want to use my Visa (I'm enjoying the freedom of carrying minimal debt and knowing that I can pay the balance of my Visa in a month)

The other problem is that I don't know what I want to do to get this creativity out of me. I don't feel like sewing (I finally made myself a Kool Aid bag and have enough Jammers to make at least two more bags)
I don't feel like making Sculpy jewelry.  I was in love with the idea of hand stamped jewelry but we saw how well that worked out. I'm too poor to do any other type of jewelry (I'd work with Swarovski crystals if I had the dough)

I'd like to cook something fabulous but there's the recurring budget issue (I shop based on our weekly menu to keep costs down and if I want extras I need to either plan ahead for it or have extra money for it)

I need to clean out the basement which I plan to do on Thursday (and I'm excited - yeah I'm a nerd) but I'm looking forward to purging again. Whatever Connor won't be using is going and whatever I can use for school will go there. Everything else is getting sold or freecycled.

But there is something else nagging me - an idea playing in my head.

I was printing up a scavenger hunt for the girls the other day and I came across a website that talked about a scavenger hunt that was done for fundraising. Each team (made up of up to 10 people) could join for $10. (so $1 per person) and they were given a lengthy list of things to find. They weren't easy things like find a pinecone or a maple leaf. They were things like find a penny from 1942, white go go boots, headline from the Toronto Star, November 22, 1963, a used Bounce sheet.  Each item carries a point value (the more difficult the item is to find to higher the point value) At the end, the team with the highest combined points wins.

It's been rolling over in my mind...how great this would be as a fundraiser for our Relay. Something that wouldn't just have to be hosted here (like our tea) but something that could be hosted online even. A photo scavenger hunt of sorts.  If we had an entry fee, a list and a time limit - combined with a few great prizes....if those great prizes were donated the overhead would be virtually nil and the profit to donate would be large.

It's something I'm going to keep thinking about - I think it could be fun - and something that everyone could potentially participate in, my friends and my mom's.  We'll see.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Case of the Missing Tea Towel

We had a cat many years ago named Ruffles. Ruffles loved olives. He loved them to the point that he'd go banana's at the smell of them. But he wouldn't eat them, he'd like rub his face all over them. Weird cat, I know, you don't need to tell me.

Our next cat, Snickers had  a thing for over mitts. If you put one on and came at her she'd got nuts and attack. It made for some fun nights when she was a kitten, not so fun if you were trying to cook though.

Chicklets has a thing too. It's tea towels and clothes.

We hang our tea towels on the stove handle and just as soon as they get hung, he's got them pulled down and is attacking. He'll run up the hall with it and he's still a pretty small kitten so most times the towel is bigger than he is.

Apparently he's been stealing them from my mom too, only these ones are going MIA. She's looked under the beds, in the closet, behind the couch....it's like Chicklets has eaten them.

I found a couple of them this morning, on the living room floor. I guess he's got a secret stash somewhere for the nighttime when we're all in bed and ignoring him.

I suspect sometime soon I'm going to stumble across the missing tea towels, in a heap, full of cat fur.

I love my kitten.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Do Some Good

I was watching Breakfast Television the other morning and they were talking about an ad they saw in the paper (I don't remember the paper) It was a full page and all it said was People for Good with the web URL.

So they went on the website and found this.  Apparently they have an iPhone app too.

So all it is is suggestions on how you can do simple good deeds - random acts of kindness - for others. 

Or you can go here for ideas on how to do some good.

Kindness does a body good.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

We Have A Date

I wish it were a date for beer and chicken wings.

I saw the surgeon yesterday and will be having my surgery on the 15th. To say I'm terrified is a gross understatement. I've had one surgery - a tonsillectomy when I was 7 - and the subsequent reaction to the anesthetic (I had an asthma attack and stopped breathing - odd as I don't have asthma)  has left me terrified of being put to sleep again. So I have two hurdles to jump, not just one.

My CT scan is being moved up to sometime in the next week and a half so the surgeon can see what she's dealing with and if there is anything else in there. Of course now I'm feeling all sorts of aches and pains and worrying about each and every one.

After the surgery I should know within about 2 weeks what we're dealing with. My continued hope is that this is just a temperamental lymph node but as positive as I try to stay, my deepest fears creep in. I'm not a pessimist per se, just a realist and I'm facing a very real possibility that this lump is due to cancer of some kind. And I'm terrified.

This has been a surreal experience. I was so looking forward to this summer, spending it relaxing and enjoying the lazy days with the kids. Now it's a flurry of appointments, fear and depression. And I can only hope and pray that by the end of July I'll be able to take a big sigh of relief and move forward.

I haven't mentioned it to the kids yet, the surgery. I'll tell them Wednesday or Thursday of next week. It's only day surgery so barring any horrific outcomes I'll be home Friday evening. And it's not going to interfere with our surprise trip to Niagara Falls, except that I'll be sore. Good thing we weren't going to Great Wolf Lodge, I'm thinking swimming will be out of the question.

So there it is.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Oh Nasal Spray, How I Love Thee

I've said many times before I don't like to take medication. I will usually suffer with pain or illness over taking an OTC medication.

Old age is getting the better of me though and I'm slowly starting to resent these aches and pains and other ailments.

I started taking antihistamines for my allergies about 2 weeks ago. I don't take them everyday but often enough to somewhat keep my allergies under control.  The problem is taking a decongestant. They make me feel really funny so  I avoid allergy meds with them.

This leaves me with clogged sinuses and for the past month I've slept horribly, not being able to breathe out of one or both nostrils means I'm breathing through my mouth and snoring (more than usual) waking up with a pasty mouth and sore throat.

The other day I was completely miserable. I couldn't breathe through either nostril, I couldn't use my NetiPot because both sinuses were so clogged the water would not drain through. I caved in. I went to the pharmacy and bought come Claritan allergy nasal spray.

You no how you build something up in your mind and then when you finally cave in you think "huh, what was the big deal?"  - you know like going to the dentist?

Well, I felt this way about the nasal spray, I built it up to be a bad thing (you see, nasal spray is habit forming - continued use is actually counter productive as eventually your sinus passages will be inflamed because you're not using it, much like what happened with my Dad, or much like my brother who has a hole burned in the cartilage in his nose because of it) 
I can totally see why they used and and am jumping on that bandwagon. After a full month of not being able to breathe - I could breathe....clearly...without a Breathe Right strip...without anything. It was like the clouds parted, the sun shone and a choir of angels sang to me. "aaaaaahhhhhhhhh"

I've only used it twice (though I'm debating using it today as I am totally clogged) but I'm trying be careful about it. I don't want to feel this way all the time but wow - this is how a drug addict must feel when they get that fix and feel relief. 

On a different note, I'm off to see the surgeon today. We'll be getting this lymph nodes out and they'll biopsy them. My CT scan is on July 21st to see if there is anything else in there to be looked at.

Wish me luck and throw a little prayer up that all is fine.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I'm Gonna Stick With Sewing

About 6 months ago I bought this bracelet on Etsy.


Hope and Believe - two words that dominate my life - for more reason than one. The two Swarovski crystals are light purple - the colour for cancer awareness. I put the Miraculous Mary medal on in May.

I love this bracelet, I never take it off. 

I also have this necklace from Citrus Silver.  Two of my daycare parents bought it for me when I closed my daycare last summer. It has Emily, Mary and Connor's names on it.   I never take this off either.

So the other day I was at Michaels and I saw the metal stamping kits. I thought to myself..."hey, you can do that!!"

It's not cheap though so I came home, printed myself a 40% off coupon and today I headed back to Michaels and bought the kit, plus some blanks. I got it home, unwrapped it, all excited to start but then realized that the stamps were quite large, too large for most of my blanks. They were  1/4".  So my mom kindly went back to Michaels and exchanged them for the smaller kit; 1/16". She also bought me a ballpeen hammer and a block.  So I took the first blank out and hammered out "Nana".  1/16" is very small. You need a magnifying glass to read it.

So off I went to Michaels again to exchange it, again, for the 1/4" set.  This time I  also bought some copper chain, large findings and some more blanks.  I came home and got everything set again.

Two problems. First - the 1/4" set is still too big for the blanks. Second -it's really not as easy as I thought it would be. It's not a case of hold the stamp and whack it. Because sometimes I don't hit it hard enough and the whole letter doesn't show up. Or sometimes I hit it too hard and it bends all weird.

In the end, I tried 4 different blanks and have decided that it's just not as easy (or fun) as I thought it would be.

So, for a forth time, I'm going to return to Michaels tomorrow and return this set. I hope they don't give me any trouble.

I'm kind of disappointed, I had great expectations.

But now I know.  I'll stick to sewing thanks.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

3 Days In

Summer vacation for the kids officially started three days ago and already I've threatened summer camp no less than 12 times.  I even searched on up and showed them where I would send them if they didn't stop arguing  and complaining.

I had the foresight to make an "I'm bored" jar. It's got ideas for activities the kids can do with (or without) me when they are bored.  I thought we'd at least get a week or so in before we'd have to use it. Nope, we used it today.

So Emily chose out the baking/cooking card. We took down all of our cookbooks and recipe cards and decided on a plan of action. Emily chose the appetizer, Mary chose the dessert and I chose the main course. Next Saturday we'll mix it up and we'll all choose something else.

So tonight we'll be starting with homemade salsa, followed by Meatball Skillet Pasta and finished off with chocolate pizza.   Yikes, not for the faint of heart.

If this goes well Emily has big plans in August to host a dinner party for a group of her friends...all cooked by her. My baby is growing up.

In the meantime, I've second guessed my plan to keep Connor out of daycare for the summer. He's already driving me crazy with his constant not listening and throwing toys, running, jumping and general threeness.

Did I say I was looking forward to summer vacation??

Friday, July 1, 2011

O Canada!!


It's that time of year again...time for my annual "Get to know and love Canada" post.
Today is we celebrate the 144th birthday of the greatest country in the world (sorry my American friends...we love you but you're missing some very important things...)

So today, I'm going to share with you, somethings that are uniquely Canadian. These are expressions or items you will only find in Canada or ones that have slowly migrated south but originated here.

For example....

in the fall we don't clean our gutters...we clean our eavestrough (or eaves). To us, a gutter is that thing at the side of the road where you find drunks and rats.

When we buy a case of beer we order a two four - a case of beer has 24 bottles Oh, and for most of Canada we go to the beer store to buy beer...yeah, a whole store just for beer! And it's actually called the Beer Store. (imagine the simplicity)


If you go to the liquor store you can buy a Mickey - a 13 oz bottle of booze. Or a 40 pounder - a 40 oz bottle.

We can buy 4 litres of milk (which is just over a gallon) in bags. Yep, not a jug or carton...bags - 3 small ones to be exact.  You put the bag into a milk jug and voila. And because we Canadians don't like waste...these milk bags are so strong and durable that when empty you can cut them open, give them a good wash and they are the Best. Storage. Bags. Ever. 


Further to our milk - we buy Homo (homogenized) milk, not whole milk.




Butter tarts. Sure to send you into a diabetic coma, even if you're not diabetic but OH so worth it. It's similar to pecan pie (without the pecans) but most simply put - it's butter and sugar and egg (and often with raisins) and the most delicious thing to ever come out of our country. If you visit our country you MUST have one.



Other uniquely Canadian foods include poutine (fries with gravy and cheese curds - not my personal favorite but widely loved)



Smarties (our version of M & M's) Caramilk Bars (a chocolate bar - another Canadian term used in place of candy bar - with caramel inside. How do they get the caramel inside the Caramilk Bar??)  Ketchup chips - needs no explanation - ketchup flavoured potato chips.




Knapsacks. Every August I buy the kids new knapsacks for school. Our word for a backpack.

Skill Testing Question. (2 x 3) + 4 =   
In order to win a draw, lottery or prize in Canada one must first answer a skill testing question. It's almost always a basic math question like the one above. It's the law. Yep, a law.  And it's supposed to be answered without mechanical assistance (no calculators allowed)

We don't pay an electric bill, we pay a hydro bill.

Last but not least, two videos for your enjoyment. Leave it to a beer commercial to boost our national pride.







Happy Canada Day!!!