Friday, November 30, 2012

Heartbreak

Holy bananas if feels like I haven't had a minute to myself lately. I've been crazy busy with work and family.

I'll be glad for the Christmas vacation so I can take a breather. Until then I'm going to continue being crazy busy though.

My baby girl has suffered her first broken heart.

Mary has a crush on a boy at school and finally worked up the nerve to send him a note telling him so. She found out this boy only likes her 'as a friend' and in fact has a crush on another girl in her class.

She cried. And cried and cried some more.

She hugged her stuffed bear, she ate ice cream and she swore she'd never be happy again.

Remarkably she felt somewhat better the next day so I guess the heartbreak wasn't as bad as she thought.

What was more interesting in all of this was learning that my dear husband is not exactly equipped to deal with such things. He's a man after all. He thinks like a guy. He doesn't get it that when a boy you like doesn't like you back it's the end of the world and you don't want to hear about how 'this is only one of many heartbreaks you'll suffer through your life. He doesn't get that all we want to hear is how this guy must be gay - why else wouldn't he like us? Or he's just plain stupid - after all, we are THE one all guys should want.

I'm sure over time he'll figure it out. He's got two daughters and not to sound all manly but there will undoubtedly be string of broken hearts in the future that he'll need to help mend.



Friday, November 16, 2012

Murray

Thursday was my final....FINAL herceptin treatment. I have not completely finished my treatments for cancer. I am now officially, on the other side.

I made bags up for all the nurses in the chemo clinic. I had canvas bags made at Vistaprint with a picture of the tree of life on the front (I thought that was fitting)  I filled the bag with lotion, sanitizers and soap from Bath and Body Works, a big box of chocolates and a gift card for the coffee shop in the hospital. I wrote a nice card and brought in boxes of chocolates for the secretaries and volunteers as well.

I was giddy.

My own doctor was away on vacation. He's semi retired now so he's away often. His replacement was a younger woman, very friendly, and judging from what I overheard in the other room, very well versed in oncology. In fact, one of my nurses suggested I approach her to take me on as a patient when my own oncologist retires. I liked her and think I will do just that.

I wrote in my journal one final time too. I wrote about how 16 months ago I walked out of that hospital newly diagnosed with cancer and terrified about the road ahead. And today (well, Thursday) I was was walking out a survivor. And I owed that all, quite literally my life,  to my medical team.

And yet, I'd admit, part of me had a touch of survivors guilt. Because I know that while I am able to walk out of there again, smiling, happy and above all else, cancer free - I know there are lots of people who don't. People who may have even been there at that time. So though I was celebrating I was trying not to be boastful about it. I was trying to be sensitive to the others there.

I was in 'my' chair. It's off in a corner - away from most of the other chairs and quite. I like it there. I can read and relax. While I was there, the nurses were coming over to congratulate me. One of them, while hooking up the IV on the man next to me commented that after a year and a half I was finally done.

The man looked over at me and said, "A year and a half, you're lucky, two years for me!"

The man introduced himself as Murray. He's 84 years old (and he looked fantastic, I wouldn't have placed him at 70)  He asked me what type of cancer I'd had and if I was scared. We talked about his cancer (lung) and how he'd already done one bout with cancer and thought he'd be done with it but nope - no such luck.  We talked about my husband and kids and parents and his wife and kids and grandkids. He cracked a subtle joke about marriage, I laughed and agreed with him and he told me I was quick and that he liked me. 

But mostly we talked the way cancer patients talk to one another. About the simple fact that while everyone around us does their best to understand, no one really quite gets what it is we're going through. It really is a game changer. We put on brave faces or we don't  because we agreed that there are two kind of cancer patients - those who lament and those who accept it for what it is and try to keep positive)  We manage our pain both physically and emotionally and we support our families. Because in that too we agreed, it can sometimes be harder on our families than it is on us.....

I enjoyed my time with Murray and I was a little sad to go. He was funny and interesting he called my husband Michael (I don't know what made him think my husbands name was Michael but I didn't see the need to correct him) His wife was lovely too. He introduced me to her just as I was leaving (she had been upstairs) and he told her "we talked at length about this cancer business but neither of us solved a damned thing!"

I think I'll think about Murray often. I don't know his prognosis. I didn't ask. But I'll wish him well and say a prayer that no matter what happens with him, that he greets it with open arms.

And for me. I can finally put this cancer business behind me and look forward again.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Tail of Two Boobs

Once upon a time I had two boobs. Just like other women. Then cancer took one away from me.

I continue to fight back only now it's time to fight back against the one boobed monster.

Okay, that was all just plain cheesey.

I went to see the new plastic surgeon about reconstruction today. If you'll recall, I've already been to see one and it didn't go well.

I got into his office 10 minutes before my appointment. It was clean, it smelled nice and was very tastefully decorated (he had some artwork on his wall, besides the painting above my fireplace that I LOVE, I've never seen another piece of art that spoke to me...I loved these pictures.)

When I got in there was another woman in the waiting room. She went in about 2 minutes later. Not a minute after that another woman came in. She spoke with the receptionist only to discover that she was 2 hours early for her appointment (though she was 15 minutes late for the time she thought she had...yeah.)  The receptionist said to her, "well, you've only got a follow up, you'll be quick. You can stay."  Then she puts me on the spot by asking if the woman can go in front of me since she' going to be really fast.

What am I going to say, no? Of course not. I'm not a bitch. So I said sure. Then the receptionist says to this other lady - "great, he's just got someone in for a consult so you'll be about a half an hour before you go in."

WHOA!!! No one told me I'm already waiting 30 minutes!!!

So, now I'm not as impressed. I mean, this guy is running 30 minutes behind and now I have to wait even longer because this ditz can't tell time?? Shit.

And to add insult to injury, this guy didn't even have good magazines in his waiting room. (though it makes sense that a cosmetic surgeon has fashion magazines in his office...I'm sure many of his clients are botox kind of folks.....)

When I finally got in, I was unmoved. He was quiet, monotone and didn't seem warm. But I think he was just nervous because he loosened up along the way.

He gave me the options that I'm good for; TRAM flap surgery - in which they take muscle and tissue from your stomach to reconstruct the breast, Latissimus Dorsi flap surgery, in which they take muscle and tissue from the back - combined with an expander and implant and Skin and Tummy Fat Microsurgery which I'm also a candidate for but it's only done by a couple of Dr's here so I'd be waiting upwards of 2 years for that surgery.

He laid out the facts, the pros and cons, the recovery time (which was a huge factor in my decision) and answered all of my questions thoroughly and patiently. In short, he was fantastic!!

So, I've decided to have the Latissimus Dorsi flap surgery. The recovery time is less for that, and while it's two surgeries (one to move the muscle and one to put the implant in) the recovery for it will be shorter and easier and the results are just as good. And if, for some reason it fails (there is always the risk of failure) I can still have the TRAM flap surgery.

Initially I was going to do it in March so I could piggy back it with March Break but I'm still going to have to go to the Dr weekly to have the expander filled with saline so I've postponed it until the summer after get back from Florida. That was I can take the rest of the summer to deal with it and only miss a bit of work to have the implant put in.

I'm ridiculously excited. This time next year...I'll have TWO boobs.

I can't wait!!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

All Things Kindergarten

I know I'm not posting as much as I used to. Forgive me.  I mean, I know you wait with bated breath for each and every post and well...you're getting blue in the face waiting.

In all seriousness, getting back to good health means getting back into the routine of life and life takes up a lot of my time.

I'll catch you up a bit.

Next Saturday I'm hosting a Celebrating Life party. You see, November 15th is my final herceptin treatment and that means I'll finally be completely done with cancer treatments. I'll still see one of my oncologists every 3 months and have a yearly mammo but beyond that - it's time to move on.

It's bitter sweet. I'm thrilled to be almost done but I'm sad to be losing my safety net. Every 3 weeks for the past 14 months I've gone to the chemo clinic for some form of treatment and while it hasn't always been pleasant, the camaraderie you feel with the other patients and the familiarity with the nurses and volunteers makes it feel safe. And while I don't want you to mistaken this next comment for my having enjoyed any part of the last 14 months - I'll say that I will miss going  to the chemo clinic. I'll miss the nurses. I'll wonder about the other patients I've spent my time talking to. 

I won't miss cancer though.

And so, to celebrate the end of my treatments I'm throwing a party and I'm going to eat and drink and celebrate.

I've been getting into a better groove at work. I'm not as stressed anymore and am enjoying it again. I've got a great class this year and things are progressing nicely.

And to go along with that, I've started paying more attention to my kindergarten blog. I even opened a Teachers Pay Teachers store. I'm full of great ideas and resources and want to share them. Some of them are tried and true and some of them are new. I'm also having a fine old time with creating digital documents to sell and give away (more of the things I'd made for school before were kind of bland and boring. So I purchased some digital clip art and a licence and have been jazzing them up a bit.)  This creative side of me can not be stopped!


Anyhow, I'd be thrilled if you popped on over to my kindergarten blog and followed me and if you're a fellow educator (or know other educators) share my blog with them too.  Just click the pretty picture below!


 

I've got to give a plug to my dear friend Amanda at Little Bean Shop.  Back in the day when I ran my home daycare she created my logo for me (you can see it in her gallery photos -it's the one for Little Chickadee Home Daycare)  I wanted to redesign All Things Kindergarten and there is no one I'd trust more to do the job. She created the blog background, header and buttons. It's not quite done yet but so far...I'm loving it.
Amanda's  the girl to talk to for all your digital needs! (Not to mention she's an all around fantabulous person!)


So that's it in a nutshell. 

What's new with you?