Friday, July 25, 2014

I Have a Confession to Make

Remember that time when I said I'd never have a smartphone; I didn't need to be connected 24/7?  And then I went and got an iPhone? Yeah, here's another funny story like that one....

I have school aged children and what do school aged children love?

They love Minecraft.



They have it on their iPods. We have it for the xbox.

Now I'll admit, in the beginning I didn't really get the point of the game. I understood there was survival mode in which you need to stay alive, eat, not get killed by zombies, etc. There was also creative mode in which you could build your world.

I decided to give this game a whirl after my most recent surgery. I mean, what better thing to do when flaked on the couch full of drainage tubes and percocet?

So I played creative mode with Mary and decided to build myself a house.

Holy shitballs, I loved it! I build myself a beautiful two story house complete with balcony overlooking my beach, a rec room with an emergency exit/tunnel. Now I'm busy making the outside nice, with gardens and farm animals.

I have a neighbour though, Emily, and she's trying to outdo me so it's become a bit of a pissing match to see who can build the most awesome house. (I will win!)

Who'd have thought this cheesy little game that I didn't understand would become so addictive?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Relay for Life 2014

It's official folks, I'm old. The first year we did the Relay for Life I lasted all 12 hours. I walked the track most of those 12 hours. The same was said was for the second year.

The third year, the year of my first survivor victory lap was the year of the torrential downpour, the year our tent broke because of the wind. We stayed long enough for my victory lap in the school and one lap around the outdoor track in the driving rain.

Last year was not much better. We got rained out again and my unwillingness to listen to anyone complain we packed it in at about 11 pm and came home. Not a good year.

This year the weather gods smiled on us and we had perfect weather, not too hot, not too cold and most importantly, NO RAIN!

What we did have though was an overweight, out of shape 40 year old with no stamina.

The truth is, we made it until 3 am and we would have probably stayed longer but it was me who was ready to pack it in. I had blisters on some of my toes and walking just got to be miserable.

That said, I had a fantastic time again this year at the Relay. Papa's Pride raised almost $1100 and it was a fun and moving evening.

Something that made it special this year was that caregivers were recognized. The cancer journey may sometimes seems lonely but the truth is, it's not just affecting the person who is sick, it's affecting everyone around them. Caregivers have a terribly hard role in the cancer fight.

When I think about what my mom went through when my dad was sick (or when I was for that matter) When I remember what Sean went through when I was sick...worrying about me, taking care of me, worrying about his future (our future), essentially being a single parent...that's a heavy load for one man's shoulders to bear.

I couldn't have beat cancer without my husband, my mother and my children (not to mention my brothers, their families, my friends both in person and online....the list goes on...) And those caregivers need to be recognized.

So at this years relay caregivers walked the victory lap too with the survivors, side by side.


Next year...I'm wearing different shoes.

Friday, May 30, 2014

An Open Letter to Tim Hudak

Dear Tim,

I am an Early Childhood Educator working in a Early Learning Full Day Kindergarten class. I am one of the 100,000 people you plan to fire if elected. Somehow you feel that by letting me and 99,999 other people go that 1 million jobs will miraculously appear. We all know the math is flawed, it's been proven. Regardless, you're sticking to your guns and for that, I'll give you credit.

Let me tell you a story that happened recently.

We got a new little girl in our kindergarten class. She's a tiny, quiet, 4 year old girl. She was frightened by her new surroundings, her new teachers and her new classmates. You see, we're a busy class. There are 30 children  ranging in age from 4-6. We are actively learning everyday (not just the children - the educators too!)

For weeks the new little girl did not speak. Not one word. She didn't speak to the other children. She didn't speak to the teachers. Don't get me wrong, she didn't misbehave, she wasn't crying, she joined in play with other children...she just didn't speak. After consulting with her parents we discovered that the girl had had a difficult beginning to life. She was quite verbal at home but painfully shy around others.

Because she's so quiet she's just the sort of child that might fly under the radar in a large class with a teacher who is already overworked and overwhelmed. It's the quiet ones who get missed because the teacher is occupied with the children with behavioural issues or physical or developmental delays. The schools are already stretched so thin when it comes to support staff that teachers already have less time for actual teaching when trying to support those who need it with more one on one attention.

But this didn't happen in our class. Our new little girl didn't fly under the radar. In  fact, she was right smack dab in the middle of it. Do you want to know why? Because it's Full Day Early Learning Kindergarten.  That means there are 2 educators in the class - the teacher and the ECE. That means there are two sets of eyes and ears. Two different but complimentary skill sets. Two minds. Two hearts.

We both make a point of checking in with each and every child every single day and  then later we communicate with one another our thoughts on the learning taking place and the next steps for each child. We both took notice that our new little one was not speaking and made an effort to speak with her several times every day; asking questions and hoping for answer but never getting one. We showed an interest in what she was doing each day, encouraging her to try new things celebrating with her when she succeeded.

Today that little girl spoke for the first time in class. We were doing math lesson; we were grouping stuffed animals and then creating a graph based on those groups. Because you see, Kindergarten is the foundation for the rest of a persons academic career. We do REAL learning in Kindergarten.

As I went around the circle asking each child what type of animal they had and to which group it belonged I made a mental note that I would allow my quiet little friend to place her animal in a group without insisting she answer my question. When it was her turn I asked her "What kind of animal do you have?"

And as clear as a bell, with a sweet little voice she answered, nice and loud, "I have a cat."

This is but one victory my teaching partner and I celebrate each day. We also celebrate the child who reads his first book or the girl who can finally count to 20 without skipping 17. They may not seem like big victories to you but they are huge to us. And they are even moreso for the children.

Could this have happened in a Kindergarten class with 20 children, a teacher and no ECE? Possibly. But I invite you, Mr. Hudak, to spend a day alone in an overcrowded class with 20 four and five year olds and tell me that you successfully taught everything you were expected to teach AND assisted 10 with coats AND broke up three fights AND calmed down a child who was having a meltdown AND made sure they all ate their lunches AND made sure you spent enough one on one time with each child to truly get to know them and what makes them tick because while they may just be children they are unique individuals with unique abilities and needs and in order to be a successful educator you must be able to teach to each child's individual abilities.

Two heads.....two hearts.... are better than one. That's simple, kindergarten math.

Firing ECE's, support staff and teachers will not help our economy. It will simply put us out of work. It will also impact the future economy with people who can't compete nationally or internationally because the standard of education in our province will have slipped so low.

Don't punish this and future generations. Keep your hands off the schools.

Sincerely,
A Concerned Voter

Monday, May 19, 2014

Politics

Let me preface by saying I rarely talk politics. I firmly believe that there are certain conversations one should avoid  - religion and politics being two of them.

Here's why. Religion is a very personal thing. I don't want anyone telling me what I should or shouldn't believe or why. (I understand the irony in that my Priest tells me what I should and shouldn't believe but for me personally my church is a ground zero for my faith and I develop my own beliefs and understanding from there)

Politics is a whole different story. I am not well versed in politics and prefer not to engage in debate over something I don't fully understand. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt. People tend to be very passionate about their political beliefs and I'm a live and let live kind of girl. At the end of the day there will never be a political party who will do things right. They will all screw things in up on some fashion so pick one and hope they don't screw up something that directly affects you.

And that is where this post comes in.

We are having a provincial election in a month. And there is a distinct possibility that it will directly affect me. Because you see, if the people of Ontario vote in the Progressive Conservative I'll be out of a job.

Let's clarify. That's not "I might get downsized." or "I could lose my job in a few years." That is I WILL lose my job before September.

Tim Hudak, the leader of the PC party has this Million Jobs plan. In some twisted alternate reality he thinks that by cutting 100,000 public sector jobs he'll be able to create 1,000,000 private sector jobs. More importantly he feels that many of these public sector jobs should be in education.



Yes, that makes perfect sense. 

So his plan entails taking Early Childhood Educators, like myself out of Full Day Kindergarten and increasing class sizes to 20 children per teacher.

Let's do the math - without giving away personal financial information. I like you and all but I'm not about to share my income with you.

In my school there are two Full Day Kindergarten (FDK) classes. They have a Teacher (OCT) and a Registered Early Childhood Educator (RECE). There are 30 children in each class.

Hudak's plan is to take those 30 children and divide them into 3 classes of 20, each with an OCT. He'll then have us RECEs fired. (Yep fired because within school boards we are Designated Early Childhood Educators meaning we are DESIGNATED to FDK and there is no where else for us to be used.)

But there are currently only 2 teachers teaching FDK which means in my school another OCT will need to be brought in to teach this new FDK class of 20 kids.

Here's the mind altering part.

A teacher at top pay makes more that two RECEs put together. So, in theory, this plan to save money is faulty logic. It will cost more to have more OCT's only in a class of 20 than an OCT and RECE in a class of 30.

And this genius plan of his doesn't just include RECEs. His plan also includes cutting school based support staff such as Education Assistance (the ones who assist the children with special needs) and Child/Youth workers (the ones who assist children with behavioral/emotional problems) Because you see, in Tim Hudak's opinion, teachers can take time out of teaching their class of 35 children to deal with the child who is throwing a chair because he's angry or spending 60% of the instructional day helping the autistic child in the class deal with being overstimulated by the 34 other children in the class...and the boy crying uncontrollably in the corner because of issues at home.

Sure, your child will have no trouble learning in that kind of environment.

Let's also analyze what this will mean for the 100,000 public sector workers who are now unemployed with is plan.

I am a Registered Early Childhood Educator. I've never done any other job (as an adult) Full Day Kindergarten meant the demise of many daycare positions simply because children were no longer going to kindergarten only half day and therefore didn't need daycare anymore.

I have NO other marketable skills. This is the only thing I know how to do.

I'm 40 years old. I'm too old to start a new career. Sure I can go to school to learn something new but when it's all said and done, no employer is going to invest in a 43 year old new graduate who will be retiring in 17 shorts years. They want the 25 year olds who they are going to get their money's worth from. The ones who will work for next to nothing because they don't have a mortgage and children and are not looking to pad their retirement savings because in the grand scheme of things, it's not that far off.

In one short month I will find out where the people of Ontario stand. I will see whether or not I'll be able to continue working at educating our youngest learners with the same dedication and passion that I've done so with for the past 20 years.

For my Ontario readers....when you are voting on June 12 (and I urge you all to vote) ask yourself.....

Do I want my children (or grandchildren) in an overcrowded classroom with a teacher who is frustrated and tired because the government has taken away all of their support staff?

Do I want my child to be given a chance to succeed?

If so, don't vote Conservative. Doing so will only set your child up for failure.




Monday, April 21, 2014

What Better Reason to Celebrate!

I love parties. I love hosting parties more than anything. I like to have parties for absolutely no reason at all. I like to have parties for great reasons.

Three years ago, right smack dab in the middle of my cancer treatments I planned an epic Surprise 65th birthday party for my mom. Why was it so epic? Well, because I was smack dab in the middle of cancer treatments for one. But more importantly because I planned this party to take place in my house - the very same house my mother lives in, arranged for relative to fly in from out of town, made the food, made a 2 tiered birthday cake (my very first), and had the guests send letters with funny anecdotes about my mother and cleaned my house from top to bottom and swapped out the furniture from my living room to my dining room - all right under her nose.  Granted, I didn't do all of this alone, my brothers and sisters in law were a huge help.

And as shitty as I felt it really gave me a reason to smile during my treatments because I had such a great time planning it and she was genuinely surprised.

I'll admit, I was a little disappointed that Sean didn't throw me a party for my 40th last summer but I get it, he's not a party thrower.

But I am. And guess what. I'm in the initial planning stages of a party like no other. This will make my mom's 65th look like a card party at a seniors home.

I am planning a party that will have a band (or maybe a DJ, haven't figured that out yet) a photo booth, a signature drink, favors for the guests and more food and drinks than you can shake a paper plate at. And the whole think will be pink. Pink, pink and more pink. (well, maybe some mauve thrown in there too)  Can you guess what it is?

The rate of recurrence for breast cancer decreases somewhat after 5 years. July 27th, 2016 will be my 5 years.

And I'm gonna celebrate that bitch like crazy.

Yes, I realize it's 2 years away but time is faster than you think and when I say I want this party to be epic....I mean it. I'm going to invite literally everyone I know. And it's going to be awesome.

So if I know you....save the date. July 23, 2016. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Havin' a Ball

Did you know that soccer is the most popular sport in the world? Well, at least that's what Google tells me. I believe it though. Soccer doesn't require specialty equipment, can be played with just a few or with a lot of people (provided you're doing a casual game) You just need an open space, a ball and something to mark off goal posts....rocks would do.  Anyone can play it; it doesn't really take special skill to run around and kick a ball. (shhhh.....don't tell all the die hard soccer fans I said that)

Truth be known, I have little use for soccer. I played on my grade 8 soccer team. I don't think we won a single game but I had a crush on the coach and my best friend was on the team too.

This past Christmas I was at a local thrift shop (popping tags...haha) and Connor spotted a soccer ball. He just HAAAADDDD to have this soccer ball. So I sent Emily back in later to buy it for him and wrap it up to give him for Christmas (yeah, I gave my kid a used soccer ball for Christmas...wanna make somethin' of it?)

He loves this soccer ball. So much so that over the long, brutal, shitty, arctic winter we had his soccer ball had to mysteriously end up in my closet because I got sick of him kicking around the house.

Yesterday he told me he wanted to bring a soccer ball to school. He's joined into some of the other kids soccer games at recess but often times when we drop him off at school he'll wander in the school yard until he finds a friend. While he's never alone at recess, that drop off time breaks my heart.

So this morning I dug out his soccer ball and allowed him to bring it to school. He walked into the school yard and looked around. There didn't seem to be many kids around so he drop kicked his ball and ran after it.

It was like seagulls to a Cheeto, the kids flocked to him and before I could even start the car again he was enjoying a game of soccer with about 6 other boys.

It's that kind of thing I love to see. And it makes me wonder, there are so many kids who have a hard time making friends. Maybe something as simple as a soccer ball could help open that door. I know, as a painfully shy person myself, I will not approach new people but if new people approach me, I'm the friendliest person around. Maybe I should start bringing soccer balls with me whenever I go somewhere new.

Hmm, do you think they'll let me bring one to my first cake decorating class?


Sunday, April 13, 2014

To Vax or Not to Vax

I've avoided this topic purposely because the simple fact is, people who are anti vaccination will remain that way and people who are pro vaccination will remain that way too.

But after having been in an immune deficient state and reading news stories about measles outbreaks I feel the need to comment.

I'm not a doctor so I'm not going to argue the merits of one study over another. I'm going to look at simply what I know.

Does the measles vaccine cause autism? I don't know,  again, I'm no doctor.  But here's my question. If the vaccine did cause autism wouldn't there be a hell of a lot more autistic people out there? I've got three kids...plus me, plus my husband, plus, well all the people in my immediate and extended family. Of those countless people who have been vaccinated....one cousin has a son who's autistic. Not an overwhelming number in support of the vaccination causing autism argument.

Smallpox was declared eradicated by the World Health Organization in 1979. Why? Because of vaccinations. That's great news right?! So amazing that in fact the only people who have to be vaccinated for it now are people who work in places like the CDC where they still hold the virus. Imagine if people ALL people were to be vaccinated against measles we could eradicate that too and then there'd be no need to vaccinate for it anymore.

I recently read an argument against vaccination asking what people did before vaccines - they were fine then. It's precisely that kind of stupid argument that makes me shake my head.

The answer to that question is simple. People got sick. Many died. Ask someone who had polio if they would have rather had a vaccine or the wheelchair they're in now because they can't walk.
The life expectancy of the average human has increased dramatically due to vaccines.

At one time the risks of the disease far outweighed the risks of the vaccine. Yes, I'm agreeing there are risks with any vaccine. Any responsible doctor will tell you that. But that was when the vaccines were new and the diseases ran rampant. Now that most people get vaccinated the chances of catching said diseases has decreased with makes it appears as though the risks associated with the vaccine are  more than that if the disease itself.

But therein lies the rub. If we all stop vaccinating to avoid the possible side effects the disease itself will make a stunning comeback (as it's attempting to do now) and boom - we're back to square one.

Let's talk about those who can't be vaccinated, those with immune deficiencies or other health issues that make it dangerous for them to be vaccinated or even the babies who are still too young. It's the herd immunity vaccination provides that protects them. And it's irresponsible of us to not protect not only them....but our own children.

And that brings me to the real issue at hand.

Google some images of people with measles or mumps. Looks like hell doesn't it? Why, I ask, would any parent want to take the chance that their child would suffer through that?

I don't buy into the argument that it's not a largely fatal illness and so we should just let our kids get it. Why? Why would you want your child to suffer?

When your child gets a fever do you give him Tylenol? When your child has a stomach bug do you give them some Gravol? Sure you do, because you don't want your child to suffer. How is this different? Sure, chicken pox is not really what anyone would consider a deadly disease but does that mean you want your child to suffer through 2 weeks of endless itching? Hells no.

We've all seen those posts on Facebook saying if you grew up the 60's and 70's and survived despite that fact that our mother's smoked and drank while pregnant, our houses had lead paint and asbestos, we rode in the car with no seatbelts (remember the station wagons with the seat the faced backward?) we didn't wear helmets, ate white bread and our medications didn't have childproof lids.

I'm glad I lived through all of that but I'm even more glad that my children don't have to. I'm glad that we, as intelligent beings, have progressed, learned the dangers of some of those things and made the necessary changes to ensure our health and longevity. Because in essence all the above is saying is that if it was good enough for me it's good enough for my kids.

Well not me. Just because it was good enough for me doesn't means shit. I want better for my kids and when they become parents I hope they want better for their kids than what they have now. It's not a slight against my parents that I want more for my kids that I had or me as a parent if my kids want more for theirs. It's evidence of progress.

In 2000 when it was time for Emily to get her first MMR I said to my doctor, "I've heard things in the news about how the MMR can cause autism." His response was succinct. "That's a load of crap." He made it clear that the choice was 100% ours but in his expert medical opinion there was no good reason to NOT give Emily her MMR. And so we did, with all the confidence in the world that he knew what was best.

When the chicken pox vaccine became available I asked again. "Is this necessary?"  His answer. "You had chicken pox as a child with no lasting effects. But is it a chance you want to take with your kids? At the very least, they won't have to endure the itching."

When it was time for Emily to get the HPV vaccine I asked him again, "I've read some scary things about side effects."  His answer, "You've just battled cancer. If there was a vaccine you could have had to prevent it, would you have taken it?" That's all I needed to hear. Hell yes, if giving her a shot will prevent that particular cancer then that is one less thing we need to worry about. Shoot her up doc.

And with every vaccine we've given our children I've asked my doctor - a person who has proven to me over the past 25 years as his patient that he has my best interests at heart - did your children get this vaccine? If the answer was yes then so did mine. If it's good enough for his kids, it's damn sure good enough for mine.

I doubt anyone's opinions on vaccinating have been swayed by me. That's okay. To each his own. I chose to vaccinate because, at the bare minimum, I didn't want to have to suffer through a sick child. Mundane illnesses like the common cold and the flu are enough for me to deal with thanks.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Backslide

I've been taking stock of my life for the last few days.

I'm going back to work in a week and a half and I've been feeling ugh about it. I've been worrying about what I'm going back to (the clutter and chaos).

I've been thinking a lot about my weight. I'm so unhappy with myself. I've reached yet another weight milestone (not a good one) and while I know the answer is simple - stop eating so damn much - putting that into practice is something else.  I want so desperately to go back to the gym but until my surgery is complete and I've fully healed, I can't. That's still a long way off.

It occurred to me today that I'm feeling this way because I haven't been at work for 4 months. I am bored. I am stagnant. I am wasting away.

I've felt like this before....back when I had chemo. I hated not being at work, not necessarily because I love my job oh so much (I do, but that's not it)   It's because I had a purpose. I had something to do outside of my family.

And here I am again. A backslide.

It occurred to me today that I've spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself. Poor me, I had cancer. Poor me, I had a failed reconstruction surgery. Poor me, I'm fat. Poor me, I'm bored.

But I'm alive.

It then the epiphany came.

I'm alive and I'm wasting my second chance. I'm sitting here on my ever growing ass waiting for things to happen so that I can wait for things to happen.

Well, that has got to change. I read a thing in a magazine the other day that said something like "be grateful you can still move" 

I've been given a second chance and I'm fucking it up in the largest way imaginable. I've wasted the last three years.

Today is a new day. I'm going to waste my life anymore. I'm going to do things. It might not be something big everyday. Maybe I'll cook something new. Maybe I'll take a walk. Maybe I'll get excited about going to work again.

 But no matter what it is, I've got to stop sitting around here watching my second chance pass me by. I got to keep on living - so I need to keep on living.

So what did I do today?

I found something on Pinterest that I liked so I did it.

We've been painting our main floor. We went from a green and a yellow that I loved but have since worn out their welcome to an off white (French Vanilla) I love it. It looks so clean and new. (Of course, with three children it won't look that way for long. Thankfully the walls are pretty washable.

Anyway, now that everything it painted its time to rehang the pictures - the same ones that have been on the walls since we moved in over 12 years ago.

And when I saw this on Pinterest I had to do it. So here it is, my hallway.

The sayings in between the pictures of my kidlets are both from Dr. Seuss.

"Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is youer than you!"
and
"We are all a little weird and life's a little weird and when we find someone who's weirdness is compatible with ours we join up with them in mutual weirdness and call it love"

See, I thought about having professional pictures done of the kids and the family all together. I even tried my own, of the kids together and smiling nicely.

That is so not us!

We are that family that bunny ears people in photos. Or makes a face. Or crosses eyes.

And so I celebrated that by taking pictures of my children in their natural state - being themselves. My oldest wrapped up in a blanket staring at her iPhone. My middle one upside down doing an handstand and my little guy making the silliest pose he could think of, that is not at all silly which makes it that much more awesome.

Because that's who they are.

Okay, enough blogging.

Instead of driving to get my little people from school I'm gonna walk.

Because I have to start moving forward.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Shameless Plug Sunday

Remember Shameless Plug Sunday in which I plug the business of someone I love or maybe just some place I've been that I felt really great about having been?

Well I'm gonna do that again today. But the plug is for me.

Okay, well the plug isn't exactly for me but it's a plug for cancer.

Okay, it's not really a plug for cancer either 'cause, well let's face it, that shit's a bitch and we don't want to want to send cancer any good juju.

There are only 60 more sleeps until the Relay for Life and I am so far off of my fundraising goal it's crazy. We've raised only 20% of our goal so far.

That's. Not. Good.

So, friends I'm putting the plug out here....for y'all to consider.

You can click this link to get to our Relay for Life page and then you simply click the button under my Dad's picture that says "donate to Papa's Pride" and enter your info. And there's even an option to use PayPal. And, for my dear American readers - yes, even you can donate. Your money is good here and it's not a competition - the Canadian Cancer Society, the American Cancer Society....it's all good.

I'm not asking for the moon, just a couple of bucks will do. Every little bit helps.


April is Daffodil Month for the Canadian Cancer Society so Emily and I volunteered a few hours to sell daffodil pins at our local WalMart. It's not overwhelmingly fun but worthwhile nonetheless. We did good too, in our 3 hours I think we made about $200.

The work the Canadian Cancer Society does is so important any little bit I can do to help - to give back....I'm going to do it.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

No Make Up Selfies

I'll bet you've got friends who have posted them on Facebook or Twitter. Maybe even you've posted one yourself. (though if that's the case, you may want to read someone else's blog today - you may not like what I have to say)

I read about the no make up selfies before they ever made it to my newsfeed. It started in the UK. Why, no one really knows but at some point someone turned it into a cancer awareness campaign. Don't get me started on that.  At least in this case it worked somewhat and I've read different reports that it's raised upward of $2 million in the UK. Good for them. (I'm not being facetious).

But this isn't a rant about doing stupid and cryptic things on Facebook in the name of cancer awareness. We've been down that road and that horse has 'bin done kilt.'

No, this is about something else.

It's about selfies. I don't get them. Maybe this officially puts me into the 'old lady' category but I just don't get it.

Actually, let me be a little more clear. I do get it when it comes to teenagers. Teenagers are insecure. They need a lot of social recognition, validation and acceptance and selfies are one way of getting it. Having said that, I've seen more than my fair share of teenage girl's selfies on my daughter's Facebook and Twitter feeds that are highly questionable and I wonder to myself, "Where the hell are your parents and why are you still allowed on the internet?" But alas, I can only parent my own children.

No, the selfies I'm taking about are the ones that are taken by middle aged adults, weekly, with captions about where they are or who they are with or what they are doing. 

Why? Why do you need to get that weird angled, up close picture of your face, or those extra awesome ones of you in the bathroom mirror holding your phone in front of you? (Just a tip for iPhone users, you can use the volume control on your Apple headphone to snap a picture so if you put a little thought into it you could position your phone in such a way that it captures you without it being in the picture...just sayin') Is a giant picture of your face relevant to what you posted, you know, like "Look at my great new hair cut!" Is it to prove you've actually been to the place you claim you've been at? Is it so that people can put your face to your name? Is it so everyone will comment on how beautiful you are?

If you're at Niagara Falls why not take a picture of the Falls and post that instead of a picture of your face with  a tiny glimpse of the Falls in the corner. Or, here's a thought, if it's because you want a picture of you and the Falls together - ask someone to take the picture for you so that you can actually see something more than just your face.

Because here's the thing. I like you. I think you're beautiful. But I don't need to see what your bathroom or bedroom looks like reflecting in a mirror. I don't need to see your face grinning at me while you hold the camera above your head to hide your double chin 17 times in one week. Once in a while, so you can put a new profile picture up, sure....but come one folks, ease up on the selfies. They just make you look like a vain douche bag. And everything thinks so, they're just too nice to say it. Either that or they've already defriended you.

I love this picture because the girl on the right totally looks like me!



As an afterward, there's a valuable lesson to go along with this post. I did an image search to come up with that little graphic up there. Sweet Jesus, whatever you do, don't search "selfie clip art" on Yahoo. I am just happy none of my kids were in the room or they would have had an education!!


Sunday, March 16, 2014

30 Things - #19

 I was going through some of my past blog posts and stumbled onto number 18 of this series. I completely forgot all about this so I thought perhaps I should finish up my 30 things. Because I just know you're dying to know all about me!

To see what this is all about click here

#19 -  If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?

This is a tough question to answer because I've really been to so few places. I can't say I'd want to live somewhere I've never been because, well, how do I know I want to live there if I've never even visited?

That leaves me the places in Canada and the US I've visited. Here's the thing. I've seen so little of Canada. I've seen so much more of the US. But there are two major factors to consider that would bar me from ever living in the US. Health care and politics. I'm not going to turn this into a political post but suffice it to say I prefer living in a country where I can receive world class health care without worrying about insurance or out of pocket expense. I'm also more inclined to stay where gun laws are stricter and my gay family and friend can marry the person they love.

Don't get me wrong my dear American readers. I love visiting the US. I've been to 20 of your fine States and will happily vacation there again. Many people near and dear to me are American.

But being Canadian is not just a case of being born in Canada. It's a personality trait. Canadians are just different. I can't explain how really - it's just something that has to be experienced by putting a Canadian and, well, just about any other nationality together for any length of time. We're not better - just different.

And being that I'm Canadian born and raised that differentness is just an inherent part of me. I don't think I could change.

So - that said, is there any place in Canada, besides where I live right now that I'd want to live? I think I'd have to say British Columbia. And here's why.

I need to be near a city. Not necessarily in one - I prefer the suburbs - but close enough that I can get to one. And preferably a multicultural hub. I grew up in Toronto. It doesn't get more multicultural than that and I want my kids to experience that diversity. (Not that I can say where I live now is a model of diversity but we're close enough to Toronto that they can experience it)  So that rules out most of the land mass in Canada. We only have a few major cities for me to live near.

Next to consider is scenery. Toronto is boring to look at. Southern Ontario, besides Niagara Falls, really doesn't offer much by way of scenic beauty. So I could move to the east coast - Newfoundland, for instance. You won't find nicer people in all of Canada than you will in Newfoundland, and I'm not just saying that because Sean is a Newfoundlander. It's true. Plus it has got to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. No kidding. You should go there sometime (Shameless plug...go stay at the Fogo Island Inn  my brother in law is a chef there.)

Or I could move to BC. Mountains and ocean all in one place. I was in awe of the beauty there.

So how do you choose between Newfoundland and BC? It all comes down to the weather.

They both get rain. A lot of it so I can't use that to decide but there is one huge difference. The 4 letter word of Canada. SNOW.

I like snow. I like to take my kids sledding. But I don't like to shovel it or drive in it or have to endure it for months on end. It snows in Newfoundland. A lot. It does not snow in southern BC very often and even when it does, it doesn't last long.

So, there is the most long winded answer ever to a 30 things question.
I would live somewhere in or around Vancouver or Victoria,  BC.

Or maybe my own private island somewhere near Aruba.

Friday, March 14, 2014

I'm Not Eating That!

I love tax season. Say what you will but I love it because I always get a refund and between Sean and I it's usually enough to go for a nice dinner out and then use the rest for bills or a major purchase we've been holding off on. (Last year was my super comfy mattress)

This year we decided to take the family out to dinner at the Mandarin (a Chinese buffet restaurant) For the uninitiated it's not just Chinese food (which is great because I'm not a fan of Chinese food) it's got everything. I mean everything.

Earlier in the week Emily went to the Mandarin with her two bff's for dinner and when she came home she told me after they'd finished eating one of her friends suggested a game. Each of them would go to the buffet and make a plate for one of the others with three of the grossest things they could find. The challenge was to see if you could eat what was given to you.

Now you must know, I'm that kind of person who welcomes the chance to make my husband and children gag. No kidding, it's funny as hell.  So we decided it would be fun to play that game too. The rules were simple. You had to eat one full bite of each item on the plate. If you didn't, you didn't get dessert.  To make it fair we drew names out of a hat.

It's easy to do this on the kids - they are so picky that just about everything in the buffet that isn't pizza or noodles makes the gag. Emily got a deviled egg, raw broccoli in some kind of white sauce and a piece of cuttlefish. She managed to get it all down. Mary had cuttlefish, an oyster and a mushroom. Amazingly she did it too. (Mary is not at all adventurous with food) We didn't make Connor play. My mom got seaweed salad, an oyster and something else I can't remember.

Then it was me and Sean. I had his name and he had mine. The problem is Sean will try anything once and likes just about everything he eats.

Lucky for me he had some curry chicken and didn't like the particular curry they used so naturally I got him some of that. But I had a hard time finding something else. He loves seafood so cuttlefish and oysters were not going to do it. So I go seaweed salad for him - solely because the seaweed was shredded along with shredded carrots so it kind of looked slimy and wormlike. You know on shows like Survivor when they have to eat things like meal worms or grubs - yeah, he can't even look at the tv without gagging. I also got him cottage cheese. He loves cheese but again, it's the texture I was hoping would work in my favor.

Success - he hated everything I got him! He choked it down but he hated it all.

But then it was my turn. Here's the thing. I'll also try anything once. But there are things in the buffet that I absolutely know I can not eat and I was sure he was going to go right for them. Oysters being the big one. I've had one - once. Forget the slimy texture - I can't get past how it looks. It looks like a vagina - clitoris and all. Vagina's are not attractive - not in the tiniest bit.

But my husband loves me. Either that or he didn't think of bringing me one because instead he chose the biggest - nastiest olive (I HATE olives - even the smell is nauseating) and a cuttlefish (which is like a tiny little squid.) Lucky for me I don't mind squid. It's like chewing a tire but it's doesn't have a taste. The olive on the other hand. I thought I was going to lose my supper. And because I married the greatest man alive, my third thing was a macaroon. Not because I hate them but because he loves me.

So we all choked down our nasty plates and headed for the dessert buffet.

The funniest thing about the whole event was that my children ate all that nasty stuff so that they could get dessert - but they both gave up chocolate for Lent which really limited what they could take from the dessert buffet and being the picky eaters they are, they were pretty well left with ice cream. So it wasn't even worth it for them! Bahahahaha.

Yeah, I'm that mother - the one who laughs at her children's misfortunes.

Monday, March 10, 2014

How Are You Doing?

I saw my oncologist today for my bi-annual visit. It was a very different sort of visit.

My oncologist is an older man - retirement age and as I've mentioned before he's not everyone's cup of tea. He's frank, doesn't mix his words and tells it like it is. While I had cancer he wasn't the kind to pat me on the back and say "There, there, everything will be alright" but he did say on my very first visit "I'll get you through this." And he did.

Today though, as I filled him in with all the details of the past 6 months since I saw him last, the two surgeries and all that went along with that he decided there was no point in doing a physical exam. One breast is basically non existent and the other is still healing from the reduction. So instead, he just decided we should  talk.

And he asked me the big question. "How are you doing?"  And he asked it with his grandfatherly face. Really caring. And I said most days I was fine but as I said it I could feel myself welling up and as much as I didn't want to I started to cry.

The thing is, I am fine. He asked me about Sean, if he was supportive. He is beyond supportive. He asked me how the kids were. They've been troopers. He commented that he knew I was not the kind to make this whole event a scary thing and the kids learn how to handle all this from how we handle it all. He said he knows I've handled it all so well.

And yet, there I sit in his office blubbering like a fool.

I don't cry very often about this. I felt like an idiot and I kept apologizing and he kept saying, "Don't be sorry, you're human!"

It's just that for three long years I've been dealing with this, with my chin up and my spirits high and for the most part I've been okay but every now and then, especially now, I think about how long and hard this whole thing has been. And it's not over. That's the clincher. It's not over.

My doctor told me as much, it's not over yet - because I still have one more surgery - but he also assured me that he's been doing this a long time (no doubt!) and that as time goes on it will not feel this way anymore. I'll feel more normal again. But in the meantime, if there was anything he could do to let him know.

And that is why, despite his matter of fact-ness when it comes to dealing with the disease I wouldn't trade this doctor for anything and I'm going to be so sad when he retires.

On the way home I thought a lot about my visit. The truth of the matter is, cancer sucks ass. It really does. But to say it doesn't define you or change you is denying the gift it can give you.

Cancer gave me a freedom I never had before and probably never would have had without it. I feel free to live my life. It sounds cliché but when I think to all of the things I have done in the past 3 years that I wouldn't have done had I never been diagnosed. It also gave me the freedom to care less about what others think or say about me. It strengthened my relationships with my family and friends while weeding out the relationships that had no where to go.

Just like everyone's cancer is different, everyone's experience with it is different. I'm sure there are some that would curse me for saying cancer gave me the gift of life. But that's my journey.

It felt good to let that out today. In general people assume that once treatment is done and your hair grows back that your all better. The fact is, the inner healing takes a hell of a lot longer than the physical healing. My doctor knows that. It's why he sat back in his chair and asked me, 3 years later, "How are you doing?"

Most days I'm doing just fine.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

This Time I'm Doing It Right.

Back when I had cancer I spent a lot of time whining and complaining about not being able to work. I missed being at work and was bored. I started doing a lot of crafty type stuff but the truth was I was bored.

Then I went back to work and regretted every minute of it for the last 3 months of that school year.

When I knew I'd be off work for 8 weeks with the surgery I had in January I swore to myself that I would not complain about being bored. That time off would be my reward for having made it through and this would be my time to just be.

I whined. I even worked a bit.

Then I got that fabulous advice from my principal and I'm here to tell you, I've taken that advice and run with it.

I'll admit I do check my work email daily BUT.....I am not working. I am not planning. I am not doing the newsletter. I am not even thinking about work.

This is a stretch for me. I'm a workaholic. But this time I'm doing it right.

I am off work until April 22nd and I intend to be off work until April 22nd. I'm going to relax. I'm going to heal. I'm going to write. I'm going to craft. I'm going to plan for my summer vacation (we're trying to get a Pumpkin Patch get together arranged for this summer and I couldn't be more excited!)

I'm taking care of me.

And I'm loving every minute of it!!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Back to Square One

I'll ask forgiveness in advance if I don't make a whole lot of sense. I'm medicated.

I finally got the call for surgery yesterday. My fabulous doctor (I really can't say enough about his fabulousness) put me on the emergency surgery list which meant after the regularly scheduled operations were done for the day the gotta fit you in or came in off the street and need surgery patients get to go.

Let's pause and talk about food. I love food. I mean, I LOVE food. So fasting and I don't really mix. I was ordered to fast from 9 am yesterday morning so I did get to have breakfast and more importantly coffee but by 1 pm I was hungry and by 4 pm I had to go to bed because I was downright bitchy.

We arrived at the hospital for 7 pm and got prepped. I was expected to go into the OR at 9 but alas a baby needed to be born ASAP and well, let's face it, that's a no brainer (the anesthetist (who, by the way, was Yum-my!) told me after the baby had been born in distress but was doing better so yay!)

So at 10 pm they wheeled me into the OR and got busy. I got home at 1:30 this morning.

The doctor removed the implant, removed the skin that was all gross from the big purple lump, fixed the flap and put a new expander in. In a month he'll start filling it again and then hopefully, in the early summer I'll have the swap out surgery again (the one I just had in January).

It's been a long road and it's taking a toll on my family, even though they'll never say that out loud. I'm so lucky to have them.

So, we're back to square one again. I'm okay with that. It needs to be done right or I'm going to end up having way more surgeries than this.

On an even more positive note I didn't start crying in the OR this time until they put the oxygen mask on my face....that's a record!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Now That's Some Good Advice

I stopped into my school today to pick up some books I ordered. Despite not being there I'm still a book-a-holic and when that Scholastic catalogue comes in I can't help but buy some. God knows what I'm going to do with my collection of 5000 picture books when Connor outgrows them and I retire. Save them for the grandkids I guess. My kids will never have to buy books for their kids.

Anyway, I spoke with my principal about my upcoming surgery and my frustration with not knowing when it will be and how long I'll be out. And he said to me....
"Just take care of yourself. We miss you here but you know, no one is going to take care of you. You have to take care of yourself."

At first I was taken by surprise. I was thinking, WTF? Y'all don't give a shit??  But then I got it. I got what he meant.
You see, he was my boss when I first got diagnosed but he was new to the school and had never worked with me before so all he had to go on was whatever the outgoing principal told him and perhaps what other teachers had told him.

I'm good at my job. No, not good, I excel at my job. And the whole 6 months I was off for treatments all I wanted to do was go back to work. And when I did get back my classroom was in such a state of disarray and chaos that I truly questioned why I went back and went home in tears most nights.

The next school year (last year) was better - way better and I felt like things came around. And this year...well the first 4 months were the best ever.

But now I'm home again. And my classroom again is in disarray. I felt nauseous just going in because I am an OCD organized, clean freak. And my partner is polar opposite. And without my being there to organize us.....

I can't even go there, I'm getting palpitations.

But the thing is, my principals advice resonated with me then.

No one gives a shit. They really don't. That's not to say that no one cares. My friends care. My family cares and even the colleagues I'm close to care. But at the end of the day - you have to look after yourself because no one else is going to.

So I've changed my way of thinking and my drive. I'm not anxious to get back to work. If my upcoming surgery puts me out for the school year - so be it. I'm taking care of me.

I am replaceable at work. Maybe not by someone as amazing as me, or maybe by someone even better. But I'm not replaceable to my family. Or my friends. And they are who matter.

I am looking out for me. I will sit my fat ass on my couch and watch Let's Make A Deal and go on Facebook 10 times a day if that's what my doctor orders. I will no shovel. I will not carry the laundry basket. (but I'll do the laundry if someone else will carry it) I will take care of me.

Now before I go....I don't want this misunderstood. Because my family takes care of me like nobodies business and so do my friends...my very close ones.....this post was mostly about my attitude towards my career.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Limbo

Limbo  noun \ˈlim-(ˌ)bō\
1  often capitalized :  an abode of souls that are according to Roman Catholic theology barred from heaven because of not having received Christian baptism
 
2 a :  a place or state of restraint or confinement
   b :  a place or state of neglect or oblivion limbo
>
  c :  an intermediate or transitional place or state
  d :  a state of uncertainty

Source: Merriam-Webster online dictionary

I fall under definition in red.

My doctors office called me last night and said there was a chance I'd be going in for my surgery today, this afternoon. I was ordered to fast from midnight last night and await their phone call this morning.

There's something you should know about me. I'm a planner. I'm so OCD about planning that I plan for planning. No joke. So to be given 12 hours notice of surgery - something I'm terrified of facing....well, that doesn't sit well with me.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not mad at the doctor, just stressed with the situation. I'm happy that he's trying to expedite this. I understand why it's imperative to have the surgery sooner than later. I've got a nasty purple/black lump on the side of my breast filling up with fluid that could, at any time, pop open and expose my implant to the world, not to mention set me up for infection.

But 12 hours notice does not allow me time to prepare myself mentally for going under the knife again. I need to time to calmly think about why it's necessary and important. I need time to prepare my children. I need time to arrange for childcare and school transportation because my mother, who usually takes care of those things for me, is on a cruise and the moment and blissfully unaware of what's going on at home. I'm glad for that, I'd hate for her trip to be spoiled with worry.

So this morning I waited, hungry, tired, scared and desperate for coffee for the phone call telling me what time to be at the hospital. At 10:30 my doctor's secretary called to tell me that there was no OR time available today and that I'd be having surgery next week or the week after. It's not like OR time falls from the sky and so, unfortunately some unlucky person is going to get bumped on my account. I'm sorry for that. I'm sure it will be frustrating. It won't be someone critical, like a cancer patient. But he is a cosmetic surgeon so I'm sure there is someone out there getting a boob job or liposuction just because they want to and well, that poor person is gonna have to wait. My boob is literally about to pop.

So now, here I sit in limbo. Waiting. Waiting for the call to tell me when my turn is. Waiting to see if this means I'm off work even longer.

I'll admit I was relieved today. I wasn't ready. I didn't have a chance to properly prepare the kids. I wasn't feelin' it.

Of course it also means I psyched myself up for nothing and I've go to do it all over again next week.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Nothing Worth It Is Ever Easy

I've lived a pretty charmed life. Really, I have.

I didn't grow up rich, quite the opposite in fact. I didn't get everything I wanted. (though I did get everything I needed) 

I didn't have a lot of friends growing up, a few close ones but I was also bullied. Elementary school holds a lot of terrible memories. High school was much better but I'd never go back.

And yet, I feel like I've lived a charmed life. I have my dream job, my husband who I love with all my heart, three perfect children and some amazing friends and family.

But nothing in my life has ever been easy.

I got diagnosed with cancer at 37 years old, on the youngish side by breast cancer standards. I was one of the >1% who had occult breast cancer. Lucky me! Not only do I get breast cancer but I get an ridiculously rare one that makes diagnosis and treatment tricky. Thank God for my amazing team of doctors.

I made the decision to have breast reconstruction because, while I could have lived the rest of my life with one breast (and probably quite happily), healing from cancer isn't just physical, it's mental too and for me, I needed to feel physically whole in order to heal mentally. I want to look in the mirror and see two breasts. More importantly (as trivial as this sounds) I want to look down and see cleavage.

So I made the decision, despite my fear of surgery, my worst of which being I'd die on the table and leave me kids wondering why their mother opted to do something so vain  - something that ended up taking their mother away from them when they were mere babies. Yes, my oldest is 14 but she's still a baby in the grand scheme of things and still needs her mother.

But again, nothing for me can ever be easy.

After my first surgery I questioned why I'd even done it. I felt horrible, I was in pain and dealing with other demons. But it got better and once the doctor started to fill my expander and my new breast began to take shape, as it were, I started to feel really happy about my decision.

One month ago I had the second part of my surgery, the take out the expander, replace it with a silicone implant and reduce my left breast to match the new one.  And as you can see from my previous post, I was so happy with the results. I have the boobs of a 20 year old.

But remember, nothing for me is every easy and so, I had complications. First, an infection at the drain sight. Remarkably in all my surgeries this was my first infection. But it scared me nonetheless.

And then, a small purplish black bump appeared on the side of my new breast. Small at first and then it grew. Naturally it appeared after I'd been released from weekly visits with the Dr. I wasn't supposed to see him again until March. But this thing was big and ugly and scary looking. So I called him and went to see him.

So here's my diagram of what happened.

Now, my diagram is a little oversimplified but it will all make sense in a second. See, the flap is the muscle and tissue that the doctor took from my back and brought forward to build a new breast. But that brown part should be totally enclosed, a full circle to encapsulate the implant. But in my case part of the flap failed (separated) as shown in the nifty diagram so now the only thing separating my implant from the world is a paper thin layer of skin. The big purplish black bump was fluid that my body would have otherwise absorbed taking the path of least resistance and pushing the skin out.
The doctor stuck me with a giant needle and drained a lot of the fluid but it just collected again. And the thing is, skin wears.  We shed layers of it in small doses everyday. Eventually that paper thin layer of skin would wear away and expose my implant opening me up for infections and a new world of surgeries.

So, we're beating it to the punch.

I get to have more surgery. Soon. Like in a couple of weeks. Yay me. (this would be a great time for a sarcasm font) The doctor is going to take out the implant, fix the flap and either replace the implant, put a smaller implant in or put a new expander in. By the way he talked today he's leaning toward a new expander. Which means another surgery will follow in a few months to put a new implant in. He'll make the final decision in the operating room.

I've had time to process this now. I had my moment of tears, anger, regret, anger, tears and more anger.

Now I'm resigned to it.  I'm frustrated because it means more time off work, it means my summer plans are all shot to hell and it means I'm living in medical limbo for another several months. It means more stress to my family. It means more stress to me. It means a whole lot more fear for me. The same fears I faced when I got diagnosed with cancer. The same fears I've faced each and every time I lay down on the operating table and cry, praying that God will let me wake up again to see my children.

I hate this. I really, really do. But I've learned that your cancer journey isn't over the day you get your 'no evidence of disease' report. It's not over after your hair grows back and your memory returns. It's not over when your scars heal.

I am not whole again yet and my journey won't be over until I am.

One of my first thoughts, after my family,  when my doctor told me I'd be having surgery again was about my job. I love my job, passionately. And I miss it. But this time is different. Because while I am angry that I will be missing more time and worried that I'll lose my position in my school and get stuck in a school I hate and wondering what my colleagues are thinking (or saying), I'm reminded of something.

I'm here. I'm alive. I got to spend the last three years with my kids and my husband and my friends and family. I might be am replaceable at work. No matter how good you are at your job, everyone is replaceable at their jobs. But I am not replaceable to my family and friends. And my life is important to me. I want to live it happily and to the fullest and for me to be able to put cancer behind me I need to feel physically whole.

So as much as it sucks ass.....I'm going under the knife again. Lucky me.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Afraid of a Little Kitty?

In May of 2011 we had to put our cat Snickers down. She had a giant growth under her tongue that the vet suspected was cancerous. I love my pets but didn't see the need to put her through the pain of testing and surgery just to extend her life for my benefit. She's an animal and wouldn't have understood why she was in pain and unable to eat.

Anyhow, about a week later we got another cat.  This is Chicklets on the day we got him. 
He's a cutie, isn't he?

He was a pretty cuddly kitten, loved to be petted, snuggled up next to you on the couch and was playful. For the first couple of weeks after we got him he would sleep with us at night in our bed.

He eventually grew out of his lap cat ways, more so when we brought him home a playmate, this little guy....Licorice. Licorice, though a year younger is the dominant cat in their little hierarchy. 


But every now and then Chicklets still comes in for a cuddle. 

One night, just a few days after we first got Chicklets I woke up in the middle of the night because he was licking my right armpit. I remember it like it was yesterday. I thought maybe he liked the salty taste (it was hot and I was sweating) 

He did it again a few days later.

If you google 'cats smell cancer' you will read hundreds of stories, both in credible media and some not so much, of cats and kittens licking, pawing or otherwise focusing on their owners body, in particular, the area that is cancerous. 

Is it a coincidence then, that my brand new kitten went several times for my right arm pit, the very one in which the cancerous lymph nodes were discovered....a mere 9 days after we brought him home? 

I'm sure many of my readers will think I'm a total crackpot for even suggestion that my kitten detected my breast cancer before I did. Maybe I am. 

But any cat owner will tell you that cats have some kind of wisdom,  beyond our comprehension, you need simply to look into their eyes. They know things. They are deep. They aren't like other animals; a person chooses a dog and as long as you love it, feed it, play with it and walk it, the dog will love you back. No, cats are not like that. They choose you. You can give it all the food and love and attention in the world but if the cat doesn't like you, it will never like you. And by God, you'll know it. 

What's this all about you ask? Well, I am thoroughly convinced my cat Chicklets detected my breast cancer before I was aware of the lump that led to my diagnosis. 

And because of that, I'm terrified of my cat. 

I love my cat, I pet him everyday, feed him, etc. but on those rare occasions when he feels the need to jump up into my lap for a cuddle it scares the living hell out of me. 

He's done it twice in the past past 4 weeks since my surgery. Once he felt he needed to climb up on me while I was laying down and slept on my hip (because I wouldn't let him climb up all over my sore boobs) 

Last night he felt the need to snuggle up on my lap while I played candy crush. 

And I let him but the whole time he was there, all I could think about was "Why are you here? Why do you need to sit with me? What do you want? Are you trying to tell me something??"

I'm sure my cat just wanted a little love, but it doesn't make me feel any better.  Does he know something I don't? 

I sure as hell hope not. 




Monday, January 27, 2014

Meet the Girls

You thought I was going to put a picture up didn't you? Ha, the jokes on you, these girls are staying covered. This ain't Playboy, yo! 

Seriously though. My surgery was two weeks ago and I'll admit while I'm so happy with my new rack my recovery is taking a lot longer and is a lot rougher than I thought it would be. 

I'm sore, which I expected but I also developed an infection around the drainage tube site. I spiked a fever and started throwing up last weekend and ended up going to the emergency room. I got new antibiotics and it looked like things were improving but now this morning I have a fever again and am really nauseous. 

Add to this insomnia because I am now only taking Tylenol for pain which means my body has to relearn how to sleep without the aide of prescription strength pain killers. 

Oh, and allergies. It would appear that the list of things I'm allergic to it growing because I spent all day yesterday sneezing and snotting.  Nice image isn't it?

But this isn't meant to be a pity party. Because, my friends, my reward for having had my breast cut off and hacked into 100 tiny pieces, going though chemo, radiation and herceptin, losing my hair, gaining 25 lbs, and feeling like I've lost myself is that I now have the boobs of a 20 year old. Well, okay the truth is my reward for going through all that is that I'm here to complain about insomnia and pain and nausea. 

But I've also got a great rack. 

And for that, I'm ecstatic!!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Writers Block

I've been staring at this blank screen for a half an hour. I could just click the red x in the corner of the screen, close the page and not blog but I feel like there's something I need to say. I just don't know what it is yet.

Tomorrow I go for the second part of my breast reconstruction surgery. This is the one in which they take out the expander that was put in in July and replace it with an implant. They will also reduce and give lefty a little lift to make me a little more symmetrical.

This is the final to being normal. As of now I've decided to not have a nipple reconstruction. I don't really see the need. I might change my mind later but for now, I'm good to be a Cyclops.

I'm going to be off work for 9 weeks. I have a very physical job and the muscles I use in it are the very same ones that will be healing. And there's the mental healing as well.

It's estimated that only 10-20% of women in Canada have a reconstruction surgery after mastectomy. I can't speak to other women's choices on this but I did it because I wanted to feel whole again. To look at me with clothes on, when wearing my prosthetic you'd never know I only had one breast. But I knew.

There is nothing I love more than taking my bra off when I get home from work. But to have that lopsided feeling. To not feel comfortable, even in my own house. To not feel comfortable in my own skin.....I hated that. I beat cancer but it was still beating me by tearing down my self esteem.

And my self esteem is at an all time low. I am not losing weight, in fact I'm still gaining. I don't feel attractive. I don't feel like me. I want to feel like me again and I'm hoping that finishing the surgery will help me get there.

I remember back when I had the expander put in and I was in severe pain and felt like I was wasting the kids summer and I questioned why I did it. I thought I should have left well enough alone.

I know now that that was just the pain talking and I also know that I feel 100 times better than I did before the surgery. I'm looking forward to wearing a normal bathing suit, one in which my prosthetic doesn't float up over top of my bathing suit. I love that when I buy a shirt I don't have to worry about if it shows cleavage because once again I have cleavage to show! I also can't wait to buy new bras. And because my size will be a bit reduced I should be able to buy some really pretty ones from Victoria's Secret.

And yet I still feel like I'm missing something. I feel like part of me lost. But I don't know what.