Serendipitous encounters

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I continue to be amazed by the serendipitous encounters in my life.

I remember, over a decade ago, finding moments like this and being happy about them. Now these moments seem to find me and I can’t help but be excited. I continue to meet the most incredible people, stumble upon perfect timing and wind up in the right place.

I feel like the path ahead is unknown and yet clear, simply because I have faith that it’s the one that I am supposed to be on.

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Friday treatment updates

Another Herceptin treatment in the books! Is that the saying? In the books? On the books? Anyway one more down and only 6 left to go. Six. That seemed so far off just a few months ago.

Another radiation treatment is also complete! Today’s treatment was pretty quick. I arrived early, they took me early and the films were fast. I’m still have this painful lump in my chest (esophagus, really) so I stopped over to the doctor’s section to chat with the nurse. I was given a prescription of a concoction the pharmacy has to “combine” and will be available after a few hours. I will then use a syringe to squirt it down my throat to help numb it. I can use a spoon instead but that would numb my entire mouth. So this should be interesting. It’ll only last 15 – 20 minutes at a time but will hopefully help me eat and be a bit more comfortable when combined with the other medicines. We’ll see, I guess. I’m still researching other methods too. It’s incredibly uncomfortable and consistently there so I’m anxious for some relief.

I’m also incredibly thirsty lately. Think vampire-waking-up-from-a-long-stretch-of-sleep thirsty. I average about 70 ounces of water a day, not including other liquids but I’m still incredibly thirsty all the time. Side note, can anyone recommend a vampire movie to watch? I have a weakness for a good vampire movie!

The fatigue is continuing and I’m curious to see how the weekend goes combined with the Herceptin treatment fatigue. While the nurse was administering my Herceptin treatment today, she was talking about fatigue from treatment & radiation and the struggle it presents. “It’s not like a tiredness that you once felt, where you would lie down for a nap and wake up feeling refreshed. It’s an exhaustion that sets in your entire body and you can feel it deep within you. Despite a nap or a good night’s sleep, you wake up just as tired, as if you barely slept at all. Your body needs to rest and it needs to rest a lot. It is healing from everything we’re doing to it. Remember that.”

My chat with her was a nice reminder to take it slow and allow my body the time it needs. It’s often challenging because I want to be normal, active and productive but the fatigue and my body have different plans.

Aside from the busy day of treatment, I feel good. Every day, I am reminded of just how incredibly blessed I am. For that, I continue to be grateful. Happy Friday, friends. May your weekend be filled with love, laughter and fun.

The magic of Disney

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Growing up, my parents took us on a vacation to Florida along with my grandmother, aunt and uncle. It was a big trip and the whole family was excited. Florida was farthest that I had ever traveled away from home and the first time that I ever flew on a plane. I was in middle school but still excited about Florida, Disney, Sea World and everything in between.

It was school break in February and I couldn’t wait to escape the cold, wintery weather of upstate New York. Florida welcomed us with warm temperatures (most days), relaxation and theme parks.

Experiencing Disney for the first time was incredible. The sights, the sounds, the smells…Disney does an incredible job. The castmembers are always kind, always smiling; the parks are always clean and filled with tons of activities for all ages. I was at an age that was interesting to experience Disney for the first time, somewhere between embracing the magic & wonder and trying too hard to be the kid that was too old to be there. I remember struggling with this because it truly was such a fun, exciting time to experience it all.

From the moment that we arrived, my two little sisters fully embraced the magic that was Disney. They loved the characters, the kiddie rides and the photo opportunities. The first day we visited, I tried to resist the urge to enjoy Disney the way that they did – with eyes that filled with a sparkle and smiles as wide as could be. By day two, I decided that I wanted to be a kid like they were; I wanted to embrace Disney the way that they had.

To me, this meant buying a book, as my little sisters had, and having all of the characters sign it throughout our visit. This meant lots of lines, which my parents gladly waited in with us, and lots of photographs. We checked the schedules, hurried to the different characters and anxiously handed over our books and snapped pictures with our 35mm film camera (24 pictures at a time!). The trip was incredible and one that has so many memories that I hold dear to my heart.

Today, our family of three traveled to see Disney Live with family friends, including Jacob’s buddy since birth. These sweet boys sat in wonder at the magic of Disney on stage. The characters, the songs, the laughter, the lights – everything had the little men sitting in awe. They clapped along, danced to the music, wiggled about and just enjoyed everything that the show had to offer. It was amazing. Watching the genuine enjoyment that these boys had while watching these characters, which I grew up watching, was incredible. I couldn’t help but smile throughout the entire show, watching the faces the boys made. I quickly found myself dancing and singing right along with them as they enjoyed the show.

This is one of the reasons that I love Disney so much. The charm, the enchantment and the awe of it all…it makes me feel like a kid again.  That is the magic of Disney.

 

A warm spring day

The sun shined down through the trees, casting a shadow across her face. The large oak that stood above moved slowly with the wind; just enough to make the moss hanging from each limb come to life, reaching for its mate. The wind sent a shiver up her shadowed arm, despite the sun sparkling across her bare feet.

The birds sang their springtime song, calling out to their friends to come share in the warmth that the shallow water of the bath provides. The blue jay, its feathers the color of the ocean on a warm summer day, dips its beak in and sprays the water about.

An ant crawls up the chair she lays on, trying to sneak a taste of the chocolate scent he follows. She breaks off a piece and savors the richness of it. Her fingers are covered with the melted sweetness and she absently smudges the page of her book, engulfed in the words that fill the page.

There is noise of road work in the distance, the constant humming of a machine that moves dirt around the road it’s working to fix. A project that is long past due and yet provides the familiar comfort of an old friend.

It is the type of spring day that leaves your soul calling out for more; wondering what life has to offer, what comes next in this world, what adventure awaits. A day for reflection and thought.

But all of that is lost on her, as she is adrift in a world that is not her own. A world filled with fantasy and fight and hope, a battle being fought that is not her own. Today, she has no anxieties, no fears, and no worries. Just the words on this page and the next and the one that follows that.

Today, she is just a girl reading a book outside on a warm spring day.

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Sweet Saturday…

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Growing up, I loved Saturday because it was a day off from school that I was able to sleep in a little. I’d wake up and spend some time watching cartoons and eventually wander outside to play with the kids that lived on my street. It was always a fun, carefree day of the week.

Saturdays have changed over the years but they still share that same excitement from my younger years. Nowadays the morning is filled with snuggles, laughter and lots of playing. The days are open to adventure but in recent months, one thing remains the same.  No matter what the day brings, we wear green.

The Saturday green wearing began as a show of support, with family and friends all over the world joining in by wearing my favorite color. I love this and look forward to getting dressed in green every Saturday with my boys. The last two Saturdays I have been limited in my green attire because of the button up shirts I’ve been wearing while recovering. I’ve only been able to wear button ups due to my limited range of motion from surgery.

Today was an exciting Saturday to wear green.  Not only was I able to wear green as a way to remind myself that I am now a survivor, but I was also able to wear a shirt that wasn’t a button up. It took a little longer than usual to get dressed but it was a very rewarding moment for me!

I hope you all had a fabulous Saturday! What made your day special?

Drain free

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One of the best things about Thanksgiving is eating way more than your stomach would typically allow. We often do this despite knowing how uncomfortable we will be afterwards. Actually, some of us may do it with that intent in mind; thus feeling that discomfort like it’s a reward. I’m sure you know the feeling I’m referring to…your stomach so full that you think it might burst, pants unbuttoned or leggings stretched to the max.

This is the closest thing that I can think of to compare the tissue expansion to. I woke up from surgery filled with 150 cc of saline in each tissue expander (the equivalent of a small “A” cup) and today, my left side was expanded with an additional 140 cc. Surprisingly, although it is almost double in size to my right, it doesn’t appear significantly larger. I assume that’s because of the way the expander fills out.

The tissue expander has a metal piece on it, so the doctor uses a magnet to locate the piece of metal. That area is then cleaned and a needle is inserted into it to inject the saline.

The needle that is used to add the saline didn’t hurt since I am mostly numb still but I could feel the pressure from the additional saline in the expander almost immediately. I wanted to take as much as possible today though in the hopes of completing the overall expansion quickly (and hopefully feeling more comfortable sooner). I’ll go back once next week and twice the following week for additional saline. At that point, we’ll reassess where I’m at and whether or not additional expansion is necessary.

This is happening so quickly because I start radiation 4 weeks from today and need to be fully expanded in time for that. Since radiation will shrink the expander and the tissue surrounding it, I need to be over-expanded. It’s not painful, just uncomfortable from the additional pressure and a little awkward when moving my left arm. This is yet another step closer to being done – which makes this process exciting! The plastic surgeon also commented on how nicely my incisions are healing – yay!

OH!! And guess what else?!

I’m officially drain free!!! (Insert happy dance here.)

The last drain, connected to where my lymph nodes were on my left side, is officially gone. I’d like to say it’s a bittersweet departure but frankly, I am ecstatic! No more stripping the tubes, empting the drains, charting the output, sleeping sitting up, wearing an apron around – all done! Plus – I can now take a shower (well, this weekend I can). No more sponge baths for this lady!

And! See that picture of me up top? See that dark shadow around my head? Yup, that’s right – I have hair! And lots of it! I mean, I’m not going to go get it cut into a cute style or add any product just yet but it’s growing faster than I anticipated. The short buzzed style makes it appear as if I’m simply a trendsetter now. 😉 Happy Friday to that!!!

So tell me friends, why are you too blessed to complain today?

 

 

Today’s firsts

When my husband and I bought our house years ago, I was super excited for each holiday in it. Since it was our first home purchase, I wanted every holiday to be celebrated within our walls. We hosted each event and took pictures of every detail to create a scrapbook of our first year. When our son was born, this first year of excitement was amplified. Every holiday we decorated, did arts & crafts and celebrated that it was the first of many to come. Each milestone brought pictures and smiles (and books!) and traditions that we were determined to create for our little man. All of the firsts were filled with pure joy and lots of passion. Each day felt as though it brought new excitement.

Though it’s still early in the day, today has been a great day so far! After surgery, I wasn’t able to do much. Each day showed improvement but in general, the everyday tasks were not possible. Thankfully, I have an incredible husband and support system that has continued to help throughout this journey.

Today though…today was a day of firsts for me.

  • I woke up in my very own bed. I have spent the last 2 weeks sleeping in the recliner in our living room. My sweet husband has spent every night next to me on our couch, often with little man snuggled in next to him. But not last night! I am still sleeping at an angle and mostly upright but just being in our bed was wonderful. I was surrounded by a sea of pillows, my warm comforter and my husband by my side. I was even able to get up into it and out of it all on my own!
  • Morning snuggles. Little man woke up in the middle of the night and Joe brought him into bed with us. After waking up this morning, Jacob cuddled up next to me and snuggled into the nook under my right arm. I haven’t had those sweet morning snuggles in two weeks. My goodness, how I missed them.
  • I unloaded the dishwasher. Though this is a relatively mundane task and often something I dread when coming home from work or waking up in the morning, I did this with a smile today. It is the little things in life that bring the purest joy and today’s joy had to do with being able to handle my own dishes.
  • I made breakfast – not just for me but for Joe too! Despite growing up with Chef Dad, I am not an excellent cook. Sadly the knack doesn’t reside in me, save for a few recipes that I have mastered over time. Today though, I made breakfast that consisted of roasted potatoes, bacon and eggs. Simple? Yes. Easy? Usually. The first I’ve made food for myself since surgery and therefore super exciting? Yes!

These firsts may not be things that I ever expected to get excited about but today, they made me smile ear to ear. I am tired despite the early hour and will probably go nap soon but I will enjoy this moment of progress for just a little while.