Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Emotional week

Ya'll!  I'm a mess today!!  I've been such an emotional wreck!  I think everything is just hitting me now. 

First and foremost, My mom.  She will be ok.  It's just going to be this recovery time that is hard.  She went into surgery with one thing in mind and, in the end, it was a completely different outcome.  So, she was in the MICU last night so that she could be observed closely.  So thankful! The staff is spot on and has been wonderful in helping anyway that they can!  She's good this morning.  The pain drugs are working.  She's able to doze enough to get some rest.  We are hoping that once the Dr. gets in to see her, that she can be moved to her own room.  If not today, then hopefully tomorrow!  She's on IV nutrition to give her stomach a complete rest. They will do a swallow test in 5 days to test for any leakage in her esophagus and/or stomach.  If there's not any, then hopefully she can come home. 

Next, my chemo.  I've really not been emotional through this.  I honestly just felt like "it is what it is" and that I'll work through it as it comes.  By God's Grace, I've just been calm and been able to work through things as they come up.  I really haven't stressed over it.  I've been so blessed by so many family and friends who just jumped with me and have been on this crazy adventure with me.  They have been my rock, my encouragers, my supporters, my posse, my sidekicks, and given me a kick in the butt when I needed it.  I would've had a completely different mind set if not for them!  But today, I think that it's just hit me that as of tomorrow, this is done.  I've won!  I've kicked this cancer in the ass!  It just hit me and I sat and cried today. 

I don't think of being done until my pump is off, but I don't have any more treatments scheduled.  After talking to my Oncologist yesterday, he feels like I'm doing GREAT and am healthy.  I have to keep my same schedule for blood draws and Dr. visits for a couple more rounds, but no more chemo days!  Wooohoooo!  I'll go to see the vampires and the Dr. as much as they want.  (Seriously, I already owe them $120,000+, what's a few more Dr. visits?!?!) 

Also, Cancer just sucks!  As I'm traveling this new road, I've met and know of so many amazing, wonderful people who are suffering through this horrible, stupid disease.  Every story is so different and it's so overwhelming to hear each one!  I just pray for each and every single person and their families and friends who are suffering with them!  Love them!  Love them!  Love them!

Be Brave!
Be Strong!
~Claire  :)

So, I'm off to visit mom during visitation hours, then to run some errands and get out of the house for a little bit.  Then going to enjoy this day to the fullest!!!

Monday, May 27, 2013

6 months {in a fog}

I don't really know where to start.  I still have so much to post and haven't kept up like I should or wanted to.  I guess it's never too late to start, so I'll make another vow to TRY to post more!  :)

Tomorrow is my last chemo treatment!  WOOHOOOO!  I can't believe that it's been about 6 months since I started this journey!  It's been a definite roller coaster of events, emotions, and thoughts.  I'm not really sure where the time has gone.  I started on December 10th with my first chemo treatment.  Since then, Christmas happened, I've had a couple of scopes, a colonoscopy, another stay in the hospital (only 3 days this time), a pill cam, 11 rounds of chemo and pump, and a partridge in a pear tree.  I can't say that I really remember them.  It's amazing how I know that they all occured and they are on my calendar (and I'm definitely getting bills for them) but I hardly remember any of it.  I've really lived the last 6 months in a fog. 

I've slept through a lot of it!  Especially the first 6 treatments- when I was still on the Oxaliplatin- it made me tired and nauseous.  Since then, the nausea has subsided but the fatigue has increased.  I still need to nap most every day.  I like days that I don't take a nap, but I'm EX.HUSTED by 6pm.  So, those days are usually early bed times. 
But, even the time that I'm awake seems to be a fog.  Chemo brain maybe?  Just living through each uneventful day, maybe?  Not sure why it's such a foggy time.

I'm so happy that this week marks my 12th and last chemo.  Hopefully, forever, but I'm not counting on that.  I'll go tomorrow just like usual, get my bloodwork, see my Oncologist, get my treatment, and hook up to the pump.  The different thing tomorrow is that after I'm finished, instead of going straight home to rest, I'll be going upstairs in the hospital to see and check on my momma.  She has surgery tomorrow while I'm in chemo.  She's having surgery to remove a tumor on her esophagus and some polyps in her stomach.  We're hoping that she's only in the hospital for a few days.  Could be a week, but let's keep our fingers crossed.  So, this last chemo will be a little different because I'll be at the hospital some each day to visit her.  I'll have my chemo pump with me and will probably spend some time just sleeping in her room.  We'll see. 

What's next, you ask?  Well, I get to enjoy the summer.  I'm hoping that I won't be as fatigued all of the time.  But I think that I can rest on the beach as easily as I can rest at home!  :)  Hoping to get to a Braves game and to just enjoy the warm weather.  As for my medical stuff, I'll be referred back to my surgeon and will meet with him in the next couple of weeks.  He'll do an assessment and determine when I can have surgery to reconnect my guts!  WOOOOHOOOOOOO!  Ya'll won't be able to shut me up.  You'll probably know more about guts than you ever wanted to!  I can't WAIT!  According to my Oncologist, my surgeon usually waits about 8 weeks after the end of chemo before doing the reconnection.  That allows the chemo to run its course and get out of my system.  Any surgery with chemo in my system increases the risk of additional complications and infection.  Looking to have surgery sometime about the first of August-ish.  Then, as long as there's not any complications, I'll have an 8 week wound/surgery recovery.  That's it.  {as if it's been so easy!}

So,  here's to my last round of cocktails, mom's safe and successful surgery and recovery.  I hope all of you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.  Please remember those who are serving, have served, and their families who sacrifice every single day so that we might enjoy our freedoms!

Be Strong!

**Matching toes for our big week!**

Friday, April 26, 2013

ohhh the places you'll go!

I've been thinking a lot this week about what I want to do when I grow up!  :)

I moved home to completely start over in August.  I was going to nanny for Thing 2 until I could get my feet on the ground here in Chattanooga.  Then, in October, BAM! I was diagnosed with this crazy disease! 

Now, I feel like I've completely lost track of this year.  I think I hibernated all winter.. almost literally!  My teacher friends have reached Spring Break and now are only weeks away from the end of school.  In my mind, I can't believe it isn't just the end of the FIRST semester!  I KNOW that they are so glad that it's almost over.  I know the feeling well and how long the school year is.  I just can't believe that it's already over-- as an onlooker.   I'm so happy for them, but a little freaked out for myself. 

When I jumped on this crazy roller coaster, it was just starting to get cold.  I don't even really remember the winter months.  I really did sleep through a lot of it.  Now, it's spring and this hibernating, gypsy soul is starting to come out.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel- as far as chemo treatments go.  I'm feeling closer to normal on the good weeks.  I'm trying to spend as much time as possible outside in the warm sun.  I'm starting to get restless.

So, I'm really starting to think about what it is I want to do when all of this is over.  I'm not sure that K-12 teaching is going to be a viable option for me any longer, so I'm trying to think out of the box.  I was blessed by my amazing, sweet sister friend, Laura, yesterday.  She has been taking me to lunch every good week since this started.  She has been such a support for me.  She happened to mention that she was starting a small business.  It's a shabby chic idea.  It's an idea I've had for myself.  So, stay tuned on that. 

I've started to think about starting a non-profit.  I really want to "pay it forward"!  While I'm so far in medical debt that I will probably be paying these bills for the rest of my life, I want to be able to help other young cancer patients in my shoes.  People have been so supportive.  I never imagined that people would/ could be so supportive of my situation and really wanting to help financially.  It has made all of the difference in the world for my recovery!  I know it's still going to be a long road, but I'm forever grateful!!    Now.... the only problem.... I have NO idea how to start a non-profit or where to even put my thought process.  HAHAHAHA!    I will be picking the brains of people who have worked in that area! 

What else?  I will try to get settled here in Chattanooga.  Save some money.  Get my own place (I cannot WAIT!), make friends, learn my way around (a lot has changed in 20 years) and re-build a life. 

This adventure is just beginning and I'm excited to see where it leads!! 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Testing for polyps

I'm so proud of my friends who have gotten a colonoscopy recently.  Not all of them are because of me, but I'm still proud none the less.  The idea of a colonoscopy gets so blown out of proportion because of what it is, where it is, and the prep itself.  Really people, GET OVER YOURSELVES and go get checked.  If you have any family history or personal history of any type of issues, get checked no later than 40.  If you don't have any history at all, then they say you're good til 50. 

I wouldn't have caught mine in time if I'd waited that long.  The silver lining is that I got sick.  So, if you have any symptoms, go get checked.  It's better safe than sorry! 

 So, to all of you who go get checked, you deserve some skittles!!  :)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I *heart* my tennis shoes!

Those that know me well, know that I love shoes!  I love flip flops, flats, pumps, boots, wedges, sandals, sneakers.... I love them ALL!  I can't own enough shoes!  My closet is normally full of all kinds of shoes.  For now, though, most of them are packed up in storage.  When I packed up my house, I didn't pack for this long period of time away from my things.  HA!  I would've packed completely different if I had known I was going to get sick and not have my own real space by now!  Oh well! 

This week was chemo #9!!  I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Dear God, don't let it be the train!!!  So, I've spent my days sleeping and today mom and I went out and spent a girls morning/afternoon at the flower show and antique shopping.  I felt like I was walking on air today.  The sun was out, the weather was warm, and I felt like being out for the first time in days!  When I was leaving to meet my mom, I just threw my shoes on.  It was a toss up between flip flops and tennis shoes.  I opted out of flip flops because I'm not flip flop polished or ready to go in a moments notice. 

So, as we were walking around the flower show, I had a moment of realization that I was so glad to be wearing tennis shoes and not wearing slippers around the house!  It gave me a much needed boost! A pep in my step that I haven't noticed a lot lately.  It means I wasn't in my pjs anymore this week- not stuck in bed because I'm too dang tired to do anything!    It means that I wasn't schleping out into the yard with my hair all CRAZY, sticking up from sleeping.  It meant that I was out and about, enjoying this day and the Chattanooga community! 

Today, I love my tennis shoes!

Now... to go try to find my boots!!! 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Well, poop!!!

This post might be TMI for some people.  But it's my reality, so sometimes I will talk about different things.  I found this picture: 
This is what I will post at the beginning of any post that might contain TMI for some people.  I think I need a name for this guy.  Any suggestions???
So, ya'll know I LOVE my nephews.  They are such a joy to me!!  I'm so thankful for them during the last 5 months!!! 
The other day, I was playing with both of them and I smelled poop.  I had to laugh because I wasn't sure if it was one of them or ME!!!  I feel so much like Thing 2 most days.  He's 10 months old and we mostly worry about his eating, his pooping, and his sleeping.  Those are the main things I worry about these days too!  HA!     
 This whole ostomy thing ...... well, I hate it!  I hate always having the fear that there will be a leak.  I hate having to change it regularly!  (I have to change it every 4-7 days)  Whenever I roll over during the night, I hate constantly having to feel my ostomy to make sure it's not full.  Sometimes it's so full of air, it'll pop.  REALLY?!  Are you freakin' kidding me?!?!  Yep, so I have explosive poop-- just like Lil L.  It sucks to have to change your sheets in the middle of the night!! 
I've learned a lot about how my guts work throughout the day.  Did you know that sucking on a mint puts a lot of air in your guts?  I didn't either until I had to deal with it directly!!!  I know more than I want to know about air in my guts!!! 
Showering is another thing I have to think about now.  The only time I feel perfectly normal is when I can shower without the ostomy bag.  I always shower right before I put on a new bag.  That's when I have the chance to clean my stoma, check the skin around it and make sure it's not breaking down, and really try to get all of the medical tape off of my stomach!!  I can shower with the ostomy bag on and do often.  It just isn't a normal experience.  Think about hanging a ziploc bag on your stomach with super strong medical tape.  Yep, fun times!!
I thought about it tonight that, originally, I wasn't supposed to have an Ostomy.  The original plan was to remove the tumor and reconnect my intestine.  Well, because one side was normal size and the other size was SO swollen, they weren't the same size and couldn't be reconnected. 
I have learned though, just how many people have ostomies for their whole life!  It's amazing.  I guarantee that you probably know someone who has a permanent ostomy and you don't even know it.  It really is amazing!  I mean, as much as I hate it, if I didn't have it what would I do?  What did people do before them? 
So, little plastic bag on my stomach, I hate that I have to think about you so much.  But I guess I'm really thankful that you're there!!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Fakin' it!

It's been a while since I have updated this blog.  I need to get busy and try to post something at least once a week.  Add it to my to do list!

I've been struck lately about how normal I feel during my off weeks.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I'm tried.  A LOT!  I usually sleep at least 8 hours at night and I have to take a nap each day to function. And, typically, I'm tired after going out and about for a few hours.  BUT, it seems like I'm not as nausous as I was before.  They have  discontinued one of the chemo drugs, Oxyliplatin, so I think that might be helping. 

I just feel like when I see people and talk to people, they will be thinking that I'm faking all of this.  HA!  I know how crazy that sounds when it comes out of my mouth.  My best friend, Kim, put it best this week:
"So people think you're faking it?  Yep, you're a good faker with 15 days in the hospital, a huge scar on your stomach, an ostomy bag hanging on your side, and your hair falling out."  It's nice to have friends who put it all in perspective. 

People have also asked about how I stay so positive.  Some days I have to fake it til I make it.  But most of the time, I just have the idea that this is a temporary delay and I have to work through it.  I feel so fortunate to have the doctors and support staff that I do.  They are amazingly positive for me.  So, that really helps.  I do worry about what the chemo is doing to my body long term.  But that is something that I'll have to deal with as it comes too.  I'm just really of the mindset that things will work out the way they are supposed to-- as long as I continue to work through them. 

I'm incredibly blessed by my family and my AMAZING circle of friends.  I feel especially blessed this week.  I've had the opportunity to SEE some friends who don't live here.  And the opportunity to talk to others.  I got a very sweet, special flower delivery from an amazing friend.  I got a couple packages full of fun goodies.  I get to have lunch with a sweet friend and her little girl today! 

So, know that so far, I am doing ok.  Off weeks are great.  But I pretty much sleep through my chemo weeks.  You won't hear much from me and I don't really get out of bed.  I realize now, those are the things that most people don't see.