Wednesday, March 27, 2013

3.2 miles and the insurance man...

So yesterday my BFF and I ran 3.2 miles.  For some this may not seem like any big deal.  For me, however, it's a milestone.  I have never been a runner and I have never run in my entire life.  Having cancer made me do strange of which was to set a goal of running a 5K.  I've been walking consistently, and recently I started running on the treadmill, but the most I've ever run is for 22 minutes which ends up being about 1.6 miles.  This past Friday, we ran 1.6 miles outside.  We were psyched about that...
And then yesterday we decided to do it again, only this time we just kept running, like Forest Gump.  

Never in a million years would I have thought I could run, but I'm happy to report that I proved myself wrong once again.Today my body is not so happy I ran the 3.2 miles, but it will recover and then I can do it all over again.  

After I got home I took a quick shower and had an appointment with someone for disability insurance (a little strange after just running over 3 miles).  However, the claim is being put in for when I was sick (obviously).  I had to regurgitate all the events of the past year;  he was empathetic and seemed genuinely interested in my story.   It was cathartic.  I don't know that I've ever sat down and gone through the entire story from start to finish.  I kept leaving out details and forgetting things.  I had to refer to notes on my phone and appointments on my calendar.   As I was retelling, I thought.. Sh%&!  I went through hell!  But, I survived!  

Looking back there really was no choice but to walk through the muck one day at a time...and somehow, someway, I made it to the other side. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Carry On...

I'm loving this song...

Favorite Line:

"May your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Conquering the Demons...

I should probably warn you that I may be pushing the envelope with this post and the information I'm about to share...

So about a month ago, when I decided to "investigate" what was causing me discomfort under my bra strap, I discovered a bump.  Before I go any further, everything is FINE!  
Of course, my initial reaction was, oh great!  What the @#$% is that?  Then my rational brain said, "it's your new body, you just had an MRI, it's fine..."  So for about 2+ weeks I went between feeling fine about this bump and panicking about it.  I decided to call the doctor's office (a week ago yesterday); the nurse told me I could come in on the following Wednesday.  Oy, an entire week to create nonsense in my head and battle those demons. Honestly, since my surgery, I think I've avoided that area of my body, both consciously and unconsciously.  When I did venture to it, most times accidentally, it would put a lump in my throat, very similar to when you put your finger in your belly button (not that any of us do this on a regular basis...and not that there is anything wrong with it if you do).  The nerves in that area are just all out of whack and things are strange to me.

Moving on...

Because I wasn't all that familiar with my new normal, I really couldn't determine whether or not this bump was something new, and forget comparing it to the other's like comparing apples to oranges.  After I looked up pictures of a woman's anatomy online, my rational brain concluded that it was indeed a bone and/or muscle.  However, my anxiety driven brain still felt it was necessary to take a trip to the office.  So yesterday morning, bright and early, I found myself sitting in the waiting room.  After a check by the nurse, an ultrasound and a check by my surgeon, it turns out that the bump is my "new normal" body anatomy.  THANK GOD!!!   Although I really thought this was the case, the small doubt that I had was starting to weigh on me.  Hearing it from the horse's mouth helped a great deal.  Going to the doctor's was what I needed to do to rid myself of the uncertainties.

Why, you ask, do I feel the need to share this information? Well, I actually think that this kind of reaction is somewhat typical for people who have experienced the Big C, at least that's what I have seen and been told.  Perhaps me sharing (sometimes too much) information will in turn help someone else to not feel so alone while they fight to conquer their demons as well, and that sometimes it is okay to seek the reassurance and help from others in order to do this. 

You struggle with your demons and you conquer them.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


I'm so ready for it...the warmer weather, the new growth of the gardens in the yard, and more time spent outdoors.  The deer were on a spring stroll of their own the other day.  I was giving the kids breakfast and this is what i saw right outside my windows.  I went between admiring their beauty and being annoyed by the fact that they were eating my plants.

  Look at the grass; most of the snow had melted...
...and then that night, more snow.  This year's weather has certainly made up for the lack of snow we got last year.  

Although it's not feeling much like Spring yet, it is here, and I'm sure the beautiful weather that comes along with it is not far behind (one can hope).

Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Battling the demons...

Some days it is easy for me to go on with life, be comfortable in my own skin and face my fears head on.  This week, however, it's been tough. I feel like I have really struggled to battle the demons that surface in my head, and I have fought continuously to keep them at bay.  The exact trigger of these feelings is not just one thing, but I think it's been a combination of things.  

Perhaps I will share some of them at a later date.  

Today, however, I'm working through them and know that, in the end, I will be stronger for them.  

"Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found"
-Phillip Phillips "HOME"

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fairies on the brain...

Someone is turning 6 at the end of the month, so we recently ventured outside to get some photos of the  fairy.  As you can see, she was quite excited about it.

 Ah, there we go, it's not all that bad.

 Spread your wings and let the fairy in you fly!  ~Author Unknown

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


I've thought about Faith quite a bit over the past year and now it seems to be "sneaking" into my life at random times over the past couple of weeks....kind of like those signs I wrote about before.  I've thought about what faith means to me and how it impacts my life.  When I think of faith I don't necessary think of it only in a religious way, but in a belief that there is something much bigger than me taking care of things.  I wish I could say I whole heartedly believe that, but that's just it...I often have a hard time keeping the faith.  My anxiety creeps in and the doubt starts sprouting.   

I admire the assuredness that others may have in respect to not only having faith, but practicing it with confidence; it seems to give them peace.  I'm not completely secure in my beliefs and sometimes this feels somewhat unsettling to me.  I want to be faith-filled, but it's not always easy for me...I have doubts and questions...
...but, I'm working on it.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Learning Ideas: How do you spell that?

Back before the Big C body invasion, I actually went to work everyday as a Middle School Special Education Teacher.  I still have my job, but I am finishing out the school year on a leave. a teacher, I am constantly looking for new ways to engage my students in learning, and now, with the whole world at our fingertips, it makes it that much easier.  These resources also come in handy when I'm working with my kids at home and so, I thought I'd share some ideas and tools that some of you may find helpful as well.    Today, I'm talking about spelling.

Spelling is definitely not one of E's favorite things, however, he has made vast improvements over the past couple of years and has increasingly become more willing to practice.  At the start of the week when he comes home with his spelling words, I give him a pretest, and then he only has to practice the words he gets wrong; it's not necessary to practice something if you can already do it consistently.  If you spell something correctly, where is the room for improvement?   If you're incorporating usage into the equation, perhaps practicing all the words is a good idea.

My favorite online tool to use is a website called Spelling City.  Although you do have to pay to get all the functions of the site, there are several functions available for free, and you can customize it with your students'/child's word list.  There are spelling and vocabulary activities to practice with the same set of words. 

Something else I do is write the letters of the words on small pieces of paper and E has to put them in the correct order to spell the words.  (Doing these on different colors or with a different marker would prevent the words from getting mixed up.)

Some other activities are:

-Find and circle your spelling words in the newspaper.
-Cut and spell out your words using letters found in the newspaper.
-Use your spelling words to write a comic strip.  If you google blank comic strips and make sure you are on Image, you will get quite a few to choose from.
-Make a word search or crossword; there are many online.
-Look up the words in the dictionary, tell the page number, guide words, and/or definition of the word.
-Use the words in a sentence.
-Practice spelling the words using rice, shaving cream and/or sand.
-Use Wikki Stix to spell the words.
-Write the words with chalk (E likes to practice on the floor of the front porch).
-Classify your words (parts of speech, number of letters, etc.)
-Write in alphabetical order.
-Type your words on the computer.
-Write a story using your words.
-And the good Old Fashioned, write them 5x's each.  

And, by the way, spelling is NOT a sign of intelligence.  Although it irks many of us when we see something misspelled, it does not necessary indicate that someone is any less smart.  It merely means that they are a poor speller, or perhaps they haven't taken the time to learn some of the rules of spelling.  (I'm crossing my fingers that everything is properly spelled in this post. :)

My spelling is Wobbly. It's good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places.

Friday, March 8, 2013

"Guest Post"-Saving An Angel

I'm convinced at this point in my life that everyone does, indeed, have a story to tell.  In telling our stories, we can educate others, make them a part of our lives and perhaps make the world better for it.  

Today I introduce you to my cousin, Jason, who has willingly agreed to share his story; I'm certain it will leave an impact.

When I first met her, she was a gift from heaven, my Angel. I was in the middle of a messy divorce and so was she. The two of us held each other up and carried each other through that difficult time and landed on the other side of it scathed, but not burned.  My situation never quite got better with my ex. Hers, on the other hand, resolved into a mutual respect for each other and doing what is right for the children. I have always admired that. For the nearly seven years that we have been together, my wife, Gina and I have faced several challenges just like any couple. We have helped each other through them, but there’s a part of me that has always known Gina has been my saving grace, my Angel. 
There has not been a moment in our relationship that Gina has not supported everything I do. Her generosities toward my artistic pursuits, my well being, and that of my children have been nothing short of miraculous. Gina has given me hope, love and life. Why then when she told me about her struggle with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) would I do any less? 
PKD is a hereditary disease that affects 1 in 500 people worldwide. There is no cure, no treatment, and it never skips a generation. What it does is create fluid-filled cysts in the patient’s kidneys. Those cysts enlarge and limit the kidney’s function until they eventually become so big the kidney shuts down. Your kidney is about the size of your fist. A PKD kidney that is close to terminal is the size of an NFL regulation football. My wife is very petite. Her kidneys are now almost 10% of her overall body weight. 
Gina has known about her kidney problem since she was in her early 20s. Her father died of the disease around that time. We started our relationship later in life and she had been living with this for many years. Being very open, we often talked about it and what it would eventually mean for her – a transplant. Dialysis is the only thing other than a transplant that could prolong her life. Over the years we met with many doctors and found through research that dialysis and transplant do basically the same thing – one is mechanical and one is organic. It picks up cleaning the blood when the kidney can no longer do it. We aimed for transplant. 
It’s a scary proposition to look at the person you love and think, “They’re dying.” I tend to look at things a bit dramatically, but that was what went through my head daily toward the end of this adventure. You watch the person fade. A shadow of what was there remains, but the body changes and fights with the spirit to see who will hold out longer. Gina has a tough spirit. She fought tooth and nail to the last moment she could. Working fifty to sixty hours a week, still helping take care of our family, and doing all she could to retain a sense of normalcy. Watching this, what could I do but help lift my Angel’s wings back up?
We met with the transplant team in July of last summer. While there, they started Gina on her track to finding a donor. The first test was blood work. Well, while we were there, I figured, “I can give a little blood, you never know I may be a match.” I was. But I was also on three blood pressure medications, weighed 240 pounds (which at 5’7” is not good) and did not live the healthiest lifestyle. So, I met with donor services and they read me the riot act on what I had to do if I wanted this to work: lose enough weight to have a BMI of at least 35, which I did – I lost 20 pounds by October. Not good enough. My blood pressure was still too high with the meds. I was told in no uncertain terms that if I were not her husband, I would have been kicked out of the donor program by that point. 
That would not do. God and the Divine Closed Universe had brought Gina and I together for several reasons, not the least of which was to save her life. What did I have to do? Lose a total of 60 pounds. The doctor wanted me to be 185 pounds – less than I weighed when I graduated high school. Now it was a race against the clock. Gina was getting worse and we wanted to beat her needing dialysis. Over the next few months, I worked out a strict regimen of diet and exercise. The trouble was I was not able to use diet supplements etc. I had to do this naturally. With the help of the transplant dietician, we came up with a plan. 
I had to take a month off of all blood pressure meds and lose enough weight to bring down my blood pressure by Thanksgiving. I got myself to around 200 pounds and brought my blood pressure to normal. I needed to keep going, that 185-pound mark was still far off. By January, I was running four miles every morning and eating healthy enough that my weight was down under 190. We were cleared for transplant!

Gina still hadn’t started dialysis, but her kidneys were only working at 12% capacity. On February 11, 2013 I donated my left kidney to my Angel. It was the least I could do for her. She has done and continues to do so much for me. We’re both healing from the surgery and I am happy to report Gina’s new kidney has abated all of her symptoms of kidney failure. We’re looking forward to a lifetime of helping each other and others. We were extremely fortunate. Our match was miraculous. Most PKD patients are not so lucky. If you would like to help please visit The PKD Foundation is searching for a cure. With all of the genetic research that is going on, they are hoping to find a stop to PKD. My Angel, Gina and myself thank you for your help.

Thank you Jason for sharing your story.  Go check out Jason's talents on his website here and on facebook.  
Here's a favorite I found.  

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Check yourself...

So...shortly after I was finished with my radiation treatments, I started getting a little bonkers about doing breast self-exams.  No more treatments and doctor's visits meant I was responsible for making sure everything was A-ok... too much responsibility for me.  I started getting a little ridiculous, checking every single day when I was in the shower. I was beginning to drive myself batty, because basically everything felt like a lump.  Even though I know what a real cancer tumor feels like, I still got that panicked feeling when I felt something a little different than the previous time.

And then, my radiation doctor, actually called my radiation oncologist (I just looked that up because I never knew exactly what her title was), recommended that I just pick the first day of each month to do a self-exam.  Phew, what a relief!  Seems so completely simple and obvious.... really, I could have come up with that myself.  Especially since that's been the recommendation since I started doing self-exams.  But, I didn't remember and I certainly didn't think about it myself.  We will just blame it on the ole chemo brain; yes, I will continue to use that as my excuse for
quite some time.

Anyway, now on the first of each month, I take a couple deep breaths and do a thorough self-exam.  It basically puts a lump in my throat every time, but after I check, I'm good for another month.  And, guess what?  This month I actually forgot to do it on the 1st and did it on the 2nd.  I thought that was good because it means I'm not thinking about it as much...right?

If you're not familiar with how to do a self-exam, look here.  I know I was hesitant to do them in the past because I really didn't know what I was looking for and I didn't want to alarm myself by constantly feeling things.  However, if you get to know your own body and understand what things are supposed to feel like, it would probably be more likely for you to identify a potential issue more easily.  Although I didn't intentionally find my lump, I knew, without a doubt, that it didn't belong there... 

When I started looking for links for self-exams, I came across this website that actually has parties to help educate and promote self-exams.  Hmmmmm, I'm not sure I would feel comfortable hosting or attending one of these parties, but each year since they started, they have educated more and more people, so two thumbs up to that.  Go to the site and check out the video.

Knowledge of the self is the mother of all knowledge. So it is incumbent on me to know my self, to know it completely, to know its minutiae, its characteristics, its subtleties, and its very atoms.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The R Word...

Anyone who knows me well also knows I consider the "R" word to be very offensive when used in a slang or hurtful manner. So, when it is used in my presence, most times, an apology follows.  But, the thing is, wouldn't it be best to discontinue using it at all times? It should not make a difference whether I am there or not.  

If you have used this word in the past perhaps today could be your day to find a new, less offensive word to use in its place.

You can change your world by changing your words... 


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I Spy...

Today while I was at Physical Therapy for my monthly check-in and lymphatic massage, I thought it would be fun to do a short video of the space.  Because I didn't want to seem like a complete whacko (I know I'm slightly whacked already...), I didn't narrate the video.  So....I thought we could play a game of I Spy instead....

I Spy:

a pillow
a lotion dispenser
a pink orchard
ceiling tiles
a "triangle" I look through when on my stomach
a cd player
patterns for mummy wrapping
a lymphatic system diagram
a butterfly

Hope you had fun with this edition of I Spy.

Please don't judge my blog based on this post alone...

The least amount of judging we can do, the better off we are.

Friday, March 1, 2013


It's Friday again folks, and here are my pictures from the week.

 1. me 2. yes! 3. New sneaks from birth mom 4. No backpacks or coats...missing my kids
5. Flowers for birth mom 6. ice skating 7. 100 days of school 8. winter wonderland
9. the many faces of Little Miss...self-portraits 10. clean work space 11.  grooming can be tough
1. pink skies 2. sleepy girl 3. 100 butterflies
4. snowy bridge 5. backyard 6. footprints in the snow
7. heart log 8. ice skating with cousins 9. bowling shoes
10. pretty flowers 11. fun with cousins 12. self portrait

Today I'm linking up with Jeannett at Life Rearranged.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you're living?