Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Surgery Update

Content Alert: I talk about my breasts in this entry. You have been warned!

I'm home from reconstruction. Expanders out, implants in. The pain here is really not bad, as they basically just opened up the previous incisions and swapped out basically the same size fillers. The left side is really fine. The right side is where the cancer was and therefore has been radiated, so they needed to do what is called a latissimus flap. That is, they made an incision along my back of about five inches and pulled the muscle over to my right side so the reconstruction would have good blood supply. Apparently, due to the radiation damage to the skin and tissue, there's about a 50% complication rate if you don't do that flap. I don't have time for complications. School starts in less than four weeks. I need to be healed, danggit!

Anyway, I'm home with food from the Relief Society, help from my mom, and babysitting from all. Oh, and Percocet. What more could I possibly need?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Like mother, like daughter

I remember reading something my mom wrote about me when I was 4 of so. She said every time she did my laundry she needed to check my pockets because they were invariably full of rocks, sticks, little toys, and other treasures. Every night before I go to bed I check on my kids. Raiden is usually on his belly with his little bum in the air. Sasha is sprawled out on his back. Sabrina...Sabrina is in a bed shared with books, stuffed animals, My Little Ponies, and other treasures, occasionally including rocks, sticks, and other little toys. Like mother, like daughter.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Product or Process?

There are two types of people in this world: product oriented and process oriented.

Product-oriented people are concerned with getting the job done, emphasis on done. We want to finish the hike, get the laundry put away, do the report.

The process-oriented are less concerned with finishing something. They are more concerned with the doing, not with the finishing. If they are doing the dishes and the kids want to play a game, they play a game. Even though the dishes are four minutes from being finished and now won't be done for another hour. No, that doesn't matter to them.

I guess you can tell I'm a product-oriented individual. My mother (a process-oriented person if ever there was one) once asked me to turn off the vacuum to ask me a question. In the middle of the question she stopped and asked me what my t-shirt meant. I wanted to finish the dang vacuuming, so I was highly irritated with her. My response made her justifiably irritated with me.

ANYWAY, I think most people believe their way of being is the best way. I believe my way is best, myself, but that's because the thought of spending three hours to clean a light fixture makes me crazy. Get 'er done! On the other hand, my fixation on "finishing" things is sometimes a problem. I'm trying to enjoy the process more, especially when the product is not important.

Today I took my kids to Beus Park. This is a big park with a playground, but also a big duck pond and some little hiking trails. A product person (i.e. me) wants to walk around the park, perhaps stopping once to feed the ducks illicit bread, then get back in the car and go to Burger King. Process people (i.e. every kid ever) want to check out the little river, throw leaves in the stream, play on the playground, take a hiking trail, throw some more leaves in the pond, walk backwards, check out the bird feather, and so on into infinity.

So that's what I'm working on. Enjoying the ride. I'm trying to remember that we didn't go to the park so I could walk around the duck pond, but so the kids could have an experience. I'm getting better at focusing on that!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Last Treatment

Yesterday was my last Herceptin, my last cancer treatment FOREVER. (It had better be forever!) The nurses sang me a song to the tune of Happy Birthday and presented me with a blanket and a certificate. My friend and social worker Lisa pointed out that certificates are few and far between when we're adults!

Finishing treatment is bittersweet. It makes you think and reflect on your past one year, three months, and six days (or whatever) since diagnosis. I've had some scary thoughts that I remembered yesterday, as well as some really amazing experiences. My family and ward really have been amazing. One cousin cooked me so much food it took Mom two trips to bring it to me, because Mom only has one cooler. My ward provided meals and babysitting and so much love. My mom was amazing in how much support she offered me, and my dad did whatever was needed in his quiet way. I am everlastingly grateful to you all.

I think the love that I received was my greatest cancer gift. I feel such a part of my ward and neighborhood after getting so much in time and words. People would just send me notes to tell me they were thinking of me. What! I'm going to try to do that too. I'm not very good at it because it's not really something I've done in the past, but I'm going to make the effort.

The hardest thing was worrying about the future. I don't want to dwell on it now, but those moms with young kids will know what I mean. Moms with older kids -- that's different. At least you know your kids will remember you. I'm not saying it's easy, I'm just saying it's different. I've really enjoyed my bonding with other moms with cancer who have young kids.

Overall, assuming I just had the last cancer treatment of my life, or at least of the next 40 years, I would say my experience with cancer has been more positive than negative. I lost my hair, but that's temporary. I lost my breasts, which really sucks, but at least I'll get some pretty ones next week, although they won't have any sensation. I lost my sense of security, but security is an illusion anyway. A beautiful illusion, but unreal nonetheless. I gained lots and lots of friends and love. Awesome. I spent time with my mom and appreciated my kids and husband more. I found out I can do hard things. Now, if I can just have an easy couple of years, that would be great.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Summertime

I can't believe it, but the summer is half over. Amazing.

I spent some time yesterday in my classroom doing bulletin boards. I'm having surgery in a couple of weeks so I won't be able to lift up my arms for a bit. I think I'll be pretty much recovered by the time school starts, but to do those stupid boards requires standing on desks, contorting myself, and swearing. Okay, just kidding on the swearing. Sort of. Of all the reasons I'm glad I'm not an elementary school teacher, doing multiple bulletin boards each year is probably top five. Really.

In other news, Mom reminded me of the poem by Robert Louis Stevenson about how hard it is to go to bed when it's still light outside. My kids would wholeheartedly agree. Therefore, I have sent both Raiden and Sabrina to bed right now, and banished Sasha and Spencer downstairs. Ah. My house is quiet now.

Bed in Summer
BY ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?

Monday, June 30, 2014

What Church Should Be

Yesterday we had an amazing meeting during the RS/Priesthood block. Sadly, we sang lame mid-1800s hymns, which I dislike in general (with the exception of Hark hark hark 'tis children's voices, but that was written by Eliza R. Snow so I love it anyway). The songs we sung were "Let us oft speak kind words to each other" and "Nay speak no ill." Lame. Anyway, surprise, we talked about basically being nice and kind to each other. The bishopric gave a brief message, then we watched Elder Holland's conference talk about verbal abuse. I really liked that talk, largely because it didn't just call out the men for being jerks, but the women also. I left the meeting wanting to be a better person. Isn't that what church is supposed to be about?

Then Sunday School was about David and Bathsheba. Again, I loved this lesson. We talked about how David was forgiven of everything -- except the coverup of his sin. If we deal with the fact that we committed sin, we can be forgiven. If we're too embarrassed or proud to deal with our sin, we won't be forgiven. Also, we talked about how the right choice like Joseph made with Potipher's wife doesn't necessarily bring us instant happiness, but it does bring us eternal happiness. This lesson satisfied my current worldview of seeing everything in shades of gray but also wanting to be good and make the right choices.

Then Raiden screamed all during sacrament meeting and I sat in the foyer the whole time. I guess 2 out of 3 ain't bad.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sasha is Hilarious

I love toddlers. When they're not throwing tantrums, they are dang cute. Sasha is really becoming a preschooler now, but that's almost even cuter. Here are a few of Sasha's cuter moments.

-He never walks anywhere. He runs. And when he runs, he has to make sound effects. Wshshshshooooo. Phcuuu pcuu.

-Superheroes are his favorite right now. "Mom, I am Flash. I am weally fast. Watch!" And then he takes off. With sound effects.

-Then there are ninjas. "Mom, I am the wed (red) ninja. I kill badguys."

-At Arches, we took a quick hike to Double Arch. Sasha (being a Froerer male) is not into shoes. Despite my suggestions, he insisted on going barefoot on the way back. About halfway to the car, he said, "I want to go home because this sand is freaking hot!" That "freaking hot" was most emphatically not done to be cute, it was done to make a point!

-He and Raiden are constantly play fighting. They punch and kick each other, mostly carefully but energetically. With sound effects.

I love little boys.