Sunday, April 13, 2014

Four More Years

Today is my four year anniversary from diagnosis. We have endured so much, our mental and physical strength have been tested. We've had three brain surgeries. We've moved three times. We've re-learned how to read, and walk, and run. We re-learned how to write and use utensils. We expanded our vocabulary. We've lost the ability to drive, then earned our way back behind the wheel. We've had adventures, completed races, tried every brain tumor diet on the planet, researched and gone to the edge of our limits. We've traveled across the country, even the world, to seek the best treatment. And through it all, I can't help but enjoy every moment (even the tough times). The longer I'm alive, the more grateful I am. It's exponential. I've heard new parents say that they couldn't even anticipate how much they love their new child, and that's how I feel about life. Every day my heart swells with gratitude. I love it here. I love my life. 

This weekend Danny surprised me with several fun things. My favorite was a cat video festival. I laughed so hard that I cried. For about an hour. Anything that can make you cry in joy is a great thing. 

Of course we got out to celebrate our muscles, and legs, and strength, and crazy ability to overcome the effects from the first brain surgery. I can't believe that they told me I probably wouldn't jog/run again. Fooled you guys. Ha!

Dan surprised me by setting up our patio stuff so that I could read my book in our triangle park. I can't believe that spot used to be dirt. You can see Emma's outline under the umbrella toward the back of the trough garden. She's a big fan (left side).

You guys, I'm so happy to be here. I'm so happy to wipe the crusties out of my eyes each morning. I'm so happy to do my chores, to try a new recipe, to have the fortune to run and jump into Dan's arms, and call my parents just to say "hi". Thank you for joining me on this journey. There are lots of statistics out there, but I remember reading one in my first year out. It said that a person my age, with my type of tumor, had a life expectancy of 4.5 years. Statistics used to really scare me. I didn't know what to expect, how quickly I could deteriorate. Now, I know that life isn't about statistics, or where you fall on a bell curve. Life is about how you feel, and how much joy you experience in each moment. It's about throwing numbers, and expectations, out the window, and just going for it. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Sunshine and Raindrops

Man. I did it again. Fool. I took another narcotic. So I spent last night, and this morning, on the couch watching a PBS special on the crested black macaque, and subsequent programing (ending with Sit And Be Fit - that's where I drew the line). Boy are they cool, by the way. The macaque. I'd been doing fantastic, healing great, keeping busy (gotta love itemized taxes), and enjoying the sunshine and our exuberant garden, when, out of curiosity yesterday morning in the shower, I removed my bandages. Wrong move. Big mistake. I underestimated the roll of the tape. Definitely an important feature in regard to placement, and security, of my stitched fleshy parts - at this point movement and gravity are still smarting enemies. I wanted to see how things were looking, though, because the incisions were getting tickly, and ichy. The red breast tissue surrounding the bandages had given way to a nice sallow yellow, showing clear signs of healing, so I started peeling away at the tape. One thing led to another, and before I knew it I was standing in front of the mirror, dripping wet, checking out my franken-boobies. It all happened so quickly, almost trance-like.

The surgeon did a magnificent job; I was truly surprised. I mean, I shouldn't have been since he's a well known reconstructive surgeon, but still, when they're cutting in such sensitive areas you never know how it will turn out. Looking at my sliced breasts, my eyes welled up a little. Immediately, it was because he did such a precise and beautiful job, but the second wave was because of the relief. The relief that it was over. I have a habit of moving forward, stepping over or around any hurdle in my path. I get scared while I traverse the new territory that I must overcome, but it doesn't stop me, I keep going. But sometimes, after the fact - once I've had a moment to regroup - I catch moments of reflection where I realize just how hard the bumps have been. Once you're out of the heat, you can breathe, and let your guard down, and allow yourself to morn for your body. That only lasts for a few moments in my world, though. I find it tedious and dull to feel bad about things. I have all the human emotions, but I don't like to get caught in the toilet bowl of sadness for too long. Thankfully, my attention span for sad things is very short. Maybe it's a defense mechanism. Who knows. Who cares. All I know is that I'm a lucky (or annoying) person who is easily delighted by both sunshine, and raindrops, volunteer plants growing in cracks on sidewalks, sharing a bag of baby carrots with Emma (she gets all the fat ones, and I get the skinny ones - it's our deal), the delicious scent of pollen carried by the wind, the memory of my niece and nephew's laughter. I'm an easy keeper.

Before and Current. The garden is taking shape! Time to get out and continue the never ending job of weeding. (In the background you'll notice my rudimentary trailing system for my sweet pea fence. Can't wait for that to grow in!)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Total Knockout

It's pushing 1:00 am and I can't sleep. (Party animal!) Probably had too much fun in my troll-ish sleeping under the bridge episode with the general anesthesia. Man was I out. The whole day was a bit funny. I wasn't supposed to eat or drink anything, but sometime around 10 am-ish, I cracked and ate a deviled egg. If I go too long without eating or drinking, I can get really ill, causing a major drop in blood glucose which has a couple of times scared me into thinking I was having a seizure. Or maybe I did have a minor seizure. Not today, but in the past. But whatever. So I ate the egg. I really didn't think it would be that big of a deal. The way I thought it was all going to go down was that I would get a mild sedative, and be slightly awake for surgery, not a full blown knockout. Flash to pre-op, and all of a sudden it was a big deal, with all these threats of vomiting myself to death. Now, I'm not a newbie to GA, or the dangers of eating before surgeries, but I honestly didn't think this whole thing was going to be that big of a deal. Was I scared? Hell yes. Did I also know that the surgery had to happen and that it'd be advantageous to get over myself and just deal? Ya, you bet. Did I think 45 calories would bump me back on the ticket? No. Not really. Then, a nod through the curtain from my fantastic surgeon who reminded me (I had forgotten, or conveniently blacked out) of the fact that I was also getting a resection on the left boob as well. So I was the winner of a bilateral situation. Oops. Forgot about that minor detail. Double the fun.

So, after delaying the surgery for 2.5 extra hours because of deviled egg-gate (Spent playing charades with mom in pre-op. Side note: turns out we are decently acceptable players), I was wheeled into the OR at around 3:30 pm. Cut to some hot liquid entering my body via my IV, and a sleepy feeling, and then a mask over the face. The next thing I remember is being wheeled out through the doors from the operating room to post op. It was quarter after five, and someone said, "How are you doing?" And I said, "I just got so much done! I've been in meetings all day, answered about 200 emails." Then the first voice giggled and burst my bubble, telling me that it was all a dream and that I just finished surgery. A confused grin spread across my face; I wasn't convinced. Then, reality hit (probably as the drugs waned out of my system) and I was kinda bummed. Clearly, my subconcious thinks I'm some sort of kickass CEO or something. Not a bad alter ego to have, better than an endless dream about cleaning vomit after vomit after vomit or losing a knife fight, I guess.

I was released from the hospital sometime in the late six o'clock hour, just in time to finish up rush hour traffic. Perfect. We were home a little after 7:00 pm, and I proceeded to eat everything in the house. A true Oldwyn. Never lacking a desire to munch. Some people wish for more energy in life, I wish for a quell in appetite. At age 33, though, it may be time to just give up. Things probably won't be changing.

Side note: Shouldn't these Oxy pills be making tired? What the fizz. I will never completely understand narcotics.

Lots of favorite parts of my day, but only one with a photo. Surgery waiting rooms these days are like going to Chilli's. They have buzzers for when we're done, or if there's an update with our condition. Very fancy. Note: I haven't been to Chilli's since 2001, so don't be upset when they don't have the buzzer system. I was just illustrating a point. 

It is both very fun to be awake this late, but also exciting to think that I might be able to tickle Dan awake in the five o'clock hour for work. There's not much more in life I love than waking people up. It's perversely gratifying for me. It's like this, in my mind, "Ha! I caught them! And they're asleep!" Not to trumpet my skills, but I'm pretty good at catching people. Here's a trick, make lots of friends who are night owls. But that's all I'm going to give away.