Sunday, January 30, 2011

Driven to Distraction

My dad asked me yesterday if I was looking forward to my last chemo on Tuesday. I replied that looking forward is not the phrase I would use.

Of course I have been thinking about it. Maybe a little too much. Today I misplaced both of Baby's formula containers, put March instead of February not once but twice, got confused coming home from church, forgot several things, lost the phone again, and too many other things to list.

My mom is coming up for two weeks. So we have begun saying, "When Grandma comes she can take care of it" again. Somehow she will help L with all her projects, get Baby back sleeping through the night, and help C keep his room clean (the hardest).

A sort of funny side note. L and the other 5th graders had this big deal writing test this week. Whenever they have big tests they cover all the posters to prevent cheating. L decided during the testing week to wear her shirts with the most words on them. She said then if kids got stuck for words they could look at her shirt.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


On Thursday I had the opportunity to go to the temple with the youth. I think it was just what I needed. The other leader and I laughed our heads off talking to the young women. Their youthful outlook was just refreshing. I had forgotten what is like to take a hour long both ways road trip with the young women. They are so strong and so witty.

One thing they brought up was a reality show called "Police Women of Cincinnati." Neither the other leader nor I had ever heard of it. Apparently we need to watch tv with the young women more often. We also talked about which Disney Princesses we loved and which we could do without. My favorite is Mulan. I love it when the Emperor says about Mulan, "The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all." We watched that movie many times when my kids were little and I had cancer last time. Then as we got closer to the temple the young women started singing together. It brought such a great spirit.

The temple was peaceful and reverent. I helped the young women in the locker room area, and braided their hair and brought them things. The other leader and I had planned on swapping halfway through so I could sit down more. Instead I found that I did not get tired. It was nice to serve in some small way.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Jury Duty

Last week I received in the mail a summons for jury duty an hour away right after I have my next chemo. I have been called for jury duty probably 4 times in the 6 years that we have lived here. My husband has been called once. He went but when they found out he knew one of the defendants from our ward they sent him home. During his busy season at work he is automatically excused from jury duty. He just has to mark the exemption that applies to him. Maybe that is why he has only been called once.

I did not think that right now I could handle the logistics with my kids or just with me not being sick during the trial. So I called the judge's office and talked to one of the clerks. She said that the trial probably was not going to happen anyway. I told her of my current situation. She asked my name and excused me right then from jury duty. If only all stresses were eliminated that easily.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The How You Look Indicators

I look for patterns. When I find patterns, I try to figure out what they indicate, what they mean. Anyone who has been my visiting teaching partner knows February is when I try to figure out the pattern in VT messages.

I have noticed a pattern recently. Less people have been saying "You look great" and more people have been saying "You look tired, I can watch your kids anytime." I think this is because the weeks between chemo are getting more difficult. I am not as wiped out as I am during the week of chemo, but also I am not getting my energy back as quick as I did the first time.

Thank you to everyone who sent support for the formula and the chemo boxes. I know we have more than enough items for the last chemo boxes.

The formula was just miraculous to me. Within the first week we had six months of formula coupons and formula for Baby. Since then more has trickled in as well. Baby is six months old this week and I think we have enough formula to last until she turns a year old. It was amazing to me how the formula and the coupons just kept coming. Every time we give her formula I think about all the people who care for our family. It is a nice pattern of love.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Still Sunny

We have had record highs here. This winter I would be okay to follow the Vegas model of seasons.

On Sunday we went to stake children's choir practice. They will perform at Easter. I am carpooling with another mom, so I took L and C and their two friends. There were a total of 8 kids there. Four from our ward, one was a boy who recently moved out of our ward, and three came with one my old friends from growing up. She was asked to play the piano. It was a pleasant surprise to see her and the mom of the boy again.

During sacrament meeting I took Baby out in the hall. We saw many members from the other ward who told me how much Baby looks like L. There was one little boy who I do not know, but was very excited to see me. He happily told me he loves pirates and was glad that I dressed up as one. He had to leave but before he went he said a hearty, "Aarrgh!" I of course said, "Aarrgh" right back to him.

We heard this song on the way to the doctor this morning with L. She has a slight infection. I have to admit I was not enthusiastic about going to our always crowded urgent care. This morning there were no other people there the entire time we were there. In addition, I asked about and they gave me forms to fill out for the future. I can have someone else take the kids to urgent care, if I am having a low day either too tired or my blood count is low. They just have to bring the form and driver's license. They will keep them on file for a year. The receptionist said it is usually used for caregivers who are not guardians of the children.

For such a time as this

On Saturday Grandma went home. She was delayed by tears and C's not so good driving directions. Thinking back why did we rely on the 8 year old. We are so glad we have grandmas to come help us.

On Sunday we watched a video from about Esther. I first thought of all those people who have been prepared to assist us in our crazy time. A big example is the grandmas. They both have talents and skills that the desert of our household soak up. It is really a blessing how specifically prepared those around us have been. Our interactions with them add to that preparation. A bouquet of flowers becomes more than just a day brightner, but a hopeful promise of peace and joy while sitting in the sand watching the kids play in the icy lake water.

Then I thought of the intense preparation my kids are undergoing. I am sure they will need to remember this time as they offer love and understanding to someone else. What will it do for Baby, I don't know. I know she was prepared to come into our family at this time, and I believe the Lord will continue to help her as well.

Lastly I realized the compression of time as I thought how my ancestors dealt with their challenges affects how I respond to mine. We are rushed and tired when we go to church, but how essential it is to take the sacrament. I doubt my great great grandfather had any idea that I would say to myself and my children ceep vigling (keep wiggling or keep trying) as a means of encouragement.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Exhibiting signs of stress

Last time I had cancer we worked really hard to help minimize the physical and psychological stress on our children. In getting help for that I looked for support services for children whose parent has cancer. By looking I mean I asked the nurses, doctors, cancer center, looked on the internet, and asked anyone who might know. I could not find any. We just read books, prayed, and did the best we could. I think it helped that my mom was a preschool teacher and my kids were preschool age. She came up several times to help.

They still had stress. They both cried more than normal. Here are a few examples of how they responded. I remember one time the Primary President calling me because they had changed L's teacher or maybe just the kids in her class. L told the Primary President, "I just can't take it anymore." The Primary President talked to me and then changed back whatever it was that she had changed. C would constantly talk about cancer with me, he is a talker now too. C would have these explosive violent outbursts that scared him and those around him. They actually increased after treatment was over. It was as if it was finally safe for him to process or something. He was only 3 and L was 4 then 5. It tore me up inside, because I wanted to help them, but it was my problem causing these things. We just talked and tried to get through it. They seemed to come through alright. I constantly reminded myself the Lord would not leave them comfortless.

Then I went into remission. I decided to study how kids respond when one of their caregivers has cancer. I went back to school, and was taking classes. I thought I probably could not run a support group, it would be too difficult emotionally, but I could help arrange the services and study the effects. In addition, I have known other families who might have wanted that kind of support. Then we had Baby and I was taking a break from schooling to focus on our little miracle.

When I found out I had cancer again, I called around and around for specific support services for my kids. I asked my doctor to call and the chemo nurses to do research. The response was the same as last time. I told my husband to call all the same places, and maybe I would every few weeks to artificially increase the apparent need. Luckily chemo intervened made me forget my not quite honest plan and made it too hard as well.

The funny sad thing in our house is we all have so much stress and are all trying to help each other. L and C try to help my husband and I. We try to help them and each other. They help each other, make lunches for each other and so on. The only person who does not try to help is Baby, but just her being here is an enormous help. She is a smiling cuddly cute ball of love.

I do not think that support services would get rid of all their stress. They are going through an extremely difficult time and they would not be human if they did not experience some stress now. We have so much support from family and friends and I know that certainly helps relieve much of the burden.

Luckily for me, maybe, is I can look at their grade history online and see which days were particularly hard for them. They have days they both do poorly on assignments. It was thrown off a bit because I had chemo during winter break. Looking at their grade history from the first chemo affected how we supported them this chemo. Grades, of course, are not the only indicator to my husband and I of their stress.

Anyways they are exhibiting signs of stress again. I am sure we will get through it. We are doing our best and relying on the Lord for the rest.

Louder and Wider

Thursday morning started off with my husband's alarm clock going off. I wondered how did he get the notes of the ringer to be louder and wider. The rest of the day sort of followed that exhausted and confused state.

Thursdays after chemo I tend to think of as my reality bending day. There are no thoughts too bizarre on Thursday, as I drift in and out of sleep. I try really hard to have coherent conversations on that day, but even if they are coherent I do not remember much of them later. The rare freedom from anything is probably good for me as I generally think there should be reasonable explanations for things.

That morning is also when my kids go to school late. I got up with Baby and I did not see my kids up yet. A future tip for them is to always get up before I do during chemo week, on Thursdays especially. I was confused as to why they were not up, because they fairly consistent about getting up with their alarm clocks. C had Cub Scouts that night so we used Wednesday night and part of Thursday morning to help get the family prepped for that. It is not pleasant when they come home from activities on Thursday with so many things still to do for Friday. This Thursday was enjoyable though, because we had prepared.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The shot or more crowding

On Wednesday my mother-in-law took Baby and I to get my shot in town. Usually I go there and see no other patients, because they do not need to be down on my side of the building. I just slip in and slip out. This time I could hear talking as I walked back through the hallway. My mother-in-law had stayed in the car with Baby because she feel asleep on the way to town. There were so many patients back there. Many more nurses flitting around too.

I had to wait. So I let my mother-in-law know, so she would not worry. Then I waited some more. Then I called my brother to see if his line was still disconnected, and it was not. Wednesday was the day to talk to him, not Tuesday apparently. Also I napped, or more accurately tried not to nap. I am not usually that tired until Thursday, but I was just weary. Napping in public unnerves me, patients, support friends, nurses walking all around, people talking, and tvs blaring, yet I still dozed. Eventually they were able to give my shot and send my on my way to nap at home, and spend the rest of the day not liking how food or liquid felt in my mouth.

Now where was I

On Tuesday my dear husband took yet another day off to go to chemo with me. My kind mother-in-law came and watched the children once again. I tried calling my brother but it said his phone was disconnected.

The office was crowded, but I was happy in my scarf. Honestly wearing a new scarf to chemo helped provide sort of a protective force field against the depressing nature of my appointment. So we calmly waited, and then saw the doctor. He told us how great our Christmas card was and how all the nurses liked it too. I believe it, most of the Christmas cards did not have pictures on them, and of course we think our photographer is the best around. Besides it had our cute kids on it, not that we are biased or anything.

Then after making sure I was still surviving chemo, the doctor talked to my husband about he is doing. That talk then segued into about the big game the night before. I love it when people ask him how he is doing, or ask me how he is doing. He carries us all, and answers continual questions about me and the kids.

The chemo room was not very busy. I am always surprised at how many old men get chemo. About 2/3 of the people in there are old men. It is funny, because most of the donated blankets are very pretty. The camouflage one always gets taken first.

I do not have to worry about fighting for the camo blanket because, I have my own quilt. My husband sat on one side and there were no chairs on the other side of me. That did not prevent conversation. It seemed like that day everyone wanted to tell me how beautiful the quilt was. Then they would tell sad funny stories of their grandchildren making fleece blankets that were too big for them (the chemo patient). I of course told them about my ever loving family making it for me. It was not until later that I realized their grandchildren are probably my age, and quilting is skill and talent that is not that common. During the fleece blanket story sagas, I thought of the quilt my aunt has in her computer room, showing a 4th of July picnic (I think), and all the other beautiful amazing quilts my aunts have everywhere. There is so much love and skill that goes into those fancy quilts. I know there was as much love put into the quilt I was given as well, and I think that is where the beauty of it stood out.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Guess what scarf I am wearing today?

I received a scarf in the mail on Saturday. I looked for a scarf like this last time, but was not as successful in my search.

Here's a hint


I dressed up as Rosie the Riveter for Halloween when I had cancer in 2005. Most people at the trunk or treat thought I was Aunt Jemina, or a cleaning lady. Both nice thoughts, but not quite what I was going for.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Something special before church

This new year brought a time change for our ward. We switched from 9am to 11am. Last week I was telling my husband that the later time did not mean we were less rushed, just that the kids had more time to mess around and fight in the morning when he is at meetings. He reminded me that last time we had 11am meetings I would have the kids ready by 10am and then we would do something special before church.

This morning I asked them to be ready and was not sure what special thing we could do. I read an Ensign article about favorite past articles and thought of the YW lesson about coming to know the Savior after breakfast. Both those thoughts coalesced into one good idea. I remembered my favorite New Era article. L, C, and I took turns reading it this morning. Then I told them this article had some good feedback from a beautiful young woman. We read the feedback and then reread the last part with the patient and the nurse.

Then we listened to a recording of "Mrs. Ticklefeather and Other Stories." It was Baby's first exposure to them, and I am sure she will enjoy them in the future.

Today I was glad we have 11am church.

(for my parents - if you click on the blue words they should lead you to the article and feedback)

CPR Class

I went to a CPR class on Tuesday with some young women. We sat in the front and sometimes I even got to hold the baby the teacher brought. I have taken CPR classes over the years, the most recent was a few years ago. When she started explaining about using the heel of your hand for chest compressions, I tried to put my right hand in the correct position. I felt quite a painful pull and realized that I would need to use my left hand. At least now I know. Then we practiced doing chest compressions. The teacher knew I had a mastectomy and told me to only do a few compressions to see how much pressure to apply. She did not want me to hurt myself on a dummy. We also role played what to do if someone is choking, encouraging them to keep coughing, the Heimlich maneuver and so on.

The pain in my right arm doing the CPR was surprising to me. Awhile ago I stopped doing my arm exercises and started doing some yoga. The deeper stretching and weight bearing moves of yoga made a significant difference in my range of motion from the first day I did it.

On Saturday during lunch my son started choking. At first I thought he was joking around, but he kept choking. Then I remembered what I learned on Tuesday and went through with him what I had role played. After it was over C said he was afraid I was going to shove him into the table. He learned in Cub Scouts to do that as the Heimlich Maneuver when you are choking alone, and forgot about the other ways.

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Morning

We had sort of a crazy morning. There were some 8am phone calls. Those type of calls are almost always from other moms who have school age kids. Then we had a 8:30 visit. The car alarm went off while the car was in the garage. L was looking for something in the garage. C put what L was looking for on the grill last night. Of course we did not think to look on the grill, until he decided to share that tidbit of information. Shoes were missing, lunches magically flew out of backpacks and into the refrigerator. Breakfast was in there somewhere along with crying baby. Carpool came early, but was patiently waited while we finished up. Then L had a big oral presentation today, and I wondered how her crazy morning would effect that. I was so glad that was my biggest worry for today.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I'm fixed upon it

I like to believe that when I have cancer I can absorb all the bad in the lives of those I love. That did not really work out at all last time, so I do not know why I thought it might work this time.

This week we have had tough news from both sides of our family. The "no phone calls before 7am are good news" lesson was reinforced. Some emails cause tears. There is sadness, confusion, and pain among those we love, with the possibility of more. We share those feelings with them.

There is also hope and faith. We share those feelings as well. I received a card from one of my neighbors today. On it was a reminder that nothing can silence prayer. Sleeping by me is an adorable miracle. Snoring by me actually, cute little baby snores.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

When in doubt wear the Bryce Canyon T-shirt

Earlier this year we went to visit my brother when he lived by Bryce Canyon. They were had t-shirts on clearance in the gift shop. We almost never buy stuff in the gift shop, but I thought I might need some new shirts to wear while I was pregnant. We got a blue, red, and gray one. I wore them through my whole pregnancy. Now that I am trying to match patterned scarves every day they are great since they are solid with only a little bit of writing.

Whenever my husband mentions my scarf and shirt with their multiple patterns might be just a tad busy, I fall back on my Bryce Canyon t-shirts. An additional plus is the good memories those shirts bring up. We had an enjoyable time hiking around some, but mainly just trying to absorb the breathtaking vistas. It is almost beauty of the the earth overload there. Other good memories are when L and C became Junior Rangers. We have some good family vacation shots there from a nice couple who took our picture. There was still snow on the ground so it was not very crowded. We plan on going back even though my brother no longer lives near Bryce Canyon.