Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Getting Excited!

So this weekend was a LOT of work, but yesterday was a lot of much needed downtime w/ My Sailor and our roomie. We went out to lunch, saw a couple movies, had a good heart to heart about what's going on in My Sailor's head (even though we've known each for years, we're not psychic, so talking is VITAL - and it wasn't an argument, which was helpful as well - that discussion excluded the roommate), and saw some scary movies I've been dying to see.

I also got to talk to my family. Both my parents and my brother. So our wedding parties are now complete, everyone is clear on what they are wearing (except for my mom, but she'll pull something lovely and light together, I'm sure), and we're solidifying plans - and not a moment too soon! The invitations should be arriving today and I'm looking to get them done and in the mail within the next 4 days!

I'm also excited to be cashing in our swagbucks and ebates dollars soon to boost the wedding account! Yeah for free money!

What are we doing regarding my health? Well, we're focusing on "get Jaime well" rather than, "get a baby that looks like us" which is a HUGE relief to me - and anyone who has suffered from female organ related problems knows that stress only makes them worse. So it's time to de-stress, relax, and focus on wellness.  I'm pretty excited about our plan and we'll be announcing it on the Snow White, Prince Charming, and the 70 Deadly Pounds blog soon! I'll post a link as soon as the post is up and ready to go - but to give some of you a hint, it's called Paleo.

Once the invitations are done, I'll be focusing on writing the ceremony, organizing the decorations, planning a visit to see the site (and the family, and MAYBE a Padre game), so that in July we'll be ready to send out the final details!

One thing we recently decided on is, no, we won't be having a rehearsal dinner. Traditionally, a rehearsal dinner is thrown for out of town guests and the wedding party. Well, in this case, EVERYONE is out of town and we simply can't afford to feed everyone twice. So we're going to go the more casual route. (If you know me, you know that as much as I LOVE to plan and get excited about things, keeping things 'casual' in the moment is a MUST. I really adore giving people the freedom to be themselves - especially at the Happiest Place on Earth!) Basically, the plan is to make reservations somewhere and invite folks to come, but it's every-man-for-himself when it comes to paying for it, so it's up to them what to do.

So those are the plans so far. I'm eagerly awaiting the Fed Ex man today as I try (in vain mostly) to get some work done! Everyone has been incredibly helpful when it's come to planning the wedding, and I'm SO grateful!  Without an official "event coordinator", it's been a bit of challenge to make sure I'm getting all the bases covered, but I think we're getting it all down pat pretty nicely now. Next month should solidify things even more. It's funny - several people I thought wouldn't come are making it for sure, and several people I thought wouldn't miss it, are. Go figure! But the excitement far outweighs the disappointment and I'm more relieved than I can say about how well things are coming together.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Another Sunday Behind the Desk

Like I said in my previous post, my work has offered me as much overtime as I can handle. So while My Sailor is On Duty (aka, on a 24+ hr shift on the Submarine), I'm working. I spent the morning being lazy and enjoying a store bought breakfast of danishes and Kombucha. (If you haven't had Kombucha, you're seriously missing out! I'll be making my own soon!)
I've talked to pretty much my entire family so they know what's going on. My Sailor and I haven't really talked about what we're going to do about it all yet, but, as Kim Possible would say, "Here's the Sitch."
My MRI found the following 
  • Mildly enlarged uterus  - Could be caused by the next finding, or a hormone imbalance. Usually treated by "wait and see", followed by hysterectomy if it grows too much. (I still have a LONG way to go before that would be recommended.)
  • Uterine Fibriod - These are bengin tumors of the uterine muscle. This will grow. They really don't know what causes them. Could be genetic (which would make sense as infertility runs in my maternal biological side) or it could be a response to an injury (like surgery 2 years ago). Being on "the pill" is suppose to stop or help minimize the growth of these. (More on that later)
  • 2cm Hemmorhagic cyst on ovary - Allow me to recap. In 2010, I had my Right ovary removed because, well, it actually was more cyst and tumor than functioning organ. At that point, lefty was in great shape. Well, it seems that lefty misses righty and is having some of the same problems righty has. So, currently, 1/2 of ovary is a blood filled cyst. (I would say "covered in a blood filled cysts", but knowing my body pretty well, I think it's safe to say it's integrated into my anatomy.) 'The Pill' is the only thing known to shrink these prior to a) surgery, or b) rupture. And let's just throw out there that 'b' is debilitatingly painful AND likely to spread endometriosis, if it's already present - no way to know that until 'a' happens.
  • 2 cm Fluid filled cyst on ovary - While these kids of cysts are more 'normal' this is still big for where it should be in my cycle. So I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that it's probably the same process that righty had, just at an earlier stage in the game.
There is a lot we can't know w/o some form of surgery, but the good news is, as long as I can endure some discomfort, we don't have to do anything right now.

Here's the math.

As we've establighed before, Ovaries are about 4cm in size. Doing the math on the above cyst, and there you go. It's pretty much covered in cysts.

The following conditions reduce the chance of pregnancy significantly -
Age -
Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. After 30, fertility starts to decrease. I'll 33 in a little over 6 months, and have only 1 ovary left - meaning less eggs in general. That one ovary works overtime.
Fibriods - Generally, decrease fertility in normally healthy women by 70%. Add that to the "age" marker.
 Cysts -  The medical juries are mixed on this one. Some say it's no problem. Others say it is a problem.  While I'm not sure if it is  a problem as far as that is concerned, it is  a problem for me as the fatigue leaves me exhausted most days, no matter how much sleep/rest I get.
  Endometriosis - Since I've had this before, I think it's safe to say it's back, though we can't know for certain without surgery. There is no clear percentage on how this effects pregnancy, but it's a common finding in infertile women.

That's just the fertility side - which is only PART of the equation.

If I have one major fear when it comes to all of this it is this: I remember very well what it was like to be 'sick' with this stuff. Cramping that resulted in nausea and vomitting on a fairly regular basis. Exhaustion no matter how much sleep is gotten. Being in a haze 85% of the time and mood swings I'm barely in control of. I'm tired of being sick. I've gotten so much better over the years, I'm done making myself sick over it.

In some ways, that attitude has been very refreshing. I'm not as traumatized as some women I know in a similiar situation, because I've had so much time to deal with it, understand it, and know that there is so much about women's medicine that is simply still a mystery. In so many ways, we're still in the dark-ages when it comes to true healing.

In my case, 'having a baby' has never been my goal. Knowing how well my family (who is not genetically related at all) get along has confirmed for me that there are tons of different ways to have a family. Pregnancy is just one route.

My goal is now as it has always been - feeling better. I can't care for those I love well until I care for myself.

So if there is anyone out there being brushed off by their OBGYN, or 'putting off' making that appointment -  but experiencing VERY REAL symptoms - BE YOUR OWN ADVOCATE. Educate yourself and trust that YOU know YOUR body better than ANYONE else. Get your answers. It's worth it to feel better.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Adventures in MRIs and Pretty colors

My previous post got deleted. I'm not so sure I like bloggers new layout, but I'll try to a rewrite here.

It's been 4 days since my MRI and 7 days since this journey started. I'm currently sporting 6 bruises from the needle sticks from attempts to inject contrast into my tiny veins during my MRI (only 2 of which were successful). I learned that, yes, you can actually feel your veins collapse when there is a needle stick into them. And it stings MUCH more than the needle did in the first place. I'm sporting another bloom of purple, blue, and yellow on my upper arm where the the lap tech took some blood a week ago. (For the record, it took her 2 tries.) So that averages out to more than a poke/day for the last week. Whew! I've learned that I should discourage them from poking my hands. Turns out that does some damage that may or may not heal, so typing for long periods of time has left my left hand (which was poked 4 times) rather painful, but nothing a little Advil won't kill.

This time, I was treated to an Open MRI machine. The results are sitting in my chart, gnawing away at me as I await my MD's review of them. The experience, however was somewhat different than my 2010 MRI experience.  The machine reminded me of 2 flying saucers. I was on that table in the middle of it (which moves around to help them get the images). It was kind of a cool experience, but I can't say it was really 'less claustrophobic' than my first MRI (in a good ol' fashioned tube). My nose was still only about 4 inches away from the top of it.
  Like the first MRI experience, I like my mind wander and stayed 'in the moment' as much as possible. I looked around (without moving my head, of course), and wondered if the scratches on this machine were from shipping, or from people losing their marbles and trying to claw their way out. I closed my eyes for a while and imagined what sort of movements the magnets inside the machine must be making to make such a racket (even with headphones and earplugs, I could still hear the clicking, whirling, and thudding of the machine).
  I was looking forward to the break of getting the contrast material injected. Yes, 'looking forward to' and 'injected' don't usually go together.  After 30 + minutes of lying still, my legs started to twitch, which isn't good when you're supposed to be still. You think of crazy things like, "I wonder if they can tell I'm starving right now?" or "I wonder if they can tell I have gas?" (For the record, I think they can, but were kind enough not to say anything. And yes, that was supposed to be funny.)
  There were 3 things I found particularly awesome about this experience - which just goes to prove "Some days, it's the little things" -

1) They let me keep my socks on! I don't know about you, but NOTHING makes an uncomfortable, nerve wracking medical procedure WORSE than having freezing cold feet. I learned this during my last surgery. I was SO grateful they gave me socks to put on - as other women in the recovery room were complaining about freezing feet.
2) The techs! The ladies there couldn't have been more awesome... well, they could have found a vein sooner. That sucked, but they were all so nice and kept me informed via the headphones. That "Okay, 10 more minutes. How are you doing?" really helped pass the time and made me feel like I wasn't forgotten floating on a table - the human cream filling in a flying saucer sandwich.
3) Being able to BEND my arms! This was the major perk of the open MRI to me. Last time, I didn't know what to do with my arms. The inside of the MRI was hot, so keeping my arms by my side was tough since they brushed the hot machine. But this time, I could bend them and rest them on my chest. Very relaxing. I didn't have to think about their twitching ruining the image.

I got some other really great news as well. My CA 125 (an ovarian cancer tumor marker test that is pretty new to the medical community - so it's not completely understood yet) was MUCH lower than pre-surgery 2010! A "normal" range is considered to be under 30 by most MDs (though, disclaimer here, the test is not yet completely understood and standardized). My last reading was AT 30, which is why the tumors on my ovary had to be taken care of ASAP - and why that ovary was removed.

Last week's number was a ground breakingly LOW (for me) of 11! That's pretty huge and made me very happy. So whatever these tumors are, odds are they are BENIGN and bothersome and not going to kill me. My Sailor is very happy not to have to entertain thoughts of being a widower at 30, and I'm happy that one possible diagnosis has been crossed off the list!

This afternoon I go in for a talk with the doctor about the MRI results. He now has all the records from my past that I've spent a few days gathering, and a more complete picture of what's going on. So we'll go from there!

Ironically, my job just started offering me as much overtime as I can handle which, with a wedding coming up, and probably surgery (for which I don't have enough PTO to cover a week off yet) hot on it's tail, I'm really grateful!

Time to get to hammering it all! I can't wait to get back into working out regularly too. One thing all this girly stuff does is really limit things like running, dancing, etc. Jolting movement sort of sucks right now. But there are always walks! And Paleo starting next month! (More on that later!)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"It's a Wonderful Life" - The Weekend

In the middle of all the medical mayhem my family has been going through, this weekend has been a much needed escape.
Mom, Dad, Me, and My Sailor at their hotel on Farewell Day.

Since my dad's start of Chemo was delayed a bit, my parents decided to seize the moment (and my dad's string of good health, appetite, and energy) and come up for a visit. It's been great to see them and after the week I've had at the doctor's office, having my family physically here has been awesome - and another great reminder of how much love and support I've been blessed with in my life.

My mom and I have grown past a lot of the "mother/daughter" stuff and into a comfortable, beautiful place of friendship. I never thought we'd be here, but it's a great place to be.
Me, My Sailor, and Mom

My dad has dropped a lot of weight since I saw him in December, but luckily he had the weight to lose, so he has the fat stored to helped see him through the upcoming treatment. Everyone is looking forward to this summer for a lot of reasons - though dad is nervous about chemo (understandabl)y. I'm sure his good humor will see him through. We had a great time at the Poulsbo Viking Festival this weekend and helped Dad add a few calories under his belt by tasting some delicious salmon, treats, and seafood.

As a housewarming gift, my parents have offered to help us get blinds for the ENTIRE HOUSE! For those that are counting, that's about 16 windows! What a fantastic gift! My homework this week is to get some folks in here to quote us on installation.

While my heart was heavy to see them go, I'm planning a trip in late June to visit. Though My Sailor won't be with me, it'll give me a chance to finalize some wedding stuff and NOT focus on what is going on with my health (more on that later).
I'm looking forward to making some time for a Padre game while I'm down there as well!  Can't wait.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The "Primal Wound" and OBGYN BS

Click here to purchase on Amazon

Yesterday, after a doctor's appointment and a revealing ultrasound, I took myself out to Frozen Yogurt and a stroll through my local Barnes and Noble. I just needed some space from irrationality for a while. I would be lying if I said I wasn't searching the shelves of the store for an answer that would make everyone happy. I found myself starting at the Medicine section, finding nothing there, and I moved to the Psychology section. Scanning the shelves and not finding an answer, I went to the Relationships section - where I found lots of books that would have helped me out 6 years ago when I was going through my divorce, but nothing that applied to the current state.
How dare they lack a "Your-Father-has-terminal-cancer-and-may-not-meet-his-grandkids- while-you're-Ultrasound-pretty-much-laughed-at-you-and-your-man-who-you-thought-was-totally-down-for-adoption-seems-to-be-changing-his-tune-or-just-has-lots-of-concerns-and-is-still-dealing-with-your-body's-F*U-when-it-comes-to-reporduction-and-you-find-yourself-desperately-trying-to-please-everyone-but-you-REALLY-don't-want-surgery-or-to-endure-miscarriage-and-you-suddenly-feel-like-you're-going-out-of-your-mind-as-you're-getting-older-and-all-of-this-will-just-get-harder-later,-besides-there-must-be-something-wrong-with-you-that-needs-to-be-fixed-because-you-don't-have-the-innate-need-other-people-seem-to-have-to-spread-their-genes-or-maybe-there-is-something-wrong-with-them-because-they-don't-define-'family'-the-same-way-you-do-OR-Maybe-Everyone-is-just-different-with-no-right-or-wrong-and-there-really-IS-no-happy-medium-and-someone-isn't-going-to-get-what-they-want-because-you-can't-in-good-concious-bring-an-adopted-child-home-knowing-that-one-parent-is-never-going-to-take-that-deep-seeded-pride-in-them-that-every-child-deserves-and-OMG-that-HURTS!" section for self-indulgent folks like me. (How's that for an honest rant/vent?)
Yeah, yesterday was kinda a rough day.
That's when I stumbled across the "Adoption Parenting" section and stumbled across this book. Honestly, it's AMAZING. Anyone who HASN'T been adopted, but is thinking about it should OWN IT! I read several chapters and just about every page had me going, "Yes! Yes! Yes!"  While it's based on the Primal Wound psychology (the unconcious wound that ALL adoptees, no matter their age at time of adoption, but it's something that is really shared by anyone who came from a broken home - While my 'home' was far from 'broken' - my family is intact and still has been throughout my entire life, the Primal Wound means a deep seeded 'abandonment' sort of issue) the approach in the book is to help adoptive parents understand it and love the child/children through it. My own battle with this has helped me grow to be pretty independent.
Well aware that I march to the beat of my own drum, it's been a challenge to figure out what to do with the whole ferility thing at this point. Without a strong drive to perpetuate my genes, I'm not sure if I want to endure an-already-high-risk-pregnancy alone. Let's face it, even when My Sailor is home, I only get 2-3 concious hours with him on a non-duty day. On duty days, he's gone for 24+ (and that's a couple times/week). And then there are the months of deployment. Living away from family and friends means that if we decide to put me through surgery to go this route, I'll be coping with 99% of that alone. It's not that I don't think I'm strong enough - I just don't want to. Add to that coping with facing the mortality of a key figure in my life and it's even LESS  appealing.
I feel like surrogacy and such measures are for couples who have the deep seeded desire to perpetuate their own genes no matter what - not for people like me (who have a very deep seeded desire to adopt no matter what).
So I'm at an impass right now as I await the surgeons recommendations from my ultrasound.
Oh- I guess I forgot to mention the ultrasound findings are a trifecta of "you're SO not getting pregnant any time soon".  Endometriosis, Fibriods, and cysts.
The OBGYN was kind enough not to laugh at me outright when I mentioned I've been on "the pill" for 13 years and have only had about 3 "normal" periods in my life and, taking my age and history into account, - he pretty much (nicely) put it that there are so many 'if's' that would have to fall into place for this to happen on it's own... I guess I'd rather just start a family and if it happens, it happens. If not, that's fine. I'd be fulfilled either way.
But I can't help but feeling like I'm disappointing My Sailor (and I am - it's written all over his face lately).  I'm sure we'll get through it. We knew this was a possibility from the start. But 'it is what it is' and living with it is different than talking about it. I've no doubt we'll get through it, but it's a roller coaster that isn't fun.

So why am I blogging all of this?
In the past, when I've put down to blogging my fears, hopes, etc, honestly, it's been a great resource for me to look back on, and for others to read and understand the one thing that fills that 'primal wound' bs - No One Is Ever Truly Alone in how they feel.
Nothing is ever as bad - or as good - as it seems.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Round 2 - Ding! Ding! Ding!

Things are going swimmingly in the new house. Slowly we're creeping out of boxes and this weekend I'll be hanging more shades and pictures and making it feel more like "a home". Our roommate moved in this weekend (officially - though his stuff has been here for weeks).  Dad is starting chemo therapy this weekend and overall is feeling good right now. We know the first couple treatments will likely kick his butt as they get things adjusted for him. Since you can't always choose your circumstances, but you can choose your reaction, I'm choosing to take comfort in the fact that he's feeling well, the house is good, and the weather has been SPECTACULAR. For example, this photo was taken this morning from my kitchen window -
 So all that said, I've got another thing on my plate currently that I haven't really addressed. The thing is, it isn't because I have any fear at all facing the issue. In fact, I'm as prepared, if not more, as any woman facing this issue, considering my history and I've had nearly 13 years of 'coping'.

I'm going to a new OBGYN tomorrow morning to figure out what's going on with lefty. (For those of you just tuning in, I have no kids and 1 ovary, since righty was removed for being more disease than ovary a few years back.) What's going on isn't normal. Most of the symptoms that precluded the removal of my other ovary are back. Bloating (back big time - including gaining 9 lbs in 2 weeks while staying within my usual calorie regiment), exhaustion, moodiness (I'm pretty much the most even keel person, until lately), and a few other things I won't bore you with.

 I've already warned the office to warm up the ultrasound machine so we can find out what's going on with Lefty now.

 Now, if you've known me at all, you've known that I've either never wanted kids, or to adopt kids. There was a while when I moarned pregnancy, so I suppose I'm already through that "stage". I'm much more in the "acceptance" phase of my life. Whatever happens - happens. Things that are ment to be have a way of working themselves out.

Here's what I do know - I have ZERO interest in putting myself through hormone treatments that will make me the guys that live with me MISERABLE. I need to be able to function regularly as much as possible for our financial security and for my own sanity.

The way I see it, I've been given an amazing gift. My adoption is giving back to me in a new way. Because I never grew up around people that look like me, I learned that family is all about who you love, who you laugh with, who you cry with, who you lift up, who you guide, who you trust, and who you grow with. Who you look like has very little to do with the equation in my book. In fact, international adoption has always facinated me. I see it as a unqiue oppurtunity to bring a different culture into my every day life, as I'd feel a responsiblity to keep my child connected to their homeland. And more and more the idea of adopting twins or a sibling group is something my heart is getting excited about.

So no matter what the findings are, no matter what they have to do, I'm prepared for it. If I have the slightest struggle, I know who I can pick up the phone and call, and I'm so grateful for those people who 'get me'. After all, that's what friends are for!

I guess what I didn't anticipate in this process was having to help other people through their own grief stages with all this. Sure, I had mine, back in 1999 when I was first diagnosed, then in 2004 when an adoption and a marriage fell through, and again in 2006 when my biological alarm was SCREAMING at me. But I think I failed to fully understand what it would mean/do to those people in my life that are close to me. It's not just about me any more, which is still a bit new to me. To me, an entire family looking like each other isn't abnormal, but neither is one that doesn't look alike. Gentics, to me, are just science. That's it. I don't have some magical bond to my biological family because they look like me. We relate because we choose to. It's fun to discover things we have in common, but the same way it's fun to find out things I have in common with new friends as well.

With infertility especially it's really easy to get caught up in what we 'the patient' are feeling as if no one else exists. But I guess I'd encourage everyone dealing with these types of issues to sit down and be sure they really listen to those around them, and recognize their process, without comparing it to yours.  We're all allowed our feelings - and healing can only come once we recognize the wounds are there.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Changes in Friendship

Today I read a post by Ever Clever Mom that talked about how her friendships in life have significantly changed now that she's a mom.  It really struck a cord with me as I make the necessary cuts from the wedding invitation list. And it came with a little sadness.

With all of my recent changes in circumstances (buying a house, moving to WA from CA only a year away, throwing a wedding) it's really changed my view on friendship.

From the outside looking in, I'm pretty blessed. I have a good job in a field that allows me to work from home. We just bought a house and are making it ours. My Sailor is home for the time being, and summer is on it's way. We have made a few friends up here that I look forward to seeing again, and in the mean time, I have the loving support of a small handful of long-time friends.

What people don't understand is that working from home, in a state where you know almost no one, is pretty isolating. There are days the only other human face I see is My Sailor's. So a call from a friend or family member really brightens my day.

And the phone doesn't work one way. I get the same smile when a friend answers the phone when I call.

In fact, just yesterday I got a phone call from an old friend. Even though it was a bit awkward (people, myself included, don't really know what to say about my dad's condition), it felt wonderful that he made the effort. (And before anyone gets any ideas, he's married with 2 kids, and very happy.) 

Yet, many people I felt were like family to me, haven't returned my calls, or checked-in to see how I'm doing.

Like they say - some people are in your life for a reason, a season, and some are here to stay.

Our wedding invitation list is made up largely of family. In fact, it's almost entirely made up of family. We've realized just how much relocating has changed our relationships with folks. People who once felt like close friends have slipped out of touch, but others have really stepped up to the plate to help us plan the wedding and to help support us with their thoughts, prayers, and well wishes as we stumbled through this phase of our lives.

It's funny how eternally grateful I've become towards those who have truly 'been there' even though they can't physically 'be there'. When I think of how my relationship changed with friends, I've seen 'sisters' grow up and get married, have kids of their own - and I've had my own inward struggles on how I could adjust my swingin'-single-divorcee-life to include these changes. And ya know, it was worth it to face those struggles. Instead of just being a friend to go to the movies with, I've actually been lucky enough to feel like a part of those families.

Fully aware that people get crazy around weddings. No matter what direction we go in, someone will be offended, but it is what it is.

It's just crazy, and a little sad, how things sometimes change.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Life in the Fast Lane

Yesterday I took my first Zumba class. Much to my surprise, I actually kept up very well. I wasn't surprised by the fact that I had fun though. It seems I've legitimately picked up some moves in recent years. Yeah! Of course, when I look at myself in the mirror, I still seem to appear awkward, but I think that probably comes from the extra weight on my hips and thighs that I'm working on losing, and my height. But I had fun and had a great work out, and that's what counts!

Dad's going to start an aggressive Chemo regiment in 2 weeks, but he's still in very good spirits and looking forward. He's awesome.

A surprise venue has come through for the wedding and I'm getting excited about it. It just seems like it was ment to be, down to some of the little details. So we're getting ready to make the big announcement about date and time, hopefully this weekend.

In other news, it looks like I'll be heading back to the doctor's office myself. Having 2 periods/month even on BCP isn't normal. Seems like my one ovary is having some issues, so it's time to get it looked at. I've honestly been avoiding this for a couple months, but My Sailor lovingly reminds me that I'm not doing us any favors. I guess I'm just not sure how much more medical drama I can handle, but ignoring it doesn't make it go away. So this month I'm tracking down a new OBGYN to get and ultrasound and see what's going. Upside is, I'm not feeling the intense pains I had before - though with severe Endo, that's not necessarily a good thing, but no use in speculating until I have all the information.

Either way, we've been prepared for a while to have a family however it's supposed to happen.

Other than that, we're back to work, working on wedding planning, checking in with my family (which is a near daily thing of late), and trying to line up the money in time to work out the wedding. We have 3 months, so we should be able to get it hammered out by then. So many of my friends and family have come out of the wood work to help - the outpouring of love is just amazing.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Key and the Cancer

I've been trying to find a way to put the last week and weekend into words. Talking about things with more people make them more real. And there is one truth about 'being strong'. It means you know how to ask for help when you need it. And right now, I need all the help I can get.

 First thing's first.  

The Good News
We got the house!
We spent all weekend moving, and I couldn't be more grateful for one of My Sailor's shipmates who just likes to "fix things" and used to be an electrician! He's been really handy, and can be paid in meals. It's been a real blessing. We still don't have window coverings (like blinds, etc.) so we've been waking up with the sun, which has actually felt wonderful. We don't live in an urban area, so I'm not really worried about lookie-loos. We'll get shades up on the next paycheck.  We are very quickly learning about the Joys of Ownership. When we arrived, most of the yard was a mid-calf forest of dandelions! So we've invested in a lawn mower to keep the weeds down until we can finish landscaping. I woke up this morning to sewer water backed up all over the master bathroom and this crazy smell in the guest bathroom... yeah... delicious. We're on septic so something was wrong. I called  Ghost Hunters RotoRooter and they came to my rescue! About $300 later, we're good to go. Thank God we have a roommate paying rent this month! His rent went towards unclogging our septic drain.  We got a great steal on this house. We're still working on getting out of boxes. I'm back to work and My Sailor is back to work as well. We love waking up to our amazing view every day, and cooking in such a huge kitchen has actually made us enjoy the adventure again. Once we are out of boxes and our pictures are up, we'll be ready to share some video on the blog. So that's the wonderful blessing of being out of an apartment!
Clydas seems to agree, though he's not too keen on the stairs. He tried them out, but opts to stay down stairs, which is fine.
Now it's time to tell you readers (ye brave, ye few) about the 'other stuff'.
  Last week, My Sailor came home with a new friend for me. (Right)
 During all the craziness that is moving and the sea of paperwork that is required for a mortgage, we learned that my dad has more than a few things in common with someone I find very inspirational. I've often quoted Randy Pausch's book, The Last Lecture. I found his everyday wisdom an inspiring reminder of what is truly important in life. Like Randy, I won the parent lottery in being adopted and raised by my parents. They did a remarkable job making a family out of strangers - and a family that is closer than most. They've stuck it out through some rough stuff and never given up on each other or us as a family. Very few people these days can say their parents have been married for over 40 years, but I am part of that small group of people.

 Aside from being remarkable people, my dad and Randy have something else in common too. My dad was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer, the 4th deadliest cancer in the world. While doctors have given us a 6 -11 month time frame to enjoy time with my dad, my dad has the most wonderful positive spirit.

Here's what I mean  - 
  When he found out that something was wrong, he told me he "I have a plumbing problem."  (The very first sentence of the Last Lecture is "I have an engineering problem.")  

When he found out it was too far along to make him eligible for the difficult yet-often-odds-improving Whipple Operation, he celebrated not having to undergo surgery.

  On the same day, the surgeon recommended chemo and gave him the usual life expectancy for someone with his stage of cancer (6 months - a year-ish), he celebrated that he has some time with friends and family. After all, the reality of life is anything can happen to anyone at any time. My dad's father passed away from a sudden heart attack in his early 60's, leaving his wife and children largely unprepared to be on their own.  

But knowing that we're all mortal and staring down the barrel of it are two very different things.

Emotions of it have been a roller coaster, but we're all staying very hopeful. My Sailor has been there for me, and most of the time, I'm able to be positive about it. After all, if ANYONE can beat that 16% of folks who make it over a 18 months, my dad is one of them by attitude alone.  (He's also in good health otherwise.)

My dad's approach to all of this is really inspiring me. After all, it's how we choose to react to difficult situations that prove who we really are. When push comes to shove - I guess we Munderloh's reach towards whatever light we can find and hang on tight.

   At the same time, I'm reminded of the value of our time with loved ones. Homesickness hits me pretty hard lately. We've decided to move the wedding to Southern California in August (rather than Florida in Feb. 2013) to give us the best chance of having a great memory with my dad. It's funny how the little details brides fuss over become far less important. While a Disney wedding was a dream for me, a bigger, far more powerful dream is doing this with my dad.  I can't be more grateful to have wonderful friends and family in my life to support me. Every child knows their parents won't be around forever, but it's something no one really considers.

  As I stumble through, I couldn't be more grateful for the hugs and messages that help me not feel alone through all of this, and the power of family and friends.