Saturday, January 31, 2009

Just a little virus

So my thyroid surgery is coming up and I'm getting all my ducks in a row--disability papers, notices to managers, updating voice mails, emails, computer work access issues...there's a lot of stuff to tie up!
Last week I suddenly found it nearly impossible to swallow and the lymph glands on my neck were quite sore to the touch. By total coincidence, I stumbled upon a magazine in the radiology department and on the cover was an article about "Thyroid cancer in adults". So I had to read it. Of course all my symptoms were listed right there in black and white! Except I had no difficulty breathing and could still eat well enough. Trying to keep my cool, I ran it by some co-workers and we just shrugged and nodded that it was good the surgery was coming up. But theeeennnn, the next day it was SO clear I caught a virus that ATTACKED my throat with a vengeance! I couldn't swallow at all unless I took ibuprofen! Fortunately, within a week, I was back to normal. Whew. I thought it was going to throw off the surgery schedule, but no, it's all still on track.
My co-workers gave me a wonderful potluck lunch party as a little send off before I leave work for four weeks. It was quite a to-do and there was SO much great food! It really made me realize how much they care. Nice to work with such great people. I was feelin' the love...
Today is the last day I will live without a scar on my throat. Sounds funny, but that's what seems to be on mind the most. I guess, because I'll always see it when I look in the mirror. And I tend to keloid when I have scars, so I'm HOPING that it heals without any trouble or extra ugliness. And, of course, I hope the surgery goes well and the nodule is just a growing thing and not a malignant thing. And then, that the remaining half of my thyroid (should I get to keep it) works hard enough to avoid having to take thyroid replacement hormones forever.
Ahhh. Yep. It will all be alright. And over with by tomorrow afternoon.
But I'm still kinda nervous.
T has been a good kid, as usual. Today, in my hour's volunteer time in his class, I got to play bingo with the kids (4 at a time). Each card had 16 different words they were learning to recognize and read this week. As I held up an index card with one of the words, the kids had to read the word and put a marker on their card over that word. The first one to get four in row, won. And then they read aloud their four words. It was fun and most the kids did really well. Sometimes just having the patience to look and finally find the word was enough for some kids. When they found the word or read the word there was high-fives and thumbs up all around the table. Every child found some level of success with the bingo game. And it was really fun too.
Today I told T that I would be having an operation to take out a bump in my throat. He was worried that it would hurt and I told him that they would give me medicine so I won't feel a thing. The he worried that the pain medicine would hurt. I told him "no", so he asked if he could try some too! Well, I admitted that it would be a "shot" and might hurt just a little...and that's all he needed to change his mind on that!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Blood in the Urine, What's That Mean?

About a week ago, my dad was distressed to see quite a bit of blood while hovering over the toilet to pee. He went to the doctors that day and an infection was ruled out, but a referral to a urologist was sent. A few days later he had a consultation with the urologist and he did a cystoscopy and found a 1 cm mass inside the bladder. The cystoscopy was traumatizing enough for him, but finding a mass was a little unsettling too. It's too early to jump to conclusions, but the doctor did send him off with some paper work, including a colorful pamphlet explaining about bladder cancer. Bummer. I'm assuming he knows what he's doing and has seen these types of masses before. I'll trust his judgement. Not looking good.
Today dad had a CT scan of the abdomen to check for any signs of metastases (I'm guessing since this isn't my area of expertise) and he'll be having surgery soon to remove and biopsy the bladder mass. Fortunately the blood in the urine is gone, but that doesn't mean the mass disappeared. But it's less distressing to dad at least.
One day at a time....We'll see how this plays out.

You know your getting old when...

The other day I was watching TV when a show touting a new kind of home insulation caught my eye. They had this box with 2 bright lights shining over some shiney blanket material on top of the usual pink fluffy insulation material and then a temperature probe underneath that. They proudly showed that the one with pink fluff but without the aluminum blanket on it was getting pretty hot (like over 150 degrees). The other one though, with this silver sheet on top, was staying a more comfortable 80 degrees. Interesting...
So I was sucked in and convinced of this "space blanket's" value. I made an appointment and after an hour of hearing the same infomercial face to face, I bought it. I can't wait for it to be installed! I'm going to compare my energy bills month to month AND what it was last year at the same time. I hope their promises translate well to my gas and electric bill!
I'm surprised as how excited I became in getting insulation that would bring my bills down and make my home more comfortable year 'round. Eeeech. Now I KNOW I'm getting old.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Woody and T

Me, Mickey and T
E and T, half sibs

M, a half sib and her mom
T tries to pull out the sword to see if he's the true prince. No idea why it didn't let loose!

T, M and E in Toon Town

Posing with Mickey

Breakfast at Goofy's kitchen

We all had a great time in Disneyland! We met some friends and the kids got along pretty well. Aside from the competitive nature of both boys. Standing in line FIRST or being pushed in the stroller and getting ahead of the pack. That got tiring. But the whole place and the experience was magical. And for January, the weather was GORGEOUS! (aside from the famous Santa Ana winds on day #1) The first day, we were SO lucky that another family we met had annual passes and she knew just what a 5 year old would want to do. So she was our tour guide for the day. T his half brother E and half sister M had all day to play and explore the park together and get to know each other a little. T doesn't look too much like the others (got most of his good looks from my side of the family perhaps) but there were similarities with E and M. M is a beautiful, well behaved little girl. She'll be 5 in 2 months so they were all well matched for size and age. And E is a handsome, rather tall (almost as tall as T), rambunctious 5 year old boy. Pictures to be added to this post soon.
The second day, M and her mom weren't with us so we made a list of things we wanted to see and do. We rode Space Mountain first. It was the first roller coaster ride T has ever had. after the second wild whip around a corner in the dark starry atmosphere, he was laying down with his head in my lap. Poor baby. In the flash photo they try to get you to buy, all you can see is me looking down to my right and absolutely nothing in T's seat. After the first hour of exploring, while standing in a long, long line for some ride on our list an older women dressed in park employee clothes asked me how many were in our party. I told her "five" and she said, "Come and follow me." I almost hesitated, having to get out of line but she took us right up to the front, entered in the exit and placed us right there in front to get on the ride! T took one look at that ride and said, "No thanks. I don't want to go on that!" He'd had enough of roller coaster type rides! But I think it was more a water type ride. Either way, no way we were going on it with T. So the kind lady asked what else was on our list. And we had a list to show her! I told her it was our first time there and so she came up with "First time visit" buttons for everyone, and also pins to trade with others later. Apparently, pin trading is a big pass-time for lots of folks. And some are worth a lot of money! Then she gave us 3 more written passes to take on any ride we wanted. We didn't have to stand in line at all. When I asked her why she chose and and how come she was giving us such special treatment, she said, "It's just magic." Wow. It was a most wonderful day, thanks to "Pat". Because we didn't have to stand in hardly any lines the kids were much better behaved and less tired. And me too! We were very lucky to have caught her eye!

One of our most favorite rides was the Toy Story ride in California Adventures Park. It was a new one and we waited 45 minutes to get in. But it was worth it. If you have the chance--make sure you try that one. After going on many rides and shows, after 2 full days we were pretty much pooped. Actually we could have handled one more day to see all the things we really wanted and experience the things we REALLY liked more than once, but all good things come to an end. T was very excited to go on a plane. This was actually his fourth plane ride, but it seems this was the first time he realized it was a PLANE and not a bus or train (although those things are exciting for him as well). Jet Blue served us very well and we will certainly try to fly with them again, given the chance.
I'm happy to come home again and eat something besides restaurant food. Burgers, fries, soda. It gets tiring. I have a hankering for some good ol' fashioned home cooking with vegetables and meat! But I didn't leave without getting my quota of cotton candy!! I love that stuff.
It's good to leave but just as good to come home again. I hope we can visit the park again in another year or two. It's such a great place for kids, but nearly as much fun for BIG kids too.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Cuddling a new baby...

Today I met with an old friend who was blessed 10 weeks ago with her fourth baby. Fourth, you say? Seems, well, abundant. But hers is an interesting story.
I met K as my patient when I worked in Labor and Delivery. She bounced in with her husband and said she was 20 weeks along with their first child and felt she might have broken the bag of waters. They were young newlyweds and quite handsome together. I showed them to their room and felt sure she must have sneezed and leaked a little. Happens all the time. But no. She truly had broken her bag. And labor soon followed. In the next few days, after giving her everything in our arsenal to stop it, she delivered a son. He died soon after birth of prematurity. I generally took care of the dead or dying babies because I could still function without too much emotion (have no kid of my own back then) and felt it was really important to create mementos and positive moments with their "forever" baby while they could. I made foot prints, collected hair when I could, and put together a little book of memories that they could look at later, when they were ready or needed to. K and I just clicked. And we kept in touch after she went home. She became pregnant again a few month later. And again...delivered the baby at 17 weeks. Another boy. The next time she got pregnant, she was on bed rest immediately, tocolytics (medications that stop labor), a cerclage placed (like a purse string in the cervix) and it helped get her the farthest she ever got. But then it happened. At the worst time. A point where the baby COULD survive but probably not very well. He came out at 22 weeks gestation and lived in the NICU for 26 days. He suffered multiple brain bleeds and lungs that could not breathe. It was tortuous for them, and all those that loved them. That was her 6th loss overall, and 3rd one on the 2nd trimester. No one could come up with any reason or diagnosis as to why she kept kicking those babes out so early. She touched the nurses so deeply that one nurse who had successfully delivered her own child offered to be a surrogate for them. All went well and the baby (another boy) was delivered full term into their aching arms. A few years more go by and once again, they agree with their surrogate to try again. And holy cow! Two for the price of one! Well, not really. Surrogacy and it's expenses are crazy. But money is secondary to dreams. They worked hard and did well enough to take on the costs. And again, a successful pregnancy and delivery of twins--a boy and a girl. After all that stimulation to K's ovaries they had quite a few embryos left over and didn't really know what to do with them. The paid for their continued freezing put their energies and love into raising three beautiful children. But after 10 or so years, having been successful in their business ventures and loving being parents, they decided to try one more time with the left over embryos. There were 12 in all. They contracted with another surrogate. This one had had 5 of her own girls and did pregnancy and delivery quite well. These embryos had been frozen for 10 and 12 years, and in that time things have changed. Mediums, storage tubes, etc. Who knew what to expect after having been frozen for so long? After the thaw, only one embryo survived. They placed it in the surrogate's uterus and didn't even make a follow up appointment or testing, feeling sure it would fail. But, when the surrogate starting vomiting, they tested and WOW. A baby was on its way. A term, healthy baby girl was born and my friends are over the moon! She is perfect in every way--chubby cheeks, spit up, pooping, smiling, cooing and that intoxicatingly sweet baby smell! She is the genetic twin of their first born child, having been conceived on the same day, about 12 years ago. Weird, huh? Science is a beautiful thing. I could NOT be happier for them. Through heartache and lots of perseverance and prayer, their dreams came true. If you've gotten this far in my post, please read the next sentence ALOUD. I hope anyone with arms that ache for a child of their very own, get that wish granted. If we all say it a few more times, maybe more people experiencing the pain of infertility will realize their dream too.

Looking Forward to 2009

Just like a lot of people, I'm happy to see 2008 go and anticipate 2009 to be a much better year. For me, school papers and demands just sucked up all my free time. Or if I pretended to have free time to do fun stuff, my mind was still occupied by the stuff I had to do or deadline coming up. Spoils the level of fun, you know? And then there's all the money I used to have that somehow vaporized into thin air. I better not think on it or I'll find my hair leaving my head in large tufts. On to more happy thoughts...
Even though I am loving this sense of freedom without school demands, my mind keeps coming up with crazy things to do that will bring my overall stress levels to just below my nose. Why is it that I always do that to myself? I was thinking of house hunting for a bigger house in a lovely neighborhood, near a creek (so T could explore at will). But it would be a huge chunk of money, a new loan and 30 more years of payments. Silly. Especially since the home I have now is big enough for T and I and we still have an extra bedroom for any guest that might pop by. Plus, with more money going to mortgage and taxes, I'll probably have to work full time and worry if I'll make the payments for a while. As difficult as this is...I need to reign myself in. After much thinking, I've decided to NOT move and rather work on the little home I have. I'll try to make it the model home I dream of--chose paint colors and accessories that make me happy. And fix all those little things I've overlooked the last 10 years. Then, once it's finished I'll be quite proud to show it off to anyone who visits AND if that perfect bigger house lands in my lap....I'll be ready to sell!
So that's the plan on the home front. I haven't called my old contractor yet. BIG projects can wait. Although I got sucked in to having a free home evaluation on energy conservation and this new kind of insulation. It was quite persuasive in the infomercial! They'll come in 2 weeks and if it looks good, I'm having it installed. This house was never insulated until I got here. So now the attic is pink and fluffy but the walls and crawl space have nothing. And I'm considering solar power installation too. My gas and electric bills are giving ME gas...and indigestion. Tooooo high!
One thing high on my list is to update and beautify my fireplace. I like the original mantle, but the tile around it and in front of it is plain and sort of cheap looking. It's original from 1948,when the house was built, but I think it could be improved upon. This will take a bit of research but I'm sure I'll find the right materials. Then I need to repair some hardwood flooring that was damaged by the hot water heater in the hallway. I have since had the heater moved to the garage and now that closet space houses my vacuum, but the damaged floor remains. And it bugs me.
And I gotta paint. But I hate painting. Well, I don't hate the painting. I just don't like the preparation before and the cleaning up after. The actual painting I quite like.
And new shutters for the front of my house. The old ones look, well, old. And they're only 5 years old. But the sun is hard on them and they are weathered and need of attention. The shutters are very labor intensive with the sanding of each louver--so I'm going to look for something easier to keep up. But still keep them a lovely, shiny dark green color. To match the front door.
And I think I'll put more effort into dating. Ewww. It just give me goose bumps to think about it. Having never been married and being, well, old--er. I have done more dating than anyone ought to. But I can count on one hand the dates I've had since I had T. I've not really "put myself out there" so maybe I'll be more adventurous and see what turns up.
This year, I will be taking the third of my four nieces/nephews out on their trip of choice. I made a promise to each of them, that when they turn 13 years old, they could choose anywhere in the world they wanted to go and I would take them there for a 7-10 day trip. The first nephew chose Orlando, Florida (to see Universal Studios) and then I added a 4 day trip to Paradise Island in the Bahamas. I had to add it to get SOME sense of adventure and perhaps a little culture. It was a great trip, even though it felt like I was dragging a bag of rocks around with me. He had no sense of adventure, and just wanted to hang around in the hotel room and watch Nickelodeon TV. What a waste. It could have so much more. But, for him, it was a great trip.
The second one (my niece) couldn't chose between NY city and Paris, France. So I suggested we spend 3 days in NYC on our way to Paris! She went for it. We did lots of bicycle tours in NYC and Paris. Plus all the tourist spots and fancy hotels and great food and museums. She was an excellent travel companion. This next one seems to be leaving it up to me. All she has said it that she would like to go where the ocean is warm. None of these kids had ever been on a plane, let alone ever outside of their home state, so getting on a jet is as new and exciting as the destination. I'm thinking about Costa Rica, but haven't totally made up my mind. Half of the choosing part is having them do research on our Earth's globe and figure out where they are and where they want to explore. And then anticipating the trip. I'll nudge her a little more to consider different places and we'll see what she comes up with. T has stayed home with my parents for the last 2 trips. He was young enough that the trip would have turned to focus onT rather than my nephew/niece, so he could not come. Depending on the destination, I may opt to take him along this time. If he doesn't go, I vow to take him on annual trips to adventurous destinations that we chose together. I love to travel and don't need much of an excuse to pack up and go.
After this year's trip, the last one to turn 13 won't be until 2013, so I'll have some time to make up my own destinations between now and then. I know I'll be going to Holland in 2010, but I think I'll add another country while I'm there. I've never seen any of Scandinavia, England, Ireland or Scotland--and all are pretty close to Holland. But then I'll have less time to spend in Holland with my family and friends there. We'll see how that one works itself out.
This Thursday, T and I are going to Disneyland! I've only been twice and the last time was 1993 so it will be exciting. We are meeting 2 other families that used the same donor I did to create their families. So T will be spending time with some of his extended family that he has yet to know. He's understanding more of what family is and how they are different or similar. It will be interesting to see what he thinks after meeting more siblings--another 5 year old boy and a 4 year old girl. They are actually half siblings of T's, but I don't like that description. I'd rather call them siblings. He knows E and J, twin girls who are 5 months younger than T and live just 45 minutes drive from us. They call each other brother and sister and we see them about every 3-4 months for the past (almost) 4 years. He had met 7 of his siblings in 2006 but he was too young to process any of this stuff. He knows he has a donor but sometimes seems frustrated that he can't meet him. I don't really have the perfect thing to say to that so I stay vague and tell him that if his donor knew where we were and how wonderful you are, he would come for a visit and say hello. He says, that would be great and then it's on to playing a game of Uno or drawing pictures together. He'd not overly interested. Maybe that's the way it will be. I'll just take it as it comes, and be honest with him. Anyway, I can't wait to post about the adventures waiting for us in Anaheim!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Staple removal

Well, last night, as promised to my boy, I took out the staples in his head from his monkey bar accident 2 weeks ago. I've taken lots of staples out, but always in the abdomen--not the scalp. He was excited and looking forward to it, although they didn't seem to bug him at all. As soon as I got home he was asking when I'd do it. So I got down to business.
I showed him the tool and let him work it. Then he laid his little head down and I squeezed the device around the staple to open it up. Unfortunately, I couldn't keep my word that it was painless (as it's almost always been for my patients). Keeping the staples in for 2 weeks allowed for extra scabbing/growth around the boo-boo and it didn't come out as easily or painlessly as I wanted. T was very upset and crying and didn't want the other one to come out. Being upset myself but also SO wanting the chance to take out the other one (there were only two, thank goodness!) I cuddled with him and told him how brave he was. I showed him the staple and he thought it was cool. But, that pain part, he didn't want any more of that! After a few minutes of soothing, he was shaking slightly but ready to put his head down and allow me to remove the other staple. He held still on his own and I removed the last one with much less pain (it was less embedded--hooray!). And that was that! T was excited that he did it but also clearly stressed. The level of trust he gives me is so humbling to me. I mean, it's the same thing I'd feel for my parents, but when another human being gives you that kind of faith, it's an amazing feeling to experience. The rest of the evening he was totally wired up, snapping his fingers (quite proud of how he can do that) and playing Sorry, Trouble, Connect 4 and Uno with me until it was time for bath and bed.
T will be bringing in the staples and staple remover to Kindergarten the next time he gets a Special Sharing time with his class.