In the Air!

In the Air!
400 feet above the ground in Orlando.

Florida

Florida
Taking my first step towards a new life.

Virginia

Virginia
Spending an afternoon at Marymount during my internship!

My rocks!

My rocks!
Wouldn't be where I am without my parents!

Graduation

Graduation
Walking for my Masters. An interesting book end as this all started when I graduated from undergrad!

Awesome Nurses!

Awesome Nurses!
After my port removal and saying goodbye to my chemo nurses before moving away from Michigan. Wouldn't be doing that without them!

Hair again!

Hair again!
Growing longer each day

Last Chemo

Last Chemo

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Silliness

Silliness
Something to remember and return to. A good day!

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Friday, January 31, 2014

Why Pictures Help



I put this video on Facebook recently…but I made it a month ago.  Actually, I was finishing it up as the year went from 2013 to 2014.  A new year, one without surgeries and chemo.  This year is going to bring it's own challenges for sure…but it felt good to leave last year behind…as much as I can.

This past year, I have been writing to deal with everything but I have also been taking pictures.  Not that I need reminders that it happened, but I did need reminders that it happened and I could still find reasons to smile.  Also, I took pictures because it seemed so surreal.  It was happening to me and through the whole thing, I couldn't believe it.  Also, the pictures showed the good people in my life.  Not all of them, but some of them.  The pictures remind me that even when things seems the worst, you can always find a reason to smile…even if you smile through tears.

I have had a few close friends watch this video while I debated about posting it.  Each said they couldn't believe I smiled through the whole thing.  I think part of the reason I did this was to remind me that it wasn't all tears, fear and completely loosing it.  Because I did cry, a lot.  I begged my mom to make it stop more times than I can count!  I asked her over and over if it was going to ever end!  It doesn't matter how old you get.  When you are this miserable, all you want are your parents and all you want them to do is make it go away.  And I spent a lot of nights just crying all night.  And there were so many days and nights where all I could do was lay in bed…laying very still so I wouldn't get sick…and just feel this miserable.  I couldn't think about anything.  All I could do was lay there feeling so tired opening my eyes was a chore sometimes and feeling this horrible sickness all through me.

These pictures in this video, and so many others I didn't use, helped me remember that after each chemo…no matter how long it took…I was going to start to feel better.  I was going to be able to get out of bed and move around a little.  I was going to be able to stand outside and take a deep breath of air.  So every time I could take a picture I made sure I was smiling.  I was smiling because in that moment…I was beating this horrible thing.  Or I was outside…not in bed.  Or because I was able to do something for someone else and not dwell so much on myself.

I had a friend who would text me every day.  More often then not I would wake up and there would be a text there already saying good morning and asking how I was doing.  Then throughout the day they would send me texts just telling me about their day.  Every day stuff.  Often, I would be smiling in the picture because I had just gotten a text from them talking about work or their dog or just random things.  Being pulled out of myself made me smile!

These pictures help because they remind me of that.  Even now, months later, I'm still not anywhere near where I want to be.  But I keep looking at these pictures and know that just like chemo, this too will pass.  Yes, it goes inch my inch but in time, I'll be looking back at pictures of this time and remembering the things that made me smile in those pictures.  And maybe that will help me keep future problems in life in perspective.

That is why pictures help.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Fighting Frustration

I never thought of myself as a constantly moving person.  I always saw myself as someone who took life easy…until I had to take life easy for months and months and months!  Nope, I am a "lets get moving" person!

It's really hard not to complain right now but it is frustrating.  I want to get out there and get life moving again!  And I can to a certain extent.  Just not anywhere near what I use to yet.  I went back to the gym over a week ago.  I did three workouts in one week and yes, pushed myself some.  Then I also spent afternoons running errands and going places.  As a result, I spent three strait days in bed so tired I felt sick.  Then the rest of this week mostly resting in bed.  I'm still not back up to where I was before I went to the gym but am getting back there.  I also realize…it hasn't even been the same amount of time I've been through chemo.  I have heard that at the VERY LEAST you are going to be knocked down after chemo as long as you were in chemo.  I was in chemo for 3 and a half months.  That isn't counting the month after my last chemo that was spent almost completely in bed! And it has only been just over three months since my last chemo.   I know stepping back and looking at it…I am actually doing pretty good…even though I am still highly limited as to what energy I have and stamina.

That being said…if my hair were actually long enough to grab in my hands…I would be pulling on it in frustration!  I have never been someone who has sat around waiting for something to happen.  I have always been the type to go out and do my best to make something happen.  And now, I am stuck in the post chemo waiting room!  You think waiting for your doctor is long!!!  No comparison!

Friends keep suggesting things to do and I try to do some of them.  The crazy thing is that it comes down to stamina…energy…and my lack of both!  And concentration!  I know I have come a long way from being in chemo with my concentration.  Use to be a two minute conversation on the phone knocked me out!  I can have normal conversations again…mostly.  Although, talking too long does still wear me out.  It all comes down to focus.  It is crazy how much focusing can make you tired!  I'm trying to start a new FB page posting articles I find and people write for me on the Faith.  The problem with finding links for articles means I have to read them!  This is odd…I can read a fantasy genre book on my tablet with no problems…I can read for an hour or two at a time and I'm ok!  I try to focus on an article online and my brain goes sideways and it is a total fight to get it to read the words and take them in!  I usually find myself skimming and hoping I get the gist of the article.  The longer the article…the harder this is.

I can hear everyone saying to me that I have been through a lot.  And I'm not arguing that…I was there!  But that doesn't mean that the frustration of being so limited goes away with those words or those thoughts.  It's there every day…fighting me!

I was told many times by my nurses to look for changes from month to month…and they won't be big ones for a while.  I'm going to try something.  I am going to give myself a month to look forward to and until that month I'm not going to try to compare the differences each month brings.  I am looking at the end of April…the time this all started for me last year and six months from my last chemo…and see where I am there.  In the mean time…I am hoping not to go nuts with all the resting I still have to do.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Out And About!

Today I finally got out of the house!  I hitched a ride with my folks as they ran errands and it felt good to be away from the house!  The snow has been ridiculous!  While it stopped snowing a couple days ago, the drifting has kept the roads almost impassible!  I walked through waste high walls of snow to the car!

I will say this though.  As freezing cold as the weather has been…and sub zero is just beyond cold…the blue sky and sunshine yesterday and today made the snow look really pretty!!  It may be cold…hard to drive through and everywhere…but it can still look nice:)

Looking forward to being able to get my own car out.  Once it will actually start again, I have to clear out the drift from behind it.  Hopefully both things happen before Monday since that is my first meeting with my trainer at the gym!  I know it is only January but I am already asking the question…is winter almost over?

Monday, January 6, 2014

A New Year!

Ok, this blog about a new year being here is about a week late…which is about right on time for me!  Yes, a new year is here and I am determined it will be full of only good things!  Positive thinking is important I have learned.  You decide something is going to happen and it will!  I was determined I was going to have an ER free chemo and it happened.  I was determined to not have to go beyond 6 chemos and I didn't.  I was determined to have enough strength for a birthday party and I did…mostly :)

Lets look back at 2013 for a little.  It was a mixed year.  It started off pretty great!  I started my last semester in college for my undergrad degree!  I  had an amazing weekend in DC with friends in January!  I also learned that there is nothing in the world that will ever convince me that riding a bus from MI to VA and back again is anything close to a good idea!  Yes, I will finally admit that I am too old for things like that!

My semester went pretty smoothly actually!  I  spent most of my time going to class and doing homework and studying but that was what I was there for!  As the weather warmed up a little I started taking long walks and enjoyed them greatly!

Then came April.  It started off good!  I finally got to see Celtic Women in concert!  That is a pretty amazing performance!!!  Then came all the ER visits, surgeries and chemo.

But between all of that there came a pretty great day…GRADUATION DAY!!!  It took 15 years but I made it!  Even in the midst of the madness I made it to that day!  And somehow I made it with high honors too!  I think that surprised me more than anything!  Lol!

Yes, the next 6 months were full surgeries and chemo…and I don't want to dwell on that for now.  Maybe another post I will write on that as a whole but not right now.

Suffice to say, the end of 2013 ended pretty great!  I was given tickets and a meet and greet pass to see Jim Brickman in concert!!!!!  And yes, a chance to meet him!!!!!   There is no better way to end the year then to actually check off a bucket list item!  And it was the first one I was able to check off!  Lol!

So looking at 2014, it is already starting off pretty good!  This month I was able to get back to sewing like normal!!  No sewing my fingers and only making a few stupid mistakes that are fixed easily enough with a seam ripper!  And more to look forward to next month with a two week visit to my friends in Virginia!

So yes, this new year is going to be better than last year!

Joined a Gym

Well, after I went to pick up a friends almost two year old and could barely get his little feet to lift off the ground, I was thoroughly convinced that my muscle tone is practically non existent!  So. to help that, I joined a gym…just before a blizzard!  That wasn't planned, I assure you!

I have never been an overly strong person but I have always been able to hold my own with lifting and carrying kids, walking long distances and shoveling.  Well, I can't pick up a kid…I can't walk that far without getting really tired…and my attempt at shoveling was sad to say the least!  I am hoping, starting out slowly, to get my strength back!  After the minimal shoveling I did today though, I am pretty sure my first few weeks of workouts will be lucky to last 5 minutes!  Maybe be up to a ten minute workout by the end of the month!  I have to admit, this is a new thing for me.  My average workout use to be 45 to 60 minutes.

It doesn't matter how often I tell myself that the recovery will take longer than the chemo did…I somehow always mange to surprise myself at just how little I can still do!  I try to focus so hard on what  I CAN do again that I forget that there is still quite a bit I can't do still.  Yes, I can drive again…but driving too long wipes me out.  I can walk longer…but walking too long wipes me out.  I can talk on the phone and concentrate better…but talking too long and concentrating that much believe it or not makes me tired still!!

I am hoping going to the gym (when the roads are passably and we can get out of the driveway) will help change this.  Maybe even a little faster?  Chances are it won't make it change faster but I am sure it will help:).  Maybe be back up to a normal workout for me by summer time.  You never know, it could happen!