Feeling Good!


Spending an afternoon at Marymount during my internship!

My rocks!

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


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!

Last Chemo

Last Chemo

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Something to remember and return to. A good day!

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Sunday, October 30, 2016

My New Normal Days 72 & 73. Godfather Marathon!

As I sit here, I am watching the third Godfather movie!  Lol!  I found all three movies for sale for $12 Saturday morning at Walmart and though, I need a veg out weekend!  Lol!  Nothing more relaxing than the Godfather movies!  LOL!!

OK, I know thats a little nuts!  But they are a classic and some of my favorite movies!!  I was introduced to them by my brother Peter talking about them and it made me curious!  I about fell over laughing when I found out that the ring tone for his boss (who I believe was Italian) was the theme song from the movie!  I wonder if she ever knew!  Lol!

Anyway, my weekend has been a quiet one.  Running errands, going to church and relaxing at home.  :)  Couldn't have asked for more this weekend!

My New Normal Days 69, 70 & 71. I Made it Through!

As described in a previous post, I had a rough and exhausted start to the week and so the rest of it was pretty much my thinking, "Put one foot in front of the other!".    Not only was I able to do that but I got more accomplished than I had planned!  Lol!  Don't me ask me how other than my Guardian Angel was watching over me!

One of the other things I had to do was fill out some paperwork that asked a lot of medical questions, including a list of every day activities and wether I could do them or not.  Like cook or dress myself or sit up.  Things that believe it or not I had to mark as "No" three years ago.  And as I looked at the list one evening after work I had to shake my head to keep my eyes open.  There was a section allowing me to expand on some of my answers and I thought in my head, "I am so exhausted after my day that I struggle to keep my eyes focused.  But I can honestly say that no matter how tired I am at the end of the day, I got through the day!".

I left work on Friday so tired I felt sick.  But after a rest I was able to get up and feel ok again.  I made it through!  I don't see another week to be as rough as this one any time soon.  But if it comes to it, I know I can do it.  I know I can make it through.

My New Normal Days 67 & 68. Do Not Close Your Eyes At The Red Light!

I can't believe I am using this phrase but...when I was younger...Ouch!!  Yes, I am now looking back on days.  Don't let this baby face fool you, I am not a young kid anymore.  I am not old either.  I am in that in between spot made worse by menopause and the after affects of treatment.  But I digress.  As I was saying, when I was younger I could drive all night, stay awake and spend the next day going strong at work.  And then stay up ridiculously late that night and still go strong the next day.  I can't do that anymore!  Lol!

I spent a lovely but quick weekend in Michigan with my folks and due to plane delays, I didn't get back into Orlando until almost midnight.  then I had to get an Uber, which proved more difficult than I had thought, and get my car from my office.  I seriously considered just curling up on the white couch upstairs in the office since I had to be back there at 7 in the morning.  But I got in my car and drove home and arrived around 1 am.  At which point my body fell exhausted into bed and my mind refused to turn off!  I couldn't fall asleep for easily an hour!

Needless to say the next day was ROUGH!  Lol!  I ended up with a full day which wasn't the plan.  But just before I left the Friday I tucked in an early appointment for Monday!  The good thing was, once I started to work with a client I woke up.  I still have an adrenaline rush when I work with a client and I am focused and awake and sharp.  Then I sit down again in my car and oh boy!!  This is when I confirmed a lovely new reaction.  Caffeine puts me to sleep!!!  So as I drove from client to client I went between freezing cold AC and blaring music to calling friends and family asking them to talk!  I distinctly remember at two red lights that are notoriously long thinking "I can close my eyes for just a moment!  Rest them some!"  Lol!  I did not though and I made it back to the office.  And there I had coworkers around and I perked up some more.  I will admit though, the first thing I did when I got home was to lay down and not move for a while!

So, when I think I am 24 again and have all the energy in the world, I have to remind myself that in fact, I am almost 37 and dealing with all these changes that drain me completely and I have to tell myself, take it easy!  Lol!  And whatever you do, don't close your eyes at the red light!!

My new Normal 64, 65 & 66. Fall Colors!!!

This weekend I went up to visit my parents for the weekend and attend a Tea with my mom!  It has become a tradition with us and we didn't want a little thing like me being on the other side of the country to stop it!  Lol!

It felt good to be in cool weather without a hint of humidity and to see all the brilliant colors of the trees!!  from yellow to oranges to reds to purples!  There was a symphony of color mixed in with the green that was still dotting the trees and fields!

I got a chance to visit with my grandma and just walk around the farm with my mom and dad and take silly pictures like the ones I have added below!  It felt so good to be back there for a couple days and just relax and rest and refocus!  I got a chance to have a taste of my favorite season and it sent me back to work feeling happier :).

Pictures described below:

Yellow fall colors on the trees lining the dirt road in front of my parent's house.

Mom and I dressed up and standing on the front walk before going to the Tea.

Me sitting on the John Deer tractor in the front yard in front of the small barn.

A selfie of dad and I in the front yard.

A selfie in the barnyard with an all white ram who is poking his nose at my glasses and face because I had stopped scratching him and he wanted me to continue!  Lol!

My New Normal Day 62 & 63. Something New :)

I have done something small for myself that I have not done ever.  I bought a brand new piece of luggage that I actually like for some trips I am taking this winter.  Just short ones so it was only a carry on.  Every piece of luggage I have ever gotten myself has been from Goodwill or Big Lots or Walmart.  Granted, I got this one online but it is a nice piece and I feel good when I look at it!

It might seem silly but for so long in my life I have been pinching pennies and robbing Peter to pay Paul.  And it isn't like I have a ton of money now.  But for the first time, I was able to buy myself a piece of luggage that isn't from Goodwill and it won't fall apart within the year!  Lol!  I'm not rich!  Far from it!  But I am able to do little things for myself now and then!  And that feels good!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

My New Normal Day 61. Finding the Balance With Food

My whole life I have struggled with weight.  But before, if I put my mind to it, I could loose weight.  Slowly but steadily.  The past few years I have been struggling to loose even a single pound and keep it off!!!  I lost plenty of weight during chemo but I ca;;ed it fake weight loss.  I could barely eat and would loose 9 pounds in just a few days!  Not healthy and it always came back on as soon as I could keep down solid foods.  And forget eating healthy during treatment!  Very few things sounded good so whatever I could keep down I ate!  And it seemed to change with each chemo!  For a few weeks the only thing I could stomach were crescent roles with plane cream cheese on them!

Now, my eating habits have much improved and my exorcise has gone up and I have managed to tone some of my muscles but I haven't lost a single pound!!!  I've had long talks with my doctors and they have run tests but it always seems to come down to the same thing...it is very hard to loose weight during menopause!  And I truly believe that is a drastic understatement!

So, lately I have been trying to be more careful of what I eat.  And I can do well for a while and then I fall and have the dreaded carbohydrates of pizza and chips!  My stress food apparently!  And while the stress I have been feeling is more caused by being tired..in a good way...it is still triggering that desire for everything that is bad for me!  But I am determined and this morning I made a fruit smoothie for my lunch.  And by the time lunch came I was starving!  It was good in the moment but I freely admit, two hours later I felt like I hadn't eaten all day!!  Why does food that is good for you never seem to satisfy beyond the moment???

I am going to keep trying though and see if I can find the right combination of food and exorcise and defy the stereotype of not loosing weight in menopause!  Or at least I will if I would remember to bring my travel mug home with me so I can fill it with another smoothie!!!

Monday, October 17, 2016

My New Normal Day 60. The Tax Collector!!

There are so many things about Florida that just boggle my mind!  People's calm acceptance of reptiles all over the place.  The drivers that honestly seem to be on a mission to almost cause the most horrendous accidents and then somehow swerve out of catastrophe at the last second...for the most part.  (My language has gone down hill quite a lot since driving these roads!).  People thinking that I am insane for keeping my house at a barely comfortable 73 degrees (they seem to think I am trying to build an igloo indoors!).  And the most recent head scratcher is the name they have for their DMV.  

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, The Tax Collector!!

When my brother told me that was what Florida called the DMV I couldn't stop laughing!  So many images were fighting for top billing in my mind!!!  Biblical images of the money changers and despised and unclean tax collectors from the New Testament!  A poor, muddy village in the dark ages of England with soldiers enforcing the crippling tax of the King and protecting the oily and evil tax collector (who is always quite rotund in just about every movie that involves such a scenario!).  And most recently, I have had the image of a hulking wrestler taking the WWE by storm...hated and dreaded, cloaked in dark mystery, THE TAX COLLECTOR!!    Mwahahaha!!

Not quite what it was actually like this afternoon as I settled in, more than a bit stressed and jumping the gun about not getting a chance to be seen, for a long wait for my number to be called in the large room which had for some reason only browns in it's color palette (broken by periodically spaced pieces of electric blue felt for the background for ID photos).  I went in today and transferred my license and car registration to Florida and registered to vote.   My new Florida license was handed over to me and after I winced at my cringe worthy photo on it, I took a second or two and let it sink in that I am now a Floridian.  The state of rain out of a clear blue sky, lizards that fall on you without warning from trees (no, I will never get use to them!), home of Disney, NASA, beaches and infamous in history for hanging chads!  I wasn't quite sure how I felt about it all and so I tucked my license into my purse and headed out with my oh so snazzy paper plates for my car,

So yes, I am still processing the fact that I am a resident of the home of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofey and the whole gang.  But what will forever put a smile on my face is the ridiculous images in my mind now that I can say that I have paid The Tax Collector!  Lol!!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

My New Normal Day 59. Post It Notes & Apps!

As I sat at my desk tonight thinking of what to write about, I glanced to the right and shook my head in frustration.  I bought my grand niece a little Minnie Mouse doll when I got down here because she is a big fan.  That was back in August and I still haven't remembered to mail it!!  I did get as far as picking up a priority mail box (that I think is just a little too small!) but that was over a month ago!

I am daily amazed at how my memory has become somewhat of a swiss cheese when it comes to some things!  I can remember the oddest things but unless I start to implement my post it note system at home I fear Minnie Mouse shall be decorating my desk for a long time!

I have found that if I physically write something down on a post it note and put it at eye level on my desk, I will remember to do the thing written on the note.  I am also working on the habit of using the Reminder app on my phone as well but so far post it notes get the quickest response still.

My frustration level of these memory problems can sometimes hit some pretty epic heights!  Three years later and I am still fighting the after affects.  I logically know that this is going to be a life long fight for me.  However, the emotional side of my brain is getting angry at itself for having to deal with it.  It doesn't help when people make gentle reminders that three years is a long time and I should have this figured out by now or that since I don't have the chemicals in me anymore than everything should be back to normal.  That makes me want to scream because the emotional side of me wants to agree with them and the logical side is just shaking it's head and saying "Never gonna happen."

I think that is one of the \biggest struggles I have these days.  I have gained back a lot of my stamina and energy.  And the adrenaline from loving my job always gives me a shot in the arm.  But this whole blog this year is me trying to understand and realize that what is normal for me now isn't necessarily what was normal for me before.  If I am having a difficult time figuring that out I am sure it confuses someone who has never experienced this.    That being said, I sometimes wonder if the people around me could understand and just accept how difficult this is and maybe not be overly cheerful and "encouraging" me to just keep pushing forward, maybe it would be easier?

I guess what I am saying is, this is hard enough for me to accept and learn to live with as it is and I think it would be easier if I wasn't constantly questioning myself because of comments made to me by people who think I'm just not trying hard enough, or think I am trying to garner sympathy or live in the past or who believe because there are no more symptoms than that must mean that all side effects are gone too.  All of these reactions coming at me make me constantly questions myself.  Which then makes dealing with these after affects that WON'T go away even harder.

But, I am trying!  And part of that means papering my desks with post it notes and setting reminders on my phone.  And when I am presented with a well meaning but very unhelpful and hurtful comment, I need to try to take a breath and not let the stress and anger and frustration flair up.  It does that on it's own whenever I forget something!  I need to remember all the people around me who do understand and don't push me but rather encourage me and help me find my way.  Like one of my brothers telling me tonight that he has noticed just how much stronger I am and how much more I am doing now in a very encouraging and loving way!  He didn't say, "See!  It's all over!"  But rather "Look at how far you have come!"

Saturday, October 15, 2016

My New Normal Day 58. Three Years Into the Rest of My Life.

This morning I woke up and looked at my phone and saw the date.  October 15.  My mind started to fill with memories and thoughts.  Three years ago today was my last chemo treatment.  Three years. It seems to be both a long time and hardly any time at all!  I don't remember every moment of that day, thanks to some of the swiss cheese left in my memory.  But I do remember a few things.

I remember I was concerned because my throat had been sore and they weren't sure until the last minute that they would allow me to start the treatment that day.

I remember just as the Benadryl was going into the IV my oldest brother and his wife walked in to the infusion room as a surprise.  They had come to be with me on that last day and hang out!  I was so excited and so worried too because the IV Benadryl made me more than a little loopy!  I would start talking uncontrollably but it sounded like I was a And the things that came to my mind were always odd thoughts!  Then I would pass out for about an hour and when I woke up I was just sleepy, not drunk anymore!  It was a great source of hilarity for my mom and nurses but for some reason I remember feeling so worried I might scare my brother and sister-in-law with my drugged ramblings!  I didn't of course but I think I was seriously over compensating trying to act normal!

I remember my mom standing next to me at one point, holding my hand and then putting her head down by mine on my pillow for a selfie!  Lol!  I remember my nurses coming in and out of my little cubby I claimed for each of my treatments.  I remember feeling happy and scared and trying not to think about how sick I was going to feel for the next week.

Each time this date has come up I have found myself to some degree or another feeling anxious and scared and I usually spent a good deal of time crying.  All I could do was relive the feelings of fear and being sick.  I could actually feel it all like it was that same day over and over again.

Today however was different.  As I looked at the pictures and posts I had put up that day three years ago (thank you Timehop) I felt myself starting to feel a new feeling.  One of gentle shock and disbelief.  As the day went by today and I spent a few hours hanging out with my little brother (who was an amazing support to me through all of it), I found myself almost marveling at how different everything is.  As I drove back to my home this evening I was talking to a friend and it struck me very hard just how much has happened.

Three years ago I was a rambling idiot, pickling her brain hoping it killed all the active cancer cells hiding in all the dark corners.  I was anticipating a week of feeling sick and so exhausted I couldn't life my head sometimes.  Now, I'm on the other end of the country from that infusion room.  I have a Masters and am certified in my field.  I am someone people turn to for help and information.  I am so busy running from one thing to the other with work that I only thought about what day was coming up only a couple times before I had to push it aside and focus on work.

I was amazed that I was able to push the thought of today aside so easily!  I didn't think I would be able to ever.  I'm not forgetting what happened to me at all.  I don't think I ever could or would really want to forget.  For me, remembering everything I went through keeps me pushing forward.  It keeps me wanting to enjoy life and find as many reasons as I can to smile!  But being able to set it aside and not let it consume my life every minute of the day feels like a huge relief!  I went through the week focused on my work.  The work I am able to do because I went through everything I went through!

I can't let myself forget what happened or I might start to forget to do things like take that ridiculous trip to Europe and go to see friends or the ocean or NASA.  I would forget that I have a pretty good reason to enjoy my life and find new experiences and do those things that might scare me.  But I want to be able to enjoy all of these new things without feeling that fear all the time.  And today, I was able to put that fear aside while still remember what day it was.  I'll never forget this day.  Every year it will come around and remind me just how much more life I have left to live!

Picture:  Two pictures side by side.  The left is of me on this day in 2013 in the infusion room smiling with my bald head covered in a pink bandana with yellow and green swirls on it.  On the right is a photo of me today with a small smile and my hair spilling down around my shoulders.

My New Normal Days 53 thru 57. Crazy Week Capped Off With a Spa Visit!

I realize I am cramming five days into one post but I also just realized that the last week just flew by in a haze of work and events and sleep!  Everything that had to be rescheduled due to the hurricane started making the week become a full and non stop time!  Add into that a couple days of meetings and it makes it all just a blur!  Thank goodness for Thursday afternoon!!

As the ending event to my teams two day retreat of meetings and White Cane Day events, we all had an afternoon at the spa!  Relaxing in massage chairs while getting a wonderful pedicure...even though I can't get through the pumps stone part without laughing so hard I can't breathe!  Drat my overly ticklish feet!!  Apparently a co worker recorded me laughing so hard I started crying and it was enjoyed by one and all!  Lol!!

Without that afternoon of relaxing and recovering from a crazy week, I am not sure I would have made it through the next day and the non stop, 12 plus hours!!  But the week is over and it was, all in all, a really great week!  At least the parts I clearly remember!  Lol!

Picture:  Myself and four other members of the adult services team relaxing in the wonderful massage chairs and getting pedicures during our spa afternoon!

Monday, October 10, 2016

My New Normal Days 51 & 52 Processing Anxiety

When I was going through the insanity of three years ago, I felt such amazing amounts of anxiety!  Everyone told me that is normal but for someone who's mind and body couldn't properly recognize or communicate anxiety for 30 some years previously, this was something I wasn't quite sure how to handle.  I think my parents would agree with me when I say I don't think I handled it all back then!  I just let it wash over me and held on to my parents for dear life!

But now, I don't have the immediate, looming specter of the daily struggle to keep my head up.  Now I am happy!  I have a job I love and am making progress in my field and meeting wonderful and amazing people through my clients and other opportunities.  But I have to say, I still feel anxiety to a large degree.  Primarily when things are changing in my life or when the unexpected in any negative, or perceived negative way comes into my life.  I didn't use to be that way!  The first time I actually felt that overwhelming anxiety I turned to my mom from my hospital bed and described it and asked her if it was something more on top of the confusion and fear of why I was hemorrhaging.  She very patiently explained that I was feeling anxiety and it was perfectly natural given the circumstances.  I also discovered that one pill to calm me down in that particular moment made me an entertainment act to my mom and friend Jennifer!  I guess I was absolutely dumbfounded that I could move my feet in a counter clockwise motion from the ankle!  Thats the only thing I remember but I guess there was plenty more!

It isn't that I have never felt annuity before.  It's just I never knew what it was and my mind simply wouldn't acknowledge what my body was trying to tell me.  Now, my mind is listening and I wish it wouldn't!  It feels like my mind is grabbing the anxiety my body feels with both hands and running in circles like a Looney Toons character yelling "Stress!  Anxiety!  Stress! Anxiety!  Stress!  Anxiety!"  (For some reason in my head, it's Daffy Duck doing this!).

I'm starting to learn how to deal with this and it isn't easy!  I am learning more about how I have changed because of it.  I jokingly told my dad today that the four day weekend the hurricane gave me drove me crazy and that I was happy to be back at work again because I missed my structure!  Then I thought about that joke and realized to a certain extent, it is true.  It's not that my life before didn't have structure but it certainly wasn't put together!  I flew from one thing to another, one place to another, one event to another and didn't see a big deal about it.  If my life was going to change my response was, "Let's hit the road.  No use sitting around waiting now that I know I need to make a change."  If life threw me a curve ball, I would wildly swing and maybe connect 50% of the time and run the bases anyway.  Some good things happened because I wasn't afraid of change or taking chances.  Some not so good things happened too but they didn't come close to the good that happened.

Now when life throws me a curve, I stand there wondering if this is the right time to swing or not.  And the anxiety comes rushing in.  I'm afraid of loosing control again I think.  And then I get mad at myself for not swinging and eventually I take a deep breath and I swing.  I keep my eyes open and fly my bat at the ball as hard as I can.  But now there is a fear and anxiety there that makes it hard to enjoy the moment.

I am learning to walk away from the little things that cause my anxiety.  Like turning off the TV after 45 minutes of hearing that Florida was about to wiped off the map!  It was literally making my stomach church.  Every time I see a new client I feel the butterflies in my stomach and somehow they start turning to lead weights.  So I remind myself why I am going to see this person.  That I can give them the tools they need to be confident and keep moving forward.  The butterflies start to come back but I associate those more with excitement:)  I find ways to combat the anxiety when ever I can and it seems to be working for the most part.  Taking the thing that is causing the anxiety one small piece at a time and realizing that I have to attack it piece by piece and before I know it, the anxiety has eased away.  It's not a 100% fix for sure.  But it is a way I am able to enjoy the changes in my life:).

Florida didn't get wiped off the map!  My clients are happy to see me and I'm happy to see them!  Even teaching orientation to college campuses is starting to be less terrifying!  Lol!  Because I am not letting my anxiety beat me.  Yes, I can get really scared.  But I can also see through the fear and anxiety and see the good.

Just give me some time to process when the anxiety hits!  It takes a minute or two to rein in Daffy!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

My New Normal Days 49 & 50. Hello Matthew.

I have found there are a lot of things to become use to since moving to Florida and right now I am experiencing something that never really came into my life before.  Hurricanes!  Hurricane Matthew has come a knocking and it seems like everything is revolving around updates from the news channels and warnings.  I will admit that I am more than a little nervous even though I am not in an evacuation zone.

The rain is starting to hit here and I can actually watch it all approach on the TV.  Possibly that is adding to my anxiety but at the same time, I want to know what is happening.  The worst isn't supposed to hit my area until about 3 in the morning.  So for now I am charging my devices and napping and really just watching news and chilling out.  With all the business involved in getting ready for the storm, now it's just time to sit and wait.  I don't like sitting and waiting!  Lol!

I am watching images from the ocean where the storm is starting to hit and I have to say, there is a frightening beauty to the images of the water building up.  The damage that can be caused by the water and wind is what makes it frightening, but if there was no one to be impacted by this storm, it would be an almost beautiful thing to watch,  The absolute strength of nature is awe inspiring!

But here I sit, only able to marvel for a moment at a time because outside my home is rain falling that will get heavier and faster,  Those moments of awe are quickly interrupted by worry for everyone affected by the storm.  I know my power will be going out and the damage in my area is going to be big...and I'm about an hour and a half to two hours off the coast!  The damage on the coast will be even more!  But still, a respect for the strength of nature is growing in me and the realization that even though it's frightening and dangerous, it's also frightening and dangerously beautiful!  The contradictions are amazing!

My prayers to all my neighbors here in Florida and asking for prayers from everyone that the damage isn't as bad as they are predicting!

My New Normal Days 47 & 48. SURPRISE!

I have said this many times and I honestly can't say it enough...I really have awesome brothers!  Not long ago I got a call from my brother Andy asking if I wanted to go out to an early lunch and he could be in Orlando before noon.  I said sure, really happy to get a visit in with my brother!  When he said he was looking for my building I went outside looking for his big 'ole truck.  A man pulled up on a motorcycle and started honking at me!

It took me a moment to realize it was my younger brother on a Hog!!  Lol!  One of my neighbors was watching me try to figure out who was honking at me and started calling out to me that I didn't have to go up to this strange man if I didn't want to and she even hung around watching as I recognized Andy and went running over and gave him a big hug with shock and excitement!!!  He was here to give me my very first motorcycle ride!!!!!!

With helmet in hand (after running to Walmart to buy a pair of tennis shoes) and my heart beating like crazy I approached this beautiful machine!!!  I was nervous for sure but determined to enjoy this experience!  Andy drove around my complex so I could get use to how to lean and hold my balance and it felt completely natural!

Then we jumped out on the road and headed out to find a place to eat!  I couldn't stop laughing!!!  The whole ride I was giving shouts and laughing working to catch my breath with the excitement!!! It felt so natural and thrilling to be on the bike!!!!!!  Send out big thanks and big hugs to Andy and can't wait to go on another ride!!!!!

Picture:  Selfie of Andy and I sitting on the bike with our helmets on!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

My New Normal Days 45 and 46 Pillows

One of the best inventions ever made was the pillow!  For the past two days I have been curled up in bed fighting some kind of sinus bug and am so very grateful for my pillows!  I have four of them.  Two are amazing, lavender scented memory foam, breathable pillows and two are fluffy pillows from the Furniture Store.  I realized this evening that different combinations of these pillows all around my head, shoulders, arms and back have kept me sleeping comfortably off and on for the past 48 hours.

My pillows are currently arranged to basically make a little, enfolding nook that I can crawl into and and immediately sink down and close my eyes.  When I stood up to go take a shower I turned on a light and had to laugh as it looked like a nest of pillows and sheets perfectly formed to fit me!  I am not a very good patient.  When I feel sick it feels like nothing in the world will ever go right.  And I really hate being sick alone.  But this little haven of pillows is helping me forget that train of thought and helping me rest and hopefully be back up on my feet again in the morning for another busy week of work...or at least a toned down version of it!