Thursday, January 19, 2017

Surgery Preparations

So two days ago I underwent a total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. This is a fancy way of saying they've removed my uterus, cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.
(I'm writing this before surgery and setting it to post later, just in case you were reading for an update!)

I've been delaying this surgery for a few years, but it was time to do it now for several reasons. I'm hoping my iron levels start to go up. This should help prevent a cancer recurrence. And stop all the issues I've been having with ovarian cysts.

And still, I'm not quite thrilled about having another surgery and going under the knife again. But I'm smart and trust my doctors and recognize that it's time. And if there's anything I know about, it's getting ready for surgery.

So I thought, I'd share with you what I did to prepare for this upcoming surgery. Most of which I've done before my other surgeries.

Around the house:
  • I cleaned what I could and tried to get as much laundry done as possible.
  • Since I usually drive the kids to their things, I left a list of regularly scheduled things for the husband to drive.
  • They have a few things coming up that are one-time events. I have already lined up rides for the kids with other (very helpful and kind) parents.
  • We have temporarily set up the room on the first floor for me so I won't have to do stairs for a few days. 
  • Left the husband with a list of important passwords, not that I think he'll need them, but just in case. 
  • I took care of things on my to do list that I've been procrastinating on (it's amazing what surgery prompts you to do!)
In the bedroom:
  • Fresh sheets on the bed because that's just nice any time! 
  • I've pulled out some clothes from the dresser drawers/closet. 
  • The clothes are now folded and sitting on the top of the dresser so I have easy access to them (sometimes after surgeries, it's hard to pull those drawers open - this was an issue after my mastectomy and with some of my reconstruction so I just do it now with every surgery and it just makes things easier).
  • I bought a paper holder and did not put paper in it, but it perfectly holds the tablet, the kindle, and my cell phone.
  • I got a holder for my phone cord so it won't fall to the floor on me.
  • I have a special wrap light so that if I need light in the middle of the night, it's right there for me.
Random things:
  • Clipped my nails so I won't have to worry about it later
  • Bought some pajamas that are wicking fabric in case the hot flashes kick in really badly
  • Bought some button down shirts - I used these after my mastectomy and it was so nice. Someone suggested that I might want to do that for the first few days after this surgery as well. I had already gotten rid of my other button downs (as I don't normally wear them)

Things I didn't do this time that I normally do:
  • Make some dinners in advance
  • Line up dinners from friends
  • Line up some activities for the kids 
  • Get a haircut so I wouldn't have to deal with my long hair - which I will now. Bummer.

For relaxing and passing time as my body heals:
  • I splurged and purchased kindle unlimited and got my 10 book limit.
  • I used my library's on-line site and downloaded my 5 book limit.
  • I was gifted the Texture app and it's all ready to go.
  • (Side note: the texture app gives you access to a lot of magazines and you can read whichever ones you want, whichever articles you want for a monthly fee. It's pretty amazing and I am already in love with it and have read so many interesting things. It's great for those moments you have 10  minutes to read, or when you aren't feeling well and you don't want to have to remember details from a book!)
  • I stacked a few actual books in case my eyes are bothering me and I can't look at screens.
  • I stacked a few videos in case I want to watch something. 
  • Have some games ready to play on the tablet along with netflix, amazon prime, and on demand app. 
  • And of course, I have some knitting ready to go

This surgery is a bit different than the others because my husband will be able to work from home for a while - which will make things so very much easier. And while this means that he will be working, without a commute time, he'll have more freedom to do things like cook, help with cleaning, and being the taxi for our children.

I know I have a lot of things listed to help pass the time, but I am definitely using this time to just let my body heal. I have been feeling so unhealthy lately. So not only will this be forced time to heal from surgery, but to just heal my body in general. Especially with my husband getting to work from home, I'm trying to frame it in my mind that this is really just a vacation for me and a time to relax. Not that I'll do nothing, but I'll take it as easy as I can.

Anyway, I think I prepared well before surgery. In fact, I'm positive I over prepared by a lot! I suppose I'd rather be over-prepared and not under-prepared!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Night Away

So the other day, I did one of the nicest things I've ever done for myself: a booked a hotel room. With a jacuzzi tub. And a fireplace.

It was local - I didn't travel far.
I got a good deal because I booked it last minute.

And I'm telling you, I'm pretty sure I need to do this at least once a year with only one change: two nights instead of one!

On the way to the hotel, I stopped at the store and bought dinner and snacks - I knew once I was in the room, I wouldn't want to leave, so I came in with more than I needed.

I brought knitting, chocolate, scented stuff (but not too scented) for the tub, my tablet, and a book to read.

Can I just tell you how wonderful it was? Because it was.

It was over the top, it was a huge splurge, and I loved every single moment of it.

I took the loveliest bath I've had in a really long time.
I started and finished an entire book (The Great Christmas Knit Off - a light read that was just perfect for the occasion!)
I ate too much chocolate.
I streamed a tv show I enjoy.
I had a few glasses of Sparkling Grape Juice.
I sat in front of the fireplace.
I slept in really late.

I had a bit of time by myself. And then my husband came and joined me. It was the perfect mix of alone time and together time.

It was definitely an over-the-top extravagance and I loved every single moment of it. I don't regret doing it at all.

It's hard to leave sometimes when you're the mom. But, we all know the whole if you're cup is empty how can you help others line of thinking.

I'm not sure if one night away refilled my cup per se, but it was enough to get me through for a while.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Oh 2016

A poem I wrote in April
It's the start of the new year.
A time to reflect on what's coming and what has passed.

I won't lie.
2016 was not the greatest year of my life. In fact, it is probably in the top 3 of worst years ever.

It wasn't all bad. The year started well. Winter and spring were good.
There was time with my family. There was CancerCon. There were good days for sure.

But spring turned into summer. And everything seemed to fall apart.

I think my 5 year anniversary of diagnosis might have set it off. Or maybe just life in general. Or maybe a medicine I take. Or maybe nothing. Maybe it was meant to be.

But quickly, before I could realize what was going on, things seemed to spiral down, down, down, and when I thought it couldn't go any lower, it did.

I knew I was in a bad place. I tried to fight it - I did. But I reached the point where I didn't want to get out of bed in the morning. I thought how much easier it would be to just lay in bed and not get up. That was all. I just wanted to stay in bed. I didn't want to parent. I didn't want to cook. I didn't want to clean. I didn't want to read. I didn't want to knit. I didn't want to watch tv or stream anything. I didn't want to shower. I didn't want to do anything, but stay in bed.

Thankfully, each morning I was able to talk myself into getting up and doing the absolute minimum of things I needed to do.

I was also at this time having issues with medicine that caused a lot of pain. I was getting migraines. My iron dropped again.

So I would get up, do what needed to be done, and then nap.

I was truly exhausted. I was truly in pain. I was truly burned out.

I also realized that I was truly depressed.

Pain, depression, disease, anxiety - there's a circle there can feed on itself once it's started that can be very hard to stop.

There was also grief and guilt and feelings of inadequacy. I felt this surge of anger.  I was mad. At everyone. At everything.

But mostly myself and mostly cancer. Everything cancer took from me, every side effect cancer gave me, everything I couldn't do, every time my body hurt, every time I had to say no I can't do that. There was anger. And anger. And even more anger.

That's when I knew this couldn't be fixed by me alone or fixed with sheer will.
So I went to a therapist.
And I went to a doctor.
And I talked.
And I started medicine.
And I was diagnosed with PTSD that includes depression and anxiety. 

Is it all helping?
Yes. It is.
There's a lot to unpack.
It doesn't get fixed overnight.

And there's still the medical side of things: pain, low iron, fatigue, stomach issues, migraines.

Basically, I mostly feel like I'm a hot mess.

I haven't talked about it much. I haven't talked about it with many people.
Honestly, I feel like a failure. I feel like I don't have a right to have PTSD. I feel afraid that if I share, people will treat me differently. I worry people will think I can't be a good mother through this. I feel ashamed.

Of course, now it's a new year! And it's time for a new beginning!
Or not.
This doesn't end because the calendar changed.
I don't suddenly cast out all my demons because it's a new day.

I'll keep doing what I'm doing though.
Except, I won't hide it as much.
I'll try to wash the shame away.
I'll try to remember that life is hard and beautiful and complicated and wonderful and awful and bittersweet and full of moments that take your breath away from awe and sometimes from pain.
I'll try to remember compassion - for myself and for others.
I'll try to remember love - for myself and for others.
And I'll try to remember patience - for myself and others.

I'm not sure what 2017 will hold in store for me.
I'm not sure where I'll be standing 12 months from now. 
I feel pretty confident though that I'll be doing my best to do whatever it is I'm doing then.
That I'll still be working through this huge bag of emotions. That I'll be trying my best to be as healthy as I can. And that where I am in life is where I am, and that I'll still be learning to not focus on where I think I should be.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Browned Butter Cookie


So, thanks to Houseful of Nicholes, I'm popping in real quick to actually blog.

I know, I know. Please don't pass out from shock.

Anyway, I'm back again this year to play along with #HousefulOfCookies once again this year.

My teen baking!
Now, last year, I made my lovely star Christmas tree. I was so proud of that tree and it's something I love to make. Last year, I entered the Christmas season with energy and vigor and excitement.

This year, has been a bit different. This year I've been feeling not well. There's a lot going on - which is also why I haven't been blogging. I usually bake dozens and dozens of cookies each holiday season. This year I've hardly baked at all. It's hard to balance energy levels, health issues, and trying to do-do-do. I just can't do it all. Or even half.

Melted Butter
Mmm ... melted butter
So in an effort to scale back a bit, this year, we went with a simple cookie. Simple because I wanted to contribute to #HousefulOfCookies and because I needed to at least make some cookies this year. It's simple, but so good. And it's got lots of butter. And I love butter.

My 14 year old was my helper. And by helper I mean she basically did almost all the work and I snapped pictures. I told my husband the student has surpassed the teacher. So we are both feeling proud - I like an excellent teacher, and her as an excellent baker.

We (she) produced some excellent cookies. We made some with the fork, and she played with the cookie stamps for quite a few. Experimentation is good and she's never used them before. I might add, she did pretty darn good with them too, but can still work on technique a bit. Still, I didn't even know cookie stamps existed when I was 14!

It was a nice night and the longest part was waiting for the butter to cool down!

Browned Butter Cookies

What you need:
1 cup butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups and a pinch more of flour
Decorating sugar (optional)
Cookie Stamps (optional)

What to do:
1. Preheat your oven to 350F

2. Melt your butter over medium-high heat. Watch it closely. Allow it to melt and then after a few moments, the butter will start to foam and turn a lovely yellow color.

3. Remove pan from heat and refrigerate for 30ish minutes.

4. In a bowl, mix together the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

5. Slowly add in the flower into the mixture and mix until it is well blended.

6. Rub some flour on your hands and roll the dough into 1-inch balls (a small cookie scoop is perfect for this).

7. Roll the balls into decorating sugar (this is optional. I like it both ways - without sugar, it makes for a great cookie to dip in tea or coffee!)

8. Place on cookie sheet and use a fork to flatten them. (Like how you do for peanut butter cookies?)

*OPTIONAL STEP 8. Do not do step 7. Place balls on cookie sheet and use a cookie stamp to flatten them. Add decorating sugar if so desired.

9. Bake 11-14 minutes, or until golden brown (note: they will bake a bit faster without the decorating sugar)

10. Let cool. Eat. Enjoy.

Yield 3-4 dozen

Want more cookie recipes? Look no further than here:
12/1 –Natasha Nicholes – Jan Hagel Dutch Shortbread Cookies 
12/2 – Maple Mellows – Rosie Discovers
12/3 – Partridge in A Pear Tree Pie Cookies – All Dressed Up With Nothing to Drink
12/4 – Chewy Chocolate Cookies with Coffee Glaze – Mama Harris’ Kitchen 
12/5 – Snickerdoodle & Peanut Butter Cake Cookies – Crafty Life
12/6 – German Chocolate Shortbread Cookies – Chewsy Lovers
12/7 – Fruitcake Cookies – So Rae, Me
12/8 – Cake Mix Christmas Cookies – A Real Urban Mom 
12/9 – Snow On the Mountain Cookies – Kitchen Stories Etc.
12/10 – Melt In Your Mouth Nutella Butter Cookies P Thirty 1 
12/11 – The Queso
12/12 – Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies – Hysterical Mom 
12/13 – Chewy Gingerbread Cookies – FoodPlus
12/14- Glazed Lemon Butter Cookies – Mixed Blessings Blog
12/15 – Banana Pina Colada Freestyle Cookies – Socamom  & Gingerbread Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies – Just A Splash of Diva
12/16 –Chocolate Truffles – Houseful Of Nicholes
12/17 – Snowball Cookies – Mixed Prints Life
12/18  Mommy & Me Blessed Macarons – Blessed be the Tie 
12/19 – Eggnog Cookies – Fab Haute Mama

Monday, June 13, 2016

On getting my heart broken

Lately, my heart has been broken.
And broken again.
And broken once more.

And I've spent so much time wondering why.
Why do bad things happen?
Why are we so quick to grab our pitchforks?
Why do we not show more compassion?
Why does our anger and hatred run so deep?
Why do I care?
Why do some others seem to not care?

No, this isn't related to anything in my house.
No, this isn't related to cancer.

But current events lately?

They are slowly breaking me.
What fresh hell will we wake up to tomorrow?

It seems to me that even though witch hunts fell out of favor, that even though burning woman at the stake is frowned upon, we as a society have figured out a way to figuratively burn women at the stake.

Make a mistake? Uproar.
Act human? How dare you.
You are not a perfect mother? Then why the hell did you even have children?
And if your child leaves your eye sight for one second? Well, suddenly everyone else has NEVER lost a child and has never felt that panic and take your child away because SHAME ON YOU.
Get raped? Well, why didn't you prevent it better?

On the other hand ...
Oh you raped a woman ...
Well, do you look "nice"?
Are you an athlete?
Do you come from a "good" family?
Oh, well, here's your slap on the wrist and now we will all mourn for the things you have lost. Because maybe now you can't even eat steak anymore, and oh dear, what ever shall we do to make you feel better now?

And then we throw in the oh, you don't like who that person kissed?
Great. Here's a gun that fires more rounds than anyone should ever have a need for.
When the anger gets to be too much? Go and shoot up a bunch of people.
Because they are something that you don't agree with.

The country will mourn.
We'll pray.
We'll send good thoughts.

But nothing will change.

In a few weeks, another woman will make a mistake and be raked across the coals.
Another woman will get raped and people will blame her clothes, what she drank, where she was, and her sexual history. (Or worse, no one will listen and nothing will be done.)
Another man will get a slap on the wrist for raping her. (Or worse, he'll have nothing done because she won't report it, or she won't be believed, or the police won't press charges, or the DNA kit will be placed on an ever growing pile that isn't being tested).
Someone else will take a gun to a bar, a movie theater, a shopping mall, a street, a school, a beach, a concert, a sporting event, somewhere, anywhere.

There is so much hate in this world.
There is so much us vs. them.
There is so little compassion.
There is so much anger.
There is so much division.
There is so little understanding.

And it just feels like we, as a society, will ever do anything to stop it. 
Sure, we throw out platitudes. As if that's ever made a difference.


I don't know where to go from here.
I don't know what to do.

I want to be a voice that speaks out.
I want to be a voice that is compassionate.
I want to be a voice that is understanding.
I want to be a voice that is caring.

I want to stop the hate.
I want to stop the anger.
I want to stop the violence.
I want to stop the hurt.
I want to stop the pain.

It's all rolling around in my head. All these thoughts, all these feelings.
I can't imagine how people who are in the thick of things are feeling about this.

It's so hard to wrap my head around. I just don't understand it.