Thursday, January 24, 2013


It's been pretty frigid in Chicagoland lately (I know a lot of other places are dealing with the cold too).

When it gets this cold, I tend to want to hibernate. So I've been reading a lot (I think maybe more on that tomorrow). And I've been working on a puzzle.

I went out Sunday with my mom. I refrained from buying the 4000. I REALLY really wanted to get it. But, we don't really have a place where I could work on it, because um, it wasn't exactly small LOL! Then I saw a puzzle that was a picture of yarn, and just knew it had to be mine.

Each day this week, I've spent some time working on. Usually I have the radio blasting and I'm singing along. Sometimes one or two of the kids will come over and help for a little bit. But it's usually just me, working along.

I love jigsaw puzzles. There is order in them. Each piece has it's place, it's spot. It can't go anywhere else in the puzzle. There is a "right" answer. And when I open up a puzzle box, I know all the pieces are there, just waiting to be put right where they belong.

I'm sure we could analyze that to death. I'm also sure that this doesn't surprise to many people. (though admittedly I am a messy person, but my brain craves order and I tend to be a very black and white thinker).

Anyway, today I finished my puzzle.

I love this puzzle. Though, I do wish I actually had all that yarn.

Of course, now I'm sad that I don't have a puzzle to work on. Maybe I do need to go back and get that 4000 piece puzzle afterall ;-)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New Year

Okay, so we're technically 17 days into the new year, that's still about 1/24th so, it's pretty new still!

I feel like I entered the new year with a lot of hope. I was so sure that this year had to be better than the last few. {That is not to say that the last two years haven't been completely awful - there have been a whole lot of awesome things in them}. But I'd be lying if I said the last two years have been tough on me - physically and mentally.

Last year, when 2012 started, I felt a lot of dread about the new year. I was just recovering from an unplanned surgery, trying to wrap my head around losing my tissue expander, and just feeling pretty beat up. I was happy to see 2011 end, but I was not at all happy with 2012 starting. It felt like we were down in a rut, and nothing, not even the changing of the calendar, could change that.

This year though, this year, I was ready. Things had to get better. The worst was going to be behind us and 2013 was going to just be nothing but awesome after awesome.

And then I landed in the hospital for 6 days. 6 freaking days. I believe it's my longest hospital stay to date - and the longest I've been away from my family {even though they came to visit, I still consider it as being away}.

I'm still completely exhausted, still taking medicines, following up with doctors, constantly checking myself for signs that the infection is coming back {yes, anxiety over this is sky high}. And if I'm being honest, I'm completely pissed that this happened.

I'm left wondering if my body will ever work properly. I'm anxious this will happen again. I feel guilty for all the people who had to step in and help out {not that anyone has complained, in fact people are very helpful and offering to continue to help}. I feel bad for my kids - like they are getting robbed because I can't seem to stay healthy for any length of time. And yes, I have a slight case of the why me's. There is a good dose of anger mixed in there too.

Look, I realize this makes me sound like a moping, sad, depressed mess. I am, but I'm not. 

I still am hoping that this year can only go up from here. I joked with my husband that I was just trying to get all the medical stuff out of the way early, and I hope that holds true - because I am still want a bright rest of the year.

But I can't pretend that everything is okay, that I'm feeling upbeat and excited and just over-flowing with joy. I'm not. This, like so much, is a process. And I'm taking it one day at a time - sometimes a minute at a time.

Last night we ordered Chinese (thanks to a friend who couldn't make us dinner so sent us a gift card) and this was my fortune:


I like it. I hung it up on our yearly calendar so I can look at it all year long. And remember, that there are lots of hardships in life - we all have them - but I'm going to do my best to keep overcoming them. And to embrace the good luck moments, because I'm a silver-lining kind of gal, and I need to just remember that. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Where to begin

It's been a bit crazy around here, but let's start with last Thursday's surgery.

It went better than expected. The ablation worked! I was under for about 3 hours and woke up so relieved that we didn't need to do the hysterectomy. Husband brought me home. He teased a bit because he said I looked better post-surgery than pre-surgery. I chalked that up to all the anxiety I was feeling before!

Thursday night I rested quite a bit. Friday I rested quite a bit and then muscle pain set in. I kept telling my husband I was sure I caught the flu - I mean it is a crazy flu season out there! He kept telling me it was just from surgery and besides, even if I did pick it up at the hospital, symptoms wouldn't start that soon. Saturday was more of the same, but then some areas were getting more painful - mainly my chest, the right side - where I had the expander put in in October.

So then I wondered if when I was intubated on Thursday, if somehow it could have cracked a rib (because that's what I thought it felt like even though I've never actually done that before LOL!).

Sunday things were getting worse and my temperature was slowly rising. I was so nauseous. We had post-surgical instructions to call the doctor if I hit 100.4. Then I realized I had a rash moving across my chest. And about that time, the fever hit high enough to call.

Can you see where this is going? Yep, we were sent to the ER. {And yes, this going to turn into a long rambly story. Sorry.}

The ER was packed. I believe they were on bypass when we first arrived. I was brought back pretty quickly and had some tests run quickly (or at least quickly for the ER) - a chest x-ray and a contrast c/t of my pelvis, abdomen, and chest. I cried a lot (as I tend to do when I don't feel well). Fluids were given, blood was drawn, questions were asked.

I'm not sure when but at some point someone came to talk to us. He said he was from the ICU floor and they were evaluating my case to see if I needed to be there. At that point, I felt panicked. They started talking about staph, MRSA. My head was spinning. They started IV antibiotics right away. And I? Had an allergic reaction to it. So they were stopped for the time being. We knew I was going to get admitted, but the hospital was packed and they had no room for me. At around 1am I sent my husband home. The ER was loud and with no idea when I'd get a room, it was silly for him to stay.

Monday morning at 7am, they moved me (and 5 others waiting for a room) to the Pediatric ER area. (It is not opened full-time). At 10am, they moved us all to another temporary holding area because we still didn't have rooms and the Peds ER was opening for, you know, the kids. Monday night, around 8:30 pm, I was finally moved to a room. Sepsis Cellulitis was the diagnosis. At some point another IV antibiotic was given.

When I got my room, husband came by to check on me and brought the kids. It was good to see them for sure =) At that point, things were still getting worse. They left, and the nurse came in to get me all ready. Turns out I was put on the heart floor, which at my hospital is one step down from ICU. They didn't think the infection was bad enough for ICU (thank goodness) but needed me on a highly monitored floor all the same. They were adding another antibiotic to the mix - they weren't sure what caused the infection so they were trying to cover some broad bases, plus things were still getting worse. Turns out, I'm allergic to that medicine too. It was not fun. Then I slept a lot (because of the benedryl to combat the reaction! That stuff knocks me right out!).

Tuesday later in the day, we started two new antibiotics (that thankfully I was NOT allergic too). Things become a blur at this point, because the news medicine really made me very tired and I spent a lot of time sleeping.

Now, during all this time, I was physically being monitored by 3 doctors: my plastic surgeon (because it was where the expander in October was put in), a hospital doctor (because my primary care does not have privileges at the hospital I was in), and an infectious disease doctor because of how the infection presented and my history. For the first few days, my gynecologist was also monitoring me because I had just had surgery (though we realized pretty quickly that it was unrelated).

At one point, there was a possibility the expander was going to have to be surgically removed. Again. I was swabbed and tested for a lot of things (thankfully Staph and mrsa were negative). For a short amount of time, I'd get better, then get worse again, then better, then worse.

What we can guess: this is probably the same infection I had December 2011 that required emergency surgery to remove the expander. Back then, though, we didn't test it because I had just finished radiation.

What we can guess: I may deal with this again. If it keeps recurring, I may have to have any implant in removed. Permanently. These are all maybes though. I'm trying not to go there.

What we do know: that although it wasn't connected to last week's surgery, the timing was a good thing. We went to the ER right away. The longer we had waited to get treatment, the harder it would have been to treat. So I'm lucky that it happened when it did.

Where do we go from here: I will be on antibiotics now for at least 4 weeks, probably 6 weeks. All fills for my expander are stopped for the time being. We won't even start them up until I am off antibiotics and I look 100% clear with no doubts and the skin looks healthy. During that time I will see the plastic surgeon weekly as he needs to really watch this. I have to follow up with the infectious disease doctor. Right now I have one appointment with them, I was told I'd probably have to have a few more, but they'd determine that when they see me. I have to visit my primary care. I need to also follow up with the oncologist (who was kept in the loop during all of this, but not actually a care-taker for me).

If at any point EVER (doc said two days, two years) the redness OR the pain OR the fever (well, okay not fever alone after I'm out of the clear from this go around) I need to contact a doctor ASAP and be evaluated to see if the infection is coming back. Especially, for the short term.

PHEW. I think that's everything. Except, I'm thrilled to be home. Surrounded by my family. I still have some healing to do and I won't take that lightly. The last thing I want to do is go back to the hospital. I just got used to not having to drag an IV pole into the bathroom with me ;-)

And if you made it this far, bless you!

Wednesday, January 09, 2013


Are you a reader? Are you on Goodreads yet? If you are not, you need to join. Then become my friend, so I can stalk, err, see what you read.
If you are already on Goodreads, then you also need to become my friend so I can stalk, err, see your books as well! ;-)

A long time ago, I used to read a lot. I'm hoping to get back in that habit, so I like seeing what others are reading. It helps motivate me to pick up a book if I see other people like it!

That said, I'm also joining the Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge. I picked 24 books - 2 a month. Last year (2012) I read 11, so it would be more than double!

2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Brandie has
read 0 books toward her goal of 24 books.

Anyway, if you are over there, friend me!


P.S. This is not a sponsored post. I just like goodreads that much ;-)
P.P.S. Another pre-written post for you =)

Monday, January 07, 2013

Happy new year

I can't lie. I think we had one of the best New Year's Eve's that we've had in a while.

We stayed home. We were in pajamas early. We stayed up late. We hung out. We ate yummy food. And we just had a great time!

ice cream cake I made!
It was a great way to ring in the new year. Which is good. I think we all needed the night to be perfect, even if we didn't know it at the time.

I have to share my favorite part of the night with you though. Husband and I were sitting and working on a jigsaw puzzle. I was telling him that 2013 just HAD to be a good year for us, and I didn't know what I would do if I didn't start feeling better. Because I'm just so over not feeling like myself. He looked at me and said that even if it's not a better year, he'll be right by my side. Just like he was right then, no matter what happens. That's the moment my heart melted.

I knew right then, 2013 would be exactly how it's supposed to be, even if it means the year is a bit bumpy. But it would be okay because I am truly blessed to have my awesome family (and friends) around me!

Then, as is my tradition, I took everyone's picture at midnight. I've done this every year since my oldest was a baby (and yes, until they are about 4 or 5ish, their new year picture is of them sleeping!)

Look at those gorgeous kids! I'm so lucky they are mine =)


P.S. Another pre-written post for your viewing pleasure! ;-)

Saturday, January 05, 2013

A few of my favorite things!

I didn't make much for Christmas this year. I just knew I needed to be pressure-free and while I love making things to give to people, it can be stressful to finish everything on time! Plus, with my energy being non-existent, I was worried I just wouldn't have the energy to finish things.

I did manage to make two blankets though, and I LOVED them both. It was hard to give them away, but alas, I managed too!

The first blanket was crocheted. I had worked on it for almost two months. It is my first granny square project and I might just be in love with granny squares now!

The pattern I used can be found here {note: you must be a member to see it, but membership is free}. The pattern is actually for a baby blanket, and this blanket did not go to a baby, so I actually made 4 blankets and put them together to make the blanket big enough! I also changed the edging ever-so-slightly! I just love how this blanket came together. And there will definitely be more granny squares in my future!

I knitted another blanket too. This blanket was for a grab-bag gift exchange and knit up pretty quickly (which was good, since I started it very close to Christmas LOL!)

The yarn was variegated and the pattern came on the yarn package. It was quick to learn and one of those patterns that you don't really need to look at!

Again, I made the blanket larger than the pattern called for, which was good. I don't think I would have been happy with the size if I had just followed the pattern 100%. I'm actually working on a twin sister blanket right now. Not quite sure what I will do with it, but I'm sure I'll figure something out!


P.S. I pre-wrote this before surgery so the blog wouldn't sit empty!

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Here we go again!

Here we go again. For the eighth time, surgery.

I am prewriting this, so right now surgery is tomorrow for me. But when you read it, I will probably be in surgery or coming out of it.

I won't lie. I am anxious as all get out right now. I know it will be okay and I know it will go fine, but I'm nervous. Part of the problem is we aren't 100% sure what is going to happen tomorrow. I know, I know, that sounds weird, but tomorrow's surgery can go one of two ways.

In July, I had a uterine ablation done to stop my periods. I told you then about my "special" uterus and how we weren't sure if the ablation worked or not. Well, it worked. For 3 months. And then, the period came back with a vengeance. Then my iron started to tank - causing me to be quite exhausted. So we tried IV iron, which I'm apparently allergic too. And now we come to this.

Tomorrow the doctor will try to re-ablate. This time, she will most likely be able to tell if it will work or not at the time she does it. If, though, it looks like it isn't going to work, I will be getting a hysterectomy. The thing is, I won't know until I wake up from anesthesia what happened. This makes me very nervous.

So I've been pouring a lot of energy into getting everything ready!  The ablation alone will be out-patient with about a one-week recovery. The hysterectomy will be a minimum 24 hour hospital stay and a 6-8 week recovery. We are erring on the side of the longer recovery because, well, we flt it was the best course of action.

I will say, my house is the cleanest it's been since, well, since my mastectomy last year! When I also had to plan for a long recovery. We aren't doing it alone though ... we have lots of help which is so wonderful.

To really pass the time, I've been making bread. A lot of it (hence the photo above!). I received a dutch oven for Christmas and have decided it makes the best bread ever. Seriously. It is so good. So we've been eating a lot of bread around here. Tonight I made three loaves, so my family could enjoy it even if I'm not feeling well enough to make anymore. Plus, I'll be bothering them to bring me water and the remote and my socks and whatever else I can think of while I'm recuperating! I'll probably be asking them to bring me slices of bread too, cause it's that good. {Side note: I've been following this recipe. It's my fav. I did one of the rise for 12-18 recipes (which tastes equally as good), but like the speediness of this one!} 

On a related note, in that picture you can see my sugar bowl. It was my grandma's sugar bowl. My mom ended up with it. Last year, during chemo I went through a phase where I needed to add extra sugar to most foods to tolerate them, which reminded me of the days I used to sprinkle sugar on my cereal while we were living with my grandparents. I was telling my mom, so she passed the sugar bowl onto me. I love it! It makes me smile when I use it.

Alright, that's it for now.