Friday, December 26, 2008
Let me elaborate just a bit.
Around Thanksgiving, I started getting vertigo and dizzy spells. Freaked me out. I went to several doctors convinced I had a brain tumor. For weeks, I totally psyched myself out that the end of my rope was near. I cried most nights thinking about how I was about to leave my children. (yes, I am a little dramatic). Those dizzy spells took me to a place of quiet and humble thinking. Most things that would bother me didn't matter as much. I just wanted to feel better. I just wanted to feel normal again. The doctors I visited didn't think I had any sort of neurological issue (thus, no brain tumor), but have very little answers as to why I am dizzy. I figured I was making myself too stressed out, so I worked hard on focusing quietly on making my day less stressful. Then my arms started getting numb for no reason. As a control freak, I worried and worried about this combination of symptoms. But because of my focused effort to try to calm myself and keep sanity, I never bought into the craziness of the holiday season. I did a few traditional things with the kids, but nothing to overdo my energy level. I had to rely on God to help make it better and make my mind work more positively.
Another nudge came when I read an article about positive affirmations. Yes, those little Stuart Smally "you're good enough, you're smart enough, and people like you" sort of affirmations. Research always speaks to me and after reading study after study of the positive (excuse the pun) effects of affirmations, I decided to give it a whirl. I wrote out four short statements and put them around my house. As the daily grind wore me down, I repeated those affirmations over and over and over and over. I highly recommend affirmations to those whose thoughts often get them down.
So I'm feeling a little better - the thoughts are coming along - and then, the huge snowstorm hits Oregon. School cancelled for an entire week. A week I was planning on spending by myself. The temperature plummets into the teens and 20's and I start to panic. Nudges, nudges. What matters? What is important? Go to basics. Then the power goes out for two days. That was my pit of despair because I was cold, the kids were cold - we couldn't go anywhere because of the icy and snowy roads and Jeremy could not stay home to help me out. Another nudge of perspective.
When the power came back on - nothing could get me down. The basics were taken care of. I didn't stress about the wet dog footprints, the kid's dirty laundry, the lack of meal preparation. At least we were warm. At least we had lights. Huge dose of perspective.
Christmas Day came with many gifts and many high expectations. As we finished opening our gifts, the older boys started to whine a little about the things they didn't get. I felt deflated and stressed. How could I have raised such ungrateful children? After an hour goes by - Chase, the baby, proceeds to choke on something he found on the floor. We couldn't get him to cough it up and he couldn't get it out of his throat. For 15 excruciating minutes, we try to help him get whatever it was out of his airways. We ended up calling 911 and the paramedics came to help him. In the end, Chase and I took an ambulance ride down to the ER (Christmas afternoon) to get him checked out by the ER doctors. He eventually was able to gag up whatever it was and the dr. didn't think it went into his lungs. That is all God needs to get my attention - involve my kids medically and I will shut up, sit up, and pay attention to what life lesson I need to learn.
In the end, all of these nudges are teaching me to release the intense control I want to hold over my life. The nudges teach me to see things in perspective. When I get down over a "little" thing, instead I am trying to be grateful for the "big" things that are going right. Trust me, you often don't think to be grateful for electricity and heat until you don't have it in the thick of a cold icy storm! I still don't have the answers to my medical issues, but I don't think it is as bad as I once imagined. And it is taking time to figure it out and heal. The only thing I can do is simply move forward, put one foot in front of the other and pray for the answers.
Honestly, I think my gift this year was the best one yet.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
My former nose with the carcinoma at the end (see red crescent shape)
I had MOHS surgery which lasted seven hours performed to remove the tumor. MOHS is a careful procedure (with a 98% effectiveness rate) where you are totally awake throughout. They stuck about 7 shots in my nose to numb it. Then the dr. came in and started cutting a small circle/hole around the tumor. I did not feel anything, but was awake and quite aware of what was going on. Then they taped it up withe gauze and bandages and I went to the waiting room for 45 min to 1 hour. During this time, a dr. examined the tissue under a microscope to determine whether the tissue is cancerous. Then I was called back for the next round. Another round of shots in the nose to renumb. Another circle cut around the previous circle. I was taped up again and waited again. The dr. again examines the new tissue to see if there is any cancerous cells. If they find cells, you have to go in again for another round. And another. And another until my sample comes back clean. Each round takes about 1 hour. Because I had waited so long to get it removed - I had to go back four rounds. The dr. had to cut a circle that was about the size of my thumbnail and down to the cartilage in the front of my nose. She said it is not normally quite this extensive, but like I said, the tumor had been slowly growing for a long time.
After my sample came back clean, I went in for the reconstruction considering a hole the size of a nickel wouldn't heal effectively on my nose. This was, and will continue to be one of the most surreal experiences of my life. They completely renumbed my nose. Switched on the bright light. Laid the surgical scalpels and tools on my chest and proceeded to reconstruct my nose. As they were doing this, I felt blood running down my cheeks and they wiped it away. I heard the dr. snipping through my skin. I felt the tug and pull of the stitches - both sub dermal and above skin. I kept thinking - this is one of the most unique experiences somebody could ever have. - to be awake in surgery. In the end, I estimate I had about 26 shots in my nose and 10 sub dermal and 21 dermal stitches in my nose. They taped up my nose and sent me home. Luckily Jeremy had driven me up to Portland and had been hanging out with the kids around town and was there to pick me up afterwards.
Here are the after pictures:
The next day upon waking (thank heavens for pain pills):
A few days later (flesh colored surgical tape over stitches)
Stitches removed and sterastrips applied to scar.
First series of cosmetic corrections to scar. First up - VBeam laser. Felt like little rubberbands snapping on my skin as she concentrated it on the scar. It was supposed to help with the redness of the scar. This doesn't do much justice to the laser treatment as I have makeup on my nose.
Next up, I went in for a dermabrasion. And when I say dermABRASION, I mean abrasion. I had my nose shots to numb up the area, aka surgery day, and after it was nice and numb, she took a shaving instrument and literally sawed off all the bumps and ridges on the scar. The biggest ridges were at top of nose and tip of nose. It took about two weeks to heal.
A few weeks later I went in for another laser treatment. This time it was a Refractive Light laser used for treating acne scars. It didn't have the rubberband pinch - just a slight burning smell when she was doing it and then afterwards lots of redness and teeny tiny blisterlike things on my nose lasting for 10 days.
One month after all treatments ceased. This is without makeup - scar is starting to blend nicely with my skin. I still thought it looked rather visible and felt kind of discouraged by the results.
Same day - only with makeup on nose.
Now a month later - TODAY - six months after the surgery date. This is my nose au naturel (as evidenced by the dark circles under my eyes and blond eyelashes and brows - no makeup on this face).
Check out the results. I think it finally worked.
Aren't you glad I didn't have breast cancer? boy, that would have been a revealing post. :)
So there you have it kids. Wear sunscreen at all times. I purchased one from my esthestician that I wear over my everyday moisturizer and it feels wonderful. Also remember that all skin cancer does not come in the form of moles. It can come as bumps and pimple-like forms as well. People with darker skin have built in sunscreen and don't have to worry as much as us white whiteys with fair skin. It is worth the trip to the dr. to get anything checked out.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
"Immigrant doesn't blame pilot for deadly crash
‘I don't have any hard feelings,’ he says after wife, 2 kids (newborn baby and 15 month old) and relative killed"
Full story here.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
You may remember last year's post on how I feel about Santa. He still doesn't visit the rest of us while remembering a few packages for Blake - the only one who hears the Santa bell. Moving on to this year's bah humbug post, let me tell you how I feel about Christmas Trees. I'm not crazy about them. Especially when I have young children at home.
My feelings about trees begin with the whole fake vs. real argument. If I must have a Christmas tree in my house, it is going to be fake. I grew up with fake and I like fake. It doesn't smell, you are not cutting down trees from the earth, no needles on your carpet all month long and no fights involved when you are bringing the tree home. The most important reason for a fake? You don't have to take the lights on and off - they just stay on. Hurray. I also don't especially like ornaments. First, they're expensive. Then if you happen to spend a few bucks on them, chances are your children are taking them off, playing with them, and breaking them. What's the point?? Another reason - the tree is a waste of energy. Don't get me started about how I feel about exterior lights on houses because I'm saving that for next year's post, but why leave all those bulbs on the tree lighted day in and day out and the carbon footprint you are leaving? When I see a lighted tree, I often see dollar signs and my electric bill and wastefulness.
When I see a highly decorated tree, I often think of ornament vomit. Like some tree elf threw up all over the tree. If you must have a tree, keep it clean. Have white lights on it. That's it. If you must, throw a few shiny inexpensive bulbs throughout (because you know they will get rearranged and broken) and call it a season. I years past - I will have you know - we have put the tree up a few days before Christmas just so the presents have a location - not because I like the whole tree thing.
Yes, I'm a humbug and yes I will probably be visited by some "spirits" of Christmas past and the like, but honestly, some Christmas traditions are just not my cup of tea.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
This past Thanksgiving weekend, I had the good fortune of my mom and stepdad come to visit me here in Salem. One morning they agreed to take our dog (a flat coat retriever) and the baby for a walk. I leashed up the dog and headed to the garage with the baby to strap him into his stroller. Chili was allowed to roam in the garage while I attended to Chase and his stroller. A split second later, I see Chili dart to the street as a couple in their 50's or 60's were walking down the street. The couple started yelling and screaming. In my confusion of the event, I thought they were yelling at Chili coming out at them - I mean, I probably would exclaim loudly at a large black dog running wildly at me. But I had not finished buckling Chase into the stroller, so I was helpless in the effort to get Chili back to the house. Side note: Chili does not bark, does not growl, does not snarl - I mean, she doesn't even lick, so the fact that she was just running out with her tail high would certainly be an indicator that she was not vicious.
The cat people started getting hysterical - the man said, "CALL OFF YOUR F***ING DOG!!" The woman was screaming and calling "THE CAT! THE CAT! WHERE IS THE CAT?""
By now I'm completely confused. Bryan, my stepdad, has run and crossed the street to rescue Chili from the hysterical cat people. He brings Chili back to our house and the cat people are literally freaking out. "OUR CAT. SHE'S IN THE BACKYARD. OH NO!!!!"
I finish strapping Chase in and tell Mom and Bryan to head out and I will deal with the cat people. I still can't quite figure out what the problem is. Chili darted out and I did see a cat go running up a fence, but from what I saw the cat should be safe and sound. I mean, that's what cats do right? If they are in danger they head for cover.
So I go over to the frantic cat people and ask what the problem is. They say that their 12 year old cat always go for walks with them. The cat follows them while they stroll up and down the street with 2 lb weights in their hands. And all those dogs they encounter be damned because their cat gets freaked out and runs for the hills if a dog gets too close. I proceeded to help them look for their cat knowing full well that their cat is up high where she is safe. Don't they get that cats run away? Don't they get that cats take care of themselves? Why would they take their cat on a walk and not expect to see any dogs along the way? Why did they swear at me and my dog?
Honestly, I truly do not get cat people. I find them a little odd.