Hitting an Emotional Wall

 

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It’s been a really long time since I have written a blog. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I have written a few and then deleted them because I thought they sucked or I thought I’d get myself into trouble for saying too much.

I don’t handle loss well. I mean, who really does? But I don’t feel emotionally equipped to handle another big loss in my life. I lost my mom when I was 14. I lost my grandmother, whom I was extremely close with when I was in my early thirties. I lost my step-father two years ago next month. I wasn’t expecting that loss. We didn’t know he was that sick. I think he didn’t want us to see him that sick and they also didn’t realize it was that bad. I saw him for the last real time, and knew he wasn’t going to be with us much longer. I was glad we had the chance to talk and I could tell him how much he meant to me. You see…he didn’t have to stay in my life after my mom died.  Years later he went on and married again and they didn’t need to include my brother in and I in their lives. But they did. Not once were we ever treated like we were anything less than his kids. I maintain a good relationship with his wife now. She’s one of the loveliest people you could know.

So that hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized it was not only losing him as a person, it was losing one more link to my mom. Right now my step-mother’s cancer has returned. I get so much anxiety that I don’t know how to ask. I’m afraid I’m going to react terribly and make things worse. I asked my dad tonight when he came to a cheer event for my daughter and he said the cancer is growing and they either want her to do chemo again, or a study at Yale, or both. I know it’s not good.

She hasn’t been coming to a lot of things because she’s not feeling great. I don’t know what to say. We’ve not always had an easy relationship. In fact, I’d classify the teen years as horrendous. But we’ve grown closer as I’ve gotten older. She’s a wonderful grandmother to my kids and someone that I can count on. She’s that person that when you’re really sick, you want them to take you to the ER because you know ou husband will just annoy you, LOL.

So as I sit here in tears I’m asking myself how does someone truly prepare to lose a loved one. I don’t think you can. I think the answer is to spend as much time as you can with them. Have those quality moments. But the bottom line is, I’ll never be ready to say goodbye.

 

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Pain…On Purpose

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I’ve been feeling ugly a lot lately. Every time I see a photo I either cry that I’m fat or ugly. My smile has been getting to me. I had braces when I was a teen but I hadn’t worn a retainer since I graduated high school and everything shifted, especially in the last 15 years. I’ve been embarrassed. So I decided I’d do something about it.

I tried ordering one of those Smile Direct kits and was very excited as I did the molds and sent them back. Then they said I needed to do more. Then again. Then again. Then they said I couldn’t do any more and I needed to go to a “Smile Center” but there isn’t one anywhere close to me. Also within that time I panicked after reading reports that things can go wrong without an orthodontist checking your teeth.

I decided a higher power was telling me that since it wasn’t working out, I should try to do Invisalign through the orthodontist. They gave me a good price since my kids already go there and I decided I do this for myself. I was a little put off though yesterday to learn that I needed to have things stuck to my teeth for the liners to cling to. I was kind of hoping when I took them off it wouldn’t be noticeable. Again…going back to being embarrassed. But here I am. I’m all in.

It’s day 2. My gums hurt like freakin hell from the edge of the aligners. My teeth are sore, but the good news is every now and then I can take them out and have a break. They are supposed to be on for like 22 hours a day. The girl at the orthodontist said she wears hers for about 20. I’m shooting for 21. She promised me if I stuck it out the first week it would get easier. Lord, I hope she’s right. I hate having any kind of sore in my mouth and the inside of my cheek is cut and my gum. It hurts.

I guess it will be worth it in a year. I will keep reminding myself that I’m doing this for me. I just now need to stop eating like a pig and lose weight for me. I just have a lot of my mind and I’m eating from stress.

I applied for a writing job on Tuesday and had to do a 1.5 hour test, writing an article at am 8th grade level and then modifying it to 3rd grade level. Then they had me do an editing sample. It was a lot of 1.5 hours. I think I did okay but would have done a lot better with 2 hours.

So far for the last two night I have dreamt that I did not get it. Actually the first night I dreamt that someone else didn’t get the job and I was sad for them. Last night I dreamt that I go an email that I didn’t get it. So I’m less confident. It would be a really fun job to have though and it’s 20 hours a week.

In the meantime, I’m still applying. My book job is done on June 15th and I’m trying to line something else up. I feel like I want to write more than edit, which is different for me. The last job writing for the educational company really was so much fun. I found that I enjoyed the revision process and making it better.

I just need a chance. The woman that I do the books for is tough. Last year was not stellar and I accept responsibility for that. I was dealing with the fact that I might have breast cancer and trying to proof the book by myself because they cut my budget so much. I’m not sure they really understand the amount of work it takes to do these books. It’s tough to do with the current budget but it’s kind of a catch 22. I know I’m worth so much more. I know they don’t have anyone who knows how to do the database. I don’t think anyone would do it for that price. Yet, I don’t want to lose the work.

Is this why women get paid less? We don’t want to lose work we like? We would rather keep work that makes us happy than ask for more money and fear losing it altogether? I have tough many times about handing the files back in June and saying, if you’re interested in doing the next edition with me, let’s talk early because I have other projects I’m working on and will need to see if I can fit it in. I need them to know I have choices and then can say, it’s not enough. But I need to actually HAVE choices.

It’s not difficult work, though. I enjoy it and it’s very flexible. This is why I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. I’d welcome any advice because I’ve been stuck here for the past 3 years unable to make a decision. Help!!

 

Parenting Dreams

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All parents have dreams for their child. Mine started when I was pregnant. We didn’t find out the gender with my first baby (my son), but when I was pregnant for the second time I knew I was having a girl. Immediately the hopes and dreams of dance recitals, braiding hair, and dress up filled my head.

While I have experienced all those things by now, I’ve also been a football mom, a baseball mom, and now a gold team mom. There’s nothing more exciting, thrilling, and sometimes heartbreaking than to see you child participate in a sport or activity. With my son the up and downs have been over play time on the field and kids being assholes. With my first daughter the ups and downs have included seeing her perform solos (something I never thought she’d ever do) and several lows when she didn’t get roles that she has wanted in Nutcracker.

My youngest daughter took a while to find her “thing.” I think she naturally did dance because her older sister did. She likes dance, but when she tried gymnastics it was clear that is where he heart was. It’s been an exciting ride.

I’m proud of all of them for different reasons. Both my girls chose to step out of their comfort zones and switch studios/gyms to further their training. My son has worked really hard to be a better player and went into his freshman football season confident in his game. Unfortunately, when you have a parent of twins as a coach, and one of the twins plays the same position as your son, we learned it just doesn’t matter how well you play. Sometimes you aren’t getting that playtime and it’s not always fair.

While this made for a difficult and emotional first season, I’m proud of my son for not giving up, even when some of his teammates were complete assholes. Since my son was beating the “twin” out in practice, that boy’s friends did whatever they could to knock my son down. Definitely a tough lesson but a good life lesson. Bosses aren’t always fair. Teachers aren’t always fair, and yes, coaches aren’t always fair.

So why am I telling you all of this? Because I don’t want to be the pushy sports mom. None of my kids have even been a huge standout in their activities. My older daughter is a beautiful dancer, but there are many beautiful dancers on her team. My youngest thinks gymnastics is life, but there are a lot of girls in her group that don’t have the fear that I sometimes see in my daughter.

It’s really hard to know what to do in these situations. With my son and football, it was everything I could do to reign in my anger and not want to punch some 14 year old. I made a decision to let him handle the issue on his own as much as possible but it was so freakin hard to have your child get in the car in tears that the whole team hates him. Did the whole team hate him? I’m sure not. But at the time he felt like he didn’t have any allies.

It’s hard for me to sit and watch my older daughter on stage for a solo. I spend the whole time praying. Praying she doesn’t fall; praying she lands her turns, etc. I thought it would get easier as the season went on, but it didn’t.

With my youngest, I think I need to pretend I’m not nervous for a meet. She took the year off competing after switching gyms and recently just started on a competitive team again two weeks ago.

I think I was always aware that there would be stress parenting tweens and teens. It’s a whole different world from the stress of having three kids under the age of 4. I realize it’s a bit ridiculous that I’m stressing out over my kids’ activities and it’s something I want to change. It’s hard. I’m emotional and I just want my kids to be happy. They don’t need to be the best, but they need to do their best. I’ve learned that I’m not calm when my kid isn’t being treated well by a coach or teacher, but I’ve also made a conscious effort to take a step back.

Parenting is freakin hard. My son is finally having some happiness with sports on the high school golf team. He’s a really good golfer and it’s nice to be recognized for his talent. I think his most exciting moment so far was when a junior asked him (a freshman) to help him with his golf game. My son was so excited to help someone else and that the kid even would ask him. It was that type of complement he’s been missing in his sports.

As the seasons are all winding down and before they start up again in September, I’m trying to remind myself that it’s not about me. I can’t fix it. I can’t change it. I can just encourage my  kids to do their best.

So how do you deal with the parents who think their child is going to the Yankees or the Giants? Smile. I’m telling myself just to smile. Perhaps they are living vicariously through their kids success. I don’t want to be that person. I want to sit an observe (and maybe pray) that all goes well.

Lord, I wish there was a rule book for this crap.

Where the Hell Is Spring?

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It’s April 16th…and it’s sleeting. Last year during spring break it was 85 degrees. We had one nice day in the 70s and now we’re back to cold, windy…and SLEET! WTF! For anyone who has rheumatoid arthritis, you know this is the worst type of weather. The damp, cold. It’s awful. My hands and feet ache, my back is stiff and even my knee hurts, which is odd for me.

I need some warmth. We aren’t going anywhere for spring break and it’s not going to be a nice week, which translates to a week of my kids telling me they are bored in the house.

We’ll figured something out to do, but let’s face it…it’s not Aruba or the Dominican Republic.

I’m almost feeling depressed today. I’m in a bit of a funk and I know the weather had something to do with it, but I’m sick of not feeling good enough in several aspects of my life. I’m sure living with an autoimmune disease plays into it. No one sets out thinking hooray, I hope to get one of those! I hate that I have to slow down sometimes. I hate that I think I’m huge. I hate that sometimes I need a nap for seemingly no reason, but my body is crashing and I don’t have a choice.

It’s tough to explain to people. I end up feeling lazy if I need to lie down. There are always a million things I could be doing, but when it’s that kind of exhaustion just hits and I’ve found if I push through, I end up making it worse.

I keep telling myself I’ll cheer up with the sun and the warmth but to be honest, I am not sure that will happen. I’m scared it won’t. My kids are at a stage of life where they are super busy and I’m constantly on the go driving them to this activity or that. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am already fearing for the day I don’t have anyone to drive around.

I guess I’ll allow the funk for a bit and then pick myself up. I don’t feel sorry for myself very often and I know I have things very good in comparison to many others. I have some days with no pain. They aren’t often, but they happen and for the most part my pain is manageable. I’m trying to count my blessings tonight as I’m watching my hands swell. This week has got to get have some bright moments. It just has to.

 

 

The Results Are In

If I’m being honest, the results were in a week ago. My surgery was on the 19th and everything went really well. Last week I got a call that everything came back benign and I can finally close that chapter.

My surgeon was amazing. I’m very glad I made the decision to use her, and I had very little pain afterward. The worst part was when they had to place a wire in directing them to the exact spot to be removed. That process was long and incredibly un-fun. Think about your boob being in a mammogram machine for 10 minutes at a time while they target the spot. It didn’t hurt, but it wasn’t fun.

I just wanted to share my news and relief. Now back to the craziness of daily life…

 

The Plan Is Set

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I have a plan. It’s a start anyway. I had an MRI and have met with two surgeons. I liked them both, but decided to go with the one that dropped the f-bombs because I like a person who is straight-forward. She is highly recommended by several friends who have used her and I just felt very comfortable with her.

So I’m letting her take out part of my boob. The bad news…well I guess the whole thing isn’t great news…but the first surgeon was putting a radioactive seed int he day before and I felt like — Okay, I have a theme song, Radioactive by the Firm. That will get me through. But now they are sticking a wire into the area the day of the surgery instead. You try coming up with a song with the word Wire in the title that doesn’t suck.

So I asked one of my dearest friends to help me with this dilemma and she thought for a moment and said, “I don’t know, maybe Sledgehammer??” Then she profusely apologized and said she was sleep deprived, but I couldn’t stop laughing and now my surgery theme song is Sledgehammer.

I feel like everyone should have a theme song for life events. At the moment I’m not scared. I’m done with the testing and the waiting for the moment. Though the biopsy came back benign, I’m prepared for all case scenarios. The surgeon does not like the way it looks, but it could be nothing. It could be atypical. It could be stage 0. All of those things require no significant treatment. It could also be stage 1 or beyond cancer and I will cross that bridge when I get to it.

Right now, the focus is on making my kids feel secure that I’m going to be fine. My son has a fear that I’m going to die because he’s 14 because my mother died when I was 14. So telling him I’m having surgery was not easy. I’ve spent a lot of time assuring them that I know it’s all going to be fine. I pray I’m doing a good job of that. I will deal with whatever is coming my way, but the less they have to worry about, the better.

So surgery is the 13th. Theme song is Sledgehammer (thanks Colleen). And I will probably not panic until the 12th. You can stay tuned for that blog soon. Right now, I’m happy to have a plan and a doctor I really like.

 

More About Boobs

 

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Sounds like I’m writing porn tonight, doesn’t it? Well, I’m not. I’m still dealing with “different” looking tissue in one of my breasts. I had the stereotactic biopsy that I talked about in my last blog. To anyone out there that needs to have one, I was very surprised that I really felt hardly anything. I was very nervous and it was not at all like the article I had read (sometimes the Internet is not your friend).

I stood up during it, much like a regular mammogram and once they found the spot on 3D, they were able to do the biopsy. I was petrified of the needle to numb the area because they always say “you’ll just feel a pinch” and it hurts like hell. It seriously was only a tiny pinch. Do not be afraid to have this test. I spent all night worrying and it was not bad at all.

The following Tuesday I kept getting emails that there were updates to my health record. It took me a while to get up the courage to look, but when I finally did I read that there was no atypicality and it was benign. A huge sigh a relief.

A sigh of relief that was short lived when I received a phone call from the radiologist the next morning who said they were referring me to a surgeon because while what they tested was benign, no reason was given for why the tissue was different. She said I could have an MRI or see a surgeon, but she thought it would be a good idea to get the surgeon’s recommendation first.

I saw the surgeon this past Wednesday and I’m not sure how I feel. I will have an MRI next Wednesday. She said it would give them more information and she could see blood flow to the area. Basically, when they see areas of distortion (that’s what we’re calling it now, btw) they appear different in different angled mammogram photos. Mine did not really change. They appeared in every photo, though they looked a little different in some.

It’s possible that there is something there and they didn’t take a large enough sample, but she assured me that looking at it, she felt if it was a cancer it was a stage 0 at this point because of the way it’s appearing. So the plan is I’ll have an MRI on Wednesday and speak to her on Friday (hopefully) regarding the results. From there we will make the decision on surgery, that I tentatively scheduled for September 8th because I think I’m going to just want it out.

My husband left the appointment feeling like I didn’t need it out and maybe she was too eager for surgery. I felt the opposite. I felt like I wanted the surgery and she was willing to do it, but preferred to have the MRI and more information first. I do also have a second opinion scheduled for September 1st, so my ducks are in a row.

I hate waiting, though. Waiting for appointments. Waiting for results. Just waiting. Tomorrow I’ll find something more exciting to write about to keep my thoughts on other things.

 

Oh btw, that’s not my boob in the mammogram photo but it amazed me how much the photo looked like the “distortion” they pointed out. It’s the little white star shaped thing an inch or so in from the left.

Tomorrow Will Suck

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I’m trying to be positive about the breast biopsy I need to have tomorrow. I really am. For the most part I’ve stayed off the Internet, other than to diagnose myself with Stage 0 pre-cancer, which for me, is very positive. I’m usually jumping to death very quickly.

But at the moment it’s the procedure itself that’s scaring the crap out of me. It’s called a stereotactic biopsy where they can do a mammogram guided biopsy. It sounds dreadful. Picture a padded table where you  lay face down with your boob in a hole. Then the boob is squeezed and the table is lifted. Honestly it all sounds like something from 50 Shades of Grey.

Then someone else told me that while they do numb the area, when they take the tissue, it sounds like a loud gun and scares you. Awesome!

The office called this morning and the place I was going to now cannot do the procedure. The doctor that looked at my mammogram felt like I need this special machine because the suspicious area is so small. That’s a good thing. Small is good. They changed the appointment to a different nearby hospital that apparently have this new piece of equipment.

I need to get through tomorrow and then that’s step one. I spoke to a friend today who had her first biopsy come back normal and a second one come back stage 0. She had a lumpectomy and now they just watch her closely. They did want her to go on a drug called tamoxifen. That scares me because it affects your hormones.

Every drug I’ve ever tried that impacts hormones has been hell, including the pill. I’m not on a very low dose pill, but I have horrific migraines on my week off the pill with the hormone drop. Nothing about adding a new medicine into my already full group of RA meds sounds like fun.

The good news about the appointment change is that it is now at 8:30AM vs 1pm. I have no time to stress about it before we leave. I’m not a morning person so it’s basically wake up, shower, and go.

I’m taking for positive thoughts for tomorrow. Being afraid of the unknown sucks.

 

 

Stress and Autoimmune Flares

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We’ve all heard about the link between stress and flare with autoimmune issues. I can personally attest to getting more frequent flares when I’m stressed, but how do you combat stress? I mean, we all have it. Life is messy. Many of us have families. Marriages are hard. Money issues. Family issues. Being stresses about your autoimmune issues… There is stress everywhere.

So how do you avoid it? I’ve made no secret that I’ve tried essential oils and I think I’ve found some relief in them. I won’t push one company over another, especially when I only diffuse them and like the scent. There are some really nice blends out there that just plain make me feel good.

There’s also a hot bath. Some people like exercise. I recently started walking 5-6 nights a week on a new paved walkway in our town that’s about 4 miles. In all honesty I wouldn’t go if I didn’t have a friend that I go with and keeps me on track. Some nights I don’t feel like it and I get the text saying “7pm?” and I feel the guilt. But, I also do feel somewhat better afterward.

The problem with exercise, as anyone with fibromyalgia or RA can tell you is it’s damn hard when you’re hurting. My first three days of walking were horrendous. I didn’t feel like I could make it back the first night, and when I got home I was walking like a 90 year old person. It wasn’t pretty.

It has gotten easier now that I’m almost 3 weeks in (and I haven’t lost a damn pound but that’s a whole other discussion). But, there are days when it’s really hard to talk myself into going when I’m sore from fibro or my joints are stiff or swollen from RA.

I had the fabulous idea to race my 10 year old one evening and about 20 strides in I felt a stabbing pain in my hip so bad that I thought I was going to fall on the ground. I’m not even sure what happened but that took almost a month to feel better. It sucks to realize I can’t do stupid things like run with my daughter without completely hurting myself, but I’m managing to walk.

My other remedy is one that people in my life don’t approve of…Xanax. But since last summer I’ve suffered from terrible anxiety. I don’t always know why it hits or if it’s something in particular that brings it on. I mean, I’m sure it’s stress, but there isn’t always a specific reason. I’m not embarrassed to say I need to use Xanax to help when it gets bad.

If anyone can figure out how to be completely less free so they can have less flares, can they clue me in on their secret? I have yet to figure it out even with everything I’m currently trying.

 

The Appointment No One Wants

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If you’ve read my blog you might remember that I had genetic testing to see if I carried the gene for breast and ovarian cancer. Luckily I am not a carrier, which was a huge relief. I have long been afraid I’d die young like my mother did from ovarian cancer and I’d leave my kids without a mom.

Fast forward to last week when my breast hurt. I felt a little something but I also have my period so I figured it was likely cysts that come and go with cycles. I called and scheduled the appointment for a mammogram because I was 3 months overdue and my doctor also wanted to see me.

At the exam, she said it did not feel like anything scary, but more glandular. So I felt pretty okay about the whole thing…until this morning. I had my mammogram and ultrasound and they had me sit to have the radiologist look at it to see if they needed more pictures. They then took me back in for another mammogram and another ultrasound. Anyone who has had this kind of testing knows that isn’t good.

The radiologist did my ultrasound herself and said I had a few normal looking cysts but that there was an area of tissue on the mammogram that looked a little different from the rest of the tissue. She said they wanted me to have a biopsy but that they couldn’t do it at the office because the area was so tiny, they need to do it with a mammogram to get the right spot.

They asked me to wait outside the office for the scheduling secretary and I was still okay, until she came out and said my doctor always likes to see the report and choose where her patients go for further testing, but she wanted me to know that even if it was “something” it was so small and they caught it very early.

It wasn’t until that moment when she said “something” and “caught it early” that it hit me that omg she thought it could be cancer. I couldn’t stop a bit of waterworks, but it wasn’t too messy.

I now have a biopsy scheduled for Friday and then a few days of waiting before I know anything more. If nothing else, this blog tonight is to remind you to get a mammogram. I would not have gone today if I hadn’t had some pain and felt a tiny lump (the cyst).

I hate being in limbo with anything. I feel like I can handle things if I have a plan and right now there is no plan because I don’t know if it’s cancer or some weird tissue that looked different. Obviously, we’re hoping for the latter.

I won’t tell my kids until I have that answer, mostly because my son is turning 14 this year and is very scared that I’m going to die because my mom died when I was 14. The last thing I need is his mind wandering.

I’d appreciate it if you can keep me in your prayers and hopefully I won’t need to blog out a cancer journey, but if necessary, I’ll do what I need to do. Tomorrow’s blog will be much more uplifting. I will not be discussing any of our other summer hellish experiences for at least another day or two. My dog is in a cast. My daughter had staples in her head. But…we’re still kicking…well, except the dog. He’s not kicking anything while he’s in the cast.

 

 

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