Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New Normal, New Habits

With Jenelle, we've always been adjusting to our "new normal" as we like to call it. Whenever Jenelle meets a new milestone, or has a set back, it changes our normal routine. And thus, we experience what we call a "new normal. Lately she has been really thriving, and our "new normal" gets easier and easier.

During my first week back to work, the new HR manager at my firm told me to start making "new habits" for myself. "New habits" to be healthier. I've kept those words in mind each day as I slowly adjust to the new schedule. My new habits include drinking more water, eating healthier, and listening to my body when it tells me it needs a nap. I can't help but compare the phrases "new normal" to "new habits." In many ways, they sound similar, but are very different. "New habits" can be made for yourself, while a "new normal" is a change you adjust to. I think the "new habits" are easier.

Like I said, Jenelle is really thriving, especially in her eating. She is really chewing more, and able to tolerate more foods. Her menu now includes pasta, beans and rice, chopped chicken or turkey and pizza! All of these items have to be cut into small pieces of course, but she is chewing and handling it very well. Instead of pureeing lots of veggies for her, I now give her mostly what we are having mixed up in a bowl. This weekend she also grabbed my fork and fed herself. She sure loves her food!

Jenelle is also adjusting real well to first grade. She enjoys using the adaptive switches to play computer games at school, and is being taught to use a switch that activates a voice that says "bathroom" whenever she has to go! Her progress has been amazing, and each day we are so very proud of her.

Jack is doing well in 3rd grade, and is very busy with football and Fall baseball. I hope we don't burn him out, but he sure does love his sports. If there can be one blessing to come from my having cancer, it was the opportunity I had to spend the summer with Jack at home while I was on disability. There are so many times that his needs are thrust to the back burner because of Jenelle. I think he really enjoyed our special outings together. He has matured so much this year, and is such a joy. I am so thankful.

Finally, some photos to share. The first is of Jack on his first day back to school. I think he's getting too old for photos at the desk.

This adorable photo was taken on Brett's birthday. The timing of Jenelle's smile was just perfect.

Here we have Jenelle all ready for her big brother's football game! It is really cool that Jack was #1 last year because now it is the perfect jersey for Jenelle to wear to the games.

Here is a photo of Jack as he fell asleep in the living room clutching his UCLA football. He plays till he drops!

And finally, a new hair update! A few weeks ago I went to my stylist, Chaz, to cut off the fuzz and add some color. I'm learning to style the curl and like the lighter color. I just hope it grows faster in time for my driver's license photo in January!

That's all for now. Thank you for the continued prayers! I'll keep you posted!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Slow and easy wins the race!

I started back to work last Wednesday and had 12, 477 emails to sort through on my first day. By Friday, I had that amount down to 298. I am working a part time schedule of 4, 6 hour days a week with Tuesdays off. I take my chemo pills on Monday night and find that I am usually very groggy and tired on Tuesday. So far, the schedule works well. I get in early and get home in time to get a quick nap in before getting the kids.

It has been wonderful to get back to something normal. I am listening to my doctor and taking it very slow. I was tempted to take home some work last week and decided to force myself to rest. As they say, "slow and easy wins the race" and thankfully I have an employer who understands that concept.

The kids are both back to school and we are all falling back into the old familiar schedule. Brett's surgery that was scheduled for today has been postponed because his doctor has the flu. I think that is a blessing because I wasn't ready to start lifting Jenelle to much.

Thanks for the thoughts and prayers. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Full Circle

Brett and I took the old familiar drive up the 405 today for a follow up appointment with my oncologist. Prior to seeing her, I had to have a blood draw. Today for some reason my body and veins decided to be difficult, and it took 45 minutes and 4 pokes to find a good vein. My oncologist told me it was time for some arm exercises to help build up my veins.

While I was sitting in the phlebotomist chair, another doctor walked in with a woman about my age who was very upset. The doctor asked the phlebotomist to do a panel on her and led her to the chair beside me. She was with her Mom it seemed. Even with a partition between us for privacy, I could hear her sobbing silently and her Mom telling her it was going to be OK and she was going to beat it. All this time while she was crying, I was getting poked.

A few minutes later, the nurse practitioner walked in to ask the woman for her insurance card. As the nurse walked away, she leaned over to me and whispered, "This woman just found out she has your exact diagnosis. Maybe you could talk to her?" I nodded and the phlebotomist continued to poke me. A feeling of relief fell over me. My biggest fear when I first saw this woman in tears was that her cancer had returned, and I worried that it could happen to me. It didn't dawn on me that this was new to her.

When the phlebotomist was finished with me, I stood up and peeked around the partition. I let the woman know we had the same diagnosis and that I was now cancer free. She was 41 years old and lived in Irvine with a 2 1/2 year old. She asked me my age and if I had kids. Her biggest concern was surviving the month long chemo induction in the hospital, and missing her daughter. I told her about the nice rooms and the wonderful nurses, and how UCLA had the best treatment in the country. I emphasized that our type of cancer was curable. I didn't tell her the bad things. She had long, pretty brown hair and was worried about losing it. I told her it took my hair 2 weeks to start falling out, and that eventually it would grow back.

She thanked me and I wished her luck as we left the room. As we walked down the hall, I told Brett that I didn't remember ever crying like that when I first got the news. He laughed and told me that I cried hysterically when I got the news. I guess I don't remember it that way. In fact, trying to remember everything that has happened these last 9 months is sometimes difficult for me. I don't remember much of the bad stuff. Part of me thinks that is because I'm such an optimistic person. Then I look down at my skin and see the scars from my rashes and blood draws and PICC lines, and the lost finger nails and toe nails. I run my hand through my short curly hair. These reminders will be with me for a while.

I don't know why God has given me so many challenges in my life. Just when I think I've adjusted to raising a special needs child like Jenelle, he gives me Leukemia. They say God never gives you more than you can handle. My response is that I wish he didn't think so highly of me.

My appointment went well today. My White Blood Cell count is a little below normal, but nothing like it was when I had cancer, or when I was getting IV Chemo. My doctor approved me to return to part time work. I plan to go back next Wednesday. My doctor explained that she really wanted to stress me taking it slow because fatigue can make me more susceptible to illness (especially with flu season right around the corner!) I called my boss a bit ago because I wanted her to hear it from me first and she was very excited and agreed 100% with my doctor's recommendation.

So I guess I've come full circle now. I am a cancer survivor, and I was able to pass on my personal experience to help another who is in the same place I was 9 months ago. I wouldn't want to be in her shoes. Been there, done that. I am so thankful to finally get my life back to normal. Whatever normal means for our special family.

Thanks again for the thoughts and prayers. I will be seeing my oncologist again in one month. And of course I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

No piggy in our house!

Finally this afternoon we got the results from Jenelle's test for Swine Flu and it was negative! Jenelle held her fever for most of the weekend and has been fever free since Monday evening. Thankfully that is one less thing to worry about - I have been healthy as well.

Brett's surgery is for a rotator tear in his right shoulder. It is an old baseball injury that has become worse over the years. Brett has been having more pain with it since coaching Jack and Jenelle's Little League the last three years so its a good time during the off season to get it fixed. His surgery has been postponed until September 15, and his recovery should take 6 weeks.

I see my oncologist for a follow up tomorrow and should know more about my numbers. Hopefully I'll get the OK to return to work! We're almost there!

Thanks again for the thoughts and prayers! I'll keep you posted.