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August 31, 2005 - School's in Session!

Natalie started school for the first time on the 29th. Now that school is in session, I'm having to learn how balance everything all over again. Most of the morning's spent feeding her and getting her ready for school. Once I drop her off I only have 2 hours and 45 minutes until I have to go back and pick her up, which doesn't allow me a whole lot of time to do much of anything. But despite the new hectic schedule, she is adapting well. She is very excited to be going to school and has handled her first few days exceptionally well. Not once has she cried when dropping her off, not even when the other kids in her class did. Instead on the first day I was the one doing the crying! But I am slowly adapting as well.
I found this poem at a local scrap store that is perfect for her 1st day:

We went to school today,
my little girl and I.

I worried all through breakfast,
afraid that she might cry.

I watched her walk away with pride
and I was quite alone,

The tears I thought would surely be hers,
are indeed my very own!


August 27, 2005 - Once again, I'm a Happy Scrapper!

Since returning home after 4 long months in Vegas undergoing treatment, I haven't done much of anything but take it easy and try to settle and ease back into a "normal" life. I've managed to do some dishes, cook a few meals, do some laundry, clean a little here and there. Hell, I even helped the hubby finish painting my scrapbook room. But it wasn't until last night that I finally did something that put me back on track to feeling a little more like my former self. I scrapped. Now it's been a long hard year, and I haven't done hardly any scrappin', so I have supplies and pictures piling up everywhere! But last night I caught that bug, and couldn't go to bed until I was satisfied with my creation. Just sitting down and creating one simple page, was an incredible feeling! I hope as school begins next week to actually be able to finish more layouts, and return to being the Scrap Addict that I am!


August 25, 2005 – Back to School open house.

Today we went to an open house at Natalie’s school. It was supposed to be an opportunity to meet the teacher, see the classroom, and get answers to our questions, but the teacher was so busy we barely go to say hi and receive our packet of information. I was somewhat disappointed in that, as I wanted to talk with the teacher regarding my condition, and let her know that Natalie will be missing some class as a result of it – but I guess that conversation will have to wait until another time. We did however get to see her classroom, which was very nice, and we also got to see the playground. Natalie played for a little while with some other kids, although we didn’t really meet any that were in her class. While she played, I talked with another mom, who I would like to get to know better. She was very friendly, a SAHM like myself, and from what I gathered, a scrapbooker as well. It’s just too bad that her son is in the other teacher’s p.m. class, instead of being in the same class as Natalie – but at least with them both being in the p.m. class, I will see her again and maybe make a new friend who can come scrapbook in the afternoons with me.
I still can’t get over the fact that in just 4 days my baby will be going to school, but at least watching her play with others helped assure us that she will be just fine, even if I won’t be!


August 22, 2005 – School hasn’t even begun yet, and she‘s already had her first test.

Natalie had her first test at school today, a Pre-K screening test to see where she is at and if she is ready for school. While I’m a perfectionist, and Ruben is very competitive, we had somewhat high expectations for her to do better on this test than what she did. Now don’t get me wrong, according to the teacher, she did quite well on the test, and we are proud of her for that. She is exactly where she should be at for her age, and is considered ready for kindergarten. But somehow we had hoped for a higher score than 75 out of 95, but that is just the over-achiever in us talking. With my numerous medical problems this year, I didn’t get to prepare her for school as much as I would have liked to, but all that is in the past now and is spilt milk. All we can do now is try harder to help her and make sure she excels this year – which will be hard when we already know she will be missing some school in October and December when we go back to Vegas for my reconstruction surgeries, but there’s nothing we can do about that except make sure she is doing her schoolwork while we are gone and keep on top of the learning, so it’s not just a “vacation” for her. Regardless of the test, Natalie was excited to be at the school, and was happy to find kids size toilets that didn’t flush automatically (she has a fear of those toilets that flush by themselves despite me telling her that they will not suck her down!) After the screening, we went out to dinner and I took this picture of my two greatest loves with my Palm.


August 19, 2005 – On the verge of an all out breakdown.

While I say that I’m on the verge of an all out breakdown, I’m not really. It’s just that yesterday I was talking with my daughter and I came to the realization that in less than 2 weeks, my baby will be heading off to school for the very first time. As much as I knew this day was coming, nothing could really prepare me for it. We were sitting yesterday afternoon talking about the invitation we received to the school’s open house next Thursday, and it dawned on me that my child had lived a very sheltered life. She’s never been to daycare or pre-school, just to a 3 week tot camp last summer. I started to panic about sending my baby off into the big world. Would she go straight to her class or disrupt others? Would she know where to meet me after class? All I could think about was at 2:15 that dismissal bell ringing and all the kids making a mad dash to leave school, and my baby being caught up in the confusion. Would she know better and not leave the building without anyone but mommy or daddy or a teacher? Does she know not to wander out into the parking lot, or get into cars with others? As much as we have tried to teach her not to talk to strangers, we have not been successful. The little girl loves to talk to anybody and everybody that will listen. Does she know not to take candy from strangers? Yes, but does that stop her? No. But the biggest fear of all I think, is, will mommy be alright? I really thought I would look forward to her going off to school, because it would give me some time alone to get things done without her, but now as we get closer to the big day, I’m more scared than she is, and I just hope that I will be able to let go of my baby!


August 17, 2005 – A love/hate relationship with radiology equipment.

Today was the big day. I don’t think either I or my husband has slept well in the last week. Worrying, wondering, waiting – it seems that is all we do lately. I dropped Natalie off this morning at my husband’s office while I went to the hospital for my mammogram. Have I ever told you how much I dislike that damn machine? I guess for me, it’s going to be a love/hate relationship with it for the rest of my life. Yearly mammograms, and every time I find a lump that freaks me out. It’s not just that I dislike that machine, but I also really hate the ultrasound room – not only was that the room they told me at last time that something appeared wrong, but it was also the same room where I had learned I lost my baby at 14 weeks, which started this year of unfortunate events….and not only was it the same room this time, it was also the same tech as the other two times. But today she redeemed herself and that room, by telling me the good news that the radiologist compared my films, and my results were negative/benign. Not only could they not find any changes in my mammogram, the ultrasound she did could only find normal breast tissue despite a lumpy area. In fact the lump that was so prominent just a week ago could hardly be found today. We concluded that it must have been a cyst that drained – which is exactly the results I was wishing for. So maybe I wished it away? Yeah right, I know it doesn’t work that way. The reason that I know this is because my life can never be simple. Like I said before, for me it seems good and bad always seem to go hand in hand….and proof to that is today when things are good, our water heater takes a crap and things go bad.
Oh well, I may have cold water, but at least I don’t have cancer again.


August 9, 2005 – For me, good and bad seem to always go hand in hand.

I got a call this afternoon before leaving for my doctor’s appointment that surprised me. It was Karen from Dr. Zamboni’s office calling to set a date for surgery. His first available appointment is October 6th, and we will need to stay in Vegas for at least 3 days afterwards. I don’t have all the details yet, but the important part is that it is scheduled. They will send me surgery information and paperwork for my pre-op labs to be done before coming down.
Before my appointment with my OB/GYN, I ran into the hospital and picked up my mammogram films to take with me today. I showed him my previous films, and this suspicious lump I have now. He didn’t say much as to his thoughts on what it is, just that he wants me to go get another mammogram and ultrasound done over at the hospital ASAP, but the soonest they can get me in is on the 17th. So for now I’ll just wait till then.
I took my films home so I can scan them and have my own copy for my scrapbook, how pathetic is that?

August 8, 2005 – A day on the phone.

A reminder went off today to call the school to get info on Natalie’s kindergarten class. School starts in a couple weeks, but I have no idea if she was in AM or PM class, what time class starts or gets out, or anything really. So I called to get some info today and didn’t get to find much out except that they are sending the info out in a few days, and that she was in the AM class, but I had her switched to the PM class to make it easier on me. Guess I have to wait on the mail to find out the rest.
I checked to see if the lump was still there, and unfortunately after much searching I did find it. It wasn’t easy, but it is there. I said if it was there I would call my OB/GYN for an appointment today so I did, Dr. Cain is out from back surgery, so I’ll see Dr. Fox tomorrow.

August 7, 2005 – Home at last!

We got up later than we planned on this morning. Ruben got the Durango all loaded up, and then we ran up to the store to return some clothes that didn’t fit while Natalie ate breakfast. We finally got on the road around 12:30pm and rolled into town about 8:00pm. We stopped by the shop so I could pick up the Ram and get some groceries. I found that everyone was staring at me in the store, and one lady made a rude comment to her kids – telling them to stay away from me. I was surprised; no one ever re-acted that way to me in Vegas. Oh well, it’s still good to be home nonetheless. I can’t wait to sleep in my bed tonight.

August 6, 2005 – This cannot be happening again!

We spent most of the day packing everything up, as we’re leaving tomorrow to finally go home. Before bed, I decide to take a nice, hot, relaxing bath. As I lather up I feel this really distinct feeling, a feeling you never forget. As soon as I felt it I yelled for Ruben, I wanted to make sure I was really feeling what I was feeling. He saw the look of panic in my eyes and confirmed that it was indeed a lump, although it was different somewhat than my first lump. He asked me what I wanted to do, if this changed anything. I told him no, it doesn’t change anything. I want to go home, that is where my original mammogram films are, and they will want those to compare any new films to if it goes that far. I told him I would wait till Monday and check again, and if it’s still there I would call Dr. Cain and make an appointment. I don’t even know how it could possibly happen, with just going through chemo, and the chemotherapy agent pills I still take daily. All I know is that this lump wasn’t there Thursday.

August 5, 2005 – The PS and PT’s.

Today we met with one of the most highly recommended Plastic Surgeons that I have heard of. Since I had to wait nearly two months to get into see him, I will say it was worth the wait. The appointment had its good news and bad news. For example, when I initially made the appointment I was told Dr. Zamboni was booked solid on surgeries until next year. After meeting him he told me he would like to get me in this fall, however, it’s not for the procedure I had wanted. I had my heart set on a TRAM Flap procedure where they use your own body tissue instead of an implant. I didn’t want an implant because I don’t want to have to go through 2 separate surgeries or more and all the saline injections for the tissue expander, or to have 1 hard boob, and 1 soft boob – but as I was told, in order to have a TRAM Flap done, I would need to lose 50 lbs. first, because the tissue isn’t just fat, it’s muscle as well, and if it’s not right it won’t take and the tissue will die. So, unfortunately I have to go with a tissue expander first, which he said he would put more fluid than normal in, then I have to fly down every 2-3 week for saline injections which he will double the amount on. Normally it takes about 3 months to stretch the skin out to size, and can be quite painful if too much is injected too fast, but since I am on morphine already because of my bone pain, he said he would double up on the injections and to just continue seeing the pain management doctor, so it should take about half the time, about 1 ½ months. Once the skin is stretched out completely, he will take out the tissue expander and replace it with an implant, while at the same time doing a breast lift procedure on the other to make them appear symmetrical. Then somewhere down the road, I will have a nipple fabricated out of a piece of skin and sewn on and also an areola tattooed on. It’s a good thing I won’t have much feeling in that breast, because that does not sound like fun! Although it’s not the procedure I want, at least the majority of it will be done this year. (While we waited for the doctor we played with our Palm cameras. It’s not the best quality of pictures, but it’s a handy little device. Oh, and those red spots on my face, not acne, that’s that lovely rash I get when I’m out in the sun. This is courtesy of buckling my daughter in her seat yesterday.)
Afterwards, we met up with our friend Tony, who we both used to work with in the Vegas office, at PT’s when he got off work. They had a couple beers, and we chatted over dinner. While there we ran into another friend we used to work with, Rob. It was nice getting to see them both, and spend some time with them before leaving town.

August 4, 2005 – Follow me to the Moon.

Today I had my follow up appointment with that amazing, big, burly, pain management doctor, Dr. Moon – the one who snapped me like a twig. He did such a wonderful job with my back I thought I would make Ruben an appointment there also, since he has been having back pain for as long as I can remember. First he started off with some x-rays on Ruben’s back; next we each got the little heat/electric shock massage. Then I watched as Dr. Moon tossed Ruben around like a rag doll, cracking his neck and back, and giving him 6 shots of vitamins in his back. Afterwards, he cracked my back and neck, but he didn’t toss me around quite like he did that first time. He also skipped the shots this time, woohoo! Once complete, we discussed a plan for getting my prescriptions and for following up. He wants to see Ruben next month when he comes down for the Manager’s Forum, and he’d like to see me at least every 2-3 months.

August 3, 2005 – Are we living in the age of cancer?

I found out today that a very good friend of mine was just diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone, so I can’t say who. This just upsets me beyond belief. It seems every where I go, either someone I know, or someone they know has just recently been diagnosed with some form of cancer. Cancer has become all too common, especially when a 31 year old with no history can develop it. So I wonder, are we living in the age of cancer?

August 2, 2005 – In the immortal words of Arnold, I am happy to say……. “It is not a tumor.”

Ruben and I spent another sleepless night tossing and turning. We waited all morning and still no news from my oncologist regarding my MRI results. As we were getting ready to go over to my mom’s house to help her set up her new notebook computer, I called the office to see if they had received the results yet. Surprisingly, they had, but they were waiting for the doctor to review them and sign off on them; then once that was done someone would call me back. So we patiently waited some more, wondering what news was heading our way. In the meantime we had started the drive across town to moms when we got the call from the nurse, Shannon. She said the doctor reviewed my results, and my MRI was negative. I did not have a tumor in my head. In fact, my results were excellent. She had said that more than likely what I had been feeling was a combination of too much stress, and anxiety mixed with side effects of my medication, and if it continued to be bothersome I should try new anti-anxiety medications or try taking my Femara at night instead and see if that helps any. Just hearing this news alone was a BIG stress and anxiety reliever! To celebrate the good news Ruben & I went to Best Buy and each bought Palm Pilot Zire 72 Special Edition. Ruben needed to upgrade his Palm for work, and I needed a digital brain to track all my contacts, expenses, medications, surgical procedures, appointments, car maintenance, and so much more on. The possibilities are endless, I can play games or listen to music while I wait, record voice memos, take pictures. It’s like a little computer for my purse. I so love it!
The title for today comes courtesy of my step-brother Tom. He is overseas in Italy in the USAF, getting ready to transfer to England with his wife Amanda. When I told him the news of my MRI results, those where his exacts words of his response.

August 1, 2005 – 2 sedatives, a shot & 2 bruises, and 1 broken MRI machine add up to 2 hours.

Ruben (my chauffeur these days) and I headed across town today to Henderson hopefully put an end to these restless nights worrying. We get to SDMI, I check in, they take me back into another lobby. They give me forms to fill out and a gown to put on. I get done with filling out the paper work, and sit and wait. No one comes for me. Suddenly I realize that I’ve been back there for over an hour. So I got out my cell phone and gave him a quick call to let him know that I was going to be a while longer. Apparently he already knew that though, as the whole front office had been talking about the computers and the MRI machines being down, although no one had the courtesy to come back there and tell us anything. After another 10 minutes someone finally came back to tell us that one of the MRI machines went down while someone was on it and they didn’t know how long it would be until it was back up. While she was there, I asked her about sedation, since they do not have any open MRI machines at that location, and I’m a little more than somewhat claustrophobic. She went and got me 2 sedatives to chew up and take with water, which tasted pretty nasty. But once they got those machines up and running, I was glad I took those awful pills. As if sticking me in an MRI wasn’t bad enough, they covered my face with what seemed like some sort of face mask, so I was even more entrapped. Even still THAT wasn’t even all bad. It didn’t get bad until I leaned my doctor order the test to be done with a contrast injection. The injection was to go in my vein, my very bad veins. She poked me once and made the vein collapse. Her efforts left a nice quarter size bruise at the top of my elbow. She tried again in a different spot on the inside of my elbow. This time she got lucky with my vein, but somehow she still managed to leave a mark. Thirty minutes later we finally walked out of there wondering just how soon tomorrow we would know if I had a tumor in my head or not.