Monday, May 25, 2009

The Month in Review... May

The statement for the month... Where in the world is time going? It seems like it was just a few months ago that I had surgery and here it is nearing the 1 year mark.

  • I am 11 months past the resection of my brain tumor
  • It has been 7 months since I completed radiation
  • I am in month 3 after finding that things are stable
Medically - Things with my head continue to be stable and no symptoms have tried to sneak their way in so I'm happy with things at the time being.

The meds continue to work their wonders with keeping my energy and mood stable. I know the boys are very happy for this. They can tell if I've not taken them for some reason.

I'm still waiting for the faithful day I get my partial for my teeth. I can feel my teeth moving constantly and I can't wait. In the meantime, when it flares up I take ibuprophen for it because that's all that seems to help. My blood pressure continues to be stable despite a flare up of allergies/cold over the past month. This is a good thing. I also had the follow-up with my eye doctor and he said he is not concerned with my eyes but wants to keep an eye on it anyway. He believes there is some benign scarring from possibly a fungal infection and the optic nerve is settling back in so there is no real question that it is from surgery and the tumor.

Basically, medically I'm doing pretty good for now. All the above things but the teeth have been put to bed for at least 6 months so we can carry on and enjoy more weeks with no doctor's appointments. :)

Emotionally - Things continue to go smoothly and other than getting a bit stressed out about how in the world I'm going to get everything done for Relay, the yard, the house and still get the amount of rest I need... *Deep Breath*. Honestly, it is good to be busy because it allows me to live my life and not worry about what the future may hold. I've learned even more to live in the present not the future. Love those you have and remember that life is very precious.

On this level as well I have been more or less released by my therapist. He thinks I am doing well and I will check in with him around September. We will be doing two things at this time. One will be taking the Aptitude test I took before surgery last year and the other just to catch up a bit and make sure I'm not making any backwards falls. I still find it a bit ironic that I went to him because of anxiety issues and those seemed to go away after I was diagnosed with the brain tumor. We quickly transferred our focus to stress management and dealing with the emotional side of the situation. I have not had serious issues with anxiety since I was diagnosed. I have told him multiple times "the cure to anxiety is a brain tumor." LOL

Mentally - I still don't believe I'm as sharp as I used to be. I have to work harder on a lot of mental tasks that used to come easily to me but I am still "above average" in most categories. Numbers still elude me a great deal but they are much better than they were 6 months ago. Likewise my focus has improved a good deal both on and off the meds. With the meds my focus is better than it used to be. Off the meds it's just a smidgeon below the previous normal. I've adjusted well to my "new normal" and I've accepted that things will still come to me, they just might not be as natural as they once were.

Another thing that's come up that I think will be best placed in the mentally category. I've been thinking a lot lately about what I want to do with my career. It's no secret that my position at work will likely be eliminated at some time in the near future. I still enjoy working with computers but the truth is, the more network stuff they take from us, the harder it is for me to stay interested. I really don't mind some of the high end stuff we are doing now. It's a lot of reports, researching, etc and it's ok. Sometimes I just feel a bit out of my league when dealing with them. I never took training on leading projects or anything along those lines. I sometimes feel my degree doesn't have the insight that is needed for the position I am heading. I guess this is the long way of saying, I've been seriously considering going back to school to obtain my bachelor's degree at some point in the near future. It will probably still be a year or two away because I need to get the young'n old enough to be able to be by himself during busy season when John will also be late. I guess it's just one of those things I often thought of doing at some point but not really motivated enough to pursue it at the present. Now I'm more motivated and it's something I really want to do.

Physically - I do believe my stamina increases each day. I was up much later than normal all of last week and was able to keep going all week and was able to box some computers up Friday afternoon. Friday night I got 11 hours of sleep, Saturday I dug up weeds most of the evening, that night I required almost 12 hours to recooperate, Sunday I cleaned the siding on the front of the house (it had some nasty mold/algae/green stuff on it), and slept 8 hours last night. I am wiped today. I think three days of strenuous activity in a row was two days too long but I know it will benefit me in the end.

My weight continues to drop and I can visibly see my waist shrink and my muscles in my legs and arms rebuild. It feels good to be gaining some muscle back and I'll have to start wearing belts real soon. LOL For now I'm getting them from the typical summer activities and being more active around the house. I will be looking into the WiiFit again this winter to keep it going when the activity level drops some. For the record, I'm 3.8 lbs from my lowest weight since having my son.

I haven't reported on the hair situation for a while so I figure it's time to do that. My hair is getting really long now. It's around 2-4 inches long depending on where you look. For those that haven't seen me, it is extremely curly. I have a spot about the size of my palm that is still very sparse. There is definitely shoots of hair there, just not in the volume that the rest of my hair is. I think that by the end of summer, I should be able to comb my hair over and no one would even notice the lack of hair. I still wear headbands and hats when I go out because it does still show but I'm getting braver and braver and wear them much less. I don't think I even take one to work with me 9 days out of 10. Really the only time I worry about it is in the sun and when I'm going to be around kids. I'm not worried about the kids but I know kids are inquisitive and I don't want them asking questions that will make their parents feel uncomfortable. I don't mind answering questions but I know what it's like being on the opposite side of the blunt and inquisitive child. Honestly, I look forward to the day that I don't have to even worry about it. I do enjoy wearing the headband or hat now and then but they give me pressure headaches so easily I like to avoid them on the daily basis. Truth is, I have a large head physically and it's hard to find something that is not really tight on it. I often got pressure headaches from things on my head before surgery and it's just been intensified since. In the meantime, I'm trying to keep it from getting sunburnt and encouraging it to continue to grow fast with natural shampoos and conditioners.

Work/Family/Play - Today is the start of our third week of shutdown in 2009. Really, I don't mind them much. I basically think of them as extra weeks of vacation. When you tally in unemployment, we really are not being hurt all that much financially. Even if I didn't have unemployment, I've got quite the emergency fund set up. After this week, we have two more weeks that have already been scheduled. One is the week of Relay (this works out so well for me) and the other is the week after the 4th of July. This week I'm going to be putting the pedal to the metal in getting things ready for Relay. We have trees to make, money to sort out, things to put out on the Relay web, kids games to create, etc. We are also going to work on my son's consumers project for 4H.

I recently found out that my son's grades are not as good as I had the impression. I'm still not certain that he's going to manage to pull off all passing grades this quarter. Most of it is because of him being stubborn and not asking for help when he doesn't understand something. It drives me nuts. I can understand him not asking in class but he has a mom that is very good at every subject but reading/english and I think he should use me more. When I was looking over and explaining his math to him, he was getting 100% on his test because he actually understood the material. All of a sudden, he stopped doing that and the "C" he was carrying at midterm proves that. *sigh* I find it hard to deal with him attitude on grade and school. I was always the exact opposite. I loved school and I excelled academically. I guess he is just his father's boy thru and thru.

Outside of that he continues to grow up a lot physically and maturity wise. He did get into serious trouble recently because he created a Facebook account even though I had told him multiple times no. He is now finding himself grounded from the computer as a result. I just don't think he's ready in maturity for an account such as Facebook and when you live in a smaller town, it's too easy for someone to find you.

I do want to share a little funny here. He will probably be mad that I told this but I think it will give a good laugh. This morning we were all at the table eating breakfast and I noticed he had what appeared to be a hair on his cheek. I told him he had better wipe it off before he ended up eating it. After he tried several times to get it off, I walked over and picked it off. This is when we realized it was attached!!! He went on to whine about me plucking the long hair on his "beard". It was long too. He still only has chicken fuzz on his face but this hair was 1/2 inch long!!! Oh well. We laughed for a bit and he whined that it hurt. Nice way to start the morning though.

The farmers are finally in the fields and John has been busy. He will have to be oncall on Sundays until a majority of them get finished. I don't mind oncall because at least he is still home and we can get things done.

Last update I talked about the Green Show we were going to. It really was very informative and we are definitely considering saving up money to put in some solar panels in our yard to assist with the high electric bills we deal with here. We also got a lot of good ideas for when we redo our kitchen and great room. Those are still a few years off but we have an idea of what we want now. :)

It seems like it has been ages since we have gone to a dance and it looks like the next one will be at Relay. We are just so busy this time of year and it's hard to make it when you never know what time John will get home. The last several Saturdays he's put in 10+ hour days so we wouldn't have made it even if I hadn't exhausted myself. We'll get back into the swing of things soon I am sure. (no pun intended)

Relay - I wish to thank everyone who has supported my Relay For Life team in support the American Cancer Society. I love you guys. There's still time to donate. If you wish to donate go to: Remember every little bit helps. If 5 of you donate $10 we have made $50 that will run advocacy programs to help prevent cancer, research to find cures for cancer, support programs to provide information, comfort aids, wigs, or just someone to talk to for those newly diagnosed or currently going through cancer. You might not believe that your dollars can help but when you put them together, we are striding towards a cure.

I hope everyone is well. I hope to have something special out here on my one year anniversary of surgery so be on the lookout.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My First Ever Survivor Walk

On Saturday I attended a Relay for Life in a town local to where I grew up. I was a "member" of the team, although a rather inactive one. My primary goal was to get a feel for what Relay was all about before being a captain in my local Relay. I will say that it was a very special night for me.

The Relay was launched with the traditional Survivor Lap. This particular Relay was set up in a high school gymnasium so everyone crowded into the gym as the survivors took their lap. It felt good to be walking with the other survivors and the crowd was amazing as they gave round of applause. The second lap, we were joined by our caregivers. I squeezed John's hand tight as we made this lap. I think, in total, I made 55 laps that night. (I was feeling it the next day!)

Another part of the Relay that I found really special was the Luminaria. They had a screen set up at one end and all of the luminaria were "lit" and the screen scrolled all of those whom had luminarias as well as all of those that were survivors. It was quite emotional to see my name up on the screen with all of the other names of those who have walked the same path.

We only stayed until 1:30 AM for this one because of the very little time I'd have to make up my sleep. (This was on a Saturday night where my local Relay will be on a Friday night) If I don't get the opportunity to get enough sleep, not only am I at higher risk for seizures but I'm pretty much useless the next day. As much as I would have loved to stay the whole night, I knew it just wasn't possible for me to do.

It makes me even more excited for my local Relay. I can't wait to captain my team as we continue to raise money and awareness for the American Cancer Society.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Not Just Lack of Updates

I was just sitting here and I realized that not only have I had a horrible lack of updates recently but there has been a huge lack of quality updates as well. I think my last monthly update was the only one of quality for several months. *sigh* I guess I'm either dealing with spring fever, brain cramp, writer's block, or maybe just a bad case of "my internet sucks".

For a long time I was doing very well with updates and I was happy with my blog. I still love my blog, I just find it harder to come up with anything meaningful to write about. I could sit here and bore you with my philosophy, gardening ideas, or Harry Potter jargon for weeks but I could never really do that to all of you faithful readers (all one of you!!!). That would be worse torture than I would even put my worst enemy through.

I am going to try hard to come up with some new ideas on posts over the next few months. I guess my biggest challenges has been that I am no longer heavy into dealing with the original subject matter of the blog but add in the toll my brain took just shy of a year ago and you have a total disaster.

I don't look to post over the weekend but with any luck I will be awake enough to post all about my first Relay For Life and Survivor's Lap on Monday!!!