Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Good news.

I had my appointment this morning to get my stitches out and to get the results of my tests. I was obviously really nervous to get my results. If tests showed cancer I was facing more surgery as well as cancer treatments and worst of all...I wouldn't be able to go back to nursing school in three weeks! If it showed NO cancer, that's it. I'm done. I go on with my life and go back to school and put all this behind me. I wanted to be told it was benign SO bad but I was mentally preparing myself to hear the worst. I halfway expected to hear that I had cancer and I was going to be really proud of myself about how well I was going to handle it. I was going to be stoic and brave and calm and then fall apart later in private. So when he said "Well, the good news is that everything came back benign"...I almost didn't know how to react. I only practiced my "bad news" reaction! I felt like I wanted to cry and I KNEW if I looked at my mom I would lose it so I just kept my eyes on the doctor. Once we left, my mom and I both fell apart in the elevator. We got some looks but I couldn't hold in the tears anymore! I felt so relieved and happy and overwhelmed with gratitude that I'M DONE! I don't have to think about this anymore. I don't have any doctors appointments to go to in the near future! I've been to over a dozen appointments these last few months and now I'm done! Just like that! I don't even care that I look like someone tried to murder me. I'm embracing my scarred neck. ( I may have to purchase a cute necklace or two..I think that's fair.) Gage said the scar looks like a smiley face...and it does! Thanks to everyone who was rooting for us to have good news. Thanks for everything...everybody! I can't even believe that we're this lucky to have the greatest friends, family and neighbors in the world! Tonight I'm tired and my neck hurts and I have a headache but I'm one happy chicka!

Before and after pix....
WITH stitches:

WITHOUT stitches:

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A pain in the neck.....

The surgery is over and done with! Yea! It's such a relief to be home and still alive and to have that nasty tumor OUT of my neck! The last few days have been pretty crazy. To recap....

The night before my big day, my parents took Joey and I out to dinner. All the kids were farmed out to different family members so I could have a few days after the surgery to recover and rest in peace. ( Thank you guys!!!!) We went to eat at Sweet Tomatoes and it tasted so good to me! I knew I wouldn't be eating for awhile so I savored every bite! When Joey and I got home from dinner, my friends Shelly and Lisa came over with an "anti-boredom" package to help make the recovery time easier. It had magazines, a book, candy, a blanket, ect... They're the greatest! Thank you ladies!

The night before surgery, I layed awake most of the night feeling sick to my stomach. I couldn't take any sleeping meds so I just lay there listening to Joey sleeping like a baby...not a care in the world! :) The morning couldn't come soon enough! I just wanted to get it over with. We had to be at Tempe St. Lukes by 8AM to check in. They told me I could shower and put on deodorant but NO makeup or lotion or anything like that. It's bad enough you have to have surgery but then you have to feel all disgusting, too! I was really tempted to put a little lotion on but ultimately I followed the rules. Joey took a picture of me in all my glory right before walking out the door....(it's hard for me to post all the following pictures but this is my journal and I want to document it. Sorry if it's disturbing to anyone!) Once we got to the hospital, my stomach calmed down a little. They took me back to pre-op and got me hooked up to an IV and made sure I knew that really really bad things could happen during surgery. They went down the list...bleeding, infection, permanent loss of voice or permanent hoarseness, collapsed lung, heart attack, death...ect. Then I had to sign "consent" that said I still wanted to go through with it. I actually DIDN'T want to go through with it but I knew I had to.
They gave me a cute hat to wear and Joey snapped one last picture before they wheeled me back to the surgery room. Cute, eh?

I don't remember much else after that. I remember getting put on the table and the anesthesiologist saying "goodnight" and then waking up 4 hours later. I woke up with a horrible headache and really really hot because I had blankets piled up on me. I could hear my recovery room nurses talking about who should take their lunch break first and I was desperately trying to open my eyes or move so they would know I was awake. It's a strange feeling to be completely paralyzed like that. It seemed like forever that I was trying to tell them I was hot and to take the blankets off me. Eventually I gave up and just went back to sleep. I woke up in my hospital room. That first day is all kind of a blur. I remember having a horrible headache all day and intense pain when I tried to swallow. I had no voice. When I would try to talk it was just a scratchy whisper. It hurt to try to talk so I just didn't talk unless absolutely necessary. At one point the nurse came in and asked me if I wanted to go for a walk in the hallway. I was gotta be kidding me lady! That's the LAST thing in the world I want to do. Then she mentioned that she didn't want me getting blod clots and I remembered WHY it was important to walk after surgery. I say no thank you to blood clots. That's all I need! So I got up and walked. Joey and my mom were good about documenting all my achievements. It FELT like an achievement! Who knew that just walking a few steps down the hall could be so difficult? I know now that this whole thing will make me a better nurse. I will understand now why it's so hard to get up out of bed after surgery. How all you want to do is lay there and NOT move! I think I will be more patient and understanding where as before I had no idea what surgery is like and how much it wipes you out. The second day I woke up feeling much better. I was still in a lot of pain but I felt my brain was less hazy. I think all the drugs had finally worn off and I could think more clearly. I was able to get up and brush my teeth and wash my face. I ate a couple of bites of scrambled eggs and passed on the cream of wheat. No thanks. I tried it but I couldn't get it down. It hurt to eat so I just didn't!
Right after breakfast, Dr. Mendelson came in to take out my drain and talk to me about the surgery. He said the tumor was bigger than they expected or anticipated. He had to make my incision bigger than he had originally told me it would be because he needed to be able to get it all out. He said due to the fact that it was so large, it will take a week to be tested for cancer. Next Wednesday I get the results of the tests back and I will know if it was cancerous or not. If it is... I have to have more surgery. If not...I'm DONE! I can go on with my life! He told me I need to use my voice and not baby it. I guess the nerve to my voice box was in the way and it had to be moved and he was a little concerned it might have been damaged a little. He told Joey there was a possiblity that I would have permanent hoarseness. As much as it hurt, I forced myself to use my voice and not whisper. Yesterday, my voice came back completely and I was so relieved! Occasionally it will go out but for the most part my voice is back. Today is three days post-op and I feel pretty good. My neck hurts like the dickens..especially when I try to turn my head, but I can swallow without too much pain and I can talk! So I'm good!
Thank you to everyone who cares about me and my family. Thanks for coming and sitting in the waiting room and being bored! Thanks for the cards, the calls, the cinnamon rolls, the flowers, the emails, the dinners....everything! Thank you for taking my kids away and doing fun things with them so I could rest and recover in a quiet house! I can't thank you all enough! I will let everyone know what I find out on Wednesday! Hopefully it's good news!

Check out that BAD BOY scar!!

Friday, July 17, 2009


This summer has been awesome! For the first time since Joey became a teacher (11 years ago) he was actually HOME during his summer break. Normally, he would be doing his summer satellite job the whole break but since his back injury he no longer can do that. He was home with us and it was wonderful! We swam, we went to the movies, we lounged around, we swam, we swam.... is swam a word? I guess I should say we went swimming. My point's been nice. However, due to my recent health issues we didn't plan a family "out of town" vacation because we weren't sure when my surgery was going to happen. Now that it's scheduled for next week we decided to take a quick vacay...and I mean REALLY QUICK! It was kind of a spur of the moment decision to just get out of town for a few days. Some friends in our ward have a cabin outside of Flagstaff so we went up there for a couple days. I'm SO glad we went!It was in the low 80's... NICE compared to 115 degrees at home! It even clouded up and sprinkled on us a couple times. Only the BEST smell ever! Rain in the mountains ranks right up there with the smell of scotch tape! Mmmmmm.

There was a small lake right next to the cabin. The boys were so excited to try to fish (even though we didn't bring any gear).Gage carved a spear with his knife and was determined to catch a fish.And he DID! Kind of. He found a fishing line that someone had walked away from with two fish on it. He was so excited! Someone needs to take that boy fishing!My mom and Tia came along to get out of the heat as well. The cabin was HUGE so there was plenty of room....
While the other peeps were napping and lounging around, Gage, Drey, Avery and I decided to go on a hike. We found a trail that led deep into the woods. I was glad that I remembered to take my camera.
We took lots of "breaks". This annoyed Gage. He's like me and he wants to HIKE...not stroll. Drey and Avery are strollers and liked to stop so Drey could hit trees with a big stick ( I don't know why...he's 10) and so Avery could pick flowers and look for deer tracks. We saw TONS of deer tracks and deer droppings but no deer. We hiked for about an hour and a half and then the conversation turned to whether or not there were bears in the forest. Drey started trying to scare Avery and ended up freaking HIMSELF out! Very soon he was looking into the woods with a concerned look on his face and soon after that he wanted to turn back. The stinker. I realized that we were pretty far into the woods by ourselves and we had drank all our water so we turned back to the cabin.
We spent a lot of time lounging around on the comfy chairs on the deck, reading and eating grapes. Ahhh. This is the life. I could do this every day... forever!

We brought plenty of games to play. Carcassonne, Five Crowns, name a few.
They even had a cool swing in the front yard that the kids had a great time on!

As we were all laying around on the deck, someone ( I think it was my mom) had a great idea. She suggested that we ride up to the Grand Canyon the following day. My kids had never been there and it was only an hour and a half away so we decided to go! It was beautiful and breathtaking and NERVE RACKING! I was a nervous wreck. I guess I thought there would be guardrails and it would be a safe activity. NOPE! There were a few railings but for the most part there weren't. I held Delly pretty much the entire time. I couldn't risk her running away and falling off. I made sure someone was always holding Avery's hand and if the boys even THOUGHT about stepping one foot off of the marked path they would hear me bellowing! Get on the path!! No running! Stay together! Back up! I was a nervous overprotective wreck! I can't say the same for other parents. I can't even begin to describe the idiots who were at the Grand Canyon that day. Parents that were letting their kids run around and play right on the EDGE! Where it's slippery with loose gravel! One mom had her three little kids standing right on the edge so she could take a picture. The boys were elbowing each other and messing around and the little girl (about Dellys age) was just standing there INCHES away from the edge while the mom adjusted the settings on her camera and was not even watching! I was horrified! Even Avery said "Mama, that's not safe." Hello... seven year old was smarter than that lady! People were strolling along the edge, hopping from rock to rock, sitting with their legs dangling off, not paying attention AT ALL! I couldn't believe it. There needs to be some kind of common sense test that you have to pass before being allowed into the Grand Canyon. Seriously. In the visitor center there was a book about all the deaths that have occured there. 600 people have slipped and fallen to their deaths. I was about done after I read that. I was ready to leave. We got some cute pictures, my kids saw the Grand Canyon and I wanted to leave before I witnessed anything tragic. I had nightmares that night as it was.

That's the Grand Canyon behind us....we were having the hardest time getting the pictures to turn out and not wash out the background!

My sister desperately consulting the map in search of a bathroom. It was and emergency (44oz. of Diet Dr. Pepper on the way up) and we were all hurting.

As we were driving home from the Grand Canyon we decided to stop at a deer farm and let the kids pet the deer. I remember doing that when I was a little girl at the same place!
Delly was a little scared at first but soon was letting the deer eat right out of her hand!

I started to feel sprinkles on my feet and I thought "Oh good! It's sprinkling!" Then I looked down and saw that it was a different kind of sprinkle that I was feeling. My sister got "sprinkled on" as well. Not nice.

I could relate to this deer with a goiter. It's not easy having a goiter. The stares. The whispers behind your back. The furtive glances..trying to look at it but not be seen looking at it. At least I'm getting mine removed next week! We had a moment....this deer and I. We bonded.

I could have stayed up in the mountains a few more days. I think we all could. But there was no way we were going to miss going to see WICKED! We had tickets for Thursday night. No boys. Just a girls night out. We started it off right with Wicked pedicures......

Followed by dinner at Nello's. Always a treat.......

Followed by the greatest show ever...WICKED! It was awesome. This whole week has been awesome. It was a much needed break. Time to get back to real life!