Ups and Downs

Hello friends. It’s been a rough week for me, and my family.

Back in March, my mom was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer of the soft pallet. She had surgery on April 1st to remove a tumor and her lymph nodes, and the plan was that she would begin chemo and radiation in earnest by the end of May. Well, while in the hospital she got pneumonia and ended up being in the hospital for 21 days. By the time she was getting ready to do all the pre-blood work and tests needed to prepare her for chemo and radiation, they discovered another tumor.

So, she went back in for surgery again in July, this time a more aggressive surgery removing not only the tumor, but part of her jaw bone as well. She recovered in the hospital, as well as two different skilled nursing facilities for about 7 weeks before coming home on Labor Day. She’d been able to start chemo and radiation while in the skilled nursing, so by last week she’d had 4 weeks of radiation, and 3 chemo treatments.

The week of the 15th my mom went in for her normal pre-chemo blood work etc, and it came back not great. It looked like she had a kidney infection, so they went ahead and did radiation, but no chemo. She also started taking antibiotics. The chemo and radiation have been creating a lot of mucus in her chest, and toward the end of the week she was getting really weak and having a hard time getting the mucus up. By Friday night she had spiked a fever, and was too weak to even sit up on her own, so my dad took her to the ER early Saturday morning. They decided to admit her, and she was on more antibiotics, fluids etc. Sometime during Sunday evening she took a turn, and was having a really difficult time breathing.

My dad got a phone call from the hospital around 11pm saying they were going to move her up to the ICU to keep a closer eye on her. Sometime around 3am he got another phone call from the ICU saying the doctors were going to have to intubate her, because she wasn’t breathing well. This is about the time my dad called me, and said to sit tight, but that I might want to think about coming up. About 20 minutes later, he got another call from the hospital, they had intubated her, and she had lost her pulse. They’d had to perform CPR, and were able to get her hear beating again. At that point though, the ventilator was breathing for her, she was on medication to control her heart rate (which was REALLY low), and they had run a central line in her neck to start doing continuous dialysis because her kidneys had failed. My dad called me again from the hospital saying I needed to come home – things were not good.

I flew up Monday morning, and on our drive from the airport to the hospital my dad let me know that doctors had informed him if my mom didn’t regain consciousness in the next day or so, we would have a decision to make. Thankfully, by the time we got to the hospital, she had woken up. She still looked awful – her face was super gaunt, and she was a yellow grey color. She was on the ventilator until sometime Tuesday, and by end of day Wednesday they’d taken the tube out. Thankfully her liver started recovering function, and they were able to take her off the blood pressure medication because it started leveling out on its own again.

She’s still doing intermittent dialysis because her kidneys haven’t regained function they way they’d like – they’re not sure if they will completely recover or not, but that’s something to worry about later. Right now, she’s ready to be released from ICU, they’re just waiting on a room to be available on the transitional ICU floor. We’re hoping that next steps after hospital will be to an Acute Rehab facility where she’ll be able to continue her physical therapy for 3 hours a day. She’s lost a lot of strength and really need that help to get back up and moving around.

I came home early Saturday morning, and have been doing my own recovery at home – sleeping, watching bad TV, snuggling with the cats and Pickles. I still can’t get over how stressful and exhausting the week was. Who knew sitting in a hospital room for 8 hours a day would be so tiring? I’m grateful that my mom is getting better, and am so happy I got the opportunity to spend time with her this week, even though it was really difficult seeing her so weak and ill.

Things

Last Thursday, I came home to find the front door open – and our house ransacked.

It was not a good feeling, and over the last few days I’ve come to realize a number of things from this experience.

Things are just that: things. They can be replaced. It may be a pain in the ass to replace a laptop and external hard drive with 6 years worth of music, photos, writing, web design and more – but the laptop and external hard drives can be replaced.

What can’t be replaced: our cats, and our sense of safety.

Bits went missing for about an hour which was terrifying, and basically my worst nightmare come true. Thankfully she was just hiding somewhere in the house really well, and Travis, me, Peanut and Bits are all safe.

This weekend we adopted a super sweet Pit Bull who we have named Pickles. She is incredibly adorable, loving and the perfect addition to our family.

I am hoping to come back and blog more frequently, but I’m not so sure – so, we’ll see.

Pulling Back

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Over the course of the last two years, I’ve struggled a bit. I felt stuck in some parts of my life, and frankly, I didn’t know exactly how to fix it. Everyone has challenges and difficulties. For some time, I allowed the things that were difficult to push me down, make me angry, and sad, and begin to turn me into a person I neither recognized, nor liked. This is not to say I was always angry or sad, but there were things in my life that made me unhappy and, so, I set out to change them.

I have long been a believer in the idea that there are very few things you do not have the power to change. If you do not like where you live, move. If you do not like your job, find a new one. This doesn’t mean those things are easy, or will happen the moment one decides to change. That was, perhaps one of my challenges. Realizing, and understanding, and accepting that change can take time. More time than you’d like, and more time than you think you’re willing to give.

This week is my last at my current job. In February, Travis and I bought a house, and on April 1st, my mom will undergo surgery to remove a tumor from her soft palate. I would say, wholeheartedly, after the last few months, I can agree with the expression “when it rains, it pours.”

The good news, is all of these things are forward momentum, they are things that can and will continue to move ahead and change and grow. I will be going home next week to be with my mom as she undergoes her surgery, and then I start a new job I am immensely excited about. It’s been kind of a long time since I was as excited about something work related, so I will take all of this – the good, the bad, in my stride and keep aiming my arrow where I want it to go – onward.

I spent

Springing Forward

grass-is-greener_thumbHello friends!
It’s been a while again, and I apologize. I swear I have a good reason for being such a flake. You see, in the past few weeks a lot of changes have been going on in my life.

Travis bought a house and we moved in on March 1st. We were both miserably sick, and it was pouring down rain, but we got it done. I was out of work for a full week with an Upper Respiratory Infection that has now settled itself into a lovely and unwelcome sinus infection.

And, I accepted a new job. I’ll stay within the organization, but I’ll be at a different location with a brand new job involving fundraising, communications and corporate and community outreach. This job kind of fell into my lap and I am thrilled and excited by the opportunity and challenge. I don’t officially begin until April 7th but I’m pretty happy.

So, lots and lots of changes. Because I’ve been so sick for so long (going on day 12 now) I haven’t been able to workout, or dance, or do much of anything but snuggle with the cats, try to read, and watch TV on my laptop.

One of the things I’m really looking forward to in the next few weeks is putting a focus back on my work/life balance, and reassessing my goals to:
1) Finish my Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work
2) Dance more
3) Read and write more
4) Generally be happier and more engaged in life

I truly believe I’ve found a great environment to help work on those things, and am excited about all the new challenges and opportunities coming my way.

It is bittersweet though, because I will absolutely miss my coworkers, the families I work with, and the programs I’ve spent so long building. One thing that really stuck out at me last year when I met with our big boss, was I can’t allow my fear of failure to control my life choices. I need to trust my gut, and take a leap and keep growing and learning. I’ve gotten very comfortable where I am, and not always particularly healthy or happy, and I think all of these big things happening are a sign that I’m on the right path.

Change is good.

What I Do When I Don’t Run

I’m beginning to think I need to re-name this blog, because lately there has been neither jigging, nor jogging.  Truthfully, even though I work in a gym, getting myself to actually work out has been rough. I’m signed up for a half marathon with two co-workers in April, and I have accomplished no more than 3 miles. So. You know, not feeling so prepared.

So, what have I been doing?

Working. Reading. Sleeping. Snuggling with my cats. Thinking about writing. Starting to write, then stopping. Thinking some more about writing. More reading, and sleeping.

The truth is, last year was kind of rough. Travis was traveling for work a lot, as in, he was gone about 6 months of the year. My work life was fraught with disappointment, and struggle, and felt for a long time, like it was probably going to either kill me or I would be fired.

Having come through it, not completely unscathed,  I can look back on a good part of the year and feel like I have at least learned a few things.

1. Failure isn’t always what it appears.

- This is probably the biggest, and it’s something I’ve learned over and over again in life, but this time in a professional capacity.

Sometimes, failure is simply a way for the universe to say “HEY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! DO YOU EVEN LIKE THIS, ARE YOU EVEN HAPPY?!” – and for you to take a step back and say “oh. Hey, Univers, actually, I’m kinda miserable…what am I gonna do about it?”

2. It’s alright to ask for help. 

- Second biggest, for sure if for no other reason than I need to constantly remind myself that I don’t need to be a hero, and asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of maturity. I can not always do everything all the time, and that’s ok. I am a person who says YES to pretty much everything, all the time. I need to be better at asking all those people I say yes to, for help when I need it.

-This also goes for dealing with depression. I am only human, and asking for help from my doctor does not mean I am weak or a failure of a human being. It means the chemicals in my brain are fucked up sometimes and need some nudging.

3. It’s ok to say NO.

-This is something I still struggle with because I legitimately enjoy helping people, and want to be helpful all the time. Turns out, never saying no only makes me super tired and burned out. This is also big in understanding when I need to tell my bosses, “hey, so, working multiple 12+ hour days per week, and working all weekend isn’t going to work for me. I need time to recharge.”

 

What have you learned over the last year?

2013 In Review: Running / Fitness

2013 was supposed to be my grand return to running. I signed up again with Team in Training with the plan of conquering the Nike Women’s Marathon (while not gimpy) and helping to find a cure for blood cancers.

My IT band had other plans. Namely, that it is still being a pain in my ass/knee. So, while I didn’t complete a full marathon this year,I did walk the half course of Nike.

My greatest moment this year was while I was running/walking Nike, I saw the coach who helped me get through the full marathon two years before. I  got to stop and thank her, in person for not only ensuring I crossed that first full marathon finish line, but also for inspiring me to join Team in Training.

So, sadly, very little actual running and/or fitness for me this year. I should have gotten in the pool more. I should have done more of my strength training.

No use crying over spilled milk, right?

Next year.

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