Soooo, sorry I haven't written in awhile. I can't believe how busy I've been since coming to Oregon.
Then there's getting Gage into a special preschool and some autism testing. He starts school Wednesday. He was never officially assessed for autism in Chicago, but lots of different therapists felt that was what we're dealing with. He had an initial assessment last week; enough red flags were raised for him to get a very in-depth assessment in the next couple of weeks. For now, he has qualified for special preschool under Communication Delay. If it turns out that he's on the autism spectrum, that "trumps" communication delay, and he may get more than three days a week at the preschool, plus he'll get more therapy services. So we shall see.
Then there's the ten billion zillion medically-related appointments I've had. I counted; literally, 18 appointments in the past two weeks. Most of them are for me; a couple were dental appointments for the ninos and an orthodontic appointment for Dylio. I've had to find baby-sitters from my new (very awesome) ward, and often, I have to drive Gage 20 minutes to a baby-sitter, and then 20 minutes to the doctor's office, and then go pick him up, and then take him home. It's cray. I'll be going to radiation every single weekday for 7 weeks or so. I get kind of anxious thinking about it.
You know what else is cray? How huge our ward boundaries are! I had forgotten what it's like living in the "mission field." I'll be driving and driving and going, "This is still my ward....I'm still in my ward....." Very different than southeast Idaho or Utah. It reminds me of our two years in San Diego.
And can I just say that getting around Bend is...an adventure? All of the roads curve and change directions. And they change names. Like, every mile. Neff turns into Penn, then turns into Olney. We live on one side of a butte, so you would think that I could find my way home by just looking for the butte. But it depends on which side of the butte I'm on. And all sides of the butte look the same. (And every time I think the word "butte," I immediately think of the word "butt." Yes, I am immature. We live on Pilot Butt. Hahaha!) Needless to say, I use my map app on my phone CONSTANTLY.
And it's a little overwhelming just trying to keep on top of helping ninos with homework, doing laundry, making dinner, and supervising the ninos for their chores. Example: If I don't watch Dylan stack dishes, he literally just throws dishes in the washer and starts it. Then I'll open it later to see 10 bowls tightly stacked together like they would be in the cupboard. No water has gotten into each individual bowl. Needless to say, he hasn't inherited my fastidiousness. Which is fine. I can't expect my kids to be me. And there are a lot of things about being me that I don't want them to ever have. :) But I do expect bowls to be stacked so that soapy water can get inside of them and wash them. Haha! Such high standards, right?
I'm also still suffering from some of the side effects of chemo. It's weird; you kind of expect the side effects to immediately disappear when you're done. But they keep hanging on. I guess the chemo kind of builds up and builds up in your body, so when you're done, your body isn't necessarily done recovering. It's mainly the muscle weakness and the low blood pressure that are obnoxious. My hair still isn't growing, but that's the least of my concerns right now. And then there are a few other side effects that are a little too grody to share. I don't know how to spell that word. Grodie? Groady? And when did anyone last hear that word? The late 80's? Haha!
Anywho, because of the overwhelmingness of all of this, I have felt myself slipping more into my depression. I have to really baby my psyche. If it gets overloaded, I start to be more angry. (My depression manifests itself in anger.) I've felt my anger build, and that's not good, especially when it's often directed at the kiddos. So I went to my doc here and asked for a little bump-up in my meds for now, which she gladly did for me. I hope it helps. Because I have a really busy, potentially exhausting couple of months ahead of me.
So let's hop to the interesting radiation stuff. I start next Monday. It will be 20 minutes per day, every week day, for 33 visits. I had to go to my new plastic surgeon last week - he took some of the fluid out of my left tissue expander, a.k.a. one of my Mountainous, Rocky Peaks. (I can't wait to get my "real" boobs - three months after my last radiation. So five more months of hurting people when I hug them.) I guess the radiation makes the skin contract and tighten, causing a potential of, um, popping my left expander. So he stuck his syringe in (I can't feel it. I have absolutely no feeling there.) and sucked out 60 cc's. The next day, I went in for some radiation prep. They gave me some sweet dot tattoos. Wanna see?
Who knew that I would ever get fake boobs, botox (on my twitchy eye), and tattoos? These things were not on my radar, but cancer changes everything. :)
You can clearly see the tattoo that is right between the Mountainous, Rocky Peaks. Where a normal person's cleavage would be. I don't have a cleavage. I have more of a little valley right there. Actually, I never had a cleavage, so...
And then three or four inches above that dot is another one. It looks like a freckle from this angle. Actually, they all do. From afar. If you look closely, though, they look like little pieces of broken-off pencil lead under my skin. I can't figure out how I know what that looks like - did that many kids that I grew up with get stabbed with pencils and have subcutaneous pencil lead until someone fished it out??? Or maybe it kind of looks like little teeny bits of gravel that get buried under your skin when you fall off your bike. Maybe that's what I'm thinking of. I had some bike crash doozies growing up. My parents can tell you about the time I ran into a potato chip truck. Or the time I was on my dad's handlebars and my leg got caught in his front spokes, and the bike did a front flip.
I'm surprised I continued to ride my bike after all of these incidents. I suppose this really demonstrates me as a determined Type 3, huh, Shelly??
Anywho, there's another tattoo about three or four inches below the mid-Mountainous, Rocky Peaks. And then there are two tattoos on each side of my body, where my drains from my double mastectomy used to come out. You remember the infamous blood grenades, no? I still shudder when I think of those danged things.
So the tattoos help the radiologists line me up correctly every time I go in. Are these tattoos permanent? Yep. Ah well. I already look like Frankenstein. No big whoop.
They also made me this cool, individualized pillow. It felt like a bean bag pillow, right? So they had me lie down and bring my hands over my head, with elbows bent, the hands just a couple of inches above my head. Then they had me turn my head to the right, away from my left Mountainous, Rocky Peak. Then they sucked the air out of the bean bag pillow, and it became hard as a rock. And that is my mold that I lie in every time I go.
They also did a CT scan. This time, I didn't have to drink a gross drink or have a weird IV that made me feel like I was peeing my pants. I appreciated that.
I also saw a podiatrist, begged him to do foot surgery, and he said I have to try physical therapy first. Sighhhh. I hope it works. He said to give it a shot for a month. If I'm not feeling any relief, he'll do the surgery. It's not a huge one. It's called a Something Release and is an outpatient kind of thing. I'm so skeptical of anything fixing my foot. I've tried almost everything. For a year and a half! So, we'll see.
Oh, I also saw my Occupational Therapist. She has to teach me about lymphedema. It's this thing that sometimes happens to people who have had their lymph nodes removed. Basically, your arm swells up really badly. Because I've had my lymph nodes removed and am also having radiation, my chances of getting lymphedema are 50%. So we'll see. If I get a fat, swollen arm, I can at least console myself by saying, "Hey, at least I'm not dead." So she'll teach me about lymphedema. She is also certified to do physical therapy on my left arm - my range of motion has been affected by my surgery and the resulting scar tissue that has built up. I'll have to see her a few times per week for awhile.
They say that my radiated area will start feeling and looking sunburnt in the second week of treatment. By the end of it, I may have blisters. Sounds fun. But I say that anything is better than chemo.
I had to go buy Dove soap - regular bar soaps and any body washes are too drying for the radiated area. I also had to buy natural deodorant; regular deodorants have some type of metal in them and interfere with the treatment. And I have to go buy an over-the-counter lotion/aloe combo that is supposed to be absolutely amazeballs. I put that on my radiated area twice a day.
So, we're getting all revved up. I've heard stories of the tiredness that you feel when you're on radiation. Some have said it's nothin'. Others have said they were as tired as they were when on chemo. I'm going to have to just watch myself. If I feel that I can't keep up with the demands of a busy mom of four, my sweet (and really hilarious and down-to-earth) Relief Society president has immobilized the troops to help me. That's one of the many great things about the church - our women help others. It's what we do. No matter where you go.