Wednesday, August 27, 2008

American idol

Several answers before you look at these pictures...
1. yes, we did make a dash to Shreveport
2. yes, we did play a rousing game of Interstate Hwy Car Bingo
3. Yes, we did play Mad Libs grown up version
4. Yes, it was Kirt's birthday
5. Yes, we consumed a bag of Peanut Butter M&M's and most of a bag of Air Heads...no comments please!
6. Yes we mad ea pit stop before dinner...let's just say I entered with 3 $5 bills and a $10 bill and came out with nothing.
7. yes we had dinner at Ralph and Kacoo's..a first for many
8. yes, there were other grown ups around us at the concert
9. yes, we were that close
10. yes...I have 400 more pictures than the ones below!

Enjoy!!!



































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Saturday, August 23, 2008

award

While I'm in the process of bragging, I recently received an award from a professional organization we are a member of. Here's the article.

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rankings

How could you not love working at a place when it gets this kind of press:

Dear Friends,

I am delighted to announce that the most recent rankings of colleges and universities by U.S. News and World Report reveal Ouachita with two #1 rankings. We hold for the second consecutive year a #1 ranking in academic quality, and we moved up to #1 in the great schools-great prices category. Please read the news release below for additional details.This kind of news is a tribute to our faculty, staff, students and alumni. We expect to deliver more good news after registration this coming Tuesday.

Rex M. Horne, Jr.President, Ouachita Baptist University

Yes, you read that right. #1 in two categories and one for the second year in the row!!!!

Read the article here.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

arg

ok, so maybe I dont like being able to go back to normal....can we say overwhelmed?

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

chips

I'm getting close to being back. I had chips last night (thanks Tara for reintroducing the simple pleasures). We had bunko and there was corn dip and if ever there was a moment to see if I could eat chips...that was so worth it. I have gotten braver throughout the week. My voice is so much better and my throat is healing more every day. Thank you Lord.

Although, there is a bad side. Now that I can eat again, I am quickly loosing my race to keep this weight off. Not good. I've got to make a new plan..how do you go from drinking nutrition drinks with the most number of calories, to reminding yourself that you have lost an amount of weight that you wanted to after Christmas (chemo and radiation are not the most ideal diet, but hey I have to find the positives) and now keep it off.

Maybe that will be my new journey...enjoying food and life without becoming a rabbit or exercise junkie. Who knows.

On a different note, the Chairman of our State Democratic party was shot today in his office several times and died later at the hospital...really. Who goes into an office and asks to see a man and then shoots him? Aren't those the things my Lifetime movies are made about? I'm so anxious to find the connection. We are supposed to do random acts of kindness you people.

Back to happy. I'm going to get fajitas on the way home tonight..bet you didn't think there could be a place to get "to-go" from in Arkadelphia like that...Guess where they are from!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Don't you love my new look! Jenny is amazing. If you are a blogger and want a signature design, she is your gal. Check out her work at Pink Armchair Designs. She has been so good to support me during this journey. I have learned a lot about using your personal gifts to help those around you through my friends and this journey. Thank you Jenny!

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new look

Don't you love my new look! Jenny is amazing. If you are a blogger and want a signature design, she is your gal. Check out her work at Pink Armchair Designs. She has been so good to support me during this journey. I have learned a lot about using your personal gifts to help those around you through my friends and this journey. Thank you Jenny!

Friday, August 8, 2008

that's it

What a day yesterday turned out to be. I had a CT scan scheduled at 8:10 and then a doctors appointment with Dr. Mendelsohn at 11:15. We (mom and Resa came in on Wed night) got to Little Rock for the scan and they asked me if I had, had my water. "NO"?!? They typically ask me this question and then look and say, "oh never mind, you are just doing a neck and chest scan". But, yesterday, they looked at each other and said, "yeah, you need water, you are having a neck, chest, and abdomen scan." No harm, it is not any more invasive, I just didn't drink my water. So, they called me back to get my IV in and brought me glass numero uno.

I guess it had been a while since I had had one of these scans because the needle seemed extra long. I couldn't really bend my arm back (they use the left one because you can actually find a vein) because I could feel the needle poking. So, here I am back in the waiting room, trying to "sip/drink" my first glass of water. Well, it is freezing cold in the waiting room and drinking cold water just made it worse. I started shivering. I knew then that this was going to be an interesting day. I got a refill and started working on glass number two. Thankfully, Resa went out to the car to get my blanket.

Now, let me digress for a moment and say that I never go into these rooms where there are really people I can relate to. Still, I always feel like they are trying to figure out who is the patient in our group. They look at me weird when I'm the one with the IV in my arm or the tape on my chest or whatever is the outlying indicator of being the one needing the treatment. It is just funny. There are usually old people or gruff people, or sad people. They usually look at me with that "could someone shut up the loud cheery girl." Get over it!

So, the scan went fine. It took a little longer than normal, just because they scanned more than normal. It was funny. There is a robot lady voice that comes on and tells you to hold your breath. I guess that fills up your lungs, so it is obvious on the scan where they are. But, I forgot that, that happened and I was so busy thinking about the warm dye that I could fell spreading throughout my body and I jumped when she spoke. I guess maybe I was the only one who thought it was funny, but if I wasn't holding my breath, I can assure you that I would have let out a belly laugh. Who knew I could get so spooked. The next time it happened, it wasn't nearly as loud as it seemed the first time. But, I'm getting tickled just thinking about it again.

After that, we had a couple hours to kill. I was hungry, but there is nothing breakfast outside of yogurt that I can eat and we couldn't think of a place to "go" and eat, so we stopped at Starbucks to get some tea. New indulgence. Warm tea on a sore throat= good! Let me digress for a moment, again. I am awful about gift cards. When it came time to pay, I pulled out my debit card and paid in the very usual fashion. It wasn't until later when I was at a different store that I realized that I have 4 gift cards to Starbucks in my purse. Now, we know why stores make so much money on gift cards. Dumb heads like me forget to use them.

After a trip to Target and the Dollar Tree, we went back to Dr. Mendelsohn's office. Like always, I started my visit in the lab. None of the usual faces were in there, yes people that I have seen in the hallway, but no one that I typically have in there when my lab work is drawn. I had put my numbing medicine on while we were at Target so it would make my port numb before I went in to the lab. I even covered it with the press and seal wrap and wore it that way while we were shopping. Yes, I'm that cool.

I'm not sure if I didn't put it on the right spot or if I didn't leave it on there long enough, but I could totally feel the poke when she pushed the cath into my port. Yes, it hurt as bad as you are imagining. That was a new feeling for me and since I'm not used to that, I had big tears drop. Then, they couldn't stop. I would wipe them off my cheek and they would keep coming. Then, I had one of those moments where I couldn't quit crying. I tried to look at the floor so no one saw me, but it didn't work. The sweet nurse asked if I was ok. I tried to tell her that I was. I said it hurt, and that I couldn't get a hold of myself. She apologized and started giving me some tips for next time. Funny everything she said to do, I had done. Maybe it was a way for me to remember. Maybe since it was a pain I had not experienced, this was my chance to feel it. I've said all along that was something I wanted. Maybe I should be careful what I wish for. It probably didn't help that when I looked over at the lady next to me who was waiting her turn in the lab, I saw that she was crying too. I felt really bad. I wanted to say something, say that I was sorry, or say that it wasn't that bad, but I didn't know what to do. Even later, when our eyes met in the waiting room, I wanted to reach out, but all that either of us could do was just crack an awkward smile that we had caught each other looking.

I'm telling you, there is something in the eyes of these people when you look around the room. So many times, I catch myself just looking at the floor, because when I am there, I don't have it in me to do anything about the empty feeling that I see in their eyes. What if I could do more. What would I say. Do I have the words of advice for a young married couple? Or, what about the grandma? Or, what about the business man? Yes, I can tell them stories of how to cope and pass along some courage, but how to handle this in their world? Oh Lord, would that be me?

I came out of the lab and couldn't stop, it actually got worse because I had to traipse all the way across the room, all the while staring at the floor to try and hide my tears. When I sat down, Resa could tell I was upset and just looked up at me, I tried to turn my back to the room and I told her "It hurt and I think I'm just tired", but that was a lie. I got up and went to the bathroom and lost it. "I don't want to be here today". "I don't want to be doing this". "I'm tired". "That hurt". "Is this going to be that day?" I finally told myself to get it together. This is not the time to feel sorry for myself and crying wasn't going to fix it, but "Why me? Why now?" "I just don't have time for this."

We waited in the waiting room for a little longer and they called us back. I was getting irritated waiting, but I realized that probably sitting out there reading magazines was better than waiting in that small room on the "observation table". Any who, we served our time in the back, waiting for the doctor as well. The nurse came in and gave me my counts and got some information and then Dr. Mendelsohn came in. He said my scan looked great and that everything was "shrinking, shrinking, shrinking". Great, that's what we wanted to hear. He said that they were 1/2-in. I assume he was talking about the biggest ones or the ones that had been big, I dint really ask for specifics. Nothing really more specific than that. Then he said, "so I think you are done"! What, no way he just said that. Ok, so we will do the last chemos and then its over.

He then went on to say that his Hodgkins patients who have gone on to do more chemo after radiation just get really sick and it doesn't really help in the treatment process. So, I will not be doing any more chemo.

Let me just tell you I was sitting there thinking "there is no way that it is this simple. And past that, that we really are done , like done, like in what being through with this means." Of course at that moment he got a call that he must have been expecting, because he took the call and stepped out in the hall. I just looked at my mom and then at the nurse who said, "well, that sounds like good news". I just was so confused. While I didn't come in to today with any expectations, because I thought that was the best way to prepare myself, I so did not think that this was what he was going to say. All along, he had said at whatever point I was in remission, we would do another round to make sure we we got it. But, done, like done, was what he said.

When he came back in, I asked him, "so". Yeah, that is really what I said. Followed by, "ok, this is not what I was expecting, so I didn't come prepared with the questions I'm supposed to ask. So, what am I supposed to ask you and know." He chuckled and said, "well, here are the answers. I would say you are in REMISSION (yes, this is about the time my brain stopped working..as if it had ever started). And, we are entering an observation time. I do not expect this to come back. You are in the 98th percentile and it shouldn't. I am expecting that we are over. But, I want to see you in 4 weeks and we would typically do another scan at 6 weeks, but I want to wait 8 weeks, so we are sure that your radiation is out of your system and we don't get any false results. But, for now, you can do things like normal as you feel you are able. I wouldn't go out and do anything crazy, but you can go to work (ooops, was I not supposed to be doing that?), you can go out and do things, whatever you feel like you can do."

I tried to just look at him and say "ok", but my insides were screaming..."Did he just really say what I think he said?" You see, I was not prepared for that word, not at all, so hearing it has still not set in. Maybe part of me knows that until he says the "I''ll see ya in 3 months or 6 months thing", that I'm still going back, but for now, I got two months back. Two months that I can plan, that I can travel, that I can do "normal". That's just bonkers.

I was completely surprised and excited. But, I have to admit, its weird. I definitely have this "so, what now" feeling. Thankfully, I've never lost a job, but Dr. Kluck said today that my feelings are like that. Taking care of myself and remembering medications, and appointments, and diagnosis information has been my job and now that, that has changed, I'm sitting here with this "now what feeling". What's next? Do I really just go back to "normal"? And, what is that? I know for sure that it has changed, because I have changed.

The way I look at life is different. The way I want to spend my time is different. What I can eat and what I want to eat are different. My relationships with my family are different. My relationships with my friends are different. So, what do I do now? I guess, that will be my new journey. Relating to people that I could not even try understand before. Sharing my story. Moving on, marking the next chapter.

So, if you see with this mindless wonder in my eyes, don't be confused. I'm searching, looking, trying to see what's next. How do I go from here and where do I go from here?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

what's next

ok, so I've left you out in the wind. The last post was started on Thursday afternoon, but I never finished it. So, sorry about the retrospect.

Mom and resa come tomorrow. I have my next set of scans on Thursday morning. My doctor put a note on my file to do nothing until we scan. So, Thursday I should know what is next.

Scans are at 8:10 and then my appointment is at 11.

I don't really know how I feel. 240 kids left campus at noon today after being here for 3 days for the New Student Retreat. I'm so worn out.

So, yes, I have lots of feelings, but I will not share for the sheer fact that so many of them are blinded by pure exhaustion.

It was so hard for me to not have the mic in my hand this weekend. This voice thing has been really hard. Not usual for me to yell out someones name when I need them and they cant hear me (and no, I don't need to be yelling, but sometimes I forget. I cant help it). I mean you can barely hear me on the cell phone.

I call it my sexy smoker voice, but there really is nothing sexy about it. I so hope this is over soon. I hate thinking about what I can and cant eat. I hate being the inconvenience. It really drives me crazy. I want to eat a steak. I want chips and salsa. I want to eat bbq and enjoy it. I want sweet tea to taste sweet again and not salty. I want to drink a soda or order an ocean water at sonic. I'm tired of mashed potatoes (unless they are those kind from last night), baked potatoes, worrying if I can find something to eat at whatever restaurant we eat at. I'm tired of carrying around my orange bottle of medicine so I can gargle it 15 minutes before I want to try and eat something. I'm tired of my throat hurting after it isn't numb any more because I ate something I shouldn't have.

Another new reality I'm tired of is seeing "cancer face" in pictures. That is the new look. It's hard. I saw one today. yuck. maybe I should wear makeup more...but I'm tired of that too and when its hot, now that I'm a sweater, I hate feeling like my face is melting off. Ok, I'm tired and I'm tired of hearing myself complain. So, I'm going home.

Friday, August 1, 2008

random thoughts

ok, warning, I am about to write a series of thoughts that will probably not make sense and most likely not flow together, but I have to get them out of my brain.


This has been a crazy week, full of all kinds of emotions and accomplishments.


So, I finished radiation. It was so weird. That morning before I went, I really wasn't thinking anything about it. I knew it was the last day and was already kinda relieved knowing this would be over, but I don't think I realized until I was laying on the table what I had "accomplished". It was a right of passage in a way. Kinda going through something that I could check off in my list of remedies to the cancer process.


It wasn't until I was laying on the table that morning that it all hit. In essence, when the mask went on, I was a different person. You cant really talk with the mask on, so once they put it on me, they move me around to get me set will all the alignments and then they zap me and then I'm done.


But, on Wednesday, everything after the mask happened in slow motion. All the moving of the machine and all the clicks I hear while it is rotating seemed to move so slow. Almost, like I heard every clink of the track as it rotated. You know that noise you hear as you climb up the first (or highest) hill on a roller coaster. Click, click, click, to the top. That's what it felt like. I could hear as it clicked past every slot on the track. First, the back, then the front. It also seemed to radiate longer, but I bet that was more my imagination than anything.


As I laid there, it hit me what I was doing. There have been moments throughout the process where these same thought have gone through my mind, but on Wednesday, it was different. I realized this was the last day I would be having these thoughts, these feelings. And, that is the moment when the emotions hit. I usually am pretty emotional and I thought about that, that morning while I was getting ready. I wondered if I would cry and told myself I wouldn't. Why would I? I wondered if I would have a big smile on my face when it was over. If wondered if I would feel relieved or sad.

Sad was an emotion that I felt. I know, kinda weird. Almost like the last day of high school or graduation day from college. I was glad for what I was going through, but also sad that I wasn't coming to this very familiar place everyday any more (I mean, I laid there with my shirt off for 17 days in a row!!! If that's not getting to know someone I'm not really sure what is). It's hard to describe. I think some of my tears were a grief in a way. I'm not really good with change, so I'm sure that had something to do with it. I like routine and I had settled in to the process that I had become accustomed to. I felt guilty walking out the door that day with two ladies still in the locker room waiting their turn.

I remember the day I walked out with a woman when it was her last day and thought I cant wait for that, but this was not what I was expecting to feel. The emotions were there. I wanted to thank everyone around me. They had helped save my life. Fix me, make me better and I will forever be grateful.

I always heard that the CARTI people were like family and I thought there was no way. But, that's what I felt. Kinda like leaving them and not really knowing the next time I would see them. Strange. But, I was glad it was over. It was very weird not to get up and go there the next morning.

It was a great day of celebration.