Friday, February 10, 2017

Still able to have a little fun!

While our minds have been preoccupied some of these moments have made life extra special. We were able to go on a Santa Cruise with the Ritters.

 We also celebrated a late Christmas with the Kostners.


 We were able to help take down Christmas decorations at church.
 The kids were able to ice skate on the baseball field.
 And of course pretend to be bunnies.
 Hudson was able to try skiing for the first time.
 Luke did excellent at his piano recital with his friend Caleb.


 We also were able to see Disney on Ice!

I thought my worst health problem would be living to 105

October 25 - I went to a free screening with an ENT and she told me I had a thyroid cyst and should make a follow up appointment. Thyroid cysts are very common and non-problematic. I did not have a worry in my heart.
November 29 - I had my follow up appointment where she said the exact same thing however was able to order an ultrasound.
December 5 - I had my ultrasound and was very positive again, not a worry.
December 6 - I received a call from the ENT saying there were three calcified, solid, large cysts on the right and two small on the left. She urged me to get in for a biopsy right away. At this point I knew what was happening. I looked at some medical journals that described calcification means cancer 75% of the time.
December 12 - I arrive for my biopsy and changed into a hospital gown and slippers. As they walk me to the surgery area the nurses said these tests are begin most of the time. I was thinking I could be the 25%. The doctor needs to agitate the cells to make sure he gets enough tissue. So the doctor was very aggressive. I had trouble swallowing and moving my head for the next two days. This waiting period took forever. In hindsight the doctor did get enough cells for a conclusive test which was very good. (It is not uncommon to need multiple biopsies to get a diagnosis.)
December 13 - I got the call from the ENT that said it was papillary thyroid cancer and that she was leaving Aurora at the end of the week. She referred me to Grafton or Froedtert. I first called my brother-in-law who is an oncologist at Froedtert to see if the Froedtert surgeon was reputable. He said her and her partner are both very good and then he called to get me in an appointment right away. I then called my mom and couldn't speak. She knew what that meant.
December 16 - I had a 9:00 with the surgeon at Froedert, labs and a more extensive ultrasound, and a pre-op visit. The doctor was excellent and very confident. She planed a partial thyroidectomy and said I could even do it Dec 22. Dave was with me that entire day and we enjoyed the accurate care I was getting and the cancer center lunch. I felt very comforted just being in that building knowing they could help me.
December 19 - I met my oncology endocrinologist at 10:00 and he was the first one to really explain what was happening. I took over an hour to go through all my tests. He was very suspicious of a lateral lymph node and he wanted to do a biopsy of that the next day. From his impression I would need a total thyroidectomy, possible with a lateral neck dissection, and radioactive iodine. Somehow he told us this worse news but we felt very reassured because he was so through. At Lifecare hospital I have seen patients that can't breathe or eat because of a poor ENT surgery so I knew this would not be easy.
December 20 - I went to work in Summit, drove to Froedtert for my next biopsy in my smiley Santa sweater. (It was ugly sweater day at work.) The doctor and pathologist again spent over an hour with me to get the 10 biopsies at multiple levels. It is basically like trying to stab a 4mm bubble that moves away from the needle when you put it in. He was apologetic that it was taking so long and being difficult and thought I would not want to return to work. As soon as it was done I raced to work and missed my 1:30 patient. My manager saw that patient for me. Again, now just waiting for more news.
December 21 - I got a call late at night that the cellular tissue was normal lymph tissue which was great! We decided to not do the surgery Dec 22, but I did not realize that Jan 9 was the next opening. It was hard to wait that long, but nice to enjoy the holidays. Dave and I had our love amplified by this entire situation. Every simple thing felt more meaningful. I was rejoicing over the kids and the traditions of Christmas.
At this point everyone from family, neighbors, friends, our church, distant church's were praying and offering to help. We have been blessed by an outpouring of human kindness.
Dave's love for me was steadfast and strong this entire time. We would sometimes wonder together, worry together and pray together. Our only desire was to stay together and be a family for as long as possible. This is when he kissed me on the forehead. It was something he had never done before, but a way to communicate his love and anguish at the same time. I have never felt so loved. As the challenge grows deeper, his love grew deeper. We would dance together to Christmas hits and cry happy tears.
I knew God had already given me everything I have ever needed.  I have wanted to go to heaven since I was 20. I am not scared of death, but I am certainly not ready to leave. I know disease is part of the fallen world. I know many wonderful people have lost loved ones way before their time. I mainly had to have faith that if I was not here my kids would not grow up with deep wounds of losing a parent. I asked God to take care of Luke, Eva, and Hudson. Having faith is not assuming everything will be perfect, having faith is keeping hope and peace when things may not turn out well.
January 9 - 4:00am - Off to surgery! As I have never had surgery before I was sure there was a good chance I might not make it through. I did look like the youngest and healthiest person out of their 100 surgeries a day. My blood pressure was 132/90 which for me is crazy high. I am always super low or too low. I was sweating. We cried just a little. Our life group pastor met us there to pray one more time before going to surgery. We can only choose to have peace at this time. I made sure to say thank you to the surgeon and the anesthesiologist before they started. She said the kind note I had sent in December made it all the way to her boss and the bosses boss and she thanked me for the note as well. I remember waking up at 10:02 and getting off of the surgery table as they all quickly told me to lay back down. I was certainly glad to be alive but had this dry, nauseous, metallic, can't swallow, can't move feeling. I did not get any positive or fun affect from the meds. The recovery nurse said my incision was bigger than expected and I had a drain. At this point I felt terrible but couldn't do anything about it. At 12:00 I moved to my recovery room and I cried the first time I saw Dave because I was so happy. I still felt terrible. I wish I could have slept or something. I kind of felt like a prisoner at the hospital. The surgeon told me everything went well and they took some parathyoid tissue as well. I would need to take large amounts of calcium until my body adjusts. I had three visitors which was the perfect amount. My husbands friend, my brother, and my friend were able to make visit. It was really good to keep my mind off things. I had a really hard time eating, talking, and moving my neck. My parents took good care of the kids so I knew they were having a good time.
January 10 - I was discharged at 10:00am and glad to come home to a quite house with Dave. We were so thankful and happy to be done with step one.
The next week we had cards, flowers, and plenty of help with the kids. The Krause's made a meal Tuesday and went to Luke's band concert. Wednesday Marlaina and Katey helped with Hudson. Friday my sister helped Hudson. Saturday Dave took the kids to Judah's party in Appleton. Monday my parents came to help with Hudson. Wednesday Jinnee watched Hudson for a half day. This week quickly got busy with and Ethics course for me, Dance, a choreography meeting and the kids having off Thursday and Friday. We had meals from the Marlaina, Jenny, Theresa, Leslie, Amy, Tracy.
February 5 - First lab draw before church
February 6 - Second lab draw and Thyrogen injection
February 7  - Second Thyrogen injection and test dose of radiation and then off to work.
February 8 - Third lab draw, whole body scan and 75 millicuries of radiation at 1:40pm. I smiled for the Geiger counter scan and left feeling like there was no turning back. At this point I felt like I was only killing healthy tissue and increasing my chance of other cancers with this radiation. It felt very ominous, very wierd and very unhealthy. I missed the kids as they came home and my mom drove them off. A deep lonliess set in and I requested three phone calls a day and texted pictures. I did my best to put on my disposable slippers, gloves and not touch anything. You have strict orders to drink 80 ounces of water and go to the bathroom every hour. You must wash everything that comes in contact with you in isolation.
February 10- Last blood draw! Starting to feel normal again. I can finally stop the three weeks of the low iodine diet. Now I am just wishing for Valentines day when my Valentines return!

 Hudson and Sully being the engineers of the future.





 Here are some of the wonderful meals! Note: I did not get a picture of all the wonderful meals but that does not mean we did not appreciate them.
 I completed over 1 year of four books of pictures!
 Tricia and Hudson after buying him special toys and giving him lots of skittles.
 Thank goodness Hudson liked to cuddle that second week!

 Hope waiting room.



 Dave was really excited about the hospital food.
 My low iodine diet was a long three weeks of very bland and simple food. These recipes were perfect for the garbage.
 Excited to start off the last week of treatment.
 Waiting for my first dose while reading Good to Great.
 Packing up the kids for 6 days.

 Cancer center
 Specialty Clinics
 Pavilion where I stayed after surgery.

 Feeling deprived of all vitamins after three weeks of taking nothing.
 On a mission to balance out the cancer with healthy products.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas 2016

Christmas is a wonderful time to celebrate Christ, family and the end of a wonderful year.