Two Treatments Down, Sixteen More To Go

Well, I am still alive and kicking.  The last two months have been a whirlwind.  The beginning of the New Year, I was preparing to train for Grandma’s marathon.  Starting to get ready for the half marathon I had in the middle of February, and was just going to multiple appointments getting my daughter diagnosed with ADD.  Fast forward to the first week of February, I now have cancer.  I had a 7-hour major surgery were cancer was removed from just about every organ in my abdomen, and I was starting chemotherapy.  Never in a million years, did I imagine that I would have been diagnosed with cancer, and never during the recovery of the surgery did I realize how quickly I would recover and how quickly chemotherapy would knock me out.

Now, I am two weeks into an 18-week treatment protocol.  The first week of chemo, the doctor delivered the surprisingly good news that I had survived the worst of it, and that I was probably going to be OK.  I didn’t feel OK.  I was achy, tired, and bordering between nauseous and starving.  Two weeks later, more side effects are starting to come out.  Last night I noticed that I have NO taste.  I cannot taste anything unless it is strong.  My tongue is completely numb.  Yesterday, a clump of hair fell out while I was in the shower.  I realize that this journey is going to be a fun one…  However, each day I wake up, and feel strong enough to write, go for a walk, or watch endless episodes of my favorite shows is a good day.  I hope to be back blogging soon, or working on my novel, or doing something other than thinking about cancer.  Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers!

The Curious Case Of Jodi Vetter

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I am writing this blog on an iPhone. I have been experiencing a surprising health crisis. I thought that I was doing everything right. I am nearing 40, I watch my diet, and I am active– I lift, I run, I bike, and swim. I didn’t think I needed to go to the doctor, because a. I was in tuned to my body, b. I enjoyed being blissfully unaware of my own mortality, and c. I would KNOW if I was sick. Turns out me being active was nearly my undoing. It could still be my undoing (please pray).

My story started about a year ago, I was experiencing some discomfort in my back. I had gone into the doctor, and was told it was a back injury. I went through the  physical therapy program, was declared not injured and went about my life.

A few months later, I experienced some dull aching pain in my back. I mentioned it a few times that I needed to do something about my back. I would do sit-ups, squats, and lunges. I mentioned the back ache a few times to my husband, but he shrugged it off.

I went on with my life.  The pain ebbed and flowed with my cycle.  Since it was regular monthly visitor, I assumed it was cramps, or ovulation.  This month, I decided that I needed to go in, and get some piece of mind regarding my body.  I am nearing 40, youth is fleeting.  I thought running made me immune.

I was wrong.  In 2002, I was in a train accident which affected my upper respiratory system.  I had switched insurances, and made my first appointment in almost six years.  The doctor being diligent ordered a chest x-Ray.  They found something.

I had a pleural effusion, or liquid on the lungs.  I was sent to the ER.  Three CT scans later, I was transported to the region medical center.  My kidney is being cut off by a large mass in my pelvis. Near my cervix.

The first thought, cervical cancer– with fluid on the lungs– I was probably stage 3 or 4.  This plunged me into the cardiac ward where I rode a roller coaster.

First, my lungs were drained and then the fluid was sent off to be tested. Then a revolving door of doctors and specialists came to see me: I had cancer, I didn’t have cancer, there is a mass, there is no mass, I need a stent, I don’t need a stent.

I am now day five into this whole thing, and this is the best guess: my kidney was blocked by something in my pelvis. The something is either a cancerous ovarian tumor, fibroid tumor, or endometriosis. My guess- endometriosis (my history points towards it).  I had a stent installed and biopsy on the mass.  I am waiting on the final word.  Then I face chemo, radiation, and/or hysterectomy.  I am facing this with humor and positivity- I am young, healthy, and have a great support.

The biggest thing that I came away with is a few life lessons:

  1. Make peace with those you wronged. Don’t go out with regrets.
  2. Be an advocate for yourself.
  3. Don’t think that you are doing everything “right” that you are immune.
  4. Don’t put off, or skip annual exams.
  5. Be thankful for what you have.
  6. Don’t share medical diagnosis until you have the final word.
  7. Stay or get healthy– my activity and diet probably saved my life.
  8. If you do end up in my situation up your data plan.

 

 

 

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas…

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I am one of those people.  Our neighborhood decorates for Halloween.  My son insists on putting our Halloween lights in September, before everyone else in the neighborhood.  I try to hold off putting up some of the more obvious Halloween decorations until the middle of October.  Once October hits, he is insistent we get pumpkins.  The years my husband was deployed during Halloween, I ended up getting not one, but TWO sets of pumpkins, because the first set ended up going bad before Trick or Treaters came.

The day after Halloween, I take down the orange lights, and start getting my Christmas stuff out.  As soon as I go outside with the lights and trimmings, my neighbors pass by and roll their eyes at me.  I have even gotten some hateful comments.  One of our neighbors even came by and took pictures, and asked the HOA if it was “legal” for me to put up lights this early.  Most of the neighbors are compassionate once they find out the reason.

My 11-year-old child has moderate autism.  He never asks for ANYTHING for Christmas.  He is not one of those kids that asks for iPhone, expensive toys, or brand name clothing.  The only thing he has ever asked for for Christmas is Christmas lights.  He wants them up after Halloween, and taken down well into January.  After he is done with trick-or-treating, he wants me to play Christmas music while I drive him to school.  His favorite is Barenaked Ladies version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings,” and I listen to that song 5-6 times on the ride to and from school from November 1st to January 8th.  He asks for me to sing “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” at bedtime year round.  Christmas is my son’s favorite holiday :).

So make fun away!  Complain about it on Facebook!  It’s not going to deter me from doing something to make a child happy.  My parents always make Christmas happy for us, because my grandpa passed away Christmas Day when I was two-years-old.  My dad passed away this summer, his birthday is near Christmas.  My son was diagnosed with autism just after Christmas.  Christmas is a painful time for me.  The way I look at it, it helps me feel better about this painful time, and it brings a smile to my child’s face.  Merry Christmas!

 

Wow, It’s Been A Month!

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My dog is ready to run again, and I’m ready to write again.

I haven’t been writing much, I haven’t been doing much.  It’s been a rough summer, a rough fall, and now we are approaching a rough winter.  To recap, in June my father passed away.  Following his death, my son’s beloved teacher was murdered.  The killers are still at large.  I came down with bronchitis and ended up bed ridden for a week. Then a few weeks later, a police officer was gunned down, and the suspect was also killed.  Our city was on lock down for a few days.

I took some much needed personal time to get things in my personal life figured out.  It is hard to write, be positive, and even think when there is so much negative going on.  I did nothing to do with writing (except submitting the minimal number of articles for Many Kind Regards), instead I spent my days and nights playing Fantasy Football, running, and spending time with my kids.  You don’t realize how children are affected by tragedy and loss, until they are. I needed this time to think, to re-evaluate, and to figure things out.

I still don’t have everything figured out, but we are doing better.  I restarted writing the second novel.  I have yet to post another day in my writing challenge– just not ready for that yet.  And now I’m re-attacking the blog.  I have also lost 15 pounds (I have 10 more pounds to lose in preparation for my kind of, sort of, but not really last marathon).  I started a training plan in preparation for the kind of, sort of, but not really last marathon.  Last night I signed up for the kind of, sort of, but not really last marathon.  I find out next month if we are leaving our beloved home for five years for a new base, and since the leaves are falling, it’s time to turn a new leaf.

Expect to hear more from me shortly…

Blog Silence

I had a creative story written out about a ransom note, but I’m not going to publish my Day 6 blog posting, instead I’m going to stop the writing challenge for a few days.

I will tell you a story though.  In 2011, we arrived at Eglin AFB.  My son struggled for several months at school.  Needless to say it left a very negative taste in my mouth.  We removed him four months into the school year and moved him to the Emerald Coast Autism Center.  We saw the school go from a little tiny school house in a church into a thriving amazing community of moms, dads, kids, and teachers.  Each and every teacher has been wonderful, and they all have a special place in my heart.  Today, I found out that one of my son’s teachers was killed yesterday.  The cause of death is under investigation, and it was not of natural causes.  I don’t want to get into why he died, or the negativity behind it.  I am still grieving over the death of my dad, and this hit me.  This man was so young, so kind, and he, like my dad, had an extremely positive impact on my son.

Azel Hardy was a gently giant.  We had a few things in common– he loved my son (he loved all children with autism at the school) and football.  I used to tease him and Rob (another teacher) about football.  We talked about our Fantasy Football Teams.  You see, I am a huge Vikings fan, Rob is a huge Packer’s fan, and Azel was a huge Lion’s fan.  He volunteered countless hours with Special Olympics.  His smile and laugh are infectious.  He will be missed.  So Rest In Peace, gentle giant…

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Liar Liar…

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Today I discovered that a family member has been lying.  It was not one of those little lies that sometimes pop out of peoples’ mouths, and they immediately regret saying them.  It was not a harmless lie when your husband tells you you look great, but you really don’t.  This is a huge lie, a lie that could potentially ruin lives.  Sadly, it’s also the type of lie if I tell the truth, I could potentially ruin someone’s life.  It’s the most dangerous type of lie, a lie that could possibly destroy a life.

You see I am cut off from a family member.  The family member elected to cut off our family for two sad reasons.  The first was she asked me for money in a time of need for her son, and I didn’t have the money to give to her.  My husband was deployed, and we were paying quite a bit of money out of our own pocket for our son’s therapy and a special diet.  I was not able to go back to work, and it was overall a tough situation.  The worst part of it is I didn’t want to give her the money, even if I had it.  She would tell me the real reason she needed the money, and the reason she gave made no sense to me.  Further, she had gone to several other family members asking for money, and all the family members had turned her down as well.  She was getting more and more frustrated.  In her frustration, she posted a story online about her life.  In the story, she blamed my husband for all of her problems.  If he hadn’t been born, her life would be better.  I unfriended her on Facebook, and blocked her.  I know the sorted history, and this was not what happened.  Doing this cut me off from two people I care deeply about, my niece and nephew.

Throughout the years, I googled her and her children just to see how they were doing.  I would visit her page maybe one, or two times a month.  She is living in squalor and very poor.  When her washer and dryer broke, she opened a GoFundMe page, and I donated her some spare money anonymously.  When she didn’t have gas to fill in her car, I sent her money, again anonymously.  I didn’t tell my husband this, I did it because I hope the best for her.  Then a few days ago, I read a blog post made by her, and I am floored.

She posted the “full story” about what happened during her troubled childhood.  I won’t bother posting it here, because it is such a horrible thing that I won’t even give her the satisfaction that I know that this post exists.  I realized that she had done some very specific things to “snow” people into feeling sorry for her.  It has taken every ounce of my self control to not write to her, and threaten legal action if she doesn’t take down the post, or at least correct the falsehoods.  It is truly that bad.  She spoke of things that were done to her as a child, that never happened, but more over she was not the victim, she was the person committing the crime.  Yes, what I am speaking of is a legal matter, and she was found guilty by a court of law.  Her record is sealed forever.  And people believe her story.  She is called a brave person, a strong person, and a hero.  She is not one of these things.  She is a pathological liar.

How is she getting away with it?  Well, for one thing she is incredibly intelligent.  A few years after she established a Facebook account, she changed her name legally, because a few of the victims of the crimes she committed found her.  She was not smart enough to keep her mouth shut, and she confided me about her new legal name.  The second thing she did was she had a doctor diagnose her with a difficult to prove medical diagnosis.  The hallmark of the diagnosis is the perception of lying.  With the diagnosis, anyone who calls her a liar, she can knowingly dodge the accusation by claiming this medical condition.  So if I were to take legal action against her for the lies she is spreading, I have no legal leg to stand on, as she is diagnosed with this condition, and as far as she is concerned the lies are the truth.  She posts these diatribes on websites with like minded individuals, and if I were to go on there and call her out, the people who have read her truth could only attack me.

So why care?  Well, many of the people reading her posts are victims of the crimes she has committed.  She is participating in a predatory behavior.  I’m afraid that she may start asking the posters for money, or worse yet, give out the names of her “victims” to re-victimize them again.  She has no qualms about ruining lives, she had called, and gotten someone fired based on an exaggerated lie.  My fear is that she has found a way to ruin her victims’ lives again.  And it appears I have no recourse.  So I sit here, and watch, and wait to see what happens next.

Eulogy

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On June 3rd, my dad had a massive heart attack.  I got the phone call around noon, and I rushed as fast as I could to be by my mom’s side.  When I got to Orlando, I found out that my dad’s brain had been deprived of oxygen for over 90 minutes, and it was by the grace of God that a nurse was able to perform CPR for 20 minutes until EMTs arrived, but it was ultimately too late.  He was in vegetative state, and the ventilator was pulled on June 4th.  My dad passed away immediately.  For those who cannot make the memorial service, here is my Eulogy:

My dad taught many life lessons, and today I am going to share with you the top ten Life Lessons he taught me.  There is a theme, so please sit back, relax, and see if you catch the theme…

Lesson 10:  “Let’s Go Fly A Kite:” In the book and movie “Mary Poppins” is about Saving Mr. Banks.  At the end of the movie, Mr. Banks realizes how enjoyable, and fun his children are.  My dad never thought that my brother and I were a nuance, but we would always find time to either coach our teams, camping with Y-Guys/Y-Princesses, and sometimes I would even run in a track meet and see him at the track cheering my on during a race.

Lesson 9:  “Life Is A Highway:” My dad was a typical man.  He would never ask for directions.  He had the propensity for getting lost.  One time we traveled from Orlando to NASA by way of Daytona Beach.  He started stating that getting lost was going on an adventure, and we went on A LOT of adventures.

Lesson 8:  “You Have a Friend In Me:”  Everywhere my dad went, he would talk to anyone who would listen.  He frequented O’hana’s and the Polynesian so often, he befriended Sue, a waitress, and Walt, the bartender.

Lesson 7: “Feed The Birds:”  My dad loved bird watching, he would sit in the porch in Minnesota, or in the Florida Room, and try to identify the birds.  When John and I were younger, he would take us to Grandma’s work at General Mills and feed the ducks in the winter.

Lesson 6:  “Be Our Guest:”  My dad loved to entertain.  He loved to host parties.  When he wasn’t hosting a party, he would make one of his famous watermelon boats (by the way, I know how to make them too, I learned from the best!).  He would also volunteer to be kitchen help at weddings, or graduation parties.

Lesson 5: “Heigh Ho Heigh Ho:” His favorite movie was “Snow White.”  I always debated what dwarf my dad was.  He used to always wear Grumpy clothing, but he was not Grumpy.  He was often Sleepy, sometimes Doc, but never Dopey.  Right now, I believe he is Happy.

Lesson 4:  “Bella Notte:” My favorite movie was “Lady and The Tramp,” and I loved Spaghetti we always used to go to Kelly’s On The Ninth after Saturday mass.  “Lady and The Tramp” was the first Disney movies we saw in the theater.

Lesson 3:  “When You Wish Upon A Star:” My dad always used to wish that my son would come out of his autism.  He truly believed that Disney was magical, and that Disney would cure all that ails.  Every time I hear that song, and think of how much he wished for his grandchildren (I included names, but for privacy, no names).

Lesson 2: “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes:”  On my wedding day, I had told my mom that I wanted to be Cinderella, which is odd for me, as grew up as a tomboy.  My mom and dad made that possible.  For our daddy and daughter dance, we danced “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes.”  A few weeks after my wedding, my mom told me that she had found my dad in the basement listening to the Cinderella Album crying.  He finally remembered the significance of the song, and told her, “Now, I know what that song meant.”

Lesson 1: “When my dad was a young man, he found his aroma lacked a certain appeal.  He could clear the living room after every meal, he was a sensitive soul, though he seemed thick skinned, it hurt that his family never stood down wind…”  I will leave you with this final thought– Hakuna Matata, it means no worries, and my dad would want everyone in his life to have no worries, so Hakuna Matata.