Saturday, August 29, 2015

Happy Tears!

17.5 week update. The day I was diagnosed with a meningioma I knew that I would still always be a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend but I wasn't positive I would ever be a teacher again however I believed that I would. The next day when I woke up in ICU not able to speak I believed. Three days later when I took my first wobbly steps after brain surgery I believed. I continued to believe and when anyone asked me if I was going back in the fall my answer was YES! My eyes were always on that prize because that means I was back. Back to normal or as close I could possibly get.

10 weeks later I took giant steps backwards with my second brain surgery. I asked the doctor, "Can I teach in the fall?" He answered, "Yes." I asked, "How long is recovery this time?" He answered, "Six weeks." There were exactly 6 weeks until my next contract started. Aug. 11. Thank God for that and the slightly later start date.

14 weeks later I was packing for a vacation. I was dizzy, I was nauseous and very very fatigued. My girls were so anxious to leave town that they packed and cleaned the house while I doubted what I could and could not do and if I should really travel 6.5 hours away. So I headed to the UNMC ER.

Labs showed them that I had an infection but they didn't know where. However they were not so worried that they were willing to cut me open to find it. 7 hrs. later I spoke words out loud for the first time. "I can not work like this." (I was pretty sick.) 8 hrs. later a doctor was able to finally get my ear clean and see that I had a pretty bad ear infection. 3 days later and amoxicillin later I finally felt better.

This brings me back to last week. Short week, 3 days of work. Felt fine Tues., Wed. Thurs. was a challenging day beginning at 7am with a painful, complicated CT scan at UNMC, followed by labs, a visit with Dr. Surdell, time in my classroom and open house. Later that day I learned that I still had signs of infection. Was this the end of the last one, beginning of a new one or just a lingering ear infection? Saturday I went on more amoxicillan.

This brings to this week. 40 hours of work ready or not! Was I ready? No idea, but THIS I want to say loudly. I DID IT, I ROCKED IT AND I'M GOING BACK NEXT WEEK! I came home, crawled back into my recliner with my blankie and cried happy tears. I did it. smile emoticon
  feeling proud.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

and an ear infection

June 28, 2015

So J says I have bad karma. Just as we were leaving for vacation today I spiked a temp. So 8hrs. a walk in Dr., 2 ER Dr. and 5 neurosurgeons later we discovered I have an ear infection. Dr. Surdell even said my CT scan was unimpressive. I'm kind of insulted (that is good news btw, I had to ask, he is usually impressed by my scans and that is NOT good). So tomorrow, or later this morning (It's 12:03) we try vacation take 3!!!

I believe this is surgery induced infection still.  This is what they pulled out of my ear. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The post I did for me. 3 months, 2 surgeries, 1 atypical meningioma

April 15, 2015 

This morning I came to school with a major headache and difficulty with speech. A co-worker took me to the ER where hubby met me. They did a Ct scan and then this MRI. Impressive picture huh? Quite honestly I had an episode Sunday and one a month ago. They were short-lived, I shrugged them off. 

This is a 6 cm. meningiona on the brain. It is most likely benign (they will find out for sure when they take it out) and probably been slow growing for awhile but it is pressuring the brain now. I will have surgery for tumor removal in the next two days. Most likely when I wake up here in this fine facility. I'm kind of a big deal around here and they are moving surgeries around. wink emoticon

I have every reason to believe this will be a successful surgery sending me on a 5-6 week recovery of the brain repairing itself with this tumor and absence of this tumor. I am honestly most devastated about abruptly being done with this school year frown emoticon That just the way my cards are dealt right now, I have accepted it.

My in-laws are at the house taking care of business. You have all been wonderful with the offers and fights over who is going to get my kids. It was quite amusing actually. They are most comfortable at home with the in-laws and favorite in-law dog Dixie. They retired just in the nick of time.

I love and appeciate you all. I have a HUGE network of family and friends that are all UH-MAZ-ING! Talk to you as soon as I can.

April 16, 2015  Surgery

April 17, 2015 couldn't talk, walk or read. Practiced saying one syllable words. 
April 18, 2015 practicing reading pete the cat books, practicing saying 2 syllable words

April 19, 2015, lots of visitors, lots of talking and walking

April 20, 2015 home 

April 20-30 was a blur I went to speech therapy, graduated from Pete to Cat to Gone Girl and we waited for pathology. 

April 30, 2015 Staples Out 

Good news today! Last Friday we found out that the pathology report said my tumor was a Grade II atypical meningioma. That wasn't the best news so we've spent the week processing the fact that this will most likely come back. Yesterday the tumor board went over my case and today we found out that there were only a few atypical cells and they consider it borderline Grade I/Grade II but closer to Grade I/Benign. That means no radiation needed at this time, it most likely won't grow for many, many years (10,20,30 years if all). I will get MRIs in July and October and if everything looks good April 2016.

I however will not be able to drive until July. Rides to the pool will be needed.
May is brain tumor awareness. I'll be learning and sharing a lot about brain tumors. Education is power.

May 2, 2015 My Birthday 

Well I've had a good 38th birthday. It is so funny that a month ago 38 seemed so old and for the last two weeks doctors have been saying you are so young......They are right. I feel I am recovering well, like a young person. So that is good news. One more birthday in my 30s and I'll take it!

May 3, 2015  Working on my short term memory with my helper 
May 4, 2015 

6 speech therapy sessions down, doing good, no rain yet and left behind staple removed today. Good day.

May 7, 2015 This may have been one of many mistakes 

I was naughty and cleaned this corner up. Don't tell my doctors. Time for a nap.
Learning to let go and let God (and the 7 year old)
May 9, 2015 Getting out of the house, J's dance competition, bright lights, loud sounds, and a breakdown 
May 10, 2015 

3 week update. Aphasia is almost gone. I occasionally struggle for the word I'm looking for but I can hold a conversation with people I'm comfortable with. I'm still working on all the things on the brain graphic. That is a very good graphic and hit home. I can control one of those things at a time but not two, otherwise known as multi-tasking. So what do I do to work on those things? Get out of the house in short doses. It feels good to be there and I natural have those opportunities with dance, softball and my nieces' graduations. Bring it on! I'm ready.

May 17, 2015  My nieces' graduation

My mother and I at graduation.  My mom is fighting lung cancer.  I only needed the scarf because it was humid and windy.  My scalp was too sensitive for a ponytail and my sensory issues were whirling.   The purpose of the scarf was to keep the hair out of my face. 
May 20, 2015

Week 5 update--
#1 I finished Gone Girl!
#2 I put my glasses on for the first time my stubborn ear is healed!
#3 I tried 2 new hair-dos that worked and do not bother me!
Good day.

May 21, 2015

5:00 cup of coffee to get me through softball, whatever it takes.  (At this point I was going to my daughters' softball games 4 nights a week)

May 22, 2015

Visited my 2nd graders on their last day of school. 

May 23, 2015

Trip to amusement park.  I was able to go on the ferris wheel, train, and this ride.  I could've qualified for a  disability discounted ticket but I used an educator's discount.  They are equal. 

May 24, 2015 

Still in speech therapy, started lumosity and brain baseline app

May 28, 2015

6 weeks. I could go to work today. Thankful that I have more time. Fascinating brain link. My damage is in the frontal left. Every day is better, every day finds a new challenge, every day I attempt to conquer it.

June 3, 2015

Officially met my speech goals. Assessed in the normal range and graduated from speech therapy! Moving on to the rest of the summer. Good day.
 — celebrating success.

June 6, 2015 

Celebrating with the hubby.  Wonder why his drink went down so quickly? :)

June 11, 2015

8 weeks --Today I discovered I'm like a flower. I thrive with rain. You see when it is sunny and nice a want to go, go, go and when it rains I sleep, sleep, sleep. Sleep makes me thrive. The rain is welcomed today.

June 14, 2015

Bittersweet--The meal train ended tonight and even though I will miss all your wonderful meals we are at the point in recovery where we need to cook again. At first I wanted to call all you enablers . wink emoticon 8 weeks of meals! That is craziness! But then I embraced it, loved it, and realized we really did need every last bite. I really believe you all are the reason I am doing so good, every gesture little or big has helped me. I keep getting asked what do I need. I am doing just fine at 8 weeks and can hold my own, we still have gift cards and a deep freeze of frozen meals. I'm still not driving but rides are even being taken care of too! The girls and I are enjoying a very lazy summer and it has been wonderful! The b word (bored) has not been spoken of yet and I have learned to slow way down. So thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will be using all your actions of kindness and paying it forward as I can. You all have a place in my heart. ~Amanda

June 24, 2015

It has been 10 weeks and I feel amazing. I no longer have an excuse to not exercise. Darn. unsure emoticon This is looking back on Day 1, the day of surgery, recovering in ICU. I was full of thoughts and could not speak. I could kind of write and some of this was just trying to spell. I could spell Alan but I have no idea who is Blain is? I think that might be me trying to spell Ryan? I know I was having a ton of trouble with R's and couldn't say Morgan so I wouldn't even try to spell J or M even though I was saying their names along with R over and over. Under that I was trying really hard to spell Thompson. I finally gave up and did it the next morning. Tried to write the abc's but gave up at e. But don't worry. I could spell vodka! Oh the wonderous thing that is our brain. At 10 weeks, I can already laugh at this. ‪#‎blessed‬

June 29, 2015

I asked to be seen because my head felt like a waterbed, sloshy.
"Saddle up and Warrior on!" ~Quoting Renee Baio
Going for a MRI ride to get questions answered. (Don't ask any because I don't have answers) Send prayers and positive thoughts! —
 — at University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Mri done. Hanging out here for the night. Answers and decisions tomorrow. Thank you for the prayers. Good night.

June 30, 2015 --Another surgery to fix dura tears

My surgery is over. Doctors removed fluid and fixed some leaks from the original operation. I should be good as new soon. Hopefully home Thursday.

July 1, 2015 

I'm out of ICU. I'm not gonna lie. Yesterday was a kick in the pants. Not as hard as the first time, but not easy. I'm up and walking. J is at Grandma and Grandpa's and R and M are having fun with me.

 July 2, 2015

Going home today. Thank God it is summer and relaxing time. We will be fine, no help needed. My recovery is not as intense as last time. I figure if I power rest for a couple of weeks I'll be fine. After all they didn't go into the brain, just under the skull. So that is much better. wink emoticon

July 3, 2015

Update 11 weeks or week 1? I guess I'll just start over. All the brain issues from the first craniotomy have resolved so I'm going to start with week 1, 2nd craniotomy. Small step backwards but not huge.
Week 1 update-On Monday I called the Dr. about some swelling that I have been having. I was seen about 1:30, I got a bed at UNMC around 7:00 PM and they sent me in for a MRI about 9:00. The MRI showed that the tumor is completely gone still (yay) but I had a CF leak which they said they rarely see (#1) especially where it was pooling (#2). My neurosurgeon wasn't able to see me until Tuesday morning. Then he said that I had two choices (1) I could wait and see if it absorbs or (2) he could go in and see what is going on. My heart and head where saying two different things. Thank God my head overtook my heart and said go back in, so they started surgery 10:00 on 6/30/15 That means they had to reopen me, open the bone (easy peezy, I have screws) and check out the dura. Turns out there was a tear in the dura and they patched it up. If they hadn't done that I would've ended up with an infection which luckily I had no signs of.
Since they did not go clear into the brain I am not dealing with all the brain issues that I had previously but I am dealing with wound healing issues. Here I am 3 days later, already at home, in a little pain (wound is tight, they were thorough) and eye is swelling slightly (normal).
I plan on power resting for 2 weeks (no visitors please), I have a follow-up check-up then and will return slowly to normal life, I'm still due to be able to drive July 15, returning to work in August and believe me I can't wait to go back.
The only thing I ask from you is to have an amazing summer, and have a drink for me! Feel free to take my kids to the pool too. wink emoticon Love you all!

July 8, 2015

Week 1 update- I'm moving from bed, to chair, to desk, repeat, repeat. I am being careful not to bend, lift, or do much of anything. So I have started on school work or work work via the computer. Mental I am back to normal. Physically, well I'm being careful. No more dura tears or leaks please.

July 13, 2015

Getting these bad boys out tomorrow! — feeling excited.

July 14, 2015

2 week (12 week) update--Staples are out! Everybody is happy with the outcome and agreed that going back in, and patching the dura tears, was the best thing. Dr. Surdell referred to csf fluid as a neurosurgeon's arch nemesis. It's a complicated thing. He cut really close to the dura in order to get every tumor cell out and he is confident that he did so. He seems genuinely disappointed that it happened. I am just happy I am so much less sloshy than the first time around. I do not need to come back for 3 months unless something else goes wrong again. Going forward I will have MRIs in September, December 2015 and then if all goes well June and December 2016. The ultimate goal is to get to once a year MRIs. He says he is OCD about follow-up and this is to assure that no regrowth is happening.
 — feeling relieved.

July 15, 2015

It's been 3 months and I'm driving! We had a dance party in the car on the way to Wal-mart! Bought all our school supplies except for Jenna's plastic pencil box. Wal-mart does not have them!! ‪#‎itsthelittlethings‬

And that brings us to date.
Some additional photos...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

I Don't Know How She Does It!

This movie was a suggestion for a Saturday night flick and home with my hubby.  I totally related to Sarah Jessica Parker's character.  Even though the ratings are kind of bad I really recommend watching it if you work outside of the home!  Not so much if you are a stay at home mom.  Busy Phillip's character portrays that stay at home moms workout all day long and complain about WOHMs.  Clearly this movie promotes mommy wars which I do not BUT the exaggeration of the WOHMs life was refreshing. :)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bedtime woes, over?, knock on wood!

I have a five year old and a ten year old and I want to shout to the world that my bedtimes woes may be over!!! Next Tuesday Parenthood starts up again I think...I think I will be able to watch it in peace!  Prior to this time in our life my 5 year old fought me at bedtime.  She fought me from Day 1.  I have no idea how I kept my sanity most days but we did find a compromise a couple of years ago.  This what we would do.

An overworked family's bedtime routine:

8:00 PJs, brush teeth, read to her
8:15  Kindle time, (facebook  time for me) in bed (yes we tried this with and without) it was much better with.  At this time I cozied up at the foot of bed with my computer.  Why didn't I blog more?
8:45 Lights out
10:20 She finally fell asleep (and yes electronics had NOTHING to do with this, we tried it both ways).  However when I learned that she needed an absolutely quiet atmosphere in our tiny house I banned the rest of the family to the basement.  Apparently I live with night owls and I'm not one!!!!  After I learned this her bedtime started to back up until she was sleeping 9-7.  Now with the start of Kindergarten she falls asleep almost instantly and I don't need to sit in there during this time.  I was so afraid to stop that I just didn't.  Until last night.  The Big Brother Finale was on and she put herself peacefully to sleep.  *Angels singing*


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Extracurricular activities-Do you push or do you let them quit? --Learning from experience

One of the most difficult things I have had to decide as a parent is what role extracurricular activities will play in my kids' lives.   I am a pretty laid back hands off parent and let them make a lot of their own decisions.  However I have always loved music and dance so when the opportunity to sign my oldest up for Kindermusik at 18 months I jumped at the chance.  We loved it, it was a mommy & me activity so I loved spending the one on one time with her singing, dancing, reciting poems and I believe Kindermusik is a highly educational thirty minutes (it helps with reading and math connections as well as beginning a music foundation). 

Then soccer came onto the scene.  I learned a lot about my oldest four year old in soccer.  I learned that she was not motivated intrinsically.  She was pretty lazy unmotivated on the field so we did the unthinkable.  We bribed her with a Webkinz to score a goal (I'm pretty against bribing but I do NOT regret this choice.  We were able to find out her potential and learned that she was extrinsically motivated.  The goal from then on was to help her become self rewarded and proud of her own accomplishments).  She was on fire that day and scored three goals.  Our very bright, but not very athletic girl had the ability to predict where that ball would go and set herself up in a position to score.  She became good in the year that she played but did not like to run or where shin guards so we let her quit.   

It was OK though because Kindergarten was upon us and school was definitely going to be our number one priority.  However my urge to have a little dancer did take over and we started her in a small town, laid back dance studio where the focus was on fun.  Along with dance she did some 6 week activities (soccer, basketball) and in January she rejoined Kindermusik.  That was more activities then I thought I would let her engage in as a 6 year old but she handled it well.  (As a former Kindergarten teacher I do strongly encourage that you follow your child's lead this year and into first grade).

First grade= smooth sailing with Kindermusik and dance with a little basketball.  The youngest started Kindermusik this year at the age of 18 months.

Second grade- we added piano to the mix because Kindermusik was over and she had a strong music foundation. Through other things (bike riding) we learned that she still needed a push to conquer things that challenged her and thought piano would be a good way to do so (school was pretty easy for her).  I was right, piano was challenging but we positively encouraged her to stick it out.  In the summer before third grade we dabbled with some camps in the summer which included a competition dance team that was challenging but also very good exercise and I learned that my child forgets she has asthma and exercises her little buns off when she's dancing.  However she was not ready to make the switch to competing (looking back she probably was but I was taking her lead). 

Third grade- Little sister starts dance at age 4 and M continues to dance and play piano.  Piano was a struggle and a fight.  She was supposed to practice 5 days a week and her teacher had to tell her that practicing meant she had to play the song 5 times (M needed the line drawn in the sand).  So basically 25 times a week.  This was a parenting challenge as well as a challenge for her.  I am not a nagging parent.  My kids know the expectations, I leave them alone to meet those expectations and every once in awhile we discuss what is going well and what is not.  Piano was not.  One week, after not practicing at all, and then getting into an argument about it, I put it in her hands and said, "Piano is tomorrow.  If you want to go you will sit and play 25 times or I will not be giving you a ride to piano."  This is the first time that quitting was even an option.  I put it in her hands and guess what she did?  SHE PRACTICED!!!!  That was such a turning point for her confidence and belief in herself. 

Fourth grade-  I made the decision to switch her to competition dance.  She didn't want to do it because it was hard but I pushed her and made the decision for her.  My main motivation for this is because she was giving up on sports, starting to become a couch potato and used her asthma as a crutch for not doing kid things like playing outside, running or even going for a walk with me.  Comptetion dance was 2 hrs. a week that I knew she was doing something healthy for herself.   In JANUARY she went to her first competition.  She was hooked!!  In March she wrote an essay about it being the best moment in her life.

This brings us to the now.  She has been invited to dance a level up (with high schoolers) begged to start clogging (which she is suprisingly good at and practices all the time) and started flute lessons.  On her second lesson it was recommended to me that she take private lessons because she was quite good apparently and become the youngest on this private flute teacher's roster.  A few days ago she actually thanked me for pushing her through piano and dance because she is doing things she never dreamed she would be able to do and now this girl welcomes a challenge.  I asked her how she felt dancing with high schoolers while her friends are in another group and she said, "I'm lonely right now and it's hard but I want the challenge." 

I cried. 

And then she told her 5 year old sister that didn't want to do competition dance, "yes you do.  It is fun and you will love it." (We will sign her up but we will also look for signs of stress and pull her out if necessary.  I think that is still ok at this age.)

My advice to anyone facing this same very hard decisions about whether or not it is OK to push your child,  just be mindful, be supportive, and listen to them.   Give it time, listen to your instincts and you will know when it is too much.  If your gut is telling you to give them a push then do it. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

How to watch every episode of FRIENDS for free

So, I've been MIA for a while.  After changes grade levels (from K to 2nd), remodeling the kitchen and  already taking our big vacation in March (Arizona), I'm not doing much of anything this summer and it feels FABULOUS!!!  Don't get me wrong, I have lots to do since getting a year of 2nd under my belt, just not a lot to talk write about and I haven't started yet.  So let me tell you what I HAVE been doing.

I started watching FRIENDS on Nick at Nite and really got back into it.  Then Bubbly Blonde told me about it playing on TBS.  Even though they play the episodes in order, I was really craving the first season and eventually every.single.episode from the beginning.  So I began by copying and pasting the episode names and order from Wikipedia. This way I can highlight what I've watched as I go and if I catch an episode on TBS or Nick at Nite I highlight those too.  On this date I have watched 56 of 236 episodes so far this summer.  Pathetic, obsessive, or fun?  My vote is fun.  If you want to join in this fun go to this you tube link to start with episode one.  You watch them in 3 minute chunks but they are all there and free!  After denting both cars yesterday (yes in one day) free is good!

Here is my favorite three minute clip from season one

                    Friend meme borrowed from here.