I was sorta, half-way, mostly in my head, working on an end-of-the-year review but the insanity of the last couple of weeks (both in the world and just in my little corner of it) has pushed me into my stoic, quiet, updateless place.
2018 was the first year since I have been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor that I was stable enough that I actually did not spend any time in giant, noisy medical machines. No MRSA, no trips down the stairs, no major choking incidents. I’m not convinced I’m seizure free, and I forget things like it’s my job, but I am stable enough that I was able to convince my neuro to let me ask pain management about shots in my neck again.
2019 starts with me mostly stable brain-wise, in the middle of a couple of trips to the dentist, somewhat overwhelmed by life right now, and contemplating going to the Women’s March in DC on the 19th. So I am doing what I do and retreating into my head and my writing. I present my latest efforts from my journals…
The Night After Christmas
‘Twas the night after Christmas
and all through the house
not a critter was stirring
Not even Daisy with a new mouse.
The stockings were rehung
by the fireplace with care
Empty now of the treats and goodies
St Nick had shared.
The kids were all snuggled in
tight in their beds
with visions of such a wonderful day
bouncing through their heads.
And Dad in his pajama pants
and I wearing a messing bun like a cap
were heading upstairs
dreaming of a nice, long Winter’s nap.
When all of a sudden I heard
a bang! and such clatter
I tumbled out of bed
to go see what was the matter.
I hurried down the stairs
as I followed the noise
When what to my surprised eyes did I find
but a battle of toys!
Wow Daisy! Oh Phoebe!
And Honey-Girl too?!
There’s boxes and bows everywhere.
What did you do?!
As I stood and surveyed
the mess in my living room
I took a deep breath and wondered
“should I go get the broom?”
Just then a wondrous sight
caught the corner of my eye
I looked across the room, through the back window
and gazed at the Northeast night sky.
The snow had just started
to float down from the clouds
Clean, fresh, white sparkling snowflakes were floating down
coating our little town without a sound.
Soundlessly I turned
and gazed upon the messy room
Among those boxes and bows
I saw the joy that disappears all too soon.
Our family had been gifted
with such a wonderful day
and so our kitties had taken
their chance to play!
All those boxes and bows
and scattered tissue paper
would be remnants of cherished memories
to call upon later.
Seeing my furry little predators
attack all the boxes and bows
just added to my joyous memories
as they peeked out from the piles
with their tiny nose!
With a flick of a tail
as they dashed out of sight
I chuckled to myself and whispered
“Merry Christmas, girls! I love you. Good night!”
~ Xun, 2019
I hope you had joy in this last holiday season and I send hope and light and love for health and happiness in the New Year!
❤ ~ X
Today I celebrate the fact that I had major surgery 11 years ago today and gained a shiny new all-metal hip and the ability to walk again. The story with my ortho is one of my favorite stories to tell…
This is my left hip one month before surgery. I had basically no hip socket and what we didn’t know then was that my soft tissue had been holding my femur in place….mostly. So when I tore the cartilage in my left hip in August of 2007, I ran out of time.
The beginning of my hip dysplasia actually doesn’t begin until I was almost 19 and just had my first child. I went to my doctor complaining that my hip hurt all the time and American Army medicine and the early 90’s meant that the geniuses in charge of my care did a “scanogram” (swear to God that’s what they told me) and determined that my left leg was 1 1\2 cm shorter than my right leg. Or my left knee was 1 1/2 cm higher than my right knee? They actually told me my left femur was shorter. Ya follow me? Yeah…anyway….
Skip to 2003 and I was still dealing with hip pain and now some spine issues and got a thorough check up after I had my youngest child. This time it was a Navy doctor in Florida that did an x-ray and then an MRI on my hip and told me I have hip dysplasia. Eventually I would need a total hip replacement and there wasn’t really much else they could do. At that point in my life (with a 6 month old baby, breast feeding, and at my heaviest weight), I got told to “lose as much weight as you can” by an incredibly competent and compassionate ortho doc. (sarcasm? you bet. I cried all the way home.)
I lost 50 pounds over the next 15 months and have pretty much kept most of it off since 2004. I gain 10 pounds here or lose it there and I am currently just 8 pounds heavier than my thinnest weight in 2007. I went through physical therapy twice and when I tore the cartilage in my hip I ran out of time. My doctors wanted to get me to 40 (never happened. I’m not letting go of my 30s without kicking and screaming, but that’s another blog). I made it to my 34th birthday. I also managed to wait long enough to have a new all metal hip resurfacing instead of the traditional hip replacements that up to that point lasted 10-15 years. The Birmingham Hip was FDA approved in August 2006, my surgery was in November 2007. I got incredibly lucky and happened to live in Michigan at the time where the #2 hip replacement specialist is.
My doctor had trained in Birmingham England where the surgery and hardware was created. I had seen 3 different ortho docs that year and was referred to my surgeon because I was a good candidate for the Birmingham and considered too young for a traditional hip replacement.
Just before my surgery.
My surgery went well and other than needing 2 blood transfusions I recovered well and spent the winter of 2007/2008 learning how to walk again. I only spent one week needing a walker. I was determined to not need a frickin walker so 7 days post-op I was able to walk with a cane. I mean, if you took my cane away from me I couldn’t go anywhere, but I walked with a cane just a week after surgery.
Fun fact: if you look closely, you can see the 22 staples I had.
My ortho surgeon made a point to come to the hospital the day after my surgery (this is why this is a good story) to tell me that he had done about 300 of these surgeries so far and my surgery was the only time he opened up my capsule surrounding my hip joint and my hip dislocated by itself! The soft tissue was literally the only thing keeping my hip in place up to that point. I should make a note that I actually walked into the OR that day.
By the end of February 2008 I could walk again without my cane and because I had such a kick ass physical therapist (pt nazi) I was in the best shape of my life.
11 years later I am still able to walk. The rule is, however, that you can get far or you can get fast. Either I can walk further or I can get somewhere quickly. You don’t get both. I have a cyst on my hip joint but it hasn’t progressed to me needing another surgery. And even though I tend to fall down the stairs like it’s my job, I haven’t managed to damage my new hip (knock on wood!).
So, here’s a martini today to kick ass technology!!
April was nuts. I’m still trying to remember all the things and the stuff and the sharing…
Rehearsals, a concert, prom, tech week….
P!nk was amay.ZING!! And worth every penny for the not-exactly inexpensive tickets! Seeing her was bucket list stuff!
Four weeks of rehearsals for the kid because her school was (is …we have 2 more shows this weekend, and I’m finishing the editing of this post on Saturday afternoon) performing Anything Goes.
Rehearsals were 4-5 days a week, weekends were set builds, and one weekend was a dance intensive workshop to work on choreography. The kids have worked their butts off and it shows! They have put together an incredible show!
We got through the ….um, “stupid” business trip and my husband got back on April 4th. We jumped right into April insanity; meaning 5-6 days a week of rehearsals, me interrupting rehearsals on April 17th to drive up to DC to see my favorite show EVAR, prom on April 21, and then right into tech week. “Tech week” means full dress rehearsals and long days the last week of April. I volunteered food and serving the cast and crew, the band, the faculty, and the parents and volunteers two out of the three days.
Watching how many parents and teachers step up and volunteer to support the show is inspiring. They’re working HARD.
In the middle of tech week, we HAD to get tickets to squeeze in seeing Infinity War because we’re a household of hopeless geeks and I flat out told my kid I have to see it or stay off the internet until we do! Fortunately, we we able to find tickets for an 8 pm showing on Thursday night. (& we squeezed in a matinee on Saturday)
No spoilers. Don’t @ me. I’ve seen it twice so far. I won’t ruin anything for anyone else. 😉
But we will be seeing it again. Apparently we’re masochists.
Finally Friday, April 27 was opening night!
I am so proud of these kids. And I can’t even begin to describe how grateful I am for the teachers, staff, directors, and parent volunteers giving up all the time and work for this production. The kids have worked so hard and *my* kid is ecstatic about the chance to perform and all the support. This is me gushing because this is a new chapter for my youngest and it’s awesome to see her doing the next thing and loving the experience and support she gets.
We’re closing out a long and busy couple of months. One three-week-long business trip, one snowstorm, 4+ weeks of rehearsals, three gun incidences in our schools, one trip to New York, one P!nk concert, six high school musical performances, and one blood draw (yesterday) for new Cobalt and Chromium levels for my ortho surgeon when I see him again in just over 2 weeks.
Gentle hugs, a couple of deep breaths, and and 2000 words later it’s time to move forward. May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month! #gogreyinmay
❤ ~ Xun
So, in the six weeks I haven’t sat down to share with the group, there’s been a lot of crazy stuff (see previous post) and a lot of really awesome stuff. And… well, really just A LOT.
I went over the big, hard stuff already (and as I’m writing this, everything hurts and I’m really sore for some bizarre reason today), but I have some insanely cool stuff to share too!
(consulting calendar & notes)…
so…in addition to the stuff that put us on the national news in the last 2 months, we’ve had a bunch of good stuff and busy stuff and…well, I’ll just try to get on with it shall I?
My youngest got the chance to go on a school trip to New York City in March! They got on the bus at beforeGodgotup o’clock on March 23…
The theatre group spent the weekend in NYC and got to see Waitress, Hello, Dolly! and Kinky Boots! They also had a workshop on stage combat techniques, visited Central park, Times Square, and Little Italy. It was a crazy whirlwind weekend and I am so grateful that the school got to pull it off and we could send our kid to do it!
My husband was sent out of the country on a work trip in March so I was juggling school shooting news, kid trip, and a snowstorm by myself for a bit. Oh! And updates with pain doc and neuro. I’m stable (mostly) and getting blood drawn this week to check cobalt and chromium levels before I see ortho surgeon again on May 22. In the midst of the insanity of the last 2 months, at least medically I’m stable and managing.
The most interesting things lately are just the dysphasia occasionally deciding it wants to flare (but I’m learning to manage it…did you know if you tuck your chin it helps when swallowing?) and my hip pops occasionally but I haven’t fallen and I am stable when walking. My rule is “I can go far or I can go fast … pick one”.
But medically, at least, I’m not very interesting lately. For now.
The best and coolest thing this year is I got to go see P!nk!!! This was bucket-list stuff and she is one of my favorite people on the planet. I even have lyrics from one of her songs as a tattoo…
I got to take my daughters and see her April 17th in DC…
It was amazing and she’s incredible! She opened the show hanging from the chandelier!!
I tried to remember the songs she did…
Get the Party Started
Just Like a Pill
Revenge (which included a giant inflatable Eminem)
Just a Girl (No Doubt cover)/Funhouse
Teen Spirit (Nirvana cover)
Just Give me a Reason
I’m Not Dead
Just like Fire
…which was INCREDIBLE!! We were close enough to feel the heat from the fire effects…
What About Us
Perfect (see previously mentioned tat)
Raise Your Glass
she literally flew across the entire arena!!
and she finished with Glitter in the Air.
It was an amazing show and the best concert I’ve ever been to and how much do I love the fact that my youngest’s first concert was P!nk??!!
April has been insanely busy, 4 solid weeks of rehearsals, tech week (aka: parents bringing in food and doing set builds because the kids are working until 8 pm), the kiddo’s first major high school musical production, prom, P!nk’s concert, and the opening of Infinity War because we’re a household of Marvel geeks.
Looks like I need to actually write up a third update!
So…..um, hi. It’s been a minute. I can honestly say I have been meaning to sit down and write out an update since my last post was…..um, a minute ago. But I plead that we have had 3 birthdays, 2 holidays, 1 school play, 2 auditions (the kid), 1 school break, 2 doctors appointments, 3 scans….and a partridge inna pear treeeeeeeee!
Overwhelmed by holidays and birthdays and general end-of-the-year insanity, I kept meaning to send out an update, but when I had time, I didn’t have motivation. And vice-versa. I kind of managed to get through holiday insanity this year, but I’m not really sure how because it felt like I didn’t have enough time or my act together. But….we made it.
So. Updates. I actually have something.
My yearly check-in with Dr. PCM-Traffic-Director last summer lead to follow up labs 3 months later in November, and surprisingly Doc added Cobalt and Chromium checks to my labs. B12, Iron panel, TSH, T4, CBC were all pretty good. Most of my levels have stabilized since the MRSA mess of 2016, and thyroid levels meant no change in my Synthroid dose. But my Chromium and ….well, mostly my Cobalt levels sent doc to an ortho surgeon referral.
I have a giant hunk of metal for a left hip. I’ve covered that pretty extensively in the past…
…and November 19th was the 10th anniversary of my hip surgery. Diagnosed in my 20’s, snarled at and told to lose “as much weight as I can”, and several ortho docs attempting to get me close to my 40th birthday (I had the surgery the day before my 34th birthday) later, I got a shiny new hip.
My docs have just started watching my cobalt and chromium levels in the last 4?ish years and I have learned that there’s:
- normal cobalt and chromium levels
- high cobalt and chromium levels
- implant level cobalt and chromium levels
- high implant cobalt and chromium levels
and unfortunately us implant patients pretty much all eventually end up climbing the ladder.
Right now my Chromium levels are acceptable (2.0: 0.1-2.1 mcg/L serum), but my Cobalt levels are creeping up (2.3: 0.0-0.9 mcg/L serum), so off I went to a new ortho surgeon.
Ortho docs like my case. They get to learn from me and I’m a pretty unusual case. At this point it’s labs and x-rays, basically yearly. I have a whole file I keep with my op report, yearly scans, etc. Ortho doc went over my case, read my file, checked my labs, examined me, and sent me down for this year’s scans.
Two things popped up this year.
One: it seems pseudotumors can pop up around the implant area, and my cobalt levels indicate that may be the case with me. He found one spot in particular to watch, but conceded it could reabsorb on its’ own, or it could just be bowel gas. Options for further studies include a higher level MRI to account for the affect from the metal or an in-office procedure to get a sample from my hip to test cobalt levels. I told him “That does NOT sound like fun.” He just looked at me.
Two: I have Myositis ossificans (calcified muscle tissue). Huh. I didn’t know that could happen.
So, after I told him shoving a giant needle into my hip joint wasn’t my best idea for fun, he conceded that he could check my levels again in 6 months and we can go from there. He seems pretty good, and I like him. I think the only argument we may have is if he decides I need a revision. I’m not really open to hip replacement revision surgery. That’s why I had the surgery I did 10 years ago. But it’s really interesting that most people just assume I would have the surgery.
I guess we’ll see…the story continues in June….
So in spite of my best efforts to ignore anything that even remotely resembles a birthday, my mom called me today to remind me I have a birthday tomorrow. We disagreed about exactly which birthday it is. Suffice to say we’re (read: I’m) going with I’m 36.95 plus shipping & handling.
BUT one thing we can agree about is 10 years ago today I had my hip surgery! A cutting edge, new, all-metal hip replacement designed to last the rest of my life. At the time of my surgery, it had only been FDA approved for about 14 months, and from what I can tell, it is not done much, if at all, anymore. And I was unbelievably lucky enough to have the #2 U.S. surgeon, who had, in fact, traveled to Birmingham, England to train on the surgical technique!
So today I celebrate that I have a hip I can still walk on, and I am grateful every day for that ability!
Whether or not my brain tumor is related to said hip implant remains to be seen, and they just drew Cobalt and Chromium levels last Thursday, so I will keep you up to date when I get the results. I already know my chromium levels are high, but they’re normal-people high, not implant-patient high. Or at least they were 2 years ago.
Whatever. Ya’ll ain’t getting my implant back. I am not open to a revision surgery. It’s really damn hard to learn to walk again in your 30’s.
Side note: also, 15 years ago I was within 12 days of delivering my youngest child, my Rainbow Baby, my miracle I went through Hell and high-water to have.
And the last thing to share this week is that I got to do a bucket-list, incredibly cool thing last Friday night. We went to the Kennedy Center and got to see FLUFFY!!! (Gabriel Iglesias!) (& if you know who that is, you know how funny he is!)
I don’t think I have ever laughed as hard as I did at his show. I had tears rolling down my face, bright red (thank goodness for awesome water-proof mascara). It was one of the best things I’ve gotten to see!
We had awesome seats, second row, stage right.
So, Happy Birthday Hip. I got to see Fluffy. And cobalt & chromium levels coming this week!
*gentle hugs* ~ ❤ Xunnie
Merry Samhain! Happy Halloween! And a good boo! to you all!
Today is my last day of my Photos From My Life series. Did you guys like anything in particular? I always think it’s interesting to see photos from someone else’s life. Where are they? What do they tend to take pictures of?
Some people take pictures of places, or things, moments, or other people so they can hide behind the lens instead of being in front of it. Some take pictures of places and people they love to remember.
As I was looking through my social media today, I counted how many of the past years I have thrown on scrubs and dressed up on Halloween as my alter ego: Meredith Grey. Since I created my personal Facebook page in 2008, I have dressed in scrubs 6 out of the last 9 years, with 2 other years as Alice (one was Evil Alice, inspired by Warehouse 13), and one year I was Sarah Sanderson. (and if you don’t know who that is, get your booootay over to Amazon and order Hocus Pocus stat!!)
This year I am dressing up as an Arkham inspired Steampunk Harley Quinn. (I’ll post pix tomorrow! The girl child is doing my make up!)
So, onward to the final Black & White Photo for my series!
Merry Samhain! ❤ ~ Xun