Category Archives: updates

Very Overdue Updates

I have literally been meaning to write an update for over 2 weeks, and then I got a comment giving me the “hey, you good? you needa post” and I realized how unbelievably overdue I have been for blogging. I’ve been working on a post in my head for the last 10 days (ish), but it seems I don’t have Jarvis to translate that noise into an actual post. Who knew?!

So….um, where to start? My last post was me losing my ish over a school shooting here in our little rural we-have-Amish-buggies-sharing-our-roads and it brought everything up close and in my face.

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ABC News

 

That was immediately followed by the National Marches…

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friends & loved ones are in there….somewhere

…and a lot of noise and conflict across the country. I know people on both sides of the debate and having spent the last 4 years or so teaching my kid American History I understand the need for debating this issue. But then…

Just 3 weeks after the March for Our Lives (March 24, 2018) an 8 YEAR OLD was arrested for bring a loaded handgun to school on April 18, 2018. IN MY COUNTY. In my little corner of rural small-town America. And I lost my shit.

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THREE gun events in our little county. In. ONE. School. Year. so far.

That is not okay. I am not okay.
The first one: two students being arrested for threatening to shoot up the school MY kid goes to just 2 days after the Parkland shooting. They were heard and reported and it was stopped, but how terrifying is that?!
The second one: The shooting at Great Hills High School. That affected us up close. There’s only three high schools in our county. 1400+ kids were evacuated from GMHS to LHS for reunification. Jaelynn Willey’s loss affected us all. We’re a small community and the shooting was an unimaginable shock.

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I walked out of a meeting at my kid’s school and saw this on the wall. It took my breath away. 

The third one: an 8-year-old being arrested for bringing a loaded handgun to school. A third grader. Both parents are active-duty military. A girl on his bus saw it and reported it.

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The kids are being told over and over and over again “See something, say something” and they did and it stopped two tragedies this school year. But it is breaking my heart. We’re scared. We’re frustrated. This is insane.

February 16, 2018
March 20, 2018 (Jaelynn was taken off life support on 3/22/18)
April 18, 2018

These are the dates that affect us right here in my town. This is a nation-wide debate but right now it’s up close and in my face and I can’t breathe and I don’t know what to do.

In the last month I’ve also had a lot of really awesome stuff keeping me busy and I’m going to write up a part two to the updates and try to get that published tomorrow. But it’s been busy and crazy and hard stuff is in my face and this hurts and whattheHELL?!!!

Yes, there’s lots of good things and experiences I’m going to share. Yes, we have been lucky and my child is safe but I’m processing.

More updates being written and I promise they’re the good stuff!
❤ ~ X

 

Stress & Other Drugs

I get really quiet when I’m going through something. Usually when my physical pain is climbing or my stress levels are raised…..or life starts kicking back, I’ll write less. I don’t even journal as much as I know I should. Writing creates a pathway for me to find my way through the pain…..well, most of the time. I know I should write more, but I guess it’s a defense mechanism not to. But the positive side is when I do start writing again, I know I’m finding my way back.

The last week in particular has been pretty stressful. My SO is on some crazy business trip to somewhere to do something. The details are fuzzy and the leaving was mostly just 24 hours of whattheactualfuck, and then he was on a plane. I have a pretty general idea of where he is and when he could return, but in the interim, I’m dealing with all of….well, this…..by myself.

The Parkland shooting happened on February 14 (as most of us know). What you may not know is that by February 16, we saw two boys arrested for threatening to shoot up my daughter’s school. On the heel of these incidents I saw my daughter, her friends, and my friend’s daughters say things like “I’m wearing my running shoes today (instead of my cute shoes) in case we have a shooting” ; “Mom, remember what I’m wearing today in case my head get blown off”; “If I hear shots I can jump out that window and run away from school property”. Yes, I heard these all said. No, they weren’t trying to be funny or smartasses. Or waaaayyy too irreverent. This is their reality. They’re scared. And now they’ve had enough. On March 14, my daughter wanted permission to participate in the walkout. Of course I said yes. They’re standing up, and speaking out. They deserve to be seen and heard.

SIX DAYS later, on March 20 there was a shooting at Great Mills High School. Every school in the county was immediately locked down, and the GMHS students were transported to LHS (my daughter’s school) to be reunified with their families. The shooting was just before 8 am, at the “other” high school, but everything about that day went sideways. LHS was safely on lockdown, but classes were moved around and schedules changed to accomodate for the 1400+ students coming to this school.

Kids from LHS were signed out by their families so they could wait with their parents for family and friends that would be coming from GMHS. It was a little busy, but it was handled with amazing ability and compassion from all of the teachers and staff, the students, and the first responders. Somehow, we made it through that day.

The next day Winter Storm Toby hit the East Coast, and my kid and I hung out at home and watched several inches of snow fall. It felt like the universe gave us a minute to breathe.

By Thursday, school started back up for LHS (Great Mills will be back April 2, after Spring Break). And on Friday I got up at 4 am to drive my kids over to meet her school’s tour bus for the Theatre Group’s planned trip to NYC for the weekend!sbc-nyc

So….to sum up my week: Monday, normal; Tuesday, school shooting; Wednesday, snowmaggedon; Thursday, 2-hour delay for school, otherwise normal day w/ play rehearsal after school, Friday, @ the school at 4:45am to meet the bus for the trip to NYC!!

Saturday: March for Our Lives Marches happening in 800+ cities in the US and around the world. I’m proud of these kids, and I’m supporting the effort 100%!

I’m dealing with a lot by myself right now, but I’m dealing! Which means trying to be protective without throwing a fuckit bag into my car and driving for my mom’s house in California. I’m dealing with it…..tearing up at the news, but trying to be strong.

Until.

Until I logged into my FB tonight while watching one of my favorite movies (Love & Other Drugs….seriously, it takes a look at life with a chronic, progressive , incurable illness, and tells us we are not alone. Watch it! 😉 )

The first post that popped up was a friend who lives here, who went through the fear and hurt this week, who has friends at GMHS, who gets what this is like going through this with your high schoolers. They might be taller than you, and (in her case) getting ready to leave for collage, but they are still your babies!

To borrow a few of her words, she wrote “From the time my children were handed to me, my purpose in life has been to make sure they are safe.” She talks about car seats, and holding their hands to cross the street……and monster spray.

That’s how far I got before I just sat down and finally cried out the week’s fear, and hurt, and anger, and uncertainty. I set down my tablet, and I just cried out everything I’ve been needing to cry out for days….maybe even weeks. I sobbed, and I allowed myself to cry however I needed to, for as long as I needed to. And then as I shlepted myself over to the powder room to get more tissues, I realized my whole face was wet, as was one of my pj pants thighs. So, I sat there, and tried to breathe and come back to center and I realized S’s post said “monster spray” and that’s what opened the gates.

I have done everything in my power to keep my babies safe. Cribs, playpens, carseats, bed rails,….and monster spray. K and D, my two oldest, are 18 months apart. So if one or the other had a scary dream, or was worried about monsters under the bed, we  created ” Monster Spray”. Pretty little pump spray bottle, looked pretty, smelled good. No monster guarantee.

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close approximation of ours

 

It took me a little bit longer, and a couple of tougher experiences (stories for another time) for me to finally have my little Bug. She’s my Rainbow Baby, and her big sister is as protective over her as any momma you ever met!

But after this week, I couldn’t scare it away with monster spray. I couldn’t shield her from it, or change it. She marched last week. She saw it happen. She’s speaking out this week from New York. She blanketed all of her social media with #ENOUGH #enoughisenough #neveragain

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I’m proud of her. I agree. NEVER AGAIN.

All of the fear and stress……..I guess I just needed to cry it out. She’s safe, we’re okay. But OH! my Marvel!!! It has been hard!

**deep, deep breath** (This is why I have “ana’laigh” tattooed on my left forearm, Gaelic for breathe.)

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Just….breathe.

And tell the people in your life you love them!! ❤ ~ xunxun

Oh Shit.

The last week has not been easy for me. I watch as the country gets torn apart from the latest massacre. The kids are going to speak to their state legislatures today, for which I am incredibly proud of them and in awe of their strength and their fight.
More are heading up into DC.

They’re not wrong. When is enough ENOUGH?!

I’ve watched the arguments and the fear spreading across the country. Family, and friends, and acquaintances, and perfect fucking strangers fighting like hell on the internet and in person. Demands for NO MORE DEATHS. Arguments for second amendment rights. The right and the left slinging nasty words at each other.

That’s not doing a damn thing and today….right now. I don’t give a fuck about the arguments anymore.

I didn’t sleep last night, and what sleep I got was punctuated by nightmares. And then I get this news today:
Students arrested for threat of mass violence.

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WJLA Washington, DC ABC News

That. IS. MY. KID’S. HIGH. SCHOOL.

That post yesterday? That fear? It’s real.

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ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

Hip Hip Hooray!

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!

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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.

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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

7 Photos, 7 Days; Day 7!

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!

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Merry Samhain! ❤ ~ Xun

The Next Thing

It’s been a minute since I sent out a missive. When a lot is going on, I think I tend to step away from my blogging, fill it in with journaling, but my introverted nature takes over and I get quieter.

Where to start? Well, my labs from this year’s physical came back and Doc PCM was very pleased with my numbers. GGT came down by 110%, just a hair on the high side, but trending down so more more freaking about about liver function panels, etc. Seem me and my liver are mostly fine! So that was excellent news! Vitamin D, B12 excellent levels, cholesterol came down. The last bit to close that business out is a retest of my TSH and T4 in November to see if a change in my Synthroid might be needed, and that’s easy.

I had the requested thyroid ultrasound, and the report notes ” no nodules seen, finding consistent with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.”

So the next adventure will be me submitting a request for a specialist (Rheumatology maybe?) for pinning down that EDS diag-nonsense. According to my PCM (and therefore she who is the primary traffic director) it boils down to a lot of blood tests and my plan of care won’t change much, but (like I told her) my doctors like to have a diag-nonsense they understand. It doesn’t change my life, my care, or how I’m managed right now. I already have “benign brain neoplasm”, “left total hip replacement, Nov. 2007”, and a couple of other CRPS-type diagnononsense, so I get it.

But I know the docs like to have something to pull together all of these different surgeries, pain management, brain tumor, implants, etc. They like it when I have a diagnosis they understand, even if it doesn’t change much for the patient. And with a few of my doctors bringing it up to me, it was worth diving into research.

I don’t do Dr. Google or WebMD…..I read academic papers, case studies, research papers. And when so much fits, and I have 2 of the docs I see the most saying “yeah, go check it out.” I requesting the referral. So, that’ll be my next project.

So I guess that’s all the Xunnie medical updates:

Yearly MRI w& w/o contrast on my brain: Tumor is still there, stable in size. kthxbai.
Yearly physical: good labs, retest T4 & TSH in November
Thyroid ultrasound: measured, noted “Findings consistent with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. No discrete nodules noted”

Still a brain tumor patient, still interesting to ortho surgeons. But strong and doing better this year.

EXCEPT~~~~~~~~~~~~

My youngest daughter starts high school tomorrow and I haven’t quite figured out if and/or how much Imma freak OUT.

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It isn’t just my youngest starting high school, it’s just that my youngest is starting public high school and I have been Homschooling her for the last 8 years. So yeah. Big change! BIGBIGBIG changes for both of us.

So after 8 years, it seems I am out of a job, relegated to “just mom”.

It’s good stuff for her, and I am so excited for her to make friends and join clubs, all the good stuff out there!

But as for me, in the quiet, at the end of the day, I stare at the wall and I wonder. Do I freak out? How much? Should I?

My youngest is my rainbow baby (and if you get that, I am so very sorry), she walked early….9 1/2 months old, 2 feet tall toddling ….walking all over the house.
Now at 14, she’s thin and tall…just a couple of inches taller (*spoiler alert: I am not, repeat: NOT surprised my kids taller than me.

And in my middle of this, I try to remind myself to be grateful, #blessed, we are thankfully able to get through all this.
I don’t have to look far to see that people are struggling.
Danny (my MIL’s son) had to have a quadruple bypass, then he had complications.
Nick, a family friend, motorcycle wreck last week , had to have surgery and has rehab and PT coming up.
Another friend , Danny, had ACL surgery.
Jeff had rotator cuff surgery,
Destiny got diagnosed with a brain tumor and is getting fitted for her mask for radiation therapy (a process I’m familiar with….I did it 3 years ago this week!),
and hub’s Aunt Connie passed away (sudden heart attack).
And finally, one of my favorite people just had her Dad move back in. He has advanced lung cancer. He’s a hell of a fighter.

I see all the struggles and I know how hard some of these things are to fight through.
My heart hurts. Reach out. #Loveoneanother. #Connect. #Support. Don’t wait…..tell them they’re important to you.
Hugs, love, positive energy…..<3 ~ Xun

Labs and Crap

Time for my “yearly physical”…..bwahahahaha. Yeah, I know. As someone that sees a doctor no less than every 8 weeks, it cracks me up when I have to go see my primary care traffic director every year. She likes to pretend she does more than bitch about my labs and direct referrals, but we know better.

She’s young and in her defense she’s only had me for a patient for about a year and a half and I’m a pain in the ass. It’s not her fault that she’s in over her head…she wasn’t even in med school when I had my hip replacement.

I went over to the lab like a good girl and had them pull my fasting labs last Monday morning so that she had everything before I see her Tuesday afternoon. They pulled 7 vials out of me!! Pretty sure I should have had a cookie before I drove home, but the good news is I am a super easy stick. No rolling veins or tough spots to try to find. And everything went smoothly, so I’m hoping I was the easiest patient that lab tech had all day.

So of course I had to log into the patient portal and get my labs so I can analyze them before I even see her.

My TSH and T4 levels look like they might have to raise my Synthroid dose. But they’ve been creeping it up for over 10 years. I’m not surprised. It is autoimmune thyroid.

My metabolic panel looks pretty good. Hemoglobin and hematocrit are just barely low, but they’re good for me. Vitamin D and B12 are really good! Yay me for taking my vitamins!

The biggest thing I noticed was my GGT is still high but nothing like it was last year. (I did have MRSA then!) And it’s trending down.

And I got a hold of my Cobalt and Chromium levels from last September and of course they’re high, but they’re normal people high, not MoM implant high. And honestly I don’t care. I’m not open to revision surgery. November is my 10th anniversary of my hip surgery, so the way I see it I’m doing pretty damn good.

More updates after my appointment this week!

 

Changes & the Noise in My Head

First an anecdote from yesterday: It was close to 100* F yesterday and my house is dual zoned climate controlled (I promise this is relevant). I keep it about 74F during the summer. (I try to save energy and all, but I already turn blue for no reason and we have like 20 solar panels on the roof.) I was down stairs for several hours and went upstairs to get the laundry and change clothes. As soon as I got to the top of the stairs, I noticed it was much warmer and felt kind of stuffy and humid. (Humid?? When you live on the Chesapeake?? Get out!! Okay, I’ll shut up and get on with the story…..)

I wandered into my room to check the Nest thing and it said that it was about 78F upstairs and had not been running. My first thought? “I wonder if the house thinks I’m not home because I had been hanging out in pretty much one spot downstairs.”

What? “My house thinks I’m not home??!!” Who thinks that?? Oh, right. Me. Because hubs built this house and wired it with all the goodies he wanted.

But still … WhoTF thinks “my house must think…..”??

Anywho…..

  1. I got nominated for an award!! So I better get off my butt and work on that. And thank you, I am truly honored. I started this to write my way through the pain and uncertainty of chronic pain and illness and found friends and support and awesome stuff along the way!
  2. My youngest has decided after being homeschooled for 8 years (she did K, 1st, and 30 days of second grade in public school and I brought her home in 2009 at 6 years old y’all!) that she would like to transition to public school and get out in the world. So in between panic attacks I am trying to gather information for what I’ll need to register her, and working on transcripts.

Fortunately, she has been technically registered in a private school, to protect us and her from any local school districts and allow me the freedom to teach her what we want, how she wants, and keep transcripts, grades, and attendance records. So to the school it will be a lot like a student transferring in from out of state.

I have a list of requirements, I’ve let the head of our current school know, and I am gathering all the needed paperwork.

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So now that much is done, and it’s Friday afternoon, I’m going to allow my anxiety (and occasional panic attacks) about it all to hit pause and go play the new season of Diablo 3.

(Also my oldest just got accepted to her chosen program for imaging tech and she’s super-psyched and focused and I am insanely proud of her. She’s focused and determined and working on a great program that is for HER , so please give the guy that just broke up with her  a one fingered salute!)

Like I said…..changes.

In The Quiet

I have been pretty quiet on my blog for a bit now. Some of it because I’m going through stuff in my head, other reasons just being that I haven’t had much to report on my illness. Last year I couldn’t seem to stabilize, this year I have.

But it’s July 17. And aside from the insanity of the world and my country’s “leaders”, losses (George Romero. You will be missed.), and life, the universe, and fish; July 17, 2001 is the date my before became my after. Post part-of-my-world-didn’t-make-sense, post PTSD, post Rainbow baby, sixteen years later I am a very different person. And so I usually stop and take stock on July 17.

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The stuff I’m going through in my head? I’m trying to figure out how to want to live again. This is the kind of thing I haven’t touched on in my posts about scans and tests and insane amounts of radiation. We talk about the scans, the tests, the treatments, surgeries, recoveries, and medications of chronic illness, but what about when they tell you it’s inoperable? Incurable?

I got told I have a relatively small, most-likely benign tumor in my brain *but* it is inoperable, incurable, post-treatment (radiation) stable, but I’m still a brain cancer patient. I spent two years (give or take) preparing to die.

Inoperable, chemo’s not an option, radiation means scary complications are possible, and in some cases (brain edema) expected. I fought with my oncologist and refused steroids because the patient cases I read about them scared the hell out of me. High dose radiation scared me, the specific steroids for the brain edema scared me more. So I fought with him and fought through three weeks of brain edema and a trip to the ER that required meds, fluids, and a surprisingly high dose of potassium before they would release me.

Three years later I’m pretty stable. (aside from the awesomely clumsy episode of me dropping cleaning supplies on the bridge of my nose yesterday…….frickin OW)

Last year I couldn’t seem to stabilize. I had MRSA in my lungs and throat and spent almost an entire year coughing up green yuck. Another trip down the stairs. Frontal lobe spikes on my EEG. This year, I finally got my lungs back, I’m still clumsy but the stairs and I have an understanding for now, and I can (usually) finish a sentence.

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My body seems to take a year to get through something. Instead of having pneumonia, getting antibiotics, and recovering; I had pneumonia, lots of antibiotics, 3 different inhalers, and eventually in-home oxygen when my O2 levels dropped under 86% walking around my doctor’s office before, about a year later, I recovered.

Dunno why. But a lot of things take me a year.

Throw an artificial hip (10 years ago this November), a brain tumor, and crappy MRSA lungs at me and I start making peace with my the great hereafter. Or something along those lines.

We talk a lot about life with an illness or during a treatment, but we don’t mention staring into the mirror and making peace with your mortal coil. But it does happen, and we should know we’re not alone. I should know I’m not alone.

So I’m kind of, sort of, coming out the other side of that. I’m thinking this stupid thing won’t kill me. At least not yet.

So while I’m pretty quiet on my blog, my journals show I’m still thinking, writing, struggling. I’m still living.

5 Years Ago

My oldest used to get really frustrated with me because I wouldn’t tell her much about my childhood or who I was before I was “Mom”. It’s not her fault. I had kind of a tough childhood, and somethings I shut out, others I chose to try to forget….you get the idea.

My biological father bailed when I was 6. But I did have 2 other guys that sort of stuck around longer and were Dad-like. The first was my first step-dad and he was around until I was in high school. Not a bad guy, but he had his own demons; and, as my mom would say, when he dropped the ball, Ron (my Dad) picked it up.

Ron was my kids’ Grandpa, he was in my life longer than anybody else dadlike, and he was my *Dad*. He taught me to drive a stick, he was the only Grandpa my kids knew, and he was the guy that filled the space that my father vacated.

I learned so much from him. Not just how to drive a manual transmission, or wrap a Christmas present. I learned everything that got me through 5 days in Georgetown going through radiation. Finding peace. Being still. Being quiet. Breathe. Center.

He died 5 years ago today, and not a day goes by that he’s still not with me in some way.

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So, today’s memory is the time I cut my foot and he picked me up and carried me into the ocean. That was the day that I learned Hawaiian ocean water can cure just about anything! I still drive to the water when I need some calm, some peace, some clarity. But it’s the Chesapeake Bay these days.

1997? I think it was…I cut my foot, not bad, but I was being a baby about it and Ron swore I just needed to get out in the water. Me: “No,no, no! Salt water is just going to sting!!” So he picks me up and carries me out in the water until he’s at least waist deep and I’m screaming and laughing. Lo and behold, the next day my foot was at least 50% better. He was right!

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I miss you Grandpa (dad, Ron, Kumu). I can’t believe it’s been 5 years! But I know you’re still with me, and my mom, and my kiddums! ❤

Ron L Obrey 7/6/1951- 6/23/2012