One of the biggest changes I have noticed since being diagnosed with my brain tumor (headaches, vision changes, and falling down the stairs 4 times so far notwithstanding) is that I have days I have trouble processing time. I can look at the clock 4 times in 5 minutes and not being able to connect what time it is.
I understand morning, afternoon, and evening but I will have whole days when I have trouble understanding the clock when I look at it. It doesn’t matter if I look at a digital clock or a traditional clock.
For example, if I have plans or an appointment at 1:30 pm and I look at my clock and see it’s 11:00 am, I know I have time before I need to go, do, meet, see, ect. But I have days that I can look at the clock 3 times in 10 minutes and not understand what 11 am means, so I do the math in my head again and know I have 2 & 1/2 hours. But it’s just on these days I keep looking at the clock and it’s just difficult for me to understand it.
I think maybe it’s because:
1) I already struggle with subjective, abstract ideas. In college, the class I had the most trouble with was Critical Thinking. I fought with my instructor because I didn’t like being graded on something subjective.
I also think the Phantom Time Theory might have something to it, and I find the whole idea that the date and time is what we say it is because we’ve set it at some specific time. Clearly I’m not a fan of daylight savings time.
2) I think maybe the part of my brain that understands abstract ideas might have been damaged by the tumor and the crazy lasers they were shooting into my brain. (okay….radiation therapy, close enough.)
According to the many, many, many scans of my brain and my tumor, the mass seems to be in the left prepontine area, right up against my left 5th cranial nerve. It’s too close to my brain stem for surgery, so it’s me and my tumor trying to figure out how to exist. So I figure out how to back myself up with notes, alarms, or timers.
I think human beings, especially Americans, struggle to process time. In America, we typically use the Gregorian calendar based on the idea that it’s 365.25 days each year, based on solar cycles. Other countries, and some businesses, use the Julian calendar. I learned that when I worked for Prudential Insurance too many years ago for me to tell you when it was.
I even understand military time and that Americans seem to write the date differently. October 15, 2017 vice 15-10-2017.
But…brain tumor or no brain tumor, what would you change about how you handle abstract ideas like time if you didn’t know what the rules were?
When I’m overwhelmed or there’s just a lot going on in my life, I tend to get really quiet. Yes, I’m aware that when it would make the most sense for me to write it out, cry out to the world, I tend to shut down. Retreat into myself. I’m aware. I still call it a survival mechanism. A leftover from a tough childhood.
The things that hurt…
…on the day my sister (in law) died, my son kicked me out of his life and it’s taken me about a year and a half to get something that almost resembles the beginnings of a start. But he’s my son, that’s my boy. I’ll take the pain. There’s no way I’m walking away.
…I miss B (my sister) all the time. I wonder if I could have done more for her. I talk to her a lot. Which sounds like I’m just a leeeetle bit crazy. But I believe she’s around. I think….I hope that we can have these conversations and she hears me and I can find bits that tell me we’re communicating.
…I miss my dad. I miss my dog. I like to think they’re off in this amazing better version of here. And together.
…And my biggest secret. My wedding anniversary is supposed to be tomorrow. I mean …it still will be. The date marking an event that happened 18 years ago will still exist. But mostly only because I’m still alive, sometimes against my will, and I’m still here. I packed up and left for about a year, 10 years ago. But all hell broke loose in my life and I got scared. I retreated back into a life that was familiar. I told myself I was happy.
Then I got sicker and sicker….
Chronic pain, complications from my hip replacement, pneumonia in both lungs with O2 stats dropping to 86%,leading to in home O2 for 3 months. More surgeries, more treatments, all while a full time college student, all while moving to and through 3 different states, all while trying to make a marriage work and take care of my kids and my family.
Tomorrow is my wedding anniversary, 18 years ago I stood at the base of the Ko’olau Mountains and recited words from an event I wrote.
Now, I don’t even know what “thing” (silver? cotton? silk?) the anniversary stands for. I don’t have a card, or a gift, or a plan. Because I am unhappy. Unhappy as in I go to sleep more nights than not hoping I don’t wake up.
I’m sorry to think that for my mom and my kids, but I just feel like my reasons, my purposes…are done. They’re over and I can go now. I mean I’ve lived through 6 surgeries, septicemia, a brain tumor, radiation, and MRSA . And 2 blood transfusions. When is enough enough?
2016 was an all out, no holds barred suckfest. Universally.
But 2017 leaves me feeling like my life is upside down. I’m unhappy. And I don’t fight…..well, with anyone anymore, but my husband in particular. And very few people know that or know why. But the fight has been chipped away, and there’s not much left.
So, yes, I am very quiet lately. I am struggling. I am unhappy. And those are the kinds of things that leave me retreating into myself.
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.
My youngest daughter starts high school tomorrow and I haven’t quite figured out if and/or how much Imma freak OUT.
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
In the US we’re watching tensions built with North Korea and current administration. News out of Washington always seems like we just never know what’s really going on.
There is a 30 foot inflatable chicken on the Ellipse near the White House. I’m only about an hour or so from this area and THIS is HILARIOUS! I dunno if you have a twitter or facebook, but if you do, do a quick search for “giant inflatable chicken” and enjoy the commentary!
Doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you’re on, this is FUNNY!
The Trojan Chicken!
“I don’t think Trump and North Korea should be playing chicken with nukes.”
You only elect the giant inflatable chicken once!
“Yesterday: Trump threatens North Korea with “fire and fury”, Today: We are LIVE covering the giant inflatable chicken on the South lawn of the WH.”
“Giant Inflatable Chicken 2020!”
Okay…..back to your day…..
There’s a lot going on in my life right now. My oldest is living with me for a bit and getting her classes and clinicals set up for the upcoming semester. She has all 5 of the next semesters planned out and then tah-dah!! She’s off to be a radiographer extraordinaire! And my youngest has decided to make the leap into public high school, so that’ll be the biggest change for her (and for me!) (Seriously….ahhhhhh!!!! If you want me, I’ll be in my blanket fort!!)
I’ve shared all of this before, but on the heels of all this stuff, it also be time for the yearly check up. Kid goes tomorrow, probably need a Dtap booster and we want to get the Gardasil and she’s a happy and healthy kidlet, so she’s gonna be just fine!
Me? Well I started today by getting my lazy-wanting-to-crawl-back-under-the-covers bootie up and over to the clinic so the could pull my “fasting labs” before MY yearly check up next week. So that was 7 (seven!) vials they pulled today! I’m pretty sure I should have had a cookie and some juice before I left.
But I am seriously the world’s easiest stick:
I was just surprised it was so many vials! But I’m an easy stick, no rolling veins or trouble finding one. Stick, get the blood, BOOM done!
Then after dinner, I was sharing news about my friend’s dad had a heck of a scare last week and I spent most of last week praying for her and her family and thinking “I just really don’t want you to have to join the club.” (Grey’s reference)
There’s just so many of us that have lost our dads already, and far too many of those come from cancer, and I just…..I believe in miracles and I wouldn’t want that experience for anyone.
So I have been thinking about my friend, and sending good energy out in her direction.
I’m still technically a brain cancer patient, but I’m stable right now, no changes etc. But my friend’s Dad had a really scary afternoon last week and came back from 2 (TWO!) cardiac arrests and was busting out of the hospital 4 days after and asking to go to the local VFW Friday Fish Fry. And the whole thing just sat me down.
I’m still a brain cancer patient, but I’m stable and still fighting for my independence. I’m down to 3 doctors these days and doing much better than a year ago (when I had MRSA). I just mean I understand both a patient, and as a daughter who did lose a Dad to lung cancer 5 years ago.So I’m sitting in my living room, mulling things over, and feeling like I should share and I look up….
A Sailor’s Wife on the wall, a gift from my sailor when he retired out of the Navy after 24 years. My incredibly cool cherry blossom tree card I got for Mother’s Day, Deadpool…..because Marvel, and our newest incredibly cool thing in the house: a 3D printed moon that lights up from the inside.
Sometimes I just get sat down bust by looking around, thinking about stories we share with other people, or they share with us. Seeing something you can relate to…..sometimes there just are no words.
But this week I found some perspective, something to be grateful for, a lot of hope for,a couple of tears, and a question for myself.
My friend’s Dad went into cardiac arrest twice , he got CPR and the paddles and he fought back. He came back. Could I have done the same thing in his shoes? I’d love to reply to that question with a snappy “yes!!”, but I’m not so sure.
If anything, it certainly shows that the will to fight is just as strong as any chemo, surgery, or medical intervention. Don’t get we wrong, one of the reasons he survived was because he was in a place the allowed him to be treated while they called the ambulance and got him to the hospital.
But hearing how things happened certainly gave me pause. I’m a brain cancer patient too, but I am stable and doing pretty good right now. So I send my heartfelt prayers, and love, and hope to that family. And I hope I keep in mind that the will to fight is just as important as any IV, scan, drug therapy, or surgeon.
Sometimes, the fight seems it might just be a little bit more.
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…..”??
- 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!
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So Kara from Polishing Dookie, who is an awesome and inspiring chick that blows me away with her compassion and ability to laugh through the pain, nominated me for an award.
This award was created by Maggie – Dreaming of Guatemala. She created the award “For the absolutely wonderful writers all across the blogging world. They have beautiful blogs, are kind and lovely, and always find a way to add happiness and laughter to the lives of their readers. That is what truly defines an awesome blogger.”
Rules of engagement:
- Thank the person who nominated you.
- Include the reason behind the award.
- Include the banner in your post.
- Tag it under #awesomebloggeraward in the Reader.
- Answer the questions your nominator gave you.
- Nominate at least 5 awesome bloggers.
- Give your nominees 10 new questions to answer.
- Let your nominees know they’ve been nominated!
Thank you Kara! I know you’re up to your eyeballs right now, but you still find a way to keep us all up to date and stay in touch. I am grateful to know you and be inspired by you all the time!
Kara’s Questions for her Nominees:
If you found out you had 24 hours to live, what would you do with your remaining time?
No, seriously I know the expected and correct answer is spend as much time with my loved ones as possible. And I would, my mom, my husband, my kids, my best friends. And I would write down as much as I could for my kids to have to look back on as they go through their own lives.
Do you have any irrational fears? If yes, please explain.
I have an irrational fear of bats. No I don’t know why. No, I don’t want to hear all about all the cool stuff they do.
What is your favorite song?
Ahahahahahahaha….(wheeze…..cough……inhale)….hahahahaha. Have you met me? Pick a genre, an artist, a decade….I gotta have something to narrow it down first.
That being said, let’s see: The Shadow of Venus by Apocalyptica is my ringtone right now, I have 391 (give or take a few) songs on my phone, and the last 5 played were:
Bad Romance by Halestorm
Pony by Ginuwine
Quiet by Milck
Royals by Otep
It’s Quiet Uptown by Kelly Clarkson
and I have Sister Christian by Night Ranger stuck in my head right now.
Have you ever done the truffle shuffle?
Hell yeah. And I own the movie. And I have 2 Goonies shirts!
Goonie Never say Die!
Describe yourself in four words or less (?)
chick, geek, mom
If you were a comic book character, would you be a hero or a villain?
I’d love to say hero, but we all know I make a fabulous villain. But like Maleficent or Harley Quinn villain.
What would your special power be?
Reading minds? Or maybe teleporting?
(Who am I kidding, I just want to get my eyeliner wing right!)
Do you have any habits that drive other people bonkers?
I’m sure I do. I’m a grammar nazi, and can be a perfectionist, and if I argue I make sure you know I’m right.
(I might share a little too much sometimes too.)
Does “normal” exist?
What is this “normal” you speak of?
Chips or cookies (or both at the same time)?
Usually chips, but I do have a recipe for Potato Chip Cookies with butterscotch chips.
Stephen King says if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write. Do you think that’s true, and why or why not?
What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?
Which book world would you like to visit?
Do you have any pet peeves?
Book or Movie? Why?
What is your biggest phobia?
What are you proud of yourself for?
What is your favorite joke or pun?
Lions or Tigers or Bears?
What made you decide to share your story and start your blog?
Pamela (even though she’s taking a much needed break, I have learned so much from her!)
I meant to write one post today but after it ended up being almost 1300 words, I split it.
Part two, coming up….
Happy Mother’s Day to you Spoonies in America that have spawn.
Happy second Sunday in May to those that aren’t in America, don’t have spawn, or are choosing to ignore the muss and fuss today. And gentle hugs. And if someone hasn’t told you that you’re awesome and they’re grateful you’re here, I am. You’re awesome. And I’m grateful you’re on this rock swirling through space with me.
Happy Spring Sunday in May to my sisters, spoonies, fellow strong chicks, and amazing people that need (or don’t need) a day to celebrate or just a reason to remind you that you’re awesome, loved, and appreciated!
Am I being too cheerful or cheesy? I probably am, but I’m also aware that it’s easy to get lost in the everyday and it’s nice to be reminded that you matter. Call it “Xunnie’s learning that she’s lost too many people not to say the good stuff when you can”. Or just “be good to one another” if the first one is too many words.
Also, quick side note, especially if you’re a girl: I just watched “Embrace” on NetFlix. I had donated and supported Taryn’s Body Image Movement way back when it was a picture that went viral and inspired a kickstarter and after finally having the chance to see the result of her hard work, I am honored and grateful to have watched that with my youngest daughter and shared the message.
So, love your body. Even if it’s pissing you off today or it refuses to cooperate. It’s the only one you’ve got. At least right now. And go add Embrace to your Netflix queue.
Xunnie, right before bed a few weeks ago. This is me, no hair done up, no make up, no filters, and no muss or fuss. I spend a lot of time pissed off at this ridiculous body because I can’t run or dance anymore. Because it hurts. Because I don’t have as much control as I’d like anymore.
But in this picture I was actually feeling pretty good that day. I had gone for a walk and it felt good to get out and walk around and look at some trees in the Spring. It was a beautiful day out in my corner of the mid-Atlantic US middle of nowhere, so I went for a walk, and I was feeling pretty good that day.
So happy Mother’s Day, happy middle of May, and gentle hugs.
Oh! I know I have been shit on posting updates. Partly because there’s not always much to share, partly because last month was a little crazy busy for us. But it’s almost time for my yearly scans so I will have updates soon. I have been having some symptoms that could mean my tumor is progressing or growing and I have been putting off going in to get an EDS diagnosis confirmed. But my lungs are slowing healing and I’m not coughing as much anymore, so I’ll take that for good news right now!
Updates soon. I promise!