Fox and Broom

A mom's adventures in keeping healthy, keeping her sanity, and making stuff.

Archive for the category “grief”

The Day

I have been working on blogs about my Paris adventure, but I wanted to put up a quick post for today.

A year ago today, I found out that my pain was definitely not caused by a pulled muscle. A year ago today, my life turned upside-down. A year ago today, Dr. C told me that I had metastatic breast cancer that had spread to my bones. Stage IV. No cure. A death sentence.

It isn’t an anniversary that I want to remember. I was in agony and losing weight. I had gotten to the point where I was having trouble walking. I was exhausted. I was angry.

My first thoughts were for my kids. I couldn’t leave them. Not yet. I very much want to see them grow up. I very much want to see what kind of humans they become. I also, maybe selfishly, very much want them all to remember me. Really remember me. Not just hear about me from other family members or friends.

After my diagnosis, I went downhill fast. I honestly thought I wasn’t going to make it to my birthday in October. I believe my children and my anger brought me through that time. The radiation treatments helped with my pain and my hormone treatments helped to get my cancer somewhat under control, but it was my children who got me through the other things. I thought of them as I forced food down my throat. I thought of them as I forced myself to reclaim my muscles and start walking again. I thought of them as the worst of my symptoms started to fade and now, a year later, I am not the skeletal, sickly, creature that cancer wants to make me.

Now, I enjoy eating again. I have been working on taming my garden that went out of control. I walked miles and miles in Paris. I took my oldest son to Disney World and Universal Studios. I walked a 5K, which I didn’t think I would be able to do again. I have hope that I now have years instead of months. I have met a lot of the goals that I set for myself last year at this time. Every time I cross one off, I get a feeling of vindication. Fuck you cancer.

Living with cancer means fighting everyday. I am a warrior.

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Mourning Celebrities

I mourn celebrities. I know some people do not understand this. It actually took me by surprise. Why mourn for someone you never actually knew? Except I feel like we did know them. They shared their art with us and that is a very private thing to share with the world. The one that first hit me the hardest was Robin Williams. Celebrities I loved had, of course, died before him, but when he passed, I couldn’t watch any of his movies for over a year. I think his death hit me so hard because he had ALWAYS been a part of my life. From Mork and Mindy on up. I’ve watched Jumanji and Hook more times than I can count. I love his stand up and the episode of “Whose Line Is It Anyway” with Robin is still one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my life.

Then 2016 started off with David Bowie’s death. I cried randomly for three days. I had also just had a baby, so that probably added to the emotional part, but Bowie was an important musical figure to me. I feel like I discovered him late in my life – after high school – and couldn’t get enough of him.

And now we are leaving 2016 with the passing of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. I am having a lot of trouble with the loss of Carrie Fisher. She was a bad ass princess who only needed help her rescue. She was an advocate for mental health. She was hilarious. Princess Leia was a role model for how I played with the guys. There was only one other girl in my neighborhood and we were both tomboys.

This has been a hard year for a lot of reasons. The death of our heroes has just added to it.

Oh Hai

It has been forever since I have written a blog. Well, almost a year. Which is pretty much forever in internet time.

With my last post, I had started the Couch 2 5K program again. Which, to be honest, I did not keep up with very well. I do my best at the gym if I go in the morning. I also like to take it easy in the morning with a cuppa and some Daily Show from the night before. Sooo. Yeah.

Anyway, on to May. My husband and I found out we were expecting our next baby the day before Mother’s Day. We made the decision to keep it quiet due to the miscarriage from the year before. It was really pretty traumatic for me to have to tell everyone about that. I know that for some people, it is a healing thing to be able to share experiences like that. Not so for me. In fact, it took me nearly a full year to even be able to mention the loss.

We told our close family when we were about 8 weeks along and we made it public at about 12 weeks after my first midwife appointment. I am now 31 weeks along. This new baby is due in January. And has caused me issues every. single. step. of the way. I am not sure if it is because I am considered an older mom. Or it might be because this is baby #4. Or it might just be because every pregnancy is different.

Just after we found out we were expecting, I had to set up a doctor appointment to figure out what was going on with an extreme headache. It was so bizarre. I started to call it a head pain because it was not a typical headache for me. The focal point would move around my head and radiate out. I called my general practitioner when the pain moved toward the front of my head and made eating difficult. As I was pregnant, there was not a lot he could do for me. He was concerned enough that he contacted the women’s clinic to see if it was safe enough for me to go in for an MRI. Doing my bit of research, I used my mom to contact an OB from the Mayo Clinic to be sure an MRI would be ok. I went through with it. And I now have proof that my brain is normal.

Along with the head pains, I got to work through some food aversions. My morning sickness was more acute than it usually is, but since I had so many food aversions, my trips to the toilet resulted mostly in dry heaves. I survived mostly on salad and protein shakes. I couldn’t even look at eggs, pizza, cheese, milk, tomatoes, and the list goes on. All sorts of smells would send me running to the bathroom. I lost somewhere around 11 pounds. At 31 weeks, I am still dealing with some of these aversions. Sometimes I can eat scrambled eggs, sometimes I can’t.

Once the morning sickness started to fade, I guess my body decided I needed some other inconvenience. So, my relaxin hormone production went into overdrive. It took me awhile to figure this out. I had a cold at the end of August, early September (back to school crud, yay!). That incident led to me actually sneezing so hard that I popped a rib out-of-place. It was so painful that I went into the ER. I honestly had no idea what was going on. I just knew that I suddenly couldn’t breathe and was in huge amounts of pain. That was a particularly pricey visit just to have someone tell me that my rib was knocked out and the pain was from muscle spasms. I got it under control with heat, ice, and a chiropractor.

The first rib incident was actually a clue for me about the relaxin. My rib has now popped out 3 times and my hips are trying to disconnect from my leg bones. If you are not totally sure about what relaxin does, it pretty much matches its name. It relaxes the ligaments connecting the bones to allow movement for childbirth. Why my body is prepping so early, I have no idea. It has made it very uncomfortable to walk and I am on a lifting restriction. Sitting, standing, and laying down are all also very uncomfortable.

The good news for this pregnancy is that Baby is doing incredibly well. We found out at my 20 week ultrasound that Baby is a boy, so this will be boy #4 in our family. He will have no lack of clothes. Though they may be a bit worn. He is super active and is constantly pushing out on my belly.

Other good news is that I do NOT have gestational diabetes. Not that it matters since chocolate and some other sweets give me massive heartburn. I joke that this baby is forcing me to eat healthy. Well, I mostly joke. I would kill for a doughnut. This whole eating healthier has been beneficial seeing as how I am not up for pretty much any exercise. I have not gained back much of the weight I lost during my morning sickness. Baby is still growing very well, so he is definitely getting the nutrients he needs. If I did not have the constant pain, I would actually feel really good. I’ve even been enjoying the onset of the Braxton Hicks contractions. Well, except for the one that hit me when I was grocery shopping. Whew. That was came out of nowhere and left a lingering pain. My body is prepping to bring this guy earthside. After all the issues I have had, I am really looking forward to meeting this new person.

Working With Loss

The way that I deal with grief (or any strong emotion) is by writing. This post is one of grief. And deep loss.

Read more…

My 9/11 Post

Everyone else is doing one. So here is mine. This is also the last time I am logging on today.

There are a few things in everyone’s life that they will always remember with a clarity that almost seems supernatural. Our brains are not meant to remember things that clearly. At least that is what I believe. Yet, every generation has its moment of “I remember exactly what I was doing when ‘this’ or ‘that’ happened.”

9/11 and the Challenger are mine. I know the Columbia explosion should be in there, but that disaster is really a blur in my mind. I won’t forget it, but I do not remember it as clearly as the Challenger. The Challenger was the first time I recall feeling a shock so big I couldn’t express it. I was in 4th grade. We heard about it as we were walking from gym class to the cafeteria. One of the twins told me (don’t remember his name) and I told him he was sick for making such a terrible joke.
I had just seen the Challenger on her launch pad about a month before from a distance. My family had traveled to FL from MN for a winter vacation. The shuttle was supposed to have gone up while we were there, but they kept delaying due to frost and bad weather.

On September 11, 2001… I walk into work and someone tells me to look at the tv. I walk into the customer lounge in time to see the 2nd plane hit. It took me a few minutes to understand what had happened. I called my apartment to tell my husband to wake up and watch the tv. There had been a terrorist attack in New York.
We were due to go on vacation that day. To Olympia. A lot of our friends and coworkers advised us not to go as that was Washington’s capitol city. What if there were more attacks planned? We went anyway. I am glad we did. We spent that time with our friends in Olympia. It wasn’t exactly a great vacation, but it was a better way for us to spend that tragic time than sitting on our own in our apartment would have been.

It is now the 10th anniversary of that awful event. I find that I still have the same grief now as I had at that time. I do not need reminders. My tv is off and my computer will be off. I don’t need the constant reminding. I remember well enough.

Butterflies

I’ve been thinking about butterflies a lot lately. Partly because it would have been my sister-in-law’s birthday a few weeks ago and I have always associated butterflies with her. I have also been watching Sammi become MORE. This week he has discovered that he can get around. It isn’t exactly crawling. I also wouldn’t call it scooting. Maybe more like a cross between crawling and flopping. Whatever it is, it gets him to where he wants to go. Today, he managed to get from a seated position into a crawling position all on his own for the first time.

These are milestones that I know I celebrated with my oldest, but I never had to work as hard with him to get to these milestones. I don’t know why Sam is having so much trouble. Neither do the docs. The one test we were depending on to actually give us answers had nothing to say. It was a relief to find out he has nothing wrong, but a little frustrating at the same time. I have seen him start to improve with the help of occupational therapy and he really started doing things when we made sure to add B12 and a multivitamin + iron into his diet. It’s possible that he was just unable to derive certain vitamins in the quantities he needed from my breastmilk and from food.

Whatever it is, I do see him improving. He is still behind, but he is not getting more behind. That is encouraging.

I went running today for the first time in a few weeks. I decided to restart Week 1, Day 1 of C25K. I ran up and down slightly hilly terrain. My legs now hate me. My lungs weren’t so happy, either. Tomorrow, I aim to get to a BodyPump class at my gym. I feel like I am starting to get back on track.

A Letter To My Grandma.

My Grandma passed away on Christmas Day 2010 at the young age of 96 1/2… I felt the need to write a few random memories.

My brother and I didn’t get to see our Grandma DeVos very much, and even less as we both lived lives which were far from her. She sometimes seemed a little awkward around us and I think she had trouble “getting” us. We always knew that she loved us.

She may not have had a high education. I believe she completed 8th grade. However, no one has her skill in the kitchen. Even I would eat her pork chops, and I cannot stand pork foods. She always put on a full table for every meal, then put on a show when we were unable to devour an entire chicken (per person): “I just don’t cook so good no more.”

She always had ice cream or cookies on hand. Usually great quantities of both. I will always associate her with memories of home baked goodness.

The summer that I stayed with her, she taught me how to use her riding lawn mower to mow her gigantic yard. Then allowed me to mow every week. I thought it was the greatest thing EVER. I am sure she thought me doing yard work was the greatest thing EVER.

She was one of the strongest women I have known. She was not a feminist and was one of the most classical 50’s style housewives you have ever seen. She was a farm-bred girl and could definitely pull her weight. She would spend hours in her garden, do laundry, take care of that huge yard, then manage to pull together the most amazing meal you have ever had.

She was in the July 1998 issue of National Geographic. It had an article about natural disasters and showed the picture of her walking to her mailbox with a mountain of snow behind her. That was the year her house had been buried under about 30 feet of snow. It took 6 hours to dig her out and she was interviewed by all kinds of reporters. She was on the nightly news and was on the front page of the USA Today. Her biggest worry was making sure all the reporters had enough to eat.

It did upset me greatly when I realized that she no longer recognized me. Until I made the decision that I would remember as she was from my childhood. I would have loved to have her know her great-grandchildren better, but I will be able to tell them about their wonderful great-grandma.

She was able to watch the midnight Christmas mass on TV with my aunt Cathy. Cathy was with her as she went on to her heaven. I hope she will always have many people to entertain and that they will all eat great quantities of food.

I told my friends that I would like to be like her when I get old. I never did tell her that. I did tell her that I loved her. I will miss her.

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