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Monday, August 20, 2018

This old man


Damon had the obligatory back-to-school, meet-your-teacher, drop-off-your-school-supplies meeting tonight and I had the brilliant idea to attempt to get groceries afterwards since I only had one kid to wrangle. 

The Aldi trip was fine and fast, and we then only needed a very few things from Walmart. We found our raisins and Dada's aftershave and our vitamins and then I realized we are out of hand soap refill, so we grabbed that. I used two plastic bags, one with the soap and aftershave in it and the other held the raisins and the vitamins. 

Being a mom, I gave him the lighter one. He protested, telling me, "hey! That one is more heavy. I'm going to be a man soon!" 

I asked if he meant like, tomorrow, or next year, or what. 

"I don't care. I'm going to be a man." 

He won. He got the heavy bag. Well played, man-child. 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Postcard to the Undecided

Dear Unmet-Yet-Friend,


I sense you'll be there, hovering just outside the entrance, debating with your Self about joining those already inside. I can hear the argument a little:

In this age of social media, why do we even need reunions? I already know more than I want to about what everyone's kids are doing, where they've been on vacation, what they take pictures of before they eat...

Why did I send in money to see people I haven't seen since the last reunion, or since high school itself?

Why did I wait months to begin working out? Why didn't I get my hair cut? Why did I get my hair cut? Why am I still not any taller?!

What if I have to remind people who I am? What if I am just an unnoticeable now as I was then? Worse perhaps, what if everyone has seen that video or that post and thinks... Whatever it is they think?

Is it too late to leave? Have I been spotted? Can I just sneak out again?

Relax, my yet-unmet-friend. Whatever your issues are, we all have our own. Some of us are really just better at hiding them. Some of us are better at deflection or humor-as-a-shield or sarcasm or are rich enough to pay for what we'd like to fix. Rest assured, we are all dealing with something(s).

For example, peek in that door again. See that bald lady you don't recognize? Sure, she didn't graduate with your class- she married in- but she keeps discreetly (she hopes) slipping out a handkerchief from her great-grandmother Frances to wipe her eyes which keep streaming as a side effect of the meds she's on. She brought a head scarf for in case the air conditioning is cranked up but she's hoping she won't need it. She's looking forward to some time with the handful of folks she's met throughout the years, some who have come unbelievable distances to reconnect. She's got her fingers crossed in her pocket that she won't need to use the facilities for an extraordinary length of time and that, if she does, that she won't stink it up too badly thanks to other side effects of those same meds. She's hoping she won't start yawning at 7 as the shindig only started at 6, not because she's bored or rude, but because she's almost done with chemo and tires easily. 

Her name is Val, and she'd love to meet you. Go ahead in. I promise she won't bite, and she might even surprise you into laughter. She knows that most of us have grown up a fair bit since the original tour of nuttiness that is high school, and she'd love to hear where you fit into it all. 

Take that deep breath, get that chin up, slap your name tag on, and walk in. You can do this. Enjoy tonight!

Warm regards,
The Not-Quite-Crying Baldie :)

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Get ready, get set, confessional


I have been procrastinating for days on this post and I still have no idea how to start. I apologize in advance for the vomit-ness to come. I'm tired of crying on the front porch, in the kitchen, in the bathroom, and in the car; I'm hoping that if I get this all out it'll help. And yes, I realize that, as Gandalf tells Merry, Pippin, and Sam, "I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil." It's just that enough is enough for now. I know I'm allowed bad days, hard days, and days of mourning, but watery eyes as a side effect from Perjeta is bad enough without bursting into tears what feels like all the time. Bleh. I want a shirt that says, "there's no crying in breast cancer" but I'm sure someone would be offended...

Since I've never been Catholic, I have no protocol to follow for what goes on in a confessional. I have the general gist that you unload on the poor priest and then he figures out where you go from there. I belong to another camp, though, which is of the belief that only God needs to hear my sins unless others are involved and would need to be reconciled with. This isn't that kind of post anyway. Sorry if anyone was secretly hoping for a list of my sins. They are there and they quite possibly look very much like your own. 

This is more of a Once Upon a Time with very clear snapshots of God's faithfulness throughout, a shaker of Fear whose lid keeps popping off, and assorted other ingredients, whatever happens to be on hand. I don't suppose it helps that I just read a recipe for Hobo Stew, but there you have it.

Once Upon a Time (for those of you who like to keep track, think summer or 1994, and yes, this was way before cell phones and I didn't have an email address yet, either) I went off into the world to work for a Christian camp.  I was the second youngest staff member until one of the cooks left and then I was officially the baby. I was surrounded by a wealth of truly quality people, many I'm still friends with today. They say camp friends are different and they're right. There is a special connection with people you get hot, sweaty, sunburnt, sick, exhausted, filthy, rained on, and overwhelmed with. Those same people you eat foil dinners with in the rain, lament the rust stains in your laundry and hair with, lug the campers who finally made it out into the field to sleep out only to get downpoured on and have to recover everyone and every sodden thing and drag it all back with, encourage homesick campers to give it a real shot before heading home when it may be the longest you yourself has ever been away from home, and other assorted stories. Countless stories. Hilarious quotes (sometimes) taken out of context and added to poster boards in the staff lounge. Everyone helping the other finish whatever job needed done because for the summer you were a family. 

That's how I got to know Mot. We had three Toms on staff that year, so somehow this particular Tom got his name turned backwards to become Mot. It was my night off, which sounds glamorous until you realize (or remember) that a night off entailed 4 hours once a week. Campers arrived Sunday afternoon and stayed until Saturday morning, then the next bunch arrived 24 hours later and you started a new week. Since there was so little weekend time off, once a week you had a night off, and usually the other days you got a 2 hour block of time to tackle things like showers, laundry, junk food, whatever needed done. Nights off and weekends were the times you could physically leave camp.  Otherwise, you were with your campers. 

At any rate, I didn't have a car at camp and didn't have any desire to leave anyway. I had been having a fabulous time with my new friends/family, with the incredible amount of Stuff I was learning- the songs, the games, the skills, the processes behind the magic and fun of being a camper- and I'd been raised to help where I could (thanks Mommee & Daddee!) which is fun anyway when you're doing whatever it is that needs done with your friends. 

All day and maybe previous days some of the guys had been digging a deep hole outside the dining hall. I'm sure there was a purpose for it, piping or something, but I don't remember now. I do remember the guys being in the hole and being filthy and sweaty and surely uncomfortable but not complaining. They were joking around and enjoying each other's company. I have no idea how long they'd known each other. It was my second time there but my first time was only a week long the previous summer and I don't know who was outside of the particular group I worked with that first week. I'm sure if I asked around I could find out, but it doesn't matter that much. They were having fun while doing a difficult, hot, potentially thankless job. 

I'm guessing that they worked through dinner to get the project finished that last night and that's how there were post-dinner dishes which needed done. Mot and I ended up as companions at the pot sink, just chatting away, learning more about each other, hanging out while doing the work. He mentioned that he was impressed that I'd be in there doing dishes on a night off. I explained pretty much what I said two paragraphs ago. It was fun for me to get to know someone I didn't know well. Mot would be getting married mid-summer and would then be leaving camp to go be a husband and live a real life. That would leave a male staff opening. I suppose it has something to do with so many young women becoming teachers and seeing camp as a great place to get experience, but we seemed to often be short on guys. 

The summer before when I'd been there just one week, I met a guy named Kelly. He was working on staff again this particular year and had the foresight to keep calling home to one of his younger brothers, "hey, Mot's going to be leaving and we're gonna need another guy." The brother kept refusing, essentially saying, "I don't want to waste my summer at church camp." Kelly persisted, though, and to make a long story short, he wore the brother down enough where he declared, "fine, I'll come help for one week and then I'm out!"

That reluctant brother did indeed show up, worked the week, and finished out the summer with our staff. Turns out he was pretty good at the job! Then he returned the next year, the year after that, and one final year after that. He asked me to marry him. I said yes and here we are, 19 years, multiple moves, three kids, and breast cancer later. I'm pretty fond of him. 

Mot and Dawn's wedding was the first wedding we attended together, the first of many. A lot of you just had a flashbulb go off over your heads. Those of you who worked with us already knew where this was headed... 

Dawn passed away one week ago from pneumonia while fighting breast cancer that returned and spread to her brain and her lungs. I mentioned about camp friends being special. We've only spoken a handful of times in the 24 years we've known each other just because life had us in different places. As soon as I posted about my diagnosis, she reached out to me to answer questions and offer support. This amazing woman, with her fabulous husband and three kids of their own, is an integral part of our story. Without their marriage, I most likely would never have even met my husband. That's a God-is-faithful thing, and a Kelly-can-be-persistent thing. I can't imagine how different my life would be, where I'd be, who I'd be.  And now they are left with this hole in their lives where Dawn should be. And my heart breaks.

And Fear enters the cracks. She'd beat breast cancer before. Their elder daughter also beat her own cancer. It's a humbling, sobering reminder that this life is not fair and to be careful making long term decisions because we really don't know what's headed down the pike at us. I can't tell you how terrifying it is to be a mom and think that you may not be there for your kids. I'm sure she was terrified. But she also kept giving praise and living a true faith that pointed others to the reason she could be positive. And yet there's Joy: her son married his bride in Dawn's hospital room, and when I read that my heart broke a little more. I can't begin to imagine what her family has lived in the last few months. And I'm scared half to death that it could happen to me. 

Here's where things start to unravel (only if they were cohesive and fluid until now, that is. Buckle up.)

One of my very best friends in this life was a nurse on an oncology floor for a while and she encourages me that she feels chemo is the hardest part of the whole situation. I keep telling her I'm scared of surgery. I've read plenty of women say that the waiting and the fear leading up to the surgery is far and away worse than the actual surgery and I hope to be able to believe it. But the fact is that they are going to have to cut off at least one of my body parts! Granted, it's done its job, but still. Try telling yourself in the mirror that someone is physically going to cut off one of your body parts and see how that goes. Eeeek to nth power. 

Our family saw "The Greatest Showman" in the theater, whenever that was. I only know it was before the routine mammogram and all the ensuing chaos. Even then, though, with most things seemingly fine in the world, the song "This Is Me" broke my heart and sent it flying at the same time. I could see the incredible potential in that song as a fight song, as a banner of any kind of self-pride or betterment, for anyone who has ever felt stuck on the fringe for whatever reason. Every time I hear it I start to leak. It's such a powerful and in-your-face vibe that I love but it breaks me that I would ever need to be a warrior. Or that I could be glorious. What would it look like to be glorious? Dada and I have this conversation about the word "gorgeous" and how he means it every time he tells me and how I feel like if I've gone through all the trouble of pulling out all the stops and he calls me gorgeous that's one thing but when I have morning breath and eye gunk and bedhead and he says it, I take issue. Clearly these are not the same thing. Right?!

Valerie means strong, strong-willed, or strong spiritual purpose depending on who you talk to. I've often felt like my parents misnamed me, (sorry, you guys). With the possibility of while giving birth three times, I've not felt strong. I hate working out. I've often declared I'd love to have a more toned body but I'm just not into doing the work required to get it there. And this is not the part of the story where you all remind me I'm the skinny girl and pep me up with how good I look; I'm just speaking the truth. I'm not particularly strong-willed. My kids are, which causes me endless frustration and opportunities to refocus on the "God must have an awesome plan for them in which they'll need this characteristic!" So perhaps there is something to this strong spiritual purpose part. Maybe by me laying it all out here someone somewhere can breathe a sigh of relief and say, "oh, meeeee too!" They can know that all of the tears and rages and wild laughter and overwhelment (I am coining that right now- that's a Val Original- I'm claiming it) is normal and that it's okay to feel that way. But as we say at our wonderful church, "it's okay to not be okay, just don't stay that way." Have the tantrum and go do the next thing. Even if you leak through it. This is not the new normal, this is the new temporary normal. 

Here I sit on the front porch with the neckline and left sleeve of my shirt soaked from my tears, with my bald head and tiny little hairs which are trying to make a comeback, with my cracked heart and six crumpled tissues. I thought that five would be enough but apparently I underestimated. I mentioned to Dada the other day that I wondered what it would look like if we all just really lived like we were secure in our salvation. As in, yes, I'm going to take care of myself, of course, but I am also going to live my life and take some risks and reach out and touch people because what can they do to me? When I really get that my soul is secure because there is a God and he is good, why am I afraid of what anyone will think? I'm getting these beautiful scarves and bandannas and head wraps from all directions and I love them and their senders and I am trying them out and thank you, but goodness, I figured out a long time ago that they're not for the patient. They're for everyone else who may be uncomfortable because to see a bald woman insinuates that there is something wrong with her, and what if it's contagious? What if it's not, but I'm uncomfortable and/or afraid of saying the wrong thing, so I'll say nothing? 

Guess what they played and sang in church last Sunday when the message was about potential? "This Is Me," and there I was, leaking yet again, with my bald head. Perfect! A woman smiled at me after church and I smiled back and continued on my way. She chased me down and told me she admired my confidence! Maybe she'd have told me she liked my head wrap if I'd been wearing one, but maybe she felt my baldness was courageous. Truthfully, it was just really hot and I didn't feel like picking one now that I have so many to choose from, thanks to all of you, hehe. But she was the brave one to approach a stranger who obviously has some kind of Issue and strike up a conversation. Maybe this post needed to wait over the weekend so that I could have that encounter and tie everything together... 

Tomorrow is the plastic surgery consultation to see if I'd like to go that route. Like is probably not the right word. Neither is want or desire. I told a friend today I'd like to wake up and have the surgery and all the decisions made and over with! Another friend's mantra is "we can do hard things." Where I would be without this village of mine doesn't even bear thinking about. Thank you all for the bandannas and cards and food and texts and your incredible love. I know without a doubt that I'm to be steeping in how loved I am. 

But please be praying. Pray for wisdom and peace. I have no idea what to do or how to choose. No particular decision seems to bring any more peace as of right now; maybe it will tomorrow when I have more information. And if you're interested in long-haul prayer requests, please be lifting up Mot and Dawn's kiddos, Nicholas, Marina, and Natalie and their extended family as they face life knowing their mom is free of pain and disease and that she's Home, but missing her tremendously all the same. And for us as we face three kiddos of our own heading back in a few weeks to three separate schools worth of germs to bring home! We have almost all of our supplies, but none of us have the mental fortitude right now to be excited about it starting already/yet. It's getting to be that time of the summer when everyone is sick of each other and of the rules and of the suggestions-turned-law over earlier bedtimes and earlier risings in preparation for the ungodly 6 and 7 AM alarms that start this month. I'm not ready. Pray for an attitude change for me that I can be what they need me to be. Pray that food tastes worth eating, that my system Down There gets its act together and realizes there IS middle ground between diarrhea and constipation, and most of all, please pray against fear. Thank you, all! 

And for the record, crying on the porch is way better than crying in the hammock.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Two profiles (and straight on) of cancer


Obviously the above photo was taken awhile ago, April perhaps, back when I had enough hair that it tried to strangle me in my sleep. 

The photos below were taken this morning. Dada actually got the light flashing on what I call my "Glade plug-in", my Neulasta patch that pumps an infusion into me to kick my bone marrow into high blood cell production. Technology can be absolutely fascinating. After chemo yesterday, my sweet nurse Jenny attached it to my arm after programming it to go off in 27 hours. It clicks and beeps and stings me once like a bee, which inserts a tiny catheter into my arm that will allow the infusion to proceed once the 27 hours have passed. In other words, I get to take my meds with me and not make another trip back to the oncologist the day after chemo. When my timer is up, it will beep long enough for me to notice that, no, it's not the coffeemaker or the microwave, "oh, wait, that's me, haha!" Then it pumps in my meds, clicks and beeps again when it's done about 45 minutes later, and I can then have it removed and shower or take a bath or go swimming or whatever. I take it back to the doc the next time I go and they recycle it as it counts as a "sharps" and shouldn't be just pitched in the trash. Fascinating! AND I get to look like a lightning bug overnight. How cool is that?



This selfie is from today. Eyeliner, earrings from my Daddee, necklace from my friend Ann, bandanna, good to go. Since I've been wearing bandannas in one form or another since junior high (no joke, some of you remember, and that was way before camp) it hasn't fazed a lot of you to see me in them. You probably have to work to remember that my real head doesn't have one attached, hehe! The shirt, from my friend Julie, is accurate. My friend Rachel took me to chemo yesterday and we were talking about what takeaway lesson(s) might be part of this whole experience. I knew right away and said that one of them, "is to show me how loved I am." Some of you are probably shaking your heads, thinking, "this girl has lost her brain cells to chemo brain for sure." Truly though, if I were to make a list of everyone who has stepped into this mess with me, you'd be amazed. I feel like I could change the sayings, "there's an app for that" or "I've got a guy for that" to "I've got a friend for that." God has blessed me incredibly. My friend Cammie used to say that she felt like she was God's favorite little child, but I think she must have scootched over for me to be beside her under that heading, because in spite of my disappearing eyebrows and eyelashes and Immodium with me everywhere I go, I am being loved on in ways I can't even imagine. I know there are some of you I may never even meet who are praying for me and that just blows me away. Thank you! 


And whoever sent me the box of Scripture flips with no note, it got here safe and sound yesterday, and delighted me. If nobody claims it, I'm going to declare it mailed directly from Heaven from my friend Jan who kicked off a moms' Bible study years ago where I made some of my very best girlfriends. She is the one who taught us to get index cards and work our way through the Bible, claiming God's promises and writing them down and keeping them with us to use them in real life. I have more than one set in various purses and Bible study bags, haha. So thank you, friend!

And thank you to all of you once again who are beside me on this journey no matter how far away you may be physically. We are touched each time by your love. And YOU are loved right back!

Chemo yesterday went very smoothly despite me having to pee four times while I was there, haha. I think that's a record so far. I may have already mentioned my Gramps used to say, "I gotta go so bad my false teeth are floating..." Still cracks me up. I inherited my love of plaid (and wearing more than one plaid pattern at once) from him, as well. He still makes me laugh though he's been gone for 15 years now. He reported for guardian angel duty 10 days before Carrie was born, and I can't tell you how many times I've heard him laughing over these ridiculous children we have...

Here are the numbers from yesterday, so if you're not interested, you may be excused. White blood cells were at 10.26, Hemoglobin still a little down but in the normal range right at 10.0 (I think 12 is a magic number- my nurse friends will be happy to set me straight in the comments), and platelets were 157, which I think is also down from last time but they said no worries. Rachel and I laughed over the graphs, which don't make any sense to me anyway, but especially over the oh-my-goodness-I-don't-have-any-white-blood-cells! 


And once again, a shameless plug for the comedy "What's Up, Doc?" starring Barbra Steisand, Madeleine Kahn, Liam Dunn, and a host of others, here are the meds I'm taking this morning. My brother is already reciting from memory, "see this little yellow pill, Bailiff?" "Yes, Judge. What's it for?" "To remind me to take the little blue pill." "Uh, what's that one for, Judge?" "I dunno. They're afraid to tell me."


Don't be alarmed. Today is the heaviest day of meds- cancer treatment does not usually look like this for me. Today is the last of three days a month I take the steroid which helps with the side effects of Taxotere, one of my chemo drugs. The other two are anti-nausea meds to also help. Yesterday, drugs like this were part of my IV cheerleader combo before they begin the chemo drugs, so I didn't need to take them orally also. I take them today and tomorrow and then as needed. Thanks to the meds and your prayers, I have not vomited at all and I am now 2/3 done with chemo! The vitamins I take everyday, along with the allergy med which has links to reducing bone pain from the Neulasta patch when the bone marrow starts cranking out the extra production. It worked like a charm last time and I had no bone pain at all that round. I mentioned that this dose is 10mg and the recommended one was only 5mg so maybe that's why. At any rate, I'm sticking with it. Round #5 will be in three weeks and then round #6 will be in six weeks on our second day of school and then this aspect of life will be done. 

Once my numbers stabilize I will have surgery and yes, I did get my surgical consult moved up an entire month so I feel better about that. I still have questions but did discover yesterday that according to my oncologist most of the reconstruction surgeries are not silicon or saline like I'd imagined but are actually the ones involving the tummy tucks. Who knew? Why does that matter? Well, perhaps I will be less pressured into something I am fairly sure I don't want and can actually be encouraged by the portfolios or photos or whatever will be shown to me at the consult. Again, just going off of what I've heard and thought at this point, I have no real basis personally yet. I'll keep you posted! Thanks again for the prayers- I'm proof that they are working!





Dude, that's MY coffee...


Look carefully above my coffee mug at the new root that crazy plant is sending down. Sometimes I pat coffee grounds into its soil and it must be telling me I haven't done it for awhile, so it's going to try out the liquid form for some variety...

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Crying in a hammock is not recommended


Did you know that a hammock, while wonderful for seclusion and relaxation, is not an ideal place to attempt a good cry? Some of you are ahead of me on this one. You're already nodding as though this should be obvious. 

Well, it wasn't to me. I was taking advantage of the seclusion and relaxation when one of the *warning, sarcasm ahead* super side effects of chemo snuck up on me: mood swings. 

I've maintained all along that going through chemo is like being pregnant because it's a total body takeover kind of deal. Today I was doing some reading (until my eyeballs were ready to fall out, actually, but never mind that) and discovered some things I probably should have figured out earlier. This I will blame on yet another side effect: chemo brain. Chemo brain is like pregnant brain where your thinking is fuzzy due to fatigue, side effects of medications, anxiety, etc. Apparently, chemo causes a decrease of female hormones, which, as we all know, does goofy things to otherwise (mostly) rational women and girls. At certain times of each month, when hormones are doing their thing, females can be perfectly fine one moment and then raging over the smallest, most innocent infraction (real or imagined) and then in tears the next instant because they're angry about being angry.

Sounds like my week. 

Aha! Hormones! Who knew?!

I've found myself raging over how many decisions need to be made throughout this medical adventure and yet how many of them are out of my realm of control. I've become incensed at how many other people want to make decisions for me in areas I CAN control. I've been disappointed by the illusion that when you become a grown up you can call the shots. Adulting is full of double edged swords and catch-22s and "haha, no tag backs!"

And I'm tired. 

But am I tired because everyone has been telling me how tired I'll be? Am I tired because everybody reminds me, "it's cumulative"? Or am I tired because of the meds/toxins being pumped into me? Am I tired because I'm a mom? Am I tired because I don't drink enough water or caffeine or I don't get enough protein or not enough sleep or not enough exercise or...?

Some of you are nodding for different reasons now. Some of you are remembering (or living), "oh yes, that sounds like being pregnant or a parent of a newborn. Am I drinking enough? Am I eating enough? Am I eating too much? Do I weigh enough or too much? Is the baby growing enough? Do I have enough fluid? Do I have enough milk? Are they nursing enough? Are they getting enough to eat? Are they growing enough?"

Some of you are replaying the thoughts in your head: am I good enough? Will I ever be good enough? Is this worth it? Am I worth it? Are they worth it? Am I supposed to be giving 50% and they're supposed to be giving 50% to make 100%? Or am I supposed to be giving 100%? What if they don't? What if I can't? What if...?

I'm sitting here, rubbing my stubbled head in frustration. Darn chemo brain. Can't even think; I sound like a fleet of hamsters on wheels just squeaking along in circles, not making any sense. I am surrounded by information from every source imaginable: the internet, books, friends, yet I still don't have enough information to make the decisions that need to be made.

In short, how does one decide if they want boobs or not? I am wrestling with that a lot lately. How does one make a coherent decision that will last for, God-willing, at least the next 40 years of one's life? For those of you who are new to this game, there are essentially 4 main options for those facing surgical removal of at least one breast (that's me, in case you're curious. Right side's gotta go. Left side is undetermined at this time.) You have your removal without reconstruction which is essentially "going flat" as your first option, reconstruction from your own body (there are multiple areas to choose from such as rear end, abdomen, and back) as your second, or implants of saline (third) or implants of silicon (fourth). Those last two options come with what I'm thinking of as "extended surgery plans" as they may need refilled or readjusted, requiring more surgeries down the line. Each comes with their own set of pros and cons. 

Now try making the decision while on drugs that affect the taste of foods you eat, wreaks havoc on your emotions because your hormones take a nose-dive, while trying to stay positive and not freak out about going into surgery in the first place with the catheters and fasting and breathing tube and the IV and all that jazz. How am I supposed to decide when my brain feels foggy and I can't take the usual comfort from a pint of Ben & Jerry's (not that that's stopped me from eating ice cream, who are we kidding here, but still)? 

To add insult to injury, or the other way around perhaps, I even finally have the swollen ankles that apparently comes with this territory (and pregnancy!)

I suppose I should give myself grace for bursting into tears in the hammock. However, due to my good friend Gravity, when you cry in a hammock the tears will coast down your face and behind your head and soak the back of your neck instead of down the front of your face and into your cleavage (which, yes, I realize that will be different after surgery as well. See? Total body takeover). Your nose will clog up even faster than usual, which I wouldn't have thought possible, and you might even get tears in your ears. As there is no graceful way in or out of a hammock, take your tissues in with you before you start your good cry. Better yet, skip the cry until you can watch a good movie. You're welcome for the Public Service Announcement.

And yet I really am okay. I don't want the tenderhearted among you to fret. I now know that hormones doing their weirded out thing is a contributing factor along with fear of the unknown. Tears won't hurt me. I'm sure I'll feel more on solid ground once I have that surgical consult to go over options with a professional, where I can ask my questions, talk about pictures I've seen, and so on. As usual, there is no convenient neon box lighting up which says, "This is what you should do. Love, God." Not that He doesn't play a part in the decision making, it's just that He's got me no matter what I will eventually pick, which does help with perspective when I get freaked out. 

How can you help? I'm so glad you asked. I realize this surgery can't happen until mid-September and it is only July, but let's get this party started. You can be praying for my surgeon, my team, clarity in my decision making, peace with whatever decision is made, smooth surgery with no complications, that I wouldn't get sick from three school's worth of germs coming home with all three kids while I'm recovering, flexibility as our family adjusts to my recovery time, that I be a good patient and follow orders to not lift and that I can start the stretches and exercises soon after to help with recovery and range of motion, that I will be able to sleep as I heal because I am a stomach sleeper, that in the hardest moments (like when the bandages come off, raw wounds, and there are surgical drains to empty-yikes) that I will remember that it's not going to be like that forever and that while my new normal will be different it will eventually become my new normal. Pick and choose what you like- I gave you lots of starting points. You'll even think of more, because hopefully you do not also have chemo brain!

And mucho thanks to those of you who have already kept me covered. I appreciate every prayer you send on my behalf. I really have been overwhelmed with mail, gifts, meals (goodness, the meals!), the wonderful hugs, the "just checking in"s and the "whaddya need"s. Thank you. Thanks for being in it with me for the long haul. Please keep them coming!


And don't cry in a hammock. Unless it's from laughing too hard, I suppose, but be careful as that has its own risks!