Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Six Week Change


Such a cool word, adventure. It can mean the craziest, wildest things in life you could experience in either a good way or a bad way. The noun definition is "an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity." The verb usage is to "engage in hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory."

Hazardous? Exciting? Unusual? Exploration of unknown territory? Sounds like the makings for an Indian Jones movie, doesn't it?

As you know, this journey of mine has been and still is an adventure for sure. I have been "exploring unknown territory" throughout its duration. Every slippery slope turn seems to have another new aspect  of adventure in store for me and my family. This new job in 2011 has been no exception.

The company was just a year old when I began. The job I was to do was Email Marketing. I had been doing this type of job for 6-7 years already, so it was not a new thing for me to pick up. Given my condition, my boss didn't want to stress me out too much by giving me a ton to do right up front. Needless to say though, the job was still being developed, and I was the one who was going to need to develop it further.

The first few weeks were quiet and I basically felt as though I had to make up what I was to do. Truthfully, that was what they were looking for. They wanted me to design the position and document it along the way. I could totally do that. But I really needed to be challenged along the way too. Mom and I praised God each and every day for the blessing of this job.

So, I was given some additional work to be a back-up to the lady who was managing the web site for the company. I would work on the radio broadcast side of the web site so that she would have a little more time to develop a new store-front for the inventory.

A month after I started, this lady gave her two-week notice that she was going back to the company almost all of us had worked for before. We had all been laid-off from there, but she had an invitation to get back in the door and do more web site stuff for them. It was a little scary knowing that the web site here would suffer with her being gone. But, my boss asked if I could learn more along the way in those two weeks so that I could take over until they found someone else.

So, six weeks into this new job of mine, I changed gears and managed the web site as my primary function. Email Marketing became a secondary function, which wasn't given too much effort as the web job was growing by leaps and bounds. Every day something new was added onto my plate with the web. I had to take a lot of it home with me to finish what was needed as most people got stuff to me late as it was.

As always I managed to keep myself sane.

As the days rolled by, Mother's Day quickly approached. As mom and I were driving around the city and I was showing her a few of the sites of the Springs she had not seen yet, I had a brilliant idea of how I could give mom a huge surprise gift for Mother's Day. I was going to give her a day at The Broadmoor Hotel Spa (Colorado Springs only 5 star hotel). The more I looked into it, the less of a good idea it was. I had no idea what services mom would like to have done. So, instead of giving her a spa day, I booked a room for an overnight stay, a posh dinner at one of their restaurants and a Sunday buffet brunch for the next day.

It was grand! Mom enjoyed herself so much. Grandma paid for a bottle of wine for our dinner at the Summit. It was a wonderful dinner too. Then, mom and I went  around the corner from our dinner site to the Golden Bee for their nightly entertainment. We had so much fun singing along with the whole joint. The Golden Bee is a piano bar set as an old English pub. A live piano player takes requests along with singing from a song book passed out to everyone in the building. Mom and I lived it up!

The next day, we got up and had a great buffet brunch at the hotels Lake Terrace Dining Room for Mother's Day. We needed reservations, so it was perfect I had made them ahead of time knowing it would get very crowded for Mother's Day. We were sat right next to the buffet itself and we had such a great time. We have talked about it for two years now. I don't think there is a chance I could ever out do myself with another gift. Nothing could compare with that weekend.

Not long after Mother's Day, mom and I headed to California for a check-up with my surgeon and radiation oncologist. I wasn't doing too bad, and I felt good. All in all, this year was shaping up to be a bright spot after a long, hard 2010. Thank you Lord for such a big blessing.

Next..."Going Another Round"

In 1985, singer/songwriter and Christian artist Leslie Phillips released Black and White in a Grey World album. One of the songs on that album was Psalm 55. It was one of my favorite songs for many years as it was just scripture sung over and over with a great tune in the background. The lyrics were directly from Psalm 55:16-17, 22. Here are those lyrics (scripture):

When I cry He hears my voice
Evening, morning and noon

Cast you cares on the Lord
And He will sustain you
He will never let the righteous fall
He will never let the righteous fall

As for me I'll trust in Him
Evening, morning, and noon

When I bought the cassette tape of this album, I think I wore it out within months. Leslie Phillips was one of my ultimate singer/songwriters of Christian music back then. I loved all that she produced. When you write directly from scripture, you can't go wrong. There is nothing like singing the Word of God. As I travel through this journey, there is nothing like the scriptures to keep me focused on the Father!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Next Big Thing in My Journey

Boat Parade
After hearing the news that I didn't have a job to go back to in Colorado, We got the house ready for Christmas. Since we didn't have to rush back, mom decided she was going to have her traditional Christmas. We started planning for our grand festivities getting the menu in place, seeing what Grandma and John were going to bring, finding out when the Annual Boat Parade party was going to be and what we needed to bring for that, and finally get our invites out to our family, neighbors and friends. It was going to be a grand event!

Mom didn't want a lot of help with the meal and decorations. She liked things a certain way, and she wanted to keep those details together for her to do. So, the main meal would be oven roasted turkey with mom's stuffing, the traditional green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, dinner rolls, Grandma Marj's Cranberry Jello salad, Cousin Sandy's Yam Yummies and for dessert pumpkin pie, mince meat pie, apple pie and anything anyone else would bring to share.

The guests would include our neighbors on each side, Dan and Lesley (with son Daniel) and Rhonda and Leonard (with sons Alec and Curtis), mom's close friend Liz and her husband Salvatore, my friend Kathy and her husband Scott, our cousins Jim and Sandy and their daughter and son-in-law Christy and Jon. Of course, grandma and John, mom, dad and I would be there too. All together, there were usually the 20 of us in my parents house for appetizers, dinner and dessert. Most people had so much fun just gathering together that it was near impossible to get them to go home.

Christmas Dinner at our house.
But, we finally had the house back to just mom, dad, my grandparents and me. I was usually in a lot of pain by this time and was heading to bed to lay down flat in hopes to make the pain go away. Dad was usually watching t.v. and my grandparents were trying to help my mom finish some of the dishes before they left. Mom was trying to complete what she could before she headed off to bed. Christmas was a fun day for us, but it was also a lot of work for my mom and she was always extremely exhausted the day after.

The last few days of the year were just lazy days for us trying to recoup our energy for New Year's. This was always a day of football and the Tournament of Roses Parade for our family. Being from So. Cal. meant watching the parade early in the morning and being ready for football before noon. The first few days of the new year were also spent watching football bowl games and mom would go about her normal days of running errands including a little bit of after Christmas/New Year's shopping sales. Sometimes I would go with her just to get out of the house and see some new scenery for a change.

The second week of the new year began with a little glimmer of hope. I was on Facebook looking at some updates and messages from friends, when I ran across a message for a former boss who was no longer with the company either. He and I began talking a little back and forth. He wondered if I was back on CO, if I had a job and was working, if I wanted to work, if I was going to come back to CO, etc. All of this was leading up to a potential job for me.

This was exciting. I was not sure where he was working or what he was doing, but if he could find me a job back in CO, I would be elated. Within two weeks, I had a phone interview with the general manager and an offer to begin working in February as Family Talk's Senior Email Specialist. It was just over 1 year from the time I was told my co-worker was now my manager and I was going into surgery that I was now interviewing over the phone for a job position to a company I wasn't even sure what it was. God certainly has a sense of humor. When I thought my work life was over and I was more than useless, He comes through with a job prospect out of left field for me.

So, mom and I got everything together and made the journey back to CO with a Jeep full of stuff. I was heading home again getting ready to launch into a new adventure in this crazy journey I was only along for the ride on. Isn't God good?

Next..."A Six Week Change."

God can (and does) take your circumstances that seem so bleak, and turns them around when you aren't looking. He is always faithful to you. He desires nothing but good for you. But, He also desires you. He wants you to spend time with Him. Sometimes that only happens when we are brought to our knees (literally) and have to rely on Him to get us through.

"Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord." Psalm 27:14

Sunday, July 14, 2013

No Reason to Return

In October 2010 (I left this out of the "Released" post, sorry), my dad had taken a business trip out of state. My mom and I decided we needed to leave for a fun little getaway too. So we rented a car and packed up our belongings for a week and headed up the California coast to Napa Valley. Mom and I needed this little trip so we would have something to look forward to instead of the typical day of therapy or hospital visits. We were able to talk my grandparents into coming with us as well.

However, to make the trip easier on my grandma, mom and I took off driving up the California coast a day earlier than my grandparents. We stayed in San Luis Obispo on the first night (just about half way to San Francisco).

The next day my grandparents flew to San Francisco. They spent the day in the city and we picked them up after dinner. It was a rainy night in the city and traffic was diverted in several places making navigating to my grandparents location extremely difficult. Needless to say, I was very frustrated trying to make our way through the city. I finally gave up trying to read the map in the dark. Mom had to try and find a way to zigzag her way to where they were waiting. And, a lot of the city is one-way streets making the diversions even more frustrating. All-the-while, my grandfather was calling us every few minutes to get an update on where we were so they would know when to get out into the street for their curb-side service.

We finally found a way to get to the streets we needed to, find my grandparents and we picked them up. Then, we navigated our way back through the city and across the Golden Gate Bridge heading for our hotel in Santa Rosa. We had a hard time finding a place to stay and couldn't figure out why so many hotels were so booked. We would later find out that this was the busiest time in the valley as it was "crush" season (the time where the grapes had been picked and were now being crushed for the wine making).

We had no real plan of where we would go, what winery we would go tasting at or what restaurants we would try. We were just here to see the area and just have fun doing whatever came our way. Beside, we didn't have anything pressing for us to return for. We just needed to be back home before my dad got back from his trip.

We had a great time touring around and seeing the beautiful countryside and all the vineyards. We even found a vineyard with our family name, Frazier Winery. Mom and I took our picture with the sign at the front gate, too. It was a closed winery, meaning you could only get a tour or be on the grounds if you had a scheduled appointment. We decided to drive on anyhow. We were Frazier's and had our driver's licenses to prove we belonged there. Oh what fun it was to break some rules.

It drizzled rain the whole time we were in Napa. So, even though it was dreary weather we had a blast. We also had some great food. One of our favorite restaurants was Mustards. My mistake was not getting the Mongolian Pork Chop. It was named one of Bobby Flay's "Best Food I Ever Ate" meals. I was just afraid it would be too spicy for me. So, I settled for a steak and was a little disappointed. My grandfather and mom had the duck special and were more than happy. They talked about that duck for weeks.

Grandma had so much fun this week we were gone, she still talks about our time and things we did to this day. Mom and I decided to put together a photo album for her of our trip so she could go back and reminisce about it at any time she wants.

Now, back to December 7th. Leaving the hospital after such good news, mom and I began making calls and texting the family and really close friends the good news. Everyone was elated to hear this.

Due to the hour, lunch time, mom and I stopped at a local health food store to grab some snacks and drinks for the ride home. While she was inside, I thought it was a great idea to call my former employer and tell them the good news. I made the call to the guy that had been promoted to the manager while I was away.

He and I talked for several minutes about the great news before I said I was ready to come back to work. I thought the call had dropped because of the silence I heard following my statement. But, I was wrong.

After a long silence, he spoke up and said that they had filled my position and the person had started yesterday! Man, I couldn't have had my news come in a couple of weeks earlier, could I? I could have been going back to Colorado with a job. But NO! I didn't find out until today, and I was still unemployed, and more depressed than before. Mom and I were pulling out of the parking lot of the health food store as I got the bad news. What timing all of this was.

After everything I had been through over the course of the year, this was par for the course. I was still out of a job and had no prospects for one. I seriously considered calling it quits on Colorado and moving back to California permanently. There didn't seem to be any reason for me to return.

Next..."The Next Big Thing in My Journey."

We don't always know what God has planned. Our planning sometimes lines up with His, but most of the time, our planning is not what God intends for our life. We have to be in tune with God to know that when He is working, we need to be patient and roll with what He has in store for our life. Getting upset doesn't usually help (I have learned this over and over again in this journey). It doesn't mean that we can't be human and have a moment of frustration or depression either. We just need to have our moment without sinning.

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand." Psalm 37:23-24

"You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why Don't Friends with Kids Have Time?

I am about to deviate from my story for a really good reason. 

I was on Facebook following some of my "friends" most recent posts, when I ran across a friends "share" of an article posted by another person. The article in this guys blog posting which was what he called, "The Overly Neglected Friends Without Kids." It was from an advice column to "Tell Me About It" written by Carolyn Hax of The Washington Post. The column's title was, "Why Don't Friends with Kids Have Time?" Here is what the question was:
Dear Carolyn: Best friend has child. Her: exhausted, busy, no time for self, no time for me, etc. Me (no kids): What'd you do today? Her: Park, play group ...

OK. I've talked to parents. I don't get it. What do stay-at-home moms do all day? Please no lists of library, grocery store, dry cleaners ... I do all those things, too. I guess what I'm asking is: What is a typical day and why don't moms have time for a call or email? I work and am away from home nine hours a day (plus a few late work events); I manage to get it all done. I'm feeling like the kid is an excuse to relax and enjoy, but if so, why won't my friend tell me the truth? Is this a contest ("my life is so much harder than yours")? What's the deal? I've got friends with and without kids and all us child-free folks have the same questions. - Tacoma, Wash.
The reply from Carolyn is great. It does put this person in their place having not really taken time to understand her "with-kids" friends. Here's what she says:
Dear Tacoma: Relax and enjoy. You're funny.

Or, you're lying about having friends with kids.

Or you're taking them at their word that they actually have kids, because you haven't personally been in the same room with them.

I keep wavering between giving you a straight answer and giving my forehead some keyboard. To claim you want to understand, while in the same breath implying that the only logical conclusions are either lying or competing with, is disingenuous indeed.

So, because it's validation you seem to want, the real answer is what you get. When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, cleaned, dressed; to keeping them out of harm's way; to answering their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys, and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from un-shelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times. to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces checkout line screaming.

It's needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15.

It's constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.

It's constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family and friends. It's resisting constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone's long-term expense.

It's doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything - language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity, creativity. Empathy. Everything.

It's also a choice, yes. And a joy. But if you spent all day, every day, with this brand of joy, and then, when you got your first 10 minutes to yourself, wanted to be alone with your thoughts instead of calling a good friend, a good friend wouldn't judge you, complain about you or marvel how much more productively she uses her time. Either make a sincere effort to understand, or keep your snit to yourself.
There was a brief time when I thought a little bit like this woman. I am a single woman who works full-time with no kids. I love having time to myself after work is over. But, I also love spending time with my friends, with or without kids. I have friends who have anywhere from 0-5 children, both young kids and kids grown and out of the house. These are close friends of mine.

But, I only had my experiences to go off of when trying to understand why it took days, if not weeks, for my friends to answer emails. Or, instead of calling back the same day I left a message, waiting at least a week to hear back by telephone from one of them. I learned quickly that if you want to spend time with these stay-at-home moms, you need to make an effort to learn what it is like to walk in their shoes (even if only for one afternoon). Or, if you are like me, you take four kids for an entire weekend while their parents deal with some major issues of another one of their children. Then, you really understand why a stay-at-home mom is so incredibly tired and can't get enough time or energy to call you back right away.

Their lives are not all bon-bons and soap operas with them lounging on the sofa while the kids play quietly in their rooms. They are hard working, both physically and emotionally drained, loving moms. Would they love to go out with their girl-friends for coffee? Sure they would. But, they don't get the one-hour lunch break like I do, and work doesn't stop at 5pm for them like single, full-time employed women without children. They typically don't stop for themselves until everyone else in the house (including the hubby, if not a single-mom) is long off to bed.

Carolyn answered this lady with the best list of "why" she could come up with. Tacoma didn't really want a laundry list, but frankly that is what it takes sometimes.

Moms, don't let your single friends make you feel guilty for taking care of your family first. If your single friends are real, true friends, they will find a way to spend time with you, even if there are little barefoot interruptions running around and screaming at the top of their lungs. This applies to stay-at-home dads and single dads too.

While I have gone off the reservation from my story for a short time, There are some stay-at-home moms who really don't do a whole lot to take care of their children and do have enough time to meet their friends for coffee, answer emails, return phone calls and stay on top of Facebook and stuff. I'm not saying they are bad parents, but I am saying there are some moms out there that fall a little outside the normal of stay-at-home moms I know.

If you are a single person of a stay-at-home mom or dad, and you really don't get why your friends with children don't seem to have time for you when you think they should, take a little time to really, truly find out why.


Sunday, June 2, 2013


We left off having just finished my birthday, a couple of trips to City of Hope for radiation positioning and meeting my surgeon about my prosthetic. What a year 2010 has been physically and emotionally on me and my family, and we have only made it to the beginning of August in my journey.

Following my visit with Dr. Femino to find out that my prosthetic was fine and I was on bed rest for nothing, I began radiation therapy. I went to therapy 5 days a week for 5 and a half weeks.  That is 130 miles round-trip for 28 days, or 3,640 miles back-and-forth. That's just shy of an oil change!

My radiation treatments.
The nurses in the radiation therapy area advised me that there would be burning of my skin in the radiation location as we were going over final paperwork for therapy consent. They suggested a couple different lotions specifically designed for radiation patients. However, we had seen enough of the wound vac nurse, Diane, that she had given us a secret weapon to avoid skin burns from radiation. There were 2 lotions that the hospital used for patients to keep their skin from drying out and keep them clear from bed sores. When these are used together in a specific order, they keep the skin of radiation patients from severe burning or, in my case, burning at all.

So, because we knew we were going to be putting me through radiation, 6-8 weeks prior to beginning therapy we began using the hospital lotions twice a day to "prep" my skin for treatment. After each session, my skin was a little pink like I had a little too much sun, but I could never feel any type of burning, the area was just very warm to the touch. By the time we would get back to our house, the pinkiness had calmed down and my skin would go back to normal again. We would continue using the lotions twice a day throughout treatment. By the end of my treatments, the nurses, techs and doctors were all amazed that I didn't have any burns and very little side effects from the treatment. When asked what we did, we always answered their amazement with the 2 lotion treatment. To this day, they still DO NOT suggest using those lotions for patients in the radiation area. But, I am living proof that those lotions work!

At the end of August (while still in treatment), my grandma planned a surprise birthday dinner for my mom. My mom is always doing such nice things for the rest of the family and we never seem to be able to do anything back for her. Grandma got several friends of my moms to gather at a local restaurant to celebrate my mom. She wasn't happy that we had to go out (she was worried about me hurting too much sitting in a restaurant) and that my grandma was going to make a big deal of it being my mom's birthday. However, she knew it was very important to my grandma to have dinner together as a family. She just didn't know there were more than just the 5 of us for dinner.

I sat in my transport chair (smaller version of a wheelchair) for the night, and dad kept his eye on me all through dinner to make sure I wasn't in too much pain and need to go home. But, I lasted through desert when I finally said my goodbye's to all our friends and had dad take me home. The pain level in my leg and my right backside was only getting worse as the year progressed. At this time, we still didn't have any answers on how to minimize or completely relieve the pain. So, I went out as little as possible. This night was just one of those things you had to do though. And seeing my mom so happy was worth every moment of pain.

Toward the end of September, radiation therapy was finally over. I made it through the 5 and a half weeks without burns, and all tests came back showing the tumor had shrunk in size (which was the desired result) slightly, but not as significantly as they would have liked. Through to December, I would go through some follow up appointments with the radiation oncologist to monitor how things were going. Through this time, the radiation was supposed to continue doing its thing and continue shrinking the tumor.

December 2nd came and I was to have a PET Scan as a follow up for my surgeon to review. There didn't seem to be anything out of the ordinary with the scanning process, so my family and I were hopeful that we would get good news when we saw my surgeon. On the 7th, we met with my surgeon and his nurse, Helen. Dr. Femino came in and was very excited. He said to us, "Whatever you are doing, keep doing it!" The tumor had "marked regression" which means that it was noticeably smaller than before radiation treatment. He was happy with everything that we were doing with the supplements I was taking, the vitamin C infusions, eating gluten-free and buying organic and chemical-free anything and everything we could.

Dr. Femino was so happy with the results that he said, "I don't want to see you again for 6 months." With that, Helen wrote me out a release form stating that I was able to return to full-time working status with some minor restrictions. This was the best news that our family had heard in a very long time. Now, I needed to contact my former boss and let them know I was going to be able to come back to work as long as they had a place for me still. We were so excited!


The Glory of Love by Bette Midler (Beaches Soundtrack)

You've got to give a little, take a little,
and let your poor heart break a little.
That's the story of, that's the glory of love.

You've got to laugh a little, cry a little,
until the clouds roll by a little.
That's the story of, that's the glory of love.

As long as there's the two of us,
we've got the world and all it's charms.
And when the world is through with us,
we've got each other's arms.

You've got to win a little, lose a little,
yes, and always have the blues a little.
That's the story of, that's the glory of love.

When I think about this time in 2010, I think of the movie Beaches with Bette Midler. I especially think about the song above, The Glory of Love.  And this song reminds me of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 where it talks about there being a time for every purpose, under heaven. I can't help but then thinking about Pete Seeger's musical adaptation of this scripture, Turn! Turn! Turn!, from the late 1950's. The scripture holds true. There is a time for everything. 2010 proved to me that there really is "A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;" (verse 4).

From The Glory of Love lyrics, I felt the "give a little, take a little, and let your poor heart break a little." I felt as though I had given a lot, taken very little, and had my heart broken over and over throughout the year. I felt such a high at the beginning of December after meeting with Dr. Femino, I didn't think that right after (literally) this would be ripped right out of my hands.

Next..."No Reason to Return."

Monday, May 20, 2013


For several months of my recovery in 2010, I was fairly depressed from having to give up my job because of my medical leave. Then there was one day where I picked up my point and shoot digital camera and walked outside in both the front and backyard. I really didn't know why I was doing it, but I couldn't stand being cooped up in the house feeling useless.

I began to take pictures of random things like trees, flowers, the backyard landscape, blades of grass, etc. I ventured to our next door neighbors house and saw their Fourth of July rose bush lining the front porch walkway. I decided to take a couple of photos of the roses because I love roses and these were so different from ones I had seen. To my surprise, there was a bee pollenating in those roses. I had captured that bee in several of those photos. It was so much fun when I went back and downloaded the photos on my computer and went through them. I found that it invigorated me.

Since then, I have continued to take photo's everywhere I go. It has been something that I could look forward to each weekend after a long week of appointments and errands. Mom would drive me all around Southern California to just take pictures of random things. My family was happy to see me so excited about taking pictures, they would do anything to keep me in that place of joy after being so depressed during this time.

I find beauty in the things that God has created. And, in looking for those things to photograph and gazing upon them when downloaded, I found my life was more than what I did as a job. I was more than my 8-5 existence. I was truly grateful to the Lord for showing me that through photography.

For those of you who may be struggling with feelings of uselessness, depression or even anger at your circumstances, find something that gives you great joy in this life and go and do that over and over again. After a little while you will find yourself so focused on that which makes you happy that you have forgotten about the things that brought you down.

Below, I have included several of my favorite photo's from my journey. I cannot begin to tell you how much of a difference this little hobby has made to my emotional state.


"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:11-13

What hobby makes you really happy? Share it here and share how it has helped you out of depression or feeling bad about your circumstance.

Laguna Beach, CA
Peacock in Arcadia, CA

Point Fermin Lighthouse, San Pedro, CA
Hale Napili Landscape Flowers
Napili, Maui, HI

Hibiscus, Napili, Maui, HI
Newport Beach, CA

Laguna Beach, CA
Laguna Beach, CA

Laguna Beach, CA

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Another Surgery and More Wound Vacs

I needed to have another surgery to loosen the hardware in my back. That was what the doctor decided after we had tried a couple of oral nerve relaxers. The doctor had talked about doing some injections to isolate specific nerves with a relaxer, but after thinking about it and knowing the kind of pain I was in from my hip surgeries he felt it was better to go in and loosen the hardware instead.

Meanwhile, I had been seeing the man, Tim, who had made my back brace for my original hip surgery. He had been trying all different kinds of braces, cushions and other devices to reduce or remove the pain from my hip surgeries. Every time I had an appointment at the City of Hope, I met with either Tim or his assistant Art for another fitting or to trade out items that didn't seem to work. We tried so many over the course of a couple of months and NOTHING worked.

The surgery took place on June 9, 2010 and was a success. When the doctor looked at the hardware, he saw that my nerve was caught between the screw and the plate causing the nerve to deaden all the way to the toe. Once this had been adjusted and I was in recovery, I woke to having feeling back in my toe. This was a wonderful feeling and was good news and progress despite my feelings having given up my job in May.

This time, I was only in the hospital for 5-6 days. My nurses were some of the same ones I had been having each time I was an inpatient at City of Hope. I was released on June 14th to go home with my parents again. This time around I didn't pop any stitches or have any blood coming from the incisions. However, when I had my follow-up appointment with the doctor several days after being out of the hospital, I began getting an infection on the surface of both incisions and had to go back on a wound vac AGAIN!!! Wound vacs were becoming my best friend, so-much-so that when we would go out we called my portable pack "my buddy."

On July 14, just 30 days after being released from the hospital, I was taken off of all pain medications from my back surgery. The following day, July 15, the wound vac was removed. This would be the final time we had an appointment with our friend Diane. Again, bittersweet! I was incredibly grateful to have "my buddy" gone since I had been with him for most of the year. But, we had to be intentional to see Diane at this point. We would no longer see her twice a week for an hour-two hours each time. We were sad to have our time with her cut off. Diane had been such a part of our lives, and such a wonderful person to me and my parents. This would be a difficult departure from our routine, but my incisions looked beautiful!

The unfortunate thing about these changes was that the pain in my right buttock and hip still had NOT been solved and I had been taken off of the pain meds.

The following Monday, July 19, I had X-Rays taken. The results were read by a radiologist that was not at all familiar with my case. We received a call from the pain management doctor I had been seeing advising me to go on bed rest until I could see my surgeon. We made an appointment to see him, but that was not until August 3, 2010. 15 days! I had to be on bed rest for 15 days! Why? The radiologist read my X-Rays as my prosthetic being loose.

LOOSE! What did that mean? Was I going to lose my leg now? The surgeon had told us that if anything happened to the prosthetic, that it could not be repaired and I would lose my leg at that point.

I was not only in a state of shock by this, but I was scared! I think it is important to make sure you understand I hadn't lost my faith or trust in the Lord from this. I was looking at this with eyes wide open knowing the Lord can and could heal me. But, being human, this was a scary situation.

So for 15 days, I was in bed, in my wheelchair or on the sofa watching television with my dad. I had done everything that the surgeon had told me to do. I was careful with everything. I didn't fall, I didn't turn or move my leg past the 50/30 degree motion he said I was limited to. I followed all the instructions for nearly two years now. Why is this happening? I was left to wonder about this until I heard from the doctor.

Two days before I was to see my surgeon was my birthday. I had recently found out that an ice cream parlour restaurant I had birthday parties at in the '70's had reopened a couple of shoppes in our area. It was a little bit of a drive for us, but I wanted to have something to look forward to. So my parents, grandparents, cousins and a good friend, Jane, all went to Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour Restaurants for my birthday dinner and dessert. (Note to all, only get dessert. You're too full to enjoy it if you eat dinner too.)

We had a great time. It was fun to remember things of when I was young and having parties with friends, hear about how horrific it was for my parents to manage all those little kids, talk about the humongous desserts they had on the menu and how the employees had to run around the shoppe with these desserts on stretchers to guests tables. Funny thing is, nothing has changed. They still do all of those things and have those same desserts on the menu. One is called The Zoo and feeds 1-10 people, another is called The Pig Trough and is for one person to finish on their own (both pictured below).

After a great day of reliving a childhood memory, we ventured to City of Hope to meet with the radiation oncologist. The new one, not the putz who was mean and rude. This new guy was nice and friendly. He had answers for everything we talked about and was a lot more forthright about what would happen, what could happen, what to really expect and how to combat the bad things. All-in-all my family liked this oncologist and I felt more comfortable about radiation as a whole and using it as part of my treatment. We would hear back from his office on when to come back for positioning and beginning treatment. Meanwhile, we wait.

The next day we went back to City of Hope again to meet with the surgeon this time and find out what was going on with my prosthetic. Dr. Femino walked right in the door shook hands in greeting and promptly said, "Your prosthetic is fine!"


Basically, the radiologist didn't know how to read the X-Ray of a device like mine. Dr. Femino had to teach him how to read this type of device as to not make this mistake with another patient (or me) in the future.

The past three days had been really positive and boosted my morale. This was good in my time of healing.

Next blog..."Phototherapy."

"I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old." Psalm 77:11

Our memories drive us onward, whether good or bad. My choice is to remember the good. The good of the Lord in my life. That is why I write this blog. I choose to remember the greatness of the Lord in things that have happened on this journey. The Lord is my constant through these troubled times and I KNOW I can count on Him to be with me every step of the way, sometimes carrying me when I cannot walk (or run) on my own.

What was a time in your life that brings back really good memories? Share with us.

The Zoo for up to 10 people

The Pig Trough for one person

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Oh To Hear Those Words...

You may have been thinking I was going to say, "I love you," as those words we long to hear. But, those were not the three words I longed to hear. No.

Back in 2004 following my breast cancer surgery, the best words I heard from the doctors and the oncologists were, "You're cancer free!" My family and I were so happy to hear this. You don't want to have cancer at any age, but 34 was not the time to get it either. I had just found my career, and then this happened.

Now, I lived four years knowing I was cancer free, and being so happy how God had orchestrated my "healing." I knew that surgery had been His answer and I was content with that treatment. Paul writes in Philippians 4, "...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." And how true that was for me those four years. It was then in 2008 when I found out the cancer had returned, and returned with a vengeance. I spent time talking with people about my short journey and telling of the contentment I felt knowing that God was in control of the situation, even with the news that I was soon going to have surgery to remove part of my pelvis. Some found it hard to believe I was so content and thought I was hiding my true feelings. But I wasn't.

I spent my waking hours proclaiming the glory of the Lord to those who inquired about my surgery. It was God using surgery to heal me back then, and I knew it was true again this time. Many told me they never would have known I was sick in the first place. Others couldn't believe how "matter-of-fact" I was about having come through surgery for breast cancer with no other treatments at the time, and was now facing yet another scarier surgery. I took no credit for being "calm, cool and collected" about it, as people sometimes noted. I shouted from the mountain top that "My God Reigns."

Today after yet several more surgeries (3 in 2010 and 1 in 2012), I still shout, but only from the rooftops. It's harder these days. Not harder to give God the glory, because I still do that daily, but it's harder to find the strength to shout it. I am still content—on most days. I do have my moments where not being able to do a particular task overwhelms my emotions and I have a short breakdown—sometimes with tears (also referred to in our house as a meltdown). I never stay in that moment, though. Why?

Isaiah 53:1-4 tells us how Jesus was going to be treated by human kind here on earth. And in verse 5 it says, "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed." As found in 1 Peter 2:24, “'He himself bore our sins' in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; 'by his wounds you have been healed.'” (Emphasis added.) Jesus was treated much worse than anything you or I will ever experience. Yet, He took all my sins and sicknesses on Himself that day on the cross so that I (and you) may live in righteousness and be healed of all sicknesses and diseases. Now, I know it may or may not be here on this side of eternity, yet I can (and will) shout, "I AM HEALED!"

Where I used to desire to hear the words, "You're cancer free," I now long for the day when I hear my Lord say to me, "Well Done, good and faithful servant!" (Original text is found in Matthew 25:23).

I pray I live up to serving the Lord well.

Next..."Another Surgery and More Wound Vacs."

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Surgery, Recovery and The Finale

On April 28, 2010 I walked into the pre-op area of City of Hope following the phone call that would change my life's direction (in more ways than one). After the January surgery that removed more of my pelvis and a good portion of tissue as well, I was not able to bend more than a couple of inches any longer on my right side to dress/undress myself properly. Therefore, I needed something/someone to help me change into the hospital attire they required. My mom was the obvious choice for this task, so I had someone go call her back to help me.

Once mom and I got my clothing changed, the fury began in my pre-op section.

Once a patient is ready from changing, nurses and doctors fly in and out of a patients curtained area writing notes, signing and dating papers, asking the patient questions, taking vital signs, starting IV's, etc. It really is a fury of movements in there between all of the people hustling in and out of each area, including mine. And once all of the activity dies down, they let you rest until it is your time to be wheeled into the operating room. At least I was not shaking so uncontrollably before this surgery as I was for the last.

As I lay resting, mom went to go get my dad so he could tell me he loved me and that he would see me following surgery. It was important for my family to be there. After he left, mom came back in until they wheeled me back. She always stayed with me until they did so to keep me calm and help me relax. She also was there to fill in any blanks when they asked me questions that I may not remember very well, or to corroborate what I was telling them.

By the time they wheeled me into the operating room, I was fast asleep from the anesthesia. I prefer to be asleep when they wheel me in. Seeing the operating room and having the fast movements and orders being flung around the room was a little stressful for me. I prefer calm and quiet work.

Physical therapy following surgery.
When I came out of surgery and was waking, mom was there with me. Dad was waiting to know when I woke so he could come in to see me. The remainder of the hospital stay was very routine. Getting up and walking was very difficult this time around. My new "hardware" was stiff and I was pretty sore. But, I made it through my stay and went home to my parents on May 4th.

That night, I was trying to get comfortable in my home bed when I felt something on my back 'pop' and then become wet. I called my parents into my room to check it out because it was pretty wet. I felt as though I have busted open a couple of stitches or something. When my parents looked at it, they said it looked as though some fluid build-up had popped and that was it. I was pretty worried though, so we made an appointment with the doctor to have it checked out right away.

Sure enough, all was okay with my stitches. Good news and relief for me.

After two more days, it was official. My employment was over. Since I was not able to make it back to Colorado Springs, May 7th was the day we terminated my employment. My medical condition had caused me to HAVE to give up my job. It was a very bitter-sweet day for me. My health was doing fine, but my emotional state was not where it should have been. My job meant everything to me. It was who I was (or so I thought at the time). What I did with email marketing was how people viewed me. And now, I didn't know who I was or what I was going to do. All I knew at the time was that I had just had back surgery and was being as careful as I could not to cause an issue with my back again.

I felt great in my lower back. Even though the pain from the incision was there, I no longer had the low back pain I had been accustomed to for numerous years. For that I was grateful. On May 21st, I saw the doctor again and he had my staples removed.

Life had been fairly uneventful for several weeks. But after having the staples removed, the doctor felt it was necessary to have an MRI to check the surgical "hardware" to make sure all was good. After receiving the results, the doctor noticed that the hardware was fairly tight and needed to be adjusted. So, we scheduled another surgery for the beginning of June.

Oh boy, here we go again!

Next..."Oh To Hear Those Words"

Saturday, March 30, 2013

More Wound Vac Stories and More

After leaving the radiation consult with the rudest doctor I have ever experienced, we made our way home. After getting back home, I contacted my surgeon's office and inquired about having a different radiation doctor be able to see me. My surgeon's nurse wanted to talk about why I wanted to change doctors, so I explained the entire story to her and let her know how uncomfortable my parents were as well as how upset I had been by the treatment I received from this doctor. She saw the need for a change and was going to make the recommendation to the surgeon. We would need to wait to hear back from both of them as to when I would meet with the new doctor.

We had been working with my surgeon and the orthopedic brace maker (Tim) in finding something that was going to relieve some, if not all, of the pain I felt when I would sit. We had been working on all different kinds of solutions for weeks on end. Tim brought various cushions and back braces for me to try and test for a period of time. But, none of the options Tim brought for me to try seemed to have any affect at all. My surgeon finally said it was time to see a neuropathic surgeon who would check my spine for any abnormalities.

Dr. Jandial, Assist. Prof., Neurosurgery,
Graduate School of Biological Sciences
I had still been seeing Diane twice a week for the Wound Vac changes when I was referred to Dr. Jandial. He was such a kind surgeon and really had a heart of compassion for the pain that I was experiencing. He could clearly see that my pain was more than just a nerve out of place or something made up in my mind. He ordered an MRI so he could see everything that was going on in and around my spine. Every nurse we spoke with in any of my appointments always said how lucky I was in getting Dr. Jandial as he was "Sooooooo gorgeous!" Apparently the nurses all had a crush on the good doctor. Mom and I found it funny how they all reacted when told he was my surgeon.

When the appointment came for the MRI, I tried to get in the conventional machine, but my claustrophobia was so intense that I didn't make it all the way in the machine before I was panicking and asking to get out. Unfortunately, we had to reschedule for the"open" MRI, which was much better. I was still nervous until I got in the machine and saw how the back was open and I could see through. That made me feel much, much better.

We finally completed the MRI and got back with Dr. Jandial. He looked over the imaging they took and noticed I had a collapsed disk, which would require surgery to fix and get me feeling better. His hope was that this surgery would remove all the pain I felt on the right side.

Before we could have the surgery, I needed to complete my time with the wound vac. Diane spent time measuring the cavity each time we changed the dressings to see how the healing was progressing. We kept a log of the numbers each week so she could report back to Dr. Femino and the insurance company. Mind you, the wound vac was started in January. We were now closing in on April with the wound vac still needed.

The day had finally arrived. The wound vac was coming off! It was April 9, 2010. This meant that we could now schedule the back surgery and begin moving toward a more pain free life. At this point, we were able to schedule surgery for April 28. It was pretty late in the month, and time was getting much closer to the end of my leave from work. It was beginning to become an issue and was making me a little nervous as to how I was going to make it through surgery and still get back to work in time. I was beginning to get the feeling that this was going to be a problem.

Sure enough, the morning I was going to have my surgery, I was called by the company and told I either needed to be back in the office on May 7 or I needed to voluntarily give up my position. Knowing how my healing had been with the last surgery, I explained my situation with being ready to go into surgery in a few minutes. But, I was told I needed to make a decision so they would know what to do. I told them I wasn't sure when I was going to be released from the hospital.

My employers main building.
Can you imagine having to make that kind of decision as you are waiting to be called in for surgery in a few minutes? As it was, they called my name as I was still on the phone with work. I finally just said, "I am being called back for surgery right now. I don't know that I will make it back to Colorado in time, so I will just have to give up my job."

That was that!

I was resigning over the phone to an HR Rep as I was walking into surgery. Here again was another trial in my life where I was going to have to trust fully in the Lord for every need. And, how sad it was that there was such a lack of compassion from a Christian ministry, for someone going into surgery having to make such a life changing decision, because they had to make a business decision? My heart hurt as I followed the nurses back to the pre-op area. I was in a state of shock and didn't know if I should be upset or if I should cry.

I didn't have time to think about it. I just had to get ready for surgery.

Next..."Surgery, Recovery and The Finale"

"Be kind to me, God; I’ve been kicked around long enough." Psalm 9:13 (The Message)

Having to give up my job at the time I was walking into surgery was more than I could handle at the time. I felt just as betrayed as I did when my boss told me about promoting my co-worker over me just before my January 2010 surgery. The first several months of the year seemed to be some of the worst emotionally. That is why I picked this verse from The Message. Cancer wasn't enough for the devil to throw at me, he also needed to hit me where my identity in life was as well. I would later realize where my identity really lay.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Wound Vac Stories and More...

Twice a week from February 3rd when I was released from the hospital until March 15th, my parents would drive me from our house in Orange County to City of Hope Medical Research Center to have the Wound Vac dressings changed. City of Hope is located at the base of the San Gabriel Mountain Range's foothills. These foothills are home to places such as the City of Pasadena, the Rose Bowl and Tournament of Roses Parade, Santa Anita Race Track, several colleges including Azusa Pacific University and the original home of Dr. Dobson's first ministry, Focus on the Family. This area was also where my parents grew up, met and graduated high school together. I only spent my first couple of years living in this area before we moved.

Aside from going to City of Hope twice a week, I would also go to California Integrated Hyperbaric Center for vitamin C infusions twice a week. Since the nurse for these infusions was only available 3 days a week, we usually did a Tuesday/Thursday schedule and double booked one of our days with City of Hope. We would typically go in the early afternoon so mom could get home and cook dinner for dad.

Me with (L to R) Stephanie, Nurse Shannon and Lani
from California Integrated Hyperbaric Center.
This is how every session of a vitamin C infusion would go:

  • Arrive at 11am or 1pm.
  • Have a heating pad warm up my right hand to be able to find a vein.
  • Wait for nurse Shannon to mix up vitamin C solution for 20 to 45min.
  • Go to the bathroom.
  • Have IV started in hand and begin IV drip.
  • Go to the bathroom.
  • Fall asleep on the sofa wrapped up in a blanket (I was always freezing from the amount of fluids).
  • Wake up and go to the bathroom again.
  • Eat a snack or lunch and drink a home brewed organic tea.
  • Go to the bathroom again.
  • Lay down again and take a nap.
  • Wake up and go to the bathroom again.
  • Sit on the sofa and bug mom with a million questions.
  • Race to the bathroom again.
  • Finish the IV fluids and wait for nurse Shannon for 10 to 30 min to remove the IV.
  • Go to the bathroom again before getting in the car.
  • Drive home and get in the house.
  • Go to the bathroom again right away.

I don't know the size of the IV bag, but I know it was the largest IV bag available on the market. Nurse Shannon had to keep those bags in stock for me because the amount of fluid that was needed for my infusions was huge. That is why I was always going to the bathroom while receiving the infusion.

After I had the Wound Vac removed on March 15th, I had a vitamin C infusion. That day was like most other days, so nothing out of the ordinary. Then, the following day I was back at City of Hope seeing a radiation oncologist getting his opinion about radiation treatment. Hearing what "could" happen during radiation scared the living daylights out of me. He made me wonder if I was making the right choice. Yet, hearing what "could" happen if I didn't go through radiation also scared the living daylights out of me. What to do now?!?!?!?

Either situation was scary. Come out with skin burns, possible organ failures, etc. or rapidly progressing cancer, excessive pain, etc. Which outcome would be better to live with? This oncologist had a worse bedside manner than my surgeon did at first. He was such a mean man I called him "Putzner" when his name was Dr. Pezner. Either way, I really didn't like this guy and I think he knew it. But, we would be back again in a few days to set up everything needed for radiation therapy.

Diane, RN. during one of our Wound Vac changes.
Then, the following day, March 18th I was back at City of Hope yet again and was having the Wound Vac put back on. I felt like I was on a roller coaster ride with the Wound Vac being put on, taken off, put back on again. Argh! The consolation was that we got to see our favorite nurse, Diane. She always made changing the wound vac an experience to remember. We certainly love her and are grateful God brought her into our life.

A couple days went by and we were back at City of Hope again having the procedure where they use a CT scan to get the patient placed on the radiation machines just right. They line up your body through a series of scans and placement, marking and remarking to get it just right. After they feel they got it, the dr. comes in and looks at the final scan approving or not approving. When he approves, they place single dots of tattoo ink to mark the locations of alignment along with body paint and clear stickers for the techs to find and align the patient on the radiation table just right. When you leave, you feel like everyone is staring at you because you are all marked up with this stuff. In my case it was waist to toe, so people could see my markings on my legs as I was wearing capri pants. Oh how fun!

So after being tattooed, I had to meet with the radiation dr. We hadn't been too fond of him the last meeting, so we were hoping he was better today. That thinking was futile. He was even worse than before. He hadn't explained how any of the treatments would work, when they would start, how long they would last, etc. When he came in and talked with my family, we finally had to break in and ask him some questions.

I really had a deadline to get back to work because of the FMLA time almost being over for me. He was taken aback by this and started yelling at me that I had been wasting his time and wasn't taking this seriously, etc. I was stunned by this reaction since he was the one that hadn't given us any kind of instruction, so how were we supposed to know. I was so shaken up, I was literally shaking from head to toe from anger. My mom and dad knew this was not a good thing. I asked the doctor to leave the room so I could talk to my parents. He was taken aback by a patient dismissing him from their presence. He slowly exited the room after a couple times of trying to banter with me. But I held my ground about his leaving.

Once my parents and I discussed the situation, my dad asked the doctor back in and took the lead in explaining that we had to discuss this as a family to see when we could work in the therapy. In reality, there was no way on earth I was going to let this guy be my doctor. And my parents agreed. I should never have been treated the way I was. Patients are scared enough by the mere word "Cancer," let alone a doctor who tries to argue, belittle and berate you as a patient. There is no reason that should ever happen.

Next..."More Wound Vac Stories and More..."

This was another test in the anger arena. The radiation doctor was beyond his boundary. My father was a calming effect for me during this time. Mom was a comfort for me. And scripture was water to my soul. If you miss the last set of scriptures regarding anger in our lives, I've added it below again. Please reflect on these scriptures if you struggle with anger and feel free to email me so I can pray for you and with you and a brother/sister in Christ.

Blessings All!

The Nature of God
"But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness." Psalm 86:15

"The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;" Psalm 103:8-9

How We Are to Deal With Anger
"Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil." Psalm 37:8

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1

"But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger." Romans 2:8

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth." 1 Corinthians 13:4-6

“'In your anger do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold...Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice." Ephesians 4:26-27, 31

"But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips." Colossians 3:8

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." James 1:19-21

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Going Home is Not All It's Cracked Up To Be

January 2010 was the beginning of big changes for my life.

Two days or so before my surgery, my boss called me from Colorado. For about a year he had been telling me that he was waiting for me to learn a few things before he could suggest that I be promoted to manager of our e-mail department. I never really understood what it was he was wanting me to learn, but I realized after while he was never going to promote me. When he called that day before surgery, he was calling to inform me that he had promoted someone else to manager and needed me to know this before I went into the hospital. Nice timing, right?

Now, I really don't think that it was necessary for him to tell me this right then, nor was I happy with the fact that I had been lied to for more than a year. I had been betrayed in a very big way by this and had a very hard time resolving what had happened for several months to come. I was angry and devastated all at the same time. However, the guy that had been promoted was caught in the middle. It was not his fault this had happened, and I really wasn't upset by him accepting the job. Our boss, though, this was a cowardly way to handle telling me and I was angry with him for how he handled this. He said that he HAD to make the decision to promote someone right then or he would loose the position completely. Why had he waited so long in the first place? I was the one he came to for answers and help all the time. 

I had some theories about why. And, I still do today. But, I had to move on. I'm not angry any more. God really did a lot of work on my heart. However, I do not trust that guy at all. And, that is okay not to trust him. But it is not okay to harbor bitterness or anger. That is why the Lord worked so hard with me to get rid of it from my life. I'm in a much better place now in so many ways anyhow.

With my moving around and walking with therapists after my surgery on the 15th, the incision became infected which required us to get a wound vac again. (You can read about that here.) So, for a few weeks I was in the hospital with the wound vac being changed every few days by our favorite nurse, Diane. Because Diane was so busy, she brought in another lady to learn how to change the vac from patients. Just as they got started, this trainee lady walked out to do something and didn't come back until we were totally done changing the vac and bandages. She learned nothing that day. Diane, my parents and I learned she was not even close to being trust-worthy.

On February 3, 2010 I was released to go home with my parents and a portable wound vac in tow. I was not being sent to a rehab hospital this time. I was able to go directly home, which I thought was awesome. I was tired of being in a hospital bed and awakened at all hours of the day and night and was glad to be in my own bed again. I was seen by an in-home care nurse since I was still on antibiotics and she would do general wound care. We still went twice a week to see Diane at City of Hope for her to change the wound vac dressings. This type of schedule would last for several months.

After my experience with insurance in 2008 (You can read about that here.), I was slightly concerned how they were going to react to my portable wound vac. Insurance is always so much fun to deal with. True to form, on March 15th the insurance company forced us to discontinue the wound vac, saying all should be well at this point. What I was dealing with was a lot of pain from the removal of the bottom portion of my pelvis. Things were just not right, and nothing seemed to work to make it better.

My parents next door neighbor knew a naturopathic doctor in town and suggested we go see her. Mom made an appointment and we went. Mom and I really liked this lady and knew in our hearts we needed to work with her with whatever she suggested I do. So, we started me on a regimen of natural supplements and vitamins and twice a week we went to see a nurse for large doses of vitamin C infusions. The infusions would take 2-3 hours a piece and made me very tired until the end of the session when I gained all kinds of energy. We continued these treatments for several months.

Three days after having the wound vac removed, the doctor ordered it back on. He said that the wound had not healed up and that it had been premature to remove it. Diane spoke with the insurance company directly explaining what she was doing and my progress of healing. They agreed to cover it again and we were back in the land of healing.

Next..."Wound Vac Stories and More..."

As I was writing today's entry, I was ever so aware of the Lord impressing upon my heart to touch on the issue of anger in our lives. With as angry as I was for being wronged by my boss just before going into surgery, there would be other incidents along the way that would make this pale in comparison later. And in the grand scheme of life, as betrayed as I felt, was it worth getting angry about it and causing worse things to happen within my own body? I think not.

I have included several verses that talk about anger and what it does to our lives and how the Lord would have us deal with it. If you have difficulty with anger being a large part of your life, reflect upon the Word of the Lord below.

The Nature of God
"But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness." Psalm 86:15

"The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;" Psalm 103:8-9

How We Are to Deal With Anger "Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil." Psalm 37:8

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1

"But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger." Romans 2:8

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth." 1 Corinthians 13:4-6

“'In your anger do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold...Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice." Ephesians 4:26-27, 31

"But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips." Colossians 3:8

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." James 1:19-21

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Been Movin'

Hi All!

I know it has been a little bit since I got to my blog here. I have been in the process of moving out of my apartment and into a house. As you can imagine, working full time and trying to move really takes a toll on a person.

Anyhow, bear with me as I get back into writing slowly, but surely.

Thanks for walking this journey with me!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Quilt, Surgery and A Nerf Sized Tumor

Within days of finding out that I had another tumor on my pelvic bone and that I was going to have to undergo another surgery to remove it, my family and I had my cousins up to my parents house for dinner. My cousins have been huge prayer warriors for me and my family since we first found out about the original tumor in 2008. Friends of my cousin have a prayer group which makes "Prayer Quilts" for people they know are in the hospital or are going to have surgery, etc. This group of women make some beautiful quilts for people.

This dinner with my cousins was for me to receive my "Prayer Quilt." What a beautiful quilt it is as well. The purpose of the quilt is for these ladies to leave the final tying of the squares up to others who are or have been praying for that person. In my case, to this day, all my squares have been tied at least twice, which is a huge blessing to know how many people have been and still are praying for me. And, there are many that are not close enough to be able to tie a knot on my quilt, but they are still praying for me none-the-less. Do you know how many people that is? Let's just say it is in the triple digits. I feel so incredibly blessed to have so many people supporting me and my family in this way. And I am grateful to my cousin and her friends for creating the quilt for me.

Right now, this quilt is hanging in my bedroom for me to see and touch every day.

As tradition would have it,
grandma Marj always baked
our Christmas pies.
We were now closing in on 2010, getting ready to celebrate Christmas and Christ's birth. Christmas has always been a special time of the year for my moms side of the family. My dad's side of the family didn't really celebrate as their faith was not aligned with our family. None-the-less, my grandma baked the pies and had dinner with us while she was alive, even though she didn't believe as we do. I hold some very special memories and traditions we incorporated because of my grandma in my heart. I am sorry those traditions were not passed down so we could still share those with my dad. I feel it would have been very special for him if we had been able to.

All the girls in the early '80s.
However, with our family being so small, my mom still tries to make Christmas something extra special every year for us. Our newest tradition is opening our house to our neighbors on each side of my parents house and to any of my mom and dads friends we know are going to be alone. I also include a very close friend and her husband, Scott and Kathy Boyle, to celebrate with us as well. It's the one time of year I can sit down with them and just chill out, watch some football and talk. This time of year is also where our family takes our annual family and "girls" pictures.

The entire extended family photo.
When I was very young, all the ladies in our family would stand together and have our picture taken to see the generations (see above). After many years of not seeing part of our family, when we got back together and were talking about the things we "used to do," I had the idea of restarting that tradition. So, every year at Christmas (or Thanksgiving if Christmas wasn't going to work), the five of us ladies sit on the couch at whatever home we are gathered at, and we taken our annual "girls" picture.

But I didn't want to leave the guys out. I wanted to create a new tradition, and so we have someone take a family picture with the husbands behind their wives. And if we are blessed to have my grandfathers side of the family join us at the Newport Beach Annual Boat Parade party at my grandparents condo, I am able to get a picture of the whole family together (that has only happened once so far, see photo above left).

It was good to have a fun Christmas because it would be a very short time and I would be going through surgery again for cancer on my right leg and pelvis. So, as New Year's passed by, our family made several trips to the hospital for final testing and pre-op procedures. The closer we came to surgery day, the more real it became to me that this was happening.

Friday morning, January 15, 2010 was finally here. We took my dad's Jeep to the hospital. Mom had offered me a sweatshirt to wear in the car on the way up as it was a chilly morning. I declined as I was warm in the house getting ready. Once we were in the car and had switched freeways, my body was shivering out of control. This was not a normal response for me.

We arrived at the hospital and dad dropped mom and I off at the door to the check-in area, while he parked the car. I was still shaking uncontrollably. Dad joined us before I was called back to check-in with insurance verification and final signatures. I was still shaking uncontrollably. My name was called with a group of people and we were taken to the pre-op rooms. I was still shaking uncontrollably.

I changed my clothes to the hospital gown, hair covering and booties they require for surgery, answered all the questions with the nurses and finished all the current vital signs. I was still shaking uncontrollably. Finally, the anesthesiologist came in to talk about my sedation. I was still shaking uncontrollably. He realized I was going to need a sedative now because I was shaking uncontrollably. After several minutes from taking the sedative, the shaking finally stopped and I was almost ready to be taken in for surgery. Once out, I would have no idea what was going on until I had been awakened again in recovery. Hopefully, I would not be shaking uncontrollably (LOL).

After coming out of the anesthesia, I don't remember much of what my mom was telling me. She has a tendency to talk to me like I am fully coherent. I am sure I answered her with correct things, because I didn't get any responses later about not answering her. So, that was a plus in my favor. But, I do remember (and we have talked about it since) being told that the doctor came out to talk with my parents after surgery. Dr. Femino explained that all went well and the steps he took. He also told my parents the size of the tumor was that of a small Nerf football. What?!? This thing came out of nowhere and it was the size of a small Nerf football? How could that be?

Well, considering the size of the tumor it was not a surprise at all the doctors had to do. The remaining portion of my right pelvic bone and part of the left bottom portion had to be removed. My bladder had surgical mesh from my previous surgery attached to it, and when they tried to remove it, it nicked my bladder so they had to bring in a urologist to fix it. The tumor went down my right thigh slightly and had wrapped around either an artery or a main blood vessel. If they had cut it out at that point, it would have cut off the blood supply to my leg and I would have lost my leg (which was why we had the first surgery to save the leg). After all of this in surgery, my body had so much less flesh, that I had what looked like a sink hole from my lower stomach to my thigh. Even with swelling, it looked concave (and part of it still does).

So, recovery was a little rough this time around. I didn't have the brace like I did in the first surgery, which I was very grateful for. However, without the majority of my pelvis, it was very hard to walk. As you might be able to imagine, there is virtually no stability for the right side of my body as my core structure has been removed because of this cancer. Life would be much different now than it had been for the past 17 months. Again, I would need to rely on the Lord for my strength, both physically and spiritually.

Next..."Going Home is Not All It's Cracked Up To Be."

"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." Psalm 1:1-3