Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Biblical Word Of The Day: Barrenness

Dr. Z's physician assistant called me yesterday.  My mid-June biopsy got moved up to May 12th. 

Queue freak out.

If you remember, I bought a three-month trial at my last appointment.  Three months hitting those cancer cells hard with medication to see if we could put off a full hysterectomy a bit and buy a little bit of time for a FET "window" if my body is being receptive to treatment.

Looks like three months just became two.

...And three weeks of those two months have been with less than 1/2 the necessary daily dose since my medication got cut last week. So yeah...I'm a bit nervous about what we'll find with this next biopsy.

I believe in a higher power and I believe in prayer.  There is a sign in my room that says, "when life gets too hard to stand, kneel." ... and I can promise you that I'll continue to stay on my knees a lot over the next 11 days.

For almost eight years, fear and doubt has loomed over my head as infertility, infant loss, more infertility...and now cancer has taken its course. I've watched how it's changed me and how I've struggled with childlike faith and hope as I've tried to have more and more of it. 

By nature I was born a happy and positive person...but I'm not going to lie, it's been a real struggle. I've watched a girl who at the age of three just wanted to grow up to be a rainbow...evolve into someone who searchs for that hopeful sign with more and more desperation. (Note: desperation is a word that I loath. And I just used it. Twice.)

I've learned through the journey that all I really can do is have faith. And you need a lot if it because so much is out if your control.  I've also learned that while faith sounds so easy...it's not. 

Not when you've prayed for almost eight years for a miracle. 

Its been a trial of my faith, so I tip my hat to women like Elizabeth in the Bible who bore the disgrace of barrenness and never underestimated God's love for her.  She did this even into old age when her arms were still empty and she was past childbearing years. She was humble and she kept praying for a miracle.  She was sad but never bitter because of her "barrenness" (strong biblical word, right?!). She had enormous faith in God her entire life.

I want to be like that. 

I don't know how old Elizabeth was by today's standards before she bore John the Baptist, but I like to think that she (and the others like her who are noted in the scriptures for infertility and miracles) were at least over the age of 40. 

I guess it doesn't really matter because the point is that our God is a God of surprises. Sometimes, when we least expect it, He touches us with a miracle and our life is changed forever.

I still have faith in that.



...and so as to not be a downer, here's a picture of my favorite Easter Lilie.  Another "mini" who makes my heart happy and sad at the same time because she cries and cries when I leave. We go on weekly play dates and paint our nails together...a lot. Cute as a button, right?! (Still can't believe she posed so perfectly for me to take this shot.)
Mahalo.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Tea for Two

I wish that I had a tea cup in my office.  Today just feels like a tea cup kind of day.. thanks, in part, to these two lovely ladies.

Meet two of my little minis - Nat and Coco.

They are a huge reason why I want to be a mom because from the second that they were born, they have taught me how to love. Nat plays tricks on me and Coco cries when I leave. Coco also "accidentally" calls me mom all the time which makes me laugh.  She acts like it's a mistake but since she has been doing it since she was three...I just laugh and remember how badly I wanted to live with my oldest brother when I was her age.    

They tell me that I'm a really cool aunt all the time because I dress them up and do fun things.  They tell me all of their secrets and give me nightmares with their ghost stories during our sleepovers, which last for days and days.

My favorite role in life, second to Wife, is definitely Aunt.  

I love them.

 (and the 24 other nieces/nephews like them.)

Nat

Coco
Mahalo.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Numb and Dumb

Last week was rough.  I'm not going to lie.

Thank goodness for educated followers.  After the comments on the last post (THANK YOU!), I promptly called my doctor.  We talked about the symptoms that started almost 36-hours previously and in the end, I felt really stupid for not listening to my body.

  • Numbness in the face.
  • Numbness in the leg/arm.
  • Nausea.
  • Severe three-day migraine.
  • Drenching night sweat (wake up at 3am and forced in shower and change cloths, kind of drenching night sweat).
  • Sudden pain behind knee which moved down leg to feel like a sprained ankle when I stood up and tried to walk.
  • Kink in neck.
  • Foggy mind.
Dr. Anonymous was right - I should have gone immediately to the ER.  But I didn't.  I won't make that mistake again because it most likely was a TIA.  Transient Ischemic Attack, more commonly known as a "mini-stroke".  Apparently, it happens when blood flow to a part of the brain stops for a brief period of time causing a person to have stroke-like symptoms for up to 24 hours.  A possible (and serious) side-effect. Who'd have thought?! (Obviously, not me.)

I feel so stupid.

I treated each one of those symptoms like singular events when in reality, it was one larger issue that my body was screaming to me.  Thank goodness only 5% of TIA's go on to a full-blown stroke...and for the first time, I'm on the right side of the statistic.  

But I still feel really stupid.

Like... when I had Colton at home because I didn't know I was in labor...kind of stupid.  Only not as bad because nothing will ever top that.  I lost my son for not listening to my body and being too ignorant about what it was trying to tell me. I'll live with that stupidity forever.

So, when you know better...you do better. Right?  

Next time, I'll listen to the warnings.  Next time, I'll go to the ER.   Next time, I'll say "to hell" to a stressful 60 hour work week and a demanding statewide earthquake disaster exercise that I let wear me down, stress me out and cloud my judgement. Next time, I'll read my medication pamphlets instead of just throwing them away. Next time, I'll do research. Next time, I'll follow my gut - literally. Next time, I'll be more self-aware.

We did lab work and Dr. Z cut my medications way, way down.  Instead of 10 pills...I'm currently taking two.  They couldn't stop it altogether like they originally thought because of the complications that could cause (bleeding will come back), but today my daily dose is two pills and I feel infinitely better. Later today, we'll reevaluate at my follow up visit. It all makes me nervous because I need those meds for a fighting chance at any future fertility option for my own body...

But I don't know.  Maybe that ship has sailed. (as my eyes well up with tears).

I hate cancer. Have I mentioned that?!

I hate infertility and infant loss too. And while we're at it, I hate the stupidity, ignorance and insignificance that it all makes me feel. Over and over and over again.

There.  

But I do want to give a sincere thanks to you for your comments, support and education. Especially Dr. Anonymous. It really helped and spurred me into action. Again.  (as "she" similarly did in January when I was having wacky bleeding and didn't know it was cancer, if you recall). 


So as to not leave you on a downer - here are some pics from our annual Easter "Mad Hatters" Tea Party.  Not to be missed and oh-so-much fun with the family dress up box (even if I got stuck with the "pimp" hat this year). Totally worth the 400 mile drive to my parent's house, despite everything, for a few days of laughing and R&R with my incredible family. Best medicine on the planet!


Mahalo.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Day 2: Finding Happiness

Oh crap.  Thanks "Anonymous" for the feedback on the last post.  I'll definitely call my doctor! (and if you are a doctor...I'll do it faster).

If I was going to choose to stoke (like anyone chooses that!) - this is the week the week I'd definitely do it! (said with a healthy dose of sarcasm).  

I got 3 hours of sleep last night... worked 14 hours... came home and crawled in bed... and here I am awake at 4am again... getting ready for a 14 hour day today and a 14 hour day tomorrow... All because Utah plays in the national "ShakeOut" drill where we respond to a fake 7.0 earthquake.  

I hate fake earthquakes!  

I swear that they take more work than the real ones. And to think, we do this every stinkin' year! So yeah... if I were to have a stoke this week, I definitely wouldn't pin it on the medication. Plausible and probable.  
Doing well at work/life balance, aren't I?!

(Eye roll)

.
.
.

Let's talk about today's medication meditation that didn't put me back to sleep when I needed it to...

Day 2:  Finding Happiness.

Are you happy?  Really happy?  I'm talking about something beyond the challenges of infertility or infant loss.  You know, that sense inside of us that doesn't vary with the ups and downs of everyday life (and sometimes there are a lot of ups and downs in everyday life!).

I didn't have to think long on that question (it really should have put me to sleep...)!  I was born happy and happy I've stayed.  

It's who I am by nature.  It lives deep within me, sometimes I just forget to practice it because things get in the way (also known as "life"!).  But it's there. I'm happy at my core and I work hard to feed that core.

(Unless it involves a fake 7.0 earthquake.)

I say that because I have a lot to be happy about. I always have.  But I also know people who really struggle with generally happiness and contentment in their life. Failing marriage - horrible job - absence of family - loneliness - depression - heartache - the list goes on and on. And those things go really deep for a lot of people.  It changes who they are.

Life is just plain hard.  

So if you don't have happiness in the quietest corners of your soul, come listen to Deepak and Oprah with me.  They will put you in a trance and make you think you are happy.

Or you can just look at more of my Hawaii photos.  Here is one of us riding the waves in a canoe.  We ran over no-less than 8 surfers that day (and giggled like little girls the entire time we were doing it...)



Be happy.  But on a serious note, be really, really, really nice to those who are not.  Help them. Comfort them. Stay with them. Be nice to them.

Because nice matters.

Mahalo.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Day 1: Finding Security

It's 3:00am and I'm laying here with a freakin' numb face.  

It's the oddest sensation ever, and more than a little troubling because occasionally it's accompanied by a numb leg and a numb arm...but I'm back on my medications and that's the important thing.

Oh boy howdy does cancer suck! 

Naturally, as I lay here in all of my numbness...I started thinking about the To Do list I made when I first got my diagnosis.  It was created for the best possible odds in fighting these nasty cells and kicking this uterine cancer thing!  You may recall that #1 on the list was...
  • Breathe.  You do this best when you meditate so find another 21-day Deepak meditation session that you can enjoy.

Well, now that I'm back from a Hawaii I have some work to do.  Stepping back into work I'm a big o' ball of stress (again) and I have to learn to manage that a bit better. According to something someone shared with me on FB, the #1 thing that cancer cells thrive on is stress...so I guess that's a subtle hint that I need to go back to Hawaii, at least in my mind.

Queue 21-day meditation.

I found one about "Finding Your Flow" and I think it's going to be a really good one.  The idea is that your body is made up of energy and as you learn to channel that energy's "flow" from within to without (and not vice-versa)...you can have a happier, more peaceful and fulfilled life.

Without cancer cells of course. So here goes...

My security and peace are from within. Nobody gives me that - rather, it starts with me and then spreads out.

“Security represents your sense of worth, your identity, your emotional anchorage, your self-esteem, your basic personal strength or lack of it.”  —Stephen Covey

Hallelujah and amen.



For good measure, I'll throw in another picture of Hawaii.  Meet my baby sister, brother-in-law...and the coolest tree I've ever seen compliments of the Dole Plantation (in true colors, no Photoshop or Instagram).  Amazing, right?!


...and am I the only person that didn't know pineapples actually grow in a bush and not on a tree?! How I got a college degree without that bit of information is beyond me...



Mahalo.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

No Words

I  threw up today.

A lot.  Because this happened 25 miles from my house. 

How a woman can have seven babies during a ten-year period of time... and strangle or suffocate  them after they took their first breath...then leave them in cardboard boxes in a crummy garage is...

...well...

Hell won't be dark or hot enough.

I don't get it.  I'm a faithful, God-fearing woman who really does her best to do right by humanity... but I will confess that tonight I prayed to God for understanding.  I'm not that kind of woman..and I'm just asking for one child to love.  So how does this happen... 25 miles from my house?

I just don't get it.

Do you?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

All About Infertile Me (CliffsNotes Edition)


This is a post-script to my last post.

It's the shortened version to what feels like a very long story.  As with everyone who goes through infertility, infant loss and/or more infertility...there is a lot between the lines.  If your curious about the medication I've referred to in the last few posts, go ahead and skip to the end.


All About Infertile Me (CliffsNotes Edition)
2006 - February, 2007 - met/married Mr. Thompson

Aug, 2007 - began fertility treatments after trying to conceive 6 months. Started Clomid.

Oct/Nov, 2007 - after testing doctor said pregnancy wasn't an option as there had been no signs of ovulation for many months.  Recommended meds/procedures which I (thankfully!) put off until after the holidays...

Jan, 2008 - found out I was 12 weeks (Miracle of all miracles!)

Apr, 2008 - son Colton born at 24 weeks. He didn't survive beyond birth.

Jun, 2008 - began TTC again, back on Clomid (which I took for 6 months). Based on age/history, Dr Q recommended I transfer to reproductive endocrinologist (RE).

Jul - Dec, 2008 - started w/ Dr. B @ reproductive center. Kept trying "naturally", but threw in some (3) unsuccessful IUIs for good measure.

2009 - 1st unsuccessful IVF...let the daily dose really begin.

Dec, 2009 - transfered to Dr. H @ reproductive center for a better doctor/patient fit.  

2010 - 2nd unsuccessful IVF.  Severe OHSS (hyper-stimulation) which resulted in unsuccessful FET 6-months later.

2011 - 3rd unsuccessful IVF & unsuccessful FET a few months later

Dec, 2012 - 4th unsuccessful IVF. 8 frozen embryos

Dec, 2013 - Hysteroscopy in preparation of Feb 2014 FET

Jan, 2014 - diagnosed with uterine cancer.  Transferred from reproductive endocrinologist to gynecological oncologist at Cancer Center.

Feb - May, 2014 - taking chemo meds for a 3-month trial, in hopes of shrinking cancer cells enough to fight off the inevitable hysterectomy which will happen in the words of my doctor, "not if....but when."  

That's it in a nutshell.

Our current goal is a window of opportunity for our last-chance FET cycle. I'm still on the fence about an actual FET, but at minimum, I need and appreciate the hope. I have a great oncologist who gets that.

...so I guess I should quit crying and just take the blessed-but-oh-so-lethal newly defined daily dose, Right?!  At least it isn't a multi-daily intramuscular shot into my butt so...

I've got this.


And if you don't believe me about the jungle/mud in the previous post here's another shot of our trek up the volcano.  The trail is actually the muddy mess to the lower right of where we were hiking...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Once, When I Was Brooke Shields...

Last night's conversation went something like this:

Him: "Have you taken your medicine?"
Me: "No."
Him: "Go take your medicine."
Me: "I don't wanna..."
Him: "Do it! And if you think I didn't notice that your pill container came back full from Hawaii...your wrong.  Take the medicine!"

What proceeded was about 20 minutes of me in a full-on toddler "I don't want to" temper tantrum.

I'm 39.

But I did. At 11:02pm, I finally swallowed the bitter dose of 5 pills.

...and I've been barfing ever since...

Back to life. Back to reality.  But for the record, I don't feel an ounce of shame in not taking my meds for over a week.

It was the best week of my life.

To prove it, here are some pics from the day we hiked to a waterfall.  In true Hawaiian fashion it rained that morning (they don't call it "The Rainbow State" for nothing!).  Our hike was 4-5 miles and should have taken about 2 hours.  When we got to the location, we were met by a park ranger who was chaining up the gate at the trail head.

We asked if the trail was closed and he replied that it wasn't closed, "per se"...but that the rain had caused terrible mud on the trail. With a smile, he told us we could try it...but that it would take us "at least" twice as long.

His parting shot before he drove away laughing was, "good luck".

Stupid tourists.  

We started hiking.  Through 10 feet of mud - up a da&! volcano - down a da&! volcano - through the tropical jungle - across rivers - up and down in slick, deep, jungle mud.

...it was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my entire life...

Even if it did ruined my new rainbow shoes. 

I fell three times in the mud.  I almost broke my ankle as I slipped on a rock crossing one of the two rivers. We swung from trees, like little monkeys, because hanging roots is the only thing that kept us upright.  And after hours traveling to our destination, we finally made it to the most beautiful waterfall and lagoon?... I've ever seen.

Which I promptly jumped into. 

It was so cold it took my breath away...but you can bet that we romped around like little kids in that waterfall for hours. I even climbed up on a 15 foot rock and jumped in.

I made out with my Mr. under that waterfall like we were movie stars. For a minute, I thought that I was Brooke Shields in the 80's classic, "Blue Lagoon".

I laid on my back and floated around that lagoon looking up into the blue, blue sky and the beautiful flora that encircled us, thinking about how wonderful my life is.

Hawaii, April 2014


...and then I came home to that medicine.

Aloha.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Just Relax? Okay.

Sunrise over Hanauma Bay, waking up the coral reef's fish at 6:00am with our snorkel gear. Amazing!
{Sigh}....

We just got home from Hawaii and I feel good.  Really good, in fact.

It was the vacation of a lifetime and I can honestly say I don't think I have ever felt so relaxed and/or content in my life.  It was just what the doctor ordered. 

I didn't think about cancer or infertility once.  Not once.

Infant loss only surfaced on April 3rd, Colton's angelversary, as I wrote his name in the sand. Then I went back to playing in the waves with my husband, which is where I should have been and where I wanted to be.  This year, as I imagined a little six-year-old, there wasn't one ounce of sadness.  Only happiness for what will someday be.

I am not sure why these 8 days were different.  We've been to Hawaii before.  We've had bigger vacations and traveled to more exciting places.  This one just felt...

Better.

First of all, when we left for our trip our marriage was in a really great place.  The "45 days for 45 years" project did something for us.  My imperfectly-perfect relationship has never been better...and it only improved while we were in Hawaii.  As stupid as it sounds, there were times in Hawaii that I looked at my husband and felt overcome with love for him.  Literally, overcome.  

We are in an amazing place. Both of us recognize it and are committed to maintaining it. "45 days for 45 years" reminded me that marriage takes constant work.  It's always been good...but I've been lax for the last few years in taking care of my man - in a way that speaks to him. Infertility can be hard on a marriage and I don't know one couple that doesn't struggle at some point.  We are no different. But I see that now and will not be so lazy or distracted in my marriage again. It feels like after 8+ years together we are finally settling into a really good groove. We are like two little old people right now, and I'm loving it.

As I laid there in the Hawaiian sand for over a week, I just...let it all go. If it wasn't in the moment, I didn't think about it. I can't tell you how needed that was, or how nice it felt. Everything beyond the blissful moments of sinking my toes in the sand and feeling the sun on my face...disappeared, in a magical sort of way. Island fever.

Returning on the red-eye was hard ...but I landed just in time to hear a talk from one of my church's leaders who helped put it in perspective.

Elder David A. Bednar began his Sunday morning talk by sharing the experience of a friend who drove his new four-wheel drive pickup truck to the mountains to collect firewood. Snow had already fallen in the area where he intended to find wood. As he drove up the mountainside, the snow became deeper and deeper. But the man persisted, continued to the area where he planned to cut the wood and promptly became stuck in the snow.

Despite feeling embarrassed and worried, the man climbed out of his immobilized vehicle and began cutting wood, eventually filling the bed of the truck with a heavy load. Then he attempted to drive out of the snow one more time. He slowly inched forward, drove back to the road and made his way home.
"It was the load of wood that provided the traction necessary for him to get out of the snow, to get back on the road and to move forward," he said. "It was the load that enabled him to return to his family and his home." 
That story really made me think about my own "load".  Like yours, it is a load that is comprised of demands and opportunities, obligations and privileges, afflictions and blessings, and options and constraints. Everyone carries a load...and I certainly have mine. 
After the talk, I sat down with pen and paper to think about what weighs me down. It's actually a (surprising!) short list: cancer, infertility, infant loss, a challenging personal relationship and rejection/hurt from in-laws who have never even met me.
Little things, really.  But in the grand scheme, they are my things - the things that have been weighing me down.
I've written in the past about finding joy in the journey... but when I thought about my challenges in the these terms, I realize that there is so much gratitude in the load that is producing the "spiritual traction" needed for me to press forward with faith in Christ and, ultimately, return me home to Heavenly Father.  
As Elder Bednar said, "Sometimes we mistakenly may believe that happiness is the absence of a load. But bearing a load is a necessary and essential part of the plan of happiness. Because our individual load needs to generate spiritual traction, we should be careful to not haul around in our lives so many nice but unnecessary things that we are distracted and diverted from the things that matter most."
So that is what I'm focused on.  
Staying relaxed, giving up what I need to give up, taking care of the one who matters the most, and being grateful for the few burdens that are really helping me grow.
Mahalo.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Six

I'll post more later but just know that today... as I close my eyes on a Hawaiian beach...

I imagine a deep-dimpled little blond-haired, blue-eyed six year old...playing with his dad in the North Shore waves.

For that is what we did all. day. long.

oxoxox  


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