Monday, November 28, 2011

Blog Shmog

It's possible that you've noticed that I'm not blogging as often as I used to, and I'm feeling guilty about it.  While I love writing and I'm beyond honored that anyone wants to read what I write, I'm having difficulty finding the time to do my writing.  And yes, somehow I find the time to play Words with Friends every day, but my blog has not been taking priority.

Nick's Mom Virginia, who was just here with Rusty on a perfectly wonderful Thanksgiving visit, may have put it best.  She suggested that maybe I don't "need" to blog as much anymore.  I definitely used blogging as a form of therapy, an outlet of sorts, and now that I'm out of the immediate woods cancer-wise, I'm feeling healthier, body and soul.  Looks like I'm allowing myself to ease up on my blogging therapy, I think that's a good thing.  

All that said, I am committed to this blog, and I will see it through. The exciting part is that seeing it through might mean that I can be done at the end of the year.  I should be able to finish my reconstruction, the tattoos, before year end.  That really is my final step in my cancer journey.  Of course I am still fearful of recurrence and will always have lingering terror over dying young and leaving my family motherless and lost, but life now is generally tranquil. Putting aside this blog is another step toward normalcy.

But I'm not done yet.  I know I left things hanging with my Fembot boobs, my weekend home to visit my Mom, and Virginia and Rusty's Thanksgiving visit.  Here's the very brief overview, and I apologize for not doing any of these subjects justice.  First, I made it through airport security with limited embarrassment, weird boobs and all. Upon returning home from Wisconsin, my plastic surgeon allowed me to ditch the Madonna boobs, thank God!  I even went shopping for pretty new bras.  I'm a 36 C!  Nipple wise, things are still a bit swollen, but I'm optimistic things will be in good shape a few weeks from now.  

My quick trip home to visit my Mom was truly fantastic.  I was able to see her perfectly appointed new home and feel a sense of relief that she is settling into her new life, sadly without my Dad.  My sisters Claudia and Diane were home too, which gave us an opportunity to be silly and do lots of giggling including our gut busting experiences with oddball airport employee Joseph W. in Milwaukee.  We even fit in a visit to the incredible Calatrava designed Milwaukee Art Museum.  Thank you Claudia, for this gift of this special trip home.

And our Thanksgiving weekend with Virginia and Rusty was fun and funny.  We share a peculiar sense of humor with these two, so weird and comical goings on are the norm.  An example?  A tiny two-inch baby doll joined us for Thanksgiving dinner.  You really don't need to hear more about this, truly.  The kids love their grandparents to pieces so the six of us really gel whether we are bobbing in the hot tub, out to dinner at Arribas or hiking the mountains around Boyce Thompson Arboretum.  We miss you G.G. and Rusty!

So we are caught up, right?  I will continue to blog on a weekly basis through the month of December, but I think it will be pretty brief as I am a Christmas machine and cannot avert much attention away from the ribbons and bows which I adore.  And after that?  We'll see where this goes.  It may be time for me to finally get to work on that Kick it Kiki book.  Not a bad idea for a New Year's resolution.

with love,

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Channeling Madonna

I wish they looked this good.
I am a Fem-Bot. Not really this bad, but close.
Well, this definitely was not in the brochure.  As I sit in front of my computer, I am completely distracted by the extremely pointy plastic covers over my breasts, or shall I say new nipples.  It’s a complete joke and somewhat horrifying.  
Here’s what went down.  Just hours before my nipple reconstruction surgery on Monday, I called my nurse at the plastic surgeon’s office to ask her if I can expect any serious discomfort after the operation.  She said no, it’s fairly painless, but the nipple covers were kind of obnoxious.   Um... nipple what?  Seems my skilled yet detail sparing plastic surgeon neglected to tell me that after this reconstruction surgery, I’d be donning crazing protruding nipple protectors for a WEEK!  Holy shit.  
There is no clothing that hides them, except my puffy winter vest and/or a well placed scarf with double-sided tape to hold it in place.  If you think I’m overreacting, I’m not.  They are beyond ridiculous.  Have you see the Austen Powers movie where the Fem-Bots have guns pointing out of their bras?  That’s EXACTLY what I look like.

So how did the doc do it?  He actually used my own skin, cut a small round circle where a nipple should be and folded the skin into some kind of mound. I now have to protect these mounds with the aforementioned plastic guards until they can heal into what will look like new nipples.  Too much info?  Sorry.  At least I didn't mention that they are really scabby and gross looking now.  Oh, sorry again.
The good news is that the surgery was easy peasy and I have almost no pain from recovery.  Monday was foggy because of the anesthesia, but yesterday I felt perfectly normal, except for you know what.  I look like a freak!!  Plus I get to travel to Wisconsin on Thursday for the weekend with these pointy beauties.  At least my sisters and Mom will get a good laugh on my account.
So of course on my surgery day, Fisher once again tries to show me up.  In school Monday, he not only let the adorable teacher’s assistant pull out his loose tooth, he then had a collision in PE that resulted in a serious fat lip. Poor kid had to spend a couple hours in the school nurse's office because she could not get ahold of Nick nor me because we were in the surgery center.  He’s fine now and a dollar richer from the tooth fairy.
And a quick update on my latest speech I gave to the Midwestern University Alumni Leadership dinner.  It went great!  I felt very comfortable speaking and the audience was warm and receptive, at least no one left while I was talking, and that’s about all I can really hope for.  Do I want to do more of these?  I think so, but maybe it’s time to start making some money.  We’ll see.  
I probably won’t write again until I get back from Wisconsin on Sunday.  I see the doc on Tuesday to have my pointy things removed, and then Nick’s Mom Virginia and Stepdad Rusty arrive late Tuesday night for the holiday.  Yippee!!!  What fun to be able to see my family and Nick’s family in one week.  Our list of things to be thankful for is very, very long.
with love

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Nipple Fairy

I know better than to start writing a blog post at 10pm.  So I'm going to give you the brief skinny on what's going on around here so that I can get to bed at a decent hour and still have time to allow a dozen of my smarty-pants friends to kick my butt on Words with Friends (it's on-line Scrabble, silly).  

Tomorrow night (Thursday) I have yet another speaking engagement where I get to perform the "keynote speech".  Yikes, that always sounds so intimidating.  This time it's for the annual Midwestern University Alumni Leadership dinner here in Phoenix.  I'll be addressing doctors, physician assistants, pharmacists and other various healthcare professionals.  I have been asked to tell my story and provide my opinions of how I was cared for by the diverse medical community that I interacted with throughout my treatments. They really want to hear the good, bad and ugly of my experiences. What a good opportunity for me to tell my flashing story again!  Oh, it never seems to get old.  

Nick will be joining me again for support, sweet guy.  It's being held at Coup de Tartes, a fantastic restaurant in central Phoenix, so if nothing else, we'll get a great meal out of it.  I've been practicing my speech and I'm feeling pretty comfortable with it.  This time I'll be speaking for about twenty minutes and have a question and answer session after.  Wish me luck!

Then on Monday, I am scheduled for my nipple reconstruction!  Oh yeah, it's that time already.  I think I'll save the details of this procedure for a post on Sunday night. I've gotten many funny reactions from friends who know I'll be going in for this minor surgery.  For example, my postal carrier Sonny was wondering if I'll be having a nipple transplant, um... no.  No cadaver nipples for me. And my Kappa sorority girlfriend Jen asked if I'll be putting a pretty bra under my pillow for the nipple fairy.  Hmmm, I like the sound of that one.  

I promise to fill you in before I go under the knife Monday afternoon. Recovery is going to be easy this time.  It better be, I'm jumping on a plane next Thursday to visit my Mom and see her new home, yippee!!  Thank you sister Claudia for this amazing birthday gift.

Nighty night!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Wonderful Things

Trick or Treat!

A strangely cute combination

Maddie, Connor, Debbie join came all the way from Wisconsin for this!?
You thought I was kidding when I said monster truck?

Where on God's green Earth has the last week gone?  Seriously, it's been a non-stop, fun filled adventure.  First, let's address the photos.  Halloween was a blast. Yes, that is Jenny-Jane as the cutest Strawberry Shortcake central Phoenix has ever seen.  That hot pink wig was fantastic, and the strawberry purse? Too much. I think it was the extra freckles we added to her little cheeks that really sealed the deal. Fisher was an authentic "army man" which required three trips to the army surplus store on the way west side of town.  Who knew they had genuine fatigues for kids?  And that "shooter" is as obnoxious as it looks.  He loved it.  

The "Ostrich Fishin" photo is such a crack up.  Our visit with my friend Jenny's kids and sister Debbie culminated on Sunday with an hour long drive down the I-10 towards Tucson to the Ostrich (and deer, goat, donkey and lorikeet) Ranch, where we endured a dusty yet informative desert romp aboard the Picacho Peak Monster Truck.  Our driver mentioned that they had not gotten rain at the ranch in two years!  I believe it.

Aside from successfully ticking off all the Arizona tourist highlights on my agenda for this visiting crew, we also managed to spend a great deal of time just hanging out in the hot tub.  I have a feeling these special Wisconsin kids had a great mini-vacation and took home plenty off-the-wall stories from their fall break adventures with "Aunt Kritter and Uncle Nick" in Phoenix.  

I have to admit, that in my own mind, there was an unspoken reality that haunted me during their stay.  Here they were, two kids who lost their mom when they were just five and nine years old.  Could this be my kids someday?  I'm painfully aware that my disease is life threatening and that my family could face the same situation.  That's the heavy stuff.  It's always there, always lurking.  It's that radio on in the background that I can't turn off.  Sigh.  It's really hard.

So I try to fill my days with the wonderful things.  Strawberry Shortcakes, monster truck rides and orange and black striped Tammie Coe birthday cakes (thanks Nick!).  Strangely, living with a constant reminder of your mortality can be a blessing.  It's life in technicolor that my friend Krista told me about.  Too bad it often takes something as scary as cancer to for us to see it.

with a extra special hug to Maddie, Connor and Debbie back in Wisconsin,