Monday, December 31, 2012

Good riddance!

I'm not one normally to stay up to ring in the new year. But I think tonight I may stay up. Not to ring in 2013 necessarily but I feel like I need to be absolutely certain that 2012 really does end.

I spent the morning in the ER today. Figured I needed one more visit to end the year & I missed being a patient. Not really. I was at the ER though. Jessie, our sweet dog, did a fancy maneuver to try to get in between Kendall & i on the bed this morning. And in the process put her toenail right in my eye! Ouch!

It even bled! I had no idea the eye could bleed. It freaked us out a little & Kendall said I needed to go to the ER. Rare for him to show alarm so off I went. I love Vanderbilt! They know how to run an ER. Anyway long story short its fine. I've added some knowledge of the eyeball to my medical database too. I have to put antibiotic ointment in it for a few days & it should be fine. And I can cross visiting the eye doctor off my list because I got a complete eye exam even had them dilated!

But not how I intended to spend the morning. I had a bunch to do at the office & an important meeting I had to reschedule. Here's the strange part. I was right across the hall from where I was with the appendix visit. And i couldn't help compare the me that day in June with the me now 6 months later. I'm a hell of a lot better off than I was then. So in the spirit of everything happening for a reason I think I probably needed that perspective.

We don't have big plans tonight. Staying home, cooking, enjoying some of my wine from Walla Walla & probably playing Wii. It super cold here.

I don't need to say how happy I am that we are on the cusp of a new year. But I do need to say thank you for all each of you have done to support, help, guide and encourage me this year. I wouldn't have made it without you.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

One year ago...

As I lay here tonight contemplating sleep, I am acutely aware that a year ago tomorrow I had my biopsy done. A lot can happen in a year, eh?
A year ago I was pretty much on top of the world. I had lost a lot of weight, physically I felt fantastic. I was wearing a size 12 for the first time in probably 15 years. I was working out a lot lifting weights & doing intense cardio. I had a silly little lump in my groin that we thought we were being ridiculously over cautious having biopsied.
I remember going to the diabetes clinic for the fine needle aspiration in the morning on Dec 28, 2011. Strange place to do it I thought. They had a little closet in the back with a sweet young pathologist & her assistant. I recall being annoyed because she told me not to work out the day of the procedure. Funny I didn't give it another thought when I left there last December 28th. Figured that was the end of it.
We all know what happened next. Physically I've been pretty much a train wreck since then! Surgery, chemo, weight gain, radiation, inactivity, another surgery, low blood counts, transfusions, etc. those things have left me physically not what I was in many ways.
I can see now that I haven't allowed myself to "grieve" the loss of some of my physical attributes or to really accept that there are some likely permanent physical affects of this journey. I think now, just over 3 months cancer free, I am only just beginning to gain some of this perspective. I didn't understand why I couldn't just go back to what I used to do - diet, exercise, lifestyle. As i tried to force myself into it, i failed repeatedly to have the willpower & discipline I was used to. I've thought for the last 3 months that something was wrong with me, I was somehow inferior for not just getting right back on the wagon.
People said I need to give myself time. I smiled and nodded while thinking to myself, "whatever - time is for everybody else. I don't need time I need discipline".
I was wrong. I have needed time. I'm just now finding the ability to be nice to myself, to go a day without feeling ugly or fat or lazy, to get dressed without nearly breaking down in tears, to look at a picture of myself without feeling sick. I think I still need more time. I don't know how long but I have to trust that I will know when I'm ready to get back at it.
In the meantime I think I will take that advice (finally) to be patient with myself, to celebrate being alive & healthy (even if its not a size 12 healthy). I will exercise because it feels good not because I'm on some self imposed rigorous road march. I will eat foods that are healthy & will keep my body on its recovery path but not obsess over occasional treats or over indulgences.

My friend who has bad one hell of a medical year said it so eloquently in an email this week. She saiD even with all she & her husband have suffered thru, they would still rather be themselves than anybody else. Just stop & think about that comment. It's insightful & meaningful on so many levels.

And it's pretty much how I'm feeling tonight. I wouldn't trade what I've learned this year for anything in the world. Did it suck? Hell yes the vast majority of this year has sucked beyond all description. But I would much rather be the me I am today than the me I was 12 months ago. What I have surrendered physically has been replaced with so much more. Here's a list of things I've gained this year (notice pounds are not on the list!!)...
-I had no idea so many people cared about us
-I've reconnected with friends from years ago & my girls have had the chance to see the beauty & strength of adult friendships
-I've learned to rely on others & ask for help
-I've almost learned my limits - to know when I have to rest
-I've watched my beautiful family rally around me & give me strength & encouragement that words could not ever describe
-I've experienced such amazing support, understanding & patience from the incredible people & company I work with & for
-I've gained some compassion for others, an innate sense that you never know what another person is going thru
-I've gained an acceptance that not everybody knows how to help, what to say, or how to care & that all of those things are okay
-I've learned that what really matters as we navigate life are relationships. Things that interfere with relationships have to be reconciled & moved out of the way so that people can care for people. Life is too short not to do this.

I could go on and on but you get the idea. At thanksgiving I said I was thankful for cancer. And I mean it.

I'm sure glad it's Dec 28, 2012 tomorrow not 2011. But I am also sure glad I'm who I am today. I'm a better person than I was a year ago.

Curacao Scrapbook

Here is the link to our scrapbook from Curacao.  Enjoy.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Before I forget, here is a link to some of our pictures from Curacao.  We took over 800 so this isn't nearly all of them - but we hope you enjoy!!

Now, Merry christmas! I hope today finds everybody happy, safe & warm with their families.  We have had a fun day - the kids woke up early of course.  We opened our stockings, then had breakfast.  Then we got dressed & opened our gifts under the tree.  Its a ritual - this is how we do Christmas here every year.  Doesn't change.  There's a lot of comfort in that. After we opened all the present here we took a little trip down to my office where EB's present from Mimi & Papa was waiting - she got a razor pocket mod scooter.  She's pretty psyched about that.  Eri got a battery operated 4-wheeler for her birthday yesterday so they are both motorized now!  Woohoo.  Maybe I can have them ride to school (just kidding).

Vacation was so good for us - for us a family to be togtether exploring, adventuring, laughing, learning.  One night Emilia said to me how much she enjoys our family vacations when we can spend time all 4 of us together, experiencing new things and learning new cultures.  They love how we don't sit around, how we are always on the move, exploring, doing things.  We started a new thing this trip where we took iphone pictures of poorly attired tourists, which we call P.A.P.A.Y.A. (People Attired Poorly Anywhere You Are).  We had a lot of fun with that - there were some cruise ships docked in Willemstad so there was plenty of material to work with!

For me personally, it was incredibly therapeutic.  First it was rewarding and encouraging to be able to do whatever I wanted to do without any real physical limitations.  Sure the extra weight sucks & the fat foot still slows me down, but generally speaking, I was pretty much myself.  Mentally it was a huge benefit for me to be somewhere with people who don't look at me & think of cancer or think of me & cancer in the same breath.  I'm not sure how much people I know do that but I feel like its a constant thing.  I will not be defined by cancer.  It was merely a little detour in my life, a learning & growing experience.  It is not me.

So we returned mentally refreshed but not physically rested.  We got up early every morning except 2 & we were on the go constantly.  But we like it that way.  We will enjoy the rest of this week mostly off from work & be ready by next week to start a brand new year!  I don't think any Musgroves will miss 2012.  We are ready for the new year!!

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

More vacation pics

It's pouring rain here today. Kind of ironic since its our last real day here. We were going to ride ATVs today but decided against it in the nasty weather. So we did some shopping, went to the Hato Caves & learned about the geology of Curaçao & now we are home getting ready to pack. Why is packing to come home so much harder???? All our clothes are dirty so it should be easy.
We had a spectacular day yesterday visiting Klein Curaçao which is a small uninhabited island about a 90 minute boat ride away. EB & I did 2 dives, Kendall & Eri saw 7 sea turtles snorkeling. We rode the banana boat & played on the beach. Fantastic!!!
We will be home very late tomorrow just in time for Eri's birthday Monday!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Amazing vacation!

Wow we are having an amazing time here in Curaçao. Emilia has completed her SCUBA certification. Eri has learned how to a snorkel (in 40' of water no less!). We have seen 2 hawks bill turtles in the wild. We have spent a half day in Willemstad, the capital. We have been off roading in our "it's a rental don't be gentle"! We took 40 pictures of awful cruise ship tourists which we code named "papayas". We've been shopping at the floating market, seen the worlds oldest floating bridge move. We have fished the Caribbean & caught a couple tuna, a barracuda & a jack. Whew. And we still have 3 1/2 more days to enjoy. We are driving to the far western side of the island tomorrow. Friday we are taking an All day boat trip to Klein Curaçao where EB & I will do 2 more dives & Eri & Kendall will snorkel. Saturday we are taking them ATV riding. Not sure what we are up to Sunday before we go to the airport.
Guess what - nobody has asked me how I feel, looked at me with sympathy, mentioned cancer or anything. I kind of feel like a (fatter) old Judy! Pretty cool. I get tired at night (with all we have done I don't know why). And I can't control my body temperature very well still. Otherwise I feel amazing and I'm treasuring every minute together!!!!
Hugs & kisses to you all!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Time is flying

 Wow, we leave on vacation Saturday.  The past couple weeks have literally gone by in a flash.  I spent the weekend in Walla Walla, Washington tasting all sorts of wonderful wine with Lorraine.  It was cold & rainy but a lot of fun.  Monday was in Seattle meeting with some folks & all day Tuesday flying home. 

Lorraine & I with the Chihuly display at Longshadows

Me at the Spanish winery with their puppy Nestle.  Didn't bring him home but boy did I want to!

This week we went to see Santa.  This picture of Eri & Matt just cracks me up.  What a great Santa - he even made a funny face!

EB is too big for Santa really but it makes me smile that she still goes thru the motions.

The pool at our house in Curacao
The suitcases are packed, wrapping things up at the office so that we can take off early Saturday morning.  We will be incommunicado until Christmas Eve so just assume no news is good news!! 

While we're gone hope you have fun finishing your shopping and wrapping & getting ready for the big old jolly fella to come down your chimney.  For me, the most important meaning of Christmas is the 2 weeks I get every year to spend more or less entirely with my family.  I treasure that time - we get to do silly stuff, fun stuff, or nothing at all.  We watch movies & drink hot chocolate, go to the gym, cook, laugh & celebrate.  We play with our new toys & our old toys, read books, & get organized for the new year.  Thats the magic of the holidays for me.  And this year its more magical than ever, I have a whole new appreciation for those special small moments.  I feel lucky this year to be able to experience them.

I read a very interesting and appropot article a week or so ago - its a short read & I recommend it for anybody who doesn't know what to say or do.  Everything in this article has happened to me this year - the good and the bad.  There are folks who were acquaintances that have become some of my closest friends - because they haven't been afraid to show they care, they have been okay with me not knowing if I'll be okay, and have helped me in the smallest ways - watching the kids or sending a card or even just a text message.  There are others who I thought were friends and I've learned I was wrong.  I suppose that should make me sad, but I also acknowledge that not everybody knows how to deal with situations like mine.  Thats okay - and it doesn't mean I won't be there for them if and when the time comes.  Here's the link:

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Still cancer free!

Yep my scans were totally clear! Dr Keedy is referring me to the Survivorship Clinic. Apparently my lack of motivation and continued fatigue are - you guessed it - totally normal! Have to give myself 9 more months to feel like myself again.

Anybody have any patience I can borrow????

TIme to make the donuts

Its been a tough few days at work.  Wish I didn't have to go there this morning.  You know, I would've thought after all I've been thru this year that I just wouldn't care as much about bullshit at the office.  But its interesting, I find I do still care.  I'm not sure if thats good or bad.  It just is.

I'm looking forward to seeing Dr Keedy and Dr Holt this afternoon.  I'm not looking forward to being back in the Vanderbilt Cancer Center.  I wonder if it will feel good to be back there as a survivor or if it will feel as claustrophobic and terrifying as it has ever other time?  Lets just hope the news is good.  I have an echocardiogram before I see the docs to check if the adriamycin has had any lasting negative effects on my heart.  I don't notice any but the ecg will tell us for certain.

I'll post the news when I have it - hope everybody has a great day.

For photo therapy, remember this?  Shaving my head back in March.  Gosh I hope I never have to do that again.  Puts some of the crap at work in perspective for me at least.
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