Wednesday, November 30, 2011

the aftermath

Once again, I find myself on the tail end of an unexpected bloggy break. The Thanksgiving holiday seems to have gotten the better of me. Every other year we switch families for holidays and when we do Koproski Thanksgiving, it turns into more of a Thanksmas since it is the only time over the holidays that we see everyone so we go ahead and do presents then too.
I was in a tailspin last Monday when I realized I had to have a large portion of Christmas done and wrapped by Wednesday, with three kids home from school (their school was off for a full week at Thanksgiving. Weeeee)
We also did Thanksgiving up in Toledo. Which sounded fine 8 weeks ago when Steve's mom kindly offered for us to do it somewhere else. But 8 weeks ago it seemed like a fine idea. I'm tough. I can handle it.
Or not.
My mom and I had a Thanksgiving day tradition. After the Macy's parade we would turn on the AKC dog show and watch it while we would put the finishing touches on the meal. In fact, I remember the first Thanksgiving we were married and Steve being dumbfounded that first of all there is a dog show on tv on Thanksgiving day and second of all... that people actually watch it.
So on Thanksgiving after gifts were opened and kids were buzzing, I went upstairs to catch my breath and there on the lone tv was the dog show. That was it. Sent me over the edge. Not so tough. No so able to handle it.
I tried to enter in. I tried to enjoy. And for the most part I did. And then we got back home to Dayton. It's been tough. My stomach has been in knots. The tears have flowed. I miss my parents. I fear the return of cancer. I'm not sure how this is going to be the *most wonderful time of the year.*
I've been in touch with a grief counselor. I've talked to friends. I've come to grips with the fact that I'm not so tough. That maybe, after all, I can't handle all of this. I know God is in it. His grace is here. I'm trusting in it; counting on it. If I can get past the *trappings* there is still a shot at this next month being *most wonderful.* I'll let you know along the way how it goes.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I see London, I see France

Last night at Awana (a church club my kids are a part of) the boys did a Thanksgiving craft. They made paper turkeys. On the feathers, the adults wrote what the kids said they were thankful for. Quinn's came home with mom, dad, dog and home on his feathers. Thanks, Quinn. Turner's came home with bread, chicken and underwear on his. Ahhh, yes. Typical Turner. We had a good laugh over that one, you can be sure.

I mentioned a few blogs ago that I've been reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and that it is pretty much changing my life. Thank you to those of you who offered to send me a new copy. I was able to go ahead and secure a new one:) Good thing too, because I really needed to keep chugging along.

For example, I was in line at a store this morning and I was waiting behind an older gentleman. When I zeroed in on him, I realized he could have been my dad from behind. He even had my dad's big 'ole ears. It was all I could do to choke down the lump in my throat and squeeze back the burning hot tears so that I could pay the cashier with a bit of dignity.

I got in the van and the tears came. As they will. I could see myself sliding down the slippery slope. The not just being sad kind of day, but the I'm losing my grip kind of day. Then I remembered, be thankful. Even there, in the midst of my grief, there had to be SOMETHING to be thankful for. So I let 'em rip.

I'm thankful that the man looked like my dad and I thought of him today.
I'm thankful that he passed in September and not now in the flurry of the holiday season.
I'm thankful that he didn't linger in pain and suffering for a long time.
I'm thankful that we had a very nice Thanksgiving with him last year.
I'm thankful that he gave me a winning lottery ticket last Christmas and what a fond memory that will always be.
I'm thankful for a blue sky day in November in Ohio.

I'm thankful for underwear.

Because when all else fails, my son has taught me, you can always... ALWAYS be thankful for underwear!

Guess what? I still miss my dad and my mom. I still have a lump at the top of my throat. But grief didn't sabotage my day. And that is a reason to be thankful!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Our morning in pictures

Happy Monday!

Steve had to catch a super early flight this morning for a work trip, so it's just me and the kids getting ready for school. Things have been going exceptionally smooth and I thought I'd get some fun pics.

I've had a few requests for some hair photos. It's hard to tell from these, but it's an actual style now. I really like it and am thinking I'm going to keep it short for awhile.
My sweet girl, on the other hand, is rocking the *dog ears* (that's what my mom used to call them.) I could freeze frame kindergarten.

She also got bangs with her last haircut and I'm LOVING them.

Olivia took this picture of Turner and I. He is really coming into his own these days. Doing well in school, working on homework and telling jokes and stories. He is a blast to be around and I really, really like him.

Quinn wasn't super thrilled about me disturbing his dragon war that was going on in order to get a picture with him. He is a fun kid and imagination runs rampant between these three. I really am loving this stage of my kids' lives (except of course, when I'm not! Ha.) I'd say 75% of the time it's really fun around here.

So, here is a peek into our Monday morning. It's gonna be a busy one. Have a great day.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Waiting Room

Now the wait begins. The scan is over and Thursday morning is my every-three-week doctor appointment where I'll (most likely) find out that my scan was un-eventful.

Except for the fact that God was there. While I was up in the chemo room, I ran into my *friend* Renee. Renee is probably around 60. She was one chemo round behind me during the rough stuff. Her body didn't respond quite as well as mine did and so she had to do two extra rounds of the rough stuff. I've thought of and have prayed for her often and have not run into her for a few months. It was good to see her. She is now doing pretty well and looks much better.

We drank our Kool Aide together and spent nearly an on hour catching up. Its funny the bond that is created in the chemo room. Especially since we were on the same schedule. She once brought me a pineapple. I brought her balloons when she finally finished.

I've been reading this book, One Thousand Gifts, over the last few weeks. It has revolutionized my life and the way I relate to God. It is a challenging and beautiful book. But its weighty and I've really taken it slow because I want to digest it. In a nutshell, the author tells of how she has found joy (in the good, the hard and the everyday) through being thankful. She kept a journal of 1,000 things she was thankful for. I've discovered there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for, even if it seems like dumb stuff.

As I was talking to Renee, I felt like I was suppose to give her my book. I didn't really want to. It had underlines, notes and tear stains in it. Plus, I was only on chapter 8. But I knew I was suppose to. So I pulled it out and briefly told her about it.

Tears filled her eyes and her mouth dropped open. She told me she had just been thinking about this the other day and that this was just what she needed. We exchanged phone numbers so that we could stay in touch. Off we went to get our scans.

I'm still not sure I'd say that I am *glad* I had to get a scan yesterday. But I was really glad that I didn't have to sit there alone and drink my Kool Aide. It was nice to have Renee there. And God too!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Here we go again.

It's the night before a scan. Every 9 weeks I have a CT scan. The scan is no big deal. I'll go a half hour before my appointment to the chemo room. My sweet nurses will access my port. I'm thankful to have a port (which is next to my left shoulder just below the skin. You can't see it if you're not looking. But if you are, you would notice a little triangle thing that kind of pokes my skin up. In case you were wondering.) I never knew what a port looked like before I had one. The port access doesn't hurt because I have a numbing cream that I put on an hour before they are going to poke me.

Once they access my port, they draw some blood and send it to the lab STAT so they can make sure my kidneys are in good shape to handle the dye they'll shoot through my body during my scan. Whew.

I leave the chemo room with a tube dangling from my chest. I head across the parking lot to radiology at the main hospital. They check me in and hand me an ENORMOUS Styrofoam cup of red Kool Aide with a touch of contrast that will run through my veins so they can see what's going on inside of my body. I sit in a room with others drinking *the Kool Aide*. I have one hour to finish it. Others usually gag it down. I quite like it. (Weird, I know.) But it makes me SUPER cold. I usually bring a jacket and in the dead of summer have been known to ask for a warm blanket.

After an hour they call me back. I hop on a table that has a pillow for my head and my feet. Depending on the day, this is the most relaxed I'll be! They settle me in and get me situated on the bed just right. They take a few initial pictures and then they shoot the dye into my port. Its the weirdest sensation because you can feel the dye move through your body. It finally makes me warm.

They take a few more pictures, usually waiting a few minutes as I lay there waiting for my bladder to fill up. Lucky me. They need pictures of my bladder. I'm usually on the bed not longer than 20 minutes. They always offer me a drink and a snack when its over (I've had to fast at least 4 hours but because I like to go first thing in the morning, I've usually fasted all night, and I'm hungry. But not thirsty... remember, the red Kool Aide!)

Tomorrow will be my 8th CT scan. I'm getting to be a pro. And yet I'm a nervous wreck. There are no signs that anything will show up on my scan. I feel great. (Better than ever?) I had an exam 3 weeks ago that was great. I'm still doing chemo. My doctor has nothing but good things to say about my prognosis. Yet, I've shed tears tonight. I've worried. I've wondered. I've felt the what ifs creep up. I've imagine tumors. I'm a head case. I'm trying to Trust. Believe Jesus. Conquer fear. Lean on Him. Pray. Adjust to the new normal.

I'd appreciate your prayers. All of the above is easier said than done!