Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Almost Entirely Unscathed

Aside from some debris in the yard, we're fine. No trees down (though my friend who is my neighbor a few blocks away lost her fence!). We still have power--lost it a couple times but only for a few seconds each time. Took a long walk in what's left of the rain this afternoon and although some houses in nearby neighborhoods are running generators, I saw no major destruction. One little decorative guard house at the front of a nearby subdivision had the tin ripped off its roof, but I saw no damage to houses people live in. The water was really low last night (the combing was below the dock!) and is really high now (almost to the surface of the dock), but no damage that we can see.

The derecho earlier this summer was much worse than this! We lost two trees in that! Plus it was scary--really loud thrasing wind.

My heart goes out to those in New York City and other areas that were damaged by Sandy (as a hurricane or as a superstorm).

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fingers Crossed

Rain and more rain and oh yeah wind, too. That's what's going on outside. The electricity flickers all the time, but so far it has not gone off... the neighborhood next to ours is off. It just went off and came back on. Doubt we will make it through the night with power. Fingers crossed!

Rain and Wind

So far the electricity is still on. So far...

It rained all night and it has been raining all day. Capt. Adorable and I went for a rain walk after breakfast and checked on the boat. Capt. Obvious checked it again a few hours later, and the two captains are off to go check it again right now. I suddenly decided to make potato leek soup and skillet corn bread and rice...all so that if (when) the power goes out, we will have something good and tasty to eat...

Some good wind out there right now, but at the same time, there are still birds coming to the feeder (so far today we've seen titmice, chickadees, a downy woodpecker, and a purple finch). Capt. Obvious watched a woodpecker clinging to a swaying tree from his upstairs office window--actually, it wasn't clinging, more adjusting itself back and forth with little steps as the trunk moved with the wind.

School was cancelled for tomorrow as well. Now beginning to wonder if we will have Halloween this year, boohoo.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Storm Progression

We have a permanent mooring--a mushroom anchor. We use a single line (well, two lines, but both to the same mooring). But we left the boat in the slip after all. One of our neighbors moved his 40 foot motorboat to his mooring, and with 15-20 feet of line, that's awfully close to our 27 foot boat on 15-20 feet of line. Yes of course they will not be exactly opposite to each other (the wind/current moves them all in the same direction), however, there is a possibility that the wind/current could move them around in circles and cause them to hit each other while going around. Neither of us wants to deal with that. Captain Obvious doubled all the lines, though, to keep her secure in the slip.

I bought rain boots today. They are red, a cheerful color, with non-marking soles, so I can use them on the boat after the storm. I know Captain Adorable will want to have a rain walk tomorrow. School has been cancelled and Captain Obvious' work is closed as well.

There is rain now, but not much so far. Windy out and quite cold. Captain Obvious was wearing shorts for most of the day but we tried to go for a little walk after dinner and it was so cold he got chilled to the point of chattering teeth began in a matter of minutes!

Getting Ready For Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy is predicted to bring lots of wind and rain. We are getting ready for the storm. Sails are off the boat, and we will move it from slip to mooring. Doing all the laundry in the house. Vacuuming, stuffing the freezer with bags of water to help it stay cold. We lost power for 4 days with Hurricane Irene, so we're trying to prepare for being without a fridge. We've got pre-packaged soup. We've got plenty of candles.

We decided to buy a generator this time around, but by the time we made that decision, all the generators were gone or the prices so jacked up we're without one after all. We'll be fine. We've got gas heat and a propane stove we can use to cook on the deck. Plus the grill of course.

Captain Obvious just had what might be his last run for 3 or 4 days (if it is raining too much to run) and I am about to leave for my walk. Exercise is included in our preparations, too!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Full Day

Today was Captain Adorable's first kindergarten field trip. Therefore, we were up earlier than normal, and found a treat on our front steps. Capt. Adorable had been BOOed. It turned out to be a package with glo-sticks, candy, Halloween decorations, and other cool stuff. There was also a note telling us to BOO two other children (leave a secret package of treats on the doorstep). We talked about who to BOO on the way to school.

All 5 kindergarten classes from our school went on the trip. I drove home to pick up my friend from the neighborhood, who also has a son in kindergarten (though a different class), was also a chaperone, and was carpooling with me.  We went to a local farm (more argi-tainment than agriculture, but whatever). We arrived before the busses from our school, and got to see the craziness of the arrivals outside the gate--there were lots of kids from other schools and day cares there in addition to the approx 120 from our school. There were animals (got to milk a cow), a hay ride, a maze, some live music, lots of running around, and a pumpkin at the end. I was assigned a group of 2 to take care of--Capt. Adorable and one other (very nice and well behaved) boy. It was fun and tiring. On the field trip,another friend from the neighborhood asked if we had found anything on the porch this morning, so I knew who had left the BOO.

I had about an hour at home, during which time I wrote and answered emails and texts concerning the upcoming neighborhood Halloween Party, which I am organizing. Then I drove to school to pick up my sweet son. We stopped at home long enough for him to eat the lunch he was too excited to eat while at the farm, changed into hockey practice clothes, grabbed the gear, and hopped in the car. No time to buy treats for the BOOs we should leave for others. Traffic was terrible, but it only took us about 30 minutes to get there. He was ready to hit the ice (meaning all equipment on) at 5:22. Practice lasted till 7:00; we were back in the car on the way home at 7:14.

Captain Obvious had wanted to come to practice, but we asked him to instead go buy Book stuff, which he did. After dinner, we packed up the BOOs and set off to leave them at friends' doorsteps. Captain Adorable went up to the door, put the treat pack down, then rang the door bell and ran to his hiding spot as fast as he could! It was dark outside and it was really funny to watch one mom, completely mystified and poking at what we had left (the treats were in an empty oatmeal container with a long sugar straw sticking out the top--must have looked like a bomb or something, whoops!!). The other family saw who was running off, but it was still fun and felt good to all laugh together as we drove off through the darkness back to our house. I think we will do that again next year.

I still have to put my jelly fish costume together. Big party tomorrow, whew. Let's hope Hurricane Sandy doesn't rain on us till the party is over!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

CT Results

The CT was clear. Here's the preliminary report for those who are interested.

CT thorax abdomen and pelvis. Date of examination 10/24/2012. Comparison prior study 7/18/2012. Study done with intravenous contrast.

Thyroid normal. Residual of cryoablated nodule in the anterior aspect of the lingula again noted, series 2 slice 27 lesion measures 1.3 x 1.0 cm indicating a decrease from prior measurement of 1.7 x 1.3.

Prior resection of nodules in the right lung with no evidence of local recurrence.

No new lung nodules.

No evidence of axillary, mediastinal, or hilar adenopathy. No evidence of pleural or pericardial effusion.

Decreasing size of left upper lobe nodule

No new nodules, no other significant abnormalities.

Abdomen and pelvis. The liver normal, gallbladder normal, spleen normal, adrenals normal.

Pancreas normal, right kidney normal.1.7 x 1/2 cm cyst lateral cortex left kidney. Lesion completely unchanged in size when compared to previous study. Lesion show questionable minimal enhancement, however lesion also measured 1.7 x 1.2 in 2009. More inferiorly in the left kidney is a 7 mm cyst of water attenuation which is definitely a simple cyst.

No evidence of abdominal or retroperitoneal adenopathy small bowel and mesentery normal.

Colon surveyed for possible primary neoplasm but none found.

Bladder normal uterus normal no ovarian abnormalities detected.

Examination with bone windows shows no additional significant abnormality.

No significant change from prior study of 7/18/2012.

No evidence of the possible primary neoplasm.

No evidence of metastatic disease.

So you see, JHH has a sensitive CT scanner and the radiologist clearly takes care to look at all my parts and carefully compares to past measurements.

The report shows good news, obviously. But now that I've had one reoccurrence  I am definitely not as celebratory as I was in the past, when I used to think that the passage of time meant an increase in safety. Maybe it does, and maybe it doesn't. I'm going to believe both at the same time.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Family Sail

We had a full weekend. On Saturday morning Capt. Adorable had hockey (on the ice at 7:10, which means we have to get there at 6:50, which means we leave the house at 6:30, which means we get up at 6:10. So early!). Then we all went to the grocery store and bought lunches and dinners for each of us. Why? Because we were going to spend the night on the boat. 

We had planned to sail across the Bay but there wasn't enough wind, so we had to motor. It was cold sitting in the cockpit, but we had a good time and the bimini is off now, so the sun kept us warm. Aside from the lack of wind, a perfect day for a fall sail. Such beauty all around--the birds, the changing leaves, the blue blue sky.

We anchored in the Wye River. Dinner in the cockpit with the sunset as the main attraction other than the food. There were lots of other boats at anchor there as well (lots=about a dozen). Here is a photo of the end of the sunset.

We hoped to watch the meteor shower but clouds blew in (as you can see above) and all we could see was the bright new moon. It was rather windy during the night, which means not such great sleeping for the grownups who worry about the boat dragging, but we had the big anchor, so we were fine. It was warm and snug in the cabin.

The next day we sailed most of the way home, until the wind slowed enough that we turned on the motor so we could have a few hours at home before dinner making time arrived. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Mouse In The House

We moved into this house three years ago this November. The people who lived here before us kept food in the basement. In addition to a refrigerator (or was it a freezer?), they had a large collection of non-perishable foods. They also had mice. I know because after we moved in, one of our cats caught a few and we set up traps which caught a few more. Sorry, mice, but this is our house not yours. Go make your home elsewhere. Anyhow, we do not keep food in basement, and what with the cats and traps, the problem was solved. So I thought.

A couple of weeks ago I found both cats intently interested in the china cabinet. Specifically, the place beneath the china cabinet. Yes, there was a mouse under there. I am convinced that the mouse hunter cat caught the mouse in the basement and brought it up here to play with (goodness knows why he doesn't kill and eat the prey). My reasoning is that there is no evidence of mice up here (no poop, no bit marks on packages of food, no mouse nests) so they musty be in the basement. Anyhow, the cat wasn't killing the mouse and I wanted it out, so with Captain Adorable's help and a few irrationally frightened screams from me and I trapped the mouse under a clear plastic bowl, slipped cardboard underneath, and tossed it out in the yard. It had a suspiciously short tail, which I think may have been bitten off by the cat. I know it may come back and that I should have killed it, but I couldn't. How would I kill the thing? Smash it? No way! (And even if I could do that, then I'd have to clean up smashed mouse. Vomit.) Anyhow, that was the end of that. So I thought.

On Tuesday morning we discovered the cat had another mouse. This one was cornered under the shoe rack near the door to the garage. I carefully pulled out shoes so the cat could get the mouse, but this only resulted in someone (ok, me) screaming in fear when it ran away to find another hiding place. Then it hid under a chair. As I was going to get something to help us catch it, Captain Adorable unfortunately scared it away and it ran under the couch. Now we couldn't get it at all. Dern.

Fortunately, it got scared again and ran into the kitchen, under the stove. I pulled out the bottom drawer and looked but did not see it, and figured it had escaped behind the counters or into the wall. I had to drive my son to school, so I left things as they were. When I got back from drop off, I decided to vacuum under the stove (so dusty!). Out popped the MOUSE!!! Another scream. It ran back under the stove. I had no idea I was so scared of mice. I tried to get the cat to get the mouse but the cat did not want to go under the stove and was not interested in anything I wanted him to do. He hissed at me when I tried to shove him under there. After a conversation with my ever-inventive and supportive mother, I tried to vacuum the mouse up but just succeeded in chasing it under the fridge. Gah! I gave up and baked apple pies. I asked Captain Obvious to pull the fridge out but all we found was dust. Maybe it was under there, walking along as the fridge was pulled out?

However, that night while I was putting Captain Adorable to bed, Captain Obvious saw the mouse again! He thought it was under the couch for a while but could not see it and gave up. We watched the Presidential debate (Go Obama!) and went to bed.

On Wednesday morning it was clear that the mouse was still around. Here's how I knew:
Yes, the mouse hunters were ready to pounce. I took Captain Adorable and the pies to school, and when I came back they were still in exactly the same spots. I thought about pulling the drawer out again, but decided against disturbing their vigil. I went for a walk with a friend and when I came back the party was over. I didn't know if the mouse was caught or what, but the cats had gone to their beds.

Later I saw them watching the fridge, then the stove, so I knew the golly-derned mouse was still in the house. I decided we'd have to Do Something, and announced to Captain Obvious that we'd have to set up traps that night. However, at dinner time, while I was out of the room, the Captains spotted the mouse again! It came out from beneath the stove. The mouse hunt was on! Captain Obvious blocked off escape as well as he could and got out the vacuum! After a few tries, the managed to vacuum it up!

He took the vacuum outside and cut open the bag. There was the (alive) mouse! A very, very dusty mouse that definitely could not see. He released it into the backyard and it was gone this morning. Thank goodness.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Apple Pies

I love baking apple pies. It is such a wonderful experience, despite the hard work involved. I love picking out the apples (bought them at a store this time), making the perfect dough, rolling it out, filling my house with wonderful pie-baking smells, and of course eating them. If you've never tried baking one and are at all interested, give it a shot--there is nothing as good as an apple pie home baked with love. (Even my friends love baking apple pies. Hi Two Hands!)

Captain Obvious hates it when I bake. You see, he adores my pies and he eats them all, which means he has to exercise more. Because of his requests that I Not Bake, I haven't baked an apple pie for a few years now, so I was happy to have a chance to bake. The PTO at Captain Adorable's school is giving a teacher-staff appreciation lunch today and on the sign up sheet sent out a couple of weeks ago there was a request for 2 apple pies. I immediately volunteered to bring them.

I spent all day yesterday baking 3 apple pies. You didn't think I could only bake to give away, did you? Captain Adorable was already annoyed that we were giving away 2 of the 3; I think there would have been serious mutiny if I had baked pies and we had none!

We had some for dessert and Oh My Gosh it was good. I was actually quite impressed with myself! I made all-butter crusts (harder to work with than a shortening-butter combo but oh so tasty and tender) and several types of apples inside.

Here, they are, cooling on the counter yesterday evening. You can see one was already 1/3 gone and that was before Captain Obvious had his second piece. I put a piece in Captain Adorable's snack box this morning. I hope the teachers enjoy them!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Today, Five Years Ago...

...I wrote my first post on this blog. At that point it was more for me than anything else. Then it was a way for me to share my journey with my son--I figured I'd be dead and wanted him to get my story (and his story) from me. As time went on and I shared the blog with more people, it became a way of updating people who cared about me. Of course it was always a way for me to write about what was going on and how I felt about everything. Over the last year or so I've had less and less to say here. Partly because, thank goodness, there was not much to say. Partly because now that so many people read the blog, I felt too vulnerable and no longer wanted to share personal thoughts and emotions. However, I haven't stopped writing, because cancer has not stopped. I expect that I will continue to post on this blog as long as I have cancer.

Cancer has stolen so much from me and from my family. My friends have suffered along with us, and even people I've never met in real life, who read this blog, have experienced my sorrows and trimuphs. We are all survivors.

Five years ago I thought I would die before my son learned to read. Today he is a beginning reader.  Over the weekend I helped him to practice writing the number 3 (two curves that meet in the middle), the number 5 (a little man went around the corner and his hat blew off), and admired his other numbers (he's especially proud of his 4s). Five years ago I was frightened that I would die before sharing a bike ride with my son. Today I can go for a bike ride with him whenever we want. We share many things, like cooking, reading, and sailing to name a few. As he grows, his life experiences sometimes diverge from mine--for instance, he plays ice hockey! I get up at 6:10 to take him practice once or twice a week. I have the pleasure of parenting an intelligent, observant, curious, active child. His sense of humor and his sweetness touch me to the depths of my heart. I am so very lucky to be the mother of this child.

And at the same time I am deeply sorry about the second child, the one who I always planned for, but cannot who be; the planned sibling of my Captain Adorable. Not being able to have this child may be my greatest sorrow. No one knows what would happen if I were to conceive a child--would the pregnancy hormones cause the cancer to grow? How long would it be safe for me to be without monitoring (you can't have a CT scan while you're pregnant--or I wouldn't anyhow)? Keep in mind the longest I've been without a CT scan in the last 5 years is 4 months and because of the recent reoccurrence, I am now back to a scan every 3 months for a couple of years. There is barely any medical evidence to fall back on for information because people with stage 4 cancer don't have pregnancies.

What about my lung capacity--could it even support a pregnancy? Would I be allowed to have a natural birth, as I did with my son, or would the added complications of cancer force me into an overly-medicalized birth? What if the cancer showed up during a pregnancy and I had to deliver the baby early and begin chemo? Can you imagine the upheaval and sorrow of a baby in the NICU and me in chemo? My beloved Captains would have to be so strong--my whole family would be saddened and weakened by the crises in their lives. My obligation is to my son, my husband, and the rest of my family. This is an obligation I am proud to have and uphold! I can rejoice and mourn at the same time. I think that's really what life is all about, cancer or no--maintaining balance while feeling everything. Being present in this moment, every moment.

Five years ago I found out I had pneumonia (which led to my cancer diagnosis) while I was studying for the bar. I took the exam despite the many obstacles and difficulties and failed. Last summer (2011) I studied for the bar again, highly conscious of the sacrifices being made by my husband, son, and parents to clear my responsibilities and give me the time to focus and study. I passed and was sworn in as an attorney in December 2011. That part of me--the new lawyer part--had to remain dormant for a while longer, though, because cancer appeared on a CT scan again and my family and I had to spend time and energy fighting it again. Today I am on the cusp of opening my own law practice. I am so pleased to be able to use my brain and my education, to help people through my talent and study, and to also be present for my son and my husband.

I lead a wonderful life full of love. In the broad scheme of things, I am lucky to live in this country (a first world country) at this time. In the very personal scheme of things, I find life so sweet, so beautiful, so magical and miraculous in part because always aware of my mortality. Mortality is a reality, constantly by my side in every situation. I will never say that cancer has brought anything positive into my life, but I will say that my reaction to living with the knowledge that cancer is coming to get me (has already gotten me, albeit slowly), all the time, has opened my eyes in some ways.

It is exhausting to be so aware of mortality all the time. To constantly have the idea that this summer could be the last one, or this trip could be the last one, or this interaction with a relative who lives far away may be the last one...makes me brittle and stressed to have these high expectations all of the time. I recognize that I am pretty much the only one outside of my immediate family who understands this urgency. I also know that I am and have always been a person who feels things intensely. However, the stress of cancer has made me feel more intensely, which has been difficult. In fact, I recently sought grief therapy to help me to deal with all of this stuff that comes with cancer, and it has helped me to be more peaceful, calm, and confident overall.

Captain Obvious and I recently (end of September) celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. The comfort and deep understanding between him and I, (despite the differences between every married couple), is a touchstone for me. He loves me; I love him. I wish for him a wife who does not have cancer, but I know that he wants only me, cancer or not. His unwavering encouragement and support are testament to who he is and what he gives to the world.

Five years ago I had hopes but no real plans because I thought I was going to die soon. Today I still have hopes and I also have plans. I plan for the very near future (an upcoming trip to Tennessee to celebrate a friend's wedding!),  the near future (another rendezvous with my siblings next summer in Europe--maybe Sardinia?), the mid-term future (my own law practice), and for the long term future (looking forward to my grandchildren)!

Next CT scan October 24. Will update this blog of course.