A Year Ago Today

1/27/2011

A year ago today, I was almost 6 months pregnant.

A year ago today, I sat in a waiting room with a dear friend waiting, hoping, praying and doing a fair bit of crying.

A year ago today, my husband went through surgery #2 for his thyroid cancer. It had metasticized to lymph nodes in his neck.

Yesterday, we discovered that the biopsy done on a suspicious lymph node they had found does not have cancer and at this time is not carrying the thyroid tissue cells that could cause cancer. Doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be there later. But it is the first good news we have had for a bit. He will continue to go in every 3 months for blood tests to measure his thyroid globulin levels. (he isn’t supposed to have any thyroid cells, and if there are they could be carrying the cancer).

A year ago, we were not parents and I was one emotional soon-to-be-mama. This surgery led to a large scar on his neck. It was super scary to me…. to know that his throat would be cut open and how close they would be to his jugular veins. I was so scared I would lose him.

We were at UW for the surgery as the surgeon in Tacoma felt that my hubby needed extra special care to do this type of surgery and navigate the sensitive tissues and nodes in the neck. He wasn’t confident he could do the job since he didn’t do that kind of surgery every day. The doctors at UW do. I remember sitting next to him as they prepped him for surgery. They had a young resident that was learning to insert the IV into his hand. I would say he was rather inept as he couldn’t seem to do it. There was blood everywhere, and luckily Mike couldn’t feel a thing. Nor did he see all the blood.

The resident doctors, the surgeon and several nurses came to check up on me about 4 or 5 times. They could tell that this momma was super scared and looked really pregnant. I totally appreciate the special attention they gave me. On top of that, the surgeon came and spoke to me and my MIL afterwards to discuss how it went. Mike came out of the surgery and being that he doesn’t do well with the anesthesia, promptly got sick. I, of course, started crying again. Why they had me come and see him when they hadn’t even cleaned him up yet, I have no idea. There was blood all over him. Sigh.

I can only look back on that day with thanks. Michael is still with me. We have been blessed with a beautiful child. Though we don’t know what the future holds and we continue to pray and wait for the day we are told his cancer is gone, or that he is at least finally considered in remission….

We hold on to what we have now. We are grateful for what we have. Things may not be perfect, but life isn’t perfect. Life is messy. Life is difficult and challenging. But thats what makes life worth living. These perfect moments we find amidst the chaos where we are truly thankful for what we have and the imperfections that makes life unique and special.

Cherish those close to you today, and always. Even those imperfect moments.

Don’t forget to giggle!

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The Dentist, Drugs, and a ….dingo?

It was a cloudy day today. I anxiously twisted my hands together and waited for my mother to show up to escort me to. The DENTIST.  (insert da-da-dum)

My trauma with the dentist started at a very young age.  Picture this:  First time at dentist.  Family on welfare.  Asshole Dentist. Five year old. First cavities. Family on welfare.  Asshole Dentist.  Fill cavities without giving child Novocaine or pain medication. Five year old.  Screaming.

Picture this: 33-year-old. Still screaming (although self-contained and screaming inside mostly). Sick to stomach, and now with a 4 month old greedily grabbing at the orb to get milk.  AFTER, I have already taken my anti-anxiety medication.  Sigh…..

So. What I have noticed is that I want to be a good role model for Sunshine, and for her to see her mommy all worked up about going to the dentist… Not so good. Can’t wait until I have to go with her to the dentist. Lord.  I will have to get my husband to take her as I won’t be able to drive.

Here is the deal. I must have a crown put in, plus a cavity to be filled. Bad enamel runs in my family, and well… it is just a period of time before I’d have to have this done.  I, however, put off seeing the dentist quite a bit. It isn’t actually the issue of being there, at the dentist. At least not any more.  It is the build up of the day before and actually going to the appointment where my anxiety gets so high, I might pass out.

I loaded myself up with so much medication that I am not able to drive, and I begin to see things that are not there.

Today I sat in the chair, and listened to Sunshine chat away with my mother in the front room. I believe the staff in the office wished to keep her and make her their mascot. She did such a great job, and I found I was more attuned to her and how she was doing, then whatever drilling they were doing.  It was funny, though. I started telling them what I thought each drill sounded like in my head.  One drill, sounded like the cars at Nascar races…. VRROOOOMMMM!  It made my brain in my head rattle back and forth. I swear! Can someone get a TBI from overuse of drills in the mouth?  Something to ponder.

What I often do when at the dentist, is start humming songs.  Today, I started humming B-I-N-G-O song, but for some reason, call it drug induced hilarity, I was singing DINGO instead.  The nurses were cracking up, I was cracking up… and I could hear my daughter laughing in the other room.

Did I actually see a Dingo?  No.  I might as well have for all the funniness that was going on.  Who knew how funny one could get while going to the dentist.  Now. If only someone could help me with this pain in my mouth for the next 2 weeks, THAT would be impressive.

What I was doing on 9/11/2001…

Remembering 9/11/01This day is an emotional rollercoaster for so many. My heart go out to the families and loved ones effected by the traumatic events of this day 10 years ago.

You know, as a student going to school to become a teacher, we never dreamed we would ever have to face something like what happened 9/11 with our students.  While I was in school, the Columbine inncident occurred and the 7-8 college students that sat in my Senior Seminar just couldn’t grasp how in the world we would discuss or try to keep unbiased opinions on that event. We also still wished to remain true to our students and allow them the freedom to grieve, be angry, and have the ability to share those feelings in meaningful, and non-hurtful, ways.

Imagine what I was thinking on this day as I walked into the school office where I had just begun my first full year as a high school special education teacher. I had known the staff there for quite awhile, as I had subbed in that same position for the last quarter of the previous school year.  I arrived extra early most days so I could pull my crap together before the students got there. It was amazing how high my anxiety was in standing in front of students, even then. The principal, and several secretaries were looking at the tv in the office, which was on. This was not a normal occurrence.

All I saw was a building, a tall one at that, with smoke coming out of it. Several of the ladies were crying. I asked, “What is going on?”  The news had only stated that a plane had crashed.  We actually saw human beings jumping from that burning building and that was when the horror struck me. While we stood there, we saw the second plane hit the other building. That is when it all hit us that the first plane was NOT a random incident.  What we didn’t know, as the school bells began to ring and I knew I needed to head to class, was why these events occurred.

We all had t.v.’s in our classrooms, and we all watched as these events unfolded throughout the day. My students, on Mondays, were to watch the news and then write a short paragraph summarizing a particular story that was spoken about, that mattered to them. It was heart wrenching. Many of the students had family over there. In fact I specifically remember a young girl whose Uncle was one of the firefighters who did not make it out of building one.

What I didn’t expect, or really know how to handle, was all the anger. The hatred, bred from mistrust, lack of knowledge, and so on…. well. That anger was directed/misdirected at whomever they/we could hold accountable for such actions, and for who didn’t do their jobs. How do you let your kids know that it was okay to feel anger, and how to work through it? So many didn’t have positive role models or parents at home that could help them work through this, or wouldn’t even take the time to do so.

Actually, the anger,  became so harsh that I chose to turn off the tv. My focus was to teach these high school students who 1) could only read at the 5th grade level or lower 2) hated to write 3) trusted very few teachers, that they had a voice and were able to learn despite their limitations. I encouraged them to come and speak to me, after school, if they wished and we could talk about how they were feeling. Otherwise, I chose to focus on whatever positives we could throughout the day.  My students, who had varying disabilities, already had it super tough each day.  I did not wish to compound it.  The most important issue was actually that the news didn’t have all the answers yet. It was too new, too raw, and speculation abounded. I chose to let the news hash it out, and let the students express in writing how they felt.

I never expected to see the amazing feelings that poured out that day. Nor did I expect the many students who stayed after school to talk about how they were feeling about these events. Their writings were some of the most powerful these kids had ever done. They felt powerful emotions, so therefore what they had to say mattered to them, and to each other. It brought many (not all) of the students together and they realized they had struggled with some of the same issues and they were not alone in the world.  Perhaps that was the lesson I needed to learn?  That we all need to learn?

I have no say as to how extremists come to the conclusions that they do which lead them to act out and hurt others. I can’t even imagine having hate so strong that I would ever hurt another human being. But perhaps 9/11 brought many of us closer. Taught us to reach out, and help our fellow humans around us.

This event illustrated something to me: I would never be able to encourage my students to write as well as they did that day, not without the force of opinion that it generated within them.  It taught me that what they had to be able to write about what really mattered to them, or they may very well choose not to write at all.   September 11, 2001 changed the way I taught and interacted with my students, for the better.

Ten years later: I no longer teach, but I practice how I taught  when I interact with others. People are not truly tied to, or committed, to helping themselves or others unless they feel passionate about it. I can only hope that in memory of that fateful day, that we continue to help those around us and live life to the fullest. For those that lost their lives, for those that sacrificed their lives, and for those that continue to protect us today.