Friday, February 27, 2009

Oh My Gosh!

I can't believe I've been able to run the marathon called this week! Today was exciting because I got the ride with a Deputy Sheriff . . . in the FRONT seat. I did a home visit that would never have accomplished my goals if it wasn't for our wonderful Resource Officer helping me out. He told me if the resident hadn't come out when she did, he'd have put on the lights and siren to get her attention. He says that works pretty well. Well, I can tell you, if he'd done that I would have jumped out of my skin! As it was, it was an adventure.

Monday I will be a World Geography teacher from then until the end of the school year. My heart is heavy because I have been pulled in to teach the classes my colleague who passed away two weeks ago can't. I am glad I will be in one place all day, but sad to have to step in for my departed friend. I am glad to have a chance to try on regular education, but feel bad for the students in the classes I've been serving for the last 9 weeks who will now have to make-do with a sub.

I'm very, very tired. A lot of stress these last several days. Weird weather coming in. The superintendent warned us of a potential wintery mix on Sunday! I have daffodils blooming, forsythia blooming, and I'm taking pleasure at looking at flower catalogs -- it's not supposed to be doing a wintery mix! I'm picking up a book, and I'm committing to being jello for the next while, unless needed for emergency Jewel-sitting. Night, night!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Back to North Atlanta

In the scheme of things at the surgeon's office, the fact that you CAN wait, means you're more well. If they rush you in when appointments start at 6AM then you're more urgent or more ill. I had an 8:30 appointment this morning and was not suprised that I had to wait for my one year check up. Waiting meant that I wasn't having to wait with tubes hanging out of me, or in pain or with bad news or the need for urgent medical review. I'm happy to have the privilege to wait. I had an ultrasound of my right armpit to review the lymph nodes. What nodes I have left looked healthy. The ultrasound technician remembered me because I always asked for a picture of my tumor, and because I had named it. I asked if any other patient had named their tumor, and she told me about a lady who named her several tumors men's names. So each tumor was a "Bill," or "Fred," or "Frank." Apparently she felt strong negative feelings toward some men in her life! My tumor showed up as black on a field of static-like-lace. The white being the calcifications and microcalcifications that made reading my mammogram so hard to read. The black made me think of the old Saturday movie maven, "Elvira: Mistress of the Dark." And that is how my tumor was named. It also made it easier to imaging strangling the life out of it. I don't know if creative visualization helps, but it sure didn't hurt, and so I imagined cutting off the life flow to that tumor. And I had some time on my hands to imagine that for a while.

Today was happy. Lots of compliments for my surgeon about her skillful work. She laughed about my "dog ears." Dog ears (otherwise known as pie dough) are lumps of skin that are the tail ends of a REALLY big incision. I told her I had a great dane's ear on my right side, and a peakinese's ear on my left side. She was not upset at all that I had the great dane ear taken care of as a "scar revision." She checked bunches of things out and answered a question that I'd had for a while. I thought the numbness I was feeling in my arms was a side effect of chemo/surgery. When I described it, she said it sounded much more like a disc problem to her. Since I've never really had the time and energy to get the orthopaedic doc a chance to work on my disc issue, I am not surprised. I'm just surprised that it was the surgeon that figured out I didn't have neuropathy, but numbness caused by the dang disc issue.

I can only handle so many doc appointments at any one time, and after some successes and failures, I determined that I can really only handle one a week. Next week is the gastroenterologist to see what's going on in my gut.

I didn't mind waiting today. I was nice to see someone that has such a positive outlook, and is so smart and savvy and who is genuine and real, and who has actually healed me. I also had hair this time. She saw me for the first time with my hair down to my waist, then for months she saw me bald, and now I have just enough -- barely enough, but enough to style a bit. It's amazing how a woman's feminity is so tied to hair. Well at least is is for me. I'm glad to feel more girly as it gets a little longer. It grows very, very slowly -- yes I know 1/4-inch per month for NORMAL people. If you've had medical treatments, it grows at it's own pace. So its taken all the way since last January for me to get the three inches I have, but I'm glad of them. It just barely will go around the green small self-gripping hair rollers. I'll post a picture of us together tomorrow. It's another one where I can put last year next to this year.

The school nurse just sent a bulletin out that the flu is definitely going around. Since I got a flu shot this year, I imagine that's why I only felt like I had something dire for a couple days instead of for a week or more.

Yes, I'm glad I got to see Dr. S again and with such positive outcomes. I feel a bit like I've been "certified" for one more year. It's dizzying though when you're seeing so many doctors for different reasons. The oncologist, the surgeon, and your internist, a gastroenterologist, a gynecologist and an orthopaedist. I'm happy to be on this side of the dirt while I contemplate how much of my income goes to physicians. Thank you Dr. S. You do good work!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

One Year Surgical Check-up

Tomorrow before the crack of dawn, I'm leaving to go see my surgeon for my one year check-up. I really want her to know I appreciate the quality of her work-womanship. I know I had to have a revision to make things more comfortable, but let's face it, she had a canvas for her art that was about three times larger than the average. So, GOOD JOB! My surgery was done when Jewel was weeks old. Now she's over a year old.

I did not die from cholera, flu or anything else last night. I was sickies with the kind of problem that is solved with the great drug: Imodium. Today I just drank dilute juice and had some crackers and ate a coconut popsicle. I had the aching in the joints and all the other symptoms of flu or some other virus. I can't believe I worked today, but honestly I didn't feel bad.

I talked to the principal today and also our FFA and Horticulture (same guy) teacher. We're going to get some kind of tree to plant in Jeff's memory on the campus. I like the idea of something big and living and still growing to be there to honor his memory. I think he'd like that too. The SGA kids are going to be a part of the project. I've pledged a portion of the cost of a tree, and they'll add some $$ and design a ceremony for the planting. I'm pleased that will work out (at least it looks like it will).

I'm racing to the end-of-the-year deadline for paperwork already. It's very stressful and I SWORE I wouldn't let myself get all wrought up by paperwork anymore. Well.....guess what?! It's hard to not get anxious over paperwork that's 24 or more pages long and which constitute a legal document. The complexity of these things are incredible. There's also stresses which I just can't talk about. It's a very poor county. I hope some stimulus money comes the Title I way to us. The "check" is supposed to be in the mail and to reach the states tomorrow. Maybe our governor will let some of it through to the actual places it's really needed. One can hope, anyway.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Jewel and I

Jewel and I hung out for a large portion of today. We made a trip to the mall where my big accomplishment was buying a couple books and eating lunch. Jewel is getting more and more independent. She doesn't want to hold hands anymore -- just wants to explore where here eyes take her. She is 14 months now and babels away sounding just like she's saying things, but there aren't many words yet. I know the day is coming when those cute babbling sounds will turn into, "Grammy I want....!"

It's weird at times when I get reminders about how far out in the country (rural) my school is. I ran over to another county facility on Friday. On the way back I stopped at a little quick mart to get a cold drink. As I was stepping out of the store I heard the unmistakable report of a gun. I looked up and there's a dude at the far end of the parking lot taking pot shots at crows with a rifle. Yup, that was a gun. Yup we're in the country.

It was nice to have a quiet day today Spent a little time tonight studying how to get about in Ireland. Anyone that's been is welcome to send ideas for places to go and things to see. Recommendations for good places (inexpensive but clean) are appreciated too. It's fun making plans for something that doesn't involve teens or "responsibility."

Friday, February 20, 2009

Made it to Friday

Some weeks are longer than others. This one was a doozy.

I got a locker at school so I could tuck my books and my bag away safely while I'm wandering the halls. I really don't want a cart because they don't go between the rows of desks easily, and the bag is just more practical. My compromise is getting a locker.

The work in the main building to repair the roof damage is certainly making for a LOT of noise in the rooms under the roofers. I swear it sounds like they have jackhammers up there. The good side of the tornado that got us a while back is that we're ending up with a good many repairs that would have been maintenance issues sooner or later. So a new roof now will save money later, especially if insurance is paying for it.

Lots of folks wondering what the new administration will do to education and special education. I'm one of them. It's my hope that we can continue to challenge under achieving schools, while making more realistic goals, particularly in the area of curriculum for students with special needs. A lot of people, not just me, worry about students not being able to tackle the tough curriculum forced on them, and the lack of programs to teach life skills and job skills for those who could learn those, but not Geometry or Physical Science. We all want students to achieve their best, but some are being lost along the way while we sweep away Resource (pull out) classes, and insist that special ed students will take regular education classes and demand they achieve a regular education diploma. We special ed teachers really care about our students and want them to have something realistic they can succeed at doing by the time they graduate. Yet, we are penalized for every special education diploma we award, because those are counted Federally as "drop outs." It's very stressful. For the students as well as us case managers. Lots of sad situations going on. I suppose there's no system that is equitable all the way around.

Just another place where life is not fair. Who knew that could be true, eh?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Romeo has a mild case of asthma. He's snoozing right beside me and snoring up a storm because of his asthma. It's weird to be the only PERSON in the room, but still have to listen to a snoring sound!

I'm getting a cold.

Next week I go for my one year follow up with my surgeon. I'm very proud of her work. I can't wait to tell her and show her how nicely things have healed.

It took only 15 minutes today to do a school-wide memorial for Jeff. We were told to leave our grief at the service and go back to class. The students were respectful. The gym thoughtfully converted into a spare and tasteful space. The principal spoke, a student council member spoke, and one of our vice principals read his obituary. The choral director sang a song. They'd allocated 30 minutes for the memorial service, but only used 15 minutes, so had to try and herd the cats back into their respective classrooms. Right! The nicest thing about today was that Jeff's son was present to see over a thousand people come together in memory of his dad. THAT was the best memory we could possibly give him at this point. He'll always know that in two short years, his father had endeared himself to enough people to fill the stands of a high school gymnasium. The time for memorials and remembrance is officially ended. I hope my heart and mind can keep up with the official timeline for grief. I don't think I left it in the gym as directed. I'm a bit contrary that way.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

April 18th

I'll get on an airplane about 10PM on the 18th, and arrive the following morning at Shannon Ireland. Now here is the difficulty. Evidentally the ONLY thing in Shannon is the airport. So the closest place to stay will be Limerick. I figure that while I will be landing that morning, I'll be about as ready to sightsee as a bowl of oatmeal. When you look at the city of Limerick on the web (the closest place to Shannon where you can jump on a train), they show you this picture of Limerick.

Now the swans are pretty, but fore the rest of my life, when I think of swans, I'm going to think about how I almost killed one when in England. In England the Queen owns all the swans. I had the habit of getting bread and saving it to feed to the ducks and swans when we went places. I had a whole croissant in my hand and piece in my right hand to feed a swan. Instead of going for the piece of croissant in my right hand, the swan grabbed and got the nearly-whole croissant out of my left hand. The swan proceeded to choak it down. It got stuck in its gullet, and I thought for sure I was watching a swan croak. Fortunately it managed to get the croissant down, and I was saved from likely being arrested for killing one of the Queen's swans. So, while the look pretty, remember swans are BIG birds, and they are greedy. I do mean greedy! I don't know if the Queen owns the swans in Northern Ireland (Limerick is in the South, Eire), but if she does, she can be assured that I'll be much more careful with feeding them this time!

Now have a book on Ireland (thanks Kris) and so am excitedly trying to figure out what I want to see and make a schedule that will work with my time constraints. Getting very excited.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Finally Christmas Comparison

Christmas 2007
Bald and Baby Jewel is only Days Old

At Christmas I wanted to do a comparison of one year to the next, but I couldn't get the picture of myself and the kids to download. For whatever reason, it's finally decided it would work. Go figure. So here's some pix with a happier content.

I don't know why this decided it would finally load, but it did.
Christmas 2008 -- I have HAIR and look at Jewel this year!

My hit accomplishment of the day was to go out for lunch, and to have a nice nap with Jewel. The last week has been pretty tough, and I just had run out of ZIP. Jewel and I went up to the bonus room at Jenn and Eric's and we zonked out! Felt good for me, and she's a real snuggler. Very cuddly.
My hair is finally long enough to curl a bit, and I'm really glad about that.
Must run to look for my phone. I have no idea where it is. Which is about the 40th time in the last six months I've lost track of something like my keys or phone. So, off to go looking and listening for it. Later gators.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Goodbye Jeff

It's hard to say goodbye to someone only 42 and in love with life. He was a joker and gentleman and an altruistic person all wrapped up in a guy that was born to be a teacher. This picture was taken at Halloween when he borrowed the tiara from a student costume and he taught class the rest of the period wearing it. I'll miss you, Jeff.

He was so excited that he was going to teach an honors section of World Geography next year. Jeff had plans for the future and was the consumate Georgia fan. Despite the goofy tiara above he was a MANLY man, and very considerate and kind. He was engaged to be married again after seven years of loneliness. He'd been engaged only five days when whatever happend, happened.

Today was his wake.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Phew!!!!!!!!!!! Dodged another one!

I have not been writing and not been posting much because I've been in the fetal position wondering if I was in the process of dying a terrible death. While I certainly will die someday, I hoping for it to be some time in a far off future, not anytime real soon. My unexplained pain is still unexplained, but we do know some things it is NOT. My great fear is that the pain was caused by cancer. It is not. Phew! For the last while I've been waiting for various scans. The CAT scan is fairly definitive though. If there is cancer hiding out somewhere, it's not in my kidneys, liver, pancreas, bowel and various other organs and glands in the general area of the mysterious pain.

It's triggering more testing, but it's not for cancer. My kind of cancer often comes back in the first three years, and very often in the first year, so I was really, really holding my breath!
It's been a tough week, this week. I've not been on my toes as a grammy, or a mom, and maybe not the best colleague at work. I'm doing my best to hang on and just manage while dealing with the death of a very special teaching colleague that didn't show up to work yesterday. EMS was sent out to check on him, and at age 42, his body was found in his home. Not much is known, but it was apparently an unexpected death due to health concerns he'd been trying to address. He was a fun guy, and often embarrassed me whenever I did some small kindness for him, by yelling across the room, "I have told you lately how much I love you?" He brought a smile to my face, he brought food to my house last year when I was sick, he loved his son deeply and with abandon, and he just bought his girlfriend THE engagement ring this past Saturday and got down on one knee. She'd been engaged to him for five whole days. The students are devastated. It's just been a very, very intense few days. I'm well into OVERWHELM.

Two things made me happy today. One is that I didn't have a return of cancer. The other is that my hair is finally long enough that I can style it a little bit. For those of you who knew me back in my Georgia Tech days, I can almost style it in that way. I can't use a curling iron like I did back then because their hair is more fragile and less thick. BUT I can put it up on rollers while I'm dressing in the AM, spray with hairspray, and let dry. Take down rollers, brush and voila, I have a bit of a hairstyle! I'll take my victories where I can get them. Today I bought some hair rollers, a new brush and a comb. Yeah!

So, imagine me throwing confetti up in the air and screaming with joy. I'm releasing imaginary balloons, and sending up spectacular fireworks to celebrate the NON-return of cancer. Wooohoooooo!!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ambushed by Grief

A colleague and friend died unexpectedly today. My body, my heart, my mind are disquieted and tired. I'm going to miss you Jeff. Who will say, "Have I told you lately how much I love you?"

Test results come back tomorrow afternoon.

Quilt on hold until more fabric arrives.

Must sleep. Must, must sleep.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Day Butterfly House 2-7-09

We went to the Day Butterfly House at Calloway Gardens yesterday. It was fun and exhausting. I don't think the children even noticed the butterflies! Liam did have an incredibly fun time riding his tricycle all over the paths there. He worked really, really, really hard at being civilized -- something very, very difficult to do when you're 3 going on 4. Jewel took her first walk with a harness on, and was accepting of it, all things considered. Safer in crowds and by the water.

Some of the creatures we went to see.

Jewel never noticed the butterflies but she was fascinated by the waterfalls and water features.

This is Jenn and Liam looking down from the top of a water feature. As little boys must, Liam had to make sure the water was really wet. ;)

Are these some of the happiest kids you've ever seen or what! Today at Tanner State Park, family got together for Jenn's birthday picnic. It was fabulous until Liam cut his toe. Ooops.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Testing III

Well, it appears we're all going to get a review of Roman numerals. The oncologist is sending me Monday for a CAT scan. It appears the ultrasound was inadequate, and because there are so many organs in the area where I'm not feeling so wonderful, he thinks I should have a CAT scan. So, OK. I'll find out next Friday what the results are. His guess: nothing really scary. But it's just a guess. I'll feel better when I am more certain that there isn't anything scary there.

Have frabric and the idea for a quilt rolling around in my head. It's got to start happening for real soon.

Trying so very hard not to let work get to me. Stress just isn't good for anyone.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Testing II

My liver has too much fat in it, but it seems to be healthy otherwise. My pancreas can not be visualized well, so I'm going in for blood tests tomorrow. There is one-half of a sigh of relief. :) Will post more as more news as it becomes available.

Monday, February 02, 2009


Having a little testing done to just make sure all is well. When I know something, I'll share what I know with you. :)