Archive for September, 2008
That’s how I feel on this roller-coaster ride that has become my world these past few days.Â From the dizzying heights of euphoria and joy to the downhill free-fall that takes your breath away (and makes you feel like you’re going to throw up) to the depths of sadness and grief and confusion…Yeah, we’ve pretty much run the gamut.
We met with the oncologist today.Â Well, technically he was an ornorhinolaryngologist, but who’s checking?Â He and Matt had a great discussion on vascular pressure and fluid dynamics.Â I think somewhere in that discussion he talked about cancer, too.Â I was lost at “vascular pressure.”
So what did we learn?Â Well, mostly about vascular pressure and fluid dynamics.Â I sat there, notebook in hand, ready to take notes on the intricacies of Hodgkin’s Disease and treatment plans and chemotherapy and biopsies and radiation and…mostly I sat and listened to my brainiac husband talk scientific formulas with the brainiac doctor.Â Needless to say, I did NOT take notes.
The doctor did manage to squeeze in a few nuggets of helpful information here and there.Â So I present to you, in no particular order, the “Top 10 little factoids we gleaned from our 2-hour visit today”:
- He is “pretty sure” Matt has lymphoma.Â What kind?Â What stage?Â Has it spread?Â How advanced?Â That, my friends, remains a mystery.
- His job is to make a diagnosis.Â He will not be in charge of Matt’s treatment, should he require chemotherapy and/or radiation.
- He is a surgical oncologist.Â Matt’s cancer is not surgical.Â It is a form of blood/liquid cancer.Â Just like air is a liquid and the laws of fluid dynamics allow for an airplane to fly.Â See, I was paying attention!
- Matt will undergo a dizzying array of testing over the next 10 days, beginning this afternoon with a blood test to rule out kidney damage prior to the PET scan. (not a major concern, just a preventive/cautionary measure)
- The litany of tests includes: full body CAT scan (including the head, neck, chest cavity and pelvic region) with contrast, PET scan (complete with a Valium prescription – only one, though.Â They seemed unconvinced that I needed one too), and completing the crash course is an “excisional biopsy.”
- We will meet with the doctor about a week after the biopsy to review the results of all the tests, and at that time we should have a clear diagnosis and an idea of treatment.Â Matt and I should also be ready to receive our honorary medical degrees.
- The issue with the jugular vein is a non-issue.Â No biggie.Â Veins are wimps.Â Arteries, they’re the big guns.
- Matt does not have a tumor or a mass.Â He has a lymph node.Â A GINORMOUS lymph node.Â About 9 cm (3 inches) long, from his Adam’s apple to the top of his breastbone.Â Unfortunately, the original CAT scan does not show how deep or wide it is, but we’re pretty sure it’s both deep and wide.Â Sing with me now…”Deep and wide, Deep and wide, there’s a lymph node growing deep and wide…”
- We don’t know when the CAT scan/PET scan/excisional biopsy will be performed because the people in charge of scheduling had left for the day by the time we were finished.Â The target date is Oct. 10 with a follow up visit with the doctor on October 20 or 21.
- The most important news is that the trip to South Padre is still on!Â Woot!
Today’s the big day.Â We meet with the oncologist for our initial consultation.
And I am totally at peace with whatever will be.
Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t have my moments.Â I definitely do.Â I have moments where the inside of me is all twisted up like a big bowl of spaghetti noodles and my heartbeat resonates from the top of my head down to my toenails and I have to remind myself, “Breathe in, breathe out” all while maintaining a calm exterior.Â Moments when I am nearly overcome with panic and fear.Â A moment like now, which explains why I’m awake and blogging at 5 A.M.
I also have moments of extreme sadness, for the possibilities that lie ahead.Â Moments when the tears fall freely as my imagination runs wild and I see snapshots of days to come: the thought of losing my husband, of my children growing up without their dad.Â Days of celebration that are incomplete.Â Or, on a lesser scale, the horrors of chemo and radiation: the physical side effects, the sickness, the hair loss, and even the lingering physical changes.Â Moments that make me grieve over what could be.
I’m thankful to say that because of the intercessory prayers of many of you, and by the grace and strength and comfort of God, neither of those moments are the norm.Â Rather, even as I type I feel my spirit being filled with absolute peace.Â Peace that definitely passes any human understanding.Â Peace that allows me to live life normally, and function normally, despite the uncertainty of the future.Â Peace that allows me to talk about what we’re going through without falling apart.Â Peace that helps us face reality with humor and strength.Â Peace that gives me the confidence to know that no matter how God chooses to heal Matt – and God WILL heal him one way or another – everything will be okay.
I’ll provide an update tonight following the appointment.
What can I say about this week?Â I feel like I’ve lived a lifetime in the last three days.Â Still, we are continuing to live “on the Beach” as best we can.
This week has offered numerous setbacks, and I’m not even referring to the Matt’s current health issues.Â As you may recall, we had the luncheon at our house for Crisana on Sunday.Â So that meant we had leftover cake AND pasta salad all week.Â Leftover YUMMY cake and pasta salad.Â Leftover YUMMY cake with buttercream frosting and pasta salad with mayo and non-whole-wheat pasta.Â So, yeah, we fell off the wagon a bit this week.
And then came Thursday afternoon.Â Honestly, we were tempted at that point to throw all caution to the wind.Â I could certainly have used a visit from my two good friends Ben & Jerry.Â But they didn’t show, and Friday brought too much thinking and reality and dealing with fear and I admit, I used food as my escape.Â I wasn’t as bad as I could have been, but certainly was worse than I ought to have been.Â Only by God’s grace did I avoid a 3-pound weight gain that day.
The weekend has been better, and I think I’m emotionally back on track to face the week ahead.Â The results for this week are truly evidence of God’s grace:
27.5 lbs (down 1.5 lbs for the week) 25.5 lbs (flat for the week, no weight loss)
Debbi – 23 lbs (down 0.5 lbs for the week)
The fact that I lost anything at all is nothing short of miraculous.Â Now that Matt is done with “The Biggest Loser” contest at work, we will be moving into a truer Phase Two menu plan, with two carbs a day.Â I’m going through our various cookbooks compiling my own “South Beach Cookbook” of menu items we can use until we reach our goal weight.Â Matt has officially surpassed the halfway point, and I expect to do the same some time this week.
So until then…stay tuned!Â Maybe one of these days life on the beach will mean we are actually not embarrassed to show ourselves on the beach!
There is a story in Edwards family lore that is often repeated at family gatherings and special events.Â Poor Dan, he will never be allowed to forget this, because, well….it’s just so darling.Â He was quite young at the time, and was in trouble for some thing he had done.Â My parents asked him quite sternly, “What makes you think you’re so smart?”
Dan paused, pensive, contrite, then raised his little head, looked my parents squarely in the face and replied meekly, “Because I have a good brain?”
Yeah, we all still get a laugh out of that one.
The other night, Trey provided a new and improved version of the story that I’m sure will be passed down through the ages.Â (And yes, it’s right up there with the “Yeah, but can you whistle?” story, Angie)
On Tuesday, Trey brought home his first progress report of third grade.Â McKinney schools do not use letter grades, they use a rubric scale.Â We look for scores of 2′s and 3′s to indicate that he is working at grade level, 4′s to indicate a real area of strength.
With this particular progress report, Trey had earned all 3′s except one: writing.Â That one was a 2+, which means it is still “developing”.Â We mentioned to him how proud we were of him working so hard and doing such a good job at the beginning of third grade, but told him there was one area of concern.Â The following is the conversation that ensued:
Mom: “Trey, your progress report was great!Â You got all 3′s except one!”
Trey:Â “I know, I know…writing.”
Mom:Â “Yes, you got a 2 in writing.Â Can you tell us about that?Â What seems to be the problem?”
Trey:Â “Well, I don’t write half a page.Â I only write like 2 or 3 sentences.Â I’m supposed to write half a page.”
Dad:Â “Why don’t you write half a page?Â Is it that you don’t understand, or is something else going on?”
Trey:Â “I daydream a lot.Â One time we had like 35 minutes to write and I only wrote like 2 things.”
Mom:Â a bit shockedÂ “Why didn’t you write more?”
Trey: hanging his head, and very contrite “Well, I started writing….and then I started daydreaming.Â My inner voice kind of wandered off.”
And that was the end of that.
With many thanks to my brother who sent me this yesterday
Please join me in remembering a great icon of the entertainment community. The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection and trauma complications from repeated pokes in the belly. He was 71.
Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. Dozens of celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, the Hostess Twinkies, and Captain Crunch. The grave site was piled high with flours.
Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy and lovingly described Doughboy as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded. Doughboy rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much of his dough on half-baked schemes. Despite being a little flaky at times, he still was a crusty old man and was considered a positive roll model for millions.
Doughboy is survived by his wife Play Dough, three children: John Dough, Jane Dough and Dosey Dough, plus they had one in the oven. He is also survived by his elderly father, Pop Tart. The funeral was held at 3:50 for about 20 minutes.
Just call me Proud Mama.Â Better make that Proud Cub Scout Den Leader Mama.Â Or better yet, Totally-Rocking-Best-Ever-Proud-Cub-Scout-Den-Leader-Mama.
Maybe I should back up a bit.
This summer, as we were planning for the year ahead (“we” meaning my TOTALLY AWESOME Assistant Den Leader and I) we decided we wanted to be more visible, more involved in McGowen.Â The school staff has always been so supportive of our scouts that we wanted to give something back and allow our boys to have the opportunity to show what scouting is all about in front of their peers.Â So, along with various community service activities, we decided to have our scouts provide a flag ceremony at the beginning of the monthly Mavs Fan Jams.
Fan Jams are like pep rallies for elementary school.Â We don’t cheer any sports teams, but the children who have earned special awards for behavior or accomplishments in music, p.e., and art are recognized.Â Each class presents a spirit cheer in hopes of earning the spirit stick, and the teachers put on a silly skit or game for the students.Â It’s a great time and the students and staff love it.
The first Fan Jam was the first week of school, which didn’t allow us time to get our act together, so we scheduled our flag ceremonies to begin this month.Â And our den, being the one with the awesome den leaders who came up with the idea in the first place, had the privilege of being the first den to do it.
Our boys were so proud.Â They took this responsibility seriously.Â They wore their uniforms and looked so sharp.Â They carried the flag and themselves with dignity and respect.Â They performed their duties perfectly.Â And though there was a kindergartener in the front row who threw up just as the flag was being presented, the boys handled the distraction without batting an eye.Â As parents and leaders we couldn’t have been more proud of our boys.Â And our boys were certainly proud of themselves.Â Deservedly so, I would say.
Here are a few pictures of the awesome Cub Scouts of Den 3:
With the principal, Mr. Forsythe, before the Fan Jam.
Our boys prepare to present the colors.
The colors are posted.
Our boys did a great job of leading the ceremony.
Basking in the post-ceremony glory!
Ain’t punctuation grand?Â Just think of all the ways we can use those little dots, squiggles, and lines to express a range of emotions.
Take this sentence, for example:
My husband has cancer.
(A declaration of fact, which I learned today.)
Now, just by changing that last little bit of punctuation, we can give a whole new spin on that sentence, for example, my reaction:
My husband has cancer?
(A momentary reaction of disbelief)
We can then change the punctuation again, to heighten the emotional response and create more of a feeling ofÂ shock, perhaps laced with a bit of fear, panic, and sadness for what lies ahead:
My husband has cancer!
(Reality sets in, and emotions run high)
So now that we’ve run out of options for ending punctuation, let’s think about compound sentences.Â Take the simple little comma, for instance, joining two disparate thoughts into one cohesive whole:
My husband has cancer, and will have to undergo chemotherapy and radiation.
Other options exist for compound sentences, such as the mighty colon, which is used to enhance understanding of a particular part of a sentence or thought:
My husband has cancer: Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Let’s turn our attention briefly to the unassuming semicolon.Â While not as powerful as its previously mentioned cousin, the semicolon has the ability to join together two complete sentence into one powerful statement:
My husband has cancer; we do not fear what lies ahead for we know he is in God’s hands.
Allow me to conclude our grammar lesson for today with one final exhortation:
Please pray for us!
On my piano teachers forum email group (think of it as a virtual teacher’s lounge for piano teachers…I know, how music nerdy can I get?), there’s been a lot of discussion about a fun website someone discovered.Â You can click on the links to your birthday and find out the #1 Billboard song for that day.
Mine?Â This one – Dizzy, by Tommy Roe.Â This explains A LOT about me, my life, and my perception of the world around me.Â No, I’m not blonde, but sometimes I sure do think like one.
Anyway, enjoy the video.Â It’ll be a trip back in time for the few of you older than me.Â For the rest, it’s a history lesson.
One of our greatest joys as parents is sharing in those defining moments in our children’s lives.Â This weekend, we were privileged to witness one of Crisana’s as she took the step to follow Christ’s example by being baptized.
Some of the long-time blog readers know that on January 9, 2008, Crisana made her first step of faith when she accepted God’s gift of salvation at the ripe age of 4 years old.Â She began asking about baptism then, but with us not having a church home, we encouraged her to wait.Â However, she was persistent, so in May she and I met with our children’s pastor to make sure she was really ready.Â He was blown away by her level of understanding and spiritual maturity, to say the least.
Well, this past Sunday was the big day.Â She was first in line to be baptized, and boy was she ready!Â Waking up bright and early, she was already dressed and ready to go before 7:00!Â Needless to say, we didn’t get there quite that early.Â We arrived in plenty of time for the 10:00 service, found our seats, and got ourselves settled.Â Crisana, ever the social butterfly, chatted it up with all the other baptism participants, hardly able to contain her excitement.Â When the baptism began, she marched right up the steps, went down into the baptismal “hot tub”, proclaimed her faith, and was ceremonially “dunked.”Â As the pastor read her testimony, my eyes welled up with tears at the beautiful simplicity of her faith:
I have Jesus in my heart.
He wiped away all my sin.
I am a happy girl because I am getting baptized today.
As with Trey, we held a reception following the church service to honor Crisana and celebrate those who have had an important part in her spiritual development.Â We held it at our house, rather than the church.Â We had a wonderful chance to visit with family and friends, and enjoyed wonderful food as we celebrated together.Â We look forward to how God is going to use Crisana as she now continues her journey of faith.
Crisana with her cake – and no, I didn’t make this one!
Crisana with her boyfriend/best friend/future husband, Michael.
Crisana with Ms. Kathryn, her first Promiseland teacher at McFBC.Â
Ms. Kathryn was one of the first to know of Crisana’s salvation, and was so excited for her!
Matt and his sister, Buff.Â Unfortunately, Tom was unable to make it.
Proud Grandma with two loving grandchildren!
It’s back to reality – both for me and for the blog.Â This week we begin week 8 of our journey on the Beach.Â We’re definitely finding it easier to eat by the “rules” now, and I’m starting to find that my portion sizes are diminishing as well.Â Twice this week I went out for lunch and found that eating only half of what I was served was plenty – no dessert, no bread.Â I did indulge in a caffeinated Diet Coke, though.
I’m proud to report the results of this week:
Matt – 26 lbs. lost
Debbi – 22.5 lbs. lost
I am now BELOW my pre-pregnancy weight with Trey.Â To think that it’s been nearly a decade since I’ve been at this weight is astounding to me.Â To add to that perspective, when I was at this weight before, I was on a different diet, feeling like I was incredibly overweight and unattractive.Â Now, I am thrilled to be at this weight, feeling slimmer and much more attractive.Â I think the difference is in my fat: before, my fat was getting fatter.Â Now I have thinner fat.Â We are both nearing the halfway points to our goal weights, and are pleased to have made it this far this quickly.
We’ve stayed on a modified Phase 1 plan, with very limited carbs, for the past four weeks, after realizing our error in week 4.Â The carbs we have added have been mainly fruits such as apples, pears, blueberries, strawberries, and canteloupe with grapes in very limited quantities.Â We’ve stayed away from bananas, raisins, and watermelon completely.Â We’ve also added in select breads as well: oatmeal, whole-wheat pitas and crackers, and whole-wheat bread.Â We are still utilizing a mainly protein-and-vegetable-based breakfast and dinner, with our main carb consumption coming through snacks and lunch when we are most likely to need that quick energy boost.Â Most nights, we don’t even eat dessert after dinner, unless it’s a sugar free jello or pudding.
I can testify that the South Beach Diet is difficult for busy parents.Â The meals, for the most part, are not quick-and-easy and aren’t designed to be eaten on the run.Â South Beach is definitely not drive-through convenience, and the grocery bills are fairly hefty.Â Even with the drawbacks, however, this program has been incredibly effective for us, and we’re living a much healthier lifestyle.