Friday, April 29, 2011

Columbus Update...

So life is way busy over here in 'ETR and IEP Land'...too bad the bulk of my reports fell on the weeks surrounding my birthday. Really not what I call a relaxing birthday...but oh well, just goes to show that life isn't always a box of chocolates...sometimes you get the coconut ones in there :)

So here's the report from the doctor's visit in Columbus on Thursday. My neurologist spent a nice hour or more with me going over my history and really took an interest in what was going on with me...she was like 'You've been through quite the decade'...I was thinking 'You ain't seen nothing yet...wait til I'm healthy!' :) Basically, here is what we are doing to manage pain until summer...for the next 6 weeks I will be doing physical therapy two times a week to strengthen the muscles around my spinal cord, hoping that will alleviate some pain. I also have lidocain patches to wear 12 hours out of the day on my back where my pain is on my spinal cord. But in the mean time, my neurologist is going to consult with a neurosurgeon to look at my MRI images as well. I'm a weird case, because most of my problems involve my cervical spine (the stenosis, degenerative disc disease, osteophyte complex, and so on...)-yet I have no symptoms yet from those. Everything I am feeling is coming from my thoracic spine where the cysts are. So they want to look at everything and try to piece this all together. I go back and see them after school gets out and we will go from there. They want to try and figure out why I have pain in my legs and spasms when you touch the spinal cord and why I still get the sporadic spasms in my back. I take Lyrica and that takes the spasms away...and actually I only have to take the Lyrica when it starts acting up. So all in all...I'm just a weird case so she is consulting with other doctors to see what we can do. The options are injections or surgery...but thats a topic for another day. I'm taking it a day at a time...

Here are some images of what a syrinx and Chiari Malformation looks like. The bottom part of my cerebellum was pressing on my spinal cord causing cysts in my spinal cord (called syrinx) because the cerebral fluid that flows around your brain and spinal cord was blocked. I had surgery 5 years ago to fix the Chiari and ultimately, my syrinx reduced in size because the cerebral fluid was flowing right again. However, my syrinx didn't all go away, they are still there, still causing me pain.

I am happy that we are actually trying out these methods first. Relief is what I am aiming for...I want quality of life in year 27 of my life. I am happy my doctor is consulting with others before making any rash decisions...and I'm content because they didn't leave me hanging with no plan... :) That alone was like 10 pounds taken off of the 20 pounds I've carried on my back for 5 years! Well, I'm heading to bed now, because I think I'm starting to get a cold or something, my chest is so tight these days and hurts hard core when I cough or take a deep breath. Uugh, I blame it on the 7 inches of rain we got this month!! I'll keep you updated and let you know how therapy and these patches are doing. I'm counting my blessings that we missed the tornados, loving my friends and family for ALL they do for me (esp. Ash and Tara this week for making me cry in the good way;) and loving my husband for making me LAUGH through this whole ordeal! And last but not God, who has given me this life to teach me more than I ever could have imagined about depending on Him and Him alone. Because in Christ alone, my hope is found.

Good Night!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Time!

Why my children will hate me one day :)

What a great weekend spent with friends and family! My in-laws started off our Easter weekend and our best friends over for one last Easter dinner ended our weekend! And I marked another bucket list item off my list…I tried Risotto at a restaurant. :) It wasn’t exactly a 5 Star, but The Inn in Ada is pretty nice. We celebrated my birthday with the Gromans since we are all in town. Next weekend is my birthday...I decided to actually hold off on the celebration...go figure that the birthday I actually wanted to celebrate because I have conquered cancer, we would have the most rain on record in Lima, Ohio. Its a muddy mess here :( However, it didn't damper my spirit for Easter. It is my favorite holiday, not because of the Reese’s eggs although they are my favorite, but because we celebrate our living God this day. And it was just what I needed as I find out more about God’s grace in my life.

Its amazing how content I am becoming the more I discover God’s grace. At church on Sunday at Union Chapel with Andrew’s family (where by the way it was great to see some old friends again AND to sing In Christ Alone…my favorite!) Pastor said this and it struck more than anything else… God sees me through the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Wow...what freedom that gives me. Even if I was the best saint on earth, God sees me through the righteousness of Jesus because of what He did on the cross. It's exactly what I needed to hear to go along with my journey towards understanding God's Grace. As you know, my biggest struggle is guilt. I had a hard time accepting how I reacted in the month of March. I basically went into a 'coma' after I heard the words ‘disease free'...and when I woke up, I was dazed and confused, lost in another health battle (my syrinx problem). I just felt like I forgot everything I learned in my Pursuit. But I am now understanding God’s grace a little bit better each day, making it so much easier to be the me in this life that I was meant to be. I feel happier, even in my days of limbo again with what treatment the neurologists will use to help me with my cysts in my spinal cord. The hold that guilt had on my life is being released more each day, and I’m seeing the grace of God in my life through my daily activities. I can't believe I am learning this at just 26 years old! I mean this is a huge 'chains have been released! I am set free' for me, not just from the month of March, but my whole life! This is what I've always wanted. And my husband can attest to this too, I am happy and content…even in this new crappy health situation. Thursday’s doctors appointment will be here before I know it, and even if there isn’t any treatment for my syrinx problem, God’s grace is sufficient in my life now. And I understand that. I won’t complain, I’m not broken...because I’m His, made perfectly by Him.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Finding Grace.

So this week as I was reading more in Nobody Tells a Dying Guy to Shut Up, I came upon these two sentences and was seriously stopped in my tracks and given a challenge of a life time.

As much as I do not like being sick, if that is part of God's plan, why would I want anything different? Perhaps this is God's way of telling me, as he told Paul, that His grace is sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

His grace is sufficient. You have to idea how that word GRACE came flashing at me like neon lights on that white page. If I have ever had God speak to me...I swear it was right then. I feel like if I could understand and comprehend God's grace, than I could have this contentment in life that I have been striving for since I have been 'disease free'. Life is totally different after cancer, and for some reason, this word grace seems to be the key that can unlock this hold that I, personally, have on myself. I feel like this is my new challenge. I am seriously fired up to learn about God's grace, incorporate that into my daily life, and then be the Me that God has always intended me to be. This could be such a life changing moment...understanding God's grace in MY life...I can't wait to explore more :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My apologies...

So I just feel like I should apologize. For the last month, I feel like I’ve been ‘too close’ to my problems to really gain perspective of my Life right now. Everyone knows that when you are in the moment, you don't exactly think straight. So God showed up and I had an Interaction tonight. I’ve prayed for something to come my way to change up my thinking, and God heard my prayer. He sent me Linda :) Yesterday, Linda ate lunch with us girls at Slabtown and she talked about the new movie Soul Surfer. Having lived in Hawaii before, she loved the movie and said we should all see it. Actually, when it came out, I was going to see it on a Sunday all by myself when Andrew was working, but chickened out and used ‘laundry’ as an excuse. So when Linda came in talking about the movie, I knew it was ‘A God Thing’. So I talked to her after lunch and we made a plan to go the next day and see the movie together. And the movie was perfect, exactly what I needed.
The movie hit me in three different ways. First, being the obvious, Linda was my answer to prayer when she went with me to see the movie. Second, I could connect with Bethany Hamilton because as she was suffering from her injury from the shark bite, I too was suffering from cancer…and in both cases it seemed to hurt the people who loved us more than it hurt us. I have found that when you are in the storms of life, for some reason, I find it easier to remain calm. As she was driven and focused to surf again, I was driven to beat cancer and Live. I don't know, I just knew from the beginning my God would take care of me, that He had the plan. And Third, there was a part in the movie where it talked about perspective. How sometimes you are so ‘in the moment’ and up close, that you lose perspective. You need to back away, look at that big picture, and regain perspective. This movie made me do that tonight. Lately, I have felt all over the place, trying to make sense of the last month. The pain from the nerves and my back was so overwhelming, that when we found the cysts in the spinal cord again and all the stuff with my neck, I pretty much was ‘up close’, that I lost my perspective in all this. I became foggy and couldn't think clearly. I am to glorify God in ALL that I do, and I apologize if I haven’t shown that lately. God remained faithful and answered my prayer, once again. He interfered in the form of my 'old' friend Linda, her passion for Hawaii, and set my focus straight again. God has given me power over the the things in my life that have me anxious, gives me love when I want to scream, and self-discipline...the hardest one yet, but I'm getting better - and some nice reality checks in the form of a shark bite don't hurt either:)
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Wanting more than a Pumpkin Life for this Girl.

Alaina got her hair cut! My friend and fellow teacher Alaina is awesome, because when she was in the hospital this past fall, I went to see her and she told me she was going to chop her hair off when I would stop using my white hat...and I can't believe she followed through! Back in February, she was going to cut her hair then and donate it, but it wasn't long enough yet, so we had to wait. Well, she still did it and what a friend I have! We are two of a kind and her friendship this past year means the world :)
I’m serious, life is just FLYING by these days! When Alaina was measuring her hair in February seems like last week! March went fast, and now April is going even faster!! The best part is that SUMMER will be here before we know it (bought a new swimsuit and all!!) I’m ready because these cold, rainy days are not cutting it for this girl. I need my sunshine after last year without it! Summer means swimming at the pool, vacations, and baseball games. Andrew even got to do the honor guard and present the colors at the Reds opener this year with the Fire Dept.! Awesome! This week we get spring break starting on Thursday, and I’m going to try and get some IEP’s done so I can enjoy it!

Well, my fear came true. I did turn back into a pumpkin. I had the fear that after my cancer I wouldn’t be able to get the ‘Cinderella type insights’ that I had during cancer. During cancer, God was so real and close to me, that it was truly an inspiring experience for me. It truly did change me. But now that I am ‘disease free’, I don’t get those insights as often, or rather, I don’t explore them enough to have them develop (lack of time maybe?). My focus during cancer was to take in everything I could, because it was eye awakening how little time we have on earth. And I have been learning new lessons…but I feel like I take it at ‘surface level’ now (it could be because I am still trying to instill everything I learned from my Pursuit). I talked about this at lunch on Friday when I ate with 2 other coworkers. We were talking about our health and my blog came up. They let me know that during my time with cancer, the blog was inspiring and helping them as well. I give that glory to God, because I know I wouldn’t have been able to just come up with all those insights on my own. I actually teared up because I told them it was hard to balance work and life and that I wanted to take more time to dig deeper into the new things I’m learning. But life gets BUSY! When I was having chemo treatments and had time off, I had a lot of time to think, and I loved it! I did a lot of healing during my time with cancer, and in all honestly, I am paying more attention to Life and learning more now because of that experience. But I still want more. :) I’m glad I haven’t reached the top where I feel content in life, because what the heck would I have to live for then…I am only 26 years old! (For just two more weeks!) For the time being, I have to learn how to balance my time and to not hold guilt. God wants a relationship with us, and right now, we got it going on! I really am doing good, I’m eating better, spending my alone time to reflect at night, trying to serve others the best I can (and I have to realize that includes my job too, so I have to give myself credit there in the serving deptartment), but I would just like even more balance in my life. God knows my time and how I manage it, I can’t trick Him, but I will keep looking for ways to dig deeper than what I am already...and still going to church by myself on Sundays when Andrew works is a great start! :) Thanks Alli for taking me in on Sunday mornings :)

So the update with my back…the doctor called last week and confirmed what I already knew, the cysts are still in my spinal cord. Its still crazy to me, because I have lived with this pain for 5 years now, so when my back hurts from washing the dishes…now I know why. And when I walk the dog and am in pain…I know why. Which bums me out because I can’t exactly run this marathon in October with this pain. And it makes me wonder what options they are going to give me. Anything to avoid surgery is what I want deep down. But to have relief from this kind of pressure on my back would be an incredible life style that I haven’t had in a long time! So I pray for God’s wisdom once again in my life. That we will figure out this body of mine, so that I can carry my baby one day without any harm. Now THAT will be a time to really think about balance in life!! :)

It's about that time, Army Wives will be on soon... but I think I'll write another blog this week to catch you up on what's going on inside my spine and body. It can be confusing, everyone knows cancer...but chiari malformation and syringomyelia is a whole different world!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Relay For Life: Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back in 2011!

Hey, read the post titled 'The Curl has Returned' under this one before you watch this video...for some reason it wouldn't let me put it together on the same post. Don't forget to watch the video!!

And the Curl Has RETURNED!!

And what it looks like in the morning! I couldn't stop laughing!!

What a beautiful day it was in Lima Ohio! High of 83 degrees! I was outside as much as possible this weekend...we started working on the pool, we ate supper outside, I had all the windows open…just a great tease for what is to come this year filled with sun since I can be in it again! I literally laid on my deck outside in my PJ’s after drinking my coffee this morning…just soaking in the heat and sun!! It felt AMAZING!! I ended my weekend with getting my stitches out by the best nurse in town (I'm still sweet and they didn't dissolve ;) and writing this blog. But I especially enjoyed it because I am NERVE PAIN FREE!!! Yes, I have no more nerve pain in my back, chest, and arms. Lyrica is amazing for nerve pain, and it helped tame down the nerve endings enough for them to heal. I am happy to say that I am not taking any more pills for pain and YES IT WAS A PORT ISSUE DOC! ;)

No, I don’t hold a grudge or anything :) I’m pretty sure that because the pain is gone, it had to be caused by the port removal unlike the radiologist your instinct people, you know your body best! But you know what? Everything happens for a reason, and maybe God was teaching me a lesson on patience and frustration while leading me to the path to conquer this next battle in my body and to not let it go any longer...because we all know I procrastinate. :) Without God's interference with the intense nerve pain, I may have let this back issue go on for way longer...causing even more damage to my spinal cord. So I should probably catch you up on this issue…5 years ago, I had a surgery to help the bottom of my brain relieve pressure from the spinal cord. Because I had pressure on the spinal cord because of my cerebellum tonsils (bottom part of the brain), I developed syringolmyelia which are cysts in the spinal cord (called syrinx). Now because I had the surgery to relieve the pressure, the syrinx shrank, but they are still there. These syrinx are still causing pressure in my back, making me feel like I have a book bag on all the time. This pressure is why I went back to the doctor last June, and thats when they found the cancer, so they held off on this issue. When my doc saw the MRI images this round, it was basically time to say ‘Lets get you fixed.’ So that’s why I head back down to my neurologist in Columbus so that we can see the options I need to fix me...again. I have dealt with this back pain for years, and the thought of getting relief sounds amazing…but putting another foreign object in my body doesn’t flatter me, but that discussion is for another day. Like I said, I want to get down there and see my options. No use in worrying about the future today :)

The best thing so far is that since I have my mind on things other than the nerve pain, I have been able to think about Relay for Life and paying it forward. We have our theme for our tent…it’s ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.’ I see it as a perfect fit! I can’t wait to decorate it, get the kids games all put together, and really see how much money we raised for cancer research. If by doing this I can help someone with cancer have the same outlook and insight I had while fighting cancer, than all this will all be worth it. To be perfectly honest, this all makes me nervous because I’ve never done anything like Relay. I still have to push myself to do things that make me nervous. I see now that that is how you create memories, by going out of your box. Otherwise, Life just starts blending together. That’s why I didn’t back out of relay when it got hard for me. I’m doing this for those that didn’t make it and for the future that still needs a future. I don't see it as fair if my life was saved from cancer and I waste it. Same with my faith, it's not fair that someone showed me this life with God, and then I not share it with others - thats not what we are called to do as christians. When I start to waste my life is when I should start to feel guilty for surviving. Relay is helping me feel like I'm doing something. Because isn't that what all of us want to do when someone is hurting...we say 'I wish I could do something.' Well, here is your chance! If you know of anyone who has had cancer (and you do, you know ME! ;) be apart of the cancer world for one night and come out for the fun and celebration at the Allen County Fairgrounds on June 10 starting at 6:00- June 11 at noon. It will be just like a fair…food, games for the kids, and taking a walk around the track for those who have fought and lost, are still fighting, and those who have won the battle with cancer. And if you are a cancer survivor, check out the Relay for Life website so that you can get your own Relay for Life SURVIVOR t-shirt! If you haven’t had a chance to donate or still need your tickets for the Hocking Hills raffle, email me at or go to our Relay for Life webpage at to donate online and be apart of this cause! I seriously have a great team, I mean an PRETTY AWESOME TEAM who is kicking cancer's butt helping me and you can help too! Thanks for your support and mark your calendars now to stop out and see us all at the event…REMEMBER. CELEBRATE. FIGHT BACK!!!
2 corinthians 9:12 - This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.

Front view of the hair...eyebrows and all :) I can't believe how much better I look compared to just a few months ago...I'm looking healthier everyday. Thank you cancer drugs!

Hey check out the YOUTUBE video above this post about Relay For was pretty touching. And gives a clear picture why I wanted to do this and what its all about :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Getting past the frustration

So last night before my MRI of the thoracic spine today, Andrew did his job once again and made my day. He got out his guitar for the first time in YEARS and TOTALLY made me smile by playing my favorite songs. I mean, I was on cloud nine as he made me remember the old days and forget about the pain, nerves, anything. I was in pure bliss listening to that old guitar again…and remembering one of the first reasons I fell in love with him. Its just something about those guitars, right ladies??? :) And now that my man is into more country music…I’m in heaven when he plays Eric Church. Thanks Andrew for playing and taking me back to the days when we were youngens with no worries...just fun! The MRI today went just fine. I’m not sure if anyone should feel comfortable getting into these machines, but after you have had 3 MRIs, 3 PET scans, 6 CT scans, 4 X-Ray, and 1 ultrasound in just 9 months, you feel like you could run the machines yourself. :) But I wasn't alone again, my friends who were in their own health situations last fall were right with me again. Little Miss Miracle got her second heart surgery and it doing wonderful, and my bestie is getting her 'little monster' out too down in Columbus tomorrow :) Love you girl! I go back down to my neurologist in Columbus on Thursday, April 28, and that weekend I still celebrate my birthday…regardless if it’s good news or bad news! My pain lately is less nerve pain (amazing pills by the way!) and more muscle pain. Lord only knows where all this is coming from and where it leads. We'll just have to see what the scans show and what the docs, me, and God decide to do to help me live the best life I can live. So you could say I have recovered since my last blog of frustration. I honestly wasn’t frustrated that I was still sick but in a new form, because that was out of my control. It was the process of everything…the horrible pain without meds, the rude doctor, the waiting…and more waiting on results with still no answers, and how this new issue totally interrupted my ‘happy healing process’ from cancer. I was so consumed with frustration and pain to think about the important things going attending the woman’s conference and getting my team ready for Relay for Life. You see, I let my frustrations run my life for a few weeks and luckily my friends and family were there to help take my mind off of it and encourage me to remember my Pursuit and everything I learned. I am disappointed in myself because of how I let the frustration control my life and keep me from things, instead of me controlling it. I didn't do anything crazy like tell people off or go into a depression, I just felt like I let myself down by being irritable and not bouncing back sooner to get on with Life...and we are our toughest critic aren't we? :) I wish I would have remembered that the interruptions in life don’t mean you stop living, and throw a temper tantrum. You have to be stronger than the circumstances thrown your way, and never doubt that God stopped loving you or left your side. He knew I'd get frustrated, and I went through that emotion to learn that I don't want to handle my interruption in life like that anymore. I don’t want to miss a day of the goodness life can bring because I was upset. I went through too much to take Life for granted and waste it on anger and frustrations. I have learned the lesson that frustration leaves you no where, just grumpier than normal…and it's not good for your health either! Be stronger than the emotion and take action. So I gave that frustration and regret to God, and I've been much more content. Besides like a song says, I don't have time to maintain these regrets, when I think about the way He loves us, Oh how He loves us. Oh my, what His love can do for us and our interruptions...