Just a Few More Things

I know many of you are interested in seeing pictures of our new life here as well...so here are a few roses from our front yard.

They just keep blooming and blooming. The house comes with gardeners who must know what they're doing because I just keep being surprised by the beauty of these bushes every day.
And here's a picture of myself and Trey. You can see that he's becoming a tan Californian while I'm still my pale self.

Hi from August and Hazel as well.

From There to Here

So, you know that feeling? The one where you wake up and the sun is out and everything just looks brighter? That feeling you have right at that moment...that's what I've been feeling for days. Every morning I wake up, look out my window and see palm trees and blue sky.
I'm not trying to brag. This is coming from an amazed place deep down inside my chest. My brain knows that for the last 13 years this season should bring sweaters and raincoats and short days...but that's just not happening. Today? It was clear and beautiful and 75 degrees. I turned the air off in the house. I drove with the windows down. I took the kids to Menchies after school. I sat out in the courtyard of our house and read a book. I will be walking to dinner. It's really amazing.
When we lived in Seattle I was blown away every time I saw the mountains. On clear days? Seattle is the most beautiful city I've ever lived in. But this time of year brought the beginning of darkness. I will often look at the weather app on my phone to check in on what's happening in Seattle. The other day I saw the familiar grey clouds, one right after the other, and I felt that dark feeling again. It's a bit of sadness in my chest. I'm sorry for those dark days that are quickly approaching.
The thrill of seeing the mountains never went away. I remember looking out the window at the elementary school and seeing the Olympic Mountains and just being in awe even to the very last day.
I hope to have those same feelings 13 years from now. I hope to enjoy every sunny day. Every bit of summer, every warm breeze.


More News

I guess I should have mentioned that pathology came back on the removed portion of my thyroid as positive for cancer...so you see, when the endocrinologist called the other day to tell me that the right side was clear...I felt a huge wave of relief. I mean HUGE.
The cancer was very small and did not appear to have broken through the cell walls, but there is still fear that it could have spread into the other side.  But it didn't.
I've spent many, many months wishing that I had never felt that lump. Thinking that if I hadn't noticed it, life would be normal. But then it was cancer. Look, I can play the "what if" game till I'm blue in the face...what if I didn't feel it and it grew over the years...what if my thyroid started failing because of it...but I felt it when it was small. My thyroid was still functioning, it was removed before anything could spread and now I have half a thyroid that works.
Did I mention that the endocrinologist called again today?
The right side is totally compensating for the left. No need for medication.

No need to worry for the time being. I will put it all out of my head until January when I'll get blood work and an ultra sound to confirm that all is still well.

California living is pretty great right now. Hazel and I rode our bikes to the bank and to lunch. August is out walking the dogs to a coffee shop. Trey went for a run this morning. I feel like we are outside more here. Once we get patio furniture we'll be able to eat outside...can't wait.


News You Can Use

Hi folks,
So recovery is complete. I was able to get a little running in today and have been going to Pure Barre in an effort to get back into a workout routine.

Last week I saw a primary doctor here and was set up for blood work to check on the workings of my remaining thyroid. She also set me up with an endocrinologist. Kaiser works quicker than Group Health and I was able to see the primary doc and the endo all in the same week. The endo set me up with an ultra-sound to check the right side of my thyroid to see if there are any nodules. It is my understanding that if they found anything they would suggest removal. He also had me do a chest x-ray and blood work. That all happened on Wednesday of last week.
Today I received a call from the endo office. It has been the first good news I've heard since March. The right side is clear. Nothing to worry about.
We are still waiting on the blood work to verify that the right side is compensating for the missing left.
If I understand it all correctly, I will get to know my endocrinologist very well for the next 3 years. He will monitor my right thyroid for nodules every 6 months. If it remains clear for 3 years I can cut it down to one check up a year.

Our insurance will be changing on September 1st, with it will come other doctors with differing opinions. My surgeon in Seattle suggested removal but noted that I'd receive many other suggestions depending on the doc. For now, I'm good with holding off. As I said before, surgery wasn't the most difficult part, the recovery was...and the scar...the scar kind of sucks.

But it's all good. The weather here is amazing. The kids and I went for a bike ride into the center of South Pasadena and met up with Scott, Amy, Audrey and one of her little friends. Trey is coming home from a trip this evening and all is well.



I am to be at the hospital at 9:15 tomorrow morning.


Calm Body, Calm Mind

I've been breathing these words every day.
Breath in- calm body
Breath out- calm mind
Hoping beyond hope that it will sink in and keep me together.

I make the call tomorrow to get the time of my surgery. Tomorrow night Amy and the kids come over for the week. Tomorrow is my last day at work. Tomorrow the kids start PE camp. Tomorrow we go see the Superman movie.
Tuesday is the surgery.

I don't know what to expect as far as how I will feel after the operation. My dear friend Deborah has told me over and over again that the actual procedure will be easy. I'll go it and take a nice nap. She has had several operations in her life. She also said that I shouldn't be afraid to take the pain medication.

That nurse I spoke with over the phone said that I should give names to my fears.
I'm afraid that I will have a panic attack on the way to the hospital.
I'm afraid that my blood pressure will be too high when we get there.
I'm afraid that Trey won't be able to be in the room with me before they take me to the O.R.
I'm afraid that he won't be there when I wake up.
I'm afraid that something will go wrong.
I'm afraid that I will be a weeping baby.

I want this to be over so, so badly.


Getting Closer

I took Monday and Tuesday off this week. I did it because I had a phone appointment with a nurse to do a "teaching" about my surgery on Monday and then a pre operation physical with my primary doctor on Tuesday. Honestly, I didn't need to take the time off, both were scheduled for the mornings but I had the sick time and went ahead and did it.
So. Glad. I. Did.
The phone appointment had me in tears during the conversation. She was quite lovely, I was quite overwhelmed with all the information she was giving me.
The surgery should take 3 hours but I'll probably be in the hospital closer to 6 with pre and post junk. She started to go into detail about moving the muscles in my neck to access the thyroid...I had to ask her to stop. It was causing me to panic a bit...I started crying. Poor gal...she was just trying to educate me. She was under the impression that the more I knew about the operation, the more calm I would be...knowledge is power...   Except that's not so true for me. I'd rather be in the dark. Put that IV in and make me take a nice little nap.
Needless to say, I was a wreck all day on Monday and was quite worked up about meeting with my doctor the next day.

So Tuesday rolls along and my appointment is first thing in the morning. I was worked up because I wanted to ask my lovely doctor if she could prescribe some calming drugs for the days leading up to the  procedure. Asking for drugs makes me nervous. I've watched too many medical dramas and think that if I ask for them she will think I'm a junkie.
Well she didn't think that. In fact she was rather helpful. Gave me 2 prescriptions, one for sleep and one for calm. I haven't had to take any yet...just knowing they are available is helpful.
We talked through the biopsy, she agreed that it sounded like a terrible procedure. I felt validated.
It won't surprise you to learn that I cried again. She was understanding.
And I wasn't AS upset after that appointment, but having these things one right after the other really made all my fears come back to the surface.

I'm again in the mode of trying to stay busy. This week I signed up for three classes at Barre3 up the road. I'm continuing bootcamp with my old personal trainer and I'm running the lake when I can. Work is wrapping up, which brings other emotions to the surface, but it's keeping me busy.

The house sold. We had several families bidding for it. I'm happy with the family who purchased it. They will fit in with our neighbors just right.

Lots of changes. Lots of lasts. Lots to look forward to...after the 18th.


And Now For Something Completely Different

Our Spring Break destination was California.
And it was an eventful break!

The kids and I flew out to Scott and Amy's place and lived life with them for a few days before Trey arrived to whisk us away to Disney Land. The sun was out, the breeze was cool and things were good.
I'm thrilled to report that August and Hazel still LOVE riding the rides and seeing the characters. They ran from one place to the next and were good sports all day long. I think being there was good for the boy. I think it helped him work through some of his uncertainty with the move.
We were able to see what life would be like on a daily basis while we were with the Reynolds as well as what a special day could be like at Disney.
Zane and Audrey were in school so we did a walk through at the school Hazel will be attending. Zane was a big man on campus as he led her around showing her the outdoor halls and the new library. Audrey is into roller derby and invited Hazel to come watch some of the practice. As a result, Hazel is now registered for their summer camp to see if it's something she might want to do when we get there.

We looked at a few houses during the trip and I am happy to report that we signed a lease! It's a three bedroom house about a mile away from the Reynolds. Both August and Hazel will be able to walk to school! And we can keep both dogs!  We thought for a while that it would be impossible to find a lease that would accept dogs, but this one popped up last minute. We signed the lease on our way back to WA!!

The next step is to get our house sold. Trey is working on the front of the house right now, planting and refreshing. The kids have been working on purging what they don't need. I'm trying to wrap my mind around packing things up.


Chunk of time

Well, one chunk of time has almost past. It's Thursday, which officially means that tomorrow is Friday...which means that we're that much closer to our California visit. It also means that the end of the school year is rapidly approaching and that I have to be observed today.
I've  never had much thought about being observed until this year. It's a whole new ballgame, one that I'm happy to drop out of. This will be my last year teaching. I was a substitute for seven years before I found a classroom position. Teaching has changed in those years and I find myself very frustrated with many of those changes.
During today's observation I will be working with my first graders as they learn the art of retelling the stories they read. We've been taking it part by part and reviewing each section weekly. We will focus on the "important events" in the story. Many of my students will simply state one thing that happened, but our Common Core State Standards demand that students are able to identify key details in the books they read...so I'm teaching them to expand on the stories.  We'll use sentence frames and anchor charts to help internalize this practice. I will use Wemberly Worried to model how I retell the important events and will then read Edward the Emu to guide the students through their own written retell.
It's a fine lesson. Not spectacular. It'll get the job done...sadly, I'm more worried about what my observer will find wrong with the lesson than I am about the students success.
More things to worry about. I've been trying to manage the worry but going to the gym before work but life gets in the way...August had a dentist appointment yesterday so I didn't make it to the gym.  It's amazing what skipping a day can do to me. I'm going today. I'm stressed about work, stressed about the dogs (we may have to find new homes for them, but that's another post at another time), stressed about getting everything together for California.
Sigh. Jennifer worried.


Jennifer Worried

I have always divided my life in chunks of time. I'd see a movie trailer that had an opening night date and I'd think of all the things that were planned between now and then. Or I'd cut my work time into blocks between the next good thing. Right now I'm focusing on one more week of work until we visit Scott and Amy. Then I have four and a half weeks until Sasquatch. Then I have three more weeks until the end of the school year. And finally I have one more day until I go in for surgery. It seems like a ton of things will happen before I go in.  I took the kids to a movie tonight and there was a trailer...I started to panic a bit because the movie will be coming out mid May and I thought, holy cow!  I have a long time to wait between now and the operation. That's a ton of days to worry. A ton of days to fill so that my head doesn't spiral out of control. So many nights to lay in bed thinking about the biopsy and the state I was in for that, only to start thinking about my state of mind when I finally go to the hospital. 

I read the Kevin Henkes book WEMBERLY WORRIED to my class on Friday. It did not escape me that I am WEMBERLY. When I am busy, I worry less. But the thing is, I don't really like being super busy. I've become a bit of a homebody. I long to sit on my couch and watch tv or read books. I'm exhausted at the thought of staying busy until June 18th and scared at the thought of sitting at home with my thoughts. 

As if all that wasn't enough- we're working on this move. We have to get the house ready to list and we must find a place to live in South Pasadena. I've forgotten how to move. I can't remember where to start. And I know I need to start soon because we'll be driving away as soon as my doctor gives me the all clear. 

It's all too much right now. As Petal is to WEMBERLY, this blog will be my worry stone. WEMBERLY found herself rubbing her stuffed bunny's ears when she worried. I will find myself dumping my thoughts here, otherwise I will spiral...and nobody likes me when I spiral. WEMBERLY'S parents and grandparents kept telling her to stop worrying throughout the book...just like Trey does for me. But the truth is, I can't. Let me reiterate that I am not worried that this will kill me. I know it's probably not cancer. I am worried about the operation. I'm a healthy person. I've only gone in to the hospital to give birth...and that ended with a baby. This time I will be going in to get cut open...at the neck!  I've got to stop. It's Saturday and we have plans.  Must categorize my thoughts and push these to the back. Hazel is up and watching The Animaniacs.  Think I'll join her!


and the surgeon says....

Honestly- it's all a blur...Trey can fill folks in if you need more information, but this is what I think happened at the meeting this morning:
So it's probably not cancer. But the only real way to know this is to remove the nodule. The endocrinologist said there was a 20% chance of it being cancer, the surgeon says it's probably more like 10%.
They can remove half the thyroid and I won't have to do any medication.
The surgery will take a few hours, I'd go home on the same day.
Recovery will take about a week to two weeks. There will be a scar. It will hurt afterwards. There will be pain pills to take for the recovery. I should not drive for that week. I should not move my neck...if I do it will hurt.
Oh, and I  now have to wait for the person who schedules these appointments to call me so we can get on the books. One more thing- she thinks it will probably be in JUNE!

I know myself pretty well. I need to get my head together over this. It will probably take 3 days to adjust to this plan. Once the 3 days are over I will probably stop thinking about it until the week of the procedure. I will be a mess that week. But I will be fine until then.



Wow, thanks for all the texts, emails, comments and good thoughts.
I was searching the web this afternoon and found an article on Brook Burke, the gal who hosts Dancing with the Stars...she has just recently gone through what I'm going through right now. The major difference is that she had 10 biopsies...10!  Ugh. I was in a state of panic at the thought of having a second one!
I have an appointment with the surgeon on Monday morning. It's perfect timing really.  We're on a short family vacation with some of Trey's family and it's making the time fly by.  We're all in Utah.  I thought it'd be so cold and ended up packing several coats and base layers...only to arrive to sun, sun, sun!  Hazel went skiing on Snowbird today and was out there with her snow pants and a vest...and said she was still too hot! August and Trey have been having the time of their lives up on the mountain. You'll have to check Trey's facebook page to see some pretty amazing mountain shots. I've posted some pictures of the house and the view, they are on my facebook page as well as instagram...you should try to find them...this place is pretty epic.
I've been at the house hanging with family and doing last minute Easter shopping.
Tomorrow Trey and I are going to the spa. I've already been there once with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law but insisted that Trey head back after all that skiing. He's getting a massage and I'm getting a pedicure. It's a beautiful spot...you can watch the skiers while you get your toes done.
So...it's all been a good distraction.  I'll post more after the meeting with the surgeon. I'm assuming we'll talk about the operation and hopefully set a time to get this thing over with.  I just want it all behind me.


It Could Be Worse

Ok. It could be worse. So. Much. Worse than it really is...that's the good news. I won't even call the next part the "bad news" because really, it's just scary news.
On March 6th I reached up to scratch an itch on my neck only to become aware of a lump. At first I thought it was my adams apple but quickly realized it was in the wrong place.  After the year my family has had, my mind raced to a bad place...so I called my doctor. They were able to schedule me that morning and I thought that maybe they'd just say it was an infection or something....but they didn't. Instead, they told me to get an ultra sound on it.  A few days of waiting and little sleep, mixed with nervous tears...and we get the ultra sound done. Again, I was SURE that I'd go in and they'd say it was just a swollen this or that...no big deal....but they didn't. Instead, they told me it was a 2cm nodule on the left side of my thyroid. My doctor called by the time I arrived home to tell me that he wanted a biopsy done on the nodule as soon as they could get me in...which was in one week...on a Friday.
Another week of trying to keep busy, movie watching, reality tv watching, reading books, working, trying to remain calm.  I was SO VERY SURE that Friday would arrive and I'd go in but they'd find nothing to biopsy. And I was SO VERY WRONG.
I think the crushing realization that there really was something wrong hit me at that visit. Those poor doctors and nurses.  I was a mess. I sobbed. SOBBED! Hands up to my face, tears streaming...it was ugly. Trey was sitting at the bottom of the bed holding my hand and trying to keep me calm while they stuck me FOUR times to get a good sample.
The best part was when it was all over (Trey said it only took 20 minutes...it truly felt like an hour!) and the doctor gently stated that they might have to do a second biopsy at some point and that he is going to suggest that they put me under.  Not a problem!
So that was a Friday. The results would take 3 business days. Another long, slow weekend filled with plenty of retail therapy, tv, food and tears.
Wednesday rolled around and the doctor called before 9am. He informed me that the results were suspicious. The report that was sent to me via email listed the alert as RED and had a note that said it should be removed. He was referring me to the endocrinologist who would make the final decision on what to do next. He said that they might want another biopsy or they might suggest removal.
The earliest they could get me in was this morning (3/25). I was worried.  I was worried because every appointment seemed to get worse. I was worried that the doctor wouldn't listen to me. I was worried that he'd say it was cancer.
So here's what he said...I think...cause I was pretty nervous at this appointment and I might get some stuff wrong.
He said that I should get part of my thyroid removed because they don't know what the nodule consists of. He said that the surgeon will go in and make a judgment call based on what the thyroid looks like to determine how much of the thyroid should be removed. He said something about two different kinds of worrisome cells, one looked like palm fronds and the other masks itself to look normal. They didn't know which one mine were...or something like that.
So now I wait. I wait for the surgeon to call me so we can schedule the surgery. The good news is that the doctor didn't sound like I needed to hurry this along. He said that even if it is cancer, that no one dies of thyroid cancer. He made that very clear.
The kids know what's going on. My work knows what's going on and my family knows what's going on...and now you know. As soon as the surgery is schedule I'll let you know.
But for now...I'm trying not to be so scared.