Monday, April 27, 2015

#MicroblogMondays - Breast Cancer? Updated 4/30

What a title right? I've posted before about my BRCA2+ status (the breast cancer gene) and how I go through yearly screening, both mammogram and breast MRI. For years, I've tentatively planned to do the prophylactic double mastecomy, but it's stayed in the future...because I really don't want to do it.

I had my yearly breast MRI last Friday, and I got a call back that same day. Shit. I have a "suspicious" .8 cm lesion at 6 o'clock in my left breast. The call came from my Breast Specialist who manages all of my care and screenings. I'm pretty calm when I hear bad news. I'm getting more used to what it's like, so I knew that I didn't and wouldn't have any questions then, but I would soon after. I needed some processing time.

I immediately called my mom (who survived breast cancer at age 44 and gave me my lovely genes). I had already done a quick google search on the reliability of breast MRI and saw that it's notorious for false positives. I also texted my sister who is also BRCA2+ and talked to my husband.

Then the Breast Specialist called back which was perfect because I was ready with some questions. What is a biopsy like? (It's just done with a needle.) So they didn't see this on my mammogram the week before? (No.) I understand there is a high rate of false positives, but since this wasn't on detected a year ago, that's probably bad, right? (Yeah, it's worrisome.).

I also quickly posted on my BRCA Surveillance FB group to see if anyone else had a false positive. And I got quite a few. I was feeling pretty relieved. In my head, there was a 50/50 chance that everything was okay.

That night I was pretty numb, a little snappy at DH. But finally after Dylan was asleep I sat there stewing because he was just watching TV and I didn't want to bring it up myself. Luckily he did and saved himself from my wrath - although I did explain to him how he was almost about to get a huge diatribe. I couldn't stop myself. But he came through.

I went about my life this weekend. On Saturday, I thought about it almost not at all, but yesterday it started creeping back in.

So last night I did some new (better) research. I'm not in the category of just any person getting a breast MRI, I'm BRCA2+ and I have yearly screenings. Lo and behold, there is a study comparing those exact two groups of people (yearly and one time). In that study, the false positive rate for yearly screenings was just 5.6%. Fuck. A different study placed the percentage at 13%, but still, it's extremely likely that I'm in the big group and have...nope can't say it.

So I continued to research. What are the stages of cancer? I'd be anywhere from Stage 1A to 2A depending on whether lymph nodes are involved. That's based on the size of the lesion (under 2 cm). So that's good. But still Stage 1 sometimes uses chemo and Stage 2 commonly does. Although my survival rate would be very high (high 90's) and I truly don't believe for a second that I will not be cured, my mom and aunt are both survivors and my mom's was not caught this early, I really don't want to do chemo.  I've already wondered if I can have my own (long) hair cut and made into a wig for myself. Then I figured that wouldn't work, so maybe if I donate my hair, I can get similar hair? Damn.

And that also means I'm probably going to have to decide very soon whether or not to do the double mastectomy. And I probably will. I mean if my genes are starting to turn at age 34, do I really want to go through this over and over? And that means that I will lose my nipples and have a cut all the way from my nipple to my ribs on the outer side of my chest. Will it affect my marriage? How will it affect me? Not to mention, it's major surgery and I have a 2 year old.

So on Thursday, I go in for a biopsy. If they can find the lesion on ultrasound, the biopsy will be quick and done right there. If they can't, they try mammogram. If they find it on mammo only, I'll have to go to the main hospital to be biopsied. And if they can't find it on either, I'll have to go back for a MRI guided biopsy at a different hospital. I have heard stories where what they see just isn't there the next time...but I'm not very hopeful for that kind of outcome.

I'm tired just thinking about it.

UPDATE - they couldn't see it on the mammogram or ultrasound so I'll have to go in for an MRI guided biopsy. I guess it's good its so small, but MRIs are no fun and now there's more waiting.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

NIAW - Why I Never Felt Alone

I really didn't ever feel alone. I mean I felt like I was a member of a somewhat small unlucky minority, but I never felt alone.

The biggest reason is that a close friend of ours went through the exact process we did about a year prior to me. She shared every step of her process. And at the point she was going through it, I was already thinking/worrying we might have to too since I had already been trying for a year.

I also knew of multiple people, including my sister, who went through miscarriages while I was TTC. Multiple people talked about them so I knew just how prevalent they are.

I also had a very close friend who had been TTC about the same amount of time as me. She never did interventions and was never planning to (and we both conceived within two weeks of eachother), but I knew she was in the same boat.

I wrote a post years ago detailing how many people I knew in real life that were going through infertility. The numbers are astounding...but the only reason I didn't feel alone is because people were talking.

I started this blog and found the infertility community pretty early in my journey and that really brought everything together. I had support on a daily basis from people who were in the exact same shoes. I never felt comfortable in mom's groups with "regular moms" and now I call many of those IF bloggers friends and many of our children are around the same age.

After I got pregnant, I did post about our struggle in my FB announcement and I immediately got a response from a childhood friend that I wasn't very close to. She was going through IF right was our newborn child photographer (tough job for IF!), and a coworker. I always tell people, they can ask me anything...medicines, doctors, procedures..., but I think the most important part is that I told them I had been there too. That they are not alone.

If you haven't told anyone about your infertility, I encourage you to do so this week. On FB, in person, whatever works for you, because I promise, you will make at least one person feel that they are not alone.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Our Favorite Books - Toddler Version

Full disclosure: I was an English major. I am an English teacher. I have always loved to read and I will do my darnedest to develop the same love in my son.

So far, it's going pretty well!

I started regularly reading to Dylan sometime in his first year and it became the backbone of our bedtime routine sometime during that first year. Now it's always (always) "one more," but I pretty much limit it to three.

Here are our current favorites. And it's amazing how fast they change! Dylan can be pretty fickle with his books!

A Ball for Daisy

Image result for a ball for daisy

This is a book with no words. It's kind of annoying to read a book with no words when you are tired, but it's actually great practice. Talking about the pictures and asking questions about a book is a fantastic reading strategy. The lessons in this book came in handy when we recently went to a kid's birthday party and got toy balloon swords. Of course they all popped eventually. But we talked about how Daisy's ball popped too and she was so sad, but then she was okay later.

The Little Blue Truck/Little Blue Truck Leads the Way

Little Blue Truck Board Book -  Houghton Mifflin Com - Toys"R"Us

SUCH a cute book! I prefer the original to its successor, but just because they're so similar. The first has more animals and the second vehicles, but otherwise they have very similar language and sounds, and of course and nice lesson at the end. Dylan knows these books well and will fill in the words when I stop in the middle of a sentence. My favorite: Me: "Help! Help! Help! Cried the Little Blue Truck." Dylan: "Beep! Beep! Beep! I'm stuck! I'm stuck!" Now lots of things seem to be "stuck" around the house. Daddy squeezes Dylan, "I'm stuck! I'm stuck!"

Shiny Drivers: Fire Engine Freddie/Ted the Tractor

This are tiny little books that we've been reading forever, but they are still a favorite. And mommy never complains when he picks a 3 page book for me to read before bed! Ted the Tractor makes an appearance in Fire Engine Freddie which is a fun lesson in making connections.

Quiet Loud

Image result for quiet loud book

We bought a boxed set of Leslie Patricelli books at Costco when Dylan was very small and I keep adding more when I see them on sale. They are simple and cute, but with lots of fun pictures and situations to talk about. Dylan absolutely knows what quiet means. At night when I start to count (meaning I'm about to walk outside) he says "mommy quiet!" I just added Yummy, Yucky although I wish it included pooping in the tub as one of the yuckies! Fa la la is also really cute for Christmas-time. No, No, Yes, Yes has also provided us with a great way to talk about do's and don'ts around the house. When he had just started talking, I could often hear him rambling, "no, no, yes, yes" in his crib, over and over. Oh...and Potty lives in our bathroom right next to the potty that Dylan occasionally sits on. We've been taking the slow road to potty town. Hoping it'll start to click soon!

Good Night Gorilla

Image result for goodnight gorilla

This is another book without words, parents beware! I didn't know just how great Dylan's obsession with keys and locks would become, but since Gorilla unlocks all of the animals cages throughout this book, I don't think Dylan will ever tire of it. The best part is when the Zookeeper's wife realizes all the animals are sleeping in her bedroom. I don't think I can accurately type the exclamation of surprise Dylan and I make, but it always makes both of us laugh. Then we say "No, no animals, you need to sleep in the zoo!"

Harry the Dirty Dog
Image result for harry the dirty dog
This was one of my childhood favorites and it's exciting that Dylan likes it to. Basically Harry runs away from home because he doesn't want a bath and gets very dirty playing around the city before he decides to come home. Who doesn't like to explore a bunch of ways to get dirty?

I wish I could get him to let me read Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site and I Love you Through and Through, but those are currently out of favor.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

In Need of an Update - 2,5 Years in the Making!

Last month, I actually wrote four posts in one day. I was proctoring a half-day test and I had some very rare free time. But I never went back to edit the posts so they lingered in blog-limbo. It makes me sad not to blog, it's just hard to fit it in right now. But I am going to publish all of those posts from last month in the next few days!

But first, in light of my longest blogging hiatus, I think an update is in order.

Dylan is 26 months adjusted (30 months actual).

He's about 23 pounds, still a little string bean, but getting taller. He's wearing 6.5 shoes, 12 month shorts and 2T shirts.

He talks in full, long sentences quite often. One of his latest: "I'm so excited to go to the zoo with mommy!" Damn, this stage is cool! Last night at dinner he pretended his quesadilla was a pair of sunglasses. Other nights his food is a key or skateboard or truck.

I was thinking we had avoided the tantrumy terrible twos, but we are definitely having some new issues crop up. There is a lot of "mine" and "I need" going around. We don't have any fall down drag out cry fests, but it's getting more difficult to deal with. The nanny said that he's starting claiming the slide at the park and yelling at kids who come near it even though he often doesn't slide down. Eek.

As I posted yesterday, sleep is back to normal, thank the Lord! Starting around 18 months, Dylan was frequently waking up in the middle of the night after a glorious year-plus of almost no night wakings, but for the most part, I think it's done.

Dylan can't quite jump yet, but he's working on it. And he loves to dance. It's the cutest thing ever!

Last night he said "I love you Daddy" at bedtime for the first time unprompted. He still hasn't given that precious gift to me, but I feel it on the horizon.

What else?

Dylan is a pretty fantastic eater. He'll ask for peas for a snack and "more broccoli" whenever we serve it. He's definitely going through a growth spurt and last night he ate about 3 oz of chicken as a bedtime snack! His favorite foods are watermelon and strawberries, but he also loves rice, tortillas, toast and mac and cheese. Last night he said "so yummy" while he was eating and Mr. GG thought it was a compliment to my cooking. Nope, he was eating toast and butter...which I buttered thank you very much.

So far at least, every single stage has been better than the last and I am having the time of my life parenting this little cutie pie. He's funny and silly and smart and cuddly and I love him to pieces.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Daylight Savings and the Near Ruination of Sleep

*This post was originally written on March 17th and I can officially say, that we are back to an 8:00 bedtime with rarely any crying.*

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I thought he was broken. That he would never again go to sleep on his own, without crying. That I would never get more than an hour of downtime before I needed to go to bed myself.

But I think we've turned the corner.

Daylight Savings kicked our butts this year. (And as Timehop kindly reminded me, he went three straight days without napping last year too, so I shouldn't have been surprised.) Dylan typically falls asleep around 8 with the bedtime routine (books, stories) starting around 7:30.

I did try to back things up a bit before Daylight Savings hit, but I was kind of haphazard about it and he pretty much still went to bed at 8.

After Daylight Savings, we tried to do things somewhat normally, so we went in his room about 7:30, maybe a little later, same routine, same everything, but he screamed when it was time to go down (even though he seemed tired, even though he napped at normal adjusted times). So then Dad went back in, then I went back in and sometime after 9, he was asleep. This exact routine went on for about 3 days. Then Mr. GG went out of town...

...and Dylan didn't go to bed until 10, on me. And I debated every minute whether now was an okay time to leave the room, because I desperately did not want to start the process over again. I finally got out at 10:45. Oh and this is after he took a ginormous dump in the bath, while laying down. I didn't notice for a minute and there was poop EVERYWHERE. SOOOOOOO GROSSSSSSS! I had started bedtime later that night, around 8:30, trying to avoid the pitfalls of the previous nights. But no, it was one of the worst sleep experiences  in his two years of life.

My wonderful husband gave me the night off the next night, I went out for a glass of wine and a massage and it felt like a vacation.

The next night was me alone again. Dylan was up to all of his normal tricks, but I went through all of the normal steps...if drawn out a bit...put him down...and he screamed bloody murder. But just for 3 minutes. Then miraculously, he just stopped! 

Since then, we've slowly been getting bedtime earlier, two nights ago was 8:40, last night was 8:25. By the time Daylight Savings screws with us again, we might just be back to 8:00.

I do think what worked best was being firm with him that mommy was going to put him down and not come back in. I guess he told that nanny that he cried so I would come back in! I mean I know that's kind of true, but for him to be able to articulate it the next day? Problem. So I've been firmed, he's put up a brief protest and sleep has won out.

What I told him the last couple of nights is that if he doesn't want to go to sleep, he can think about trucks, or cars, or boats, or helicopters, or the carwash, or dog beach, or the pool, or numbers, or letters or anything he wants to. He puts up a fierce protest at each stage: chair to standing, standing to crib, but once I put him in the crib and leave, he seems to know it's okay and that I'm not going to come back. Hopefully.

If you want a recap of our routine:
  • Phase 1: 3 Books in the Chair 
    • (and sometimes "one more")
  • Phase 2: Light off, stories/songs in the chair 
    • ("Tell daddy's car carwash." "Tell dog beach.")
  • Phase 3: Stand up, rock near crib, song, then counting 
    • (this is the phase of most protest "sit chair!""Go outside.""Milk!!!!!!!" Last night we said milk almost 30 times after every number while I was counting to 30. I just ignored and kept counting after saying No milk.)
  • Phase 4: Put in crib, arrange blankets just right, rub back and count to 10
  • Phase 5: Wine