Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thankful Thursday


Not much to announce.........except for,

I'm pleased to say that I have experienced no brain odema (swelling), no need for steroids, and continue to endorse Spirulina and Acai berry for recovery and coping with fatigue.

Despite some odd looks from the docs because I wasn't suffering from head splitting headaches, I am extremely proud of getting to this point.

I'm thankful to still have some hair, that my Lovely husband loves to cook for me (check out his new blog over here), that I don't need to travel back and forward to hospital each day, thankful that my eyesight has returned and I almost feel like a functioning human being. Phew.

So there you go. The next step of this journey complete. Time to snooze for a few days and then celebrate!! Yipeeeeee
Jaz xx

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Frugal Winter Weekends

During winter, especially when it is raining (which it's been doing a lot lately) our children get cabin fever. I'm always trying to think or dream up of ideas for keeping them away from the television. Ok......................delaying the television viewing until the afternoon at least.

The girls spent hours with a palette of water based paint, brush and a roll of paper towels. Ingenious! They loved every minute of it. I didn't spend any money getting them set up because we had all the ingredients in the house!

Paper towels aren't quite as good as coffee filters (which are A.M.A.Z.I.N.G) but the paints did bleed together, creating fun effects that certainly brightened up the day!!
I've seen the coffee filters used over on this blog HERE.
Even two year old hands could cope with the task, mostly unsupervised, and very happy.

Two busy artists.............NOT WATCHING T.V. !!!!!!!

See what appears after the rain :-)

Other frugal, rainy day activities we have done before were PIZZAS and PAPER-BEADS
Yay for ultra cheap entertainment.
Jaz xx

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Brains vs Brawn/Beauty debate.

So it's like this.

A girl walked into her local hospital the other day.

"Hi" greeted the nurse, "If you don't mind we'd like you to go to a different treatment machine today. Some technical issues" (smiles sweetly).

"Sure" (the girl smiles sweetly back)

Nurse announces on intercom. "Hi.............that brain I was talking to you about is on her way up!"

The girl was listening. (The nurse was suddenly horrified at this realisation).

The girl laughed. (The air in the room was suddenly lighter).

"Don't worry" she said to the embarrassed nurse, "I've been called far worse."

The girl moved on with a growing feeling of personal achievement. Finally known for her brains.

She could hear the distant cheers of suffragettes long passed.

Jaz xx

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Do my boobs look big in this??? Thank You Thursday!!

Oh what a day, what a day it has been. I feel emotionally drained. Time for a giggle I feel.

Today I need to talk about boobs. Mine to be exact.

Now.......before I give out the wrong impression, I'm really not a very foul mouthed or a sexually explicit person, I promise. (Although I just remembered I have posted about them before, maybe I do have a problem).
I have just realised this personal revelation.

My boobs are bigger.

How the heck did that happen????

For me, Tuesdays are often check up day with the Doctor asking many questions about my current state of health and how I might be coping with the radiotherapy treatment. I have, thus far, shared only good news and have not had to have any 'drug' intervention. YAY FOR MY BRAIN!
Tuesdays are also an excellent opportunity to ask any burning questions I might have.

Well.......the Tuesday just recently passed, I REALLY wanted to ask if radiation treatment can enhance the state of your womanly rack, boobs, what ever you want to call them.

I didn't ask :-)

But the truth is, after very happily breast feeding three babies my 'breasticles' were starting to look more like socks with a tennis ball in each dangling off my chest. Add in a little weight loss from the anxiety of a medical diagnosis made last year and even the tennis balls were barely present. I assumed, at that point that this was my lot. This is the payment and reward of breeding healthy and secure children.

I still didn't ask :-)

I think, the real reason is one of two things.
1. My pituitary gland is getting a work out during treatment and I am regressing to my younger self.
2. The nutritious brain feeding diet that I regularly consume is ensuring I maintain a healthy weight.

I'm going with number two, because I really don't want to be a teenager again, no sir-reeee!!
And as Breast tissue is mainly fat then I must say I am happy with my current fat/muscle ratio.

I think this might just be a little silver lining.

Silly one , I know.

Thanks for the revelation Thursday.
To all the owners of fabulous (fabulous being large and small) breasts.
I salute thee!
Jaz xx

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

So much cheese.........and chocolate!!

It occurred to me that we really had much fun lately. I really miss having fun with the kids.
Recent events have left me exhausted and distracted, but I decided it also comes down to attitude. So I put on my happy face and played the glad game.

We went swimming.
Well.......I sat this one out, but got to take some pics and enjoyed watching the fun being had.
Love the way the older kids help the younger ones learn.

Awwww sisterly love!


We then decided to flag all good intentions of excellent nutrition for one night. A plate of fruit and lollies for dinner.
...oh, and chocolate :-)

Kinda like fishing really, trying not to let the big one get away.

We actually found some dairy free chocolate to melt for Phoebe so she didn't feel left out. She looked pretty mesmerized to me!!

Honestly, if you're going to do this you gotta go all the way. Almost anything is good when dipped in chocolate.

Oh and look, more cheese moments.
What a grin.

Jaz xx

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Vlog Thankful Thursday!!

Sorry about all the back light people, but it does make the front lighting appear softer, hence the smile lines are less obvious. Pleased about that :-p

Oh I got a bit of stage fright and forgot to send out best wishes from Mark and the girls, they are waving and saying hi too :-)
Have a great Thursday everyone!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What to feed the troops!?!

Hey now this has been done before. We've made sandwiches and all sorts in crazy shapes. Even the corny old smiley face plate version. But tonight Mark found the teeny tiny shape cutters and endeavoured to get Phoebe to eat more than a few crumbs.
Out of all our children, Phoebe is the most reluctant to eat anything that isn't covered with sugar.
The others actually prefer to eat veges and meat..........but not the Pheeb-meister!!



Edible teddy bears, stars and hearts.

I must admit, it wasn't all eaten. But we're pretty sure some vitamins and minerals were consumed along the way.

We will not be defeated !
Jaz xx

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thankful Thursday: I'm over half way!!!!!!

It's true, yesterday was hump day, the half way point through Radiotherapy. YAHOOO!

I still have the dry mouth, drinking lots. A bit of brain fog, especially as the each week progresses. Fatigue, not unusual and expected. No headaches or nausea, which means my brain doesn't need steroids just yet, so I'm really pleased. My body is keeping it together.

I am however, and this wasn't at all unexpected, losing some hair. I had my hair cut a lot shorter so as to lessen the impact (for myself and others) before the therapy started. The hair loss is isolated to where the beams enter the scalp, so it will be patchy across the back of my head. My hairdresser, bless her, is confident though. She commented that if anyone had to have beams of radiation through their head, it's my head of hair that will survive. I have my birth father to thank for his DNA here. Of course, my mother will have contributed, but I've seen the 70's photos of luscious, thick, long dark hair he sported. I'm really grateful to have such a scalp load of the thick stuff myself.
When I run my fingers through it, it seems like loads is coming away. So much, Mark put the first load out into a tree for the birds. I'm proud to be supporting the building of local bird real-estate!!
I had been so brave and stoic up until then. Every time the docs mentioned the hair loss I just thought it was the least of my worries....and my head knows it is. But my heart............well that's another thing altogether.

So this Thursday I'm thankful for getting to the half way point, bearing up to the side effects, DNA, hair and the birds. All an important part of my life this week.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's a kids life!

I love Mondays. The Boomtown Rats were soooo wrong.

Yesterday, thanks to Her Royal Highness Lizzie Windsor, I got to spend the day with all my kids. Thank you Ma'am.

We didn't do anything particularly interesting. Went through bedrooms and played with toys. Perfect!

Little Phoebe decided to do a photo-shoot of her favourite things. I was quite impressed at her patience and ability to 'hold still'.

Cash register close up
Monkey....I swear...none were harmed in the making of this!!
Mummy's knees and some bedroom floor mess
Books on shelf.....hee hee hee
Her feet ....tee hee hee......tooooo cute
A favourite book....... and pink knee
A carefully positioned pony.
Loving the simplicity of what makes a child happy.

I also love that Caitlin saw this sunrise and took these photos from an upstairs window.
Yay for kids who appreciate the stuff around them :-)

And to finish, a funny story to tell you about Phoebe and learning to tell the difference between boys and girls. It began as early morning pillow talk, Phoebe lying in between Mark and I, far too early to be considered civilised.
Mark: " Daddy a girl or boy?"
Phoebe: "Daddy's a boy"
Mark: "And Mum?"
Phoebe: "Girl!"
Mark: "Is Molly a girl or boy?"
Phoebe: "Molly's a girl and Caitlin's a girl"
Mark: "So what about **** **** a boy or girl? (Boy's name from preschool protected)
Phoebe (in a snarky voice) ****'s a grumpy old troll!!!

Yep she's got it sussed at an early age, no boys will be pushing her around this playground it seems.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Thankful Thursday

On the home-front:

Winter is here and little Phoebe has the most awful head and chest cold. Unusual, as she rarely gets ill. Accident prone, sure, but her immunity is amazing. This means Mark has had to take a few extra days off work to help supervise her. It's tough juggling family and job, but he's a star.

I couldn't resist getting the camera out this morning when I wandered into the dining room to see her golden locks bending over some playdough "lollies".

Gee, I wish I looked that good when I had caught a cold. The amount of green mucus one little head can produce is disgusting!!!! But she still looked gorgeously windswept, straight out of bed.

Caitlin is trucking along at school. She had reached the age of endless research projects, (which as both a Mum and teacher I sometimes object to), however the teacher's expectations are clearly communicated and my dear little Caitlin is amazingly motivated.

Molly is soooooo happy it is winter. Winter means more opportunities for DVD watching!!! She is mad on visual technology and I can imagine her turning it into a vocation in the future.
She very proudly announced receiving a certificate for trying hard in all areas of school. Way to go Molly!!

The medical front:
I have consented to receiving Radiotherapy on this brain tumour of mine. In fact I have successfully completed 9/27 days!!

The preparation stage:
This leg of the journey began with a plaster cast and then a plastic vacuum formed "shell" of my face and head made over two days. It's ok though. The shell does not cover your mouth or nose, so I never feel claustraphobic. I do however look like I'm auditioning for a part in a sci-fi movie.

7- 10 days were then spent planning the exact positioning and number of beams to be used.
This is TRIPLE checked (thank goodness, very reassuring).

CT scan and photos are taken and layers are built up on computer with my most current MRI images. Once again, very thorough. They want to target this tumour without causing too much unnessesary damage to the rest of my brain.

Just in case any of you out there ever need to know, you lie down on the machine, the head shell is placed over your face and locked onto the bed. The machine then whirrs around your head into the preprogrammed positions. It takes approx ten minutes. (Which can sometimes make the two hours travelling even more of a drag). But you do what is needed to get and stay well.

Day one of treatment arrived. I felt a little apprehensive but at least familiar with the surroundings. Mark found it a great deal harder. He was allowed to see inside the room, the machine, me being locked into the mask and then could watch on tv screen while the treatment commenced. He said it made him feel helpless and he just wanted to snatch me out of the head "shell" and run. I must agree. If I thought that was a realistic option I'd be right there beside him with my running shoes on.

At the end of week one the only real side effect was a dry mouth. A normal reaction to receiving radiation to your brain. Napping daily is important to recharge. I also hit the cross trainer for a gentle 1km stroll when I can as I find the traveling back and forward to Auckland hospital and constant resting can make me even more lethargic.

Thursdays and Fridays are the worst. The accumulative effect of three or four days of radiation makes me slow down even more by the end of the week. Weekends are bliss, I have every weekend off! Sleep time, recharging has taken on a new meaning.

As time goes on I feel remarkably calm. I'm doing everything I know to help my body cope with this process.
* plenty of sleep
* water (to help combat the dry mouth)
* Spirilina (God's gift to energy levels)
* Resveratrol and Pomegrante Supplements (antioxidents)
* Carrot and vege juices
* Mark's amazing spinach and flaxseed salads and home cooking

So I've entered a new world. Everyday I walk past the Oncology ward. I see the patients sitting in their chemotherapy chairs. On one side of me are elderly people either weak, sad and bald or trying to be brave and hopeful. The Oncology sign might as well have have flashing lights around it and a speaker blaring "CERTAIN DEATH". I don't why it initially brought such a feeling of dred, Oncology simply means 'the study of tumours'. Their are six Radiation machines that are always in operation (except for one maintenance day for each) and they are always fully booked. FULLY booked. Count your blessings and and hug your children people!!

I do know what this feeling of dred really was. If they hadn't found this tumour, if it wasn't being treated these very ill and sad looking people could be me. It's like getting a little snapshot of your future delivered to you. Nobody, especially in their thirties wants that vision of the future.

But in this new world I have also discovered something quite remarkable. Strength and Love. The pure human sort. The kind of strength people must find when they battle through the fear and surface on the other side. the kind of love people oooze when they know you must really need it. I'm now a part of this world.

It's almost like a club. Not one I would choose to be a patient of, but like in many clubs I am feeling a strong sense of comradery. We are all being brave, together.

So this week instead of being fearful, I now feel more love and care than anything. I try to smile at the weak and tired. Maybe my strength will help them through the day. If I become ill during this treatment I feel confident I'll get smiles in return.

The one other thing I do, for me every morning I'm locked onto that table is relax, visualise and pray.
Week one I decided that I need to stop the hate and resentment towards this tumour, instead every treatment session I thank this tumour for not being bad to me for so many years. It hasn't caused any nasty headaches or siezures. Then after thanking it, I then tell it I don't need it anymore.

I imagine it dark and black (cause a nasty version is blaring bright white on an MRI image and I do not want one of those!!!)
During the first week I could see the outside peeling off like a banana. This week the cells are crumbling off like a wall of little building blocks falling to the ground.
It doesn't matter to me that in reality the radiation will not have made much of a difference yet, it's about keeping hopes up and feeling even an ounce of control over a situation where I've been placed in the hands of other's expertise. Mark has even been known to participate in the visualisation techniques while he's out in the waiting room, I think it helps him to cope with the process as well.

So I'm pleased to tell you I'm in a much better place. Mentally I mean. Yep, I get scared but I'm determined not to let it feed off me anymore. Thankful Thursday reminds me of so many good things around!!
Take care
Jaz xx


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