Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Five

It has been a crazy week here in Seattle with almost everything being Super Bowl-related. It's quite awesome for this sorta Seattle native (I've lived here since I was 10, so that has to count, right?) and self-confessed sports junkie. Very exciting! Go Hawks!

Here's the 5 this week:

1. MONDAY SUCKED! TREMENDOUSLY! WORST EXPERIENCE EVER AT A DOCTOR'S OFFICE! And I thought I had been screwed over all the ways possible by the medical profession. I was wrong. Because I posted a cryptic message on Facebook right after it happened which led everyone to thinking that I had received bad news, I will attempt to briefly make a long story short, here goes:
I have, all along, been going to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance facility at Evergreen Hospital. I LOVE everyone there. However, being in desperate need of psychiatric help for my PTSD, I had to schedule an appointment at the SCCA facility on Lake Union as they do not offer those services at Evergreen Hospital. It was my first (and last) time in this office. So many things about the whole experience made me twitch. But the reason I got so irate is really long and convoluted.
Had appointment with a doctor there at 1pm.
Checked in at 1pm. They page the doctor.
Sat down in ENORMOUS waiting room, surrounded by signs that say, "If you haven't been called in 15 minutes after checking in, please check in again."
1:15pm goes by, but I don't want to be that person.
1:30pm: I check in again. And point out that I have to leave at 2:00 in order to pick up my kids from school. They page the doctor again.
1:45pm goes I'm mad.
2:00pm: I go check in again (for the 3rd time). This time however, all I want is a manager to talk to and to make sure that I NEVER get charged for this visit. And to point out that I just took 3 hours off without pay and have nothing to show for it. They go find a manager and page the doctor again.
2:02pm: a very young, and clearly not well-versed in how to deal with patients, gal comes flitting to the desk and says, with a slight giggle, "Oh, Dr. Chen? He's not here today."
And then I go crazy!  
So, the doctor was not even at work today? And people knew this? And no one called me? Canceled my appointment? Told me one of the 3 times I checked in? How long would I have sat there? Does the guy have a 2:00 appointment waiting in the waiting room also?
So, the gal they finally send out to talk to me is GREAT. And bursts out into tears with how sad she is for what has happened. And is a cancer survivor herself. Which is a good thing she was the one sent to deal with us because she actually understood my frustration.
By the time I get home, I have 3 messages from different people apologizing for the day. One offers to send me a form so I can apply for reimbursement of my time and expenses (never seen that before). We'll see.

Long story, sorry. Cupcakes made everything better. Keith smartly drove directly from this fiasco to the cupcake store. I had 2 for dinner and took a 4 hour nap and the world was bearable again. 
Seriously folks, probably not best to make the already unstable patient that much more crazy. Just sayin'...

2. I was watching the Grammy's and realized that Cyndi Lauper and I now have the same hair color (or at least VERY close). Wow! Growing up in the Cyndi Lauper era, I have to admit that's a sentence I never thought I'd write.

3. The hospital that was suing us for our minimal outstanding bill ($800...which in the grand scheme of things is minuscule compared to all the $$ that we owe), which they stopped billing us for so how were we supposed to know we hadn't paid it off (but that's a whole other discussion), just garnished my paycheck for $1,300. Awesome. Don't even get me started. Makes me want to become a patient advocate so that others will not get screwed the way we have.

4. It's been a long, hard year for everyone here in the Yusko clan. I try really hard not to diminish all that the rest of the family went through even though my year has been pretty "me" focused. Teenage boy did not have the best year by any stretch of the imagination, and there have been many days that I considered selling him to the highest bidder. But then I realize that he is so much like me...and I appreciate the fact that he can ALWAYS make me laugh. Whatever the situation. I am so glad that no one has lost their sense of humor in this family, especially him. So many times this week I have laughed because of him. Thank you.

5. I could never begin to repay the kindnesses shown to me and my family this past year and a half. NEVER. Can't even imagine trying. So, when a friend posted this "Pay it Forward" Challenge on her Facebook page last week, I jumped at the chance to participate. So, instead of paying it back, I'm going to pay it forward this year! (And since the concept comes, I think, from one of my favorite books, I really love this movement).

Pay-it-Forward initiative: The first five (I'm actually going to do 10) people who comment on this post/Facebook post/email me with "I'm in", will receive a surprise from me at some point in this calendar year - anything from a book, a ticket, a visit, something homegrown or made, a postcard, absolutely any surprise! There will be no warning and it will happen when the mood comes over me and I find something that I believe would suit you and make you happy. These five (10) people must make the same offer in their Facebook status and distribute their own joy. Simply copy this text onto your profile (and again, you only have to do five, but I wanted to do 10). 

I'm really looking forward to doing this! Cannot wait to see who's in it with me.

And a bonus:
6. I hit the "Register Now" button for the Iron Girl Triathlon in August. Yikes! Who's with me??? Who's going to teach me how to swim? Yeah, that's kind of going to be a problem, but one I'm willing to overcome. So real turning back!

Here's a video to get me inspired:

Monday, January 27, 2014

Music Monday

Because I'm SUPER excited about this concert...and the fact that I have tickets...I had to use this song today. Even though I know that I've used it before.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Friday Five...a Day Late...

Whoops! This is a day late to actually be a true Friday Five, but we can all pretend, right?

1. First and foremost, I signed up/created a team for the Relay for Life event happening here in June! Team Stupid we come! What is Relay for Life?
"At Relay For Life events, communities come together to honor cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost, and fight back. Relay For Life teams camp out overnight and take turns walking or running around a track at a local high school. Events are up to 24 hours long, and because cancer never sleeps, each team is asked to have at least one participant on the track at all times."
I am excited to participate in this event for many reasons:

  • Funds raised benefit the American Cancer Society and benefits people fighting all types of cancers.
  • This is a great participatory/community building event...and doesn't require quite the commitment of a 3Day (which I totally want to do again some day...just not now).
  • I am hoping some of my local cancer peeps will join me in walking the "survivors lap."
  • I am hoping you will join my team! Click here to join! Want to find out more? Click on the event's "Learn About Relay" page here.

2. Naps are a part of my life. I could not survive without them. My week looked like this: 
Monday: holiday...attempt to clean house...ha, ha, ha, that's funny since it's possible all I did was sit on my ass; 
Tuesday: Work 1/2 day, physical therapy; 
Wednesday: Work, meetings, plotting world domination through making reading fun, 4 HOUR NAP;
Thursday: Had to take a sick day because I could not move. Not exaggerating AT ALL. More physical therapy, where she mentioned that working full-time is obviously a horrible idea and I should consider going to half-time. Yes honey, I've actually thought about that, trust me. Now, if only I could actually afford to do that.
Friday: Worked all day, came home and took another nap. Wild and crazy week for me!

3. Katy Perry is coming to town and I got tickets. The story about how I finally got a hold of the presale tickets is HILARIOUS, but I did it. I can't explain how much I need to go see this concert, but Katy's music has really gotten me through some DARK times this past year, and I need to be there in person to celebrate! Now, who's coming with me??? 

4. My brain still does not function like it used to and the only way that I can survive at work is to write a sticky  note every time I think of something I need to do/want to do/have to remember/book title/instructions from someone. My desk is currently COVERED with them. Again, not an exaggeration. There's at least 25 of them on there right now. A friend came into my office on Friday and started laughing about this organizational system I have really is a sight to behold.

5. Because I forgot to post the Friday Five on Friday, I can actually show you the family pictures we had taken today rather than just mention that we are going to get them done. A friend volunteered her services back when I was finishing up treatments, and I decided to wait until after Hawaii so that we might all look like we hadn't really holed up inside our house for the past year. It was FREEZING this morning...and EARLY. But it was beautiful out. And she captured some AMAZING shots. I am so grateful for this experience and these images. I know that I say it all the time now and you don't believe me, but life is too short, so you really need to get these things done folks. Take the trips, cross the things off your bucket list, and get some photos taken of you and your family. And I know that my kids wanted to die because it was "so early on a Saturday" but they had a good time (teenage boy even said, "it was actually kinda fun...not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be"), but I hope that some day they appreciate these photos. I wish I had more of my brother and I together...from when we were kids and today. (But since we both hate being in pictures, that probably explains it. I'm sure my mother just gave up). So thank you Heidi (Heidi King Photography) for your beautiful photos which we will truly treasure. (And she doesn't know I'm plugging her services on the blog, so please don't think she's paying me to promote her).

Here are a couple of the great images:

Monday, January 20, 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Five

Five things about my week: 

1. I went back to work this week. All five days. I am an idiot. I want to die. Surviving on three hour naps many of the days. I actually went in late Thursday because I could not get out of bed. Seriously, I physically could not move. By the time I got home today I hated everyone and everything. I am not a happy camper right now. THANK GOD for a 3 day weekend so I can rest and regroup for next week. Also, I would say that there are maybe 10 people in the building who actually even knew I was there all week, so my plan to hide is working. I will definitely have to continue this next week because I am not ready to be inundated with everything.

2. The most frequently asked question is: How do you feel? 
If you asked this question of me today, I would say, EXHAUSTED and HOMICIDAL. But I'm pretty sure what you mean to ask is, in general, how am I doing? So, the answer to that question is, yes, I do look much healthier than I did. (That's mostly thanks to the sunshine in Hawaii and the tiny amount of tan I have. Oh, and my awesome hair). I would say on a day to day basis, not taking into account the lymphedema (see #3), I do feel better than I have in a very long time. On your scale of 10, I am probably a 4, on my scale of 10, I'm probably a 6. I don't ever see a day where I will be a 10 again in my life, but I am making progress and not really concerned that I'm not feeling a 10. I have learned to adjust to the "new normal" (which are actually two words I now hate). I am surviving, and that's what's important. Still very tired all the time though. Please be patient with me.

2a. MAJOR BONUS POINTS to the husband who came home with ice cream bars on Thursday because he somehow sensed I was on the verge of killing people. DEFINITELY helped me keep my sanity. And now I'm remembering that there might be a cupcake Groupon we have to spend. I think I will need those to get through this week.

3. Finally started physical therapy this week for the lymphedema. Which has really gotten bad this week and hurts like crazy right now. Here are all the fun things that I've learned about that:

  • ALL the times over the past year plus that I've complained about pain in my shoulder, shoulder blade, back, arm, and around my scar can probably all be attributed now to lymphedema that no one recognized before. UGH! I should have started this therapy LONG ago.
  • The yoga, push-ups, and many of the things I have been doing lately to get back into shape are actually making it worse. WHOOPS! No more exercises where all your weight is supported by your arms.
  • Also, not allowed to lift anything over 8 pounds. WHOOPS #2. I did not even mention all the heavy lifting I have been doing.
  • Why did it get worse in Vegas and better in Hawaii? The plane ride to Vegas aggravated it which is why it started 3 days after we landed there. And then irritated again by the plane ride home. It got better in Hawaii (not worse) because I was drinking a TON of water and I was NOT STRESSED. And it got worse 3 days after we arrived home because of the plane ride. And it's possible I'm not drinking nearly enough water here.  
  • I'm not supposed to be taking long, hot showers. YIKES! How the hell am I supposed to motivate myself to get out of bed now?!?! 
  • I'm also not supposed to be doing dishes, cleaning bathrooms, or being around anyone or anything that can give me an infection (sickly middle school children??). While this sounds lovely, it is completely impractical so I just nod my head whenever she mentions these things.

4. Very excited for several things which have fallen into place this week. Will keep you guessing for now. The only things that are getting me through right now.

5. Workouts are WAY OFF COURSE right now. Will be fixing this starting tomorrow! Or maybe Sunday. Monday at the latest. HONEST! Clearly I need people to get me moving as I am incapable to getting motivated by myself. So, if you ever want to go walking, HOLLER!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Music Monday

Okay, today is the first day back to work in a LOOOOONG time. It is going to be a painful week, I can already tell. I need this song to get me going today...

And they obviously haven't done a video for it, that I can find quickly on YouTube anyway. But at least you can hear the song.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday Five

This week's Friday Five:

1. So, the lymphedema that had gotten better in Hawaii started flaring up again on Wednesday. UGH! This is definitely a sign from God, I think, that I need to not live here! I will discuss this at physical therapy next week.

2. I am DREADING going back to work on Monday. Please do not ask what has possessed me to do such a crazy thing. Keith and I have an agreement and part of it involves my going back to work. UGH! I have told almost NO ONE that I will be back in the building so that I can spend at least the first week (or two...or more...) holed up in my office trying to get back into the swing of things. We will see how long it takes the "secret" to get out.

3. We are getting family portraits taken this weekend. For the first time since the girl child was a baby. I might be the only one excited about this prospect. Here is a preview of what we will be wearing. Stay tuned for more pics after the shoot!

4. The well-intentioned workouts which got off to a rip-roaring start in Hawaii have disappeared. So hard to be back here, and cold, and trying to get back into the swing of school and activities and laundry...blah, blah, blah. Must. Do. Better. Next week, I promise. I should start a countdown ticker until the sprint triathlon I want to do. That should scare me into getting motivated.

5. A whole week without a doctor's appointment. Gosh, what will I do with myself?! Alas, this will be the only week like that. I start physical therapy next week (two times/week) and PTSD therapy the last week of January (who knows how many days/week that will be...hopefully only one). I think my car can definitely drive itself to the hospital now. Will there ever come a time when I won't be having to set alerts on my phone for doctor's appointments?????

Monday, January 6, 2014

Music Monday

Having just returned from a WONDERFUL vacation in Hawaii late last night, I think I need this song to get me going today...

Friday, January 3, 2014

Friday Five

So, I thought that I would start a Friday Five segment each week to keep you updated on what's going on with me each week. I'm hoping to include the good, the bad, and the ugly each week.

Cancer treatment is the gift that just keeps giving, long after you (finally) get a clean scan, and I think that it's important to let anyone that might have to go through what I went through know that.

So, here's my first Friday Five, from Hawaii!

1. I have decided to seriously consider taking the open housekeeping position available at our resort so that I can stay here in Hawaii. I'm actually not kidding. The thought of going home and going back to work next week terrifies me.

2. This has been an amazing vacation! A. MAZE. ING. Please, let me reiterate to is too short folks. Please, please, please take time to stop and enjoy life...with your loved places that you want to visit. Do not wait to start checking things off that bucket list!

3. The massive pain that I've been feeling since before Thanksgiving (which has since been diagnosed as lymphedema) has actually disappeared while we've been here in Hawaii. I think that when I start physical therapy in a couple of weeks I will have to mention this and see if I can get a prescription to move here! Sounds like a plan to me.

4. My personal trainer (ie: the friend who has promised to whip me into shape so that I can compete in the Iron Girl sprint triathlon in August) is actually on vacation here in Hawaii also. This is awesome...and a little frightening because she knows how to find me and has been texting me workouts. Yikes! Time to get into shape! Today I took the first baby steps toward getting healthy again. See the photo with my workout partners for the day (teenage boy was still asleep in the room) and our reward (view) at the turnaround point. So worth it! 

5. Along the lines of "life is too short," Keith and I have started making serious plans for the future that get us to where we truly want to be. And it's a future that is not too far away. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel...