Tuesday, August 24, 2010

We have an official KINDERGARTENER...(sniff, sniff)

Several precious children, little boys and little girls.

David helping Benjamin create the keychain for his backpack at the Kinder-Blessing time Sunday at church. The key chain has one side that we put a rainbow of beads on to remind Benjamin of God's promises and the other is full of his choice of beads so he is reminded of the special Kinder-Blessing time. It was a really precious hour that we shared with all of the other kindergarten families.

Have now grown to an age that will soon enlarge their worlds.

At the Kinder-Blessing, one of the other families passed out hands with special messages and, of course, SMARTIES...since these kiddos are smart!

Once little babes they were, but not true anymore.

These are the children from our church that are starting kindergarten this year. This is one precious bunch that we feel blessed Benjamin is a part of!

For Kindergarten is calling them with wonderful things in store.

This about did this mama in! Pictured above is Benjamin (light khaki pants, red plaid shirt, front row) bowing his head and holding his little hands in prayer during the student blessing during the worship service. It was pretty sweet!

First they'll learn to listen and to share with all the others.

One new tradition we started at home was to give each of the boys a new "Back-to-School" themed book the night before school starts. Jonathan got a cute preschool book this year and he loved it!

And go home to share these new things with little sisters and brothers.

Benjamin received a Starting School book that he loves and even requested to read last night after his first big day.

They'll learn to be creative and make a lot of pretty things.

We have had a tradition in place to read The Kissing Hand the night before school (or preschool) starts. Don't the boys look enthralled? ; )

And they'll learn to sing like angels except they won't have wings.

Woo-whee...yesterday was an early one for us. Our boys always wake up early on their own, but before 6:45 was a bit rough. I was up before six to make a special breakfast for the school boy, but today was back to fruit and pop-tarts so this mom could get a bit of extra shut-eye. We loved the Puff-Up Pancake from yesterday, though! It's an easy recipe and was great with sausage and fruit. Just my $.02.

How much God must marvel as He watches them daily learn.

A few minutes to pose for photos in our traditional "photo spot". It was so fun being out in front of our house with all the hustle and bustle of living across the street from our school. Kids were everywhere...walking to school with parents, heading to the bus stop and the busses were pouring into the parking lot! It was a great atmosphere with lots of excitement!

For He places within each little heart a fiery zeal that burns.

While we were standing outside taking photos, some pretty fun Ellison students walked by on their way to their bus stop and cheered on our little guys..."First Day of School" they shouted! It was pretty cool. Jonathan just had to grab his backpack, too, for the 'brothers' photo.

How his heart must overflow with joy when He watches them at play.
And do everything He ordained them to with every passing day.

This precious child wanted to bring his teacher flowers on the first day!

Who among man would dare trespass to bring harm to these little lambs?
And turn their precious innocence into fear that knows no bounds.

We made it! Heading into the classroom.

Better t'would be for that one to be tossed into the sea.

At ease at his table ready to get started!
After we picked him up from school, he said he had a "great" day. He was excited about making a new friend named Michael and the fact that someone else in his class had a Phineas and Ferb backpack. He also really enjoyed eating in the cafeteria...at 10:20 am! Good thing we packed a snack for the afternoon. It was a wonderful first day. We can't believe you are a kindergartener already, Benjamin Reagan. We love you and are so proud of you!

Than to face the fiery wrath of God and suffer eternally.
--Robert Elliott, 2010

This poem was written with love to the little kindergarten lambs of 2010 by a sweet elder at our church for their Kinder-Blessing. What a precious gift to give each of us! Thank you, Robert!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Not so much the neat little package...

I purposefully have neglected to post on this blog about the elephant in the room, but I was sort of ready for that elephant to exit and we could have our nice little life back and just forget it all ever happened. I truly thought that we would go to the doctor today, get a clean bill of health with a benign thyroid sitting in a lab somewhere and a prescription for a lifetime of Synthroid. That way, we could happily begin this exciting new school year with our kindergartener and preschooler and go back to "normal" (whatever that really is).

Several of you have asked me how this all began, so I thought I would share the nitty gritty of it all. The bottom line is that this was a somewhat neglected problem and I hope that by shedding a bit of light on it, maybe there will be fewer neglected problems for all of you out there in the blog-o-sphere. Because even the smallest neglect of a health concern can lead to much more.

I have actually had thyroid "issues" since I was a pre-teen. My pediatrician sent me on to an endocrinologist early and we got a handle on hypo-thryoidism early. I was told that I would be on Synthroid my whole life, which was no big deal to me, and I took my pill daily from then on.

Sometime when I was in Abilene, ten or so years later, a doctor I was seeing took me off of Synthroid. I still to this day don't remember what the reasoning was, but it happened. And kind of sent me on a very slow downward spiral that, up until this point, I have not really shared with too many people, except my very close friends and family. I am now certain getting off of Synthroid was a huge mistake.

Truthfully, I have been a bloomin' mess for the last few years. I have also been pretty meticulous about trying to disguise it and make everything seem just fine on the outside. But, in the last year or two, it has really started to interfere with our quality of life.

I have been in a complete fog of absolute exhaustion. I have used weekends to "catch up" and sleeping hours upon hours to just wake up more exhausted while my sweet husband entertained our precious boys. I have neglected my family, our home and let things keep slipping away. While we may have seemed pretty okay on the outside, our home life was not quite the dream we wanted it to be. The lack of a functioning thyroid contributed to me putting on a good deal of weight, and I even have a nagging skin problem on one foot that we now know was a thyroid culprit as well.

David had started suspecting it was all related to my thyroid quite some time ago. While I thought, well, maybe...I also just thought it was maybe a bad case of post-partum that just wouldn't go away. . . (hello, my "baby" is three and a half)! So, I put off going to the doctor. And then when my gall bladder came out in December, I figured we solved the problem and that was that.

But, things went back to being pretty gloomy again. And this summer has just been a beating to me. It got to the point that in the mornings I was so tired (after eight or more hours of sleep) that the boys would grab a Nutrigrain bar or Pop-tart and jump in bed with me....watching their cartoons until I could drag myself out of bed.

So in late June, while en route to visit friends and family, we pulled over the car and made a doctor's appointment for me for the day after we returned from our trip.


At my appointment, my doctor immediately starting putting all of my numbers from lab work together from my gall bladder incident. She thought they may indicate a thyroid problem, so she sent me for more blood work and an ultra sound on my thyroid. I made a follow-up appointment for July 20th.

When my doctor's nurse called me on July 12th and said they wanted to see me quicker and wanted to rush me in the next morning before they even opened, I started seeing red flags and got a bit panicked. I remember that I called David to tell him about it while I was driving the boys to their first day of swimming lessons. I got so flustered that I missed a turn and was a hot mess by the time we actually arrived at the pool. I was thankful to see my sweet friend Jana at swimming lessons and I started telling her everything. Jana is a cancer survivor and she immediately knew that it didn't sound great that they wanted to see me the next morning.

So, at 7:30 am on the 13th, we saw my doctor. This was the first time the C word was dropped and my eyes were probably as big as saucers. She told me about the calcifications that were all over my thyroid and that I was going to be referred on to a specialist, "Dr. S" (his name is so long that it's just easier to type/say Dr. S....everyone does it.)

Dr. S was great from the get-go. Very patient with me and all of my weird questions. He went over the different tests, including what a thyroid biopsy would be like (um, 15 needles...yikes). My first test was on the 20th. I was soooo thankful to have Lori Callaway, one of my best friends in the entire world, drive down from McKinney to go to all of my appointments for this first test with me.

The iodine uptake scan was pretty easy actually. It was just in three parts and the last part I could have done without, but apparently, that's the main thing so I had to just go along with it. : ) The first part is swallowing a radioactive pill that you're not allowed to throw up. Easier said than done. It's like blinking and swallowing, when someone says you can't blink or swallow, that seems to be the only things you want to do. So, all morning, after being told no throwing up, I thought maybe I needed to? It's not that you couldn't throw up. It's that if you did throw up, they have to call the radiation police to your house to examine your potty for radioactivity. I couldn't make this up if I tried. Lori and I both had our eyebrows raised when the guy told us this. But I made it through the day sans-barf to return that afternoon for a simple little x-ray of my neck. And permission to resume puking if necessary....what a relief to not have to worry about the potty police. The next morning was the part where you lay at a crazy angle on a table that tilts and moves until all the blood rushes to your head, all the while a big white contraption is moving about an inch away from your face taking scans of your thyroid. It was a long jaunt on that table, but I made it through unscathed. Just a little wobbly afterward.

While Lori was here, we went to see Inception and I decided that this entire thyroid issue was probably just a sordid dream that Leonardo DiCaprio concocted to extort my amazing blogger hacking secrets. Just sayin'.


David & I returned to Dr. S the following week to find out not much at all. Except that my thyroid was probably the size of an elephant's (do elephants even have thyroids?), that it lacked...well, function, and that the calcifications on the left side of my thyroid made my doctor really nervous. Let me tell ya, if the doctor is nervous, so am I. He was nervous since calcifications were a cancer indicator.

After talking about that 15 needle biopsy that sends me into a panic-attack every time I think about it, Dr. S realized that it would be useless since no nodule was present in any of the scans. If a nodule isn't present, it's hard to determine where to biopsy and there is slim chance you'll actually biopsy the correct spot. This would render a useless result.

Rather than putting me through that (it seriously is an ordeal, so many people have told me how awful it is), Dr. S was ready to remove the thyroid. It didn't function at all, so not a whole lot of point to keeping it.

My surgery was August 6th. Dr. S said when he got to digging (this was the word he used and then realized that I kind of made a face and he sidestepped a bit...I think it was the drugs talking on my part). Anyway, as he was "digging" he said the thyroid just kept on coming and coming. It was HUGE. And wrapped around my voice box. He nicknamed it Super Thyroid. Fabulous. He also noticed there was an actual nodule on it on the right side that had not been picked up in the scan. He said that was a good indicator. I kind of hung my hopes on that nodule and let myself think I was cancer free. Lesson learned.

My incision was bigger than he originally thought it would be...but he did a good job of tucking it into the crease on my neck. And I have a little poofy swelling part that still won't go away. It's so ugly. I think it looks like I swallowed an egg whole. Ugly. And I can't wear my jewelry yet to cover it up. Seriously. Ugly.

But I already feel a bit better...we think the Super Thyroid was cutting off oxygen as well. So even without Synthroid, I already feel more human.


While I was supposed to get my results back on the 18th, we all know that didn't happen. And I've totally made peace with it and am now happy that I didn't. I think it would have put a cloud over our special day yesterday with Benjamin's Meet the Teacher at kindergarten. I also found out today that it truly was an emergency that Dr. S was called out for. He had to drive from Killeen to Temple to operate on someone who was already on the table. Whoever that poor person was on that table is probably pretty thankful the 32 year old thyroid patient didn't go postal on the Surgery Center demanding results.

Today we went and did get our results. David knew immediately that something was off when Dr. S did not come in with a spring in his step and his usual smile on his face.

His actual words were "I am soooooo thankful we took that thing out. It was cancerous."

While I tried to just hold it together and not turn into a sloppy mess in Dr. S's office, I felt my face get hot and wanted to crawl out the window behind me. But, I pulled it together to listen and ask plenty of my never-ending questions that Dr. S is probably quite accustomed to.

They found cancer in both the left and right sides of the thyroid. The cancers were small...1 mm in the right side and 1.5 mm in the left side. And there was even another nodule that was discovered in the Pathologists' lab...on the left side. There was definitely good news, too. While indeed it was cancerous, it was small. And seemed contained. My lymph nodes were clear of any cancer which is a really good sign.

The part I hate is that I am headed to the oncologist (at least I will be once they call me). An oncologist is the last doctor this gal wanted to see. I mean, what person does? Especially at 32. With little kids and a great life. Sigh.

The oncologist will assess my situation and probably run another iodine uptake scan or 2 or 3. Yay. More radioactive potties to worry about. They will decide if I need to proceed with radiation or if they truly got everything out and I am clean and not in danger of more cancer.

And then will I finally get on that Synthroid. Hoping I won't totally fall apart before then from exhaustion, but so far it's not too awful. The timeline is a little yucky, though. We wait on the oncologist to call us (it will take them a week or two) and then they will set up my first appointment for a week or so after that.


The most amazing thing about all of this is the love and prayer that has surrounded us through this. We are so incredibly humbled by our Facebook family of friends. And of course, our incredible church family can't be beat. While we may have seemed like hermits the last few weeks, there hasn't been a single instance that has gone unnoticed. From cards, calls, flowers, emails and some seriously yummy food....we are humbled beyond words. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for babysitting our kids and cooking us casseroles and holding us up in prayer. We feel it. There is no way we could go through this without the amazing prayer that has covered us and continues to cover us.

There are several verses that have been so close to my heart through all of this...

"I will make all My goodness pass before you. . .Behold, there is a place beside me, and you shall stand upon the rock, and while My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away My hand and you shall see My back; but my face shall not be seen." Exodus 33:19, 21-23

The night before my surgery, I was amazed to open my devotional and read the following verse (which I also found a few days ago on an online cancer-patient Bible study as their key verse):
"And there was a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years, and who had endured much suffering under [the hands of] many physicians and had spent all that she had, and was no better but instead grew worse. She had heard reports concerning Jesus, and she came up behind him in the throng and touched His garment." Mark 5:25-27

We sincerely appreciate your prayers and love. We look forward to the day where we can indeed put all of this behind us in a neat little package and move on full speed ahead.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Meet the Teacher...Four More Wake-Ups!

This afternoon was Benjamin's first taste of K*I*N*D*E*R*G*A*R*T*E*N! We went to Timber Ridge's Meet the Teacher and had a great time. He is definitely ready to go! When we were inside his classroom, he looked around and took it all in and said, "I want to learn here."

It was like the running of the bulls when the doors swung open at 4 pm. Luckily, we headed in the door with Mr. Coleman, the principal. Benjamin knows all about Mr. Coleman since David knows him through the district. Benjamin adores him but wants to stay out of his office! Amen to that!

Benjamin's teacher, Mrs. Weatherford. We really wanted her for our teacher and are so thrilled to have her! She is super fun and full of energy. I have to admit, when we turned off the main hallway into the kindergarten wing, I teared up when I saw Mrs. Weatherford's name on her door. I am going to be a hot mess on Monday.

Benjamin can't wait to start!! We also went down the hall and met his music teacher, Mrs. Brown. And then we headed to the cafeteria to get his pin number for lunch. This is the part that intimidates me a bit...he has to memorize a FIVE digit code if he wants to buy his lunch that day. We'll be practicing that one a lot! He loves his new Spiderman lunch box so thankfully he'll be taking his lunch the first few days until he gets the whole cafeteria scene down.
We made our cookies and froze them today for the first week of school's lunch. We also fit in Luby's yesterday with my parents (Benjamin requested this before he started school). We've got lots of fun planned this weekend...the Kindergarten Blessing during Bible class hour at church, the Student Blessing during worship service and then some home traditions that we want to start both Sunday evening and Monday morning (including Puff-Up Pancake for first-day-of-school breakfast). Benjamin also informed me that he wants to get Mrs. Weatherford flowers for the first day of school! ; )

I guess there's no turning back now.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

So many candles...

It's my favorite guy's big 3-7 and we had such a fun day! (Although this was really my first BIG outing and busy day since surgery, so I am eXhAuStEd now....but this post isn't about me...I digress.)

David's birthday falling at the start of the school year always lends for a bit of extra hoopla at school. And the last two years, Ellison has showered him with love and well wishes. They are awesome!

This balloon pretty much sums it up.

If you remember last year's video debacle, we were so thrilled that the Chamber Singers (EHS's own version of Glee, IMO), came and blessed David with a beautiful birthday song again.
Guess where my video camera was? At home. Sigh.

They are amazingly talented and even a senior or two came back to join in the fun this morning at David's big doughnut birthday extravaganza.

So bummed that I missed some of the cheerleaders coming by to say hello to David and bring birthday fun! Thankfully someone grabbed a camera! ; )

One of our most favorite people....ever! This is Alice, David's secretary, who keeps me in the loop on David's crazy schedule and never hesitates to invite me and these two future Eagles up to a fun EHS event. Excuse Jonathan's doughnut-filled mouth and icing-stained face.

David chatting with the teachers...you should have seen the doughnut spread!

Not totally sure how many Jonathan downed.

A member of Ellison's class of 2022....maybe the quarterback?

We had our traditional "home party" as well...David's favorite supper, Chicken Spaghetti, strawberry cake with cream cheese icing and fun cards and presents made for a great night.

So much wax dripped onto the cake since by the time I was able to get them all lit, the first ones were dripping away!

As evidenced by the above, a SMOKIN' good time was had by all.
Happy Birthday to one amazing guy! Love, love, love you.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Classic Quote from Benjamin

Hey Y'all, David here. I just had to share something Benjamin just said.

If you have seen Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, you might remember the scene at the very end, when the goofy, villainous manager-guy is tossed into a dumpster, ruined at last.

Well, Benjamin just brought up that scene out of the clear blue sky, and asked, "Why did they throw that bad man in the recycling bin? So he could be recycled into a good man?"

What a question!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

The Big iPhoto Clean Out: Part I

Trying to clean out all my photos and put them onto thumb drives. Discovered I had a bunch of photos that I never posted from some fun stuff this summer. The following are from a trip to the Mayborn Museum a few weeks back. We had a great day...lunch at Panera, hanging out at the museum and, of course, the big Lego exhibit!