Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Where We've Been, Where We're Headed


It's been almost 2-1/2 months since I've last written here.

School starts tomorrow, and I'm not sure I'm ready. To be perfectly honest, I feel somewhat gipped out of a summer.

We've had a summer to beat all summers. It whipped past in it's urgency. It was survival mode, not thrive mode. Not survival of the fittest, because I sure wouldn't call us the fittest, though we have survived.

Thus far.

By the skin of our teeth. And the grace of God.

A highlight of the summer was hanging out for an entire week with my parents, siblings (8 of us!), spouses (5!), nieces and nephews (12 total, including my kids! Ages ranging from 14 to almost 2.). We borrowed some friends' house in near the beach. We divided bedrooms and living spaces and crammed us all in. We laughed, and ate, and played games, and hung at the beach, and talked, and had a really good time.

Mom and Dad with the grandkids
It was great.

We determined to spend this week together while my mom is still pretty healthy and strong. If you remember, she was diagnosed with ALS at the end of last year. She is doing okay. She is slowly going down hill.

We hired the photographer to document our family. (By the way, all photo credits in this post belong to Josh Rexford. He did an amazing job for my family. Check him out if you live in The Mitten.) We are going to cherish these photos forever.

Time and opportunities are not something you can get back. Once gone, they've slipped past forever.

My parents

If you can remember way back to the last time I wrote, I had mentioned that I had torn my LCL. I was finding out that day what our game plan was going to be.

Well, not only had I torn the LCL, but I also had torn my biceps femoral tendon off the bone in two different places. Talk about a spectacular injury.

The game plan was surgery, on June 29. I have a glorious 6" scar on the outside of my knee, and a graft of some sort inside my knee. I'm not too eager to delve much farther into who or what provided said graft for my healing and wholeness...

The healing process is a long one. I ended up being on crutches for 7-1/2 weeks. I was in a brace for just under 11 weeks-all told. I even got to wear all the way to high heaven compression stockings for the first 2 weeks after surgery. Day and night. Through several of the hottest days of summer. #notMyFavoriteThingEver

I felt free as a bird when I could finally lose my crutches. I can carry things again! Let me tell you, that is a key skill set as a mom. 

I will not run for 6 months from surgery, but I am riding a stationary bike, and using other gym equipment to strengthen my quad muscles and hips and calves and all the other things that have gone to pot in this non-triathlon summer.

I am so thankful for the progress I have made.

Brian and I celebrated our 15th anniversary earlier this month. I am so thankful to have this man to lead me and our family. To partner with me on this road of life. To be my best friend and my lover. He has really stepped up to the plate (and beyond) this summer. As chief cook and bottle washer, nurse, and bread winner. I love him and appreciate him so.

And our kids...

BMV is 14 and will be a freshman (shut up!) starting tomorrow! He is at least 6' tall-taller than me. He is still wearing braces and is still geeked about all things Star Wars and Lego. He has been plunking around on the piano this summer-picking out tunes by ear. He has some peach fuzz coating his chin, and is growing into a man. I really can't believe it.

Freckles is 12, and will be in 7th grade this year. He is an introvert. He paces in our front yard on the berm. Just thinking. I have no idea what about. He loves to visit our local military antique/surplus store. He wore his sailor hat non-stop for months, but I think he has given that up. I think...

Elsie, Elsie. This girl. She is 9, and will be in 4th grade this fall. She loves to read. She read at least 30 books this summer. She almost always is my first kid awake in the morning, and she will be tucked in with a book. She is not a night owl. She is the first one to fall asleep each night. The phrase still waters run deep describes her pretty well. She does not demand attention (unlike a certain someone in our family), but she needs it. And she needs hugs. 

And then Meres. What to say?

Two days before my knee surgery, Meredith was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, pediatric eye cancer. It is a condition that starts in the womb, but then takes a few years to manifest itself-though generally by age 5.

July 11, she had an enucleation of her left eye. (eyeball and optic nerve removed). She currently has a coral globe in her eye that is attached to muscle, with a place holder lens over it. She has been fitted for a prosthetic lens, which will be painted to match her other eye, and will track with her other eye also. She will get this beautiful new eye in another week and a half.

Meredith had an MRI the week of her enucleation. We know from that that all the cancer is out of her head. Her eye socket, right eye and brain are all gloriously clear of cancer.

We also know from 2 pathology reports, that the cancer went up her optic nerve a bit, and quite deep into her eyeball. These 2 circumstances make her more likely to get cancer again somewhere else in her body.

Which is why we made the terribly hard decision to do prophylactic (preventative) chemotherapy.

She will go through 6 treatments (the first of which is already completed!), each running 2 simultaneous days, and about 4 weeks apart. If all goes well, we will be done after the new year.

It is a fairly mild thing, but it is still chemo. And there still are side effects. Nausea, jaw pain, low blood counts.

We are hopeful. The prognosis is 95% no return rate. That is really good. We are choosing to rest in hope. And rest in the grace given for today, and today's joys and challenges.

Pray for Meredith's complete healing.

You know, I love this photo of my siblings and our kids. It is full of joy. Sunshine. Life. 

This has not been an easy summer, and I can't imagine that it is going to be an easy fall. But, once again I'm brought back to our priorities.

God. Marriage. Our kids. Everything else.

And, how can we glorify God through these relationships today? 

I love this photo too. I love my mom. I am so blessed to be her daughter, and to have her example.
Life this fall is going to be pretty bare bones. We are healing. So, we will be doing school, and therapy (physical and chemo-), and blood draws, and I will be cooking (because it is creative and it heals my soul), and we will be attending cancer support groups. All of us.

I will not be cleaning my house. Well, at least not more than a lick and a promise. I have hired on my cleaning team to come every other week for a while. 

We will be digging into Ancient Rome. From the pre-Republic days down to its fall. Whoot-whoot! I am so excited about this! I love learning, and I love teaching. We have lectures on Ancient Roman history, famous Romans, and the Roman emperors. Towards the end of the year we will do a series comparing Greece and Rome. And our fine arts this year is actually focusing on how to look at and appreciate art. 

The boys, in particular, have quite the reading lists. Augustine. Ovid. Gibbons. Josephus. Cicero. Virgil. It is going to be so interesting! At least, I think so. =)

Well, this a nutshell of where we've been and where we're headed. Hopefully I will have time in the near future to write more-about school and maybe about this whole cancer journey and about the faithfulness of God and the love of His people.

But for now, know that the Barefoot Hippies are still here.