Monday, May 20, 2013

Busy Weekend

Well, we had a super busy weekend. Zach’s parents are in town from India, so we have been meeting with them to eat, and eat, and eat some more. Both of our families really appreciate good food, so it is nice when they treat us to a meal (which is a lot!). Saturday, we had a late lunch with them and got to meet my bother-in-law’s girlfriend. She’s super nice and a teacher, so we have lots to talk about. Sunday, we went to church, and then we helped out some friends. Our friend is a pilot, and he has to go out of state for training. Zach took him to the airport while I stayed at their house with their baby until his wife got home. If you know me at all, I don’t like babies/kids. I LOVE them, especially when they are super cute. He was just precious, and  is only the 2nd or 3rd baby I have contemplated keeping, you know just in case the parents decide to give them away or something. Unfortunately, all the concerned parents are absolutely smitten with their babies. Bummer! I guess I’ll just have to wait a few years for my own. I just hope our baby is as cute. Anyway…after we left, we went to Zach’s grandparent’s house and ate and played games. We headed home around 6, and STILL had to do our Sunday shopping. Ew…

So, I have decided (last August if I’m honest) that I am ready for summer. I don’t know if I can make it. These kids, oh my! I think one of my favorite (yes, we have favorites!) kids is leaving a couple of weeks early. Now normally this wouldn’t make me that sad, but he is super sweet. He always tells me how much he likes me, and how he “really mean[s] that.” He was picking up my laminating trash today without me asking. He also gives me about 10+ random hugs a day. I would be happy to send away some of my other kids. However, any elementary teacher knows that the worst behaved kid is there every single day. I think we all know why. 11 1/2 days, not that I’m counting.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Life Update

Lots of things have been going on in our lives. I have a new job at a new school. At my old (charter) school, I taught 1st and then 3rd. Now I am at a public school (Wahoo! A little more money!) teaching 1st. My school is title 1, and I’m not going to lie, it’s been rough. Sometimes I feel like I teach high schoolers with the attitude I get from them. I will say though, now that the year is coming to an end (very slowly, I might add), I can see how much growth they have made. All but 2 or 3 of my kids are at risk for not graduating. However, as far as 1st grade goes, all but 2 made it to the minimum reading level to move on to 2nd grade. And about half of my class is leaving slightly above where they should be. Only about 5 were on grade level at the start of the year. They have come so far. They still have a long way to go. I don’t know if they’ll all make it, but I sure tried my darnedest to teach them how. Next year, I’ll be at the same school teaching 1st grade GT (gifted and talented). I’m pretty excited, but a bit nervous too.

Zach has just completed his 1st year of law school. He dumped the retail job (not that he wanted that in the 1st place) and went back to school full time. He completed his 1st semester in the top 5% of his class. We are still waiting for his grades for the 2nd semester to be released. It will be a while... I couldn’t be more proud of him. He has put a lot of work in this, and it’s nice to see his hard work paying off. He has 2 more years to go. It’s going to be tough, but I know he’s going to make it. This summer, he is going to be interning with a judge and at a law office. He starts Monday with the judge, so we’ll see how this goes. It’s pretty difficult for a 1st year to find “work” over the summer. Even though he’s been busy studying and reading and reading and studying, we’ve actually gotten to spend more time together.  I have especially loved going to church with him every Sunday as opposed to once every 2 months. I know this may sound sappy, but spending time with him is my absolutely favorite thing to do.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Painkiller Funnies

So, Zach working in retail around Christmas time, was not able to get much time off for my surgery (in Dec 2011). In fact, he was only able to get the day of my surgery off. I thought that was a little ridiculous of his work (I mean come on, I had spinal surgery, right?!?), but we made it work anyway with help from my parents. I had a late night after surgery and didn't make it to my room until around midnight. The next morning, Zach had to leave for work. I was just a little a lot emotional from the anesthesia and painkillers (I had a pump people! Yeah!). I wanted to put in contacts so I could see, and my glasses were not the right prescription. I couldn’t do it because I was still attached to a million things, including something that would beep and alert the nurses every single time I moved my hand. My face was also very swollen. So Zach was trying his hardest, but couldn’t get my contacts in. I told him, crying of course, “You can’t leave me like this!” (In his defense he wasn’t leaving me, my parents would be coming later that morning) Haha, he finally got them in for me thank goodness!  Then I realized I had double vision, so I had a good cry about that too. I had them bring me an eye patch (Argh!) and that took care of the problem until the double vision wore off a couple of hours later.
Later that day, I was trying to play with my phone. (I think my parents had left, or they hadn’t come?) Playing on your phone can be really difficult when you keep nodding off to sleep and when your eyes keep drifting in and out of focus. A completely harmless activity, you would think though. Oh no, not while on painkillers! So I opened up my Groupon App (Oooh, Groupon. I must have been desperate…)  and looked at the day’s deals. Before I really realized what I was doing, the app thanked me for my purchase. What?!? Purchase? I bought a deal for skydiving for 2, for $249! Okay, I just had surgery on my spine and bought a deal for skydiving, haha. I cried to Zach later when he got off work, and I told him what I’d done. The next day I called them, and they took it off no problem. I was so ready to pull out the “I just had spinal surgery.” card, but it wasn’t necessary. Thanks Groupon!

The Reasoning Behind it All

Note: This will probably be very boring and way too descriptive for everyone but me. But if you want to know more, read at your own risk of being overloaded. I want to put this down so I will remember it. It’s a record for me. This explains why I had the surgeries and how I found out about all that was going on. I promise I’ll do a fun update after this one.

Well, I’ve known that I had neurofibromatosis type 1 (nf)  all of my life. However, for all of my life, I had no symptoms other than a few cafĂ© au lait spots.  See the picture below for an example. This is from a google search, not from me.

In college, my junior year (so 2007 or 2008), I saw my first tumor, on my ribcage just under the skin. It was about the size of an almond give or take. A little while later I noticed a few more on my ribcage, back, and abdomen. I saw a regular doctor about it, basically told her what it was (she agreed, how nice) and I saw a general surgeon about it. He was going to remove them, but I decided not to bother with it because I was too busy with school. The tumors were/are painful when they are hit or bumped, so that’s why I wanted them gone.

Fast forward to 2011 right before summer. I was noticing more and more pesky tumors (all under the skin). Most of them were in inconvenient places where they would often get pushed on, and that really hurt. I also started to wonder if I had a little more going on. I had some building symptoms like leg pain, dizziness, neck pain etc. that I thought could be related. I did a little research, found out that there were 2 NF clinics in Houston, picked one, and made a phone call. It was between Children’s Hospital (yes, they treat adult nf patients in the clinic) and MD Anderson. I called MD Anderson, and got an appointment set up for summer.

At the appointment with my neurologist I mentioned a TON of symptoms and weird things I was noticing.

  • dizziness when standing or bending up and down, to where things would go black and I would have to steady myself before moving on
  • slight dizziness/unsteadiness when closing my eyes to wash my hair, also in the dark
  • shooting pain from my leg/back all the way down to my foot in my right leg
  • very stiff neck that was painful to turn, I never wanted to turn around or turn it much to the side
  • feeling unbalanced
  • feeling clumsy
  • tripping a lot on my right foot (I ruined a pair of Toms from that later in the fall)
  • feeling like I was sitting on something under my leg when I wasn’t, sometimes it hurt
  • lots of headaches
  • super sensitive feet-I could feel the texture on the linoleum floors in the kitchen and bathroom, and my feet didn’t like it. Ever see a cat with tape on a paw or two walk? Kind of felt like that.
  • cold hands and cold feet
  • numbish and tingly feelings in some of my fingers (usually starting with the pinky and 2 or 3 in)

He listened very well, and asked questions that made me know that he knew exactly what kinds of things I was talking about. He said he thought I had a tumor somewhere on my sciatic nerve and possibly one compressing my spine. He ordered a couple of MRIs and another scan that confirmed the diagnosis, a large tumor on my sciatic nerve and 2 tumors compressing my upper spine aka c-spine. It was that easy. I met with a neurosurgeon that also specializes in nf. We scheduled the spine one for December, when I would be out of school, and would later schedule the one for my leg for the summer.

As I got closer to December, my small symptoms were becoming a big problem. I was in lots of pain. I didn’t want to turn my neck much of all. I had a constant headache. I was tripping all the time, and even fell a couple of times (carrying my giant heavy teacher bag of course!). I was really unstable and unsteady. I had trouble lifting my legs to get dressed and to get up the stairs. I had to wear slipper socks all the time because my feet were so sensitive, and cold! Sometimes I wore gloves at home because my fingers felt so cold. Basically, everything that I had been experiencing was getting worse. I think that the first surgery came just in time. I was still able to function where most people either didn’t notice I had a problem, or just thought I was being clumsy. I was also still able to teach without too much issue.

Now that I’ve had both surgeries, pretty much all of that is gone. I don’t mean decreased. GONE! Things aren’t  perfect (I’ve still got lots of small tumors) but they are pretty darn close. I just wanted to get that out there, so I can remember how far I’ve come and also keep track of things if the tumors start to grow back.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Hello Again!

Well, hello there. Saying it’s been a while would be an understatement, so I’m just going to get started.

Lots has been going on around here. I mainly wanted to start doing little updates about some of the big things I want to remember, and lots of funny stories. I want to talk a little about my surgeries that I have had (they went well by the way.). I want to make sure I document that because I don’t want to forget about where I’ve come from, and how much having those 2 surgeries improved things. Plus, when hospitals and anesthesia come into play, lots of funny things go down. So in the next few days, look forward to some mini-posts about all of that.