Monday, December 22, 2008

The Love of My Life

Brad's going to have to move over! I'm in love! We've been keeping things pretty quiet, but think that it's safe to share our good news. I'm pregnant and have reached my second trimester with a HEALTHY baby! I'm 13 and a half weeks and have been feeling the morning sickness full-force until recently. It's starting to ease up some, but you'll never hear me complain. I couldn't be happier to throw up a few times a day! I've also reached the point where I'm starting to show a little and don't happen to own a pair of pants that will button at this point!

We had an ultrasound last week and got to see some great footage of the baby. He/she was swimming, kicking, flipping, dancing, and even had the hiccups! It was the most precious thing I've ever seen. Our last ultrasound was at 6 weeks, when the baby is the size of a grain of rice - not much to see. This time we got to see an actual "baby!" It has a strong heartbeat of 165!

I've been a nervous wreck throughout the pregnancy so far. Not to say that we're not excited, because we are. It's just very difficult to find yourself becoming attached to a baby when you've so recently lost one and know how quickly the good news can change into heartbreak. It has only been the last few weeks that I've really felt confident and positive with this baby. The doctor has reported that I am free and clear in terms of any chances for miscarriage at this point. Yea!

Our due date up until today has been July 5, 2009. At this ultrasound, the baby measured even further along, with a possible due date of July 3rd. This couldn't be better timing. I will be done with school and Brad will be able to stay home with me for awhile. This will be my last year teaching for awhile, because I plan to be a stay at home mom. I just can't wait.

We only have one little "hurdle" to jump over at the moment. I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and my ultrasounds have been so frequent because the doctors have been keeping track of a really large cyst on my right ovary (typically, a woman doesn't even HAVE an ultrasound until 20 weeks). It's still growing, and the doctor is trying to determine exactly how fast and how large it will get. Right now, it's a little larger than a golf ball - 6 cm. On the ultrasound, you cannot even SEE my ovary because the cyst is larger. The danger would be if the cyst becomes so large that it causes my ovary to twist on itself, cutting off the blood supply and causing me to have emergency surgery to remove the ovary. The doctor will likely want to do laproscopic surgery to remove the cyst if it gets much larger. He says that "babies typically tolerate surgery best in the second trimester." The decision is ultimately mine to make and I'm terrified. The last thing in the WORLD that I would do at this point would be to endanger this baby. After all that I have gone through to have this baby, I can't imagine doing anything even remotely risky. My hope is that the cyst won't grow much larger and will be manageable until I deliver. If not and I have to lose an ovary, well....I still have another one. It wouldn't be the best outcome, but it's something to think about. I just can't think about subjecting this little one to anesthesia while this tiny. We'll be praying for good news at our next ultrasound in a few weeks.

I'm still trying to figure out this whole "blogging" thing, so I'll try to attach a picture or 2. They really don't do the little monkey justice. I wish everyone could have seen how active he/she was! So exciting!!


Saturday, November 1, 2008

It's hard to believe it's been so long since I've last blogged. Life has been pretty busy lately. Dad is still doing amazingly well. He's having a lot of superficial pain from nerve endings growing back after the surgery, but is getting better day by day. He had an appointment with the oncologist and was given a clean bill of health - no follow up treatments! We had been prepared by his thoracic surgeon to hear that "chemo" would be necessary, but he said that there was no need. How lucky can we get??

Brad and I are doing well. We're looking forward to Thanksgiving for a little break, despite how far away it feels. School is great for me this year. I am teaching preschoolers with special needs. They are 3-4 years old and have a huge range of disabilities, most being fairly severe. They are precious and I am so much happier than I was last year. It feels good to get up and go to work in the morning, which is a feeling I haven't felt in quite some time. I have 2 incredible paraprofessionals working with me and they are a great asset to the classroom. Right now I have 7 students, but will definitely have more by the end of the year. I get students as soon as they turn 3 and are identified as having some sort of disability. The earlier I get them and begin interventions, the better. They are certainly still babies though!

Brad is doing great as well. He loves his school, despite how much he complains. He loves middle schoolers. I could never do it - too many hormones raging and fights to break up! He's constantly giving out detentions, breaking up fights in the hallway and on the bus lane, and writing up discipline referrals, but he loves his kids. He gets to do a lot of fun projects with them and has pretty free reign as far as his class goes. The commute is longer than I'm sure he'd like - 30 minutes each way. Needless to say, we're BOTH exhausted already.

I'll try to update more often - I promise. Hopefully life will calm down soon enough and I'll have a little more free time. A girl can always wish!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

He's Home!

It's hard to believe, but it's true! After a chest x-ray and a long wait on a slow nurse, Dad was allowed to go home. He has to follow up with several doctors in 2 weeks, but other than that, he's good to go. He's still in A LOT of pain after having the chest tubes literally "yanked out," but being at home in his own bed and having some actual COFFEE will help a lot in his recovery. We're spending the weekend enjoying seeing something other than the hospital surroundings! We've experienced several miracles over the last 2 weeks and are SO thankful for everyone's prayers and warm wishes.

Friday, September 26, 2008

One Day at a Time...

That's how we're taking things these days. Dad is STILL in the hospital - today marks 2 full weeks. Mom's still there with him, hanging in there, if only barely. The doctor had hoped that the leak in his lung from the biopsy would heal on it's own, but it didn't. He finally decided on a procedure than involved blowing some powder on the outside of his lung, causing scar tissue to form and seal the hole. It worked! It has it's side effects, but Dad's been pretty lucky and didn't react very much to it. He IS, however, ready to come home!

The doctor got the pathology back from the samples that he took during surgery and one lymph node tested "suspicious" for Tuberculosis. They did a skin test that came up "negative." As a precaution, he was moved to an isolation room this afternoon. It has negative pressure and the door has to remain closed at all times. All doctors and nurses going in and out have to wear masks, and I'm supposed to as well. Lot's of fun, huh?

Things are starting to look up though. His thoracic surgeon stopped by tonight and said that he's still scheduled to go home tomorrow, if all works out well. They will be turning off the suction for the chest tubes at midnight and doing a chest x-ray in the morning. If his lung doesn't collapse, the tubes will be removed and he'll be allowed to go home. We're praying AND have our fingers crossed - keeping all of our bases covered, superstitious and otherwise!

I had my appointment with the endocrinologist yesterday. She confirmed that I do have hypothyroidism. It's most often hereditary and I have quite a lengthy family history of thyroid issues. She feels that it's very likely that it is what caused my miscarriage. The treatment is Synthroid, a synthetic hormone that should even out my blood levels. I'm so lucky that my doctor thought to do the correct blood work and caught this before yet another miscarriage. It's so nice to know that there's something that I can DO to try to prevent another heartache. It gives me a little more hope for trying again. I'm still worried that, when I DO get pregnant again, I'll be terrified throughout the entire pregnancy...waiting for the bad news. It helps tremendously to know that I'm being proactive and lessening my chances of another hideous ultrasound. Only time will tell, but I'm optimistic for the first time in quite awhile.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Small Miracles

Thank God for small miracles. Dad is doing MUCH better, but is still in the hospital. He still has a leak in his lung, so they can't remove the chest tubes quite yet. However, he's on much less pain medication and much more lucid. The best news yet - the pathology reports showed NO CANCER in the lymph nodes that the doctor removed! He had been concerned, but told us that we should be "celebrating" because it's such good news - he removed it all! Yea! The doctor thinks Dad will be home in a few days. It won't be a moment too soon for he....OR for mom.....OR for us!

On another note, I have an appointment Thursday with an endocrinologist to check out this thyroid business. I'll update when I know something. Wish me luck!

By the way, please feel free to forward the link to this blog to anyone who would be appropriate. I sent it to some people, but don't have email addresses for others. Thanks!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Possibly an Answer?

Ever since my miscarriage on 8/20 I've had to go to the doctor's office weekly to have bloodwork done. They usually just check my hcg (pregnancy hormone) levels to make sure that they are decreasing as they should. Last week the doctor ordered a few more tests because this was my second miscarriage (the first was what's known as a chemical pregnancy - a very early miscarriage last year). I had a fasting glucose test done, in addition to a battery of other tests that I didn't even know about. Lo and behold, they found something. My thyroid levels were twice what they should be, indicating hypothyroidism. I have a family history of thyroid issues, so it's not completely out of the blue.

I have to follow up with my internist and an endocrinologist to have more tests done and decide on a treatment. From what I've read online, it could be as simple as one pill a day. It explains a number of what I thought were "random" symptoms that I have. It's also a major cause of miscarriages! I'll never know if hypothyroidism was the cause of my miscarriage, but I'm certainly glad that my doctor caught it. With polycystic ovarian syndrome already counting against me, it's nice to know that we might be able to do something to prevent the heartache from happening again.

My Dad

Some of you may have known that my Dad's been going through a tough time lately - to say the least. He had a chest x-ray a few weeks ago because of some shortness of breath that the doctors later related to some stomach issues. Anyway, the x-ray showed 2 "lesions" on his lungs - one older and calcified, one newer. He then had a PET scan which shows cancerous spots. The results were positive. He has a history of heart disease and has had heart attacks and stents placed in his heart in the past, and is on several blood thinners to control it. Apparently, you can't do surgery or even a biopsy while on these thinners because of the fact that it takes so long to clot afterwards. He was admitted to the hospital on Thursday, September 11 to clear the blood thinners from his body in a safe environment. It takes 5 days or so, give or take. My mom checked in with him - for moral support. Well, if any of you know my Dad, you know that the hospital is the LAST place that he wanted to be stuck for weeks on end.

He had an endoscopy to try to get a sample of the lesions, but the doctor was unable to visualize them from the scope. He then tried a "CT Scan-guided needle biopsy" in which a needle was inserted through his back to get a sample of the lesions. Well, this worked and a sample was taken, but his lung was also punctured which caused a slow leak. That night he had to have a chest tube inserted when his lung collapsed. The pain medication that they put him on because of the chest tube were really strong and caused a lot of confusion and dementia. Most of the time, he had no idea where he was or why he was there. That was Monday.

On Tuesday the results came back - positive for lung cancer. Wednesday was the surgery day. The doctor reported that the surgery to remove the affected lobes of his lung went smoothly. He removed 1 and 1/3 lobes of his right lung and placed 2 chest tubes, a pain pump, and a line that delivers pain meds directly to the sites in his body where the trauma was - his lung and chest. That's where the fun part started.

He was in surgery for 3 1/2 hours and recovery for another 3. When they moved him to his room we weren't prepared for what we saw. He had tubes coming out everywhere - pressure cuffs on his ankles, EKG leads, IVs, an arterial line, the chest tubes, the pain pump, catheter, the direct med line to his lungs, a pulse was incredible and he wanted it all OUT! He was in extreme pain and the morphine and anesthesia that he was given had hideous side effects. He was confused, belligerent, hallucinating, and trying to pull out every tube in his body. It was awful.

My mom stayed with him all night, as she had the week leading up to the surgery. She didn't sleep at all because every 2 minutes or so he was waking up and saying that he needed to get out of bed. He was getting very physical and was insistent that he was NOT in the hospital and wanted to leave. The doctor refused to increase his meds to knock him out because he had already had so much that he believed that it was causing the confusion. It was the night from hell. NO sleep.

The next day wasn't much better. They removed the catheter and pain pump because of the bad reaction to the morphine drip. I wasn't able to be there because I had already missed 2 days of work and had parent conferences scheduled that I couldn't get out of. My aunt Barbara, mom's sister, came to the hospital and stayed with them all day - she was an angel. The hallucinations and dementia continued all day.

I took yesterday (Friday) off so that I could go sit with him while mom went home to take care of herself for a little while. I've never been so terrified in my life. I was so scared that he would try to get out of bed or pull out a chest tube and wouldn't listen to me. It made me sick to my stomach to even think about. I hate that. Thank GOD, he was having a better day and was slightly more lucid, having moments of clarity through the confusion. He's also a lot nicer to me than he is to Mom :) I guess that's what happens when you're "the baby!

Today was even better. He's not been eating much, so every time I go to the hospital I have been bringing lunch or dinner. Tonight he ate the most so far, which was an improvement. He's also on a different pain medication which makes him more aware and awake. He is walking up and down the hall with a little help and is getting a little bit of his sense of humor back. He's still on the chest tubes and the direct line for the pain meds, but everything else is gone.

Mom's still not sleeping very much, but it's better than the first night after the surgery. He still has moments where he thinks he's talking to the dog, dead relatives, and just generally makes no sense. He also still has moments of thinking that he needs to get up and go somewhere - not realizing where he is or that he's just had surgery. He thinks that he's in the wrong bed. I think that he's remembering his pre-surgery room - they moved him after surgery to a wing where they are used to chest tubes. Last night he told my mom that he needed to get him to a hospital and that if he died because she didn't take him, that she was going to hell. Needless to say, she's taken the brunt of it. Her strength throughout this has just been incredible. I could never have done what she's done. Her patience and strength are just indescribable. She's an angel in human form.

They are talking about removing the chest tubes tomorrow. He still has a slow leak, but it's improving. The doctor thinks he'll go home either Monday or Wednesday. We can't wait. At this point, I think I OWN the parking deck. I know the best ways to get from Tucker to Piedmont Hospital and back by heart and could probably do it with my eyes closed. I've seen things that I will never forget, but wish I could and that will haunt me for the rest of my life. But most of all, it's really taught me an important lesson about what "for better or for worse" can mean and has shown me what true dedication looks like.