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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Radiation

In honor of tomorrow being my last day of treatment, I figured it was time to dust off the blog and record this pivotal experience in my life.

Recap: as you know, I was given a 3-part treatment plan which started with induction chemotherapy, then surgery to remove the tumor, and finally radiation to kill any tiny spots we can't see and also to prevent recurrence.

I completed the first two steps and have recorded my chemo and surgery experiences at length on the blog, so here we go with radiation.

A group of about 8 of us started the treatment at the same time. We had to watch a whole video and have an in person lecture about the side effects and how to care for yourself properly while this treatment tries to break you down.  I have to say, this made me a little worried.  We did not have fancy video warnings for chemo and surgery, and boy those side effects were awful.  It appeared to me that this whole radiation game was not going to be holding back.  The interesting part is that the side effects don't show up for several weeks, so at first it seems like nothing, then WHAM, all the sudden you wake up and realize that video you saw back on day one was not messing around.

My schedule was radiation therapy every day M-F, usually around 11am for 6 weeks, or 30 treatments.  On Wednesdays I also had appointments with Dr. Rosenthal (my radiation oncologist) and Dr. Kies (my chemo oncologist) and had my actual chemo treatments.  Throwing chemo into this mix meant that I did not get to experience those first few weeks of bliss before side effects show up.

Chemo and I are not friends.  I was so nauseous and sick and had several days each week where I did get out of bed the nausea and dizziness were so bad.  I am thankful I have my feeding tube because even when I was sick Brian could keep me on my medications and keep me hydrated and fed.

Let's see, how about a little rundown of a typical Wednesday since they hit everything:


  • 9am: Brian and I arrive at MD Anderson and proceed to the Lab to have my weekly blood work done.  It takes the nurse two tries to find a good vein, but we get there in the end and 2 tubes are full of my blood.
  • 10am: Brian and I head to my appointment with Dr. Rosenthal.  He meets with me weekly to check how I am handling the side effects of radiation now that they have kicked in.  He gives me weird medicated foam dressings for my neck and chin since the burn is getting pretty bad.  He looks in my mouth and offers sympathy once he sees all the sores.  He and his team also talk to us about nutrition and mental health during these visits.  I like Dr. Rosenthal.
  • 11am: Brian and I head down one floor to receive my radiation treatment.  I have a card that I scan when I arrive, then when it is my turn I head into the treatment room and remove my clothes from the waist up.  I get on the table and Joel and Jace (my two really sweet radiation techs) put a silicone guard over my neck scar, give me my mouth stent to protect my teeth and keep my tongue in place, and strap me into my face cage.  They make sure I am lined up properly (this sometimes takes a while since I was losing weight and therefore making my body a different size and the radiation has to be absolutely precise so as to get at my bad spots while not damaging the good ones).  I always appreciated their thoroughness.  Once I am in the right spot, they head out and the huge machine I am on comes to life and circles all around me shooting tiny green life saving lasers at my cancer site.  The whole thing, from walking in to walking out, usually takes 15 minutes.  
  • 1pm: We head next to see Dr. Kies for our weekly check-up with him.  He is so very kind, and really listens to our concerns and tries to make things as comfortable as possible while maintaining the strict plan that this will be curative - period.  Love it.  We talk about my nausea and how I had to jump out of the car twice to throw up on the side of the street. He changes my medication after 2 weeks and then finally just cancels my last treatment altogether.  He says based on my blood work we got great results and there is no reason I should be in so much distress when we have already achieved our goal. Did I mention I love Dr. Kies?
  • 4pm: We get back from eating somewhere (well, Brian eats and for a few weeks I eat soup but by the last few weeks, I just sit and watch while he eats) and head to my chemo treatment.  I check in with the Ambulatory Treatment Center, then I head to the Infusion Center to start my IV.  Remember how it took the nurse 2 tries to get blood?  Well, this is worse.  They need a nice big vein for chemo drugs and my veins are shot after all of this.  Most people just get a quick IV put in at the actual chemo place.  I have to go to the Infusion Center because I need the best of the best to find my veins.  Long story short, it usually took about 4 sticks in my arm before they find one.  One time they used the bend of my arm so I couldn't move.  Several times they did it in my hand, which is really painful and does not hold up well with chemo.  They always have to use the ultrasound machine to see my veins at all. Once my IV is finally in, I go back to the Ambulatory Treatment Center and get my chemo.  They are always running 1-2 hours behind schedule.  Always.  I get my pre-medications (nausea and a steroid), then chemo, then some fluids.  2 of my 5 treatments went well.  2 of them saw my arm or hand (wherever the IV was) swell up which means the medicine is no longer going into my vein, it is now just filling up the area around it and my hand or arm starts to look like a balloon and it is SO incredibly painful.  The last time, we ended up not even doing the fluids due to pain. Chemo sucks.  (I feel like I have said that before)
  • 10pm: We finally get home way later than we anticipated and literally fall into bed to get the needed sleep to head to radiation again in the morning.
And that, my friends, is my experience.  I have my final treatment tomorrow morning and we fly home tomorrow night and don't have to come back until late February.  My current state is not great - I am pretty confident in saying that once again, I have exceeded expectations and managed to get every single side effect.  I currently cannot talk or swallow without intense pain.  I have sores all down my tongue and in my mouth.  I have nasty mucus being formed in the back of my throat that I have been told I need to spit out rather than swallow to help with nausea, plus, gross.  The problem is that my tongue is not great at the spitting motion (remember I only have half a real tongue trying to teach my arm tongue how to keep up) and now with all these sores it is so awful.  If I hit my tongue sores on my teeth...oh, I bit my tongue earlier today and found myself crying like a baby on the bed.  My "radiation sunburn" is pretty bad as well.  It just showed up this last week and it is gross.  I have dressings I have to wear, which make me look like a crazy person, but they work, so I happily wear them.  Overall, this has been a very long process and I am SO glad that tomorrow is the end and I am headed home!  I am told side effects will remain for 2 weeks after last treatment, but then will slowly start to improve. 

Some pictures for your viewing pleasure:
Getting chemo early on in the radiation process
My beautiful niece Penelope came with me to my last radiation before Christmas, and here she is scanning me in with my card


In this pic, I have my mouth stent in and my mask is on - you can see Jace and Joel snapping me into place so I can't accidentally move and mess it up

In this one, you can see the machine.  It rotates around me and shoots out radiation (haha) - it administers radiation to the precise locations that Jace and  Joel tell it to via computers and cameras in the next room
This just cracks me up - this is the first stage of my dressings for the burn.  They give you big rectangular sheets of medicated foam and you cut them to fit the area you need.  I have since given up on trying to do the upper lip - not possible to stay on.  The neck part is most important...
...and you can see why.  Look at how bad it has gotten!  I took this picture today right before putting my dressings back on after radiation
This is me right after I walk out of the radiation treatment room.  You can see the marks on my head from the cage to understand how tightly they strap you down.  Even more reasons for people to stare at me in public as if I am some crazy monster.  
My radiation ends tomorrow, which means my 3-part treatment program that I started back in August is finally finished.  It always seemed so far away, so impossible to achieve.  It was a bumpy road with more lows than highs, but once I get my scans back in February with the good news, it will all have been more than worth it!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Grrrrr

Today I am pissed.

Stop reading now if you are not in the mood for completely irrational, emotional, and insane whining.  I have warned you.

Brian and I are once again in Houston - inconveniencing Kendall, my mom, my brother, and his wife.  Using up the money and flyer miles of friends and family.  Ignoring and once again not raising our children.  It's cool.

I am here to "prep" for radiation.  Awesome.  I went to the cancer dentist and had a contraption made for my mouth that will hold down my tongue and protect certain parts of my mouth during radiation.  It is horrifying - like the worst retainer known to man.  And my mouth is still massively swollen from surgery to the point that I cannot open it properly, I can't speak properly, and I eat out of a tube in my stomach rather than my mouth - for 4 freaking weeks now with no end in sight.

Anyway, I got a horrible mouth thing made then I got a head, neck, and shoulder cage made.  Yep.  That's right.  I don't actually know what it is called, but this is what it looks like.

They made one that fits me today and I will wear it everyday, 5 days a week, for 6 weeks starting Monday during my radiation treatments.  They literally strap and lock me to the table with it.  Fancy.  Oh, and I have to wear the mouth thing at the same time.  Fun.

I am tired of consent forms.

I cannot even count how many I have signed at this point.  Today, I signed the radiation ones.  You know, the ones that say I understand I may get mouth ulcers, skin blisters, permanent dry mouth, loss of the few remaining taste buds I have, etc etc etc.  The best part about radiation side effects as opposed to chemo or surgery ones is that they are long-term and/or permanent!  Jackpot!  I don't need to be able to swallow.  Not important for my life!

Oh, and I have to pay $300 for fluoride trays that I will have to use on my teeth every single day for the rest of my life if I don't want my teeth to rot out after radiation.  For the rest of my life.  

May I remind you that they already pulled 4 (4!!!) of my molars during surgery because my mouth was too small.  This has caused the other ones to get even more crowded (like that was possible), so maybe I want them to rot out and just save the $300 bucks.  No one gave me that choice.  Hmmm.  I already have to get a denture for the entire row of missing molars on my left side, why not just do them all while we're at it?

Oh, and do you want to hear my absolute favorite news of the day?

Apparently, I will be getting chemo along with my radiation.

Chemo.  CHEMO.  As in chemotherapy.  As in it put me in the hospital for a week.  As in I hate it.  As in I already rang the damn bell and was told this shit was over.

And all those radiation side effects?  They are more likely and more powerful when the radiation is paired with chemo.  Plus, we remember the fun chemo side effects don't we, class?

The hits just keep on coming!

And my plastic surgeon told me to take the bandage off my thigh skin graft site, to put some aquaphor (lotion) on it, and go about my day.  Cool.  I took the bandage off, screamed bloody murder, put on the aquaphor while my hands were shaking and I tried not to go into shock from the pain, and then stood there wondering what the hell I am supposed to do now with a bloody pulp of a thigh covered in Vaseline.  I specifically asked him if I cover it and he said no.  Hmm.  How does this work on planet Earth?  I ended up putting on a nightgown and tucking the end of it into my underwear to keep it from hitting the pulpy mess.  It goes very high on my thigh.  Like indecent.  At night I cover it so I don't have to buy new sheets and today I also covered it so that I don't have bloody Vaseline pulp jeans.  It may never heal since I am not following instructions, but when said instructions are stupid, I'm out.

And my arm is still wrapped.  It does seem to be getting better (I can dress it myself now so Brian doesn't have to), but I still get shooting pains up and down it when I make a fist or move my fingers or straighten it or lift it over my head.  So, you know, there's that.

My last appointment today was with a speech therapist.  She gave me two pages of swallow exercises I have to do everyday, 7 days a week, for 8 months.  Some of them are literally impossible for me to currently do since my tongue is hugely swollen still and I can't move my neck well due to surgery scars, swelling, and pain.  I ended up crying and snotting all over her office.  It was classy.  The day just got to me.  Random strangers in the elevator offered me hugs and words of support.  I am officially that person.  Ugh.

So, here I am.  I spent my day whining and wallowing.  I hate my life at this moment.  I am making everyone else's life worse and I feel like shit on top of steaming shit.  I know I am being self-indulgent, not helpful, and ridiculous.  But you know what?  I don't care.  At all.  

I'll say something nice some other day.  Today I am pissed.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

My Heart

After a kind of negative (but 100% honest) post last time, I am going to focus today on my loves.  The wonderful people who get me through the day, because sometimes it is really hard to get through the hours.

First up, I have not thanked her enough, but Kendall has opened her home to us for ALL of our Houston visits, AND let us use her car.  This has saved us literally thousands of dollars.  And she is just incredibly kind.  She has bought us food, washed our linens, and helped me get the gunk out from under my fingernails last night (I can't shower or even wash my hands properly - I am gross).  Thank you for being so generous, Kendall! 

Second, my babies.  They are being watched by a rotating committee back in Oxford and Memphis, and I love them all so much for helping.  From my staff members at Ole Miss to Emily to Jeremy's friend Isaac's family, so many people have stepped up to volunteer who did not have to, and we appreciate you more than you know.  My family in Memphis has taken on the biggest load and have spent the night at our house for large chunks of time taking time off work and their own incredibly busy lives.  Thank you to Megan, Dani, Joey, and Mom for your selfless love of your niece/nephew/grandchildren.  You say it is silly, of course you would do anything for them, but the reality is there are so many families who don't help each other out or so quickly and lovingly step up to help with no thought of payment in any form.  I just love you all so much.  And I cannot leave put Cheri, who despite living in NYC and therefore not physically watching the kids, she set up the whole care schedule, which is super complicated, so hats off to her.

Brian and I miss the children so much it is insane.  I see the photos I am sent and it just makes me cry.  I simply cannot believe we are missing Halloween.  Ugh.  We call them on speaker phone at night and their little voices are so beautiful.  They sound so happy.  I can only grunt, but they are convinced I can say "hi" and a few other things.  Bless them.  We are not ready for Skype until my face has healed a bit more.  We were given a DVD and a bag of goodies for helping explain cancer to kids.  We have already done a lot of that explaining, but I think the physical changes from my surgery are scarier than the hair loss (they witnessed the cut to soften that blow) and the stomach tube (which is under my clothes so not really a constant issue).  I have hope the drain may be gone before we go home, but the trach will most likely still be in place.  That plus the neck scars plus my tongue plus my arm and leg will be a lot for them. 😔

Some of the photos we have been sent over the weeks from various people: (I am doing this on my iPad so I can't size the photos properly - sorry if this looks weird when published)


Finally, I have talked about him in every single other post, but my husband is simply the most wonderful person ever.  

This was written about Brian.  We actually had it as a reading at our wedding (I was chosen to read it as a 5th grader at a big Mass with the Bishop so it has always been special to me), but it was not until this ordeal that I finally see these words coming to life and walking and talking before my eyes.

Brian has been so selfless, gentle, dedicated, loving, and fantastic.  He has also been terrified, sad, stressed, mad, and frustrated.  He gives me all of my medicine via syringes into my PEG tube.  He has a chart to keep up with them all - and they are around the clock, even at 4am.  He cleans all of my wounds daily.  My arm donor site is insane.  I have an open nasty wound from wrist to elbow where they took skin and muscle from my forearm to reconstruct my tongue.  It is a huge, deep wound, and he has to clean it daily.  While I cry from pain daily.  He does such a good job, and I try not to cry, but it freaking hurts like hell.  He hates to hurt me, but it is not him.  He holds my good hand while we sleep. He reads to me since I can't hold a book properly (which sucks, I had a pile of books I bought for my recovery not realizing I could not hold them).  This made the nurses totally fall in love with Brian, by the way - the reading.  So sweet.  He is an excellent orator.  

I am so lucky.  My husband is not perfect.  I told you about the skillet in the last post (heehee), and yesterday he accidentally squirted oxycodone (bright red liquid pain reliever) out of the syringe onto the wall and ceiling in our guest bathroom at Kendall's.  He was so mad.  It was hilarious.  As was watching him climb onto the sink to clean it up.  

That's why I love him so much.  He is so real.  He lets his emotions out.  He cried when talking to the kids the other day and he cussed when we got the run-around from a dumb nurse on the phone.  I love that - his honesty and his fierce love for me.  When we get good news about my progress, no matter how minor, Brian always has to take a moment to collect himself.  He is SO invested in my recovery and cure.  I seriously could not ask for a more wonderful partner to walk through this nightmare with me.  He brings the light that helps us see through the dark.  My light falters regularly, but his can be counted on to be shining brightly even in the darkest of times.  

Thank You so much for giving him to me.  

I am still trying to figure out the big picture and the "why" of all of this.  I know there is a reason I have been chosen to deal with this, and so far, the one clear positive I see daily is the love and care in the eyes of my handsome husband.  

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Out of the Hospital...Out of Control

We were discharged from the hospital on Tuesday late afternoon and came "home" to Kendall's house here in Houston.  She is Brian's cousin and has so amazingly let us stay with her during all of our trips to Houston (after the first one when I came with mom and Cheri).  Kendall is currently out of town, which is a very good thing since Brian and I are a total mess and really no one needs to witness this.

It is so funny, people keep saying, "yay!  You are out!  Aren't you so happy?"  Sure, I am so happy to no longer have professionals respond at the touch of a button.  I am happy to leave my cool bed that I can adjust with a remote and endless pillows and clean sheets whenever I ask.  I have wound drains and skin grafts and huge gauze dressings and injection tubes and bite blocks and tongue stitches and my medication list at discharge was 2 pages long.  But yes, I am super excited to go to my not home and have my poor scared-he-will-mess-up-and-hurt-me husband do all the things that took teams of nurses and doctors to do around the clock.

Yes,  we are super duper happy to be out of the hospital.  Does it make you feel better for me to say that?  Ok.  We are delighted.

In the day and a half that we have been out, we have had to call the emergency line twice and have broken down sobbing (yes, both of us) countless times.  I am in a shit-ton of pain and feel so guilty for putting everyone through this, and my amazing husband is terrified of hurting me or messing up the incredibly complicated medicine schedule (all of which has to be measured and administered via various sized syringes in my stomach PEG tube).  

The first night we were out, after hours (not exaggerating) of prep with medicines and gauze, etc. to get in bed, we noticed the skin graft blood/fluid bag on my leg had burst.  Blood and wound fluid all over the beautiful guest room bed and still dripping.  Brian freaked out and grabbed the first thing he could find - a skillet - and put my leg so that the blood all drained into the skillet.  Yummy.  We had no freaking idea what to do.  We had no instructions on the skin graft leg site since it wasn't supposed to need anything from us this week.  We couldn't even remember which of our three doctors we were supposed to call for that particular site.  But, my lovely better half only let his panic last a minute or two before his awesomeness kicked in and in the end I have a much better secured and very little pain skin graft donor site lovingly wrapped up in gauze and tape like a pro.  It was funny and crazy and scary for a hot minute, though.  And my big concern - Kendall's mattress - all is good, Brian did laundry to clean the bedding and the blood did not seep into the mattress at all. 

And the skillet has been washed and is ready for a blood-free meal.  
I know you were worried.

Today, we just finished our morning medicine injections, measuring drain fluid output for our chart, changing the ointment, gauze, and wraps on the absolutely horrific and huge wound on my arm, when I noticed I had some sort of liquid running down my stomach from my neck area.  Now, this could be like a thousand different things: trach fluid, drain fluid, actual blood, drippage from my mouth or tongue (happens constantly since my mouth is open all the time), tube leakage, etc.  I grunted (I really am a monster) and Brian abruptly ended a call with his brother to figure out where the mess was coming from.  It look a while and he had to remove my trach collar, which is so scary because it holds everything in place and if the trach falls out, well, I don't even want to think about that.

Brian found the source of the fluid was the hole in my chest where they removed a drain before we left the hospital.  That area was supposed to be done, but here it was literally squinting out fluid (like a mix of yellow fluid and watery blood), that was by now totally sopping my whole torso and nightgown.  Sexy.  

Long story short, I am happy to say we panicked even less this time around and after some time spent naked in the kitchen getting cleaned and wrapped back up by my increasingly skilled husband, I am now in a clean gown with split drain sponges in place and comfily sitting on the couch writing this post.

We have talked to lots of nurses and doctors and I am so proud of Brian.  He has been able to follow some very complicated instructions and is really impressive.  It gets to us, and we let the stress and fear out at times, but overall, I think we are making a good team and doing ok.  He is translating my grunts really well.  ☺️. He reads to me at night (I can't hold a book), and we talk a lot about the kids and go through old pictures of them on our phones.  We miss them a ton.  

Again, sure, we are out of the hospital, but we are not home.  We are out of the hospital, but I can't talk or eat.  We are out of the hospital, but we spend about 8 hours a day on wound-care, medicine, tube feeds, ointment application, tongue cleaning, etc.  We are out of the hospital, but I still wake up in the middle of the night crying for pain meds.  We are out of the hospital, but we are not overly happy.  

Is that ok?  I think people want us to be happy so they are projecting it upon us.  Really, though, we just want our reality to be validated.  This sucks.  It fucking sucks.  There is absolutely nothing happy about where we are right now in this process.  Stop trying to make me find a silver lining.  I am not dumb.  I know it will pass and that I am getting better every day.  I know.  Stop shoving it down my throat.  Right now, we are in the trenches and it is not pretty.  Acknowledge our now.  It is shitty.  Period.  I want to throw stuff, but I am not allowed to exert energy or lift my arms above the shoulder, damn it. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Recovery...if that's what you want to call it

Well, as my last insane post possibly implied, I had surgery on Monday.  Today is Sunday, and writing this is still exceptionally difficult (and being done using one finger to type one letter at a time).  I am still in the hospital, and I still feel horrific.

Do you want to hear about it?

Have you eaten recently?

So, first of all, the surgery was a huge success!!  Dr. Weber got out all the cancer.  Brian apparently made him say it 3 times.  They ended up removing half the tongue, several lymph nodes, the whole left side floor of my mouth, and my back 4 bottom teeth - but he did not have to take jawbone.  I am kinda shocked about the teeth, but they did it to make room to reconstruct and attach the new tongue, so ok I guess.  The pathology report came back and confirmed all the cancer is removed, and showed there was indeed a small cancer spot in one lymph node, so I am so glad he removed them even though it showed clear on all the tests.  Thank God.  I really don't want to do this again.  

Dr. Merclili then took over and reconstructed the floor of the mouth and the tongue.  He was able to use my forearm for the needed skin and muscle, so yay for arm-tongue!  He then took a skin graft from my thigh to cover the arm donor site.  

My arm is currently in a pressurized splint - the tubes coming out of it are to various drains for blood and fluid.  One drain on my arm goes into a machine that actually pumps the blood and fluid out.

I also have drains (these are the drain receptacles) pinned to my gown - I have 3 - gross, right?

Here is part of my skin graft site on my thigh.  It is in like a plastic bubble for healing.  Strange.

I also have a huge scar across my neck on the left side - from behind my ear to my chin.  That is where they went in to do the surgery.  

My mouth is the strangest part.  I cannot close it, and in case I wanted to even try, I have a bite blocker in my mouth, which holds my mouth open - 24/7 - for almost a week now.  Try to imagine that, please. It is horrific.  Just being real.  

Half my tongue is real and the other half is arm and called a flap.  They check my flap every hour (I get tons of great sleep, haha), and apparently it started out two different colors but now is getting more matchy and everyone raves about how much the swelling has gone down already.  It has been checking out perfectly in terms of connecting properly with the blood vessels, etc ever since the beginning, which is cool.  I feel confident it will heal really well thanks to my fabulous team of doctors.  But it freaking sucks right now.  Sucks.  I hate it.  So much pain I cannot even describe.

Finally, I have my tracheostomy, which I just got downsized yesterday, on my throat so I can breathe.  I start meeting with speech and physical therapy tomorrow to learn to talk with the trach and to start swallowing with my new tongue.  We were assuming the trach would be gone before we leave the hospital, but apparently that is wrong.  We may even still have it when we go back to MS a week after discharge, which really sucks since I didn't want the kids to see me needing/using one.  Ugh. 

You will notice there are no pictures of my scar, trach, or mouth.  I have not yet been strong enough to look at myself.  

I know.

No photos, and I had the nurses cover the mirrors for me.  I have gotten more feeling back in the last few days and got brave enough to feel around a bit with my hands.  From what I can tell, my neck is about three times its normal size, my left cheek is twice its size, and based on the looks of people when I walk the halls, I am some sort of disgusting monster.  It's cool.  Brian says I am beautiful and while super swollen, it is not that bad.  I have 2 days before discharge, so I need to learn to look at myself soon.  

Discharge also means poor Brian takes on my home care.  He had to go to a class on trach care, and while we are hoping not to have them (fingers crossed), he also had to learn to take care of my wound drains.  I do not have the words for how lucky I am to have Brian.  He has not left my side.  He waited over 12 hours during my surgery and sent updates to friends and family.  He sleeps every night on the uncomfortable fold-out chair in my room.  He is so fantastic.  All the nurses love him and tell me they love working with us because they enjoy seeing how devoted Brian is to me.  He puts cream on my lips and my real tongue side, helps translate my grunts, holds my tubes and IV poles when we go on walks, gives me sponge baths and foot massages, and lets me cry on him at least 3 times every day when I decide I can't make it anymore.  

I wrote this on my ever-present dry erase board to have him remind me to calm down and take things slowly.  This was after I freaked out and cried and he talked me off the ledge.

So here we are.  I am told by every doctor and nurse that I am healing quickly and extremely well.  Everyone reminds me that it just takes times and the swelling will go down.  I know this.  I have already gotten off the catheter and IV.  The drain pump comes off tomorrow, so my only tubes or wires will be my peg tube for meals - which is exclusively how I eat now.  

I am recovering, but it is going to take a loooong time before I feel better.  

I am ending with a photo of my precious monsters from Megan.  I miss them so much it hurts.  But, they are having such a great time with the literal community of people who have come together to help us raise them.  Oh, my heart.  Look at them.  Please let them know how much I love them and that I fight through this for them.