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Three Months of Hair Growth

April 1, 2015

I’m quite pleased with the way my hair is coming along! I am pretty sure it’s already thicker than it was before I ever started losing it (I think a lot of it has to do with the essential oils and supplements I have been using)! However, though I did have some, there is significantly more gray than before! I knew there was a possibility my new hair would be different, but somehow managed to miss ever considering the gray factor… Everything else seems to be pretty much the same as before, though. The main color and texture don’t seem any different at this point.

April 1, 2015

I’ve begun wearing headbands nearly every day. I feel like they help me look girlie but they also provide a smidge of a cover up for my wonky (same as before) very stubborn natural part. With long hair, my natural part caused my hair to fall in such a way that it wasn’t ever really noticed, however, this short hair really shows it off! It parts in two places – dead center for about an inch, then takes a jog over to a right side part! The ‘cow lick’ in the front makes it very obvious, so I’m just covering it up these days!

I have eyelashes again, too. They even seem thicker than before. I feel like they’re somewhere between half and fully grown in now. My eyelashes weren’t super thick before, and they were very light in color, but they were pretty long, so I’m hoping they end up as long as they were before.

And my eyebrows are getting really close to a natural look. I’m not embellishing them nearly as much as I was a couple of months ago.

I’d love to know (if you’re willing to admit) how old you were when you started graying. Did you experience any traumatic life event that you feel exacerbated it?

How I Used Epsom Salt and Essential Oils During Chemo

Cancer, more specifically, chemotherapy, was a beast. I wrote about some of the ways it affected me, but I really didn’t have much energy for telling too many of my tales.

I found myself very achy and physically exhausted most days. I’ll share more about how I used essential oils topically and aromatically in another post, but today I want to share with you how I found some relief from the aches and that horrible allergic reaction I had in November.

My very favorite essential oil for my achy body during chemo was a Young Living blend called Aroma Siez™.

From the Young Living website: “Aroma Siez™ is a relaxing blend that is excellent for massaging away life’s little discomforts. Well suited for use after exercise or at the end of a trying day, it also provides soothing comfort for the head, neck, and tired feet.” It contains basil, marjoram, lavender, peppermint, and cypress essential oils.

My favorite way to use this blend was combined with epsom salt in a hot bath.

My recipe is simple:

  • 1 cup epsom salt
  • 8 drops Aroma Siez™ (or your favorite oil)

Combine in a glass jar or glass measuring cup and stir until blended. Let sit for about 5 minutes to allow salt to soak up the oil. After 5 minutes begin filling bathtub and add infused salt to the bottom of the tub while it fills.

It may be necessary to swish the salt just a bit to help it dissolve.

Relax in your bath as you normally would!

Be sure to stay hydrated during and after the bath. Epsom salt can be dehydrating.

**If you would like more information on Young Living essential oils and how they have helped our family, hop over to my Young Living page.

How Audio Books are Saving My Sanity

I have been a big fan of audio books for our children for a few years now. It started with the purchase of an Adventures in Odyssey boxed set (about 12 hours worth of audio) for a trip to Florida during the time we lived in Colorado. Prior to living in Alaska, I would regularly (once or twice per year) pack the children up and drive home to Florida for a vacation. These trips would usually coincide with a lengthy trip Michael was on, such as a deployment or training school. This would provide a bit of a break for me as my family is in Florida, but would also give the kids a change of scenery and some distraction while Michael was away.

When I discovered the gloriousness that is audio books and audio stories, I had already done a couple of these trips. Driving with 3 children from Colorado to Florida was no easy feat. It took me 2.5 driving days, along with stops on those two nights. It required parenting, navigating, and meeting all the childrens’ needs by myself. YES, I am crazy – but when you’re a military wife and you want to see your family, you do what needs to be done! These CDs came into my life at just the perfect time. All 3 kids were capable of talking, bickering, and touching each other by this point and there are only so many activities a child can do on an endless road trip before they start to get cranky.

When we started our first Adventures in Odyssey series (since we lived in Colorado near the Focus on the Family headquarters, we had quick access to purchase any CD ever released), I was shocked at how well the children paid attention and were so utterly quiet! I loved this effect so much that before I left Florida to return to Colorado, I found a Christian book store and purchased another set to get us home. No, they didn’t listen the entire time in the van, but quite a few stories were heard on that trip!

When it came time for another trip, I added another set and we listened to them randomly. One CD from one set, then the next from another, etc.

After we’d done this for a few trips, I started looking into audio books at the library. By the time we were living in Ohio we had jumped into audio books full force. We have listened to so many wonderful books on our trips.

But, we don’t just listen to them on trips. Truthfully, there’s always an audio book or story of some sort in our van CD player these days. A couple years ago, I discovered that my children are much less distracting to the driver, they fight less, and they are generally quieter when there’s a story playing. Yes, there’s always a story in, but that doesn’t mean we’re always listening, we do listen to music too, but sometimes mama just needs quiet!

Audio books have been especially helpful during the last few months. As a homeschool family, we generally have a few days a week that we’re home and don’t go anywhere, but breast cancer changed that. We have had weeks at a time that it seems we have spent endless amounts of time in the van driving from one appointment or friends’ home (for childcare) to the next. In addition to the extra time spent driving all over Anchorage, my brain has spent a lot of time being mush. While I’m feeling a lot better now, and am much more tolerant of the interruptions, there was a point where I couldn’t handle any of that.

I do look back to the beginning of our audio book days and wish I had kept a list of everything we have listened to. It has been some really great stuff. We’ve listened to easy stuff like The Magic Treehouse series, classics like The Wind in the Willows, and the Little House series, and other fun fiction such as The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, The Phantom Tollbooth, The Wizard of Oz, and Mary Poppins, and historical fiction such as books from the Dear America series, and many other books. Basically, if the content is something we deem appropriate for our youngest (6), I check it out and we listen to it.

We are currently listening to The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. This week has proven to be a super busy week and I drove more than a hundred miles on Tuesday! An appointment 23 miles south of our home and then gymnastics 32 miles north of our home meant spending more than two hours in the van and The Jungle Book helped pass that time and sustain my sanity!

If I had to guess, I would say we are nearing a hundred audio books/stories.

Do you listen to audio books with your children? If so, what are some of your favorites?

** No one is paying me to say any of this!! We love Adventures in Odyssey and audio books, in general.

Post-op update

Surgery was last Tuesday and I’m doing really well.

Prior to surgery it did take three different anesthetists five tries to get an IV in me. But, that’s fairly normal for me.

And the anesthetist that did my anesthesia was wonderful. As we discussed the severe nausea and vomiting I experienced after my mastectomy, he came up with a different plan for this surgery. He said that it was likely the gas they used once I was asleep that caused those reactions, so he would switch me to complete IV sedation with no gas. And he was correct! I woke up much more quickly than before and had zero nausea or vomiting! It was such a relief – especially considering the abdominal incisions that vomiting would have aggravated.

The surgeon was pleased with how text book the procedure was! She did have to separate my bladder and uterus (the bladder had healed into my uterus as the c-section was healing) so that she could get to the area where my ovaries and fallopian tubes were, but she said there were no complications or other unexpected extras.

I did stay in the hospital overnight, but that was mostly due to not being able to get the pain under control for a while. We managed to get it under control late that evening and I’ve been mostly pain free since! It’s nice to not need pain medication!

Healing has been as expected – while not major abdominal surgery like a c-seciton, it was definitely abdominal in nature. I’ve been very sore in the places expected, and moving too quickly, laughing, coughing, and sneezing are still quite uncomfortable. I did have to go in on Friday for some minor fix-ups. The incision in my belly button needed to be re-glued because the glue had partially failed. There was also a spot on my cervix that had been lacerated by a clamp, and though it had been coated in silver nitrate during surgery, it was bleeding again.

Since Friday, I am much less sore and improving [noticeably] daily. I even drove for the first time Sunday afternoon – which also means I left the house alone for the first time since surgery!!

Surgically induced menopause can be quite a bit different than the slower, natural version. I haven’t had many huge side effects yet, though the doctor did warn me to expect them within a week. I have started the new long-term reoccurence reduction medication and my dosage of thyroid medication has been altered in anticipation of those changes. I’ve had a bit of brain fog most afternoons that I wasn’t having before, but I’ve found some essential oils and natural remedies that are helping with that. I am also having more migraines than I have had since chemo ended. Both things are related to the sheer shifts in hormones in my body, so they may take a bit of time to level out.

I am also, once again, on a month long stint of daily blood thinner injections, which are annoying, but necessary.

Overall, I’m doing pretty well. Feeling strong enough to participate in life and the kids haven’t had to endure too much down time from me.


Surgery Again, Tomorrow

Another surgery is upon us.

Tomorrow I’ll be having my ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. Hopefully all will go as planned and it will be a simple, straightforward surgery with a fairly easy recovery.

An oophorectomy, under normal circumstances, is a short, laparoscopic procedure. However, as with any surgery, there is always a risk of complications. With this surgery there is also an unknown – there is no way to tell prior to surgery if either of my ovaries may have healed into my uterine wall during c-section recovery. If this has happened it will necessitate a complete hysterectomy with the added removal of my uterus.

And, you know me… there are the added risk factors I personally bring to the operating room – the biggest being my clotting disorder.

I am very comfortable with the surgeon who will be performing this surgery. She has read all of the notes and spoken to my previous surgeron and will take the same precautions he did.

We would greatly appreciate your continued prayers for me and all involved.

*The hospital I’ll be in has very poor cell/data reception and the wi-fi so slow that my phone can never connect. Michael will post some updates on Facebook, but I probably won’t have any internet access until I’m home.

Two Months of Hair Growth

The Logistics of a Breast Cancer Journey

When I say logistics, I’m talking about the sheer amount of information that suddenly came flying at us on that crazy day back in August when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

The surgeon who gently and compassionately told me of this diagnosis gave me one very helpful, tangible piece of advice that stuck with me [...]

Things I Miss About the Lower 48

Races and Another Surgery

The Hair Situation

January 1, 2015

The hair on my head has been a hot topic around my house lately! It is growing quite well and there are noticeable changes every day!

At the turn of the year, this is how I looked.

There was a little hair there, but I had shaved off all the scraggly bits so it [...]

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