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10 posts from February 2011

February 26, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.




Better late than never.  Hope your weekend was out of this world!  Idea courtesy of Soulemama.



February 25, 2011

I'm a Wimp

Yesterday I was officially 5 weeks out from the implant exchange.  Four weeks and a day from when Dr. X looked at me like I had lost all reasoning when I asked if I could start jogging in the next week or so.  Four days after I had jogged briefly (20 seconds here, 20 seconds there) while pushing Nicholas in the Bob and having no ill effects whatsoever.  

Last night, I intended only to go to the gym to walk or maybe, MAYBE work out on the elliptical.  For whatever reason, I had begun to have extreme pain in my foot and calf Tuesday night.  The pain resembled unrelenting cramps and while massage and a hot bath helped, I could still feel it yesterday morning.  By last night, however, it had nearly dissipated and as I hopped on the elliptical, I made the executive decision to cut the elliptical time in half, use that as a good warm-up and then officially re-start the Couch to 5 K program.

Now none of this is so I can prove anything sporting and athletic-wise, as I am truly neither.  This all goes back to my desire to improve my health as much as possible (the daily wheat grass smoothies only go so far...), so as to possibly avoid treatments that I don't feel I need (and that scare the living daylights out of me).  I am nearing my end of February deadline and will call this afternoon to make an appointment for follow-up blood work.   In the meantime, I am working as hard as I can to ensure that I am working out a minimum of 30 minutes a day, come hell or high water.

The resolution isn't about a medal, a photo finish or looking hot to trot in a bikini (trust me when I say the last item is indefinitely out of the picture).  It's about remembering that I have to be responsible for as much as I can regarding my own health, since the doctors are so much more focused on being reactive rather than proactive.

I finished my elliptical workout, felt good, erased my old C25K stats and plugged everything into the treadmill.  Two minutes in, I realized the calorie counter wasn't working.  I stopped, switched machines and started all over again, only to realize 5 minutes in that I had somehow set the time incorrectly.  Third try is the charm?

Yes, or so I thought.  By the end of the first jog segment, I could feel myself getting into the run.  I was relaxing it and truly enjoying the segments.  I was walking faster than I had in prior attempts and all was good until the 3rd run.  Inexplicably, halfway through, I found myself in incredible pain.  Most of my left side (chest area) was stuck in a hard, painful cramp.  I kept going and finished the jog portion, thinking the cramp would subside during the fast walk. No such luck.

I realized, sadly, that it was my body telling me that I simply wasn't ready to run again.  Perhaps I needed a few more days.  I was toying with the notion of a 5 K in May and realized that even if I wait until next week to restart, I could still make the deadline.  However, since that is not *the* reason I have become so passionate about the daily workouts, I don't feel giving myself another week 'off' will hurt me.  And, yes, I might be a bit of a wimp....but I haven't quit yet, and if memory serves, it is the first time* ever that I have carried any sort of resolution this far and that, in and of itself, is already a victory for me.


*For many reasons (snow days, extreme pain and intense exhaustion), I am not counting the two week recovery period I gave myself following the implant exchange.

February 23, 2011

Three for Three

IMG_1109 IMG_1121 This past Sunday, the Little Guy turned three.  I had planned (in my head) the uber-party of the year for many months. I even had (gasp) a hand-crafted, hand-stamped invitation idea.  I simply needed to find a template, print out tons of head shots of the LG and let loose with the crafting craziness.

DSC_4503 Then October 8th hit and my life took a nose-dive.  Quite honestly, it's not (or wasn't) the cancer, but the doctors, the hospital, the bills, and the stress of figuring out stuff we were never supposed to have to worry about.  I am an unusual breed in that I was not so much freaked by the diagnosis (well, at first, but it faded) but how they were going to treat it.  As all of you kind, gentle readers well know, this took a bit of a toll on me.

IMG_1126 As the days passed, when not wrapped up in my fear of treatments, surgical and otherwise, I occasionally glanced at my kids and realized that I was potentially screwing up their lives in more ways than one.  Not only had I becoming slightly emotional and crazed on a regular basis, but they needed to keep going...and I was simply not keeping up.

IMG_1128 I suppose I did a passable job at Christmas.  We didn't go overboard and the kids enjoyed each and every gift more than we hoped.  I breathed a sigh of relief when the holidays were over, only to begin stressing mid-January.  I remembered that I had intended on a huge fire truck/man/house themed birthday party for Nicholas.  We would coincide the party with Peter's second R & R, we would invite all of his classmates and local friends and there would be cake, ice cream, fun but useful party favors and, of course, this would all take place at a local fire station.

DSC_4536 DSC_4522 I could see the glee in his eyes months away.  Nothing screams Nicholas like a firetruck wailing down the street.  Nearly every day he plays "Fire Chief" with Peter. (Yes, they play school and fire men together...and, yes, it is as sweet as it sounds.)  Construction vehicles still have their place, but it was to be a fire station birthday, no question.  However, I just wasn't up for it.

DSC_4538 Somehow, a certain crafty person glommed onto this fairly quickly.  She recognized my stress level peaking and knew that I wanted for Nicholas to have a fun day that didn't require me to go nuts. She also had long been aware that Nicholas had but one wish for his party:  he desperately wanted Baby Nate, the Salty Pup, to be in attendance.  How else to better assure this presence than to have the party at his home?

DSC_4544 Dr./Auntie Salty Dog made mention a few weeks ago that perhaps the festivities could take place at her house.  She could "throw up" (HA!) a few decorations, provide a bit of food, a cake and perhaps even a few partygoers.  Another extremely crafty friend has a daughter a few months younger than Nicholas and they have always gotten along swimmingly, so she was first on the list after Nate.  I verified that she was 100% sure this would not be an issue and decided that sometimes taking offered help takes just as much courage as denying it.  I let go of the reins, willingly handed them over and Sunday was the party of Nicholas's dreams.

  Th_IMG_1173 Whether he was riding in Baby Nate's fire truck (how cool IS that?), visiting the fire station in his full regalia, enjoying yummy barbecue and fire house chili, playing with 'put out the fire with marshmallows', devouring yummy chocolate cake or simply running around in circles with his Fire Chief hat on, it was a 3 Alarm birthday to be sure.  He did not miss the 18 plus friends from school, he had a tour of a local fire station (crayons and coloring book included!), no worries about decorating, directions, too many kids, too few...everything was just right.  Three kids for the big three...perfect in all respects.

If you are absolutely digging the hand-crafted decorations, you can learn more about the Dr./Auntie Salty Dog's crafting at the Crafty Dog.  Now off to try and figure out what to do for a certain soon-to-be 9 year old....


February 19, 2011

36 months and

20080220-03 3D VIKA 29+_26 24 minutes ago, LG came into this world. His birthday is February 20 (in Iceland), but since he was born at 4:15 a.m., when we called the grandparents with the good news, it was still February 19th in the States.  The Little Guy, from the very beginning, has been nothing short of amazing.

It is a little known fact that we honestly did 20090222-179 not think we would have a third child.   Two lost pregnancies followed Kelsey's birth (one a month after mom died), and we simply didn't think it would be.  Eighteen months after the second miscarriage, we got the happy surprise (a slightly late anniversary gift) that I was pregnant with the LG.  

20100220-42 Despite an early scare when we thought I had lost the pregnancy, LG persevered and quite enjoyed his time in the womb.  He was so thrilled with his accomodations that he did not arrive until 12 days after his due date.  (To this day, we are extremely grateful to our friends who took such great care of the girls when he suddenly decided to arrive one Tuesday night.)  We had begun to think he was going to have to be coaxed out, when I actually went into natural labor for the first time ever (far beat inductions, I must say).

IMG_1098 Not surprisingly, after so long in his comfy space, he was born with an "air of maturity" as the mid-wife put it.  He rarely cried and had such incredible focus with his very first glance.  From his relatively calm birth on a snowy Reykjavik evening (and by far the best birth experience of the three) to now, he has been nothing short of enchanting.  Busy and quite different from his sisters, but absolutely adorable and just what our family needed.  Happy, happy birthday Little Guy!

February 18, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.



Have sticks, will travel.  May all of your weekend wishes come true (especially if you are a certain LG, about to turn...3!).  Idea courtesy of Soulemama.




February 16, 2011

Hanging Up the Cape

Last Thursday's post resulted in a number of lovely comments, emails and messages regarding my regret over my current situation.  I have hit a new level of exhaustion despite trying to get more sleep, so have not had a chance to respond.  Given that, here is my reply:

thank you.

Thank you for understanding whether or not you agree.  Thank you for sending hugs and cheery messages.  Thank you for not telling me to buck up.  Just...thank you.  I'm guessing you knew I really, really needed those kind thoughts.

IMG_1083 I also I owe super-sized thank you to one extremely generous person.  One in particular, I'll call Q.,  very cleverly wrote to me off-line and left me a very open invitation to let loose and say what I really thought. I think it was quite obvious that I was sugar-coating things a tad in the blog post (oh, yes, that was the sweet version) and Q. gave me the opening I needed.

Let loose I did.  I threw in the disclaimer, of course, that I know the world is still revolving, that other people deal with stuff worse than this every day, but how on God's green earth did this collusion of events make sense?  I wrote, wrote and wrote some more, rambling thoughts that would make reading Faulkner in pre-AP English seem like a walk in the park.   I finally finished in a dizzy swirl, clicked send and looked up to see Peter staring at me, wondering what on earth I had just done.

I showed him.  He read it, looked up and said, 


IMG_1084 An hour later, I received a response that brought tears to my eyes.  My fears were laid out in bullet-points and appropriately targeted.  All of my shortcomings of late, all of my failings were torn away from me.  I expected, perhaps, reproach and instead was given reprieve.  The lines that left me stunned?


We expected even the physical healing to take time, more time than it's been. We expected you to have to hang up your Superwoman cape for a year or more. We don't know why you expect so much more of yourself than any human could do. 


You see I don't see myself that way.  If anything, I felt I could never measure up to expectations that anyone else could meet in a heartbeat.  I won't list out my shortcomings, but in no way did I think I had earned a reprieve since I was barely getting the minimum accomplished.  Even when I thought I 'did it all', my all wasn't half of what it could be.  

It stunned me to think that I might not only be doing something right, but perhaps COULD give myself a bit of a break.  Perhaps I was being too hard on myself...I shared the note with Peter, he agreed wholeheartedly and I realized that maybe if I let go of my pre-conceived notions of what I should be doing, life might be much easier.

Four days later, I had the opportunity.  Peter had 'given' me the weekend off, but then became extremely ill.  I was supposed to have Sunday to myself, to work on whatever household organizing task I felt needed attention.  One of my biggest stressors has been my lack of motivation to finally finish unpacking and really getting settled.  Finally, I felt ready, but ended up spending the day running errands.  

Upon arriving home, I realized I would get nothing accomplished. I had volunteered to make cupcakes for Kelsey's class for their Valentine's Day party.  I had all the ingredients, but my time would no longer be my own.  I knew I could blow it off, go get the Safeway special cupcakes and regain my 'organizing' time.  I thought about it and then knew that I was going to bake the cupcakes from scratch, frost them and have Kelsey decorate them...and at the same time I was finally hanging up the cape.

IMG_1085 You see, the cupcakes were fun and frivolous.  Work, yes, but fun work.  At first, I felt since I hadn't done my 'real work', I shouldn't waste time on cupcakes.  I could save time by getting them at the bakery, work on the house and no one would really care.   Then I realized that maybe that's the attitude that needed changing.  Maybe it wouldn't matter if the house wasn't perfect for yet another day.  Having fun baking with Kelsey and pouring my heart into an activity for her was a far better use of my time.  

We made the cupcakes and two batches of frosting and many sprinkles later, they were finished.  They had been appropriately tested and I was reassured that they would be 'perfect' for the party.  I still fretted a bit, especially when dropping them off.  As if someone knew, two packages of prepared cupcakes sat on the front desk in the school office.  They taunted me with their perfect domes of frosting and moist, spongy texture.  I looked at my homemade, organic-ingrediented, sugary but not overwhelmingly so creations and wondered if I had made a terrible mistake.

Three hours later, I received an email.

Dear Mrs. Dinoia,

Thank you so much for the cupcakes, the children LOVED them.


Ms. L-F

Where's that hook and when's the next party?  






February 11, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.



Idea courtesy of Soulemama.



February 09, 2011

Know Thyself

I did not and I now (shockingly) regret it.  Actually, I lie.  I did know myself, knew all too well, and thought somehow I could sweet talk myself into changing.  Guess what?

It didn't work.

Three weeks ago tomorrow I had the implant exchange and the nip/tuck/addition on the left side. I have always been a teeny-tiny bit lopsided.  Nothing huge, nothing worth worrying about until the November 11 surgery altered the state of my right breast (lift included).  Dr. X had offered that a very small implant could be put in on the left side as well as a bit of mastopexy. Mastopexy, if you prefer not to click through, can make one look like they did when they were 16.  Or, in my case, what one might have wanted to look like when they were 16.   When I finally reviewed the surgical results 3 days later, I thought everything looked....like it should?   However, during the past two weeks I have come to the conclusion that maybe I rushed things just a tad.

Perhaps I wasn't far enough along in my other recovery.  Perhaps I simply needed more time to adjust to the first surgery (emotional adjustment: don't get me started).  Either way, the more time that passed, the unhappier I was with the results of the implant exchange.  I thought it would be a piece of cake, and instead recovery was thwarted by the hospital, Nosey Nurse and the fact that I believed the doctor when he told me one week was plenty of time for recovery.

One week was not nearly enough. I spent the second week (from the day after the snowstorm until last Thursday) a giant mess.  I was exhausted and cranky.  I went from thinking the surgery was ideal to thinking that I was a complete nut job for going under the knife again.  Everything I touched seemed to fall apart and due to my exhaustion, had possibly the worst parenting week of my life.  Think you've ever screwed things up? Nope, no one can touch my week last week.  Absolutely horrific.  I should have spent the second week resting and recovering, and instead, I jumped back into the fray way too soon and it bit me...hard.  Take note, anyone considering anything similar:  take whatever your doctor states as an adequate recovery time and multiply it times two....then rest and relax.

Last weekend finally rolled around, and we were without the kids for 28 hours or so.  The Salty Dogs thoughtfully volunteered to entertain them from Saturday afternoon through Sunday evening.  We enjoyed date night, complete with dinner and a movie.  We missed the kids, but suddenly it was as though my guilt about the surgery had lifted.  I no longer felt like a bad mom or as though I was unnaturally altering my body.

Sunday arrived and we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and grocery shopping trip in Arlington.  After prepping our 'healthy' chili for our friends Superbowl festivities, we had a muddy, but much needed nature hike in the woods near our house.  All was well until later in the evening.  Cait, Kelsey and Nicholas arrived at home, we came home from the party and suddenly the guilt hit again.

I realized the next day that I had not looked in the mirror for several days.  I could barely manage any MLD, much less the scar massage that I should be doing on a daily basis.   My poor chest.  Neither side looked great and not only was my right side tortured twice, but the left breast almost seemed worse. Nothing was necessary and yet I tortured that side needlessly.

Now I am nearly three weeks out, still filled with occasional pain and numbness (now on both sides) and more frequently with huge amounts of regret.  I have realized that this entire journey seems to be one of regrets.  I can't seem to make any decision without turning around a week or two later and wondering why on earth I did that.

I know I might seem crazy or ungrateful.  However, in this sort of scenario, what is nuts to one person is completely rational to the next.  I thought that perhaps by going with the flow and taking what was offered, it could somehow numb the pain of November.  Unfortunately, for me, it didn't do a thing.  In fact, I am not sure it didn't make things worse.

I truly hope no one reading this ends up in a similar position.  It is not enviable or fun.  The decisions are endless, and in my case, the regrets numerous.  I would give up almost anything to have my pre-October 8th life back.

If you do find yourself making such decisions, ensure that you truly know what you would want.  I thought I did or that perhaps I could convince myself that finally there was some sort of light at the end of the tunnel.  Unfortunately, I forgot that having the extra bit of work done would be just yet another reminder of the entire tunnel experience...one, in many respects, I truly wish I could forget. Not everything, but the surgeries, the pain, the scarring...I wouldn't miss any of them one bit. 

Should curiosity have struck, yes, this means the final reconstruction is seriously being reconsidered.  If I can't handle an implant exchange and nip/tuck, I don't think running head-long into a major reconstruction is a fantabulous idea.  I suppose I could change my mind eventually, but right now I feel I have made enough poor decisions and will let this one sit on the back burner for the foreseeable future.

If only foresight was 20/20...


February 04, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.



 Idea courtesy of Soulemama.



February 03, 2011

A week ago today

(pretend it's Wednesday, when I actually started this post) was my first post-op visit after the implant exchange (on the right side) and nip/tuck/fill (on the left side).  If you remember, as much as I want to tackle this as all naturally as possible, I also want to have a semblance of equality, if you will.

Thinking that it could hurt to even things out a bit, I went with Dr. X's above recommendations. Three days after the surgery, I had my first look.  It didn't seem to bad, in fact, in some respect the parts involved seemed years younger or one might say (Dad, stop reading right now...) perky.  I can't say I enjoyed the stitched-up look, but at least it seemed a like step in the right direction.

Four days later, we headed to Dr. X's office for a quick post-op check.  Anticipating that we would only be gone for an hour or so, we left Cait in charge of the crew and headed towards McLean.  Dr. X had thoughtfully moved up the appointment by 30 minutes due to the impending storm (as if we were actually to have a decent snowstorm at long last...) and it was a fairly short visit.

We arrived, waited only a few minutes and then we were led back to the exam room.  After I changed, Dr.X stepped in, examined everything and seemed happy with his work.  He asked if I had any problems, and Peter decided it was an ideal time to mention the hospital issues.  Dr. X hasn't ever raised his voice and rarely seems to change his tone at all.  However, once Peter started describing the issues and I filled in any blanks, Dr. X just looked at us with a hardened gaze, not as though he was mad at us, just as though he couldn't understand either event could have happened.  He questioned as to why we didn't call (well, at the time I was choking on saltines and/or randomly falling into wheelchairs while Peter was retrieving the car...not the optimal moment).  

We both explained that it was all over so quickly and we just honestly didn't even think to do that, due to being otherwise occupied.  He did not say much more than "None of that should have happened and I am very sorry.", but Peter and I left the office that day satisfied that the hospital would be getting phone calls from him about both issues.   I felt better, all seemed fine with me physically and we decided a quick snack and then trip to the grocery store was in order.

We noticed a bit of sleet while having our late afternoon lunch, but figured as with all of the other storms this year, it would amount to next to nothing.  Nevertheless, we didn't dawdle and quickly left for Whole Foods to stock up on a few necessities on the off-chance it snowed enough for school to be canceled (again).   As we walked into the store, nothing but that tiny bit of ice pellets.  Twenty minutes later as we walked out through the doors, thick, wet snowflakes were swirling around and beginning to stick.

Ha!  At long last, the storm we had desired might be on it's way (yes, my children are snow-starved).  We stowed the groceries, got into the car, turned onto the nearest main road and had no problems for several miles.  However, by the time we reached a major intersection about 3 miles from our house, it occurred to us that traffic had become severely backed up.  It took us not one, but four light cycles to cross Route 50.  Apparently, not only had everyone heeded the warning to leave the office early, they had managed to do so exactly at the same time and  when the snow was really starting to pile up.

Once across Route 50, we were sure we were golden for our journey to end soon. After all, it was now well after 5 p.m., the kids were likely getting hungry and while Cait indicated all was well, we didn't want to be out all night.  Sadly, traffic had come to nearly a standstill.   We were inching our way up Annandale Road when I noticed something even more ominous than never-ending traffic:  the gas indicator.  It had just flipped from three bars to two and not 20 minutes (and about 20 feet) later, we were down to one bar.  Despite the fact that we were in the Hybrid, no way we could hope that one bar would magically last the ride home, especially now that it was guaranteed to be at least an hour.

Peter, courtesy of his mad driving skillz (growing up in snowy western Massachusetts & work-related driving courses), made a quick u-turn in the road and we back-tracked to a gas station a mile away.  Half an hour later, we had gas and headed back home, opting this time for a side street...until we noticed that it was a rather hilly road and at least one car was already stuck.  Had we had a bit more clearance, we would have risked it, but we didn't want to end up trying to pass and ending up sitting right next to the other car.  The snow had now been coming down furiously for two hours, there was no end in sight, and we turned around and headed back  to our original route....and sat..inched ahead...and sat...inched ahead...and sat.  We did the inch/sit, inch/sit for the next 3 hours.  I might have worried more, but with Peter driving (I'm fine in the snow, but he is outstanding driver in any weather) , my only concern was that the kids would eventually be freaking out at home.  

Well, no.  Cait* texted frequently and let us know that all was well.  Unlike parts of northern VA (including the neighborhoods we traversed), DC and MD, our little neighborhood never lost power.  Cait thought ahead and "just in case" turned off appliances not in use (not sure this really did much, but made her feel like she was doing something), kept her cell phone plugged in, made the kids dinner, settled them down with a movie and then put Nicholas to bed.  When we finally arrived home at 10 p.m. (yes, 6 hours later), Kelsey was in bed reading, Nicholas was sound asleep and we had to bang on the door for 10 minutes as Cait had even thought to lock the storm door.

It was not the storm of the century, but did provide the kids with a few days off and sledding at long last.  While I can't say I enjoyed those 6 hours, I was extremely grateful to have spent them in a warm and toasty (and well-driven) car with Peter.  Yes, we were tired and cranky, but it could have been much worse.  In fact, our drive was actually shortened by a good samaritan.

We knew people (spefically, those in trucks & SUVs with higher clearance) were trying to pass on the left.  Not only were they contributing to many near accidents, but it was the reason that traffic was going so slowly.  Few people, if any, were truly stuck in the snow, most just couldn't move because of those drivers who felt their journey home was more important.  Finally, as we were nearing our turn-off, we were stopped entirely.

A gentleman, whose name we never learned, had taken it upon himself to direct traffic.  He had noticed that the trucks and SUVs were trying to create a third lane on the right (it's only a two lane road to begin with) and with cars parked along the sides, no one could go in either direction.  When we drove up, he blocked all of the passing cars and our lane (once a wayward van slipped through).  He then blocked the left lane, the passing lane on the right and allowed our lane to go.  Once we were through 'his' intersection, we were home in no fewer than 15 minutes.  Our neighborhood had been plowed an hour before, so while not fabulous, it was not difficult to navigate the roads.  In fact, we didn't get stuck once, the entire night...until we pulled into our driveway and that was resolved within minutes (yes, Peter also has mad shoveling skillz).

Oh, and the totals?

Distance for our route:  7.5 miles

Time to go above distance:  5 hours, 45 minutes


*I suppose some might think us a bit Free Range (well, we are...it works for us) leaving Cait in charge even for a few hours.  However, she's 12, she has had quite a bit of babysitting experience and we knew (ha!) we wouldn't be gone for long.  Would I do the same thing again, had we known what would happen?  You bet.  The kids were safe, warm, happy, able to use the bathroom if necessary, fed and well-rested upon our return.  I'll take that over them being stuck for six hours in a car any day and I think Cait was thrilled as her efforts earned her the extra money she needed for her chorus field trip to Hershey Park in May.