Guard Dog

Take away the 8 inch incision, hysterectomy, chemo, cancer, pain and nausea…….and it looks like I could be on holiday!

Until a week ago, our dog Diesel thought I was chopped liver (he’s devoted to Mr. LBB)….this week he won’t leave my side. He wants to sleep with me, accompanies me into the bathroom, and follows me everywhere. Go figure.

 

 

Nothing is worse than not feeling like yourself. But I’m on a mission to make myself get up everyday and work through it. My sweet hubby does so much for me right now……adjusting my covers at night and putting lotion on my legs since I can’t reach them. He even brushes my hair:

 

 

Last night I figured out how to sleep on my side a little…..it involved about 14 pillows and it was like heaven for 45 minutes. I had really weird dreams about Project Runway.

Monday we go back to Loma Linda for a post op appointment and chemotherapy…..they should know by then if my current chemotherapy is working and we’ll hear the pathology results from the tumor they removed. Pray that the chemotherapy is working….that would be a miracle and I wouldn’t have to go to a yuckier version of it.

Emotionally I feel great today. Physically not so much…..I can’t tell what are effects from surgery and what is from chemo:
I’m still bruised all over my body. There is bruising covering my entire buttocks area and I don’t even now what it’s from…..maybe from the operating table? Can you bruise from pooping?
The pooping situation has gone the other way and now I can’t stop. My poor insides feel like they are on fire.
I have zero appetite and the nausea medicine at least keeps me from vomiting. The only thing I can really stomach right now is McDonald’s sweet tea…..so I’m surviving on sugar. Better than nothing right?

I made it to Sienna’s “Trunk or Treat” at school for an hour today. Everyone was so nice and Lisa’s husband made sure I had a chair to sit in. So glad I got out a little! Gicela and Lisa pitched in to make Sienna’s costume at my direction….they did a great job and I’ll share pics later today once Lisa helps me get them all uploaded.

That’s all for now! Hope everyone has a wonderful day!

XOXO,

Ash

P.S. I was listening to my eclectic walking mix on my iPod…..I could listen to it over and over again:
Africa by Toto (my friend Kim and I listened to this song repeatedly in China when we studied there)
All the Right Moves by One Republic
Alone by Heart
Cry by Faith Hill

I’ve linked all the posts about my recent health “adventure” and the loss of my father here. Thanks for reading…..I hope my stories will help others that might be going through similar experiences.

 

Playing Card Favor Bags (A Tutorial)

Circus playing card muslin party favor bag tutorial via lilblueboo.com

 

Part of Miss Elle’s Circus Party! I helped Lisa make these cute party favor bags using some old vintage playing cards I found at my Mom’s house this summer.

 

Circus playing card muslin party favor bag via lilblueboo.com

 

Vintage circus playing cards are by Whitman.

 

Vintage Circus Playing Cards via lilblueboo.com

 

Each card has a different circus image on it and I scanned a few into my computer so I could print the images onto transfer paper. I’ve seen some great vintage circus images at Silver Crow Creations if you can’t find playing cards. 30-One on Etsy has some fun sets of playing cards too including the circus ones.

 

Vintage Circus Playing Cards via lilblueboo.com

 

I was able to print 8 card images onto each piece of transfer paper. I used super soft transfer paper from Dharma Trading and Lisa ordered muslin party favor bags from Spice Shoppe.

 

How to make favor bags with any image via lilblueboo.com

 

Transfer paper makes an easy iron on:

 

How to make favor bags with any image tutorial via lilblueboo.com

 

Cut out the transfer and place face down onto the bag. The trick is NOT to use an ironing board…..you should use a hard surface like a table or the floor and place protective brown paper or an old t-shirt on your surface to protect it. Follow the directions of the specific transfer paper you are using. Then you peel the backing off of the paper and the bags are done:

 

 Favor bag tutorial via lilblueboo.com

 

A cute circus themed treat bag for your guests!

 

 Circus theme favor bag tutorial via lilblueboo.com

 

More printables and tutorials to come! Click below to see all the posts related to the circus party so far!

 

Circus Party via lilblueboo.com

Photo of the Day: Tick Marks

One thing I really love about Loma Linda is how quickly they encourage you to recover. The same day I was moved from ICU the nurse said to me “just so you know, you need to get up and walk at least 4 times today.” Huh!? Are you serious?! Of course it’s scary the first time….but after that I’d get help out of bed and baby step around…..catheter, IVs and all…..no shame in my gown flapping open accidentally. No wallowing in pain or self pity allowed. Like with my c-section I’ve learned little tricks to help me get up…..like bending one leg and using that to pull my body upright.

Each day I try to do the same thing….get up and walk a bit. Today I walked around our pool 15 times….the safety fence is the perfect hand rail. 5 times around and then I’d rest on the lounge chair in the nice weather until the next 5 laps. You’d think I was on vacation or something! Ha! You can see Diesel following me from a distance in the background under the lounge chair:


 

Lisa said this needed to be the photo of the day……to show my OCD with numbers. I carried a big piece of chalk and each time I walked by I made a tick mark on Boo’s easel chalkboard. I had to end in a multiple of 5 and I kept having anxiety that maybe I’d missed a lap and it would only be 14 laps…..wouldn’t that just be the end of the world?!

 

 

Listening to music as I walked I started making up funny names to tag my posts with like: Mission Kick It’s A@# and Operation No Compromise (from Whale Wars). It’s just another adventure right?  That’s how I’ll treat it right now….like a mission…..maybe that will resonate with Boo better. We are on a big “mission” to help mommy recover. Any name suggestions out there?

P.S. It’s kind of fun having  photographer around to help me remember these things…..laying in the sun soaking up some Vitamin D and listening to my iPod, I opened my eyes to see Lisa on the ground with her camera shooting Diesel and my little nap. Sneaky but funny.

I’ve linked all the posts about my recent health “adventure” and the loss of my father here. Thanks for reading…..I hope my stories will help others that might be going through similar experiences.

Boo Style: Snap

Boo’s so proud that she learned to snap her fingers yesterday….and she does it non-stop. I was able to get up this morning to brush her hair for school and snap a pick before her “share” day…..love what she picked out to wear:

Dress: Upcycled by Dress Me on Etsy
Shoes: Target Glitter Shoes
Socks: Little Miss Matched

 

To see more of Boo’s picks click here for the Boo Style series.

Photo Of The Day: Everyone Poops

Warning: This post is about poop.
Sorry…..but it was the topic of the day and so it’s the only thing I have to write about! Nothing is sacred anymore…maybe all of you would sign non-disclosure agreements? Ha. Lisa brought me this book today. I stayed in bed all day not feeling great and was pretty sure I wouldn’t have a bowel movement….it’s been almost 2 weeks. I’ve been on pain killers for so long I was horribly constipated even before my surgery! I felt like I was about to die. I couldn’t eat either. The doctor said if it didn’t happen today I would have to go back in the hospital tomorrow. Guess what? I pooped. It was the scariest hour of my life, I cried and cried and I hope to never go through anything like it again. I called my mom (she was at Target) and she yelled in excitement to the entire store: She pooped! She POOPED!!


 

The silver lining? It made me feel so great I was able to get up and shower. I put on a little makeup and I rode with my mom to Boo’s school (only a 1/4 mile) to pick her up. I wanted Boo to see me looking normal for once. The second I got to the playground Boo and all her friends gathered around wanting to see my “Frankenstein” costume (that’s what I told Boo my stomach was and I guess she talks about it a lot).

I’m trying to get back to blogging more often…..it’s just really awkward to avoid my stomach. I can see things getting back to “normal” soon! Lisa and the gals have kept everything at LBB moving forward and my friends and family have taken care of everything else. All of you have kept me so uplifted and I promise I read each and every comment! Thank you! Love to you all!

What the……

Warning: this post contains some graphic post surgery images.

Seriously, what the (*@# happened? I’m not sure quite how I got here today…… I don’t remember much of the last few days. If you missed Brett’s post about my surgery you can read it here. I’m so overwhelmed by the outpouring of support of love I’m kind of in a place of shock. Yes I have a very public blog, but it’s not meant to be “spotlight on Ashley”…..and that I have a hard time with. Thank you all so much for the encouragement and prayers…..especially for my family. I was unconscious and sedated….my family are the ones that had to go through the trauma of wondering whether I’d make it out of the operating room and an emergency hysterectomy decision.

 

Anyways, I want to be clear that this story isn’t about me…..I’m not looking for sympathy. This story is for everyone that’s ever been through a traumatic, unexpected surgery or may have one at some point in their life. This story is about relinquishing fear and letting go of anger. My surgery on Friday was supposed to be pretty short and straight forward….and now I kind of look like I went through a blender.

My hands and wrists are bruised from needles and transfusions:

 

 

 

I’ve got an 8 inch scar running straight up and down my swollen abdomen now. The worst part? This is going to sound silly, but I have this issue with belly buttons. I can’t stand them……and they sewed right through mine, it’s all I can think about!

 

All I remember is going into surgery thinking: I’ll be out in an hour and on my way home. The next thing I remember is waking up in a dark room with a tube in my mouth unable to talk. That was the next morning….and I knew something was wrong. No one had to tell me I had a hysterectomy….I overheard the nurses while I was still under sedation. My family all came in looking scared and relieved at the same time.

I had it easy….I had no idea what my family went through. My father-in-law wrote out the entire sequence of events so I would know the whole story:

At 3pm, I was all ready for surgery. The resident doctors and anesthesiologists did their final reviews and they repeated a blood test for my blood type.

3:15pm: Dr. R came in and discussed that they were going to do a laparoscopy procedure to look at the uterus, fluid in the abdomen and then the decision would be made whether or not a D&C could be performed. I remember asking if they might have to take my uterus out again….and he like the other doctors said it would be like a 0.1% chance of that happening. I don’t know why I kept asking this…..I think I had kind of a premonition that I wasn’t coming out of the surgery fully intact.

At 3:30pm, I went into surgery….and the last thing I remember is laughing and joking with the anesthesiologists. At 3:49pm, Brett got a text from the OR that surgery was starting as expected. So far so good.

Then things went horrible wrong: at 4:15pm Brett got a call from the OR from the doctor saying that I was bleeding in the abdomen and they had no choice but to do a hysterectomy. He had to have the same conversation with 2 other nurses to confirm that he understood what was happening.

Then, there was no word for 2 hours. Brett called my mother and told her she needed to drive into Loma Linda because it was serious. She rode in with Todd (one of my husband’s partners) and Lisa. At 6:30pm,  a resident took my mom, Brett and my father-in-law in to explain the surgery. There were 11 units of blood product transferred.

The surgery was finished at 8:30pm and they transferred me to Loma Linda ICU.

At 9pm, Dr. R met with my family and explained that when they had gone into my abdomen the first thing they saw was clotted blood and fresh blood behind the uterus. He tried to remove the blood but as soon as he suctioned it, the blood would immediately refill the abdomen. He tried to control the bleeding but because the uterus thought it was pregnant the bleeding couldn’t be controlled hence the emergency hysterectomy. They removed  4″ x 6″ tumor with my uterus.

There was a team of 15 people in the OR including three faculty gynecologists (one a cancer specialist) and a trauma surgeon. And they all keep saying it’s a miracle that I’m alive….because my body decided to bleed the second I was on the operating room table. Thank you God for having my bleeding start on the table and not at home.

Yep, that’s my bum…..right after chemo shots…nothing hurts quite like a butt shot. And now there’s a picture of my bum in cyberspace…..how’s that to lighten the mood! They decided to give me chemo shots last night when they released me from the hospital. My HCG (pregnancy hormone) levels were 153,000 before the surgery…..and 17,000 after surgery. Next Monday if the levels are below 17,000 they’ll know that this kind of chemo will work and if not they’ll shift to another.

 

I’m so glad I’m home right now. I would have come home last night regardless of being discharged…..I couldn’t be in that hospital one more second. I had some of the most amazing nurses. The doctors at Loma Linda were amazing and so knowledgeable. Oh yeah, and they saved my life. All throughout the weekend a different doctor would stop by here and there just to say hi….so I got to meet them all and talk about what happened.

It’s taking a while to get back to normal. It takes me a long time to get up and I can’t walk around much.  I can only eat about a 1/4 cup of food……oh and did I mention I haven’t had a bowel movement in over a week? TMI….I know…..but it’s all anyone talks about here.

The hardest part of the whole thing was Boo seeing me in the hospital. She was wide-eyed and scared even though I had tried to cover up all my tubes and needles with wraps.  I know we’ll get through all of this stronger than we were before. I’m trying to walk everyday a little more so I get stronger and be as self sufficient as I can. That’s all I can do. I’ve got amazing family and friends surrounding me. Talking to the hospital case worker I was heartbroken to hear that some people go home to no one…..no one to pick them up, no one to take care of them when they get home…..no one. How can someone have no one? That opened my eyes immediately to how lucky I am. I survived, I’ll be back soon, and life will go on.

Honestly, I’m heartbroken over my hysterectomy. I don’t want people to think I’m some “steel hearted” woman who moves on too quickly. I know it seems like I moved on from my dad’s death quickly but I’ve thought about 100 times “I need to call dad about my surgery” and then I remember that he isn’t here with us anymore. It comes in waves….but I also realize that what I think might have been my path in life is not necessarily the path that has been set out for me.

I watched the Joy Luck Club twice tonight….and I shouldn’t have because I cried more often than I can count and strained a few staples. This movie always makes me cry. I love this quote:

This one moment would decide for my whole life whether fear would rule or I would. I decided. Underneath I knew who I was. I promised myself never to forget.


All I can do is work to get through today. And then I’ll work on getting through tomorrow. Next, I’ll work on getting through to next Monday when they’ll determine my chemotherapy treatment and that will dictate the next few days. It’s a step by step process. But I’ve chosen not to let fear rule.

Good night! Love to you all!

XOXO,

Ash

The Cancer Chronicles via lilblueboo.com

An Update from Brett

Hello everyone, this is Brett (Mr. LBB). I have been reading Ashley all of your warm wishes this morning and we wanted to say thank you. Unfortunately she had to spend last night in the ICU, after having to undergo a five hour emergency hysterectomy due to abdominal bleeding (she lost 4 liters of blood) that could not be stopped during surgery. Her primary surgeon said that it was a miracle that her body decided to bleed at the precise moment she was on the operating table and not sooner. Because of this he was able to quickly identify the problem area and proceed with the hysterectomy. While the hysterectomy was completely unexpected, due to the invasive nature of the tumor and the probability that it had begun to work through the wall of the uterus her Dr’s were very prepared. We are extremely grateful for her physicians and the wonderful care they took with her during the procedure. I will spare you more details and let Ashley tell you in typical Ashley-fashion very soon.

She was able to be moved to a regular recovery room this morning around 11:30 where she will remain for the next 3 to 4 days, after which she will immediately begin chemotherapy to try to fight off the remaining tumors in her lungs and liver. Thank you again for all of your prayers and well wishes, we know that they were heard and that she is with us because of them.

And just so you know she was back to her normal demanding, neurotic-self.

 

The Cancer Chronicles via lilblueboo.com

Tiny Pastry Erasers (A Tutorial)

 

I was resting in bed today getting ready for my surgery tomorrow and decided to make some cute little pastry erasers. A small crafting project…..so I wouldn’t make too big of a mess in my bed. Aren’t they cute? I could see these being “Barbie food” too…..so tiny and realistic:

 

I used a fun product called Clayzee…..the eraser version. It’s like a putty and you put it in the microwave (in water) once you are done and it turns into an eraser!

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Photo of the Day: Crafting….in Bed

When my grandparents were still alive, my brother, sister and I ate about once a week with them at this great Chinese restaurant called Shun Lee Palace in Charlotte, NC. It’s kind of stuck in the 80′s but the food is amazing. When we got the fortunes we would play the “in bed” game with them. I don’t think they completely got it but we would die laughing hysterically…..disrupting the entire restaurant. It is a great memory.

If you’ve never played the game, all you do is add “in bed” to the end of every fortune as you are reading it:

Something you lost will soon turn up….in bed.
Good luck is the result of good planning….in bed.
You were born with the skill to communicate with people easily…..in bed.

Anyways, the title of this post made me think of that memory. I’m resting and crafting in bed today:

 

 

My mom flies in today too! I’m so excited!

Loma Linda and OX

Mr. LBB and I woke up at the crack of dawn Monday morning to head to Loma Linda to meet with the oncologist.  Boo spent the night with her grandparents and asked us to take care of her Ugly Doll OX. I took him along and took photos of him all over Loma Linda. (the last time I was asked to take care of her baby doll I left her in the car all day and she almost melted……and Boo said I was a horrible babysitter).

 

Okay, okay…..I know, so how did the day go already!?


Well, I felt awesome Monday morning and popped out of bed at 5:30am. I didn’t even need to take any pain medicine for the trip.

We met with my new oncologist. He confirmed what my doctor in the desert suspected: I had an abnormal pregnancy/molar pregnancy and the cancerous cells spread to my lungs and liver. I’ll spare you the graphic details about my uterus. They scheduled me for the first available surgery on Friday. After the surgery, everything will be sent to the pathologist and then they’ll be able to tell what type of chemotherapy I’ll have to undergo. It was a little hard discussing whether we wanted to have more children but the outlook is that I should be able to.

After the surgery was scheduled and blood work was done,  a pre-op interview was scheduled for 3 hours later. If you know me well, you know I am annoyingly efficient so the first thing I thought was: why the heck to I have to be interviewed, I just did this 12 weeks ago. Did the surgery procedures change?
Thought #2: We can make it to L.A. and back in 2 hours if we hurry! (to pick up a fabric order I had on hold)……so we jumped in the car and drove to L.A.

First stop: Chic-Fil-A with OX

I made Brett take a detour so I could show him all the news truck chaos at Michael Jackson’s Doctor Trial. Here’s OX in front of Court TV:

 

Finally, made it to the fabric place. OX doesn’t want you to be sorry of his one-eye……that one-eye has super powers:

 

 

Thank you for all the words of faith and encouragement. It’s meant the world and my family and I have read every single comment. I’m exhausted and in bed watching Secretariat with Boo for the 5,000th time.

XOXO,

Ash

As aside note: I never had a chance to post the post just written Monday night! Later Monday night I had to be rushed to the ER for severe abdominal pain. I was admitted in the ER and they determined from some new CT scans and ultrasound that the tumor in my uterus had expanded out the other side (like an alien invader!) and there was fluid in my abdomen….but they didn’t know if the fluid was from the uterus or from something else. My in-laws Barry and Gale met us at the hospital. Barry is an angel…seriously. He’s a doctor there and helped coordinate everything, explaining medical history and hooking up my other doctors with the ER doctor. Also angels: our friend Todd and Jodi who were at our house THREE minutes after Brett called them to watch Sienna.

So what do we do in the ER room to pass the time? Take photos of course. Eisenhower gives you a gazillion bracelets and they all fit into this old school label maker…..it makes me think of crafting every time they print one:

 

After my dilaudid kicked in….I wasn’t feeling a thing:

 

My inlaws gave me the best gift ever and upgraded my room as I was admitted to the new Renker VIP building. I’ll never be the same after this. It was nicer than my house…..and they had L’Occitane toiletries in the bathroom….woot woot!

 



What are the odds that Lisa and her daughter would be at the hospital at the same time that I was? Crazy. Little Elle was admitted for croup the night before.  Lisa came down to visit me for a bit. I told her she needed to come and see the “mother-of-all” hospital suites and grab something from the mini-bar since I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything! Lisa sent me back a photo of Elle in her tiny room…..I was feeling a little guilty after that and wished we could have been roomies! She looks so much cuter than I do in my hospital bed:

 


First thing Tuesday morning I was transferred to Loma Linda by ambulance for observation. It was my first time in an ambulance….so you know I had to take my iPhone with me for a photo op. You can see the windmills in the back as we left Palm Springs:

 

At Loma Linda I was admitted and I guess Brett or Gale took this photo while I was resting. Our good friends (and Sienna’s godparents) Jackie and Derek picked up Sienna from school with their daughter and kept her for the night…..Boo is a trooper and was so excited when she learned she would be going home with them and that Miss Lisa had already packed her a suitcase.

 

Last night when they decided to keep the surgery scheduled for Friday I was pretty frustrated, but the doctor wouldn’t have his whole team with him if I was an add-on to the surgery day. Friday is the day they will be the most prepared and they can check out the abdomen too to see what’s going on. The second I knew I wasn’t having surgery I started asking to be discharged….I think they thought I was crazy at 12am trying to get “out of jail.” The next morning they confirmed that I was stabilized and pain management at home would be okay. I wanted to get out of there so bad I unhooked all the machines myself.  I think it might have been the fastest discharge on earth…..

I kept chuckling on the way home about how chaotic my night was at Loma Linda. My roommate was about my age and had been there a week for surgery. In the middle of the night it seemed like all of our machine alarms were going off all at once. They had my IV in the crook of my arm and I kept crimping it when I slept…..which would set off the alarm. I couldn’t get the nurses attention. I accidentally ripped a plug apart trying to move to the restroom and then that set off another alarm and I was tangled in a sea of IV cords.

So now I’m home! Everyone has been so supportive and helpful and I feel so out of my element. I’ve never been in a place where I needed so much help and assistance. I feel so lucky that I have such wonderful friends and family that are so encouraging. Everyone has been pitching in with Boo, meals, etc and my house looks like a florist shop. I’m so humbled.

So I’ll be hanging out at home until Friday for surgery. I’ve never looked so forward to surgery in my life….it will be like Christmas for me if that makes sense. Put me under, remove the bad stuff, and figure out what it all is so I can get chemo started asap.

My mom is flying out tomorrow too….so excited.

 

I love you all!  Thanks for reading…..I know many of you are curious as to what’s been going on and I’m trying to remember as much as I can.

XOXO,

Ash

 

P.S. Mr. LBB is a trooper. I’ve insisted that he go home every night to sleep in our comfy bed so he can come back the next morning….I know he doesn’t want to but it’s the best thing. I joke with him “I’ll text you if I go into shock or something.” He’s been juggling Boo, our friends and family and me too. He doesn’t get annoyed when I scold him for not using his knuckle to press the elevator button (just one of my many suggestions I made up to prevent the spread of germs in our house….hopefully Boo doesn’t grow up to be Howard Hughes.) He tries his best to pack my clothes when I ask him to….and he actually did a pretty good job!

 

 

The Cancer Chronicles via lilblueboo.com

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