December 31, 2012

Meet our Baby (puppy)!

Friday evening we trekked over to Lafayette, Louisiana to meet the little fella who we now know and love as Louie, our Australian Shepherd puppy baby. He's been with us a few days now and is finally warming up to us. Translation: He's in to everything! I didn't grow up with a dog in our house so it's an adjustment for me to get used to hearing a crying pup in the middle of the night. He's so sweet but so BAD at times.

We picked him up and he was kind of smelly because it had been storming and he first met us when he was outside, so the first place we took him was PetSmart in Lafayette to get a bath so that we could endure the 3 hour trip back home. He'd been through a lot already at that point, I guess, because the poor little guy threw up all over Mr. K right in the middle of the store (immediately after his bath, mind you). Following that fiasco, we were ready to get in the car and come home. He threw up again on his Grandmama Wanda in the car, so we had to stop and clean that up. Needless to say, it'll be a little while before Mr. Louie is going on any other lengthy roadtrips.

Here are the basics on Baby Louie so far. :)

Name: Louis Kowalewski "Louie" or "King Louie"
Birthday: October 27, 2012 Yes - he was born on our wedding day, we think it's fate too.
Parents: Cezar and Kurus (Cezar's mom's name is Sheila, so yes, it's definitely fate)
Namesake: Mr. K's hometown of St. Louis
Fur color: Red and White tri color
Eye color: The sweetest shade of honey you've ever seen
Things he's learned so far: How to respond to the word NO!
Things broken so far: Sheila's Holiday Barbie Christmas tree ornament
Favorite toy: Duckie
First movie watched with mommy: Meet Me in St. Louis, he loved it!

Since he's pretty much Facebook's favorite puppy at this point, I want to share some of the never-before-posted pics here. I usually post pics from my phone to Facebook, so these were taken with my Canon Powershot Elph.
Right after we picked him up, Grandmama Wanda
helping hold back the smelly puppy.
Our photoshoot on the kitchen floor his first night at home.
His highness is ready for his close up.
Movie time with mommy while Mr. K was out shopping.
Notice Barbie's missing sleeve
and broken candy cane. Bad Louie!

December 27, 2012

One Week Post-Op

Hello peaceful followers! Christmas Day was the 1-week mark since my surgery and I'm honestly feeling  great (but don't tell my husband, I kind of like this Queen Sheila gig). I went to my ENT surgeon today for my post-op visit and he thinks the incision is looking great and we are still on target for the treatments to begin in 5-7 weeks like I was originally told. Have I mentioned how much I love my surgeon? I truly trust him as a doctor, and he's also Catholic and was our Eucharistic Minister for Midnight Mass at St. Alphonsus. Pretty neat to receive the Body of Christ from the same person who just days earlier cut your throat wide open! :)

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, bandages and bandage
removal and my 2 new butterfly necklaces :)
Mr. K and I had a pretty cozy little first Christmas as a married couple. I made my famous seafood gumbo for the Seymour family Christmas and we had lots of laughs playing Dirty Santa with the Humphrey family Christmas. I got a gold butterfly necklace from my sweet hubby and a silver one from my parents. I've never really been one much for butterfly items, but since it's the symbol for thyroid cancer awareness (your thyroid is shaped like a butterfly) it just kind of works now. 

If you're my friend on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter then you've noticed I have been posting a ridiculous number of pictures of my neck. Sorry! I am just feeling like I must have missed my calling in the medical field because I was absolutely enthralled reading the op-report and pathology reports I got from my doctor today and I'm obsessed with looking at what the incision looks like, I'm honestly not even concerned with what the scar looks like. I figure it'll be my battle wound to one day say, "Hey kids, wanna see proof that mommy kicked cancer's ass?" :)

Look for a quick post tomorrow regarding a fun announcement from the Kowalewskis. :)

December 20, 2012

Post-Op Report

Okay my faithful followers, I'm reporting in as a thyroid-less woman and so far I can say I don't feel that different. I do have an extremely heightened sense of smell, weirdly enough.

In true Project Chick fashion, I had an impressive showing in the surgery waiting room. I'm told there were fifteen people at the height of the day's crowd. Fifteen people all waiting for me while I was in lah-lah land with my throat cut wide open. Ahhhhhh, I had an audience and I wasn't even there to enjoy it. :)

As soon as I was settled in my hospital room for the night, my super sweet gal pal Jean snapped this pic for me for the blog... (check out her oh-so-cute-and-pregnant blog here)

Last night and this morning I began to really be able to feel the incision and become aware of the pain. HELLO, WHINY SHEILA. 

Here comes the bad news:
Last night before I was discharged, we got the pathology results from my surgery. Unfortunately it was NOT the good news we were expecting. As well as removing that back-stabbing-skank-of-a-thyroid, my surgeon did a right central neck dissection. Meaning he took out 7 lymph nodes and 5 of them had the nasty cancer in them. I'm trying not to dwell on the staging, but it's at Stage 4, promise me you won't google it... it's freakin scary, trust me. My true outlook is not nearly as terrifying as what any google search will tell you. In 6-8 weeks I'll be undergoing radioactive iodine treatments to make sure the cancer hadn't spread to any of my other lymph nodes in my body. And hopefully that will be the end of the Sheila Busts a Cap in Cancer's Butt chapter of my life story.

The scar: Nowhere near as bad as I'd thought it would be.
Amazing to think of all the crap they pulled out of that
little opening in my neck.
Regardless, this was, of course, not the news we were hoping for and I'm still questioning WHY this is happening to me. I'm oh so thankful for my super supportive family and friends for the sweet notes, visits, and 'happies' during this time, but I just wish this were all a bad dream. With the radioactive iodine treatments come periods of isolation (no contact with ANYONE) and the worst part for us - no pregnancy for a year following the treatments, for my health and the hypothetical baby's health. Even if that wasn't in the plans for us in 2013, no one really likes being told when they can or cannot start a family and we were really hoping to just leave it in God's hands. But I am just trusting that this, too, is part of the master plan.

What is normal anyway?
Two years ago this Christmas we were sitting in the hospital dealing with my PawPaw's diagnosis and brief battle with pancreatic cancer. Last Christmas I was flying back and forth between here and St. Louis to see my love. With the wedding behind us, I was really hoping to have a 'normal' Christmas this year and do all the fun, jolly things there are to do as a young married couple. But rather, no presents have been bought, trips to Bellingrath Gardens have been skipped, and I'm just hoping to be able to go to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

The "fire" Mr. K gave me in an effort to lift my spirits.
Oddly enough though, I'm so thankful just to be here and enjoying this rough patch with my husband and family and friends by my side.

I'm thankful I know my body well enough to have found the mass in my neck before it had time to spread more than it did.

I'm thankful for skilled doctors to help me get through this.

And I'm thankful for an incredibly supportive boss and team of coworkers at my job.

I don't want to sound greedy, but please continue to pray not only for my health but also that I don't let this depression overwhelm me. I know I'm an event planner and all, but nobody likes a pity-party, especially at the holidays! I tell myself that I have every right to be a little pissed off but that I do need to remember my blessings and that there are so many people out there not as lucky as me. That's rational enough, right?!

December 18, 2012

T'was the night before Surgery...

... And all through the house, The Project Chick was scurrying around like a scared little mouse.

Okay - I've gotten the nightmares to simmer down and I've just accepted the fact that having the surgery in the morning is the right thing to do. I'm just grumpy about it. I haven't bought the first Christmas gift (so if you're on my list, I'M SORRY, my health is my gift to you)... :) I've bought 2 new pair of house shoes and 3 pajama sets preparing for the hospital stay and what I expect will be daily visitors to our cozy little abode.

I've seriously gained a ridiculous amount of weight since the wedding. I'd tell you what the poundage is, but I haven't reached that level of acceptance with this yet. I guess the weight gain is a combination of no longer being super-duper-low-carb-500-calories-a-day and my thyroid woes. Whatever it is, I hope I can get it straightened out ASAP. I have one pair of jeans that don't make me feel like a loaf of bread wrapped with thin twine and even then, it ain't pretty.

In the week following my c-word news, I was blessed to receive some "happies" from some very special people in my life. See what's made me smile in the last week:

Shirt from the Kelsey Wynne Foundation,
via Sharon (Holcomb) McCrary, she
was one of my Big Sisters in Jesters at MUW
Kelsey's Story, check out her website

Poinsettia and wreath
Giant poinsettia from Mrs. Dana Corso,
sweet friend of the family

Wreath from my best frans:
Jean, Laura, Meg, Chelsey, Anne Franklin
Because of the wise advice of my uncle
telling me that to cure cancer I needed
to start "SLUGGING" lemon juice
my twin sister Erinn got me some! :)

December 11, 2012

1 Week Until Surgery

Getting my do' winterized and commemorating that it's
1 week until I say goodbye to my traitor of a thyroid
Well my Total Thyroidectomy is scheduled for one week from today and I'm pretty terrified. The one and only time I've ever had surgery was when I was 2 1/2 years old and I had my adenoids taken out. I am having nightmares about being given too much anesthesia and never waking up, being given too little anesthesia and waking up during the surgery; some nights I dream that I have a blood clot during surgery, other nights it's that the surgeon accidentally cuts a vital artery, etc. To say that I'm being haunted by this upcoming surgery is an understatement, I don't know how people do it who have a lot of time to dwell on things like this. I just try to keep my debby downer thoughts in perspective and how fortunate I am even in this situation.

So in an effort to raise my morale, I got my hurr did today, I'm sure post-op my neck will be sketchy as far as that weird angle you have to lay back in at the salon AND my roots were out of control! Not to mention that an appointment with the wonderful Christy Duhe at Grand Getaway is enough to cheer up even the lowliest among us.

I've also managed to finally get the Love Shack as decorated as it's going to be this year. Here are some pics of how I managed to reuse a lot of wedding stuff and some of Kevin's grandmother's antique ornaments on our tree. :) Y'all know I love old stuff!
Broken mini-tree star from apartment life, stuck down in some beans in Mr. K's
grandmother's milk glass vase and monogrammed vase we got as a wedding gift
with more antique ornaments I couldn't bear to see thrown away. #hoarder
This is actually a funny story. I ran into my high school exboyfran and his wife who makes pottery.
She was selling these adorable ceramic gingerbread men ornaments so I had to have one. <3

I'm pretty excited about our first lil Christmas tree of married life.
See that beautiful glittered, glowing ball? Yeah, I rescued about 30 of those from the trash.
Real vintage from Mr. K's grandma I never got to meet.

My reused twine from the wedding and reused
mini-tree ornaments made into a ghetto-fabulous garland.

December 9, 2012

Uncharted Territory

What better name for our
first home together?! ;)
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I'm clearly a fool to have thought the wedding would be the start of a new, stress free life for me and my sweet husband. I haven't even fully moved everything into our cozy little Love Shack, much less begun to decorate for Christmas. Since I'm not one for beating around the bush, I guess I better just get straight to the nitty gritty and share with my sweet followers what this new journey Mr. K and I are embarking on (no, sadly, it's not a baby, all in due time my friends)... I have Papillary Thyroid Cancer.

Photo by sheilamarie5
Right after biopsy #1 in Jul
If you're an Instagram follower of mine then you may remember back in July I posted this picture of me in a hospital room following a Core Biopsy of a nodule in my thyroid.  It's EXTREMLY painful to swallow while an 18-inch hollowed out needle is in your neck, btw. When the doctor and nurses say, "Don't swallow," DON'T FREAKIN SWALLOW. :/ After that procedure, I scheduled an appointment with an endocrinologist. That appointment just happened to be the Monday of the wedding.

As compassionate as my doctor is, that appointment was just too much for a soon-to-be-wed lady and I left the office in tears. He was ordering a second biopsy, a fine needle aspiration, of the tissue in my thyroid nodule. Apparently there are 5 indicators that make him suspicious of the c-word and I had 4 of them. The second biopsy was scheduled for January. Almost immediately after the appointment, the office began calling, saying that I was on a cancellation list, that my doctor wanted me in sooner than January. RED FLAG

My second biopsy was last week on November 30, and while doing the biopsy Dr. Frieze didn't seem optimistic that the results would be good. He even noted two other suspicious looking lymph nodes while doing the ultrasound-guided-biopsy. RED FLAG

Right before biopsy #2 last week
I got the official phone call on Wednesday, although, I think Mr. K and my family and I pretty much all suspected what the results would be. Have no fear, friends and followers, thyroid cancer is not a death sentence. I will undergo no scary chemo treatments, no loss of my lovely golden locks, and no radiation. I may have to have some radioactive iodine treatments depending on how I respond to the surgery. Regardless of how positive of an outlook this cancer has, it's still that word cancer and it terrifies me that it's a label that now refers to me.

Speaking of surgery, I met with an ENT Surgeon on Friday and I'm having a Total Thyroidectomy on December 18. However, there are some unique aspects about my case so it could become a Central Neck Dissection if they get in there and find more sketchy looking lymph nodes. There are quite a few more risks associated with the dissection, so let's hope they don't have to do it, but my surgeon has my consent to do it if necessary. I want all of the cancer out! There will also have to be precautions taken because of my blood clots back in April that are still hanging around, I sound like I'm 90, don't I?!

I appreciate your prayers and positive vibes during this roller coaster journey. My newlywedded husband and I are quickly learning the ins and outs of our insurance policies and are dealing with this pretty well so far. I'm personally having a hard time right now seeing God's plan in this, that I've had to deal with the blood clots and this all in one year (not to mention the same year that I've gotten engaged and married), but I do have faith that He is in control and there is something to be learned from this trial. When I ask myself how much more I can handle, I just remind myself I'm not alone. I have my AWESOME husband and the best, most close-knit family to help me when I have doubts I can help myself. I am definitely blessed!

Anyone want to help me decorate my house for Christmas? I want something pretty to look at while I'm recuperating from surgery!

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