Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thyroid Cancer Update: Surgery and Post-Op Recovering

Hello, everyone!  I'm comfortable at home, taking it easy most days and trying to take all my medicine on time and drink lots of water.  I can't believe that only a week ago I was having surgery!  It went pretty well.  The surgeon is happy with his "good clean-up job".  They removed everything they could see.  The nodule was up on my vocal chord and they had to scrape it away.  I was told I would have voice issues for a while, but my voice has been pretty great.  My throat and muscles have hurt, but the voice has only been affected in how loud I can comfortably talk.

Seventeen lymph nodes were inspected and only four of those were in need of coming out.  They had micro-calcifications.  One parathyroid gland was removed and two others were biopsied and re-implanted.  The cancer was growing out of the nodule and wasn't contained to the thyroid anymore, so I definitely need radiation. It makes me worried, but the surgeon is very positive and thinks I will be just fine.

During the last week, I have shared quite a few photos on Instagram and Twitter, but I thought I would compile those into a bit of a "photo diary" for this post and talk a little about this first week of recovery.  (Again it is a long post, but I am trying to be thorough for anyone who may have to go through this...)

December 20th - Surgery Day

DivineMrsDiva.com - Thyroid Cancer Update: Surgery and Post-Op Recovering

I woke up at 4 AM on surgery day to shower, straighten my hair, and do a little makeup so I could feel human.  I figured straightening my hair would help me look decent during my whole procedure.  Not that it mattered that much what I looked like.  But at least I felt sort-of pretty.  It was definitely easier to deal with straight hair than a mass of unruly curls.

I was pretty freaked out when I arrived at the hospital.  My blood pressure was high and I was crying.  Someone came in to take my blood before someone else came in to put in an IV.  The doctor was running a little behind with his previous surgery, but the nurses kept me updated on timing quite frequently.  By this time, I had already been given valium to calm me down so I wasn't too concerned with the extra time. The three-ish hours I spent waiting went by pretty fast; and I was off to surgery around noon.  I gave my husband a kiss, waved bye to him and my mother-in-law, and was wheeled to the operating room.  They put the oxygen mouthpiece on me and told me to breathe.  I distinctly remember taking two deep breaths, where the last one smelled funny, and that is all I remember.

DivineMrsDiva.com - Thyroid Cancer Update: Surgery and Post-Op Recovering

I think it was around 4pm when I woke up.  I was in a different room with various people walking around me.  I remember someone with dark hair and a lab coat looking at me and then turning to someone else and telling them my name.  It felt a little like an out-of-body experience as my hospital bed began to move and I was wheeled to my room.  My eyes couldn't stay open the whole time, so various pictures are in my head of the hallway scrolling by and the red-headed guy who was wheeling me around.  It is all just flashes of images.

And then suddenly I could see my husband's sweet face and I felt happy.  My vitals were checked, my medicine was given to me via applesauce, and then I was just hanging out in my room.  My mother-in-law stayed for a bit, I think.  Everything else is kind of a blur.  Sean and I checked in on Facebook and he took calls from family members.  Later in the afternoon, I ordered chicken soup and pudding for dinner.  After the soup, Sean helped me go for a little walk up and down the hallway a few times.  I could have gone more, but I wanted to go back to my room to watch Blue Bloods and eat my pudding.

Everyone made a huge deal about how awesome I was for walking.  I didn't feel bad at all, so I didn't see why it was such a huge deal.  I wasn't having any pain, my voice was fine.  I was just a little loopy still.  The rest of the night was pretty uneventful.  Nurses came in to check on me and take vitals once in a while.  Sean and I watched some television.  I had to get a nurse to come unhook me from stuff when I needed to go potty.  Applesauce was consumed to help me take my meds.  I slept pretty good and was happy everything was on track for me to go home the next morning.

December 21st - Day 1 Post-Op

DivineMrsDiva.com - Thyroid Cancer Update: Surgery and Post-Op Recovering
(Clockwise from Top Left: Flowers from my stepdad and his wife; A framed card from my mom-in-law; Scarves from my mom-in-law and cousin Mindy; Flowers from my husband's coworker; My Amazon goodies; Flowers from our friends Tim and Derek, cute "Get Well" cards, and some Christmas goodies from my Aunt Wendy)

By the time everything was said and done on Saturday morning (medication given, paperwork received, drain tube taken out), I was home around 1PM.  My mother-in-law was at our house already to check in on the furkids, so she stayed with me while Sean ran errands to pick up my prescriptions and get some soft food for me to eat.

I fell asleep for a couple hours and awoke around the time my cousin Mindy and her lady Allison came to visit.  They dropped off goodies from a get-together I was unable to attend and chatted with me for a little bit.  I was happy my voice was well enough to visit and laugh with them.  After all that excitement, we had a pleasant evening of watching movies and snuggling with the furboys on the couch.  I was pretty pooped and my throat hurt a bit.

December 22nd - Day 2 Post-Op

DivineMrsDiva.com - Thyroid Cancer Update: Surgery and Post-Op Recovering

After not sleeping well on the loveseat in the bedroom, I was pretty wiped out for most of Sunday.  We took it really easy.  Sean made breakfast for me, as we watched some television shows and napped on the couch.  In the afternoon, I finally felt energized enough to get a much desired shower.  I wasn't allowed to bend over or move around too much, so Sean had to help undress me and help me shower.  It was totally not sexy.  LOL  I felt so helpless and pathetic not being able to dress myself and do simple things.  He even had to wash my hair for me because I couldn't lean my head back and it hurt to hold my arms up to scrub my head.

Once I was showered and dressed, I was exhausted.  It totally wiped me out.  So I went right back to the couch, where we watched more TV and movies.  I had (and still do) have to use a travel neck pillow to support my neck and head.  Plus, using an ice pack on the incision area really helped the pain subside from time to time.

December 23rd - Day 3 Post-Op

DivineMrsDiva.com - Thyroid Cancer Update: Surgery and Post-Op Recovering

Monday wasn't much different.  I switched from sleeping on the loveseat in the bedroom at night, to going to sleep in the recliner in the front room.  It was a bit easier to sleep in the recliner, but I was still uncomfortable enough that I didn't get a good night's rest.  There was a lot of relaxing, icing the incision, snuggling with chihuahuas, napping, eating soft food, taking meds, and doing it all over again.  We managed to catch up with at least four television shows we've had waiting for us on the DVR.  I had a bit more pain and had to keep up with the pain meds and icing the incision regularly.  It helped to keep my head pretty still and supported and not move around too much.

December 24th - Day 4 Post-Op

DivineMrsDiva.com - Thyroid Cancer Update: Surgery and Post-Op Recovering

Tuesday was much of the same.  I ended up leaning against Sean while we were relaxing on the couch, which really helped me relax my neck muscles completely.  This did wonders for the amount of pain and I was even able to fall asleep for a bit.  I worked on figuring out what times to take my medications and supplements.  My thyroid hormone has to be taken an hour before eating and four hours before any other medication or supplement.  So I set my alarm to wake up at 6AM every day to take that.  Iron and Calcium have to be taken three times a day each, but not close to each other.  Plus, I have lots of other supplements and a blood pressure medication.  The schedule that ended up working was starting everything else at 10AM and taking stuff every two hours.

DivineMrsDiva.com - Thyroid Cancer Update: Surgery and Post-Op Recovering

Later on, I sat at my office desk to get my Christmas post written up, brushed my teeth, washed my face, and went potty.  In those easy tasks, my neck muscles became super weak and the incision began to hurt a lot.  I also started experiencing a tightness in the incision area that made it feel like I was being choked or like someone was gripping my throat.  I could still breathe, but it was a very off-putting feeling.  Icing the incision for a little bit seems to help that feeling go away.  It was back to the couch and my trusty neck pillow.  Sean and I watched Rudolph and Nightmare Before Christmas (my first time seeing it!) before calling it a night.  I was still having softer foods, so my special Christmas Eve treat was a banana and gluten-free chocolate pudding!

December 25th - Day 5 Post-Op

DivineMrsDiva.com - Thyroid Cancer Update: Surgery and Post-Op Recovering

Day 5 after surgery was Christmas Day!  Sean and I spent 45 minutes the night before trying to find the right combination of pillows for me in the recliner.  It paid off because I slept really well for the first time since surgery.  So well, in fact, that I didn't want to get up.  We got a bit of a late start.

Christmas Day is also Sean's birthday, with his birthday tradition of having cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  We tried gluten-free ones this year that were not very delightful.  Next year, I will try to make some from scratch.  We did find gluten-free waffles that are pretty tasty; Sean also whipped up some scrambled eggs too.  Having had a pretty great sleep, I was very happy and feeling good that day.  Sean and I opened our presents before I showered (on my own!), did my hair and makeup, and put on my Christmas PJs for hanging out at home.

My mother-in-law made dinner for us and brought it over in the afternoon.  She made gluten-free tastiness, like polenta lasagna with spinach and chicken sausage, and gluten-free carrot cake.  We ate, opened presents, and hung out for a little while.  My friend Sami stopped by with a gluten-free pumpkin pie.  By 6pm, I was very tired, had a sore neck and a sore throat, and needed to rest.  It was the most active I had been in a day since surgery.  Also, hiccuping and yawning are painful.

December 26th - Day 6 Post - Op

DivineMrsDiva.com - Thyroid Cancer Update: Surgery and Post-Op Recovering

I was tired, but cheerful on Thursday.  Sleep was pretty good and I was interested to have my follow-up appointment.  Meeting with the doctor went well.  They snipped the stitches out and said it all looked to be healing well.  We discussed the pathology from the intro to this post and I went back home to do some more resting.

This is also the day I stopped the pain medication cold turkey.  Before I left the hospital, I was warned that the oxycodone would make me constipated.  I never had issues when I was taking a TON of iron, so I wasn't too worried about it.  But I also wasn't eating a lot of fiber lately and things got painful.  (Sorry if this is TMI.  I am just trying to give anyone else that goes through this the head's up.)  So I retired the oxy and now I only have ibuprofen when I feel some pain.

December 27th - Day 7 Post Op

Friday was a very relaxed day.  I felt like I did too much too soon on Christmas and the doctor outing day, so Friday was reserved for resting.  I managed to start this post and work on pictures and reorganize my vanity table to fit in all my lovely new Bare Minerals eyeshadows Sean gave me for Christmas.  I also watched three episodes of The Sing Off while Rusty slept in my arms.  That was the extent of my productivity.  I also almost sneezed (like started to sneeze and managed to not have a full on sneeze) and it hurt my incision SO BAD.  I thought the incision was going to rip open.  I have been told by my friends who had C-sections that the sneeze is a normal nemesis of surgical scars and incisions.

December 28th - Day 8 Post Op

It was literally difficult to get out of bed on Saturday.  I think Friday night was my first night sleeping in our bed again and the pillow situation was not ideal.  Also, our mattress is a foam one and it hurts to strain my neck at all, so it was hard to maneuver in a comfortable way.  My hair appointment was at 1:30, so I made it right on the dot.  Since I washed my hair that morning (which is getting way easier), my hairstylist just wet my hair down. I told her I was unsure about how comfortable it would be to lay back on the washing basin.

After my hair appointment, Sean and I ran some errands and had lunch.  (I wore a scarf.  I am still a bit nervous showing my scar in public.)  I've been a bit naughty with the food the past few days, but will be going back to my previous healthy diet at the New Year.  We made it home with just enough time to change into dressier clothes for our End-of-the-Year Fancy Bunco night.  It was so great to see so many friends and have some fun, though I managed to turn my head a couple ways I shouldn't have.  I also managed to really hurt my muscles when I went to scoot a dining chair closer to the table.  Pain shot up my arm to my chest and into my neck.

I am finishing this post up Monday night, December 30th.  I still have neck muscle pain and aches.  Resting my neck whenever I can helps, and icing the incision from time to time also helps a lot.  I take ibuprofen about once a day to keep things manageable for now.  As long as I am careful with my movements and rest my neck, I don't have pain or issues with things.  I do occasionally still get the choking feeling at the incision site.  It usually happens if I have been moving around a lot or using my neck too much.  Relaxing my neck and icing the incision area help the choking feeling go away. Right now, I keep the scar moisturized with cocoa butter, but the Mederma I ordered should arrive tomorrow.

Overall, my recovery has been going really well so far.  I have been keeping up with a message board of other ladies who have all had surgery this month.  Everyone's experience seems to be very different.  Some people have had a lot of issues with pain and swelling, which makes me even more thankful that my experience has been much better than anticipated thus far.  I'll continue to post updates when things happen.  I have another follow-up with the surgeon next week and am waiting to hear from the new endocrinologist I was referred to as well.  Once I meet with the endo, we will discuss radiation and the timeline on that.  That will be the next step.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays from my family to yours!

I just wanted to take a moment to wish you all a very Happy Holiday filled with love and laughter and as much joy as you can possibly fit into a 24-hour chunk of time (or more really.  Make the fun last!!)  I am still recovering from surgery, which means lots of naps, medication, water, and hanging out in my pajamas.

I'll talk more about surgery and all in a few days, but I am doing pretty well....just really sore from time to time.  I am four days post-op and am starting to get the tightness at the incision site that makes me feel like I am being choked frequently.  That issue, combined with a general lack of being able to find a comfortable sitting or sort-of laying position to sleep, has been the most frustrating part.  I count myself lucky that those are my major issues thus far. 

More chilling out, watching movies, and such will be in order tomorrow.  My husband turns another year older on Christmas day, so his mom is bringing over a home-cooked meal for us to enjoy.  I have a follow-up appointment the day after Christmas and hope to be somewhat rested enough to make it to Bunco Saturday night.

My husband and I are kind of obsessed with doing goofy card pictures, so here is this year's:

DivineMrsDiva.com - Happy Holidays!
Previous card picture posts: 2012 (though not really goofy as we wanted a nice picture for our last Christmas with Miss P); 2011 (totally goofy)

My mother-in-law was over to supervise and took a moment to cuddle with one of her grandsons.

DivineMrsDiva.com - Happy Holidays!

And no Christmas post is complete without a cute chihuahua close-up!  Rusty just celebrated his 17th birthday and made the cutest little elf I've ever seen!

DivineMrsDiva.com - Happy Holidays! with Rusty

Happy Holidays!!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thyroid Cancer Update: Some Pre-Surgery Thoughts

If you've missed my cancer updates, you can find them here and here.

DivineMrsDiva.com - Thyroid Cancer Update: Pre-Surgery Thoughts

If you have been following me on other social media, you may know I am scheduled for surgery tomorrow (Dec. 20th). The surgeon will remove my entire thyroid and any lymph nodes or what not that he feels need to come out.  Yes, I am super nervous!!

After my initial meeting with him on the 4th, I filmed a video of some thoughts and feelings in order to share them with you.  I have embedded the video below.  You may also find it on my YouTube channel.

In addition to the information in the video, I will add that I will be in the hospital overnight and should be able to come home Saturday morning.  My husband and I will be posting updates as much as possible in order to keep friends and family and all of you in the loop.

I look forward to posting again next week about how awesome I am doing and how kick-assy I feel! :-)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What I Wore: Tropical Garden Party

Hey, y'all!  I am trying my hardest to get a few posts out this week.  I apologize for the sporadic posting.  Last week, I had a ton of issues with the hard drive that houses all my downloaded photos.  It was so very frustrating.  My surgery is scheduled for Friday morning, so if you don't hear from me until next week, you know why.  I will definitely try to check in and let you know how I am doing.  Follow me on Instagram and/or Twitter for breaking news and random photos!

DivineMrsDiva.com - Easy Tropical Garden Dress by NorthStyle via Gwynnie Bee, Amber Shrug from SWAK Designs, Peep Toe Flats from Avenue, Necklace from World Market

I told you I was on an all-over patterned dress kick!  This one is from a company called NorthStyle that I became aware of through Gwynnie Bee.  I love the colors of the dress and was wondering how a larger print would look on me.  The fabric is a not-too-heavy stretchy knit that is comfortable to wear.  The turquoise in the dress goes perfectly with my SWAK shrug, while the nude flats don't fight the pattern for attention.  I added a dark blue necklace to keep things a little more grounded.

DivineMrsDiva.com - Easy Tropical Garden Dress by NorthStyle via Gwynnie Bee, Amber Shrug from SWAK Designs, Peep Toe Flats from Avenue, Necklace from World Market

While I appreciate the ruched waistband giving the dress some shape, the dress was a little big on me and didn't fit my body the way it may have been intended.  I also found it at least eight inches too long.  Below I have an example of how I pulled the ruching up to my bust to make the dress a suitable length.  Had the dress done its own thing, the ruching would have been around the biggest part of me and the length would have been too long.  It felt really frumpy in the longer length.

DivineMrsDiva.com - Easy Tropical Garden Dress by NorthStyle via Gwynnie Bee, Amber Shrug from SWAK Designs, Peep Toe Flats from Avenue, Necklace from World Market

I'm glad I tried the larger pattern, even though I don't think it is necessarily the best thing for me.  Maybe a V-neck would have made it a bit better?  I do love the colors and the tropical flowers reminded me of my honeymoon in Hawaii.

DivineMrsDiva.com - Easy Tropical Garden Dress by NorthStyle via Gwynnie Bee, Amber Shrug from SWAK Designs, Peep Toe Flats from Avenue, Necklace from World Market

Easy Tropical Garden Dress - NorthStyle via Gwynnie Bee (I am wearing the 3X.)
Amber Shrug - SWAK Designs (I am in the 3X.)
Peep Toe Flats - Avenue
Necklace - World Market

Have you tried anything out of your comfort zone lately? 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What I Wore: Bunco Casual

DivineMrsDiva.com - Torrid Glitter Striped Peplum Top, Lane Bryant Cardigan, Old Navy Skinny Jeans, Sequin Converse, Bestey Johnson Star Necklace

The weekend before Thanksgiving was our monthly Bunco night.  It provided a great distraction from all this recent medical drama and a chance for me to catch up with friends I had not seen since my diagnosis.  Bunco nights are always so much fun because we laugh so much.  Being surrounded by wonderful people never fails to be uplifting to the spirit.

DivineMrsDiva.com - Torrid Glitter Striped Peplum Top, Lane Bryant Cardigan, Old Navy Skinny Jeans, Sequin Converse, Bestey Johnson Star Necklace

I kept it casual and cute for moving from table to table.  I really didn't feel like fidgeting with a fussy outfit.  I wore this comfy peplum top from Torrid, a new item I picked up during a recent sale.  It is made of a stretchy knit fabric and has little sparkly stripes.  It is a great top that can probably be dressed up a bit too, though I have only worn it this way.  Never one to shy away from sparkles, I added my rhinestone necklace and sequin Converse to kick up the fun factor.

DivineMrsDiva.com - Torrid Glitter Striped Peplum Top, Lane Bryant Cardigan, Old Navy Skinny Jeans, Sequin Converse, Bestey Johnson Star Necklace

Fit wise, I ordered a size 4, but had lost about 15 to 20 pounds by the time I wore it.  I could probably size down, but the arms would be tighter. It still fits good and doesn't feel too loose, but if you like a more fitted look, size down.

This is definitely a go-to kind of outfit for running errands and such, and is pretty indicative of an average "Hailey" outfit.

DivineMrsDiva.com - Torrid Glitter Striped Peplum Top, Lane Bryant Cardigan, Old Navy Skinny Jeans, Sequin Converse, Bestey Johnson Star Necklace
Glitter Striped Peplum Top - Torrid (Grey version here)
Black Knit Cardigan - Lane Bryant
Dark Wash Skinny Jeans - Old Navy
Sequin Converse - Target (there are some on eBay now.)
Rhinestone Star Necklace - Betsey Johnson
Thyroid Cancer Awareness Bracelet my sister gave me :-)  It says "No one fights alone!"

DivineMrsDiva.com - Torrid Glitter Striped Peplum Top, Betsey Johnson Star Necklace

Are you a sparkles-all-the-time kind of girl or do you keep it a little more toned down?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thyroid Cancer Update: The Endocrinologist and more!

I am a little bit behind in my updates.  I hope you all had a fun Thanksgiving!  I stuffed myself with a paleo stuffing I made, some steamed carrots and green beans, turkey, and some mashed potatoes.  It was the first time I have felt really full since this whole issue started.  It was wonderful!

DivineMrsDiva.com - Thyroid Cancer Update

By mid-November I finally had an appointment with an endocrinologist; *insert sarcastic tone* I only had to wait two whole weeks to get an appointment with her after finding out I have cancer.   Seeing the endo was more of a formality than anything because the endo was the one that had to refer me to a surgeon.

My appointment with her wasn't anything too eventful.  She has a weird personality that I couldn't quite figure out.  She told me I "am not on Death Row" and then took this long pause just staring at me like I was supposed to start dancing around or thanking her or something.  I ended up starting to cry and felt like I was a fish in a bowl as she stared at me without saying anything.  Most of the conversation with her was her telling me every piece of information I have already read on the internet.

I was also bothered that she wasn't concerned about any dietary restrictions at all.  I told her that I have been gluten-free, sugar-free, grain-free, and such to kind of starve my Throat Monster.  (Gluten-free because I have Hashimoto's.) She laughed in my face.  She said she has Hashi and she eats gluten all the time.  She didn't care what I ate.  As sugar feeds cancer I think it is extremely irresponsible for her to say that.  Obviously, I am not impressed with her, but I can find a new endo a little later.

After her spiel about how I shouldn't die from this thing, she took my blood pressure and all that jazz before grilling me about my menstrual cycles and sticking her hand down my pants without a warning.  I do not like doctors.  And you probably wouldn't believe how much she charged for my appointment either!  It is crazy!

She referred me to a surgeon before dismissing me with orders to re-up my iron intake for now.  I had to wait a little over a week for the surgeon's office to call me, only to find out that they don't accept my insurance.  They had some long explanation of how they could essentially accept my insurance by doing this thing and that thing.  It was some weird explanation that just felt like they were pushing too hard to get me to see them.  I had to say no.  I don't need insurance headaches on top of all this stuff.

I did some internet searching and found a doctor that specializes in thyroid surgeries and also does plastic surgery.  I met with him yesterday (Wednesday), a whole month after finding out my diagnosis.   Both my husband and I actually feel good about this guy.  He was knowledgeable, has experience, takes pride in making sure things are done correctly (both inside my neck and how the scar will look), and he was really nice.  It is pretty cut and dry what I need to get done, so I don't feel like a second-opinion is needed.

OH, also, I had another ultrasound done of the thyroid area on Monday.  Happily, there are no suspicious lymph nodes at this time which is awesome news!  Having that information and feeling confident about the surgeon have made me *slightly* less stressed out this week.  I will still be able to do a few Christmas related fun things before surgery.

I am waiting to hear back from the surgeon's scheduler, but I am hoping for a mid-December surgery date so I can be healing well in time for Christmas.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Q & A Monday: Unforgettable Moments

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving weekend!!

I managed to get full on veggies, which was so wonderfully satisfying.  I haven't felt adequately full in a month and a half.  My husband and I do not venture out on Black Friday, but we did find some great deals online.  I may have gone a little overboard.

I'm finally doing Q & A Monday on MONDAY for a change! lol

It is time again for Friend Makin' Monday.  If you have a blog, I would like to invite you to answer the questions as well.  Leave me a comment here, so I know you are playing.  Then you can also leave a comment over at All The Weigh, so other folks can check out your answers as well.  It is a fun way to connect to other bloggers.

Unforgettable Moments

1. Share the details of your first kiss.
I was visiting family for Thanksgiving one year and went out on a date with a friend of my brother.  He was a cute and very nice guy and he ended up kissing me later that night.  It was nerve-wrecking!

2. Did you put your foot in your mouth in 2013? If so, tell us about it.
Not to my knowledge.  I try to be thoughtful and tactful with my honesty.

3. Share the story of one of your most embarrassing moments.
Hmmmm, I try to shy away from situations where I might embarrass myself.  One that sticks out is when I lived in Boston in 2000.  My friends and I enjoyed the hobby of meeting celebrities.  One snowy winter day, we ventured down to a music event and ended up meeting 98 Degrees.  Well, 50% of 98 degrees anyway.  The Lachey brothers were rather rude and couldn't be bothered with us.  Justin and Jeff were very nice though.
At one point Jeff came out of the bus to go get food down the street and kindly stopped to take a photo with us.  The bodyguard asked for all our cameras at once so he could take a photo with each camera while we all stood with Jeff.  I was the last one to hand my camera to the bodyguard and when I turned around both of my friends were on either side of Jeff with their arms around him.  I wanted to be right next to him too and was sad I couldn't since he only has two sides. LOL  I said, "I wanted to touch him too!"  When they all laughed, I realized I said it out loud.  That was embarrassing.

DivineMrsDiva.com - Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees circa 2000

4. Tell us what it was like when you traveled outside of your home state or country for the first time.
I don't remember the first time leaving my home state. We moved around a lot when I was a kid, so I don't necessarily feel tied to one place anyway.  The first time I went outside the United States was when I traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia with friends.  I think I was 21 or 22 maybe.  Looking back, it seems like a really spur of the moment overnight trip.  We walked around the city a little bit when we arrived and then changed clothes to go out to a club that night.  I wore a thong for the first time and decided it was NOT for me.  I need more butt support to feel comfortable.  We waited in a line at the club for a while only to find the club extremely packed when we finally got in.  It was so cramped in there that the only way to "dance" was to barely sway back and forth. 

5. Share something that forced you outside of your comfort zone in 2013.
I am absolutely terrified of doctors, hospitals, needles, blood, etc.  The beginning of October, I happened to feel that one side of my neck was bigger than the other.   This forced me to visit several doctors, give various amounts of blood, and have a long needle poked in my neck when they biopsied the nodule.

6. Tell us about a gift that you received that meant a lot to you.
Once I found out I have thyroid cancer, my friends signed a mat board and framed it with a sign that says "No one fights alone."  My sister sent me supportive goodies too.  It means a lot to me to know that all of that positive energy is being sent out into the world for me.

7. Share the details of the best date that you’ve been on in the last year.
As I was trying to decide how to answer this, I realized that Sean and I don't have enough date nights.  We need to remedy that soon.  I guess when we have time and are able to chill we end up staying home, watching a movie, snuggling on the couch, or playing a video game.  I think two of our best this year were in May.  Right before my birthday we had dinner at a tasty fish place and saw Chris Hardwick at the comedy club.  The end of May marked our 5th wedding anniversary, but we were unable to go to the beach like we had planned.  Instead, we met with two real estate agents to start our house hunting process and then had dinner at the place where we were married. 

8.  Describe one beautiful moment that was not captured by a photo.

Every sweet kiss from my husband, every laugh with my friends, every loving hug from friends and family both are beautiful moments that haven't been captured in a photo. I'm happy I can replay them in my head.

9.  Share one important thing that you hope to accomplish before the end of the year.
I know these answers seem pretty focused on one topic, but I hope to get surgery done this month to remove my cancer and officially have the added title of Cancer Survivor.

10.  Tell us about one defining moment of 2013.

Again, I feel that receiving the cancer diagnosis and all the emotions that come with it has been a defining moment.  I'm forced to change parts of myself, but I also see parts of myself and others more clearly.

So there you go!  I hope you participate and link up with Kenlie.  Make sure to let me know you are playing this week!  Have a great week full of fun and laughter!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Q & A Monday: The Holidays and More

Hey y'all!!

It has been almost a month since I had a chance to participate in the Q & A Monday post.  I am excited to get back at it once again.

This weekend was busy with Bunco and beta testing the new Elder Scrolls Online game.  I was so happy to finally receive an invite.  I also started holiday decorating to try to get things sparkly in order to take Christmas card photos before my surgery.

Last week I had a ton of energy and got most of the house cleaned, but this week I am pooped.  On to the questions:

It is time again for Friend Makin' Monday.  If you have a blog, I would like to invite you to answer the questions as well.  Leave me a comment here, so I know you are playing.  Then you can also leave a comment over at All The Weigh, so other folks can check out your answers as well.  It is a fun way to connect to other bloggers.

The Holidays and More

1.  What state/country do you live in?  

Vancouver, WA in the USA

2.  Where were you born?  Were you raised there?  
I was born in Mississippi, but we moved around a lot.  I've lived in a different city in Washington State, a couple cities in California, Kansas, a couple cities in Texas, a few cities in South Carolina, Georgia, and also Boston, Massachusetts.

3.  How do you feel about stores like Wal-mart opening on Thanksgiving Day for pre-Black Friday sales?  Will you participate?  
I think it sucks, but people who choose to work a retail job know it is coming.  They do get holiday pay though, so that helps make it a little better.  I do think it is ridiculous how the sales are creeping farther and farther into Turkey Day instead of just starting on Friday.  I don't go out on Black Friday if I can help it.  I like to sit at home and shop online.

4.  Have you ever participated in a Turkey Trot?  Will you do one this year?  

Is that some kind of race or some turkey killing festival?  Either way, NO.

5.  What was your favorite toy as a child? 

Barbies were my favorite thing because I loved to dress them up, do their hair, and decorate their house.  I would play Barbies for HOURS.

6.  Will you count points/calories on Thanksgiving Day?  

No.  Right now, I am just hoping there will be enough that I can actually eat.  Because of the cancer, I can't have gluten, grains, sugar, and more right now.  I am limited to veggies and fruit.

7.  Will you watch football Thursday?  
I don't watch football on any day. lol

8.  Do you decorate inside/outside of your home for the holidays?  

We have never really decorated outside because we lived in rentals and didn't care enough about them to go to the trouble.  This is the first Christmas we are in our very own house, but I don't know if we will have much time to decorate.  I am trying to get parts of the inside done this week and weekend so we can take our Christmas card photos before I have surgery.  I still need my husband to move things around in the garage so we can pull our Christmas decor containers inside.

9.  Do you have allergies that prevent you from eating traditional holiday meals? 

As I stated in #6, I have thryoid cancer right now and Hashimoto's, so I cannot have gluten, grains, sugar, red meat, too much iodine/salt, and various goitrogenic foods like spinach, kale, strawberries, peaches,  peanuts, cabbage, etc. etc.

After I recover, I am going to have a celebratory meal or two for SURE!

10.  Is it snowing where you live?  

Negative.  It has been surprisingly sunny and nice as of late.  It is still cold, but just gorgeous sunny fall weather.

Now get your answer on!  Link back to Kenlie and let me know you are participating.  Happy Thanksgiving week!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What I Wore: Teal Rose

A few days before Halloween and we were having insanely beautiful weather for this time of year.  By that time every year it is usually raining and gross.  This post's outfit photos were taken in my backyard for a change!

DivineMrsDiva.com - Torrid Teal Rose Print Dress, Avenue Boots

I absolutely love the color of this dress, which is what drew me to it in the first place.  After reading some of the reviews online, I decided to get it during a Torrid sale and am happy I did!  I need more dresses I can wear with my leggings and boots for fall and winter.  This kind of outfit is so comfortable (and cute) to wear during these colder months.  I can't get enough!

DivineMrsDiva.com - Torrid Teal Rose Print Dress, Avenue Boots

The material is comfortable and stretchy and not too thick.  The 3/4-length sleeves fit my arms very well, while the length was just above the knee.  I wear a B-cup and found the bust to fit perfectly.  If you have larger breasts than I, you may or may not have issues with the more fitted bust area.  Also, this dress has pockets!  For reference, I am 5'9" and am wearing a Torrid size 4.

DivineMrsDiva.com - Torrid Teal Rose Print Dress, Avenue Boots
Rose Print Faux Wrap Knit Dress - Torrid
Leggings - Fashion Bug
Sydney Lace Back Boots - Avenue (Similar)
Necklace - Avenue

DivineMrsDiva.com - Torrid Teal Rose Print Dress, Avenue Boots
DivineMrsDiva.com - Torrid Teal Rose Print Dress, Avenue Boots

What are your must have pieces for fall and winter??

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Throat Monster (aka I Have Thyroid Cancer)

The last month and a half has been extremely stressful and emotional for me.  I want to share what I have been going through, thinking, and feeling, and want to continue sharing these things with you as I embark on a rather unexpected journey.  Kind of like a hobbit, but with less dragons and hot elves.

(This is a bit long, but I didn't want to leave anything out.)

DivineMrsDiva.com - I Have Thyroid Cancer
Me, working on not being a basket case

At the beginning of October, I just happened to run my hand down my neck.  I think I was laughing and it was just a random action that caused me to pause.  The right side of my neck felt a bit larger than the left side.  I knew it could be a major issue, because my friend Sami has mentioned checking your neck and is always talking about thyroid issues because she has Hashimoto's thyroid disease.  Hashimoto's is an auto-immune disease that attacks the thyroid and can cause a lot of other symptoms, as well as increasing your risk of developing thryoid nodules or thyroid cancer.

I didn't know much about the thyroid before I met Sami.  I probably never even really thought about it, like, ever.  So here I was with this swollen side of my neck.  I tried not to think about it until the next morning when I Googled about a swollen thyroid.  Never do that; It is just too stressful. The first and only thing the Internet told was that I had thyroid cancer.  I cried for two days straight, on the DL mind you, until I told my husband.  I just started crying and told him I didn't want to die.  He had no idea what was going on.

We made an appointment with a local doctor clinic since I really didn't have a regular doctor.  I just wanted to get in to see someone right away.  I wanted them to tell me the internet was crazy and that I was mental and things would be fine. The doctor at the clinic didn't say much to alleviate my worries.  She had a total poker face about the whole thing.  She ordered some blood tests and an ultrasound of my thyroid to check into things further.  The next day, I had an ultrasound scan of my neck and the following day I stopped back into the clinic to get the results.

My blood tests for my thyroid were all "normal", but other numbers indicated that I have iron-deficiency anemia.  The previous day, I learned that my brother has low thyroid function and takes medication for it.  I asked the doctor to run an additional blood test to check and see if I have Hashimoto's.  (Anemia and Hashi are "pals".)  She refused to run the blood test because the two thyroid tests she already ran were "normal".

The ultrasound was inconclusive as far as the nodule being something bad or not, but it was rather large in nodule terms.  The doctor said that I needed to get a biopsy of the nodule to check into it further, so I needed to see an endocrinologist right away.  She said I couldn't wait a week.  It had to be ASAP.  Naturally, this scared the crap out of me and made me cry even more and spend the majority of my time obsessing and worrying about all of it.

The next week, I received a call from another doctor at the clinic who told me I would get a call from an endocrinologist's office about scheduling an appointment.  He told me if I couldn't get in this week, I should call him back and he would find someone who could see me right away.  The endo's office did call and couldn't get me in for another month.  I told them "Thanks, but no thanks" and called the doctor back with the news.  Eventually, he returned my call and said he would just try to get me into a surgeon's office because I "would probably need to get it removed anyway".  This freaked me out even more and left me in a puddle on the floor until my husband came home.

I didn't hear from the doctor for another couple of days and emailed him, also asking him to run the additional blood test to check for Hashimoto's.  He okayed the test, so I stopped in to give my blood, but never heard from either doctor again.  They went from panic-inducing "YOU MUST BE SEEN TODAY" to complete silence.  I was an emotional mess.

During this time, my friend Sami was giving me advice about what to do and what doctors would be good to call.  I called at least seven doctors to try to find someone that could see me in a timely manner.  Some were not taking new patients.  Most had at least a month-long waiting period.  The blood test results came back indicating I have Hashimoto's, so I wasn't quite as worried about the nodule after that.  Only 5% to 15% of nodules are cancerous anyway.  Don't get me wrong, I was still freaking out ALL THE DAMN TIME, but it was a little better.

Finally, I made an appointment with a highly recommended naturopath who could see me in a couple weeks.  My appointment with her was rather uneventful, talking about various symptoms I was experiencing and that sort of new patient stuff.  She felt my neck and the nodule, put me on iron pills for my anemia, and was able to order the biopsy and another round of blood tests.

Flash forward to Halloween, my biopsy date.  I was a blubbering mess going into it.  I am terrified of doctors and hospitals and needles, and here was all three.  The doctor performing the biopsy told me I should be fine, only 5% of nodules are cancerous, and mine really didn't have any characteristics that made them think it was cancer.  He said my nodule was just larger and that was the main reason they wanted to do the biopsy on it.  He walked me through the procedure, while a kind nurse held my hand.

The actual procedure didn't hurt too bad.  The initial needle with the numbing medicine hurt the most.  As the medicine spread through my neck, it stung very bad.  I squeezed the nurses hand as I cried and tried to think of other things.  Not too long after that, the doctor asked if I could feel something.  I saw his arm move out of the corner of my eye and realized the fine needle was in my neck already.  They seriously have to move that needle up and down and up an down to get a good amount of cells.  Thankfully, I couldn't feel a thing.  He went into my neck with the needle three different times to gather the cells.  It was over in about twenty minutes.

After the numbing meds wore off, my neck definitely hurt.  The next two or three days, it hurt to strain my neck muscles or move my head a certain way.  However, the swelling went down after a day or so.

I only had to wait a weekend to go back into the naturopath's office for the results.  By this time, I had finally talked myself into thinking things were fine.  Everything would be okay.  I could take medication and maybe the nodule would get smaller.  The first thing she told me when I sat down was, "So, the results from the biopsy came back and you have cancer."

The world stopped.  Everything was slow motion and then I just burst into tears and sobbed the rest of the day.  I know the doctor talked for a bit about that it was treatable and that I needed to see an endocrinologist.  She added sugar, grains, and red meat to gluten, iodine, salt, and fish as stuff I can no longer eat.  She suggested an herbal supplement I have to take every hour for my stress and anxiety.  She took my blood pressure after all this, then seemed surprised that it was elevated.  Um hello!  I remember her saying that all of my extra blood work looked pretty good and that my body has been doing a fantastic job at fighting this.  I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.

And then we were sent on our way.  Just like that.  Walking down the hall and out of the building, I was in a daze.  How do you act normal?  How do you do normal things?  I have something horrible growing inside me and I have to go home and wash dishes??  What the fuck??

I was angry.  I was terrified.  I was dumbfounded.  I wondered why this had to happen to me.  Why did this have to happen to my husband?  We just lost his dad a little over a year ago to leukemia.  Wasn't that horrible event enough?  I was so angry and had all these things swirling in my head as I walked to the car.  I was so overwhelmed with emotions, I didn't even know how to react.  I was never one to physically harm myself as a depressed teen, but for the first time since my mid-teens I thought that maybe cutting myself (not killing myself) would help relieve some of the emotional pain.  It was a flash of an idea and something I would never act on, but the fact that the idea popped into my head really caught me off guard.

I was pretty numb the next few days, with the occasional outburst of endless tears.  My appointment with the endocrinologist was another couple weeks away, which gave me ample time to worry, fret, stress, cry, and everything else that seems to come with this.  I also spent a lot of time researching thyroid cancer online.  Sometimes it helps.

So here is where I stand right now.  I have papillary thyroid cancer, which is the more slow-growing version.  It has a high success rate when treated early on.  I don't know what stage I am because I don't know if it has spread anywhere, but my lymph nodes have been untainted thus far.  I don't have any of the typical "thyroid cancer symptoms", other than having a nodule. 

Prognosis is good, people.  I'm still terrified, but I am going to kick this thing's ass and send it packing.  I will continue to post about the goings on in Cancerland.  And, henceforth, I will refer to my thryoid cancer as my Throat Monster.

If you think you might have Hashimoto's, even if your thyroid tests are all "normal", ask your doctor for a TPO Antibody test.  It is the only way I found out I had it; and I had to demand the test.  Remember to check your neck!

Monday, November 18, 2013

What I Wore: The Power of Red

In recent months, and after some very sweet compliments, I vowed to start adding red back into my wardrobe.  I know I used to have a decent amount of red clothing but, for whatever reason, that number greatly diminished.  Maybe I just didn't feel confident enough to wear red for a little while?  I have been working on getting my mojo back, and this top definitely helps with that!  Wearing red makes me feel powerful!

 DivineMrsDiva.com - Kiyonna Haven Faux Wrap Top, Lane Bryant Weekend Jean, Torrid Booties

I was thrilled when Kiyonna sent me the Haven Faux Wrap Top.  It is an absolutely beautiful shade of red in a soft, stretchy fabric that is so comfortable to wear.  As with all my Kiyonna pieces, I love it!  The sleeves are comfortable.  The neckline is a bit adjustable to offer more or less coverage.  The ruched waistband sits at a great place, while the A-line cut of the "skirt", as they call it, gives ample room for the hips.

 DivineMrsDiva.com - Kiyonna Haven Faux Wrap Top, Lane Bryant Weekend Jean, Torrid Booties

I paired this top with some slightly distressed skinny jeans and boots for a more casual, laid-back look.  This outfit adorned me at our annual Friendsgiving dinner.   Every year, my friend (and fam) Nigel, hosts this awesome dinner of a wonderful assortment of friends in his tiny apartment.  This year we fit 32 people in there!  Every one brings a tasty dish to share, as we drink wine and enjoy the company of great people.

I highly recommend starting your own Friendsgiving tradition!

 DivineMrsDiva.com - Kiyonna Haven Faux Wrap Top, Lane Bryant Weekend Jean, Torrid Booties

 DivineMrsDiva.com - Kiyonna Haven Faux Wrap Top, Lane Bryant Weekend Jean, Torrid Booties

 DivineMrsDiva.com - Kiyonna Haven Faux Wrap Top, Lane Bryant Weekend Jean, Torrid Booties

And because I have such a fun time trying items different ways, I also dressed up the top with some fancier pieces you could wear to a holiday party.  Here the Haven is paired with a matte sequin pencil skirt, black pumps, and a statement necklace.  I really love how this turned out as well and hope I have a party to go to soon!

DivineMrsDiva.com - Kiyonna Haven Faux Wrap Top, Lane Bryant Matte Sequin Pencil Skirt
Haven Faux Wrap Top in Crimson - Kiyonna
Distressed Dark Wash Weekend Jean - Lane Bryant
Booties - Torrid (similar)
Matte Sequin Pencil Skirt - Lane Bryant
Black pumps - Avenue (similar)
Necklaces - Forever 21 and Etsy

Now a few photos from Friendsgiving:

DivineMrsDiva.com - Friendsgiving 2013

DivineMrsDiva.com - Friendsgiving 2013

DivineMrsDiva.com - Friendsgiving 2013

How would you wear this top?  Is there a color you want more of in your wardrobe?

Disclosure: I am a member of the Kiyonna Blogger Brigade and they provided me with the top in this post.  All opinions on the item are my own.

Monday, November 11, 2013

eShakti New Arrivals

For the next couple of days, eShakti is having a 25% off sale site-wide!  This made me go check out the newest arrivals, so I thought I would share my favorites with you.

I love eShakti for the styles they offer and the fact that you can customize pieces to your measurements as well.  They carry sizes 0 to 36.  If you haven't checked them out before, use code HAILEY42BN to receive $30 off your first order.  This also means I get $15 towards my future order, so if you use the code, thank you in advance!!

Here are my favorites from the New Arrivals:

What are your favorites from the site?  Let me know!

Friday, November 8, 2013

What I Wore: All-Over Floral

Hello again!  Sorry for the sporadic posts.  I'll fill you all in when I get a chance, but for now - more clothes!!

DivineMrsDiva.com - Versailles Dress from Igigi, Gwynnie Bee

I've never been a fan of floral patterns, especially all-over florals.  As a chubby pre-teen, the only dresses in my size at Sears were very matronly florals with large doily collars.  Maybe you can relate.  Since those years, I have had an aversion to the more flowery prints.

DivineMrsDiva.com - Versailles Dress from Igigi, Gwynnie Bee
DivineMrsDiva.com - Versailles Dress from Igigi, Gwynnie Bee

Deciding to step out of that comfort zone, I tried this Igigi dress through Gwynnie Bee.  When it came in the mail, I was a little wary of the pattern.  It fit really well though, and I added the belt to break up the pattern a bit.  I like it so much better with the belt.  And then, just to tone it down a touch more, I added a long black cardigan.

DivineMrsDiva.com - Versailles Dress from Igigi, Gwynnie Bee

DivineMrsDiva.com - Versailles Dress from Igigi, Gwynnie Bee

Overall, I really love this dress.  I did size up to a 30/32 because I have had fit issues with different styles from Igigi.  The sleeves have the cute little tie that helps you sinch it in to your desired comfort.  I love that feature since my upper arms are quite large.

DivineMrsDiva.com - Versailles Dress from Igigi, Gwynnie Bee

DivineMrsDiva.com - Versailles Dress from Igigi, Gwynnie Bee
Versailles Dress - Igigi via Gwynnie Bee
Wide Belt, Cardigan - Lane Bryant
Leggings - Fashion Bug
Boots - Avenue (Similar)
Necklace - Betsey Johnson

Have a great weekend!!

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