Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass- it is about learning to dance in the rain.

Friday, August 31, 2007

All Much Better Now!

My 7 year old granddaughter used to say this when she was 4 or so after I'd kiss her "Owie": "All much better now!"

And that's me today. Surgery was at 10:30 this am. I was done by 11:15. He didn't have to use general anesthesia, just a local and a bit of a relaxer. Although at one point when that wand was hitting my rib, I was wishing for a general. I came home and slept from noon until about 4 or so. I'm a tad sore now, but doing well. I don't do well with strong pain pills, so I just have Keterol, but it's enough to relieve most of the pain.

This was the last of the surgeries...I go back in 10 days and have the stitches out. That's the end of re-construction. I will have a matching pair!! (I know...too much information!)

I was counting surgeries in the last 20 months. There have been more than I realized. First the liver biopsy, then the liver donation. Then the breast biopsy (a lumpectomy) followed by a left radical mastectomy ten days later. The mastectomy wasn't as long as the liver re-section, but they also did the basic reconstruction at that point, so it took a few hours. Then the port was inserted. (That's five, but who's counting?) Then came 6 months of chemotherapy. When my blood count was so low, the doctor ordered a colonoscopy because he was concerned that I also had colon cancer. I didn't, but the colonoscopy requires anesthesia and is technically a surgical procedure, not to mention that he removed some polyps. The next surgery was to take out the port. Then one to change the saline implant for a silicone one. Oh, wait! Those were done at the same time. So that makes seven. Then today makes eight (8), five (5) with general anesthesia, three with just locals and a relaxant. (And I'm wondering why my memory has some gaps??? I must have lost a few million brain cells just from the anesthesia!) I'm hoping for no more surgeries for a LOOOOOOOOONG time!!

But God is good. I have a wonderful support system. My husband could not possibly have been more helpful. From taking over household duties (the ones he didn't already do), to preparing me fresh squeezed orange slushes at 2 a.m. when I was so nauseous, to being sure I had someone to care for me whenever I needed help, he has been a trouper. My children, too, were available whenever I needed anything. Even my little granddaughters understood that I wasn't very energetic and were content to snuggle and watch movies with me when their natural inclination would have been for more activity. Then there was the church who provided food, sometimes personal care and lots of prayer. People at work pitched in too with food, flowers, cards, phone calls and prayer. It really is amazing the way people pulled together. God has been very good to me!!

Zoe, I'm really feeling very well tonight. Thanks for your prayers and your concern. I've been praying regularly for you, too! I'm headed over to music practice at the church in just a few minutes. (I'm tired, but I can handle an hour and a half of music practice.) I"ll take my camera and take some shots of us -- all in casual clothes -- practicing! (That's me with my head right under the exit sign!)

God bless!


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Finally final

My last surgical procedure is tomorrow morning -- will be finished by noon. I'm already officially in remission. After this surgery, I will be complete -- remade! I didn't think I was terribly anxious about it. But....

Today I really over-reacted with a situation at work. I calmed down fairly quickly, but I was absolutely furious over some information that I hadn't bother to check out yet! Duh! I know better than to take a 13-year old's word for something. He wasn't even deliberately deceitful; he just gave me the final piece and I was missing the middle transaction. I only vented to a few friends via email and quickly sent a correction -- is there a correction to a vent??? Hmmmmm.

Anyway, anxiety. I let my students know that I was having a surgical procedure, that it was minor, that I was still in remission from cancer, etc. I reassured them I'd be back on Tuesday (Thank God! Monday is a holiday)

But one precocious young man says, "But Mrs. Huerta, can't things go wrong, even with a minor procedure?"

"Yes, it could" I responded. "But it won't".

And it won't. I know that. Still, the anxiety lingers. One more anesthesia, one more....

I really freaked when I went for the mammogram this year -- I think it was Saturday, the 18th. I know I waited until the last possible moment...and didn't even put it on my calendar on the computer!! I was so tense that when it was obvious by the technicians manner that everything was fine, I nearly burst into tears. (Last year, I knew just by her manner -- and the three thousand views of x-rays and the ultra-sounds that the radiologist kept sending her back for, that it was very bad news. Her manner was artificially bright, happy. "Well, we'll just take about 100 more routine views. The radiologist couldn't see the last 600 views very well." Right! She probably needs glasses.) I was so braced for the bad news that I nearly fell apart when it was good this year. I suppose mammograms will be tense for me from here until eternity. After all, that is how my cancer was discovered. I was clueless until then.

So...after tomorrow, I have only one more visit to the oncologist -- the hormone treatment may have to be adjusted --then checkups should be??? quarterly?? semi-annually? something like that, for awhile. Whew.

Dodged the bullet this time!


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ellis Middle School
Elgin, IL

Here's where I'm spending all my days. Since school started the 20th of August (for teachers), I've spend nearly every waking moment concentrating on preparing for the year, for meeting students' needs and maximizing classroom time. I've been at school by 7:30 or 8:00 every morning and have left sometime after 4 p.m. But the story doesn't end there. Each day I cart home with me: papers to grade, files to sort, lessons to plan, PowerPoints to prepare, etc. I've put in somewhere between 12 and 14 hours each day. But today was different.

At 4:45 p.m. today, I said, "Enough is enough." I need at least one evening to do something besides kids papers, lesson plans and files. I left school with only my purse on my arm. Whew! I do feel relieved. One whole evening to read and answer e-mail (which I have woefully neglected!), blog and maybe even update the JCC website. (Does that qualify as work??? I said I wasn't doing any work tonight!) Ah yes. And I have clothes from the laundry who have been living in neat stacks. Tonight they will make it home to my closet!!

Don't worry. I'll make up for it tomorrow night. I will have to stay until everything is ready for Friday. I take the day off Friday for my final surgery. It will be fine with me if this is the last time in my life I see a surgeon's knife or don that mask thing for oxygen and whatever else they run through through mysterious tubes! As far as my bout with cancer, this should be the last little skirmish. (not even a real battle) The finishing touches will be in place and I'll be almost as good as new. In remission, rebuilt and ready to go on!



Tuesday, August 28, 2007


From time to time a good topic for my blog occurs to me, but I'm always in the middle of something else -- like setting up a classroom, creating lesson plans, filling out classroom records or grading papers. My desk at school still looks like a black hole -- if I put anything else there it will probably vanish in the implosion!

I have, however, taught four (4) days of classes, or five if you count that first day when I taught a twenty-minute "procedure" class about 15 times to varying groups of middle school students.

My feet hurt, my head feels muddled, my fingers are still numb, but there's also a distinct elation because I really can do this again. I can tell that I will have to keep it simple and direct, the less fuss the better, but I can do it.

I guess that's progress, in spite of my aching feet!!


Saturday, August 18, 2007

You Might Be In New York...

If you find the Statue of Liberty on every corner,

Double-decker buses offer all-day rides starting at $40

Folkloric bands from the Andes Mountains in far away Ecuador play "al aire libre"

If you
see both broad boulevards and busy Times Square only minutes from one another,

If a bicycle driven taxi ride is available,

And street vendors sell their wares in tidy displays

If you find tiles hanging on a fence to commemorate those lost in 9-11's disaster, you must be in New York

If you find street vendors who look more like garbage collectors, it's probably New York.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Buying water, New York style

We didn't have time to get off the we threw dollar bills down to the street and the water vendor tossed up water bottles. Ahhhh! It was a hot, humid day. That water was good!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Big Apple.

I'm so far behind, I'm beginning to think I'm ahead.
These pictures are from my trip to New York a couple of weeks ago. I went for a class -- I'm still working on the homework!

One evening, (I can't remember which now) several of us went into the Big Apple to look around. Here we are on one of the Double-decker tour buses. We did have fun!

This is from New York. At the end of the four days of classes, Regina and I had dinner with Rod, who was just arriving for his four-day stint. At the airport I did a self-portrait. The noticeable thing about these is the tired look in my eye. I was truly exhausted. I still am actually. In another week or so, I'll get up the pictures from the visit with my sister this past week. Another day.

Good Night!!

Monday, August 06, 2007


I made it through the 4-day course in New York...but it was a struggle. I had chemo-eyes by the time it was over. (chemo-eyes = red, swollen, kind of sunken like when I was on chemotherapy). I even made it into New York City one evening...didn't do much but ride a double-decker tour bus -- but I saw New York!!

I'll post more later ... right now I have waay too many hours of homework (from the course) to take the time to download pics. But I do have some pictures of us in New York.


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