2016’s Last licks…

I’ve heard most people come to the consensus that 2016 wasn’t exactly the best year – and if you were an older celebrity, you’d have been pretty darn lucky to make it out alive.

I’ll admit that 2016 wasn’t a great year for me. But it ended with one final blow – to George’s hair line.

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Location, location, location – of course, it couldn’t be on the back of his head.

Yep, the poor kid now has alopecia. And we’re hoping it’ll stop at the one spot, but only time will tell. The doc wanted to treat with steroids, but apparently having a few injections to his scalp didn’t sound all that appealing to my little man. He declined to cooperate. So we’ll try again another day.

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He wasn’t impressed with the day as a whole.

We are on track to get some blood work drawn, so we can make sure there isn’t anything else going on…because that’s how we roll. Something simple snowballs into something more complicated and then all of a sudden you end up at Mayo having a world-renown doc tell you that she’s never seen anything like it before. Not that that’s happened before or anything.

And really, what are the chances that could happen twice.

Never mind.

So here we go – down the road of wait and see. At least it’s a familiar path. And I’m much more patient now.

Did I just hear you laugh?

I’ll keep you posted. And if anyone has any tips or tricks, let me know.

Winter Wednesday

Thought I’d just share a few pics from the ice storm we had last week. It meant that we were without power for a few days, but grateful to have a generator that we hooked up less than 24 hours into the outage. Those lineman for our co-op are AMAZING!

What’s your favorite part of winter?

2017…Under construction

It’s funny how quickly people become experts on self-help, self-improvement and life coaching when a new year rolls around. Everyone has advice: make resolutions, don’t make resolutions, embrace your true self, reinvent yourself, start from scratch, build from your foundation, etc.

Here’s my advice: Do you.

Whatever that is – just own it. Yes, we all need improvements, we all have flaws – I have only read about one perfect soul, but have yet to meet any.So don’t strive for perfection. Strive for satisfaction. Strive for peace.

I have only made one resolution for this year: Be better. Be a better person. Be a better listener. Be a better mother. Be a better advocate. Do I know what that will all entail? Nope. But as I say in the title, it’s under construction. And so am I.

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I feel short in this pic…and I’m not. But Scooter is now officially a teenager. His heart is as big as his feet. And he’s not afraid to be himself. I’m taking lessons.

I can tell you a few things that I am going to try to be done with: settling, procrastinating, complaining. But that comes with my resolution. To just be better.

That doesn’t mean I’m striving for fame or fortune, nor am I out to conquer the world. I’m just working towards a better me. Which will hopefully lead to other improvements that set me up for success.

I’m actually excited about 2017. I won’t lie that the last year was a tough one. But I’m already better because of it. I can survive some pretty challenging moments. And I’m stronger now than what I was a year ago. So I’m grateful for the challenges. And it’s time to implement some changes so that I’m not constantly coming up against the same challenges again and again. I may drop some baggage. Clear the clutter – in my house, my head and my heart.

But that’s just me doing me.

How about you? Are you a resolution-type? Or are you just going to make sure that 2017 is the best year yet!

My list to catch up

It’s been a long few weeks…and so much has happened. So I’ll do my quick 10 to catch you up to speed:

  1. Thyroid is gone. Radiation is over. That was rough. Have you ever had a nurse warn you not to throw up because it would be considered a radioactive spill? Fun times. Still waiting to hear those magical “cancer free” words, but they’ll come soon enough – I have faith. Meds are still a carousel ride. But this too shall pass.
  2. Deer hunting was successful, for both me and my oldest. Couldn’t be more proud.
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    His first deer. On his first shot.

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    My buck…I’m more than happy with it. And it tasted good, too. And yes, I field-dressed it myself.

  3. New gig – I’m coordinating our state’s CommonGround program. Perfect. Fit.
  4. I have a child with a driver’s permit. How did that happen???
  5. I live in North Dakota. As in the #DAPL protest site. Winter can’t come soon enough. But it’s a great opportunity to teach my children about the process that has been set and why it’s important to be involved. In the beginning.
  6. Harvest. Still not done. Enough about that.
  7. But my Christmas shopping is pretty well done. So #6 better happen before the bills from #7 come in. Just kidding. See #3.
  8. After a few  years on our state’s Farm Bureau board, I stepped down as Promotion and Education State Chair. And promptly replaced it with two more committees with different organizations. I need therapy.
  9. Our high school football team took its first-ever state championship title. I’m so glad I was there to witness it with my boys!!!
  10. It’s now almost December. How the heck did that happen?

That’s it for tonight. I’ll be back at it later this week. 😀

Butterflies that bite

The symbol for thyroid problems is a butterfly…I’m guessing mostly because the thyroid is shaped like a butterfly, and not because it’s a beautiful and mystical creature that transforms from a caterpillar into a flying wonder. But maybe I’m wrong.

Anyway, I digress – I’ll blame my lack of a thyroid.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, I was going to give a quick update.

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After my vocal chord was injected…a day I’d love to forget. But so grateful for the advances that allows little things like this to be easily “fixed.”

I had my thyroid removed a little over a month ago. The surgery was a success and I found out that I was lucky enough to have cancer on not one, but BOTH sides of my thyroid. Oh, and my vocal chord was paralyzed during the whole ordeal, which led to seven days of sounding like a chipmunk on helium. Did you know that shouting all the time, just to make enough noise to sound like a whisper, is exhausting? It is.

When the pathology report came back, the surgeon was surprised to learn that he did not remove multiple lymph nodes during the surgery. In fact, he managed to only catch one. That one was a clear lymph node, but not exactly a statistical slam-dunk when it comes to declaring lymph nodes cancer-free.

At my one week follow-up, the doctor felt that there was no predicting when my voice may return – if ever – and so he scheduled a surgery the next day to artificially prop up my vocal chord so that I could talk. It was supposed to be an “easy” 15-minute procedure.

But life never goes as expected, does it?

Things went a little haywire. I ended up with a chipped tooth and some sort of air pocket in my healing incision. Which led to me feeling as if I couldn’t breathe – or a condition they call stridor – where I sounded like a woman taking her last breath. It was scary. And it led to an unexpected stay in the hospital.

And now I’m waiting for another procedure. This time, after much discussion and thought, my endocrinologist recommends that we continue treatment with radioactive iodine. I can’t quite claim victory over cancer – but I’m a step closer.

My levels are wonky. My doctor is stumped. My voice comes and goes. My energy is non-existent. I’m crabby. I’m tired, but can’t sleep. My hair is falling out…again. And I’m gaining imaginary weight even though I’m eating less and exercising more.

***DISCLAIMER*** Moment of weakness and absolute honesty coming up: Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not mention to me in the next few days how I lucky I am to have the “easy” cancer.

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The scar looks pretty good for a month out? A blessing for sure.

OK…I’m better now. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

The legend of local

As a farmer and rancher, I find the local movement to be a very interesting one. Perhaps it’s my location, or perhaps it’s the fact that I’m raising four kids…or maybe it’s just that my life, at this moment, doesn’t let me focus on being particular about where my food comes from – just that it’s there, and on time. (Or maybe that’s a demand my boys make.)

Does that mean I don’t care about quality? Or sustainability? Or affordability? Or any of those other -ity magical words that are thrown around today? Not in the least. It just means that I’m confident in the food that our country produces, and the food that is on the shelves in my grocery stores. It means that if I don’t have time to run to four different farmer’s markets to try to pick up whatever it is I feel like putting on my table, then I know I can get it somewhere else.

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These four. They make my life. And they don’t really care where their food comes from – as long as it’s on the table.

Doesn’t make my meal better or worse – it just makes it different.

Maybe it’s time we stop criticizing those that shop out of convenience and ease. Maybe it’s time we quit worrying about what’s on our neighbor’s table and start being grateful for what we put on our own.

I’m a mom. I’m a farmer. I have tight schedules and limited time. Sometimes the best I can do is one trip to the grocery store, which means I grab whatever is available. Sometimes the tomatoes I’m growing die, which means I won’t be canning salsa. Sometimes my freezer runs out of the beef that we’ve raised, which means I stop at the meat counter and buy what’s on sale. And sometimes I find what I’m looking for at a farmer’s market, and I’m grateful to support someone raising food…just like me.

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I’m not going to win any “green thumb” awards this year.

I’ll buy my food from sources I know when I can…and I’ll go to the grocery store and buy food for my family without a second thought as well.

Sometimes we need to remember that food is food. It’s a privilege that many of us take for granted. And buying food from one place or another does not make you better than anyone else – it just makes you less hungry.

And that’s something that too many of us take for granted.

 

Not the answer you’re hoping for…

It’s been a bit. I’d give some grand excuse, but the truth is…I’ve been tired. Bone-weary exhausted, to be closer to the truth. And I have a little better reason as to why, which I’ll share in a minute.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to share my thoughts and ideas on a few things, but here’s my one and only request: listen. Take a moment to truly hear what I’m trying to say, and then let me know what you think.

This community has been built up over time, and I’m grateful for each and every one of you that checks in on George, the farm, the boys, me…all of us. George is now stronger than ever. His care is on-point and he’s blossoming. EJ is bound and determined to be the best young farmer he can be – and he takes his responsibilities seriously. He reminds his Dad of all the things that need to get done…hoping to be assigned a chore or two (preferably one that involves him sitting in a tractor). Scooter has sprouted up taller than either of his parents and all of his grandparents. He has one uncle left to surpass in height. And I don’t think that will be long in coming. And Big Bro and his gentle soul will be a freshman this fall – how did that ever happen?

Life – it moves so quickly. And sometimes we forget to take a second and take it all in. We forget to enjoy the moment.

As I said earlier, I haven’t been feeling the best for a while. I joke around a lot that my thyroid isn’t a “team player.” And it’s true. It’s not. It’s been a problem for quite a few years. And now it’s causing a bit of a bigger problem – and it seems to be getting bigger rather quickly.

On July 5, I found out from a specialist that my biopsy had come back positive for thyroid cancer. Not the answer I was hoping for – but an answer, nonetheless.

After the initial shock, I met with the doctor the next day and we developed a plan – one that I’m more than excited to implement. You see, I realize that as far as cancers go, I’m pretty darn lucky. Thyroid cancer is an “easy” one. We’ll remove my thyroid, and as long as my surrounding lymph nodes come back clear and the pathology doesn’t show anything alarming, I’m pretty much home free. A few years of scans and appointments, but no further treatment needed at this point.

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I’ll be part of a thyroid-cancer research study. I’m excited for doctor’s to learn more about cases like mine…and maybe, just maybe, there’ll be more answers that we hope for in the future.

It could have been so much worse.

But it’s still the c-word. Cancer. Me. What???

I don’t have time for an illness, no matter how small. I’m busy. We had the county fair. I have things I need to do. I have games I want to watch. I have pool-dates to make up.

I have a chance to realize just how quickly it all can change.

And it’s all because it wasn’t the answer I was hoping for…but it was an answer that I could live with…and that’s the most important answer of all.