We Made it to the Other Side of Surgery!

We successfully made it through S's colon cancer surgery! Yay!

From what the doctor said, everything went well, and the part of the colon he removed had "clean edges," which means cancer free to the eye (his chemo and radiation did it's job). S still has to have a final round of chemo beginning in a few weeks, so that any microscopic cancer cells are destroyed and chances of recurrence go way down. The surgery lasted a couple hours longer than initially planned, and the doctor told me it was because he is carrying extra weight so it took longer to create the ileostomy. This is a health issue S said he plans to address going forward, fingers crossed.

I may not have mentioned that S has to have a temporary ileostomy for six months. It would normally be 9 weeks but he has to recover from this surgery, undergo chemo, then recover from chemo, then have the ileostomy reversal surgery. So, yeah, it is a lot of treatment and recovery, but it should be completed by summer, thank God.

I had a moment of feeling really overwhelmed and questioning whether I could handle going through this with S considering our level of commitment... my thoughts were that this is the kind of thing where you would automatically jump into supporting your spouse if you were married, but S and I are not married and were even having some bumps in our relationship a month or two ago. For one thing, I want to pursue having or adopting a child and S was uncertain how he felt about that.

But in the days prior to the surgery, we talked about these issues and worked through them. S still isn't as excited as I am about having a child - for him, another child - and admitted he had been hoping I might let that dream go (really? after all I've been through and all you know about me? grr), but I said that I needed him to be supportive and to make the situation "better" with him there than "worse." I said I knew it couldn't be his focus with so much on his plate but that I potentially wanted to move forward within this six month time frame of his treatment/recovery and needed to know he would be supportive. I'm happy to say, he agreed. *As a caviat, I want to say that moving forward would assume that I either nailed down another "for sure" college counseling job or my business took off in a way that would provide a consistent, livable income.

Also, I was able to wrap my brain around the six months (!) of treatment and what that entailed and, though we didn't say specifically we intended to get engaged/married, we did broach the subject. He indicated he valued me bringing it up and wanted to talk again in the near future. Yes, a lot has gone down in the last few weeks!

S gets out of the hospital today, and I will pick him up and take him home to his house. His daughter is arriving today from the DC and intends to stay with him tonight, so I will probably go home later and give them time. I admit I'm nervous about that, though, since she would be staying in a separate room downstairs and what if, God forbid, something came up where he couldn't call out to her. We will see how things unfold.

I will post more on other life happenings soon. Hope your year is starting well and less dramatically!


Happy New Year 2016!

Checking in post holiday madness... It feels like we have turned the corner into the new year and all the possibilities it holds. Our family trip to Oregon was good overall, all things considered. Highlights included:
  • Seeing my nieces and nephew of course! They are getting bigger and are so very, very cute. I took the older two out for ice cream with S one night, which was fun. My oldest niece, J, is totally into reading books now, just like I was at her age! I gave her a big book of horse stories that had once been mine, which she seemed excited about.
  • We went to the coast with my brother, sister-in-law, and two littlest nieces one day, and I ran from the waves on the beach with the three-year-old, like my Dad used to do with me. The baby (10-months now) is getting cuter all the time and still has a mellow personality, like my brother - a nice contrast to her big sister who is super active and feisty. :)
  • S and I worked out every day at the family athletic club during the last few days there. We had a dog-friendly hotel room in walking distance from downtown, which worked out really well. When we got back, we joined a small workout gym down the street from my house and are both looking forward to continuing our efforts to increase fitness.
  • As expected, we all felt some sadness on Christmas missing my Mom. I had a good cry at the end of the day and lit a candle in her memory. Her birthday was yesterday, as well, and we all raised a virtual glass of wine in her honor. 
  • My Dad and Aunt, who are now very officially an item, were still in their "new romance" mode, which can be annoying as he is then not fully present to what's going on. We all - except for my sister's family who took a short family trip - attended the NYE party at the athletic club (which was just "okay" but had fun dancing with S) and my brother was annoyed that Dad and my Aunt were kissing on the dance floor at the end of the night. :-/ That said, S and I did have a nice goodbye breakfast with them the day we drove back. Apparently, there are plans being made for her to move to Oregon.
  • Relationship-wise, S and I got along "okay," which is actually a big step up, if you can recall previous trips. Sorry for TMI, but I was on my cycle during the first half of the trip and then S had a stomach bug the last half, so we didn't have much "romance," but were able to live together in a very small hotel room for twice the time we normally stay, have fun, and work through disagreements fairly well and quickly when they came up. Ironically, at the very end of the trip, we had our worst fight about the way I talked to him when I told him to stop removing the lights on a fake Xmas tree we were readying to return to my sister. I felt justified telling him to stop because I had asked him not to take them off in the first place. He thought he was doing the safe thing, and also felt I was being controlling and should let this small thing go. So the first part of our drive was stressful but then I had a cry, which in hindsight was likely releasing emotions from the family trip as much as being about our argument, and we talked it through.
Now, we are back into our routine of seeing each other a couple times a week and talking/texting every day.

Work-wise, my routine has changed a lot, though, in that, as mentioned, I'm not at the college this semester (except for a few days week after next). I caught a flu last week, though, so have only had a few days of health. I have one more client now, bringing the total to six and hope to gain two more by the end of this month. Please send me good wishes! I sent out a mass holiday letter and will be following up with past and potential clients/referral partners by phone starting next week. I also have another career transition meet-up group next Wednesday evening with six people signed up so far. At these monthly meet-ups, I will continue to sign folks up for free consultations and hope to gain another client or two each time. I'm also in the process of developing a newsletter and other social media ideas so that will help with outreach, as well.

I also have two more applications to submit for local counseling jobs. I have started receiving unemployment, which should help me get through the next two-three months. I wish I could know where the chips will fall on the job front. I'm not sure whether I would prefer to just rely on my business or whether I would like to find another part-time college counseling gig and continue that in addition to working with 8-10 clients. In a way, working at the college two days a week would be ideal right now because I just show up and leave, without taking work home. With my clients, I need to track each of their progress and do a lot of outside research and communication. I have adjusted to having six clients but 10-15 will definitely be another level of adjustment. I enjoy the outside work with clients more, however.

Completely relying on individual client load, it seems at my current fee structure, I would need 15+ clients. I'm still figuring it all out, and I feel like there are parts of this puzzle that are out of my hands. I suppose I am just going to continue to take the next steps in both applying for jobs and building my business until things become more clear.