Saturday, January 31, 2009


Audrey is the sweetest girl in the whole world. She loves everyone, and is such a sweetheart to adults and other children. Just an amazing, empathetic, highly intelligent little girl.

We went on a playdate to Dippin Dots two days ago. While waiting in line, a little boy got really upset he didn't have his ice cream yet. He collapsed to the floor crying because he wanted his right then.

Audrey looked over, saw he was upset, and said "It's okay, you can have some of mine, little fella."

Such a sweetie. I love that little girl... So proud of her.

(By the way, she also commented on the crescent moon that night. Smartie pants.)

Progress Spurt

Little man has made a HUGE jump in the past few weeks. HUGE.
It's easier to make a list (because there's so many new things he's doing - YAY!)... So, here it is:
  • coloring (on paper, walls, anything)
  • drawing circles and horizontal and vertical lines
  • said 'mama'
  • brought me magazine with cupcakes on it because he wanted a cupcake (we are digging for the PECS this weekend, because obviously he 'gets' it now!)
  • points appropriately at what he wants (drink, food, pointed at door and looked at Audrey when he wanted her to leave, pointed at tv when he wanted a different show on)
  • said 'cha-cha-cha-choo-choo' and moved his toy like a train
  • says TONS of words - bubble, baby, ball, train, truck, MAMA!!!, oh no, uh oh, uhuh (as in no), peeah (please), up, HELP, hey (and there are more, but I can't remember them all)
  • hugs sister appropriately (not just accepting a hug, walked up and put his arms around her neck!!!)
  • singing and humming (so cute)
  • stacking stuff really high (he couldn't do this very well before)


He still loves his letters and is starting to like numbers... I am just extremely impressed with him. Every night, we ask him if he's ready to go night-night... He says 'yi-yi' (if he's ready), runs into his room, lays in his bed, waits for his juice and diaper change and goes to sleep... Adorable!!!

He has also started taking everything apart. Not just bathtub drains... He took the ends off of the footrests under the barstools at Dippin Dots this week. I had a heck of a time getting them BACK ON (and he thought it was hilarious!).

Other big jumps are a major decrease in tantrums and aggressiveness. He 'guides' (puts his hands on them, but instead of a hard shove, he gently steers them away from whatever it is he wants them away from) instead of pushing or something else. He stops when I say 'no'. (He actually listens!) As long as I help him find something else to do, he doesn't freak out when I take something away (most of the time... He has his moments!!!).

I am just so proud of him. He is so smart and such a sweet little boy... He's perfect!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

So Much For That!!!

Today I met with one of the best Neurosurgeons in Nashville. (Don't believe me? Here's Dr. Howell's profile - of the Howell-Allen Clinic in Nashville). He was an awesome doctor - I would highly recommend him for anyone who needs a neurosurgeon in the area.

He said that he's not experienced enough with brachial plexus surgery to take this lump out. He insisted it must come out, and was concerned over its growth and new pain.

He promised he would find me the person he would want operating on his brachial plexus. He wants to try Vanderbilt, but mentioned that the surgery might not be in Nashville. He said he would 'have no problem calling across the country to find the right surgeon to do the surgery'.

I guess I didn't realize how complicated this really is. I thought surely this was a common neurosurgery issue, and they would schedule me right in and take it out, no problems (besides maybe some physical therapy, etc).

He's calling me back in the next few days with more information. I'm hoping to get this sucker out soon, but I'm not holding my breath. I swear, nothing is ever simple when it comes to my medical issues!!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Happy Heart

JT said mama!!!

He says it whenever he gets upset... He calls for me!

My heart is SO happy... Little man says mama!

Monday, January 26, 2009

An Appointment - Hallelujah!

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog posts for a special transmission...

I have an appointment with Dr. Howell (of the Howell-Allen Clinic) at Baptist in Nashville! It's Wednesday morning at 8:30am.

This is not an error. I ACTUALLY have an appointment. Wednesday at 0830 hours.

This concludes the special transmission. Thank you for tuning in.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Pictures :-)

It's been FREEZING here lately... Which makes the next tidbit funny... Kinda. The Hubs shaved JT's head - and the guide fell off, meaning JT's head is almost completely bald! I went to go work out yesterday, and came home to see my hairless baby! Here's our sweet little guy with his new 'do.

Audrey is completely in love with her friend Grant, and only took this picture so he could see it. Grant is a sweet little boy (who gave Audrey a ring, lol). He's the son of one of my bestest buddies. Here's her pic for Grant.

And, here's my alien egg (I'm still hoping it's gold... I'll be singing the Backyardigans song "Gold, gold diggin, diggin for go-old!" going into surgery I suppose...).

(compare to the previous pictures)

Nothing else new :-) Just having fun INSIDE while it's so cold!
If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he
needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering
with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.-- Rachel

Friday, January 23, 2009


I'm in the kitchen, putting a bunch of chicken in a honey teriyaki marinade. Audrey comes in, sniffs real big, and gets this look on her face.

Audrey: Mommy, what's that? It smells yucky.
Me: It's teriyaki sauce, it makes yummy chicken.
Audrey: Do you like it?
Me: Yes, it's delicious!
Audrey: You like something called TERI-YUCKY?


Well, the kids both have Fifths Disease. Slap cheeks and runny noses... At least they don't have the all-over rash (*fingers crossed*).

JT said a new word yesterday - chocolate (sounded like choc-wa). He uses 'go away' and 'be quiet' fairly regularly... Along with 'Oh DOH' (oh no - accompanied by hands on cheeks, lol). He has been really playing with Audrey lately - this morning they played for an hour with Audrey trying to give JT a piggy-back ride over and over again (they weigh the same - 37 lbs - so it's not really possible, but very funny). There were lots of giggles (from them and me).

Audrey has been supremely sassy lately... Prompting rules to be tightened around here. I'm pretty sure it's the usual run-of-the-mill testing limits, but my little angel grows horns sometimes!!! She is VERY smart, and picks up on things quickly.

Last weekend we went to church, and they have children's church... Which means at the first part of the sermon, the younger kids go up to the stage and talk to the pastor (in front of the church). Audrey went up there, and the pastor was talking about how God is the God of everything, not just people, and how it made her sad that animals are becoming fewer and fewer because we don't treat the earth right (hard to explain, the pastor's rendition was MUCH better than mine). She asked if anyone else felt sad about this. (You see where this is going, right?) Audrey raises her hand and blurts out "My neighbor dog is in heaven with God".
Pastor: Oh yeah?
Audrey: Yeah, he was killed.
Me: head in hands, praying this ends quickly.
Pastor: Oh, he was.
Audrey: Yeah, his name was Demon.

Our neighbor's dog, Demon, was run over on Thanksgiving Day. We did love that dog. But that didn't sound very good on our first day at a new church in front of the entire congregation.

I was mortified, but everyone thought she was adorable (apparently no one heard the dog's name) and they were SO nice. Hopefully we will be going back regularly.

JT hated it, but it was to be expected. As he warms up to it, I'm hoping it gets better.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Some of Our Hiking Pics...

I finally got the pics off our camera (after several trips to WalMart to find the right connector). These are from the fall - it's a hiking trail that was part of the original Natchez Trace. We walked over 3 miles that day - it was beautiful - and COLD!

News on the 'Tumor'

The MRI identified the previously labeled 'lymph node' as a 'soft tissue tumor' that is 'most likely of neural origin'. If you're like me, you have no idea what that means.
It is a nerve tumor. It is not just in my nerve sheath, it is actually inside the medial nerve fibers.
So, in order to get it removed, I have to see a neurosurgeon.
If they have to cut the nerve section out to get the tumor out, I will have to have a nerve graft from elsewhere in my body (usually the leg) implanted into the spot where it's removed.
Regardless, I will have some loss of function of my right arm - we're just hopeful it will be minimal.
It has grown from 3.9 x 2.9 x 2.0 cm to 4.0 x 3.0 x 2.8 cm in 2 weeks, which is NOT a good sign.
The radiologist identified it as a 'possible neurofibroma', which is usually a benign condition, but the benign tumors BECOME malignant - and when this happens they usually grow rapidly. The good news is that they don't metatasticize to other areas - it is self-contained. So, it will only be in my armpit *if* it just so happens it's not benign.

Better than the lymphoma option, no matter what way you look at it!
I ended up at the doctor's office yesterday due to another freaky health issue. Sunday my face had a (hot) rash on it. Then Monday, the face rash faded and I had a crazy rash on my upper arms. It then spread to the full length of my arms and my trunk (mostly my back). Apparently I have Parvovirus, or Fifths Disease. My kids have it too, but all they have is the 'slapped cheeks' (seriously, that's a medical term!) and a runny nose. They got off easy!
The Hubs has inventory this weekend, which means that he'll be getting home REALLY late Saturday and Sunday nights - like 2am late! Inventory is stressful for managers, and although The Hubs is 'only' the Assistant (or Operations) Manager, I know it's very important their numbers come out well. So, here's to hoping that store 0425 has an AWESOME inventory! (As an aside: everyone go out and shop at Dillard's!!!)
Last night, Audrey and I got our hair cut. Here's a few pics:

Thursday, January 15, 2009


MRI is done - now I just have to wait on the results.

I had to do the MRI face-down, which felt weird. But I didn't freak out like I thought I would - I didn't take any medication to calm me - and I was absolutely fine.

The Hubs is off for 3 days straight (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) - and we're going to have family fun time!

My brother is FINALLY coming back to the States for a visit. He has been in the Netherlands for 2.5 years (military intelligence), and we miss him terribly. He'll pretty much be here the entire month of February. My parents and I are ecstatic! He is such an awesome person... Back when Audrey was a baby, he was living with us (me and The Hubs) and he is the one who actually taught Audrey how to walk. She ADORES her 'Uncle Tom' and we make sure she sees his picture regularly. JT will have lots of fun with him - I have a feeling they will get along really well.

I gotta get off of here... The Hubs and I are watching Pineapple Express, and it's SO FUNNY!!!

I also want to let everyone know how much I appreciate all the prayers and encouraging words. t means so much to me that so many people care :-)

~ All our love ~

Monday, January 12, 2009


I am feeling MUCH better (although still kind of blues-y).

Wednesday we get to go hang out with Amy (and her kiddos Grant and Connor), Sharon (with Mallory and Emily) and perhaps another mom and her little boy. Good company for all of us!

Sunday I am going to take the kiddos to a Presbyterian church (Amy goes there, as does Rel Ann). I am excited - I've wanted to go to a church for a while, but with JT's needs, it's just a lot more difficult to 'just try them out'.

We got a new car... It's a 2008 Kia Rondo. It's dark blue... Super cute. And within our price range. Perfect!

The dang lump is growing... Looks like an alien egg in my armpit :-) Thursday is the MRI, next Monday we'll start scheduling surgery.

Kiddos are doing great. The Hubs's still happy with his job - and with the Christmas season being over, he's not working *quite* as much.

All in all, MUCH better than the last post. Trying to 'chin up'. Good friends and good family help!

We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are. -- Anais Nin

Friday, January 9, 2009

Too Heavy

Our car recently died.

Audrey asked The Hubs if our car would go to heaven now.

"No, cars don't go to heaven," The Hubs replied.

"Oh," Audrey said understandingly, "because they're too heavy to get up there."

When he explained that they weren't alive, so they don't go... She responded that of course they were alive... They 'walk' with their wheels.

Funny girl :-)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Ball Is Rolling...

So... My doctor informed me in her mind there is no way this could actually be cat scratch. Just to give it one more go, she put me on a 7-day regimen of the z-pack (highest dose available). Neither one of us think this will have any effect on this, but I'm not doing anything else for a few days, so I might as well try.

I have my MRI next Thursday at 1:45pm. Then my follow up with the bone and joint doctor the following Monday, and we will talk about the biopsy/excision (and MRI results, I suppose?).

In the meantime, I am trying to get JT's paperwork in for the school district.

Our car is also totaled. We took it in to the mechanic, and it was running. Two days ago they said when they opened up the engine to replace leaking gaskets (which they said was the issue) the engine somehow exploded or something. They said they were partly at fault, and said they wanted to take a day to figure out what to do. The next day they said they were not at fault at all, and that it was our fault (because? Who knows...). Anyway, we're driving a rental car until Sunday, and hopefully getting a car in Little Rock from our buddy. It really sucks.

So, we have plenty to keep us busy without a bazillion appointments at this moment.

I still think it's b.s. that I didn't get my biopsy, but I have calmed down considerably. Anyone who knows me well can understand when things didn't go exactly as I planned, I kind of flew off the handle... A lot. It also doesn't help that recently my Zoloft stopped working, and I'm just getting on Cymbalta... So it's not really having any effect right now!

Well, we're off to Walgreen's to pick up the rest of my prescription (they don't carry very much of the high-dose azithromycin apparently). Then pick up daddy, and maybe take the kiddos to the McDonald's playplace.

Hope everyone is doing well!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Well, yesterday was a GIANT mess.

I showed up early to my general surgeon appointment (they called and asked if I could be there earlier). Instead of 4:15p, I got there at 2:15p.

My general surgeon came in, said 'it doesn't feel like cancer', concluded 'it must be cat scratch' and decided that he couldn't do a biopsy because the mass is close to a nerve. He wanted me to go to the bone and joint doctor to evaluate it's position (I only found out the reason, though, after I called my doctor in a huff and made her find out why I was NOT having my biopsy that day as planned).

I sat in the waiting room there from 3:00p - 5:00p. I got back to a room, and waited until 5:30p before I saw the doctor. He felt my lump while holding my arm at two seperate angles, told me we needed to do an MRI 'in the next couple of days', then he would meet with me 'a couple days after that' and then we would discuss 'excisional biopsy'.

The whole process is absolutely maddening.

It is not cat-scratch.
1. They did the 'titers' to test for cat scratch. It came back negative.
2. The lump is not sensitive, sore or tender.
3. I have been on 3 rounds of (different) antibiotics at high doses - 2 that are specifically listed as treatment for cat-scratch disease.

I feel like they are just picking and choosing what symptoms and tests to look at... It is completely baffling. Either way, a f*ing biopsy would definitively tell them what this IS, instead of guessing...

I appreciate them not wanting to paralyze my arm, but dear God. This is rediculous. I called my doctor (still haven't heard back) and told her that I wanted to rule out cat scratch before doing the MRI. Maybe it will wake her up. I said that I knew that cat scratch was treatable, and that it doesn't require surgical excision of the lump. (Seriously, true).

At this point, I'm just completely frustrated and they have me playing puppet to fifty people. I'm not good at being a puppet.

The best index to a person's character is (a) how he treats people who
can't do him any good, and (b) how he treats people who can't fight back.
--Abigail Van Buren

Monday, January 5, 2009


My biopsy is tomorrow at 4:15pm.

We should have the results (at least preliminary) within 1-2 days. Any additional testing will take a day or two more...

Hoping for good things...

To fly, we have to have resistance.
-- Maya Lin

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Duzan Top 10 of 2008!

I totally stole this idea from my friend, Melissa (

Here is the Duzan family top 10 of 2008:
1. The Hubs's promotion. Good for him (he loves it) and good for our family!
2. Moving to Tennessee. Great neighbors and a rural setting our kids are lucky to experience.
3. Meeting/Joining the Williamson County Stay at Home Moms group. Lifesaver!
4. Birthdays - Audrey turned 4, JT turned 3 (!) - and mom feels old!
5. Trip to Delaware - we had so much fun visiting The Hubs's family. It was the first time me and the kids met almost all of them!
6. Visitors - Papa and Ginny, Nanny, Great Big Nanny... Oh man, we LOVE visitors!
7. Getting my job with Demand Studios as a writer... Then as a title proofer, too!
8. Evie's recovery from Hepatic Lipidosis (liver failure). NOT fun, but so worth it for my furry baby girl!
9. Meeting so many people through the autism community... Online, at Vanderbilt, in special needs groups... So many amazing people.
10. Getting a new family hobby - hiking. We found something that our kids enjoy as much as we do, and it's really good for us all.

2008 really was a great year. We have made so much progress this year... Because really, we're all just works in progress.

I can't wait to see what 2009 has in store for us. Whatever it is, I'm sure we'll find a way to make the most of it!

People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built. -- Eleanor Roosevelt

Priorities, People!!!

JT babbles constantly, but rarely speaks. It's the theory that he 'can' talk, he just doesn't usually have any reason to... Nothing he cares about enough to actually want to talk.

Yesterday, my cat (Evie) was in the kitchen. Evie is infamous for her screaming and meowing constantly... In fact, it drives The Hubs absolutely bonkers.

She was doing her usual, following me around, yelling, when JT walked into the kitchen.

"Be quiet, Evie," he said, and started scooting his feet to shoo her away.

I cracked up. How funny that it drove him so crazy that he wanted to say something!

(PS - the other time he did something like that was when Audrey wouldn't go down a slide, and in front of his teacher and me, he said 'Get out of my way.')

What Happens at Playdates...

Here's a few pics from a playdate the kids and I went to a few days before Christmas.

Playdates aren't just for kids!

(JT was actually playing with that toy during the photo shoot - he kept staring at us like we had lost our ever-loving minds... Smart kid, lol).

You can understand and relate to most people better if you look at them -- no matter how old or impressive they may be -- as if they are children. For most of us never really grow up or mature all that much -- we simply grow taller. O, to be sure, we laugh less and play less and wear uncomfortable disguises like adults, but beneath the costume is the child we always are, whose needs are simple, whose daily life is still best described by fairy tales. -- Leo Rosten

Friday, January 2, 2009

Ultrasound Princess

While I was getting an ultrasound on my underarm lump, Audrey was asking the tech all kinds of questions...

She was a really sweet lady, probably in her early twenties.

I was telling Audrey that her 'magic wand' could see inside the body without any poking or anything. Audrey thought that was awesome...

Then, she looked at the tech and said "You're a princess! You even have a magic wand and everything." She was truly in awe of her...

The tech was laughing, and said she had never heard that before.

I told her she should include it in her job title from now on. Ultrasound Princess!

Hooray for Good News!

The ANA and RA factor tests came back negative!

That doesn't fix any of my problems, but that DOES mean that long-term, at least I don't have that to worry about!


I thought I'd post a pic of my weird lump, so here it is:

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.
-- Helen Keller

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Funny Stuff

Dillard's had a big sale today (extra 50% off), and The Hubs got some new shirts and ties. He also picked up a video poker game.

Audrey and The Hubs are officially in heaven. The Hubs has someone who REALLY likes poker (I don't), and Audrey gets to push buttons, read, and sit on daddy. I'm happy Audrey has to read (Bet, Max Bet, the letters and numbers on the cards, lol) to play...

I can just see this getting bad when Audrey starts a poker game in her Kindergarten class or something...
The Hubs and Audrey playing video poker:

Happy New Year!!!

Wishing everyone health and happiness in 2009!


Onto some happy news: I got accepted as a Title Proofer with Demand Studios! I've been a writer with them for about 6 months, and they advertised an opening for their title proofing positions... I took the test, apparently passed (yay me!), and was accepted! Demand Studios is a great company for freelance writers - they offer up front payment for work (which is not easy to find) and it's very straightforward.

JT said 'dada' last night... The Hubs was SO excited! So, he says 'See-see' (for sissy, Audrey) and 'dada' and 'doo' (juice, just started that recently, too).

My friends have been so wonderful about my recent health issues... I realize how awesome they are (I love you guys!). Offers of help with the kids, an ear to listen, anything... I am truly blessed to have the people in my life that I do. I am still afraid, but not panicked.

So, to everyone that is in our lives... Thank you. You all mean so much to us.

Quote of the day:
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. ~Ambrose Redmoon