Sunday, September 10, 2017

Birthday Breakfast

Had you been listening: 


Isaac: "Mom it's Nathan's birthday so I don't think he should have to feed Abby."


Me: "That's a nice idea, but he still has responsibilities. When it's my birthday, I still have to feed you guys. I don't just get excused from things."


I: "But, Mom he's the Birthday Boy!" 


Me: "And I'm the Birthday Mom! If you'd like to feed Abby as a gift to your brother, you may do so. Otherwise, Nathan's responsibility is to feed Abby breakfast."


I know she has been fed. I don't know who stepped up. Bc I'm not that responsible today. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Another Test

I'm having another test today.

An MRI with contrast.

They're looking for cancer.

Again.

Because in February, I had one good scare, and the result of that was that based upon the report from the Radiologist, my Chemo Doc ordered an MRI with contrast, for August.

August has always been a difficult month for me, for lots of reasons. But the biggest reason being that on August 16, 1988, the summer before my junior year in high school, I was riding my bike and hit by a truck that dragged me about 15 feet on the asphalt. I am fortunate and thankful that I suffered no breaks or sprains. I didn't hit my head, and this was before there was a push for bike helmets. I recognize how lucky I was (and am). But the road rash that was created ran down my right leg, from my upper thigh, all the way to my ankle. The therapy and healing process was excruciating, both physically and emotionally.

Before today's MRI, I know they are drawing labs from my chemo port, because I still have that mother lovin' thing in, and then they are going to inject me with some bullshit that, if I have cancer, is going to cause the cancer cells to light up.

I know I'll go in and get topless, remove all jewelry, absolutely no metal on my body, and then I'll put on a gown with the opening in the front and I'll lay on my stomach, with my face down in a cradle, and the tech will probably be a female tech and she'll be responsible for placing my breasts into the dedicated breast coils, which are also known as holes, and that I have to be touched by yet another stranger and she'll wear rubber gloves that will probably be pink, because god forbid you ever forget that you're a breast cancer patient. And absolutely nothing about this is fun, or sexy, or makes me feel like a woman. It's actually super stressful, and a little bit humiliating.

And then they'll insert me and the table into the MRI machine. Maybe they'll let me plug my phone into their system, and cue up my own music, like the cool techs when I had the PET scan with contrast right after I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and we all listened to U2's Songs of Innocence.

Maybe the liquid bullshit they're going to inject me with will not seep out and run down my breasts like it did for a sister breast cancer survivor who shared her experience a long time ago, before my own MRI with contrast was ordered.

So knowing this was coming, I've spent the last several days taking the best care of myself as I possibly could. Building strength and positive energy. Surrounding myself with people who love me and whom I love very much.

Wednesday I took Isaac for a check-up and x-rays on his arm. He's been out of the cast for a couple of weeks, and in a removable splint. The x-rays showed that the arm is mostly healed. Mostly. Basically there's a little lip on one of the bones and he has some restrictions with his arm for another couple of weeks, but doesn't have to wear his splint. He is permitted to swim and play soccer, but he's not permitted to hit or block with his right arm at Hapkido. And absolutely no wrestling with his brother, because his brother weights more than twice what he does.

See what I did there? Doctor's orders, until the next x-ray, which is currently slated for Sept 19, absolutely positively, no wrestling with your brother. I'm the only one who can raise my voice and yell at them to stop wrestling, which creates a tremendous amount of stress and puts a lot of pressure on me. Dr. Dean said, no wrestling. Jesus, you don't need to start third grade with a brand new cast, child. Mommy for the win.

After the doctor's appointment, we went downtown for pizza and ran a few errands, including finding a cool sketchbook for him. It had been a really long time since I have been able to spend some quality time alone with Isaac, and it was much needed by both of us.

Thursday I took the boys to the lake for the first time all summer. Randy needed to rest his voice from his procedure on August 2. On our way out 101, we watched a bald eagle launch off of an anciently tall tree and take flight, soaring over us and allowing the boys to watch it through the panoramic moon roof in the Highlander; a good omen. We met up with Momma Christine and her boys, and we were there for about 5 hours, catching up on the important things and making plans for the future. My boys have been wanting to swim out to the log and jump off of it for the past couple of years, so whenever we go to the pool, we've been working on jumping off the diving board and swimming to the side, which is level one. And the Olympic Platform Diving is the Boss Level, just so you have an idea of what we're dealing with here. There's a large range of levels for diving, but I won't go into that here.

Anyway, thank the Goddess for Momma Christine always having a safety net because she had life vests, and the boys felt ok to swim out to the log and jump off with life vests. Totally reasonable. I swam out there with them, in my new Wonder Woman swimsuit, which was a gift from Kate and Emily, and I pulled a flotilla of rafts with four boys who swam-floated...you know, like you do...and Momma Christine. She provided the life vests, I provide the transportation out to the log; that's the definition of teamwork.

It's empowering to be that strong of a swimmer in a glacier-carved, and fabled bottomless lake which really and truly is cold enough to take your breath away. I know now why the Master swimmers don wet suits when they swim in this lake. Not that I swam across it, I'm not at that level, but swimming out to the log a couple of times, and jumping off the log, and helping the boys to climb up that log and jump off that log...took a lot of my energy, or perhaps I gave a lot of my energy. Regardless, it was an invigorating and empowering experience. All of it. We even had our first ever stop at Granny's Cafe for ice cream on the way home. Yup. First time ever. It was delicious and even had two pleasant surprises of bumping into old friends while at Granny's.

Friday, a power yoga class with a young woman who led a beautiful class and included Warrior II, side angle, triangle, and even fallen triangle, providing power and strength in the shoulders, legs and core. These poses helped give me a strong foundation, as well as courage and strength to head into today's MRI. It was one of those classes that the instructor says what you needed to hear, at that particular moment, and left me feeling empowered and thankful that I was able to take this time for myself.

Saturday a 2-mile walk with an old friend along the Olympic Discovery Trail, through the woods with the green summer canopy overhead, and eventually out to the Strait. It had been entirely too long since I was able to walk with her, and we were able to catch up on important stuff, and making plans for the future. We enjoyed the view of ocean, the sound of the surf, and smell the fresh salty air. We figured out we'll be friends seven years come January, when I started at the dojang. We marveled at the unique health changes, and challenges, we've each gone through during that time.

I came home from that walk and cleaned out both freezers, throwing away a lot of long-forgotten processed foods. The extra freezer was growing a few glaciers and so I took it outside and hosed it out. You know...like you do.... And vowed that this really does need to be the last time for this because defrosting a freezer drains a lot of my energy that can be spent doing other things that are healthy...like sewing or writing. Or playing video games with my kids, like we did on Sunday as a family.

Today after my MRI, my friend Florence and I are having lunch. She is meeting me at the hospital, before the test. Speaking from experience, it's really nice to have a friend be there before and after. Seeing a familiar face of a person who loves and supports me and my family makes all of this a little easier.

Distractions and support are important.

Because today there's a test.

I'm hoping that this August is easier for our family than the previous two have been. And the ones in years past have been.

I'm cautiously optimistic that when Randy and I go see the new-to-us Medical Oncologist on Thursday for the results of today's MRI with contrast that the doc says something like "your boobs are both totally awesome!" but that's not very professional. So I'm hoping he says something similar to the news my husband got a couple of weeks ago, when the Lady ENT said "there's no evidence of cancer."

That would be really lovely.

And hopefully turn my attitude about August around. 




Sunday, July 23, 2017

July 14, 2017

Wake up on a beautiful Pacific Northwest Summer morning with a mission: Get the warts on Randy's vocal cords removed. We set the alarm for 6 am in order to check in at First Hill Surgery Center at 7:15am. According to Google Maps, the hotel is a four minute walk; it's literally around the corner and less than a block to the Surgery Center (which is not the same place as First Hill Medical Center, where he had his tonsillectomy and neck dissection last summer). We had plenty of time to get dressed, get me a coffee, and get there.

Randy wasn't able to have anything after midnight. No food. No water. No gum or mints. They really don't even like you to brush your teeth, just in case you swallow a little bit of your own saliva and/or toothpaste. They aren't fucking around.


On Thursday afternoon, the day before surgery, we headed over to the Emerald City, after our Kid Sitter, Ms. G., arrived to take care of the two-legged children and the four-legged child. She's awesome and incredibly brave because she agreed to spend the night at our house. She's been with us for a while; she volunteered a lot of her time for us last summer when Randy was going through his cancer treatment. The boys worship her. We are so thankful for her. We can't leave our trolls with just anybody. As a mom of a child who has seizure disorder who is medicated twice daily with three different pharmacological drugs, two of which are given to control seizures, and one of which is given to induce sleep, we're pretty particular about who we let provide care for our boys. And this was the first time we'd left them for an overnight with a sitter in our home. Last summer, when my husband was going through tonsil cancer, and the summer before when I was going through breast cancer, the boys stayed with our close friends, Momma Christine and/or Momma Bonnie and their families. So, leaving the boys at home with a sitter for us to go to the city for an overnight with a surgical procedure the next morning, given Randy's health history and the fear that he was going to seize in the operating room, and if he did that meant he was spending the night in the hospital, so it could be that she was going to be with them for two nights...this was a big fuckin' deal.

The drive east from Port Angeles was perhaps the longest drive I've ever had going towards Seattle, and not simply because it was summer and surgery was looming. Living on the Peninsula means having to drive. But this was different. We caught the Hood Canal Bridge open for marine traffic, and there was an accident at the intersection just before the bridge on the Jefferson County side. Seriously?! So it was a double whammy, at the same spot, before even leaving the Peninsula. Through all of it, Randy did a great job driving.

Ferry ride to downtown Seattle
The ferry ride across the Sound was beautiful, and perhaps even a bit chilly with the wind. After the boat pulled into the dock in downtown Seattle and we disembarked, I drove Randy and me to the hotel fairly quickly, considering city traffic always sucks. After checking in to our room and letting the kids know we had arrived at our destination, (we called them on the phone, no, really) our dear friend Jeff picked us up and we went out for Mexican food. Then we went to Full Tilt for ice cream (I recommend the flavor Ube (proun. ohh-beh). Because if you can't eat anything after midnight, you may as well stuff as much in as you possibly can! Also, you only live once, so you may as well try the freaky ice cream that's made out of a purple yam which is popular in Fillipino dishes. No shit. It was delicious. It was way better than the Vegan Myan Chocolate bullshit that Jeff and Randy each got. Whatthefuckever, you guys. That shit was nasty. Goddamned hippies. Eatin' vegan ice cream.

Almost there....
We left the hotel early Friday morning, well before 7 am, because when you're stopping for a coffee in at Starbuck's, you know...like you do...you know it's gonna take a goddamned year...even at that ungodly hour....and headed up to the Surgery Center to check in.

After checking in, my husband and I walked through the vast waiting area that had semi-comfortable looking couches and chairs. I chose a pair of large, high-backed blue chairs with a narrow, but plain wooden table in between them, set down my 16 ounce white chocolate Americano, sat down, and pulled out the lap top. Because I'm not gonna just sit there for 90 minutes, and it's rude to leave and go shopping or some bullshit when your husband is in surgery. Right? Besides, the only thing open, besides Starbucks, is McDonald's (never!) and Bartell Drugs (later, when he's through surgery and in recovery. Because: chocolate.).

Anyway, so he goes back and they prepped him and then the nurse came to get me in the waiting room so I could keep him company. We met the anesthesiologist who was very kind and very thorough in reviewing Randy's health history. Based upon our conversation with him, he wasn't entirely sure Randy had a seizure last summer...but we all agreed there's no point in speculating about something that happened over a year ago. We both felt comfortable with the anesthesiologist putting Randy to sleep for this surgery.

Then the Lady ENT came in. I've only ever met her via FaceTime when Randy goes over to see her, so this is really the first time we've been in the same room and met formally. And she is lovely. And she's smart. And she's just gonna laser some warts off of my husband's vocal cords. She does this kinda thing a lot.

I head back out to the waiting room. And wait. And write. And dork around with my phone. And get up to pee like 12 times because my anxiety is so high. And they have free Starbucks in the surgery area waiting room, but I'll drink my water thanks.

And about 90 minutes later, the Lady ENT comes out. She's sad. Disappointed. She had to stop the surgery.

Wait. What? You didn't laser any warts off? I mean....

No, I'm sorry I didn't. Your husband has a very narrow passageway, and I need a smaller scope in order to access his vocal cords.  

I thought....

I know, I thought so too. I tried several times, with several different scopes, but was unsuccessful.

I know the real estate in his throat is limited because of the breathing tube the anesthesiologist has to use. Was that a factor?

Partly. However, but most of it is because of you husband's anatomy. It's narrow, and so I need a scope that is basically a smaller gauge so that I can get to the papilloma on his vocal cords.

Ok. So...?

So I had to stop the surgery because had I continued, I would have done harm.

Thank you for following the Hippocratic Oath. Is he ok?

He's ok. He's in recovery and you can see him soon. I'm so sorry. In my twenty years of practicing medicine, this is the second time this has happened. I feel badly that I wasn't able to help him in the way I anticipated.

Wow. So, it's a pretty rare thing?

Yes.

But of course it happens to my family.

I know you guys have a lot of medical issues. And I'm sorry for everything you have on your plate. Please know I am as disappointed and frustrated as you are.

And as he will be.

I'll need to see him on Wednesday for the post-op.

Why? You didn't really operate.... I mean, not to be disrespectful.

No, you're right.

I mean...for us to get to the city and be here today took a lot of coordination for our kids. I know you know we have a child who has epilepsy and autism, but our 8-year-old has a full arm cast because he fell off the monkey bars and broke both his radius and ulna the week before school was out for the summer.

Oh no!

Yeah. And he's in arts camp next week, and he's really looking forward to going. So for us to be here on Wednesday for a post-op when there was no op.... Do you really need to see him? Or can we take a step back from this and perhaps have a conference call instead?

Yes. There's, you're right, there's no need for you guys to make all of the arrangements you have to and travel when really it's going to be such a quick visit. We can talk on the phone on Tuesday. I'll have my office call you this afternoon to set up a time.

Thank you so much. For everything. Really.

You're welcome. He'll be in recovery for about an hour and then you can go back and see him. I'll stop by and talk with both of you before releasing him, but he probably won't remember a lot of what we discuss, because of the anesthesia.

Ok. Thank you, Doctor. I very much appreciate your compassion and dedication to my husband and my family. Thank you for your support.

It was everything I could do to not hug her.

So instead, I went pee for the 100th time, and then left the Surgery Center. I made a quick stop at Bartell's for some smoked almonds for me to eat on the way home, and some chocolate (for the kids! And me. Because I needed to do something nice for myself, so I chose chocolate. Duh!). I grabbed most of our stuff from the hotel room, walked it down the street to the parking garage and left it in the Highlander, then back to the hotel, grabbed the rest of our shit, checked out, had a wonderful interaction with a blind woman on the street, and went back to the Surgery Center, who was calling me to let me know that Randy was waking up. Dammit, sometimes I have awesome timing!

Anyway, when I went back to see Randy, he was pretty loopy from the anesthesia...you know...like you are...and he wasn't particularly happy. Which is totally understandable.

Once he was feeling like he could get going, I asked for a medical pass for the ferry so we could be assured that we would get on the next boat home, we got our shit together, which included lots of packets of saltine crackers and a couple of vomit bags, I got the Highlander, drove back to the Surgery Center and met him and the nurse in front of the building, because they wheeled him out in a chair, which is standard. I asked what they do with people who don't own a car, the nurse said they usually call a taxi or take a bus. Jesus. Can you imagine getting out of surgery and getting on a bus? I'm thankful we have a reliable and comfortable vehicle to drive home in.

We caught the ferry in the nick of time, and were both starving, but ferry food wasn't happening, and so we stopped for something at Central Market in Poulsbo. The soup bar was a welcome sight. So were the fresh flour tortillas for tacos the next night. Nothing like meal planning on the fly. We'd talked, and Randy felt like homemade re-fried beans was something he could swallow without a lot of pain.

The ride home was largely uneventful. It was a beautiful day. Traffic was pretty light, considering it was a Friday afternoon in the middle of summer, and we were heading out to the Peninsula. The boys and the dog were happy to see us, and we were happy to see them! Ms. G. said they did great. The boys and Ms. G. all loved their chocolates!

So we're on for this week. But I'm not telling you when, exactly, because I suffer superstition. And I'm  hoping that since this is the third time we've scheduled this surgery, and they say things come in threes....

Also, I have no details worked out yet. I have things brewing, but nothing is for sure. Child care. Dog care. Overnight in the city. Again. The A Team is on high alert, and for them, I have eternal gratitude.

I'm trying to see the good...but this post has gone on entirely too long. And I'm Jabbed Out!



Bus ad; when's WA DOH & AG going after Big Sugar?


You can always tell the tourists, because they look up.

YMCA

No idea what these buildings are, just a cool shot.

Friday, July 14, 2017

My Biggest Fear

"Momma, what's your biggest fear?" my son asked me one morning as I was cleaning up the kitchen after a breakfast of waffles, topped with whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

I stopped, heart pounding in my ears, he must be reading my mind. In some cultures, people with epilepsy were thought to have psychic abilities and became shaman. My son is incredibly intuitive so this is not a concept I've easily dismissed.

Of course, some cultures believe that epileptic seizures are caused by which craft and malevolent spirits, and this is also something I've not taken lightly. Sometimes I have to conjure up amazing spells to get him to not have a meltdown. And I reckon that all parents wonder if their child is possessed at least once in a while.

"Well," I said, swallowing hard and stalling for time, trying to fight the urge to cry, since I've been so preoccupied this past week with my husband's vocal cord surgery. "I have a lot of worries. But really I only a couple of big fears."

He continued to look me in the eye, and because of his autism, eye contact doesn't come easy for him. I knew he was serious. 

I went back to rinsing the dishes, water running, buying time, fighting back tears. Because what do I tell him?

That my biggest fear is that my breast cancer will return?

That his Dad's tonsil cancer will return?

That something will happen during his Dad's upcoming surgery that will negatively impact our lives forever?

That he'll have another seizure on the operating table?

Will the highly trained, very skilled, and wonderfully caring Lady ENT slip and whoops Daddy doesn't have the ability to talk again? Ever.

That we'll be in a fatal accident going to or coming home from the surgery in Seattle?

That my son's epilepsy will end up causing his death? In his sleep? Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy is a real thing. And it really scares me. Really really fucking scares me. Easily top five in my worst fears.

And then there are the state of the world fears.

The fears that some people see my son as a burden on the system. Because he has intellectual disabilities, he's seen as "less than," and somehow not deserving of love and acceptance. Will they come take him away? Lock him up in a camp with other people who are seen as "less than"? As a person of Jewish decent, the whole "camp" thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Maybe that's why I haven't ever registered my kids for camps during the summer. 

We've had internment camps in America before. We locked up the Japanese during World War II. What's to stop it from happening again? What's to stop them from taking the people who are autistic? Or epileptic? Or people who live with any disability? Or people who have had cancer? Or have a different skin color?

Will he be thrown away by a society who now thinks that a college education, and having an intellect, is bad for America? What does that mean for my career? For my husband's career? What does it mean for our health insurance? And didn't the Senate vote take place today? My entire family is a pre-existing condition. Did it pass? I heard they didn't have enough yea votes going in...but I don't know the outcome. And it's important. Because eventually, my kid will probably end up on Medicaid. Right now, under the Affordable Care Act, we can keep him on my husband's insurance until he's 26. Thank you, Mr. Obama, for that one. Thank you for not permitting insurance companies to charge us more because we have so many pre-existing conditions and putting life-time limits on how much money my family will have to spend on all of what we deal with. Thank you.

The fear that all of that could be gone is truly terrifying for me.

Dishes in the dishwasher. Counters and table wiped down.

"What are your worries, Momma?" he asked.

"I don't know, honey. What are your fears?" I asked him.

"I'm not afraid of anything Mom," he said with confidence.

"Well, that's great, Nathan!" I said in a supportive tone.

"But, Mom, what do you worry about?" he asked again. I know he's persistent. His brain gets stuck in a loop and he will continue to ask the question unless I answer him.

"I'm worried that...the garden needs to be watered. Would you like to come outside with me and help me water the veggies?"

"YEEEESSSSS!" He yelled. "MOM! WE NEED TO CHECK MY BROCCOLI!" he continued to yell, in a very excited way. He loves broccoli. Being outside, connecting with the food he chose to grow in his raised garden bed, the water, the sound of the birds, the sun shining. All of this helped calm both of us down.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Reasonable Risk

We all take reasonable risks that we don't even think about. When we get in the car to drive to work or school, running the countless errands we all have...those are reasonable risks. There's a risk we could get in a car accident. There's a risk our child could get hurt at school. We could stop at any number of businesses and wind up being the victim of a shooting. Right? I'm not advocating for this, but this is a reality we live in. But I'm not going to stop driving, or taking my kids to school, or running errands. None of us can stop living. Or driving to and from school, work, going to exercise, the bank, getting our hair cut, running kids around, going to the doctor or the dentist or running kids to the doctor and the dentist etc. etc. etc.... We don't stop living life. We don't even think about these things as reasonable risks, but that's what they are.... Reasonable. Risks.
 

Anderson Park
We let our kids take reasonable risks. Not the "go juggle machetes" types of risks. That's not reasonable. They're not trained in Guazabara. Yet. When my older son was diagnosed with epilepsy four years ago, and only 6 months after we spent a ton of money designing and building Anderson Park in our backyard, we had to make a decision about reasonable risk. Even though the pediatric neurologist said to not let Nathan do anything unless he had a helmet on and was harnessed, because he could seize and fall and then break his neck, we decided it was more important to let him climb, explore, and engage in gross motor activities. Exercising and getting to know how his body works, especially when there's four to five inches of rubber mulch beneath him...reasonable risk. He'll most likely bounce. And he has, many times, fallen off of our swing set and gotten right back up.
 
Watering his garden with a cast? Sure.

Four weeks ago, when my 8-year-old broke both bones in his right forearm on the monkey bars at school...with only 7 days to go before school was out for the summer...I had to make decisions about reasonable risk. He is not permitted to be around water...but the garden needs to be watered...and he planted his beans, peas, and lettuces before he broke his arm. So I gave him the hose. Reasonable risk. What could go wrong? I mean, his brother isn't even outside.

This is a child who is incredibly independent. In my conversations with other moms of children with special needs, of those who have a younger child who is neruotypical, the neurotypical child is incredibly independent, too. So, I know we're not unique in that.

But what is amazing about this kid, who was taking a reasonable risk when he was at school swinging on the monkey bars during recess, is that when he was ready to stop using his training wheels, he told me so. But I wasn't ready for no training wheels. I mean, at the time he was 4, so, no, your training wheels are staying on, little dude.

However, Sir Isaac isn't one who backs down easily, (I have no idea where he gets this from....) and went into the toolbox, got a pair of pliers, and started taking off his training wheels. Ok. Fine. Let's do this.

Also, when he wanted shoes with shoelaces, I told him he was going to need to learn to tie his shoes, and sure as shit, without more than me and his dad showing him a couple of times, he was tying his shoes proficiently within 24 hours. He's brilliant. Obviously.

So, here's the hose. Go water your garden. Thanks for helping. Be careful. Have fun. You are taking a reasonable risk, my child, by holding the hose with your left hand and keeping care to not spray the water in the direction of your right arm.

No, you may not spray your brother. I want to, too. Believe me. When your cast is off, you can spray him all you want. We both will. And thanks for helping me grow some deliciousness in our garden. 

Deliciousness



Thursday, June 29, 2017

There's a no in me

There's a no in me today.

No I don't want to take you up the mountain. 

Or down to the water. 

Can you imagine if you got sand in your cast? Sweet Jesus, child! What would the doctor say when you see him tomorrow? 

Yup. He'd probably have to recast it. And you certainly don't want to do that again. I mean, if you got sand in there it would itch like crazy and it's possible the the sand could create little wounds in your skin. So, let's not risk it.

Nope. Not the lake either. 

Yup. You want to keep your cast dry. 

I know it sucks. 

I'm sorry. But really, you've gotta accept responsibility. I know you're only eight. But dude, you were the one swinging on the monkey bars. Out there at school, all being a kid. You know...like you do.

But when the doctor said no, he meant no. No hiking, no biking, no scooter, no jumping on the trampoline.

So, no. No you won't. 

And no wrestling with your brother. 

I know you want to.

Taking a shower and covering your cast with a garbage bag is one thing. But going to the a body of water, or moving water. No. No garbage bag. No cast covers. I mean, your range of motion in your shoulder is good, but...no. No is no. 

The lake will be there. The mountain will be there. The strait will be there. This is a temporary problem. Those places will always be there. We can go when your cast is off. Hopefully at the end of the July.

Let's go water the garden. I'm open to you watering with the sprayer set on "soaker" as long as you use your good arm, and you absolutely, positively, keep the water pointed away from you. 

And your brother can't be in the garden at the same time. Because obviously. That's a recipe for disaster. And because there's a no in me. 

There's a lot to do around the house. Let's check the Summer Rules list!  

We can read. You guys are participating in the Summer Reading Program, so we get to read a LOT this summer! Because we may win the whale watching tour! You never know! You can't win if you don't read!

We can do laundry. I'd still have to do laundry if my arm was broken. Shit, I was going through chemo and doing laundry. I was at the boss level of disease and still running a household and teaching online. So, I think you can put your clothes away. You know, the ones I folded for you. Yeah. Those. Both of you. I know you've got two good arms, big dude. Get it done. Both. Of. You. 

Thank you. 

Jesus. 


Oh! And if we assemble the deck box that we purchased like two years ago that's been sitting on the deck in a cardboard box...yeah that one! You'd check off like the rest of your list if we did that! 

Because we gotta assemble the deck box, then we'd get to clean off the deck, which I'm open to trading that in for ___Clean Up One Room. 

And you wouldn't have to play outside, because godforbid you play outside. On a beautiful 66* PNW summer day. Instead, we'll assemble the deck box outside! How brilliant is that?

And you guys would check off ___Made/Built Something Creative ANNNNDDD ___Helped Someone In The Family at the same time! How awesome is that? 

Ok. So, there's a yes in me for computer time if you cooperate and are mostly nice to each other and me.



Back deck before













They really did help me! (350 lb. wt. limit)
Back deck, after






Sweeping too? Yes, please! Great idea!

Thank you both for your help.

Yes, boys, you earned computer time.


Monday, June 5, 2017

I Asked

So, we're sitting in the Radiation Oncologist's office, you know, like you do....

Kinda glad to see him...kinda not.

He's the one responsible for, essentially, being a main player in the medical team that saved my husband's life last summer. 

And he kinda looks a little like Paul McCartney.

He could've been a Beatle.

Or a child of a Beatle, anyway.

He's easy on the eyes.

I wouldn't kick him out of bed for farting. 

Don't judge.

Just because I'm on a diet doesn't mean I don't look at the menu.

I got eyes.

Anyway....

The Radiation Oncologist walks in, and he's got a very casual bedside manner, and he's incredibly smart. So we're chatting away and he does his exam and he reviews the notes from the Lady ENT and we talk about Randy's upcoming throat surgery, which is scheduled for later this month.

And when he said, "Do you have any questions, Mrs. Anderson?"

You bet your sweet ass I have questions.

Here's the thing, Dr. J, I've got a pair of kids at home who are tapped out. My family has been dealt a lot of life, particularly in the last two summers.

Nodding from the doctor.

My 8-year-old looked at me point blank and said "Mommy, I'm afraid I'll get cancer. I'm afraid my brother will get cancer. And I'm really afraid that you and Daddy are going to get cancer again," and so, I need to know, Doctor.

More nodding from the doctor.

He's a very attentive listener.

I know you can't say 100% for sure until the warts caused by HPV on my husband's vocal cords are removed and biopsied, but in looking at the research, in your experience, with your best gut reaction on this, speaking from an epidemiological perspective, what are you thinking? Do you anticipate that this is another summer full of cancer?

I do not, Mrs. Anderson.

Silence from us.

I know each of you, as well as your boys, have been through a huge...amount of...major life occurrences...in a very short amount of time. But I do not anticipate that you'll have another summer full of cancer.

We have the PET scan from the end of February and the results were negative for cancer cells. We have the fact that your husband's taste is returning, his saliva production is increasing. On a visual exam of his throat, it looks really good.

Exhale.

And, no, I cannot be 100% certain until we get the biopsy. But I can say that I'm pretty certain that this isn't cancer of the vocal cords.

Ok. Thank you, Dear Doctor, for you have helped to instill hope into my heart.

A little bit later, as my husband and I sat eating Mexican food for lunch, enjoying each other's company, we agreed that the Radiation Oncologist did not say what he said to pacify us. We do not feel that the Lady ENT said what she did to placate us. We recognize that several friends have been diagnosed with cancer who kept receiving misdiagnoses. And our hearts break because of the countless situations across the globe where people are dying because of this fucking disease.

My husband, who is a very logical thinker, goes back to the fact that we don't have data about the warts on his vocal cords. So, for now, we're continuing to focus on what we know: surgery is coming. We're trying our best to remain calm and centered. And enjoy each day.

The next step, before surgery, is for my husband to get approval from his neurologist before receiving sedation from the anesthesiologist. Because the last time my husband went under for surgery was June 30, 2016, and that could have gone much better.

So, today, my husband was in Seattle, seeing his neurologist, who ordered an outpatient EEG be done before surgery. The EEG is scheduled for Friday. An electroencephalogram (or EEG, thank god for acronyms, right?!) is where they hook your head up to about 20 electrodes--and a few on your chest to monitor your heartbeat and respiration rate--and they are looking for seizure activity. I've been through countless EEG's with our older son, and all I can really say is, "thank you iPad." It doesn't hurt, but glue and hair don't really mix well. We're both thankful my husband is bald. 

My husband had an outpatient EEG last year, after his seizure in the operating room. Last time, the results were normal; and the neurologist anticipates the same this year.

The thing about EEG's is they totally suck because you cannot sleep more than 3-4 hours prior to the test.  No coffee. No chocolate. No soda. No caffeine. They are looking for abnormal brain activity...and caffeine makes our brain kinda active...and it can skew the results. And ain't nobody got time for skewed results.

So, he'll go over on Thursday and stay up late and then get up super early and go to the hospital for his 7:45 am appointment. The test should take about 90 minutes, and when the EEG is done, if he feels like he needs to, he can go back to the hotel, and take a nap. If he feels ok, then he'll catch the ferry home. He can sleep on the boat.

The neurologist said we'll have the results the next business day. So, we are cautiously optimistic that we'll know for sure surgery is a go on Monday, June 12th. But, let's be real...more like Wednesday, June 14th.

During finals week.

Three days before commencement.

No pressure.