Thursday, June 30, 2016

June 30, 2016

Wake up on a beautiful Pacific Northwest Summer morning with a mission: Get Randy's Chemo Port. Routine Stuff. I have one. We'll be the Wonder Twins. It'll be awesome. Not really. But...ya know...I gotta keep moving forward.

Thank you boys for rolling with it. I know you're tired because you played so hard at the lake yesterday for 5 hours.

Thank you Stacie for coming over at 7:10 am and watching the boys. You are my rock.

Thank you mom and dad for teaching me to drive so many years ago so I could get him to OMC safely.

Thank you Stef for calling me at 10:20 am and telling me Randy seized on the table. That I needed to get to the hospital right away because he seized. Fuck. RIGHT? GIVE ME--GIVE US--A BREAK!!!!

Fuck you cancer. I. Hate. You. 

Thank you Christine for taking the boys, no questions. I love you. Always.

Thank you boys for moving quickly. Getting dressed, shoes on, and out the door at 10:30 am. I don't know if they brushed their teeth, I recognize at 9:12 pm. 

Up the hill...into the mountains...beautiful sun shining Northwest day. Snow. Glaciers. Hurry.

June 30th. Vicki's birthday. I've known her 30 years this coming September. And the last day that medical marijuana is legal in the great state of Washington...? Yes. Because we the people made a mistake in November when we voted to change that. What were we thinking. Please change it back.

Christine meets me with the printer paper I asked for because I forgot his binder. I love you boys. Be good. Have fun!

Dropped off, down the hill, straight shot to the hospital. Stacie in the parking lot. Collapsed in a heap. "Why can't one thing be easy? Whey can't we be average?! I want to be average Stace. I don't want to be Wonder Woman. Why can't my family be normal?" I don't know, she said. My amazingly funny rock solid woman sisterfriend the epidemiologist does not know. And if she doesn't know...then I'm kinda fucked. 

Deep breaths. Walking. Crying. Moving. Head up. Look north. The sea. The sun. The seagulls. Inside. Stef helps. Always beautiful and smiling (and awesome eyebrows), Stef. Finds his nurse and she tells us: Room XXX (not really, but I'm not gonna publish his room number you guys, seriously.)

Up the elevator one flight. Because my knees won't hold me. Not today. I'm too He fucking seized. wobbly.

Down the hall. Stacie knows the way because she's worked there for over a decade. On the right. Water side. Windy. White caps in the harbor. Mount Baker in the distance. Canada. Let's go! Remember when we wanted to move to Holland? And open a coffee shop-hot wings-brothel all under one roof? Luis was gonna be the bouncer. Right? That woulda been awesome, you guys. 

He's awake. And he's pissed.

Not at you. At the situation. At the disease. 

Fuck you cancer. I. Hate. You. 

Blank looks. Lost. With each other.

What happened? They don't know.

How do you feel? I'm fucking pissed.

Does Rob know? Yes. He's already been in.

MRI. Transport takes him away. Stace and I go to the cafeteria for lunch. Nothing. No appetite. Salad bar. Sunflower seeds are protein. Laura. They tag teamed me. Stace leaves. Laura and I go up when I'm done. He's not back. Collapsed in a heap. "I had my kids too late in life." Don't, she says, we have our kids when we have them. Stop. Because they will remember going to the lake. They will remember the fun times. They will be more compassionate men. We need more of that in the world.

The MRI shows there are spots that don't typically show up until a person is in their 60's or 70's and a smoker or a diabetic. Well...he's not that or that or that. THE FUCK!?!?!?

Start talking about transport to Swedish. Calling The Man ENT. Calling Neuro. Spinal tap. EEG. Keppra. Holiday weekend. He'll likely head over late tonight. Wait. What? Fuck. 

Fuck you cancer. I. Hate. You.

Bonnie walks in. All is right in the world for a split second because Bonnie is there.

What about Abby? Who's gonna watch Abby? Call the kennel. Call the Vet. Stace and Bonnie will collaborate. They'll take care of her. Stacie stayed with Randy while Bonnie and I go to my house.
We hit the parking lot. Collapsed in a heap. Again. And again. And again. I'm scared. I'm so scared. He's gotta live. He's only 48. Is his cancer so aggressive it's already spread to his brain?  

Fuck you cancer. I. Hate. You.

At my house to pack everything the boys will need for who knows how long. Meds. All of them. Ice cream. Both kinds. Wet suits. Swim trunks. 3 each: shorts, shirts, boxers, socks. Crocs. Bread. Think she's got room in her fridge for 1/2 watermelon? Gotta get their doboks because they're walking in the parade for Hapkido on Monday. 

To Christine's. Up into the mountains. Beautiful Pacific Northwest summer day. Hurry.

Boys, I need to go. Again. I'm sorry. I don't know how long you'll be here. Be good. Please help. Be a good listener. Good report. Yes you can do the computer when we get home. I love you both. Love your brother. Stick together. Thank you because I love you too.
Down the hill. Again. Up the elevator. Again. 

Fuck you cancer. I. Hate. You. 

Laura. Tag teamed with Stacie. They switched on him. It's all good. Thankful neither of us was alone for very long today.

Different energy. Goodness. Positiveness. The Neurologist at Swedish looked at the MRI and while he needs to be seen in Seattle, it's not urgent.

But the spots on his brain. And he had a grand fucking maul seizure. What about that!?!?

We'll know more once we talk to The Man ENT, and since Randy's going to see him on Wednesday, we'll see if they can do an EEG at that point.

What about the chemo port? 

We'll see if The Man ENT can put one in when he's there.

Goddamnit. I asked him to do that. Nobody ever fucking listens to me. And the spots on your brain? 

I don't know, but it's not cancer because it didn't light up like cancer does on an MRI.

I bet their petechiae scars from when you had staph endocarditis in December 2004.

So he's not going to Seattle tonight. And you're not going tomorrow. Good stuff.

Yup. Good stuff. 

And the house is quiet.

Horribly quiet.

As much as I feel like they're killing much as stress as they much as I feel like I'm going fucking crazy...I need my boys home. 

So can we please just stop with all of this. 

I need, my family needs, a little mercy. 

Please universe?


Saturday, June 25, 2016

What We Know

What we know is that there is still cancer in my husband's throat. The Man ENT did the best he could, but the margins weren't clean.

There were 24 lymph nodes that were pulled, and 2 of them had cancer; 1 of them was leaking cancer--so the cancer was spreading.

Stage 4 tonsillar cancer. (Or "tonsil cancer" for us non medical folks). 

Fucking Christ. (RIGHT?!?!)

Anyway, so what we know is that Randy needs to have 33 hits of radiation and 3 doses of chemo. Radiation will last roughly 6 weeks, and they'll do the chemo doses at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of the radiation treatment.

Comparatively, not competitively, I had 21 hits of radiation and 12 doses of chemotherapy. (It's cancer, not a competition, this, this is what I say to my children).  

We met with both the radiation oncologist and the medical oncologist this week and that's what they told us. Both docs are in Sequim; his radiation oncologist is new to the Peninsula (but we liked him) and we get to work with Lynn the Rock Star Radiation Nurse. And his medical oncologist is the same amazing lady doc that I had during my chemo treatments last summer. Her last name begins with a C, but I can't bring myself to call her Dr. C because she's a cancer doctor and that just feels a little icky.

I don't know when exactly he'll start any of his treatments. What we know is that he needs to have the following appointments (not in any particular order) before radiation can start: 

Dental appointment--our dentist needs to examine Randy's mouth and then send a report to the radiation oncologist. Because Randy's tumor was, basically, his tonsil, and the tonsil is inside the mouth, it's standard of care to get clearance from a dentist before starting radiation treatments since they'll be shooting his mouth with radiation. If a person needs dental work prior to starting radiation...then they'll deal with it. Hopefully he'll be in the clear.

Nutritionist--Randy is already limited in terms of the food he is able to consume. Partly because of his autism (I'm not kidding--he says he can taste the chlorophyll in plants and I kinda believe him). Partly because he's still healing inside of his mouth and he really shouldn't be eating, you know, anything no chips, no tacos (and those are food groups in our house!)...but you get the idea. And, he's lost about 15-18 lbs since his surgery, and the docs have all said he'll loose more weight as swallowing becomes more and more difficult. So, meeting with a nutritionist will provide him the opportunity to know what types of food he'll have the ability to eat that are nutrient dense. Basically, he'll need lots of protein, but he needs alternatives besides those $5 milkshakes I'm whipping up.

General surgeon--Randy has to have a chemo port inserted under his skin so that he can take his chemo. I have a chemo port. It sucks. I'm working on a blog about it, so be patient, please. But basically, it's this piece of plastic that sits under my skin and the nurses tap it and administer chemotherapy this way--because if you inject chemotherapy into a vein on your arm, that shit'll kill you. Well, not really. But it'll jack up your veins pretty good. So, he needs a port.

With all of the members of the health care team, we've discussed having a feeding tube inserted into Randy's stomach so that he gets as many calories as he can during his radiation and chemo. However, according to the research--and this is based upon what the doctors are telling us; not what we've researched on our own, because let's face it, we trust our docs to inform us and we're both freaking exhausted and aren't doing our own research...we learned a long time ago (specifically 5+ years ago when Nathan was diagnosed with epilepsy) that we are one click away from going to and ever since then, we deal with the problems as they come and we do our own research when we feel we need to. Anyway, so the current thinking is that if patients can push through the pain they will have when swallowing, they will be more successful in the long run. It's a use it or loose it type of thing. So, at this point, he's not getting a feeding tube. If, however, he needs one I'll just put whatever the rest of us are eating into the Vitamix and he'll consume the calories...nasty...but reality for the folks who have to deal with that in their lives; don't judge.

Surgery for the chemo port--this'll happen once he has a consultation with the surgeon. Yes, the surgery will happen in Port Angeles. No, I don't know when it'll be.

The Man ENT and the Speech Therapist--we will make another trip to Seattle so that the Man ENT can say "yes, you look great and are healing up're cleared to start treatment" and during that trip, we'll also meet with the Speech Therapist so that she can give Randy some swallowing exercises. No, I don't know what the exercises involve. Yes, I've made inappropriate sexual comments. I'm the wife. I'm allowed.

Radiation simulation--the radiation oncologist and the radiation techs will take time to get Randy positioned on the table, make a bite guard for him, and other immobilization devices that they'll use as they shoot his throat with radiation to kill the cancer. They do this because they want to make sure they are zapping the cancer and killing every last cell. When a person receives radiation treatment, they need to be in the same position every single time. And you gotta lay still for like 15 - 30 minutes while you're on the table. So, they have to use these immobilization devices, because, let's face it, it's like everyone who goes into radiation treatment practices yoga or is a nude model. But they gotta make sure you're not gonna move and they gotta position and reposition the you're laying there for what feels like a fuckin' eternity. But it's only like 15 - 30 minutes. Not that the treatment takes 15 - 30 minutes; the treatment only takes 1 - 2 minutes. What takes time is getting on the table in exactly the right position; the techs getting the machine in just the right position (thank you computer software) lining up your tattoos on the laser beams, and making any last minute adjustments to make sure you're in exactly, EXACTLY, the right position. Every. Single. Time. And they'll do this 33 times.

Randy is 4 weeks post-op. Generally, they give a person 6-ish weeks to heal from surgery before they start any form of treatment. No, he won't have to wait another 6 weeks after the chemo port is placed before they start tapping the chemo port before accessing it for chemo drugs. While I don't know exactly when all of this will go down, I know it'll happen within the next 2-3 weeks. I anticipate that he'll start radiation and have his first dose of chemo shortly after the Fourth of July.

And all this shit has to happen like, next week. And the week after.

And then he'll start treatment.

For Stage 4 tonsillar cancer.

Because, we, clearly...apparently....just have major health...shit...go down in our family.

Of which I'm tired.

But I keep going.

And going....

And we keep moving forward.

Because it's what we do.

And it's what we know. 

And, yes, we'll get outside...

and enjoy the lake...and each other...and our friends who are our family...

and continue to live our lives...and make happy memories...

during this unimaginably difficult time in life.

Fuck you, cancer.

It's what I know. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Eyeglasses Holder

I recently purchased an eyeglasses holder. 

Like I'm 70 goddeamned years old or something.

Not at all like the hot model in the link above. She looks like she's 22, right?


No, so I'm only wearing it around the house because when I'm home, I'm doing a lot of transitional work. I look down (don't need my glasses) to cut bell peppers; I look up to make sure whatever wrestling maneuver the trolls are doing is within the range of normal. Having to take my glasses off and put them on is happening much more than it used to.

I'm aging.


As gracefully as I can. 

No, I'm not going to rush out and get bifocals. When I had my eyes examined in December 2015, when I was done with all my chemo and radiation, which you shouldn't get your eyes examined when you're going through chemo because that shit fucks with your vision, so they recommend you don't get your eyes examined or get new glasses until you're done with all of your cancer treatment. Seriously, the shit I learned is amazing. Anyway, when I had my eyes examined at the end of last year, my eye doc said, basically, "your vision hasn't changed all that much, which given what you've been through, it really pretty surprising. Don't buy new glasses because you don't want to waste your money; you'll need to see me in a year and you'll likely need bifocals then. It happens to everyone around the age of 43."

Super. So, bifocals are in the queue, but I'm just hanging for now. I've known it's coming. But I'm waiting. I'm ok. I'll know when I need to see him. I have a few other things on my plate right now....and if I felt I needed to get my eyes checked, I'd go in.

I've not yet worn my new eyeglasses holder out in public.

I don't want to embarrass myself, or my children, by having someone call me their grandmother. Which, it's happened. But that's what happens when you have children later in life. And you live in rural America, people tend to procreate at younger ages. It's not offended me. But it has surprised me.

But ever since I purchased my glasses holder I've noticed other ladies wearing them. Now, mind you, they're all significantly older than me. But I'm seeing them. For example, last week, I noticed this, like, septuagenarian who was wearing some eyeglasses holder BLING! 

I mean, her beads were WOW! They were kinda like this.... 

I'm not saying I want those. I mean, they're 33 bucks! Right?!?!

And I had no idea that eyeglasses beads were a thing! They are a freaking fashion accessory for the fashionable senior citizen! And they can be so expensive!

Seriously! NO IDEA!!!!

So, now, I'm looking at old ladies, and I'm like, "I'm gonna be like her. She's hot." Because some old ladies are hot, with their hair, and their clothes, and their glasses bling.

It's all about setting your intention.

And about being healthy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Why Daddy?

Why Daddy? Why did the boys tell me to kiss their feet on the way home from school?

I don't know, honey. But I'll talk to their parents and it will stop.

Why Daddy? Why did we have to put him to sleep? Will he wake up?

Because he's an old dog, honey. He's had a really good life. He's probably in heaven chasing tennis balls and playing in the water and lounging in the sun.

Why Daddy? Why did my best friend from last year punch holes in my school picture and stick it in my locker?

You don't know it was her, honey. But do you want to be friends with someone who does that? That's not a good friend. That's a good enemy. Please stay away from her. She's not very kind. 

Why Daddy? Why didn't the truck stop?

I don't know, honey. He must not have seen you. He must not have been paying attention. 

Why Daddy? Why did he break my heart?

It's what happens in life, honey. But your heart will mend. Be patient and give yourself time to grieve. Eventually, you'll meet someone else and the two of you will share a life together.

Why Daddy? Why did I have the child with all the special needs?

I don't know, honey. But he needs you to take care of him. It's going to be a long haul. Take it one day at a time.

Why Daddy? Why did I get breast cancer at the age of 42? I'm too young to have such a horrible disease. 

I don't know, honey. But you got through it and you're a stronger woman because of it.

Why Daddy? Why did he have to get cancer too?

I don't know, honey. I'm sorry. I wish I could fix it.

But Daddy, he may not be able to swallow anymore after his radiation treatments. I'm scared for him.

I know, honey. I am too.

I wish you lived closer. Daddy. I really need a hug from you.

I know, honey. Me, too. 

Monday, June 13, 2016


Today is the first anniversary of the death of my father-in-law.

Today is also the day we found out that my husband's tonsil cancer is considered Stage 4.

OH! Lemme get the good news of the day outta the way--the Beautiful Physician's Assistant (and she is quite beautiful--and she's fuggin smart--bonus!) at the Man ENT's office who gave us this devastatingly shocking news did take out all 17 of the surgical staples today. And lemme just say I'm thankful those goddamned things are gone. No more Frankendaddy. The boys feel much better about it.

So, the four of us made an early trip for a post-op appointment in Seattle. Thank you iPad for helping us through that. And Jack-in-the-Box for nuggets and fries and shakes (not for me; I ate fruit and nuts, drank my water).

Stage fucking FOUR.

The boss level.

The pathology report puts it at Stage Four. Actually, that's Stage IV, according to the American Cancer Society. Goddamned Roman Numerals that nobody can read.  There is no Stage Five or V (again, Roman Numerals--so glad that shit's done!)

The Man ENT took a total of 24 lymph nodes from Randy's neck, and of those 2 tested positive for cancer, and one of them was leaking cancer. Leaking. Cancer.

What. The. Fuck.

Like a balloon that's leaking air....

There's still cancer in his neck, because, as good as the Man ENT is, and god knows he did his best, there's only so much he can do...and he got the best margins as he could. But he couldn't get it all out.

Perhaps that's why he was a bit jittery after surgery.

I picked up on something...but wasn't sure what it was...thought it was a bit normal, you know, since the man had just recently had his gloved hands in my husband's neck.

But he knew. He even said something like "got as much as I could"..."margins were as clean as could be..."

He did his best. The science he has studied for years and his skills enabled the Man ENT to do his best to help my husband.

So, Randy will be starting radiation soon...probably in July. We meet with the new Radiation Oncologist at the Sequim Cancer Center next week. My Radiation Oncologist is no longer there, which is unfortunate. BUT, Lynn the Rock Star Nurse is there, and so I sent her a direct message in Twitter when Randy was first diagnosed, and really, we're going to meet with Lynn and break the new doc in.

According to the Beautiful Physician's Assistant, typically radiation is every week day (Mon - Fri) for 6 to 7 weeks. Right. So, mathing that, that's 30 - 35 doses of radiation.

To his neck.

His fucking neck.

Thyroid gland?


Tasting food?



Feeding tube?


Stop. Stop the fucking ride. I wanna get off. Gimme your hat so I can throw up in it.

I can't.

I can't rally the troops.

I'm exhausted.

I'm scared.

I'm more scared for him than I was for me.

Mine was just a Stage Two (or "II" as the Romans say) tumor. No lymph nodes involved. But mine was a Triple Negative, which means there were no hormones attached to the tumor, so they had to give me the biggest doses of the most effective forms of both chemo and radiation.

He gets more radiation and less chemo. The Beautiful Physician's Assistant said that they typically do chemo in conjunction with radiation, two treatments, maybe three, during the 6-7 weeks he'll be receiving radiation.

I've seen those people at the Cancer Center. The ones who wheel their IV (and I mean "intravenous," not "four") pump on a pole from the infusion area over to the radiation area. And my heart bleeds for them. Every time. Because that takes a lot of energy to do that. It takes an indomitable will to take a chemo infusion and take a does of radiation at the same fucking time!!!!

Randy Anderson has an indomitable will.

I have faith in him.

And I hope that we, that he, will survive.

I'll do my best to be at peace during this stage.

I love you, dude.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


I feel frozen.

It's starting to hit me like a two-ton heavy thing.

We are dealing with a lot as a family.

Nathan's constellation of health issues.

My breast cancer recover.

Randy's tonsil cancer.

We were supposed to go into Seattle today for his post-op, and to get the 17 surgical staples removed.

But last night, as I was driving Isaac home from Hapkido, Randy texted me "Nathan just threw up."

Randy's a sympathetic puker, so I got us home as fast as I could.

It wasn't as bad as I anticipated it to be. Randy did what needed to be done: help Nathan, keep our dog out of the mess, and not throw up himself.

It's not like you really wanna throw up with 17 stainless steel surgical staples in your neck. Right? That would really, really suck.

I got everything cleaned up, and Nathan fell asleep in the living room. When Randy went to take his temperature with the digital forehead thermometer, it wouldn't turn on, so he checked the battery and it had exploded. No thermometer. Acid on Randy's finges. Awesome. This is our life.

Nathan wasn't hot to the touch, and it's not like he could keep anything down; it has to run it's course.

On the way to Hapkido, I had told Isaac about going to the city and getting Daddy's staples out. He was looking forward to riding on the ferry. But he's disappointed about missing school. 

And although he was a little nervous when her told me, his ultimate reply was "Mom, I think I'll be brave enough to go up the Space Needle."

I told him I appreciate his brave heart and his willingness to try, but all we were gonna do was play in a new park and go see The Man ENT. But maybe soon. When Daddy's feeling up for it.... When it's not tourist season.... New park. Pretty much all the parks we'll go to in Seattle will be new. But see what I did there? Yes, sometimes I'm a bad ass.

I also appreciate the fact that I can tell Isaac before we go; and that he keeps it on the down low from his brother. We all know what happens if Nathan knows about something in advance: he gets so wound up and his anxiety goes through the Isaac says, "Nathan gets crazy!" and yes, yes he does.

As I was tucking the boys in to bed last night, I reminded Nathan that if he needed me in the night, he needed to come get me. I asked him if he remembered where I was sleeping. He replied "In the playroom."

I've been sleeping there since Randy and I got home on May 29th because the incision makes him feel more comfortable sleeping at a 45* angle. I need to sleep flatter than that. A few years ago we splurged and purchased a Tempurpedic adjustable mattress. In hindsight, we should've purchased the split version, so that I could still sleep next to my husband.

At least we have an aerobed air mattress.

Nathan ended up coming in to the playroom about 1 am. He had diarrhea and the sheets needed to be changed. It wasn't awful...he's certainly had worse explosions. We were up for about 45 minutes, which wasn't bad...but really I was up way longer than that...because that's what parents do...lay awake in the dark and try to sleep.

Randy didn't sleep well either. We talked this morning. He thought about going to the city by himself but then remembered he hadn't driven since May 25. He decided to go to the college instead. I was a good decision. 

But today, with the grayness and no sun shining through, and the wind...I'm glad we didn't go to the city; the weather was to similar to what it was like the day of Randy's surgery. Besides, it's a long haul to get there and home. Like 8-9 hours. Especially with two boys, one of who doesn't transport easily on a good day. 

So while I'm glad we stayed home, especially because I got to flatten my own bed and take a much needed nap this morning, while Randy went to work for a few hours, I'm disappointed that we didn't go. Because my husband has 17 staples in his neck, and we have been looking forward to today for nearly 2 weeks. 

I offered to take them out for him, but he declined my offer. The Man ENT said that because they're stainless steel surgical staples, they can stay in for life. And that's cool if you're into that. But we're not into that. 

Tenth Floor

The day is gray. The wind is blowing, making it cold. It's the type of day where you want to be inside, curled up with a cup of hot herbal tea, a book, and a blanket.

Instead, I take the elevator up to the tenth floor and quietly step off. My brain is hazy as I glance up at the sign in front of me, I turn to the right and start walking towards the nurse's station. 

I stop at the reception desk and a woman asks who I'm there to see. I say his name and she checks the white board on the wall behind her. I suppose it's in compliance with HIPAA

"He's in ten-forty-three," and offers a smile. I thank her and turn to my left. His room is across the hall and down two doors.  

I take a deep breath and knock softly on the slightly open door. I gently push and it slowly opens, as if by magic. As I step into the room, I hear machines pumping. Something beeps. And then a hiss. I know he's on oxygen; the Man ENT told me when he briefed Jeff and I about how Randy did. He spoke with us when his work was completed, in the surgery waiting area a couple of hours before. 

"He did really well," he told us, after asking who Jeff was. 

I introduced them and they shook hands. 

"A dear friend of ours," was all the explanation he needed. 

"I removed the tonsil. And also took several lymph nodes."

He paused. I nodded. 

"The incision on his neck is much larger than I anticipated. And I used 17 surgical staples to close the incision."

I nodded. 

He continued: "He's in recovery now, and will be there for another hour-and-a-half or so. Then they'll take him up to his room. You'll be able to see him then."

I glanced at the clock on the wall: 11:35 am. 

As if reading my mind, the man who, less than 30 minutes before, had his hands inside of my husband's neck said "Surgery went much faster than I anticipated. And that's not a bad thing!" He smiled at me, like a child who is pleased with himself and a drawing he created.

I smiled and felt some relief.

He continued, "We'll have the pathology's, given the holiday on Monday, we'll likely have the pathology report on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. But maybe a bit longer. It just depends on the lab. We may need to keep him an additional day because of the incision. And I know it takes a lot for you guys to get here, and with making sure the boys are covered, so I'd rather keep him an additional day if needed."

From a fog, I felt myself nod my head and say, "That's fine...whatever he needs. Thank you for helping my husband." Because, really, what else is there to say?

"You can go up and see him in a couple of hours. It's lunch time, so please be sure to take care of yourself. Have you eaten anything?"

"Yes. When you guys went back for surgery, Jeff and I went to get a big breakfast. I'll be sure to eat something before I go up and see him. Thank you."

Jeff nodded, "she's covered. And I'll be sure to get some food in her."

"Alright," he said. "I'll do rounds tomorrow morning, I'm generally on the floor about 6:30 or 7. I'll see you then...?"

"Yes, I'll be there."

We said our goodbyes and he left.

I took a deep breath and looked at Jeff, who, for the past 2-1/2 hours had been providing me with the great distraction of how to make positive changes and beef up my on-line health class. Jeff teaches physics. And astronomy. He's one of the most intelligent people I know, and I trust his advice. He is incredibly generous; he took the day off of work to help us. To help me.

We looked at each other and I started to cry. I couldn't breathe. He gave me a hug. And getting a hug from's like being swallowed whole and wrapped in love. He's a big guy, and really he's a Teddy bear; although his students would likely disagree.

Ninety minutes later, I heard my name being called over the loud speaker in the surgery waiting area. I went to the desk where the man who had paged me said he had a nurse on the phone for me. I picked up when it rang and the nurse told me they had just wheeled Randy into his room, and that I could come up in about 30 minutes.

The first thing I saw was the incision. My heart stopped. I wasn't prepared for the size of it. It started behind his right ear, about half-way up, and then rapidly descended down the length of his neck and stopped where his collar bones meet.

"It's bigger than mine," I thought. Dammnit. Randy wins that one. I made a mental note to ask the doc how big Randy's tumor was.

I counted the staples: 17. It's a prime number; Randy will be pleased. 

More beeping. More hissing.

He was groggy, and coming to a little bit. He opened his eyes and reached for my hand. I took his right hand in mine and whispered in his ear, "I'm here, dude. And I love you."

I stood in silence for a long time, just holding his hand, listening to the machines, and staring out the window. In between the buildings, a black bird dipped and rose on the wind currents. It's wings stretched and strong.

I was envious of it. It had the freedom to go where it wanted, knew how to ride the currents so that it could fly away. I wanted to get out of this hell that cancer creates.

I asked Randy if it was ok to take a pic of his incision and send it to Jeff, who was waiting patiently in the surgery waiting area, on the first floor. He said yes, but now doesn't remember that conversation. Had I been thinking more clearly, I would've gone out and purchased a new 4Runner, gotten his signature...but then we'd have a truck payment and I know neither of us really want that additional stress right now.

I also took the pic because I wanted to make sure that the swelling was going down over time. If the incision was more swollen or less swollen when we got home in a few days, in a week. Sometimes I really do have my shit together and can plan, even during a moment of crisis.

Jeff came up a bit later for a visit. I was coloring, working on a postcard with very intricate details. I took a break. I went into the lounge they have on the floor and cried. My emotions were raw.

The nurses and assistants flitted in and out of his room over the next several hours. There was a note on the reception desk that when Randy buzzed for a nurse to come in, they actually had to walk into his room because his voice was no louder than a whisper. He didn't have the strength to push his voice and reply back to the nurses when they answered his call on the intercom.

It was heading into the evening, and Jeff and I were getting hungry. Randy was swallowing water; one of the rules the Man ENT set was that he wouldn't let Randy leave the hospital until he could swallow water. He joked that the rule should be "can swallow water and don't need morphine" and that was totally logical.

We said our good-byes to Randy, wished him a good night's sleep and walked to the elevators. We rode down in silence, crossed the lobby, and headed to the parking garage, stopping to pay the bill at the machine before getting to the car.

When we got to Jeff's car, I pulled out my pen and asked him if he minded if I had a couple of hits before getting in his car. He said no problem. We had discussed dinner earlier in the day: dim sum. It's his city; he knew where to go. I wasn't driving. I didn't have time to wait for a glass of wine. I needed instant gratification, and after taking two hits on my pen, the marijuana worked, and I felt calmer than I had all day. I was ready to get the fuck out of the hospital and get some delicious Chinese food.