Sunday, November 26, 2006

Four years ago today...

I became a mother. My water broke at home, then I spent 17 hours in pitocin-labor hell, without progressing. I was told that my baby's head was probably too big to pass through my pelvic bones, so a c-section was indicated. I had been vocal about wanting a natural childbirth, but once there seemed to be medical evidence that I needed the surgery, I let go of my desire and agreed. I learned later that Becky's heart rate dropped quickly while they were prepping me; Jim almost missed seeing her be pulled out. It turned out her head was small enough, but she had her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, AND she was holding it. She wasn't doing well at the moment of birth but I didn't know anything was amiss, except that I hadn't heard her cry, and Jim said he couldn't see anything. (He'd seen this tiny purple girl come out and knew something was wrong but wisely said nothing to me.) Then she did cry and I relaxed; everything was fine now as far as I was concerned. The nurse brought her over for a kiss before taking her to the nursery.

It wasn't until seeing her that evening and speaking to a pediatrician the next morning that I learned that she had been in distress and had aspirated meconium. When Jim and I first saw her, she was full of iv's and monitors, laying under a lamp. It was surreal, so far from the picture I'd had in my head of what our birth-day would be like. Fortunately, every time I came to see her in the nursery, another monitor had been removed, and I was able to feed her a bottle after a day or so. I really wanted to nurse her, but her throat was so raw from suctioning that she had no interest in sucking for a while. After 3 days a lactation consultant worked with us; again Becky wasn't cooperating and I was crushed. I came back for her next feeding, and this time a wonderful nurse sat us down together and said "let's just bring her to the breast and see what happens". That miracle girl latched on and sucked for 20 minutes. I was so full of joy and knew that we were going to be all right. I ended up staying in the hospital due to high blood pressure, a legacy of childbearing that I still carry, but they let Becky stay with me for the last 2 days so I started to really feel like a mama.

She was a fun, easy baby from the start; a great nurser and good sleeper. We found that we were more laid-back parents than I'd thought we (okay, I) would be, which really helped her to be less fussy. Her first year passed in the blink of an eye, then her second, and now her third and fourth. Becky is funny, smart, sweet and loving. She loves fun and has a very infectious laugh. Right now she's perfecting writing her name and is making strides at day care in terms of coloring and other skills; Jim and I have been amazed at how she's progressed. She remembers EVERYTHING and asks a lot of questions. We talk about deep subjects like God and the earth, as well as lots of silly topics. She's in love with Diego on Noggin, and learns a lot from him too. (Did you know that baby penguins can't swim until they get their swim feathers?)

She's been a fantastic big sister to Carly; the moments of jealousy of having to "share the limelight" are few and are overshadowed by her obvious love for "her baby". They now play together, rolling around on the floor hugging and giggling. To Carly, Becky is the sun and the moon and it's easy to see why. I feel lucky and honored to be her mommy.

Bitter, sweet and an adventure

On Monday, I attended the funeral of S, a coworker who died of colon cancer. She was diagnosed with her cancer around the same time I had my kidney removed. Unfortunately, surgery could not remove her entire tumor. She endured chemotherapy and a lot of pain, especially at the end. She was only 54 years old, and was a kind and generous woman. We'd talked a few times about both having cancer; I always felt a little "guilty" that I have done so well since my nephrectomy. It's not that I don't deserve a good outcome but it seems unfair somehow that everyone can't have a good prognosis. She will certainly be missed by many people.

The week got happier and more hectic for us. We hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our house this year, and had a total of 21 people there throughout the day, though not that many at any one time. As usual, I didn't get enough done ahead of time (read, housework) so was completely frazzled by the time people were scheduled to arrive. Once they did, though, I calmed down and we all had an enjoyable day. My turkey came out as juicy as I'd hoped, and everyone brought something so we had a ton of food. We celebrated Becky's birthday at the gathering; she didn't mind sharing with the holiday, especially since she got nice gifts from her relatives. I'm still cleaning up today (Sunday) because we've not been home a lot since Thursday, but it will all get done at some point.

I took Friday off work and the girls and I trekked downtown to see Jim, who did have to work, and have lunch with him in the hospital cafeteria. They both enjoyed the trip, especially Becky, who has announced that we need to visit again soon. Lunch in the caf was a big hit, though the grilled cheese sandwich was not to B's liking (what do you mean, there are 3 kinds of cheese in there?). She loved the pierogies, and told me that they are as good as mine. They looked to be just like mine, that is, Mrs. T's!

Then Saturday we went on a driving adventure. My mom had a cousin, B, who has kept in touch with my sister and me after my mom died in 1994. B has 3 adult daughters and several grandchildren, spread across the country. Sis got to go visit B in October, and learned that she was going to Cincinnati to spend Thanksgiving with her middle daughter and family. Sis, BIL and nephew were going to KY to see BIL's mom so they decided to stop by my cousin, S's house on their way back through on Saturday. Sis and I talked and decided that Jim, the girls and I would drive down to meet everyone. Jim wasn't thrilled about the idea of a day in the car, especially with Carly, but he understood that meeting more of my family was important to me. We left the house with videos for the girls to watch on a portable DVD player they'd received for Christmas last year, as well as some other toys, and set off. The trip down went fine; the girls did watch some videos and napped for a while. We only stopped once, to get a bite to eat and let everyone stretch their legs, and arrived as S's house at lunchtime.

They have a lovely home outside Cincinnati, and made us feel welcome as soon as we arrived. We all had sandwiches and talked for a few hours, making sure to take some photos of one another. I learned that my mom's tradition of always making angel food cake for our birthdays had family roots... her aunts all made angel food cakes for family gatherings of all kinds. One of my cousins who was there said there would always be multiple angel food cakes. S and her husband have two adorable daughters, who are 9 and almost 6, and who were adopted from China. The older daughter played games with my nephew (who is 6 1/2) and the younger daughter played princess dress up with Becky. Carly fell in love with their puppy and had a general good time toddling around. We finally left Cincy in the late afternoon and met our good friends in Columbus for dinner and a quick visit. We didn't get home until about midnight, and Jim and I are pretty tired today, but for me it was well worth it to get to spend time with family who I have not gotten the chance to know.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Catching up

I can't believe it's been over a month since I last posted. My job has been crazy-busy all month so even when I have time at home, I don't have energy. On the job front, I start my new job officially on January 1. However, there are lots of projects going on that I need to be part of, so I am attending a lot of meetings. Unfortunately, my current boss hasn't decided yet who is getting my duties of my current job, so I have nobody to offload any tasks to. This has caused me to get very behind on everything. But I just can't put in a lot of extra hours; there is too much going on at home. So I'll do what I can and pray that I'm not missing anything big. Bleh.

We had Carly's birthday party on the 15th and a good time was had by all, especially the birthday girl. We've seen big changes in our baby girl over the past couple of weeks. She's been taking a few tentative steps, and over the weekend started to actually cover some distance before falling. She says hi and bye a lot, and tries to wrestle the phone from me to say hi to whoever is on the other end. Jim pointed out that the seemingly random sound she makes at meals is actually "thank you" or in her verbiage, "enkoo". I asked her on Friday if she had a good day at school and she nodded. She will also nod or shake her head when asked if she wants more milk, etc. She was also really angry at supper that night; turns out she wanted to serve her macaroni and cheese to herSELF and not have Mommy give it to her. (She had been super crabby so I was holding her on my lap and feeding her.)

Becky's birthday is coming at the end of the month and she is beyond excited. This Saturday she is having a party for her daycare friends at Chuck E Cheese. Oh joy. Actually it should be pretty fun. Then, we're having her family party at Thanksgiving dinner, which will be at our house for the first time in several years. She was excited about combining the two parties so I figured it would be fine, even though I promised myself in the past that I'd never let her birthday be overshadowed by the holiday. Next week she will start transitioning from her current room at day care, Young Preschool, to the Preschool room across the hall. Her current teacher mentioned to me today that she doesn't think Becky wants to move rooms yet. I asked Becky in the car if she wants to move to Preschool. Her response: "oh yes! They have a lot of neat things in that room!" lol So I think the teacher was projecting a little. It doesn't hurt that Preschool is $11 less per week... that will be nice. Next spring when Carly moves to the Toddler room we'll see a $17 a week savings. Hey, maybe we'll start getting those credit card bills paid off. :-)

My health status has been fine, yet an ongoing saga. In my last post I mentioned my great CT scans and my oncologist's good attitude about them. My happiness over these results lasted all of 5 days. The next week, I had a regularly scheduled followup with my urologist, Dr. K. He read my scan reports and said that he felt that we need to biopsy the enlarged lymph node in my abdomen. Since I am young, we should be treating agressively, and so forth. Now, in June, when my lung biopsy was ordered, Dr. R had mentioned the possibility of also biopsying the node in the abdomen. However, he said that he didn't think it was necessary at the time, and since he doesn't like introducing sharp objects around vital organs, he would not recommend the procedure at this time. Since the lung was negative, he never mentioned the node again. (By the way, I was talking to my dad's fiancee, to be known from here on out as Stepmom, about my tests. She reminded me that my dad had a lot of nodules in his body that came up in scans but were benign. He was just a "nodule guy". That made me feel a little more relaxed.) Anyhow, Dr. K said "with all due respect to Dr. R we need to do this biopsy". That statement made me somewhat angry. I felt like the biopsy was being ordered more as some kind of assertion of power more than as a necessary test. Dr. K gave my information to the scheduler and told me they would call me. He did mention that the radiologist might not agree to the procedure, and I wasn't surprised, since there is a considerable amount of "fluff" between my skin and the node.

This was on the 4th. Everyone in my life who knew what was going on bugged me about when my biopsy would be. Myself, I was dreading it. A biopsy means missing a day of work, being in pain, feeling anxious, and the possibility of 1) them hitting an organ, causing hemorrhaging and immediate emergency surgery, and/or 2) a bad result. Plus, I was feeling doubt... what if it is cancer? Then should I be mad at Dr. R? So, I emailed Dr. K and his assistant early the next week. He said they were still working on scheduling it but I would hear from them.

I ended up taking that Friday (the 13th, no less) off work. Carly's one-year well check was that day, I had scheduled my first mammogram for that day (more on that later) and I wanted to work on getting ready for Carly's party. Later in the afternoon I was on the phone when I heard a call on my call waiting, which I let roll to voice mail. It was the scheduler from Radiology! I called back and learned that the radiologist had canceled the procedure, and that Dr. K's office would be calling me. They still haven't called, despite an email from me last week. I'm not concerned but more than a little annoyed. I have felt the stress of this uncertainty all summer, and have unfortunately used my eating habits as a coping mechanism... which of course has only succeeded in bringing me back to my highest non-pregnant weight ever. I'm frustrated that this stress continued needlessly. All in all though, as long as I don't get bad news, I can't really complain too loudly.

Jim and I did face reality, by finally meeting with our estate attorney last month and signing our wills. This is never a fun task but it feels good to have things in order.

So on the 13th I also had my first mammogram. That was fun... not. Actually not *that* bad but certainly not pleasant IMO. The tech ws very nice though and I was in and out quickly. The next Tue I got a call from my doctor's office. They saw something on the film. "It's likely just a calcification but you need to have it checked." WHYWHYWHY?!?!? I swear, nothing is easy for me lately. Of course, I couldn't get the retest done at the office near my house because they don't have the needed equipment for the test. So the nurse says, the Breast Center will call you; if you don't hear from them by Friday, call us back. Friday comes, no call. I call my doctor's office back. The nurse I speak to says, "you have to call the Breast Center yourself." NO! I DO NOT! I was told that they would call me and to call back on Fri if I hadn't heard!!! So she starts reading my chart over the phone... the chart reads almost verbatim what I have just said. Then she says, "well, do you have the phone number for the BC?" Nooooo... because again, I WASN'T SUPPOSED TO CALL THEM. I'm not yelling at her but speaking verrrry firmly. So she tells me that she will call the BC herself and have them call me "because you need to have this checked." NO SHIT, SHERLOCK'S SISTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I've been on pins and needles all week waiting for this call. Of course, I grab the phone every time it rings the rest of the day, but no call. No, of course not... they called my house, even though my work phone number is on my electronic chart. Of course, nobody was there when I got home and it's Friday. So I left the woman a message to PLEASE call me at work on Monday. She called back; I can come down to the hospital (where I have to pay for parking and shlep across the street) or the extension to the BC that is <5min from my office. I voted for B even though I'd have to wait a week or so longer for an appointment. The good part about this focused mammogram is that the radiologist reads it while you wait, so you know the results before you leave.

That appointment was last Friday. I arrived, changed into my too-small gown (grr) and waited my turn with an older woman and one in her 30s. After their exams, both were visited by the tech, bearing a piece of paper and the good news that everything was fine. I went in and got squashed again (and boy that hurts worse than the regular mammo) and sat to wait. I thought, if the radiologist comes out, I'm screwed. Fortunately the tech came out with the message "benign calcifications, see you next year". Thank God!!! What a relief. I joked with Jim that it is my right breast that has the calcifications because that breast was always my better producer when I was nursing and pumping. :-)

I'm sure I've forgotten something here, but you all are probably asleep or have bleeding eyes for now, so I'll head for bed now. And I will try to post again sooner.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Our Sweet Caroline - One Year Old!




One year ago I was nervously anticipating a scheduled c-section... anxious about the surgery but so looking forward to meeting our sweet girl. We were so excited to conceive this baby, especially after a loss a few months earlier. Then the pregnancy became my lifesaver, as the doctors took seriously the symptoms I had been having (which of course turned out to be cancer but so far luckily still gone). It was an easy pregnancy, outside of having major surgery in the middle. But even during that, baby stayed to herself and just kept on growing, strong and healthy. At 34 weeks, the ultrasonographer told us she had a lot of hair, as did the OB when he looked at the screen. So we knew we had a fuzzy, active baby on the way. She was even more active in utero than her sister; Rebecca slowed down the last couple of weeks; on the other hand, Jim and I sat together in pre-op watching my tummy jiggle right up until I went to surgery. About two days before her birth, we decided on the name Caroline and the nickname Carly.

The day she was born, I sat at the edge of the operating table,waiting for the anesthesiologist to give me my spinal block, and thought, "I don't think I can do this. Maybe I can just go home and come back another day". But I knew that Jim and all the grandparents were waiting just outside and we were all looking forward to seeing this miraculous person. Jim came in just in time for the surgery to start. As they began to pull her out, she screamed and screamed. This was music to my ears since her sister had been born not breathing. They checked her quickly, gave her to Jim and he brought Caroline to me. I had an oxygen mask over my nose and mouth so I couldn't kiss her, but I did talk to her. She turned and looked at me, and Jim told me that was the first time she'd opened her eyes. I fell in love that minute, with this tiny girl with blue eyes and a full head of dark hair.

Caroline spent the first few weeks of life sleeping; she was not interested in waking up and checking out the world yet. But once she did, she started smiling and hasn't stopped. Everywhere we've gone all year, people have commented on her smiles. She has big blue eyes and long lashes like Rebecca but a rounder face and body; she's definitely not a clone. She's also kept her hair; it started out as a dark fluffy chick-like fuzz which has lightened to a pretty light brown. The top section is very long, so for the past few months shehas sported a Pebbles Flintstone-esque ponytail. We've talked about cutting it to make her hair even in length and because she fights the ponytail some mornings. But ultimately my stylist talked me out of it; instead we'll trim as needed until the rest of the hair catches up. This morning I combed her hair with a middle part to see how it looked and Jim and I were both surprised to see how different her whole face appears with her hair down.

She and Rebecca are already the best of friends; they play togetherand roll around on our bed hugging each other. Becky is very sweet with her; helpful and tender almost all of the time. She loves to fetch things for her, to feed her bits of her own meal, and so on. And Carly saves her best smiles for her big sissy.

We all have so much fun together; she is so interactive these days andyou can tell she's interested in everything and wants to be involved in everything. She stands, can walk while pushing things or holding on to furniture, and can climb like nobody's business. We hear partial words all the time from her; "dau" for dog, "doe" for Dora being some frequent ones. Dora is a big favorite, from Becky's influence. Carly likes to clutch the sides of her Dora toy hamper and kiss "Doe". She also loves to hug and kiss a big fluffy duck that lives in the girls' room. We human family members are treated to kisses at times, too.

I can't imagine our life without her and am looking forward to many more years of love and laughter.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Just clownin' around


I was fiiiiiiiiinally able to download the photo Becky and I took at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Tour...

Friday, September 29, 2006

Rainbows and scans and PVs... oh my

What a day. It started raining Wed evening and rained pretty much nonstop until early this afternoon. Now the sun is shining.

My original plan was to slip out of work for my CT scan and slip back. This is easy to do because the place I get the scans is within 5 min of my job. Well, life had other plans. Wed afternoon our day care called Jim to say that Becky was running a fever, which concerned them because both strep and hand foot an mouth are going around. Super... Jim tried to call me to let me know, but I'd left my cell at home. So I arrived at day care only to meet Jim there. He had already called our ped and they got Becky and appt for Thursday morning. He took off Thursday to take her and then stayed home with her. Turns out she has a mild case of HF&M, and so needed to stay home the rest of the week. So, I scheduled Friday off. I then remembered the scan. Luckily Grandma Sandy, who lives by my workplace, was going to be home this morning. I bundled Becky into the car and drove through pouring rain for about 30 of the 34 miles of my daily cross-county trek. The rain slowed down at the exit before GS's. I happened to glance out the window and was surprised to see not one but two rainbows! One was faint but the other was brilliantly beautiful. I took this as a good omen. I pointed it out to Becky and she deemed it "amazing". As we drove through the development where GS lives, she kept saying "I still see it! Rainbow!" as it reappeared from behind the trees.

We got to GS's house and had her come out to look at the rainbows. Then I left for the medical center. This time I didn't have to drink the hideous Redicat but instead got there an hour early to drink the nasty Crystal Lightish stuff. It's still not a beverage of choice but FAR easier to tolerate than the RC. They called me back and then had a hell of a time finding a vein. I am almost always a hard stick and there were 3 techs working on me, apologizing all the while. After two misses and a blown vein, #4 was the charm. I held my breath as directed for the test, was disconnected and left.

I went back to visit with GS and then took Becky to lunch at Applebee's which is one of her favorite places, lol. We got home at about 1PM and there was a message on my answering machine from Dr. Rini. The message said he had scan reports and to call him on his cell (!), as he was leaving town and idn't want me to wait until he got back to town. With a bit of trepidation I called, though he had said there was no urgency so I had a good feeling. I called him back and I was right. The lung nodule has not changed and he saw nothing else concerning. He is feeling more relaxed, with the caveat of "we can only relax as far as the last scans" but, I don't have to go back now for 3-4 months! YES!!!!!!!

Thank you all so much for your prayers and PVs. I so appreciate them.
I hope you all have a good weekend - I know I will!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

My news

OK, so this seems pretty anticlimactic to me now, since I teased everyone and didn't follow up. I've been waiting for some "official" words to be spoken first but it looks like that may not happen any time real soon.

So here it is... after 16 years of working in employee benefits, I'm making a move. It's a move just down the hall basically, but I will be working as an HR Analyst for our Human Resources Information Services department. My first benefits boss, DJ, is now in charge of HRIS for our organization. She finally got the green light for a major system upgrade that will affect all 10 of our hospitals and will bring us into the 21st century. As soon as she had funding for the project, she approached me and offered me the job. I'll be working on the project, which is slated to go through 2008, as well as doing some 'regular' HRIS work. I will also keep my system hat for benefits, BUT... I will be out of the employee customer service biz. This is the best news of all for me. I am pretty well burnt out of customer service. It's not just the constant stream of complaints and problems from employees, but also the repetition of questions that has gotten to me. I'm tired of giving out toll-free numbers and addresses, and of answering questions about what is covered and where. I will still have internal customers in HRIS but it definitely won't be the same.

It's been 10 years since I worked for DJ directly, though we've worked together on several projects and are good friends. She is a great person to work for, so even though I am nervous about all I need to learn for this new position, it feels like a calculated risk to me. I'll be transitioning over to my new role over the next few months. We're about to embark on our annual benefits open enrollment period, which is my "big project" in my current position. Both DJ and I reassured my current boss that I am committed to working on open enrollment this year, so I'll be wearing two hats for a little while. That is okay with me; I think the gradual move will make it easier for me to cope with the change.

This move is coming at just the right time. I was really starting to question how much longer I could do my current job. We are not well staffed and so the amount of time spent dealing with customer service issues keeps me from getting to learn anything new. I'm looking forward to stretching my brain.

Unfortunately for my current team (there are 4 of us) I will not be replaced, so they have had to look at how to remap the duties assigned to the group. Since I'm taking a piece with me, that helps. Plus we're finally getting the go-ahead to automate or outsource some "tasky" functions that are incredibly time consuming. Still, I feel bad that there will be one less person in the group, but I can't help it. I need to take care of myself and mentally and emotionally; this move is long overdue.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Requesting prayers and PVs for Friday

On Friday (9/29) I am scheduled for a CT scan... it's been 10 weeks since my last scan. We're looking for any growth of the nodule on my lung, further enlargement of the enlarged lymph node(s), or god forbid any new growth. So, things could go in a number of directions depending on what the test shows.

I am nervous as hell about this. The anticipation would make me jittery already, but then I went to a patient education meeting at The Gathering Place last week. This is the second one they've had in Cleveland since I joined the Kidney Cancer Association. The speaker at the last meeting was Dr. Rini, who was not yet "my" doctor. This time it was a colleague of his, Dr. Garcia. He had a slide presentation but didn't use it, instead just answering patient questions and talking about current medications, etc. He seemed like a nice, kind man but boy did he give the negative spin on everything. I won't go into details but basically if you have metastatic kidney cancer (meaning the disease has moved to other parts of your body) your treatment options aren't great. He gave us some pretty depressing examples of things that have happened to his patients. As he talked you could see the participants of the meeting getting increasingly antsy and depressed. Toward the end the facilitator of the meeting, sensing the crowd's feelings, stepped in and said, you know, there has been a lot of fairly morbid discussion here. Could we end on a high note? Isn't it true that if the disease is caught early it can be "cured" so that there would be no reoccurrence? Well, either the Dr. was dense or something because his answer was in the vein of "yes but..."

I walked out thinking, if the disease is growing in me, I am screwed. I know this is not a positive attitude but I just felt so frightened and upset. I feel like I need to just keep praying that the things they found in June are just anomalies.

I promise to update the blog next week when I talk to Dr. Rini; please send some prayers and positive vibes my way if you can.

Forty two

I celebrated my 42nd birthday on Monday. My "advancing" age doesn't really bother me per se, but it does prickle at me in various small ways. Every so often when taking a survey or something like that where I have to put myself in an age range, I realize that I'm not in the "30s" ranges anymore. We have a lot of younger employees in my area these days too, and I am now old enough to be their mother, which amuses me. Speaking of motherhood, I am an "old" mommy to be having young children. So far it hasn't been an issue but I wonder sometimes how the age gap will affect us as the children grow up. I get a pang sometimes, wondering if I will get to see my grandchildren, but I have to force those pangs to bounce off me and disappear to keep from feeling too sad about it.

I was telling Jim the other night that most of the time I don't "feel" like an adult. It seems to me that I should feel older and more mature, or settled, or something. Jim had an interesting take on this, which I agree with. When we were kids, our parents weren't all as involved in pop culture, weren't as in tune with what the "youngsters" were doing. So there definitely seemed like there was a generation gap. I like that idea; makes me feel less like I'm an emotionally stunted loser. :-)

Monday, September 18, 2006

The things we do for love

Last Tuesday, it was a gray, drizzly day, starting in the afternoon. Usually Tuesday is Gym Class Day for Miss Becky, but not last Tuesday. Instead, we went to Great Northern Mall to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Tour. Set up in the parking lot was a caravan of trucks and booths. Grover from Sesame Street was there, leaning over a stage - I think the rain was getting him down, so to speak. Due to the weather, the stage show had been moved indoors, but we didn't mind. Becky and I walked around to the different booths. A large truck housed a multi-media display of the history of the parade. There were some neat things to see, including Tom Turkey's head. From there B and I skipped across the lot to a booth where they had the actual glasses worn by Chicken Little - they were very big! Then we got in line at the next booth, where a clown and pirate were making balloon animals. Becky requested a puppy and the pirate obliged. It started drizzling harder at this point and so I asked Becky if she wanted to go home or go to the last booth we had not yet attended. No, in Becky's mind we must experience Everything, so we got in line. At this booth the ladies dressed each person in a Macy's apron, a ruffled collar and a clown hat, then gave each person a red ball nose. Then, they took your picture against a green screen. On the computer, the background showed the parade. I had to hold Becky on my hip because she was too small to show up well on the photo. They were nice enough to take a second shot when they realized how small she looked on the display. We received a card witha code on it and were told to check in the next day to download the photo. But bummer... it STILL doesn't work, six days later. I have been waiting to get the photo before posting about our experience, but no luck, even though I received a reply from a customer service person saying that they are looking into the problem. If the picture ever surfaces, I'll post it.

Was it the best experience of the summer? No. But it was worth a few minutes of our time and a few raindrops to see my little girl dance excitedly around the parking lot.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Watch this space

In the next week or so, I have some news that I'm not yet at liberty to share.

No, I am not pregnant, though last week I dreamed I was, and went in to my boss to announce the pregnancy and give notice that I would be quitting after the baby was born, as I would not be able to pay for day care for three kids.

Really... I am not pregnant.

Becky funnies

Speaking of the grocery store, we generally shop once a week. Sometimes both girls will go with me, which gives Jim the opportunity to work on things at home uninterrupted. Other times, like last weekend, Carly is napping so Becky and I go by ourselves.

The store we shop at, Heinen's, has a salad bar and 3 hot soups every day. Sometimes we bring home some soup or salad for a "treat" lunch at home. Recently they put two small tables and four chairs near the soup and salad bars. Ever since they did this, Becky has been very interested in eating lunch at the store. (We've done this at another store, and she thinks it is great fun.) When we were there 2 weeks ago, she asked if we could eat lunch at the store. I told her no, because we had already filled our cart, so I explained that the frozen food would melt, etc. I promised that we could eat lunch there the next time.

Forward to last Sunday. It's just B and me. As we walk in, she reminds me of my promise. OK then, I guess I need to keep it! First we go to the soup area to see what they have. Chicken noodle, B's favorite... check. Tomato basil bisque, Mommy's favorite... check. We hit the salad bar next. B's idea of salad bar fare is one hard boiled egg, some cut strawberries and some shredded cheese. She eschews lettuce of any kind as well as pretty much all vegetables. She saw and asked for pasta salad. I told her that she probably would not like the dressing, but she insisted, so I got a little. I handed her the container while I got my salad. She said "I'll just take this to the table and start eating." I had to explain that we had to pay for it first. I grabbed some salad, we got 2 small soups and a bottle of water, and went to the register. The cashier was amused by our lunch plan; as we ate, so were every elderly lady walking by. But B had a grand time. I told her that we can't do this with C until she's older, but that B and I can do it again sometime as a special treat. :-)

CTTS: the other night Jim was doing B's bedtime routine with her (jammies and story in our room, lay down with her in her bed in the girls' room). I was downstairs, uncharacteristically watching TV. B comes down and announces "Daddy won't read me a story." I told her "this is between you and dadddy; you need to discuss it with him." She went back upstairs and I could hear them going through the routine. Later when I came up, Jim told me what happened. She came up the stairs and met him at the bedroom door. She said "come with me... we need to talk" and the went to the bed and lay down. B laid there for about a minute, staring at the ceiling as if to collect her thoughts. Then she said, "Mommy and I were wondering why you wouldn't read me a story." LOL. (Jim did read a story btw)

Grocery TV carts?

I heard about this on All Things Considered on my way home from work yesterday. In Georgia they are test marketing shopping carts with a car area for kids to ride in. That is not new, but the tv screen in the car is. Parents can rent them for $1 and the kids can watch one of three videos while the parents shop.

Wow.

At first the story made me angry. The more I thought about it and after listening again, I was just sad for those kids and families who would use these carts on a regular basis. It seems like another example of having to have some sort of diversion at all times. So many kids spend so much time watching tv and videos, playing video and computer games. Now they can watch in a shopping cart. I can't imagine using this. Yes, it's a challenge sometimes to keep up conversation with Becky, watch that Carly isn't either grabbing everything she can reach or attempting to consume the metal bars of the shopping cart, while trying to actually do our shopping. On the other hand, we talk about the food, admire the produce, and have a generally good time when we're at the store. The mom and grandfather interviewed for the piece both made it sound like kids are a bother to be shuffled off to give us peace and quiet. Maybe it's because I work full time, but the time I get to spend with the girls is extra precious to me. Yes, I have meltdown times too, and shopping in stores like Kohl's with one adult and two small girls is not exactly a fun experience. But, I keep thinking about how I talk to the girls and how I act with them and I always want them to feel cherished, not inconvenient. There are times when I don't meet that expectation of myself, but I keep working on it.

By no means am I a perfect parent. By no means are my kids video-free. But, I hope I keep vigilant and don't slip into the attitude of the people I heard interviewed today.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Odds and ends; out of sorts

I haven't updated in a while, because I feel like I've been all over the place, mentally, and didn't feel like I had anything cohesive or coherent to say. Today isn't really any different, but I figured I'd post an update anyhow.

In good news, the girls are thriving this summer. Becky is having a lot of fun and is growing taller by the hour, I think. She's very emotional these days; cries whenever she doesn't get her way, stomps off, and uses grunts and moans when frustrated. We're working on this, getting her to communicate more. The rest of the time she is delightful. Last weekend we went to the zoo and she had a blast. We didn't do the whole zoo, but did go to the aquatics building and she studied each and every tank of fish. We went also to see an exhibit called Touch where you can actually touch a stingray and a small shark. B was very excited until we actually got to the tank. Our friend L and her son N were with us; he's 10 and has been to the exhibit before so he was doing his best to encourage Becky to try it out. After several minutes she finally got her nerve up to stick her arm into the water but then the animals were not swimming close to the edge. Oh well.

Carly loved the zoo too; the primates were her favorites. She was sunny and happy the whole time, and enjoyed being carried around by L. We have been bad about getting to the zoo this summer but we'll have to try to squeeze in another trip before it's too cold. We didn't get to see some favorites, like elephants and giraffes, so I promised the girls we'd go back.

Carly is so much fun these days. She is standing regularly and crawls at lightning speed. One of her favorite things to do is to try to cram her mouth with dog food before Jim or I get to her. I noticed today though that when she sees me approach, she takes the food out of her mouth on her own. Good girl! She is totally off baby food; refuses it completely, and really enjoys what we are eating. She fiiiiiiiiiinally popped one of her top front teeth and I think the other is on its way.
She waves and sometimes claps, laughs delightedly at the dogs, her parents and especially her sister. The two of them can get giddy at a moment's notice; it's hilarious and heartwarming to witness.

I'm glad for this distraction because I am feeling at loose ends. I am so not enjoying my job these days. We're terribly busy and I want to learn some technical skills that would help me, but I am continually sidetracked by phone calls and emails from employees. A group of us were told earlier this summer to basically suck it up and start working a few more hours a week. The meeting where we were given this message was basically confrontational on the part of our Boss. We (four in my work group) had prepared information on phone call tracking we had done, since the constant interruptions affect all of us. Before the meeting he had told me that he had a possible plan to hire someone to do more of the phone work, and be more of a clerical help. Well, we get to the meeting to find that the Boss has had a change of heart. Apparently his Bosses think that we can't hire anyone else, and at the same time we just shouldn't be so "transactional" in our duties. Meanwhile our employees have been used to a great deal of HR hand-holding over the years, and aren't going to just stop contacting us about every little thing.

So, we aren't going to be getting any help in that area, though they did promise some changes that would make our jobs less "transactional". However, these changes take time and money. The Big Boss promised when he started here a couple of years ago to bring us "into the 21st century". Then he found out that the money it takes to do that is in very short supply, as my employer has never been good about funding our infrastructure.

As for me, I feel like I am increasingly out of step with my supervisor and my boss. It's hard to describe but I just feel like I am always answering wrong, or don't have something they want, etc. I do feel a lack of interest in most of what I do at work these days, and I know that is probably a lot of the difference in how I view what's going on. It's probably time for me to move on, but that thought brings up all my fears, of fitting in somewhere else, of being competent to do a different job. Plus I have invested a lot of time where I am. I get a good amount of vacation time... we get our hours as PTO or Paid Time Off hours and other than for the 6 standard holidays we get, I can use them however I want. With two small kids this is very important to me. Quitting altogether is out of the question right now financially; even with daycare for 2 factored out, we would struggle on one salary right now. We're working on getting the $$ situation to a better place, so maybe that would be an option in the future, but not right now. Same with going to a part time job. Plus, I'm paid well enough that if I were to go to another employer, I'd likely have to be a manager to maintain or improve on my salary. This doesn't interest me at ALL. I have no desire to supervise oother people, nor would I personally find managing to be challenging. Sometimes I think maybe I've reached my Peter Principle point.

So, my options are to examine my current position and find ways to improve my skills and attitude, or to watch for other opportunities at my employer. I think I'll do both.

My health has been fine; I'm just in summer limbo right now, since my next CT scan is not until the end of September. It's been nice to enjoy our summeras a family, though there is still a sword possibly dangling over our heads. In my heart I feel that the things they saw in June were just anomalies and that I will remain cancer free. However, my head tells me not to just assume that all is well forever. Maybe once I've had more good scans, my head will start to agree with my heart.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Baby Talk

The magazine that is. And yes, I'm still around. It's just that during the day I am supposed to be working, :-) and when I'm home I am rarely sitting down at the computer. When I am, it's just to catch up on email or whatnot.

Anyhow, if you hadn't already heard about this, the cover of the latest issue of Baby Talk magazine caused a stir recently, since it shows a baby nursing. Oh horrors, some mammary skin has been shown on the cover of a magazine! Why is it okay for all of the men's magazines (and I'm not talking about Playboy et al but rather Maxim, FHM, etc) to show very scantily clad women on their covers, and nobody says a word? In an article I read about the Baby Talk controversy, a woman they interviewed said something to the effect of "let's face it, a breast is a sexual thing". Um... I think you have this backwards, ma'am. Breasts were designed by nature to feed our babies. Somewhere along the way people decided to make them into objects of desire. Other criticisms I've read, both in articles and on mommy email lists I belong to, say "these women need to keep covered up and stop flaunting their breasts". Are there really that many breastfeeding women who are trying to flash us all??? I'm sure somewhere, some chick gets some kind of perverse pleasure out of doing just that, but as for the rest of us, uh, no! No nursing mom I know wants people looking at her breasts while she nurses. Generally nursing moms just want everyone else to treat what she is doing matter-of-factly, and don't really want attention drawn to the actual breastfeeding.

Some other critics say "there is a time and a place for nursing; it shouldn't be out in public." I say, why not? States keep passing laws saying that women can breastfeed anywhere that they can legally be. We're slowly beginning to get nursing moms and babies out of dirty public restrooms and cramped cars. Would you want to eat your meal in a public restroom??? I myself was never comfortable NIP (nursing in public) but that is just due to the size and shape of my breasts and body. I would have been one of those flasher mommies if I had! lol
Had I had an easier time with uncovering just what I wanted to uncover, I would have been happy to nurse any-and every-where I needed to. In my case, too, Becky was always really distracted by talking, tv or pretty much any ambient noise so it was easier to take her somewhere quiet to nurse. Funny, now when she watches TV we could drop a bomb next to her and she wouldn't flinch!

I will happily give Jim good-daddy kudos for a comment this morning. We had the local news on while we were all getting ready to get out the door. They had a news story about how breast feeding "can save you $1000 a year over formula feeding". Jim immediately quips, "let's not mention all the health benefits, let's just talk about saving money". I love my lactivist hubby!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Cell phone rant

OK, cell phones have become ubiquitious in our society. Everyone uses them, all the time, even when some of us think they shouldn't be on them. I'm not going to bother to comment on that.

Instead I am going to rant about this... If you are trying to multitask by making calls on your cell phone to conduct some kind of life business while you are driving or doing other activities, DO NOT get an attitude with the person on the other end because YOU do not have a pen handy or hands free to write down information. If you are not able to write something down while you are on the phone, then PERHAPS YOU SHOULD NOT BE MAKING THIS CALL AT THIS TIME. It is not the fault of the person on the other line that they have to give you some information; after all, that is what you are asking for, isn't it?????

Oh and while I am ranting... even if you are at home or somewhere else where you have your hands free... don't call somewhere SPECIFICALLY to get a phone number for something (oh like calling your employee benefits office to get a number for your medical insurance company or something) and then when the benefits person says, "OK, the number is 1-800..." suddenly stop them and say "oh wait, I need to go get a pen". Go get a pen? GO GET A PEN? Hello??? You called to ask for a phone number. What did you think was going to happen? Did you think the benefits person would magically transfer you??? And even if they did, wouldn't it be a GOOD IDEA to have the phone number they are transferring you to, in case you get disconnected???

OK, I think I have worked in customer service a little too long... but I feel a little better now...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

CTTSD 7/24

That's Cute Things They Say and Do, for those of you unfamiliar with one of the kazillion internet acronyms.

Carly is just hilarious these days. She has decided that she doesn't like baby food at home any more, though she will eat it at day care. She is doing well trying out what we're eating. Last night was broiled pork chops and pierogies. I didn't know if she would eat the tiny bits of pork but she did, and she *loved* the pierogie. It was a messy time, but very cute. Of course my camera is currently hiding but next time I hope to get some pics.

She's starting to try to communicate verbally; she says "uh oh" at times. Her favorite sound right now is "OT!" (rhymes with hot) She just seems to like the sound of it; she doesn't say it in any context that we can detect but if we say it to her, she'll repeat it back, which cracks us all up. She and I were OT-ing our way through the grocery store on Sunday, much to the amusement of other shoppers.

Last night I was trying to put her down for the night, as she was super tired and crabby. Silly girl doesn't nap much at day care so is verrrrry tired by the evening. Usually she'll drink all or part of a bottle, then lay on my (or Jim's) chest until she is asleep or almost; then we lay her in her crib. Well, last night she was not going down! She rolled onto my chest and laid there for a couple of minutes, making me think she was drifting off, then kept popping her head up and grinning at me. At one point she crawled up my chest, pressed her forehead to mine and stared into my eyes! Then the next time she crawled up my chest she pressed her open mouth to mine... I think she was trying to kiss me. So sweet! Makes it hard to be annoyed that she was not falling asleep. Finally Jim came up to try his hand and she finally dropped off.

She is quite the dolly these days...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I've been tagged

Natalie tagged me so I'll be a nice girl and play along: :-)

1. Have you ever been searched by the cops?
Nope, not that I have anything to search for.

2. Do you close your eyes on a roller coaster?
No, I like to see where I'm headed.

3. When's the last time you've been sledding?
Not since I was a kid though I pulled Becky around once or twice when she was a toddler.

4. Would you rather sleep with someone else, or alone?
I sleep most comfortably with my husband next to me -
he's my "white noise". :-)

5. Do you believe in ghosts?
In theory no, but stories about encounters with spirits or other-worldly things creep me out so I guess I do, a little.

6. Do you consider yourself creative?
No, though I would like to be and think I should try to develop that part of myself.

7. Do you think O.J. killed his wife?
Absolutely.

8. Jennifer Aniston or Angelina Jolie?
Neither. I am sick of the media talking endlessly about the lives of entertainers. It's just ridiculous. Just like I don't care that we haven't seen pictures of Suri Cruise. So what?

9. Can you honestly say you know ANYTHING about politics?
Just enough to know to shut up when talking to someone who follows it more closely. I think the state of the media coverage makes it very difficult to look at politics objectively.

10. Do you know how to play poker?
Nope, and don't really have a desire to learn. And whassup with all the poker shows on TV? If we have nothing better to do than to watch other people play cards on tv, then we need to develop some hobbies. :-)

11. Have you ever been awake for 48 hours straight?
No, though it felt like it when the girls were newborns.

12. What's your favorite commercial?
Can't think of one; I watch so little tv these days due to lack of time. And when I do watch it's taped so I skip past them.

13. Who was your first love?
Brett Simon, first grade. We got married on the playground on the merry-go-round (get it? marry-go-round?) Actually I don't think we ever divorced so I guess I'm a bigamist!

14. If you're driving in the middle of the night, and no one is around you, do you run a red light?
No, unless I felt I was in danger. I'm just not a law-breaker. Too worried about "doing the right thing", lol.

15. Do you have a secret that no one knows but you?
I can't think of anything that just I know... there are plenty of things that only one person or a few people know about, but nothing only I know.

16. Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees?
Neither... Cleveland Indians, hapless as they are. NEVER the Yankees (no offense Jacqui, but it's a Cleveland thing!)

17. Have you ever been Ice Skating?
Loved it as a child. We skated at a local rink and in an icy depression in the woods behind our house. I think I'm too scared of falling now. However, I would like to try rollerblading.

18. How often do you remember your dreams?
A lot, though they don't make sense to me because I don't spend much time trying to analyze them.

19. What's the one thing on your mind?
That I don't have time to get done everything I want/need to.

20. Do you always wear your seat belt?
Absolutely!!!

21. What talent do you wish you had?
I wish I could sing in tune. Pretty soon my kids are going to tell me to stop singing out loud. :-)

22. Do you like Sushi?
No, though maybe I would if I tried it with someone knowledgeable.

23. What do you wear to bed?
Nightshirt usually, kind of like a big t-shirt.

24. Do you truly hate anyone?
I don't think so... there are people I dislike extremely but hate is really strong. I had it drummed into my head as a kid that we don't "hate" people and that seems to have stuck.

25. If you could sleep with one famous person, who would it be?
??? Oh boy, I don't know???

26. Do you know anyone in jail?
I just heard that a guy I went to high school with is back in jail. Nobody that I personally know, luckily for them. :-)

27. What food do you find disgusting?
I can't abide the smell or taste of brussels sprouts. Natalie - I like creamed corn but will remember not to serve it if I ever have you to dinner! lol

28. Have you ever made fun of your friends behind their back?
Not so much made fun but talked about them, either to my husband or to other friends, discussing things they are doing that maybe I don't agree with. I'm sure they've done the same to me.

29. Have you ever been punched in the face?
No, thank goodness, though I'm sure some of the employees at my job have wanted to at times.

30. Do you believe in angels and demons?
I do believe in angels and have asked for their protection at times.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Scan results from 7/14

Went on Friday for my comparison CT scans of my chest to pelvis - nothing like looking at all the innards. :-) I had to drink 2 bottles of redi-cat aka "prep" aka the most disgusting drink I ever encountered. While I am pretty capable of doing whatever is needed to get through a medical procedure, drinking this stuff was a challenge at best. Going into detail brings yucky flashbasks, so suffice it to say you would not like this drink either.

The test itself was easy. The tech was able to find a vein for the IV contrast in only the second spot he tried, and with only one poke to my as previously mentioned shy veins. The appointment was scheduled for 9AM and I walked out of the office at 9:12. Beachwood Radiology rocks!

This morning I emailed Dr. Rini about my results and he called back right away. Good news... everything is exactly the same; nothing has grown. He remains "unconvinced" but agreed that this is good news for now. He wants me to have a repeat scan in 8-12 weeks, and wants me to have it at Beachwood to use the same machine. His nurse, Jeanie, emailed me to let me know the appointment is scheduled for 9/29 - I had told her any day/time was fine but that I would prefer not to have to drink redi-cat on my birthday, which is 9/25. Here was her reply:

"Now, as an early birthday gift, I have arranged for you to NOT DRINK THE REDI-CAT (unless you prefer to!).
Instead, arrive ONE HOUR BEFORE your appt., tell them that you need to drink the contrast (that is not RediCat) that they have there, per my conversation with Diana in CT today. They have this stuff available for people who either (1) "forget" to drink the RediCat or (2) can't tolerate it (I told them that you can not tolerate it.)

Patients say that it's much better tasting than the RediCat (and it's only 1 bottle vs. 2!)"

Jeanie rocks!

I am very happy; I get to enjoy the rest of the summer without being on treatment.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

An explanation?

I was reading More magazine the other night... yes, as an over-40 woman I am now reading an over-40 magazine... and in an article it was mentioned that the menstruation process burns about 500 calories per cycle. Hmm, says I, I have always been irregular... Eureka! This is why I am fat! Now, my regular-as-a-clock fertile-myrtle sisters who are holding on to extra pounds, I don't have an explanation for you. But I will keep looking!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Finally an update!

Sorry for not posting for a while... too busy during the day, too tired in the evening!

Dr. Rini called me the morning of the 23rd to discuss the results of the biopsy. Luckily, Jim was in his office at that time so I was able to conference him in. As Dr. R put it, it was a good news/bad news situation.

Good news is, the biopsy showed no evidence of cancer. That IS good news.

But, it was still inconclusive as to what the nodule is. So it still could turn out to be cancer. In Dr. Rini's words, "we're not out of the woods yet."

For now, the game plan is for me to have CT scans again next week, which will be 6 weeks from last scans, to see if the nodule grows or changes, or if the inflamed lymph node changes. If there is no growth, then we'll rescan in 2 months. If there is growth, then I will likely have another lung biopsy. A biopsy of the lymph node is also possible but less likely. It's deep in my abdomen, and as Dr. R noted, " there are a lot of large blood vessels nearby and we don't like to put sharp things near them."

Dr. Rini said that it would not be a good idea to start chemo now, so I at least have a few more weeks chemical free, relatively speaking, and hopefully longer. He also told us that as kidney cancer goes, the amount of disease we are currently potentially looking at is very small. It's not the answer I was dreading, nor is it the answer I was hoping for. The people I've told have mostly all rejoiced and told me to think positively about it. I feel more reserved about it, however, and Jim, who is generally more pessimistic than I am, is even more circumspect about it. I want to celebrate but can't while there are still trees in front of me.

It's good to not have heard "the lung nodule is malignant" but frustrating to be in a hold pattern. The panic I felt in early June has mostly receded, except for a moment here or there. I'm trying to just have fun and enjoy summer with the girls. OTOH this latest bump in the road pushed Jim and me to do something we have been talking about doing for years; we consulted an estate attorney about having wills drawn up. It's not a fun topic of conversation but we really should have done it before Becky was born. Now, in a few weeks, we'll have accomplished something from our long-term "to do" list. Part of me feels good, like having my ducks in a row (at least this one big duck) will ensure that it won't be needed. The other part of me looks at the situation like it's a story or a movie... "it was a good thing Liz got her will done when she did, since things deteriorated rapidly." Do I think things will deteriorate rapidly? NO. But it's still a scary prospect.

I've been feeling like I need to really clean out the house, too. It's filled with disorganized junk and I can't believe it's gotten so bad. Yeah yeah yeah, we both work full time and have two small children to take care of, I know. But still... I need to get a grip on things here. I did some work on Tuesday while we were home for the holiday; we purposely made no plans for the 4th so we could do stuff at home. I started reclaiming the laundry room/pantry... not a big room but it's a start.

OK, this has gotten way too heavy. I do NOT want this to be a cancer blog... I refuse to have that situation rule my life! I now bring you a moment of silliness:


And one more:




Some people refuse to smile nicely for the camera these days... :-)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Photo time




Babygirl is 8 months old! And yes, that is a ponytail on her head. I thought I would never be a mom who did that kind of stuff but it is really cute on her. We call it her "Pebbles" though a couple of people I know call it a palm tree.









My sweetie at Day out with Thomas in May - she was in her glory all day.

Poor daddy

Now for an amusing story, to me anyhow. As I mentioned in my last post, on Tuesday Jim took Becky to her weekly gym class, since I wasn't feeling up to it. Class starts at 6:30, and it's a struggle sometimes to get there on time. When she first started going to class, Becky would get all worked up if we were late. Twice she dissolved into hysterics because we were less than 5 minutes late, and she refused to enter the class. We finally worked through that, or so I thought.

Jim picked up both girls from day care, stopped at Arby's for a bite to eat and headed for the gym. Poor Becks was out of her routine since I do pick up, and I usually take her to class, so she started getting anxious. She only ate a couple of bites of her food, telling Jim "I'll eat after class". They arrived at the gym at 6:28. They could see a group of kids sitting in a circle and Becky freaked out; ditched her shoes and socks and ran in. The teacher gently told her that she is in the *next* class and sent her back to the lobby. She ran back to Jim and Carly in tears, sobbing "I'm in the next class" and "I'm going to throw up" then proceeded to do so. Turns out the lack of appetite was a good thing. Jim got her cleaned up, sent her in with the right kids, and she was fine.

When they got home he told me what happened, and terrible, unsympathetic mommy and wife that I am, I laughed. Becky didn't admit to her actions but instead told me that she remembered not to cut in front of any of her classmates, like we had discussed.

I almost wish I'd been there to see it. Almost.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sore to the core, but okay

The next step is over now; I've had the biopsy. It went as expected, though I'm sore and tired now. When we arrived at the hospital in the morning, the first challenge was finding a vein for an IV line. I have notoriously shy veins, so I am used to being poked more than once and having blood drawn anywhere between my elbows and knuckles. Today they got me by my right wrist, on the second poke. I have to say, the nurse was good, because right now I only have two tiny pink marks with no bruising. Since I bruise very easily, this is a tribute to Nurse Dee Dee and her venipuncture skills!

We went back to the CT room where we met Dr. Mohammed who explained the procedure. They used the CT to locate the nodule, numbed my skin and went in with a needle. He told us there is a 15% chance of a pneumothorax. All my years of ER watching didn't educate me on that term, so I learned that is a collapsed lung. That kind of knocked me for a loop.

I said goodbye to Jim and sent him off to work for a couple of hours, and they began. It went well, but when they got to the lung and nodule, it was just like when I had the kidney biopsied - major pain. At first I thought I must be feeling my lung collapse but they kept saying I was doing really well. The whole procedure took less than 45 min then I went to the recovery room for about 2 hours. I got some Tylenol and hurt a fair amount, but fell asleep for about an hour and felt better afterward. At about noon they paged Jim and sent me for a chest xray. Xray was behind as usual; it was great to have Jim there to talk to. All over the Clinic they have TVs, mostly all tuned to CNN. (Oddly, the TV in the CT scan waiting room is not, but that is unusual.) While I was waiting, CNN International was on, discussing issues related to today being Refugee Day. I am certainly sympathetic to these problems, but was having a hard time watching the images, and wished they would just shut off the flatscreen in the xray waiting area. I finally got in and it was confirmed that my lung was okay. Jim and I went to the cafeteria for lunch, then walked to meet his dad's car, as Dad had offered to pick me up so Jim wouldn't have to take more time. That was a long, slow walk. While walking we met a friend of mine from work, D, so now she knows what's going on... I haven't told everyone yet, until I know more.

I got home around 3 and was asleep by 3:30, getting about a 2 1/2 hour nap. I'm up now so I'll be awake and aware when everyone gets home. Tonight is Becky's gym class so Jim picked up both girls, took them for something to eat, then straight to class. I'm really looking forward to everyone being home.

They told me it takes 3-5 days to get the biopsy results, so I'll call my nurse on Friday, and will of course let everyone know what we learn. Thanks to all of you for your prayers and PVs; they are so appreciated.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I have a date...

for my biopsy. I am to report to the hospital at 8:30 next Tuesday, June 20. They will do the biopsy under CT guidance. When I had the kidney biopsied, it was done under ultrasound due to my pregnancy. Then, they couldn't give me anything to knock me out or twilight me due to my pregnancy. They told me they don't anesthetize for lung biopsies, so I'll be 2 for 2 for awake biopsies... oh joy. But it will be over soon enough, then the true waiting will begin. It takes 3-5 days to get results, so I won't know anything until the end of next week at least. I'm expecting the worst, hoping that maybe somehow it's just "gunk", but hoping that they can tell me that it is definitively *something* one way or another. With the kidney the biopsy was inconclusive, though that turned out to be malignant as we know.

I will ride in to the hospital with Jim that day. I told him not to take off the morning and sit down there; it's a waste of his time. They can page him when I am done and ready to go home. He'll drive me home probably around noontime.

It will be good to have an answer, at least.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Bad news

Had my scans last week - abdominal CT and chest xray. Had behind me lots of "clear scan" PVs.

Well, the scans were not clear, dammit.

The CT showed a couple of lymph nodes that looked off (I forget the exact term). The dr. said that happens a lot post surgery. Normally he wouldn't think twice about it, but with the aggressive nature of the tumor he removed last year, he wants to watch them. So I have to have another CT scan in3 months instead of 6 or 12.The bigger problem to me was on my chest xray. It showed some sort of"nodule" on my left lower lung. Dr. said xray is not very accurate so he wanted me to get a chest CT and consult with an oncologist so we can see what it is or isn't. They were able to squeeze me in for theCT that evening and got me an appointment for the oncologist the next morning. I started crying in my dr.'s office, naturally. He consoled me by saying that 1) he doesn't see cancer, tumors,etc in the kidney area, which is good, and 2) it's likely nothing but he just wants to make sure. I had brought him new pics of Carly and he told me helooks forward to me giving him her college graduation photo. :-)

Fast forward to the next morning. What a day... I was at the hospital until 11, went to work, ate quickand caught up on emails and voice mails, and then was in meetings from1-4.The news is unfortunately not good, though still not certain. I met Dr. Rini and he was very nice, as well as extremely professional and knowledgeable. He told me that it's likely that both spots are malignant, given the aggressiveness of the original tumor, and the fact that the tumor, while confined to the kidney, had invaded the main blood vessel. The lymph node is too deep to get to, but sometime next week they will biopsy the lung. There is still a small chance that it is just a calcification left over from an infection, but Dr.Rini doesn't think so.I f it is malignant then I get to enter Chemo-world. I know a little about it from what I have read, but don't really feel like thinking about it right now. :-) There is plenty of time to learn about it. I have decided that I will treat whatever I have as aggressively as possible because I have things to do, dammit. Mostly watch two babies grow up. That is what is breaking my heart the most... the thought of leaving my two precious girls. I feel bad for Jim too of course but in a different way; he would be very sad to lose me but would at least understand it as well as anyone can understand death. Anyhow, it's my hope that I'll be one of those long term survivors. Dr. R couldn't give me any kind of prognosis at this point, but did say that the fact that I am young and otherwise healthy works in my favor. No kidding on that... they sent me for bloodwork. In the lab I could hear the techs verifying other patients' dates of birth (one of those JCAHO things they have to do to not make mistakes). I was the youngest person there by about 18 years. Dr. R. also noted that this is the "best" point to be finding this cancer if itis to be found at all. I like to think that the fact that it's in only two places is a good thing too, all things considered.

So I get to "enjoy" a roller coaster of emotions, lucky me. This really really really sucks. I will go through anything I have to if it will give me more good time with my family and friends. But why???? did this happen? I know there are no answers but it still makes me sooo angry. Jim and I are in a really good place right now, better than we've been in a long time. The girls are so wonderful and so much fun; I want to enjoy our summer together. WAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, will update when I know more.

Friday, May 19, 2006

New glasses

I got new glasses a couple of weeks ago... kinda trendy, very different from my half-rimless wire frames that I'd been wearing. Kind of an ironic choice, actually. They look somewhat like the first pair of glasses I got at age 8. And if all goes as I hope, I'll be getting refractive surgery next year so these might be my last full vision glasses. It took a good week to get used to the frames on my face but now I don't think about them. Sometimes I think I look a little harsher or meaner in these specs than I did before, but maybe that is a good thing. No more Mrs. Nice Girl! lol

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

An anniversary of sorts

A year ago last week (5/10), I lost my kidney. The past 12 months have been a blur, between the kidney, pregnancy and birth of Carly. It was a strange time; I wasn't officially diagnosed with cancer until it was out of my body. I have done some reading on Renal Cell Carcinoma, and I joined the Kidney Cancer Association. But I've found that I don't want to know too much at this point. I joined an online support group, but went to no-mail status quickly, as I realized that the members of the group were mostly people being actively treated for metastatic disease. Reading their stories freaked me out from the perspective that I felt like the more I knew about what they were going through, the more I felt their experience was going to be my destiny as well. I also attended a local meeting where a doctor from Cleveland Clinic discussed recent drug breakthroughs for RCC. The information he presented was very interesting but again, I felt like I didn't belong there. I'm in what feels to me like a cancer no man's land. I am not being treated but yet I had it, and have to watch and hope it doesn't come back. I don't feel like a "cancer survivor" since the whole experience went by so quickly. Yet I am one.
My next scans are scheduled for 6/2 and I see my doctor on 6/7. I have been debating bringing Carly with me to the appt. She is just so cute these days, clearly healthy and happy, and I know it would bring my surgeon joy to see her. However, the only way it would work to bring her would be if I also brought Becky. That would be fine; I know she'd love to come. But what if the news for me is bad? I don't want her to hear it or to see my reaction to it. I have no reason to believe that I won't get good news. But you never know. A good friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer yesterday so that has shook me too. I need to discuss this further with Jim before I decide.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Breastfeeding study

A member of one of my mommy lists posted a link this week to an article in The Times of London in which the World Health Organization admitted that breastfeeding moms were wrongly advised about the growth of their babies. Why? Because the growth charts used are based on the growth rates of formula-fed babies. I had learned early on when I had Becky that breastfed babies generally gain weight more slowly than formula-fed ones. Our pediatrician was never concerned about Becky's growth; she was more concerned about how Becky followed her own growth curve, which was consistent throughout her infancy. Obviously a lot of pediatricians in Britain (and here in the US too, according to online mom friends who were harassed to varying degrees about their children's size) didn't know this. How awful for the parents who were made to feel like they were starving their children when they were in fact perfectly healthy. How horrible for the babies who were force-fed formula or extra solids when they weren't hungry. Hm, maybe those insanely large restaurant portions we see these days get their start in babyhood?

I am very much an advocate for breastfeeding, having nursed Becky for 18 months. Unfortunately Carly did not take to the nipple, despite giving a good showing of it in the hospital. I saw lactation consultants and tried very hard at first to make it work for us, but she was an extremely sleepy baby who just did not want to work for her food. Coupled with that was post partum depression that hit me like a brick to the head 3 days post partum. Now in hindsight I wish I had worked harder so that maybe she would have caught on to the process. But then I remember my near hysteria when she wouldn't even latch, and how my emotions were making me sick and worrying Jim enormously. Thanks to Jim, I did decide to pump once I gave up on the breast, and so she's gotten a bottle a day of breast milk. I feel guilt at times that I didn't get into a more frequent pumping routine so that a higher percentage of Carly's diet could have been my milk. But again, my fragile mental state at that time kept me from it, as did the demands of recovering from my c-section and dealing with a jealous Becky. (Becky has been wonderful overall but did experience some of the expected emotions about being displaced as the center of attention here.)

A friend at work is pregnant and so this week I loaned her three breastfeeding books; So That's What They're For, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, and The Complete Book of Breastfeeding.
I had the Complete Book when I had Becky and found it enormously helpful. I had borrowed The Womanly Art from my Bradley instructor but didn't buuy a copy until I was pregnant with Carly. (figures) And So That's What They're For was highly recommended when I was on the Pumpmoms Yahoogroup. My friend told me that she is unsure what she will do about breastfeeding and doesn't think she could maintain the pump schedule I did with Becky and have with Carly. I told her not to worry about what I did but just educate herself and see how it goes. I know that there are good Lactation Consultants attached to the hospital where she'll be delivering, so that's a positive.

After I had Becky I was pretty militant about breastfeeding, though I did understand some of the challenges when I met the moms on the Pumpmoms list (some of whom have become good friends due to that list and its "graduate" list). Now I'm a quiet advocate. :-) I pump twice a day at work and while I don't shout from the rooftops what I'm doing when my door is closed, I also do tell people. (one of my colleagues refers to it as "multitasking", said with awe.) There are a number of young women in our division these days so hopefully some of them will see that working and breastfeeding is not an insurmountable challenge.

Here was a cool article about breastfeeding in the Phillipines. Those Filipinas rock!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Scala Girls Choir

Yesterday Jim sent me a download a song on a CD of the Scala Girls Choir, singing "I Touch Myself" by the Divinyls. He told me that it would be okay to listen to with Becky since she wouldn't understand the lyrics but would enjoy the singing. He was right! It blew me away, and she loved it, calling it "pretty". Fortunately she didn't ask what the lyrics meant, lol.

Here is a link to them and a link to listen to "I Touch Myself" - don't listen to it in public if you don't want people to hear those particular lyrics, which you can read here .


Of course, the album ( or excuse me, CD; calling them "albums" dates me, eh?) is available from Spamazon and I loved the listener review...

I am such an 80's music child!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Blue week with some high notes

I'm glad the week is over and another one starting. Well actually I wish I could have a couple more weekend days, but doesn't everyone?

Jim was still on medical leave this week after his carpal tunnel release surgery. He decided last weekend that he was uncomfortable driving to the Clinic for his appt with the surgeon so I called in for Monday to drive him. (more on that later) He was nervous on the way there, partly because his stitches from the left side were going to be removed at the appt. He'd had the right hand stitches removed while in the OR under anesthesia for the left hand. I chuckled a little, because I had staples removed from both c-sections while wide awake lying in my hospital bed. Poor guy didn't know that it's not painful. When we spoke with the surgeon who was pleased with his progress but agreed that he should take off the rest of the week. So he did, and tonight is apprehensive about his return to work after 5 weeks. BTDT and I know it's not fun.

Carly has another cold and has been coughing quite a bit. This makes me nervous because she had RSV in January and I fear its return. We were really lucky that she didn't need serious treatment for it back then and I worry that it might be worse the next time. But she's been sleeping fine and drinking plenty so I think she's okay. We have been working on feeding her solids more this past week. At day care she gets cereal and fruit twice a day and is enjoying it more as she gets used to the spoon in her mouth. This weekend we tried carrots, which she seemed to like, and I bought some rice cereal, which she appears to prefer over the oatmeal.

On Thursday I got my annual performance review. We have a rating system where they expect you to fall into the Fully Meets Expectations category. Below that is Meets Most Expectations and something below (don't remember the name) and the top is Exceptional Performance. I've gotten EP in the past but did not expect it this year, given that I was out for 16 weeks of the year on leaves of absence, and was preoccupied with my health and my pregnancy much of the rest of the time. And I was right, I got FM. That was fine, though EP would get me a bigger salary increase but that's okay, especially since our whole merit increase budget is 3%, so there's not a lot of wiggle room there anyhow. What truly sucked however, was that after my review I was disciplined for attendance. I had too many occurrences of calling in days off since the first of the year. It really sucks because except for Monday, either one of the kids or I were sick every other time. Jim had very little PTO time to work with because he used over 2 wks with my maternity leave and almost a week when I had the kidney surgery. He needed a week for his own medical leave so whenever someone was sick, I took off. I know it's the policy and I understand that I am outside of the parameters, but it was still really upsetting, to the point that I cried. (That was embarrassing.) My coworker, Rich, could see me crying and was worried that I'd gotten a bad review. When I told him what happened he was mad because the salaried employees in our area have never really been disciplined for attendance and he thought it was unfair that we weren't warned. It was just such a shock because in my almost 20 years at the Clinic, I've never before been disciplined. But I'm over it now, for the most part. I just have to watch my call ins for the next year until these fall off. Bleah.

In better news... I finally got new eyeglasses. I was so tired of the ones I was wearing, which I had bought about 2 years ago. They were partially rimless and just seemed boring to me. I'd had an exam in late January so I had my prescription; finally made the time to go pick out glasses yesterday. The new frames are more trendy; they are rectangular and are black when you look straight at me, but the sides of the front piece and the stems are a lighter tortoise shell. I'd also considered a pair that were black straight on and blue on the sides and stems but decided these were a little less stark. I picked them up this afternoon and I really like them. Jim is not so sure but he'll come around, I hope. Becky helped to pick them out and was surprisingly noncommittal when she saw the finished product. Carly stared at me briefly then tried to pull the glasses off. Today I went for my periodic foil color session, so my hair is lighter too. Kim, my stylist, decided to make my hair curly today, which was cute but sooo different. She told me I can wear it tomorrow w/o washing and it will still look cute, due to the "product" she put in it. I'm not sure I will though; it feels like too much change to me. Once I'm back to "Liz hair" I'll have Jim take some pics and will post them. I also had my eyebrows waxed; they were really out of control. One of the other stylists did them and I was pleased because the one other time I had them done, they were overdone and I couldn't get used to them.

It feels weird to me, doing all this girl stuff lately. I even put on some makeup a couple of days this week. Just feels like I need to spruce things up a bit personally.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Nightcap thoughts

Tonight, as is her usual custom lately, Carly took a 6oz bottle at about 6:30pm then wanted more by 8. We've been giving her another 4oz and she passes out for the night. Silly girl doesn't like to nap at day care; she only does 2-3 naps of less than 45 min each. So by supper time she is exhausted. I've been trying to feed her solids at supper time but the poor baby is just too tired to deal.

Jim had given her the supper bottle so as she wailed, I quickly warmed a small bottle and took her up to the girls' bedroom, where we have a loveseat. As she sucked down the bottle I started thinking about all the things I wanted and needed to get done. I looked down at her small round face, with the eyelashes that are starting to curl, and realized that I needed to put the brakes on my racing mind and just enjoy the moment. She's so small and sweet and too soon will be a "big girl" running around. She's our last baby and I have been reminding myself to just treasure the little moments with her.

Carly is my blessing, my life saver, and my reminder to live in the moment. Actually both girls fill those roles; I feel that being pregnant with Carly saved my life but having Becky here definitely gave me the will to try to recover quickly from my nephrectomy. I'm working on trying not to put off fun but to make it a part of our lives. I'm good at living for the future, making lofty plans but never following through. However, I've decided that I need to change that. I want to make fun memories for us all. It's likely (and hopeful) that my cancer will not recur, but certainly could happen. If, God forbid, something happened to me, I don't want to leave Jim and the girls with any regrets of things we "should have done" but never made time/found money for them. On the other hand, assuming my health remains good, we'll be able to look back at memories of so many happy times together.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

only the beginning

I've been contemplating starting a blog for a while now. Why? Well, a few things that come to mind... I'd like a way to share info with my far-flung friends about my family and life. I'd like to practice writing and thought this would be a good way to work on more detailed descriptions, more thought put into understanding my emotions, etc. Also a place to share and vent a little, that is public and private at the same time. Is it frivolous of me? Maybe, time will tell.