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.