Friday, December 31, 2004


Over at The Other Side of the Ocean, Nina is blogging about New Year's resolutions, quite amusingly. She has put a lot of work into it, too, linking to several inspirational (as in, inspiring resolutions, not religious fervor) sites, and quoting some pretty funny ones she has found.

Of course, that gets me thinking about the idea, and what a failure I was in keeping my one resolution from last year, that I would go to bed before midnight. (See time stamp)

Giving myself a generous benefit-of-the-doubt count, I think I kept that resolution about 30 times. Maybe.

I know I would feel better if I slept more. I also know I don't sleep well. If I go to bed at 11, I lie awake until 12:30. So why not stay up and just go to bed at 12:30 and fall asleep right away, I think?

I could take an Ambien or a Sonata and go to bed at 11, and sleep. But I don't want to take drugs I don't need.

I wonder, if I started exercising again (ha!), would that help me to sleep? I think so. That's something to consider.

Something else: I like going to sleep with DH... but I don't like going to bed at 10 or 10:30. It's too early for me. 12:30 is too late for him, especially on work nights. This is something we're both working on, because my staying-up-late has definitely been a barrier between us.

I have said to the kids so often -- People, and real life, are always more important than television, or the computer. The TV will be there. The computer will be there. But people move on, they have things to do... if you have a choice between spending time with people and spending time with electronics, always choose the people!

I really believe this.
I think this year, I need to make sure to practice what I preach.

This is hard.

I spend a lot of time online because 1) I have no energy to do much of anything else and 2) I will go crazy if I just lie around doing nothing or (worse) watching TV. Still, what kind of example am I giving the kids? There's a lot more to life than whatever it is I'm reading, no matter how infinitely fascinating the blogosphere is.

I need to do more things, even when I don't feel like doing anything. There's no telling when I will feel like doing anything... today after I took my meds (about 10:30AM, after driving up to the Phx office and being stuck 7 times), I actually could feel myself perking up, it was funny. I was seized with ambition. It lasted about an hour, enough to get me through my errands. By the time I got the kids' calendars, I didn't have any interest in even trying on a pair of shoes, and I pretty much desperately need new shoes.

The shoes can wait, though. Most things can, and so they do. I've been here before, this barely-getting-by rut. I hate it here. This is part of the struggle, part of the Descent. I think: I must be feeling better because I at least have the energy to rail against the fact that I have no energy.

Well, having the blood draw today means meds adjustment next week. Hope springs eternal: I could feel better soon, I should feel better soon. I'm trying to manage my own expectations and finding it impossible. I don't know what I'll be able to do, when. I wish I had a timeline laid out for me, "You'll feel better in 2 weeks, but you won't be up to your optimal for another 3 months... after that, smooth sailing, all the way."

I wish I could believe that were true. I'm struggling against discouragement, too, because there's no reason to be discouraged now. Yes, the cancer was much worse than anyone expected, but the scan showed good uptake, no distant metastases... but nothing ever goes easily for me, at least not recently. Is this the final installment on the "medical nightmares" section of my life? That would be awesome, but it's too soon to tell.

For now, my resolution: I'll do what I can.

Thursday, December 30, 2004


I went up this morning for my blood draw, and it took 7 sticks for the poor techs to finally find a vein they could draw from. Note: there's a nice juncture of veins about an inch or so below the elbow crease, towards the inside of the arm. It's where the tech finally drew from me, after the vein in my hand blew out and my ankles were rejected(!). He told me this is a good spot to hit something because there's so much going on there, and if I ran into this problem again to suggest it.

After that ordeal, I went to the mall and exchanged the necklace for beautiful diamond stud earrings. I will wear them every day. That makes me happy.

Then I schmoozed around a bit and replaced the Christmas things that DD had broken (her stocking hanger, and the pickle ornament), at deep discount. Yay! good timing, too, because there were not many stocking holders left. Then I picked out new calendars for the kids (Star Wars, Strawberry Shortcake, and William Wegman puppies) and me (overize antique botanical prints).

Then I had lunch at California Pizza Kitchen. I had never been there before, so I plunked myself down at the bar and had an awesome salad and then these little crispy things they call "tortilla spring rolls", which were insanely delicious. And then I splurged and got a cafe mocha for dessert, which brings us 'round, finally, to the topic at hand.

The waitress made my mocha with a ton of froth, and it was so delicious and had such a lovely texture, it inspired me. After dinner, I excavated my own ancient Krups Il Primo from the way-back kitchen cupboard. Further rummaging on high shelves turned up the carafe and the steaming pitcher. A bit of searching in my old file cabinet turned up the instruction manual, and we were in business.

This isn't exactly the same model, but it's about what mine cost, and has the same features. It is a bit of a fuss, but not too much of one, and it makes a fine, fine cup of espresso, and froths quite well, too. My Il Primo is at least 12 years old now, and I haven't used it in at least 5 years -- you'd never know. I'd forgotten how wonderful my own capuccino could be.

Silly, I know -- but it's almost like I got another Christmas present today.

Disney on acid

Hilarious, or terrifying? Perhaps both.

We'll have to wait until July to find out.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

making an early night of it

My endo called back today and spoke to DH; I was out with the kids seeing Lemony Snickett's A Series of Unfortunate Events.

I was much more excited about the phone call than the movie, but I digress... I'm off at the crack of dawn (well, around 8AM) tomorrow, up to the Phoenix office for a blood draw. Dr M, the endo, told DH that I "definitely needed lab work done."

Yes, well: aside from the fact that I feel horribly fatigued and could easily stay in bed all day, drifting in and out of consciousness, there is that bit about the CANCER. I need to keep my TSH suppressed, and that means upping my dose considerably. TSH = Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, produced by the pituitary gland when it detects a lack of thyroid hormones in your body. TSH works like a charm at getting normal thyroid tissue rarin' to go and pumping out more thyroid hormones, but it also stimulates any thyroid cancer that may be lurking about. So, for cancer patients like me, the ideal is to keep TSH as close to zero as possible.

Since I've been regularly staying in bed until after 10, tomorrow looks to be a rough day. Maybe I'll have a nap when I get home.

The movie: excellent production values, but somewhat badly paced. Or maybe it was just me. The balance between melancholy and twisted humor was also out of whack. Or maybe it was just me, again. I could've used more wry observations and fewer twee psuedo-antiquated gadgets, like the reel-to-reel tape in the car, or the car phone, for that matter. Aunt Jo's house was a masterpiece. Aunt Jo and Uncle Monty were among the brighter spots. Casting was excellent, but only in the sense that Jim Carrey was perfect for Count Olaf because the Count is, more than anything else, a bad actor.

It's raining today! And not just the occasional sprinkle we usually get, but great streaming torrents of rain. We certainly need it, and I'm lucky in that it doesn't seem to be causing my RA to flare up much at all. Piriformis is killing me, though. What's new?

ten years +

Anniversary today.

Got my hair done and it came out lovely.

Went out to a nice, low-key dinner in a non-chain restaurant and had fantastic Indonesian food. Got moderately bad coffee and a completely decadent dessert at a swishy coffee bar, and then went to see a predictably bad but nevertheless fun movie.

Came home and watched the rest of the Insight Bowl (always interesting to see local venues on national TV), and then this creepy WWII submarine movie (Below) somewhere further along the dial. I confess, for part of the movie I was only half-watching because today was Tuesday and I was reading the Grand Rounds. Medical blogs fascinate me, especially given my semi-pro status as a patient. But I snuggled with DH for the last third or so.

Everything was exactly right. Sometimes, all the little frictions of running a household together just fall away, and you can just be together and be happy about it. Today was like that.

It was a very good day.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

the gift question

I spent way too much time on the computer today. I was looking at jewelry, everywhere. DH got me a 3-stone pave diamond necklace:

It is lovely but... now I'm thinking that everyone and her little sister has one, so I'm thinking of trading it in for this:

This design is fashioned from three Celtic knots that David Morgan, the designer, calls "Everlasting Love." I really like it, and it's not something that you're going to see on every other woman, either.

I don't know. The necklace DH picked out is so nice, and I do like it, it's just that's it white gold and I think that just does not look that great against my skin. All my other "real" jewelry is yellow gold.

I know DH doesn't care if I return it for something else, he said as much. But I always remember the Christmas that Big got me my gold watch which is so beautiful but completely impractical. I told him that I really should take it back and get something more practical for everyday, and he told me that it wasn't meant to be practical, it was meant to beautiful. He chose it for me because he thought I would like it -- he was right, it has a lovely mother-of-pearl face, and the style is clean and classic... he said, somewhat crushed at how clueless I was,You should have a watch like this.

So ever since that Christmas when I didn't understand the thought and care that went into the gift and inadvertently bruised the giver, I always hesitate over exchanging a gift for something else. On the subject of gift-giving, DH is most unlike Big, though! He told me even before I opened it that he likes the idea of this necklace very much (threes have many different levels of significance), but if there was something else I wanted that I should feel free to return this and get that something else instead. And he told me where the receipt is, too!

I am way over-thinking this. I wonder how long I have to return it? I need to check that receipt...


Today I did 4 huge loads of laundry.

I called my endo to ask about scheduling labs, and I rescheduled my dermatologist appointment from Wednesday until sometime in January.

I started the post-Christmas home reorganization project, since the clutter in the family room had reached the unbearable level. I cleared the counter, too.

I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out why DS1's new Hot Wheels pc game 1) hangs on the m400y and 2) won't even install on a700y; the guys at HP were helpful, the folks at THQ are closed! Ha. I'm sure they knew they would be swamped with support calls from people trying to install and run their stuff. They really should update their website, though, as it still says this particular game "won't be released until Fall 2004." Uh, guys? 2004 is fast drawing to a close here, and we actually own the game... oh, and the 5-digit product code that you assigned to it? Is already being used by a different game... on a different platform, too.

DH took the kids to the park for some good run-around time, and came home with an early anniversary present for me: 3 dozen red roses along with a red mylar heart-shaped balloon that says "I love you" on it. Hee! The roses are gorgeous. I had to put them in separate vases... I will take a picture tomorrow.

I am having a horrible, horrible time getting out of bed in the morning these days. I am lucky if I get up by 10, 10:30 or even 11 is more usual. It's so bad. I just can't move... terminal inertia.

Hands are doing better since I'm on the daily minocycline. Hip/piriformis are beyond unprofessional help, I fear... today I had a weird feeling of my left hand being asleep for a good part of the day, which makes me wonder about calcium depletion (parathyroids kicking off, post-surgery?) or possibly a pinched nerve since I spent so much time sitting...

Freezing-ness comes and goes. Dandruff is making me nuts. I have way too much hair to be dealing with it, and I just can't bear the thought of cutting it all off. I need to get to the salon this week, though, as my hair is a complete mess, and I've reverted back to my high school style of pulling it off my face and fastening it up in the back with a barrette. Pathetic.

Energy levels are generally abmysal. I'm craving sweets brutally because I've been eating so much junk, and not drinking enough water. Polluted, that about sums it up. I want to eat legal stuff but I don't have the energy to bake. I want to go out to the after-Christmas sales (Robinson's supposedly had cashmere for $30! I adore cashmere, even if it's a blend... and I need new sweaters, I'm freezing these days)... no energy to go to the store, even to TJ's for eggs (we're almost out).

My throat feels nasty and lumpy but I sing anyway. I am a bona fide soprano now. I had a blast singing those "gloria" riffs in "Angels We Have Heard On High" in church this weekend. Paid later, of course, but it was worth it.

"Buy lottery tickets."

I got a Christmas card today from someone I used to know ("X"), someone I used to be very good friends with 25 years ago.

I didn't want to open it. DH kind of laughed at me and opened it and said, "It's harmless, what were you worried about?" But that's because he had only read the inside of the card, and not the densely packed script on the back. X has this long-standing habit of writing long, chatty letters giving me the 3rd degree on my life and asking my advice. X's life is spent lurching from one set of crises to another. About 15 years ago, I used to take great care and write long replies with updates on my own life, as well as careful advice about my concerns and how I thought things should be handled. Needless to say, X ignored everything and did whatever X wanted to do, with frequently disasterous results.

X is one of those people with a profound sense of entitlement. I could never understand it, or where it came from. I remember a conversation we had once. I asked, "What do you want from your life? What kind of lifestyle would you like to lead?" X's response included a big house, nice car, a boat, etc etc. My next question: "Well, what are you willing to do so you can achieve those goals?" X's reply? Buy lottery tickets. X also mentioned that marrying someone with a lot of money would be OK, too. X was never that interested in working. Somehow, it was the Universe's job to provide all these things.

That was the moment I realized I could not be friends with this person.

It's pretty obvious that DH and I have a very comfortable life. DH earns a great salary, and I spent many years working and earning a very good salary, myself. We are not uncharitable people, but our earnings, and our savings, will be spent on our own family and on charities we agree on. X, on the other hand, thinks that because I've "got money," and because we're "old friends," that I should be willing to spend some of it on X. Or maybe give X free room and board for a few weeks or months. Or maybe pay off some of X's debts.

I've been asked to do all of these things in the past, and it was only by exercising my backbone to the utmost that I got out of it after putting X up for two weeks -- two weeks in which my household was completely turned upside down. That was 20 years ago, and my life now is so different that I wouldn't consider even an overnight visit.

It is somewhat distressing to me that X has my address, but that's public knowledge so there's little to be done about it. It's not that I think I will be stalked, or threatened, or anything like that. My biggest fear is that X will one day show up on my doorstep and expect "hospitality."

Maybe I'm harsh, and maybe I'm a poor Christian. X had a rough childhood but over the last 20 or so years I'd say that any difficulties were mostly due to choices X has made. I can't fix X's life and I've long since given up trying. Why is it that X won't stop asking me to, anyway? I haven't written to or spoken to X in well over 10 years now, and I'm not about to change that. Eventually, X will get the message... I hope.

The card's in the trash. I never did read the whole thing, either.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

camping in

The three little ones have just gone to bed in the playroom, each in their own pop-up tent. These tents were a family present from Santa last year, and they have been wildly popular, especially on rainy days or too-hot days or days when every toy in the house is just boring. Since the tents spend most of the time packed away, they're always good for at least a day or two of adventure when they are setup in the playroom (as they are now), or in the kids' bedrooms, or even in the family room when I am feeling indulgent.

This camping-in bug struck last week, when DD cleaned up the playroom so the tents could be set up. Every day they have begged us, "Can we sleep in the tents tonight?" They each have a pillow, a fleece blanket, their new flashlights from their stockings, and an animal friend... tonight we finally said yes. DH is home from work all this week, so if they are extra cranky tomorrow, at least he will be here to help me deal with it.

I wonder at what age does sleeping on the floor with your brothers and sisters quit being fun? Somewhere around the teen years I'm sure it's an imposition that would be met with a "Are you kidding me?" look. Now as a creaky adult the idea of sleeping on the floor with nothing more than a pillow and a blanket is more like torture than anything else... I have a hard enough time getting out of my comfortable bed every morning.

For now, though, they are excited just to be doing something different. We'll see how long this experiment lasts. It wouldn't surprise me at all, come morning, to find each of them snug in his or her own bed again. They've all got such very long legs, you see!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

it's all too much

I am seesawing between feeling very Christmas-y, and then feeling nothing much at all. It's weird.

I've been so exhausted lately, it's amazing I feel anything, I think... I pushed to get the cards addressed, etc last night, and mailed them this afternoon. So at least that's done. But everything has been so odd lately with me. I have no idea what's going on.

DS2 was like me, today, only without the overlay of adult ability to control himself. He was alternately joyous and miserable, often melting down into tears over seeming nothings. At Border's, the idea that he would have to wait until I read DD her book first before reading him another (he had just heard one), set him off terribly. And at bedtime, he cried and cried and cried.

I think he's just overwhelmed by it all. I vaguely recall both DS1 and DD going through similar meltdowns over holidays -- they just can't handle it.

I held him on my lap and rubbed his back and sang to him, "Baa Baa Black Sheep", and then "The 12 Bugs of Christmas":
twelve angel bugs a-rising
eleven dainty bugs a-dancing
ten festive bugs a-flying
nine nimble bugs a-nibbling
eight popcorn bugs a-popping
seven yuletide bugs a-yodeling
six tinsel bugs a-tangling
five glowing bugs
four snowflake bugs
three sneaky bugs
two cuckoo bugs
and a fruitcake bug in a pear tree!

My throat, already raw from the day, was not too happy with this exertion. But over the course of the song I could feel my baby relax and let go of all his frantic energy. He sat on my lap for prayers, and he went to bed with no fuss at all.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

moving the goal

I am sitting here, bone tired, but contentedly thinking that today was a successful day.

Then I realize how little it takes for a day to meet that criteria: all the kids adequately fed, the kitchen cleaned. Dinner on time and something that everyone ate; the family room picked up from the day's activities.

That's it. I didn't even properly dress today -- yoga pants and a sweatshirt -- never mind having a shower; the kids never dressed out of their pj's at all.

I picked up the mail from the mailbox; I put the newspapers into the recycling bin. The kids played and watched tv and played silly online computer games (here's my favorite). Nobody was cross for long enough for me to even remember, now, if anyone was ever cross, at all.

Ah -- how silly! I forgot, I actually wrote my column for the January LCL magazine, which required calculating out the nutrition info and deciding on a framing story for the apple pancakes. It came rather easily, too.

And so it was a successful day, even if my measurement of success may be judged rather poorly by many others.


Brother & Sister-inlaw headed back to CA about 9:30, after a leisurely morning and somewhat rowdy breakfast with the kids.

We're all still in our pj's. DH called a little while ago to see if we wanted to meet him somewhere for lunch... work is slow this week after all the busy-busy they've had the previous 2 weeks. I ask the kids, "Do you want to meet Daddy somewhere for lunch?"

Vaguely positive noises.
"OK, then turn off the TV and run upstairs and get dressed, quick-quick!"
"NooOOOOOOoooo! I wanna stay hoooome!" wails DS1.

So much for that -- it's not worth bullying him into getting dressed, etc, just to go out for lunch. If you're not happy about going out for lunch, then you should stay home.

DH understands. "Maybe tomorrow, then," he says.
Fortunately the other 2 kids were not too attached to the idea. Sometimes it really is easy come, easy go. Not often, though.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

teacher presents/cookbook recommendations

I realized I took these photos and never posted them. This is what I give to my kids' teachers, every year:

An assortment of home-baked breads. This year, lemon yogurt, pumpkin, and cranberry blueberry...

... lovingly wrapped in plastic wrap and stacked in a pretty gift bag...

... along with a copy of our Christmas card and a gift card to a has-everything store.

When I bake for others, I always make things high carb (I suppose I should say, "regular"). All these recipes came from Marion Cunningham, the pumpkin bread from her Fannie Farmer Cookbook, the others from The Breakfast Book. I don't think I could survive without these two volumes. In fact, I need a new copy of the FFCB, because my paperback is falling to pieces after 20 years!


Very busy day today... brother & sister-in-law arrived mid-day from CA. We hung out and yapped and enjoyed the kids. We spent a good part of the afternoon out in the yard, passing around the digital cameras between/to/from the kids. Some of our

(I compressed the photos to save on bandwidth and load time, but you know, they just don't look that great, as opposed to the originals, which look fantastic... should I upload the full size files? Is it worth it? I don't know...)

All the kids took pictures with both cameras. Mine is much smaller than my brother's. He has this amazing digital SLR Nikon job that's simply astonishing. The kids were very respectful of it and got some amazing shots with it as well.

DS1 took these with my brother's camera. I love how he composes his shots. I think he's a natural.

DS2 took this picture.

DD could barely keep a straight face throughout. Every time the lens swung her way, she made some kind of goofy face.

I decided to let the cat have an outing today, and she came out into the yard with us and sniffed around a bit, sprinted here and there a few times, and investigated the kids' fort. When she started to nibble the fountain grass, I shoo'd her away, and she dashed over to the door where she waited patiently for me to let her back in again. Good kitty! And so pretty, too:

Monday, December 20, 2004

"yo!!! sick girl!!!"

That's how my friends address e-mails to me. (roll eyes here) (hehe)

No, seriously -- it was a really terrific e-mail full of advice from a friend who has been through a lot of the same crap I am now going through. It's always helpful to have someone around who can tell you if what you're experiencing is typical (if not necessarily "normal", doubt I'll ever fall into that category --) and to encourage you through the rough spots. Of course I've been lax in replying to him, but he gave me a lot of stuff to chew over and I have to figure out how to condense my reply; he's always busting me for writing and writing and writing... (you see, he knows me quite well.)

I got another cheery e-mail over the weekend, too. When I published my fruitcake recipe, I had some angst because fruitcakes are so often the butt of lame jokes. Well, reader Rachel has declared herself my "fan for life," because of that fruitcake recipe. She was brave enough to give it a try and loved it. Even more, she loved that it didn't knock her out of ketosis. Here's to you, Rachel! We fruitcake-bakers rock! (hehehe)

There has been so much running around lately it isn't even worth writing it all up. Even I would be bored past tedium to just try and remember it all. This afternoon did feature speed cookie-baking: zero to 48 fresh-baked, cooled, and packed chocolate chip cookies in less than 60 minutes. And I started with frozen butter. I would reveal the secrets of my speed cookie techniques here, but I'm thinking it would actually make a cute article that I could try to, you know, sell. There's an idea, ya think?

Speaking of writing/selling, etc, I am late with my column for January. What's new? I need to get on that.

Big excitement: Irish twin brother and his wife arrive tomorrow morning towards mid-day. I feel like running around like a Peanuts character shouting "AAAAUUUGHHHH!" The house is a disaster, there's just stuff around everywhere. Fortunately the guest room is in good shape, as to the rest, well: I'm going to collect all the toys and dump them in the playroom, and then I shall close the door. That'll cover about 80% of the clutter, and the other 20% should be handled pretty easily, too.

I am doing better about asking for help. This morning I passed off the trip to the P.O. to mail the Christmas gifts to DH... he's having a slow week at work, anyway, and I just did not have it in me to take all 3 kids to the P.O. to stand on line for half-hour or longer. Everything was all packed and labeled and everything, so it wasn't too much of a pain for him. And it really saved my butt!

Last night I fell asleep on DH's shoulder as we watched some History Channel show about an artillery competition. It was a cool show but I couldn't keep my eyes open. Asleep in bed by 11:30, and I still had a hard time getting up at 8:30... and a really hard time getting going this morning. Back to being hit-by-a-truck every morning again (sigh). Hands, OK, after morning stiffness. Worst is definitely now in the hip/lower back area which bothers me from time to time during the day. I'm going to start taking the minocycline every morning and see if it helps any. I would really like to avoid the evening dose, because it was so difficult to remember to take even before I was hypo! Now that I am, and my brain is mostly mush, I think I'd forget it nearly every evening anyway -- so what would be the difference?

Moods are up-and-down, I find myself getting all choked up over the tiniest things... DS2 gave me the most excellent hug ("squeezie") today and laid his head on my shoulder. I love it when he does that, it was his "thing" when he was wee baby, and now he's so big... time goes by too fast. Anyway, had to choke back the tears that time. When we were leaving Sam's Club I gave each of the kids a dollar to put in the Salvation Army bucket (bell ringers are welcome there), and I could barely keep myself together enough to wish the ringer "Merry Christmas."

For the most part, though, I feel OK. I'm still feeling pressured by all the Christmas prep (the cards are still here, right by my computer, mocking me) but it will all get done, or not. The important things are done already. I think. I think my big fear is that I've forgotten something, which would just suck. I don't want anyone to be disappointed, but I have to get over thinking that I have that kind of control over the universe. (hee!)

I've eaten too much junk today, and now the pfeffernusse in the cupboard (decidedly not low carb) are calling my name... I have some coffee I can heat up, too. Maybe a snackie will help me feel better. No, I'm not using food for comfort. OK, yes, yes I am. But it's not like I'm going to eat the whole container of cookies. Two, at most four. That should do it. And if the scale has crept up from 124 to 126 tomorrow morning, I'm really not going to worry about it.

I think I have passed from healthy-thin to creepy-too-thin. I know it's all the crap I've been through that is keeping my weight down, not to mention my lack of muscle tone. Perhaps after the holidays I will find some motivation and energy to start exercising regularly, I know it would be good for me. It's hard to imagine that now, though, when just a normal day of kids and errands and house stuff leaves me flattened and my throat just throbbing and feeling like it's full of lumps (hence the appeal of hot coffee). I wonder how long this die-off is going to take?

These are the bizarre questions I'm dealing with day to day. How long is this going to take? When will I feel better? Nobody knows the answers, either. Not-knowing irritates me. I can patient when the end is in sight, but just now I feel as if I'm only mid-way through this descent and I'm also wondering, how much worse is it going to get before it gets better?

There are no answers except "wait and see." So I push all the questions aside and do as much as I can just to keep busy and not dwell on it. Some days that works better than others.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

burn out

Spent most of the day in my pajamas.

Eventually I drifted over to the old computer and spent hours there cleaning off old junk. DS1 was playing a video game next to me for a while and I was giving him advice on how not to fall into the lava by jumping too soon, or at the wrong angle. He made great progress. He loves that stuff.

The kids were relatively great today, which means only minor tiffs. Still way too many tears from DS2, though. I hope this phase ends soon. DD's two front teeth are loose, and she will look adorable but most likely somewhat goofy when they finally do fall out. They're so tiny! And her permanent teeth are so much bigger, but still small -- like mine -- which is good, because her mouth is also small. Doesn't look like there's going to be enough room in there, but we'll deal with that when the time comes.

DH went out for a few hours and did errands. We sorted through everything last night and have a good handle on things for next weekend.

Talked to two brothers today: PA bro is psyched because he's getting a new Mercedes sedan, and it sounds very cool indeed. Irish Twin bro is in CA for this week, vacationing with his wife in Palm Springs, and they're going to drive out on Tuesday to spend an overnight visiting with us.

Mom also called, and my older sister, too. The family grapevine is working efficiently: everyone has heard by now that I'm feeling crummy, so I got to whine a little about my hair falling out, etc. Lots of sympathy. It helps.

Did nothing about the Christmas packages that need to go out, but they will go out on Monday, first thing... I just couldn't get motivated to do it. The cool thing is, our PO has a do-it-yourself shipping center that's open every day, and you can even do things like put insurance on packages and what-not, so I could conceivably even get these things out tomorrow.

Ate too many carbs at dinner and have been starving all night. Cold, too, which I think is from being over-tired, or just from being hypo... ya think? Hands and feet as usual, hip/piriformis still killing me. Fibromyalgia symptoms seem to be returning generally: this persistent attack on one muscle is a fibro thing. Ouch. I wish it would lay off.

While I was at Mass with DS1, DH helped the little ones wrap their presents to me and put them under the tree. They were so excited when I got home. DS2 wants me to open my presents right away, and I keep having to tell him that we're going to wait until Christmas. He's OK with that, thankfully -- no tears for that particular "no."

I'm sick of being sick. Today I waltzed with DS2 and DD (not at the same time, of course), holding them tight with little arms and legs wrapped around me as we spun around the kitchen... that explains the hip problem! I sang every song at Mass and Christmas carols on the way home with DS1. My throat hurts now, yeah. But it was worth it. Although it is very weird that I'm not an alto anymore. This being a soprano is rather a surprising development! I guess without all that junk in my neck my vocal chords can move around the way they need to, in order for me to hit those high notes. Wouldn't it be funny if my cancer treatments gave me something I've always wanted, a respectable singing voice?

Some clouds do have a silver lining.


Blogger keeps eating my posts.

Yesterday I typed in a long chatty review of everything I did, and even remembered to copy into the clipboard before hitting "publish". Then I promptly overwrote the clipboard, before the publish finished!

I am an idiot.

Anyway: Thursday and Friday, both unbelievably busy, but I believe my Christmas shopping is DONE! That is nothing short of miraculous. Now I just have to send everything off to the appropriate people. That will take up a good chunk of Saturday.

Still mulling over exactly what to write about the resolution of the Week o' Fights. (It probably wasn't a whole week, but it felt that way.) The main thing is, I have changed and DH hasn't. It is unrealistic to expect someone to change, and on short notice.

When I'm well, I'm able to contain my snark and sarcasm a lot better. Nothing ticks DH off more than being disrespected, who would disagree with that? The problem is, I think I'm being witty, he thinks I'm dissing him... we could (have) argued that he has thin skin, but that's not the point. If he doesn't like it I need to respect that.

The other thing is when I'm well, I can very clearly see the paths NOT to take, conversation-wise: if I say X, Armageddon will follow in about 2 minutes. When I'm OK, I don't say X. These days, it's a 50-50 crap shoot whether or not I say X, which is just stupid. I remember the fight we had on the way to see the NucMed doctor the first time, when I made a comment about DH's driving. That was one of those situations: I knew if I said something we'd have a fight. I knew it. I said it anyway, and we had a huge fight. Completely avoidable... wish I could re-wire my brain.

So, when I finally realized that's why all these fights have been happening, I laid it out for DH: he has to do better at not jumping down my throat when I'm snippy. I know it sucks that I'm snippy, but I'm not snippy just because I'm a bitch, I'm snippy because (dun dun DUN!) I have cancer, and I'm hypo to boot.

You have no idea how lame it feels to pull that excuse. I feel like I should be able to handle all this and not be whacked out by it, but clearly, I can't.

We covered a lot of territory together, like my weird feeling of being simultaneously unappreciated for everything I do, and yet guilty for not doing more. DH of course felt unappreciated for everything he does (which is way more than a lot of husbands)... we kept having this little focus problem. My feelings stemmed from the fact that I'm still doing everything (yes, everything) I would normally be doing to keep the house going, plus getting ready for Christmas, and things have not fallen down around our ears (yet). Normally, this would not be a big deal but again (dun dun DUN!) I have cancer. I want some credit, here!

I am so whiny it irritates me sometimes. (roll eyes here)

The guilt part comes of course from always saying to the kids, "Not today," or "not now", or sometimes just plain, "no." Or for designating sliced apples the "vegetable" with dinner. Hey, it's better than nothing fresh at all, she rationalizes. I'm not worried, they're fine.

We talked more about the parenting stuff, and here DH was spot-on and said exactly the right thing to stop me freaking out about what he thought vs what I thought, etc. I have the evidence of my abilities in front of my eyes: three amazingly awesome kids. My biased opinion has been supported by every relative and teacher these kids know, so I know it's true. DH says, there you go. I'm the most significant influence on their lives (so far, I know that will change), and it's obvious that they are thriving. IOW, it's obvious I'm doing a good job there.

It's pretty silly. I've been out of the workforce for over 5 years now, and yet I still go looking for performance reviews. Mostly when I'm not well, but still. I need to get over that and be willing to accept the evidence of my own eyes.

Kids are off for 2 weeks now. I hope we don't all get on each other's nerves. They were so excited this afternoon I felt like tying them all down to their chairs just to calm them down for a while.

Eating lots of good food and the occasional chocolate or cookie or something, and am still quite skinny (123 with pjs & slippers on).
My hair is falling out.
My dandruff has returned with a vengeance. This is SO annoying, but it's got to be related to the hypo thing. It has been under control for so long, in fact that was one reason why I decided it was OK to grow my hair out. I refuse to cut my hair short, though. I like having hair. I'll just have to deal with it. (BTW, I do use dandruff shampoo... several of them, in fact, and I have for year. I think this has more to do with my immune system being stressed by the surgery/cancer/hypo situation than anything else. Or that could just be wishful thinking. What do I know?)
Hands are a bit stiff in the morning and from time to time during the day, but nothing too bad. Feet are bothered on the days I'm running around all the time.
I wake up feeling like I've been hit by a truck, but only a very small one. I can stretch out of it pretty quickly.
Piriformis feels like it's permanently seized these days. Stretching provides relief for a minute or two. I should go back to PT but I'm not prepared to get into that scheduling nightmare.
I have lumps in my throat (feels like I have to swallow past them -- hard to explain) and my neck hurts and the glands under my jaw are swollen on one side, yet painful on the other. I think it's die-off from the RAI, and it feels horrible. My throat gets very sore if I talk or sing more than a little at a time, so basically by the end of every day, my throat is killing me. I'm trying not to worry or think of these as portents of long-term problems. Still, though, this is probably the top reason for the pity parties I've been having for myself lately.

I should probably go back on the old minocycline regimen, but it was such a pain that I'm avoiding it and seeing how this goes. It's pretty stupid, though, since I can't properly assess whether the changes are from being hypo or the change in dosage.

Some day, I want to be Lileks. He does this thing in "The Bleat" where you get a combination of slice-of-life and profound insight. Since those two things sound dreadfully dull, I should also say that he's hilarious and a huge scifi geek as well. And his daughter is between DS2 and DD in age, so I can totally relate to all the kid-related stuff he does with her.

I guess it's good to have a role model, even if I'll never meet him.

Thursday, December 16, 2004


DH and I were up till almost 2AM last night, figuring out what-all was going on. We remembered a lot of things we had learned about each other before over the course of our relationship, things that helped put this argument into focus.

It was really hard work and I'm exhausted today, but I'm no longer at the bottom of the Pit of Despair. In fact I'm nowhere near the PoD. If I weren't so tired I'd be pretty darn great.

The best thing is we have a good framework for going forward, too. I'll post details later, since this is stuff I need to remember, and writing things out is the best way of imprinting things on my brain!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

turmoil, delineated

Back at the beginning of the month, I was feeling sorry for myself and wrote about it here.

DH, who had never read anything I've ever written since the dawn of time, read it and got very upset. I wrote about the fallout in busted.

After that conversation, I really thought he understood me and why I write here, and how important it is to me.

Now, I don't know what to think. We had an argument that started being about the new curtains for the family room -- did I tell him about the new curtains before? did I draw him a picture of what I was thinking? -- he says no, I say yes -- we've had this type of argument before: I believe he tunes me out, and he just says he doesn't remember me talking about it, so of course I'm wrong, I must've talked about the curtains and drawn the picture for someone else... Having ordered about $400 worth of curtains, I was upset, because if he hadn't given me the green light, I never would've done that. Yeah, if he doesn't like them we can send them back, it's not that big a deal. It's just the not listening that gets to me.

So: I was angry, and I said a very bad thing (called him a liar), which I apologized for some time after... but, since I attacked him, he went on the counter-offensive and threw all sorts of other stuff in my face, like this blog, again!

We went around and around in circles for hours (not exaggerating that).

He thinks I'm crazy to want to write here, and he thinks I should be in therapy. I don't know how I'm supposed to fit a therapist's appointments into my schedule, but that's not supposed to be a problem, nor is the money. Therapy appointments for me is not how I would choose to spend our money, and they are certainly not how I would choose to spend my time.

Nothing ever got resolved because I finally left the room to end the conversation. We kept covering the same ground, but I've been in that kind of place before. It doesn't matter what I feel, or what I say, how I explain what's important to me. He just does not agree with me.

I am devastated. So many things came up over those hours that hurt me:
-- I'm crazy for wanting to write where strangers can read my stuff
-- I need to go to therapy, he doesn't
-- we have only used our outdoor furniture twice since we bought it, and it was really, really expensive
-- all the hard work I did reading up on difficult children, and all the work I did with DS1 teaching him to control himself, had nothing to do with how wonderful he is now; "he just outgrew his tantrums, it was going to happen anyway."
-- I must've put the Christmas lights away last year, because he doesn't remember doing it, and now a bunch of them are missing, so it's my fault.

I don't think I'm crazy. I'm going through a lot right now -- yo, cancer, remember? -- and this kind of emotional stuff is perfectly normal. Add the holidays on top and I think I'm actually doing pretty well.

I don't think I need therapy. Although I think it would help him tremendously to hear from an outside expert that what I am going through is normal. And that writing is tremendously therapeutic (that is, helpful and healing) to someone like me.

The outdoor furniture will be ours for the next 10, hopefully 15 years. The fact that we haven't used it is a function of the cold fall we had, and is hardly under my control. Besides, the kids use it every day.

I choose to believe that I was helpful to DS1, and that I taught him excellent techniques to recognize what was happening and how to avoid meltdowns. He is a wonderful, wonderful boy.

The Christmas lights... this would be funny if it didn't want to make me cry. Last year I got 2 net lights to put over our Texas Sage bushes. They look really nice and they're so easy, they're great. So when DH put up the lights last weekend, i asked him, where are the nets for the bushes? He didn't know, he didn't see them, there weren't anymore lights in the box. There was a preliminary sparring match over this issue, because we got into the whole thing: I took them down last year and left them in the garage for him to put away, since he is the one who puts them up. I know that he put them away. He doesn't remember doing that, but swore up and down that the net lights were not to be found. Yesterday I went to get some napkins out of the cupboard, and I looked in the box that held the rest of the lights, and there they were at the bottom of the box!

I put them up today. When DH came home: You found the nets.
Me: Yes. They were in the box where the rest of the lights were.
DH: I thought those were just other lights, not the net lights.
(end of conversation)

I leave it up to the reader to draw conclusions as to how satisfying (or not) this conversation was to me.

I asked DH why, after the first fight, he allowed me to think that he was comfortable with my continuing to write here. He said he did no such thing. I guess I am adept at deluding myself.

That's how I feel: like I've been deluding myself, both short- and long-term. DH's casual dismissal of what I feel to be one of my best accomplishments as a parent has just crushed me. I thought, all these years (about 5 now) that he understood and supported the things I was doing, even if he considers a lot of parenting stuff as "pop psychology crap."

Another thing that hurts is that DH has condemned the very idea of my writing here, even though he has only read that one post, and refused to even re-read it to see that it was not exactly an indictment of him, more like the path for me to the realization that I was freaking out because of my scan the next day. I told him he was free to comment and defend himself whenever he wanted, and he balked at that idea: "Now I have to come home every day and read your blog to see how your doing?!?!"

I told him, it's a gift, not a burden. It wouldn't even take 10 minutes a day. I wonder how many guys would love to read their wives' journals and get a good long look at their thought processes and how they're feeling? DH is not among that group.

The night after the fight, I slept badly and so was in dream-sleep when DH woke me, and whenever that happens, I always feel as if I'm still in the dream for the first while after I wake up. In this dream, I was a slave, and DH was the master. I had raggy clothes and worked all day, but when I could steal a moment, I'd write something on scraps of paper I hoarded whenever I could. Just before DH woke me up, the Master found my writings and was furious with me. I hid as best I could in a corner, curled up in fetal position because I knew he would beat me. But he didn't beat me. He broke my hands.

In some ways, I still feel as if I'm in the dream.

I feel dead inside. I do what I need to do with the kids and we have moments of fun and silliness, but I can't keep it up. My eyes are stinging and I find myself on the verge of tears often. My chest feels heavy. I don't want to do anything but am forcing myself to keep moving, or I will drown in the ocean of my own tears. Ironically, I am getting all sorts of stuff done, including the Christmas shopping, and some tasks around the house that really needed doing.

I know I need to talk to DH about this, but I don't really see the point. I can't make him understand. I can't take another hours-long confrontation. By the end of the last round, I had fallen into melodrama... flopping back on the bed, I said, putting a pillow over my face, "Just hold the pillow down until I stop breathing. No one will suspect a thing..." and "You know, if I go over the edge, it's because you pushed me. Whoops! Watch me fall..."

I wrote (long hand) a list of words last night, trying to figure out exactly how I feel. I feel deceived. I feel lost. I feel dead (emotionally).

Then I wonder, how much of this bona fide depression is because of my post-RAI, dying thyroid state? I know I'm prone to depression when my thyroid meds are off. If I were not hypo, would I just be able to brush off this whole thing? I can't tell.

DH has been very solicitous of me since we fought. He is showing that he cares for me in his way. He is an excellent father and has been a great husband...

I guess I'll get over this, but I don't know when. Or how. I haven't been writing because DH has flat out told me not to write about him, and I have been struggling with disobeying his wishes versus my own need to examine what's going on in my head. Since I spent the past 3 days talking to sisters and friends about all this stuff, I guess I've decided that it doesn't matter if perfect strangers hear the story, too.

All I really want him to do is say, "Yeah, I sometimes tune you out. You probably did explain the whole curtain idea to me before, but I wasn't really listening. I'm sorry." I just want him to admit that he may be wrong about something... whenever we have a fight, it's always me that's wrong, me that's crazy. This time, I don't think so. In the past, I've always "come around," but I don't think I can do that now. This is one time when I've got to stand up for myself, what I believe, what is important to me.

I just don't know how to convey any of this to DH in a constructive way, some way that doesn't lead us into an eternal spiral of fighting and hurling accusations at each other.

Meanwhile, on the surface, everything is more-or-less fine. Except that I'm a million miles away.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Monday, December 13, 2004

in limbo

Coming or going? I have no idea... still in turmoil.


Bad day full of arguments yesterday. Nothing resolved. Ick.

Woke up in the midst of a particularly bad dream this morning, which of course puts a bad spin on the start to the day.


Sunday, December 12, 2004


I took DD to her classmate's birthday party, which was one of those kids-running-everywhere affairs. The weather was quite warm and gorgeous, and it was actually a nice time. DD had a blast. I helped for quite a while, supervising one of the craft tables -- the hosts had made cookie dough ornaments for the kids to paint and sprinkle with glitter... it was no big deal but just standing for an hour flattened me for a while.

DH stayed home with the boys and worked on the Christmas lights. Our neighbor's older son, just over 8 years old, wandered over to DH and said to him, "My mom says you're lazy, that's why you haven't put your Christmas lights up yet."

Can you believe it?

First of all, no way would this kid ever say anything like this around his parents. And I have my doubts that his mom would actually say something like that, unless she was joking -- she does know about the whole surgery/cancer/in-laws visiting stuff I've been dealing with, after all. Not to mention the rain the past 2 weekends!

I don't know, I think if it had been me, I would've said something on the order of, "If your mom wanted me to know that, she would've told me herself. And it's very disrespectful for you to say such a thing to a grown-up, under any circumstances." DH didn't say a word. I'm still of a mind to give his mom a call and ask her to please tell her son that he should have a care what he says to adults. DH isn't the type to get angry and fly off the handle, but a lot of adults do, and you never know what could happen.

That kid, though. He has attitude to spare, as do a lot of kids around here. They think they own the world, or at least that they're in charge of things in it. I'm constantly reminding my own kids that that is not the case.

DH rented "Chronicles of Riddick" tonight, which I really enjoyed. I wonder, will they make a 3rd movie? I'd like to see what becomes of Riddick's "empire". The production design of the movie was just gorgeous, even if some of the CGI was a bit cheesy looking (the armored dogs in the prison scenes, for example). There were so many things I enjoyed, especially the way the technology of the Necros was imagined, and how the Helios were extremely organic and the Necros were forged metal and technology, a nice, if obvious, constrast. And Judi Dench gave a charming performance. I enjoy her work.

One problem with watching these movies involving super-able humans is that I always feel so puny and weak afterwards. I could use that feeling to inspire myself to get in shape, but so far, I don't have the energy for it. Hopefully after Christmas? Or after I get the shopping, etc, done.

Inventory: Nose still stuffed up/running/sore from being blown too much, but at least the mucous is clear. Sorry about that. Ick. Hands about a 3-4, feet maybe a 2, mostly down to nothing... piriformis/hip/lower back really screaming at me, though -- spent too much time on my feet today. Eating generally dreadful: birthday cake for lunch! Takeout subs for dinner... please. I can do so much better than this, but I'm just not. Hope tomorrow I can get back onto some kind of track.

"Are you going to stay down here all night again tonight?" DH asked me as he went up to bed. I considered the categories into which this might fall (including the title of this post), but decided to just consider it a sincere, snark-free question, and told him, "No." I may not be as quick or as sensitive as I might have been in the past, but in this case I am grateful for identifying the opportunity to pick a fight and giving it a pass.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

bad girl

Up too late, watching tv. Not as bad as the timestamp would seem to indicate, though, since I fell asleep for over an hour in the middle of "Terminator 3." Man, that movie has some great car chases.

In an odd coincidence, I switched the tv over to Noggin to find Claire Danes again, in "My So-Called Life," and I realized again that she has -- apparently has always had -- perfect alabaster skin, and the most gorgeous hair ever. I wonder why we don't see more of her. I enjoyed seeing her stand up to the TX, because Angela was always so whiny and annoying (although because of that, genuine.)

Angela was a person in need of Attitude Adjustment: it isn't always about her. I work on this with my kids when they get too self-involved. Between that and the "No Freaking Out" rule, things have been going very well, attitude-wise. Yeah, we run into "I don' wanna" and other crap from time to time, but in general, they're good kids. Maybe it's just that they're getting older, that's why it seems easier.

Maybe I've just learned to stop freaking out, and adjusted my own attitude?

Today we went to Border's and had a lovely time (the manager asked me how my surgery had gone -- this was my first time back since then), and then we went out to dinner. I ate way too much carb-laden stuff (spicy fries are a particular weakness), but realized that sometimes I'm freezing because my carbs for the day have been too low: eat carbs, warm up. Odd, but it's something I've noticed before, and it annoyed me when I realized that I had forgotten. I shouldn't forget "duh!" things like that.

"In A Fix" totally rocked tonight: the crew fixed up Sparky's house, which was definitely in desperate need. There was so much camraderie and emotion in the ep, it was great. "Clean Sweep" was another ep in which a husband and wife were letting their stuff get in the way of their lives, and their ability to be together in their own room. It's so easy to get overwhelmed by stuff: constant vigilance is required.

Speaking of stuff, I acquired more stuff at Target today, some stocking stuffers and chocolates and other good things, and some trays to try and organize the constant flow of papers that come in from all people in this household. It's really annoying -- right now the counter looks like several paper bombs detonated on it. Hate that!

DH rented the thriller "Dead End" tonight, which had a no-name cast but was well done nonetheless. I liked how it ended: very sad, but it made some sort of sense, anyway.

Inventory: Sinuses still gunking up every half-hour or so, so my nose is still sore, too. And my throat is still feeling lumpy, leaving me to wonder how long I will be feeling after-effects of the RAI? My scar looks awesome, there is no question that people don't even see it unless I remark on it. It's still just a little bit red, but nearly all of the swelling is gone. My hands have been a little puffy and stiff in the mornings, but overall they're doing OK, and my feet have been a little achey, nothing major -- I think I will be OK now that I am back on the pantothenic acid 3x/day, even with the minocycline cut down to the M-W-F regimen.

DH just stumbled downstairs to see where I was... I am a bad girl. I told him I had fallen asleep on the couch and would be up soon. I'm not sure exactly what he thinks about that but he went on up, back to sleep, without a word.

Tomorrow looms, much too close.

Friday, December 10, 2004

jumping out of my skin

It's weird how I can go from being totally blah about the holidays to how I'm feeling right now, which is sort of excited and sort of anxious, an odd mixture that is summed up by this feeling that I have too much to do and not enough time to do it in... jumping out of my skin.

I did some more shopping today, but there is still much to be done. The kids only have one more week of school, and then they're off for two weeks -- it will be here before I know it! Time is definitely going by too fast.


(Meanwhile, every single piece of furniture in this house has about an inch of dust on it... I am The. Worst. Housekeeper. Hey, at least I keep up with the kitchen and the laundry...)

Thursday, December 09, 2004


I probably shouldn't even be writing tonight. I feel as if I've done nothing but run around all day, and accomplished little.

I did get to the bank and finally deposited all the little checks that had accumulated, and I did get all the new computer rebate forms (4 altogether) into the mail -- here's hoping I filled them all out correctly, because they are worth $310!!!

DS1 had his holiday performance tonight. It was just the 3 2nd grades, and it was fine -- just the right length. They sang four songs, "I'm getting nuttin' for Christmas," "Frosty the Snowman," "The Hanukah Song" (not Adam Sandler's!), and "I Saw Three Ships". I found it interesting and rather perturbing that the school OKs them singing a very religious Jewish song, but wouldn't dream of letting them sing something like "O Little Town of Bethlehem."

DH says it's a combination of political correctness and fear of being sued. Of course it's OK for them to sing a Jewish song, because it's highly unlikely that any non-Jew would be upset about it. But there is a pretty good chance some non-Christian would get uppity if the kids sang an explicitly Christian song, so they don't. Grrrrrr!

On the way home, DS1 announces, "I don't think I believe in Santa anymore," and I told him we could discuss it later. We had a few moments alone at bed time, and DS1 explained that he seen a show that talked about the real Saint Nicholas, and that of course puts the whole Santa thing in doubt. I explained to him that DD and DS2 still believe in Santa, and that because he is older, he has a different understanding of things -- he can understand more. I told him not to mess with their heads, and let them believe what they want. I think we may need to have another discussion about it, but at least I got out the main point of not spoiling things for the little ones.

Because of the holiday performance, we had dinner at 5-ish, which was actually a rush because after school we had to go shop for a dessert to bring. I had wanted to make brownies and then decorate them, but that just wasn't in the cards. I let DS1 pick out what he wanted, and he bought some cupcakes with nice frosting and plastic "Christmas light" bulbs -- of course they disappeared instantly, but all 3 kids still got cookies and other stuff, plus juice pouches to drink, which made them all happy. It's a wonder they went to bed at all...

And somehow, in the midst of all that, I managed to get 2 loads of laundry done... if I leave it till the weekend, it's just too much, and DS1's sweatshirt really needs to be cleaned more than once a week!

Oh, yes, good news: the dermatologist's office called this morning to say the biopsies were "OK." Since they called my cell phone just as was pulling out of the garage to take the kids to school, I didn't press for details. I'm assuming "OK" means there was no weird cellular activity. I'm sure that it means that no re-excisions are necessary, and that is enough of a relief. I'll get more details when I'm in there on Wednesday to get the stitches out.

I'm so glad tomorrow is Friday.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


Blogger already ate this post once, yesterday. Let's see how it fares today.

I mentioned the other day that I had 6 months before my next whole body scan, and that was good because I deserved a reprieve. But the idea that because my next scan is not for 6 months constituting a reprieve from medical issues for me is just a pleasant fantasy.

I should hear in the next couple of days the results of the two biopsies taken off my leg. It would be good if they come back negative, but I have no way of knowing at this point. They were very dark, and the two spots so far that have required re-excision were similarly dark. I'm hoping, at least, that they got it all. Those stitches stay in until next Wednesday, and then on the 29th I'm scheduled for 2 more biopsies. At this rate, I'll be scheduled out until February with biopsies, etc... there are at least 6 more the dermatologist wants to take off, and that's assuming that no re-excisions are necessary. So far out of 5, 2 have required going back in for more. Still, being able to cut out a cancer is ultimately a lot more easy to deal with than radiation, even radiation as seemingly benign as RAI.

So I'm dealing with the biopsies, which are not all that painful, but very annoying with the little tweaks the stitches give, and the intermittent anxiety whenever I think of the pending results. I'm also dealing with being hypo: cold all the time, even though I usually have at least 2, often 3 layers on. My skin is so dry, especially my hands and feet, no matter how much lotion I slather on or how well-hydrated I am. Plus fatigue, plus brain fog... and it will probably be at least another month before I'll see my endo for a blood draw, and possibly get my meds adjusted. Whee!

I've got residual congestion from that cold, still, if it was a cold -- one of my hypo symptoms is persistent sinus junk. I'm not going to the dr for anti-biotics for it, no matter how long it lasts, until I feel that thyroid meds are better optimized. Previous experience with this tells me that no amount of magic bullets are going to cause my sinuses to clear, until my thyroid hormones are balanced properly. My poor nose is sore from being blown so often. I'll keep hoping that it is just a cold that's hanging on and nothing more pernicious, but (cliche alert) only time will tell.

There is no reprieve, really. I guess I'll get a break from thinking about cancer (which shows up in my brain as CANCER!!!!), but I still have plenty of other health-related issues to deal with.

Frankly I'm tired of all this. It's exhausting. I think if I have to say to the kids, "I can't," one more time, I'll scream. I hate not being able to do things. I hate running out of energy, or being so cold (hands and feet especially) all the time. Yesterday when I picked up DS1 at school my hands were freezing and his were so warm, I wrapped his around mine on the way back to the car...he humored me.

My neck feels junky again today... back to feeling like there are things in my throat, making swallowing feel strange. The incision tweaked me a few times today, too, but is really looking terrific. My piriformis is killing me, in spite of trying to stand in a consistent pelvic tilt and in balance, but I know that's because I've done a bit of carrying DS2 here and there in the past few days. I know that's bad. I also know I have to accomplish certain things, and if the payment that's extracted is a sore hip/butt and weird sciatic nerve tinglings for a few days afterwards, well, at least I got done what needed to get done. My hands have been a bit puffy the past few days so I've gone back on my B5 (pantothenic acid), 3 times a day -- I had dropped it down to 2/day, but I don't think that's a good idea right now. Hopefully pushing it back up will help the symptoms abate. Sleep is good for the most part, as is my digestion -- even though my diet hasn't been stellar. I really can't complain.

I've been staying on top of house stuff this week. Yesterday I unpacked and put together the kids' new computer, and then got it on the internet (required a call to LinkSys tech support -- stupid Windows XP makes everything so difficult!), and then hooked up the printer and made sure it was accessible via the LAN -- it was a lot of work, and it's good I got it done. Today, I was much less productive, although I did make it to the grocery store after I dropped DS2 off at school. I took him to Mass with me this morning after dropping off the two older kids. He was quite relaxed during the service, which was cool. He has such a different energy than DS1.

Tomorrow will be another long day, DS2 has his holiday performance at 6, and DH has to work 8-8 again tomorrow, but not Friday -- hooray! -- and probably only one day next week -- hooray, hooray! It's too bad he will miss the performance, but I expect the peewees will have fun. I just have to stay awake. I'm glad the school is only 3 minutes away. That helps a lot.

Now I must dash -- reasonable bedtimes are a necessity when I have to get up early. I'm barely functioning as it is...

Update: I heard from the dermatologist's office this morning (Thursday) that the 2 biopsies were "OK". They reached me on my cell phone as I was taking the kids to school, so I couldn't go into the details at the time. I'm assuming OK means no weird cellular activity, not just that they got it all and don't need to do anything else, although it certainly means at least that much! That's enough of a relief, right there -- and I'll get the details when I go to get my stitches out on Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

seven years, today

My father died seven years ago, today.

I wasn't there. I had been there, just a week before. DH and DS1, less than a year old, had flown with me up to MA. We stayed with my mom, and every day I drove up with her to the hospital in Milton to see Dad. DH stayed home with the baby; happily by that point he was only nursing once or twice a day (first thing in the morning, last thing before bed), so me being gone all day wasn't that big an issue.

Dad liked to have soup for lunch. Soup, and bread and butter. Mom made great vats of chicken soup or beef and vegetable soup, and then would freeze it in individual containers. Every day Dad would take out his soup and microwave it... even in the summer. It was what he liked.

In the hospital, dying of pulmonary fibrosis, Dad was on oxygen and barely eating anything. They kept trying to get him to drink that nasty-tasting Ensure, but it's so gloopy. It was hard for him. After my first day at the hospital with Mom, I asked if we could bring him some soup from home, could we heat it up at the kitchen in the nurses' station? Yes, yes -- they agreed right away.

So every day after that, we brought Dad soup, and he ate it all up. It meant a lot to him, that little piece of normalcy amongst all the beeping machines and tubes and coarse sheets and disruption. The man had no peace, there.

November 29, 1997, was my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. On that day, when we arrived at the hospital, Dad was out of bed, sitting in a chair. He had color in his face, and the most energy we had seen. A priest who was a friend of my oldest brother's, and also known to my parents, came in to give my Dad communion, and when he heard it was my parents' anniversary, he gave them both a special blessing. It really meant a lot to them.

Dad was so much improved that day that the doctors were amazed. If this keeps up, they said, he can go home. He'll need oxygen, but if he stabilizes like this, there will be no reason to keep him.

That day, we were hopeful. Soon after, DH and I flew home with DS1. Things were looking up, DH had to get back to work. None of us really knew what was going to happen.

Saturday morning, I was out shopping at the mall when my cellphone rang. It was my middle sister. Dad was asking for me, she said, but she told me that she didn't know if he would understand it was me, on the phone. I did the best I could. I told him I loved him, and that I was sorry I couldn't be there.

I don't remember exactly what I said. I don't remember what my sister told me, afterwards. I'd like to think she said he was calmer, somehow I believe that, but maybe that's wishful thinking. Neither me nor my sister could really talk much after that, so we hung up. Then it's just a blur, and eventually the call came that he was gone.

My Dad had the biggest, warmest hands in the whole world.
When he wasn't feeling well, he had all the restraint and logic of an irate teenager, which is to say, none. He could be downright mean sometimes, but afterwards was always repentent.
But that mean streak was only evident when he was feeling poorly (or drinking, which he gave up later in life) -- for of all the people I've ever known, my Dad had the greatest faith in the goodness of humanity.

At least that's what I like to think. I always think the best of people, whether they deserve it or not, sometimes, and that is something I learned from my Dad. There are so many things I learned from him, but the most succinct, profound lesson came when he was hospitalized following surgery to repair a 4-inch aneurysm; the doctors still couldn't figure out why the thing didn't burst and kill him. I was recently divorced, car-less, and living in Watertown; he was in the hospital in Milton and was stunned when I showed up to visit him. I impressed him with how skillfully I weilded my T-pass: it had taken 3 different buses and 2 different trains to get me to the hospital.

Although my divorced state was regrettable, he wasn't saddened by it. Rather, he was overjoyed at the return of his Prodigal Daughter. He once actually mailed me a copy of the story of the Prodigal Son. Recently DS1 has been studying for his First Confession, and when he read the story of the Prodigal Son as part of his reading material, I about lost it, remembering. So many years I had been away from my family, and now I was back. So it was wonderful to sit with Dad, then, and know that Death had been cheated, at least for a while. He told me:

Remember, nothing lasts forever. It will help you to appreciate the good times, and it will help you to endure the bad times, too, because you know they will end.

Somethings do last forever, though, or at least as forever as we can imagine in our mortal shells. Love is one of those things.

I will always love you, Dad.


DS2 is watching "Sky Kids 2" and announced he was hungry. Since he had a piece of toast for breakfast (having declined all other offers), I was happy to give him a bowl of dry honey-nut Trader Joe's Ohs! (housebrand Cheerios) to munch on while he watches the movie.

DS2 will be 4 in February. I have absolute control over everything he eats, except at school or when there is a babysitter. Well: I have control over what he's offered, it's up to him whether or not he eats it, of course. It occurred to me, though, that a lot of the parents I know have already ceded control of their kids' diets, even though their kids are not that much older than DS2.

I have to say, I think that's a monumentally bad idea. Kids that young can't be trusted to make good judgments about what to eat, and when to eat.

I think it's a great idea to let kids have as much control over their lives as possible, and to accustom them to the fact that they are responsible for themselves, up to a certain point. But nutrition is too important. I won't have them filling up on cookies or what-not moments before we sit down to dinner... nor do I want to go into the refrigerator or pantry, expecting to find an ingredient, only to find that it has been raided by micro-noshers!

The food shopping-prepping-eating system is finely balanced here, and I'm in charge. I don't like to run out of things. I like to know my kids are eating good food. I like my kids to save most of their appetites for meal times. I don't want my kids in the refrigerator, playing with knives, or making toast -- or messes -- without supervision.

Maybe I'm a control freak after all, but in this one area, I'm going to stick with it until the kids are old enough to make good decisions -- and clean up after themselves.

on forgiveness

An odd bit of synchronicity today:

Over at the LC forum I frequent, I've been following, but not participating in, a thread in which one member solicited advice after having a particularly rough day. A friend had disappointed her, as had some in-laws.

I've refrained from participating because I know my views aren't welcome. I'm reading it anyway, because it's interesting to me to see how people deal with this sort of thing. I've had my share of personal disappointments and tragedies, to be sure.

Today, another member, Debby, shared her own philosophy of just letting these things go. She described how distracted and careless we all usually are, and assessed that most slights are unintentional: "it really isn't personal. It's not about you."

I found her advice inspirational and meaningful, because "letting it go" is something I am trying to do in my own life, and I agree that 9 times out of 10, or maybe even 99 times out of 100, things we could interpret hurtfully were not intended that way: it's really not about me. Somewhat predictably, she was met with this response:

Though you offered neither advice nor pity,... I know who you are and the spirit in which your post was intended.

Still, can you see that another interpretation would be that you're somehow better than most people because you have suffered so much adversity and still have such a good, kind, forgiving soul?

Why would anyone put this interpretation on Debby's reply? This is exactly what happened to me in the political threads. I told my own story and described how my views had helped me to shape my life, but I was attacked for being condescending and arrogant simply because I presented a different way of looking at things, and did so through the story of my own experiences. This kind of unwillingess to listen makes it really hard for me to want to participate in online forums much anymore. What's the point?

I thought it was really interesting to stumble across this post on the health benefits of forgivenss during a subsequent web-crawl: InstaPundit brought me to the Grand Rounds weekly roundup of medical blogs, which had this illuminating post on Why Forgiving Can Be Good for You .

Debby has the right idea.

Monday, December 06, 2004

mush for brains

No great insights today, as it was mostly spent running around and trying not to freeze. It was rainy and cold again today, but I still had to do the errands I had put off all weekend. DH worked his first 8 to 8 shift, and we all survived.

Today is day 2 of taking only 2 pantothenic acids, and now my hands are feeling a bit stiff. I'll give it to the end of the week to see how it goes.

I'm also starting a new minocycline regimen: M-W-F, once a day in the morning. This is the typical dosage recommended, so we'll see if it works.

I ate terribly today -- too much running around, and no energy to cook. My piriformis was really killing me, too; I used both the heat pack and ibuprofen today to try to get it to relax. I had that freezing butt feeling, too! I'm fairly convinced that these symptoms, along with my generally being freezing all the time and overall spaced-out feeling, come from being under-medicated, thyroid-wise. I guess it will be a few more weeks before they have me in to tap a vein and take a look at my levels.

I'm hoping that the news from my skin biopsies will be OK. I'm thinking I've earned at least a 6-month reprieve from health nonsense.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

best intentions

I did pretty well today, even though I slept till 9:30.

I cleaned all four bathrooms, which just about wiped me out.
I also did four loads of laundry, and the first 3 are already folded; the first 2 are already put away.

I didn't go shopping today as I had intended, but it's raining and I'm feeling a bit punky, so I put it off. My throat has that junky feeling again today, and even my incision is a bit sore. Weird.

DD's got strep for sure. Her rash had spread to her face this morning, so DH took her to urgent care, and they did the rapid strep and confirmed it. Apparently the rash reaction is uncommon, as the doctor kept commenting on it to DH, and even mentioned it to the pharmacist, who had to call to clarify something on the prescription he wrote. At any rate, DD doesn't feel ill at all. Every time she swoops over to give me a kiss I feel like putting up a crucifix like I am repelling a vampire... she doesn't realize how contagious she is, and she is still very affectionate with me.

When I got out of the shower I saw some redness on my chest but DH says it's not like DD's rash. I am not so sure. Grrrrrr. My throat is killing me. At least I'm only blowing my nose once or twice an hour, as opposed to 9 or 10 times an hour.

I meant to come down after my shower and fold the last load of laundry and go to bed. But when I came down the family room smelled of cat poop, and indeed, little Miss Grinchy Claws had made her opinion of the Christmas-ing up of the family room known. The corner which houses the tree usually houses the blue rocking chair I used constantly when the kids were infants; it was perfect for nursing. Now it is mostly the cat's chair, and she is ticked that we moved it across the family room and put the tree in its place. So she pooped behind the chair, which is of course on the carpet, and it probably took me a good 15-20 minutes to clean it up. AAAUGGGGHHHHH!

Still, though, I'll go fold the clothes now that I'm a bit more collected, and I'll still get to bed at a decent hour. Have to take DS1 to school tomorrow, and about a million other things, as well...

memory lane

DH put up the Christmas tree today.

The whole experience was quite discombobulating, because usually I put up the tree. This is also the first year we've had the tree in the family room, because we re-arranged a bunch of furniture, and it doesn't fit in the living room anymore. I'm pleased about it being in the family room anyway. Now we'll see it all the time, instead of having to make a major effort to go into the living room. Of course, this may mean I get sick of it a lot sooner, too, but I hope not.

I admit, I was not really in the mood to do it, which is just as well -- I didn't get in DH's way at all while he put it together and did the lights and garlands. I did a few ornaments, but he even did the bulk of that. The kids were all jumping out of their skin with excitement, but that wore off rather quickly, and they drifted in and out throughout the process. When they are older we can offload the entire process to them, but for now, we really have to handle the majority of it.

One of the best things about Christmas is remembering where all the ornaments came from, and thinking about where I was living when I got them, and all that good stuff. I would never take photo-prints of my different ornaments -- it just seems silly -- but somehow, this seems like a perfectly fitting topic for a blog entry. Here are my favorite ornaments:

These are three of my absolute favorites. The large ornate globe is one of a set of 6; three are blue, three are red. I ordered them from Smithsonian over 10 years ago, and I consider them precious. They are hand-blown glass, from Poland, and I just love the style of them.

The silver bell is one of a set of six bells I got just a few years ago from Crate & Barrel; they're still selling them this year, and for the same price! When I was a kid, we had little porcelain bells on our Christmas tree, and I loved them. These bells are just a little bit bigger, and a lot more durable, but they have a similar beautiful tone to those bells I remember as a little girl. I think every Christmas tree should have bells.

The third ornament, the pink-striped glass bulb, is a survivor from my very first Christmas as an independent person, post-divorce. I bought a tiny live Christmas tree and two sets of these tiny glass ornaments. They are clear glass with different colored paint in different patterns. Originally I had 2 dozen but many have been broken over the years. The cat is particularly fond of these. I remember back in South Natick when we had real Christmas trees every year, she would climb out into the tree and bat these ones down, then hoard them under the radiator: they make excellent hockey pucks. As they have aged they have become more fragile, so we keep them up pretty high on the tree now.

I think this is a lovely design, 2 parents and 3 children, but I have to admit I can't remember who gave it to us! Anyway, it's beautiful:

This little choir boy was a gift from my middle sister many years ago (10?). I love his expression, and I always nestle him among the branches so he is nice and cozy:

This little blue star with white snowflakes was a gift from Big's parents; they brought it home from Germany for me, the Christmas right after we broke up (which happened in November.) That was a rough Christmas for all of us, but I think this is a completely charming ornament, and I always remember fondly the time I spent with Big's family... and a lot of the times I spent with him, too.

Both of these ornaments were gifts from my former roommate, K. The last I heard from her, she was living in Chicago and working as an architect. If I were not so lazy I would try for a shot with better lighting, because the detail is washed out in the little guy. The little tin man is actually jointed; his arms and legs move, and he's totally adorable. The tiny clothespin has the cutest little drum major... I'm always careful to clip him to a branch tip so he'll be straight and presentable!

This little wooden rocking horse was a gift from the secretary of the CEO of the small software/consulting firm I worked for many years ago. She was a German immigrant, and undoubtedly the oldest person in the company. We were a rather frisky start-up, and M was old enough to be mother to most of us. We often had the impression she disapproved of our silliness -- in retrospect, she was probably right, but we did put out a good product for the time. I can't remember how long she worked for the CEO (who was prone to showing off his gymnastics prowess by doing things like handstands on his desk), but for the time she was there, she was rather indulgent of us. She gave everyone home-baked cookies and attached a little ornament to each as decoration, and I've kept it all these years. This is probably one of my oldest ornaments, now that I think of it -- I've probably had this since 1987 or 1988!

This one was a gift to DH in 2001, the year the DiamondBacks won the World Series. He and I were fortunate enough to be there at Game 7 (and DS2 was along for the ride in his baby-carrier, poor little guy was freaked out by all the noise and lights and people, and was very happy to stay snuggled on my chest the entire time!)... that 9th inning is something I will always remember.

This was a gift from my best friend from college (and years afterwards), L. She is of Russian descent and brought this back from Russia for me when she went one summer on a family-reunion style trip. I often wonder what became of her, but as our friendship became rather toxic, I'm just letting that go.

This Santa ornament is one of the nicer ones I've seen. He has a kindly expression on his face which does not come through very well in this shot. He was a gift from a former friend and colleague; she and her husband were instrumental in moving DH and I from Massachusetts out to Arizona. We had some philosophical differences but got along well until I became pregnant with DS1. She and her husband had been trying for a baby for several years, and were going through IVF. That was another relationship that just took a weird turn and died. She happened to call me the day I was in the hospital delivering DS1; I had DH return the call to tell her the news (I was exhausted from having my first baby, and talking to everyone in my family.) I literally never heard from heard again. Perhaps she was waiting for me to call her? I have no idea, but at that point it was just as easy to let it go.

This shot isn't of anything in particular, but it is rather representative of the mix of stuff you find on our tree: lovely hand-blown ornaments, Beanie Baby ornaments, pine cones with glitter from various years of pre-school, and a few others, all hodge-podge'd around each other. Martha Stewart and her followers are probably shocked and dismayed at such a jumble, but I tend to agree with DD: "This tree is beautiful from top to bottom. It's the most beautiful Christmas tree I've ever seen." Funny how every year I seem to feel the same way.

Last, here are a couple of meaningful ornaments. First is the "ornament bug" from the Jingle Bugs book. DS2 got the book last year for Christmas, but for some reason the bug never made it onto the tree. We've been reading it all year and every time, we have to take the bug out, and say, "At Christmas-time, we'll put him on the tree." So we finally did it!

In the background, you can see a red and silver ornament that my mom gave me; it's one of her old ones. "They don't make 'em like they used to," is no joke. It's pretty but still sturdy. I like both the shape and colors of it, and I love having a piece of my family's history up there.

Saturday, December 04, 2004


A couple of weeks ago, Ann Althouse blogged about a conversation she had with fellow-blogger Tonya regarding how or if we should censor ourselves as we blog. I clicked over to Tonya's blog and wrote in the comments there:

I don't censor anything I want to write about myself, especially as I'm dealing with cancer treatments and all that hoo-ha. As Tonya said, it's "me, me, me, me, me"!

When it's not me-me-me, my cardinal rule is never to identify anyone in my personal life by name. Readers who know me may easily identify who I'm writing about, but I still keep those references anonymous.

I also don't blog about people who I know read me... until now, I hadn't really thought about it. Is it because I haven't wanted to, or because I'm censoring myself? I've blogged about my relationship with my Mom, and ticked off my sister in the process -- but my Mom won't ever read it, and if I thought she would, I wouldn't have posted it, no question.

Self-censorship is a good thing. Restraint takes practice and can really save your butt. I recommend it.

All of which ironically leads to this morning, at 6:30AM, DH waking me up to ask me if I'm all right, how I'm feeling, is there anything he can do for me?

There's a first time for everything, and DH had, after months of seeing it on screen and ignoring it, finally read my blog. Of course he didn't read something like this, no. He had to read my most recent panic-induced rant.

Now, my own personal definition of rant goes something like this: an illogical, emotional tirade. defines it as "Violent or extravagant speech or writing." So I guess my personal definition is a bit off, since I wasn't violent, but I certainly wasn't rational.

Anyway: arguments, demands, protestations, crying.

DH is upset that I've portrayed him unfairly, in public, for all the world to see. He didn't forget. He can't forget: he just feels helpless. He doesn't know what to do to help me.

I explained: this is my therapy (hence, "Oasis of Sanity.") It's free, and it fits in my schedule, without inconveniencing anyone else in the family. It helps me tremendously.

I asked, should I wake him up whenever I'm freaking out, even when I know that most of it is fueled by my brink-of-depression-state, since my thyroid hormones are shot, and I'm still feeling the after-effects of the RAI, and have a cold on top of it all?

He says, yes.

I say, I don't want to do that -- he asks, why not?
I say, because I can handle this, for now. Because now it's not serious, I'm not dying. And I don't want to burn you out, for when I am dying, for when I really need you.

There was more, and more crying, but I think we understand each other better, and there is no more anger.

A little after 7, all the kids came downstairs: our arguing had woken them up. It was oddly comforting that they weren't worried about us fighting having any deeper meaning than we were just having a disagreement. Their concept of our family doesn't include any possibility of us not-together, even though they are aware of folks who are divorced. That's cool.

I was freezing and went back to bed and slept until 10:30, almost 11 before I came down. We went out for lunch and then went to see the SpongeBob SquarePants movie, which was a lot of fun. Then we came home and DH took DD and DS2 out to look for bikes for DD, and I took DS1 to Mass.

The rest of the day is a blur...

The weather today was cold and rainy, and even in the midst of my emotional turmoils, I noticed that my hands and my feet weren't in any pain at all. My piriformis is kicking up lately but I have been much too lax about putting my hips into alignment properly, or doing my strengthening exerices as I should. My throat feels all "junky" again today, too.

DD has a rash all over her chest again, and complains of a sore throat. We're concerned she has strep again. I'll put in a call to the pediatrician tomorrow and see if it warrants a visit to urgent care tomorrow, or if it can wait until Monday.