Sunday, January 05, 2014

other people's photos

Mom was in much better spirits this morning, a good rest and a little ibuprofen helped tremendously.   My sister was there, and that helped most of all.  My level of upset yesterday was only a half-notch below 'panic', and that was worse than useless.  I'll have to try to moderate those responses when things like this happen again, because I know they will.

Now that I can think again, there were a couple of things I wished I had taken photos of when I was in Falmouth, but I didn't get a chance.  So, with appreciation, here are some other people's photos.

 I. Unconventional Christmas Trees on Main St.
 Main St in Falmouth is, as my sister perfectly put it, right out of Currier & Ives.  They wrap pine boughs around the street lamps and put wreaths around the lamps themselves, and the effect is incredibly charming.  The Village Green is a little wonderland of set-pieces, including Santa and his reindeer, a creche, a choir, a train, and a half-dozen other lighted displays.  But the most captivating decorations on Main St were these two trees, which were simply stunning.  Words don't do them justice, and the photo below only gives you an idea of what they are like.  Simply amazing.  I can't imagine how long it tool to wrap these two trees so thoroughly!  They are as I imagine Faerie trees would be.

II. Nature's Thermometers
My Mom doesn't have any rhododendrons of her own (the one I planted in the past few years didn't make it through the fall), but there are several in her neighborhood.  I love how they droop and curl up when it's cold out.  When DD and I got up on Wednesday morning, they were rolled up tight, but by the time we were leaving (and thus, driving by and able to take a picture or two), it had warmed up enough that they were all flattened out again.  I'd say I was disappointed but not really -- who needs to be out in sub-freezing temperatures? This adaptive behavior is one reason I love rhododendrons.  Among the others?  They are evergreen, they love the shade, and their flowers are gorgeous.  Now if I could just manage to plant one so it will survive at Mom's...

Friday, January 03, 2014

waiting for the call

We left Massachusetts on Wednesday, worried about Mom staying alone with that big storm and Arctic cold coming in.  But Mom promised to stay safe and said she wouldn't try to tough out a power failure.   I tried coaxing her up to Boston to visit her 6-day-old - and only - great-granddaughter.

DD and I had a quick visit; I couldn't pass it up.
There's nothing - nothing -  like holding a sleeping newborn. 
But she wouldn't budge.  She started knitting a beautiful pink blanket for the baby as soon as she found out it was a girl, but the blanket is not finished.  Her hands are not working well, and some of her fingers won't straighten. 

So DD and I flew home, and I keep obsessively checking the weather report, my phone, my email, my facebook page, and just generally feeling uneasy.

This morning, my Mom fell between the table and the microwave, trying to warm up her tea.  She doesn't know how it happened, but the generally accepted theory is that her knee gave out and, since she wasn't using her walker, she fell.  She refused care from the EMTs and since she was completely rational, there was nothing they could do. My sister is there, and all of us have been calling and texting all day. 

She has a big bump and a small gash on her head, and a headache.  She landed on her good shoulder and can't move her upper arm, so she can't use her walker.  She is considering going up to stay with my sister in Boston, tomorrow.  But she won't go to the doctor today, she doesn't want to be stuck in the hospital. Ever.

The fact that the sooner one receives medical treatment after an injury, the better, is irrelevant.  She could have, probably does have, a concussion, since she can't remember how she fell and has a persistent headache.

I just hope she wakes up.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

cancer stuff

DD loaned me The Fault in Our Stars some time ago, and I read it on the plane home yesterday.  (Lucky for me, my laptop battery only lasts a couple of hours, otherwise I would've had no excuse and done more work.)

TFiOS is a young adult novel about a 16 year old girl with thyroid cancer that has metastasized nastily to her lungs, and what happens to her over the course of her relationship with another teenager who has osteosarcoma.   John Green, the author, gets a lot right about all the cancer stuff, especially how it is to live with pain on a daily basis.  He is also exceptionally good at puncturing the ideal of the heroic cancer patient, which I appreciate because that trope needs to die. 

One thing that Green didn't get into, probably because Hazel is so young and only 3 years into her (albeit dire) diagnosis, is how we tend to forget all the details that seem so vivid, that we swear we'll remember forever.  How could we forget?  I don't know whether it's post-radiation trauma or just good old-fashioned repression, but our ability to forget is a good thing.  I don't need to relive all that stuff on a daily basis. 

I do, however, need to be able to recall details from time to time so that I can accurately complete forms and talk to ultrasound technicians, like I did today. Since I have one of the world's least-flexible work schedules, I've been cramming all my testing into winter break. Having spent the last five days in Massachusetts means I only have a couple of days left to tie everything up.

I had my Thyrogen testing done Christmas week, with injections on the 23rd and 24th, and then bloodwork on the 27th.  I won't get those results back until I see my endo on January 30th, unless I suppose it comes back more quickly with bad news. As usual, I have no idea what to expect, but I want to record a weird side effect I had after my second Thyrogen shot:  suddenly I felt exactly the same way I did, post-neck dissection, back in 2005.  The nerves in my neck/scalp/jawline responded exactly the same way they did to that surgery: numbness, tingling, headache.   My neck felt tight around my scar, too.  And yes, it did freak me out, because I don't remember having that reaction before.  The only reaction I remember is having a really sore arm one time.  I even looked back through the blog to see if I had written about any other reactions, but there was nothing... and there was nothing in a wider web search, either.  I took ibuprofen around the clock for a few days and it subsided, but it did make Christmas Eve a lot more emotional for me.  (Usually I can sing a few Christmas carols without bursting into tears.)

Of course I want to ask, what does it mean?  I'll find out if it meant something in another 4 weeks.  Today the ultrasound technician took a million pictures.  I couldn't see anything (it's the rare scheduling oddity that puts me in a room used more for prenatal ultrasounds so they have a monitor for patient viewing), so of course I have no idea what, exactly, was being measured and recorded.  I had the tech visualize that persistent node that is, yes, still persisting, but then after that, he spent time measuring and photographing something in my left neck, which is just weird. 

I'm going to stop thinking about this now, so I can forget about it until I need it again.  And next year if I have the same weird reaction, I'll have this year's information to go on.   People who live with cancer have to do this kind of compartmentalizing all the time, otherwise the disease takes over our lives.  I have way too much to do to allow that to happen.