Friday, February 27, 2009

Getting to me

Michael has just completed his first week of chemo and radiation. He met with his oncologist yesterday morning after radiation to have his PICC line flushed and the dressing changed, to have blood drawn, and to have his pump refilled with meds. His bloodwork looked good (meaning his platelet count has not been negatively impacted by the chemo), and all in all he seesm to be handling the treatment well. It is almost surreal that he is undergoing chemo and radiation and yet, for the most part, still carrying on with normal activity. You think of someone with cancer, someone undergoing chemo, and you picture someone pretty incapacitated. At least I did before this. And I know that there are forms of cancer that require treatment that does incapacitate the person. So I'm very thankful that Michael is doing so well and is still able-bodied.

So why am I feeling down today? It's one of those days where I feel like if I sit still with my thoughts for more than a few minutes, I'm going to have a mini-breakdown (and I'm trying really hard not to do that).

Sometimes I still can't believe that this is happening, that my husband has cancer. And then I want to kick myself for letting myself get into a funk over it, because really, everything is going pretty smoothly, the outlook is good, etc., etc. But still. And I'm totally stressed out about money. I mean, we're good now. But he's an attorney, and the bottom line for attorneys is that they are expected to put in their billable hours. And the fact of the matter is that he's falling behind now because he's having to miss a lot of work to go in every morning for radiation plus his weekly visits with the oncologist. Then there's his surgery down the line, and there's no telling how laid up - or for how long - he'll be from that. He works for a great firm, and they've been so supportive through the whole ordeal when Finn was born (which required Michael to lose a lot of work time), and now this, and I think M and I are both assuming at this point that no matter how compassionate the partners are, they have their bottom line too. Business is business. So it's possible - likely, in fact - that he'll have to take a cut in pay, and I'm freaking out over that inside.

Blah. I'm sure he doesn't even want me blogging about that aspect of things. That's what's on my mind right now, though.

Then there's the whole issue with our downstairs which remains torn up and unresolved. The contractors submitted an estimate to repair, replace, etc., and now we're waiting . . . and waiting . . . and waiting . . . for the insurance company to give the go ahead. In the meantime, the downstairs is an ugly mess, and frankly, I'm sick to death of it.

Sigh. Maybe it's PMS getting to me.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I'd Like You to Meet the New Love of My Life

Me and the old guy, we had a good run. But as we all know, most relationships don't last forever. As for us? Things got stale. He eventually turned into such a complainer! It was as if he would never shut up. All the issues that come with age, they came. Still, I stuck with him for probably longer than I should have, and towards the end, he was really showing his age. It was almost embarassing (and I don't consider myself a shallow person). But loyalty and devotion only get a person so far. Then this young thing came along, and I couldn't resist.

Let me introduce you to:


Yup, Harold - you heard me right. That's what I've named him, and I can tell already that he and I are going to get nice and cozy over the next few years.

You're probably laughing. I'm serious, though. You have to understand how huge laundry is to me. I am washing not only clothes for 8 people, but towels and sheets for 8 people too, as well as a myriad of security and receiving blankets, spit-up cloths, and cloth diapers. I do an average of 2 - 3 loads a day - sometimes as many as 6 - 8 loads in one day. That's an average of 15 - 25 loads a week! And honestly, I enjoy doing laundry. There is something especially satisfying to empty out a hamper. There is something gratifying about a warm, fresh-smelling stack of folded towels. Out of all the household chores, laundry is probably one that I mind the least, which is a good thing since it's such a big part of my day.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Losing It

For the most part, I've been going along lately, coping pretty well with everything, especially this latest pothole. But then, out of the blue, I find myself completely losing it over something unrelated. Example:

Lilah has this . . . errr, growth on her behind. So I recently took her to the ped, who referred us to a specialist. Another specialist. I swear, my life is full of specialists these days. Anyway, so I got the official referral/authorization from our insurance company in the mail a couple days ago. I called the specialist's office this afternoon to schedule an appointment for Lilah.

The receptionist proceeds to ask me at least 93 questions - my name, date of birth, address, employer, husband's name, date of birth, employer, blah blah blah . . . I finally stopped her and said, "Why do I have to give you all this information on the phone? I just want to make an appointment." She tells me that she can't make an appointment until she gets all this information from me. Seriously? Then she asks me for our insurance information: company, billing address, member number, subscriber ID, yada yada yada. I stopped her again and said, "First of all, don't you have all that information in front of you? The authorization was faxed to you by our pediatrician. Secondly, aren't you just going to ask me for my insurance card when I get there so you can make a photocopy of it? It has all that information on it, so why am I giving it to you on the phone?" I admit I was getting pretty bitchy by this time, and she was getting good and bitchy right back. She said she needed my insurance information to check for eligibility. WTF??? I told her that I had a copy of the authorization from our insurance co. right in front of me as well as a note from my ped's office saying it had been faxed to their office. That's proof of eligibility, isn't it? We went round and round, and she put me on hold at least 8 times - I'm not kidding. Finally, at one point she got back on the line and I came unglued. I started crying! And ranting to her, "I have a baby with Down syndrome who sees all kinds of doctors, and I have a husband with cancer who sees all kinds of doctors, and never in my life have I been made to jump through so many hoops just to get a FREAKING APPOINTMENT!!" She put me on hold again and then transferred me to someone else. I asked the new person if she was the office manager because I really wanted to talk to the office manager, and she said no, the office manager wasn't in, but she would be happy to transfer me to her voice mail if I wanted. I told her, "I just want to make an appointment for my daughter, that's all!" "Ma'am, I'm trying to help you here . . ." Ugh.

I swear, no exaggerating, this was a freaking TWENTY-MINUTE phone call - just to get an appointment!

When I got off the phone, finally, I shut myself in the bathroom and had a good cry.

And now I'm asking myself: was that really just over the phone call - which, granted, was extremely frustrating! - or was it a buildup of everything else?

Why Do I Blog?

This is something I've been analyzing for some time, and there really are no easy answers.

I've been keeping a journal since I was a preadolescent. It started out, of course, as a handwritten project, and I would write my deepest, darkest secrets in it. And being that I had a pretty effed-up, unhappy childhood (I know, I know . . . boo hoo), there was plenty of deep, dark stuff to write about. I quickly discovered how absolutely cathartic it is to put feelings and experiences to paper, and I've been hooked ever since. Sadly, my handwritten journals from childhood no longer exist. There was a time in my early adulthood when I panicked about the possibility of somebody actually finding and reading what I wrote (which is hysterically funny when you look at how public I make all my rantings and ravings nowadays), so on impulse, I burned everything one afternoon. Up in smoke, all gone. It makes me sad now, because I wish I could go back and read what I used to write about.

Based on that fear that someone would find me out, I stopped journaling for quite a while. Several years later, I got my first home computer, which happened to coincide with the slow, painful implosion of my first marriage, and I began journaling again - this time on the computer, using password protect. Later, my marriage came to a very ugly end, and as part of that whole scene, my husband-at-the-time took my computer (as well as lots of other stuff) when he was issued an order by the court to remove himself from our house so that I and our son could take possession. He took my computer and jacked with it. Shortly after the final break-up, he died of a drug overdose, and my computer, as well as several other items, were taken by the police and kept for a number of weeks during the investigation into his death. By the time I got my computer back, it was useless. Whatever my ex-husband had done to it had rendered it unusable, and I couldn't access my journal.

So, another of my journals gone for good.

Over the next several years, during the course of the first few years of my second/current marriage, I kept a few pregnancy journals. I think I actually still have a journal somewhere on the desktop computer downstairs which is password protected, but damn if I remember what the password is.

Then, a couple years ago, I discovered blogging. Journaling with an audience - now there's a concept! And it's funny how desperately I used to want to keep all my thoughts and feelings that I journaled about a secret. Now I love the feedback I get. I look forward to getting comments on my postings. I spend more time than I care to admit searching out sites and registering my blogs in order to build readership. What's up with that? I'm sure there is something completely and utterly exhibitionistic about it. I'm sure any psychologist worth his or her salt would have a field day with it. But there it is.

And honestly? I feel wierd saying this, but I believe that on some level my blogging has made Michael and me closer because it's allowed him to see into my head and heart in a way he never did before he started reading my "journals." I know that he's not always thrilled about some of the things I write about, but he's pretty tolerant for the most part, and even supportive on occasion.

The truth is, though, that I do compartmentalize my blogging. I have this one, in which I write about all the day-to-day crap - sometimes serious, sometimes humorous. It's a fun little outlet. My other blog, Finnian's Journey, started out as just a way to keep updates about Finn's progress in a central place for friends and family because after he was born and had surgery and was in the NICU, I was just too much of an emotional wreck to deal with phone calls and emails. At that time, I had no clue that there was a whole Down syndrome blogging community. I had no idea that my blog would come to mean so much. And now, 7+ months later, I can't let it go. I love the people it's introduced me to, and I love how theraputic it still is for me to write about the experience of being a parent to a child with Ds. Then I have a private blog, one which nobody but me has access to, where I go to rant about stuff that's just not fit for public consumption. Another form of therapy for me: an unloading, a purging, a getting off my chest sort of thing. I can say anything I want there without worrying about offending someone. I actually don't write there very often, but when I do, I always feel better. Then, of course, when Michael was recently diagnosed with cancer, I started a separate blog about that road. It's also private, but someday, when Michael is well again and we come out the other side of this, I will share it with him if he wants to read it. Not until then, because I don't want to censor myself as I chronicle this experience.

So there you have it - that's why I blog. I guess.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Kids

A lot of people have been asking me how the kids are handling all this stuff going on with Michael. The truth? Very well. In fact, they hardly seem fazed at all. I'd like to chalk it up to our great parenting skills and the belief that we presented the whole thing to them in a non-scary manner, but in truth I think it's just that it doesn't mean much to them. I think they're too young to understand how serious Daddy's illness is. To them, there are many sicknesses, including a cold and the flu, and to them, I suspect that what Daddy has is on par with one of those. Even Kevin, who's 12, seems to be taking the whole thing pretty much in stride; he's the only one old enough to have some inkling of the gravity of cancer, but even to him I think it's mostly abstract. The younger kids seem to be a little intrigued with the thing sticking out of Daddy's arm and the pump with the medicine in it, but really, to them, Daddy is still Daddy - he doesn't seem sick, so they're all just pretty much carrying on as usual. And I'm very glad of this. I really don't want them to be all scared and upset.

That said, I am very interested to see what Joey's February school journal will reveal. Every day in class the kids write in a journal and at the beginning of a new month, they bring home their journal from the previous month. Joey's journal is a kick to read, and it usually reveals something going on in his little head and heart that we weren't completely aware of, so I will not at all be surprised to see a crayon drawing of Daddy with a tube in his arm and Joey's thoughts on the matter.

I suspect that when Michael has surgery (which is projected to take place at the end of June), that's when the kids might unravel a bit over this.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pet Peeves

And now, in a departure from all things cancer, Down syndrome, or even kids and family, allow me to bitch.

Do you know why I hate grocery shopping? Because the world is so full of rude people. It starts before I even enter the store. Some a-hole, hell bent on getting a primo parking spot, is so focused on her goal that anyone making their way across the parking lot on foot does so at great risk. And after this close to being run down, I'm throwing my arms up and gesturing wildly, yelling "Seriously?!? Seriously!?!?" And she has the cajones to shoot me dirty looks!

Then I enter the store and right away I'm confronted with idiocy and a complete absence of common sense in my fellow shoppers. I firmly believe that the rules of the road should apply in grocery stores:

~ Keep to your side of the aisle!
~ Don't leave your freaking cart in the middle of the aisle, blocking it so that I have no choice but to say "Excuse me," five times before I conclude that you're either (a) hard of hearing, or (b) ignoring me, which then leaves me no choice but to move your damn cart out of the way myself. Then you have the nerve to give me a surprised look. What the eff?
~ When leaving an aisle, remember that there is cross-traffic; proceed with caution! Don't just come careening out like a bat out of hell.
~ Just as it's rude and obnoxious to cut somebody off with your car and then drive very slowly in front of them, so too is it just as rude and obnoxious to do the same with your grocery cart.
~ Don't cut me off when I know you saw me heading for that checkout line first. I know you pretend you didn't see me, but you saw me all the same, and now you're on my shit list.

Come on, people! A little common sense! A little courtesy! Together, we can make everyone's shopping experience a little more pleasant.

The weekend in review

It feels like this was a lost weekend. Michael spent a good part of the weekend working (from home, but working nonetheless; working from home means he's shut away downstairs, so he may as well not be here, for the most part). It's almost surreal in a way. Here he is, hooked up to this little machine that's pumping chemo meds into him, and he's carrying on pretty much business as usual. Still has deadlines to meet for work, and trying to make up for a lot of time lost to doctors' appointments. As for me, yesterday was a bust. I swear, aside from sitting down to nurse the baby a number of times, I didn't actually sit down to relax until 10:00+ last night. Kevin currently tutors on the weekends, and one of the kids he tutors lives quite a ways away, so I took him over there yesterday, dropped him off, and ran some errands while he was tutoring. Then I picked him up and we grabbed a quick lunch. Headed home and - I kid you not - I spent a solid hour and a half picking up the house, as it seriously looked like a riot had taken place in pretty much every room (this is what happens when you leave Daddy in charge . . .). I don't even know where the rest of the day went, I just know it was a blur.

Today, Michael was up bright and early and back to work in the office downstairs (the downstairs, which, by the way, is still in shambles - worse now, because the contractors came and removed all the old carpet and linoleum; I don't even know when everything is going to be repaired and put back together). I did manage to get out and walk for 40 minutes - by myself! - and it was good to get out in the fresh air and clear my head a bit. Aside from that, I've been holed up in the house doing laundry and not much else. It's looking like rain again, so the kids have been cooped up in the house as well (and driving me nuts). At this moment, Michael is out ordering a new washing machine - yayy! Our current washing machine is 12 years old - probably double that with all the laundry I do. It's been on its last leg for about a year. So now it's finally time for a new one. How sad that I'm excited about a new washing machine.

So tomorrow morning, first thing, Michael has his first radiation treatment. Sometimes it's still hard to believe this is happening.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Michael officially started chemo this morning. He was supposed to start yesterday, but alas, the pump had to be special-ordered (I assumed the oncologist just had a cabinet full of them, but no), and it had not arrived yesterday when M had his appt. He got a call late yesterday afternoon telling him that it had finally arrived, so he went back this morning and got it hooked up and his first week's worth of meds loaded up. What he told me is that the pump is programmed to deliver 8 ml of meds every 24 hours. That's only about a teaspoon and a half! I suppose that has something to do with why it's not expected to make him feel particularly sick or anything, because it's just a very small, constant dose rather than an occasional large dose.

In other good news, M got a copy of the CT PET scan report yesterday. I know he doesn't want to assume anything with regard to this whole situation, but I had been sort of assuming that the scan didn't reveal anything further to be concerned about, becuase I think they would have alerted us pretty quickly if it had. If it showed that there was cancer anywhere else besides that one localized area, it would change the whole course of his treatment. Anyway, the report showed that no cancer turned up anywhere else, so WOOT!! I really feel like we have every reason to believe that everything is going to be okay - we're going to have a happy ending to this story.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

On PICC Lines, Cancer, and Marriage

Michael got his PICC line in yesterday morning. (For a better understanding of what a PICC line is, go here.) It was a "procedure" that had to be done in the hospital. Basically, it's a tube inserted into an artery in his bicep and threaded through all the way to his heart. There is an outside port which will be connected to the pump he will wear that will infuse him with chemo meds around the clock for the next several weeks, beginning this morning in about an hour, actually.

I've been feeling very positive and optimistic about this whole thing for the last week or so, since we met with the oncologist. And I still feel positive and optimistic . . . I know Michael is going to pull through this. But when he came home yesterday with this line in his arm, he suddenly seemed so vulnerable, and that's painful for me. This is real. It's really happening. He really has cancer - it's not just some run-of-the-mill illness that he'll take antibiotics for and get better (in his very true words). This is life-threatening, and the road to the other side - to his wellness - is going to be a long and painful one.

His arm is sore, obviously. I feel helpless to make this better for him. He cringed in pain in bed last night as he tried to shift positions, and I sort of lost it then, just started crying. And it was so unexpected on my part, because I really haven't felt like crying over any of this for a while. But it just hit me right then how much this absolutely sucks, that this is happening to him, to us. And then I feel bad for crying, because then he's comforting me, and it should be the other way around. And I don't want him to feel like he can't lean on me because I'm too weak to handle it.

I am finding that cancer is a very intimate disease. Watching someone you love face their own mortality . . . and facing it with them . . . is incredibly intimate and humbling. I suppose it could tear a couple apart. Or, in our case, it can make you grab on tighter to the other person than you ever have before.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Feeling the Love

Premios Dardo Award

"This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his or her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values every day."

Liz at Eternal Lizdom has awarded me the Premios Dardos blog award, in addition to saying some very nice things about me :) I'm honored and grateful; thank you, Liz.
And in the spirit of passing along the love, here's how it works:

Step 1: respond and rework -- answer the questions on your own blog, replace one question that you dislike with a question of your own invention, add one more question of your own.

Step 2: tag - eight other bloggers

1) What are you wearing right now?
Black vinyl bustier studded with spikes, white lace thong, black fishnets, stiletto heels. Har har. Obviously kidding. Brown cargo pants, salmon-colored sweater.
2) What is your biggest fear?
Losing someone I love. Which I have actually experienced and it is absolutely crushing. And which I have come close to experiencing just lately, or at least have experienced the very real fear and possibility of experiencing it.

3) Do you nap a lot?

4) Who is the last person you hugged?
5) What websites to you visit when you go online?
Many blogs. A Down syndrome message board. Facebook.

6) What was the last item you bought?
A strawberry-banana smoothie at Surf City Squeeze, which I shared with Lilah.

7) If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
That is a hard one to answer. Michael and I spent our honeymoon on Maui and Kauai almost 8 years ago, and it was pure paradise. I've wanted to go back ever since. However, there are also a lot of other places in the world I've never seen. If I had to choose one place to go, I guess I would choose Europe (which is actually a lot of places!).

8) If you woke up tomorrow and were a the opposite sex, what is the first thing you would do?
Punch myself for being such an ass? No, just kidding ;) Ummm, I don't know . . . probably something like what Liz said - play with the willy. Isn't that what all guys do?

9) Has a celebrity's hair cut ever influenced your own hairstyle?
Yes, I actually did get my hair cut to resemble Rachel's at the height of Friends. Also, I had a Dorothy Hammill haircut when I was 10ish, but that wasn't my choice. And I hated it.

10) What is your most embarrassing moment?
So many to choose from. The one that comes to mind is the time I came out of the ladies room when I was working for a law firm, walked all the way through the office back to my desk and then realized that the back of my dress was stuck up in my pantyhose. And I did not wear panties under pantyhose.

11) What was the last movie you watched?
I think it was The Kite Runner. It's been a while.

12) What is the last book you read?
I am finishing up The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, hopefully today (as my book club meets to discuss it tomorrow night). Before this, I read Jewell by Bret Lott.

13) If you had a whole day to yourself with no work, commitments, or interruptions what would you do?
Sleep in. Go out and eat a nice, leisurely breakfast while reading a good book. Get a massage. Get a pedicure and my nails done (heck, just make it a spa day and throw in a facial too). Maybe do a little shopping. I actually had a day like this a couple years ago. It's all I asked for for my birthday that year (I remember I was hugely pregnant with Lilah), and Michael granted my wish, and it was heavenly.

14) Is there a major goal you have that you haven't yet achieved?
I'd like to have something I've written published.

15) Drinks are on the house!! What do you order?
Some kind of martini. You know, the fancy ones that aren't really martinis at all but are called martinis because they're served in a martini glass. I like an Appletini, a Lemon Drop, or a Watermelon.

And now, passing the love on . . .

Let me say that it is really difficult to pick and choose, because there are so many blogs that I enjoy and they're all worthy in my opinion. Without further ado -

Melissa of Mommy Madness
Kristin of The Way It Is
Lovin Mama of Livin for the Love
Loren of Malakai Stow
Jennifer of Three's a Charm

This is really happening.

Michael went to the hospital this morning and had a PICC Line installed. He will start chemo tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 - Our online book club offers free books when you swap, trade, or exchange your used books with other book club members for free.

Have you heard of this?

Maybe you're like me and love to read, but instead of having the good sense to go to the library and check books out for free, you buy books. By the pile. And once you've read them, you pass them along to your friends or let them sit and collect dust. Passing them along to friends is cool. But this site is even cooler - you list books you want to unload, and for every book you mail to a requesting member, you get a credit to get a book from another member that you want. Membership is FREE. The only costs associated with this whole thing are shipping costs - you're responsible for paying the shipping for any books you send out. Click on the banner above and go check it out for yourself.

I listed 11 books to get rid of last night. I automatically got 2 credits (good for 2 books I want) for listing at least 10 books, and I've already unloaded 6 of those books, giving me 6 more credits to get 6 more books I want. Very cool!

Monday, February 16, 2009


Yesterday, Michael took Kevin and Joey skiing (well, snowboarding for Kevin) -

Kevin and Joey

Kev getting his board on

The Man

Joey and Kevin


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Is it crazy . . .

. . . that I love my life? Shouldn't I be cursing the gods, the universe, whatever? Shouldn't I be full of despair, a falling-apart mess?

I wish with all my heart that Michael didn't have cancer. And I wish Finn didn't have Down syndrome. I wish we had more money socked away. I wish the basement wasn't flooded and torn apart. I wish our mortgage payment wasn't so outrageous and our home's value plummeting with the crashing market. I wish I weighed 10 pounds less, and that I didn't have this icky loose tummy, courtesy of gestating six babies. I wish Daisy wasn't afraid of everything. I wish Annabelle would stop pulling her hair out. I wish we didn't have an a-hole as a next-door neighbor. I wish my garden were in better shape.

I wish a lot of things. But I love my life, I really do. I'm happy. I love my kids, quirks and all. I adore my husband and have a wonderful marriage that just seems to get stronger and stronger. And I believe in my heart of hearts that Michael is going to kick cancer in the teeth and be around to see our kids grow up and have families of their own. And most days lately, Finn's Ds doesn't seem like such an earth-shattering deal anymore.

I almost cringe at how Pollyanna-ish I sound. I'm not that girl. I'm actually cynical and skeptical and sarcastic and usually a little on the pessimistic side. So I don't know where this is coming from, exactly.

Will I be struck down in some way for not having the appropriate reverence for the circumstances my family faces? I wonder. But really, I do have respect and reverence for what we are facing. I just refuse to curl up and die over it and become bitter and hopeless and victimized.

We're going to be okay. I just know it.

Valentine's Day

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I have to laugh or I'll fall apart.

The parallels here are truly uncanny. The shit that has caused all this property damage . . . originates of the colon. The bowels of my house are problematic, as are the bowels of my husband . . . And the house had to have a colonoscopy performed last night (okay, it's not called that when it's your house, but, let's see, a scope with a camera on it . . .). Michael, I love you. Please don't be mad at what I'm posting here.

And it's all happening simultaneously! What the eff!?! If I didn't know better, I'd think there was some message here to heed. Like, um, "shit happens"? I don't know.

So the latest:

Michael had his radiology consult yesterday and as of now, radiation treatments are slated to begin the week after next. Apparently they must start on a Monday. Don't know why. There is now some confusion as to when he will start chemo. We were told by the oncologist that his pump will be filled up with meds and turned on this coming Thursday. However, the radiologist told M yesterday that chemo and radiation need to start on the same day, and since radiation can't start until the following Monday . . . it's all kind of up in the air at this point.

Deep breath.

As for the house. The insurance adjuster came out late yesterday afternoon, and lo and behold, the shower drain through which all the sewage upchucked the other night to cause all this mess backed up again, while the guy was here! Actually I think this was a piece of good luck on our part. He told us to get a plumber out post haste and have them run a camera through the main line, which the insurance would pay for. So we did, and the problem was found to be lots and lots of tree roots, which certainly belong to our neighbors, as we have no trees on our property but we are surrounded by neighbors who all have lots of mature trees on their properties. However, it doesn't seem possible to sort the roots and determine who they actually belong to, so we're probably screwed as far as that goes. The insurance company will pay for all of our property damage (which includes carpet, drywall, linoleum, paint, baseboards, door jambs, and a bathroom vanity), as well as the house colonoscopy, but they won't pay to remediate the root problem. Not sure what we're going to do about that, but the bottom line right now is that we're going to have some fairly major work done downstairs and the insurance company is paying for it. The timing just couldn't be . . . more ironic, I guess. Fortunately, it's isolated to downstairs and not our main living area, so it shouldn't have that big an impact on our daily goings-on.

I am going out to dinner with my husband tonight. I plan to drink. I am looking forward to it. The date and the drinking.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Strangest thing heard/said in the Morguess home today: "Kids, stay away from Daddy, he's radioactive today."

Michael had a CT/PET scan this morning, which involved his being injected with radioactive glucose, which rendered him radioactive for the day. He was advised to keep his distance from babies, children and pregnant women for about 24 hours. This was not exactly easy since Michael was home for the rest of the day dealing with our flooding issue, and given the sheer number of kids we have. We actually decided it would be better for him to leave the house for a couple of hours this evening so as not to be here during dinner and bedtime because there's no way the kids would have kept their distance from him then.

So here's the latest, in a nutshell: he has an appointment tomorrow (Friday) for a radiation consult. I assume he will be counseled during this appointment on exactly what will be involved for his daily radiation treatments, which are expected to start next week. After the consult, he meets with the "research team." I'm not clear exactly what that's about. Radiation may start as early as Monday. Next Wednesday he has to be temporarily admitted to the hospital to have his PICC Line installed. The following day, Thursday, he will go to the oncologist to get the PICC line hooked up to the pump which he will carry around in a fanny pack (oh, the jokes that will come from that; we've always made fun of those fanny packs . . .) and which will administer his chemotherapy.

This whole thing is just a damn roller coaster. It's constant up and down. Today, despite the shit downstairs, has been an up day. This whole cancer thing is almost beginning to seem normal. Almost. You know, in a really effed up normal sort of way. But tomorrow could be a whole different story.

We're hanging in there.

Because God never gives us more than we can handle

So this whole flood thing has turned into a major deal. As in thousands of dollars of damage (which, fortunately, our homeowner's insurance policy will cover, less our deductible). As in having to hire a restoration company to tear out carpet and drywall and bring in heavy equipment to dry out the affected areas.


Literally. As in gallons and gallons of it.

The sewer backed up into our shower downstairs yesterday evening. We didn't catch it until almost the entire downstairs was flooded with shitty sewer water. An emergency call to a plumber at 9:00 last night and $300 later yielded us a giant wad of tree roots that had lodged itself into our main water line.

When we bought this house, we thought it a little odd that the sellers had not carpeted the downstairs - it was all linoleum - despite the fact that the downstairs is a fully finished apartment. Now it all makes sense. I bet they had this same exact problem from time to time. Unfortunately, we did not know this and spent a good chunk of money having carpet installed throughout the downstairs shortly after we moved in. The carpet is now completely detroyed, and most likely toxic. So now I have to find someone to come out and rip out all the carpeting and hall it away.

I have this strange feeling that the gods are toying with us.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Revelation

At some point during the ordeal of last week while Michael was having all these tests run and we were waiting for results and fearing the very worst, I had a revelation.

People wonder why I have as many kids as I do. It's true that in this day and age, six kids is unusual. The truth is, I never set out to have so many children. I never dreamed I would have a large family. I knew I wanted to be a mother . . . I yearned for it for many years, but there was a time after Kevin was born, due to the circumstances of my life at that time, that I forced myself to accept the fact that I would probably never have another baby after Kevin.

But things change. I met and married Michael and we knew we wanted to have children together, and soon, as neither of us were getting any younger. We talked about having maybe two children together to make it a total of three with Kevin. So we had Joey less than a year after we got married. Two years later, we had the twins. Wow - that surpassed what we had originally planned! Suddenly we had four kids. But even after that, neither of us felt "done." So two year later, we had Lilah. After Lilah, Michael was ready to be done having babies, although he's said that if we were younger and wealthy, he'd love to have ten children (he's a really, really good dad, seriously). I still didn't feel done though, and tried to talk him into one more. Fate (or carelessness, depending on how you look at it) took the decision out of our hands, and a little less than two years after Lilah was born, we had Finn.

So now we have six kids, and you know what? If I had my druthers, I'd have another. What's this all about? I've tried to figure it out for the longest time. Why is it that my friends all have 1, 2, or 3 children and they know they're done, and they feel completely at peace with it? And how come I can't seem to get to that point?

And here was the revelation: it's all about the hope that comes with having babies. The new beginnings. There is something incredibly hopeful about being pregnant and giving birth and having a new baby . . . and I think that is what I can't seem to let go of. I've had enough unhappiness and, yes, even tragedy, in my life, that the hopefulness of having children has been this huge influence in my adult life.

Sadly, chances are we won't be having any more children. Even if I could talk Michael into "one more," the radiation treatments he will be undergoing will most likely take care of what a vasectomy would have. I can't deny that I feel a great sadness to close that chapter of our life together - the chapter of bearing children.

But I've decided that there is an incredible amount of hopefulness tied up with what Michael and our family will be undergoing over the coming months. And coming through it on the other side will be like a birth, a new beginning.

The Kids

We talked to the kids last night about Daddy being sick. I did most of the talking and tried to keep it light and brief. We talked to Kevin alone first, since he's older and his level of understanding is so far ahead of the other kids. He had a look of horror on his face when I used the word "cancer." He apparently thought cancer was always incurable. We told him that's not the case and that we have every reason to believe that Dad is going to get through this and be okay, that he's a strong guy and we're a strong family, and we'll get through this. Out of all the kids, Kevin is the only one who asked me if Michael is going to die. I told him that we're all going to die some day, but there's no reason to think that Michael is going to die anytime soon.

Man, these are just really hard things to talk about with your kids.

The second phase of the conversation was for Joey and the twins (Lilah's really too young to have any grasp of this, although she was in the room.) As soon as we told Joey we wanted to talk, he got scared and covered his ears because he was afraid of what we were going to tell him. He's so sensitive and such a worrier. I wanted to do it quickly - like ripping a bandaid off, you know? I just told them very matter of factly "The bad news is that Daddy is sick. The good news is that he's going to take some medicine for a few weeks and then have an operation - sort of like Finn had - to help him get better." Joey took it pretty well, but if I know him like I think I do, it's on his mind even if he seems like he's forgotten about it. I really don't think any of it registered much with the girls. To them, "sick" means you have a cold and you drink Sudafed out of a little cup.

Anyway, it's a relief to have it out in the open with the kids. It's been really difficult to try to keep up this front with them. I sent emails out to the boys' teachers this morning making them aware of what's going on. I just don't know how or if any of this might affect the boys at school, and I thought their teachers should be aware of what they're dealing with. All of them responded to me very quickly with words of caring and concern for the boys and our whole family, and Joey's teacher even offered to babysit if we need it!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Appointment with oncologist

Michael had an appointment with the oncologist today, a Dr. Alexson. I tagged along, although I have to say that I would rather have stayed home because I was so terrified of what this guy was going to tell us.

Let me start off by saying that I LOVED this doctor. He was a little goofy looking, which was somehow comforting. He grew up in Queens and still had a bit of a NY accent, so he and Michael swapped info on where each of them grew up, as M is also from NY. He was very warm, very down to earth, and really made an effort to put us at ease.

The doctor spent at least an hour with us and was very thorough, asking M a million questions about his family medical history, his personal medical history, etc. He then went over the MRI report with us.

Michael and I both spent the entire weekend thinking about the MRI he had on Friday and wondering what it might have shown. It was an awful sort of torture, waiting and being so scared and imagining the worst. There were many tears shed over the weekend from the fear and stress of it all.

The MRI showed that the cancer is pretty localized. It's at a stage 3, which means it likely involves surrounding lymph nodes, but the MRI showed no evidence that it's metastasized to other organs. That was our worst fear, that it had spread beyond the colon. Just hearing that felt like this great weight was lifted.

They still want to do two more scans - a CT PET scan, and an ultrasound, to get difinitive answers about the extent of the tumor, but at this point they are moving forward with getting our insurance to authorize treatment, which means Michael will start chemo and radiation by the end of this week or early part of next week. He will have a "pit line" in, which is a line that will go into a vein in his arm and through a particular artery over his heart, and the line will be connected to an exterior pump that will infuse chemotherapy meds into his body continually for about 6 weeks. He will also have to go in 5 days a week for radiation. This type of chemo is apparently not likely to make him feel sick or lose hair, and he is more likely to feel the effects of the radiation after the first couple of weeks. The doctor said that there is no reason to think he won't be able to continue working throughout the treatment, although he will probably be doing a lot of work from home and eventually will start to tire easily. Thankfully the partners at his firm are allowing him whatever flexibility he needs to get through this.

The goal is that the chemo and radiation will shrink the tumor. After radiation is complete, they will do another type of chemo for several more weeks, and then he will have surgery to remove the diseased tissue, and the surgery will be followed by one more round of chemo.

It's a lot. It's going to be quite a road ahead, but the doctor said we have every reason to be optimistic. And I do, I feel very positive and hopeful and optimistic now.

Not surprisingly, everyone has been incredibly supportive already. We are so fortunate to be surrounded by so many caring people. A neighbor not only watched the kids for us today while we went to the oncologist, she surprised us with a homemade chicken pot pie for dinner. A friend has let us know that she has a connection to someone in a medical marijuana co-op! This made me laugh :D - I hope it doesn't come to that, but hey, you never know. My midwife wants to donate blood for Michael because she said that chemo oftem leaves patients so anemic that they need a transfusion. Offers of whatever kind of help we may need are already pouring in, and I can't help but wonder what we've done to earn such esteem. So, although they are very small words, thank you, to everyone.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Some people describe the challenges that are thrown at us in life as speed bumps. And while I do agree that some can be categorized as such, there are other challenges we face that are more like potholes. They're dark and mucky and jarring, and you usually don't see them coming. Still, like speed bumps, you get past them, and maybe end up a little more wary, and a little more appreciative of the smooth, even stretches in the road of life.

I realize that what I last posted a few days ago was cryptic and have since learned that it left a whole lot more people wondering and guessing than I would have imagined. I didn't think that many people actually read this thing! Anyway, I apologize for worrying anyone. It wasn't my intention; my only goal at the time was to purge just a little bit.

So here's the deal. Michael was diagnosed with colon cancer this past week. Pretty much. We haven't gotten the results of the biopsies yet, but the doctor is pretty sure that what he saw is malignant, and is so sure, in fact, that Michael already has an appointment with an oncologist on Monday and will likely be starting a 6-week course of chemo and radiation (simultaneously) late in the week or early the following week. Eventually he will also have to have surgery.

This sucks. It's scary scary scary. It's devastating. I don't know . . . I guess I arrogantly thought that I/we had paid our dues, that I/we have been faced with enough challenges and heartbreak over the years. But nope, I guess it just doesn't work that way. There have been many, many tears shed in our house over the last week, and I'm sure there will be many, many more.

But you know what? We're going to fight this, and we're going to beat it. And we're going to come out the other side, stronger, a little more wary, and a little more appreciative of the smooth stretches in the road of life.

Fuck cancer.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The randomness of life

Good things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people. Bad things happen to good people. Bad things happen to bad people. I am convinced that it's all completely random, although, of course, there are things people bring on themselves, good and bad. I'm not even sure I believe in Karma . . . what goes around does not necessarily come around. There's no cosmic justice. There are people who, over their lives, bear far more than their fair share, and there are those who seem to get through life pretty unscathed.

Still, if I believed in God, I'd be praying right now. But I don't believe in God, or prayer. And I don't believe that Christians are spared anything - not pain or suffering or sickness or loss or death.

Where am I going with this? I don't even know.

Someone close to us may or may not be sick. We don't know. Tests are being run. It could be nothing. Or it could be a very big (bad) deal. I wish I could let it all pour forth here, the place I go to sort through all the crap that goes on in my head and my heart. But in the interests of privacy, I can't. So this cryptic shit is all I have for now.

I may or may not be blogging in the immediate future (for those who might notice and wonder). I don't know. I'm so scattered and distracted right now.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunday Morning

6:45ish a.m. Get up. Change the baby. Get dressed (meaning: put hair up in sloppy clip and throw some sweats on). The twins are already up, so make sure they go potty. Get Lilah up. Have her go potty. Throw a load of diapers in the washing machine and bring load of clothes from dryer upstairs. Get all the girls dressed. Nurse the baby. Load all four little ones into the truck because I promised them pancakes from McDonalds (terrible, I know), which was really a ploy to keep them happy so I could go through the Starbucks drivethru to get my coffee. On the way to Starbucks/McDonalds, call Michael on his cell to see how things are going with the boys and hear that Kevin got carsick on the way up the mountain and they had to pull over so he could vomit. Bring coffee and pancakes home. Put Finn in Jumperoo. Get said breakfast on the table for the girls. Clean up the kitchen. Strip bed. Transfer diapers from washer to dryer and put bedding in washing machine. Put clean sheets on bed. Send girls out to play in backyard. Make girls' beds. Give Finn a bath. While giving Finn his bath, hear girls screaming their heads off outside. Peek through window to see that they are fighting over the see-saw. Decide that I am not going to break up another silly fight; they need to learn how to work out their own differences. Nurse baby. Put baby down for nap. Pick up stray toys around the living room. Sit down to coffee which is now cold, and computer so I can blog about what I did this morning. Sigh. It's now a little after 10 a.m.


Michael took Joey and Kevin up to the mountains to ski for their first time today. It's bittersweet for me: I miss them (really!), but the semi peace and quiet is sorta nice.