Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hi, Are You Still Here?

Hi, are you still here, or did you think I dropped off the face of the earth? If you are still here, THANK YOU! I have been wanting to write and write but I am preparing for my company’s biggest event of the year which is one month away and which I help coordinate so I have been SWAMPED!

I have also been ill with a sinus infection and slightly depressed, which makes me not want to write at all because I’m too tired and too emotional but I know that this too shall pass.

So, I’ll just catch you up to where we are now.

This past weekend was wonderful. Friday night Sophie had a friend spend the night, I baked cakes for her bday party, Ethan was at his mom’s because a cousin was having a pre-wedding bowling party or something I don’t know, but it worked out since Sophie’s friend Lexi was over. Saturday we had a SUPER busy day. Jeff did yard work in the morning while I took Ethan, Lexi, Kylie (the dog) and Sophie to Sophie’s soccer game and we brought footballs and volleyballs and soccer balls and Lexi and Ethan played together and Kylie met a Goldendoodle and everyone oohed and ahhed at her cuteness and Grandma Sue held her. They didn’t have enough players so there were no subs and Sophie was all worn out after that. They lost that game 4-2, their first loss. We came home and ate lunch and got ready for the next soccer game which they won and Sophie scored a goal! The coaches pulled some girls from other teams to help us out. Kylie met a beautiful 4-year old yellow lab named Willow and they played and played and became BFFs. Then we came home and I threw Sophie in the tub and then it was time TO P-A-R-T-Y!

Sophie’s ACTUAL birthday isn’t until Sunday but I don’t have her this weekend so we celebrated early.

Lexi left because she had a girl scout thing. I felt bad for Sophie because we invited 10 girls and only 4 could come; two dropped out at the last minute. She was disappointed and my heart hurt for her but I told her that a close-knit group of friends is a good thing and that she would actually get to spend quality time with everyone in contrast to Ethan’s bday party that Marcy plans where there are 35 freakin kids and she spends $500 on the party. (!!) (Sophie’s party cost me less than $200).

We did the same thing we did last year – per Sophie’s request – painted pottery and then came back to our house for cake, presents, piñata and play time. It was a long, exhausting but fun day though at the end of it, Sophie’s exhaustion was evident as she cried and said “Ethan ruined my birthday party.” They were having a pillow fight downstairs and also there was a dare and toilet water got splashed around and one of Sophie’s friends got sensitive but I tell you what, every time I heard the kids from the basement, there was lots of giggling and shenanigans. I told Sophie she wasn’t being fair to Ethan and the next day when she woke up she said, “I had a good party, Mom. I was just tired.” Ah, yes. Everything is brighter in the morning.
Sunday, G&G came over and we carved pumpkins which was super fun and Jeff showed me how to make (cook) pumpkin seeds and all was well until Jeff accidentally put the pumpkin guts on the wrong side of the sink and since it was a Sunday, no plumbers were available so he washed the dishes in the bathtub (and I ended up cleaning the bathtub yesterday) but all is well now as I work from home on Mondays and Roto Rooter came and we can use our kitchen sink again!
***
Meds
So I talked to my OBGYN about my PMDD and she said the only thing clinically proven to work is Prozac and I can take it only during my PMS. I got off Wellbutrin which didn’t do shit for me and Jeff begged me to get off that shit because he said it was altering my personality.
***
Weird Mom
One of Sophie’s BFFs (Lexi) who she met at her school last year – they were in the same class – is very sweet and I’m happy to have her and she uses her pleases and thank yous and she and Sophie get along fabulously. But her mother is WEIRD. I don’t know if I’ve written about them before, but everyone who has met them (Lexi’s mom and dad) agrees there is something “off” about them. Lexi couldn’t come to Sophie’s bday party because she had a girl scouts thing and Lexi’s mom texts me Thursday night and says, “I’m going to have Lexi call and ask if she can spend the night Friday or have a play date with Sophie from 9am-3pm on Saturday, is that okay?” First of all, no. You don’t have your TEN year old call the parent to ask if she can spend the night/come over. You, the parent, must ask the other parent. Second of all, she’s asking this on our busiest weekend. In the end I relented because I knew it would make Sophie happy but I made it clear that Sophie had two soccer games Saturday and Lexi would just have to tag along. Besides, if I’m carting one kid around it might as well be two or three.

Lexi’s dad dropped off her stuff Friday morning before school; at least he came to the door. Last time I took Lexi before a late start day (where they don’t start school until 11am because of teacher professional time or whatever – this happens once a month and is a giant PIA for working parents but I can get away with it because I just work from home), she dropped her daughter off in the driveway, didn’t get out of the car, and just waved to me as she was backing out. No “thank you for taking her” or “I appreciate it” or anything. Just, see ya’ bye.

There are other weird things and it’s not worth getting more into here but she’s just strange, strange in a way I can’t put my finger on.
***
Book Funk
I’m in a book funk lately. Nothing is really GRABBING at me. After a PMDD and rainy weekend a couple of weeks ago, I definitely needed a pick me up and looked for funny memoirs. I Googled some stuff and apparently I’ve already read most of the funny memoirs out there. A friend on Facebook recommended Celia Rivenbark, a Southern writer and the book I chose was “You Can’t Drink All Day if you Don’t Start in the Morning” because the title really appealed to me but I couldn’t get through it because she was just trying too hard. Finally I came across “Someone Could Get Hurt” by Drew Magary, which I thought was FABULOUS and it was just what I needed. OMG I almost snorted out my coffee at some parts – the way he describes a grocery trip store with the kids, trying to beat his time record…anyway, it’s a funny read about parenthood. Of course I whipped through it in two days so now I need something else and I’ve already read all of Sedaris and Chelsea Handler and I’ve read Bossypants and Ellen’s book and…now what?
***
That’s all I got for now. Not much of an exciting post after all this time, but you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Despair & Sunshine

I am 99.99% sure that I suffer from PMDD, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder. My PMS symptoms are not normal. I am filled with utter despair. If anyone talked to me the way I talk to myself during that time, I would be APPALLED. During this time, I don’t feel like I am worthy to walk the earth. I hate everyone and everything. I hate my kids, my family, my husband, my house – everything. My friends don’t call me back: they hate me, I have no friends, why would I, I’m such a terrible person. I’m the worst parent on earth. I’m mean to my children. I’m fat, I’m ugly, I’m unfashionable. I should just give up. Give up on life. I’m stupid, I’m an idiot, I’m lazy. I can’t do anything right.

Jeff sees a marked difference in my mood during this time, as you might imagine. I tend to pick fights, blow everything out of proportion; act like a teenager. Become paranoid.

If you spent one minute in my head during that time, you would be TERRIFIED. I basically want to kill myself once a month. That can’t be normal, right?

And then, after a couple of days,* it’s all over. Sunshine. I have great friends. I’m not the perfect parent but I try my best. My children are wonderful. I’m pretty smart and pretty cool. I have a good life, and I am grateful for it. I have lots of blessings in my life. If my friends don’t call me back, they must be busy; that’s all.

It’s so bad that I am definitely talking to my obgyn when I go in for my annual on Monday. The problem is that I am already on anti-depressants/anti-anxiety drugs and clearly that has no effect during this time. I really don’t want to add any more drugs as my primary just added Wellbutrin to help me quit smoking, which I thought would help with the PMDD, but no, it did not at all. Maybe if I increase the dose?

I did find some stuff on the Internet about “lifestyle changes” – avoiding caffeine, tobacco, alcohol and sugar; the things I crave most during that time. I do eat pretty healthy though. And I try to exercise every day; I try to be active every chance I get. This week I’ve been waking up at 5:15 to get my Zumba in before Sophie wakes at 7. Yesterday Jeff made me sleep in because I was so cranky. Yeah, well you would be too. He doesn’t understand why I do this; but I have no other time to work out as in the evening I am hungry, tired and drained, but more importantly, I have to take Sophie to/from her activities.

I did also find reports that chasteberry extract can help, along with calcium, vitamin B6 & vitamin E. Maybe I’ll have to add those to my already-full vitamin regimen.

If someone has a miracle solution, I’m all ears.

*the symptoms are worst the few days leading up to my period, but the anxiety and irritability become pronounced at the beginning of the week.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Diagnosis Anniversary

This cancer journey for Summar and Sapphire started two years ago. Two very, very long years. Remember, I was in Portland to support Summar just after her diagnosis, and there when we took Sapphire to the dreaded third floor of the children’s hospital – the children’s cancer and blood disorder floor – and that’s where I stayed out my visit. It is a day I’ll never forget. On this trip, I arrived just a couple of days after Summar’s diagnosis anniversary, and left the day of Sapphire’s.

I was able to accompany Sapphire to her clinic appointment at the hospital on Tuesday, where she gets blood drawn through her port to check her counts, and where she is also administered chemo. (She takes chemo daily at home as well). I was able to meet her “chemo pal” Kelly, a very sweet girl whose role is to distract Sapphire with fun games and activities while she is getting treatment, while the doc talks to mom and dad, while waiting for the blood results to come back, etc. It takes about two hours in all.

Of course, Sapphire is an old hat at this by now but the distractions Kelly provides – lego friends, balls, silly puddy, board games, etc. – are much needed and are helpful. Sapphire is by far the bravest girl I know. Diagnosed at age 3 and now 5, she has started kindergarten and is happy to be with friends. One of the doctors mentioned to Summar, who relayed it to me, that Sapphire has no healthy frame of reference. That is, she does not have any memory of what it’s like to be a healthy child. She only knows what it’s like to be sick and she is understandably SICK OF BEING SICK. Thankfully, her journey will be soon coming to a close – her treatment roadmap shows this November as the end of chemotherapy. She will still be monitored closely – blood work taken regularly to ensure her immune system is not compromised; antibiotics taken daily to help boost that immune system; extreme caution still taken when going out in public as her system for quite a while will be more susceptible to catching whatever is going around…This will go on for about a year.

Now for Summar’s treatment: That is the blow of having Stage IV metastatic. Summar’s cancer has no cure. She will always have cancer, and she will always be in treatment. She will always be taking pills, always have doctor’s appointments and clinic appointments and infusion appointments. There is no end in sight for her which makes it even harder to cope as she too is SICK OF BEING SICK.

Summar & Pascal are married with two young kids who go to school and do sports – they have the same stresses that every parent has, the same chores, the same getting kids fed and homework done and off to activities and in bath and story time and to bed. Except they also have clinic appointments and doctor’s appointments and at-home chemo to administer and steroid meltdowns and financial stress and logistical stress (getting Summar AND Sapphire to/from separate appointments in separate locations on the same day, as Summar is not always well enough to drive). *I* am a parent and I even get to work from home sometimes and if I need to I can rely on Jeff, Jamie and TT to help me out, and *I* always feel rushed and overwhelmed and tired so I try to multiply that by 1,000 and that is how Summar & Pascal must feel every day, I think.

I look forward to November for Sapphire and the entire family.

I am hopeful for Summar now that she has a new doctor who seems to be intelligent, knowledgeable, and empathetic.

I believe in science and treatments and medicine, but I also believe in the power of prayer.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sisters

This is what Summar posted on Facebook today, after my visit in Portland this past week:
“Sisters are angels who lift us to our feet, when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.”
I am so blessed to have had my childhood friend, my Soul Sister, Farrell in town for a long weekend visit. Not only did she love on my babies, help around the house, assist running the METAvivor booth on Saturday, but was by my side to wipe away my tears, console my fears, and care for me while sick and in pain. I love you always and forever Sis, as do Pascal and the kids!
God I love that girl.

Summar has good days and bad days. Days where she rallies like on Saturday when we had a fundraiser for the organization she volunteers for, METAvivor, which is dedicated to educating, supporting, and fundraising for women with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer.

That girl can rally like nobody I’ve ever seen.

After the rest of the weekend activities, which included lunch outings and church and walks to the park with the kids and dogs, Summar was understandably hurting and exhausted on Monday.

It was so good to be able to see her, hug her, wipe her tears, make her laugh…good for both Summar and Pascal to have an extra set of adult hands around to help out with the kids and chores although Pascal never sits down so I really didn’t do any chores.

It’s hard to watch a loved one in pain, knowing you can’t “fix” it or make it better or take it away. All you can do is love and comfort and pray and hope it’s enough.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I Am Mean

Last night we had a lot going on – we were celebrating Ethan’s birthday which is today – DOUBLE DIGITS!! And we had training with Kylie. Jeff picked up Sophie from school and then picked me up at my office, then we picked Ethan up at his mom’s, and went to training, which was an hour. By the time that was over, we were ALL starving. But Sophie won’t go out to eat due to her food issues. So we stopped at East Coast Pizza and Ethan and Jeff ran in to get something and Sophie and I stayed in the car with Kylie.

Sophie was already upset that day because they had a fire drill at school, and she knew it was coming and started to have a panic attack. Then the girl next to her told her to knock it off or get over it or something which only upset Sophie more. She also already had anxiety over the math worksheets she had for homework, which were division, and she said she didn’t understand it; it didn’t make sense to her.

So we didn’t get home until near 7 because I had to pick up the cookie cake I ordered for Ethan (baseball-themed of course!) and then *I* had to eat as well. She had three worksheets with 12 division problems on each sheet, which is kind of a lot. We started at 7pm. We didn’t end until after 9pm.

I figured out what the teacher wanted and how she wanted the kids to do the problems (they teach math FUNKY these days – don’t even get me started) and Sophie was getting the right answers but she has a mental block against math (as I did when I was younger) and she’s not fast enough on her multiplication facts to get the answers right away (i.e. 6 times what gets you closest to 43 without going over because the problem was 43/6) and I got frustrated and had to take a time out, then we took a break to celebrate which was the lamest birthday celebration ever because Jeff is so not into birthdays and if I hadn’t ordered the cookie cake, Ethan would have had nothing, though he did have a 30-kid party at Sky Zone that Marcy threw him this past weekend – don’t even get me started – a $530 party. FOR A TEN YEAR OLD.

So there were tears and basically she just makes it more complicated than it is. Jamie and Sophie can’t do math together because he doesn’t have the patience and it’s like me and Tom not being able to do it together. I feel like I really lost my patience with Sophie but Jeff said I didn’t, that I stuck with it.

But here is my regret: She was crying and fussing and it was a REALLY simple answer I needed her to give me and she said “stop yelling at me” even though I never actually raised my voice and then I said what I had been feeling for a long time, which is probably just about the absolute meanest thing I’ve ever said to my daughter. I said, “Please do not through another fit on Tuesday. You always throw a fit on Tuesdays and if I were Ethan I wouldn’t even want to BE here on Tuesdays.”

Well as you can imagine, that didn’t help matters anyway. And I apologized and said it was mean of me and then when we finally laid down to bed at 9:30pm (GOOD GRIEF), I was completely and totally emotionally drained and Sophie asked me, “Do you really think Ethan is going to switch his days?”

I am a mean person.

Then Sophie screamed “MOM!” this morning because she had a dream that Papa was dead.

I ALWAYS have bad days on Tuesdays – Terrible Tuesdays instead of Terrific Tuesdays – and I feel bad for Ethan because Sophie is always throwing a fit and I am always a total bitch.

Thankfully today is a new day, even though now my daughter thinks Ethan doesn’t want to be here because of HER and *I’m* the one who put that thought in her head.

At least she has something new to talk about with her therapist. (Literally)

Friday, September 05, 2014

Please Don’t Make Me Wear Ugly Shoes

So I don’t have gout which is a good thing but I do have a bunion on my left foot. And I can feel it when I walk and I love to walk and walk and walk and it’s not comfortable. My primary care referred me to a podiatrist which makes me feel like an old lady. I’m not sure if you recall, but my mom had foot surgery last October (?) for her bunion and I definitely don’t want mine to get to that point. They are hereditary so thanks Mom.

Now I have to find proper shoes because that is key. It’s funny, bunions can be caused by wearing high heels but I hardly ever wear high heels though my favorites are my pointy-toed black ones that are in dire need of replacement. And they are only like an inch and a half tall. I don’t do 3-inch heels. Apparently, pointy-toed shoes for bunions are a BIG no-no.

Right now my tennis shoes/sneakers are Sketchers. Actually, I have three pairs of sketchers but only one I wear for exercise; the others are casual. So now I need to find the best walking shoes for bunions which shouldn’t be too hard to find ones I like. The problem comes in when I have to find dress-up shoes for work. Because I do NOT like these AT ALL:

I know I’m not fashionable but even I know ugly.