Safety and Security Notice:

I never include last names or specific locations here, for the safety of our children. If you or your child is a friend of me or mine, and you approve a first name and photo being posted as appropriate, please click this link to email me with written permission. Thank you

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Okay? Yes. Fine? Well...

This is a Cancer Post™. Also a rare-ish Post With Bad Language™.

You have been warned.

The thing about long term medical emergencies is that life goes on around them. A few examples from this week:


Laston is - as usual - annoyed with television commercials. Possibly even more than usual, as he was stuck in a hospital room and hates working with his phone or tablet for computer-y things. So he watched a lot of TV, and let's just say, he never again wants to buy Bush's Beans, half a dozen different drugs, or any number of potential products and services for which the ads were practically infomercials.

Not that he ever really did, but he's even more adamant than usual.


Abby had a key lime pie to make as a belated birthday gift for her dad. She started it when I was at Weight Watchers on Friday, and - being Abby - she faithfully texted me to ask permission to turn on the oven when I wasn't home. Then she called me on the way home to ask me to get eggs, as she needs more yolks for her pie. No problem. Got eggs. Watched her mix ingredients. Watched her heat the oven (she waited for me after all; such a conscientious child). Watched her put it in. All is well.

Timer dings. I hear rummaging noises and then, "Oh, NO!"

Oh yes.

I rush into the kitchen and there is Abby, pie filling in her hair, a slightly red scorch mark on her forehead (and filling on the oven mitt that matched the above), and an aluminum pie tin folded in half, where it collapsed when she picked it up.

She got in the shower, and I got more condensed milk and pie crust.

And then she put the second pie on a cookie sheet.


Lizzy is an interesting mix of eight-year-old inattention and scientific curiosity. She is simultaneously grossed out by the mere thought of the (nine! nine liters!) of fluid the doctors eventually got out of Laston's gut, and fascinated that it could all fit in there. 

We received her report card in the mail yesterday, and there she is, my little brainiac babygeek. All threes (at grade level) and fours (exceeding grade level) in academics, and the still-working-on-it scores in  those things like self-starter and consistent-at-turning-in-homework-on-time. She got props from her teacher for showing the beginnings of leadership skills and for sheer determination for the things she cares about. 

It's the boring stuff like that homework that she's having trouble with: the hallmark of the bright kid. 

I'm just glad she knows how to be nice to people. The origami heart she gave one of the nurses (Daddy taught her to make it) with "take care of dad" printed in it is evidence of that.


Not everything is normal. 

The kids don't normally get piles of candy when it's not a holiday, for instance, but Uncle Steve took all three of them to QFC (the hospital gift shop was closed) and let them loose in the candy aisle. 

Thanks a bunch, Uncle Steve. 

Abby's dad took her for the weekend as usual, but he's transporting both ways this time. Usually I take Abby to him (because traffic sucks) and then he brings her back on Sunday. Thanks (and this time I mean it, unlike with Uncle Steve).

My sister took Miz Liz Friday through Saturday afternoon. This is also not usual; generally when Lizzy and her cousin have a sleepover it's at Grandma's house. Thanks, Sis.

A friend offered to make a Costco run for me. It isn't necessary at this time, but about the nicest thing I can think of just now.


Laston, it turns out, is suffering from malnutrition. This is a combination of not having any appetite, and that his liver has thrown up its metaphorical hands and said fuckitall, so he's not absorbing what he does get. To that end, the hospital dietitian has him on an Ensure (or equivalent; I got him the Kroger brand with extra protein) three times a day, plus whatever he can choke down by way of food. 

Popcorn chicken seems to be okay in small amounts. He also didn't mind some beans (not Bush's), some yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit, and what Abby is calling Deconstructed Key Lime Pie.


And me? I can laugh now, but today marks the first time in about twenty years that a customer has made me cry.

I won't give you any identifiers, because that would be unethical, but let's just say that my supervisor, Erinn, plucked the headset right off my head and took over the call. Now, Erinn generally shows equanimity in the face of just about everything, and even she was hard put to talk to this customer (I won't call her a lady; that term is inaccurate) without her hands shaking.

So yes, I'm almost certainly oversensitive, but this person managed to flap the most unflappable customer service person I know.


We're doing okay, all of us.

So when you ask, and I say I'm fine? I'm not fine. 

But I am okay.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Chemotherapy Sucks

This is a Cancer Post™.

Or more specifically, a Chemotherapy Post™.

Laston's liver is not fond of the chemo - as those of you reading my Facebook and/or Google Plus posts are well aware - and yesterday was the second time in two weeks that it basically said, "Screw this; I'm done with trying to filter. Someone else do it for a change."

So now Laston is in the hospital, and he's had a ton (well, five liters) of random fluid drained from his abdomen, and they will probably drain more (they don't want to do it all at once if it's more than four or five liters because that can cause blood pressure to plummet through the floor).

He's feeling pretty good at the moment, and his mom, aunt, and a couple cousins are in town to visit him. We spent a few hours at the hospital with him this morning, then went to lunch, and then came home to visit (and to receive Grandma Dianna Goodies™, which come whenever she does; this time we got some patio furniture and a couple of end tables).

The inlaws are going to go get Leanna so she can visit her dad in the hospital too, and then after that hossy visit, Leanna and the inlaws are going to retire to their hotel, while Abby & Lizzy & I come back here.

Thank Google for family, United Health Care, the Family Medical Leave Act, and my immediate supervisor, who sent me this, because he knows my new mantra.

So we'll keep swimming...

Saturday, June 18, 2016

"Just Keep Swimming"

It's my new catchphrase.

I have adopted it. Now it's mine (with apologies to Pixar, Disney, and Ellen).

Because if you think about it, this is a really good way to approach life, whether you have "short term remembery loss" or not.




Oh, there were some other great lines (no spoilers), like, "Holy Carp!!"

But Just Keep Swimming is something I can remind myself to do.

So Ellen? Pixar? Disney?


Friday, June 17, 2016


Life is all about it, in many ways. The way we look, the way we speak, our personal brands (this is not officially a political statement, but I honestly don't care at this point if it comes across that way. I'm talking about other things today). This is not a Cancer Post™.

Today at my Weight Watchers meeting we discussed (body) image, and I realized a few things afresh.
I gained weight this week, and I was full of personal recrimination at first. But then I thought about it. I had a rough week, as you know if you've been paying attention (and lots of people have had harder ones, I know. But this is apparently Self Care Blog Week for me. Live with it). Laston in the ER last week, horrific things in the news all week, asthma/anxiety attacks therefrom on my part, still being functionally female.

You know, life, but rather more than usual. This is not to absolve myself of responsibility for my poor food choices or for ignoring WW tracking most days after lunch this week. I did those things and I own them. But they are mitigating circumstances, you know? No sense in beating myself up for them; then I just eat more out of - I dunno - guilt?

Time to get back up on that horse, back on the diet wagon, "tomorrow is another day," (apologies to Miss O'Hara) and etc.

Or to put it another way, in the words of my WW fellow traveler Joni, "Be positive about what your body can do."

Our meeting leader had us write down one thing we each like about our bodies (I have nice calves; they're strong and shapely) and what they can do or have done that is impressive.

I grew two human beings in mine, and if they can avoid these body image issues (so far so good, for the most part), then I have not only grown them in my body, I have helped to shape them into decent humans who honestly don't worry overmuch about what they - or other people - look like.

Because look at these two, on the first and last days of school. No body image problems here. And I like to think they extend that to others, as regards everything from body shape on down the line of "differences."

There's a reason my eight-year-old tells me I'm not fat, just "soft." Fat doesn't enter into her list of adjectives, and to her, my cuddliness is far more important.

I think that's a good image to have. My personal brand as the "cuddly mom."

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A TARDIS Full of Drugs

Thankfully, my TARDIS lunchbox is not bigger on the inside, because I took everything I'm taking by way of medication, supplements, etc., with me to the doctor today.

Because, you see, in addition to the asthma/anxiety issues I've been having (and probably related to same), I appear to have Fuzzy Brain, and there was no way I was going to remember the dosages and stuff. Easier to bring it all in.

And actually, for an obese asthmatic hypothyroid 40-something with seasonal depression and very good reasons for situational depression and anxiety, I have pretty few drugs. Hence not bigger-on-the-inside. I have a thyroid thing, a depression/anxiety thing, and a blood pressure thing; everything else is vitamins and minerals and my rescue inhaler.

Apparently, I am in pretty good health for a person with all that up there. My pulse, blood oxygen, and temperature were all 98 on the nose. My blood pressure was fine, none of my "wisdom spots" have grown or changed, and I'm not due for the girl-tests for several months. I got many kudos for 10.6 pounds in 12 weeks (thank you Weight Watchers) and all the blood work was done.

They're on the lookout for diabetes (always been high risk),  high cholesterol, and low Vitamin D and iron, as well as checking to make sure my thyroid dosage does not need adjusting.

The interesting part of this for me is... how to explain it? Okay, so when I'm at work, and someone calls with a phone that isn't connecting to the tower, there are usually indicators as to whether it's the phone or the account or the tower that's causing the issue. The indicators here were those 98s, specifically the blood oxygen one.

Ninety-eight is really good, especially for us asthmatic/low iron types. It kind of suggests that I am getting enough oxygen in my lungs and therefore into my blood, even with the asthma attacks I've had here recently. They certainly feel like asthma, and the rescue inhaler helps, but the doctors think they may be - if not actual panic attacks - something like anxiety-induced asthma.

Because the Evil Alder Pollen season is over, after all; it's not allergy induced, most likely.

So (assuming the test results don't show a counter indication), we're doing the following: doubling the anti-anxiety med (I'm on the lowest dose anyway), and taking that at bedtime. This should help me sleep, which mitigates the insomnia part of the vicious cycle. They're referring me to a counselor for similar reasons, and as I understand it, the counselors at my doctor's office work closely with the social worker on Laston's oncology team, so they know what's going on and sort of specialize in caring for the caregiver.

Honestly, if I could sleep better, I could be less fuzzy in my thinking, lose weight, be less anxious, have more energy for care-giving and parenting and house stuff, and a host of other good things could happen.

Now all I need is the cure for cancer and a day at the spa, and it's all good.

EDIT: I should also note, for my sweet, worried colleagues, that my not-a-rescue inhaler was renewed as well. Okay, Mama D? Erinn? James?

Sunday, June 12, 2016

This Can't Go On...

A Political Post™. Also a Cancer Post™, a Social Justice Post™, and what the hell, also an Asthma Post™.

Because, at least for me, there is a link between these topics.

You see, stress and anxiety are both asthma triggers for me.

And between Laston's cancer and all the associated issues, the 2016 US presidential election, horrific news stories about mass shootings and local teachers getting hit with hammers and senseless violence everywhere, and just the usual life-shit that happens, there is a lot of stress and anxiety in my life right now.

Oh, yes, also an Obscene Post™ (because profanity is a different beast, although there may be some of that too).

I'm... tired. Just tired. There is too much shit going down in my world and that of people I care about, and hence... asthma attack. Two big ones in as many weeks.

I suspect today's was triggered by the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, or if not the shooting itself, then the shameful reaction by anyone sitting in his holier-than-thou tower and saying it was justified because they were gay or wrong or sinners.

That the shooter has a Muslim name just makes them even smugger.

Christians my ass. This is not Christian behavior. This is the behavior of stupid and small little people who think that their own squick factor overrides human decency. It really is that simple.

My eight-year-old knows this. And she's not even a churchgoer; she has just been brought up on basic decent and mostly-kind behavior. Ditto my thirteen-year-old, perhaps even moreso, as she has more social skills.

Be kind and decent to people. All people, not only the ones in your short-sighted little tribe. That's all it is. Live by the goddamn Thumper Principle. Or the Golden Rule. Or Karma or the Rule of Three, or whatever your belief system calls the Being a Decent Human Being Rule.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take a dose of last spring's leftover cough syrup and try to sleep off this asthma attack.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Wheels of Social Security Grind Exceedingly Slow...

...but it looks like they are probably grinding, at least.

This is a Cancer Post™ (along with associated issues).

And fair warning, I'm a tiny bit PG-13 today. No F-bombs (probably), but there may be others.

I'm pissy about what my mom calls "the moving target that is cancer." I like to feel like there's some control over life. My ex-husband would probably call me a control freak (and who knows, Laston might too) but I just like to feel like there is control, even if it's not mine. With cancer you don't get that shit; there is no control, and all you can do is roll with the punches. Well, we're pretty battered by the punches over here, and we'd love to have a break from them.

Laston's UI insurance ran out a few weeks ago. Although I have been on UI before (more often than I'd like, frankly), I hadn't realized that the automatic extensions are only there during times of serious recession. In the normal scheme of joblessness, the assumption is that one should be able to find "suitable employment" in six months, so there.

Which works great if (a) you don't have chemotherapy and associated medical thingies to attend weekly or more, and (b) you have **any spoons** whatsoever.

Even if he had the spoons on a more regular basis, people don't want to hire him, because of the scheduling issues. They can't reject him because he's sick - that would violate ADA regulations - but they can reject him because he can't predict his schedule with a reasonable amount of, well, predictability.

In any case, we went down to the SSA on Tuesday to find out if he qualifies for disability. He damn well should; he's paid into said system for something like 35 years.

And he probably does. They'll let us know in eight to ten business days (from last Tuesday). And then another eight to ten days after that (assuming he qualifies), the SSA deposits a check into our joint checking account.

The good news? That's a check for both April and May. And he may qualify for other assistance (but they didn't want to slow this one down - it's fast-tracked - by adding others in there).

The bad news? He won't get it until mid-June. After his birthday, natch (and my ex-husband's (Abby's dad) birthday too, for that matter).

Why'd you have to be born in June, guys? Come on.

It's before Fathers' Day, at least. So there's that.

Anyway, there's enough for bills, but we're scraping for extras, and it's pissing me off. I could work overtime (and I did earn some overtime pay on Memorial Day) but I also need to be here taking care of people.

Bleah. Sorry. Rant over.

So, the Good Stuff: Laston's tumor marker numbers are down! This is the Best Thing of the Good Stuff. We probably get SSDI for him. He should be feeling better after tomorrow, when we go to Swedish Edmonds to get this excess fluid in his abdomen drained (rah, rah, chemo side effects, yay. Ugh). In fact, he feels pretty good today, because yesterday they gave him a two-hour infusion of magnesium as well as the short-chemo-day mix called Erbitux.

Everyone else in the family is fairly healthy.

Lizzy has just discovered the plight of the house-elf.

So that's normal, at least.