Sunday, September 30, 2007

Big Week

On 19 September, my grandmother's 82nd birthday, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Further testing has shown that it is in the upper part of her lung and is contained which makes surgery the next step. The first biopsy wasn't conclusive so a second one was performed Friday and barring any unforeseen discoveries, her surgery will be Tuesday or Wednesday. She will be hospitalized for 8-10 days afterwards and then most likely radiation will follow. Up until today, I've handled it pretty well but I feel my confidence waning a bit. She called me a few days ago, the day she found out she needed a second biopsy, and was very upset. I wanted so much to say something uplifting and profound but I didn't. She openly questioned whether or not she would be able to overcome this and before I could say anything she answered herself and said she would and that she would do it for us (her family). I told her she needed to fight for herself, for HER life and that we love her and would support her and pray for her. It is very unnatural for children to become the parents. Instead of her comforting me, as it's always been, I was comforting and encouraging her. I know that may sound selfish but it's not about that. Fundamentally, it's the change that I find so unpalatable. I don't like to face the reality that my grandparents are getting older. In November, Papa John, my grandma's husband, will have been dead 10 years. It was a sudden death--heart failure--and in the last 10 years I've pretty much been in denial that any of the rest of them would leave as well.

Yesterday was my Papa Joe's 82nd birthday. Today is his wife's, aka Ma, 81st birthday. Tomorrow Papa goes in for a consultation with a neurologist to determine whether or not he is a healthy candidate for a stint in his neck to improve blood flow. Currently he has significant blockage on both sides. He had a stroke about 20 years ago and has significantly improved his diet and maintains very impressive cholesterol levels but no medication is good at undoing arterial plaque build-up. We've known about this appointment for a few weeks and it is expected that he will be given the green light for the procedure but the cardiologist wanted to make sure because of his age and I'm thankful he is being careful. The alternative of not doing anything, however, obviously puts him at a high risk for another stroke.

I grew up VERY close to all four of my grandparents. I am the oldest grandchild on both sides and the only girl on my mom's side (and for 25 years I was the only girl on my dad's side and the only granddaughter Papa John ever knew). As you might imagine, I was more than a little spoiled! They have been my cheerleaders, confidants, friends, teachers, and a soft spot to fall when my parents and I wanted to kill each other. The thought of having a baby that didn't meet them...I just can't think about it.

I understand that my emotion is not just about these specific illnesses, it's about coming to terms with the reality that one day they will leave and I will be here without them. I prefer to bury my head in the sand but this week I cannot. I was talking to Papa Joe last week when I found out about Grandma and he told me that he wasn't going to be here forever but he loves me, he knows I love him, he's had a great life, and he's proud of me. That certainly helps, but I'm still not ready.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Trillion Words

If a picture is worth a thousand words, I figure I have ordered about a trillion words worth of pictures. My friend, MM, got me into scrapbooking, thankyouverymuch. It's something I've always thought was a good idea--in theory. You know, having perfectly organized albums with warm and witty journaling so that's it's not just a picture, it's a story. I'm a creative person but I just never thought I could do it and I have to admit the elaborate layouts you see in magazines make it seem a bit overwhelming. Enter this book. I would say the way I scrapbook, but before I read it I didn't scrapbook. It would be more appropriate to say it gave me a scrapbooking plan. Plans are a good thing for me; I *always* like to have a plan.

I've ordered so many pictures in the past two days that I've had to purchase multiple pre-paid packages with Snapfish. We were the people who took dozens and dozens of pictures but never actually had them printed. See, scrapbooking is changing the way we do things!

Now I just need to show TOIAW some, ahem, results because he's getting a bid tired of seeing me spend money and not seeing any finished products. Doesn't he know these things take time?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I am outraged that President Bush *only* mentioned that Americans are outraged by the situation in Burma. I'm positive less than 20% of Americans could find Burma on a map even if their life depended on it. Nevertheless I, along with the President, find the actions of the Burmese regime to be cruel and barbaric, it is certainly not the only thing that outrages me. Darfur, anyone? I know the UN Secretary-General mentioned Sudan but apparently Americans are mainly concerned with anti-democratic movements. Okay fine, bur are we not equally outraged with the anti-democratic campaigns in China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, or Iran? Guess not.

My point (not that I need one because this is my blog)? Either do something all the way or don't do it all. I wonder if anyone else at the UN saw all of those big white elephants in the room?

I Just Remembered...

...I HATE exercise.

Princess Poopsalot and I just returned from a 6 mile walk through hilly terrain, no less, because that's how we roll. It was the least I could do since she has been driving me nustso with her pouting, sighing, and huffing (no, not that kind, it's not that bad...yet) because she is [in her mind] such a neglected puppy. For the love of all that is holy, trust me she is NOT neglected no matter how liberally you define the word. There should be a Sally Struthers-like spokesperson for poor, abused, and starving puppies so PP could watch it and get over herself. [In addition, perhaps it would bring to light the way many people treat their animals. Michael Vick is only the beginning, I'm sure. I have a friend who friend who got both of her dogs from a shelter one of which was a foster dog that she and her husband ended up adopting which is why I'll probably never be allowed near such a facility.]

My other motivation for exercising was looking at pictures of my former self while organizing and ordering the zillions of digital pictures we have. I knew my jeans didn't quite fasten as easily as they did last spring and after looking at pictures of me from our latest trips, I can see why. Whoa! Looks like PP is going to be getting a lot more LONG walks which, in turn, will save her the money she was saving to hire an attorney.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Dear Princess Poopsalot,

Although I am very much enjoying your current couch-snuggling-with-Mommy phase, do not for one minute think this somehow helps me accept your recent murderous activity. Yes, I saw the mouse you hunted and killed yesterday. It was hanging out of your mouth (we also need to work on eating like a proper lady, but it would seem this is a more pressing issue at the moment) and was quite difficult to miss. I'm sure you saw me heaving off to the side. That was a result of a combination of emotions and events including hearing your "crunch" the mouse, seeing your delight upon having bagged another kill, and, of course, the thought that my sweet baby puppy could do such a vicious thing to another living being.

Now I know what the vet said at your check-up this week: There is no harm in you eating mice. He even mentioned a Disney movie about wolves in Alaska who survive all winter on mice alone (I'm not sure if you heard that part because the technician was too busy chasing you through the clinic after you realized that needle she pulled out was for you). That's all well and good for the wolves, Baby Doll, but they are wild beasts. You, Darlin', are a domesticated animal! More importantly, your mama is not the kind of mama who can stomach the thought, much less the sight, of her precious puppy eating vermin (as evidenced by my reaction yesterday). I know you have very few boundaries (we'll blame Daddy for that), but I'm going to have to put my foot down here: One more mouse and you are only walking on the city streets.

I trust this is the last time we will need to visit this issue.

Your Loving Mommy

P.S. I know you probably don't like being called Princess Poopsalot in a public forum such as this, but Mommy doesn't want to use your real name so as to protect our anonymity. And, as you well know because we've told you on numerous occasions, you poop more than any five puppies combined so the name is quite fitting.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Touch of Home

This past weekend, TOIAW and I went to Austria to see the parents of one of my oldest and dearest friends. They were there on vacation and I was so glad we were able to see them. We didn't meet them until Sunday evening, so TOIAW and I spent Sunday here:

This lake and a smaller one were formed by two huge dams. The picture just doesn't do it justice. It was amazing! We didn't even plan on going there; we just happened upon this huge parking garage so we parked and walked up to a little building where we decided to go on what we thought was a tour of dams (you know, another dam tour...). What we actually signed up for was a bus ride to a point from which we rode a large motorized sled/escalator contraption up the mountain. Upon disembarking that contraption, we boarded another bus that took us through a series of tunnels and, eventually, to the upper lake. The water and sky were so blue and despite the modern construction of the dams, it was all very pristine.

That evening we went to dinner with my friend's parents and their traveling partners. It was a great time of catching-up and reminiscing. The next day we went for a walk around the lake and had lunch together before TOIAW and I headed back home. Sometimes I think I get so busy with my current life that I never think of parts of my "other" life growing up and how that actually formed who I am today.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Freakin' Cysts!!!

Oy vey! I had a doctor's appointment this morning and the cyst that I *really* wanted to be gone isn't...and he invited a friend to come stay on my other ovary. Generally I'm okay with uninvited guests, but these guys just cannot stay. I want to scream!

I was hoping to begin injectable fertility medications this cycle but that must wait another month. Waiting is not fun. The thing that helps me through the "you're not pregnant, again" days is knowing that we still have plenty of options and hoping one of those will work. I was also pretty excited about doing injectables. I'm doing better now but as soon as he said there was a second cyst, I really just wanted to cry. TOIAW wasn't going to attend the appointment with me but when his meeting was cancelled he did end up going. That was such a blessing! I could feel the tears and the lump in my throat and then TOIAW started asking a litany of questions such as how we're going to proceed next month and when is it time to think about IVF. Now we have a solid plan (as long as the cysts take a permanent siesta). We will try injectables either until I'm pregnant or until the end of the year. After that we will move on to IVF, if necessary. Of course IVF is not completely necessary in our case except that we would like to have at least three children and I'm 33 so you can do the math. There are other timeline factors associated with TOIAW's career and we have a somewhat brief window of opportunity in terms of specialized medical access before we move to the ends of the Earth.

It was an even better thing that TOIAW was with me on the drive home or I probably would have thrown a gala event pity party. He's my official pity party pooper. Instead we talked about how we are very fortunate to have good insurance (I don't even want to think about what this would cost us otherwise) and we are financially able to do IVF if we need to and that is a luxury many do not have. For these reasons and many more, we are so much better off than many other couples going through infertility adventures and for that I am grateful.

But seriously, bugger off you nasty cysts!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

La Sha'nah Tovah!

Happy New Year!!! Okay, you're right, it's not January 1st, but it IS the Jewish new year. TOIAW is Jewish and I lived in Israel for 3 years so I can say all the important things like counting to ten, hello and goodbye (same word, actually), ask for a check while dining out, and happy new year -- you know, the basics.

Fall is my favorite time of the year. I love the crispness of the air. I love the vivid colors of the leaves. I love watching football. I love that the holidays are just around the corner. I just LOVE everything about fall!

Most school years being anew in the fall which is because it was designed around the harvest schedule. To some extent, the Jewish calendar also follows a Northern hemisphere agricultural season, so there you go. In my mind, fall will always mean new beginnings. Even if you don't see it as a new year, it is a new season and a perfect time to reflect, renew, and recharge. La Sha'nah Tovah, to you!

My dog can do that

TOIAW got off a little early yesterday so we both took the dog for a long walk. We recently moved (because that is what we do) and one good thing about Themiddleofnowhere, Germany is there are an abundance of walking trails. We were on the home stretch (downhill portion) of our walk and the dog was digging in the tall grass of a field as she often does. In fact, she literally pounces numerous times during our walks and I always wondered what it was she was trying to catch. I guess she is finally coming into her own on the hunting front because she bagged her first kill: a mouse. She was crunching and swallowing by the time we figured out what it was (to be honest, I actually turned around and ordered TOIAW to handle it).

Would this hurt her? We needed to know. I briefly considered calling my friend and former neighbor who is a vet (shout out to you, Jess!) but decided against it because, well, if she ever gives us a bill for all the free advice she has ever given us we'll have to sell an organ or four to repay her. Instead, I called our local veterinary clinic. The receptionist was polite but did giggle a bit. I actually spoke to the doctor who assured me that dogs eating mice is no different than cats eating mice so we're good.

I wish I could find a more useful outlet for her hunting instincts. Perhaps we can train her to "hunt" out the white socks from the colored socks? They say all dogs need a job and I think mine should be a laundress.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I have a blog?

I've been reading blogs for a while now. First it was just infertility blogs (I'm kind of but not really infertile--more on that in the future) and then I came across a blog that led me to other blogs and now I have a list of daily reads. I'm so addicted that while on a cruise with my husband (The One I always wanted or, TOIAW) and his family, I spent like $566 a minute for Internet access so I could read the aforementioned daily blog list. Seriously. I know, I know...that's how I roll. I've always been a big fan of biographies and I see blogs as never-ending biographies and it really doesn't bother me that they're complete strangers.

I have noticed that a lot of people use their blogs as daily diaries and I like that because I just can't seem to be disciplined about writing in a journal. I'm not completely convinced I will be uber disciplined with the blog thing, but it's worth a try. It also seems like a great way to stay in touch with friends because TOIAW likes for us to move every year or so because, well he says it's because his job requires it, but I'm beginning to think we're running from the law or something. Does that last statement make you think of the "Dukes of Hazzard" or is it just me?