The One Where I Kinda Bum You Out

I suppose if I’m going to hog this domain name, that I could actually blog once in a while. Thing is, along with all the hubbub and running around and preparations we make for the holidays, I’ve also got this looming dark cloud over me lately.

I am really out of sorts right now because recently, one of my favorite teachers from high school passed away at age 52 from breast cancer. I was a student of hers for many years, and she was a warm, wonderful woman and a great mentor. I had always meant to pop into the school and visit her, but never did. Something beat me to it: CANCER.

I think her death reopened something inside of me about my own cancer that I had locked up and buried deep, deep below layers and layers of myself. All of a sudden it hit me like a brick to the forehead: I have had cancer.

Living in the online world, cancer touches you from far and wide. I was reading that a blogger that I follow who was treated for stage 3 melanoma only to find out she had stage 4 ovarian cancer, has had her ovarian cancer return for the third time. And her story now has me really worried about the BRCA gene mutations. These mutations are commonly known as increasing a person’s likelihood to develop breast cancer, but can also mean increased likelihood of other cancers, including malignant melanoma. I don’t know if I’ve been tested for this mutation or not, I plan to ask my dermatologist if this was part of the blood work I had done in March. But, I would make it my (uneducated hypochondriac) guess that if you get cancer under the age of 35 then you might have the mutation.

So cancer has been on my mind lately. REALLY been on my mind. Not just because of these things, but also because I’m looking back at the last 10 years of my life and thinking of all the abuse I put my body through. I didn’t really take care of myself at all. Junk food, diet soda, alcohol, no regular exercise, heavy anxiety, all of this takes its toll. And only NOW am I realizing this.

I’m afraid I’ve done things to my body that I can’t take back, and can’t fix. Because my lymph node came back clear last spring, they ended up not giving me a full body scan. I did have a chest X-ray, so I know my lungs are clear. Which is a good thing. I also had a physical with my gynecologist over the summer, who said everything looked and felt fine to her. But I have the nagging, nagging, NAGGING feeling that they’ve missed something, overlooked something. Because I’m so young, they’re not looking hard enough, not taking things seriously. Of course, I’m way too chicken to go in and ask for the scan. Not only can we not afford it, with $3,000 left from our $15,000 owed out of pocket from the past 2 years, but also I’m afraid they will find something. Which, yes, of course, it’s better to be informed. But being informed means not living in ignorant bliss. Though I would not call my current state of being “bliss” either.

I think when they told me I had cancer, even though they had caught it in time, and it hadn’t spread, I’ve been treating that diagnosis as the beginning of the end. I am now headed to the end of my life. Rather than treating it as the new beginning that it should be. I know that kind of thinking isn’t normal, but I can’t really help it. I need to figure out how to change how I view life and death.

After the cancer diagnosis, there was the actual surgery, which was pretty much the beginning of the end of me breastfeeding Ferris (which if you’ll recall, I had to stop doing when he was 8 months, because he was confusing me with the bottle and biting me until I bled). And there was the false alarm, where the surgeon told me the melanoma had spread to the lymph node, only to call me a week later to say, “No, whoops, sorry about that. You’re good.” That was very difficult. And I’m still wondering, “Are you sure? ARE YOU ABSOLUTELY SURE?!”

I’m trying to focus on 2014. A new year brings new hope, new promise, new life. But, for a person with anxiety issues, a new year also brings new challenges, new problems, new struggles. I barely made it through this year. What if next year is worse?!

I have some changes in mind for 2014, things I can do to better myself and my life, and hopefully help the year not be worse than this one was. I’m trying to be optimistic, and I’m trying to dig myself out of the dumps, if only to not be such a bummer. I want to get the anxiety under control, I want to change the diet a LOT, I want to get past this depression, or whatever funk I’m in, so I can enjoy every day. Every hour. Every minute.

I knew a blogger that found out she had melanoma, and died just months later. I’ve been given a longer time than she was given. Knowing that I need to do more with my time is obvious, but actually following through without feeling so down and so sorry for myself is another game. A game I plan to OWN.

Thanks for sticking with me, folks.

 

 

 

Hi! I’m Still Alive, I Swear!

You guys! I’ve missed you. I haven’t blogged in eons, and I’m so sorry. I’ve been crazy busy! Which I know everyone says. And I fall firmly in the “let’s stop the glorification of busy” camp. BUT.

Being an elementary school mom is mad cakes. The handouts that come home. I could reshape them into a whole tree. (And this is San Francisco!) And each one is asking something from me: volunteer in the classroom, volunteer at this event, you’ve got a parent-teacher conference coming up, we need a dish for this event, can you bake something for this event, hey guess what we want the parents and teachers to get together for a night out so if all that other stuff doesn’t have you too bogged down…

And then there’s the matter of my second son, who we might as well just call Spiderman or King Kong at this point because the kid can climb ANYTHING. I turn my back for 10 seconds, and he’s scaled another structure in our house. Or at the library. Or in our hotel room. Or at Target. So, when he’s awake, there is no put-him-down-to-roam-and-play. It’s me getting up every 10 seconds to peel him off his latest conquest. It keeps a lady busy.

And then there’s the matter of our latest little venture away from home. My little brother Jeremy got married in Florida this past weekend. My baby brother! Married! It happened.

We flew from San Francisco to Fort Myers, stayed for 4 days and then flew back. It was a whirlwind (wonderful!) weekend that included the longest flight that Bowie has ever been on, and our first flight as a family of four. So you can imagine the fun that was had. There was even a lady that told Ferris to “shut up, kid!” when he cried on our 6 a.m. flight bound for home. Yep. She did. Amongst other things. Turns out most of the other people on the flight were annoyed but once they figured out what a raging bitch this woman was, they were more sympathetic. Some of them even commiserated. One guy flew 18 hours with his one year old. Dude deserves a MEDAL OF HONOR.

I have about 100 small drafts of blog posts just hanging out in my drafts folder. But I know that doesn’t really help you guys out too much. The past month has just been one thing after another and I can’t find the time to sit and type, nor can I apply the necessary brain power to coming up with new post ideas. I even picked my computer up when we returned from our trip and had to wipe a layer of dust off of it.

To help liven this apology post up a little, I offer you 3 interesting things I found on the Internet this week. Love you guys, thanks for tuning in and still reading.

1. Whenever you think you’re having a bad day, just remember that you’ve got it better than a good percentage of the rest of the world.

2. This anti-bullying video puts what kids go through into an adult perspective. It really hit home for me. I’ve always been against bullying, of course, but I didn’t know how to relate to a bullied child until I saw this. Powerful stuff.

3. Turns out, I’m not just shy, I’m totally socially awkward.

I Am the Face

I still think about the baby I miscarried. Every day. Some days, just a fleeting thought. Other days, I cry a little bit about it. It’s hard to believe it’s been 2 1/2 years, because sometimes it can still feel like it just happened.

In the days shortly after, I thought that if I could just get pregnant again, I could forget all about it and move on. Nine months later I finally got pregnant with Ferris, and I did not forget all about it, and did not move on. Quite the opposite, actually. Not only was I fraught with worry for the ENTIRE pregnancy that something would go horribly wrong, but I also felt so guilty for being so happy to be pregnant again. That maybe at some point I actually would forget the baby I miscarried.

Then I thought when I just had the healthy baby boy in my arms, it would help me stop being sad at least. But then, Ferris arrived, and nope. I didn’t stop being sad. Of course I was, and am now, a lot less sad than I had been before, but there’s still a little bit of hurt that lingers.

Today is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day. Looking back, the one thing I wish more than anything else (aside from not miscarrying to begin with) was that I had been exactly that: more aware. I was completely clueless. And wrote on my blog at just 7 weeks that I was pregnant. So my loss was fairly public. Which was good in some ways, not so good in other ways.

Miscarriage is something that just isn’t talked about, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. It happens to so many women. It happens to one in four pregnancies. ONE IN FOUR! So why are we keeping ourselves so in the dark about it?

Of course I knew it was a possibility. I had heard about it, knew a little bit about it. But I so naively thought it was something that only happened to women with fertility issues. I can’t believe I thought that! And I’d been pregnant and had Bowie, no issues at all, so I thought I was in the clear. I can just get pregnant again, nothing to worry about at all.

I know why no one talks about it: it’s unpleasant. To say the least. It’s a total downer. Its’ awkward. How would that conversation even go? It’s not information you’d necessarily pass on, unless someone you know is actively trying, or is newly pregnant. So what would you say? “Hey, congratulations on your pregnancy! You know you have a 20% chance of losing it, right? Just wanted you to know.”

But, something we can do is come together on Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day, share our stories, and hope that we can simply bring a little comfort to a woman who miscarries tomorrow, next week, next year. Help her feel a little warmth in her coldest hour, knowing that she’s not alone. And it’s not her fault. And she can grieve in whatever way, and for however long, she needs to. Because the pain can linger for a long, long time. And there’s nothing worse than dealing with that kind of pain, and thinking you’re alone. You’re not alone. We’re here. All of us. You will get through, and you’ll be ok.

 

One.

One year, you guys! ONE YEAR! How has it been an entire YEAR already?

One minute, you’re fumbling with putting a newborn into a carseat, and the next minute you’re picking out a big, chocolatey cupcake for them to tear into.

In some ways, I CAN’T believe that an entire year has slipped by. It has gone so fast! But, then I look back at the many things our little family has been through this past year and ok, it really HAS been a year. Much to this mama’s chagrin. I’m still trying to wrap my head around Kindergarten, and then the baby has to go and turn one. Good grief.

So yeah, Ferris. One. Already. From snuggly little ball of baby love to dimply big boy toddler. So fast!

Likes: kitchen drawers, swimming class, brother, brother’s room, milk, graham crackers, baths, sitting in shopping carts, music, pooping in his sleep in the middle of the night, books, cars, trucks and kitty’s water bowl.

Dislikes: diaper changes, wipeouts, leaving brother’s room, people who eat in front of him and don’t share, sippy cups, washcloths, hats, the safety straps on shopping carts and me going to the bathroom before getting him from his crib in the morning.

He is starting to talk a lot, mostly just using his favorite phrases, “What’s this?” and “What’s that?” But he says mama and dada, and knows how to ask for a baba. He’s learning to say brother and Bowie. When you hand him a Matchbox car, he says vroom. And he has a sign that he makes, where he points with his right index finger at his open left palm. I never taught my boys to sign, so I’m not sure what it means. And it probably doesn’t mean whatever it’s supposed to mean. At first I thought it meant “more”, because he’s usually doing it in his high chair. But, I’m not so sure. Time will tell, I suppose.

He’s been “walking” for a while now. He likes to take a few steps, and then just crawl the rest of the way because it’s faster. But, but, BUT, it’s like he knew his birthday was coming or something because yesterday, after his afternoon nap, he was walking all over the house, hardly crawling at all. And this morning he was (literally) doing laps around the living room. He is READY to be on the MOVE. (Gulp.)

Dear Ferris,

I’d like to tell you that I hope the next few years of your life go much slower than this one did, but I know from experience that just isn’t possible. So instead I will just tell you to have fun now that you’re a not a baby anymore.

You’re a toddler. You’re a KID. Still snuggly and soft like a baby, but a little less so with each passing day. You’re toddling around the house like Frankenstein today, but tomorrow, you’ll take off running into the big wide world.

The past year has been an exciting one for our whole family, and you were along for the ride, no complaints, like a little trooper. Thank goodness for baby carriers and helpful family members.

Now that brother is in school all day, we get to spend lots of one-on-one time together. For one year, until you start preschool. So, I want to enjoy it as much as I can. I look back on that time with Bowie so fondly, I can’t wait to see what adventures we go on.

This time (press time, noon-ish) last year, I wasn’t even in labor yet, but little did I know I’d be cuddling you by 9 p.m. And then the real adventure began, because your arrival made me a Mom of Two. Uff-da.

Love you baby, ahem, big boy,

Mama

 

Kindergarten

Today we finish up the first two weeks of Kindergarten. I’m still having a hard time believing I’m an elementary school mom now (PTA membership and Room Mom days on the horizon and EVERYTHING). But, I’m sure by the end of the year, after all the packed lunches, morning announcements, Pledges of Allegiance, permission slips and homework that it will all feel natural to me.

The Friday afternoon before the first day, we were able to go see the school, see his classroom and meet his teacher. He was very shy at first, and a little hesitant to even go into the classroom. But, once he started seeing his name all over the room, and once he found his cubby and desk, it was like he’d been going there all his life.

There have been some…behavior issues. But his teacher can already recognize that he’s triggered by lots of commotion and noise, and being with a lot of kids at once. He’s completely fine in the classroom, even sitting nicely at his desk or on the rug and listening when she’s talking. It’s lunch and recess that give him trouble. And it’s largely a product of him reacting to what other kids are doing and saying, much more so than in preschool where he was often the one starting stuff. I’m not going to worry too much about it right now, he’s still adjusting, and so are the other kids. Instead I’m choosing to focus on the fact that he’s behaving in the classroom. A year ago I’d never have thought he could do it.

When he gets home from school, we have the typical “what did you learn today?” “I don’t know.” conversation. But, then if I just sit and listen, as he gets to talking, I find out that he painted, played Mr. Potato Head, saw preschool friends at recess, went to the gym, had a music class, went to the library. He’s definitely becoming a full-fledged elementary school kid. And loving it.

I Wish I Had Good News

But I don’t.

The lymph node they removed on Monday tested positive for cancer.

I have cancer.

I mean, we all knew that already, melanoma is cancer. Even if they take the malignant mole, and that’s the end of it, you still had cancer. But, it sort of didn’t really sink in until the surgeon was like, yep, cancer.

I am in a bit of shock. And deeply immersed in the Anger/Depression stage of dealing with things. I probably shouldn’t even be blogging about it yet. But, I wanted to keep everyone up on this.

So. Many. People. are coming forward with stories of their mother, daughter, sister, uncle, brother, grandma, father that had the same situation going on, and has been cancer free for a long time. Which is reassuring. But, my case is still my individual case, and the future is uncertain for me right now.

I do NOT do well with uncertain futures.

All I know right now is that, at the very least, they’re going to go back into my leg and, to quote the surgeon, “clean it out.” That is, take the remaining lymph nodes, and see how those look. There could be other stuff, but that’s on the plate for sure.

And recovering from a surgery while knowing you’re going to have the exact same surgery again in the near future is…disheartening.

I wish I were in a better mood tonight, and like I said, I wish I had better news. But, my bloggy friends, that’s where it stands.

Thanks A MILLION for all the love and support, keep it coming. It means so much to me, and it’s helping me get through my days.