Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's still the economy stupid! And my "Seinfeld" moment

In my last poll, the very unofficial results showed that the economy is the most important issue in the upcoming election. For what it's worth, in college economics was explained  to me in terms of pizza and beer. There's an economic term called "utility" which refers to the satisfaction one derives from consuming.  So for example, say you are hungry and thirsty, and you have a slice of pizza and a beer. By the time you have eaten pizza and drunk beer until your sick,  the pizza and beer have reached their maximum utility and "diminishing returns" have kicked in..

If I'm completely in error on my brief explanation of economics, remember I'm a journalism major, not the Treasury Secretary; although, maybe that post will be open soon.

Continuing with the economic theme, my husband (and I) did our part to attempt to jump start the economy like the broken car it is--by buying a car. Meantime we traded in our Volvo with 103-thousand miles on it.

We had the car detailed before trading it in, and it turns out we made a good call.

Seinfeld reference alert:

I never watched Seinfeld very much, but I believe there was a famous episode where Jerry buys a car the smells like B-O, and he can't get the smell out. Bear with me here, I'm almost ready to make my point.

Our Volvo had an interesting problem, too-- a mouse nest --complete with mouse bathroom --in the spare-tire compartment. This boys and girls, is why having the car detailed was a good idea.

I grew up in a rural community, and field mice made themselves comfortable--EVERYWHERE!.
So the incident with the Volvo, kind of brought back happy memories--NOT!

You'll all be happy to know that I checked out our other car, and it appears to be mouse-free.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I draw a line in my ipod

Most days, I take my son to school.  It gives him a little more time in the morning, and I (usually) like our time in the car on the way there.

But not today.

He's messing with my ipod, dialing in the music he wants to hear.  I figure it's going to be Blue Oyster Cult again.

I should be so lucky.  Instead Primus blares.  I believe I have made my feelings about Primus known in a previous post.

I tell my son to pick something else.  He does.  Problem is--it's Frank Zappa with Captain Beefheart

Son proceeds to tell me that his dad told him that these are two of my least-favorite bands.
So now I'm getting the picture. Son is deliberately trying to get a rise out of me.  I tell son that I will speak to dad.

I get home, go downstairs to my husbands work station.  I put my hands on my hips and glare at him.

"Guess what your son wanted to hear today?" I ask.

Rhetorical question so I don't wait for a response.

Husband starts cracking up, just like son did.  It's so much fun to irritate me.

Next time my son wants to hear something I can't stand, I won't give him the satisfaction of blowing a gasket.  

I'll just get a bullet to bite.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Why were you born short?"

Okay.  I admit it.  I'm height challenged.   My 10-year-old son is getting ready to surpass me, if he hasn't already.  

He asks me, "Why were your born short?"

Indeed that is the million-dollar question.  I'd like to know the answer myself.

But I say to him: "Do you want the easy or the hard answer?"

He goes for the easy answer first.  I tell him that none of us gets to choose how tall we are.

Then he asks for the hard answer.

I tell him I have a missing chromosome.  I think most people have 46.  

I'm not most people.

The chromosome talk quiets him down.  He doesn't quite know what to make of my revelation.

Someday he'll realize how lucky he is that he doesn't have my DNA.

In the meantime, since he will soon be looking down on me, I'll have to come up with some creative discipline techniques, like threatening to hug him in public, or biting him on the knee.

Put a shirt on!

Almost every morning, I take my son to school.  On this day, before driving him to school, I adorned myself with a workout outfit my son was quick to tell me I had no business wearing.

That's one of many things I love about him--brutal honesty.

The outfit consisted of blue cropped pants and a top.  Son took umbrage with the top-- a tank top with a "racer-back". If you believe my son, the top didn't cover me enough. So he said:

"Are you taking me to school in that?"

This cracks me up, as my son has been known to choose sweaters to wear on a 90-degree day.
But today,  he's my fashion police.

"Yes," I reply.

"That's just wrong!" says the fashion police.


"Put a shirt on!" fashion police commands.

I do, and as always we hear Blue Oyster Cult on the way to school.

Yes, I did actually have to get approved to be a parent.  I sure fooled them, didn't I?

Monday, September 22, 2008

My Boy the Extra Terrestrial

So my son has just earned a blue-striped belt in Tae Kwon Do.  I worked all weekend trying make a movie of the pictures my husband took at his recent belt test.  I had no problem making the movie, but had a hard time figuring out how to share it in a way that would look the same to the viewer as it does to me. 

 I told my son I made the movie (more like a slide show).  It was originally set to the music of Weird Al, but my son requested that I use Blue Oyster Cult's "Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (E.T.I.)"  Click below to see the result:

And that concludes our broadcast day.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Grandma Underwear or Thongs

There's a scene in the movie Bridget Jones's Diary where Bridget prepares for a hot date and chooses to wear enormous, tummy-control panties instead of a thong that would make her look like sumo wrestler.

Cut to the other day:  I was visiting my cousin's granddaughter in the hospital.  For reasons I don't completely understand, on the television was VH1's Rock of Love, featuring Brett Michaels, formerly of the band Poison.   The goal of the show, as I see it, is to be pretty enough to be worthy of a "relationship" with Brett.

One contestant says of another, something along the lines of, "He'll never want her, she likes grandma underwear!"

Oh the humanity!

A brief debate ensues in the hospital room. Just what's so wrong with grandma underwear? Even my cousin's daughter, a young woman in her 20s, takes the stand that comfort is more important than "pulling a thong out of your butt crack".

Besides ladies, if a man wants you for your underwear, give him the underwear, and keep yourself.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Life in Eden--a work of fiction

Eden was a 41-year-old woman, who stopped growing at the age of 10, and therefore, depending on who was doing the looking, looked no older. This would come in handy when she wanted to get into Disneyland, or a movie perhaps, passing as a child to save money.

She was as wide as she was tall,  looking a bit like a ball, or one of the oompa loompas from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (with Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka). 

Nevertheless, cute as a bug. Honest.

When she was born, the doctor said, "What's with those creased toes!"

It's true, Eden had (and still has) creases where her toe-knuckles should be, one of her many endearing anomalies.  In response to the doctor, her mom said, "No worries.  It's just the Hobbit in her.  Her father's a Hobbit you know".

Her real father may have been a Hobbit, but Eden was raised by a substitute father (SF), who agreed to take on the challenge, provided that Eden go to Harvard, get straight A's, and never marry.

Rebel that she was, Eden did marry at age 27 (she looked like an 8-year-old at the time). She didn't go to Harvard, and she most certainly didn't get straight A's. Still SF remained loyal.

The man Eden married, a giant named Bruce, liked to go by the nicknames Thor, or Darth Vader.

With Bruce/Thor/Darth Vader being tall, and Eden..well..not being tall..people would sometimes joke that Bruce and Eden liked to "play Gulliver", a reference to Gulliver's Travels, when in truth, they liked to pretend they were Rocky and Bullwinkle, with Eden as the plucky squirrel, and Bruce, as the moose:

moose: Hey Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit out of hat!
squirrel:  Again! That trick never works!

Had they had a biological child, the mind boggles as to what Bruce and Eden could have produced, a baby with antlers and a bushy tail perhaps. Instead, they adopted a baby from the planet Austin.  The planet Austin has two moons and five rings. Everyone on the planet mews like a cat, and wears their underwear backwards.  It costs $12,000 to visit the planet, and once there, you may or may not get to leave.

Bruce and Eden did get to leave with a male Austinling, who answered to several names including:  Bubs, Foofer, and The Bird.  Interestingly, The Bird's first teeth were his canines, but hey, his toes weren't creased.

Before becoming a mom, Eden worked in radio and television for seven years, booking guests and writing scripts. Bruce/Thor/Darth Vader managed software developers that he called "clones." When The Bird came into their lives, it was time for a change.  Eden took a job with family friendly hours. Meantime, The Bird was placed in a learning center called "Lord of the Flies".

The Bird protested, and eventually Eden decided to become a full-time Mama Bird. Little did she know that she would soon need a lobotomy.

Every once in awhile, Eden's body would jerk like Doctor Strangelove.  After much deliberation, doctor's declared that Eden's brain was another endearing anomaly--so endearing in fact--that they wanted it for medical experiments, so a right-frontal lobotomy was performed. Surprisingly, this changed Eden for the better, as afterwards she was able to actually understand the book Gravity's Rainbow. However, she couldn't find her nose without Map Quest.

Eden's story inspired many others to get lobotomies, to see if they too, can come out on the other side as super-intelligent creatures. Unfortunately, only doctors in New York will perform the procedure for that purpose.

this post inspired by my cousin

Monday, September 15, 2008

King for a day--or at least an afternoon!

 A couple of housekeeping notes:  First this blog site  now includes a poll.  The last one was regarding the presidential race (thank you to the one person who voted). Whoever voted (Yukon perhaps) is an Obama supporter. 

Please check the latest poll, which asks (my one or two followers) what should be the most important issues in the upcoming election.

On another quick note, as promised in an earlier blog, I found out the result of my scan. The residual tumor does not show up much on the scan, which is great news! If an awake craniotomy plus 24 rounds of chemotherapy can't whip a tumor's ass,  I'll just get a sharper whip.

On to business:  I had a fabulous weekend watching football.  Yes, you read that correctly, I watched football--college football to be exact.

But this wasn't just any game.  It was a game between my alma mater, University of Oregon, and my husband's alma mater, Purdue.  All you need to know about the UO as a learning institution is that the movie Animal House was filmed there.  All you need to know about Purdue is that popcorn king Orville Reddenbacher is an alum.

So like any football fan, I perch in a comfy chair, with a beer. Don't take this the wrong way, but I feel like a man.  I say to my husband, "It's good being a guy isn't it?"  He agrees it has its moments.

Both teams suck, but Purdue takes the early lead, and UO throws a few interceptions. ThenUO's running back decides he has fire in his belly and takes a punt and turns it into a touchdown. On a bad note, UO loses yet another quarterback, I believe to a knee injury.

Still UO wins the game in double overtime! It's a symbolic victory.  I'll take any I can get.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"Everyone needs a Sam."

We've been watching the Lord of The Rings trilogy on DVD.  In the movies, the hero, Frodo, has a loyal friend  named Sam who accompanies him on his quest to destroy the powerful ring. Many times, the power of the ring overwhelms Frodo, and he questions Sam's loyalty.

While watching yesterday ( I can't remember which of the movies), we came upon a scene where Frodo is delirious and lashing out at his friend, Sam.

Sam says,  "Mr. Frodo. It's me.  Your Sam." 

My son has a best friend, also named Sam, which prompted my husband to say, "Everyone needs a Sam," meaning everyone needs a loyal friend.

My boy could have said anything, but true to form he had to sneak in a one-liner:

"Yes," he says, "Sam's are good for your colon."

So, I guess, by my son's pretzel logic, friends help you poop.

In ten years of being his mom, I have yet to figure my son out. I'm open for suggestions.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven years later, you have to ask yourself the question: Do I feel safer?

In general I will try not to make this blog political.  As a busy mom with brain cancer, who has a spirited boy, I don't pretend to have a perfect grasp of the issues. However, today I must remember one of the scariest events to happen in my lifetime.


It's my generation's day that will "live in infamy".  On that day, my son was 3-years-old.  We, along with many other Americans had the "news"on, frankly because the way the day was going, we weren't sure what or who was going to be attacked next. Secondly, I can't speak for others in my immediate family, but at least I wanted to hear what President George W. Bush (remember him?) was going to say. If  you want to remind yourself what he said, it's easy enough to look up on the internet. It was actually a pretty good speech, but it was made seven years ago, and this is today. 

Having such a young son at this time presented a bit of a problem. Despite our best efforts, we couldn't keep him from  seeing the continuous video loop of planes crashing into buildings, and 
people running for their lives.  That's the news business today-- a game of one-upsmanship, and the viewers pay the price.

Anyway, my son's reaction was sad but predictable. He was crashing his toy planes like he saw on TV, and had nightmares.

Off went the TV.

Seven years later, I'm not sure I feel safer.  I believe hatred toward this country has escalated, when immediately following 9-11, the world expressed it's sympathy for the U.S.

Again I'm just a brain tumor mom, but I'm wondering what happened to that sympathy, and what happened the the feeling of unity that many Americans had following the attacks.

Life changed forever after 9-11, yet it seems with the "war on terror" that was ignited by the attacks of that day, we've been living the same nightmare ever since.

Wake me up when September ends.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Communication Breakdown

My computer is maybe 10 feet away from my spouse's. I speak to him in his language:

"I'd like to make a meeting request," I say.

No response.

The meeting I'd like to have is regarding our son, who is drawing unwanted attention from the recess duty teacher today, and, in fact, has been since school started over a week ago.

I continue my exchange of emails with my son's teacher, and almost give up on my husband when ten minutes after my "meeting request" he says:

"So, you wanted to request a meeting dear?"

"If you don't mind, dear," I retort.

"I'm available the next half hour".

So we attempt to have a serious conversation, while he's getting a glass of water, I'm going to the bathroom, and so on. Despite the awkward circumstances the discussion is fruitful.

Skip to dinner:  I'm cooking and get spattered by hot oil.  I yell at the top of my lungs "OOOUCH"!

The man on the couch behind the paper doesn't hear the scream, so I have the following scintillating conversation with myself:

"Gee dear, You all right?"

"Yes, I'm super. Thanks for asking."

"Dinner smells good, dear!"

"Why, thank you, dear."

The couch/paper man all of a sudden comes to life and says something like:

"You know dear, you aren't crazy yet.  At least you aren't arguing with yourself."

Cold comfort. I'm sure that if I were arguing with myself, I'd still lose. I'll see if I have any better luck getting my son to do his homework,  than I did trying to reach couch/paper man.

It's amazing how people can live in the same house and have nothing to say.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Dropping the c-Bomb Part 6

Fast forward to today.  

As of now I am off chemotherapy, but we're watching my head closely with scans and blood tests every three months.

I am thrilled to have this break from chemo.  Sometimes I am told "you didn't have the heavy-duty chemo". It's true that it was convenient to be able to take it at home, and at one point I thought Temodar wasn't "heavy-duty" chemo either.

Until I actually took it.

I mentioned that every once in a while, I have to make a reality check--have a "come to Jesus" meeting with my head. Today was one of those days--MRI day.

MRIs are like being buried alive with Beck music, specifically the following tracks:
"Devil's Haircut", "E-pro" and "Novacane".  This threw me for a loop the first time I had one, but now I'm a Zen Master.  I can almost sleep through the exam.

I can't help but get nervous on MRI day. Today it took longer than usual--more like 45 minutes instead of the standard 30 minutes. As I write this I'm wondering if the test showed scary changes. If it didn't this time, it might next time, or the time after that. All will be revealed in a week when I visit my current oncologist. 

In my more sober moments, I have referred to my tumor as an assassin or stalker, threatening me, but never letting me know when or if it's going to pull the trigger.

So I'll go listen to some Beck.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Dropping the C-Bomb Part 5

Goodness, where are we now! I've been diagnosed with a brain tumor,  have had an awake craniotomy, and undergone rehabilitation due to temporary paralysis.

Although I am out of the hospital, I am nowhere near 100% in any way. We retrofit our house so that for the time being, it's easy for me to shower. We get a handlebar for me to grab onto getting in and out, and a bench of sorts for me to sit on, so I can wash and more or less keep my head above my heart. 

I'm supposed to continue doing physical therapy at home, and go to outpatient occupational therapy.

I think it is about two weeks after I leave the hospital that I go see the surgeon for a follow-up. We're hoping that we will find out how bad my tumor is and what other treatment I will have for it. 

The first thing the surgeon does is ask me how I am.  Duh! Then he asks me to walk for him. As I step with my right, and drag my left a little, he seems impressed with his work. I walk like a 4-foot Frankenstein! I've even got the stitches in my head!

She's Alive!

My husband and sister are present at this post op visit, so they can ask questions, and help remember what he says.  He describes my tumor as "trying" to become malignant.  The biopsy reveals it's an anaplastic oligodendroglioma. Anaplastic means some malignancy was found. Oligodendroglioma refers to the part of my brain that's affected.

 Doctor says that if the tumor has chromosome deletions a.k.a. bad DNA, then it should respond well to a relatively new chemotherapy called Temodar.  The good news about Temodar is that it comes in a capsule.  At this time I figure chemotherapy will be a cakewalk. Doctor also says I will probably need radiation in the future, but not right away.

I think it's when I visit the surgeon that I'm told he thinks he got a 95% resection, meaning he thinks he got 95% of my tumor. Good news. It is near impossible to get all of a tumor, though, which is why I will need therapy and frequent MRI's.

I also visit a neuro-oncologist, and another neurosurgeon to discuss therapy.  It turns out my tumor has the chromosome deletions, and both doctors agree that just the Temodar should do.  
So I start a regimen of 24 cycles of  Temodar five days a month, with monthly blood tests, ironically to see that I'm healthy enough to take my chemo. I also get anti nausea meds. They will come in  handy.

Although I have been advised against it, I look my my tumor on the web, and look up stories of other survivors. I am disturbed by what I read--stories of multiple surgeries--losing basic functions. Statistically, folks with my kind of tumor live an average of 10 years.

This will be the first of many reality checks I will make with my illness. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Our trip to Umpqua

Three years running, our family has been invited by some dear friends of ours to go camping in yurts near the Umpqua Lighthouse on the Southern Oregon Coast. As camping goes, yurt camping isn't roughing it.  A deluxe yurt has a private bathroom, heat, futons to sleep on, a fridge and a microwave oven.

Despite all of the comforts, one can still enjoy the beauty(and quiet) of the forest.
As I was cooking lunch one day, this wandered by our campsite:

This baby deer wasn't alone.  It was looking for lunch with it's mom and sibling. My son says the Doe gave its babies the deer version of the skunk-eye when she caught them fighting over a huckleberry.

Meantime we were walking distance from a lake. I walked the trail around it almost every morning. We all loved to swimming and kayaking in the water.  My husband tried to get pictures of our son playing on the water, but as you can see he was too far away:
On another positive note, It was my first chemo-free yurt trip. One does not want to be camping even in a yurt, whilst on chemo. It made for a pleasurable unofficial end to summer.
Back to reality.