Wednesday, April 29, 2009

If you aren't dead, does that make you healthy?

I get the impression sometimes that this is my husband's attitude,  and it's not a bad one--it's just wrong.

Today, as I was preparing to go see my 95 year-old grandma,  he described her as "healthy".  He has also referred to me as "healthy" on occasion. 

By his definition, then, you are healthy if you:
  • need to wear a diaper
  • are immobile
  • can't see
  • can't hear
  • are missing teeth
  • can't feed yourself
  • need a million pain pills 
  • need an MRI every 4 months
  • have some of your brain missing
I understand what my husband means--that my grandma is doing well for someone her age, and likewise that I'm doing well for someone who has had big head trauma.

My point is that quality of life is important. It takes more to be alive than simply not being dead, although it helps to not be dead if one is to live.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Yesterday and today sucked.  Yesterday it was parenting issues. I won't go into details, but let's just say my son has  a lot of angst, and he's not even a teenager. He'll be 11 in a month.  Some of it has to do with the fact he's adopted, but of course as his parent, I'm the last one he wants to talk to, but the first one to feel his wrath.

Today sucked because I had an unpleasant surprise when I came to my volunteer job at the hospital gift shop:   I didn't have a partner, and before I even got started the phone was ringing and we had customers. So I started my day as if I were in a "I Love Lucy" sketch--the one where she and Ethel are working the assembly line.

I also had to stay a bit late because another volunteer forgot to show up but oh well. These kinds of hiccups happen all the time.

I must say though that as much as I try to add humor to my blog, I am very concerned about my son, and I can't put a funny spin on it.  I keep thinking there will come a stage in life where parenting will be easy, and then reality squashes me like a grape. Now that I think about it, wasn't there a Lucy sketch involving grape squashing? 

If only life were a Lucy sketch.

Since I didn't grow up an adopted child, or a boy, I really don't know how to help my son get through this difficult period in his life.  I just remind him that I am a safe person to talk to, especially about questions and issues pertaining to his adoption.

For other matters about growing up, I'll pull a stupid management trick and delegate to my husband, and ask for frequent status updates.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Should I stay at home, or should I go?

It would be nice if I could just stop and write a post when I have an inspiration, but I can't.  The result is I forget what I want to write about--one of the hazards of getting older with a head injury.

However, I've been feeling emboldened since my last visit to the doctor, so much so, I've been thinking maybe the time is right to try to find a paying job, after leaving my career to be a stay-at-home mother.

It turns out there exists at least two problems with this idea:
  1. Last I checked, Oregon ranked #2 in unemployment.
  2. I'm missing  part of my brain.
I'm missing so much of my brain, that I even forget it's gone.

So l look up a temp agency and beginning updating my resume, and I ask my husband to critique it. The last time I did this he said something like, "This sucks. Do it over."

I told him to be a little gentler this time.

I produce him a rough draft.  Immediately he discovers a critical error: Nowhere on my resume do I mention my education--kind of important. It's at this point ask myself the question, "What the hell was I thinking?" Why am I looking for work, when I can't write a resume?

I say to my husband in frustration, "Maybe everyone's right, I am too stupid to work."

"No one is saying that," he replies. "But we are all wondering why (you want to go back)."

I just don't feel entirely comfortable being June Cleaver.  And by the way, I'm not good at that role either, but someone has to play it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Did I Marry My Dad?

I wondered this recently as my husband was having computer problems.  He contacted a store that will assemble one to the customer's specifications. He gets it home and it "hangs".

Today I bring the computer back, as my husband is too busy.  A few hours later, he gets a call from the shop, where a worker apparently says the machine works just fine, because no one can re-produce the problem.  My husband decides he needs to take control of the matter and goes to the shop himself.

At the shop, the problem is reproduced.  After 30 minutes, the geeks and my husband can safely agree that my husband is screwed.

He comes back cursing, certain that the folks at the store are on crack, and vowing not to do business with them in the future.

My husband and father are alike in a number of ways.
  • They both have computer (software) expertise.
  • They are both smart and witty,  but sometimes not on purpose.
  • They both love "hi-fi" stereo and music that sounds good on it. In fact "hi-fi" stereo is sort of how I met my husband, but that's a story for another post.
  • They each have a tendency to take over a situation, without even trying.

I wonder what Freud would say about this--that I married a man like my father, and that, by the way, I'm quite a bit like my husband's mother. If I could meet Freud, I would ask him to snap us out of it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Why I Want To Be My Son When I Grow Up

Weekends are amazing for my son.  Typically on a Friday, we get a phone call for him before he has come home from school. We usually have one sleepover per weekend, and back to back playdates.  I find it hard to manage his social calendar, but it helps that I don't have one.

I must confess that when I was on chemo, I could not keep up with my son, and I didn't want a houseful of screaming boys.  I still don't sometimes, but I manage.

Lately I've been thinking how happy I am for my son that he has so many friends. On the other hand, I have wrongly compared his life to what mine was like at his age, and wondering if I missed out on something because I wasn't as socially active as he.

As he approaches the First Level of Hell (aka middle school), I feel comforted in knowing that he is friends with a variety of kids who have a variety of personalities.

I want to be like that when I grow up.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Giving Cancer the Personal Touch

When I began writing this blog, I didn't intend for it to be a  "cancer" blog. However I was inspired by the late Leroy Sievers podcast and blog on NPR called "My Cancer".  

Since he passed away, "My Cancer" has evolved into "Our Cancer".

And I think that's a shame. In Sievers's blog, he spoke for everyone with cancer by sharing the personal story of his battle, and how it affected those around him.  A reader just can't get that personal touch by reading the "Our Cancer" posts. Sievers humanized the frustration, fatigue and the emotional ups and downs that come with cancer in a way a million voices cannot.

When I read the paper today, I was hit by the news that an extremely popular local radio personality has skin cancer that has metastasized to his brain and vital organs, and it turns out he's blogging about his nightmare on

As I read the personal stories of others with cancer, I wonder why and how I am so lucky, just like I wonder why and how I got cancer in the first place.  I'm not out of the woods, but I have reason to hope. Reading these personal accounts also  helps me understand a little of what my family is going through. It's hard to be a raving lunatic, but it's hard to be around one, too.

Cancer is indeed a cruel and fickle beast.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I use that word with a question mark, because I have mixed feelings about the news I just received from  my neurologist. She declared my cancer in remission, since I am not on evil therapy to combat it anymore, and my head is "stable"--no evidence of new growth.

Of course I'm mostly thrilled.  I've cleared another hurdle. As I've written in earlier posts, statistically there is an average 10-year life expectancy with the type of tumor I have, so I'm not completely surprised to still be alive. Furthermore, I know people who are much sicker than I, and I know that brain tumors are just as fickle and random as the individuals who own them. In short, I'm lucky.  Nothing more, nothing less.

So I asked my doctor if I could stop worrying.

She says no; I'm not out of the woods yet.

Since my diagnosis almost three years ago, I have not recovered from the shock in terms of the fact that something bad happened to me, and there are no clear answers as to the why, and what's next.

I'll never know if I grew a brain tumor because I drank bad Hillsboro water, breathed too much second-hand smoke, or because I'm just a product of faulty construction.

And no expert dares to ponder how long I will live with this thing. I just know I have more living to do.

I was very touched last night as I told my husband and son my good news.  My son, of all people, said we should go celebrate at a place of my choosing.  And we did. 

But even my doctor says I can't stop worrying yet. So I'll keep taking the "I don't care" pills and hope to clear another hurdle in four months.