Wednesday, July 8, 2020

One Down

In years past, my chemo oncologist check-ups were in late October and late April and my radiation oncologist check-ups were in June.

Thanks to Covid-19 and all the insanity that came with it, my oncologist appointment for April was postponed until June 16. That was a Tuesday.

My radiation oncologist appointment, which was scheduled a year ago, is Tuesday, June 23.

I think we can all be pretty sure that nothing is going to change in a week from one appointment to the next.

Of course there is the fact that my radiation oncologist is WAY more thorough than my chemo oncologist.

Though to be fair, this year my chemo oncology check was done by the nurse practitioner. She’s great. For a little woman she had STRONG hands. She digs in there during the physical exam. To be honest, I actually feel better after my appointments with her than I do after my appointments with Dr. Z. I have, in the past, felt like he’s just passing through, whereas she spends time with me, talks to me, treats me like an actual person.

Well. That was six paragraphs to say that my chemo oncology appointment went well. Nothing pointing that there is anything to be concerned about. She said my lungs sound perfect. Please, universe, karma, God…don’t take this to mean that I’m asking for my lungs to NOT sound good. Please, know that I am grateful, eternally, for every single day I am here and that I’d be ever so much more grateful for many, many more days, years, decades during which to life my simple little life.

I’m assuming, since the two appointments are a week apart, the next one will be fine too.

I am also going in to this next appointment with the full knowledge that Dr. R will make me feel terrible about myself. He’s kind about it but he reminds me that I’m a fatty and that my fattiness could very well be a contributing factor to my cancer. He will remind me that the Mediterranean diet, which is based on eating a mostly plant-based diet, has shown to work well for cancer survivors.

Wheee!

I know! I want to tell him that I KNOW all this. It doesn’t make it any easier to actually do all the things that might make a difference though.

Ah well, at least I know that the funk I often find myself in after my yearly appointment with him only lasts a few days and then I bounce right back to my lovely, jovial self.

Huh.

I wonder if he’ll have anything to say about my supposed lymphedema. I haven’t worn a sleeve on my left arm in, oh, six months. My arm is fine. It’s FINE! In fact, the nurse practitioner and a couple of other doctors concur that I probably do not have lymphedema. I show no signs of visible swelling. I have very little (no?) pain in my left arm.

I mean, I appreciate that he’s so proactive. I do. I also appreciate that he’s thorough. He wants me to get healthy, be healthy and stay healthy. I mean, he’s one of my doctors, I supposed I should want him to want those things. Sigh. If only it were that easy.

Anyway, I’m sure once I’ve seen him I will have lots to bitch about. But for now, I’m grateful. I’m blessed. I’m so, so lucky to be here, living this life and loving these people and skating in my driveway with my daughters. How did I get here? Please don’t let this just be a wishful dream that I wake up from.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Home School

Over the holiday weekend, I found out that one of my cousins, a lovely young woman with two beautiful daughters, will be homeschooling her girls this fall. She’d already made the decision years ago not to send her older daughter to public school. S had gone to a private Catholic school since kindergarten. I believe she’d be going into fourth grade this coming fall.

E (the cousin) told her mom that she just wasn’t comfortable sending either one of her daughters back to school. Her younger daughter, A, will be five in December, so she’d have been home another year anyway. But she’s ready to learn. So E’s going to devote her days to educating her girls.

Good for her.

Seriously.

She’s already a stay-at-home mom so this won’t be a hardship on their family. It will be fine.

I also found out that my oldest step-son’s wife (does that make her my step-daughter-in-law?) will be homeschooling their three children as well.

Tom visited with J the week before holiday weekend and J told him they’d gone back to church a couple of times after the initial quarantine but the sight of everyone hugging and shaking hands made J choose not to go back and now they’ll be keeping their kids out of school too.

Again, good for them. I hope it works for them and they get a lot out of it.

After Tom told me all this, I gave it a moment of thought and declared, “All I know for sure is that homeschool is NOT a good option for our family.”

He laughed and agreed. Then he said, “Honestly, I don’t think it’s a good idea for a lot of kids who are going to be homeschooled in the near future.”

I didn’t touch that one. I may be married to the ringmaster, but that is NOT my circus and so I don’t get to judge the monkeys.

What I do know is that my little weirdos would have been even weirder if I hadn’t sent them school where they’ve been socialized into semi-functioning human beings over the past decade or so.

Okay, so the big one has come a long way. I mean, she works with the public, she is in a long-standing relationship, she has lots of friends, she performs in musicals and takes solos, both vocal and flute, to contest each year. She runs track and is the section lead of the woodwinds in her high school band. She tries out for soloes in her choir. She takes voice lessons to which she drives herself, pays the lady herself and practices without nagging.

But let me tell you, she would not be this outgoing and vivacious if she’d been stuck me day in and day out during her more formative years. No. She’d still be stuck to my side, letting me speak for her (and yes, that is one of my biggest flaws, I answer for my kids rather than let the silence get awkward.)

Honestly, she still gets squirmy if you suggest she go through a drive thru as the actual driver and have to speak, OUT LOUD, into the intercom and order something. She doesn’t like to order her own food when out and about. She wouldn’t call Walmart and ask if they have a specific phone in stock when her phone was dying. So, yes, she’s still weird (adorably weird but still) and while I love every weird cell in her body, I know school has been SO good for her.

And don’t even get me started on the little one. I mean, damn, can you even imagine that one without the last eight years of formal schooling? Yikes. And honestly, I can see regression setting in now that she’s been out of school for sixteen (16!) weeks. I feel for her new teacher this fall. Not only will she be getting to know Olivia for the first time, she’ll be getting to know an Olivia who has been out of school for almost 22 weeks. I better get that woman a few gift cards just to mellow out the start of the year.

All this to say, yeah. Good for all you homeschooling moms. I’ll be over here investing in masks and hand sanitizer and sending my darlings back into the cesspool that is the public school system.

In our case, the fear of germs is trumped by the benefits of socialization. I realize not everyone has the same priorities and that doesn’t make any of us are wrong (except 45, the creepy-ass dude whose name is the present tense of one the verb in the first sentence in this paragraph. Yes, he’s wrong ALL THE TIME. No matter the subject, he is wrong.)

Monday, July 6, 2020

A Close Shave

Thirteen is an age where typical kids simply go take a shower when they’re stinky, right? Or, if they want to bathe, they just…go take a bath.

Alas, we all know that Miss Liv is not typical. She’s so awesome in so many ways. She’s proving doctors and research wrong every single day.

But that does not mean I can leave her alone in a bath for more than five minutes if I want to avoid a disaster.

Most of these disasters are of the water logged type. Sometimes, she pulls an entire bath towel into the tub with her. Other times, there’s a pond on the bathroom floor.

This time, though. Oh my goodness.

Of course it’s my fault. I mean, I KNEW, each time I saw that stupid razor on the side of the tub that I should pick it up, put it away. Out of sight, out of mind and all that jazz.

But I didn’t put it away. I left it there, right there, in plain sight.

And she saw it all right. She saw it right after watching her sister shave her (the sister’s, not Liv’s) legs right there in the bathtub as Olivia bathed.

She probably watched Lyss shave and thought, “Huh, that doesn’t look hard.”

And then, after Lyss left the room and I stupidly continued to my own thing one room away, Olivia spotted the random disposable razor on the side of the tub.

Relax, no lives were lost and only a little blood was spilled.

The biggest sacrifice in this entire situation is the inner quarter of her right eyebrow.

Yes, she shaved off part of her eyebrow.

She also gave herself a scrap across her chin, where she claimed a random hair was ‘bothering’ her.

Who knows?

What I do know is that each time I went in to check on her, which was every ten minutes or so, she hid that razor like a thief. She KNEW she wasn’t supposed to have it.

She also reminded me to close the door each time I was leaving the room after checking on her. That right there should have clued me in.

Eyebrows grow back and scrapes heal.

I do know it could have been SO MUCH worse and as such, I’ve taken every single razor in the house and hidden them.

Out of sight, out of mind indeed.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Imposter

In my head, I am never good enough.

One recent Thursday, I got home from work around 5pm. Alyssa and Tom had been there all day, just hanging out. Olivia was with my mom and wouldn’t be home until at least 7pm.

I’d planned to put on my new roller skates as soon as I got home and work on breaking them in.

Instead, I plopped down on the couch next to Alyssa for an hour.

Tom mentioned pizza for dinner.

He and Alyssa bickered over who was going to make it. He ended up going in to the kitchen and I heard him chopping onions. At that point, I assumed he was getting ready to put the pizza in the oven.

At 7:00, Alyssa went into the kitchen and exclaimed, “Dad! I thought you were making the pizza!”

He declared that no, he wasn’t making it. He’d chopped the onions but it was her job to put the pizzas together and get them in the oven.

I felt so defeated by this whole thing. By the time the stupid oven heated and the pizza cooked, it wouldn’t be done until at least 7:30. I decided then and there I was NOT eating that late.

I know. I’m only punishing myself. But it was so frustrating. If I’d known he was doing some kind of power play with Alyssa, I’d have gone out and put the stupid pizzas in the oven myself.

I went up and laid in my bed with a fan blowing on me. It would have been lovely if only I hadn’t been feeling sorry for myself. I was hungry and yet…I knew I wasn’t going to eat.

Olivia called me from town to let me know she and Gram had just dropped the boys off at their house and they’d be home in about a half hour.

I went back downstairs and put a can of soup in my bag for lunch at work the next day. I couldn’t bring myself to cut up a cucumber or make a salad. It frustrates me so much that I am so self-defeating.

Olivia got home, we all welcomed her as if she’d been gone for weeks instead of 36 hours.

The pizza got done just as she was getting home so she was just in time to eat a couple of pieces even though she’d had McD’s an hour before.

While I sat at the table with the girls as they ate their pizza, Tom brought three pieces of pizza to the table for me.

I glared at the pizza and asked him, “Where’s yours?”

See, let’s back up a bit. He’s been eating salad for dinner every night for a week. NO WAY IN HELL was I going to sit there and eat THREE pieces of pizza while he stuffed lettuce in his face. Nope.

I let the pizza sit there while O finished eating her own. Tom did end up getting one piece of pizza for himself. While he ate it, I got up and put the leftover pizza away, including the three pieces he’d set out for me. Full disclosure: I ate several mushrooms off one of the pieces he’d give me. So I didn’t completely abstain from dinner that night.

As I was putting everything away, he came over and started washing the dishes.

I could tell he was pissed. When I asked him why he was mad he said, “You didn’t eat, there’s no need for you to have to do the dishes.”

And okay, that’s very nice. But…damn it, it made me feel terrible.

Why?

Why does it matter to him if I eat pizza or not? I’m FAT. I’m gross. I can skip a meal or twenty and not be anywhere near starvation.

I often feel like nothing I do is good enough. I can’t skip enough meals to be thin enough. I can’t be gentle enough to be a good mother.

I don’t exercise enough. I don’t model good choices for my girls. I don’t keep our house clean enough.

Let’s be clear that this is all me. No one in my house says anything to make me feel this way. It’s all my own issues and my own sense of not being nearly good enough. Everyone THINKS I’m good enough but that’s because I’m faking it just enough to make it in their eyes.

When I tucked O into bed that night she said, “Was it better while I was gone?”

Oh. Oh no, not even close. I told her I didn’t sleep well the night before because she wasn’t there. I told her life is NEVER better when she’s not there.

Now, let me be clear, I do not think that my husband’s and children’s lives would be better without me. As bitchy as I sometimes get, as awful as I often am, I never imagine that they’d be better off without me.

They love me. They love me despite that fact that I can’t seem to love myself. So Imma stick around even though I often don’t feel like I deserve any of them.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Literally Olivia

Remember that exercise where you have to describe how to do something and the person following the directions is really obnoxious about it?

We did it during RA training back at IU a hundred and twelve years ago. We, the RA trainees, had to tell our trainers (the ACs – aka Assistant Coordinators) how to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

But we had to be REALLY detailed because they acted like they didn’t know how to open a stupid jar of jelly or what to use to spread the peanut butter.

Yeah.

So.

That’s kind of what it’s like to raise a child like Olivia.

She can be so sweet and so funny and these days she’s REALLY loving.

And yet…she is so literal. You have to watch every single word that comes out of your mouth because if you misspeak even one word in a sentence of eleventy hundred, she’ll latch on to that one word you messed up and won’t let it go.

And sometimes, I swear to Rob Thomas, she deliberately mishears something just so she can argue with you.

It’s beyond frustrating and into infuriating.

There have been times when I have to step out of the room before I lose my freaking mind.

Yes, I am mother of the century over here.

I know. I know. I AM grateful that she speaks so well and often so eloquently. I am grateful that she can be so deep as to pick up on nuances and inflection.

But the literal stance she takes on your word choices is insane.

She also had to make sure everyone hears and acknowledges everything she says. She has a lot of good ideas. I love that she’s so imaginative. She’s clever and smart and is always thinking.

But she often thinks out loud and she wants EVERYONE to hear her thoughts.

Even if we’re all in the same room, she’ll say something and if I’m the only one to reply to her comment, she’ll go stand in front of Tom and repeat herself and then she’ll go stand beside Alyssa and repeat it AGAIN, just to be sure everyone in the room can appreciate her brilliance.

And wait, one more bit of… grievance? Is that what this is, a bitch session about O’s idiosyncracies? Maybe. Maybe I’m just documenting her personality at 13. Yes. Let’s go with that. I’m not complaining so much as I’m documenting.

Except this next one is a complaint and I’ve told her more times than I can count that it irritates me.

We can be in the middle of a conversation. We’ve had several exchanges where she talks, I talk and then she talks some more but then, all of a sudden, she’ll have to start her next statement with, “Mom?”

And then she waits until I say, “What?” before continuing.

Guys, we were talking…to each other! She doesn’t need to ‘get my attention’ because she already had it. She doesn’t need to make sure I’m still listening because we were conversing. That’s how conversations work, for the love of Meatloaf!

Ahem.

And that’s a little bit of life with 13 year old Liv.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Venturing Out

At this time this was written, I am in the middle of my third week back to work.

How’s it going?

Olivia’s stress level has dropped a little, which is a HUGE relief.

Work is fine. The stress level is fairly low. There are no outside visitors to deal with.

Olivia had an orthodontist appointment, which was non-eventful. The tech who worked on her wore an N-95 mask under a paper mask and all of that was under a face shield. She was well protected as well as protecting Liv. That was nice.

I was able to go into the orthodontist’s office with Olivia. They took our temperature and pointed us in the direction of their wall-mounted hand sanitizer. We were the only two in the waiting room and all the receptionists worse masks.

Back in the room where they do the work, I sat in a chair that was all by itself against a well across from where Liv reclined to have the work done on her teeth. We continued to be the only people in the building other than those who were working there. The orthodontist himself also wore an N-95 mask, a paper mask and a face shield. Everyone also wore gloves.

So…that’s one place in our area that is doing the very best they can to keep us all safe.

Olivia and I both wore masks as well, though, obviously, she had to take hers off during the work on her braces.

We went to Meijer to buy groceries over the weekend. About half the customers work masks. All the workers did.

Our local Walmart has six confirmed cases of Covid-19 among their employees. We’re not going in there any time soon.

Is this our new normal or are we marking time until things get back to the old normal?

Who even knows?

Monday, June 22, 2020

America's Roast Beef, Yes Sir!

I’ve learned a few things from having a teenage daughter who works at a fast food restaurant.

While I did once work at KFC a hundred years ago, I only worked there for six weeks because I HATED it. It was just so seriously awful. I admire Lyss so, so much for sticking it out at Arby’s for as long as she has. Maybe it helps that her first job, in the kitchen at a boy scout camp, was so much worse than what she’s doing now that Arby’s doesn’t seem so bad. Maybe it also helps that she works with several friends and she likes most of her other co-workers as well.

Or maybe, and this is just a shot in the dark, she’s just a better person than I am. I am absolutely not discounting that possibility.

So in her time at Arby’s she’s shared the biggest pet peeves that people working in fast food have.

1. When you’re in the drive-thru and the voice comes over the intercom asking you if they can take your order, don’t chortle and say, “Heheheh, it’s gonna be a big one.” Seriously. Don’t do that. It’s an asshole move and it just serves to irritate every single person listening in on the order.

2. Do order just a beverage through the drive-thru. Everyone is always SO HAPPY when someone comes to the drive-thru and orders just a drink. Even just a shake makes their lives that much easier.

3. Don’t call the young lady handing your food anything that might be an endearment. It’s not charming, it’s not polite; it’s creepy and gross. And yes, saying, “Thanks, Super Model”c ounts as creepy and gross. Yuck.

4. This should probably e 3a. But don’t try and flirt with the person taking your order. OR the person making your order, or the person around the corner trying to cut beef. Leave these kids (and their mom-supervisors) alone. They’re just trying to get through their day. Isn’t it enough that they leave that place smelling like curly fries? Do they also have to pretend to be deaf so they can avoid your obnoxious comments? They are NOT interested in having a flirtatious conversation with someone old enough to be their parent or, God forbid, their GRANDPARENT. Stop. Just…don’t.

5. If you are going to be ordering a lot of food, prefacing it with an apology actually does kind of help. It lets the employees know that you know you’re kind of being a jerk and you’re actually sorry for it. But then again, this might just be me. I mean, I apologize for taking up space so…take #5 with a grain of salt, or maybe a side of ranch.

6. If the place you’re ordering from says their water isn’t working so you can’t order beverages, don’t ask for coffee, then tea and finally a Coke. The WATER WAS CUT BY THE CONSTRUCTIONS WORKERS. Here, have a shake!

7. If you’re pissed off when the poor teenager manning the register tells you that CORPORATE discontinued onion rings, please know that this wasn’t done AT you. And the kid making $11/hour isn’t to blame. Decisions like that are above their pay grade.

We’ve all had crappy jobs, right? It’s too bad we can’t all remember that when we’re out in public treating service workers like crap when things don’t go our way.

What I’m saying is maybe we could all not be dicks to each other when we’re out and about.

And damn it, if you’re in a place where the employees are wearing masks, the least you can do is wear one too! I mean, DAMN!