Friday, December 28, 2012

Texting like a bunch of teenage girls...

Cancer sucks in a lot of ways, but it has it's perks, too.  A mere ten seconds of everyday but... unwise (G-rated, for my gutter-minded readers) activity* can transform a pleasant, bordering on boring afternoon into an adrenaline-infused race to the ER.  That's right, Chris forgot about the central line leading DIRECTLY to his heart and decided to do a little home maintenance.  He then had sharp chest pains that resulted in a frantic rush to the hospital.
Stage 1:  (Downside)  Unadulterated panic.  (Upside)  Got to drive 95 mph.  By the way, a surprising number of cars were hanging with me in that. 
Stage 2:  (Downside) Realization that we were going to blow half a day on a minor incident.  (Upside)  Relief  as his pain subsided and it looked like we were just being cautious and not about to add open heart surgery to our list of things to sweat out and pray through. 
Stage 3:  (Downside)  Chris feeling like an idiot.  (Upside) Priceless text stream with my family.
Chris was really feeling bad about his lapse of basic common sense.  Because I'm related to some gifted storytellers who have done some spectacularly stupid stuff, I sent a quick text to my dad, brothers and uncles:
Me:  Quick.  C feeling like an idiot for ______.  Tell  me something you've done that's stupider. 
 First my dad, helpfully, pointed out my grammatical error:
Dad:  You mean worse than saying "stupider"? 
Me:  I appreciate your sensitivity as I wait in the ER at MD FREAKING ANDERSON!!! 
Dad:  I feel insensitiver.
I learned all kind of interesting stuff about my family, none of whom should be allowed near firearms, things that move on wheels, airplanes, water pitchers or explosives.  The six hour wait could have been excruciating but between the book I had in my purse and read aloud** and those hilarious texts (seriously, in extreme circumstances, like 12" of snow in Little Rock, the Aggies beating the hell out of Bama or Chris playing Mr. Fix-It/Chemo Guy, my family can text like a bunch of 16 year old girls) it was actually good time for us, one of those days I'll always remember.

Tomorrow is our 16th anniversary.  Love, love, love this guy.

Bless their hearts, I'm glad they don't know what all's coming.

* Chris is keeping up his own blog these days:  I'm going to give him a few days to out himself before I give all the sordid details here.
** The Future of Us (thanks Kara).  You should always keep a book in your purse.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

All I want for Christmas is for my kidneys to cooperate...

So Chris has the world's most obnoxious kidneys. We're STILL in the hospital. If his creatinine levels don't go up tomorrow, then we'll get to go home first thing in the morning. Otherwise, we're going to have to figure out how to make Christmas in the hospital AWESOME.

Things that are going well:
- There's room service and good movies.
- While the chemo is making him tired, the nausea is under control with meds.
- We got to see the boys today, and they had a great time on the cruise. It really lifted our spirits to see them.
- Chris is hilarious on morphine. He accused a pastor of trying to pick up girls too young for him.

- We learned the chemistry of his chemo meds courtesy of our former grad school advisor who came to visit. Chris was hopped up on morphine at the time, but he got the gist.
- We found out Mom got pulled aside by security because Jacob packed a cap gun in his backpack. She saved the prohibited item receipt as a souvenir for Chris.

Things we could live without:
- Room service is significantly less awesome when you're nauseous.
- This is a LONG time in the hospital, and we'll be back again in 2-3 weeks.
- Just cancer, in general. We're kind of done with it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, December 21, 2012

Central venous care class

I made friends at central venous care class today. Sitting in a roomful of people learning to care for loved ones with cancer is...

Sheila has been married for 56 years. She thinks it's disgraceful that her grandson went to a fancy school and still can't spell. She's been with her husband since she was 16. They married at 18. He's always been a hard worker. They have seven acres and he mows most of it himself. He got a sinus infection that wouldn't go away. It's leukemia. He's so sick now, and she can't quite get her mind around that. It doesn't seem real. When the nurse began to teach us about changing dressings, she said, "I'm feeling very scared about this. I don't know if I can do it."

Walker has been married for 42 years. His mother taught him to sew and knit. That came in handy when he was in the navy. The other guys paid him to sew things on their uniforms. He made extra money off the fighters as they tended to bloody their insignia and were thus repeat customers. He was scandalized when I couldn't tell him the capitol of South Dakota.

Me: Bismarck?
Walker: (stern and school-teachery). Wrong state.
Me: (winning smile) Some place cold?
Walker: (chuckling) Well, yes.

He figures I can probably read and write okay since I graduated from A&M. He has absolute confidence in M.D. Anderson but open disdain for the clinic near his home where his wife goes for blood draws.

Walker to nurse: You are very intelligent, but the folks at __________? (raised eyebrows and stern look) I'm bringing her back here. She's very sick.

He asked who was sick in my family.

Me: It's my husband.
Walker: (tears and pursed lips). You are very young.

There's just something about the sympathy of the elderly. It makes me feel like a little girl with a busted knee getting a strong hug from her father.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cancered cruise...

Chris and I were supposed to go on a cruise with my extended family* this week.  Our cruise got cancered, but because my parents, grandmother, brothers and sisters-in-law are awesome, my children still got to go.  Here's Chris with the cruisers before they left.
Usually, this kind of picture involves much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but, as much as cancer sucks, it's kind of magic, too.
Me:  First, I would like to remind everyone that Chris has cancer.  Second, I want all of you to line up on the stairs so I can take a picture.
That was the most orderly and cheerful family picture we've ever taken.  The only exception was Rand who still threw a fit and had to be bribed with candy.  But that was kind of comforting.  A toddler is still a toddler.  He has no respect for cancer.

The morning after they all left for the cruise, several things came together to indicate that it was divinely ordained that I should console myself at the mall Monday before we started rapid-fire appointments the rest of the week..

  1. I found cash I'd forgotten.
  2. The gift card I thought had $5 was really worth $100.
  3. New York & Co. was a running a store wide 50% off sale.
So, I may be at M.D. Anderson this week instead of a cruise, but I'll be looking fabulous.

* Because my parents are rock stars, they got us all a cruise for Christmas.
** Chris starts chemo Thursday.
*** For my praying people, here are specific ways you can pray (or generally send good vibes if you're not the praying type) for us:
  1. That chemo would be effective.  That really (and probably obviously) effects his prognosis.
  2. That we would have patience, grace, energy and kindness with the boys when they get back.
  3. That we would look out for one another's interests in this.  
  4. That I'll still be nice when he's nauseated and cranky.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Singing barefoot

During the music in church, a few days after we found out about Chris' cancer, I was staring straight ahead trying not to cry in front of the boys.  I noticed the worship leader was barefoot and thought, "That's weird.  I wonder why he doesn't wear shoes?  I guess he must sing better barefoot."  Then it occurred to me that that's exactly what I'm going to do.  My family needs me to be strong right now in a way that terrifies me.  And I'm not supposed to just survive this.  The Lord has a song for me to sing.  And I'm going to do what I have to do to sing it.  I'm going to sing barefoot.

* Seriously, there's no telling what you're going to find over here.  It'll probably be awkward, emotional and embarrassing.
** Stone Feet by Carol Evans

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

But your grammar sucks...

We had a heckler during spelling yesterday.  David and Jacob were spelling words with tiles. Bryan was harassing them when they missed anything.
Bryan:  I can spell every word in the English language that's ever been teached.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Urban retreat spa and imaging...

I love the medical testing process.  This is somewhat oversimplified, but when you boil it down to essentials, it goes like this.
Patient: My knee hurts. 
Doctor: You may have cancer. 
Doctor now sends Patient to another facility where Patient then is
  1. Told to undress - you know, in case he isn't uncomfortable enough already.
  2. Strapped to a table inside a machine for 45 minutes of thundering heartbeat sounds with overlaid slamming noises so loud it requires earplugs.  
  3. Handed a panic button.
There's nothing to do but think about whether or not this thing on your leg is cancer.  Can you read? No.  Can you listen to music or a book?  No.  It's just you and your thoughts.  Three hours ago your life was normal.  Now you may have cancer.  Just think on that for FORTY-FIVE minutes with a horror film sound track playing in the background.  Push the panic button if it gets to be too much and you want out.  I wanted to leap from my chair on the side and pound the hell out of that panic button.
Seriously, medical testing folks need to get with the spa people.  When I got a facial, they offered me a glass of wine in case I was nervous.  In the background birds were chirping and water was running.  All the lights were dim.  We needed some of that action in the MRI room.

* This is not a commentary on the medical staff or facility where Chris was checked.  They were great.  The doctor who referred him was great.  The process is just... disconcerting.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

My Chris...

Friends, it's been the worst kind of week.  My Chris has cancer.  He went to the doctor Friday morning a week ago with a sore knee.  He called me an hour later to tell me the doctor was concerned and sending him for a CT and MRI (more on that process later).  That evening we found out he has osteosarcoma, a cancer of the bone.  So we woke up Friday morning thinking everything was fine and went to bed in a new world.

The most unexpected things let you know something serious is going down.
  1. Chris voluntarily took off his sunglasses for some pictures.
  2. Chris left Rand in his Pull Up all morning while I was at the store, and I didn't care.  I wasn't trying to be noble, I just Truly. Did not. Care.
  3. I dropped the f-bomb.  
  4. My dad lost his keys.
  5. My mom burned the bacon.
  6. I threw a banana out of a moving car.  
  7. And, most ominous of all, neither of us yelled at the children for an entire weekend.
Last weekend was tough, but holy and precious time.  We couldn't do anything about doctor's appointments until Monday.  We didn't want to tell the boys until we had more information (and were secretly waiting and hoping for some sort of superhero power that gives wisdom for telling children their father has cancer).  So it was borrowed, sacred time.  I snuggled with Chris whenever I could.  We played football with the boys.  I built with Legos.  We sat outside.  Chris played Scramble with his sister and claimed she made his cancer hurt when she beat him.  I stared at the same page of my book and eventually just gave up and rested my mind.  Rand served us all wooden food and called us buttheads.  The big boys fought imaginary bad guys and argued over whether choosing an imaginary German rifle obliged one to fight against one's brothers who were armed with imaginary British and American weapons.  I watched the last few carefree hours of my children's childhood.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Definitions and a disputed zombie attack...

David:  What does dissuade mean? 
Me:  To try to talk someone out of something.  If you were about to throw your dinner at Daddy, I would dissuade you. 
David:  Daddy would dissuade me harder.
Bryan:  I know why they're called suckers
Me:  Why? 
Bryan:  If you play a game and you lose, you get a sucker because you suck at it.
Bryan:  (crying hysterically and horribly frustrated during Zombie nerf tag)  It's not fair!  I ate Jacob's brains and he won't die!

Sunday, December 2, 2012


(This one is from a few months ago.)

Corroborating evidence
1.  We played chess with the boys tonight.
2.  We're reading The Hobbit together and they love it.

Contrary evidence
1.  The boys were inspired by Tolkien's gristly word on goblins:
"Hammers, axes, swords, daggers, pickaxes, tongs, and also instruments of torture, they make very well, or get other people to make to their design..."
They had all sorts of ideas on the specifics of how goblins might amuse themselves by torturing folks.
David:  They could chop off their toes one at a time and cut off a little more of their legs every day.
Bryan:  They could pull out their eyes. 
Jacob:  They could chop off their heads. 
David:  No, you don't want them to die right away.
2.  Chess lasted a little too long, so bedtime was a hyperactive melee.  There were wedgies, races up and down the hall, empty threats, toddler pronouncements obviously planted by older brothers:  "Mo-nee (Mommy) pee-pee her pants."

But seriously, we were playing chess, so I have to go with civilized on this one.


As the smallest person in our house, Rand is, understandably, concerned that the Roomba will, someday, vacuum him up.  He usually keeps a safe distance, but the Roomba is tricky.  It sneaks up on him occasionally.  I heard him shrieking in the living room tonight and found this.

Reconstructing events, i think the Roomba crept up when he wasn't looking, he panicked and flipped his Little Tykes car (oddly reminiscent of what happened to me the day after I got my driver's license, but that's a post for another day) trapping his face directly on top of the Roomba in a really tight space.  
Me:  Are you scared or hurt?
Rand:  (heartbroken, wailing) I SCARED!
We snuggled.  He sucked his thumb.  I was as sympathetic as my Uncle Philip was the day he picked me up at the scene of my first car wreck which also included an upside-down vehicle.

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