Archive | April 2012

Time Flies

In a little over a month, my one and only baby is flying away (well actually riding in a truck, but you get the picture). She graduates from high school and the following day she leaves with my mom to move 14 hours away (driving that is). I’m ok with her going, I actually suggested it. But I’m finding that as time goes on and it gets closer, I’m wondering what the heck am I going to do without her.

Yeah, she’s a crazy teenager and sometimes she doesn’t want anything to do with me but there are other times when we’re inseparable. Like recently, I just wanted to take a drive to the park by the ocean and spend an hour walking, she came with me. We had fun, we sang, we laughed, we took pictures. She loves to go and watch kids movies with me, we do Drive-in nights in the summer, we go out to eat, she helps with our crazy Maine Coon cat (this cat is enormous but very cool).

I guess I’m just saying that I’m going to miss her horribly. I still won’t stop her from going, I think this will be a good move for her. She’ll get a taste of freedom and maybe get some butt kicking by her Nana (which she needs on occasion) and won’t have me hovering nearby.

So I will immerse myself into school, work (uggg), books, spending time with friends and my brother, and try to adjust to being an empty nester, wow I’m way too young for that term.

On the plus side, my house will stay cleaner. I won’t have to beg anyone to help clean up the mess that she created. Worry about dishes that she’s hidden in her room, or left sitting on the coffee table. If something breaks, it’s only me and the cat. I knew if I thought long enough, I’d find some cheerful things.

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Too Old for High School Drama

What do you do when you work with people that insist on behaving like high school girls? I work for a large company that has multiple divisions. In my office space we have 2 different divisions. I work for one and most of the other people here work for the other. My office is located off to the side, out of the way and it’s quiet (most of the time).

So for a long time when I didn’t get invited to the group lunches or get togethers, because I work for the “other” division. Then that changed and they started including me. It was great, for a year and a half or so I was always included. Then every now and again I’d get excluded because I was forgotten.

Then it started happening more frequently. I’d say something and would it would be shrugged off like oh well. One of the ladies I’m really close with, we talk all the time. I let her know that it was bothering me and she told me that she mentioned it to the others but no one really said anything or owned up to anything.

So, I started eating lunch on my own, reading a book, going and doing errands, having quiet time and I’m so much happier. But now the gossip has started, “why isn’t she having lunch with us anymore?” “Does she think she’s better than us?” “She must just hate us.”

I opt to spend my lunch hour the way that I want, quiet and drama free. But because I don’t want to put myself in a position to be excluded and ostracized now I’m the issue and the problem. Let me state here, these people that I’m dealing with are old enough to be my parents. They should know better.

I’m sorry, if you treat me like crap, I’m not going to take it. I’m not the type to get confrontational, so I just withdraw and do my own thing and try to stay out of the gossip but this has been going on for quite a while it’s getting to me. I needed to vent about it.

Thanks for reading, any suggestions would be great!

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!!

Saturday turned into a much needed girl’s day for me and my best friend. We already had appointments to go and get massages, then we decided that we needed further pampering (or at least, our toes did) and found a cute little place to get pedicures. The place was noisy and crazy busy and the two of us just sat back and took it all in, having fun people watching. I think the owner of the shop was concerned that we were uncomfortable, but that wasn’t it, we were just mellow from our massages and enjoying sitting back and watching everyone.

After our toes were all prettified, we got great take out for dinner and just enjoyed our time together. I think all women need that, a day with their best friend to just do something relaxing, or fun or crazy. We get so tired up in our own lives that we forget to make time for each other. My best friend and I talk each and every day, at least once, usually multiple times. But we don’t actually see each other often. Which is sad, we live 15 minutes away from each other.

So my pledge is to start having more girl time, more girl fun with my best girl friends. Cause ultimately, who’s there for you when you are in crisis, they are. Don’t get me wrong, your family is there too, at least mine is. But it’s my girls that help keep me sane. They get me motivated to get out of the house, to go to the gym, to go listen to some great live music, to enjoy some relaxing spa time (ok the spa wasn’t quiet, it was noisy but we did relax), to enjoy good food and each others company.

So on this rainy gray day here in New England, remember your girl friends, remember to make time for them and yourself. You deserve it!

The New Me

I’m going through a lot of changes in my life. All for the good I think. I started going back to school, again, last October. I’m going to school online, pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design. What I was originally going to do after high school before I took my little field trip (ok, it was a big field trip). I got my Associates Degree in Visual Communications and Information Systems about 2 years ago. I had also done that online, but I don’t think that school was a good fit for me. I graduated not feeling like I learned a lot. Here I am 6 months into a 2 year program and I already feel like I have learned so much more than I did in the other school. And I’m loving it, so that’s really important.

Another change is that I’m going and seeking help from a nutritionist. I’ve battled my weight for my whole life. I’ve been good the last few years sticking within my dietary restrictions for my heart condition and I was eating healthy, or so I thought. But I was still gaining weight, actually a significant amount of weight. My doctor wasn’t concerned. She told me it’s because I’m over 35, I’m post menopausal, it happens, I just need to exercise more. So with a friend from work, I joined a gym and started going religiously 3 times a week and still nothing was coming off. I met this amazing woman, she actually does massage work as well as nutrition. That’s how I met her, I went for a massage and It has been one of the best things for me in a while. She is helping me to make little changes in my diet and bam!! There is starting to be a noticeable difference. My energy level is up some, I’m happier and my clothes are starting to fit better. All great things.

Now I’m going to have to face one of the scariest things I’ve had to face since cancer. My baby girl is graduating from high school. Not only that, she’s leaving the day after graduation and moving 14 hours away (driving) to live with my mom. This is such a confusing time for me. I’m so excited and happy for her. I think this will be good for her, living away from me. While I don’t try, I think that I baby her too much. I don’t know that she’ll spread her wings while she lives with me and so far she’s not interested in going to college.

Yes, I have been arguing continually that she needs to go, she’s unsure and thinks that she wants to go to school online. I love her so much and think she’s brilliant, but I know that she doesn’t have the discipline that is needed to do school work online. My mom plans on hopefully changing her mind once she gets Tiff there.

So now my new dilemma, how do I go about living without her? I know I’ll make it and part of me is looking forward to some freedom and some quiet time. The joy of knowing that if the house was clean when I left, when I get home, it’ll still be clean. That I won’t be picking up anyone’s mess by my own. There’s definitely an upside, but there’s a downside too. Who’s going to go with me on my spontaneous trips to the ocean? Who’s going to warn me before I walk out the door that I really shouldn’t wear what I’ve got on, that I should add this or take away that?

I want her to go because this will be good for her. It’ll be good for my mom. They need each other. In a way, it’ll be good for me too, in time. But it’s going to be a rough first year, I know that. I’m going to need my friends to help distract me and keep me busy so that I don’t wallow. God, sitting here typing this I’m in tears already.

So looking forward to the new me, more knowledge (in school and nutrition), feeling better (physically) and childless. It’s gonna be weird. But I still have her prom and graduation to look forward too in the meantime. I’m going to make the most out of these times.

Side Effects – oh fun

So I beat cancer. I kicked it’s butt and survived. I get to see my baby grow up, get to live and enjoy life. But wait a minute, what’s that… side effects from chemo??? No, not going to happen to me, I’ll be fine. Menopause early? Yeah I can deal with that. Yeah, Menopause started at 28 for me. I knew that I was going to go through it early, but I figured, well typically women go through it in their late 40’s or 50’s, so I’ll go through it in my late 30’s. I was wrong.

Started with little things, like a hot flash here, a night sweat there. Then my monthly visits from my “friend” came further and further apart. (Why anyone would every call menstruation a friend is beyond me, it was horrible). Then one day it was like WHAM, a switch flipped. I went from fine to mega bitch in 0.23 seconds. The mood swings were crazy.

Ok, time line check, this was my late 20’s, heading towards my early 30’s and Tiffany was right around 10-11  age range. I love my daughter with all of my heart, but she is a drama queen. Now she admits it openly. Back then she was just getting her drama on, in a big way. I might also add here that I was a single parent at this point too, working full time to support us.

So I was in full blown menopause and Tiff was in pre-teen bitchy phase, I’d come home from work at night and I would do my best on the bad days to just stay away (well as away as you can get in a small 2 bedroom apartment) from her, I knew if I interacted with her too much, I’d jump down her throat and no matter what she did, she really didn’t deserve my “pause rage.”  Do you think that she’d sense that I was staying away or hidden for a reason, no, of course not. She would do her best to push all my buttons.

How we both survived that time without people banging on our apartment door from our screaming matches, I still will never know.  But we did make it through, and I have to say that post menopause is a wonderful thing. I still run on the warm side, before, I was always cold, now I’m usually always warm. I still have an occasional night sweat. But thankfully, I no longer have the dreaded mood swings and Tiff had survived to the end of her teen years.

Unfortunately, I have to say that early menopause was not the only side effect that I ended up with. I am also prone to blood clots. Back in 2002 I landed my butt in the hospital with a pulmonary embolism( blood clot in the lung). They caught it early but I did end up having to take blood thinners for the next year and have week visits to my friends the vampires (or lab techs) for blood to be drawn.

I wish that I could say that the side effects stopped there, but they didn’t. A couple of years later, at Thanksgiving time, I started having trouble breathing. I actually let it go on longer than I should have. I let it go one for about a week. I actually had a doctor’s appointment to be looked at, but Tiff had gotten sick and there were no openings for her to be seen (we go to the same GP), so good mom that I am, I gave up my appointment for her to be seen. That was the day before Thanksgiving. The day after Thanksgiving, I got up and I was getting pains in my chest. At this point I know my butt is going into the hospital for more than just a day or 2. I call my brother to come get me (great brother that he is), I take a long hot shower while I wait for him (I know it will be my last shower for a couple of days, I want to be clean) and into the ER I go.

Between the chemo ravaging my body to kill the cancer and the tumor trying to strangle my heart and lungs, it left scar tissue on y heart and weakened it. My heart had become enlarged and the sack around it was filled with fluid. My heart was drowning. So they keep me in the hospital, put me on 3 different meds, 2 to bring my already low blood pressure down even lower so that my heart doesn’t have to beat as hard and 1 to help rid my body of fluids.

I have Congestive Heart Failure, I take 3 meds a day and I had to maintain a very low sodium diet. That was what my wonderful cardiologist informed me (which by the way, he is wonderful, down to earth, just overall awesome). So I got a week in the hospital, I needed a vacation from work anyways, right?

All things considered, I wasn’t supposed to make it past 19. The grim reaper was knocking on my door hard and was turned away (I think my mom scared him away actually), so I’ve had side effects. I’m still here, I still get to spend time with my loved ones. I get to spend time with my friends, both old ones and my new ones. So I don’t regret any of my experiences, they have made me the strong, independent woman that I am today.

Rehab and Good News

I was finally home. spending time with my little one, no more hospital food (I think that was one of the things I hated, not having mom’s home cooking), sleeping in my own bed. While I was in the hospital, during those months, my step dad, step brother and Dave went and moved our room (Dave, Tiff and I) from the second floor to the first floor and my step brother moved up to my old room. Using a walker, having an oxygen tank, they weren’t real stair friendly to say the least.

The VNA (Visiting Nurses Association) were wonderful. I had a nurse that came out every day to deal with any injections that I needed and for the first couple of weeks she changed the dressing in my chest. They had assigned a Home Health Aide to Tiffany because she was a preemie. Turns out that her HHA was someone that I knew as a kid and hadn’t seen in probably 10 years. I was happy to have Becky watching my daughter and spending time with her. After I got home the VNA assigned me an HHA too, Nancy. She was the sweetest lady. She’d come to the house at around 8 in the morning and stay till 4. She’d make me lunch, help me bath (that was weird, having a stranger help me wash up in my own house, in the hospital, I was used to it but at home it was odd), helped me take care of Tiffany.

The VNA also sent out a physical therapist. Where I was having trouble getting around, and stairs were really hard on me (there was no choice getting into the house, I had to go up and down stairs) so they sent the rehab to me. The first woman that came out was horrible. She was mean to me. I had just been to hell and back and she was yelling at me that I wasn’t even trying. Hello are you in my body, do you know what it’s capable of?  No, but I do. After a week of her coming and seeing that it wasn’t just a bad day, my HHA called and told them to send someone else. She stuck up for me when I just wasn’t able to do it myself.

The new physical therapist was great. She helped me exercise my leg muscles and build strength so that I wouldn’t need to use the walker anymore. It took months for me to be fully able to get around without help of someone. I think I stopped using the walker after 2 months but it was another 3 or 4 before I wasn’t afraid of stairs and falling down them.

October 12, 1993 is forever ingrained in my mind. This was the day that I had a gallium scan. For those that don’t know, gallium scans work differently from say a CAT scan. Before having one, I’d have to go 24 hours a head of time and get an injection of radiation. After I had the injection, I was no longer allowed to hold Tiffany for 2 days because there was a possibility of her getting radiation poisoning from me. I’d go back on the following day and spend about 90 minutes laying on a bed with my eyes closed with my arms above my head while this huge thing would rotate around me, very, very slowly. And when it came near my face, it was less than an inch away. I’m claustrophobic, so I kept my eyes closed so I wouldn’t freak out.

After my scan that day, the nuclear medicine doctor (I can’t remember the official title) had Dave and I come in for him to give us the results. It was gone, the tumor that had been encasing my heart and lungs was gone. Nothing left but scar tissue. He was amazed. Dr I was called in and he was amazed. Told me that I was a miracle, that it shouldn’t have been gone at all, that he didn’t know what happened or why but it was gone.

I was there at Dana Farber that day for the scan and for my last round of chemo. At that point, Dr I declared me in remission and had me go through the chemo just for the hell of it. He still didn’t believe his eyes. But I was cured. That’s all could think of. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell mom, dad, everyone. This was in the days before I had a cell phone and instant ability to communicate with everyone.

After that my appointments at Dana Farber started to stretch out, first to every other month, then to every 3 months, every 6 months, to once a year, to finally none at all. But I still remember that day like it was yesterday. The only cloud on that day, I couldn’t pick up and hold Tiff and hug her. I had to wait another 24 hours before I could hold her.

So not only did I have a miracle baby, who saved her mom, but now I was a medical miracle. Someone, somewhere along the way told me that Dr I published my case in the New England Journal of Medicine. A few years after going into remission, I went to see Dr I for a follow up visit and sat there with sad eyes and my first thoughts were “Oh crap, it’s back.” No, he had sad eyes because his bosses were forcing him to chose between treating patients and doing research. He was sad because it was out last appointment. At this point, he was a member of the family practically, he saved me. His research saved me, I couldn’t fault him for staying with his research, especially if there was a chance that he could save someone else’s life.

I still miss him and wonder if he’s still at Dana Farber or if he’s gone back home. But I will forever be grateful to him for the life that I have been able to live.

Tiffany

After Tiff was born and I was whisked away to Brigham and Women’s, she stayed there in the hospital where she was born. My cousin, who was pregnant at the same time, had her daughter 2 days later. This was very good because my grandmother, aunt and uncle would go and check both babies out of the nursery and just dote on them. The nurses there at the hospital knew what was going on with me and gave Tiffany extra attention and allowed for my family to come and spend as much time with her and her cousin as possible.

Because her dad and I weren’t married, I was her only guardian. Mom couldn’t get her out of the hospital because I wasn’t there to sign her birth certificate. Mom brought me all the paperwork, Brigham had a notary on staff that came and notarized my signature and I also filled out paperwork that basically gave custody to my mom. At that point we still weren’t sure that I was going to make it.

14 days old and she didn’t go straight home, her first stop was to see me. My mom brought Tiffany right in to see me. I missed her so much. She cried the entire time. She didn’t like the tubes hooked up to me, she didn’t want me to hold her at all.  Mom saw that it was killing me, so she took her home. She only brought her in for one other visit and she did the same thing.

It upset me that I couldn’t be there to hold my baby, that I didn’t get a chance to ever breast feed her, that she didn’t want me. That’s what was going through my head. Talk about postpartum blues, I would cry for days on end. Not that I didn’t have plenty to cry about, but that wasn’t it. It was my baby that I cried over.

Tiffany wasn’t a heck of a lot better at home. She was fine when my mom would hold her and my grandmother. But she didn’t really want anyone else. She cried all the time. She wanted her mom, but she didn’t want her mom in the hospital. When I finally got to go home, she calmed down a bit. Mom still kept her in her bedroom for another month or so. I was having trouble standing and walking. If Tiff woke up in the night, I wouldn’t be able to get up on my own to get her.

So at 4 months old, I was finally able to care for her on my own. She was moved into her crib in my room. Within a week of being in my room with me, she was sleeping through the night. She just needed her mom to be close by. My mom was amazed that she slept so good.

I have to say that with all that I went through, that I was blessed with an extraordinarily good baby. She was wonderful, still is. I even forgive her for letting her first word be Nana instead of Mama.