Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Casino Cancer

So sometimes my father can be...how do I put this? An asshole. Yes. That covers it. Right before Christmas we found out that my father most likely had gall bladder cancer. VERY rare. And being that overall, he is not a particularly healthy specimen, my mother and I, both nurses for quite some time, worried what this meant. Surgery would be very hard on his already stressed heart.

So they began the journey of a 2nd opinion. We have one of the the top 3 cancer centers in America right here in our home town. My father had a biopsy done last Thursday, with results expected today. So my father calls me up to say:

"Well, I have three weeks to live"

"I'm sorry what??" as the blood drains from my whole entire body. Now, part of me assumed he was joking, as I have been raised by this man. And I do not need to say here that I am a complete and total "daddy's girl" and all that nonsense. But it is true.

"yeah, so meet me and mom at Olive Garden for lunch and your mom says to celebrate the good news the two of you are going to the casino tonight."

"you do know dad, that you are such an asshole sometimes"

"yup. A lot of the time. Met us there in 25 minutes"

So my dad does not have cancer, but a very inflamed, infected gall bladder. Antibiotics and close monitoring for now. Excellent news of the day.

At lunch he started to cough. I asked if he was going to be alright, because he told me he had three weeks to live, not that he was gonna die over breadsticks at Olive Garden.

Today happens to also be my mom's 60th birthday and we (read:she) had been planning a casino trip for the last few weeks, calling me every few days to make sure our plans were still solid. She says at lunch " So the good news is that I have off tomorrow, so we can stay later"

"Yeah, not that I might not die of cancer. That she can stay longer at the casino. Wonderful"

Ahh! Theirs is a marriage most people only have nightmares about.

Monday, January 28, 2008

In the trenches

So I have this wild hair up my butt to finish writing something about the people I work with most often. One of my hobbies is to do digital scrapbooking, or digital design ( if I wanna sound more important, I suppose) For some reason the layout designing is proving harder than I would like. Tonight, I think I got the written piece done. I present that written bit for y'all. I am hoping the rest with fall into place at some point:

To call any of us "angels of mercy" would be quite the misnomer. We
joke that we are all going to Hell one day, fact is, some nights we
feel like we are already there. But we decided, we are at least, going
together. It is being together that gets us through the worse nights
and situations that are just staggering. We work the night shift
together month after month, year after year. And I wouldn't have it
any other way.

I have spent as many holidays with them as I have with my family. I
am sure they have seen me cry more than almost anyone else in the
world and they can make me laugh harder than I ever thought
possible.They know more about me, my character, my life, than I am
sure they want. We have spent time caring for people and doing
things that you can't begin to fathom, unless you are a nurse too.

There are the days when Dave has brushed my car off of snow, because he knows I am tired/cranky and he got to the parking lot first. Days that Linda comes and kisses me on the top of me and told me she was so happy to see me. Days that Karen heard me cough once and ran off to force a concoction of Airborne and vitamin C down my throat with a hot tea chaser.Days Laurie and I drive home together just so we can stop for breakfast and to decompress from the night,spending a few hours just being friends,and questioning if some of the insanity of the night really happened. Days Molly let me lay my head on her shoulder and said " you don't even need to say it, baby. I understand" Days that Barb told me a story that made me laugh so hard I hit my head on the desk and didn't even care. I am sure I am brain damaged from it and from the lack of oxygen, as well.

I know them so well and feel good that they know me the same way.
When we are stressed in our personal lives, coming to work is the
often the relief. Molly calls it "paid group therapy". Indeed. It is
a piece of my life I need so much and have a hard time explaining it
to anyone outside of "us"

I worry about them. They worry about me. I love them. They love me.
They are not the people I work with, they are the people that share
my life. I can't imagine not having all of them around me. They are
irreverent, intelligent, caring, hilarious, friendly, aggravating,
strong, sensitive, sometimes moody( even you, big guy), sometimes annoying,quite often exhausted and all the time incredible.

bottom row (left to right) Laurie, Barb, Linda and Dave
Back row: ( left to right) Karen, Molly and me

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Torture with cuddling.

So my son Josh, who is 11, and I are suppose to be doing a little bonding, "date night" this week. Of course his choice is an action movie, loads of popcorn and candy. So tonight I look at the show times and decide we can make the 7:15 show. But I am not feeling entirely like heading out on this cold night. I tend to be a winter hermit. Living in Buffalo...that is a LONG time to be indoors.I am a delicate peach. I like the indoors. And if I had to go out and brush off my car of snow...it would be all over, even before it began.

Anyway, in an attempt to put off the trip I asked Josh if he would like my father to join us and then we would go out tomorrow. He winced and told me the he "kinda" wanted it to be just me and him. He is one to want quite a bit of alone time with me(don't they all!). I took him on a solo trip to Disney World in May and I am taking him to see New York City for the first time in February.

"Oh good! I am so glad you said that, Josh! We can snuggle and cuddle during the whole movie" and to demonstrate my point I gave him several sloppy kisses and threw him onto my bed.

"uhhhh, maybe we should wait to take Gramps then" as he tried ( unsuccessfully to wriggle away from me)

"I know, I wouldn't wanna kill you with all the cuddling"

"man, that would suck! I think that would be the worst way to die!"

Yes, worse than being set on fire or drowning. Indeed.

So, with my promise to behave and not molest him with my mom-like ways, we headed out to see National Treasure: Book of Secrets. I could see that look that told me he really wanted to go tonight. Pin me down, so I couldn't postpone our night out.

I gotta say, the movie was pretty interesting. Enough like the first one but different twists and an interesting plot. And BONUS: I got to drool over my man, Ed Harris for 2 hours. Always my time well spent. For me that is one old dude...but umm....I am sure I could make him feel young again. *wink* I know Adam is LOVING reading that part. He loves to remind me when my man Ed plays a "bad guy" I guess it makes him feel better. Whatever. I love the man within, not the character. So there, Adam. And I don't care that he was a Nazi in Enemy at the Gates!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sammy needs a passport.

Last night Sammy told me he wants to go to Indonesia to see a Komodo Dragon. Now, he is five and I am just shocked that he even knows that there is a place called Indonesia. I know that he can't find it on a map or anything,but it impressed me nonetheless. I am quite sure I didn't know that country existed until I was in my teens or early 20s.

I told Sammy in the spring we would take a trip to the Toronto zoo to see these vile, huge lizards.

He just looked at me. "Mom, Toronto? a zoo? I think you are just being lazy"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Crazy stuff I hear....or don't.

So, okay...I am pretty much deaf without my hearing aids. I can't believe I went as long as I did without them. I first noticed a decline in my hearing when I was 23 and pregnant with Joshua, but some of my friends will tell you it goes much farther back. It happened slowly and I hid it very well, even Adam was unaware of how incredibly bad it had gotten. I am a FABULOUS lip reader, which is a very useful skill in the ICU where I work, as many of our patients can't talk because they are intubated ( on a ventilator) but they can mouth words to make their needs known.

I have a genetic bone disease called Osteogenesis imperfecta. Basically it is "brittle bone" disease. It makes for frequent fractures, crappy joints and teeth, the whites of my eyes are blue and I started going deaf in my 20's. I broke my first bone ( my leg) when I was 9 months old, I was learning to walk. My family has adapted to this disease for quite some time...my great-grandfather, my grandfather, my father, my uncle, and one of my brothers has it along with myself...and of course...Sammy Satan! We live just fine with it, there are far worse things to be afflicted with, in my opinion. We just live our lives, occasionally with a cast or two...maybe a nice ACE bandage, if we are lucky.

Anyway, this "fun" disease causes me to have otosclerosis: Bone conduction hearing loss, like Gill Grisson on CSI, Frankie Valli ( that reference is for you, Dad) and Beethoven. Ah and I should not forget...Rush Hudson Limbaugh Jr., ain't that precious! If only he had gone mute too. Anyway...

My hearing loss had gotten worse of the last few years and for whatever reason (pride, fear, stubbornness or all of the above) I didn't do anything about it. Now think about this..I am a nurse in the ICU. Not good. And it became more and more frustrating for me and I am SURE for the people who talked to me, not to mention potentially dangerous for my patients. I work with the same crew of nurse on a regular basis and they are a few of the best people in the world, and they covered for me or helped me the best they could. Most likely too much. I started to hate going to work (NOT like me) and I started to withdraw from social situations and I would "hide" in my patients rooms all night to avoid having to talk to anyone(VERY, VERY,VERY unlike me). Finally three of my best friends took me aside and told me they noticed a personality change in me and they were worried, they missed the "old" me. That next week at Christmas, I was sitting at a table with all of my family. They were talking and laughing...I was so lost, I was not a part of any of it. I knew I had to get a frickin' grip, suck it up and do something about it.

The next day I scheduled a hearing test. I had to call on my cell phone, as it has a higher volume level than my house phone. The only way I knew it was my appointment time? I read the guys lips as he as calling my name. sigh. After my test, Mark, my audiologist, asked if I had gotten though school without help. Actually, Mark, I went to college and had a 4.0. Thanks. After I explained why this was happening, we set out to fix me.

So $3000 later, I can hear. It doesn't "cure" me per say, but ask anyone around me and they will tell you the difference is amazing. I had not heard my car start in over a year. My teenager is a mumbler, like so many kids his age...I bet I didn't hear a thing that kid said to me in over a year too. Not hearing sux.

Helen Keller once wrote: Blindness cuts us off from things, but deafness cuts us off from people. Too true. Adam is going to roll his eyes at that quote, cuz I used it often to explain how frustrated I was with all of this crap. I got it out in writing, babe...I will stop now. 'Kay? ;)

So just because I have hearing aids, doesn't mean I hear everything. I miss lots of stuff, but it is incredibly better. This week, however, after having head congestion..and I am sure in need of a change in my hearing aid settings, I am hearing or not hearing some interesting things.

Tonight I am sitting on the couch, flipping through random channels and Adam is on the laptop working. I hear him ask Zach for something and I thought it was for a pair of headphones.

"Is the TV too loud for you?? I can turn it down..or off. I don't need to watch it"

He tells me it is fine, not bothering him at all.

"well, why do you need headphones?? It must me too loud, I can just watch it with closed captioning"

He looks at me blankly.

"you can just tell me, really"

"Heidi, I asked Zach for my ice water from the kitchen"

The two of them, Zach and Adam, just shake their heads at me. They are soooooo used to it by now. It almost seems normal. At least for this house.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Liquid Brains

Slacker. On the blog front anyway. I worked a 13 hour day shift yesterday that felt like it was 40 hours long. I think when you start the day at 6am with an icy blast to the face and end it feeling like your brains are oozing of of your ear, it just might be too much to write anything. Last night I wanted to come home and drink my dinner of iced tea and vodka with straw. I didn't. We didn't have any vodka. *sigh*

It was just the ridiculous in and out of patients that was exhausting. It seems the my unit is where the beds never seem to get cold. As soon as we move a patient out, there are 4 more waiting for it in the ER or other part of the building. I had to go to CAT scan with one of my patients for an hour, which was not fun for him or me. I received a transfer from another ICU mid-shift. There was a televised announcement that morning about the closing of our hospital, which set the mood very warmly for the day. Top that off with out secretary being particularly evil and deciding she was not going to answer the constant ringing of the phone...you have the recipe for maximum nurse brain oozing.

I have been filp-flopping day to night shift for some time now and I really enjoy different elements of each shift. I love my co-workers on each shift. Honestly, I find it hard to pick one over the other, but day shift does drive up the insanity level a bit. Even though I am thankful every day that I finally got my hearing aids, day shift makes me wanna turn them off and hide in my patients rooms. There are entirely too many people of all types touching my charts, writing orders, asking me questions, and just generally annoying me. I suppose I should work on that attitude. Maybe it will be my belated New Years resolution. I will add it to the already broken "curb my swearing" and "don't let Sammy just eat a bag of chocolate chip cookies for lunch, just because he cries" I am work in progress.

To quote Buffy ( or really my dream lover Joss Whedon)

I'm cookie dough. I'm not done baking. I'm not finished becoming who ever the hell it is I'm gonna turn out to be. I make it through this, and the next thing, and the next thing, and maybe one day, I turn around and realize I'm ready. I'm cookies. And then, you know, if I want someone to eat m- or enjoy warm, delicious, cookie me, then that's fine. That'll be then. When I'm done.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Why should I cry for you?

For some reason or another I have been thinking about my friend Bethany very often lately. Bethany died in the summer of 1996, when she was only 22 years old. She had lymphoma.

That summer was a horrible one for me, one of the worst. I was working full time on a terrible medical-surgical floor that was as close to being hell on earth as one can imagine. And I can imagine a lot. I was working three 13-hour shifts a week, often back to back due to babysitting issues with Zach, then only 4. I would work 6 pm until about 8 or 9 every morning, after having a very heavy 11 patient assignment and still being a relatively new nurse. I would sleep until about 1:30 pm when my dad dropped Zach back home to me on his way to work ...so that was about 4 or 5 hours of sleep a "night". I was 6 or 7 months pregnant with Josh. I was getting sicker with him, developing high blood pressure which would put me out of work early...almost 2 months before he was born. That July my 16 year-old cousin Lisa, was in a tragic and stupid accident that took her life. My extended family would never be the same. I was only 23 and I felt so much older.

So one morning in August, I was reading the obituaries as I always do, either being morbid or because I often knew patients or their family members who were featured. I scanned the named quickly and my heart sank. I sat on my bed and read it over and over. It couldn't be. It isn't. There was no way. And then I started to cry and I didn't stop until Adam got home from work.

She had been sick all through college. I never knew. She thought I had enough stress with work,having a child so young, buying a house...she didn't want her friends to be upset or worried about her. And, as it happens with friends, you fall away from each other when you go to college. I had seen her the New Years prior and everyone around her said how wonderful she looked because she had lost some weight. It was because she was sick and we just didn't know. I don't know which is better, the not knowing and hurting with her or the chance to see her and talk to her before she left. I had talked to her off and on, we exchanged letters, as this was a bit before the age of email. But our lives rolled on and away from each other. It it tragic, but it happens all the time.

I met Bethany when she was an adorable freshman just joining drama club. I was a sophomore and drama club was the one place I found solace in the scary world of high school. I belonged there. I had incredible friends there. Those friends I was close to like no others. We spent hours and hours together after school. We were "outcasts" together, we made dumb inside jokes, felt the sweat through call-backs, almost killed ourselves with power tools building sets, practiced the same lines over and over together, we carried on silly traditions ( like Latin prayers before shows, gag cast gifts, Pizza Hut after opening night and all-night cast parties at the close of the shows, and our catch phrase "Join Drama, you don't hafta run!") and every stupid superstition. We were the "Drama Brats", the small core of us.

We shared secrets, food, illnesses, heart-breaks, homework, poems and our whole lives. Our lives changed for the better the minute we stepped into the musty auditorium. It sounds so overly corny when I read it , but every word of that is true or at least how I felt. Those drama friends were the first to know that I was pregnant in high school and they gave me more support than I could have dreamed of and all the care and concern I needed. They are some of the best people I have ever met in my life. Bethany was the best of the best. Sincere, with the most beautiful smile you could imagine. The gentle way she would smile, hug me and gather up my hair in one hand to smooth it out or twist it into a quick braid, always made me feel better, no matter what was going on with me at the time. There were many days that found me curled up on her shoulder or in her lap, her quiet way soothing me while brushing my hair got me through. And we would always end up laughing and feeling amazingly better. I love the way she would giggle and gently chastise me for my potty mouth or an utterance the should never have been let out of my own head and she would say "Hide, really!" but it made her giggle and her eyes crinkle up in a smile anyway. She was in one word, the very definition of sweet. She was..she is my Beth-y. She called me her good luck charm, but really, she was mine.

Adam and I went to the funeral home that night. I was greeted by all of our mutual friends. They filled me in on what had happened with Bethany, the details of her being sick. Obviously she fought with every ounce of strength and beauty in her, she wanted her casket closed, so we would remember the happy Bethany, the beautiful smile and her long chestnut hair. Her mom hugged me and whispered to me how happy Bethany was to hear we were having another boy. She smiled and told me how much Bethany loved me, and she touched my face and left me before she started to cry again.

We spent that night with our friends, trying to laugh, remembering all those little things, those little things that meant everything to us.

The next day I headed to work, I sat in my car and the song "Why Should I Cry for You" by Sting came on the radio.

Sometimes I see your face,
The stars seem to lose their place
Why must I think of you?
Why must I?
Why should I?
Why should I cry for you?
Why would you want me to?
And what would it mean to say,
That, "I loved you in my fashion"?

It makes me cry to this day. Every time. Even just reading that verse. Did she know I "loved her in my fashion" even though we didn't see each other at the end? Even though we didn't talk as much as we would have liked? I think she did. Even though that song makes me cry, it gives me peace too, like Bethany wanted me to hear it. She didn't want me to cry about her, even though I did so very much, and I still do every once in while. She was always the one to talk me out of a funk. To make it better so many times. Maybe she was doing it again. She just couldn't brush my hair like she used to...she had to do something else for me.

She was just like that...sweet and kind and doing things for other people to feel better. As she signed my yearbook..she was "the best Bethany around" and will be forever to me. I love her. In my fashion.

Walt would be so proud..maybe

Conversations with a 5 yr old:

"Mom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" (screaming at me from across the house)

"what Sammy?"

"That Disney castle is where dreams come true. And dreams live in your head"

"they do, huh?"

"lots of things live in my head"

"no doubt that is true, Sammy"

"we should go to Disney World, where dreams come true. And you are very pretty"

nothing like a little flattery to get you an expensive vacation.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

One of these days, doors will open

I am going to teach my mother about the wonders of technology. One day, she will will understand what "call waiting" is really about. Every time I talk to my mom on the phone and another call beeps through she abruptly spurts out..."that is call waiting I have to go. Maybe I will call you back"

Ummm...mom, you can put me on hold and see who it is then you can come back to me. Usually she calls me right back because it was some telemarketer or some one she didn't want to talk to. However, this is a woman who hates to use "cruise control" and only within the last few years uses the ATM. Baby steps with her. She has said every year for the past five or so that she will have me "teach her the internet" I don't think I have enough strength in my body for such things.

Monday, January 14, 2008

One of the funniest thing said to me this week...

So my best friend's daughter turned 2 this week and we helped her celebrate with a little party at my friend's house. My friend's mother-in-law finds me at every function and chats away. I hadn't seen her in a while, probably since last year's party, so some "catching up" is required. Now my life, for lack of a better word is odd. Some of that I will not be able to share, other parts of it will become very evident over time.

Anyway, I spill it to the MIL. I start telling her about my parents, my kids, work, and my brothers. I tell her that my youngest brother just got married to his boyfriend in Montreal and they now live in London ( as in the UK). Her eyes widen, she grabs my arm, gasps and says " Oh my gosh Heidi, did you know he was gay?!?!?!" I couldn't help but chuckle a bit..: ummm...yes, yes I did, he came out when he was 16...over 8 years ago" She seemed so shocked.

I thought about that scenario, like my brother is running around dating women and then just up and marries some random guy in Canada? Too funny! She just cracked me up.

That just opened a whole topic in what my parents think and so on and so on. I told her we love his husband. My parents have always been cool with that, sheesh...and if not they had a long time to get used to it.

I can't wait to hear if she talked to my friend about the revelation.

Getting this mother started!

I guess the hardest thing is to just start this thing. I think that is one reason I didn't just dive in and sign up for a blog in the first place. There is all this pressure of what to write for your first entry and all that crap. Who needs that stress?

But seriously, my good friend Jen just might get on a plane and come here and kick my ass, if I don't at least get something up. No doubt she will police it and really beat me, if I don't keep it up.

I told her nothing happens to me. She told me she would believe that, if she didn't know me. Okay, I guess weird stuff happens to me or around me. I am either a magnet or I think that weird and crazy stuff might be happening to everyone, they just don't see it like I do or they are oblivious.

I am quite sure I will not blog everyday.I will try to keep it interesting, full of the weirdness or funniness I see around me. There is endless fodder, trust me.

to begin:

One thing my oldest son Zach(16) and I are getting into is this Korean soap opera called "Thank You" I can't tell you why, but we get an Asian television network here and we love watching all manner of things on it. Now soap operas are not for me in general. I don't watch them, with the exception of those hilarious Indian ones ( from India) those have ghosts and all kinds of craziness and Mexican soap opera that are just down right full of sex and insanity. Who doesn't love a little sex and insanity? Personally, I can use lots of both! ;-)

Anyway, we came into the show late. We have been mind boggled in trying to figure it out. I have taken to DVR'ing it so we can watch it together and maybe makes sense of the whole thing. If we don't, even better. It is about a woman and her daughter, who I think have HIV. The woman is with a man, who used to be a doctor. They are a couple, but not a couple. I just don't know. Last time he said " You are not attracted to me are you? I am not attracted to you either" and then he grabbed her and hugged her. Zach and I can only watch and shake our heads. Then there was some whole lesson to the little girl about not being stupid and she can't pass HIV from hugging or holding hands. This lesson was imparted to her by a man who kidnapped her, but I think he is her biological father. We are enjoying putting the story together, and I caught myself "googling" it too...LORD!

Anyway, that is my current obsession. A strange one, I will give you, but that it me. Quirky stuff, I love. Sadly, I am dragging my kid into my world. Good thing he is just like me!

Linky to the show: http://www.koreandrama.org/?p=393