I’m her girl.

We sat around her, staring into her hazel eyes, peering out from a pale, grey haired face. My brother threw out humor; Dad said he spent the day reminiscing; and I, of course, started sobbing immediately.

This morning, Dad called me around 9:30am and said that things weren’t looking good for mom. I asked if I should come. He said yes. He called my brother; he said he’d be joining me. We wrapped up things at work (thank you to my wonderful supportive job and boss), and arrived at Riverview Hospital around 6:30pm.

The room was darkly lit and mom was resting peacefully. She greeted us with a voice that was stronger than I anticipated. She was happy to see us. So was Dad. He actually greeted us downstairs in the lobby.

Mom told us that she wanted to close her eyes and not wake up in the morning. After taking that in for a few moments, we started chit-chatting and a bit of joking, reminiscing, and crying (again, me).

We left an hour later, feeling fairly sure we’d be seeing mom again tomorrow.

That was a few hours ago. I’m laying on mom’s bed, writing, after speaking with Ted. My brother went to pick up his wife at the airport. Dad is watching some nature show downstairs – on full blast – after having a few snifters of whiskey.

I know many of you reading this love mom and want to speak with her. She’s peaceful, at the end of her life, and she just wants to rest. She spent her life caring for everyone and now it’s our time to respect her wishes – quiet, peaceful, rest. She can’t have an influx of visitors. It’s just family time now. It isn’t personal towards anyone. It’s just what we need right now. No cell phones, iPads, laptops.

Please remember that I’m going through something really tough. While I know you want a response on my cell or here or email, please be patient. All love and prayers are appreciated. And, a few people have felt the need to tell me how to feel or how mom should be treated. Trust our judgement, please, to do what’s right for our family. Most of you have been wonderful & I thank you for that.

Dad just came in to say goodnight. I’m sleeping in mom’s room tonight. A great comfort, I told dad. He said, you’re her girl! That I am. Always & forever.❤️

2/12/19

Working from home this afternoon (again) as we get hit by a moderate snowstorm.

Trying to figure out next steps for mom – rehab, then home with a home health aide. She wants to get home badly – I don’t blame her – but we need to make sure she’s strong enough. Dad “facetimed” me from the hospital today so I got to see mom. She could see herself on the phone, and commented on how she looked. Ha, she and I are so alike!

I am trying to juggle a lot of things right now – work, caring for my folks, and then my hot water heater started leaking so I needed to dig up an extra $1,200 this week for that! Did I mention how happy I am I am going to my therapist tomorrow??

I do have to say that, physically, I feel very good. I can walk a lot more than before my surgery and I feel better in general. I don’t mind seeing myself in the mirror the way I used to, and it’s fun to try on a size large pair of pants – and they fit! It brings a lot of joy to my life, which is helpful when there are major stressors going on.

I do know that a lot of important people in my life are reading this blog – and I thank you for that. It makes it a lot easier than having to respond to a lot of texts and calls, though I don’t want you to think they aren’t appreciated, because they are! My family couldn’t get through all of this without our wonderful supports in our life.

Ted’s Valentine’s Day gift arrived today in the mail. Excited to give it to him (he’s reading this so hi!). Can’t wait to spend the evening with him and his kiddos. They crack me up.

Dad just called me while I was writing this – mom is heading to the rehab floor at the hospital, which is great progress!

 

 

 

2/9/19

It’s Saturday, and I’m back at the hospital. This morning, we had a plumber come over and give us the schpiel – we are getting a new furnace at my parent’s place tomorrow. Don’t ask how much.

Mom is pretty much the same today. Very weak and still dealing with the Cdiff. She said she just can’t wait to get home and take a shower. It’s the simple things, right?

I am leaving tomorrow at 1:22pm, and I get home around 6pm. I’ll do a little grocery shopping and likely then pass out on my couch. My next-door-neighbor offered to get me food. So thoughtful. She’s collecting my packages for me, which is always good so it doesn’t look like no one is home.

I took a sleeping pill last night, so that helped me with more energy today. I ran around doing errands for dad and mom.

Mom is weak and still susceptible to infection, and visitors could catch cdiff so please use your discretion when coming to visit her. Thanks!

2/8/19

Mom went through a series of test this morning. They found a blood clot in her leg. Ugh. Thank goodness they did the test.

I’m not going to lie – I’m physically and mentally drained. I’m here, helping dad make life decisions and it’s a lot to process.

I’m supposed to go home on Sunday, but I’m nervous to leave. Not sure what I’ll end up doing.

Again, lots of prayers and good vibes for mom. I’m getting a lot of calls and texts. It’s getting harder for me to respond to them, so please check here for updates. It’s easier for me to write them at my own pace. Mom cannot have visitors right now.

P.S. There is a guy here in the waiting room with me planning a funeral. I can’t even.

2/7/19

I’m sitting on the reclining chair at Riverview Hospital, across from mom, who has more pink in her cheeks and some of pep in her voice. The bottom line: she’s coming back to us.

She started improving yesterday, and continues to, slowly but steadily. Her white blood cell count is moving up, and her blood pressure is getting steadier. She’s seen infectious disease doctors and oncologists and specialists – oh my!

Dad is at home, dealing with a non-functioning heater, so that’s a fun thing to throw into the mix. Not.

We’ve had a few visitors – this morning, a doctor friend of the family was here when I walked in. I think I’ve known her since I was 4! I went to elementary school with her daughters, so it was nice to reconnect.

People keep asking me how I’m doing. I’m tired, numb, and the most important thing right now is to help my folks. My job seems to be understanding.

If you are spiritual, please keep mom in your prayers. We don’t care what religion. We just ask for collective good thoughts sent our way.

2/5/19

The last two days have been a whirlwind, and not in a good way.

Many of you who read my blog speak with my mother regularly, and you know that as of last Friday, she was making plans for the future

What would she do for her 50th anniversary with dad? Should she take a cruise along the Mississippi once her chemo was done? And, how about those theater tickets? Let’s get some!

And in what seemed like an instant – a few hours, when you think about it – she became couch bound – then bed bound. It had been 2 days since she had an appetite so she refused all food. She drank water, hoping it would keep her hydrated. She was going into a chemo slump again.

I’m going to admit something I am not proud of. I couldn’t handle it this time. I had a work retreat scheduled for Monday, so I took the train to NJ to see my folks on Saturday. I knew things weren’t good when I offered to get my own ride to their house from Metropark, and dad accepted. He didn’t want to leave mom alone. The next morning I ran off to get a manicure with my friend Dana. I wasn’t gone long, but came back to help dad with mom. Then I said I’d be gone for an hour or two again – some retail therapy. It was too hard to see mom like this.

Dad called me about 4pm, and said that he needed me to come back and help him bring mom to the toilet. Then he wanted me to go pick up a portable commode to keep by the bed.

I stopped at home (their home) and Dad & I proceeded to carry mom into the bathroom, which was about 10 feet away. She didn’t want to go. We insisted.

And then she went limp. She had no control of her limbs. She passed out and I saw the whites of her eyes. She was breathing heavily. I thought she was having a panic attack, so I kept telling her to “breathe deeply and relax.” I didn’t realize she wasn’t conscious.

Dad and I dragged her back into the bedroom, and we proceeded to lay her down on the floor, next to the bed. Her left leg was bent behind her, so I pulled her down a bit so she wouldn’t break her legs that were like limp jelly in that moment.

I said to dad, “We need to get her to the hospital” and I dialed 911. I explained the situation and within a few minutes, the police were at our door. And soon, there were medics. She came to when the medics were there. Thank goodness. They took her vitals, put her on a seated stretcher, and carried her down the stairs to the ambulance. Dad went with them – I followed in the car.

She was immediately admitted and since then, has been barely coherent.

She has extremely low white blood cells, elevated kidney count, and may have a reoccurrence of Cdiff.

I thought she was stable enough to leave for my work retreat so I went to Jersey City, but when I spoke with dad, he wanted me to come back to support him. I took a Lyft from Jersey City to Red Bank (yikes!) and went right to the hospital. I spoke with mom a little, but she couldn’t really respond. I cried. Then we spoke with the doctor, who thinks this is mostly chemo related, and with luck, she will come through it.

So now we wait. Dad and I are now back home. He’s watching PBS; I’m writing for catharsis. My entire body is numb, sore, and clearly reacting to stress in a physical way. I’ve been texting Ted and my therapist and mom’s friends.

All I want is for mom to come back to us. Mom, if you can hear me, please come back to us. We have a 50th anniversary to celebrate, a cruise to plan, and tickets to buy.

 

 

 

 

 

My Sweet 16

I woke up this weekend with a face full of pimples. My chin and forehead looked like they belonged in a John Water’s movie. I looked at my face – in horror – in the mirror and tried to think about why I was so broken out. I hadn’t used any new face products, my pillowcases were fine, and I didn’t think I was touching my face that much. So, what happened?

Cue Dr. Google.

I found this study that basically says that vitamin deficiencies can contribute to derma-logical changes, and get this – that because people tend to be constipated after surgery, the toxins in their body back up and can come out as blemishes.

Yuck!

I said to my mom, “Apparently I exchanged one bad thing for another!” Listen, I’m not happy about the acne. But I am hopeful that it will clear up.

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Extra room on the airplane seat!

On a positive note, I traveled on my first post-surgery airplane today and I actually had extra legroom in the seat. I even took a photo to document the occasion. This is coming from the girl who had to ask for a seat extender last year. I was even able to put down the armrest without it hitting my thigh. Score!

Bumps in the Road

The last few days were icky. Mom woke up with a high fever and chills, and spent Dad’s birthday in the hospital. She just emailed me and said she’s going home tomorrow (on my birthday). Best birthday gift.

My depression reared its ugly head last Thursday and is only now calming down (It’s Tuesday). I tried to fight against it but it’s hard. I’m back at work and feeling better. It’s such a terrible illness – often comes out of nowhere, but usually I can figure out now what triggers it. Work triggered it this time and then mom’s illness clearly kept it around.

A distant cousin passed away last week from addiction and mental illness. The more I talk about my depression with my family, the more people I realize also suffer from anxiety and depression in my distant relatives. It kinda helps me not blame myself, but usually I blame myself anyway. I wonder if that will ever stop.

The good news? I’m on the upward trajectory now!

Mammo Day

Two years ago, I had my first mammogram. I was 41 and it was time to get monitored for breast cancer like everyone over 40 does. I had to go for a second one because they had trouble reading the first one. I remember a wave of fear cane over me as I sat in the waiting room.

What if there is something wrong? Here I am, alone, and there is no one here with me if I get bad news. Thank goodness everything was fine & I went along with my day. I asked if I should get any genetic testing since my aunt had breast cancer. The doctor said I should be fine. Nope, no need.

This morning I returned to the same waiting room. Same dressing gowns, same Keurig serving nature’s nectar – coffee! I sat down to fill out the paperwork and it looked like this:

As I started to fill it out, the tears began rolling down my cheeks. I thought about the difference 2 years can make – filling up the form with new family history, now put a “rush” on meeting with a geneticist, sitting alone in the room, but knowing I could text Mr T for moral support.

The test was very painful this year but I got through it. Now I wait.

Speaking of Mr T, I let him down tonight. We were supposed to have dinner & a sleepover, but I just couldn’t move today. Between a scorching headache and my stress, I just couldn’t get out of bed to drive over there after a long nap. I know he’s disappointed in me and I feel terrible. I just couldn’t push myself this time. I know he’ll eventually read this post so please know I love you & I’m sorry.

I spoke with mom, dad, and Ken earlier. They were having corned beef sandwiches and chilling at home. I also felt guilty for not being there. I flaked on all my obligations this weekend. But, instead, I needed to focus on my self care. Sleep, decompression. Hopefully everyone will forgive me this time around.

10/6/18

The last 36 hours have been quite exhausting. Mom was running a fever so she was admitted to the hospital to monitor her for infection. She’s been there since Friday early evening & there is little news to report other than her fever had gone down and she was low on potassium. She told me that the dr told her to lie about her food intake when we nudge her to eat. I am really hoping he say not say that or I am seriously ready to put up my dukes!

I snapped at Mr T via text because he gave me instructions on how to feed his cat. He’s away so I have to go feed her & change the litter box. So that was fun. I hope he remembers I can be nice sometimes too.

I have an overwhelming amount of responsibilities right now: celebrate friend’s birthday, feed cat, get prepared for surgery, help run a campaign event on Monday with the President of our University, meet with donors, dinner at Mr T, trainer, pre-surgery physical. This is all by Thursday! Then, I drive to NJ again and stop in Hartford on my way back for a work event.

Can you tell that I haven’t slept in days? And I am a constant flow of spontaneous tears.

I am politely asking those of you who’ve been leaning on me for reports and texts and calls about mom to understand that I have a tremendously stressful week or so coming up. Bear with me & check here for updates. I’ll write when I can.

This is the worst thing to go through – watching a parent suffer like this. It is literally heart breaking. Trying to maintain normalcy in my life is so challenging. I haven’t had a vacation in over a year, and I had bronchitis during that trip. I’m using my vacation time from work this year to recover from my surgery. As much as I like my job, I can’t wait to eliminate one stressor for 2 weeks.

Ok I’ve said enough. It’s important to have a place where I can just vent. Again, this too shall pass.

Caffeine is my friend

It’s 12:11am. Thank goodness it’s a new day because 11 minutes ago, I was finishing up a real doozy.

I left for NJ around noon after racing to get as much work done as possible in the office. The ride wasn’t too bad – I stopped 3 times to get caffeine & respond to work emails. #dedicationtomycraft

I wasn’t sure what I’d see when I arrived at my parent’s place. Was mom going to look emancipated and weak? To the contrary, she had color in her cheeks and strength in her voice. Regardless, I saw her & burst into tears. Like, sobs. She grabbed my hand and cried with me.

We had some serious and not-so-serious conversations – like what show season premieres we were watching on Hulu. She’s already seen New Amsterdam – not me yet!

I had dinner & then sat on the couch with dad. We kept saying we were off to bed, and then another hour would pass as we talked through very hard “grown up” things. I cried a lot. I told him I was sorry for crying so much but, that, ” it was just coming out.” He said it was ok.

Finally we said our good nights.

So now I lie here with my thoughts, waiting for my dreams to begin.

9/21/18

My anxiety has been out of control this week. Yesterday, it came to a head while sitting in the surgeon’s office as she told me I will not be able to have my surgery until December. I started crying, talking about my mom and how I need to be there for her. It was a “hot mess.” Always fun to cry in a doctor’s appointment.

Mr T came over and we went to an event at WGBH, which was a lot of fun to reconnect with former colleagues, and listen to some interesting speakers. We grabbed subs from my local pizzeria afterwards and brought them home. He has been incredibly supportive with my depression and anxiety, which is so appreciated.

Mom is about 7 weeks into chemo. Here’s the routine. Monday, chemo. Tuesday, energetic because of steroids. Wednesday, she crashes. Thursday is the worst. Friday, she gets IV to hold her over the weekend. Weekends are lethargic. Rinse and repeat. Every week, I remind her of this cycle. I’m not sure if it helps her, but it gives her hope that come Monday, she’ll feel better. She’s tried every nausea medication on the market, and they sometimes work. But let’s face it, chemo makes you tired and nauseous.

One of the reasons I write so openly about my anxiety is that this helps me track how the seasons affect me. Clearly, the days are getting shorter and this has a big impact on me. I know I’m only one of many people. But it’s hard not to feel alone in it. I’ve been feeling very lonely lately, despite being surrounded by people. It’s a very strange feeling.

 

NYC–>BOS

It’s 2pm and I’m on the train, heading home after an overnight in NYC for work.

If I wasn’t convinced I needed bariatric surgery before, I am now. Between walking 8 short blocks to the subway – taking the train – and then walking to the event, I was sweating so profusely. And so tired. Seriously, a couple clearly in their late 70s walked briskly by me and made it to the event a good 3-4 minutes before me. And then I traveled back the way I came, fortunately this time in the company of my wonderful colleagues. Seriously, they are amazing people.

By the time I stopped to pick up a salad at Sweetgreen and made it to my hotel room, I was sweating again. And tired. I sat on the bed, texting with Mr T, watching Bachelor in Paradise on my iPad, and eating my salad. My legs and back were hurting. I looked at my phone and saw that I had walked about 7,000 steps. 2.4 miles. Not even what the daily recommendation is (10k).

I don’t want to feel like this anymore. I joke that I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in about 10 years. It’s true. I used to be such a good sleeper, and as I’ve gained weight, I’ve had trouble. I’m ready to throw my CPAP (which my family and I call “Jacques”) out the window. I want to kick Jacques out of my bedroom!

I have all of these desires – to go hiking with Mr T, to pick up skiing again (did you know that I could go over moguls as a kid??), to go snow tubing, to kayak on the Charles River. I want to take advantage of my gym membership! My mom was teasing me because I bought hiking boots – and truthfully, they’re still in the bag – but I bought them as a symbol. I cannot wait until I’m in a place where I can put them on and hike the Great Blue Hill with Mr T or double-date with Ken & Marina on one of their trips to New Hampshire.

The good news is: I’m motivated.

Tomorrow is my “Immersion Day” at Mt Auburn where I learn all about the surgery and aftermath. And I met with a dear friend this morning (hello!) who has a friend who is 5 years out from her surgery, so she’ll be a good contact for me. And my family friend (hello!)’s wonderful wife had the surgery and she’s already reached out to me to offer tips and support.

Ciao for now!

 

BC/AC

I told my dad I feel like our lives are divided: BC (before cancer) and AC (after cancer). He totally got it.

Today is mom’s first round of chemo. As luck would have it, I am here in NJ so I’ll be able to accompany her. It takes 3 hours – she said, “You don’t have to sit with me,” but I’ll bring my laptop and work from the hospital. It isn’t like I haven’t done it before. Again, grateful to my amazing boss and job that I have this flexibility.

This was today’s FB post:

Screenshot 2018-08-13 11.04.36.png

Sharing it here in case you missed it. Mom is barely eating – she is enjoying protein shakes, eggs, and a few other favorite foods. But I doubt she is even consuming 500 calories a day. But Dad is enjoying the food deliveries, although he said he has lost 10 pounds too (which delights him).

Speaking of weight loss, dad and I had a big heart-to-heart on Saturday night about my bariatric surgery, which is still full steam ahead. He and mom said they want me to hire someone to help me post-surgery since they can’t be there to help me. I said I would consider it but I’m not really sure what help I’ll need. Maybe laundry – but my cleaners do it for me – and errands – Amazon, anyone? I have Mr T, Ken, and Marina, and some friends who can help, so we’ll see if it is needed. I’m hoping to have the surgery towards the end of October, after my 2 big work events. #priorities

More later about the chemo.

So, it’s 10:22 pm. Chemo day #1 went very smoothly!

We arrived at the doctor’s office at 12:45, and mom’s chemo went from about 1:30-5:30pm. It was an extended day but it should run about 3 hours now on Mondays.

I worked through most of the chemo as mom & dad chatted with the nurses and other patients. Of course, they knew other people getting treatment. Small town.

Mom had energy and more of an appetite tonight. Amazing what some drugs can do! I ran out and got her pills, more snacks, etc. We all settled into College Jeopardy. I killed it tonight. I’m seriously the smartest 43 year old college student. Ok, I’m obviously kidding but it’s always nice to win in fake Jeopardy.

We then watched the most painful show to watch – it’s called “escape to the continent” or something like that. Brits go to their favorite places in Europe, look at tons of homes, and never end up purchasing one! So frustrating. Bring on House Hunters International – in 30 minutes, they’ve sold all of their earthy possessions, looked at tons of houses, rented one, and moved in. Yes, all in 30 minutes. Bring me that instant gratification, please and thank you.

But I digress.

Mom did great today.

I’m off tomorrow for a work event in NYC. Ciao!

August 6, 2018

So, I made a comment on my post from 6/27/18 that I appreciated how clean Sloan Kettering is because I had caught CDiff years ago from a hospital. I spoke too soon.

Mom got Cdiff. If you don’t know what it is, google it. It’s nasty. Poor lady. She’s on antibiotics for it now so hopefully it’ll go away soon and let her recover in peace.

It’s Monday and it already feels like a long week. I have an 8pm work meeting so it is a long day. I haven’t slept well in weeks so I walk around like a zombie pretty much 24/7.

Mr. T returns from vacation today, so we’ll reconnect tomorrow. That’ll be good.

And then I have to begin the awful colonoscopy prep on Wednesday afternoon around 4pm. I picked up the prep today from CVS and it cost $60! Seems wrong. But it’ll be good to get my colonoscopy and endoscopy completed to make sure my esophagus isn’t damaged. I had originally been diagnosed with acute esophogisitis, so I am hoping it isn’t too “acute” and has disappeared for the time being. While some of these things are hereditary and from aging, I want to remind you that my body was also terribly damaged during my eating disorder years. It’s hard not to beat myself up about it, but it’s my reality.

No updates on my surgery other than it is still full steam ahead.

It’s hard to be positive right now. I have to speak with a lot of people for my job and they all ask me how my summer has been going. I hate lying, but I don’t want to get into things so I talk about it from my work perspective and say, “Work is excellent!” I actually got a really nice email from our CEO this week, complimenting me on a job well done. So, there’s that.

ciao for now!

 

Facebook, Surgery, and Other Fun Things

Taking a few minutes break to write here. Sitting alone in my office, listening to Pandora, as my colleague has a visit with a donor and we haven’t yet hired a new support staff member. I sat in Starbucks for the first hour or so of the workday, but it was very noisy and distracting. Here, it is the opposite. It’s silent minus the sound of my music and the air conditioner pumping cool air into this humid space. Neither environment are inspirational. But, I need to get those meetings set up, so I plug away, trying to focus on my work while my head spins with all that’s going on in my life.

Mom is doing fair. Dad is doing fair. Mom is weak from lack of nutrition and likely dehydration. She’s pushing herself to eat and drink, but it’s like going uphill – both ways – for her right now. And my dad is taking care of her. He’s exhausted. My brother is heading to NJ tonight so he can help accompany them to her important appointments on Thursday and Friday. She’s getting a port in her upper chest where they will input chemo into her body. On Friday she’s getting a cat scan for one of the studies she’s doing with Sloan Kettering. Likely these two days will zap any energy she has, and she will be exhausted. I’m glad Ken will be there. And my sister-in-law will arrive on Friday, to help over the weekend. I’m lined up to head there the following weekend. Mr T will be with his kids so off I go. But, never fear: she’s still active on Facebook!

Last night we went to see Richard III as part of Shakespeare on the Common – my former employer – and my family met Mr T. Briefly, but a meeting did occur.

And, my journey towards my surgery continues. I’m following all of the steps required of me pre-surgery, including meeting with the various members of the medical team at Mt Auburn. Next steps are my colonoscopy and endoscopy, which I will have next week. Other than the prep, they’re relatively painless. I’m hoping for a positive result. Then, the following week, I have a full immersion day, where I learn about the surgery, my hospital stay, and the follow-up. I understand I will be on a liquid diet for 2 weeks, and then slowly, we will introduce foods back into my diet. It’s all very surreal. In 10 months, I will likely lose about 100 pounds. All sorts of things roll around in my head.

Ok, must get back to work!

Balancing Act

My dad called me this morning in a panic about mom. She is weak, he said, she isn’t sleeping. It was a few minutes before I was jumping into the shower so I paused and listened and talked things through with him a bit. We hung up, and then I called my brother, on my way into the office. We strategized a bit, and agreed that my dad needs some support. During a break, I reached out to my mom’s friend who works for American Cancer Society, and asked her for some resources for people who are supporting cancer patients. I wasn’t as worried about mom as I was about him. It is to be expected that mom will be weak and frail after such a big surgery. He is struggling which hat to wear – retired surgeon or current husband. It’s a lot for anyone to bear, let alone an 80 year old man caring for his wife of nearly 50 years. It makes me think that sometimes, life is just not fair.

In the midst of it all, I am moving along with my bariatric surgery. My job is so incredibly supportive – it is unreal  – I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. I suppose if I neglected my responsibilities, it might, but you know me – work is very important to me. I have an appointment with HR next week to discuss FMLA, which basically will protect me from losing my job when I have surgery and when I need time to care for my mom. I have been banking my vacation time so I can full recover – and still pay my mortgage – but it will also give me the opportunity for unpaid leave if I need it. At my last job, I was given $300 towards buying my own health insurance. That is it. At my current job, I have very good medical insurance, dental insurance, etc. In fact, I just got back from getting 3 cavities filled. The bill was over $1,000 but I paid $115. I did not have dental insurance at my last two jobs and, unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to pay for all of the maintenance I needed. So, I’m paying for it now, so to speak,  with the endless fillings and whatnot. But, at least I have insurance to cover most of the cost. The rest can be covered by FSA or outright cash. Good job benefits are crucial.

Mr T is coming over for dinner tonight. It’ll be nice to have his company.

It’s a new week.

I’m not sorry to say goodbye to last week. It was a tough one. I started out with a 3-day retreat for work that was focused on giving & receiving feedback. Needless to say, it triggered the heck out of my anxiety, but I pushed through it & then headed back to my parent’s place, which was only 30 minutes away from the retreat.

My mom has lost 15 pounds since her surgery & she’s having trouble eating. I went to the supermarket and picked up as many creative things I could think of that she might want (and could) eat: protein shakes in her favorite flavors, pudding, fruit & cottage cheese, fruit juices, peaches, cheese & crackers…. dad send me an email tonight saying that she drank the whole vanilla protein shake so that was encouraging!

And, I went out to get mom new shirts since her old ones are now too big. I picked up camis since she can’t wear a bra because of her incision.

In the midst, I tried to keep up with my work emails and squeezed in a lovely lunch & mani with a dear high school friend.

But my head is constantly spinning and ruminating. Work, friends, mom, Mr T, my own surgery, my upcoming colonoscopy & endoscopy. It’s a lot to process at once. When I get overwhelmed, I start to shut down. So, I’m trying to process things at a pace I can handle.

But it’s hard not to worry about mom. She has a wonderfully positive attitude, despite the crazy things infesting her body right now. I need to keep her as my inspiration. If she can stay positive, then, darn it, so should I!

During the week, I listened to the audiobook called Hunger by Roxane Gay. It was sad and angering and, in many ways, relatable. She struggles with her weight and food – sadly due to a terrible rape as a little girl – but her body issues are very relatable. And, she just published an article that she had bariatric surgery in January. In her raw way, she talks about the before and after effects. I found it helpful to read and relate to as I go through the steps myself.

Many of you have reached out as a support, and I thank you. Of course, my continued gratitude to those of you who have been calling, texting and sending cards to mom. She’s loving her plants, cards, and good wishes!

Insomnia

It’s about 3am, and nothing says kick one’s insomnia like a blog post!

I’m at my parent’s place in NJ. Thank you to the 20+ visitors my mom had…. yesterday! I’m serious. The woman is popular and loved. She’s really enjoying having visitors because she’s fairly homebound as she recovers, and we both are social creatures.

I’m here also because we have a staff retreat for work. I’m really excited to see all of my colleagues! They’re an awesome bunch.

It’s hard being away from Mr T for another week, but we’re planning to see each other when I return home next weekend. After the retreat, I’ll spend a few more days here with mom & dad, helping run some errands, work, and hopefully squeezing in a few swims in the pool!

I’m also getting mentally prepared for my surgery, reading articles on how to dress for rapid weight loss and how to deal with eating post-bariatric surgery. I’m working on setting my expectations and how to handle any questions like, “wow, what’s your secret?” Or “you’ve lost weight? How?” If it we’re up to me, I’d have on an invisibility cloak so no one could comment on my body. As I said to a friend earlier tonight, “my body, my business.” Easier said than done.

That about covers it for now. Wish me luck on sleeping.

July 12, 2018 Update

Mom is doing great. She’s happy to be at home, sleeping in her own bed, and has been feeling little to no pain. Dad is settling back into his routine – a bit changed, of course – and started posting photos again on his FB group. I’m headed there in a few days before I attended a staff retreat, conveniently scheduled in NJ.

I had an appointment yesterday with my doctor regarding my bariatric surgery. She asked me on a scale of 1-10 how ready I am, and I told her “10” with no hesitation. When I think about feeling better, it just makes sense. As my therapist said, “This isn’t a quick fix. It’s surgery.”

I’m busy reading scientific studies on the effects of bariatric surgery on people with pre-existing depression. So far, it looks like the surgery doesn’t tend to worsen depression, but rather, it stays the same or gets better. Most of the people who are saddened after the surgery have struggles about their relationship with food. This is why this process needs can’t be done in a silo – you need to make sure you have a strong support team in place, as well as the right medical team. At Mt Auburn, where I am planning to have my surgery, I am required to work with a surgeon, nutritionist, and therapist along with attend support groups. They also encourage a “lifelong” partnership, which I think is great. Next up, I meet with the therapist and nutritionist to get their feedback and hopefully, their approval to get the surgery.

 

Shopping is my cardio.

Since I have an engaged audience, I’ll keep writing.

It’s 8:27pm and I’m just home after a trip to a beach town in RI with a wonderful Technion supporter. I stopped at Providence Place for a bite to eat, and it was nice to stroll through the mall – one of my happy places. #shoppingismycardio

Mom is rumored to be going home on Saturday. Apparently, today, she told my dad that she was signing herself out of the hospital. Dad said, “fine, but I’m not driving you home.” Poor lady. Dad is heading home tonight with Ken & Marina, and they’ll go back to hospital tomorrow. He’ll stay home. So glad he’s going home. He needs his own bed.

And I’m hearing all this via text & phone. It feels good to be back in my office and seeing Mr T again. He’s got his kids this weekend so I’m on my own. Laundry, sleep, catch up on Hulu.

Keep keeping on.

Independence Day

It’s July 4 & I’m on my couch after a spending weekend the day with Mr. T. I knew at some point I’d breakdown so, today, I delivered my own fireworks in the form of tears. Basically, I lost my shit. While T was cooking dinner, I started crying. And crying. I was finally in a place where I could emote. I was mad at myself for leaning on T because I don’t want to scare him away. It was all an emotional mess. T assured me he’s sticking around. It’s hard to believe someone is willing to deal with all this stuff, but he is. Thank you, T.

Mom sounded ok on the phone today. She’s still in the hospital because they’re monitoring her for infection. I know she’s anxious to get home.

Ciao!

Home.

I’m back home and returned to work today. It was good to be back in the office for some normalcy. Had lots to catch up on and will be continuing to do so tomorrow. We have a 1/2 day so I’m getting a mani & pedi tomorrow! My back muscles are so tense so I’m getting a massage afterwards. Then, I head to Mr T’s for fireworks with friends.

I spoke with mom earlier and she sounded good. She’s starting to eat more and she asked me about my day, which I thought was a good sign that she could focus on other things. Her “going home” date is still TBD because they want to monitor her recovery a bit more. I heard from Ken that it’s starting to wear down my dad. This really hurts my heart because he’s such a good man.

My colleagues have been wonderfully supportive & I even confided in a wonderful donor (who is a breast cancer survivor) about what’s going on. She said she wasn’t surprised when I told her I had wonderfully-strong parents because “look at the daughter they have!” Those small comments really empower me.

It feels good to be back lounging on my couch after work. I’ve also begun the process of preparing for my bariatric surgery, which I’m pretty sure is going to happen. My consultation is scheduled, I’ve inquired how much sick time I have left, and I’m ready to get on with a healthier version of myself.

Ciao for now!

Day 8: Heading Home

It’s 1:40pm and I’m on the train heading home, listening to the sounds of a baby crying, a woman humming, and a millennial on the phone discussing whether her friend is “hetero” or “heteronormative.” Speaking of said millennial, she plopped down – alone – in a section marked “for party of 3 or more” and thus separated a family of 4. The mom is next to me. I hate this millennial. Fortunately, a nice guy was sitting behind her and lifted my 50 pound suitcase onto the storage rack. My faith in humanity is quickly restored. Phew.

Mom was doing well this morning when I saw her. She has been having trouble eating, so they did a cat scan yesterday and saw that her esophagus is very sore. Like mother, like daughter! She’s on a med to help it heal, and she’s going to off the epidural today. She’ll be taking another pain medication so that will be a good transition. It was very good to leave her on a high note. It would have been harder to leave if she wasn’t having a good day. Fortunately, my brother and sister-in-law are on their way to NYC to help out Dad and be there for mom.

I started crying last night about leaving and my dad said I had done enough. Fortunately, I have a work trip to NJ in about 2 weeks so I’ll be back to visit soon. Mom said it was good for me to get home and have some normalcy again. Not sure that I’m going to particularly enjoy this “new normal” but I don’t really have much of a choice.

I will miss the wonderful people from Sloan Kettering. Sandy would come to clean mom’s room every day. She’s an amazing woman who loves my dad, so I feel good leaving him in her hands! Her nurses were all wonderful. I met an NP who handles pain. Just pain. There are techs who only put in IVs. And of course, there’s Dr. Smith – my dad dubbed him “Smitty” – who was very gentle but answered all of our questions. If you stumble upon this blog, I thank you so much, Floor 10!

So now what. Ken heads to NYC and takes over. I go home and pass out for 1.5 days. Mr T is picking me up in a few hours and I warned him I may just break down and cry since I’ve been holding it together relatively well for the past 8 days.

Dad asked me today, “What was the worst day for you?” I thought for a minute and said, “I’ve actually been focusing on the good stuff.” The good stuff includes:

  • The post-op could have been worse with complications. Mom’s doing amazingly well and is determined to go home.
  • The walk to-and-from the hospital was cathartic. On York, I would wander under the shady trees of Roosevelt University until I saw the awning of Sloan. I’d walk back on 1st Avenue to stop for dinner or snacks or whatever we needed that say at Duane Reed.
  • The outpouring of support was (and still is) wonderful. This morning, I left mom while she was visiting with Sister Maggie and another friend from ACS who does cancer advocacy. Maggie is a delight and we even managed a cordial talk about politics a bit (we tend to be on opposing teams).
  • Mr. T, of course. He kept me smiling all week.

This will be my last daily update. I’m going to be more focused on my own health now, proceeding with exploring bariatric surgery & figuring out what’s wrong with my esophagus. Apparently, I helped bring in a $50k donation this week for work so I am feeling pretty happy about that!

Keep reading, keep supporting mom, and keep being you!

Day 7: Totally Tubular

It’s 2pm and this will be one of my last daily posts, as I head home tomorrow at 1pm. For updates, please text mom, dad, or Ken. I’ll do my best to update the blog but it will be less detailed since I won’t be sitting beside her while writing it.

Mom is officially chest tube free! This is great progress. They have also removed the narcotics from her IV, so she will be on regular pain killers now, which is also great progress so she will likely be less groggy and not have to deal with the side effects of narcotics.

Yesterday was nice for me to get into the office and see a show, but today I’m focused on spending time with mom before I head home.

I made a mani/pedi appointment for Tuesday afternoon, which will be so nice! I’ve been keeping up with work emails and projects, which has been a huge weight off of my shoulders.

Ken and Marina will be here tomorrow, so they’ll be giving updates to me.

More later!