Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Evening bike ride

Wow it's a beautiful night. Patrick went on an errand all the way out in Palmdale (I know!) and I came home to an empty house (well, my three cats and mostly dead houseplant were happy to see me). I decided it was time to get on the bike again. I went out a little earlier than the last time - by the time I'd worked myself up for it, changed clothes, pumped up my tires, put on my helmet and exchanged the stale water in my water bottle for fresh, it was about 7 o'clock. According to the references I referred to (some anonymous website I'm too lazy to find again and link to) the sun set today at 6:39, but it was still dusky and light-ish out when I left, and I felt comfortable enough with just the lights on my bike and my light gray Gap sweatshirt to leave off with the bright green poncho I usually wear.

I tried a slightly different route tonight - I went down to Bellflower, rode up to the park at Carson, and cruised along the bike path through the park. Later in the night this is fine, but because there were lots of kids still playing soccer and people walking around on the path, it felt a little too dark and treacherous, so once I made it to Woodruff, I made a right and decided not to go around that way again. I went in a bit of a circle, crossing back through to Bellflower by taking one of the through streets close to my own house, and then when I got to Carson this time, kept on Bellflower all the way up to Candlewood, and took Candlewood to Woodruff. It meant a few more lights, more traffic, but there's a bike lane most of the way on Bellflower, and all the way down Woodruff, and I felt safe enough. On Candlewood, I was beeped at by a couple of kids on the other side of the street, and it's always fun waving at strangers on bikes. Why is that, I wonder? It's akin to the feeling I get in petting friendly but strange dogs when I'm walking around Santa Monica.

Once I was back in my own territory, I did my usual ride down Woodruff to Los Coyotes, back up to Bellflower, and then went in a couple of circles. At some point the sun went down completely and it became totally dark, and, surprisingly, almost instantly cooler. It was a nice ride (almost 12 miles, as you can see from the newly reinstated bike log on the right), I went a tiny bit faster than last time, and though not full, the moon is way gorgeous tonight. When I got home, I stood in the driveway looking at it. Also, getting my breath back under control. And adjusting my bike pants.

It's a Waxing Gibbous Moon, which doesn't sound half as pretty as it looked.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Melic Sub Rosa, and some other totally unrelated stuff

I'm pretty sure I've talked about my husband's band, Melic Sub Rosa before, but thought it was time to mention that you can listen to him and his mates play, here.

As his wife I of course am contractually obligated to support him, but as a listener, I think this stuff is pretty cool.


In other news, my mom told me yesterday that the widow of the pastor of the church she used to attend who was going to "marry" me and Drew way back in the olden days (and who tried to convince me that what I was feeling was just "cold feet" - had I believed him life as we know it would be totally different) found out about her health problems "on the Internet." This was fine, as my mom hadn't talked to her in a long time and she was calling to pray and wish her well and this was not something my mom disliked at all.

But, I haven't talked to anybody in my family about this blog before, though I'm sure at least one of my siblings has stumbled across it (hi, Dan!). I feel funny about that all of a sudden. Especially since I am prone to swearing and talking about my bad moods.


Something to think about, here.


Another totally unrelated thing - is it wrong that every time I see a depiction of a woman having a baby on television that the only thought that goes through my mind is "oh no, oh no"? I'm not pregnant or anything (and I've moved my deadline back, because my mom asked recently when I was going to do it, and the old deadline of "when I'm 32" has been long gone, so now "when I'm 40, like the movie stars" gives me a little time) - I like the "or anything," which was meant to imply, "or planning on it" - but I do think about it from time to time, especially when I see my friends with their beautiful babies, and then I see some TV birth that scares the living crap out of me.

Yeah. I think I'll stick with cats for awhile longer. I didn't have to push them out, "or anything."

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bike ride log

I had a minor mishap regarding the templates for two of my three blogs (this one, and the goofball Stewart Copeland one; the flute choir one was saved. Yes, I have since made copies of all the templates, thanks mom) this weekend, so I lost the bike ride log I had been keeping on the sidebar.

It's kind of okay, though, because according to that log, I hadn't ridden my bike since August 25!

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Today I spent about five hours over at my parents' house, hanging with my mom, dad and sister, and making them dinner.

I'm not a cook by any means (though somehow I can make a killer Thanksgiving dinner; luckily that's only once a year), and spaghetti must be the simplest meal in the world, but there you go: I made it exactly the way my mom makes it, which is no gourmet recipe (brown the meat, add the spaghetti sauce, add to the noodles); it was a hit. I also made a (dead simple) salad and bought those yummy round French rolls that are always so perfect for tuna sandwiches.

I was in a bit of a crabby mood on the way up to Culver City today. For one thing, traffic sucked. I hate weekend traffic because it never makes any sense. Then, when I got over there, my mother was asking complicated questions about her living trust that I am unable to answer. I wish I knew more about that stuff but on the other hand: I don't want to know! I don't want to know!

This head in the sand attitude is not very productive, I know, I know. And someone needs to understand that stuff. But why me? I'll get over this bad attitude, I know. I will be more helpful. This is my job. Today, however, I just didn't feel like it.

And, I just realized that I was headed north on the 405 freeway on a Saturday without any show in Santa Monica to work, and I think that might've had something to do with my bad mood. Doing a show every single weekend is sometimes (quietly now) a bit of a pain in the ass, but when it's gone, I totally miss it. Cast of "The Chairs"? I miss you. Okay. So I get it now.

Anyway, after awhile her friend Margie came over, and I went to the store to buy supplies for spaghetti making. I went to the local Pavilions, the same Pavilions I played at for the opening with the marching band a hundred years ago. The same Pavilions in which Drew and I did a few photography assignments using fluorescent lighting (which would be impossible today, because they've totally re-done the market with more natural-esque lighting). The same Pavilions where Drew swore that the mostly silent but very cute, much older (then) blond checkout guy was flirting with me. The same Pavilions where we used to buy our grab bag six-packs of exotic beers, which we drank on the beach, on his balcony, in Mark's backyard.

But this post isn't about the old days.

This post is about how irritated I was while shopping at Pavilions.

For one thing, the store was overrun with people. I am totally spoiled by the wide open aisle of the stores near my house, where I am free to push my little cart (I love those little mini carts!) right down any aisle my heart desires. In Culver City, right from the start, when I hit the spaghetti sauce aisle, I was thwarted by an Englishwoman wearing ridiculous high boots (lady: it's 98 degrees outside. Get real) and her American male friend, who were discussing the sodium content of every jar of sauce in sight.

Hey, it's an important discussion, I get it. But mom had sent me with a vague description of a "new" sauce she'd tried last time (not the usual brand) and she couldn't remember the name of it, except that it maybe started with an "R," and it wasn't Ragu. I squeezed in between Boot Lady and her pal, and tried to figure out what mom could've been talking about, but besides Ragu, there was not one brand that started with an R. I settled for Bertolli's Tomato and Basil because... it looked prettiest in the jar.

I only had a few things to buy (spaghetti, sauce, bread, a cucumber, salad bag stuff, ground turkey) but because the damn store was so packed with people (seriously. Is there nothing to do in Culver City but go to the grocery store?) navigating my way (especially in the produce area) was treacherous.

And I'm just going to go out on a limb here and say that those shopping carts for kids, the ones with the little red car attached to the front? Those things are fucking stupid. They're a hazard. Why so huge, man? When I was little, I was happy to ride in the (unpadded!) kid seat, or even in the basket of the cart itself, where I risked losing a finger every time I poked my hand out.


Finally I got in the express lane, and I'm standing there, waiting my turn in my crappy mood. The whole time I was waiting, this woman was standing to my left, practically in my lap (had I been seated). She was an older lady, with her daughter who was my age or older, and I guess I could've politely excused myself (pretended to be in her space) but I just couldn't work up any kind of energy for being polite: so I ignored her. When it came time to communicate with the checkout lady, I felt like explaining to the lady behind me, too. "Oh, my club card doesn't swipe anymore, you'll have to punch it in. Yes, can you see, lady? The card's been de-magnetized or something, so she has to punch in the number now. Can you see what's going on here, or am I in the way?" And my PIN number for my debit card - I felt like I was being watched. It's possible she was somehow touching me. She totally gave me the creeps.

When I got home, though, and heard what fun mom and Margie were having in the living room, I stopped thinking about me and whatever my deal was, and set to the task of making a good (or good-ish) meal for my family, something I never do. I put on my mom's old lady apron (it's like a little overshirt, with a loud floral pattern, about 10 sizes too big, with a pocket for my... tissues? iPhone?), started boiling the pasta water, and got to work.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The ride home, and the week prior

Some of this story has already been told here, but I'm going to put it all together in one, hopefully well-written narrative. Well, I can try, can't I?


Yesterday my mother was discharged from the hospital.

She'd been there almost a full week. She checked in (is "checked in" the right phrase?) last Thursday, the night before having surgery to remove tumor(s?) on her right leg, and for a complete knee replacement. This procedure was a surprise to all of us.

She'd been having intense pain in that leg for about 3 weeks since messing up her knee while getting into my aunt's car. The severity of the pain seemed too much to be explained away with just this injury, or even arthritis. She'd been going to doctors, and on the previous Friday, it was confirmed that the soft tissue cancer she'd had 3 or 4 years ago had returned... this time in her leg.

The possibility of radiation therapy to alleviate the pain in her leg was discussed, but the radiation oncologists didn't believe that this would help her, and they referred us to an orthopedic oncologist, Dr. A., in Baldwin Park, and an appointment for last Friday was made.

Thursday morning, my sister got a call from Dr. A.'s office, requesting that my mom come in a day early. The doctor could see her: in an hour. On her end, getting my mom ready to go and to Baldwin Park (about a 30 mile drive from their home in Culver City) was no piece of cake, but Angie managed it. I had a slightly shorter drive (about 22 miles, most of it on the fast-moving 605 freeway) and got there about 20 minutes before they did. I found the clinic in the large Kaiser hospital, and waited out front for my mom, dad and sister.

Somehow we all actually made it there at the time requested (though, the doctor's assistant, Regina, was so sweet that she told us that the doctor would see us "whenever we got there"), and it only took a few moments for us to go in and meet Dr. A.

He was young, handsome, thorough, scary-smart but personable, and it was his recommendation that my mom have surgery. He explained it all to us, showed us her new stainless steel knee, did a needle biopsy, and eventually mom was scheduled for surgery... the next day.

I think the selling point for everybody was his statement that in most surgeries like this, the post-surgery pain is so much less than the pre-surgery pain that most people are shocked at how great they feel again. Even with some pain. My mom had been literally miserable for weeks. Up until this point, we had been given no plan, besides morphine, for helping her. We knew she had cancer, and that terrified all of us. All this pain and cancer too? It was confusing. But having a plan to cut it away - hey, man, if it'll help: do it. Get it out of there. Now is fine, thank you.

Car journeys not being very much fun for my mom at this point, my dad requested that she be admitted Thursday so as to spare her the drive home and then back again (the surgery was scheduled for first thing Friday morning... can you imagine the traffic?). Dr. A.'s awesome staff found her a bed, and before long she was admitted and comfortable. Scared a little, but comfortable. My brothers Andy and Dan joined us at the hospital, too. The whole family was there for awhile, and I think that helped my mom calm down a little.

The next day, I met my dad and sister first thing in the morning at the hospital, and about an hour before her surgery was to begin, we were allowed in, 2 at a time. I went in first, with my dad. The anesthesiologist was talking with my mom, who was not very awake yet. He asked a bunch of questions about her medications and past surgeries that, truth be told, she had gone over with a guy during pre-op the day before (and she'd been much more lucid then). He was considering the possibility of giving her an epidural for the lower half of her body, and general anesthetic from the waist up. I have no idea how they do this. He asked if she'd had any experience with an epidural in the past, and she had: 37 years ago, when her "baby" (me) was born. He asked how that had gone, and she told him, seriously, that for awhile afterward she'd had really bad headaches. I had to laugh: right from the start, I've been a pain in my mom's neck!

(We found out later that her doctor nixed this idea, and she got full-on general anesthesia.)

After awhile I went out and got my sister so she could see mom, too, and then the three of us went to the waiting room, to wait.

Waiting sucks, in case you weren't sure. I had a book to read (the horribly written "Water for Elephants;" but this isn't a book review. I will only say, save your money) and my phone to play with.

After awhile, my brothers showed up to wait with us, and we were all sitting around, waiting. Right about at the time my brothers and sister went to get some lunch, the pager they give you while you're waiting (it's exactly like the pager you get at Island's or Elephant Bar when you're waiting for a table) went off. It took a few minutes to track down Angie, Andy and Dan, but once we told them where we were going, my dad and I went back up to the official waiting room (we'd been waiting in the main lobby because the surgery waiting room was overtaken with a huge, loud, Hispanic family. Also they were playing soap operas on the TV, and not one of us cares for them), where we learned we'd just missed the doctor.

Angie, Andy and Dan came up to meet us, and we sat around and waited some more.

Because the doctor had told us that surgery would take about 6-8 hours, and here it was, just 4 hours in, I started getting a little nervous.

This is how my brain works. I guess I hadn't factored in the post-op time, where my mom would be resting, waiting out the anesthesia, but I thought it was 6-8 hours of actual surgery. This was a major operation, and I thought for sure that having taken less time than we had been told... that this indicated something was wrong. I don't know what was going through the minds of the rest of my family, and I'm pretty sure I looked calm, but I wasn't. I was scared.

Finally the doctor came out again to talk to us, and he started talking about the surgery ("The surgery went great...") and I interrupted him pretty much head on and said, "Is my mom okay?" He stopped and looked at me, at all of us, and he said she was fine.

Then we let him tell us about the surgery, and he was pretty vague, to be honest. Beyond the "she looks great" detail, that's about all I remember. So it's possible there was more detail that I've just pushed under the "she's fine" gift he gave us, but I think no.

We had a couple more hours of waiting while mom came out from the anesthesia, and then finally they called us to accompany her to her room.

The walk from the waiting room door to her room was pretty scary. I'm sure she was still feeling the anesthesia a little, so I don't think at this point she was in pain, but she was crying. My dad looked scared. We all looked scared. The male nurse pushing her bed had everything under control, though, and as we all rolled down the hallway, my mom was praising God and crying. These are the two things I distinctly remember her saying:

"I'm so glad it's over!" and,
"Thank you Jesus!"

Without that last one I would've wondered if this was truly my mom.

We let the nurse get her settled with her IV and pain medication, and then finally we went in to see her.

She spent 6 full days in the hospital, and wow, that was an experience. For her, for us. I think she was glad to be there, and by the last day, her pain had tapered off a lot. In fact, I'm pretty sure she was almost pain-free. She was getting back to herself: complaining about the food a little, bossing us around a little, contemplating her future, getting ready to come home.

I brought her home yesterday in my car, which is lower than both my parents' cars (my Accord seemed like it would be more comfortable). Her leg is in an immobilizing strap-on cast like thing, and bending it is a big no-no still, but my front passenger seat didn't go back quite far enough. Right off the bat we realized that there was no good way to get her comfortable. My dad and sister had met me at the hospital in my mom's Blazer, which would've been impossible for her to ride in, so we had no choice but to just leave.

Angie rode in the back.

We gave her a couple of pain pills, but had no idea when they would kick in. I wanted her to be comfortable; I wanted to get the fuck home.

Luckily traffic on the 10 west (my dad swore by this route, but personally, I would've taken the 605 to the 105 to the 405, which I know seems longer, but to me, I hate the 10 west heading through downtown LA with the passion of a thousand suns). I should've done it. Instead, we made our way down the 10, and traffic was fairly light, but then my dad had told me to exit in Culver City at Washington Blvd., and this is where the trouble began.

Actually, this is not where the trouble began.

My mom was distressed the entire way home. She wasn't in too much pain, I think. I don't know, to be honest. It was very difficult and extremely uncomfortable for her, I know that. She cried. She prayed. She sang. Angie tried to help from the back seat, and we both spoke calmly to her.

I don't know how I stayed calm (usually in the face of my mom's tears, I get right in there with her and cry too), but my job, for 33 miles, was to drive. And I did it.

My mom, a born-again Christian, sang every Praise & Worship song she could remember (and some she couldn't. At one point she sobbed, "I can't remember the words!" I told her, that's okay, mom, make some up. And she did), she spoke directly to God and thanked Jesus for his mercy, and I sat there, with my "I'm driving us home and getting us there as safely as I can" face on. I tried to keep it at 60 mph - I don't usually drive that slowly on the freeway, and yes, I wanted to get there faster but the 10 is bumpy through parts of El Monte or where ever the hell we were, and I was afraid to hit a bump or a pothole or a mattress (why are there always trucks with questionably secured mattresses on them on the freeways? Have these people not seen CHiPs?) or worse. An accident or a near accident would've been a disaster. My dad, who left after we did (he had to get his car out of the parking lot) passed us. I was tense: but I tried to talk to my mom calmly, and we were okay, sort of, until we got off the freeway. My thoughts, as we drove, weren't in the same gentle vein as my mom's: I wasn't thanking God for his mercy but demanding that he DO SOMETHING for this woman who loves him so much: my belief or non-belief in him being beside the point. I was kind of mad about it all, which surprised me almost as much as my so-called nerves of steel.

And maybe I had stronger words in my head. I just wanted that ride to end. It was the worst 33 miles in my life, quite possibly the hardest thing I've ever done.

My dad prefers to exit the 10 at Washington rather than stay on and get on the 405 south for a couple of miles. Personally, if there's no rush, I don't mind going that way either. The downtown Culver City area (now) is new to me, and it's interesting to see all the new shops and restaurants down there. But if I had been thinking about it, I would've realized that it's also rife with traffic and stop signs and for some reason there were all these giant trucks out at the same time we were on the road, and I swear, that stretch of the ride was longer than all the time we were actually on the freeway. For once I agreed with Patrick about west side traffic, meaning: it sucks.

Finally we made it to Sawtelle (my trick of cutting through to Jefferson down Ince, instead of taking Duquesne, was thwarted by this mammoth truck that decided to make the same turn ahead of me, and he made me miss the freakin' light. Rather than sit there, I pulled back into traffic and just stayed on Washington), and I made an illegal right turn onto my parents' street, backed up into the driveway, and got out.

My dad and brothers helped get my mom out of the car, and she was calmer, now. Andy rolled her up the ramp my dad had made, and in a few moments, we were all fine (mom even complimented my driving).

Home has that effect sometimes, doesn't it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I didn't realize I hadn't written since mom's surgery

I have a whole story to tell you, but first, just an update on what's been going on:

My mom went home today!

How did she get there? Well, that, my friends, is what the whole story is about. Except I have been having a week or so of shitty sleep, so I feel the need to tell you that you won't be reading that story tonight, because I took a little something to ensure that I would get a good night's rest. Also I am re-reading Jane Austen's "Persuasion" (a great book, but good for sleepy time. Someday a man will write me a secret note in which he states, "You pierce my soul." Maybe one day I will be that... piercing. Oh, wait. I play the piccolo, don't I. What am I saying?), and the combined total of those two things means I am guaranteed a good night's rest. Right?

Ah, I just didn't feel like drinking a beer.

(Someone suggested melatonin, but like, I don't even know what that is. This is a prescription. It's an extremely lightweight dose - or so I've been told. I got it from my doctor. I take it so infrequently that the majority of the pills in the last bottle expired before I could even take them, and my doctor only gives me like 20 at a time or something. So I feel just fine about taking them once a year or whatever it is. Man. I want to sleep. Like right now.)

My Facebook status right now is "sleep don't fail me now," a play on the phrase, "feet don't fail me now," which is corny and pathetic, but about right for my sense of humor at the moment.


I go to bed. Here's to cotton sheets and pajamas.

See you.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bionic mom?

My mom's surgery today at Kaiser went well.

She's resting now. She's been in so much pain, it will be interesting to see if she's really up on her feet tomorrow, as predicted by the surgeon (!). Hey, if she can do it, I say, Go Mom! I can't wait to see what that awesome stainless steel knee can do.

We spent the day there, and we're all a little beat up. And it was a bit rough when we first saw her coming out of the post-op recovery room: she was still out of it a bit, and crying. Tears of joy? I don't know. But she let out a big "Thank you Jesus!" while being wheeled down the hallway in her hospital bed, and that was such a thing she would do.

Also, the name of her nurse made her comfortable right away. What was the name of her nurse? The nurse's name is Blessing.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday's update

I sent the following email to our friends and family. I created a Google Group called "Mom's Army" in my contacts listing; these are the family and friends who want to be kept updated about her status. This is the message they got today.

Hi, everyone,

Good news - my mom met today with an orthopedic surgeon in Baldwin Park, Dr. A. Dr. A is a specialist in this type of surgery, and has admitted my mom to the hospital and will do surgery tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. to remove the mass on her right leg. He will also do a total knee replacement, and showed us an example of what hernew knee is going to look like. To be honest, it looks like something might dad might have made for the space shuttle! Modern medicine is amazing.

We got a great feeling from her surgeon and his team, and feel very confident that this surgery will be successful and my mom won't be in so much pain.

Keep praying, and we'll keep you posted.

Thanks for everything,


I'm going to bed now. I have to be at the hospital at 7 a.m. tomorrow, and it's been a long day and night already.

Good thoughts. Good thoughts.

Change of schedule

The surgeon's office called my mom this morning and they want us to go today instead of tomorrow for a diagnosis.

It's in Baldwin Park, so instead of driving all the way to Culver City, I'm going to meet my parents and my sister there.

This will be good. It will be.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday, news, random stuff

Well, so.

Yesterday my mom's radiation oncologists (she has 2) contacted us and informed us that they do not believe she would benefit from the radiation therapy we had discussed. Instead, they are referring her to a surgeon, who will hopefully just cut all that crap out/off/whatever and heal her.

Yes, I am tired of thinking about it in clinical/scientific terms. Just get rid of it! Is this not what modern medicine is for? It seems so simple.

If somebody said leeches could help I would hold the bloodletting bowl.

Perhaps reality will catch up with me (probably on Friday when we meet the surgeon), but I prefer to believe (for right now!) that this will be a good thing. And perhaps I will share more medically accurate facts later.

I think she had a good day yesterday. I went over there after work, after going to the market and picking up a few necessities for over there (fresh fruit, hand sanitizer, hard candies, etc.). And today and tomorrow: no doctor's appointments, so she is free to recline and relax and bask in the love of her friends who have been stopping by for short visits. I think today it was the two pastors from her church. Visiting last night, she was pretty sleepy. I rubbed her head for awhile, and like I would, she loved it. Head rubs are heaven for me and my mom. She was trying to stay awake for the Big Brother finale. My sister was hanging out in her room, watching TV, my dad had gone to lie down (everybody has been so tired), and I was sitting on the couch in the living room, my brother's dog Rocco on my lap (for once he wasn't barking his usual epithets at me) and my mom and dad's beautiful (but gassy) golden retriever on the floor at my feet. My mom was asleep. Before she fell asleep, she thought she might like to watch "The Biggest Loser," so she put the TV on that channel. I left it on, though I never watch that show. The house was pretty quiet. It was nice, sitting there. I wasn't doing anything. I wasn't alleviating anybody's cares or woes. It felt nice, though.

Hopefully tonight will feel the same.

I go again tomorrow, to hang out and maybe make dinner or help my brother with dinner, and then it's night one of the fall quarter of flute choir. I hope I can stay awake. Sleeping has been difficult lately, but on top of that, this week we've started getting calls at 1 in the morning from... a fax machine. And it doesn't just call once: it calls several times. Now why would a machine call me at 1 a.m.?

I have a feeling the answer to this question isn't as interesting as the question itself.

An old photo

My dad took this photo of my mom, I guess sometime in the 1960s.

I love her moles. And her air of easy haughtiness.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Going to work today

I'm going to work today. I haven't been since last Wednesday morning. My mom has a 2 p.m. appointment, but my sister and one of my brothers is going with her and my dad.

I want to get some work done, but I also want to curl up on the end of my mom's bed or on the couch while she listens to her Christian CDs on her Walkman and sings to herself.

I know this blog has become kind of sad and maybe I'll get back to the old nonsense sooner or later, but right now, I feel sad. And scared. And not very positive at all. Normal, sure. For once, being normal doesn't make me feel better, I guess. I talked to a friend of mine about putting on a happy face: I can do it when I'm with my parents. But I come home or I get in the car, and it's totally different. My friends have all been wonderful. My mom's friends have all been wonderful. My family is doing a great job.

Meanwhile, I'm going to work for a little while today.

Monday, September 14, 2009

An update about my mom


I wanted you to know that the cancer my mom had before (leiomyosarcoma, a soft-tissue cancer) has returned, this time in the bones of her leg. Today we went to meet the radiation oncologist who will be helping my mom with her radiation therapy. She will be having a planning session with the radiation oncologists on Thursday for the radiation therapy to help alleviate the pain she has in her leg, probably caused by the tumor. Her other oncologist has not decided yet if she will need chemotherapy or more radiation. She just had a CT scan and is scheduled for a PET scan soon.

The doctor spoke those words: "No cure." As you can imagine, this was very hard for us all to hear.

Last week, I met my mom's wonderful general practitioner, and she reminded us that though the news isn't good, that "no one knows when they're going to die." This is so true. We just have to face what's happening, do what we need to do and keep her safe, comfortable, and happy. My mom's faith and all the prayers and hope that have been coming our way are helping. Also, the love she has from my dad is so sweet and I know he lifts her up spiritually as well as physically. They are so special to each other. And I see especially how strong my sister is, and my brothers, who are doing all they can, too.

I thank you for keeping me, my mom, and my family in your thoughts and prayers,

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Awake again at 3:30 a.m.

Sleep has not been easy for me lately. My mom, the insomniac, has something to help her. I do too, but my mom's is a bit stronger, understandably!

This has been an up and down week. I didn't go over to my parents' house yesterday, and I won't go again until tomorrow, when I get up super early to meet them in the morning to go to meet the radiation oncologist. I spoke to my mom and my sister on the telephone though, and I think she had a nice Saturday. Today she has visitors coming: her sister and her sister's daughter. She likes having people come see her. My dad does, too.

One thing about this that's sweet is seeing how lovely my dad and mom are together. But then it's so sad, because I guess they're both starting to realize that they won't have each other forever. Do you know what I mean? Thinking about that stuff makes me so sad for them, and for me.

They still don't know what actual treatment she will receive for her cancer because they just did the first CT scan Friday. She still needs a PET scan. I think this radiation is to discuss how they'll help alleviate the pain in her leg. Did you know radiation could do that? I didn't either. I don't think they're going to actually do the radiation on Monday. The bummer is we all have to go to Hollywood for some reason. Hopefully that will end up just being for the consultation and not the subsequent treatments.

I've been doing, I think, an OK job of keeping my happy face on around my mom and dad. I don't know if it's bad to admit that inside, I'm not having an easy time with this. I've been getting a lot of good advice, and I've been trying to think positively. Sometimes I succeed. It's hard. When I'm home, I've been listening to a lot of music and watching movies. Friday I watched "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (afterwards, Patrick and I drove to Ferris' house, which surprisingly, is in Long Beach). Yesterday I watched the first half of "The Commitments." What a great movie.

Today I'll call over there and see how everyone is doing, and Patrick is going to take me to the falafel place for lunch, and then Bo will pick me up to go to the theater. Last night's show was wonderful. Four curtain calls! Hopefully tonight's audience will enjoy the show as much.

We close next weekend, and though I know I need to have the time free to spend with my family, I love this show, and the cast. I'm going to miss it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pulled me up

Today my dad and I took my mother to an appointment with her general practitioner. We weren't exactly sure what the purpose of this appointment was at first, but since I had to give her some paperwork to fill out for work, it was fine with me. But as to what exactly she was going to do for my mom, we were all a little confused. Kaiser scheduled it as an "office visit," but nobody (not my mom or my sister, who helps schedule these appointments) could remember the official reason for it.

However, once I met the doctor (I'm going to call her Dr. Holly), I knew instantly what the reason was, because Dr. Holly is awesome, and without this appointment, I'd probably still be as upset and confused as I was yesterday.

She sat down, and talked to us about the scary words the oncologist (let's call him Dr. Charles) had told us on Wednesday. She did not subtract anything from what he had said. She reviewed his notes, and talked about what a smart doctor he is, and how good at his job he is. She confirmed that he can be a bit clinical when speaking to patients. He was (and not really "a bit": he was totally a scientist in there with us, and that's a big problem; but we can ask questions, and now we know how to deal with him next time). And then she added something to the whole conversation that was new:

She added hope.

Look. This is rough. It's probably going to get harder. I'm keeping it vague still because for me that's a bit of protection from the truth (which I am not hiding from, but which I'm just not giving the time of day to, yet). But what she told us was, nobody here on earth knows when they're going to die. Not me, not you, not her, not Dr. Charles. Whatever happens from here on out, we're going to make my mom comfortable, happy, and she's going to have a life.

And that, my friends, was priceless.

Pulled Up - Talking Heads

The update that's not really an update

Yesterday, my dad, sister, brother and I went with my mom to meet her oncologist (my other brother had to work). He had reviewed her scan from the day before and had some news for us.

It wasn't the news we wanted to hear.

The doctor, an M.D. and a PhD, seemed very smart, but he spoke fast, gave a lot of information, and used technical words. We had to ask him to repeat himself many times. He lightened up at the end, though. I feel confident in him, but we will have to work with him to make sure we understand what he's telling us.

I will admit that I, all week, had been telling myself that if I wanted to hear good news (and I hadn't really decided what "good" news would actually be, I just had a vague expectation of something like, "Oh! She'll be OK!"), and if I told people not to worry, that things would work out, I wouldn't worry, and it would all be fine. When you make that decision to live in hope, and reality is a little different, it's a pretty big deal. I guess I switched to the third person there to make it feel a little less personal.

Anyway, there are more tests to be done, so you know what? Keeping it all a tiny bit vague still feels okay to me.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

I stopped at the Christian bookstore tonight on my way home from work to pick up a book my mom asked me to get for her. Because I'm violently allergic to the Christian bookstore, I made a point of wearing my sunglasses (in case I ran into anyone I knew) and of having the dirtiest, evil-ist, most blood-sucking Satanic Black Sabbath song I could think of in my head.

Actually, the joke's on me because that's a lie: I couldn't think of anything bad-ass enough the entire time I was in there (about five minutes). Instead I had that old U2 song "Drowning Man" in my head. I don't know what Bono's going on about in that song but I'm pretty sure he's talking about Jesus.

Then, when I got to the register (behind which was a giant, 20 X 20 poster of the 23rd Psalm; and if that doesn't creep you out there's something wrong with you), the very nice Asian woman behind the counter asked me if I was on their mailing list. No, I replied. She then asked me if I would like to be on their mailing list. "No, thank you," I replied. She then told me to fuck off.

No, she didn't do that, she just asked to see my driver's license since I was paying with a credit card.

Somewhere, someone is praying for me.

That's fine.

I came home and asked Patrick for a recommendation for which Black Sabbath song I should use for this story, and he suggested the song "Black Sabbath," which is from their album, "Black Sabbath." Have you listened to this song lately?I can't seem to find a non-live version of it on Napster, Amazon or iTunes and don't feel like breaking the law but check it out one day if you haven't heard it for awhile. It's really a funny song.

Dear Pandora Radio,

Get the [expletive] Coldplay off my Radiohead station now.

I know that's what the "thumbs down" icon is for, but I felt it needed a bit more emphasis.

Thanks for playing along,

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The thing I'm not telling you

I don't know who's reading my blog these days, or if you remember from three years ago... when my mom underwent treatment for cancer.

It was a big deal for us at the time but I would understand if you put it out of your mind, because I did. She had been checked out, and got the all clear. Three years.

Last week she had what seemed like a minor accident, but it was causing her a lot of pain, so my dad took her to the doctor. To make a long story short, after doing some preliminary MRIs, it looks like she's going to be going through all that again. It's a different place this time, but because we don't know much, I'm going to keep the details close for a while.

Anyway, next week she has a couple more appointments in nuclear medicine, and then on Wednesday, I'm going with them to the oncologist. We'll see what we find out then, and maybe I'll post an update.

Oh, and this is weird, but last time I wrote about this, I wasn't on Facebook. I haven't figured out exactly how I'm going to really do this, but I think I'm going to try to keep this information away from there. I know this blog is posted on my newsfeed (and I think I can change that), so it seems silly, but I'm going to try. And now that I am on FB, and my brothers are there too, I'd like to ask those of you reading this there who know them not to say anything to them unless they bring it up. I know that's awkward and who knows if it can even work, but I would hate to make them uncomfortable (my sister, who is perhaps wiser than the rest of us, like Patrick, refuses to join, probably for reasons like this). This is my story, and I don't think they should be bothered with talking about it publicly if they don't want to. Thank you for understanding.