Friday, October 19, 2012

I'm Tired of Being all Grown Up and Stuff

Ever wish that you could go to bed...and then wake up,  wearing really cool Thundercat pajamas, (that your friends would NEVER know about), looking up at the ceiling in the bedroom you grew up in? The one that you stared at night and found patterns in the random texturing? There's that donkey and that strange looking old man that sometimes looks like a rabbit, depending on the angle? And maybe a few of those glow in the dark stars that really didn't glow all that well at all. That familiar bedspread all wrapped around you? Your alarm goes off, and you get up eagerly, because you're in eighth grade and you get to see your "crush" during math class and pass notes back and forth: the one's that say, "Do you like me? Check yes or no". Or if it was true love, they were more along the lines of "I can't stand you." "Or you're such a dork." Now it's "sexting".

You worried about fractions and reading tests, not whether or not you were going to be able to make the car payment, or if the over-time you were putting in at work was going to affect your child's development. You stressed over the fight you just had with your best friend. You didn't fret  obsessively over the safety of your children.You didn't assume that every man was a pedophile.

Ever wish that?

Yeah. Me, too. Thirteen was hard, but being a parent is harder.

My mom made my brother and I breakfast and it was always waiting for us when we made it to the table. She gave us Flinstone vitamins (that I hid in my dresser drawer) and she made us lunch (which also usually ended up in my dresser drawer. And room may have had a certain...stench.) She did our laundry, made dinner... And I didn't worry. I was safe and while I may have been convinced that I hated my parents, I knew they were there for me, no matter what. I knew I was lucky, because I had friends that didn't have that kind of support system. I was innocent. Someone once told me that I needed my eyebrows waxed and I didn't even know that meant. Hand holding was the pinnacle of love.. and I had my first kiss that year and quite frankly, the "French kissing" part didn't impress me. I think it may have been because it involved food. But today, eighth graders are getting pregnant and having oral sex in the boy's bathrooms. I didn't even know what that was. Oral? I assumed it had something to do with talking. Oral reports were something I would ditch school to avoid. Why would I give one in the boy's bathroom? I wasn't even allowed to go in there.

Growing up isn't as fun as it was supposed to be. Someone lied. And I'd like to have a word with them.

I wonder what will be standard when my children are in eighth grade? I have the feeling the days of innocent notes and searching the Valentine hearts for secret messages will be over. Will strong parenting override the all-powerful peer pressure, or create an even stronger sense of rebellion? What about drugs?  Drinking? I'm not naive and I know this stuff is coming up sooner and sooner and I just hope that my feeble attempts at parenting will be enough to make my kids stop and think before making any decisions that have life changing potential. And I hope they make good decisions.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Waiting...and more waiting...

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, during which I was personally and ironically introduced to the fear and uncertainty of a possible diagnosis.  While I have a family history of breast cancer and helped care for my “granny” while she was going through her treatment, I was surprised to discover a lump on myself. Being relatively young, it’s not something that had ever really crossed my mind. Yet, it was there, and obvious. So I made an appointment for the doctor who examined it and told me “that it didn’t look good” and I was referred for a mammogram, which also “didn’t look good”.  Next step was an ultrasound, where a “suspicious mass” was discovered. The radiologist came in to the room and explained what she saw. The only words I understood were “vascular” , “abnormal”, something about blood flow…apparently I don’t speak radiologist and when she asked if I had questions, I figured it would be easier to say no than have her bring me a dictionary and have her start over. I did get the part about a biopsy which needed to be scheduled. 

The first thing I thought about?  Money. Without insurance, how were we going to be able to afford that? It’s bad when the prospect of paying for any possible treatment is scarier than an actual cancer diagnosis. I expressed this and Komen Foundation entered my life. I have never been so thankful for an organization in my life. I vow to donate and walk and do whatever it takes to show my gratitude. Without them, and the care team at Summit View Health, my experience would have been even more stressful than it was. 

A core needle sample was needed, which would require a small incision to allow the needle access. The thought of a large needle being poked around into my breast tissue and around my nipple was less than appealing. And yes, when my appointment came, I was a nervous wreck. But I pretended not to be. So, you’d be cutting a hole in my breast and prodding around inside it with a needle? No problem. Just another day. Obviously, the techs and the doctor saw through my tough chick act, and were amazingly friendly and compassionate. The biopsy was ultrasound guided and I could see the screen but when the Dr. started the procedure and I saw the numbing needle start to probe around in my breast tissue, I decided I’d keep my eyes shut for the remainder of the procedure. The nurse tried to distract me: asking about my kids, Halloween costumes, etc. but the “snap” of the spring loaded needle contraption used to obtain the core samples was hard to ignore. The sound reminded me of a Nerf gun. “Snap!” “Snap!”  Fortunately, the numbing was effective and the “worms of tissue” were obtained. Which I absolutely did not want to look at, but of course, my retired fire fighter/EMT was very interested in checking out. 

It was Monday. Results would be back by Wednesday. So obviously, until then, I googled everything related that I could find. I quickly came to the conclusion that I was going to die. 

The waiting is the hardest.  You have too much time to imagine all the worst case scenarios. Finally, Wednesday came, and my stomach flipped every time the phone rang, but it was never “the call”. I made phone calls, but there were no return calls. It was a long night.  Maybe I sound a bit melodramatic, but the possibility of dying (no matter how unlikely) and leaving three young kids behind is horrifying. I stood by their beds that night a little longer than usual, and watched them sleep. 

Thursday morning came along with the anxiously awaited phone call. The mass appeared benign. And I realized that I could breathe again. But now I am being referred to a surgeon for a second opinion, so more waiting. But I realized that nothing can be taken for granted, because as cliché as it may be, it could be gone just like that and then you’re left with all the things unsaid, the regrets, heartbreak and loss. So say the things that need to be said, have no regrets and tell them you love them, because aliens could abduct them tomorrow.  An asteroid could hit. And there is always death by water intoxication. And oh yeah, that little cancer thing. You just never know.


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