Sunday, June 03, 2012

Gracious Goodness

"Don't Socra-tease me," I noted when a colleague peered at the color I'd selected for my toes.  And we chatted about our lives and work and relaxed into the massage chairs as tiny women scraped at our soles and filed our nails and wrapped our feet in bags filled with paraffin.

Pleased that it was Friday afternoon and lulled into a dazed state by the rubbing of my legs and ankles and massaging motion of the chair, I hesitantly agreed to a manicure even though I always ruin them.

"I've rubbed off polish before leaving the salon," I warned.  So they shellacked me.  French tips.  And I love them.  It makes me happy every time I glance at my hands.  And I've lately needed a bit of a perk nearly constantly.


2011 was not a great year professionally.  2012 appears to be better.

I'm nearing the end of my 'plan to avoid being fired' with near-perfect results.  I say near-perfect because I got a 92% on my oral exam for a new topic.

"Let's go," I said to Adam after he commented on the tension in the room after I'd arrived and closed the door behind me.  "I'm nervous.  But I'm ready.  So let's go," I repeated, staring at him with narrowed eyes, leaning forward in a battle-ready posture.

"Good," he declared after we'd walked through a haphazard set of questions.  "I'll never again say you don't know new topic."

And the pride I felt - the relief and happiness and justification in all the cramming I'd done (I seriously had notes and flashcards and highlighted texts) - was outrageously out of proportion to the actual event.


Friend came to visit again!  She brought pralines from ATL!  We looked at flowers and shopped and talked and cried and laughed and ate.

The underlying tension is that something is (well, could be) wrong with her abdomen.  

And that's all I'll say about a potential illness because I refuse.  It's not OK - she's not yet 40.  So, no.  No gallstones.  No pancreatic cancer.  No.  

I love her bunches though - she's just such an easy presence.  Wise.  Kind.  Wonderful.  So I'm ever so grateful that she's taken time to come see me.  Especially on a weekend where her paper had been accepted and I'd just passed my new-topic test!

(She also has a birthday coming up.  Which amuses me only because she continued to repeat "40 is not that old," to the commentators as I made her watch American Ninja Warrior with me.)


After kicking some tail at work - I'm really doing shockingly well after 18 months of wild inability to be more than partially effective - I took some time to come home.  I dreaded this visit as it would reveal the initial efficacy of Dad's chemotherapy.

"I don't have an alternate plan," I told a colleague worriedly.  "I don't know what we're going to do."

"It'll be OK," he soothed.  "You don't need another plan."

And he was blessedly correct.  The liver lesions as well as the pancreatic mass are shrinking.  The CT says we're doing well.  The blood counts indicate we can continue with treatment.  We seem to be buying some time.

The price of that time is suffering.  So we asked about new medications for Dad's persistent nausea.  Talked about how he feels so poorly that he does little but sleep and sit in his chair.  

And the CT revealed pulmonary emboli.  

"Emboli?" I asked when the nurse practitioner told us.  "How many are there?"  And I nodded, gripping Brother's hand when she said there were several in both lungs. 

But the cancer center worked some magic with their insurance company and acquired the blood thinning injections so Dad could do them himself.  And while he's tentative about jabbing a needle in his belly, he's able to do it.  (I can't even watch.) 

I keep praying he feels better.  It breaks my heart a little more each time he sighs and says "I think this is how I feel from now on - just crappy."


Mom's follow-up was completely positive.  We walked hand-in-hand back to radiation oncology and she beamed at the team who'd treated her twice daily for 5 days and indicated she was just fine.

"Has she joined a support group or anything?" a colleague asked me and I blinked in surprise.  

"No," I replied.  "She's better.  We're done.  No more of that."

But I decided to ask in the event that she might find it useful.  Prepared to be encouraging, I still nodded when she looked at me in surprised and indicated that she was better.  We were done.  No more of that.  

Because I am my mother's daughter.


I sped up the back roads that I'd taken years ago to get to high school.  I entered the building via a new entrance and breathed in the familiar smells before heading to the auditorium to watch the Ones at their annual dance recital.

I went alone - Dad was asleep, having been feeling particularly bad.  Mom was weeping - wanting to go with me but feeling too worried to leave Dad alone.  But I sat and watched, taking video of Little One as she grows into such an astounding girl.  I went to find her once she'd performed, rejoicing at her wide grin of welcome before she jumped up and tapped across the corridor to embrace me.  

I waited with the girls and their mother until it was Smallest's turn.  And I watched another kangaroo song and took more video and smiled proudly because she's just such a cutie.  

Then I brought them home with me so they could spend time with Grandma and Grandpa until it was time for Brother to fetch them.  When he didn't end up coming, I sighed and reminded myself that I'm far from perfect as well.  Mom loves having them around and they love being here so I won't complain.  It's lovely.  They're wonderful.  

Though even I tire of hearing my voice remind, "Gentle with Grandpa."


Tomorrow we return home without immediate plans to return to my parents.  I'm sure we'll visit soon, but it may be a week or three.  

Sir Sprout will make his return to his northerly stomping grounds, pending tomorrow's capture and imprisonment in his moving nemesis.  Chienne is growing better with traveling - she still hates it but is more resigned to trying to sleep through the trip as best she can.  

I'm eager to return to my bed and pillows and blankets.  My basement and first floor and bedrooms upstairs.  Multiple bathrooms and sidewalks and delivery options for dinners.  I miss it. 

(We're home, actually, having drafted but not published this post pre-trip.  Sprout and Chienne have explored their home and, having found it remained suitable, have eaten and rested and only offered me reproachful glares infrequently.)


And though I've no particular desire to leave it - I'm fond of the location and my company - the interview process with the competitive company is going along very easily and well.  I've been utterly sincere as I don't need the job.  And everyone seems utterly charmed so far.  (Which is a trick - I'm very much a love/hate sort once you get to know me.)

"Make sure you'd actually go there before you use it for leverage with your current people," Friend advised.  And I nodded because she's right - there's a chance they could say, "Great!  Good luck with that!"  So I've not said a word yet, taking calls when I'm home with my parents.  And hoping that the right answer remains obvious and that learning more and making new contacts is a bit more goodness. 

And aren't my flower pictures pretty?!  If you're lucky enough to know Friend and her Flickr account, hers are even better.  


TitleTroubles said...

So many red flowers...

I'm very glad you didn't need another plan. In all honesty, you, personally, don't need to have one--that's why you have doctors. It's OK to rely on them for what comes next. I sincerely hope they were able to address your dad's nausea and headaches. Watching them be sick, and not having any way to help or any idea when or if it might get better, may be the hardest part.

I'm happy to come up. I giggled a little at the idea of taking time to come see you. As if my life is exciting and busy. :) And we now know there are no scary masses, so whatever it is will be OK.



JaneB said...

Lovely flower pictures, and lovely to hear some more positive news. Thinking of you!

Bridgett said...

Glad things are going well. And your pictures are lovely!

Post a Comment