Thursday, May 17, 2012


It is 16 steps to my Jeep from the front door - I've parked in front of the attached garage at the end of my parents' blacktop driveway because - as the designated driver - I like to be close to the front door.

We drive for about 15 minutes to arrive at the hospital entrance, exiting the expressway to turn right, then right again, then right once more before pulling into the circular driveway at the entrance.  I greet one of the four valets and tuck my claim ticket in the pocket that holds both my phone and Mom's on the outside of the mini hipster bag I wear across my body. 

We take 3 steps to enter the building, smile at the security and information workers, then the red-vested volunteers, and take 38 steps to the radiation oncology doors just before the elevators.  Receptionist smiles at us when we open the door and sometimes we sit for a few moments in the waiting room off to the left.

Other times, we're waved back into the department, making another 18 steps to the changing room where Mom removes her shirt and bra and dons the hospital gown with the opening in the front - like a robe.  I hold the robe for her, helping her ease her arms in and smoothing it over her shoulders. 

It's a mere 7 steps to the inner waiting room where we sit, side by side, and hold hands until Radiology Technologist comes to fetch us, his bearded face eased into a gentle smile as we say hello. 

We walk, still side by side, the 20 steps to the CT scanner and I hold her arm as she sits on the table.  Used to the process, I help her remove the robe from her left arm and fold down the netting that surrounds her torso, holding the gauze in place.  RT puts on gloves to remove the dressing after placing 2 warm blankets at the end of the table.  I place one of her body, making sure to cover her feet, even if they're wearing shoes.  Then I take the 4 steps around the table to hold her right hand as RT arranges her, positioning so that the green lasers match their crosshairs to the markers on her skin. 

Once done, I smooth the other blanket over arms she places over her head.  I tuck the ends, as RT showed me, around her head and over her chest so that only her face peeks out into the frigid room.  And I soothe her, sometimes praying, others chatting, as her lower lip quivers from a mixture of low temperature and high anxiety.

Doctor and Physicist enter, peering at the catheter that exits her breast before nodding at RT.  I take 8 steps to leave the room, closing the door gently behind me only after I deposit a kiss on Mom's forehead and remind her that (1) God's with her, (2) I'm filled with love and pride for her and (3) I'm just outside while the CT is running.

I repeat those 8 steps in the reverse direction just a few minutes later, reaching to hold her hand and offering a glance of gentle impatience to RT if he hasn't removed the table from the machine and allowed her to drop her arms.  Her arthritis is bothering her without her normal medications over the last 2 weeks.  After Doctor and Physicist examine and nod over the CT display, I bundle her back in her robe and we waddle 14 more steps, like ducks in a row - RT with her fixation device, Mom holding her robe closed and me with a sheet and my bag across my body.

After unlocking two doors, we enter the HDR (High Dose Radiation) room, a smaller but warmer space where the cot awaits us.  RT places her fixation pad and I smooth the sheet over the table before helping her adjust her robe again.  He goes to fetch more warm blankets while I turn on the television in the corner - it's always tuned to the same hospital station.  The one that shows nature scenes and plays soothing music.  Mom likes that one.

She settles on the cot and I make sure she's covered and cozy and we sit together while waiting for Dosimetrist.  She bustles in and plays with the radiation device - removing the spacers in the 7 tubes and connecting long cables to deliver the radioactive seed for the carefully-prescribed times.  After the cables are all attached, I look at Mom - and she at me - and we exchange sad little smiles because it's time for me to leave. 

I take two steps toward her and offer a kiss.  "I'll pray out there," I always say, "and you pray in here."  She nods and I take a few steps I don't count because I'm moving backward, keeping my eye on her and touching Dosimetrist to remind her to take good care of my mom while I'm forbidden from being in the room.  Because I love her and she's special and she gets nervous - we both do - when I'm not there to be overprotective.

I move back to the inner waiting room to watch television fretfully.  I know she's fine - she's been doing so well - but the waiting remains difficult for me.  While I'm gone, she says they check the connections at least twice more before they all leave the room, the heavily shielded doors automatically clanging closed behind them.

"It's a little like a death chamber," Mom said after the first treatment.  "Getting carefully set up and everyone checking you and then leaving while the doors close and leave you alone with God."  I'd worry (well, I'd worry more) but when having tea with her Bible Study friend, she said it's the time she's closest to Christ - focused and reliant and quiet with only Him. 

The treatment is short - less than 8 minutes - and then they unhook her and dress the radiation site where the device protrudes.  Then they return her to me in the waiting room and we grin at each other as we move back to the dressing room to change, then back to the valet to wait on the bench, then back home to wait for the next treatment - whether it's that afternoon or the next morning.

She's done 6 treatments in 3 days thus far.  We do two more tomorrow and her final pair on Monday.

Dad had his 7th chemotherapy treatment today and gets a week off next week.  He's not been feeling well, but I hope and pray that it's doing some good.  That this medicine is killing cancer even as it's making him mildly miserable.

He's down the hall in bed.  Mom snuffles quietly on the couch across the living room.  I'll soon go to bed early myself as we're due to take those same steps in the same order just before 7AM tomorrow.   

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Feline Missive

To Whom It May Concern:

I have successfully migrated to what appears to be my new headquarters.  I am pleased to report that there are plants and chirping creatures galore, yet I've thus far not managed to escape the interior environs.  I nearly managed to slide the lighter door away from the wall recently, but Elder Paternal arose from his chair, called me an uncomplimentary name and shooed me away.  Retreat is the better part of valor, I always say, especially when confronted with Elder Paternal.  He's quite big.

I spend much of my time underground, in the cool darkness of my basement lair.  I have created multiple napping locations, better to confuse the ever-present spies, and devised multiple locations where I can lurk behind boxes or under blankets to avoid detection.  I continue to worry that Maternal will attempt another capture and place me in my Moving Nemesis.  And I so despise car rides.  I will continue to thwart her, I think.

Elder Maternal continues to care for me so I'll spare her a bit of affection and allow her to stroke my stripey coat on occasion.  There are times my food dish - an inelegant bit of plastic that says something ridiculous like "I [heart] my cat" - goes empty at times but I can typically lure a human down the steps to refill it with my favorite of kibbles.  Elder Maternal bought a different litter - it has not that sharp detergent scent and does not seem to catch on my paws.  I enjoy it all the more when Maternal curses over its lack of clumping ability.  She amuses me so I spare her some affection, ill-advised as that may be, as well.

I have endeavored to spend time with the Elders as they are acceptably quiet on most occasions.  They have learned to let their hands dangle harmlessly and I rub against them should the mood strike me.  I believe them to be suitably grateful as they often remark on my beauty.  The problematic component comes by way of the Whirling Nemesis and VeryLoudBox Nemesis.  The former perches on the ceiling and persists on moving in one direction, four blades stupidly following the first to circulate the air.  It ruffles my stripey coat and despite my glares and hisses of warning, it continues to form its damnable circles.  And so I continue to watch (and occasionally retreat). 

Whirling Nemesis would be bearable if VeryLoudBox Nemesis was not proximal.  But between VeryLoudBox and the roaring of cars or shouting of people and the constant whirling, my nerves can not bear the danger and I must keep careful watch from the kitchen. 

I have attempted to send messages via Maternal to the pride I once commanded in my former headquarters.  I corner her in private and can only do so when she's resting but she often shushes my monologues, muttering something about trying to sleep.  After many attempts and the indignity of being scolded, I reach out to you in hopes that you will tell all who listen that I will return if I'm able (though not if it requires the Moving Nemesis).  And, if not, I am well here and will seek to establish a suitable kingdom.

Mostly Respectfully,
Sir Sprout, the Stripey

Monday, May 14, 2012


"Will you hold my hand?" she asked, lying on the CT table, completely covered with warm blankets so that only her face was exposed.  I burrowed beneath the blankets covering her arms and found her hand, curling my fingers around hers and letting her squeeze. 

"I don't think this will hurt," I offered soothingly, but frowned protectively at the men who were marking and measuring and making notes around her left breast.  She squinted a few times and I'd remind the personnel to be gentle, hoping they didn't have me removed from the room. 

We talked about zoos in an attempt at distraction, topical because Brother planned to take the girls to visit the animals today.  There's a baby giraffe.  The seal died.  And that turtle I remember from my youth has a spot in the African exhibit.

"I think elephants get lonely," I said absently, keeping an eye on the trio working on the other side of Mom.  "I heard of one that died and her mate was just miserable."

"Don't all animals get lonely if they lose someone?" she asked and I blinked down at her, this woman who's been married to my father for 43 of her 63 years.  And was suddenly staggered at the thought of her losing her lifetime mate. 

"Yeah," I replied quietly, trying for a soothing tone.  "I suppose they do."  After smoothing hair from her forehead, I leaned to place a kiss and stayed to nuzzle. 


"Will you wash my hair?" she requested, frowning as she sifted her fingers through her short, colored locks.  Dad, who looks remarkably like Santa with his white beard and fringe of hair around his bald head, doesn't want Mom to go grey.  So she colors hers to a mix of browns and blondes.

I found myself dumping water over it, using one of those Tupperware pitchers with the little red tick marks to note volume when she couldn't lean far enough into the sink.  I breathed in watermelon-scented shampoo she uses with the girls and scrubbed so I could smile at the piles of bubbles before rinsing them away. 

"Better?" I asked, once we were finished and she'd piled the towel atop her head. 

"Much," she replied and reached to embrace me.  I let myself cling for a moment, smoothing her hair with stripey highlights and watermelon fragrance. 


So whether it's fetching more water with piles of ice cubes or helping with showers or shaving her legs, I treasure this time with her.  I realize it is fleeting - that I'm losing them both - but we laugh at rerunning sitcoms and frown over prices paid for abandoned storage lockers.  We wait for stars who dance and take pills and find meals at the proper times.  And, between meetings I take on the back patio, with birds singing and the trees rustling in the background, I look out into the day - whether sunny or gloomy - and am profoundly grateful I'm able to be here.  Completing random, yet important, tasks.

Friday, May 11, 2012


On my daily trip to the market prefixed with Wal, I picked up various prescriptions.  Then over the counter medicines.  Then tiny cupcakes and toppings for an ice cream party we're holding tomorrow.

"Will you come to my party at school?" Smallest One asked each of us when she called yesterday. 

"We can't, sweetheart," we all replied gently.  "Grandma has to go to the doctor and Grandpa isn't feeling so well after his treatment."

Yet in another shift that I suppose I could expect, all was well today.  Dad ate his ice cream bar and deemed it excellent after his anti-nausea medicine kicked in. 

Mom slept for much of the day after her early procedure and I distracted myself from fretting in the waiting room with work and books. 

I thought about Mom's surgeon as I wandered the aisles, picking up pastel sugar sprinkles and heading to the refrigerated case for whipping cream.  She was late - nearly 30 minutes - for the procedure this morning.  Then didn't start until about an hour after the scheduled time as she screwed around with changing clothes and doing other suitably egotistical nonsense. 

My tolerance of medical personnel is pretty low for this region of the country.  Dad didn't let me go to chemo since I'm not properly respectful.  But Mom's love for me overpowers her ingrained awe of doctors.  I suppose I'm desensitized - I ask questions and raise my eyebrows when I get sarcastic responses.  And when someone berates my mother for being afraid or in pain?  I become an overprotective bear cub, growling with claws extended and eager to do some damage.

And while I tolerated the wait for the office visit and her dismissal of normal questions before and after surgery, the delays and comments this morning are intolerable.  She's a miserable bitch.  And I'm plotting my comments to her staff so they can tell her I think so.

Luckily, I think we're done with her and on to doctors I've liked better.  Dad's perking up again and my perusal of the blood reports Brother brought home have me feeling better about his progress.  So I'll keep praying and trekking to WalMart and fetching drinks for thirsty parents. 

And tomorrow, we'll make wishes of tiny cupcakes and bowls of ice cream.  I'm planning on blowing out lots of candles - let me know if you need anything.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Dramamine, Ice Cream

"You took your patch off," I realized, watching Mom huddle miserably on the couch, a drastic change from the past days of relative health and happiness. 

"Oh," she whispered, touching the spot behind her ear where they'd placed the medicinal device that had kept the nausea blessedly at bay.  Within hours of its removal, she was unable to eat and looking increasingly wan.

So I called the doctor.

I went to school with the nurse that returned my call, sending me after OTC Dramamine patches. 

"Was she smart?" Dad asked after I hung up with her. 

"Not particularly," I replied, recalling her vaguely but not from my honors classes.  So it should have been no particular surprise that I could not - after 3 drug stores - find any patches next to the pills or at the pharmacy counter. 

"Here," I said gently when I arrived home and sat next to Mom.  "Put this strip on your tongue and it will dissolve."  And while she made choking attempts to do so, I bundled her into acupressure straps and said a quick prayer for relief. 

She's feeling better now, she says from across the room, sitting on the couch and reading her Kindle rather than curled up with eyes closed. 


"What kind of ice cream is on that commercial?" Dad asked last night.  He's not been feeling great, but his blood counts and liver function are good and chemo continues.

"With the girl who climbs over the cars to get the ice cream bar?" I confirmed and when he nodded, I looked it up and realized it was Magnum.  And so, on my quest for anti-nausea assistance, I kept an eye out for expensive ice cream bars coated in chocolate and caramel.

"Dad doesn't want us to go with him," Mom told me yesterday.  "Because you're too pushy."  She glanced at me in surprise when I laughed.

"Brother can take him," I replied easily, still amused.  "I've met enough people who don't like me all that much not to be offended.  So if Dad doesn't want me to ask questions, I'm fine to stay home.  It's his therapy."

So Brother rode in on his motorcycle and out in my folks' SUV, Dad in tow, this morning.  He returned our dad post-therapy and went to pick up his girlfriend before mowing the yard.

I brought them dinner, the second stop of my errands, and placed it on the table while they finished riding the mowers around the yard.

"I found your ice cream," I offered to Dad and he smiled weakly before I placed them in the freezer for later.
 We're surviving - it's going pretty well, really - but it's starting to feel hard.  

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


The pathology report came back today. 

"It's a good report," the nurse said, bemused, after Mom hurriedly handed me the phone.  "Lymph nodes were clean.  Margins were clean.  Stage Ia is confirmed.  So it's as good as it could have been."

"We've been praying," I replied and thanked her for the news. 

And we have - the outpouring of love and support has been tremendously moving.  From the nurses who prayed and friends who bring flowers and family who help.  It's just...lovely. 

I recited The Lord's Prayer into Mom's hair on Monday night as she cried, the pain overcoming her when she tried to lay down to sleep.  I helped her from bed and joined her on the couch, holding her hand and sleepily talking until her medication worked and I was able to settle her.  I rose with each sounding of my phone's alarm to dispense more pills and give gentle kisses on her forehead as she settled back to sleep.

She was feeling so well yesterday that we went grocery shopping for soup ingredients.  And I made mental notes of recipe tricks as we put together vegetable beef in a large pot. 

Aunt and Uncle came today to help change the bandages.  Mom and I got queasy, though we didn't really look, but Aunt was gently efficient. 

The Culligan man came to add water softener salt and joined us in the living room to pray over Dad. 

I took a conference call from the back porch, laughing when colleagues commented over the birds they could hear in the background from my line. 

"It's really good," I told them, looking out at my parents' acreage as it basked in the cool breeze and warm sunshine.  Good results and holding hands and dinners I've cooked.  We nap and watch television and read books.  I do work and return calls from recruiters and set up an interview out of flattery more than interest. 

I have the darkest of dreams, waking to see both parents in the doorway of the guest room in the middle of the night.  They tell me I called for them, sounding so alone and afraid, and I'm sad that my subconscious is so scared.  For it is frightening - the cancer and mortality and treatments that will eventually fail. 

But in the sunshine, it's happy - Dad's feeling better, though he insists on spending a majority of the time in his chair.  Mom is chipper and relieved - the pain not as bad as we feared, results even better than we'd hoped. 

So thank you for the prayers - for thoughts and wishes and hopes you've sent our way.  I'm so grateful and blessed. 

Monday, May 07, 2012

Surgery, Left Breast

"That's on tonight," Mom said while we waited in pre-op, watching stars dance on the morning show.  "Will you watch it with me?"

"Of course I will," I replied, squeezing her hand and smiling, for Mom is lovely under most circumstances but sugar-sweet when scared.  I would have promised her anything, but mostly offered quiet support as I followed her around.

"We have to pray," I interrupted as they tried to rush us to start an IV.  "We have people here."  So we moved to the waiting room and formed a circle with linked hands.  My parents' pastor spoke while 3 of her Great Banquet friends, my dad, Brother and I bowed our heads and pleaded for strength, peace and good results. 

It made me cry, such a moment of love and support and faith. 

"I'm going," I hurriedly offered when a nurse said someone could accompany her as they settled her in a wheelchair and moved away.  So I followed her to a room and murmured reassuringly when her blood pressure was 211/153.  I waited in Radiology while they injected dye - 4 shots - into her nipple to identify sentinel lymph nodes.  Then they placed a wire into the lesion under mammo.  And she was wide awake, shaking but sweet.

I gathered our people when we returned to pre-op, finding space in area 8 for our friends to pray again.  And I finally relaxed when they injected a sedative, watching her finally relaxing, offering one last reminder that she was going home today - outpatient surgery.

We waited - which Friend tells me is normal - and joined her a couple hours later in recovery with all signs positive.  Lymph nodes looked clear.  Margins equally good.  Final report on Wednesday or Thursday. 

She came home and I arranged her, both of us wincing, on pillows in her bed as the incisions stung.  I've been setting alarms to remind us of the pills I went to fetch.  And she's eating!  She never eats after medical stuff, but she had a sandwich and salad and ice cream and is now going for a Rice Krispie Treat!  I couldn't be prouder.

So, as we watch the trios on Dancing this evening, I'm relieved.  And profoundly grateful for answered prayers and good results.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Hunters of Heads

Let's say I get an annual report card as this is not inaccurate and I've just admired Little Ones marks for this year as she completes here 1st grade studies. 

There are, more or less, four areas of assessment in my particular area of Industry.  We could call them Major Projects, Taxes, Soft Skills and Overall Impression.  Now, regardless of how depressed or miserable, unmotivated or self-destructive I have been, I get stuff done.  So whether the projects are high profile or menial labor, I score reasonably high on the first two. 

The Overall Impression, it turns out, suffers a bit when you're miserable and self-destructive.  Perhaps you don't show up at work for a day (or week) or two.  Cancel travel at the last minute because you simply can't be bothered.  Roll your eyes at meetings and sigh over assigned tasks, correct in your predictions that none of this is going to matter anyway.  And when you're unhappy and (mostly) sincere, people - whether external collaborators or high-level executives - notice that you think most of this is bullshit. 

And then you get a Poor on Soft Skills, even though you're capable of cashmere-quality soft skills, which triggers (despite reasonable scores elsewhere) Plans.  Formal Plans.  With deadlines and reviews and everything. 

"I actually prefer this," I told Adam when he told me.  Then I got viciously angry, feeling terribly betrayed, and decided I'd just leave.  And that would show them.  Train someone else!  Start from scratch!  Even though I can do most of this even while I think it's sucky and stupid!  "At least I'll know what you want and how to execute on a plan - I've been asking for a plan for ages."

But as I spent time with my parents and increasing amounts of time in prayer, the anger - as requested - eased.  Acceptance of how badly I'd performed in some instances and what I wanted from my professional life occupied enough of my attention that when I returned to the office, I felt stable and strong and productive.  And though I wasn't necessarily happy and hopeful - flitting about like a happy fairy among fields of delicate flowers - I was quietly encouraging and focused on steps we could reasonably take. 

And the official form for the Plan began to turn green as the leaves budding on trees.  I showed up when my calendar indicated I should.  I spent lots of time at my desk and even more moving around between labs and conference rooms, visibility a clear goal.  When I needed breaks, I went for lunch or to run an errand rather than fleeing home to pajamas and nap time.  I stopped wincing every time my phone rang.  I caught up on emails I'd not wanted to answer and started managing various tasks through happy spreadsheets and pretty PowerPoints.

"It's going so well," Adam mused as we last chatted.  "I'm really pleased so we've shortened the duration of the Plan and we'll have this out of the way in no time."

"Great," I smiled, relieved even as I was puzzled by how easily my formal Plan could morph and shorten in my favor.  I shook my head over how very much power Adam has over my career and thought back on the conversation I'd had with Friend on how boredom seems to set in after 3-4 years.  How it starts to feel like you should be doing something different, new, challenging - this quest toward eternal youth by way of novel places and projects.

So I've been thinking - a lot, actually - about what comes next.  Do I stay, satisfied that I've corrected past mistakes and doing something that I'm absolutely blessed to do?  Or do I leave, returning home in a different industry, unrelated to my education and background.  I have zero desire to return to academic research - even looking at job listings makes me shudder with distaste.  But I can do office work - manage projects and handle customers and make nifty lists and pretty presentations.

"Someone called when you were asleep," Dad informed me on Friday.  I rubbed at the headache my nap hadn't eased and swallowed a Tylenol as I checked my messages, blinking with surprise.  "Who was it?" he asked, ever curious.

"It was a head hunter - my first head hunter," I grinned, absurdly flattered.  "A competitor is interested in my background so she wants me to call back to discuss opportunities."

"Ask them to give you lots of money," he advised and I smiled and shook my head.  I have more money than I really need.  But I should identify what qualities matter - how I can feel productive and peaceful and happy.

In the meantime, Mom's breast surgery is tomorrow morning - 7AM Central time.  If you could send prayers and thoughts and strength to us, I'd be grateful.     

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Delicate Balance

Friend looked at me, eyebrows arched in surprise, when I shivered and said I was freezing.  I like the cold in general and a day in the 50s should have had me lifting my face to the wind and sighing in pleasure.  Instead, I shivered again and moved toward the bathroom again.

"Are you OK?" Friend asked gently and I moaned that my head hurt so badly.  It had started in the morning - focused on the right side, a little above my eye.  I'd taken Advil when I woke.  Tylenol before we left.  Excedrin on the drive.  And it wouldn't go away, stubbornly throbbing in concert with my newly-acquired nausea, courtesy of the multiple pills.

"I need to eat," I continued to say.  But given that I was driving and there were multiple restaurants on the way, I'm not sure why I didn't stop.  I finally decided on a place and was slurping soup before nibbling on grilled cheese, watching Friend with her strawberry pancakes.  

"The soup healed me," I reported happily and we continued on our journey.  Zipping sweatshirts against the cold and cameras in hand, we traipsed among the tulips, mostly quiet.  

I watched, a little bemused, as she took photos.  Friend is thoughtful, deliberate.  And I thought worriedly of the photos she'd shown me the night before - every single topiary that graced the grounds at Epcot Center - and looked at the array of blooms in dismay.  If she assigned herself the task of cataloging each of them, her dedication was no match for my impatience and we'd be there for-freaking-ever.  

But each time I glanced up, she was never far away.  She told a few stories.  Pointed out the particularly pretty.  And we walked companionably, crunching through gravel and wandering across grassy paths.  And I clenched my teeth and endured - a growing trend of late - thinking that I'd feel better for a moment before a particularly vicious gust of wind would anger my headache and renew the brutal throb.  

"I make buffers," Friend noted and I nodded, though I'm not really sure what that means.  "And some experiments go all wild, but they just need longer to stir.  Then it all balances out.  Sometimes you just end up with a different pH than when you started."

"You never have enough pictures of flowers," she said later

And though I lost track of our trek through the last two gardens in a haze of misery, the headache eased when we were back in the warm car, additional pills swallowed and jackets shed.  

We drove to, then past, the airport, finding a friendly pizza place to spend a last bit of time together before I dropped her off, clinging when she hugged me before leaving the Jeep (and me) with a wave.  

So I miss her, which is no surprise.  But I got some sleep and went to work and faced my week with some degree of maturity.

"Hey," I answered the phone, machines buzzing around me in the lab as I moved to a quieter spot.  "All done?" I asked Mom of her bone scan.  We'd talked after she'd received her injection - on their way back home - and then she was to return to the hospital for a quick zip through the machine.  

"I think so," she replied.  "Claudia is just making sure the doctor doesn't want to do any more scans.  I wish you were here to look at the images."

"PET scans aren't hard, I don't think," I mused.  "Did you see any bright spots?  Really bright spots, I mean, around your ribs?  Where they thought the spot was?"

"No," she replied slowly.  "But I'll look again.  Call you back," she said and we exchanged 'love you's and I smiled fondly.  

"Spots, Katie," she said quietly when my phone rang again.  "Bright spots.  And they want to do more scans."

"Oh," I replied, sinking into a nearby chair.  "Maybe..." I trailed off, wanting to say something reassuring, able to hear Claudia in the background.  The technologist indicated it could be anything and not to get so upset and I winced as Mom wept.

"Where's Dad?" I asked fretfully and scowled when she reported he was in the car.  I love that he wants to go with her, but if you're going to sign up, then get in there!  There's no waiting in the car in this game, damn it.  "Do you want to pray?" I finally asked, not knowing what else to say and she declined before we hung up again.

"I'm waiting again," she said when she called back.  "I'm going to ask to see the radiologist - I can't wait until tomorrow."  

"It's arthritis," she finally told me.  "Claudia talked to the doctor and showed me the report.  It's OK.  I'm OK."  And despite the relief that rushed through my body, I still shook, literally sick with stress.

But I finished some work, let an adorable Canadian boy rub my feet for 90 minutes and came home to nap.  But whether lying in a darkened room with soothing music or at my desk, repeating work because people keep changing the freaking algorithm, I think of cool breezes and thousands of petals and lose myself in the blooms until reality demands attention again.