Sunday, April 26, 2015

By Liv

Liv wrote this for her creative writing class and her teacher emailed it to me. I was in tears from start to finish. Livvy, I love you too and I am not going anywhere for a very long time. Promise. I burst out laughing at the first line. I wish....

Description of a Person Whom I Know Well by Liv Lastname.

I don't know if I know her as well as she knows me because I swear my mother is psychic.

Luckily, she isn't pushy about it. She just looks at me with this look that says that she knows that I have taken up smoking and she isn't happy. I feel guilty and stop. This has worked for her since I was about 3. It's probably the reason why I've never gotten drunk. She'd just know and I'd have to deal with her disappointed look. Maybe there'll  come a time when I don't care if she's disappointed but I don't see that happening because her opinion of me matters to me so much.

My mother is in love with gardens, flowers, trees and anything that grows. We plant a garden every year and she looks at everything out there, the beans, the peas, the lettuce, the tomatoes, everything, as if they're her children. When I was little, I used to be jealous of them because whenever we had a big storm she'd go running out the door afterwards and tenderly tend to all the broken plants. She talks to them. She actually talks to them. She says things like, "Well, THAT must have have been so scary! I'm sorry that happened to you. Here, let's put your stems back up on those stakes. Poor darling!" My mother goes out in the evening and sings to the plants, hugs all of our trees. When I was little I used to do this with her. Now, I just watch and hope that the neighbors don't think she's crazy. She must be doing something right because we have plants that stay alive that are not supposed to. We have two poinsettia plants that she put in the ground one spring and they keep coming back year after year. I think they just want to see her. I don't blame them. I feel like that too.

My mother doesn't like snow or winter. Snowstorms make her crazy. She sometimes stands at our picture window and shakes her fist at falling snow. Again, I hope that our neighbors don't think she's crazy. She paces in snowstorms. She says she feels cooped up, trapped and resents it. She takes the cozy feeling out of a snowstorm and replaces it with anxiety. She wears a stocking cap inside the house nearly all winter because she's cold all the time. I used to worry that my friends would think she was crazy but they don't.

My friends think she's cool. This is probably because she doesn't ask them the standard questions. Like what they want to major in in college or what their favorite subject is in school. She asks them what their favorite quote is, what books they're reading or if they like forest green better than lime green. And then she remembers what they've said and brings it up three months later. They think it's cool. I think it's all part of having a psychic mother.

My mother is flawed. She's a terrible cook but a very good baker. When she makes a roast beef, it comes out stringy but when she bakes brownies, there perfect with crispy tops and wet centers. She doesn't follow fashion trends. She wears swirly skirts or sweat pants when she's home from work with men's shirts over them. She wears colorful tights in the winter and goes barefoot all summer. She's a serious Democrat and very liberal and doesn't put up with Republicans or conservatives. Since we live in a red state this has caused a few problems. Even with our extended family. My mother isn't one to back down. She stands her ground and fights hard. And then she gives people that look. The look that I know so well. The one that says that she's disappointed in their behavior. My mother curses a lot and then looks at me and looks ashamed. She tells me that this is a bad habit and that she (fucking) hopes I don't take it up. She often tries so hard not to swear that she ends up saying funny things. Like using the word fudge for fuck. She'll say, "Well, that fukkk....fudging motorcycle down the street woke me up again at midnight."

My mother has a partner named Bing. Shes like my second mom because I've known her forever. She and Bing have a very interesting relationship. This is because my mother is primarily the boss although Bing doesn't shrink away from saying what she thinks. My mother almost always gets her way, though. I can always tell when they're having a fight because my mother won't talk to Bing unless she absolutely has to. Bing never seems to mind. She just cheerfully waits her out. I think this drives my mother a little mad. I think she wants Bing to sink to her knees and beg for forgiveness. Bing will never do that. She just leaves for a while. Goes for a drive or does chores. My mother's disappointed look doesn't work on Bing one bit. In fact, Bing bites her lip and looks like she wants to laugh when my mother does this although she is too polite to do it. I think that Bing may be the only person in the world who doesn't succumb to my mother's look and this is why my mother loves her so much. I think she met her match in Bing and knows it. Yet, Bing pretty much gives in to my mother on most things unless it is important to her to stand her ground. My mother respects this. My father has told me that in most relationships there is this situation. One is more giving than the other.

I think that their love affair is a good lesson for me. In the end, they would die for the other and they both know this. I know this. And I will hold out for that in love.

My mother has cancer. Breast cancer. She is very brave. She doesn't complain but she is scared. She admitted that to me when we walked our dog one day together. That she is scared. She told me that she'd be a total dipshit if she wasn't scared. And then she said, "I mean, I would be silly not to be scared. Dipshit is not a good word choice." As I said, she feels bad when she curses. She says that she will beat cancer, that she has what is called the garden variety of breast cancer and there is a high cure rate. She tells me not to worry one bit. I asked her why she was scared then. She said that the journey can be painful and she is not looking forward to that but that she's hopeful that good drugs will ease the way.

I'm scared too but for more selfish reasons. I'm scared that she'll die. I love my mother very much and I want her to be in my world forever. I love her flaws. I love the way that she hugs trees and wears stocking hats and talks to my friends about Tolstoy and bakes brownies and stringy roast beef and yells at people in grocery stores who hit their kids and insists on reading out loud parts of every book she is reading to Bing and me even though we aren't really interested. I love the way she braids my hair and rubs lotion on her hands and then rubs the excess on mine. I love the way that she yells out that she would marry Daryl Dixon when we watch The Walking Dead and that she would marry Ragnar Lothbrok when we watch The Vikings. Then Bing says, "Excuse me, what am I? Chopped liver?" and my mother kisses her and tells her that she's not chopped liver, she's caviar and they both laugh. I want my mother to be here when those television shows come back in the Fall. I can't even imagine a world without my mother.

The plants would miss her, the trees. Bing. But mostly me. She is my perfectly imperfect mother who knows my soul and I like to think that I know hers. The world needs her but not as much as me.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Working dog

I went back to work on Tuesday. I start chemo this Wednesday. I am so tired and the hard part isn't even here yet!

I probably went back to work too soon....three weeks after my bilateral mastectomy. But, sitting home seemed to not be an option.

I am shaking in my shoes at the thought of chemotherapy although my oncologist said, "I pity this cancer that took on YOU. It doesn't have a chance in hell against the likes of you."

Right now, I feel as if I am all stiff upper lip in public and a quivering, exhausted mess on the inside.

Books, as always, are the bridge that crosses me over. This one, in particular, is spectacular.

"Bettyville" by Goerge Hodgman. Sheer brilliance.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Cardinal song

I have grown to love a pair of cardinals who have nested in our twisty crab apple tree. They are a close knit pair and love to come for a swim, splash fest in one of our back yard bird baths. The other birds prefer our roomier naked lady bird bath. This pair likes our plain blue one with it's shallow bowl. We have named the pair Romeo and Juliet because they are the most PDA prone birds that we have ever seen; nuzzling and cuddling. If other birds try to get in the bird bath with them, Romeo makes a bold noisy gesture with wings outstretched and a severe yawping squawk. Juliet sits nervously, flapping her wings up and down like a woman in a restaurant who has a husband who is prone to complain about the service. Yet, when he scares the other bird away and comes back to sit with her, she nuzzles against him, smoothing his feathers with her beak.

Juliet is a leucistic cardinal and thus, what we would refer to in human speak as unattractive, although I think she is lovely. When I looked up her strange markings, I discovered that leucistic cardinals are considered a poor choice to mate with for their male counterparts, that their white heads make them easier targets for predators and that it is not uncommon for other birds of their flock to shun them, pick on them.

This is what a leucistic cardinal looks like:

So, I love it that Juliet has not only found a mate, but one who is so obviously besotted with her. I smile at their antics as I watch them out of our kitchen window. They are never far from each other and Romeo, in particular, watches her carefully and sweetly, often sings to her in that incredibly gorgeous cardinal song that cannot be duplicated anywhere.

They live in our front yard but bathe in our back yard. Juliet never seems to get her own food. Romeo brings her delectable worms (he is almost in a frenzy of presentment to her on rainy days) and she daintily accepts his offerings. They've lived in our yard since Liv was in elementary school and I have yet to see her pregnant. Perhaps she is unable to produce offspring. But no matter....her Romeo seems to love her as is. And for that, he has my permanent respect.

I feel as if I have learned much about love during my life. I had an adoring father until he died when I was barely 9. My mother was a pillar of stoic strength but a poor source of unconditional love. Being a staunch Catholic, she disowned me when I came out to her at age 24, informing my sisters that if they so much as spoke to me, she would disown them, too. All of my sisters obeyed her, with the exception of Celia, who wrote faithfully to me every month, refusing to let me go, but begging me to keep her letters a secret. I did.

After my mother died of breast cancer when I was in my 30's, my other sisters drifted back. Jessie first, within 6 months and tearful with remorse at her cowardice. Our eldest sister, Patrice, waited 3 years. She says now that she felt it disrespectful to our mother to come back to me, but eventually realized her error. Bing is still disdainful that I let my sisters back into my life, but I am not. I never banished them from my life in the first place and was happy to let them in again. And I always felt that by holding a grudge, well....didn't that make me more like my mother? It has been difficult in many ways for me to be back in my family's arms. They are all very conservative Republicans and still staunch Catholics and that has made for some interesting dinner conversations. But, my sisters are a deep part of my past and a comfort to me in many ways. And I believe that by knowing me, they are capable of change. Patrice signed my marriage certificate as a witness when Bing and I married. I believe that I have changed their minds in many ways.

I also want my daughter to know her aunts and her cousins. You can never have too much love in your life. By denying them entrance into my life, I would have been perpetuating my mother's insistence on only loving those who follow my life rules. And my life would be less joyful (but...okay, a lot easier in many ways....)

I look at Romeo and I see an example of unconditional love. He loves (in whatever way birds love and what do I know of that, really?) Juliet no matter her white head, their lack of children. And Juliet loves Romeo in spite of his zealot's nature.

Love is love. And in the end, it's all that really matters, yes?

Saturday, April 18, 2015


This is a close up of my new chest. Well, hopefully not forever. I am not pleased with all the swelling. My surgeon assures me that this looks "Wonderful!" for 2 weeks after surgery. And that the swelling will abate as time goes by.

Like I have marshmallows under my suture marks. So, I look sort of like I have a Pillsbury dough boy chest. Except without that insipid little laugh. And truthfully? My real boobs weren't all that much bigger than the messy blobs that are there now.

But...drains are out. I DID have to get some fluid extracted on the left side (70 cc's) but I still look...well, like someone whacked my boobs off. I'm hoping for just a fine crooked line across my chest soon.

Prepping myself to go back to work on Tuesday. I'm of two minds. Part of me is chomping at the bit. The other part of me is terrified. I took a shower by myself (no anxious Bing waiting as servant girl just outside, holding a towel and ready to help with nooks and crannies that are hard to reach) this morning and when I finished, I walked into our bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed, breathing hard. I felt winded and a little nauseated. I've lost almost 20 pounds in the last month, mostly because I just have so little interest in eating. The only thing that sounds good?


I have at least two a day.

And on many days, that has been my only sustenance. I know. I know. Not good. I sounds yucky to me for the most part. Even the smell of food can set my teeth on edge. Liv and Bing ate sushi a few days ago and I had to leave the room.

I am craving sweet things, which is not great for my diabetes. Last night, on the way to Liv's game, we stopped at a food truck (Taste of New Orleans.....YUM!) to get Bing a catfish sandwich and me....some peach bread pudding before the game. And that was my dinner. It was the only thing that sounded good and the smell of Bing's sandwich made me think of our trips to New Orleans and Lake Ponchartrain.

When we arrived home, after losing to our opponent, (their pitcher was the fattest young woman I have ever seen in my life. I kid you not. Her stomach hung nearly to her knees! But, she was a fast pitching south paw and those balls were like blurs. Our girls just could not hit them....) Bing and I watched an episode of The Vikings that we had missed while Liv headed out to see a movie with friends and to spend the night with one of them.

After our fix of Ragnar Lothbrok for me and Legartha Lothbrok for Bing, we headed upstairs for a shower and bed. I'm still in quite a bit of pain, so I did my rag doll imitation of lying flat on my back, arms crossed protectively across my chest like a pharaoh. I have no idea why I do this, except that it feels right to me, like I have to protect that poor demolished chest of mine. I looked over to see Bing, completely naked next to the bed. She carefully got in next to me, gently, gently, as always and leaned over me to shut off the bedside light. And then, one kiss. Another. More urgent. The next one, and on and on until covers were kicked away. Absurdly, I stayed in position, arms covering my scars. She gently pulled them away to place soft kisses on my quivering chest.

I admit that I was scared. Scared that she would inadvertently hurt me, my scars. Even my arms and arm pits are so sore, so absurdly swollen. But, she was gentle, yet persevering. I relaxed when she moved to my legs and then little by little, gave in to the sweet need. After my climax, I weakly attempted to reciprocate, but Bing pushed my hands away.

"No," she said, tenderly. "I know how badly it hurts you to move your arms too much. I just wanted you to know that you are still so attractive to me, Maria. Was it okay? I didn't hurt you, did I? I never want to hurt you. EVER."

I reassured her that I was fine. Admitted that I didn't think that I really had the stamina to reciprocate just yet, so thank you. And then I fell into an exhausted sleep.

One baby step at a time. But, a lesson learned. This is, hands down...the WORST I have looked in my life. Swollen, aching, scarred.

But, life is going on. In another month, maybe some of the swelling will go down and my arms and shoulders will have more range of motion.

But, practical mind interrupts, I may be on chemo and have no hair. Having cancer strips you right down to your basics. And I guess it is something that my wife loves my basics.

She tells me: I've always loved the way you were put together, body, mind, blood, heart, and soul. Out of all these things, the body was the least important to me.

She shrugs when she says it, but I look at her intently and believe that she means it.

Posting that picture is one of the hardest things I have ever done. But, it is imperative to me that you see the process. It is imperative to all of us with scars. I'll post another when the swelling goes down and I look and feel more like myself. Believe me, just having no drains feels like a picnic.

And, since I have no other choice....I will fucking LEARN from this experience. Educate myself. I tell myself that this is perfect karma for someone like me. For many years I lived in a world that came to me because of my looks. Now, I am older and I am scarred. That world will come to me because of my spirit.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

First outing

Last weekend, we went to see Liv play her first softball game. She is not as ambitious this year. Her coach is urging her to pitch again, but she is dubious. She well remembers her swelled rotator cuff from last year and is not wanting to go through that again. So, she demurred and he grudgingly put her at shortstop, where she is thriving. The first action she saw was a fly ball which she caught neatly and then got a runner out on second as well.

Bing and I cheered. I heard a few male voices behind me cheering. Go, go, Liv! Go, Liv! Atta girl!" and I turned around to see to see three boys, only one of whom was familiar to me. I swan, those boys just keep on coming, and coming....

But, that's okay, for now. Liv shows only a small interest. In fact, I've been a little worried about her since my surgery. She has kept closer to home than usual, often turning down offers from friends and laying around watching movies with Bing and me at night. (The last one was The King of Scotland, one I can say I thoroughly enjoyed....) I keep telling her that she can go out with her friends, it is FINE, but she seems gung ho about staying home.

That fucking drain is still in. It just will NOT get down past 45 cc's and my doctor doesn't want me to go back to work with a drain. I have been in agreement with him, not because of the drain, but because of my fatigue. I seem to tire so easily. After Liv's game on Sunday afternoon, I went home to bed and stayed there. I can't imagine putting in a day of work, so will go in to see my surgeon again on Friday and hope to get it out then and plan to go back to work on the 21st and then meet with the oncologist the afternoon of the 22nd. And then? God, I wish I had a magic mirror to look into. My Sister says that chemo almost killed her, that she was sick as a dog the entire 3 months that she was on it. Another friend tells me that she was only sick for the day of her treatment and the day after every time. Still another tells me that she had no problems, just a slight feeling of tiredness. I want to be that last one......

But, being out in the sunshine on Sunday afternoon was bliss. Watching Liv leaping in the air for those fly balls and covering both second and third base like a demon was balm to me. I so adore watching her play. I sat with the sun on my face, my sweater wrapped around me tightly, smiling through the fence at my girl.

Bing is wrapping up her last teaching days. She says that she feels strangely aloof, is distancing herself already. "I don't want to be one of those teary teachers who cry when they leave," she says. "I made the decision to be done with it and I'm sticking to it. Now, I just have to find some new swanky job that has partner health benefits and a big fat salary to go with my pension and then I like to think of you safe and sound at home, puttering in the garden, healing."

I still don't answer when she goes there. Not ready to slide into retirement just yet. I would settle for being able to raise my right arm up now. My left arm is almost back to normal, my right arm is being stubborn, Which brings me back to that drain, which is on the right side, it just does not want to cooperate. I'm used to my body refusing to obey my wishes. But, I am angry at it. A friend tells me that I must stop this sort of thinking, that I must embrace and honor my right side and treat it with tenderness and gentleness. But no, that isn't me. Instead, I am huffing at it, angry when I feel the heaviness of the drain, knowing that, once again, I have not reached my goal.

I am a foot stomper from way back. I like getting my way and rebel when I don't. 

Socks, in the meantime, is in dog heaven. Attention paid ALL DAY LONG. Long, drowsy naps together in the afternoons. When I go back to work, he is going to be depressed.

I look out at my tilled garden, waiting for my seedlings in the basement. It won't be happening for another few weeks, but it is my wish to be a part of the planting. Socks and I go out to check the soil every day and it is in good shape; dark and loamy. No clumps. Ready to be useful. It is the way that I long to feel. Ready to be useful. Right now, I feel in limbo. One foot ready to go, the other longing for bed and a good, long nap.

I make a poor invalid. I hate being waited on, hate Bing waiting anxiously as I step out of the shower, towel in hand, ready to help me dry off. But, even as I hate this dependence, I am grateful that she is there. I still can't reach to dry off my legs, my backside. I tell myself to be grateful that I am able to wash myself. That was a huge step for me. Now, if I can just shower without that blasted drain hanging off of me, stuck to a lanyard. Friends and family who have had breast cancer assure me that this was a turning point for them, that release from the drain(s).

I am an impatient person. The hardest part for me is in the middle of the night when I wake up to pee and start to swing my legs over the side of the bed and the sudden slice of pain in my armpit reminds me that I need to go slowly, slowly, slowly. And then when I stand and gravity sends shards of pain flying every which way until it all settles down and I limp off to the bathroom. During those 3 a.m. hours, I worry that I will never have myself back and admit that I cry silently as I slowly walk to the bathroom. Another part of me scolds myself. It has only been 2 weeks since my surgery. What? Do I think I am Wonder Woman? I am a 57 year old woman with RA. I am doing splendidly!

I wish I could feel that. But, instead, I rail against it, my fist up, angry at my slow progress.

I feel......stuck. And so, so dejected and ashamed of myself. I feel as if  I should do better. So, I turn my thoughts to Liv on that field, one arm behind her back, swaying gently back and forth, watching that softball, ready for whatever the hell comes her way. I will take my cue from her.

Ready for whatever. Ready for whatever. Ready for whatever.

Friday, April 10, 2015

She loves me....yah, yah, yah

I feel about as attractive as dog shit. Or any shit. Just shit.

And this is just the beginning. Feeling SO down because this final drain just refuses to stop. I have to get it down to 40 cc's per 24 hours and the closest I have come is 45. I feel as if this drain will be attached to me forever. And my doctor doesn't want me going back to work until all of my drains are out, so....tapping my foot, looking down at that blasted drain. Scowling. What gives? Just STOP draining, will ya?

"You know, Ms. Lastname," the nurse told me, her blonde curls bobbing up and down, "Your drainage is not bad looking! Most I've seen are full of big blood clots with lots of yellowish pus looking in them. Your output looks like....Hawaiian Punch!"

Well, bloody nice of you to think so. But, I need this sucker to stop.

Because.....and this is so embarrassing....I can't empty my own drains. Well, that may not be completely true. If I were all alone on the Alaskan tundra, I suppose I would just flatly buck up and do it, but because I have back up in Bing, I have the luxury of not having to empty them.

They nauseate me. I lift up my shirt occasionally to see if my drain (I call it my grenade because it looks like one) is getting full and then when I see that light pink fluid, I hastily pull my shirt back down. Bing empties it before school, after school and at bedtime. And I avert my head. Once, when Bing had a meeting that ran late, I tried to do it myself and kept gagging and finally Liv stepped in and pushed my hands away.

"Mama, let me do it." And she did. Not flinching once. I stood there, cheeks flushing with deep shame while my 15 year old daughter emptied my drain and expertly stripped the line and then tucked everything back.

I can't tell you what it feels like to not have breasts because all I really feel right now is numbness and a deep tightness across my chest. And a crooked line, like a child trying to draw a straight line. I'm jealous of my little sister's chest scars from her mastectomy.

"Mine was wavy like yours at first," she says. "And then it sort of settles down. You'll see."

I am completely numb all down my arm to my elbow. My surgeon says that this is normal as well. That he had to cut through nerves to reach my lymph nodes and that I will probably get the feeling back.

Nope, says my sister. She has had a numbness in her chest and her armpit from day one that has never gone away. But, everyone is different.

I am regaining my strength. Our nurse from my office came to visit over her lunch hour yesterday, bringing me a flat white and a beautiful bracelet. After she left, I fell asleep on the sofa in a deep stupor, as if I had just gone on a ten mile hike. I am not pleased with my lack of stamina. How will I go back to work if I am so wiped out by THIS? From what I hear, this is the easy part. The chemo is the hard part.

Bing is retiring from teaching this year and interviewing at different jobs. The one she wants is with a company whose starting salary for her would be 130,000$ per year. This is nearly twice as much as she makes after 25 years teaching high school. But, she tells me that if she gets this job, she wants me to retire.

I stare at her, eyes wide. "I'm only 57!" I sputter.

"You have RA, Meniere's and pre-lupus," she retorts, quietly. "And after your Viking genes take on cancer's second attack, you will be a two time cancer survivor. You will need a long rest to regain your strength."

I feel my spine stiffen. "I will work until I can't," I say, my voice hard. "Just watch me."

Bing sighs. "Only you would see this as a dismissive remark," she says. "Most women would think it lovely to be able to retire at 57 and have their spouse pick up the slack."

I don't answer. Can't answer. Working defines me. It always has. I can't see myself as a lady of leisure, spending my days tucked up with books, gardening, lunching with friends, volunteering. I want to be productive. Useful.

"You have FIVE books that you've written but never tried to publish!" Bing says. "Why not go back and spruce them up, get them published if you can?"

I think about this. And discover something. As much as I love writing, I am not a true writer. Writing, for me, is not something I do to earn money or seek an audience. Writing is something that I do for myself because I have to. It's like water in me that has to find a channel out. And I write this blog for Liv, to have a piece of me when I'm not here anymore, so that she can know how deeply she was loved. Coming from a Mother who loved conditionally, it is of very big importance to me that Liv know that, although she was a surprise, she was the BEST thing that ever happened to me. No, writing is just a part that defines me. Helping my patients with autism? That is what fulfills me, feeds me, makes me get out of bed each day. Who'da figured? I see myself more as an Emily Dickinson, tucking little bits and pieces of myself into this blog, my journals, the backs of envelopes that end up in my sock drawer. Well, except that no one is going to find these after my death and publish them and make me famous. They aren't as good as Emily's, just as heartfelt and a window to my soul.

So, here I am, dudes. Waking up to Bing gently prodding me to sit up and get my drain emptied every morning. And spending my days sitting outside reading while Socks frolics in the back yard, unbelieving of his luck at not being cooped up alone in the house all day. I slurp on blood orange popsicles and eat yogurt or oatmeal. Read.

And then Bing comes home and tries to entice me to eat. She will literally make anything I want at this point because nothing sounds good to me anymore and pain does not make for a good appetite. And later, she will get in the shower with me and soap me up as if I am a toddler. There is nothing remotely sexual in her gentle cleansing of my hair, my legs, my ass, my vagina, my arms (which I can just barely lift despite hours of PT) and the hardest part for scarred chest. She is gentle, tender and calls me her love, her darling, her pet, her lovey dove, her baby doll. Still. I often find myself in tears and am grateful for the shower water to disguise them. I feel so ugly, so unattractive, so.....NOT ME.

I stupidly say this to her at night in bed. We've only just started sleeping together again. Before, it was just too painful for me so she slept in the guest room. Bing sits up, her silhouette dark against the wall.

"Is it because I haven't tried to make love to you?" she asks. "I still want to, you know. But, you are so fragile right now. I am terrified of hurting you. Plus, I've had this cold and I'm worried about you catching it from me....."

No, I tell her. I guess it's just me. I don't feel like a Viking Warrior Princess. I feel like a very old woman with an aching, scarred, empty chest and arms that can't reach up to hold her.

"I feel ugly," I choke out, embarrassed at how pathetic I sound. I always want to be her Lauren Bacall, her tough broad, sexy wife. Now, I feel like Edward Scissorhands.

I see her silhouette shake it's head. "You are SO NOT UGLY," she says, vehemently. "You are the strongest, bravest, most beautiful woman I have ever known. And your boobs had nothing whatsoever to do with that." She stops, sighs, turns on the soft light next to the bed.

I lay back, blinking at the light.

She turns to me, the covers falling off her shoulder, her fine breasts jutting out. "You wanna know the truth? Okay. You've pulled it out of me. It's your big toes. I have this.....fetish....for your big toes. We're good as long as you don't have to have them amputated. Because then, sorry, ladybug, I'm dropping you like a piece of sizzling chicken fat......."

This makes me laugh, as she planned. She shuts off the light and gently, gently, gently holds me. Kisses my lips, my ears, my neck and whispers in my ear that I'm beautiful, I'm smart, I'm funny and so, so interesting.

"I have never been bored one day of my life with you," she says and then she ducks under the covers. I wait, curious.

And feel her nip at my big toe and when I squeal, she comes back up and says, "Seriously, though, protect those big toes, darlin'. Just sayin'"

The next day, as usual, she has left me a song to listen to, to remind me of her love.

I listen. Smile. Wonder how people go through this shit alone. Because I don't know that I could.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

How I got through week one....

I watched this THREE times. And all three times, I was reminded of why I wanted to kiss John Bender so badly, I would've done it in a second. I still love me a bad boy....

or girl....

Liv read this to me OUT LOUD. It is incredible to have someone read to you aloud. And this book made us both weep about the difference between a solid and a liquid goodbye....

Waking up every morning to find a new song for me to listen to from Bing. This was my favorite:

No, you aren't dreaming. I found a Lee DeWyze song that I like. And it is exactly how I felt all during our college years. Wanting you, and dreaming of you someday wanting me back....and then...yes, the story begins.....XXOO Bing.

Dreaming Alone by Lee DeWyze

Sharing a house all day long with a dog who looks a lot like this black one.....

Socks, who is nearly 9 and very dignified, but in private....a bit of a nut. The best kind of dogs to know...and people.

And eating a lot of this...

On to week # 2.....

One drain down....

Am finally out of that torturing, tight corset giant ace bandage that wrapped around my chest for the last week. I honestly felt that I could barely breathe when it was on. I took it off to shower but then would start shivering violently and be glad to get it back on just for the warmth.

It's off. And one of my drains is gone. Still have the one on the right side in. It's still draining about 50 cc's a day and can't be done until it goes down to 40. But just having that ace bandage off is like freedom.

The doctor says I am healing well. So, all the staples came out too. 

When the last drain comes out, I will post a picture of my battle scars. I am one bruisey mess. And when I look down, I still sort of gag. But...tonight Bing is taking off the hand held showerhead in the shower and putting on our old wide one that feels like a rain shower.

I feel more human every day.

My goal is to return to work a week from today. And to make it to Liv's first soft ball game on Saturday.

A week ago, my goal was to get through the day without puking. So...progress.

And the PT says that it is FINE to sleep all afternoon. That naps are therapeutic. I'd been feeling so guilty about that. Just Socks and me, snoozing away the afternoons.

I have clearance to DRIVE now!!! But Bing says no. That my arm mobility is not yet good enough, in her opinion. 

But, that WILL be me you see driving to work a week from today.

And then....well...chemo.

But, that's another battle for another day.

This one is nearly won.......