Sunday, February 28, 2010

Where's a brick I can put on her head?!

This kid of mine, she's getting SO big. For some time now, she's been really wanting to go in the "Justice" store that's in the same shopping center as the PetSmart and Which Wich we frequent. But she's just a tad too little for their smallest size (6), and so we've really never shopped in there. Until today.

We went and got her hair trimmed at the Cool Cuts for Kids next door to this joint, and after her cut, she pleaded and PLEADED to go in and look around. We went straight back to the sale racks, and she zoned in on this little hoodie that was on sale for 1/2 price. (Hey, if it's got sparkle on it, I can assure you this girl will find it and want it.) I have to admit, it IS pretty cute. And on the back, in sparkle letters it says, "Peace/Love/Smile".

As soon as we got home, she put it on and assured me she'd be wearing it to school "every day this week". She then quickly asked, "Do I look like a teenager?"

Not yet, little one. Thankfully, not yet.

Friday, February 26, 2010

In the interest of full disclosure:

Yes, I am scared. Terrified, in fact. And worried.

I don't want to go through with this surgery, but know that I must.

I don't want to be in the hospital at all--even if for a short stay, but know that I will.

I don't want to go through the post-surgical hypothyroidism caused by the period between when I will have no TSH running through my system and when I'll be able to start taking the synthetic TSH and get it adjusted to a point where I can have some semblance of normalcy. Wondering what some of the things that happen when you have hypothyroidism? I was too, so I looked it up. Check out this barrel of laughs:

Gaining weight inappropriately
Inability to lose weight with diet/exercise
Constipation, sometimes severe
Hypothermia/low body temperature (Feel cold when others feel hot, need extra sweaters, etc.)
Fatigue, exhaustion
Feeling run down, sluggish, lethargic
Hair becomes coarse and dry, breaking, brittle, falling out
Skin becomes coarse, dry, scaly, and thick
Hoarse or gravely voice
Puffiness and swelling around the eyes and face
Pains, aches in joints, hands and feet
Carpal-tunnel syndrome
Feeling depressed
Feeling restless
Moods change easily
Feelings of worthlessness
Difficulty concentrating
More feelings of sadness
Loss of interest in normal daily activities

Oh, and here are some additional symptoms that tend to come along with hypothyroidism:

No sex drive (Really? But I feel so puffy, fatigued, and severely constipated! That TOTALLY puts me in the mood usually.)
More frequent infections, that last longer
More snoring 
Sleep apnea
Shortness of breath and tightness in the chest
Feeling the need to yawn to get oxygen
Eyes feel gritty and dry
Eyes feel sensitive to light
Jumpy eyes/tics in eyes, which may cause dizziness/vertigo and headaches
Tinnitus (ringing in ears)
Recurrent sinus infections
Some lightheadedness

Whee! This is gonna be great. Just great.

I'm afraid that this cancer may have already spread to lymph nodes and beyond.

I'm afraid of what the post-surgical pathology will show.

I'm afraid of something happening that will affect my vocal cords. (I fucking LOVE to talk my head off and laugh loudly and sing at the top of my lungs, and if anything permanently hinders my ability to do that, I seriously don't know what I will do.)

I hate having to rely on others to take care of me, even if for a short period of time.

I haven't figured out how to discuss what's going on with The Geej, and I don't want her to see my fear when I DO talk to her about this.

I feel guilty for having these fears and doubts at all when I know people who have gone through--and ARE going through--much more serious health issues than what I'm dealing with.

But I'm having them. I must be honest with myself about all of this. I need a good, long, doubled-over sobbing bawlfest. And maybe a martini or three. And I need lots, and lots, and LOTS of positive, healing thoughts and energy sent my way.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"The Rainbow Connection" is the long, cold hand of DEATH!!

I haven't watched "The Muppet Movie" in a bazillion years, but I purchased the DVD recently thinking that The Geej would probably dig it. So yesterday, when she was home from school with hives and a fever (turns out she's actually pretty allergic to the --icillin class of antibiotics; she's doing better now), I popped in the movie and settled in to watch it with her. The thing that struck me most was how OLD I felt when I realized that almost every celebrity that appeared in this movie is now six feet under:

Jim Henson
Edgar Bergen
Milton Berle
James Coburn
Dom DeLuise
Bob Hope
Madeline Khan
Richard Pryor
Telly Savalas
Orson Welles

Crazy, no? Alls I'm saying is that Steve Martin (who plays the cranky waiter) better be having regular check-ups.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Let's DO this!

Today when my doctor's nurse called to discuss scheduling my surgery, I almost felt like I was asking for a table at a busy restaurant: "I'll take first available." So, the surgery will be happening on 3/5. My pre-op consult will be happening this Friday. Good. I want to get this shit done and done, you know?

In other news, if you know anyone else besides me who lives in Austin, then surely you've heard that IT SNOWED today! Really! But it was a perfect snow--lovely to watch fall from the sky, but not enough to mess with travel and traffic. The Geej got to enjoy it at school when her entire class went out in it and had a snowflake-catching-on-your-tongue-a-thon.

Speaking of The Geej, this morning she woke up with a rash over most of her body, but little itching and no fever. I looked up what was going on (thank you, interwebs) and according to the University of Michigan Children's Hospital website, it is "antibiotic rash", which sounded pretty innocuous. (She's been on Amoxicillin since last Tuesday.) But after dosing her with Benydryl and calling her doctor's office (which was closed due to "inclement weather"), it was only getting worse. Tonight I also added some cortizone cream to the mix. At bed time, she was still COVERED in red, raised bump, from her face to her ankles, and beginning to run a low-grade fever. I'll be calling her doctor again first thing in the morning. Have any of y'all ever dealt with this? I'm starting to freak out a bit...

Monday, February 22, 2010

N-word = C-word

Got the news late this afternoon: this is my diagnosis. Doctor wants to remove the whole thyroid due to the other little n-words hanging out along with the largest n-word. Surgery will probably be scheduled within the next two weeks. After it is removed, my care will be handed over to an endocrinologist who will put me on synthetic hormones for the rest of my life.

I'm not afraid of the cancer. It's super treatable and my prognosis is excellent. I am, however afraid of the utter depletion of my paid time off account (into which I am due to receive a nice disbursement on my 3/5 paycheck, but it'll be mostly wiped out because of my surgery and recuperation time). And I'm also pretty fucking terrified--phobic, actually--of being in the hospital and getting a post-surgical infection. Been there, done that. Every time I think about actually having to go in there and under the knife, I can feel my blood pressure rise and my ears start to burn and ring like I'm going to pass out. As a matter of fact, I'm going to quit typing about it.

So, yeah. I've got some major schedule adjustment to do in the coming weeks in order to figure out when all this shiz is going to go down.

All I can say right now, is thank God I had vertigo bad enough to send me to the ENT. Otherwise, who knows when (or if) this thing would've been caught.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Handsome Devil's Aftermath

You see that guy down center, front? The one in the kick-ass shirt? That's my dad, Christmas, 1971 (I think). Behind him in the tan shirt is my mom's dad. To his left in the blue shirt, my mom's youngest brother (my uncle) Richard (more on him in a future post). And to my dad's right, in the Elvis Costello specs, my uncle-by-marriage (at the time), "Cash" Cashen.

I have a gagillion photos. However, one subject I have very few photos of is my father. So imagine my surprise when I saw this very good shot of him yesterday. Long story, but my aunt brought it to a family function, and whammy, there he was in all his early 70s youth and handsomeness, grinning like the Cheshire cat at me from this snapshot. I was taken aback, to say the least. Plus, there's no moustache! My dad was KING of rocking the "Smokey and the Bandit" 'stache both long before Burt had even considered facial hair of any kind and way WAY after the whole mid-70s moustache craze had faded. So seeing him so youthful and thin and clean shaven is, well, odd. But at the same time, this photo is SO him. It perfectly captures his devilish charm. I can see the wicked glint in his dark eyes. I can also see my nose and my browline and forehead when I look at him. And my very, VERY large ears.

Looking at this photo, I can understand how my mom would've been taken in by him. I can almost understand why, when she was only 17, she thought that marrying him was a good idea. And I can see that mysterious, hard-to-like guy who intrigued me--his only child--and pissed me off so much at the same time. And oh my God, the thing this unexpected wonderful rare picture makes me do the most is miss him so very, very much.

For those of you reading this who have never lost a parent, I'd like to ask a few things of you:

  • Please forgive them for being so frustratingly like you--and at the same time--so freakin' different that it is absolutely maddening.

  • Forgive them for the times when they were younger than you are now, and didn't really know what the fuck they'd gotten themselves into by having kids and, as a result, made some pretty stupid decisions.

  • Forgive them for the fact that they were human and dealing with serious adult stuff that you, unfortunately, had to bear the brunt of as a kid.

  • Appreciate them for the sacrifices they made for you then that you can only fully appreciate now.
  • Understand that they are deeply proud of you and love you, even if they rarely show you or tell you.

  • Appreciate every hug, kiss, phone call, e-mail and card you get from them. Because there will be one day in the future when you desperately want to speak with them, and it will punch you in the gut because you remember how long it has been since you last heard their eternally-familiar voice.

  • Think about the kind of person you want your kids to remember you being. THAT is your legacy. Not the bullshit material crap you leave behind, but who you show them you are.

    • What matters to you?

    • What makes you happiest? Most pissed?

    • What's worth fighting for?

    • What brings tears to your eyes?

    • What music and foods do you love? 

    • Where is the most beautiful place you've ever been?

    • What is the thing you most wish you'd done (that you haven't)?

    • What's the thing you've done that you're proudest of?
THAT is your legacy! These are the memories that they will carry with them and share with their children and others whose lives they touch. When your kids don't know these things about you, then you've left them nothing.

Trust me.

Friday, February 19, 2010

I wonder what they're looking at.

It must be really interesting, right?
I mean, they're transfixed! It's got to be something super fascinating.

They seriously can't seem to get enough of whatever it is they're looking at!

Oh. It's a leopard gecko with its chin on its log.
Which reminds me: Did you know that the brain of a domestic feline is roughly the size of a prune?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The amazing disappearing week.

Seriously? It's 11pm Thursday night?! How the hell did THAT happen?

Oh yeah, I know: I've been home with The Geej almost all week because she was diagnosed with strep on Tuesday after feeling punky and feverish on Sunday and Monday. To say that trying to work from home while a stir-crazy 5 yr. old is battling cabin fever (both figurative and literal) is an exercise in futility is a massive understatement. I DID get a wee bit of work done, but am feeling quite disconnected and behind at the moment. Luckily, she's been fever free since this morning, so as God is my witness, she WILL be going to school tomorrow.

Yesterday I had my biopsy on the thyroid n-word. They offer no sedation for this procedure, oddly, so thank God I had a few spare Xanax floating around to help me through my hospitalphobia and get me in the door. The procedure itself wasn't too horrible, aside from the 2 lydicaine (sp?) shots in the neck. It was just weird and uncomfortable. They ended up taking five or six samples (I lost count), and I should know something by the middle of next week.

One thing I KNOW I have for sure: Olympic fever. BIG time! I didn't even really care about the Olympics before they started, and I got sucked in by--of all things--speed skating short track. So now, you will find me on any given evening watching whatever weird-ass sport they happen to be featuring on NBC. Plus, I'm a sucker for all the human drama stuff and music montages. Can't help it, people.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Is that a nodule on your thyroid, or are you just happy to see me?

So remember back when I told y'all about my whole "rocks in my head" episode, and mentioned that they'd found a "nodule" in/on my thyroid? (Note: "Nodule" is now one of my most unfavorite words. Right up there with "moist", "nipple" and "bulbous".) Well the ultrasound showed that I had not one, but four n-words in my thyroid, and one of them is "dense" and rather large (about an inch). So next week, I'll have a biopsy on the biggest of the n-words and see if it's malignant and needs to be yanked out (along with its smaller n-word buddies), or if it's benign and can sort of hang out and be monitored for growth. Maybe, if I'm lucky, I'll end up with a world class goiter on my neck. How sexxxy would THAT be?

In other non-nodular news, I'm very excited because I sent my application and writing portfolio in to a writing conference that, should I be accepted, would take place in the middle of Tennessee over, get this, THIRTEEN DAYS this summer. Holy SHIT, y'all. THIRTEEN DAYS of being able to focus on my creative brain and write while residing on a college campus. Seriously?! I would rather do that than spend a week on a beach in Hawaii. Yes, I'm serious. Would it be expensive and ridiculous to juggle logistically? YES. Do I fucking deserve it and need it? Oh HELL to the yes.

So cross your fingers and think good thoughts, because this is going to happen.

Something else I'm kind of proud of? I'd been noticing that there was/is a shameful dearth of support for mentoring and moving women into upper leadership positions within my company. So instead of just stewing about it, I reached out to a woman with a long tenure, who is in a highly respected leadership position and sat down and said, "What do we do about this?" And she encouraged me to establish a women-in-leadership group to meet regularly and share ideas, challenges, and network. Well, I did it, and the first meeting is scheduled for the end of this month. We're starting small, and hoping that it'll grow. I hope something good comes out of it. However, whenever women get together behind closed doors to talk about anything, men tend to get nervous. I'm convinced that's one of the reasons that the Salem witch trials happened at all: Men were freaked out because there were women meeting and talking without them, so you know, of course they must be witches. It's a theory...

Alright, I'm off to watch the sexiest silver fox Canada has ever produced: Mantracker. More soon.

Saturday, February 06, 2010


Photos from the end of the world/the AISD HQ parking garage last night.

People brought cots and tents. People got cozy.

I managed to stay pretty warm, and eventually slept for a couple of hours in my sleeping bag on the ground.

There were some pretty epic snorers. There were people there with their kids. One (single) mom was there with her 4 kids, including a toddler and a baby.

And there were people who talked. All. Night.

My line neighbors were nice/non-annoying people.

And after 14 hours of waiting, when they finally opened up the doors and started taking the forms, the whole "transaction" took a grand total of 15 seconds. I ended up being the 75th form they took. There were 11 people in front of me going for the same elementary school I want The Geej in, but I'm hoping and praying they were all going for the kindergarten slots. I won't know anything about whether or not the transfer was accepted until late March at the earliest. In th meantime, we'll try and come up with a Plan B.

I've got some thoughts on how they could make this process better, and I'll be sending those to the AISD school board, because this process? Sucks.

Friday, February 05, 2010

My funny kid

It's been raining here. A lot. Which is a good thing because our lakes, rivers, and aquifers badly need this rain. However, when you're five, this much rain over this many days kind of sucks.

One upside? Movies at school. At least during after care. Yesterday when I picked up The Geej, they'd just finished watching "101 Dalmations". She'd never seen it and assumed I hadn't either, so on the way home, she gave me the scene-by-scene breakdown of the movie, all from The Geej perspective, naturally.

When she was finally done, I said to her, "Wow! You really paid attention to that movie." To which she responded: "I had a staring contest with it. And I won."

That kid, she keeeeeeels me!

Which brings me to the next part of my post--The Great AISD School Transfer Campout, 2010!

Remember how when you were little, you just went to either this school or that one, and either way, everything was groovy. Well, that's not the case in the good ol' Austin Independent School District. Some schools are WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY better off in terms of facilities, staff, programs, academics, etc. than others. And, until recently, our address tracked to an elementary school that, while not the very best one in the city, was pretty darn good. But The Powers that Be recently changed the school boundaries, and our little neighborhood got carved out and re-tracked to an elementary school that is--at least on paper--pretty crummy.

So, what's a mommy to do, right?

Well, you put in for a transfer to another school. One that has the things you want for your child. One where you'll feel comfortable with her spending the bulk of her waking time during the week. One where she'll learn and flourish and be happy. Sounds easy enough, right?


First you figure out what schools fit that bill that a) aren't already closed to transfers due to overcrowding, b) aren't 20 miles out of the way of either work or home. Then you schedule tours of those schools to see if you can visualize your little angel in those hallways, those classrooms. Then you agonize over which one is more likely to have a spot for her in their first grade class(es). Then you fill out a transfer form for that school (and only that school, because there isn't a way to put an alternate selection on the form; Once you fill this sucker out, you're all freakin' in).

And then the fun REALLY starts!

The AISD Admin offices begin accepting transfer forms at 7am on Saturday, February 6th. The transfer forms, and therefore your chance for consideration, are accepted in the order received. So you, and all of the other freaked out parents who have gone through all of the steps listed above start congregating on the afternoon/evening of Friday, February 5th on the sidewalk outside of the AISD offices. You bring your camp chair, a blanket, something to snack on and drink. A book. A flashlight. Your cellphone. Maybe your laptop. Your iPod. Anything you might need to help pass the hours ahead of you as you camp out on the sidewalk to assure your place in line and, therefore, hopefully end up on the top of the stack of transfers into your school of choice.

At 7am, they open the doors to the office, and you file in. You hand the AISD employee your completed form. They time stamp it, and you leave. Then, sometime in March, you'll be notified whether or not your transfer request has been granted.

In the meantime, you try and figure out your Plan B. Right now, I have no Plan B. Right now, I'm a pure ball of stress about this whole situation. Right now all I can think about is how fucked up this all is. Every kid at every school should have equal access to quality education and an enviroment conducive to learning. But that's not reality. Reality is camping out on a sidewalk in February in the hopes that your child has a shot at something they deserve and your tax dollars pay for.

Reality bites.