Thursday, July 31, 2014

Challenges in Dressing

It became obvious to me the day I left the hospital that the clothes I normally wear were not going to work with my new belly bag.  In all of the literature that I was given, I am led to believe that an ostomy bag is not going to change my life.  It assures me that I can still do the same things, wear the same clothes.  They make it sound like it will be easy, but in reality, like so many things it is not.

One can not wear tight clothing that will restrict the functioning of the stoma. Clothing must be flexible, and elastic.  It needs to come up over the bag, or under where it is attached.  Neither of these waistbands describes what I would normally wear.  In all of my wardrobe, I have one pair of jeans that is low enough for me to wear.  These are my Lucky Brand low rise jeans which I only wear on dressy occasions. They were on a super sale at the Wrentham Outlet and they are my favorite jeans.  I would never have thought I would wear them for everyday, but they are now the only practical for getting down and dirty pants I own.  There is little in my wardrobe that covers, let alone hides an ostomy bag. 

Shortly after I came home from the hospital, Kaileigh realized I would need different pants.  She suggested yoga pants, and helpfully went out in search of some at Target.  She also found me a loose, high waisted dress from the maternity department.  These clothes are comfortable, and do what I need them to do, which is hide the odd shaped protrusion on my belly without restricting my stoma function.

A few days later, my friend Julie surprised me with a few dresses.  She had been at the mall and picked a few up for me.  They were a little wild for my taste, if I had been in the store, I don't think I would have given any of them a second glance.   The day after she delivered them, I slipped on the sleeveless scoop neck that has brightly colored ovals with a mosaic look to them.  I have to say, this is an amazing dress.  It fits in all the right places and the wild design hides my lumpiness.  It is so comfortable and stylish, I get compliments on it all the time.  I wear black leggings under it to keep my legs warm, and a red bolero to keep my shoulders warm. It has become my favorite piece of clothing.

There is another dress with bright red and blue flowers and a handkerchief style hem. I never worry about people noticing my strange shape when I am wearing this dress.  The design is so bright and wild, you wouldn't even notice.  One day a woman told me I was very glamorous when I was wearing this dress.  This word would not have come up with my old wardrobe.

The final dress was in colors I rarely wear, black and white.  I think black is too serious a color, especially for people working around children. White is too hard to keep white.  The kids love this dress though.  The pattern of the black markings is so interesting, we have frequent discussions about what they look like.  As hard as I have been trying, I have to admit the dress is looking a little pink, but it still looks great.

Julie has since added a few more stunning additions to my dress collection.

After receiving all these great fitting pieces of clothing that Kaileigh and Julie have swept into stores and chosen for me, you would think finding clothes like this would be easy.  One trip to Target and I realized how lucky I am to have people in my life with this particular talent.

I went into the clothing department trying to have a critical eye, and keeping the details in mind that worked so well on clothing I already had.  It was like my own personal episode of What Not to Wear.  Unfortunately, I totally bombed on everything I chose.  I went into the dressing room with a pile of clothing and came out with nothing. 

This foray into the dressing room was also my first real look at how my body has changed in the last month.  The dressing room mirror is friend to no one, but it seemed particularly harsh today.  My legs are thin, which most women would not complain about, except that the butt they are attached to is also now thin and pretty much flat.  I suddenly realized why I need to sit on a pillow when I work at my computer.  No padding left there.

My belly is pulled out by the bag that is hanging from it, which looks so weird. My arms are thin and weak. And the fact that my bra can stand on its own is all that gives my upper half shape. There is very little boob left to fill that bra.

I know that these things are  silly to worry about, that people deal with body changes that are worse than mine every day.  There are people in more difficult situations than I am, for far more serious reasons.  There are people who regularly don't get enough to eat, never mind have friends who will find them clothing or a Target store they can drive to.  Somehow, I can't help getting hung up on this though.  Is it because it is something so easy to focus on and complain about?  I can't see what is happening inside of me, I can only hope that it is going to get better.  I can see what is outside, and I can choose to make it stronger, and I can cover it in clothing that makes it look vibrant and alive, even if I can't pick those clothes out myself.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Friday, June 27 2014 PET Scan Day

One more day, one more appointment.

Today is PET scan day at Rhode Island Hospital. The directions beforehand are very specific and bossy.  Eat high fiber, no sugar for twenty four hours.  No strenuous exercise either.  Drink plenty of fluids, but nothing sugary.  It contradicts my low residue diet for my colostomy, which says eat low fiber.  Following these guidelines is not all that difficult to do, remembering that you are supposed to be doing it is tricky.  Yesterday at 11:15 I ate and Oreo, and then remembered that I had eating restrictions.  All I could think was that I just messed up my test and would have to start over again.  This morning I ran around the house playing tag with a four year old. Is this strenuous exercise?

Steve is downtown filming some of my friends repelling off of the convention center for the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly which is in town this week.  I arrange to borrow my sisters car and head out to pick him up.  I grab my bag, which I have packed with paperwork, shawl, ostomy bags and supplies needed for changing it, phone and glasses.  Everything I might need.  I head out and get a few blocks from my house and realize I have left my handbag at home. This contains my insurance card, drivers license and money.  I turn back and run in to get it.  Of course I hit traffic, but still I manage to get Steven. park and get to the hospital on time.  Then, we get to wait. Not that I am in a hurry, and the number we are given is one, but then we listen to one of the three women at the registration desk taking a personal phone call. I wonder if they are all on break, or what we need to do is not their responsibility.

We get registered, and get sent to another room to wait in.  Finally a student nurse named Michael introduces himself to me and will take me to get ready for my PET scan.  I give Steven a kiss and off I go.

The room is bright, with three recliners and a large box that looks like a super sized cooler on wheels. A woman waits in one of the recliners near a large door. There is a counter with a sink and cabinets, and the ever present television.  I have seen portions of The Price is Right in three different locations in this hospital.

Michael asks me all kinds of questions, which after a few minutes I realize are to be sure I am the right patient.  When he asks me if I understand what my PET scan is about, I launch into a description of what I have read about in the paperwork I was given.  I quickly realize that I am not answering the question correctly.  The answer he was looking for was simple.  To take a look at my liver and my colon.

When we finish the question and answer session, he tells me about the radioactive dose I will be given.  It is injected into the vein in my arm. First he will give me saline, to test the line, and then a small amount of the radioactive material.  There is no irritation as it goes in, so he gives me a full dose. I now have to wait ninety minutes for it to spread throughout my body, so that that the cancer spots will show up when the scanner takes a photograph of my internal organs.  I also get to drink a special glucose drink, that is foamy and white, and seems to have more scent than flavor.  I drink it down as quickly as possible. For doing such a good job of getting the first cup down, I get to drink another.

Michael gives me the remote so I can control the television.  I turn it off and write in my notebook, enjoying the quiet.  Before too long, another patient comes in.  She has one of the regular nurses.  Everything she does is very straightforward, my interview was much more friendly and chatty.

I notice that when the nurse give the dose, she subtly backs away from the machine and hangs out at the edge of the counter.  I don't remember if Michael did that.

When the other woman is done becoming radioactive, I offer her the remote but she is uninterested. She says she may take a nap. I had heard her complain about the traffic getting here, so I ask her about it.  We end up chatting until it is my turn to go for my scan.

You are instructed to wear loose fitting, comfortable clothes with no metal to the scan. I think I have done well in choosing my clothes, sweat pants, a tee shirt, sports bra and a long sleeved shirt. It turns out there are two metal grommets in my sweat pants, so I need to push them down below my knees.

The PET scan machine is big.  It is like a donut on a stand, like the CT scan, but with a longer tunnel. To enter the machine, you lie on a shallow curved bed.  Your head and knees are elevated, with your arms over your head.  You go into the machine with your eyes closed, there is a flash of red from a laser as you enter.  You come back out, before you start to slowly go back in again.

It seems like having your arm over your head for fifteen or twenty minutes will not be too uncomfortable a position to be in, but after a few minutes my arm is achy.  The muscle in my arm feels like it is twisting the wrong way, so I decide to concentrate on it and relax it.

The machine moves a little, sits for a while and then moves again.  I open my eyes and see a speaker on the ceiling.  I watch it slowly disappear as I move into the machine.  I pretend that I am seeing the moon set.  I think about Steve, sitting and waiting for me in the other room.  Before I know it, I am done.

I leave by the door I came in, a big rolling lead door.  I say goodbye again to the woman I chatted with and Michael.  I tell him he is doing a great job and wish him luck with his schooling.

It is now one thirty, not an ideal time to go back to daycare.  Sara will still be putting the kids down for their naps, and I need lunch.  We decide to go to Panera.

I always hate getting in line to order at Panera.  It seems like it is time to order before I have even made up my mind.  None of the soups appeal to me today, and none of the sandwiches either.  There is a lobster roll poster that catches my eye, but it is kind of expensive.  I order it anyway, thinking somehow I have earned this extravagant lunch, by having a PET scan.  Steve gets chowder in a bread bowl.

I eat half of my lobster roll.  It has big chunks of lobster in it, but it tastes bitter to me. Steve tastes it and thinks it is fine.  I decide it must be my tongue, which has been raw and red lately. I try some of the chowder, and that is not appealing either. The potato chips are delicious though.

When we get back to our house around three, I go right upstairs for a nap.  No contact with children for radioactive cancergirl today.  I am pretty tired and sleep until five.

After the last child gets picked up, I go downstairs to see how things went today.  Everything was fine. I sit with my sister and we talk for about two hours, something we rarely do. We talk about my stuff, my PET scan, my bag, my schedule. We talk about our dad, our mom and our siblings. We have a good check in.  Something we might only do in snips and snaps over the course of the week.

She leaves, and I go upstairs to write.  As some point I realize I am hungry and think about going downstairs for dinner.  Finally I get up and do it. I find a piece of quiche, and a small cherry pie that Bretts daughter made for me this morning.  I warm them up and then pick at them.  I have let myself get too hungry and now I can't eat. I am annoyed at the rediculousness of this.

Steve is out covering events that are going on in the city for the UU General Assembly.
I go to sleep before he comes home, drifting off to the sound of music and laughter from some party in the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, I needed to drink extra fluids to get the radioactive residue out of my system.  This means getting up all night to pee.  Oh bother!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tattoo Wednesday

Today is a busy day. I start with getting ready for daycare. We are going to paint pictures of butterflies. I cut out squares of tissue paper that can be stuck on the wings to make them look interesting.

Sara has a dentist appointment at eight o'clock, and Allie is coming over at nine thirty so I can go to my nurse training session at the Miriam Hospital. Steve helps me out until Sara arrives, then Allie comes and we are ready to go.

We walk over to the hospital, which takes less than ten minutes.

The nurse training is very interesting. We meet with an oncology clinical social worker and a teaching nurse. They ask questions about everything, family, finances, interests, even sex life.

They educate both Steven and I about the treatment I am about to undergo, and make sure I understand what the side effects will be and who to call if I have any trouble. It is a lot of information, and at the end of the session, I am presented with a thick binder reviewing everything that is discussed and more.

We are told to go home, let all of this settle in our brains and later look at the binder. If we have any questions, or feel like we need support in some way, there are phone numbers of people to call. I am amazed at all of the information they have given me, at how organized this all is, and wonder how long it took to get all of this together in this way. I wonder how many people before me went without this kind of support, how many still do, and am grateful that I am able to benefit from the knowledge of so many people who have made it possible for this to be so understandable. I am not going into this in the dark, I have been told what will most likely happen and how to handle it. This is such a valuable gift I have been given.

While I am still at the hospital, they start my blood work and schedule me for a PET scan at Rhode Island Hospital for Friday morning.

A positron mission tomography scan, or PET scan, will allow the doctor to see exactly where the cancer is in my body. They will do the entire trunk of my body, because they are also concerned about something they could see in the CT scan in my lower left lung lobe. I will be injected with a radioactivepharmaceutical which will make it possible to photograph the cancer. After the PET scan, I will be radioactive, so no contact with children for me afterwards.

When I get home from the hospital I check to see if Allie can work for me on Friday. She can. Beautiful!

Steve makes us each a tuna fish sandwich and we eat together before I go to take a nap. Today I sleep only one hour again. This makes me happy. I need to go back to help Sara so Allie can go to her dentist appointment.

Ayla arrives, just as the last child is being picked up early. We are going to get our tattoos this evening. Chauncey and Julie come along for moral support.

Just as we are about to leave, my friend Brett appears at the door with a quiche and a salad for dinner and some flowers for my table. She is excited about my tattoo also, and wishes me good luck.

I have no tattoos, and have never been able to decide on where or what kind of a tattoo I might like. In my younger days, I never would have even entertained the thought of getting a tattoo. Today, I am completely confident in my choice. We decide it should go on my right arm, just above my wrist. This way I can see it when I am getting my treatments. It will remind me that I am strong, and that I will get though this obstacle that life has thrown my way.

The artist, Derek will copy the work that Kaileigh designed, and add a little shading to give it depth. We decide to keep it close to the color of the original, which Derek calls ochre. I love that the color has such an ancient name.

Derek chats as he works, he's a very friendly and good humored person. Julie and I grill him about how he came to be a tattoo artist. I think it is very funny that Julie and I are sitting here in a tattoo parlor. It is not a place you would picture the two of us together. I joke about being able to check this off of our bucket list because I don't think you would have found it on either of our lists.
While I am getting my arm done, Ayla is sitting and watching very quietly. I can tell she is a little nervous about this. She snaps a few photos while she waits. 
When it is done, it looks beautiful. I am so pleased with Derek's work.
Julie is in town for a convention that starts today, so I drive her back to Providence while Ayla's tattoo gets under way.

Ayla has decided to get the same tattoo in the same spot. I think this is so thoughtful and sweet. She says it is because deciding on which one and where to put it is too stressful. I still think it is sweet. We will be tattoo sisters.
I didn't think the process was too bad, Ayla disagrees. It hurts her. I feel bad. In less than an hour though, she is done. The shading and coloring is identical as possible. They look good.

It is late now, almost eight thirty. We have closed the tattoo parlor down. I am happy to get home and have a piece of the quiche that Brett brought over. It really hits the spot. That and a few Oreos!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Tuesday, June 24th

One of my children has a hard time separating from her Daddy today.  She had been away for a few weeks without him, so I could understand why she would have a hard time saying goodbye.  He doesn't want to upset her, but he needs to get to work.  He does everything that he can to try and gently separate, but it is not working.  I tell him when he needs to go, just say goodbye and leave.  She squeals with unhappiness as he leaves.  I scoop her up and snuggle in the rocking chair until she calms down, which is almost immediately.

Later, her mom texts me an apologizes, hoping I didn't hurt myself.  I feel badly that her mother is so upset.  "We are all fine," I text back.  And we are.  I admit that I am nervous about this bag hanging from me with the kids, but it is more about how I fit the child in my lap without landing them on my bag than anything else.  I try to put everyone on the right side of my body to keep things cozy and stink free.

We march to the playground.  For some of us, it is a long, slow march.  Eventually we get there, and the kids with me want to play super sized badminton.  The rackets and birdies are huge!  We play as well as any two and three year olds can play, some deciding that throwing the giant birdies is a great game too.

We head over to the empty water fountain after a while, to hang out and play.  A little boy we have met at the playground before rides his balance bike over to say hello.  His dad happens to be the artist who will be doing my tattoo tomorrow night.

The little boy shares his bike with us, and runs off to play on the slide.  All of my kids take very nice turns sharing the bike.  Sara and I don't even have to tell them to give the next person a turn.  I am so proud of them.

It is hot out today, and we have been waiting for the lemonade truck to come.  It is a special treat in the summer.  In past years the truck has always come around eleven thirty.  Then we would all get lemonade, and sit and eat it on the grass.  It spoils our hunger for lunch, but it is fun to sit together and share this summertime pleasure.

Unfortuately, the truck doesn't show today, but returning the balance bike, and the promise of a popsicle after lunch help to smooth our transition.

It is a super slow march home, it seems like we will never make it.  I call home to see if someone can come and help carry one of the two year olds so we can move a little faster.  Ayla is going to help so I can take a nap today, and she comes to the rescue.  She scoops up two little ones, so I don't have to carry anyone.  We make it home much more quickly.

After lunch, we get ready for nap time.  The way we do this is Sara will read stories and I will take the nappers one at a time, hold them and sing to them until they fall asleep.  This works most of the time.   I want to help today, just because two people working at getting kids down is twice as fast, and I need to gradually get used to holding their weight again. I have also discovered while playing a game of Hokey Pokey at the playground that my voice has become very weak from not singing for two weeks. Normally I sing for an hour to and hour and a half each day at nap time, but I haven't been singing at all lately. One more muscle that needs to be retoned.

I get two of the younger and lighter kids down very quickly.  Spending the morning at the playground usually makes things easier.  For my nap today I only need an hour.  This is a good sign.

I go back downstairs around four in time to say goodbye to most of the kids and their parents.

Since my daughter Kaileigh first started high school, I have been going to a knitting group at the First Unitarian Church of Providence.  It started out as a Parents of High Schoolers group, but only one other set of parents showed up each week with me.  It was Julie and David.  After a few weeks we were asked if we wanted to continue the group, and Julie and I decided we could have the same discussions at a knitting group.  We started getting together in the winter that year, maybe ten years ago, and have met most Tuesday nights, since.  Our group is always sometimes growing, sometimes shrinking and changing, and even though Julie has moved, we still get several knitters most weeks.

When the weather permits, I will ride my bike, walk or bus the three miles to church, but this night, I am taking a ride with Debbie.  She used to come regularly at one time, but life got busy and we haven't seen her too much lately.  I am so pleased to be riding in with her tonight.

As we arrive, so is Linda .  We settle in and someone who is at the church to meet with a different group wanders in.  It is Marcia, who has stopped in to check on me.  Knitting turns into a  cancer check in.  Every woman in the room has been affected by some kind of cancer.  All of these woman are slightly older than I am, and have survived their treatments and overcome their cancers.  What better inspiration could I have?  Sarah comes in.  She and I teach Sunday school together during the school year.  Her sister was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer that spread from her colon just over a year ago.  She is doing very well today.  Things seem much easier after talking to these wonderful women.

Alison has just come back from a trip to Yosemite Park, and has photographs to share.  Julie is still here from Colorado.  Everyone is knitting and catching up on the latest news. I am always curious about what people are working on, so I ask around the table.  It turns out they are working on an afghan for me!  I am touched and thrilled, since lately, I am cold all the time.

We wrap things up a little early, and I hope that I will be able to come next Tuesday, but am uncertain.   It is to be my first day of chemo.

As I lay in bed all washed and relaxed, I am craving Oreos again.  I grab four and a glass of milk. This time when I am done, I brush my teeth.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Monday, June 23, 2014

The answer to how gentle my email was comes early Monday morning.  One of my moms comes to drop off her child with tears in her eyes.  "I am so sorry Kathy," she says, and I realize I should have taken more time.

"It's all okay," I cheerfully tell her.  "Everything is going to be okay.  The success rate of my treatment is ninety percent."  I think to myself that I should have put that in the email.  In truth, I didn't know this number until late last night.  A friend had texted me and was wondering about my treatment.  When I checked the paper that Dr. Safran had written the notes on, it was right there.  It had never occurred to me to ask, since the doctor never indicated this was a dire situation as long as it was treated.

I told her it might not be easy, I may be nauseous and weak, but that I was going to do my best to get though this. My words and attitude cheered her.  I shouldn't have used the C word, I thought.

I made it through the early part of my day with no problem.  I cleaned, greeted all the children, helped with our craft, and went for a walk.  This is when I discovered how weak I had become.

On one of our walks, there is a tall fence that the children like to look over.  Usually, I can lift them up over my head so they can see what lies behind it.  Today it was not such a muscular feat as it was sheer will and lining bone up above bone. I realized that the tiredness I felt in my arms on Sunday was not from the position I had held them in, but because I have so little muscle tone left in my arms.  I went into the hospital, and my muscles disappeared.  I am stunned at how quickly this has happened. 

While making lunch, my visiting nurse comes, so Alex takes over and I go try to change my ostomy bag solo.  I try a different one, a two piece, and although I almost forget to put the adhisive on and spill the deoderant all over myself, I get kudos from Kim, who is my steady ostomy trainer.  I even get a good score on my solo Saturday change.

Of course after exerting all this energy I am hungry once again.  I go down to the kitchen to find a new loaf of olive bread!  Delighted at my good fortune, I slice off a few pieces and pour myself a glass of cranberry juice.  I have always loved cranberry juice, but did you know it can make your poop less odiforous?  I need all the help I can get there!

I later find out that Kaileigh had purchased two loaves of olive bread yesterday and hid one.  She instructed Alex to put it out for me after she left earlier this morning.

As I eat, I open some of the mail that was delivered. Information from Blue Cross.  What they will pay, what you may be billed. 

This is the first year that Steven and I have had insurance since he was laid off from working at Borders book store when they closed.  I was so glad that Obama Care passed, since upon turning 50 last year, I really felt I needed to get health insurance, it was just too unaffordable. As soon as we could, Steven and I signed up, getting the plan we could best afford.  The deductible was high, but it was better than nothing.  Somehow, this will all work out.

I had debated as I started to open this mail whether or not this was the best thing to do before napping.  Sometimes looking at bills gets me all stirred up, not relaxed. It turned out not to matter, I napped just fine.  After an hour and a half I woke up and debated going back downstairs.  It was almost three, I could work the rest of the day, but instead I decided to cancel the appointment for the doctor at the RWH cancer center.  I needed to find their phone number and started to make islands of paper on the bed.  Steve walked in and asked what I was doing.  He left the room and came back in less than a minute with the number I needed from their website.  Maybe I was procrastinating. 

I called and got a recording.  I pushed some buttons and left a message.  Appointment cancelled.  That was easy.

After that, I didn't feel like going back to work, and didn't go back downstairs until after all the kids were picked up.  Good thing I have understanding co-workers.

After dinner, Alex decides to come to the grocery store with me.  Steven reserves me a car, and picks it up for me. This is my first time driving in a few weeks. Alex jokes with me,"are you sure you can do it Mom?"  We make it to Stop and Shop with no problem.
We get everything we need and Alex loads all of the groceries into the car. When we get home, he unloads them all for me.  Once we put them all away, I am not so secretly wishing that Alex could return the zipcar for me. He doesn't have his license yet though, and although he knows how to drive, and is willing to bring the car back for me, I tell him I can't risk it.  I am not so secretly paranoid that zipcar can look in on who is driving their cars.  They can unlock and do some pretty interesting things at a long distance for your car, so looking in on you doesn't seem like it should be out of their range of cleverness.
The zipcar space is right beside CVS, and I have a twenty five percent off coupon.  I often miss out  on using them, so I suggest we stop in and get a discount.  I need waterproof tape for my new showering ritual, and the m&m's we use for cookies are cheapest at CVS.  Alex gets a pile of Cadbury fruit and nut bars for Filipa.  He is so sweet!

My arms are tired, so Alex carries all the bags home for me.

Once home, I retreat to my computer to answer some email.  I get ready for bed and write a bit in bed, when suddenly I am craving Oreos again.  I debate.  I just brushed my teeth, but I do need to drink more fluids, and a glass of milk with Oreos would go nicely.  I get up and pour a glass of milk and get four Oreos.  I even eat them in bed. Although I think about getting up and brushing my teeth again, I fall asleep.  I wake up a few hours later and wonder if Oreos at bedtime were a good idea.  I finally fall asleep again, teeth unbrushed the whole night through.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Steve here...

I wrote this on my personal blog, on Sunday, June 15th I repost it here exactly as it appeared:
I met my wife, Kathy, when I was 19 years old. We have been together for almost 32 years. A little over a week ago she was diagnosed with advanced colorectal cancer, discovered during a routine colonoscopy, and it is difficult to know right now what the prognosis is. We are 51 years old, recently covered by Obamacare, and over the course of our lives the only times either of us has been hospitalized is during the birth of our three children, all over 21 years ago.
I never really worry about health issues. Kathy and I are in good shape, we eat well, get a reasonable amount of exercise, and stay out of the sun. If anything, Kathy is healthier than I am. She eats better, is more active, and because she works a lot with children, she has an immune system that is the envy of the world. She shrugs off colds that waylay me for days.
But now she has cancer, and we are literally fighting for her life.
Kathy went in for surgery last Monday, and spent five days in the hospital fighting a fever and recovering from her surgery. I spent every night in the hospital by her side. She came home Friday night, and we finally slept in our comfortable bed. She's back on normal food, with some modifications. The painkillers she takes make her a little loopy, which is unusual, because she and I never drink alcohol (alcoholism runs in both our families, so we avoid it) so seeing her even slightly off her mental game is weird, but cute too.
I love Kathy very much. When I think about why I try to be a good and moral person, my thoughts rarely travel first to my philosophies and my values. They travel to her. I want her to be proud of the person I am, and I want to honor her love for me by being the best person I can be.

Sunday, June 22,2014

Today I decide I am going to take an early morning walk.  I get up at 5:30, pull on my new yoga pants and tee shirt.  I feel like I look good.  I think you can’t even see my bag.  I pull on my hoodie, grab my ipod and I’m ready to go.  The zipper on my hoodie is broken but I figure this is no problem, I can put my hands in my pockets and hold it closed.

The day is beautiful.  It feels a little cool to me, but I am hoping that as I move I will warm up. I amble along, enjoying the sights of the early morning and exchange a hello with each person I pass.

Things are going fine, until my upper arms start to ache from holding my hoodie closed.  “Really?” I think.  I am barely two blocks from my house. I take my hands out of my pockets and walk unzippered for a couple of minutes.  Not so good, I am cold.  I put my hands back in my pockets. This turns out to be a workout for my arms.

I am listening to Elizabeth Mitchell.  She is a childrens artist, but she has such a beautiful voice. I pretend that I am listening to learn new songs to sing with the kids, but I never really learn the words. I just like to listen.

I am getting tired, but it feels good.  I head back to my street, and climb my hill.  I go inside and sit down.  I am amazed at how quickly you can slow down, lose muscle.  It has only been a couple of weeks since this whole thing started, but my arms and legs feel so weak. I start chemo in nine days, but I decide will try to do what I can to get stronger.

I have the first bowl of cereal and blueberries I have had in weeks. It is delicious.

Steve, Alex and I go for a drive around nine. While we are out we see an antique fire engine. This reminds us that we had read about a fire engine show in Johnston today.  We decide to go.  

We go by the house to see if Kaileigh wants to come, but she is not home. She has gone off to Seven Stars to buy a loaf of olive bread. I had purchased some yesterday, but never got to have a piece before it disappeared, so I am very happy. I get first dibs on the bread today and have four slices with butter.

We go to see the antique fire apparatus, walking slowly through the show. I am feeling tired already, and everyone lets me set the pace.  The trucks are shiny and look very cool.  Some are restored and look brand new while others are very beat up and showing their age.

There is a chainsaw artist noisily carving a firefighter out of a tree stump, a remote controlled mini engine with a dalmation driver, a fireman’s marching band, food and firefighter memorabilia for sale.

Of all the things we see, the all around favorite is a pumper truck.  There is one with a mysterious silver orb in front of it that looks magical.  Somehow the orb sucks water in and shoots it out of a hose.  It is pretty cool.

Since it is summer, and this is RI, of course there is a Del’s truck at the event.  Everyone wants one but me.  Today, I need Oreos.

On the way home we make a special stop at the grocery store just for Oreos.  I open them and eat a few in the car.  When we get home, I have a bowl of fruit and yogurt, something I am not supposed to be eating just yet, but feel it is something my body needs. By the time I am finished, I am so tired. I go upstairs and take a nap.

When I wake up, I hear voices outside. I look out my window to see Julie and David walking down the street. I call out the window and hurry downstairs. They have arrived back from camping just a short time ago, and Josh is going to give David a ride to Boston to catch a flight back to Denver. I am glad I awoke in time for a visit.

Julie and David want to know how I am doing and want to hear of my week. David checks out my treatment plan and seems to approve.

They tell me of their camping adventure, and about a beautiful wall hanging Josh and Kaileigh got to take home this year.  It was crafted some years ago at camp, and each year it goes home with a different family that has been experiencing some sort of difficulty in their lives. 

Josh unwraps it to show me.  It turns out to be three wall hangings made of squares, each representing something from camp that the creator of the square finds special.  It is a loving reminder that friends will be with you in spirit and thinking of you through difficult times that may lie ahead.

Later in the day, we eat a quick dinner so we can see “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”  With the whole family there, we take up almost an entire row of theater seats.  It is fun to watch a movie like this early in the day, with lots of small children in the audience.  Steve and I laugh at the reaction of the younger kids during funny or intense parts of the movie, remembering how our own kids did the same when they were young. We watch the movie right through the end of the credits, and all agree it was a good movie.

When I get home, I so want to go to bed, but realize I still need to let people know about my treatment plan. There are so many people from different places in my life, an email seems to be the best way to do this. I start in, but is hard to pick the right words to convey how I am feeling.  I want people to know what is going on, but I don’t want them to worry.  

In the midst of my writing, there is a knock on the door.  My sisters, Sara and Jill and my nephew Brian have come to visit. We talk for a while, and I notice that the sun has gone down. Yesterday was the summer solstice, and I know it must be getting late.  My sisters leave and I get back to my computer.  

I hope that my email explains my situation in a clear but gentle way.  I can’t write or think any more though, I am tired and need to go to bed.  I send it off.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Taking the night off!

Hi everyone.  Instead of blogging tonight.  I went to the movies with Steve to see Lucy.  It was nice to get out.  I'll be back tomorrow!  Love to you all,  Kathy

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Saturday, June 21st

I awaken later than I think I will after all the sleep I had yesterday. I am surprised at how much I am needing lately.  At least ten hours a day.  I lay in bed and think, something I never used to do, but really enjoy lately.  Steve wakes and we talk about the day, he is going to go represent the Humanists of RI at Pride Day, downtown.

Today, I really am going to go to Whole Foods.  As Kaileigh and I pull out of my street, I see people walking to the Farmer’s Market and out strolling along Hope St.  I realize I haven’t seen this Saturday morning parade in weeks.  The sun is shining and it feels good to be out in the world.

We poke along in the market, enjoying the the slowness and exploring food possibilities.  We get home and put the groceries away, and are discussing going out again.  The door opens and my friend Anna comes in.  I had made a plan with her earlier in the week for her to stop by, and even though I have written it on my whiteboard calendar, I have forgotten.  She has arrived just in time!

Anna is the mother of two of the children I have been taking care of for the last five years.  I love her and her family, and am so glad she has stopped in.  She had been away while I was in the hospital, and I have missed seeing her at pickup time this week.  I catch her up on what has been going on, and where I am at right now.  She asks me if I have cancer, because up until this point, I have been referring to things the way they were described to me: a malignant mass, spots on my liver.  I didn’t want to alarm people with the word cancer, it holds many different emotions for people.  I tell her yes, in fact, I do have cancer.  I assure her that everything is going to be okay though.  She is concerned, but relieved by my attitude.

She tells me that when she was a young girl, her mother had colon cancer too.  I have met Anna’s mother, and she is doing fine.  I am reassured by her story.

After Anna leaves, we head off to Bed Bath and Beyond.  I have been having terrible night sweats and the flannel sheets on my bed get so wet and take too long to dry.  I would like some cotton percale sheets that will be cooler and dry faster.  Right away, we walk into a sale.  350 long egyptian percale, half off.  We check the rest of the sheets, comparing softness and weight, but I know I have found my price. We find all the pieces in the sizes and blue color I want, this was meant to be.

I think I still have the energy to tackle Target at this point.  I want to find a tube top to cover my ostomy bag, something I have read about that will help smooth out bumps.  We don’t find a tube top, but do find a pregnancy Be-Band.  It is the same sort of thing, but probably twice the price.  I decide to get it anyway.  I am here, it is here, and I am getting tired.

We pick up essentials that I need for home and daycare, and by the time we hit the register, I am very hungry and tired.  I ask if we can stop by Del’s once again, I have found it to be a quick hunger relief.  The Del’s is cold, and so am I, but sitting in the car in the warm sun is heavenly.

When I get home, I go take a nap. One and a half hours.  As soon as I wake up, I start texting with my daughter Ayla’s friend, Chauncey, about tattoos.  He tells me where he gets his, at Blackstone Tattoo in Pawtucket. It turns out that I have met the artist, Derek, at the playground.  He was there one day with his son while I was there with my crew.  We make arrangements to go visit him at the tattoo shop where he works, as soon as Ayla gets out of work.  

I bring the painting that Kaileigh has made and tell Derek which one I would like for my tattoo.  It is the paisley dotted one, the one that looks aboriginal. He likes it. I tell him that I am going to start chemo in a little over a week, he doesn’t think it should be a problem.  He assures me it should be pretty well healed by then.  I have a feeling that if I were to mention this idea to any medical person, they would advise against it, so I don’t.  I am hoping he can do it over the weekend, but he is booked. We make plans to do the tattoo on Wednesday at five thirty.  He will be doing Ayla’s too.

As we leave the shop he tells me not to be surprised if I decide to add details or change my mind completely by Wednesday.  “Happens all the time,” he says.  On the way home I contemplate adding a sun.

I am tired, and though it is warm outside, I am chilly.  The fans are on in my house and there is a lot of moving air.  I go upstairs and crawl into my bed to get warm while Kaileigh and Ayla make dinner.  Chicken sausage and corn on the cob.  Corn is not on the list of foods I should be eating right now, but it looked so good in the market.  I am not disappointed.

Steve stops in to check on me before going to march in the Pride parade this evening.  He has had a long day that will now stretch on into the night.  I know I will be going to bed soon, and give him a kiss goodnight.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Friday, June 20th, A Plan is Made

Today is the day!  The next big day I have been waiting for.  It is the day that I find out, the day I start from.  

I get up and make some oatmeal, and get things ready for daycare.  It has been an interesting week for me.  My sister has come over early to do everything I cannot, all the heavy lifting.  I try to stay out of her way, I don’t want to be annoying.

I go upstairs and work on some computer stuff while Sara greets the early morning crew, Payce and Chase.  When more kids arrive, I go downstairs to be with the kids.   

I have two doctor appointments today, and Alex is scheduled to start a new job at Whole Foods Market. I have asked Allie to help out, she was one of my first daycare babies.

Two of our children have been away for a few weeks and this is their first day back. I am afraid that they will have a hard time settling in, so I stick around to help them say goodbye to their dad. We play with pretend pizza and draw.  All is well.

Today is a chicken walk day, and I decide to go along. We have a neighbor who lives around the block with four chickens, so we visit them each week to see how they are doing. If we are lucky the owner is home and we get to feed and peek into the chicken coop. Today she is not home, so we watch them from a neighbor’s driveway, clucking at them and saying hello.

On our way home, one of our kids finds a key fob that has been discarded in a garden. It is from a rental car, so Allie uses her smartphone to contact the company. It turns out that the car has been stolen, and we have provided them with a location of where the car may have been. I always tell the kids that one of their jobs is to be neighborhood superheros.  They come through once again.

While the kids play outside, I start their lunch before my first appointment.

Dr. Safran’s office is a ten minute walk from my house, at Miriam Hospital.  I don’t know how I will feel by the time I am done, and I still have another appointment later, so Kaileigh drives Steven and I there. We take advantage of the valet parking at the front door.  When we walk into the lobby, it is like walking into a fancy hotel.  

This building is known as the Fain Building, and the cancer center is located on the third floor. We take the elevator up, and take a seat until it is our turn at admitting.  It doesn’t take long, I am processed and take a seat in the admitting area to wait some more.  

This waiting area is bright and clean, and the soft, golden upholstered chairs break the area up into smaller more intimate waiting areas.  There is pretty art on the walls, stained glass in the wall of windows that overlook the city, some bookshelves filled with informational materials and a non intrusive television.  It is all pretty nice.

Kaileigh and I are both stained glass artists, so we are interested in some mission style lamps that dot the waiting area.  We notice there are tags on the lamps that say “Inspected by ____.  We chuckle at the notion of a lamp inspector in the hospital.  Kaileigh goes to turn one of the lamps on, and nothing happens.  We chuckle some more.  We are laughing over some other silly thing when they call my name, they have to call me twice.

We are shown to a room where they weigh and measure me, and take my allergy and medicine history.  There is nothing to report.

We are shown to a small room with an exam bed, two guest chairs, and a desk and chair for the doctor.  There is a computer with an annoying screen saver bouncing around, and the typical sink and cupboard  arrangement.  There is a view of the main hospital across the street, which is notable only because we have never seen it from this angle before.

We wait for a little while, but it doesn’t seem too long.  With three people in the room there is always something interesting to talk about.  I lay back on the bed and close my eyes.  I am tired from my morning.

Finally Dr. Safran comes in.  He doesn't seem much older than me, with grey hair and kind blue eyes.  I never stand up in the room, but I don’t think he is as tall as I am.  I think that outside of being a doctor, he may be shy and quiet, but here, he is direct and in charge.  He starts to tell me what he knows about me, which is quite a bit.  He has done his homework and gets things right.

He then proceeds to tell Steven, Kaileigh and I how he will treat my cancer.

H throws out a list of medicine names.  “Don’t worry,” he says, “I will write this all down for you before you leave.”  He explains and gives me a timeline.  Chemo, every two weeks for about six months.  We check on the success of the treatment, which will shrink the spots on my liver and the mass in my colon, and then operate to remove the spots.  We will address the colon after the liver.
I will need to get a pet scan, and they want to look at my upper respiratory system as well.

He asks what I do for work, and doesn’t see it as a problem.  With a little extra help, he thinks I can continue taking care of the kids.

He goes out to get some paper to write all of this information down for me, and we confer.  We all agree that we like Dr. Safran, and his plan makes sense.  We decide I should go with him.

While he is writing things down, I tell him about my mother who died at age fifty five.  She supposedly died from lung cancer, but I wonder if she may have had colon cancer as well.  She seemed to have many of the symptoms that I thought were menopausal, which also turn out to be symptoms of colon cancer.  He suggests genetic testing to see if it runs in my family, but that will be done at a later time.

While the doctor is describing the treatment to me, he tells me it is called Folfox.  For a moment all I can think of is the coincidence of the fox.  Kaileigh had been painting them, and now this.  Surely if I have a spirit animal in this, it must be a fox.

He asks if we have questions about anything. I ask about the spots on my liver. He says there are more than ten, but he doesn’t really know how many. I ask him if it is the worst he’s seen, and he says by no means. Okay, I think, I can live with that.

I tell him about my frustration with the other doctor I had spoken to, and he says he is glad that I have come to him.  I feel that way too.

Since we have made the decision to work with Dr. Safran and his staff, he would like us to meet with his head nurse.  She is at a luncheon getting an award and is running late.  He asks if we would mind waiting a short time. Our next appointment is still a few hours away, so we stay.

We get set up for blood work, and then meet Nurse Danzer.  She explains how things work on Fain 3. The same nurses will care for me each time I visit, they will stack my appointments all on one day so I don’t have to make multiple visits to the hospital, there will be people to help me along every step of the way.

She sets up a meeting for a teaching session with the nurses on Tuesday of next week, and then a start date for my chemo of Tuesday, July 1st, just one and a half weeks away.  I will get a port put in to receive my medicine through on that first day, and when that is in get my first round of chemo.  This all feels right.

I have blood taken and they show us the treatment rooms where chemo is given.  I meet some of the nurses.  Everything seems very well run and nice.

I can’t wait to call on Monday morning to cancel my appointment with RW cancer center.  I feel confident about Dr. Safran.

We go back to the house, and I don’t really have time for a nap before my next appointment.  I play some games with the kids and soon it is time to go.  It is only ten miles to Johnston, where Dr. Lentrichia’s office is, but I am nervous about being late.  Steve and I get into the car and Kaileigh drives us again.  We make it with time to spare, and then have to wait.  We watch part of the Dr. Oz show, and then Ellen.  Even though I have a sweater on, there is a draft from the air conditioner and I am cold.  I forgot my shawl, so Steve puts his arm around me to keep me warm.

As we watch Ellen, a video comes up that makes the three of us laugh.  It is so funny.  There is a man trying to film a horse being shown at a horse show.  He is up against a gate, when another horse comes up behind him and starts nuzzling his ear.  It looks like it must tickle like crazy, but still the camera man keeps his shot steady and bears with it.  The horse persists until the man can’t take it anymore, and he has to stop filming.

Steven, Kaileigh and I are the only people in a waiting room full of people laughing.  Many people look at us, so sad and serious. I feel badly for them and wonder about why they are here.

Finally, we get shown into the room we were in two weeks ago. We show Kaileigh the model of the colon and wait some more.

Finally Dr. Lentrichia comes in. He seems like he has had a long, busy day. I tell him of my visit with Dr. Safran earlier and show him the plan. He is very pleased and makes a copy for his files.  

We talk about how I am feeling, the bag, my treatment. He checks out my stomach, the incisions, the bag, the stoma, and is pleased with what he sees.  He offers some helpful direction, and wonders if I would like to meet with an ostomy group. Since mine is only supposed to be temporary, I think I will be okay. I have learned of many friends who have family members with colostomies, plenty of people who would like to share their experiences.

I ask him what my unattached colon is doing, I imagine it is hanging out there just waiting to be reattached. He says that is pretty much it, and that the fact that I still feel the urge to poop is normal. There is still stuff building up in there, and it needs to be moved out of my body.

He gives me the all clear to do what I like, pick up babies, yoga, even water ski if that is my thing (it is not, by the way.)  I am delighted. I feel a sense of lightness, of being set free.

I am exhausted.

Even though we get back around five, and dinner is cooking, I just want to take a nap.  At the same time, I am starving, but too hungry to eat.  I have some potatoes and chicken my sister in law had dropped off.  What I really want is ice cream.

I dispense all of the information I have learned today three times. Once to each sister and once to everyone at the dinner table.  Everyone is happy I now have a plan.

By now I can barely stay awake.  

I go upstairs and take a nap for two hours.  When I wake, I am sure that I need to get a tattoo of a fox on my arm.  I mention this to my girls and they want to get one for solidarity.

I think that I am going to be awake for a while after such a late nap, but by ten, I am ready for bed again.  I sleep the whole night through.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Thursday, June 19

I wake up early today, around 5:30am.  The light is just starting to intensify outside and the birds are singing up a storm.  Tomorrow is my first appointment with an oncologist, Dr. Howard Safran at Miriam Hospital.  I have only one more day until I know there is some sort of plan in my life, and end to the limbo that I have been living in.

My mornings have settled into a routine, not anywhere near what they used to be, but it is comforting. I get things as ready as I can, and then Sara comes over and picks up the slack.  Alex is still helping, and an extra adult tends to get in the way, so I stay upstairs until they go for a walk. I decide to join them.

Walking with the kids is barely exercise.  We stop and look at flowers and buds, mosses, insects, bird droppings, dog poop.  It is a very slow pace, but we get a nice dose of sunshine while we explore the world that is my neighborhood.  I am feeling stronger, and these walks feel just right.

When we get back, the kids play outside, and I make myself some lunch before going upstairs to wait for the visiting nurse.  She comes every three days to take my vitals, and to help me change my bag.  I wait by the window so I can see her come, she is scheduled to come during nap time and I don’t want her to ring the bell.

When you get a colostomy, you need bags.  Companies send you samples of their bags in nice shoebox sized packages, full of all the things you are going to need.  I have two boxes, one from Coloplast, and one from Hollister.  Hollister seems to be an inside joke to me.  A very glamourous name, for a very unglamourous product.  I haven’t really looked through these boxes yet, I have been working off the supplies they sent home from the hospital, so it seems like a good way to pass the time now.  There is powder, cream, filling putty, bag deodorant, a belt.  There are scissors, travel bags, waste bags and mirrors.  It is an incredible assortment of stuff.

When Kim, my visiting nurse comes, she checks on my bag.  It has such a good seal that we decide to leave it on, just in case the doctor wants to look at my stoma tomorrow.  You can change  your bag everyday if you want to, but constantly pulling the bag off of your skin is pretty harsh.  It can cause irritation and infection.  I would prefer to do it less, rather than more.  Since a nurse had come and helped me change it on Tuesday, it looks like it will be okay.  We review how to change the bag. I have done it a couple of times now, and am feeling more confident about it.  I think I can do this.

Of course this all exhausts me, and I need to have a two hour nap.  This seems to be a requirement this week.

The phone awakens me, it is the Cancer Center from Roger Williams Hospital.  They want me to come in tomorrow.  I tell them I already have two appointments for tomorrow.  They schedule me for one next Wednesday.  They were supposed to be my first opinion in this ordeal.

Steve comes home from covering the hunger strikers at the statehouse.  He has brought me a card signed by all the strikers and some of their supporters.  I am so touched.  Here are women who are trying to get paid fairly, and giving up food to bring attention to their dilemma, and they have taken the time to think about me, someone they have only heard of from Steven, and never even met.  It makes me cry.

When I finally go back downstairs, all the kids have been picked up.  Ayla and Chauncey have stopped by to say hello and have brought their dog, Powder, over to visit me.  She has been attending puppy training class and I want to see the new tricks she has learned.

Ayla stops by frequently to check on me.  She works full time as a manager at Pastiche, and then comes over to see if there is anything I need.  She will drive me places or bring me things I need, but my favorite thing is when she comes by for dinner.  She is so lively and has such great stories to relate, it always brightens up dinner.  She often brings Chauncey and Powder along too, which make for a merry party for sure.

This evening, I have quite a few visitors coming over, so I end up eating my dinner on the couch while spending time with friends.  My family eats in the kitchen without me.

It is a busy, enjoyable night.  Of course by nine, I’m exhausted.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday, June 16th: An Attempt to Return to Normal

Today is my first week day home from the hospital and I want to be downstairs when parents arrive. While Sara takes care of the Monday morning clean up, and I hang out upstairs until I hear the first parent arrive. I go downstairs and say hello and hang out until most of the kids are here. Before everyone arrives, I am so tired. It doesn’t take long.  

Although I have been in the hospital for a week, and I am still recovering from surgery, there is this desire to return to normal. To do things that seem normal. Because right now in my life, there is so little that seems normal.

I am usually a person with quite a bit of energy, able to motor through even on days when I really don’t feel like doing things. I am surprised at how little I have right now. Sitting on my bed staring at the wall would normally not be appealing to me, but lately, I find myself very comfortable losing myself in the cool, blue smoothness before me.

At lunchtime I wander downstairs for food. One of the older kids that is visiting for the day wants to learn to knit. Some of the younger kids know how, and she would like to learn too. Between bites of my sandwich, I teach her. I hang out until she gets the hang of it, and then I go upstairs. How can doing so little make you so exhausted? I am ready for a nap.

When I wake up, it is late in the afternoon, almost pick up time for the kids. I go outside to enjoy the sunshine and say hello. A mom stops by to check in on me. Her child isn’t even here today.

Kaileigh warms up some lasagne that Brett brought by over the weekend. There is another meatless one that Joanne dropped off. This takes care of everyone in my family. It is nice to have delicious, healthy food right in our fridge, ready to go. There is so much love packed into it, I can feel myself getting stronger.

Steve and I snuggle on the couch and watch 24 with bowls of ice cream. Things seem almost normal.

I go to bed, but lay there and cannot sleep. I have a little fever, but this is not unusual. I am worried about my stoma. Maybe it is not the right color. I can’t see it through the bag I have on, so how will I know? Is there stool on my skin? Do I have an infection? What will I do? I have phone numbers for people to call in an emergency, but is this an emergency? No, this is a panic attack. I realize this and take out all of the material that I have on stomas. I read as much as I can and try to calm down. Eventually, I get tired, and bored. I clean up all my papers and go to sleep.

Tuesday, June 17

Kaileigh will leave to join Josh and his family on their annual camping trip today. She has been such a great help to me throughout this ordeal, I am glad that she will be getting away, even if only for a short time. She will be back on Thursday, so she can go to the oncologist and the surgeon with me on Friday. She doesn’t want to miss anything.

I feel badly about this interruption in Kaileigh’s life. Prior to June 4th, the day I told her the results of my colonoscopy, she was hard at work, writing her masters thesis on plant genetics. She was looking forward finding an apartment in Boston, and finding a job in the field she has trained for. Now, everything is on hold. She is back home, sleeping on an air mattress in the hallway, in the limbo that is now my life.  

I worry that she will not finish, because I have interrupted the flow of her life. I know this is not  her personality, but I can’t stop the worry. This is not what I want for my children, to have to be so concerned about their mother that they can not get on with their own lives. This is not the mother that I want to be.

Kaileigh comes to give me a hug. “‘bye Mama,”  she says. “I love you.  I’ll be back soon.”

Wednesday, June 18th

I get up early and Steve and I go for a walk to the park and back. Even though I have been walking a little everyday, it is still tiring. This whole thing is tiring. The waiting, the wondering, waiting some more. Not only is it tiring, it is boring. And it is not like I don’t have things I want to do, it is that I don’t have the energy to do them. When I first came home from the hospital, I thought, great, I am going to have all this extra time this week. I will write, I will paint, I will move some of the stuff that clutters my life out of it. If only I had the energy.  

In truth, if I had the energy, I would be working, helping out with the kids. When I am upstairs listening to the sounds in my house, the sounds of the children make me smile. I miss being with them. It is Wednesday, and by now I can sit with the kids for a little while, but I am not much help. I try to be upbeat and playful, but know that I am spending a fair amount of time with my head in my hands just watching. Then, I get tired and need a nap. I am so lucky Alex has been able to fill in for me and help Sara. It is nice to be able to completely trust that he will help out and things will not fall apart. Children won’t escape or eat crayons or treat each other unkindly. He will play games with them and guide them in the gentlest manner. All of my children have grown up with my daycare, and all have learned to be great helpers, but Alex is the one who has had to come through for me in the most difficult of times. It is nice to know that I can count on him.

Steve has busy working on a story about the hotel workers downtown this evening. They were to meet with the mayoral candidates this afternoon, and things are running late. Alex and I are on our own for dinner, but one of the Mom’s stopped by with some wonderful chicken soup. I consider this and realize even though I have hit this bump in the road, I have a really nice life.