Monday, August 03, 2015

My family has a tradition of sharing our "best thing" at the dinner table. It was a ploy started many years ago designed to encourage the kids to expand on "fine" when we asked how their day was. We largely discontinued it after Chuck died. It was hard, we were sad, and we just couldn't for a while come up with anything positive. We never restarted the practice with any regularity even after everyone slowly started to have more good moments. Every now and then we bring it back. Tonight Charlie Sam went bowling while I was out taking a class, so I came home to an empty house. But I had a lot of "best things" today (which is totally cheating, you should have to pick one), and I wanted to share. So here goes:

  1. My daughter texted me mid-day and to tell me she wanted to go to Crossfit with me. Max two rep Shoulder Press, jumping rope, burpees, and Push Press reps are so much more fun with my kid busting her butt right next to me at my favorite gym.
  2. Even though I came home from Scuba Cert class tonight to an empty house, the kids left dinner (whole wheat spaghetti and turkey meatballs that Samantha prepared)- and Charlie called to make sure I knew where it was. 
  3. Knowing it was to be only a five minute visit since I was headed to work, my sweet fiancĂ© stopped by on the way home from a 13 hour graveyard shift, just to say hello. He then joined me part of the way while I walked to work. Side note - the FitBit he got me for my birthday is making me crazy for "steps", thus the new commuting strategy. A bit flummoxed, however, that a one mile walk to work in which I did not break a sweet - gained me 3000 steps, while a Crossfit workout that left me in a whimpering puddle of sweat on the floor, only gave me 1100. Second sidenote: When he came in the house, Tim was on the phone with is father. His father is awesome. He's 86, he plays corn hole, with smak talk. He's funny. He's sharp. And he raised eight kids who still very much enjoy each other's company. Anyways, he put me on the phone to say hello, and dad says to me, "I understand Tim is going to be moving in soon." I said yes, that this was true, since Tim has sold his house and will need a place to live. I then told him that I was going to let Tim stay in the garage. Mr. O'Connor said without missing a beat, "That's a good place for him." He then ended the conversation indicating that he didn't need to talk to Tim again, but just to be sure to thank him for calling ...  since it meant he got to speak to me. 
  4. At the encouragement of my newly certified kids, I'm taking my Open Water Certification course through Eugene Skin Divers this summer. It is a hobby they have convinced me that we can and should enjoy together. The more I learn, the more I get excited about what is to come with this new opportunity for adventure. 
  5. Charlie and Sam are enjoying spending time together this summer - playing cards, cooking, helping around the house, playing video games, going to movies, bowling etc. This may be the last summer Charlie spends extended time at home... and I'm so so grateful that they have the relationship that they do. (Although I have to not spend too much time thinking about the end of summer.)
A good day, a good summer, a wonderful family.

Monday, September 15, 2014

It took a couple years after losing Chuck before I was interested in dating. When I did first get involved with someone, I did it all wrong. It was a mutual friend - someone I knew through our kid's sports. And as hard as this is to admit, I fell way too hard, way too fast, and probably for the wrong reasons, or at least not enough of the right ones. He looked like Chuck, he had a great rapport with my children (enjoyed giving them crap and could take it when they gave it back - which is the best way to bond with them), he loved baseball, I really like his son, and frankly I was happy to feel just a little less alone.

Turns out that wasn’t enough. It ended after several months and I never got an explanation as to why. I was devastated for some time. Then I was angry. I am now well past this and after some period of cynicism about commitment, can appreciate what I learned about myself and what I want.

Yesterday, this man unexpectedly passed away.

This is not my loss. I lost him over a year ago, and I’m in a much better place now. It was very hard to tell my kids. They both liked him. I was (and still am) concerned that it will feel all too familiar to them. But mostly my heart aches for his son, who feels like one of my own. I know too well what loss feels like and have seen first hand how hard it is to move on after losing a father. I wish I could help him understand that although it will always hurt, and desperately so, it will get easier. Time just has to pass.

I also know how important it is to let people help you - but yet next to impossible to ask for that help.

Hold on to those you love, and reach out to those who have lost. Please keep this boy and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, April 28, 2014

My son is leaving for college next fall, and will spend his first term abroad. He will be at the University College Dublin, in a program through Northeastern University (in Boston). Charlie has connected recently with other American students in this same program and they began discussing Thanksgiving overseas. Apparently, Charlie volunteered to have his mother teach him to roast a turkey so they could create their own holiday feast in the university apartments he will be staying in.

Today he decided to tackle this project, so at lunch I walked through the steps to roast the turkey so he could work on it after school. Once he started, he decided he wanted me to talk him through it on the phone.

As a result… I was walking down the hall, by the cubes of a handful of male colleagues, who overheard only my parts of the conversation as I tried to help him out:

“Charlie, grab the legs and pull them apart.”
“The breasts should be facing up.”
“Now stick your hand in the hole and pull out the stuff inside.”

The colleagues were completely freaked out. But their worried expressions were priceless.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Here's to a VERY HEALTHY 2014 - cause I'm kinda over the whole surgery thing

The day before Christmas I got a call from my surgeon that despite a negative biopsy a cancerous growth was found in the part of my thyroid that was removed. Although made me a little panicky (the whole sole surviving parent role has me exceptionally aware that I need to live a long, healthy life) the doctor was able to talk me down with reassuring words like “encapsulated”, “very small”, “very likely already treated by removal”, and “not something to drink the ocean over.” I actually have no idea what that last one means but it stuck with me from a conversation that I am sure I at least in part blocked out. 

I now need to consult with an endocrinologist about what, if any, further treatment is called for. The possibility exists for another surgery to remove the remaining half of my thyroid. The pre-surgery ultrasounds showed the right side looking fine. However, I believe I have a somewhat increased chance of a similar growth on the other side, since I have shown a predilection to grow cancer cells. There may be a benefit to just getting rid of it so any future growth doesn't go unnoticed, similarly to pick up any other small carcinomas?. This would necessitate a lifetime of thyroid hormone replacement medication, and be a required precursor to any radiation if that were considered necessary. I just don’t know and won’t for a little while. She reassured me I had plenty of time to see doctors and make a decision.

The hardest part so far has been sharing the news with the kids. Merry Christmas guys... guess what? They seem to be handling it very well though. There is not a battle I’m unwilling to fight to be enough parent for them. I hope they know this. 

With my family, friends, my career, my gym, I have more blessings than I can count that are worth being healthy for.

Love to you and yours in the New Year. And thanks to those of you who I know have our backs each and every day. I'm a lucky girl, and I got this. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Seven Things

So the game all over Facebook the past couple weeks is to write seven things that people may not know about you. Here's my list:

  1. My kids aren't allowed to have snakes as pets. Or toy snakes. Or watch TV shows about snakes when I’m in the room. Or draw pictures of snakes. My fear of snakes is so paralyzing just writing this is going to give me nightmares for a week. When Chuck started talking about moving to Arizona, I thought about the snake population there and looked at him and said simply, "The kids and I will miss you."
  2. I want this tattoo, but with three horseshoes. To me, it says something about my kids and I kicking ass. And I've never shaken the "I want to be a cowgirl" thing. But I’m afraid of what my parents will think. And I’m afraid what might look good on a fairly toned 44 year old thigh, might be entirely a different thing on a 80 year old wrinkly one.
  3. I went on a date last week and was presented with a 24 pack of Toilet Paper as a gift. My household was unanimous in its approval. "It's so practical, we always need toilet paper." "Flowers die." "He cares about your digestive system." (He saw this and pointed out that I had underestimated the size of the gift: "30 roll...and 3-ply. Until I met you I always lead off with the 2-ply :-) You're special.")
  4. I've lost count of how many plain black cap sleeve t-shirts I have. But is easily a couple dozen. The same could be said for my collection of Old Navy jeans. Given the choice I'd always be in jeans or cut offs and a t-shirt at a sporting event, dive bar, or outdoors over heels and a dress at a 4 star restaurant.
  5. Being near moving water (oceans, waterfalls, rivers) moves me spiritually in a way I've never felt attending a church service.
  6. I've convinced myself that the secret to younger looking skin is A&D ointment. So if you are close to my face in the morning, you may notice I smell like (clean) baby ass.
  7. I acquired a fake ID when I was 19 for the sole purpose of being able to flirt with a 30 year old man I had a crush on at the time at the PSU neighborhood dive bar, Sam's Hoffbrau. A few years later I married him and had his babies. I would gladly break the law again to be able to share another beer with him. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

I had a long training session at work today on leadership - and found myself fairly restless. I have other projects I'm in the middle of that I would have liked to have the day to work on. However at one point during the training they ran this TED talk by Brene Brown on the power of vulnerability and how dependent our ability to make connections is on our willingness to be hurt. It really struck a chord with me. I have had a rough few years and am finding myself very much afraid to make strong attachments. Well worth the time to watch.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

An overdue response to the most popular QOTW: "What surgery did you have?"

I had a hysterectomy a week ago today. While I’ve been open about the fact that I was having surgery, I was sort of embarrassed to admit what for. But several folks asked, and I’m not sure why it should be embarrassing… so here goes. I had several uterine fibroid tumors, benign, but growing, that were causing various problems and needed to go. 

Before the surgery I did have to have a few sessions where both my family practitioner and the obgyn asked if I was really ok with not having more children. I assured them that I had my hands full, that my two teenagers were already kind of kicking my ass, but they continued wanting to make sure I had considered the possibility of meeting someone new who wanted children. I actually laughed at this point. “If that is what he wants,” I assured them, “then he IS NOT the man for me.” 

The tumors have been present for a while, and showing no signs of slowing growth. I was told the problem is going to get worse until I go through menopause, which is likely at least a decade from now. So my doctors agreed it was made sense to remove the problem. They took basically all but the ovaries, which do good things for women and weren’t causing any problems. 

One of the tumors was HUGE. Here’s a phrase you don’t want to hear from a surgeon, “Bigger than a soccer ball.” I was tempted to get a temporary tattoo immediately before the surgery of a soccer ball, and a few arrows, sort of directing him where to go, but I think he found it without my assistance. My surgeon was actually giddy afterwards, telling me in recovery that it was close to 1000 grams, and the biggest one he had removed. I kind of felt like I deserved a trophy or something. I suppose there are easier ways to lose 10 pounds … but hey, I’ll take it. Going forward it should eliminate a lot of discomfort.

It was not fun. Well maybe a little was fun – because apparently – having just gone to the Willamette Country Music Festival – I told the recovery nurse as I was coming out of anesthesia, “Wait, I want to go back to sleep I was dreaming about Brad Paisley.” I don't remember this, but learned this when asking her why she was telling me to “say hi to Brad” for her.  But the rest of recovery has been not so much fun. I feel like I’ve been gutted like a fish – and hated the fuzziness of being on narcotic pain killers. I stopped taking those a few days ago. Most annoying are the restrictions and my lack of energy. I’m running out of steam quickly, am unable to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk and find myself begging for rides since I have been told NOT TO DRIVE. It is making me completely stir crazy. There’s also a little insurance related stress having to do with my current employment situation. 

However, I’m optimistic I’ll be back to 100% soon – and have assurances from my Crossfit friends that they will make sure I show up again as soon as possible… even if I have to scale the crap out of everything for a while and build my way back up. Right now – I’d give a lot just to feel good enough to take a long walk. 

After moving around a bit over the weekend, I sort of hit the wall yesterday and had to return to bed. The only good thing was that the pennant race is heating up I had a good excuse to lie in bed and watch the Cardinals take a half game lead in the National League Central division with a grandslam in the 7th by Allen Craig to go ahead 8-4 over the Reds. 

I made the tough decision that I’m probably not up for the opener at Autzen this weekend- will be the first one I have missed in years. But it’s a long day – with tons of walking – visiting at tailgates, drinking beer, etc – and just  doesn’t yet seem like a good idea. The kids instead will each bring a friend and I’ll watch at home. Maybe from bed :-)

I’m supposed to have part of my thyroid removed as well – might wait a while on that one. Bleh. Also I don’t know if I want to schedule any more physicals. I feel like my warranty for 40 years or 40,000 miles has expired, and I should have bought the extended one. It’s annoying when they find stuff. I had a hunk cut out of my leg a few weeks ago too (the suture site of which seems to have gotten aggravated in the hospital). By they time they are done removing things identified as problematic in my last physical, there’s not going to be much left of debo.