Category Archives: birthdays

Focus 52: "Glass"

This photograph was taken, a complete fluke considering I did not realize what the prompt was for this week, at the Salvador Dali Museum this past week.  This is the spiral staircase that takes you between the three floors of the museum.  It gradually narrows, slowly winding to an end, just under the glass dome.  It made me think “Stairway to Heaven”.  It made me think about the way things have been going in my life lately.  Things have been looking up and then, leading nowhere real fast.  It’s been a very confusing time in my life.  I have been in and out of the hospital three times in the past three weeks.  Little pieces of me being removed each time.  Doctors saying one thing, doing another, forcing me to lose control over the one thing that we should all take for granted: the ability to have control of our own bodies.  I feel like I am on an upward climb…but repeatedly hitting this glass ceiling that allows me to LOOK towards the future, but not allowing me to get there.  It’s frustrating, to say the least.  I want to be somewhere that I can’t get to.  I am trying to remember that there are people out there that have it a lot worse than I do.  A LOT worse.  I don’t have a fatal disease…something which was a possibility several weeks ago.  What I do have is a disease that is slowly overtaking my reproductive organs, literally encompassing them into this big, woven web of scar tissue, forming a barrier around what does need to be removed.  It is like having to drill through 20 feet worth of solid rock to get a poisonous snake out of your garden.  It should not take so much work to rid yourself of evil, the evil here being one of my ovaries that encompassed in a man-eating tumor.  This cystic tumor is three times the size of my poor, overworked ovary, causing me incredible pain.  Yet, the pain that I have to endure in order to remove, well, the pain…it’s almost ironic. 

To get rid of pain, you must endure worse pain?  Somehow, it just seems medieval. 

This past Thursday, I had a laparoscopic surgery to drain and/or cut the cyst off my ovary.  Upon entry, the doctor discovers that I have webbing, scar tissue, called “endometriosis” covering my entire abdominal cavity.  It is everywhere.  It is “stage 4″, which is apparently the worst you can have.  One of the last things I remember the doctor saying to me before the surgery is…”You know, you should have told us you were having pain before the FIRST surgery.  We could have taken care of it then.”

I had no words.  None.

This is the equivalent of an “I told you so” from a doctor.  And I would be lying if I said it didn’t hurt. 

I had told him, for weeks, about the pain I had been enduring.  My husband and I had just called the doctor two days earlier to tell him that I was in the emergency room with excruciating pain just the day before.  He cut away a portion of my uterus, a bunch of fibroids and polyps.  He did a D & C to check for cancer (none) and then, abladed my uterus so that I could no longer bleed to death nearly every month.  With every passing period, my red blood cell level kept decreasing.  I am severely anemic.  However, the pain.  The pain from that ovary that they never removed remained and I felt this was all for naught.  That caused an extreme amount of mental duress for me.  This past week, I came back into the doctors office again, the pain absolutely maddening and the depression, deepening. 

Doctor makes that remark from earlier and then, gives me 3 hours to let me know that A) your ovary has just blown up, B) you’re going under the knife again for emergency surgery and C) this time…This Glorious, Wonderful Time…we will be removing that ovary. The bane of my existence.  And life shall be good again.

Of course, this is when I find out about my endometriosis.  The moat of impossibility that is encompassing the remainder of my battered uterus, one innocent ovary who is likely wondering “what the hell did ‘I’ do to deserve this?”, and of course, the culprit, the right ovary who…had she not spoken up in the form of extreme pain, would have never alerted me to the presence of the EndoMonster, eating my insides. 

So into surgery I go, tube into the belly.  Soreness extraordinaire when I arise the next day.  Complications.  Stress with my already stressed out husband and an argument that never should have taken place due to a misunderstanding.  But it’s okay.  Because now, I have been made to understand that despite the doctor’s best Black and Decker power tools, the wall of the EndoMonster could not be penetrated and the force within, the control center of pain, that God forsake ovary…still remains.  He could not get through the enormous amount of scar tissue surrounding it. 

Square one. 

There are questions that need to be answers, research that needs to be done, phone calls to be made.  But, in the midst of all this, there was a birthday to celebrate.  Two days after that emergency surgery, I had pre-planned an amazing weekend with my husband to celebrate his 37th year on this planet, 12 of those in my life.  Thusly, we went to the Dali Museum where, to bring this full circle, I took the picture that captured what I am feeling.  The feeling of moving up and yet, going nowhere.  We took a helicopter ride over the beaches in Clearwater.  It was scary, exhilarating and amazing. We did a lot of laughing, a welcome distraction from all the tears as of late.  Then, we went to an out of the way Indian restaurant to burn our mouths on the finest curry based delicacies they had to offer.  We stayed i a hotel, also a welcome reprieve from all the time we have been spending at home, only to wake up to a brand new horror the next day.

My belly, never flat…but never sticking out further than my size F breasts, was completely engorged, swollen and bloated.  It was painful.  Extremely painful.  Tender and hot to the touch.  By later that morning, I could no longer fit into my pants.  It was then I found out that during the laparoscopic surgery, a woman is pumped full of carbon dioxide to both shrink and dry out the organs in the abdominal cavity and to expand the area in which the doctor has to work.  It is quite common, apparently, for the sudden expansion to occur a few days after surgery as my husband and I read horror story after horror story from dozens of beleaguered women who have gone through this process.  It is also, from what I understood (and concur with) extremely painful.  By late Sunday night, my belly was swollen to the point of looking equally as pregnant as my sister in law who is presently 9 months pregnant with twins.  I was scarcely able to breathe as I was babysitting my grandchildren for the night.  I could not lift them and eventually, I could not lift myself without assistance. 

We called the doctor this morning who wanted to see me “right away” as “that kind of pain and swelling is not normal”.  Not normal?  We read literally hundreds of stories that said quite the opposite.  This pain and swelling IS rather normal for this surgery and for some women, the swelling and pain can take weeks to go away.  Once again, I am questioning my doctor…and questioning myself.  I am normally a fabulous advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves in times of health crisis.  Yet, I had scarcely enough time to be able to read and understand what is happening to me.  My husband, God bless him, is doing what he can to give himself an education on the topic…baptism by fire, if you will, but he can only do so much. 

I see my doctor again tomorrow morning and I think, at this visit, I will be releasing him as my gynecologist in lieu of someone who cares enough to be able to give me rational explanations for what is going on with me.  I want to know why this disease was not discovered years early by the barrage of tests I have taken for other gynecological ailments I have suffered through, such as interstitial cystitis and cervical cancer.  I want to know why three gynecologists, two urologists and one family doctor never thought to look for something as common as endometriosis knowing my history of painful periods accompanied by excessive bleeding.

I want answers.  I deserve answers…but my surgeries are coming faster than the questions are forming in my head.

So, when I looked at the spiral staircase, leading upward toward the glass ceiling, allowing in the sunshine and the promise of something brighter, but never quite allowing you to touch it, I thought…there it is.  My life, in a photo.  This is where I am right now.  Looking skyward, with no discernible means of getting there…

just a long climb spiraling rapidly to no where at all.

Celebrating Nicholas.

Let me start by saying how much I love my daughter, Samantha. She’s an amazing girl. She’s smart, cute, funny and embodies the personification of a loving human being. She’s a really good girl. I was very blessed with this child. She was the perfect pregnancy and then, the perfect child. We are close and with the birth of my grandaughter Sadie and the imminent birth of my grandson Liam in January, we have only become closer. Sharing motherhood is a bond between mother and daughter that cannot be described.

That said, let me tell you about Nicholas. He turned 14 yesterday, on Halloween. When Nick was born, he had massive heart and lung defects. He wasn’t expected to live let alone thrive the way he has. An open heart surgery later, after months of being on a heart monitor and sleep apnea machine, he has not only grown but has thrived, turning into a strapping young man who is healthy in every way.

Nick and I are abnormally close. I say abnormally because most mothers and sons do not talk about every aspect of their lives the way Nick and I do. We bond over music especially. We are both musicians. He plays the clarinet, guitar and drums. I am a classically trained pianist and oboe player. Music is our joy and we spend most of our time hanging out, listening to various artists. He has gotten me to appreciate Metallica and Slipknot. I have introduced him to classic rock such as Aerosmith and Pink Floyd.

We hang out all the time. Just…hang out. We find many of the same things to be “cool”. He has no problem introducing me to his friends and telling them how awesome I am. I let him hang out with me and my adult friends because the kid really knows how to have fun. We talk politics. He is a staunch Democrat and of course, being the liberal (leaning toward liberatarian) that I am, I appreciate his candor and knowledge.

Basically, he is the coolest kid I have ever known. He is a little mini-me. Most of all, we share the mutual love of tormenting his father, my ex husband. We don’t bash the man of course, because that would be wrong, but we both kind of agree that he isn’t as “cool” as we are. He tries…but it just doesn’t come together for him.

Nick got his first kiss ever at his school’s Halloween dance this past weekend. And, where most boys wouldn’t discuss it with their mothers, we talked about it in detail, right up to the moment where he and his little girlfriend, Kristi, counted down 3…2…1…KISS! It cracked me up and he enjoyed seeing me laugh about this awkward time for him.

At night, I go into his room, smooth back his mop of curls and kiss his forehead. When he’s asleep, he’s back to being my baby; the little one curled up in his crib with all the tubes and wires attached to him to make sure he gets through the night still breathing. We’ve gotten through everything from divorce to swine flu together. And when he is sleeping, I remember the days that the doctors told me not to be hopeful about his survival.

I couldn’t imagine my life without Nicholas in it. He’s the reason I spend most of my days laughing even when there is nothing much to smile about. He’s the sanity in my life and the reason, somedays, I have the strength to get out of bed and go on.

Happy birthday, Nicholas. Many, many more to come, for us to share…

Mommy loves you.

And yes, I know you read my blog, you little shit. Mind your own business.

Don’t you have some homework to do?

Yesterday was my daughters birthday…

she’s 22 now. My little cow. (I’ve called her that since she was a baby. She used to make this mooing sound that was very funny). I can’t get over it. 22 and a mother (to be) of two children. She is a phenomenal mom. A lot better than I was at that age. She plays with her daughter every single day. Me? I was more interested in partying at that age. I remember my 21st birthday. Couldn’t go out and celebrate with a legal drink because I was nursing her. She was the only one doing any legal drinking THAT night.

I recall her, most fondly, being four years old. She was an absolute angel. Hair down to the middle of her back, she was my own little doll. I used to dress her like me. We wore matching outfits quite a bit. Jackets with leggings, shoulder pads (shut up, it was the 80’s) with leggings and granny boots. People used to think she was my little sister as opposed to my daughter.

When she hit her teens, I was worried shitless. Would I be able to get her through high school unscathed? I did. No sex before she was 18. She never did drugs. Never smoked a cigarette. The worst thing she did was get shit-faced at a party with her friends. She called me for a ride home…and vomited all over the place. I had to take her to the hospital to have her on IV fluids. She never drank again after that…and I was relieved.

Now, at 22…she is the epitome of a “good kid”. The only thing she has done wrong is get pregnant again…a little too soon. But, she has a great husband and beautiful daughter to show for it. I only hope that her daughter is a fraction as wonderful as she is.

Happy birthday, Samantha. May all your dreams continue to come true.

Love always, Mama the whale.

Esther has come to town…

and in actuality, it has lightened my depression. She gives me so much to laugh about (or AT, rather) that I can’t help but be in a better mood.

She got so piss ass drunk at Thanksgiving that she started to ask my son in law if he was circumsized or not. Trevor, being the good English bloke that he is, confessed that he was not. My mother offered to use the carving knife and turn him into an “honorary Jew”. Lovely table talk for dinner.

Esther has this problem with talking with her mouth full. Sitting opposite her during a meal is very frustrating and downright gross. Last night, we had a birthday cake for Harry, my father. It had blue icing. My mother was eating and talking and her mouth looked like a smurf took a shit in her face. I had to ask her to please shut her gaping maw when she eats, lest I vomit on the table.

Thanksgiving was very nice. My daughter hosted in my house and her husband cooked the dinner. I learned how to turn on my stove for the first time. 3 years I have had this oven and never knew how to turn it on. The only turning on I am capable of is in the bedroom. I am definately not a kitchen kind of girl, for sure.

My son in law got shitfaced and proceeded to announce to the room how much he hates America. Yeah. That went over REAL well with my predominantly republican family. (I, however, am a liberal democrat…the black sheep of the family). He was going on and on about how impossible it is to find work in this country. He leaned over and hissed in my ear…”I HATE this place and I am going to take your daughter to England with me”

The fuck you are, Son.

My sister in laws boyfriend finally got ticked off enough to start yelling at my son in law “how dare you be so disrespectful to your in laws” and “who the fuck do you think you are?”

Oy. A mess, I tell you.

My son in law, Trevor, is a great guy most of the time…but he has serious alcohol issues. When he drinks he goes from happy and pleasant to emotional and angry. He also drools. It reminds me of the dog from “Turner and Hooch”.

Samantha and Sadie Rose are doing just fine. Sadie is now 7 pounds, up from the 4 pounds that she was at birth. She has the bluest eyes, like her father and dark hair like her mother. She also has her grandmothers disposition. She is an angry little thing that when her food does not come fast enough, she blows the roof off with her crying. This is the time I like being the grandmother and not the mommy. I can hand her back to her mother when she goes berzerk like that. Here ya go, Kiddo. Back to mommy.

Ah, the perks of being a grandmother.

My mother is in her hotel room today, all doped up on sleeping pills. She will not be seeing us today. How do you take a vacation to see your family and then not see your family? Is that not the craziest thing? That’s just her, I guess…and I would prefer that she misses a day if she is cranky and overtired. It’s like handing her back to my father the same way I hand back the baby to Samantha.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday…well, those of you from America anyway. For the rest, I hope you enjoyed your Thursday.

It’s Mah Birfday!!!

Today, 42 years ago, Esther hacked me out of her precious body. I was a C-section baby. Why? Because it was Labor Day weekend and Esther had a party to go to on that Sunday…so she set an appointment to push me out 3 days ahead of schedule so she could look “less pregnant” for her party.

This was the priority…not letting me fully gestate before being removed.

The payback? She has a big ol’ hatchet looking scar running from her belly button to her pubic bone, courtesy of moi. Yes, I destroyed the flat and perfect stomach of Esther…and she’s never let me forget it.

I share this day with Mike Tyson and Michael Jackson, proving that only freaks and weirdos are born on this day.

42 years ago. *sigh* The only thing grand about this birthday is the fact that I am going to be one helluva sexy grandmother before the year is out. Hooray for good genes. I have to attribute that to Esther who looks like she is in her 50’s despite being 67. Yes, mother. I said it. 67 years old and still a stunner.

So far I got me some Counting Crows tickets from my husband and a bee yoo tee full necklace from my parents. Don’t know what the rest of mi familia has in store for me but I am looking forward to finding out. Yay.

Tell me what you are doing today to celebrate my birth and mind you, laundry is an unacceptable practice. I grant you all one laundry free day on behalf of my birthday.

Call it a gift.