Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Then and now and also a short pregnancy update

Last week, Jeeves was reading through old e-mails.  Before we lived together, for about a year and a half I lived at my dad's.  And during most of that time, Jeeves was living up in New Haven, CT.  When he finished his clerkship, he went on a trip with his mom to India for six weeks (he had a lot of lag time between jobs, and it seemed like the best time to go on a long adventure).  That was in August-September 2009.  The only way for us to communicate was through daily e-mails.  My friends, we wrote LONG e-mails, filled with details about our days, and it now serves as an interesting snapshot of my life in August 2009.

Dad had been diagnosed in May, and had started chemo in June.  My memories of that summer are that the chemo made Dad sick, and that working full time plus making sure he ate every day and taking him to chemo too was tiring and stressful for me.  I also remember some minor stuff, like going down the shore (that's what we call it in Jersey) with Phil, Emily, and Reefy on a sunny August day.  But I forgot a lot of other stuff too.  I forgot just how sick Dad felt.  How tired and lonely I was.  And how I couldn't seem to catch a break (to wit, I sent my car through the car wash and the bumper fell off; the bike chain came off my brand new bike while I was riding it; and I had low grade paranoia that my boss was going to yell at me for something).  I was kind of like Charlie Brown, I think.  Poor summer 2009 Megs.

Hearing my own voice in those old e-mails made me feel better in a weird way because it was a tough, tough time, but I made it through, and there were a lot of good happy things that came after that.

Dad is home from rehab.  I stayed for 3 days.  It felt like weeks.  It was a mixed bag.  He's much better than he was, but I don't think he's ever going to go back to how he was (physically, I mean.  Mentally he's pretty much back to normal).  He has a visiting nurse and a home health aide.  But for most of the time, he's still on his own.  What would be most comforting for me and my sister is if he were in assisted living.  But he is very opposed to this, and we can't make him.  When I left yesterday, I thought, well, I've really done the best I can.  I was exhausted, I had forgotten to take my Pepcid so I had heart palpitations,  hadn't really eaten much all day, and I was experiencing shortness of breath (thanks to lack of room since Manuji is taking up soooo much space now and running up and down my dad's staircase a bajillion times).  When I made it home, I pulled on yoga pants, climbed into bed, and did not get out other than to eat the dinner Jeeves ordered for us.  Then I got back into bed.  It may sound silly, but yesterday evening was the first time I really realized that physically I cannot do this anymore.

A couple of weeks ago, Anh gave me a speech about how all a parent wants is for their child to be happy and have his/her own life.  She was saying this as a way of encouraging me to step back from Dad Care a bit and focus on my own life/impending child.  Nothing she said is wrong.  And I think logically my dad would agree with her.  But the experience is different.  Anh is a healthy, young parent to two little kids.  My dad is 78 years old, has metastatic colon cancer, and has managed to take care of himself alone for a long time.  And now he can't anymore, and he knows this.  But it's a lot easier to become reliant on the assistance of a willing daughter than a stranger, even a paid stranger.  And so while I know my dad wants me to be happy, I also believe that he is more comfortable asking me to drop everything and rearrange my life than he is with paying people to help him with some of the embarrassing or mundane tasks of his life. 

I know that in some cultures, it's expected that you will take care of your parents as they age, and I think this is fine and good.  I would be happy to do this for my dad.  The problem is that my dad (despite offers from both me and my sister) rejected the idea of moving in with one of us.  So, he wants me to take care of him, but in his own home in NJ, which is just not possible.  Oh, my dad would never explicitly say to me, "Come home and take care of me," but I also know from various things that he has said that this appeals to him.  So you see, I don't think it's as simple as saying "parents just want their children to be happy and live their own lives."
I was venting/opining on this topic to Wendy today.  Wendy has a lot of experience with this stuff - her father has been ill her whole life, at time deathly ill, and her 92 year old grandmother (who is in assisted living) is still extremely reliant on Wendy's mother for all sort of things.  Wendy put it thusly:
Old people are funny.  There's this brain cycle where in many ways the older people get, the more they perceive the world the way they did as children.  There's a general self-centering that takes place, even in people who never put themselves first.  I've seen it in many of my relatives, and my grandmother and father like to talk about it.  Ten years ago, your dad would have been horrified at the thought that you were doing so much for him and putting your own life on hold to do so.  Today he probably doesn't even consider it.  It's not that he's being selfish, it's just that it truly doesn't occur to him that you might be paying a price for doing all this for him.  In some ways I am glad about the timing of your pregnancy because it means you will have to step away from this and let [Sissy] step up or force your dad to accept help from others -- whether you want to or not.  I bet if Hot Pocket [Wendy's nickname for Manuji] weren't a factor, you would just be giving 100% to your dad and have tunnel vision about ever getting out of this cycle.

Dad says some of this is related to fear of dying.  As you know, it drives me crazy when Grandma makes Mom drive her to doctors or checks herself into the hospital at 3 am for crazy reasons and lets the shitstorm fall on everyone else.  I rant and rave to Dad about how inconsiderate it is of her to be so demanding of Mom and never to think of what might be going on in her life.  Even though Dad agrees with me, he says that at that age (granted, my grandmother is 92, so I'm not directly comparing her to your dad) people are so afraid of dying that they can't see anything else.
In many ways, what Wendy says makes a lot of sense to me because I have seen this self-centeredness arise in my dad, a man who has never had a self-centered bone in his body (especially when it comes to his kids), and because I know he is scared of dying. 

For awhile, I felt guilty about Manuji - that somehow it had been selfish of me to want a family of my own when what I should have been doing was just taking care of my dad, or that if Manuji weren't in the picture I would be better able to manage my dad's situation.  But it passed because Manuji's kicks and thumps and sticking his butt out on one side of my belly are what makes me feel happy and optimistic right now.  Because I love him so much already and making his baby registry a few weeks ago was such a wonderful distraction.  And because I'm just so excited to see him and I can't imagine not having him in our lives.

Anyway, that's it.  Dad is home.  It's time for me to step back a bit.  I'll still take him to his oncology appointments while I can, but I'm not going back out there for a week.  Today my sister filled in for me at his house and actually did a pretty good job (although it was really good that the home health aide was there too, and had remembered one of the 5000 things I said was "really important" because she repeated it to the visiting nurse who was able to set up an appointment with an ostomy nurse to visit Dad at home).  I wasn't there and somehow the world kept spinning.  I'm not convinced that Dad is going to be able to stay in his house long-term, but for now, he seems to be okay.

As for me and my pregnancy: last OB appointment a few days ago included the super fun glucose tolerance test.  I do not have gestational diabetes.  But they tested my iron and I am anemic.  So I have to take an iron supplement.  Lately a lot of people have been telling me that I look "small" or I don't look 6 months pregnant, or I don't look like I'm going to have a baby in June.  So I developed a bit of complex that maybe Manuji was going to measure behind, etc.  But Dr. C measured my fundal height and declared it "perfect" so all those "you're so small" people can suck it.  Jeeves said he thinks that those people think they are giving me a compliment.  I will remember this, and will always remember that the only appropriate commentary to a pregnant woman is that her bump looks "perfect" or "adorable" or something like that, and not "huge" or "small." 

We also bought a memory foam topper for our bed which has done amazing things for my hip pain.  I am back to loving my bed again.

Today I am 28 weeks pregnant.  Third trimester.  Already.

And behold, my most important purchase of the week.  Boy did I earn these:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Wave

This photograph is of big wave surfer Greg Noll in 1964 at Pipeline in Hawaii, taken by John Severson.  I don't surf.  I think surfing is really cool and I've always wanted to learn, but I'm also a total chicken and not the world's greatest swimmer, so I've never learned.  But I like the idea of surfing, and I've loved Greg Noll since I saw Riding Giants back in 2005 (I even blogged about it back then!). This picture appeals to me, though, not just because it's a surfing picture or because it's Greg Noll.  I love it because over the years I've come to impart meaning to it that it was probably never meant to have (but isn't that what art is for anyway?).
The ocean and waves, huge waves like the kind that Greg Noll used to surf, can be crushing and unpredictable.  They can be enormous.  But obviously people surf them because it's a challenge and because it can be fun and it's an adrenaline rush, and I'm sure there are other reasons too.  Over the years, this photo has come to represent, to me, massive, potentially crushing challenges and my desire to face them with grace and aplomb.  When I think of scary things I have to face, when I think of The Wave, I think of Greg Noll, a big guy but small before the wall of water, surveying the task with his board on his shoulder and his hand on his hip.  Sometimes The Wave represents something terrible that I never wanted to face: infertility or my dad's cancer.  Other times, it's an exciting but nonetheless daunting challenge, like my career or impending motherhood.

Last week, once I finally came home and got to sleep in my own bed again, I had a couple of bad dreams.  In one of them, Jeeves abandoned me to hang out with other people and left me to find my own way in a large arena.  When I woke up, I was mad at him.  Don't you love when that happens?  When you're mad at someone you love for something they did in a dream?  Jeeves's work has been really crazy this month.  In many ways he has been there for me during this whole debacle with my dad, but for the big stuff - taking Dad to the hospital, taking him home from the hospital, getting him into rehab, Jeeves couldn't be there, he had to work.  Jeeves's job is what allows me to work in my cushy, flexible job that in turn let's me drop everything and take care of Dad.  So I can't hate on it, even when I hate having to handle this stuff alone.

Still, I guess a small part of me was mad that he wasn't physically there with me even though I knew he was there, supporting me in spirit.  Those few days taking care of Dad and getting him into rehab were incredibly lonely.  But no one can ride on The Wave with you or for you.  You have to do it yourself.  In some of the biggest challenges we have to face, we have to face them alone.  It's nice to know that the people we love support us, have our back, but we're all going to deal with things in life that we ultimately have to tackle on our own.

Dad has been doing incredibly well in rehab and he's going to be released this Saturday.  I am both happy for him and terrified.  I have always struggled with uncertainty and so much of life right now is uncertain.  Will Dad be able to handle living independently?  What would happen if Dad got sick and needed to go to the hospital while I'm in labor?  How much time will we have left?  Can I be both a good daughter and a good mother?  Can I let go a little and accept that I have almost no control over any of this?  Can I just enjoy this pregnancy?

This is my wave right now.  And I'll do my best to ride it, not to let it crush me under.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The kindness of friends and strangers

Sunday night while I was writing my blog post, there was a crash from upstairs at my dad’s.  I ran upstairs and found Dad on his knees in the bathroom.  He was having problems (again) with his colostomy and while attempting to deal with it, he had slipped and fallen.  Again.  I should add that I also found out earlier in the day that two days before I took him to the hospital, he had fallen in the driveway and was so weak, he couldn’t get up.  He was able to flag someone down who helped him.

This time he was able to get up on his own, and I helped him deal with his colostomy problems.  Then we got him back into bed.  It was stressful and I started to worry that the home health aide who was starting on Tuesday wouldn’t be enough.

Monday morning, Dad seemed kind of tired and drained.  I was tired and drained too because I woke up every time he went to the bathroom in the night, worried he would fall again.  The visiting nurses came at around 10:30am, and at first Dad seemed to be doing okay, but then things unraveled.  While in the kitchen, discussing his medication with the nurses, he had problems with colostomy.  I should explain that Dad got the colostomy as a result of his bowel resection surgery 5 years ago when they had to remove the enormous tumor obstructing his colon.  He has handled it very well and completely independently the entire time.  But starting in January on this new med that caused the diarrhea, the colostomy began causing him a lot of problems.  A LOT of problems.  For a man who has managed his situation very well to go from that to periodically leaking in front of strangers, well…. I think it’s understandable that he gets very upset about the whole thing.

One of the problems with my childhood home is that it is quite old.  It only has 1.5 bathrooms, and the downstairs bathroom is a very small half bath. Dad can’t really use it to deal with his colostomy.  But the nurses helped him, and then I set about cleaning up because now there was a huge mess. Then the leaking continued.  The nurses helped Dad get upstairs, but getting upstairs requires that Dad leave his walker (which he just got this week), and use a cane to sort of mountain climb his way up the stairs.

The entire process was exhausting for him and he had to sit and rest in the bathroom.  The clinical manager pulled me aside and basically said – your dad can’t be here.  He shouldn’t have been released to home from the hospital, he should have gone to a rehab facility.  I told her that the physical therapy consult at the hospital claimed he was strong enough in the report.  Welp, maybe he was strong enough to take 80 steps in a hospital setting without stairs, but that was very different from being strong enough to come home.  And even with an aide coming in, it wouldn’t be enough.  It was a matter of safety – Dad was going to fall and he just couldn’t manage at home right now. 

“What do I do?”  I asked the nurse.  She said she’d call the case manager at the hospital and see if she could get them to help.  The hospital people were resistant.  They weren’t inclined to help now that Dad wasn’t their problem anymore.  But the visiting nurse manager basically cajoled them into it.  Mind you, the help they provided was limited, but in the end, I was able to get a list of rehab places, and they agreed they would send his files over to whatever place I wanted to send him.  I spent the next hour researching rehab facilities and calling them to see if they had a spot.  A lot of the better places were full.  But I finally found a well-rated facility with an open spot.  I got Dad’s oncologist to fax over a prescription for the rehab, and the hospital sent over the inpatient report (Medicare will pay for rehab in certain circumstances, and one of the requirements is that you have to have been in a hospital for at least 3 nights…. Dad was in for 4).  And then I proceeded to freak out that they would refuse him because of that damn PT report.  In the end, they took him.

Dad spent the afternoon in bed, and when it was time to go, I helped him up, packed up some of his stuff, and got him into the car and to the rehab facility.

It was a rough day.  I never showered, I spent way more time than I ever thought I would cleaning up diarrhea, I didn’t have much time for food or water.  And I cried off and on all day.  I guess there's a joke in there somewhere about how that's what it will be like when I have a newborn, but there's nothing joyful about this process.

When we got Dad into his room at the rehab facility, I started to cry.  “I feel like I’ve failed you.  I feel like I should be able to take care of you at home, but I just can’t.”  My dad reassured me that I never fail him.  But it just felt so sad to leave him there.

Rehab is the right place for him right now.  He is safe, he doesn’t have to worry about doing anything but resting and doing his physical therapy (which he likes and finds helpful).  We’ll see how it goes.  Hopefully he’ll be able to return home at the end of this, with one of those Lifeline buttons and a home health aide to assist him in his daily living activities.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.  If your parents are over 50 and have not been getting regular colonoscopies, please refer them to me.  Please ask them who is going to take care of them when a preventable form of cancer eats away at them.  Colonoscopies are safe and they save lives.  There is no reason not to get one if you have insurance, and if your parent is over 65 and on Medicare, then a colonoscopy is covered.  My dad beats himself up all the time about his refusal to get a colonoscopy until it was too late.  Trust me, you and your parents – they don’t want to be us in this situation.  This situation is the worst.

But what about the title of this post?  Where’s all the kindness from friends and strangers?  This post is mostly about a really, really bad day!  I’ve felt so alone in all of this.  But there were people who made me feel less alone, and I am so thankful.
  • To Lauren, an old college friend, who is an elder law attorney.  Years ago when Dad got sick, she drew up all the paperwork we needed – advance directive, power of attorney, will, etc.  I finally told her what was going on, and she called me first thing Monday morning.  I told her I was totally confused by hospice and whether Dad could be home or not when the time comes.  “Don’t worry.  We have a lot of options, we’ll figure it out.”  She’s been helping me all week and reminds me that I have someone with a lot of information at my disposal
  • To Liz and Vinny, Kate’s parents, who let me come over and spend the night at their house on Monday because I didn’t want to be alone in Dad’s house.  They fed me, and offered a lot of advice (they have taken care of sick, aging parents so they know where I’m coming from) and let me cry, and then made me laugh.
  • To Anh, who sent me a giant chocolate and peanut butter cake from Baked, my favorite bakery so I’d have a treat.  
  • To Mary, Dad’s oncology nurse, who got Dad’s scrip for rehab faxed over in 5 minutes with no questions asked, and who called the next day to check in and make sure he had gotten into a good place.
  •  To those visiting nurses, who went to bat for us and got the hospital to help us, and who called at the end of the day to make sure I had gotten Dad into a place and reminded me to eat and drink something.
  • To the lady who runs the home health aide service who worked so quickly to make sure Dad would have an aide right away, even though we didn’t need it in the end.
  • To everyone who commented on my last post – I wanted to write back, but I just haven’t been able to.  I’m so grateful for your support and your kind words, and they meant a lot as they came in throughout that day.   
I'm home now, and even went into work today, which was nice.  I hope the next week is better for both Dad and me.  

Sunday, March 09, 2014

There's no time, there's never any time

It seems wrong to write about something so serious with a title that is from that episode of Saved By the Bell where Jessie gets addicted to uppers.  But I kind of related to Jessie this week because like her, I was so tired, just running on fumes, but I kept running.  

I'm really sorry I've been a terrible commenter.  A lot of you are going through big stuff.  I've been thinking about you, and I hope that soon my support will be more than just in my own head.  Either way, please know that someone in NY/NJ did think of you and was sending positive thoughts your way.

Last Tuesday I talked to my dad on the phone and he seemed very ill.  Very confused.  If I hadn't already known that dementia does not come on suddenly, I would have been worried that that was what was happening.  I told him that I was concerned and that we needed to go see his doctor the next morning, and he resisted a little, but finally agreed.  According to Dr. Google, Dad was probably experiencing dehydration-induced delirium.  Yeah, apparently that's a thing.

The next morning, I took a Zip Car out, and found Dad in bed, pretty out-of-it.  It was a serious struggle, but I eventually got him into the car and took him to the ER (while calling his oncologist, who luckily was on-call that morning at the hospital and met us at the ER).  

Dad spent the next four days in the hospital, recovering from the dehydration.  There's been other stuff, too, basically involving the fact that he is now considered a risk for falls and he's been having a lot of problems with his colostomy.  The good news was that he was cleared by Neurology pretty quickly - the cognitive issues seemed to be entirely due to the dehydration and loss of electrolytes.

On Friday, Dr. T, his onco, came to see us with his results, and they were not.... good.  I had thought they would be okay, because his last tumor marker blood level showed a reduction.  But they weren't.  the Pelvic Mass That Will Not Be Stopped has continued to grow.  But also distressing, there are several new liver metastasis that weren't there back in December.  This.... sucks.  What sucks even more?  We have now exhausted chemotherapy protocols, which means we'd have to return to an old protocol which is unlikely to do much.

I asked Dr. T how much time Dad would have if he didn't do any treatment.  It always hard to answer that, Dr. T said, because everyone is different, yada yada yada.  But he would guess 6 months.  With the treatment, well, it's tough to say.  But the end result is that we're coming to the end of the road.  I know that it seems like we should have been prepared for this.  After all, Dad has had nearly 5 years since his diagnosis and that is 3 or 4 more years than we were supposed to get.  We have always known the end game here.  But Dad and I both cried about this news.  A lot.  Friday was a terrible day.  

Dad has decided to do the treatment, figuring it can't hurt since Dr. T is going to start him on the lowest dosage possible to see how he tolerates it.  

Meanwhile, getting an aging parent home, setting up a home health aide who will come in, while also dealing with all the chores and errands that hadn't been done because he was feeling so ill has been really hard on me.  My sister has been no help.  She thinks Dad should move into assisted living, which I didn't disagree with until they told us that he probably only has 6 months.  Then I asked him if he would prefer to stay in his home, and he said he would.  So I'm trying to make that work while also being honest and acknowledging that my role as primary caregiver has to change drastically because I'm just not going to be able to do it once the baby is born, or even before that.  

I guess that's it.  We'll see.  In the mean time, it feels like there's no time left, and that feels awful.  I hate seeing my dad sad.  I hate that my son will never really know my parents at all.  I hate everything about this.  I hate how hard this is.  I hate that I actually feel guilty for being pregnant because it means that I can't help Dad as much as I think I should.

And I'm so tired.  So, so tired.  So for now, that's it. 

Monday, March 03, 2014

I'm eating cookies at the end of this post

First off, thanks for the very kind comments on my last post.  It was a bad day, but as Rach said, getting it off my chest (and having a really loud, long cry about it) made me fee a lot better.  By Thursday I felt more like myself.

So this post will basically serve as catching up on the last week and a half.  It's really, really long.  Mostly it won't be pregnancy related, except at the end of the post where I am going to talk about Manuji and post a bump picture, so please feel free to skip that if you're not in the mood.  Or if you only read the blog for the baby stuff, you can just skip to the end.  Also - travel and food pictures!  Not sure why I put an exclamation after that.... probably because *I* really love travel and food pictures.  Anyway, there are headers so you can skip to the parts you'd rather read, or you can read the whole thing, which is probably crazy.

The Cardiologist

So, last Thursday, after approximately 3 terrible days of reflux and heart palpitations, including what was probably the worst palpitations of my life on Wednesday, I had my appointment for an echocardiogram and a 24-hour holter monitor.  The echo was much as I remembered it, basically just an ultrasound of your heart, made more uncomfortable by being a roly-poly turtle these days.  It took about 10 minutes.  The tech told me absolutely nothing.  Then I got hooked up to my portable holter monitor.  The nurse was in a rush and the wires were longer than I remembered, so it was hard to hide the monitor.  I went home and put on the biggest sweater I own and tucked as much of the wires into my pants so I could go to work without having the explain this crap.  It worked out fine.  By Thursday, my reflux was largely under control thanks to an increased dose of Pepcid, Tums, and being back to a regular eating schedule. But I still had some palpitations (mostly while eating), which was good.  I know that sounds weird.  I consider it good because I want to prove to the doctor that I am actually having PVCs and I'm not making it up or imagining it.  So, mission accomplished.

Nothing to report on the outcome of this - despite returning the holter on Friday and the echo on Thursday, no call with results yet.  I am taking this as a sign that my heart isn't on the verge of exploding, and I'll call tomorrow if I don't hear anything.  Meanwhile, I'm back to the lower dose of Pepcid and the reflux and palpitations are greatly reduced.

The apartment debacle of 2014

Well, we do have a new home.  I'll try to keep this story brief, I know it's not that interesting.  Basically, after asking a lot of advice, we had decided to go with the condo that had 2 bathrooms, larger living room and kitchen, and a kitchen that overlooked the living room.  This is after a discussion and plan on how to handle the laundry and storage situation.  The brokers for the apartment continued to drag their feet on answering a few of our questions.  Last Monday (while we were still on vacation) Jeeves was finally able to talk to the parking garage at the condo and it turned out that what we had been told about the cost of parking at the condo was totally wrong.  The parking was a lot more than we had been told.  When I crunched the numbers, the price was no longer a wash as a result.  Suddenly, the condo was not that much cheaper than the 2 bedroom in our current building, which we passed on because it would be super irresponsible to spend that much money on rent.  Additionally, a couple of other things the broker had told us, specifically about maintenance repairs in the apartment, was not entirely true.  The owners were still trying to work out some sort of agreement with someone to make repairs for us when a problem arises.  This is not what we were told, and I'm not thrilled with it since the owners will be in Europe for the next few years and not particularly easy to get in touch with if, say, the fridge breaks down.  And then I talked to Kate, who told me all about Baby Ella and her birth, and dropped the truth bomb that since bringing the baby home, she and Bart do two to three loads of laundry a day.  As she put it, "Breast milk gets everywhere!"

So, we decided to go with the rental unit.  It's not perfect, but no apartment is, and it will be great to have a washer/dryer in the apartment and a storage space in the basement.  And I'm excited!  It's sad to leave our neighborhood, but it will be fun to explore a new one.

My dad

I'm a Mad Men fan and last year, this was probably my favorite Mad Men moment [explanation: Pete Campbell has just found out some really effed up news about his mother, and Bob, the guy on the elevator with him, asks how things are going (sidenote, Pete blames Bob for what's going on with his mom)]:

I love Vincent Kartheiser's delivery of that line.  And Jeeves and I joke all the time when shit is going wrong that things are "Not great, Bob!"

Anyway, things with Dad have been not great for the last couple of weeks, and I've thought of that line a lot.  The good news: Dad's tumor markers are down thanks to the new chemo protocol he's on.  The bad news: his primary side effect from this particular drug is diarrhea.  Sorry if this is TMI, feel free to skip to the next section.  Obviously diarrhea is annoying, but his has been so bad that he's now starting to have physical problems from it.  He's not as bad as he was when I had to take him to the hospital back in December, but he is starting to lose weight, and he seems very fatigued from it.  Not surprising, since he's not obtaining enough nutrients from his food and even though he's doing great with drinking fluids, it's still dehydrating and you lose electrolytes.  Also, because my dad has a colostomy, he gets no warning when this is going to happen and it can have disastrous consequences.  Combine this with the fact that it's been horribly cold and snowy here and Dad has felt basically trapped in his house.  Did I mention that at the same time all this is going on, Dad's computer crashed, my cousin who always fixes the computer is completely MIA, and the mailman stopped delivering the mail because the stairs were covered in 3 inches of ice?  Yeah.

Part of problem has to do with the medication Dad takes to deal with the diarrhea - it's a prescription med and his new prescription plan started being assholes and wouldn't fill it or something.  We've been working with Dad's nurse for like, 6 weeks, to get this fixed.  But nothing has happened.  In the meantime, he's been taking Imodium, which has not helped at all.

Oh, and then Dad slipped and fell in the bathroom on Friday.  He didn't break anything, thank goodness, but his hip is bruised, and one of the panes in the bathroom window broke when Dad's head (!) hit it.  Miraculously, he did not cut his head, thanks to the curtain.  But he's kind of hobbling around, looking very much like the old man.

Did I mention that I'm the only person Dad tells this stuff to?  That my sister knows little of it because her reaction is usually to freak out and call me, and he hasn't told his brother because his brother's wife is in the hospital and he doesn't want to worry him?  And because I went on vacation, I missed one of Dad's doctor's appointments where I could have pushed the issue?  I'm usually a confident person and I feel like I try my best to be a good and supportive friend/family member to everyone in my life.  But when stuff like this is happening and I "selfishly" (I know, I know it's not selfish to take a vacation) decide to take a vacation which means I miss what should have been a routine appointment, I pretty much feel like shittiest daughter ever.

In light of all this, Jeeves and I rented a Zip Car and went out to Jersey yesterday.  I bought Dad a ton of food to help deal with the diarrhea.  I called and left a stern message for his nurse, asking her to call me back immediately on Monday morning.  Jeeves figured out that Dad's computer is totally fried and he needed a new one.  So Jeeves and I got in the car, went to Best Buy, and got him a new computer.  We came home and Jeeves set it up, so at least Dad has internet access and his beloved free cell again.  Then we went outside, and Jeeves broke up the ice on the steps with a hammer and put down a ton of salt so the mailman can deliver the mail.

It was really productive, and it still felt like we'd done nothing.  And Dad and I had a fight.  His answer when I tell him that he looks terrible and we need to do something about it is "I'm dying!"  And I yelled back, "You've been dying for 5 years!  This isn't you dying!  This is you having a bad chemo reaction!" He also tried to tell me he hadn't been that sick in December.  I laughed and laughed at that one.   Ugh.  I always feel like crap when I yell at him, but I also feel like sometimes it's the only way anything sinks in with him.  In the end, we basically came to mutual agreement that a) he needed his prescription meds immediately and I was going to raise hell until we got them; b) he's going to need a break from this chemo followed by a reduced dosage if we can't get it under control immediately.

Today I talked to Mary, Dad's nurse.  After a bunch of phone calls, it turns out that the scrip has been filled (finally) and Dad picked it up today (after I threatened to rent another Zip Car and go pick it up myself).  I'm hopeful that this will actually work.  But if not, I'm going to insist that they give him some time off from the chemo.  What good is the "cure" if it kills you?

When we got home last night, I read something about the fetus responding to the stress that the mother feels.  So we can add one more thing for me to feel guilty about.

Did I mention how amazing Jeeves is in all of this?  He works so hard for us, and then on a day off, he comes out and deals with my dad's dumb computer, and breaks up ice, and is generally my rock.  What would I do without him?  What if it were just me out there with Dad?  I can't even imagine.

In summation, I just want to say that my dad is usually an involved and supportive presence in my life.  But when he's feeling sick, he's just not capable of that, understandably.  I was feeling really angry and frustrated with him for not being there for me, but I know now that I was wrong.  I'm a big girl, my mom is dead, and my dad is very sick.  I'm about to be a mom.  As Karou says in Days of Blood and Starlight (which, b-t-dub, if you've never read Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, which is book one in the series, you should consider reading it.  She's a beautiful writer and you'll feel like you've traveled to Prague, Marrakesh, and another fantasy world after you've read it.), I need to be my own source of strength.  And I need to cut Dad a lot of slack, and support him, and do my best.  And I have to hope that I have surrounded myself with enough loving people who will do the same for me if I ever feel sick or too down to reciprocate properly.


Our babymoon to the California Coast was amazing.  It was everything I hoped it would be, and in the food department, it totally surpassed my expectations.  We flew into San Francisco, rented a car, and drove down the Pacific Coast Highway to a town between LA and SF called Cambria.  It is lovely, the people are kind, there was a really good coffee shop, and delicious pastries.  Oh, and we had a celebrity sighting - we sat next to Lizzy Caplan and her Aussie boyfriend at dinner.  Some photos.

Bixby Bridge, heading south through Big Sur
Sunset from the boardwalk in Cambria

In the drive south, we stopped in Carmel and had lunch at La Balena, which was fantastic.  The best meal of the trip.  My favorite thing we ate was the octopus and potatoes with lemon aioli - the pictures isn't that pretty because I forgot to take one till we were half way finished with it.

More of the view from Highway 1 - this is what the whole drive looks like.
The view from Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.  This pic was taken on a cloudy, foggy day, but most of our trip was sunny and lovely.
Last meal in California was at In N Out... no wonder I had heartburn.
The only negative I can say about this trip was that I wish it had been longer.

Pregnancy, the bump, and Manuji

As of tomorrow, I am 25 weeks.  Crazy.  According to that website that compares the baby to a fruit or vegetable, Manuji is currently the size of a head of cauliflower.  He's very active - lots of kicking and prodding and rolling about.  For the most part, I enjoy it, although he actually sometimes kicks me in the cervix, which is uncomfortable.  Also, he sometimes kicks/sits on my bladder, which, ouch.  It's pretty cool at night when I lie down - sometimes we can see my whole belly move and shift.  

It's sometimes hard for me to remember that there's stuff I can't do like I used to.  Stairs have become a lot tougher, and if I spend a lot of time walking, at some point I'm completely pooped.  The other day after a lot of walking, I wound up taking the subway one stop.  One stop!  Because walking 0.6 miles after all the other walking just seemed like too much.

Now please don't take this the wrong way.  I would do it all again, and suffer much worse in a heartbeat for my child.  But I just want to share a list of things with you of stuff that I understood in the abstract, but not in reality.  Stuff I didn't totally realize about pregnancy:

1) Acid reflux - I've talked about it enough on here, you guys know how unpleasant I find it.  I didn't realize how often, gross, painful, etc. 

2) Sleep problems - I knew pregnant women had to get up to pee a bunch of times in the night, but that didn't seem so bad to me.  What I didn't realize is that I wake up every two hours with pain from only sleeping on one side (mostly hip pain, but also my shoulders and neck too), and then I have to roll myself over to the other side.  I saw a lot of elephant seals in California.  I think of them whenever I have to roll over and rearrange my pillow fort.

3) Your body is very different and it's hard to do things like squat down to grab a pan from a cabinet, bend over to pick up something you dropped.  If I sit down on the floor, I usually need assistance to get back up.

4) Pregmotional - this is the term a girl on my pregnancy board used.  It's the hormones.  It means I don't handle things as well as I used to.  I know I've been handling stuff with my dad a lot less well because of the pregnancy hormones.  I cry a lot.  Usually at dumb stuff.  I sob at the not dumb stuff.  I get pissy easily, and here is a list of bitchy things I have said out loud to strangers in the last week:
  • You're acting very dainty.  I don't know what you were expecting. [To the tourist at the state park in California who overreacted to the smelliness of the port-o-potty].
  • If you try to cut me, I swear to God....(narrows eyes). [To a man much larger than me who tried to cut me in line at Walgreen's.  He quickly got behind me.]
  • Stop walking so closely to me! [To the man on the wide open sidewalk who was too busy looking on his cell phone to notice that he was walking less than a foot next to me].
And you should have seen the nasty letter I wrote to Amazon when a package I ordered was not delivered on time.  It was a thing of beauty, but only earned me a $10 gift certificate.  Basically, I feel like I'm 17 again, but not in a fun way, more in a my-emotions-are-all-over-the-place-and-I-am-not-the-master-of-them sort of way.

Now for the bump.  This is from a few days ago.  I note that my butt looks very small in this photo.  Please take my word for it that I do not have a small butt, it's just that the bump makes it look small in comparison.

And now, I think that's enough.  Believe it or not, between the start and finish of this post (which I spent, like, 10 hours writing off and on.... a lot of off), I had another Dad crisis and meltdown.  I do believe I have earned a lot of cookies, and I'm going to eat them now.  Good night.