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.


  1. Anonymous7:55 AM

    Oh my goodness Megs, I don't know how you stay so calm. You have so much going on (and all big things!)! You're such an incredible daughter for your Dad - he and your sister are sure lucky they have you, considering if you weren't there it doesn't sound like your sister could be either. I don't know the details of your Dad's cancer, but I hope there is a positive resolution/end in sight and then you can focus on yourself, Jeeves and Manuji.

    I'm glad you had palpitations with the holter on - my sister and I both have them and have never been able to catch them on a holter! I hope everything turns out OK from that, I know mine are caused by stress so maybe that's all yours are too (not that it makes it easier but at least it's not a big problem!).

    I'm so glad you got that apartment - exciting! When do you move and how close is it to Manuji's EDD? That will be nice to be in a bigger place, and to have the confidence of the rental company to fix/repair.

    Your Babymoon looks wonderful....ugh I love the Ocean so bad it hurts my heart. I haven't been in years because we lived so far from the coast, but now that we're closer I'm taking Hubby out there this summer because he's never been. There's just something about a giant thing like the Ocean, to make you realize how big and wonderful the world really is. The food looks delicious, although I can honestly say I wouldn't eat octopus! I'm amazed Manuji didn't have any protests...because it doesn't smell that great!

    25 weeks! And your bump is so cute! I'll take your word for it that you don't have a small butt, but this picture definitely disagrees. I hope your symptoms ease up a bit and you can have a mostly normal body for the rest of your pregnancy (haha, but a girl can hope!).

    Ok, sorry for such a long comment, but you did write a novel for us to read! (Albeit necessary!) I hope you really catch some breaks in the stress department, you have wayyyy too much for one pregnant mama (or any one, to be honest). Don't ever feel guilty about that vacation...if you give everything you've got to your Dad, you won't have anything left, and if you don't have anything left then you have nothing for him either (or Jeeves or Manuji and certainly not for yourself!). Hugs!! And woohoo to being that much closer to bringing Manuji home!

  2. Aw sweetie I just want to give you a big hug! You've got a lot you're dealing with! I spent the last section of this post stifling a laugh and nodding my head. You sound JUST like me when I was pregnant! And it's okay, you're entitled to be a little short tempered! Especially with everything else you have going on. Hang in there!!!

  3. Oh boy, you have a lot going on. I get short tempered too when I'm overwhelmed. Everyone needs to watch out for fiery gingers. You are ridiculously responsible and your family is so incredibly lucky to have you to watch out for your dad. My older sister is the same way as yours (completely clueless) and I haven't mentioned by my mom also has cancer (CLL) and I am the only one that has pushed for being proactive about her health, as she blindly believes the BS doctors have told her and doesn't question it at all. yeesh.

    On happier notes: Yay, for locking in the rental, a fabulous babymoon with gorgeous coastal pictures and yummy food, decreased PVCs and oh my word you look adorable with your 25 week baby bump!