Monthly Archives: October 2009

The Coolest Mom – Oct. 30, 2009

No, ’tis not me, not my mom, nor even Aunt Pat (though she is close). No, it is Pat’s daughter-in-law. A long overdue photo of my cousin Tim’s wife, Michele, and their two sweet girls. More photos to come, but she is just a cool chick and a great mom.

Paco: 3rd in from left, then Michele, then (I confess, I don’t know which in the photo, Steve will tell me when they get home) the super twins: Sydney and Milan.



Old Friends

Cindy & Shannon have been friends for ages. I wedged my way in in 1993 with Shan, then 1995 with Cindy. (I was in the UK for much of 1994). They are both putting up well with my “sorry, cannot make it, need to sleep/walk/go to doctor.” But they keep up offers. It is a good feeling.


Tag-Team the Tired

Sometimes Kaiser requires driving. Usually for a good thing. Today, we were on the road to Roseville. No, no, no, not for me. Steve had an appt. at the pain clinic to get an epidural of steroids. It was hard for me to find a seat to wait! I almost yanked off my hat to play the GBM Girl with a baby card, but then, after 20 min, someone left. The wait was very non-kaiser. They ask you to get there 30 min early, then called him in 20 min late. I walked around the inside with Tom, but it is just too blustery for a good walk. Sitting there, on the bench in the building lobby, him in the stroller; I almost laid out on the bench and fed Tom the bottle with my eyes closed.  I had no idea how I would get us home.

Steve was a nauseous wreck, but after I ran into Togos (and following the Tom Zavadil method of sitting in my car…sit next to the baby, much more comfortable) we both improved. My dream of running into the Trader Joes (right there in Roseville) was delayed and I basically drove Steve home and made sure he got to the bed ok, then took off to the store. We are disorganized at this point, let me say. Steve valiantly did not take Vicodin in case I needed help. So I dragged a sleepy sweetheart Tom into the  market with the list Steve had put together on his phone while I drove, then he emailed it to my phone.

From there, I got back, put groceries away and took Tom to go get Paco. We made it home and Tom tried to nap. Steve was still out so I had to let Tom whine in his crib while I got dinner going (what I would do anyway if alone in the house and the baby were whiny with sleepiness). In the middle of making a quick meal (spaghetti and meatballs, with zucchini) Steve arose surprisingly full of life. I said I could drag both kids to Paco’s soccer practice (I so thought I was too exhausted, but would rally). Steve, somehow, in the recovery found the energy. We ate, I put Tom down at 5:45 and I passed out on the sofa (with my Aunt Joan hat, and 4 layers and a blanket) until 6:22. Oh my goodness. What an incredible nap.

The boys brought me Starbucks (negative point here: cannot drink red wine nor a mocha any more, they now make me cough incessantly). We had a snack as a family with Tom still alseep. It was nice.

Steve got P down (skipping bath due to exhaustion running rampant) and then came out to work. To work. Tom awoke and tok a bottle snuggling as Steve and I chatted. We had quiet time with each kid separately. Tom went down without effort.

Steve said that for the first time in weeks his leg was not numb. Unfortunately, the problem factor we think is: The bike. Paco is on board, he gets that some days will be walks with his dad, or his brother in a stroller. But I, who dislike bicycles, need to step up and collect him by tag-a-long when I can.

Tomorrow is a new day. I am dreading next week, but this week Colleen & Brandon and Mom are all coming out at some point to help me move stuff. Next week is the restart of Temodar for the first week of the month. NOT excited.

Oh, a side note. If your feet and joints hurt, buy new shoes. I am still exhausted and worn out, but my feet and knees are not killing me anymore. I have yet to have time to get to fleet feet to get the good shoes, but a decent pair of New Balance were on sale for $40, at Big 5 in walking distance. So I went ahead. And holy cow. Still exhausted, but the achy breaky part seems to have stopped for a time.

Tomorrow must be an attack the world day. I have laundry to do and boxes from the move to unpack. Need my coats! And a cookbook or two.

I forgot to say this…it is wonderful to have my husband back. I had no idea how much the stress was bothering me or effecting his humor. I thought I was just frustrated. Then he had a huge personality change, walked upright in a few hours. And there was weight off my shoulders. The poor man, what could he be going through when he has to worry about me, the boys and earn a living? He hides it well.

Nap. Walk. Joy.

Sunday I was out for a walk with Tom, when I ran into my neighbors from across the street. The wife is slightly older than I and was diagnosed with breast cancer, a successful mastectomy, then it returned to 2 of her lymph nodes. She knew about my situation and we had spoken briefly in front of Paco (so low on details). She knows all about beating odds. She was also great to whom to complain. She, too, had been on Avastin. I apologized for whining and she encouraged me to let it fly. The kids had been sick and I was so sore. She confirmed what I felt, that the joints just ache. Mostly my knees and shoulders seem to have lifted weights outside of my ability. But the fellow survivor was strong and resilient and I found her key to my day, to my week. I was so low yesterday, but between super neighbor survivor and super neighbor caretaker (of a GBM friend 15 years ago) and then an e-mail from a friend going through chemo, I felt lifted up. A trinity of women working their magic.

Today, I was actually good about asking for help.  (Mom picked up chicken and vegetables for us from Costco). Steve took Tom to the gym and I picked up around the house. Steve returned with a sleeping Lemon, so I took him to my mom’s. That is where the nap shift is. We put Tom down for a nap, then we all took a nap. Tom could not sleep well, so he and I took a walk. I returned to Clark’s big smile, proud of me for the walk, Clark watched the Tom and sent me to nap again. To confess, to hear them chatting and just being together even got mom up to participate. And well, I gave up sleep to witness the joy. Some things are worth it.

Steve Shirking Duty

Steve was supposed to post tonight. He got sucked into a movie. To be fair, he deserved the escape. Both boys were sick. Well, Paco sick, Tom responding to vaccinations. I am just pooped. I walked for 20 minutes at the end of the day thanks to Steve setting me free and my obsession in fighting the pizza face side effect.

Steve worked much of the day and fortunately Tom slept a lot and Paco fell asleep watching college ball. Steve kept popping out to see if he should help and I had to aggressively (and meanly) send him back to work.

Our neighbor came by to deliver an activity gift…the one who lost her friend to GBM 15 years ago. Sue is wonderful. She was just happy that I was doing well. It is strange to me that my old friend from high school, who lost her mother to this 20 years ago and Sue are now in my life. They seem to look at me as a fresh start at an old fight. Hard to believe how much has changed medically for this since 2001.

Steve came in this evening and did not say anything negative when he realized what I was watching. I bought the episodes of ER where Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards) is diagnosed. I watched one tonight, Shan and I have a date to drink wine and watch them together as we used to do. Anything to do with fathers dying young and babies dying early we usually don’t watch. But this we will. After all, I have to conquer it, including the sadness that can rear it ugly head.

But then in a few hours, Lemon will wake up and need my love. And he can defeat sadness as well as Paco. Two troubadours of happiness.

So Steve did not really shirk.

Little by Little.

So tired. Made it onto treadmill. Had to return to Colleen’s to retrieve purse, eat delicious and sweetly provided sandwich and then take power nap while she walked with Tom. Came home and took other power nap while Steve took Tom to get Paco at school. Three good and active days. Must sleep now.

Brandon, thank you for making me laugh out loud. I don’t think I can carry a skullet hair-do. Poor Lisa, Beckett is tooting up a storm, so I made her listen to Tommy’s tunes. It was so long of a toot that she got to hear the 2nd half over the phone. She may stop letting me crash their dinners out.

Steve’s back is slowly bettering itself. We are wondering if it is the bike he is using to take Paco to school that exacerbates his back. 36 hours of no bike and he has not popped any ibuprofen today. Could it be that we are getting it together? Poco por poco.

The Apples of Our Eyes

For the first part of the day, I was concerned about Tommy’s slight diaper rash. I had better really start focusing on child proofing.

Toosh on the Move

Toosh on the Move

So Steve was super dad today and was in charge of the teething and sad Tom from about 11:15 for the rest of the day. Me, I got the better assignment. This was my charge:

Lovin' the Donuts

Lovin' the Donuts

Today was a day full of life (and full of compliments). From Noon to 1, we made out way to Apple Hill. You see, the Arkansas Black apples had just been harvested. Today is also Wacky Wednesday, so P is out of school at 11:35. We have had this planned for weeks.  From 1-4 the two of us made our way to High Hill Ranch (to buy my mom a caramellow, which when we were kids I swear were scotchmellows) and Paco ran around and stretched. From there to O’Hallorans, were we stocked up on the Arkansas Blacks, mostly, but also Golden Delicious, Mutsu, Red Rome Beauties and Granny Smiths. Then we had to do the traditional Rainbow Orchards for donuts and cider (Janet, we picked you up some cider to show you the best). There the donut woman asked if under my baseball cap I had shaved or was I a survivor? She was a true survivor from uterine cancer and was impressed with my ability to carry pumpkins. I am more convinced than ever about the power of exercise.

The Adventurer Treks Across Hay

The Adventurer Treks Across Hay

From there we stopped at Abels for pie (and divinity) and then Starbucks for coffee and milk. What a glorious thing to just run around with a kid that can do his own seat belt and walk without a stroller or my arms. Just his hand in mine when we crossed big lots or streets.

We hit Sacramento and harassed every Wheeler there is. And a Muldavin for good measure. Paco wanted to meet Beckett the Adorable. So we crashed Brandon and Lisa’s dinner (delivering pie and apples) at La Casa. But there were TVs showing sports so P was a bit distracted, still ate beans. I was so distracted by chatting with B&L that I forgot to take a photo of Beckett and Paco. From there we swung by Barbara’s to deliver the divinity (forgot to give her the scotchmellow…mom it is here if you need it). Then we took Taco Bell to Colleen and Wheels. We crammed in 7 people in less than 60 minutes. Of course, at Colleen’s she and I got sucked into chatting while the boys ate and hung out. And I stole headwear.

We arrived home, forced Steve to do an apple taste test then got Pdub to sleep.

Every family member was full of joy for me. All adults commented on my appearance and general energy level. Tomorrow, no matter how tired I am, I will go the gym. For the first time in ages I feel tired, but for good reason, being out and about.

Also, Paco and I have barely had time together in 2009. Between the pregnancy, me working the first part of the year, having the house on the market, then a newborn, then moving, then surgery I have barely spent any quality time with my first baby.

It was a great day. I guess that is the secret, exercise and breathe in as much love and joy as you can manage.

Pee in Your Eye!

I was doing surprisingly well. Went to the gym and had a decent 40 min on the treadmill (I did a slow jog at intervals); it added up to about 15 within the 20 minutes). The treadmill allowed for long pauses that gave me time to go to the bathroom. Lemon was sweet until the minute I showed up. He made me feel important and started crying.

We rushed home and he took a great nap. I showered and napped for 20 minutes before heading to St. James. Don’t even get me started on today’s politics with the Vatican. I had to fill out the registration for the parish and the staff (one of 4 “Pats” but not actually related) who helped me was a joy and open-minded. Her mother had suffered severe cancer and hated the wig. She was fine with the baldness.

For the second day in a row…Tommy had a massive poop blowout. “El Poopador” I like to call him. He loves solids as Paco never did and, well, the output is productive. Steve did not believe me that we needed to go up to a size 4 diaper…but we do. Yesterday the great change was done in the chill in the back of the car. Lots of air to prevent diaper rash.

Today, Pat C showed me the changing table in the restroom, and thankfully no one came in. What a disaster. Poop all up the back. Unlike yesterday, where there was poop in the toes, today, the poop was relatively easy to clean up. Then the pee arch began. Poor Tommy peed in his own eye. The stream hit all along the face line, all behind his head, all over the top end of the changing table. From there I bathed him in the sink (then again at home). He was a good sport. His poor gums are hurting the beeb. The worst of it is that it is the first phase that he really likes being held (I’ll take that on).

A splurge on a huge iced tea from Starbucks and  back in the house…Steve kindly let Paco color and took care of Tom while I grabbed another nap. But Steve underestimated my ears. I slept for about 10 minutes, while Steve gave Tom a bottle,  but before and after could not sleep to the sounds of overtired and loud squawks.

So today was my first really productive post-Avastin Day. 5 loads of laundry folded and put away, dishes and bottles cleaned (morning dishes done by Steve), meeting with the parish, going to the gym and two 20-min naps.

An accomplishment.  I need to go to sleep.

Tom & Dean: As soon as you two want to deliver coffee in person…the office awaits. Dean, you and Steve need to start bonding over exercises.



Ugh. The post day is being traditional. Was ok for 2 hours of making breakfast and packing lunch. Now feel like piano is pressing on muscles and want to sleep for week. No! Must eat something then put on sweats. Then, after I am ready for the gym and the diaper bag is packed (if Tom is still napping) I can take a power nap.

Or I could put my head on the desk and close my eyes.

Can someone bring me a cup of coffee?

Avastin Day

Escorted by mom and aunt Pat, we headed into UCSF ahead of schedule. Despite traffic and rainstorms (and despite me wanting to sit there and pet Spike the adorable dog) we walked down the hall 35 minutes ahead of my date with infusion. I settled mom and Tom in the waiting area, where the staff on break ooed and awed over his cherubic face. Pat escorted me down the hall and sure enough, Charge Nurse Mary came in to pop the IV in quickly. I even offered to a nurse I like practice on me and Mary just popped in it, then she asked where Tommy was.  She and Pat chatted like classmates from college.

Just as I was finishing up another clinical trialer came in, he was about 10 years older than I am. With his course 3 months ahead of mine, I was overjoyed to see his hair fully returned. He said his looked like mine 3 months ago, now it had a nice, thick ½ inch growth on his head. I got a little joyous and hopeful. We compared notes on side effects and it seems we are complete opposites. His body barely tolerates Temodar, but Tarceva does not seem to be bothering him as much.

One thing I have really learned is the aid of the experience of pregnancy and motherhood. All the things that the nice GBMer had said about Temodar causing problems sounded like 1st trimester to me. And when the nurses recommended Aquaphor (well-used for diaper rash and early eczema), he had never heard of it (I had a sample in my diaper bag that I passed along). Exhaustion (for him due to Temodar) just sounds like motherhood.

Pat and I whispered to each other on the way down they hall. ”Am I weird to think this is never coming back and it is my job to help statistics?” Pat, “No, I think the same thing.”

Mom and Tommy bonded in the waiting area, and she barely left his side all day. I actually had to ask her to finally come up and sit with me on the way home.

Both mom and Aunt Pat (and Charge Mary) thought I looked remarkably better. I am convinced (and Pat agrees) that the key is exercise. I have not been on a good walk since last Thursday. But tomorrow, to the gym! It will be the first-post Avastin Day that I will plan to go out instead of to sleep.

Smiths, if I don’t, send me bossy emails.

Off to sleep…Pat & Mom, thank you again.