Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Christmas Haiku

Milky sun shines down
on a December morning 
we prepare for Him.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

More Christmas

Christmas Window
Christmas Buffet
More images. This is one of my favorite parts, making things beautiful in the house. Wouldn't it be nice if that's all that I had to worry about? 

We had some company* last night, so much of the day was spent cleaning and tackling some larger decorating tasks (fixing the mini white lights in the living room that I love to have on all the time, and then they get burnt out - so - it was time to replace. And maybe I'll post a picture of that later.)

Anyway, that old pre-stress appeared, along with the requisite backache and bitching at everyone. I so much don't want this to happen again this season, especially on Christmas Eve. That's when we are always scrambling - taking care of last minute shite.

*Company as in mom and bro in-law and a few of the kids' friends who all gathered here for dinner before taking off for the Riverhawks game - leaving me alone! wasn't "Company" company, but still - one wants the house looking somewhat decent, ya know.

Friday, December 09, 2011

The Days Before Christmas

Muted sun on a chilly December morning -
Coffee, muffin, and chore list -
Candle lit, holiday tunes on Pandora -
And on we go!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Random Check-in

House is at it again, Mr. Machiavellian.  Taub and Chase are back, it's nice to have some continuity besides Wilson and Foreman. I'm intrigued by Park. She's odd. Patient nearly needed a liver transplant. 

Speaking of transplants, the Young Prince had a visit to Boston today. Went fine, blood work fine, iron will be decreased, and soon, the Valcyte will be gone. Still sorting out the nausea/vomit episodes, and we will discuss another endoscopy in a month. 

So, I've become enamored by Blunt Cards. These are profane little bits of hilarity dressed up in 1950s garb with a topical message.

But topical and hip and "now" and "wow" aren't all they're crackberried up to be. I've become increasingly dismayed by the speed that life demands of us. We are urged to go faster, do more, and we are saturated to the point of suffocation with information and how can a person even think, let alone breathe?

Monday, July 04, 2011

Vacation Report

Brief report from Vacay land. Trailer had a flood, and it happened as long as a month ago, and was left unattended - only because none of us had a chance to come here since the service company was here fixing a leak. Some family members were here before others and started wet/vaccing and dehumidifying, so that was a help, but WOW, did it smell bad. 

We are still learning the extent of the damage, been here for almost two days and we keep seeing trouble spots and more mold. Service company that most likely caused this cannot get here till Wednesday, which is unacceptable, but holiday and all that, what can you do. And it still smells bad, although not quite as bad as before.

Today, the 4th has been dry, sunny, and mildly breezy, so this all helps too. We are having some laughs, and last night we got to see a good friend jam with some great musicians. They were all really great. So, we are making the best of it.

But today we had a whole other scare. Tom came back from playing badminton with some extreme pain/discomfort - so bad he really couldn't communicate with us. He was pointing to his chest, (right side, so at least it didn't seem like a heart problem) and was agitated. Surely, we were headed to an ER. Never seen him so uncomfortable, he couldn't even concentrate on the "from 1 to 10, how bad is the pain?" question.

But within about 10 minutes, he calmed down, and he is feeling much better, seems to be a pulled muscle. 

Don't need this much drama!


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Things that Piss Me Off - or - Haven't People Got a Clue?

As I always say, the world would be better if everyone were like me. Alas, they are not - so every so often I see fit to rant on what is just - plain - wrong.

Well, that can't last very long - the imperious/smug act, I mean. I actually am more humble, or try to be, than I let on. I work on empathy, and I have little tolerance for those who have little tolerance.

Still, things piss me off - such as this:

Couple mornings ago, dude in large pickup pulls up in front of my house, honks the horn and looks at the house expectantly. I was still had not had enough morning Joe to make sense of it for a moment. My first thought was that he was picking up a child from a sleepover, but then I realized that 1) did not recognize the vehicle, 2) there were no kids at my house but my own.

I am now a little pissed. I've never been a big fan of honking outside someone's house, but it's not a deal breaker necessarily. But, it appeared that this dude was a stranger, and that's just wrong. I briskly walked to the front door and stuck my head out. I'm not sure who spoke first, but I think the first thing I said was..."why are you honking outside my house?" And his oh-so-[important/validating] reply was, "I got some extra asphalt, you need some?" He then pointed to the end of the driveway that meets the street. There were the average cracks and dimples and messed up bits that I figured everyone has, everyone who has not newly re-surfaced in the last bunch of years. Nothing too bad. No sink holes, nothing deep enough for a punji stick. (pity, one way to get rid of solicitors)

Still, didn't need his leftovers. And if I did? Is this a way to go about business? It's one thing if you're cruising down a street and you see a neighbor out - you could ask. But to stop outside a stranger's house and just honk your flippin' horn?

Flippin' tacky is what it is.

Next up - I get a phone call the other night. Did not recognize the caller ID.
Me: Hello
Them: (Spoken with very poor elocution, and with higher volume than decorum allows, basically poor manners)   Yeah, this is (a three letter alphabet company name, which I forget, I will just refer to them as ABC), I want to come drop off (or was it pick up? I really forget) the check.
Me: Who?
Them: ABC, the transportation company, I want to do pickup/drop off the check.

- I think, wait, is this the limo company that did the airport transport for the Make-A-Wish trip? No, the name sounds wrong, the ride was already paid for, and besides, they'd be a hell of a lot more professional and pleasant.

Me: I'm sorry, I'm confused, who are you looking for?
Them: Wait - (longish pause) ...

Me: Hello? Hello? He hung up...I wonder why he hung up. -( no wait, that's Pink Floyd.) But he did hang up abruptly, and without a gracious goodbye or a "sorry my bad" or nothing.

Still - I was gobsmacked. What just happened? OK obviously it was a wrong number situation. Hey, no biggie, it happens to all of us. But wait, this was different. You don't call, and keep saying the same thing, when the person on the other end obviously does not know who you are or what your business is. You change your tactic, you explain things in a different way, you don't breath through your mouth, you don't get all nearly shouty. You enunciate, dear man.

And then when you realize your faux pas, you don't just hang up on a person, as if you'll get cooties!

You know, I called that number back. I really did. It went to voice mail. But boy, had I got my loud boorish ABC guy on the phone, I would have gone all Emily Post on his ass.

Oh, and then there's the walking medical dictionary with no filter at Starbucks. Let me explain. I got my latte and cookie and sat down to kill some time and start in on a new book, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, A Memoir, by Cornel West. I don't know a lot about Dr. West, but he's intrigued me for a while - so it was on sale, yaddah, yaddah.

So, I'm sitting there, and there are two women at the table right next to me, chatting and there was also a small girl who belonged to one of them. Because of the proximity, I could over hear a lot of what they were saying, but I was able to tune it out, and it wasn't anything that was too loud or two weird.

But that changed in a little while. Evidently a woman who was two tables away from my neighbors overheard their convo, and started asking questions of the one of the woman, the one with apparently a multitude of health issues, including a poorly working social filter, or internal editor. 

Deal Lady - you don't go yakking about such things as your procedures and your hysterectomy and your hormones and your this and your that, to a person two tables away, in a mixed company setting, that is NOT a doctors office, or a support group.

A brief blurbie is fine. Oh yes, you tried that med? Me too, it worked/it failed - etc. Done.

But this convo went on, and on, and on, and ohDearGod, just move to sit next to your audience and lower your voices, for Pete's sake!

Who raises these people?

So - these are the things that trouble me. The thing is, sometimes life is so difficult, I need to focus on these other things that in the long run, don't matter one fucking way or another. Well, they do. I wish people had better manners, but still - I think the need to just ramble and vent about dumb things as well as the important things is crucial.

And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Kindness of Strangers

I'm amazed really, at how much it hurts. Each time that Tom goes through something, and after he's getting better, and the care-giver adrenaline subsides, I'm left with a wound. It hurts, and each time it surprises me at the severity and at the recurrence. 

Oh, and the timing. 

That's the kicker. It's been a little over a year since Tom had his transplant, and I think we all thought that most of these sorts of days and worries would be behind us. Yes, we expected some new worries; the rejection question, and his susceptibility to illness would be the big ones. But this other stuff, the CVS* type of sickness, or whatever it was that plagued Tom from November to March and caused him to lose over 30 days of school this year, no one quite expected that.

Yet, here it is, back again, for a brief stop or an extended run,  or something new is going on.

He's fine now, sort of. The Make-A-Wish trip/getting ill thing was horrible (and the Memorial Day weekend illness was a bit scary), but he made the best of it and at least got in the last day of E3. Fine for the rest of the time, and for the trip home. And he was fine for his last week of school/finals, and fine for his first week of summer vacay, but last night -  he vomited.

It's makes me sound a bit mad - getting all dramatic about a puke session. But when this has happened again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and then wethoughtitwasoverbuthegotdreadfullysickinLA - the drama is already built in.

Last night was hopefully a one-off. It could have been anything. Food at Chunky's didn't sit well? He was overtired from two sleepovers this week? Who knows. And he felt better after that one vomit. Been OK today, just a little tired.

And we've mostly recovered from the LA thing, that wound is healing. 

But I am covered in bruises. Not the cool kind I used to get at the dojo, although I feel like I must have earned some sort of new rank by now.  

These bruises are quite invisible, but just as real. These ones though, I didn't expect. I'm really sucker-punched, each time.


I'm also hugely and amazingly amazed at the "kindness of strangers" Did I say amazing? I'm having a hard time processing it still.

Now I would imagine that an organization that knows they are dealing with a Make-A-Wish recipient is going go out of their way to please the kid. That makes sense. But what happened with Tom - I still don't know how to describe it.

Well, he's been getting stuff. Lots of stuff. I was putting pictures on Facebook, but I'm not going to do that anymore, I don't think. I don't appreciate these gifts any less, but I'm thinking it will look "showy". We pretty much expected these items, because all the gaming folk showed Tom stuff and then promised to ship these items out, but it's almost too much.

Don't misunderstand. This isn't a criticism of the gamers. It's incredibly cool. And we are receiving things in the same spirit, we get why they are doing this. 

But when I consider all this generosity, I'm still at a loss to describe how surreal it all feels at times.

This Reads: "We'd like to thank Tom Williams and his family for supporting our family. Bethesda Softworks" Yes, really.
But for now, I'll leave it with "humbling."

*Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Scattered Vacation Thoughts

Scattered and distracted, ignoring the disarray of luggage and souvenirs. Questions remain about biopsy results and blood counts. Photos need tagging and describing. Dead flowers are wilted from overdue stay in milky water but I don’t have the energy to get rid of them.
So many to thank for helping wishes come true, but the miasma of battle fatigue and depression keep me motionless. Heavy arms and weary heart thwart my good manners.

 It will pass. It will pass.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Persistence - and Passion - Pays Off

A year ago today, Tom had his liver transplant. We celebrated with just the four of us last night at the Olive Garden, one of Tom's favorite restaurants. I'm sure his docs would have been thrilled to see him eat two bowls of chicken gnocchi soup, most of his steak and potatoes, three bread-sticks, and dessert. We certainly were thrilled.

And how did he celebrate today? Well, the kid had to go to school. They sort of require that.  : )
But Tom was able to realize a big dream, of having a huge assembly/presentation at his school with (I believe) most of his sophomore class, and many seniors, and perhaps some juniors were there too. Lots of kids.

Tom is stubborn. He annoys me greatly much of the time with his persistence about stuff. But I've known for a while that this quality was going to serve him well, as it did today.

For this assembly, Tom had lined up quite a few speakers. He had Mike Slama, a man who received a heart transplant a few years ago, talking about how lucky he has felt every day, and how happy he was that Tom was able to share in that same feeling of gratitude. Also on the agenda was Sam Scott, one of the program managers of the American Liver Foundation, who spoke of liver health, and had some stark images of healthy and sick livers. At the sight of  very diseased, cirrhotic liver - I heard one student exclaim, "oh please change the slide" - yeah, it was pretty gross. 

Also speaking was Nancy Erhard, a woman whose son died several years ago, and Nancy and her family made the difficult, yet easy decision to donate whatever was needed from her son Bo. Nancy speaks at functions often about Bo's story, and she has worked with Jamie Redford (Hollywood legend Robert Redford's son) through the Share the Beat organization.

We also heard from Nick Giordano, a man who has run 11 marathons, and who himself was diagnosed with liver disease. Nick was chairman of the Run for Research Team this year, and at the very end of the day, he graciously and humbly gave Tom his marathon medal.

Even at a younger age, Tom was a fund-raiser. Here he was preparing to ride the Pan-Mass Challenge for Kids
Tom, recovering from his first surgery, age 12
And because of Tom's persistence, he was able to line up Matt Noyes, the meteorologist for NECN. We talk about Matt a lot, because he has been such a tremendous support not only for our family and for Tom, but for the New England chapter of the ALF. Matt is a very, very busy guy and he's also got a beautiful young family to take care of too. But this year, the great staff at the ALF convinced him to run in the Boston Marathon. Matt has been involved with the ALF for several years, as MC for the Liver Life Walk. He's also involved in other charities as well, and his enthusiasm for life is contagious and inspiring.

And of course, there was a nice plug about the upcoming Liver Life Walk by Hung Pham, an ALF staffer.

It takes great persistence to make all this happen. Of course, I took care of a few emails and phone calls, but Tom's passion was the driving force to bring this event alive.

It also took a lot of passion for a shy-ish 16 year old to get up in front of an auditorium of peers and tell his own story, starting from first diagnosis to his surgery a year ago. He spoke of various procedures he endured, holidays that were basically ruined, too much time out of school and other snapshots of how his illness impacted his life.

But he also spoke of his friends, and how much they meant to him, and how he appreciated their support. And Tom spoke about Rachel's Challenge, and how by either joining him at the Liver Walk, signing up to be an organ donor (for those 18 year old students), or just being more aware of others' suffering - can answer her challenge and "Start a Chain Reaction" of making life a little bit better for someone other than themselves.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Look at the Alternative

Funny but true exchange between the mammogram technician and myself:

MT: OK, now put your right sleeve in and take your left sleeve out.

Me: (trying to use humor to deflect the awkwardness of the situation)  Sure, but just don't ask me to "shake it all about."
MT: (laughs)
Me: "Only if you have some $1.00 bills to throw at me"

MT: "Well, I guess we could get some people in off the street with their dollar bills."

Yeah, seriously this happened.

Mammograms suck. But look at the alternative. 

While I was getting mushed and tugged at, and at times I gasped from the discomfort, I kept saying to myself, even when it got quite painful. "You can do this. It hurts, but not as bad as cancer"

Thursday, April 07, 2011

No Agenda

Awesome pre-game warm up viewing
OK - here I am. It's been a while. I've been a slug about writing. A slug I tell you! But I haven't been a slug in real life. Most of March has been chock full of stuff. There have been doctor appointments for the princes (this is the norm, anyway), dental appointments, a fund-raising event for the Liver Foundation, a concert, a night out with brother and GF, another Liver event (working a water stop for a training run), a Celtics game (courtesy of Make-A-Wish)...
Dropkick Murphys Concert

Oh, and OF COURSE, the birthdays! Three birthdays just in our wee family, which meant shopping and restaurant a-going. Except for me, I opted to stay in and have takeout from the delicious Blue Taleh. And then we did it again with the extended family, for there are THREE MORE March birthdays. More shopping and one more restaurant meal.

And Tom was ill a couple times during the month. Not much to say about that. Wait and see, wait and see.

Here's a random thought -

Two-Bit, - grooming The Young Prince.
Children and pets. What we love and even admire about them, is their unabashed manner of asking for what they want. When they want food, it's obvious, when they want to go out, they ask, over and over and over - again.

And when they want love? They just take! They know will not be denied. And we love that! How did things change to put us adults into a more coy, aloof, polite mode of living? OK the polite thing has a place. Discretion and tact are necessary.

But really, wouldn't it be great for us to all act more like children and animals? Private toileting aside, there are many virtues that I think we are missing out on here. 

So this post had no real agenda, just a catch up for my legions of followers. Stop laughing!

Take care and I WILL be back.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Less is More - part Two

So, yesterday was a clinic appointment for The Young Prince. About a 25 minute wait in the lab, and then upstairs for another while. Then the usual height/weight/BP. All fine enough. Seems like Dr. E. was hoping for a little more weight gain, but not hugely important.

As I expected, we spent most of the time talking about how to proceed with the cyclic vomiting issue. And we have a plan! We're going to try and tweak one of his current meds that may help calm down the GI system. And if it does happen again, we will most likely bring him to the hospital as it's happening - so they can do a CAT scan, or maybe an upper GI

I guess there is a possiblity that there could be adhesions or a blockage that didn't show up before on other tests. And if there is a blockage? I guess we won't worry about that now. 

So, it's really a minimal amount of fuss at the moment. We don't have to mess with his diet again, and he does not have to start a new med. Actually, he is going to now substitute his much hated Mepron for Bactrim! Mepron is a thick yellow liquid - the visiting nurses always called it "yellow paint". But the Bactrim, a tablet, only needs to be taken three times a week!

Less is more!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Less is More

I thought this was timely, for Lent and all. The photo, not the bracelet. Of course, any cross is always timely for Lent, but I took the photo for a different kind of synchronicity.

Recently, I hit the Dracut High Performing Arts Boosters Craft fair . It was great to see a bunch of friends and familiar faces, and try to support the program. It's shopping for a cause and I'm on board!

And because it's a craft fair, it's only "fair" that I treat myself, just something wee is all. So I had fun looking around, talking to crafters and sniffing, touching, and tasting. Two cool days in a row, the day before was a an overdue Lunch with Miss S. (Not to be confused with my other friend Miss S, who really is a "Miss S.", where the first Miss S. is not really an S. at all. Yeah, I've confused myself here.

We had a nice conversation, and delish food at LA. We spoke of the usual, mutual friends, our kids, karate - naturally, and faith.I won't bore with details, the faith topic was interesting. And good.

Back to the craft fair, I was wandering around and then  I found this bracelet, nearly hidden under some other groupings of baubles. It was exactly the kind of thing I like in jewelry. A nice mix of minimalism and flash. Yeah, I know, maybe above is a teeny more BeDazzled than Mies van der Rohe. But who's quibbling. 

The cool thing was, as I saw this It felt like a fate moment. (Or perhaps a 2 x 4 moment?). The bracelet - as they say - spoke to me. (C'mon, they say it in all the decorating magazines). I do believe that certain purchases are really meant to be for whatever reason. And an added bonus, the price was right. Kidding aside, it perfect timing. 

Must trust me on this.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I’ve been thinking…

When I put a “status update” on Facebook, I’m all sorts of things. From pithy to profound, from silly to sanctimonious with the occasional lunch updates in between, I think I cover a pretty wide range of posting possibilities. And naturally, because of our family’s issues these last few years, I have overwhelmed the FB community with all sorts of liver disease/Tom’s health/fund-raising bits of anguished or celebratory “sharings.”

For good or for bad, that’s what I do. 

And what my friends post isn’t too different. Coolness all around. 

I just don't like to be forced to do something.

 A pattern has emerged lately that I am finding bothersome. Very well-meaning folks have taken to posting these little slices of emo-bossy “show your support” PSAs – if you will.
“I’m posting this to show my support of fill-in-the-blank-dread-disease/social-injustice. Only 3.24% of my besties will have the guts to re-post this as their status for one hour, please do this for all those that suffer from aforementioned dread-disease/social-injustice”

Now I’m as caring as the next person. But these bits drive me totally nuts. Sure, social networking technologies can be a real boon to those who have great messages to impart. I have NO problem with putting up blurbs for your cause. I have done that numerous times myself, as I think we just determined a few paragraphs earlier.

But please, oh please, don’t tell me what to do. Don’t tell me how I should show my support for one cause or another. I’d nearly prefer you ask me for money than to just use these campaigns. Seriously, it smacks of coercion, and that’s off putting. 

Yeah, and that goes for the multi-forwarded email tell me how sad it is that no one has the guts to continue a chain letter that mentions God more than once. Sorry, the chain is broken with me, every time. So, if you really want benedictions from the Dali Lama, or the Blessed Virgin Mary, or you really, really want your CD drive to magically pop open on cue, or you want to stop the ghost of some tragedy victim appearing in your bedroom at midnight – don’t put me in your address list.

Hey, some of those emails have some sweet messages, or kick-ass funny jokes! But if you add the bit about “please forward to all the strong women/smart men/caring folk you know” then you must realize the message fails with me. (Oh and how hard REALLY is it to just copy and paste the original message in a fresh email? I don’t need or want to see the trail from whence this message came. I really don’t.)

For the record, and not that it’s any of your business, but I support either financially or emotionally lots of causes. Special Olympics, Lymphoma and Leukemia, Gay rights, Diabetes, Epilepsy, MS, MD, the ALF, Scleroderma, Rachel’s Challenge, the Vets, the Blind, and Sun Santa. Don’t forget the Dracut Food Pantry, my church, PTO volunteer for 12 years, Scout volunteer for – I dunno – six years give or take. And some of my jewelry supports stuff – my breast cancer bracelet, my Organ Sharing pins, and those cute woven bracelets that support a school in – umm…a different country. Hey, I wear them proudly, I just forget why. (Which reminds me, I really should send a check to my local Alzheimer’s association).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunny with a Chance of...?

So, it's pretty sunny out. Quite nice actually. Well, cold - I guess. I have not been out, but it looks nice.

Sunny outside, but cloudy inside. The Young Prince - down again. No vomiting (not since Thurs) - but nausea and fatigue and general unhappiness. The unhappiness - like the cold everyone's been passing around - is contagious. I feel like a slug. I don't want to do anything, although I think I will force myself to do a mini-workout. If it were warmer, a walk would be super.

While the meteorologists, like our new friend Matt Noyes from New England Cable News, can predict upcoming weather patterns, no one can really predict the course of Tom's health. But I must hasten to add seemingly contradictory remark that yes, we can predict some things. He really should have fewer and fewer problems the further along we move post-transplant.

Big picture stuff is that he's had no rejections, he's gained weight, he looks great, he feels usually very fine, and he's become quite a spokesperson for the American Liver Foundation and for Organ donation. School is going pretty well...

And here is the BUT. The unpredictable weather event. 

Tom's been having a tough time keeping up. Not because of his intelligence or effort. But he keeps getting sick every 2-3 weeks. It really seems like CVS - which is Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (not the pharmacy). This CVS thing, it doesn't all fit. It seems like many patients have a migraine component, or their vomiting is more severe during a cycle (multiple times in one hour). That's not Tom. But much of it does fit, especially the part where these bouts of illness follow a real pattern.

And now, where does this leave us? The thing is, I feel like I can almost predict now, when he will get sick. And I'm starting to look at the calendar thinking, "OK, it's been two weeks since he last got sick, what's coming up that's going to get ruined?"

I've kept these doubts mostly to myself, certainly not telling Tom what I'm thinking. I don't need him to expect to get sick on any particular date. Mind over matter, or in this case, Mind or soul getting flattened with depressive expectation. Although, he's smart enough to worry that this will keep happening.

I suppose that after having major mucking around in his gut, there can be some after effects. That all made sense the first few times he went through this. But now? Well, we just don't know.

But I know that even as miserable as this has been for all of us since November, it's not the same as having a sudden urgent issue, like rejection, or a scary infection. I guess you can equate those surprise events to a micro-burst. You might not see it coming, and it can lay down some terrible damage. 

Coincidentally, Tom, along with his fellow campers, was in a micro-burst during 2006, at Camp Wah-Tut-Ca, in Northwood, NH. He survived fine, with a huge story to tell for the rest of his life.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day

When we got married,

This was a card I made last year, it's still pretty apt one year later, with the exception of a certain TV show.

We had  
Then we had

And real life set in. So, sometimes we argued or said:

But that's OK. We're still here and we have 

And each other.