Saturday, February 05, 2011

Lining up and Falling into Place

Mini-Golf, replicating the alignment of the heavens.
At your left you see several brightly colored golf balls, lined up as if someone created a funky design. Which is fine, if one had lots of time on the min-golf course to play around with the balls. Usually the courses are busy at the height of summer, as it was on this day last August. 

But this design was not made by a bored golfer, it was the random way our balls landed after we each took our first strokes at this hole.

Pretty cool eh? Yeah, I thought so too!

Once upon a time, I was watching the flick Lara Croft: Tomb Raider starring Angelina Jolie and some other people. The movie had some cool action, and a convoluted plot. Part of the plot I remember, something important, or dire was going to happen once all the planets aligned - an event that was astrologically rare, yet conveniently going to happen during the time frame of the movie's setting.

Aside from coveting Angie's eyebrows, my take-away from this was that I knew that "on-the-verge" feeling. Yet in my case, this alignment wasn't a portent of a disaster. 

I've had the funny feeling during these last several years that I was very close to becoming...myself. Yeah, that's a good thing. I can't describe, or remember really, what made me have this feeling, but I swear I could feel a "click" now and then, as if some puzzle finally fit in place, or some ratchet-y thing had settled in the correct groove.

All this self-actualization or navel gazing wasn't just about my amorphous state of being or my faith, or my health, it was really about something more concrete: my writing.

I have had some wee successes now and then in this area, like the time I pumped poor Eric O. (former owner of Blogcritics) to tell me EXACTLY what a PR dude (he's actually the Director of Publicity) from FOX said about my 24 write-ups. It was a bit pathetic, like a girl interrogating her friends about what her current crush said about her. And E.O., bless his patient heart, kindly sent me the emails where the FOX guy said some sort of compliment about my writing. No, I can't remember what he said. Pity. But still, it was a good, good moment.

There's been a few other moments, that I won't bore you with now, but the point is, I felt pretty convinced I was on the cusp of something grand. 

And then the proverbial (and some literal) dung hit the fan, and life got complicated.

I've had forgotten my cusp-y, verge-y feelings and right now my successes are vastly different. Woohoo, I answered that email finally! Cooked a meal instead of take-out! Remembered everyone's appointments this week!

And the successes I hope for are more like: Cool, I finally fit into these jeans. Or, most of the rooms in this house are presentable for guest viewing.

But those other goals, they are still viable. I think my stars will align again, I think things will happen when they need to happen. I have to have lots of patience.

Kind of like a golfer.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

It's Winter, Damn It!

Yeah, snow. Lots of snow. A major F-ing pain. But still, what are you going to do? Everyone is complaining, where are we going to put it? In the cities, naturally it's a concern. It's a bit tough out here in suburbia too. But in some ways, the complaints crack me up. As if there's a choice? Can we ask God, or Mother Nature - please take this (snowy) cup from me?

No, it's Winter, and we get snow. And yes, the kids might be going to school all of June. What are you gonna do?

Funny, I was just emailing a dear cousin. Dear cousin has been diagnosed with cancer. I know, right? It''s so scary, and I am having a hard time wrapping my little head around this diagnosis. 

So, what did I do? Remain silent. Silent as winter. Well not totally silent. I mentioned this news to some local folks. But did I reach out right away to Dear Cousin? Nooo. Not me. 

And I should freakin' know better. After all Tom (and us) have been through, I know very well the value of support. I'm hoping that my waves of fear and disbelief translated into surges of encouragement and hope all the way to Dear Cousin.

Since this is my husband's cousin, he has been calling and cooking, and he made a trip to her house over the weekend with food and good cheer. So that's cool. And I did email. I said that a minute ago. But it shouldn't have taken me this long. In my email I commiserated about the nature of illness and how it is not fair when it strikes. But what are you gonna do. Just keep going. Just keep shoveling.

Sure, it's OK to whine, hell - I'm a whining queen! But eventually - we just. Have. To. Keep. Going.

Actually, earlier today I was IMing with a Dear Friend - talking about the same thing - being a supportive friend during hardship. She felt very bad about not being supportive for us recently  - Oh forget it ! I say. This is a friend who is a true friend, who I know cares deeply, even if she is silent for a while. So, I hope she feels better about her imagined shortcomings in the friend department. She does just fine.

If Driving Home from Boston ever becomes a reality, a goodly section will be devoted to friendship. Something that can be beautiful, even in the face of disease, unemployment, and even winter.

Keep shoveling my friends.

Monday, January 31, 2011


Ugh. He's sick again. The Young Prince is ill again or should I say, still. I spoke of how it started last Wednesday evening, and by Saturday he was feeling quite recovered. Normal foods, lots of X-Box. Yay! He had asked for some special things for dinner Saturday night, it was just the two of us. But his choices were all fatty ones, like a triple Whopper from BK, or a meatball sub. Finally we settled on fried haddock from Scolas.

Now, of course, you (and perhaps the folks from Children's Hospital) would think me quite mad. Fried foods? Are you insane? Well, yes, but that's not the point. Only those that deal with Tom on a close level know how hard it is to say no to him. And believe me, I say "no" plenty. With conviction. And often I "win". 

But that night he was firm about not wanting ANYTHING else. Perhaps another mother would have been stronger, resisting his persuasive ways, especially since his health depends on it. Now, it's not that he has a food allergy, or he has a heart condition, or high blood pressure. In fact, Tom has always been pressured to eat, to gain weight - etc. Fried, fatty, greasy foods were never a problem.

But these last several months something has gone wrong in his GI tract. It has nothing to do with his liver, not directly anyway. I supposed his three episodes with C. diff. may have "weakened" his gut, maybe the flora aren't happy, or something, but since November, Tom has been getting sick every two weeks. So the theory for now is that fatty foods are exacerbating the problem, and he should refrain as much as possible.

So why oh why did I let him have the fried haddock? Lesser of three evils I suppose. I checked the fat content as best I could of all the choices, and the haddock was the winner. So, he had some haddock, maybe one or two french fries - if that - and one onion ring.

He was fine all night long, into the morning, when he had cereal and milk and then we were off to church.

This was a special occasion. It was to be the very last sermon of our pastor, the Rev. Keith Weekly. Keith had been our interim pastor for about two and a half years. This is the way it goes in a Congregational church. Our permanent pastor had retired, and the typical procedure is that the area conference sends a substitute pastor until the church can form a search committee, and select a "settled pastor". This takes time, the forecast is usually for one or two years - give or take.

Tom at his Confirmation, exactly six weeks to the day after his transplant.
 So, while we all hated to see our former pastor (Rev. Larry Zimmerman, he had been there for 30 years!) leave, Keith quickly became part of the church family and things flowed along fairly well. 

Tom and Keith
Keith was great about getting to know everyone, and he got to know us well, probably by default, because Tom's illness got to be quite a big deal. When we were going to be part of our first Liver Life Walk, Keith made sure that this event was well publicized in the church, which was fantastic, between free-will offerings and a Youth Ministry-run car wash, Christ Church United raised roughly $2,000.00 for "Tom's Team".

And when Tom had his transplant, Keith was keeping the congregation updated during the lengthy surgery, and he came to the hospital to see Tom post-op.

So naturally, we wanted to be there for his send-off yesterday. And there was a luncheon. And cake. Actually two cakes, one was a pretty one - welcoming a couple new members into the congregation, and the other was Keith's "Happy Vacation/Retirement/Thank you" cake. While the first was pretty (and tasty), the second was amazing! Decorated like a professional - wish I had a picture!

So, you are all wondering, what did Tom have? Well, he had some cake, then he had some pickles, one small piece of sharp cheddar, some red peppers...nothing very substantial. And by the time the lunch was over, Tom was helping put away chairs and clean up, but he really wasn't feeling well.

Was it the pickles and peppers? The cheese? The cake? The punch?  Who knows, but he was home taking showers and feeling crappy. NOT horrible, but not great. He tried to do some homework, tried to play some X-Box, but eventually he felt worse and vomited around 5:30.

No dinner, just some fluids. Pills went down OK, but by 1:00 am, he was up sick again. Then sick again at 2:00 am.  Staying home from school again, but managing to be on his laptop for now.

So, while the transplant would ensure a good level of health, we knew that the first year would be tough. But this is not what we or the doctors had anticipated. While these bouts of vomiting don't seem to point to anything life threatening - it's very, very exhausting. Especially trying to keep Tom's mood up, keep him motivated for school. And that's a whole separate issue. The consensus from Boston is that these periods of illness could have a strong emotional component, and a combo of anxiety and the foods are bringing on the illness. It fits, but I'm not sold entirely on this theory.

It's hard to get through this transition period, because in some ways it feels like we're going backwards, or rather starting on a whole other path of health problems. While God is guiding these transitions, at our church, and in our lives, I understand the church part, but this stuff here? I'm clueless.