Thursday, May 31, 2012

For Luke

I met you when you were not quite 5 years old.
Your Mom had cancer and your world was so confusing.
You relied on a yellow cup and a grilled cheese sandwich cut on the diagonal for lunch every day, to keep your world sane.
Somehow, you still knew how to smile- like this:

As your mother began her recovery, you felt safe enough to break out of your routines. 
You learned that sometimes in life we crash and burn like the day you fell off your bike and scraped your nose and cried all the way back to the house. 
You swore you'd never get back on that bike. 
But you did. 
I knew you would, but I didn't say so.

I loved sharing your 'Mohawk' stage. 
I actually relished how people stared at us and thought that I must be a really bad mother to let a 10 year old go out in public like that. 
I was proud of you for letting it all hang out. 
And mostly proud that people thought that I was your Mom.

You were the first person who really ever told me that I was a great cook. 
I love how you share my love of reality TV.
And that we have the same exact learning style, which I know because you made me take the test to prove it after you suspected it.
I think I love it most that you're totally uncoordinated and love sci-fi because those things are so opposite of me and that lets me know that I never held you back from being yourself.

What started as a 6 month stint while your family concentrated on getting your mother healthy turned into 9 years, sharing your daily life as your nanny. 
When you were 14 I finally realized it was time to let go.
But my heart never really let go.
And it never will.
And every time I see you I am so grateful that you're not too big or too old to hug me and laugh with me and let me know that I am in your heart too.

Happy Graduation, Luke!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

My Husband Is Not A Metrosexual

My husband is proving once again that he is a healing dynamo.  He was released from the hospital yesterday with the doctor letting us know that this is the earliest she would ever let someone out after what he had done.  And he's already off the narcotics and only taking naproxen sodium.  Yeah, the doctor also says he's really tough.  No kidding.

But before he left the hospital he did get the chance to experience something amazing.  Something he would never have experienced any other way.  See, since he's not the type to go have a spa treatment or something then my husband would never have thought to have someone do a body polish on him.  Well, right before he left the hospital that's exactly what he got.  It was part of the service the hospital prides themselves on as a brand new state of the art facility that also integrates non-western ideals of medicine.  

A beautiful African woman from Cameroon came in and did the body polish right before my husband left the hospital.  He came out all pink and fresh looking.  I asked him if it helped to make him feel better.  He answered that he wasn't sure about that, but that he felt 'very scrubbed'.  HA!


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

Tonight, I am just so grateful.

Grateful that the doctors declared that everything went just exactly as planned.

Grateful for all the calls, messages, prayers and good thoughts!

Grateful that my husband will finally bear far less physical scars from his journey that brought him so close to death.

Mostly just awash in a feeling that I am grateful that at 38 my husband and I know for certain that life is too short to take for granted. We are the fortunate ones to have learned this with the majority of our lives still yet to live, so much bigger and better than we ever might have if we had not experienced all of this. 

Again just simply, thank you. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thoughts On God And A Request

Yesterday when my husband and I were going through the pre-op paperwork we came upon some stuff about a living will.  Now I'm all for people having a living will if that's what they want to do and my husband and I have a standing ruling on this sort of thing.  It goes a bit like this:  Try real hard not to let go of me too quickly or easily, but if I'm not going to be anything but a shell of myself then figure that I'm actually already gone and it's time to let me go.  Being that we're coming into this with my husband being healthy (other than 3 giant hernias and multiple abdominal defects) we're counting on the fact that this living will thing will not be needed!

So that brings me to the fact that I don't often talk about my impressions of God and you probably wouldn't usually see detailed descriptions of my religious views around here.  But naturally things like my husband needing to be under the knife for at least 4 hours and facing a lengthy recovery afterward do tend to bring those thoughts to the forefront. 

The truth is that I don't talk a lot about my religion because I actually don't know what all I really think about it myself.  This is a very strange thing for me.  I am known for my decisiveness in my overall life and I can honestly say that it serves me pretty well.  Regret is super rare for me and going with my gut instinct has always been the most comfortable place.  And yet the religion thing evades me.  And the weirdest part is that I'm OK with that.  It feels just fine for me to live in a sort of no mans land when it comes to religion and, believe me, that's not like me on any other topic.  I ALWAYS have an opinion and ever since I've been out from under my families' thumb I'm likely to share it with you at some point!

So to give it to you in a nutshell:  I was raised Christian- sort of.  I often went to Sunday school by myself or with a neighborhood friend but my family didn't usually go.  The times when my family did go they got all 'churchy' for several months afterward immersing themselves in Christian radio and all things church and then just dropped it and acted as if that never happened after a few months.  It was a lot like my mothers yo-yo dieting. 
We did the usual Christian holidays in a pretty secular way.  I got saved- three times, mostly because I was young and didn't understand that when church people ask you if you know for sure that you are going to heaven when you die and you don't answer with a resounding "yes", then they pray with you and ask God into your heart.  Naturally I didn't tell each of them about the others before because I didn't want to hurt any feelings.  I've since gotten a backbone and would never do that now. 
As a kid, my favorite place to experience God was at my good friends Catholic church services.  I loved the beauty and tradition and it felt safe and friendly.  Although I liked the feeling in the Catholic church I never felt the need to delve deeper.  I've never been to confession.  Then as I grew older I realized that the probability of having a boatload of kids if I were to follow Catholicism fully was not going to work for me either so I eventually drifted away from that too. 
I have friends who are Jewish.  That feels more like a national identity that I am not a part of.  I know people who ascribe to have more of a Native American type of belief system.  Kind of interesting, but again I feel like an outsider to those ideas.  I have friends who love their dressed down tennis shoe wearing pastor and VERY casual funky congregation that meets in a school gym.  I would be lying if I didn't tell you those people kind of freak me out.  Although I cannot perfectly define what I do believe, I am naturally put off by atheists. 
For me I guess it goes like this:  I believe there IS a God.  I cannot perfectly define what that is, but I usually refer to God as a he.  Maybe simply because that's what I am used to.  I cannot look at the world around me and assume that it all happened by chance.  I just cannot accept that idea.  I've never felt the NEED to attend church regularly and yet I am not opposed to people who do or occasionally ending up at a church service myself.  I often express my gratitude in private prayers and try diligently not to be one of those people that only 'talks to God' when I need something.  I still celebrate Christian holidays and I do it with more of a focus on the idea of what the holiday means- rebirth or renewal for example, rather than the actual biblical story as I admit that I am usually a bit weak on the details.  I believe I am a non-devout Christian and yet I don't believe that if someone else believes differently then they are headed straight to hell (do not pass go, do not collect $200 dollars).  I feel as if we are stronger people for having a diversity of views and yet I do worry about atheists.  There I go again with my one hold out!

So with all this being said, let me ask you for this:  whatever you believe, whatever feels right for you, could you please keep my husband in your thoughts, prayers, etc. tomorrow on 5-16-12 at 12 noon Pacific Daylight Savings Time?!  This is when his surgery is set to begin.  Whatever any of us believes, I believe that we have more power together than any one of us alone.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Extra Parts

You may or may not find it fascinating, as I do, how the human body is made with parts that turn out to be sort of 'extra' or have other possible uses when a repair is needed.  The fact that we're born with some of our own spare parts makes me know that a lot more than chance was going on when human beings were designed.   

In two days my husband will finally have his abdominal reconstruction and he will be benefiting from some of those 'spare parts'.  One of the surgeons is a muscle specialist and she is going to release some of his oblique muscles from up under his ribcage where it turns out that they are not all that needed and those obliques will be used to reinforce his abdominal muscles.  This makes it so he can avoid having a large piece of synthetic mesh installed which would likely be felt too much for comfort and stand a good chance of irritation or infection.  Instead he will get a nice smooth bio mesh that is grown in the lab from pig cells.  Have I ever mentioned that my husband collected pig items as a kid???  Yeah, the irony is not lost on me!

I myself have had a little work done with an extra body part.  When I was a kid I had so many ear infections that I had 5 different sets of tubes put in my ears over the course of a few years.  The tubes turned out to be a total failure for me.  I was found to be losing my hearing as a result of the holes from the tubes never healing over as they naturally should have and my eardrums becoming hardened and unable to vibrate properly.  Because of this, I was one of the first kids to have an experimental ear drum surgery done when I was 8 years old.  It was first done in only one ear so the doctors could leave me with an option for later if it didn't work.  The process involved reusing an 'extra' membrane that is hidden inside the little flap that you press on when you use your fingers to plug your ears like this: 
That membrane is remarkably similar to the eardrum itself.  It can vibrate and remains flexible and can be grafted onto the eardrum for repair.  This was done for me with great success and I had the second one done when I was 14.  I can still remember how amazing it was to hear in 'stereo' for the first time! 

My husband and I are looking forward to results that are just as extraordinary for him! 

Had any amazing experiences with 'spare parts' yourself?!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Things Could Get Interesting...

As my husband and I have been chugging towards moving on with our big scheme, he has just finished up with the first preliminary step of taking yet another of his oh so fun and grueling actuarial exams.  Meanwhile, I've been keeping myself preoccupied with helping my neighbor redo her bedroom while her husband is away on business.  We were dorks and didn't take a before picture, but the results are a-maz-ing!

I find it's definitely better to do something to get your mind off the actuarial exam even when you're not the one taking it.  Those suckers are harsh.  They just are.  I found an article on line about how this whole actuarial exam process effects even the spouse of the actuarial student and I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry about how accurate the observations of the writer (another actuarial student) were.  A kind of super scary roller coaster interrupted by mass repetition of mathematical formulas and bad governmental regulations with a very short time constraint dropped into the mix.  FUN!

So leading up to this sitting for the exam and keeping in mind that my husband is having major surgery next week, he had told the 2 recruiters that have been helping to set us up with contacts that he would be concentrating on studying for his test and wouldn't be available for any job stuff until after the test.  That was a few months back.  Sure enough, an email came through yesterday from 1 of the recruiters with a time stamp that indicated that it was sent during the time my husband was taking his test.  The email indicates that there is an intriguing opportunity in Dallas, TX. 

After some research on the company, my husband plans to answer the email with interest in this opportunity while trying to temper that with some careful sidestepping of the fact that he will be completely out of commission for a bit here during the initial recovery from his surgery.  And yet we don't want to put these people off for too long. 

I see phone interviews from the couch in the near future...

Friday, May 4, 2012

Doggy Massage


OK, I gotta' admit that at one time I definitely would have thought of massaging a dog as just a bit too woo-woo for me.  (Woo-woo is technical speak for new age.) 

That was before I had a really, really, ancient dog with whom I love spending any time that he has left on this earth pampering and making feel oh so good.

And man does he love it.  I mean, he even makes little happy noises as I massage his little old arthritic body.  And when I stop he looks at me like: 'Hey, I was enjoying that.  Don't try to short change me here!'

This is no regular petting session.  Oh no, my dog Parker likes a good deep rub down.  I figured this out when my husband was petting him kind of roughly one day and Parker really reacted positively to it.  You could honestly tell that the harder you rubbed him the more he loved it.

Now he will actually sit down beside you in a chair and push the entire length of his body up against your side to prompt you to start in with a massage.  Pets are funny that way.  They will get their message to you in one way or another, won't they?

Parker gets his doggy massage on whenever possible these days.  It leaves him feeling sooooo good!

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