Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Scans and such.

We had the abdominal ultrasounds today for Phillip, Kiera and Bella. This is part of their "routine" screening now since they have a sibling with an abdominal cancer. I am pleased to report that all parts that should be there are and nothing that shouldn't be. The only point of concern was Phillip's pancreatic duct which is still dilated from the trauma it received 2 years ago. The good news though is that the dilation has decreased some from his last scan. This shouldn't cause any problems but we'll keep an eye on him. We still have to do an ultrasound on Lily's belly before we can get her port out. It was entertaining that at one point all available exam rooms of the ultrasound dept.were occupied by Mallory children.

Since they had to fast for the ultrasound, we all fasted this morning- and we were all rewarded with a big breakfast at Big City Diner.  Bella requested candy for breakfast- I think chocolate chip pancakes with whipped cream counts.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Oh Brother.

It's funny how sometimes unrelated events get tied together and how simple words evoke certain feelings. I had a conversation with a girlfriend this past week about tumors and such. We talked about Lily's size and how when I was pregnant with her, her abdomen was discovered to be unusually large and they monitored us closely for the last couple of months of pregnancy. I have often wondered if the tumor was there then, waiting. We'll never know. That led to a conversation about my dad and brother and the various tumors in my family. I sometimes forget that there are little ears listening and processing.

This weekend we called grandma to chat. Lily waits patiently for her turn(read as: jumping up and down screeching "I wanna talk to gramma next!"). She gets her turn and I always am amazed at what she deems important to tell grandma about. Sometimes she goes around the room describing things, sometimes she tells of atrocities that have happened to her at the hands of her siblings, and sometimes she just sings. Often she walks away and I forget she has the phone until I suddenly remember and hope she hasn't laid the phone down somewhere while she plays. Nope not this time. She opens the conversation with : My mom's brother had a rock in his head! He died. He's dead. 

I look in horror to my angelic child who is so proud of her declaration and is grinning ear to ear. Not only did she use two different tenses of a word correctly, It's like she just figured out a great mystery well before her years and wants everyone to know. I wonder how mom is faring on her end..I don't get the chance to ponder that as Lily announces " My mom's dad had a rock in his head too." She gently pulls the phone away from her ear and places her little hand over it- "Your dad is dead right?"  I nod slightly as she returns to her conversation "Yeah, he's dead too."  She then launches into a discussion about something entirely unrelated and gives each of her siblings a turn talking. By the time I get to talk with my mom, I have forgotten the incident although later it cause me much pontification. 

It finally dawns on me, one of Phil's brothers' birthday was this past weekend. Last week we were talking about it in the car one day ( we talked about making cards- it never did happen) and Lil Phillip asked which uncle. I told him and he said- Is he a pilot?  Nope- he's gonna be a brain surgeon.  Phillip pondered that for a moment and looked sad.  "It would have been nice if he would have been a surgeon when your dad and brother had their tumors".  I am always amazed at the combined simplicity and complexity of children's thoughts. We had a pretty indepth discussion on tumors and surgery and the trickiness of brain tumors. Lily looked puzzled and says- " Uncle Bob had a rock in his head?"  Yep.  "But he held me when I was a baby. Did he have the rock after that? "  No honey, he had the rock when I was still a kid, he died before you or Phillip were born. "So he's dead?"  Yes. "And your dad had a rock too?" Yes. She ponders. "Uncle Bob held me. He did."  She has that look of determination that often ends in a fit.

I don't argue with her. I've learned that there is no sense in it when she is adamant. I have also learned that she is often right, I just don't understand what she is trying to tell me.  I understand what she is saying, but I interpret it with years of experience. The problem is that she is saying it through a 4 year old mouth- there is no veil of political correctness. There is no concern for how uttering certain words like death may cause twinges of emotion. Because in a 4 year old mind- death is the equivalent of sleeping. They don't have permanence. Maybe her thought processes aren't so random after all, maybe they are very purposeful. Sometimes it's not how we see things, but more about how things are seen through other people's eyes. And sometimes we learn that sometimes when you see things as they are, it's really not so complicated at all.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Lost somewhere between wanting more and just going with the flow is where I linger. The battles have internalized. I've been trying to sort things out for months. Sort the laundry, Sort out homework, sort out routine and sort out feelings. I should be ecstatic. Life right now is exponentially less complicated than it was a year ago, yet my emotions are more so. I go from embracing the purity of the moment to trying to plan for the future to agonizing over the what ifs, to just getting through the day, to realizing another year has passed.

We found our new routine. I still forget Lily's meds from time to time and feel horribly guilty when a nasty tantrum brings it to my attention. I forget to put in her hearing aids before we leave the house and usually curse myself as I have to repeat almost everything 3 times for her. I forget what day it is. I remember when I could recall key pieces of information at will- now I fumble over my own children's names.  Other moms reassure me this is normal and to just be glad we don't have pets or I'd be calling the kids by their names too. I think we should get a pet, and I will name it Dammit.  Come here dammit. Dammit, Stop chewing on that. Better yet, I could legally change all their names to Dammit. George Foreman was onto something there- and I don't just mean the brilliance of indoor grilling. 

I spent the past few months trying to find balance where I don't think there is any. I try to write and it goes round and round. I try to clear my head, but the haze settles back in.  Even though I don't want last year to define us as a family, it has left more than a few permanent marks. I feel like I have been catapulted into a mid life crisis. I don't even believe in mid life crises. I used to think Mid life crises are for those who don't know what they want. I just realized they are for those who know what they want but are feeling the pressure of mortality to achieve them.  It's when the weight of reality starts to taint your dreams. It's the weight of balancing what's important and what's necessary. The hope of doing something more that is beyond yourself merged with the realization that there aren't enough hours to accomplish the basics.

There aren't words to describe the conflict of emotions that surround recovery. I know it's normal. This is the processing time. I want to channel the experience into something positive- but wonder if there is a way to do it without living in it. I love how music helps sort this out. I was trying to come up with an upbeat playlist to improve both mood and exercise time which actually feed into each other. I recently downloaded a new Alicia Keys song that Phil and I both enjoy very much. I always marvel at how he can listen to a song 50 times and only hear the beats or the riff.  I cannot listen to this song without getting chills. I don't know if she captures the feeling or if the feeling is captured in me. For me it embodies the moment you realize it's gonna be okay. That is not to say the pain is over, but you realize it is what it is and the only way to go from there is up.  SO as I am compiling my playlist of upbeat grooves- Phil says _ Hey! How about that new Alicia Keys one?  I laugh and once again he looks at me like I have lost it. What? It has a great beat. He is unapologetic. I know we have listened to the song in it's entirety no less than 5 times together. Have you ever actually listened to the words?  No, again he says- it has a great beat. Yes, but the title is -Try sleeping with a broken heart? Oh, maybe not. But it got me thinking. It's a song that makes me feel. Something that a lot of times I had to push to the back to take care of business last year- so for the past few walks- I listened to it and felt. I highly reccommend it. It captures a certain element of loss. Sometime you lose time, sometimes love, sometimes a friend, sometimes innocence- but you find a way to make it. And in the process you gain something invaluable. Sometimes you gotta do that before you can carry on, Dammit.

Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)