Friday, September 30, 2016

Impossible Loss.

September was impossibly hard.

Phil left for a TDY the day after Labor Day- and of course we were grateful- usually they leave the weekend before. Glad to have an extra day to get some things done.

On the 6th, I dropped him at work and went right into chemo. It was my first solo chemo mission I'm proud to say. I have so many tough mets sisters who do this drill by themselves week in and week out and I know how lucky I am to have Phil truly want to be there with me. It was absolutely heartbreaking Monday night as we were cleaning up after dinner when Phil asked what my plan was after I dropped him off. Work has  been beyond busy for him, although that is not new, it's life, but I really try not to add to his lists. After all he spent his weekend trying to make sure all the possible breaks around the house were in working order because Murphy tends to be an ass with his laws. He is amazing. Phil not Murphy. Murphy can bite me- and has, over and over.  So the look of realization on his face, Phil's not Murphy's- because Murphy again don't give a rose rodent rectum... that he had forgotten chemo absolutely broke my heart.

Chemo was uneventful and our first week went off without a hitch. Insert maniacal sarcasm face, laugh, whatever here. It was a normal disaster. 2 sick kids. Me trying to be 3-4 places at once. Each day saying I'm going to take it easy and well yeah- let's not say that, ever. Me getting sick- debating if I should have the boy child drive me in to the ER in the middle of the night- eh nah- my couch was more comfy than the ER.

So in the next weeks, I recovered, still had sick kids, 504 meetings for Lily- hearing aid loss and replacement, trying to get incompetent public health nurses to find and file paperwork so my child can have emergency meds at school(every damn year),  my car battery died, at the soccer field. Again In laws to the rescue. The dryer quit. Excellent lessons for kids in outside laundry drying- Lucky we live Hawaii, The oven we ordered did not show up and actually may not exist- TBD. I fortunately got to see my cousin and a truly awesome mutant- it did my soul good. Lily got sick again. Bella decided puking was a fun nighttime activity.  Phillip got a concussion. My MRI orders are messed up and I cannot seem to fix it. I know there is more but it suddenly all became really really really unimportant.

Late on Phillip's birthday, I get a call. The time and number are those that make a military wife's heart stop. You don't answer it because you know in your heart it's not good and I know I got a text earlier from Phil, but when. So I take a deep breath and call back. The first question is always- Have you talked to Phil? I had not. He's Ok. And you breathe but you know something very very bad is coming and you know that there are not 2 uniformed men at your door but you know that someone you care about very much is not going to be so lucky tonight. And your heart breaks so swiftly and completely because after almost 20 years you can never ever- as much as you know the risks of the job and try to prepare yourself- you can never ever prepare yourself to lose one of the guys. Sudden loss is so unbearably hard and unimaginable and knowing tonight there is so much heartbreak that you can do absolutely nothing about is excruciating.

There was an accident. It did not involve the jets. But really when it comes down to it- that doesn't matter- what matters is we lost a great person. Jeffrey "Bull" Braden. A young pilot with a beautiful wife and daughter and a baby on the way. A son was lost, a friend. And no one will be the same. As soon as I hang up, I crumble. I haven't been active in the squadron because I can barely keep up with our necessities. But it doesn't matter. It is family. And now- even more than usual,times like these I hate that I can not do it all. This is why there is a tight knit community. I'm just the weird distant relative who is always sick now. I call my sister in law and she comes over. I am so grateful for her. I know that Phil will not have time or be able to call and she assures me its going to be ok. All I want is to hear his voice and I know how absolutely devastated he and all the guys are. And then I feel completely devastated because a young woman will never get to hear her husband's voice again. A little girl will not get to see her daddy. A baby will come into this world without him. It is so unfair.

I kind of want the throat punches of perspective to stop. WE GET IT.  Phil returned home Sunday.  I so wish there was anything I could do. He drops me at chemo Monday and I can not wrap my head around the impossible 3 weeks it has been and that it just does not get easier and we are physically and emotionally drained and yet grateful just to be. He heads into work. Despite the impossibly hard. We hug each other tighter, again. We do what needs to get done, still. And we hope in some little way to be able to help others just a little bit.

If you can, Please please Keep Jeffrey "Bull" Braden's family in your thoughts and prayers. Please keep the Hawaiian Raptor Ohana in your thoughts as we prepare to say goodbye to a friend and outstanding pilot.

Jeffrey "Bull" Braden Memorial Fund

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Breaks

Things break. Hearts, waves, garage doors, bones. You catch a break. A good friend, someone helps, a wave. Break throughs. Breaking even. Taking a break.

A week ago the girls had their voice recital. It was on the tail end of a long(fairly normalish busy) kind of week. The recital was very casual(which I LOVE) and both teens had "friends" that were there with and for them. Which is another stage I am grateful to be here and alternately dreading- break ups.

Phillip had a break up not so long ago and it was not as traumatic as some of mine. With my husband even, long stories. Shocking to hear we've had a long history of bumpy roads- hence the really good shocks and struts we had installed or took time to put into our relationship. Part of life is learning about people and relationships and how to work with them. And many times the hardest part of being in a relationship is realizing the person you are with is not the person you want them to be and it's not up to you to change that- it's up to you to decide if you can live with who they are and accept it or move on. Sometimes you find out the person someone is- is actually better for you than what you thought you needed. Or you make the break, because clearly they are not. Learning curve.

As with all things drama, theatre, performance- there are breaks. You say Break a leg- not good luck. There is little that is fair about the entertainment world. It is rehearsed and really it is about who you know or someone helping you along the way-the breaks. The big break. I'm not saying there is not a lot of hard work and you can't break into the scene yourself. Totally doable. But most of it is luck and someone else's druthers. I'm a behind the scenes girl. The idea of being on stage doing anything other than painting it or arranging props makes me nauseous. But to see the girls enjoy it and shine- well that I can do- watch them shine. And they did. And they were the most shiney when they had fun and it showed. That and when they tried to make me cry- which was their voice coach's doing- Seriously- For Good from Wicked, Phantom, Think of Me- jam packed public tear fest. It was sloppy- my crying not the singing. And I love them and their coach to death for it. He is so good with them- pushing them to do better, yet lifting them up when they need it. He asked me to trust him and I had doubts, yet I did and the improvement I've seen in both girls (and many of their friends- also so fun to see!)over the year is really impressive. And I know they all worked hard. Despite Lily losing her hearing aids the week before recital(another indication of good training- she had to rely on what she knew- not necessarily what her ears were or were not telling her plus a wicked cold to boot. Those are the breaks.

One of our neighbors also had a birthday party that night. Lily had worried for weeks that she would miss it. We tried to plan it into our schedule because I know how much it means to her- they have been friends for years and years. Of course now he's 13 and she's 11 so their paths have diverged a bit and I also worried that she might get her little heart broken because even though they are just friends, sometimes friend dynamics change around this age. I was beat and not feeling great when we got home after recital- Phil grills up some dinner and the girls head over to the party.  I kid you not 15 minutes later Bella is running in the door saying Lily is hurt and we can hear Lily wailing in the back yard. Turns out she stubbed her little toe on a toy box at the party and it's looking pretty broken. Sticking out to the side. Broken.

I hand her a banana so I can feed her hydrocortisone and ibuprofen. She is being very tough. Phil and I look at it. One of our famous stories is how lil Phillip was playing soccer with uncle Grant in the back yard, barefoot and broke his toe. Due to our general aversion to the ER and hospital(despite appearances) we try to play doctor at home. We are convinced it is just dislocated and try to pull it back into place. Not dislocated, broken. Er trip, X-ray, buddy tape. Lesson learned. Sort of. Fast forward 10 years. Lily- You aren't going to pull it like Phillip's are you? Phil- No I'm just gonna look at- PULL. Scream. A little better. Nope it's broken. Yes proud parent moments. It's a little toe. We ice, we administer pain relievers, it just has to heal . We explain this to Lily. Phillip comes out to see what the screaming is about. Lily broke her toe- OH man did you guys pull it? yeah that's how we roll. Just rolling with the breaks or pulling the breaks. I shouldn't laugh- but we are a week out and she's lived to tell about it with no permanent disfigurement. So poor girl lost her hearing aids, has a cold and a broken toe. So much for planning- those are the breaks. Sometimes things break and we see they are about to break and try to avert crisis. Sometimes you just have to deal as it pops up. Or out.

As we geared up for my last scan the week before these adventures, I mentioned the oven/stove is a fire hazard to Phil. Now it is well documented in burn marks on my cabinets- that it may not be the only fire hazard. But the thing is about to full up break. So post most recent MRI - Phil takes Jen all hopped up on ativan oven shopping. Now I highly recommend this. It is a trip. Also watch videos called HIKEA- people smoke pot and try to assemble ikea furniture- hysterical- because doing that on a good day is entertaining. But don't do drugs, drugs are bad. Unless you have a stressful MRI and are claustrophobic then they are a means to an end and prescribed. And the end is a new oven with a pretty blue interior. Seriously. All this inhibition- function, yada yada- whateves- this one has a BLUE interior! The OVEN inside is BLUE. I must have it. Commence island wide search for soonest oven availability and best price. September and Best Buy. See we try to plan before things break. Try. To Plan. You know how this is going to turn out right?

Scans- So results took awhile and some hunting and calling. The skinny is slight growth. We are where we are. I would prefer stable. But we are looking at 2 millimeter size growth of the region- which is small. But it is also in a 6 week period. But that could also be the difference in 2 measurements of 2 different scans. Lots of buts. My neurosurgeon would feel most comfortable cutting it out of my head. I understand that and it's what he does. I like him, he has a great bedside manner and really takes our situation into consideration. He is not opposed to waiting and watching(carefully) since we do not know for sure what the bits and pieces are inside the cystic lesion- fluid, tissue, dead tissue and definitely with mutants- we like to err on the side of caution. I could have tumor growing, I could have new meaner tumor growing, or it could be necrosis from the radiation which will heal, or it could be a combination. The good news is I do not have symptoms and symptoms are one of my biggest fears about the surgery. Because the tumor is in my cerebellum- although surgery should not affect cognition and how brilliant I am or who I am- I could swagger like a drunken pirate for awhile. Or forever. And not be coordinated.  Which not the end of the world but kinda puts a damper on doing all the things I like to do. Is it a certainty- no. But a consideration. Just weighing the balances. I think surgery will have to be an option- but I am going with my gut and don't want things to get ugly but need to watch it for a little longer. Not to mention the whole brain surgery planning thing- it's gonna take a major committee. I also am lucky enough to know some really rock star brain surgeons, and brain surgery patients who give me the straight info. SO we wait and scan again at the end of September.

Last week was one of those weeks I went into with a- I'm going to take it easy attitude. Which I know better than to do. Normal busy appointments and such but then the little normal things add up along the way. Like the Air Conditioner making really bad noises. Not the end of the world- it's not that hot here and we have power and fans. It's on the radar- and so were 2 hurricanes. We were supposed to go to Bellows for Labor Day weekend- but in light of the crazy potential weather- that was cancelled. Which probably worked out for the best because I had a bit of a breakdown. It happens. I don't talk about it- I try not share them too much- just because its not my favorite me. They happen. I'm not glossing over it- its just they are private. There are a lot of feelings that come with have little time bombs in your body and brain and all the unknowns. We don't have to share everything.

So one day when the garage door won't close and I'm late to pick up girls and it's not the sensor, it's not the battery, it just is sucking- I decide to close it manually. because it is easier. And we spend days on and off doing the manual garage door drill- which is a completely novel idea for the kids and I have to explain that back in my day we were the garage door openers- you were deployed once you hit the driveway. It was an honor because you were tall enough to manage. Rite of passage. When Phil gets home- it opens and closes fine. This is how it always goes down. Until Jen is late then it does not work. Now mind you it's a 10 year old garage door opener that gets SIGNIFICANT use. And yes the lil shits slap the button and I may use my elbow a lot because my hands are always full. always full. So when Phil tries to open garage door and pin is missing and now it is broken broken and mildly questions how "WE" may have broken it- Jen completely and utterly loses her shit. Not in a roid rage way but the I'm broken and don't want to handle one more thing kind of way. And this wasn't the first episode this week. There was an unfortunate event involving me just wanting to read the last few chapters of a library book before it expired on my kindle and the entire clan conspiring against me. It happens. I just needed a break. To not be talked to for a minute or 5 or maybe an hour.  And I feel bad because it's these times when we aren't in crisis per say(how the hell is that spelled?) that it tends to hit. I was busy but not frantic, no catastrophes- just normal shit. And it adds up on top of the big stuff and sometimes you get to - the breaking point.

So it's the first weekend of football. And Friday was a really really good day. Because that's what happened after meltdowns sometimes, you release all the crazy and can embrace the suck and also that frees you up to find the good. Phil sees the breaks and pauses football to spend the entire weekend fixing everything from shower heads to sprinkler valves, to garage doors. I feel bad because we should be sitting on the couch doing nothing.  I was relieved to not be packing up to cram 6 bodies in a 2 bedroom cabin with one bathroom no AC and centipedes. I know it's paradise and alternately sitting on the beach isn't a hardship but I was tired. And children still need to eat at the beach and I didn't make it to Costco to get the type 2 diabetes size box o pizza rolls to make life easy. But back to friday- I got to visit with my sister in law and nephews- which like living in paradise- they are a few streets over and we don't get to enjoy them as much as I'd like. SO that was good. And then Phil took me to lunch. Also really good- Did you know we have a Five Guys on the island? Yep we do. Those fries man. yum. Then we came home and I made some snacks and we watched the CU-CSU game and the girls made big blobs of sugar cookie buffaloes look like buffaloes. Yes I may be using food as a coping mechanism. Hence the oven being so much on the radar. We had homemade pizza and watched a movie all together and it just was. These are the moments. The ones worth breaking for - sure idyllic places and experiences on a perfect beach with a stunning sunset are always amazing. Sometimes the perfection is just in the normal broken moment. You have to break a little to know what's worth fixing and what you need to put back together. In the words of the very wise mutant 626-aka Stitch - (which can also fix broken skin...or material- and sometime snitches get them.)

Lily Kay Monkey

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