Be Your Own Advocate

I was talking to a family friend who is going through some serious medical treatments. He’s a very matter of fact person and also very smart. When he found out he was sick, he did a lot of his own research. This is always a big internal debate of mine: do I look up everything the web has to offer on this topic or do I let my doctors provide the information I need to help me decide my course of action?
I think there has to be a happy medium, but I also think you have to know yourself to answer that question. I know another individual who will drive himself crazy with worry researching every awful worst case scenario and stew over it, essentially making himself more sick.
But then again, the aforementioned friend likes to be very much in control of life in general and that includes his treatment. In fact, the one time he let himself off the hook and didn’t double check what a nurse was administering, they messed up and gave him a concentrated dose of medication 5 times more powerful than he was supposed to have.
When my oldest was born, the baby nurse we had help us for two weeks told me, “You are your baby’s only advocate. She cannot speak up for herself, it’s your responsibility to speak up for her”. It is so true and in this case, as an adult, I am my own best advocate.
For me, I think doing research helps me ask intelligent questions that I prepare prior to my appointments. I forget everything in the heat of the moment. I’m one of those people who hates confrontation because I don’t have witty comebacks or good recall on the spot. Our pediatrician, who is or dear friend, jokes with me that with each checkup and each subsequent child, the lists on my iPhone get shorter and shorter. Whether I’m more laid back or just have less time to prepare is debatable. But with such a serious, irreversible surgery ahead, I’m going to have to find the time to prepare and advocate for myself.

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A Night Out

One of our best friends lives in Spain.  Whenever he comes home we make sure we have a babysitter for at least one night.  All of our high school friends come out of the woodwork to see him too.  It’s bizarre that most of us all live within an hour of each other, but never really go out en masse like this unless he is home.  So on Saturday night, 12 of us went to the local hibachi restaurant where I think we all had our birthdays from ages 7-15.  It’s a table that seats 8, but it was jam-packed with our rowdy crowd.  There were sake bombs, shrimp tossed into our mouths, and lots of laughter.  All in all, a great night out.
It was the first time we left both girls with a babysitter that wasn’t one of our parents (I’m a little neurotic when it comes to them… oh yes, we’ve established that).  I checked in with our babysitter twice and the second time she told me that both girls were up.  YIKES!  It was midnight, so we hightailed it out of the bar and raced home. 
Our babysitter gets a medal because when we got upstairs, the baby was laying in her crib guzzling the bottle the babysitter was giving her while she was holding our 30 pound two year old in her other arm.  To our surprise, there were no tears!!  Not even from the babysitter!  Even though, it wasn’t an ideal situation, she handled it like a pro and it gives me peace of mind that neither of my little ones seemed disturbed by their surprise visitor in the middle of the night. 
I have been stressing about how the nighttime will be while I’m in the hospital and my inability to help throughout my recovery.  After this weekend though, I’m definitely feeling better about that.  Not only can our amazing babysitter handle it, if necessary, but so can my girls.  I think we might need more practice though.  We’re just going to have to go out more often.  Sake bombs for everyone!

Big Girl Panties

Big milestone tonight! My two year old decided that she wants to wear “undies”. Fortunately, my mom had purchased a few pairs for her months ago that I had already washed and stored in her sock drawer for when she was ready. She hasn’t really been into potty training yet and we decided we would let her choose when she wanted to do it and not force the issue. At night she always sits on her potty with her choice of magazine (usually InStyle), but it’s rarely an eventful prelude to the bath. So I didn’t think this was going to be a successful first trial with the underwear. Much to my delighted shock, she totally got it! She chose the undies with the strawberry design. At the first feeling, she told me she was ready. She held it until I could get her on the potty and she tinkled!! I am sooo proud of her, and better yet, she is proud of herself!
All day it’s kind of been weighing on me that I’m going to get my tests done very soon. I wasn’t feeling nervous about the actual test process, just uneasy about getting results. Before I was, ya know, surfing the Crimson Tide again, it kind of felt like I wasn’t going to have to deal with all of this just yet. Of course I was thinking about it, but now there’s an imminence that wasn’t there before. Like my husband and I always say when something serious happens, “shit just got real up in this piece”.
So after my little one just up and decided it was time to put on her big girl panties and face her challenge head on, it reaffirmed to me that I have to do the same thing. So as the date approaches, I’m going to remind myself of this monumental time in my daughter’s growth and how she handled it so well. I can also handle my challenges well. I just need to put on my big girl panties and do it!

Back to Reality

During pregnancy and while breast feeding, a woman’s body is working overtime. I once read that the body during pregnancy requires as much energy as running a marathon, everyday. I was sure to remind my husband of this fact a lot and also noted that it was the only marathon I’d ever be running so he should applaud my efforts daily with zeal. Luckily, nature gives you a break in only one way: no period. I hadn’t had my period for almost a year and a half…. until last night.
Its return is marked with the usual progression of discomforts. However, it is now a milestone that I must mark with a yet unknown discomfort. My first mammogram.
I was told that I had to wait two months after weaning and 7-10 days after the return of my period to get my first mammogram. Now that the time has come, I called the breast surgeon’s office to tell them the awesome news. I guess in some ways it is a good thing because eleven days from now when I have the mammogram and MRI, I will no longer be in the dark about my current breast health. Ok, that is a really good thing. I will remain positive and tell myself that there’s probably nothing going on there yet. I am going to get a good report and have the luxury of setting a date for my double mastectomy at my leisure when the timing is right for me and my family.
Worst case scenario could be pretty bad so I’m not going to think about it. I will cross that bridge when I get there because there’s nothing I can do about it until I get those results. There’s no good that can come of me obsessing and worrying about a horrible what-if. Ok, I sort of just let myself go there for a minute, feeling a little pukey and now I’m done. Moving on.
This is what’s going to happen. I’m going to go to the appointment by myself (because after yesterday’s meltdown I can’t be worrying all day about the girls being upset), my husband will take off work and stay with them. They will be thrilled with Daddy on a weekday. I’m going to go get my boobs squished, x-rayed and felt up. Luckily, the doc will give me the mammogram results right then and there and call me the next day with the MRI results. And then I’m either going to go to Serendipity and get a big ass frozen hot chocolate or go to Bergdorfs and pretend I’m a Kardashian cousin (speaking of big a… well, just know that as I turn around, it won’t be hard to convince them). I’ll try on pretty shoes and clothes. Then I will hem and haw as I turn this way and that in the mirror as if I don’t know if they’ll look good enough when Kim and I hit the club (throw head back, wide-mouthed laugh, hand on hip, pose for paparazzi). As I see it, I will then walk out of the store empty-handed but not disappointed because I will have already gotten my fabulous results from the doctor and I’ve got a little more time on my side (and money left in my account). I will take the next train back to reality, hug my little family and feel happy, grateful and blessed. A girl can dream, no?

BoobyMoon

Our honeymoon was awesome.  We needed that downtime after our amazingly fun wedding.  The wedding planning and weekend debaucheries tuckered us out and got us ready for the nothing-to-do beach vacation.  Sure, I was so run-down that I had strep during the entire 2 week break, but that didn’t stop us from having the most relaxing, romantic trip ever.  We also took a “babymoon” before our first was born.  That was also a smart move.  Being a Mom is the hardest, most demanding job I’ve ever had.  It’s also the most rewarding, fun and worthwhile title I’ve ever held.
I saw a flier in the library today that was for a seminar called, “The Terrific Twos.” My friend said, “Who calls it that?”  That’s not how I’d put it either. It’s more like a rollercoaster of amazing moments of wonder as you watch your just-a-year-ago baby learn how to be their own independent individual with very specific likes, dislikes and multiple personalities.  Well, that mixed with ridiculous frustration when they (and you) grasp for the right way to handle any given scenario: how to use a toilet, how to solve a puzzle, how to express the endless frustrations. Maybe it should be “The Trying Twos.”  Terrible seems kind of mean as there are really awesome times.  However, after a few weeks of not having any help (due to circumstances beyond  my control: my mom, my mother-in-law and my babysitter were all away at the same time that my husband had to be at work until midnight almost every night), I’m ready to lose it.
So today, I had it all arranged so I could have an hour to myself to go out and basically walk around town and do nothing, maybe get a coffee?  So as I saw the white light of my exit shining brighter and brighter, my two year old threw a fit!  It was like we had gone backwards 9 months to when she went to her school for the first day without me.  The tears, the hysterics, the tantrums, oh my!  She isn’t used to me leaving her with anyone other than her daddy.  Ugh, I couldn’t do it.
It got me nervous (yet again) for when I leave for the surgery.  So now I know that I have to start preparing them for when I’m not around.  And what’s the best way for that to happen?  A BoobyMoon!!!!  I am going to plan a vacation, somewhere relaxing, gorgeous and complete with spa services.  A few months before I have the surgery, my husband and I will have to get away for at least a long weekend and let the girls stay with their grandparents.  Hopefully this will get them used to the idea of us being gone for a few days and give everyone a trial run.  And give me a much desired break!!!  I cannot wait!  It will be the last time the old ta-tas go to the beach.  Bon Voyage Boobies!!!

Housekeeping

I got my teeth cleaned today (picture me smiling like the brunette version of the Orbit gum chick).  It had been over a year and a half.  Yikes.  My dad is a periodontist and would be appalled if he knew how long it had been.  Even though I inherited that pesky BRCA gene, I also got his very strong teeth.  I didn’t have any cavities.  Kind of a shock since… let’s just say my flossing regimen leaves a lot to be desired.  So as I was making my appointment for 6 months from now, it occurred to me that I’m really going to have to time that appointment around my double mastectomy date.  I should get my next teeth cleaning soon before going in for surgery.
I started thinking about my other medical housekeeping and then all of my pre-op to-dos.  What should I do to prepare for surgery?  I’m starting to make a mental checklist, but thought it would be best written down.  I have a serious case of Mom brain and am likely to forget everything as soon as it enters my conscience.
– Teeth cleaning
– Trans-vaginal ultrasound: although I haven’t discussed this yet here, due to the heightened risk of ovarian cancer, part of my medical housekeeping now includes a trans-vaginal ultrasound every 6 months. 
– Miscellaneous household things: change air filters in the girls’ humidifiers, change the air filter in our HVAC system, run the auto-clean cycle of the washing machine.  Sure, these are things that someone else could probably do, but I don’t want to have to think about reminding anyone or giving instructions to already busy people helping me.
– Seasonal Closet Change:  If my surgery takes place in September/October (that’s my ideal timeline, but who knows), I need to switch the girls’ closets to fall clothes and get their jackets out and think about Halloween costumes (although my husband always buys backup costumes because he thinks the ones I pick out are “janky” or super lame)
– Playdates: make sure I have several weeks worth of playdates scheduled
– Medicines: stock up on all of the necessary medications that I like to have around for the girls, like ibuprofen, acetimenophen,  benadryl, and adult tylenol, etc. and of course the prescriptions I will need too.
– Grooming: haircut, waxing, nails (will I choose 3 coats of Jumping Junkanoo or Fiji for my toes? these are the very serious decisions that I have to face)
I’m a firm believer in lists as living and breathing organisms.  This one will have to grow and develop over time.

Log Out and Live

My friend and her husband started a new venture. It’s called Log Out and Live. They’re encouraging people to put down their mobile devices, step away from the computer, don’t freak if you can’t find a wi-fi hot spot. Get out there and be active. Obviously, there are very important uses for our devices and how we use them. I wouldn’t be doing this blog and reaching out to everyone without being logged in. However, this weekend while I was celebrating all of the holidays, I actually left my phone in the car for once. It was a baby step, as almost all of the people who might need me were already with me. That gave me peace of mind enough to log out and just enjoy my extended family and friends. I really loved it.
Remember back in the stone ages (the ’80s), when people weren’t constantly connected via technology? You actually had to call a friend to find out what was going on with them instead of just checking their Facebook status. It was a simpler time. I wonder if our kids are ever going to have the interpersonal skills that generations before them have needed to do business, forge friendships and express themselves in a way other than ridiculous abbreviations. OMG, they will never understand how we did it without cell phones!
It gives me major anxiety not to have my cell phone on when my daughter is at school. I want to make sure I can be reached if she’s hurt or upset. Of course I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I won’t be able to do much for anyone when I go into surgery and then for a few weeks post-op. It might feel like the olden days when our parents weren’t always reachable. I don’t like the idea of that. It might be a good thing for my kids though, not to be helicoptered by me for a little bit. Not that they won’t be in the very capable hands of their father and grandparents but I hate the thought of not being able to do things for them. That was the hardest thing about having our second child. I stressed so much about not being able to be there for our older child for the two days I was in the hospital. She was perfectly fine and my parents, especially, keep saying that I need to give the girls space so they don’t wind up feeling like the universe revolves around them. Well this should be the perfect time for that lesson. And the perfect time for me to log out so I can live longer.