I've often found that when someone is making up an excuse, they tend to lay it on so thick that it makes the lie that much more obvious. Instead of just saying "sorry I'm late, I should have left more time for traffic," he or she might say, "sorry I'm late, I lost my keys, got rear ended, the freeways were a parking lot and then I had to rescue a busload of orphans." When I think about how to describe the first month of this year, I can't help but feel that people will think I'm adjusting the plot for dramatic effect. I'm not saying that 2009 is worse than 2008, but let's just say we're not off to the best start. So much for leaving all the really bad shit behind with last year. Of course I knew that along with starting out the new year with a new baby, I'd also be starting it out with cancer and more treatment. But I didn't know that along with treatment I'd be starting off the new year with a lot of unexpected, and to put it bluntly, fucked up, drama. If it wasn't actually happening to me, I don't think I'd believe it.
First, my mom had an irregular mammogram of her remaining breast. Whatever it was, it was too small to biopsy and according to her follow up tests, isn't cancer. But, we did get confirmation that she is a gene carrier (she and I not surprisingly have the same mutation). She's to be monitored more closely. Dr. Funk suggested a prophylactic mastectomy given the incredibly high chance of my mom developing a new cancer in her breast (87% by the time she's 70) but my mom didn't want to hear it given everything I'm going through. Worst timing ever. But, I told her that she has to have the surgery tomorrow because I'm going to need her when Miracle Warrior is born. It's never going to be a good time and at least I'm doing well at the moment. After his arrival, it's going to be chaos and chemo. I remind her that as much as she hates surgery and lord knows she's had enough for a lifetime, in case she's forgotten, cancer and especially chemo are worse. So, she's scheduled to have a mastectomy and reconstruction next week. Because it's not enough for 1 family member to have to go through this at a time.
As if that's not enough, in a random IM chat with my mom (my cancer has catapulted my mom into the 21st century and she now emails and IMs with me regularly) she mentions that Dr. Funk is pregnant with triplets who are due in June. What!? Not to be totally selfish, but my surgery is scheduled for June so what does this mean for me!? I email Dr. Funk and of course congratulate her but ask if I need to find a new surgeon. I'm not sure why I ask because I already know the answer. Even if she wasn't delivering in June but anytime near June I wouldn't use her. I've been a new mom and only to 1 child and my brain definitely didn't function normally. So there's no way I'm letting a new mother of 3 perform an incredibly complex, lengthy surgery on me. Dr. Funk asks me to find out if I can wait 4-6 weeks to have my surgery and if not, she recommends a few surgeons for me to meet. I don't want to wait 5 minutes to finish this hellish process, so there's no way I'm waiting a month (and Dr. McAndrew says absolutely no way), plus we have the whole new mom of triplets doing my surgery issue (I hope that's not sexist of me - I was a Women's Studies major and basically have an all female medical team but....), so I have to find a new surgeon. I tell Dr. Funk that I love her and want her to be my BFF, but I have to end this chapter of my life so I'm going to find someone else. So much for being done with all of my decisions. Thankfully there are other great surgeons to choose from although I kindof want to cry that I have to start all over again with someone else. Dr. Funk responds "well BFF, TTYL." Love her.
And if that's not enough, I had to give Norman away. He peed around the house so many times that I just couldn't take another drop. In the last 2 weeks he peed on the couch 3 times (once with me on it and quite honestly I was in such shock that I couldn't even move and didn't know where to begin the cleaning process. Me? The couch? Just shoot me.), knocked over my favorite vase because he prefers to drink water out of freshly cut flowers in expensive home decor and left poop bits scattered around the house, shoes, etc. (sometimes by accident, other times, we suspect not). I have no immune system and am not supposed to clean the litter box let alone mop urine and feces up several times a week. My new hero, Dana, is very involved with a cat sanctuary that she swears is amazing (and I trust her completely). She says they will take such good care of Norman and maybe even find him a new home. She took him to the sanctuary on Saturday. I cried my eyes out as I said goodbye to Norman and apologized to him, explaining that I just didn't know what else to do. 2 days later, Dana sends me the following email from the head of the sanctuary:
Norman is doing terrible here - he is extremely stressed and actually very violent. I'm sure in time he'll calm down, that's not the kind of cat he is, it's just a very hard transition. They've had to skip some of the shots - nobody can handle him without risking going to the ER.
And Dana tells me that he hasn't eaten anything at all. So now I feel even worse. I just cry and cry. We decide the best thing is for Norman to spend a few days at my parents' house. Even though he'll mostly be alone in a room upstairs, it won't be nearly as stressful as the sanctuary. Then the most amazing thing happens. A colleague of a dear friend's mom offers to adopt Norman - urine, diabetes and all! She and her husband are saints. They have a 20 year old cat and a 2 year old dog, but no kids to terrorize him. Norman is apparently hanging in there. He's not thrilled, but is eating a little even though he's hissing at everyone. He's even taken over the dog's bed which is a great sign. Even better though, the couple is committed to making Norman part of their family and I'm so relieved. Now I just have to deal with Mattie losing her best, although sometimes abusive friend of 12 years. Boris amazingly agreed to let her sleep with us as long as she didn't wake us or Miles up, but that sadly only lasted for 2 nights. So now Mattie has to sleep downstairs by herself which also makes me want to cry, but not as much as listening to her clean herself (one of the most irritating noises ever) at 3 in the morning.
But why should I expect things to go well? Not 2 days later, I get a call from the saints informing me that Norman has stopped eating and is incredibly lethargic and barely moving. They're going to take him to the vet. The vet calls me Monday evening to tell me that Norman needs food, hydration, insulin therapy and will have to spend several days in the hospital at the cost of $1200 a day. Holy shit. I ask if what they're doing will jump start his appetite or is the problem that Norman is never going to be okay with anyone else but me (even though I don't think he was very happy here, hence the intentional urination on me and my things). There's no way for the vet to know that, but he does tell me that even though Norman needs medical attention stat!, he's hissing and violent and really is his own worst enemy. Fucking great. My options are to spend a fortune on a 13 year old cat who is likely to be back in the hospital days later from his hunger strike, or put him to sleep (why do we call it that when really, my option is to kill him). I'm so stressed out and don't know what to do. I can't believe I have to make this decision in like, 3 minutes. I tell the vet not to do anything and I'm coming to see Norman.
Boris and I get to vet's office just as they're closing. The saints are there and they couldn't be nicer and sorrier that things went south. I pick Norman up and hold him for a few minutes. He just lays there. So not Norman. Even though I am the only person who he loves, he never, never, never lets me hold him. He's no longer himself. He's sick. And old. And I want to die. I'm pretty hysterical but decide that I have to put myself first for once. I've put my health at risk to clean his urine and feces and give him shots that I wasn't supposed to and I can't do it anymore. In 4 weeks I'm going to add a newborn to the mix and know that I just can't do it all. I tell the vet that I'm going to put him to sleep but that I want to hold him and be there with him. The vet explains that they will have to put an i.v. in Norman and sedate him first because they can't risk any harm to me. Fine. They take Norman to put the i.v. in. It seems to take an eternity and through my sobs I ask Boris to find out what the hell is going on. I want Norman back. Now! Boris returns with the vet and with Norman. They've already sedated him and I'm suicidal. This is not the way it was supposed to go. The vet seriously asks me 20 times if I have any questions at this time. I'm sure it's protocol , but I wish he'd shut the fuck up. What questions could I possibly have and I've already said no 20 times. Why ask again? He administers the shots and within seconds, Norman is gone. I hold him sobbing for a while. But it's for me, not for him and it was supposed to be the other way around. I wanted to hold him during the stressful parts for him, like the i.v. and sedation. But I guess asking a vet to let an 8.5 month pregnant person with cancer (I showed up with my G.I. Jane buzz cut) hold a violent cat while getting an i.v. is a bit much?
So on top of pregnancy and cancer and my mom having surgery, I just killed my cat who I loved tremendously for 13 years. I'm a fucking wreck. I'm wondering what else can come my way and how much more I can take.
And just in case that's not enough, we received a second letter from the I.R.S. asking for our tax return from another year. When Boris called about the first letter, he was told that the I.R.S. needed our return for their investigation of another tax payer. But now this? Whatever. At least it doesn't require anything physically painful or death.
And speaking of physically painful, I have a new unbelievably torturous pain in my pelvis. It feels like someone (I'm assuming Miracle Warrior) is pulling my bones apart. Actually, it's more like he's pulling them down into the ground and somehow I hope holding up my vagina will help the pain when I walk. It doesn't. I just look like a giant asshole and Boris keeps asking me what the hell I'm doing and can he help. I realize it doesn't sound like it, but I'm not complaining, just sharing. I'm still so glad to be pregnant that I don't care how painful it gets, but it's just something to throw into the mix.
So there's my lengthy, piled on set of issues. It's just sadly all true. Happy fucking new year to me.
So far 2009 is off to a great start. At least it's not uneventful. And despite the drama and pain and death it's not all bad. I'm feeling much better. Just exhausted, but not poisoned or on drugs, so that's good. And at my most recent blood draw at Tower, I talk to Angela and learn some news about my second round of chemo that makes me feel better about it. She tells me that if I choose the weekly chemo regimen, I'm not likely to feel like death all the time. Just for a day or two. Plus she says that in her opinion, the regimen I just completed is much more toxic with far worse side effects and I did so well with it that maybe I'll have a repeat performance. Plus, she says I won't need the really horrible steroid that will cause all my bones to hurt. If my counts get too low, I will need to boost them up, but she'll use a different, less painful steroid and a smaller dose of it. And I won't get it automatically. We'll just have to see how I do. Sad that that is good news, but it is.
Plus, there's the overwhelming daily joy I get from Miles. He just gets more amazing by the second and makes me laugh and smile all the time. Boris tells me that although this is undoubtedly the most challenging and saddest time in his life, it's also the happiest. He and I have a weekly date night and despite the intense stress we're living under, we still love each other fiercely and are doing the best we can. Miles brings him endless joy and he's so excited to meet Miracle Warrior. Me too.
And speaking of the miraculous warrior, I just had my last appointment with Dr. Silverman before I see him the day before my scheduled C-section to ensure Miracle Warrior's lung maturity. Miracle Warrior is perfect. Perfect! Dr. Silverman actually says "this kid looks great and I am really really happy." If he's happy I am ecstatic. And Miracle Warrior is still big for his age. He's just under 5 pounds at the moment so he should be about 7 pounds when he's born. Had I carried him to term, he'd be 9 pounds, just like his perfectly healthy and amazing brother. Dr. Silverman tells me how great it is that I had no growth restriction at all. "Since the placenta consists of rapidly dividing cells and the chemo is attacking rapidly dividing cells, it's a risk," he says. It is great news, but I ask him if that means the chemo didn't work. Of course I have to take good news and find something alarming about it. But it is a little scary, right? He tells me that chemo affects everyone differently and that we could take 5 women staged exactly the same and give them the same chemo regimen and they will all react differently.
I'm karmically due for some good news and good times so hopefully my newly sprouted hair and large, healthy baby are signs of good things to come - not my treatment failing. One of my closest friends told me that Miracle Warrior wasn't affected by my treatment because he was meant to be. I think she's right.