When my Paranoia is Validated

Alright so we all know I have a love/hate relationship with the super efficient oncology nurse. Or you might not if you’re new.

I think I also mentioned my next scan is March 18. Well now it’s not. It’s the 8th – as in next week. Why, you ask?

Because my Nexavar prescription is due for a refill. Which is good news because it means I’ve already gotten a year out of it, which is much more than early statistics led me to believe I’d get. The one that sticks in my mind is “time to tumor progression is approx. 5.9 months”. Twelve is obviously much better.

Given that yesterday I was over it all, it’s reassuring – a good reminder of the benefits I’ve gotten because it’s wearing me down. If I’d have written a post yesterday, it would have sounded a lot like this:

Hi, it’s me, Annie, and I’ve over it. Just fucking over it. Over being sick all the time. Over the sore feet. Over telling my family to go have fun without me because I can’t be more than 20 ft from a bathroom. Over being afraid to eat because it will make me sick. I’m hungry and weak and crabby.  My body is tired. I’m done. I can’t do it anymore!

Hell, maybe I’m still there a little bit today. But through it all I remind myself that the reason I feel like dog shit is because the drug is probably still working. If it’s still causing such extreme side effects, it must also mean it’s keeping the tumors in check, right?

But then a conversation takes place between two very conflicting parts of my brain:

Side 1: Wouldn’t it be nice if it stopped working and we could try the next drug and feel better? I hear the side effects are much much better!

Side 2: But we have no guarantee we’ll respond to the next one. What happens then? Nope, we want it to keep working no matter what!

Side 1: Oh it’ll be fine. Tasigna will be the magic drug that lets us skip through our day singing and throwing rose petals just like those annoying princesses in the movies. We’ll feel great and small birds will land on our shoulders as we stroll through the park. Come on, it’ll be fun!

Side 2: But it’s the last one before clinical trials. Are you sure we want to go there already?

Side 1: Hell yeah, no problem. Who cares if only 15% of people who developed resistance to Gleevec see improvement from Tasigna. You’ll be in that 15%. No problem. Come on, this could be the one!

Side 2: But what if Nexavar really has stopped working and this imaginary bullshit about throwing rose petals doesn’t happen either?

Side 1 : Well I’m really only letting you imagine that because we know the Nexavar IS still working. That’s why it’s ok to joke.

Side 2: But what if it’s not?

Side 1: It is. It has to be. You’ll have gone a whole year without surgery on March 17. That’s the longest since the Gleevec stopped working. Remember how horrible the last one was? You were so weak from having the August surgery that you didn’t bounce back very well. It’s still working! I know this body wouldn’t betray us again so soon.

Side 2: But what if it’s not?

Side 1: It is. It has to be.

And then the pharmacy called the dr.’s office to get the refill. And she called me. This is what she said:

Hi Annie, Diplomat called to get your Nexavar refill and I thought I’d check with you and see how you’re doing. How many pills do you have left?

Ok, so 18 days left. That’s not going to get you through to your results appointment on the 22nd is it. Do we want to go ahead and refill before then or would you like to wait until we get the results? Obviously you couldn’t handle increasing the dose so if there’s anything new that won’t be an option.

What do you think? You would like to move it up? Sure no problem, we can change it to next week and that will give them plenty of time to either refill or work a new prescription through the insurance hassles before you run out of your existing refill.

The doctor will be back in tomorrow so I’ll get his take on it but I think you’re right, let’s go ahead and reschedule you to be on the safe side.

So there you have it folks. It’s rare Nexavar works this long and we all know it. Obviously, I had thought this exact same thing but was afraid to say it out loud. I appreciate her candor.

Or maybe I just appreciate getting the scan out of the way sooner. Either way, my psycho self has been validated.

The Nexavar may not be working anymore. Or it might be. We don’t know, so why beat around the bush?

They are in the business of keeping me alive and no matter how much I try to deny statistics that quote things like “overall survival” and “progression-free survival”, they are part of my life. The reality is, at any time I can be back in surgery, changing meds or researching clinical trials.

I said on my anniversary that I am going to say OK to whatever is next and if that means being brutally honest, and therefore proactive about possible treatment changes then there it is. That’s the reality of being me.

That’s the reality of the work the oncologists and their nurses face every day. Why stick our heads in the sand? They are the people I don’t have to censor myself with. It’s what they do.

I almost wonder if my horrible awful very bad day yesterday was a way to prepare me to accept the change more easily if it happens. Nexavar has diminished me in every way. It has caused muscle loss. It wears me down mentally as well as physically. It keeps me near a bathroom at all times. It has kept me from sleeping through the night for almost an entire year. There are times it has made me wish I was dead, all the while keeping me alive.

IT is my true love/hate relationship.

Obviously as much as I hate Nexavar, I want it to keep working. It’s better than facing the unknown again. Not to mention the over the top scanxiety of the first scan right after a drug change. The will it work or won’t it stress is insane!

But you know, that skipping on feet that don’t hurt, through in the woods far away from a bathroom, doesn’t sound too bad either. Especially, if SG is waiting at a remote cabin without the kids.

** Update ** The doctor came back and right away signed off on the prescription refill. I’m not sure he was happy with super nurse calling and giving me doubts. He’s a good man!

Walking in a Winter Wonderland & Freezing My Ass Off!

strong wind from south blowing the snow over H...

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There are times I love this gorgeous mountainous state we live in. When I look out our living room window across the valley and onto the snow-covered mountains on the other side of it and think, “Wow, we are so lucky to live here!”

Today isn’t one of them.

Today SG had to drive to the state capital for a meeting. Approx. 115 miles in a blizzard because he was told “weather is not an excuse not to attend”. It’s currently 4 degrees with wind gusts up to 40 mph, reduced visibility due to blowing and drifting snow and snow/ice-covered roads, and a sustained windchill of -20. A lovely day for a drive in the “extremely treacherous driving conditions”! Stupid meeting planning, unbending, can’t cancel because of a little snow, fuckers!

Luckily he’s not driving alone. There are 2 other poor suckers who had to go with him. I double checked the number of cell phones, hats, gloves etc before he left because you know, I’m a mom and that’s my job even if I’m not his mom.

Since my diagnosis I think, ok I know, that I’m extra neurotic about keeping him safe! I know that the best thing I’ve ever done for my children was make him their father. He has to stay well and be here in case I can’t be. So today I watch the storm move in, unable to see across the street let alone the valley, and I worry. Because again, I’m the mom and the wife and that’s my job.

The good news today is that our bus stop is across the street from our house so my overly bundled girls could wait until the very last minute to go outside. D1 was almost blown down the street as she crossed it.

Thankfully, for possibly the first time in recorded history, nobody gave me the “do I really have to” face when I reminded them to wear hats and mittens. D2 even took the initiative to add a fuzzy neck gator and D1 added the hood to her coat. D3 didn’t quite zip her coat. I caught it though and zipped her up. Though she won’t admit it, I’m sure she appreciated it once the wind hit her neck.

In the summer when I’m complaining about the drought and watching forest fires across the valley, will you please refer me back to this post? Good Lord, where’s the happy medium?

Anybody have 5 spare tickets to Costa Rica? I feel the need for a zipline over the rainforest. And a drink.

One Thousand Eight Hundred Twenty Five Days + 3

I sit down to write this morning after a 3 day break and it’s overwhelming. I don’t know where to take this post first.

I’m almost at a loss for words when I think about the absolutely unbelievable amount of support I received Friday and over the weekend from people I’ve never met. So many of you were referred by people I do know and love – but also have never met.

This social media thing, it kind of rocks. It makes me wish I’ve had it all along. I feel better this anniversary than the past and I think it has more to do with being able to get it all out. I’m often afraid to be truly honest with the people closest to me because the looks on their faces breaks my heart. Ironically, I write it here because I worry about making them cry but from the comments left on my anniversary post, I made some of you cry instead. Sorry about that!

So much of battling this damn disease is making the people around you feel better about it and that’s ok. In the end, it’s harder on my caregivers and the people who love me. They will be the ones left behind. I have the easy part.

Thank you all so much for allowing my words into your homes! For letting me tell you my story, for receiving it so well and for the tweets and links! I know there will be more posts like that one as I continue to struggle through the drug changes and surgeries in my future. I’d like to think there won’t be more but when you have 2 major surgeries in 7 1/2 months, it jades you a little.

I live each day knowing there is cancer in my body – I’m reminded each time I take a pill – but also knowing that I’m not alone in this fight. I have amazing people around me. People sending positive energy my way, and I want you to know I appreciate it. I don’t know who you many of you are but I’m grateful for a place to share, and look forward to getting to know you better, as hopefully I continue on a very long journey! Thank you.

Now, on to what else the weekend brought up.

The title of this post came from my youngest. First thing Saturday morning, she got out her calculator to see how many days we’ve had together since we found out I have cancer. How adorable is that? My little brainiac commemorated the day with math. Her sisters groaned. I smiled and marveled at such a big number of days that went so quickly and so painfully slow at the same time.

My oldest wanted to do something to celebrate. Mostly so we could go to her favorite mexican restaurant which we did because it’s mine too. I felt the need for a margarita and she said “Really mom? Cancer meds and tequila? Do you think that’s a good idea?” Well yeah, obviously! It’s funny how they look out for me. Or maybe it’s just a way for her to continue nagging since I didn’t listen to her 5 years ago and go to the doctor right away. Either way, I know it’s done with humor and love and I appreciate it.

D2 took a different approach. My little hospital bed partner changed the subject a lot. If the topic came up about the cancer she changed it. I don’t blame her a bit. She’s the one going through the loss of her friend’s mother. It’s too fresh for her. She needs the security not the unknown. At the end of the day though, when we sat down to watch a movie, she sat next to me. Leaned on me. That warm little body against my leg 5 yrs later.

SG kept wanting to ditch the kids and go for coffee by ourselves. I’d already told the kids we’d go do something so I felt guilty and put him off. When we finally did have a chance to drop them off at home and go ourselves, a storm moved in and we barely made it up the hill to get home so we stayed put. That was ok. He was fine with it. We spent some time alone on Sunday –  even buying me a beautiful necklace to mark the occasion. I love that guy! But you already know that.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many directions my brain was going on Saturday. If I’d been at the computer, you’d have gotten a 4000 word post. As it is, I’ve forgotten a lot of them. But there are things I remember.

I’m thankful for my family and every day with them.

I’m impressed with the way the girls have handled it all but worry about what’s next and how it will affect them in the long run. No child should get out a calculator to see how many extra days she’s gotten with her mom!

I’m sorry they haven’t had the fun energetic mom they deserve. These drugs that keep me here make me so bone-jarringly tired. I try to keep up but so many days I can’t do it.

I regret the number of times I’ve had to say no when SG takes them somewhere and they ask say “Is mom coming too?” I vow to try to decrease the no’s and push through a yes more often.

I recognize how important it is to be present in their days. Less distracted by life, dark thoughts and of course, the internet (sorry).

Because I have no idea when I’ll next have to tell them the tumors are growing again (that was the hardest part of the last 2 years), I will try to make cancer less present in our daily lives. I know it’s there but I’m going to try to move it farther into the background if that’s possible. It’s not a focus but it is there. We all know it.

At the same time, I will continue to be honest with them. It’s hard balance.

I’m thankful so have such an amazing partner by my side. I’ve heard of women whose husbands leave because the cancer is too much for them to deal with. I don’t really get that but there it is. SG is the source of the strength I’m afraid I wouldn’t have without him.

I’m not as strong as you all give me credit for. I think I misrepresented how “fine” I am, but I’m working on it.

I was reminded by all of you in your comments that each day is a gift to be appreciated. Many of you thanked me for the reminder but I have to also thank you for reminding ME! That entered my mind so much as I spent the Saturday just hanging out with my family.

In the chaos of life and the fog of side effects from meds, I far too often forget myself, to be appreciative. I complain about not feeling well or mourning the loss of my old life, and sometimes I need so just stop and be grateful of this new life. The one I still get to have.

1825 days and counting.

The Day My World Changed

It feel like I’ve been writing this post in my head forever. Since the 1st anniversary of my cancer diagnosis, when it all came back to haunt me but I had nowhere to put it. It’s also been in my drafts folder and I accidentally posted it last month – completely unfinished. Sorry about that! It’s going to be long so I won’t hold it against you if you check out or skim.

I’m technically posting it a day early because I rarely pay attention to my blog on weekends. This weekend especially, will be spent focusing on my family and appreciating that I’m here to do it.

This weekend is the 5th anniversary of when my world fell apart. It was actually a several day process but on February 19, 2006, I heard the word cancer for the first time. I wouldn’t hear the words gastrointestinal stromal tumor for a couple of days but this is the day the “c-word” took on a new meaning for me.

It was combined with the word metastatic, which oddly enough made me think of Sculley on X-Files. That was a word used to describe her cancer and I knew it was bad news. I’m such a dork! In my defense I was also on some amazing drugs.

Later in the ICU, through my fog, I heard the surgeon tell my husband things like “we took out all we could” and “you’re lucky you brought her in when you did. She wouldn’t have made it to morning”.

That last statement haunts me the most because my girls were at the age where they got in bed with me each morning. I can’t let my mind go there.

I should back up though and tell you the rest of the story. The part where I didn’t see it coming. Where I took the diagnosis I wanted to hear – a harmless fibroid – instead of getting those nagging questions answered.

It started May 2005 with a pain in my side. Just a twinge that drew my attention to what they referred to as a palpable mass. To me it was weird lump that seemed to be getting bigger. One I could feel when I would lie on my back. I had it checked and was told it was a fibroid. I was put off and told to call if it felt like it twisted.

My mom had a history of fibroids and endometrioma. I took that and ran with it. Easy peasy, harmless fibroid. Nothing serious. Cool.

Nine months later I thought I had the flu and an early period with cramps. It started on a Wednesday, I blew off the girls’ swim lessons and put a heating pad on my stomach. During the night I was up sick and really weak. Science Guy wasn’t feeling well either so of course it wasn’t anything serious. Nothing unique to me.

On Thursday morning I remember a stomach pain like nothing I’d ever had before. Not even labor had knocked me on my ass in the same way this did.

I considered the twisted fibroid theory. I sat on the floor in the hallway outside the bathroom trying to catch my breath and waiting for the pain to pass because I couldn’t move any farther.

D1 stepped over me on her way outside to the bus and said “Mom, you should go to the doctor”. The pain stopped, as I’m told it would have after a rupture, so I didn’t listen.

I should have listened. She still reminds me of that occasionally.

My “flu” continued through Friday and into Saturday. There was no way to get the bath hot enough to stop my chills but I kept trying.

By Saturday afternoon I hadn’t been out of bed but I was sure I was getting better. Moms don’t get sick. Especially a 37 yr old mom with 3 young girls.

I’d been online (of course) and had decided SG and I both had strep. I read that stomach pain and nausea could come with untreated strep.

 By evening I finally agreed we should both get checked. We dropped the girls off at the neighbor’s house and headed to the “Urgent Care” at the mall. Yes, the mall. Isn’t that where everyone goes when they’re dying? Who doesn’t want their last meal to be a soft pretzel?

It was the height of flu season and as we waited there forever I felt weaker and weaker. I remember telling SG that if we had to wait any longer, I was going to stretch out on the floor. That should have been a clue. I don’t do dirty mall floors!

After what felt like hours, we were finally called back and yes, we both had strep. The nurse who had done the swabs came back and re-checked my blood pressure – then quickly left the room. The dr. came in and asked us which hospital we wanted to go to. He would call ahead and let the ER know we were on our way. We picked the closest one, only blocks away, but still didn’t know exactly why he was sending us. He didn’t tell me my blood pressure reading.

I knew I was weak but I’d taken a long shower, washed my hair, put on makeup and walked the length of the mall to the clinic. I was ok. Probably just dehydrated.

On the way to the ER I remember things getting bright and I could only see the outline of the buildings and trees. I guess I knew that might not be good but I still walked through the hospital parking lot, hanging on to SG, and into the triage area. We told them they should be expecting us so they got me in right away. They asked a few more questions then again, took my blood pressure.

50/30.

They wheeled me right back. It funny how fast they can move when they want to. It felt so good to stretch out on the gurney. Not exactly memory foam but I thought it was heaven.

The rest of the evening was a blur. Snippets of images in my mind. Pieces of conversation.

A comment out in the hallway about my white counting being over 250,000 – followed by whispering and a palpable sense of urgency.

Someone asking if my abdomen was usually extended. (Well that was kind of rude. Were they calling me fat?)

A painful CT as I struggled to follow the breathing instructions.

I remember being told they had called a surgeon and that he arrived very quickly.

I remember him talking about possible renal failure and surgery post-haste.

Something about calling in his team and that they weren’t sure what they’d find until they got in there. Where’s Dr. House when you need him?

Science Guy looked like hell and worried me. He was pale and sick but never left my side except to call the neighbor and get overnight bags up to the girls. My mom called as he was leaving to take care of things. He filled her in on the bare minimum. She started getting things in order for the drive over.

By midnight I was in surgery.

I was in there for something like 4 hours. I’ve never quite known for sure. It’s a one of those small details that got lost in the aftermath.

I do know SG was in the waiting room. Alone and sick in the middle of night.

He was watching the Olympics between naps. One of his students’ family was also in the waiting room awaiting the birth of their 1st baby. What he must have been going through brings me to tears even 5 yrs later.  So much happiness on one side of the room and him sitting alone until the surgeons brought him the news of my cancer on the other.

The primary tumor had ruptured my small bowel. They’d repaired what they could and removed what they could but there was so much more than they could take out. I was in the ICU.

My mom talks about the drive over. She only remembers pieces. They were on auto pilot as any parent would be. As I would be if it were one of my girls. SG hadn’t said the word cancer but they knew.

My dad can’t talk about it. My grandfather (his father) had checked into the hospital with cancer years ago and never made it back home. He’d also gotten the “we’ve taken out all we can” speech.

The next 10 days are mostly a blur to me. I remember a lot of pain.

I remember the girls coming to see me and the looks on their faces when they saw the number of tubes going into my body.

I remember the devastation on my mom and dad’s faces. Quickly replaced by looks of love and reassurance. And pain.

I remember D1 with her little mask on because she had bronchitis and it was the only way they’d let her in to see me. I put a mask on instead so she could take hers off. I was already scary, I couldn’t look much worse. I remember the look on her face when she heard the word cancer. She’d lost a classmate to brain cancer the month before.

I remember D2 wanting to be in bed with me but since she couldn’t lean on my stomach, she wrapped her arm around my legs and put her warm little head on my thigh. That’s where she stayed every day after kindergarten.

I  remember  4 yr old D3 being excited I had SpongeBob on the television in my room and that I knew where the chocolate milk was kept by the nurses station. Everyday she came and I envied her innocence and trust that I’d be ok.

I remember how much sunshine and joy they brought into a dreary, but flower filled, hospital room.

I remember studying their pictures on my window sill and wondering how much longer I’d get to be with them.

I remember my lungs being drained and my stitches being cut to check for infection because my fever kept spiking.

I clearly remember a rookie nurse asking me how I felt about “having cancer with young children at home”. I remember thinking she was the biggest bitch I’d ever met! Still do.

I remember my oncologist coming in, introducing himself and immediately saying there was a new pill for GIST. It didn’t used to be treatable but the new therapy showed promise. I remember relief.

I remember a conversation with the surgeon where he commented on my puzzling attitude in the ER. He said that no matter what he said to me, how bad he made the surgery sound, how much he tried to prepare me for the worst, my response every time was simply, “Ok”.

In my mind there was no other response but “ok, do what you have to do”. I had failed miserably in my attempt to diagnose myself. I knew it was more than I could fix with rest and fluids. His job was to “fix me and get me home to my girls”. I was not going to leave them! I hadn’t said goodbye or told them how much I love them one last time. They still needed me. SG still needed me. Whatever he had to do to get me back to them was OK!

And I remember coming home. There are no words.

The last 5 years have been snippets of clarity mixed with the same old day-to-day that everyone faces.  I’m sorry to say I haven’t been one of those people who sees cancer as a gift that brings new perspective.

I will never write a book about crazy sexy cancer because to me it’s more along the lines of obnoxious fucking cancer.

But I’m still here.

D1 was in 3rd grade then – now she’s months away from starting high school.

D2 was in kindergarten – now she’s on her way to middle school.

D3 was home with me – now she’s on the downhill side of elementary school.

I’m here for holiday programs and birthdays. I’m here to play games and to help them with homework.

I’m here at the end of the day to crawl into bed with SG and just appreciate so much what we almost lost.

I often wake in the middle of the night to find that he’s holding my hand in his sleep. I think it’s his attempt to keep me here with him through the night when I came so close to leaving him before.

I’m where I belong and no matter what it takes to stay, no matter how many surgeries or drug changes, I still say OK.

Push ’em out! Push ’em out! Waaaay Out!

I used to hate my hips. I longed for sister’s slim profile. She had that paper thin side view I wanted so badly.

Me? I’m more round. I’m narrow but thick. I always felt like I needed to suck in my stomach a bit more.

Of course it could have been because my mom was behind me saying “Annie, suck in your stomach”, but who really knows? I’m not here to blame.

So there we were. My slim hipped sister and her “too many prom dates” dilemma and my round hipped self never missing an episode of Fantasy Island on a Saturday night. Tattoo and I? We were close.

Of course it may have been my winning personality that kept me dateless but I’d rather attribute it to my thick hips. Again, why bring blame into it?

Then one day my sister got pregnant. Then she went into labor. For a VERY LONG time. Hours turned into days and still that round headed little guy stayed put. Eventually all was well but man it took forever!!

Then I got pregnant and went into labor. And those round hips? Those are birthin’ hips baby!

It was like I had my very own vaginal pez dispenser!

Baby #1? Induced at 9:00am, done by 3:50pm.

My sister went into labor with #2 and moved back and forth between labor & delivery and the OR like a yoyo. He crowned, he went back in. He crowned, he went back in. Let’s do a c-section. Let’s deliver vaginally. Let’s do a c-section. Oh look here he comes again. 36 hours later, there he was.

I went in with #2 and though it was back labor, and felt like forever, it was actually under 10 hours.

My sister? She wasn’t impressed.

When she went in with #3 it was the same thing. Big ol baby boy. No less than 36 hours of active labor.

And yes, in case you’re wondering, she has 3 boys, I have 3 girls. We’re cool like that.

You already know D3’s suprise beginning. Her delivery was no less abrupt.

We went to the hospital at 4:30am, I labored in the hot tub then pushed twice and popped her out at 6:10am.

My pez dispenser practically shot her across the room. Ping Ping Ping – protect your eyes!

My parents were staying with us so I woke them when left for the hospital. When we called at 6:30 they thought we were giving them a quick update, instead we told them that our beautiful, 9 lb 6 oz. healthy D3 was here and already eating breakfast!

My mom’s first words after congratulations?

“Your sister is going to kill you!”

It’s all about the birthin’ hips people!

Well that and taking the advice of my Lamaze coach. She told me to push like that baby is the biggest bowel movement ever! It worked.

Oh, one more thing. Please don’t scream like those ladies giving birth on TV. Regardless of your hips, that’s just counter-productive and annoying.  

 
 
 

A Memoir of Pregnancy & Childbirth

This post was inspired by the very funny and refreshingly honest book Exploiting My Baby by Teresa Strasser. 

I received a copy of the book, free of charge, for review through the online book club From Left to Write.  Please click on the link to read more posts inspired by this book and others.

 Teresa Strasser made her baby a spleen and some eyebrows. Her baby got her a book deal.

Where Was I?

There was a time in my life when I was relatively smart. When I worked for a large corporation and communicated intelligently with overseas vendors. I could handle US Customs with efficiency.

And then I got pregnant and gave birth 68 times. (Really? It was only 3? Are you sure?)

Now I drive like a bat out of hell all the way across town to make it to D1’s volleyball game on time, only to get there and find out it’s a home game. A few blocks from our house. It would seem I lack the ability to even read the most basic game schedules.

The 2nd game was good.

I’d like to shrug it off and call it chemo brain but if I’m being honest with myself, I’ll have to admit it started long before the cancer.

It was little things at first. Leaving for work and forgetting my lunch. Locking my keys in the car at the store. Forgetting to pick up SG before Lamaze.

We called it “baby brain” when I was pregnant.

“New mommy” brain when D1 was a baby.

“Exhausted, prenatal AND postpartum” brain with the little 2.

Now I’m pretty sure I’m just stupid.

I take pill for everything else. If any of you know of a pill for this will you let me know?

Oh, and would somebody please remind me to pick up D2 from her playdate on the way to D3’s volleyball game after I go to D1’s 4:15 game? Oh wait, that might be tomorrow.

No, the playdate is definitely today but D3’s game is tomorrow. Tonight is the 4:15 game and a 7:00 band concert – all for D1.

I’m so screwed.

It’s Not Nice to Cough on Strangers

Dear lady on the row below me at D1’s volleyball game (and your lovely family surrounding me),

Hello, nice to see you. That’s a lovely Valentine’s shirt you’re wearing. I love the way the sunlight bounces off your nipples.

I notice you have 2 small children with you. It’s good you brought their father and grandparents along to help you this afternoon. You obviously have your hands full! Boy do I remember those days! Whew, glad they’re over!

You know, I hate to bring this up but I can see your little boy is really flushed and feverish. May I hand you a tissue out of my purse? Those things sure do come in handy. Oh look, he likes me. Isn’t that cute how he wiped his boogers on my shoulder.

Wow, that is one hell of a cough! I think I saw his little lungs pop right out of his chest. He looks exhausted and those poor runny little eyes. You know where would be a great place for him? Home in bed.

That’s a darling Valentine he’s showing me from preschool today. Oops, so close….I almost got my mouth closed before he coughed in it.

I don’t want to offend you or anything but do you think you could maybe move him over just a tad. I realize I don’t have the word immunosuppressed tattooed on my forehead. It’s not like I need to hide or avoid public or anything but the whole coughing in my face thing might be a little much.

If it wasn’t so crowded I’d love to move but you see, I have nowhere to go so maybe one of the adults with you could hold him?

He is adorable and I understand you’re tired but telling him to cover his mouth when he coughs doesn’t do much good if he’s hanging onto my leg or shoulder with both hands. He’s oh so tired. Poor baby!

You see how everyone around us is staring with genuine looks of concern when he coughs? We’re all parents, we understand what you’re going through. We also understand that maybe one of the many adults in your group could be home with him.

Oh look, the game is over. It looks like we play you again tomorrow. Maybe I’ll come a bit late and make sure I’m at the other end of the bleachers. I’ll be the feverish one with the cough. Oh wait, if I am I’ll be at home. Could you text me and let me know the score?

Thanks in advance,

Annie