Stupid Surgery

Alright, so here’s the thing. I feel like it’s time for a little honesty.

I’ve been trying to act all tough about this cancer and my upcoming surgery. I’ve tried to tell myself and anyone else who will listen that I’ve done it before, I’m a pro, it’s no big deal. But uh, it kind of is a huge deal and it’s freaking me out more than a little to know that I’m once again going in to be gutted.

Sure, I could say they’ll delicately open me up and debulk the tumors but really, when I wake up in recovery, it feels like “gutted” is the more accurate term.

I am ALWAYS a crabby pain in the ass in the recovery room. I wake up and I want more drugs, water, and my husband. Not necessarily in that order. I hate everyone around me and I hate the pain. It’s possible I might be a little bit of a baby.

When I met with the surgeon on Friday I acted all tough and nonchalant. He called me a veteran, asked me about prior surgeries, length of hospital stays etc. while his nurse openly gawked as I rattle off the lists of when, what and where. She really needs to work on her poker face. I tried to laugh it off and pretend I wasn’t terrified. Even my low blood pressure backed up my sense of calm.

I’m good at this. The sort of fake your way through conversations thing and act like nothing is wrong while inside it’s like I have this loose thread that is slowly being pulled until I unravel in a heap on the floor. But I never get there. At least not while anyone is looking.

Have I mentioned how much I REALLY REALLY hate surgery? I’d postpone it but the little bastards would probably kill me so I suppose it’s time to suck it up. I’m signing up to chaperone a field trip the day before. I think I’ll need the distraction.

Oh hell, at least those long cute loose dresses are in all the stores for summer. It’s amazing what you can hide under one of those. I have a feeling I’ll be hiding a lot!


Baby steps

In the war against cancer there are baby steps – small victories that make you say DAMN RIGHT! I had one of those moments on Saturday.

As you know, because I’ve bitched about it at length, I lost most of my hair when I started Nexavar. Before that, the Sutent turned any new growth almost white.

All my life I’ve had a ridiculous amount of long red hair and then suddenly I didn’t and I realized how much I identified myself by that one attribute.

Honestly, I’ve been more self conscious than I think I’ve ever been. It hit a low point when D2’s band director asked me where she got her red hair. All I wanted to say was “she got it from me you blind asshole”, but I didn’t. Because I’m a good girl.

Then last spring I was sitting with SG outside his office and a couple we’ve known for years, but haven’t seen for almost 2, walked by and didn’t recognize me when I spoke. I told SG that and he said “no, of course they recognized you, they’ve known you 20 years”.

But moments later they came back and looked again and said “Oh my gosh, we didn’t recognize you! You changed your hair!” You think??

They laughed and said they were going to call SG and ask who the woman was with the short blond curls. Really? Short blond curls? Yeah, I don’t know anybody like that.

So now the good news. It’s slowly been getting a little darker. Yes, most mornings I look like Gene Wilder but there may be hope.

Anyway, Saturday we had a garage sale to fundraise for D1’s band trip to Chicago and late in the day D’s 2 & 3 came running in to tell me the “great news”. They know me well. It turns out there was a woman outside talking to my mom and the girls and when I came in the house, she said to D2, “Was that your mom? You’re so lucky to have gotten her beautiful red hair”.


And she was talking about me!!

Baby steps.

Boy am I SAD

I’m finding it was so much easier to stop writing than it is to start again.

Somewhere along the line I’ve run out of things to say. Although those who know me in person know that silent will never be a word used to describe me.

My sister once said that I’m like a refrigerator – a constant background noise that you learn to tune out. So why then haven’t I been able to put any thoughts on paper/monitor (what the hell ever) ?

I look around me and there is so much going on but it’s busy work. Nothing of interest to anyone outside my head. The people I converse with in there have a lot to say. No, I don’t hear voices. Don’t have me committed. What I think I’m saying is that the one person interested in my life and what it going on, is me. But honestly, even I’m a little bored.

Did I tell you I’ve gained 10lbs since my last scan? It’s not pretty. I don’t know what happened. I googled reasons for rapid weight gain. I wanted to see if it’s related to the cancer at all but apparently cancer goes hand in hand with weight LOSS.

The only reason I could find was lack of exercise combined with too many calories. Who knew?

I think it was a long snowy February. I think I have SAD – for most people, that stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder – but for me I’m pretty sure it’s Sedentary Ass-growing Disease.

So much for my whole “I’m going to exercise my cancer away” bullshit. I never could stick to anything.

I’ve got it in my head though that I’m going to switch to a full marathon this year from my half of last year. That was something that I’d planned to do originally before the Gleevec stopped working and it’s something I need to do. Something to plan for. D1 is trying like hell to talk me into letting her do it with me. I guess we’ll see. It would be nice to have that time with her but it’s also been my time away. Honestly though, I’d like her there. She’s good company and I never know how much time we will have together.

Not to mention she’s only 3 years away from college. How the heck did that happen?

Anyway, with any luck my SAD will soon turn into Sunny Ass-shrinking Days and I’ll be able to get into pants that don’t have elastic again. I may even write about it.

How was your winter?







I am – part deux

Someone, I’m not sure who (because I am too lazy to look) commented that I should do a 2nd I am post after my first but I haven’t had anything more to add – until now. You might have noticed I haven’t said much of anything lately. Here’s why:

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…..I AM – the bitchy cancer patient edition

I am tired. I am worn out. I am needing to type.

I am surrounded by people who love me but I am alone in my battle. In my darkest hours, I am alone. I am stuck in the quiet and afraid to admit how much I wish I could stop taking this drug for fear of jinxing myself and causing it to stop working.

I am afraid it will keep working.

I am always nauseous and my muscles are gone. I am afraid to leave the house for fear of not being near a bathroom.

I am sad.

I used to be proud of my long hair. Now, I am embarrassed to show the short curls. To let the thin spots show. I am not happy that this is how I look now. I am the mad photo deleter. I am a fan of digital cameras.

I am ashamed for not being grateful for my life every single day. For feeling sorry for myself and for whining. I am reminded how this could end when someone on the support group site dies. I do not want that.

I am not doing as well as I’d like you to think.

I am worried the people I love will find this blog and feel betrayed by my lie of omission. I am aware that  if they do, I will never write with this level of honesty again.

If you have, I am sorry. Sorry for not having the strength to tell you my thoughts to your face. I am hoping never to hurt you with my words.

But for now you haven’t and I am grateful.

And I am so so very tired. Of it all.

I am wishing I’d appreciated the healthy days. I am wishing I could be the energetic, patient parent my children deserve. I  am wishing to feel good again.

I am sore and crampy and weak. I am not fond of the mirror because I can see I am aging quickly. This is not who I wanted to be.

I am wondering why the muscle loss caused my thighs to migrate down around my knees. I am avoiding shorts.

I am frustrated with myself for my moods. I am not as thankful for this treatment as I should be.  I am a lover of hot baths and long hot showers but now they hurt my hands and feet so I have to avoid them.

I am pissed.

I am tired and I am pissed. Those are 2 things I know.

I am pissed. Pissed I am. I do not like green eggs and ham.

I am aware of SG listening to me type and know he is wondering what I am telling you. I am sorry for what I am doing to his life. I am so glad to have found him but so guilty for turning his life upside down with my cancer.

I am sad that I am again writing about a cancer funk.

I am sorry.

I am a badass!

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I’m going out with friends Friday and we’ve decided to be all hip and cool and go watch roller derby! I can’t wait. We saw an ad last night and I told SG I want to be a rollergirl.

He looked up from the grant he was reading and said:

“Um, no.”

Because he likes to crush my dreams like that.

“Well why not? They’re cool and I could totally do that. Do you think I’m too fragile or something?”

He just looked at me.

D1, on the other hand, gave me an eyeroll.

“You’ve had 3 major surgeries in 5 years mom. You’re not allowed to play roller derby! Deal with it.”

Whatever. I totally could if I wanted to.

In my next life, I’m going to be Cruella de Kill and I’m going to have a skull tattooed on my neck! Deal with that!

And you? What’s your rollergirl name?

I am

I am Annie. I am mom. I am babe. I am Ang. I am hey you, and her mom and his wife. For awhile I was Fiona but then they started asking me to pay for the site and I lost interest. I am cheap. Last week I was Alice to a mom with a lot on her mind. I am still laughing at the look on my daughter’s face when I answered to that.

I understand.

I am a daughter and a daughter-in-law. I am a sister and an aunt and your friend. I am that woman staring at your babies and toddlers and thinking they are beautiful.

I am also thinking I am glad my children are older. That I am thankful they can tie their own shoes and make their own snacks and wipe their own butts. Mostly that they can wipe their own butts. I am a fan of that.

I am a good friend and I am loyal. But I am fierce and protective of the people I love. I am forgiving but I don’t forget if you hurt me or my family. If you make them cry, I will make you cry! I am a redhead.

I used to be smart but now I’m kind of medicated and confused.

I used to have a good job and validation of a job well done. Now I’m easily pleased with a thank you for making you cookies and fudge. I like fudge and cookies, and shiny things, and sunshine and flowers and spring. And my dog. I like my dog. She was doing the funniest thing the other day where she’d nudge me with her nose and then…..

I am easily distracted.

I am hoping I am not the person I see in the mirror but I’m kind of afraid I am. I am pretty sure I’m much younger and hipper than she is. And that my boobs are much perkier. I’m wondering what happened to them. I was the breastfeeder of 3, but not all at the same time. That could be it.

I was the holder of babies. The woman who ignored you when you told me to put them down so they could nap. I am the mom who stared at them in wonder. I still am. I am proud of them.

I am a lover and a wife. I am the woman with the husband you want. The one who took 3 kids to the grocery store when they were little so I could rest. The one who does the dishes. The one who makes me laugh and look forward to March Madness. How the hell did that happen? Who is that woman? Where did she come from? I am not sure.

I am not often the one who asks “why me”? I am more of a “who’d I piss off in a past life to deserve this?” kind of gal. I am also the one who looks at the people I love and who love me and says again, “Wow, what did I do right  to deserve this?” I am lucky and I am appreciative.

I am scarred and pale and weak but I am strong. I am lifted by love and laughter and family and friends. And I am resilient. I am also muscle free and grossed out by wet bread in the sink. What the heck is up with that? Why do people think the sink is the place for uneaten food when the garbage can is so near by. Don’t get me started on wet meat. Eww!

I am still easily distracted.

I am the finder of lost things. I am the only one with the ability to lift things and look under them. I know where things are kept even if I did not put them away. But even I, am not the finder of lost socks.

I am the writer of brilliant posts in my mind at 3am that never quite come together in the morning. I am shopping for an Ipad and a good nightlight.

I am the one you called super mom but not in a nice way. You called me that because I bake every treat I bring to school for parties and birthdays from scratch. I am the mom of a child with a nut allergy. I am “super mom” because I want her to have a safe snack that will not send her to the hospital. I want her to be included. You are not nice.

I am a lover of the sun but easily burned. I am rejuvenated by nature and mountains. I have had sex on mountain tops. I have had pine needles in places I shouldn’t. I am strengthened by nature but invigorated by the power in the air in NYC. Or maybe that was drunk from pollution. I don’t know. I am fascinated by those with lives so different from my own. I like pizza. I miss the east coast.

When I was on the east coast I missed home. I am hard to please. Ok not really but it seemed to fit there. Wherever SG is, I am home. I am mushy and annoying like that.

I am a walker because I am too lazy to run. I think it makes my boobs even less perky. I am the maker of lame excuses.

I was that girl who could ski anything. I spent every spare day on the slopes. I was good. Then I met a southerner and got married and had babies and left the mountains. I am that woman you judged and whispered about to your friend because I skied a run on the bunny hill with my baby in a Bjorn. You didn’t know me or what I could do. I am careful, always careful, with my babies. She loved it, and loved me, and slept for hours afterwards. I shared my world with her and you frowned. I can feel you frowning now. What if I’d fallen? What if she’d gotten hurt?  I didn’t, she didn’t. We are fine.

I can hold one hell of a grudge.

I am the mother of the girl who failed her human sexuality test. In part because she was embarrased to label the boy parts but also because she “was just sure the rectum was in the front”. I am confused by that but also very amused. I am a failure at “the talk”. I am in search of a good diagram for her sisters.

I am a lover of margaritas and red wine and strong micro-brews. I get sick when I have them now. I am pretty sure that really pisses me off!

I am “that mom with cancer”. I am the one who makes you uncomfortable. The one who you used to seek out but now makes you take a sharp right around the clothing rack to avoid. I saw you.

I am the one who makes you thankful and fearful at the same time. The one who makes you hug your children tighter and question your pains. I am the one who makes you get them checked. I am good with that. I am proud of you.

I am more than you know but likely less than you think. I am nothing more or less than me.

I am done. I’m sure you are thankful for that.

Who are you?

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.