Friday, February 27, 2009

Wizards vs. Lovers

I had a good conversation last night with another mom at Milo's preschool. I regurgitated to her my fears that when my sister (not the one with cancer - the other one) comes to visit, she'll use her time alone with my kids to talk about God, golden plates, and "sister wives". (This isn't particularly paranoid of me - she ALWAYS finds time to corner me when I see her and ask about my current stance on religion. I have filed away an unsealed letter from her labeled "Open me when you are ready to talk to God". PLUS...Mormons=proselytizers. Those boys on bicycles aren't anomalies, you know, they're part of the general Mormon worldview on "getting the Jesus word out". Except they call it missionary work.) Anyway. Like me, this other mom is not very religious. She said when they talk about the word "God" to their kids, they tell them that it's how some people refer to "Love". Which made my cynical little heart feel kind-of small. Because "a wizard" isn't a very loving or respectful picture to have given Milo of religious beliefs. Cough. So...we're ramping up toward April. I'm anxious that the surgery be over. I'm thrilled that my sister can come help us. And this is as good a place as any to say that my sister is, by the way, totally dropping a crazy-busy life, including teaching elementary school, full-time parenting 4 of her 7 kids and foster-child, and a time-intensive church job. My gratitude is immense, which makes my fears feel even more petty. Which, really, I guess they are. I doubt Milo or Zel are suddenly going to start singing "I'm a Mormon, Yes I am!" (Real song. Seriously.) after a week with my sister. And...we're reminding the kids who my sister is, since we only see her 1-2/year, so that her transition into our lives is smooth. Annnd...we're helping Milo prepare for potential Wizard talk. Respectfully. Maybe not changing the terminology, but at least injecting the conversation with some politeness. We hope.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Spin Cycle: Loose change

This week's Spin is about CHANGE. And since I think of myself as having had multiple incarnations, I decided to just pick one changed thing I miss.

This is Liz.

She's my BFF. From forever ago. We worked in the Lipstick Trenches together putting ourselves through college. Liz lives in Denver being a psych nurse at an outpatient mental health facility. Often she is the emergency-omg-I-forgot-to-take-my-meds-there-are-snakes-on-me nurse. Sitting here in my cozy faux-asian office with mood lighting and rice-paper/bamboo walls at The Swoosh, I think Liz's career=DIFFICULT. Now that I have kids, I don't see Lizzie very much. Only once in the past 3 years. Last night we had our annual 3+ hour phone marathon critiquing the Oscars. Our take: Perhaps Sophia Loren had the WORST Oscar Dress of 2009, but her body is amazing. And, to be perverse in our logic, botox needs to go, because all those immobile 20-year-old faces were creepy (cough cough...Alicia Keys). But the CHANGE that I'm writing about is that, before kids, before Jamie, the way I got to see Lizzie was ROAD TRIP!

Me alone in my car for a day each way, unless I took detours. I once stood on the Wyoming highway replacing all the belts in my 20-year-old Subaru because one broke and took all the others out with it. I had 50 cassettes (see 20-year-old-Subaru) I'd compiled of Road Trip Music.

Since Jamie/kids/etc. the number of times I've driven anywhere far alone=zero. I miss it. And my favorite bobo.


¡op uɐɔ ı ʇɐɥʍ ʞool


Because? My boyfriend Davey in his saxiest incarnation (sez me).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The new normal

Yesterday, Jamie & I met with his surgeon. Or, anyway, probably his surgeon unless the 2nd opinion guy is for some reason more compelling. Based on that meeting and a conversation with his cardiologist, we are going to wait the 6 weeks until his disability kicks in. Which is, well, ok. A little egshelly. A little full of Please Please Please Don't Die! And every day, I'm in what appears to be the old normal life. Jamie doesn't have obvious symptoms - he looks the same. He acts mostly the same. There's no heart-clutching drama, anyway. I think we're sort-of happy and, well, the same. Most of the time. Gah knows we are eating better. And if we hadn't seen the angiogram, we might still be living the fantasy that his chest pain is asthma. It's good. I get to focus on this whole kindergarten thing. And maybe it gives me time to put to bed all my crazy fears. Because every day I have a few minutes all to myself, usually in the car on the way to/from work, where I just freak out and do all the things I can't do the rest of the time: cry, yell...mainly cry. Someday this will be "last month"...and someday "that time, a few years back, before we became SUPER fit". Right?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Plain old regular insanity

So...I may have mentioned before that I tend to have this vivid idiot morbid imagination. My tendency is to imagine things that never happen...except in horror novels, television shows narrated by Jon Walsh, COPS, Unsolved Mysteries, or Will Smith movies. More on this in a second... Here in Portland, it's Kindergarten Roundup time. For us, this entails numerous trips to all the schools we'd LIKE Milo to get into. Portland Public Schools work this way:
  • You can go to the public school to which you are assigned by district boundaries.
  • You can go to private school.
  • You can home school.
  • You can put your kid's name in a lottery for up to 3 public schools of your choice, including any public school not in your neighborhood, and something called "public charters", which function like private schools and focus on art, math, environmental living, or some other specialty.
  • You can sign up for demi-public school lotteries for some slightly MORE specialized charter schools. Their lotteries are held separately from the public school lottery.
Confused yet? Our local school is ok. But not all that great. Their test scores are low. Their primary focus is on ESL (English as a 2nd language). We'll register there, but we're hoping to get into one of our lottery schools. So, every couple of evenings, Jamie & I find someone to watch the kids while we go to these mandatory roundup and miscellaneous get-to-know-you meetings at the lottery schools. Our kids go to an amazing preschool with a zillion teachers per classroom, fenced property with secure entrances, organic food, lots of staff vetting and reporting. Here's what I've learned: Kindergarten is not like preschool. Kindergarten is all...just like it was when I went. Big open spaces; no locks or keycards or gatekeepers; big playgrounds, big kids, big expectations; one teacher per 20+ students. It's just overwhelming and my imagination goes into crazy-lady overdrive. On each of these tours, all I can think is: "This is where someone could just stand and shoot at the kids" "This is where the kidnapper would hide and nobody would notice him" "That teacher looks SO depressed. What if she shoots herself in front of the kids?" "WHAT? They grow their own vegetables HERE in this garden where anybody could come along and inject POISON into the EGGPLANT???" Milo is ready for kindergarten. He's nervous, but looking forward to it. Me? I'm going to sit on the street outside the building all day looking for poisoning suicidal alien vegetable nappers.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hey, Universe, you're a, entity

You know what the Universe threw at me yesterday? Free winnings! I donated to our local Public Radio station like I do...most every year. Usually. And THIS YEAR, I WON A GIVEAWAY!!! Prizes included: NEW BIKES! FLAT PANEL TV's! IPOD! TRIP TO EUROPE! MAC AIR!!! TRIP TO EUROPE!!!! (I know - twice, but it's what I so wanted) We basketball tickets in a suite. You know what we don't really get into? Basketball. Like...never in the 7+ years of our relationship and never in the almost-39-years-of-my-life. HOWEVER...this year, Jamie is slated to have his surgery sometime soon (dates still unknown) after this game. So he's going to have himself a PARTAY with his Dude friends! Catered suite! VIP parking! BASKETBALL! It's funny. There are a lot of things I'd like to do for Jamie, and this isn't what would have EVER occurred to me,'s sort-of a cool thing I never would have imagined. So, thanks, Universe, for being WAY smarter than me I Rebekah.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The list this the right list?

So...people, including you, blog people, are amazing. AMAZING. Since we first got a whiff of bad news, we've been INUNDATED with kindness of all kinds. Offers to give us food. Care for the kids. Drive us places. Pray for us. NOT pray for us. Do the woo-woo dance for us. Vet our MD choices. Tell us your stories. Tell us you are thinking of us. It's a big load of awesome, and you, blog people, are really, really deserving of all the good, best things. We'll be repaying everyone for the rest of our lives. Thank you, thank you, thank you. So now, I'm trying to figure out how to harness the kindness without knowing, at this point, what we might need. Here's the general lay of the land:
  • We need babysitters for a couple of appointments we had anyway. This has nothing to do with the surgery, so don't be duped into thinking it's helping us in a way we wouldn't normally have asked. So...that, but we've probably got it covered. (thanks MNMs)
  • We then also need babysitters for a couple of MD appts. This could include picking up the kids from their so-awesome preschool. At this point, we're a bit in the dark about how long it takes to talk to surgeons and jump through their hoops.
Once the surgery is scheduled, we'll need a couple of specific things:
  • The day of surgery, we might need someone to take the kids to preschool. Or pick them up. Or both. And to hang with them until I come back from the hospital.
  • The week after the surgery, if the kids can't visit Jamie, we might need people to help me take care of them while ~I~ go visit him in the hospital every day. I'll be working FT, but after work would like to be able to see J for a while before I go make things as normal as possible for the kids. Again, whether they can visit, visiting rules and hours, all unknown.
  • The month after Jamie comes home, he'll be not doing much. And possibly bored. He might want a visit, but since he's vaguely surly at the best of times, he might want no visits. He might appreciate funny e-mail. Facebook jokes. DVDs or music. His mom will be staying with us that first week after he comes home, and she's amazing. But after that, I don't know what J will do with his time or how he will get his needs met.
  • He also can't drive for the next 6-8 weeks after surgery. Since I'm concerned about the impact to our $$ if I take time off work, I might ask someone else to help drive him to a few of his follow-up appts. Which might be numerous or not. So many unknowns.
  • We would love a few meals, and would be a huge relief to not have to think about every one of them during the time right around the surgery. BUT... hum. But we ALL are going on a cholesterol-conscious diet. Forever. Jamie's problems are hereditary, which means the kids have to eat the same healthy things he does. This means our foods need to be super low fat, low-processed, low...whatever it is I like in food, I think I can't enjoy it again. Jamie is living vaguely vegan right now (he eats fish and fish oils, but no other meat, dairy or eggs). I hate having to follow other people's food restrictions, but as with many things, the thing I most don't want to do is the thing I'm doing. So...vegan. PITA, but there it is. So, while we would worship you, it might just be more than most people could do.

I don't even know what to say. It feels all grabby to put this out there, but...I am. And I hope it's clear: I love everyone who has offered. We are grateful and humbled. Thanks...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Down the rabbit hole...

Here's the word on Jamie's heart, actually two: Quadruple bypass Here's another one: ASAP (maybe technically that's four) we go. I'm already overwhelmed by lists. What do do next. Who to call. How to cope with the 4000 things that have to be done: phone calls. A zillion of those. Scheduling everything. The budget. OMG. We don't have awesome insurance. In fact, we took a gamble and LOWERED our insurance a couple of years ago. So now...our out of pocket for this is going to be pretty high. Today's is Zel's 2nd birthday. Next week we start kindergarten round-up at the FIVE schools we're trying to get into. That's five times 2-3 meetings with each. So...that. Jamie will be out of work for 6-10 weeks. I can't take time off. Because? Money. So we're figuring out who can come help out with his needs. Hopefully his mom. And we're getting 2 opinions next week on surgery options, but it's pretty clear: there are five blockages in his coronary arteries. Waiting, as the cardiologist put it, is like adding a lot of "the unknown" to our choices. Frankly, I liked it when THIS was "the unknown".

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A little more cheez, please

I may or may not have heard this song before this morning. It hasn't registered with me. But it was playing on the radio during my drive in, and I should have pulled over, the way it made me...oh, sap out. I love this guy's voice and the passion just resonated so deeply with me today.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A month of heart...

Did you hear this one?
Man says to doctor I eat spamburgers daily: angioplasty!
Ahhh...haiku. So wise.

Jamie doesn't eat spamburgers. Not even once. But apparently his heart hasn't heard the news. This Friday he's scheduled for an angiogram to see why his heart's not doing the things it orta.

Jamie is 36. He's my younger man! But he's inherited the cholesterol problem of someone much older.

After a routine physical last week, it seems like we've gotten daily doses of bad news about the state of his health. Words like coronary blockage, out-of-control triglycerides, stent, bypass. Immediate action. Words like heart attack.

Ironically, it's almost St. Valentine's day. February. The month of love. And hearts. There are effing hearts everywhere I look right now. But the one I'm looking at with real emotion is scaring me.

I don't want to overreact. Or overdramatize. We have options, doctors, insurance. I don't want to be so wet, but this is my partner - my kid's dad. It's been a strangely tremulous year, this 2009.

Thus far, I'm all for burning off the things which slow me down, make me less of the person I want to be. But a trial by fire from fear-of-loss, fear-of-death, just fear, I'm not sure I'm ready for all that.
We'll make it, but I'm afraid of being afraid.