mellicious: pink manicure (HP - Phoenix)
(The title is by way of a trigger warning, I guess. You can't say I didn't warn you.)

I was sitting in the bathtub earlier, thinking about what I was going to write an entry about - I was thinking about Livejournal keywords, to start with, but that will probably be a topic for another day, because my thoughts wandered then to my most-often-used keywords. I suspect that my actual most-often-used keyword might be "meme" although I haven't checked to see what LJ says (and the whole topic of memes might also be another topic for another day) - but certainly a couple of them, over the years, have been "family" and "mom." (My keywords are sort of partially broken, which was the original topic that I was thinking about - but that also means that the keywords you can see at the side of my page now are not necessarily reflective of what I was using back before they were broken.) I don't think I started using "mom" as a keyword until the last year or so of my mom's life, anyway, but if I had been using it every time I mentioned her over the years, it might be the top keyword hands down.

Background, for those of you who don't know this stuff already: my mom and I were really close. We made quilts together. I went over to her house just about every Saturday for many years - usually we had lunch and went shopping a bit and then worked on quilts, that was the normal itinerary, anyway. And well before I started journaling online, in 2001, she was diagnosed with cancer. Then in 2004 she was diagnosed with a different cancer (which might or might not have metastasized from the first one - that's never been clear). The second one was a brain tumor - I wrote a whole entry about the tumor one year as my introduction to Holidailies, which is partly why I assume that a lot of people know this story already. (It was an attempt at dark humor. I'm not real sure how successful it was.) Anyway, the brain tumor worsened kind of abruptly in the last part of 2006 and she died in early 2007 - and then I spent most of that year and into the next dealing with her estate, so that's another year-plus of mom-related entries. It's probably only after Hurricane Ike late in 2008 that I stopped talking about my mom constantly, one way or another.

My dad actually had cancer, as well, and it eventually killed him too, or so we think - he died last May of what was probably complications of prostate cancer. If you are a cancer patient and you die, it's assumed that the cancer killed you, not surprisingly, and autopsies are not routine, so nobody is really sure. My dad and I were not particularly close - his appearances in LJ tend to be more of the venting variety - and besides, by the time he was diagnosed, my mom already had the brain tumor and mere prostate cancer just could not compare. Back years ago when he had multiple-bypass surgery, I rushed to his side and hung around the ICU for days and all that kind of thing, so it's not that I entirely didn't care. But when you have a job and are 100 miles away, it's hard to hang around the hospital for months and years of radiation treatment. Both my parents were more into "years" territory there, and I didn't actually hang around for my mom's either, although I did go up to M.D. Anderson with her a few times. Luckily both of them had spouses/partners who were willing to shoulder the burden of the daily stuff, or I don't know what I'd have done. (I do have a sister, who was in another city altogether and was no help there. That's another topic that came up often in those years.)

So actually this is my first Christmas as an "orphan" - a 50-year old orphan, but an orphan nevertheless. I haven't spent Christmas with my dad for many years, and my mom has been gone for a surprising number of Christmases now - this will be six, I guess - so it doesn't make all that much difference, in an immediate sense. But it's still weird, no matter how old you are.


Added: I mentioned writing about my father in order to vent, and there's certainly a lot of that, if you poke around (some of the venting entries are still friendslocked but others are not), but I feel like I have to point out that I did my fair share of venting about my mom, back in the day, too. I adored her, but she was still my mom and she sometimes drove me crazy, as moms tend to do.

Update

Dec. 6th, 2004 10:46 pm
mellicious: pink manicure (Default)
It was really hard to go back to work last week. Why is it that after a whole week off you still want another one? I have another one in three weeks but that seems far, far away even though I know damn well it will be here before we know it.

Plus, what with my mother and everything, the last month or six weeks just feels like lost time. She is much better, though. I am going to go with her to her appointment at M.D. Anderson on Thursday. We are thinking that she will end up having radiation, whether the tumor is malignant or not - it needs to be shrunk or presumably the seizures will continue. ("And," I said yesterday, "you'd never be able to drive again." That made her laugh. She hates not being able to drive.) I don't think I ever got around to saying that the neurologist finaly told her that even if the tumor did turn out to be malignant, the prognosis is still very good. That was nice to hear.

We went to the department Christmas party Friday night but it was boring and we left really early. The last two years they've put the dance floor up on the 3rd floor and nobody has danced. There's a play-money casino but that doesn't interest me much, so the only part that's left is eating and talking to people. We did that for an hour and a half and then we bailed. I did get to wear my turquoise shirt and matching earrings that I bought for Vegas, at least. (The long dangly earrings are my favorite part of that outfit!)

Yesterday I went over to Mom's as usual. I took her to Quakertown Quilts to get her angel. First we went to Perry's to get lunch, though; they have the best hamburgers. I tend to forget about going there, we really should do it more often. I hadn't been to Quakertown in ages and I bought more fabric than I intended - although I can't really use Quakertown in particular as an excuse since I bought a whole yard of Amy Butler paisleys (in two colors) and they have those everywhere.

I never did do any sewing - I cut more strips instead. Not that I was actually running out of strips, I was just running out of different ones. I didn't want to repeat too much. And I sorted all my strips into cool and warm. (Is that obsessive?)

I was thinking about going to Half-Price Books but it was raining when I left and so I drove on back to Galveston. In Galveston it wasn't raining, though, so I decided to go to Target. And then when I got there I decided to go to Pier 1, too. It's right next to Target and I'd only been in there once since it opened last summer. I'm not that crazy about their stuff, normally, but I know they always have cute ornaments. I ended up buying a ton of stuff at Pier 1 and more stuff at Target. Several small gifts - for my co-workers and Rob's too, a pretty trivet for my mom, and a green ceramic candlestick that I think my sister will like. I haven't stopped to figure out what other gifts I need; I'm going to have to do that soon.
mellicious: pink manicure (fall leaves orange)
KoL is in nightly rollover so I thought I'd write for a few minutes. Yes, I DID get some sleep last night. I went to bed at 10:45 (after rollover, not completely coincidentally) and slept until 7 - so something approaching 8 hours of sleep! Yay me! I woke up several times but always went right back to sleep. What a relief.

I still feel like I didn't get as much done as I would have liked at work today. But apparently nobody else felt like working today, including the boss, so actually I was probably the productivity queen for the day, since I did get some work done, and nobody else seemed to do much at all.

I also burned CDs. I had this bright idea of doing an exchange of holiday mix CDs, which went over very well and we have 19 people participating. Unfortunately I failed to consider that mailing out CDs by the first of December meant I was going to have to listen to Christmas music in November in order to make the damn CDs. I hate listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving. It's one of my unwritten rules. I think I ranted about this some during Holidailies last year - there just isn't enough Christmas music to listen to for very long. So if you confine it to a relatively short period of time you get much less sick of it.

I still have not started packing. That just seems to be meant to do tomorrow. Oh well. When I think about it too much I always overpack anyway. I also need to look and figure out what time we need to leave Sunday, because I don't really remember. I think maybe we're going to have to leave around 6 to be at the airport around 8. We don't get to Columbus until 4pm, and then we have to drive to Bowling Green to see some Suspects. Then back down the freeway to Rob's parents' house. Rob gets that part of the drive, because he's the one that was determined to get to his parents' house on Sunday. I said we should just spend the night in BG, but no. Anyway, it's going to be an awfully freaking long day, but we'll manage. We can rest up on Monday.

I said something about my mom's diagnosis in chat today, and they took it as a terrible horrible thing, which really wasn't how I meant it. I see it as a good thing - or at least, not as bad as it could be. We already pretty much knew it was a tumor by now, so "probably not malignant" is sort of a best-case scenario at this point. Well, of course "definitely not malignant" would be better, but still, not so bad. I should have my mom around and in decent shape for some time to come, and that's what I had been most worried about.
mellicious: pink manicure (fall leaves orange)
Finally, a diagnosis! My mother has a non-malignant tumor. Which is pretty much what we thought, but it took a ridiculously long time for them to decide this. It's still not completely clear what they're going to do about it. She's going back up to M.D. Anderson - "back" because she has had an (apparently unrelated) bout with cancer previously. It sounds like this tumor is inoperable, because (a) it's smack in the middle of her motor cortex, which means you can't just go in there and start cutting and (b) it's not all in one place, anyway. So, I don't know, radiation or something? Do they do that when it's not malignant? In any case, the Not Malignant part is very good news and I'm very happy to hear it.

However, other than that I'm in a rotten mood, for reasons unknown, and so I'm not going to write much else because it'll just make it worse. However, we did watch "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" tonight and it was very good. Somehow my bad mood did not manage to ruin it.
mellicious: pink manicure (breathe)
I had to go look at my past few entries to see when I last updated and what I said, it's been so long. I had completely forgotten that I had written that entry about my mother. I was bored while we were waiting and I wrote that on a pad I had in my purse. Although the waiting wasn't really as bad as I thought it would be, really - or not most of it. Toward the end I started worrying because it had been so long. But Art (my mother's, uh, partner? boyfriend? - or just "friend" as my mother is given to saying) was there, and we watched Monday night football and talked to the other people who were waiting - not many of them, that late at night - and talked to my sister and my aunt until the batteries were going dead on the phone.

She did look very bad when they brought her out, but by the time I got there the next morning, she was sitting up eating breakfast and seeming fine. She got out of ICU later on Tuesday, and out of the hospital on Wednesday. She still hasn't gotten any definitive results back, but the neurologist is sending her back up to MD Anderson (that's the cancer hospital in Houston, if you're not familiar with it) so I think that speaks for itself to some extent.

We had tickets to go to the big quilt show in Houston on Thursday and Saturday. Mom didn't think she would feel like going on Thursday, not surprisingly, but she did go on Saturday and she did fine. We stayed for quite a long time, come to that. (She likes to shop, that may have something to do with it.) On Thursday she gave her ticket to my aunt, and she and I went around and looked at exhibits most of the day that day. I took a ton of pictures, and they're in my Webshots album (user name mel77c) if that interests you!

This has really been a fairly difficult couple of weeks, and it's probably not over yet. I hope she doesn't have to have radiation or chemo, but that sounds like a definite possibility. She has been really amazing about the whole thing, though - I don't think most people would have handled it nearly that well.
mellicious: pink manicure (Default)
8pm - My mom is having surgery right now. She is having a craniotomy - basically, a biopsy of her brain. She had a seizure a week ago. At first they thought she had had a stroke, but it turned out that she didn't.

She couldn't have any food or anything to drink all day - since midnight last night - and they didn't even take her up to surgery until almost 6:30 tonight. That was partly because the neurosurgeon wasn't happy with her MRI and wanted another one (I don't guess you can argue with that!) and then she had to wait for him to finish with another patient. I have about used up all the battery power on my cel phone talking to my sister and my aunt. My sister was here all weekend, but she needed to be back in Austin today so she didn't stay. She left when it was time for Mom to come to the hospital. She said it was really hard to leave, but she did the right thing because unless she was going to stay until tomorrow she wouldn't have gotten to stay long enough for anything to happen anyway. (Austin is about a 4-hour drive from here.)

We asked the neurosurgeon if they would know anything tonight and he said no, absolutely not. He said that they would probably send the sample (or part of it) off to Harvard to be analyzed.

(Later) She got out of surgery at 10:20. Over 2 and a half hours. Jesus. They said it went fine, but I saw her when they wheeled her down the hall a few minutes ago and she didn't look too good. I guess I really shouldn't be surprised at that, though!
mellicious: pink manicure (Default)
Saturday - I don't even know what time it is, but it's probably after midnight

I was just thinking it over, and I think I have made around 50 blocks total, which is not as many as I hoped I'd get done, but it's still not bad.

I had a lot of trouble waking up this morning. I got up and went down to breakfast at 8:15 or so - because my mom woke me up - and then I came back upstairs and went back to bed for an hour or so. Except people kept slamming doors and I didn't really sleep much. The back rooms on the 2nd floor open onto the balcony, which I think was just screened in when I first came here 5 years ago, but is glassed-in now - and there's still a screen door going back into the main part of the house and if you don't catch that door, it slams. Very annoying if you're trying to sleep and people keep letting it slam.

I forgot to say that Mom won a door prize at dinner yesterday, which was a gift certificate to the quilt shop in Brenham. So after lunch today we drove back over there so she could spend it. (Brenham is only about a 20-minute drive from Round Top.) Of course, I spent another $10 or so that I REALLY couldn't afford, now, because no matter how broke I am I can't resist the lure of fabric. This shop (Stitch Haven is the name of it) is not nearly as big as the quilt shop in Austin, of course, but I always like going there. They have cute stuff. And they had some nice clearance fabrics, so I got nearly 2 yards of fabric for my $10. (Retail price on most quilt-shop fabrics is $8-9/yard, and closer to $10 for batiks.)

The big event of the retreat on Saturdays is the show and tell segment of the program. (As a matter of fact it is the ONLY program - there are no other planned events at this retreat other than meals.) Everybody comes over to the main house and brings whatever they've been working on so we can see. It's everything from finished quilts to partial blocks to, well, knitting. There's always some fabulous stuff. I took a ton of pictures, at least some of which ought to be in my Webshots album before too long.

Oh, also, I got talked into doing an exchange. It's not a really terrible one, though. It's a particular block (Indian Puzzle) in fall batiks, and I have to do 12 12" blocks by the retreat next year. Not bad at all. (An example of a terrible exchange? - meaning terrible in terms of the amount of work required - here's how I got my triple 4-patch quilt: we did sets of 20, at least 1 set per month and every other month we did 2 sets. So you had to make either 20 or 40 blocks EVERY month. I think it went on for 8 months or so - I know we ended up with something like 260 blocks. So 12 blocks in a year is a piece of cake.)


Monday

Nothing much ever happens at the retreat on Sunday. There's a brunch and everybody does their little bit of cleaning and packs up and goes home. You don't actually have to leave right after brunch but most people seem to. I barely even said goodbye to anybody except my aunt. (I'll see most of them next Monday at quilt guild, anyway.)

My mother was annoying the crap out of me in the car. First of all, she stopped the car dead in the middle of the road in Warrenton because she wanted to look at something. There wasn't anybody behind her but this is not some tiny back road with no traffic. It made me very nervous. Her driving is starting to bother me more and more anyway. She can only hear out of one ear and her cataracts are getting bad enough that she has trouble reading signs. It's bothering me enough at this point that I probably ought to start doing most of the driving when we're together, at least until she gets her cataract operation after Christmas. She's only 65, so it's not like she's too feeble to drive in general. [Later note: the hearing loss, as it turned out, was connected to the brain tumor that was already percolating - we just didn't know it until later in the year.]

I got home around 2:00, I think - so early that Rob wasn't even home, he had gone to the bookstore to look at the magazines because he didn't think I'd be home til later. He was very happy to see me, though!

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