Sunday, July 31, 2011


This was our original wedding day. Lammas, the harvest festival. We were planning to decorate the tables with apples, a symbol of the harvest and also abundance, nourishment and fertility. As it turns out, Gary and I were blessed with all of those things despite being married in the first days of spring. Today, instead of waking up early to get one last anxiety-fueled run in before hair, makeup and photos under a dreary Seattle sky, I slept as long as I needed to, ran a slow but satisfying treadmill 4 miles in air conditioning and laughed as Gary sang ridiculous songs to my ever growing belly. WAY better.

This is the time of year of abundance. It is also the beginning of heading back into the dark days. I like this parallel, this seeming contradiction. It is a time of celebrating how much you have, of enjoying the riches and pleasures of the world, while still acknowledging that these are fleeting. We've had so many good days, days of strength, of vitality, of positive energy. But right on the other side of life's blade are these days of worry, of pain, of hospital monitors and the Intensive Care Unit.

This morning, Mom was feeling better than yesterday. She'd slept well and the pain had lessened a bit. I think once again that we're so lucky, that the pain isn't staying or getting worse or becoming unmanageable. She has tubes connected to her back, to her many she can't keep track. But everything is stable. She's just exhausted.

She has been fighting non stop for seven months. Every day brings new challenges, and just as one thing is figured out and conquered, something else pops up. She has so many doctors, nurses, therapists, rabbis, friends and family members orchestrating interventions, treatments, workouts, spiritual advise, laundry, mail sorting, bill paying, insurance wrangling, and scheduling that it's sometimes literally impossible to keep track of anything. Except how hard she's fighting. How much she loves her life. How determined she is to persevere with grace, dignity and a will of steel. We are so blessed with abundance. Even when the days turn dark and cold.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Mom was admitted to Overlake last night with the plan to have surgery this morning at 11am. The good thing about morning surgery is that she's able to eat dinner the night before and then sleep away the 12 hours she's supposed to fast. The pre-op team ended up coming even earlier than anticipated for her, so this morning was basically wake up, take medications and go to surgery. Ross was able to be there with both my parents, which I know was great for Mom.

Surgery went well-our fabulous neurosurgeon, Dr. L, did both the lumbar procedure and the head resuturing. Mom went into recovery for about an hour, then into the ICU. They will stay in the ICU for the next few nights.

She was in a lot of pain when she woke up, but by the evening it was managed. She's been able to sleep a good amount and eat a little through the pain, which I take as a good sign. The result of the surgery is that they are able to drain 10 ccs of cerebral spinal fluid an hour through the lumbar intervention. She needs to stay at a 45 degree angle until Tuesday (not sure if that's morning or evening); I'm assuming that is to also maintain the swelling.

All in all, another successful surgery. I hope this is the last, though-it's exhausting and emotional for Mom (and us all), and just extremely physically rough. I've only had one surgery in my life: having my wisdom teeth removed. I was terrified of the anesthesia, woke up crying and basically couldn't function for the next few days. And I was in perfect health in my early 20s. Mom has had 3 major surgeries in her chest and 3 brain surgeries in the past 7 months. She never wakes up crying. She never ceases to function.

Friday, July 29, 2011


Mom's incision site starting seeping yet again so back to Urgent Care. They are waiting to be admitted, but plan to stay for a few days/nights at Overlake. The suspicion is that there is a membrane that won't heal due to pressure in the cerebral spinal fluid, so they are hoping to alleviate the pressure with a procedure tomorrow that involves a spinal tap. Best case scenario is that the pressure reduces, the membrane heals, and Mom is safe.

Fingers crossed.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Mom started her first chemo treatment after a long brake. The treatment itself went smoothly. We were all pretty upset to discover that our oncologist who we scheduled our appointment with was not going to be at the appointment. However, our frustration was heard and we were able to see a nurse practitioner who actually specializes in breast cancer. She examined mom and took note of our frustration. She assured us that our oncologist would be aware of her examination and our discontent. We have an appointment to see him in about two weeks. Mom has already made it clear that we are going to call the day before to make sure that our oncologist will be at the appointment. After chemo treatment, mom took a long nap all afternoon. She slept for a solid three hours. When she woke up, she did not have a strong appetite but she still forced down a little bit of dinner.

To be honest, this was a day riddled with errors and disappointments. Medications at her nursing home were not administered, dinner was not delivered until we asked for it (an hour late), and our insurance doesn't want to continue covering sessions with our amazing PT. Managing all these frustrations is a difficult thing when all you want to do is stay positive and hope for the best. Sometimes you just have to channel that anger into a letter or a jog, anything to help you move past all the BS and gather your thoughts and gather your love.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Saying goodbye is never easy and today was no exception. I think I gave my mom about 5 "one more hug"s before I was able to go to the airport. Shortly after I left, Mom's incision sight started seeping again, so off my parents went to Urgent Care. It was only seeping mildly and it had stopped by the time they arrived, so Mom was tested for infection (none found) and ultimately sent back to the Kline within a few hours. They put a sort of medical super glue on her wound, which should keep it closed from now on. Chemo is still on for tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


First of all, wow, thank you so much for the incredible, overwhelming outpouring of love and birthday wishes. My inbox is jammed-it's yet another reminder of how many people are following the blog and constantly lending their positive energy to our family. And we all feel it every day.

All of those prayers and blessings and thoughts continue to pay off. Today we went for a follow up visit with Mom's neurosurgeon, Dr. L, who I really like. He chatted for a few minutes about Mom's incision and what the next steps for are for intrathecal chemotherapy (we need to discuss with Dr. C, which hopefully will happen on Thursday at Mom's next systemic chemo appointment) and then he just sort of looked at Mom, shook his head and said, "you're such a fighter." We all agreed, but that stuck with me. For a neurosurgeon to be impressed...pretty amazing. I'm convinced that Mom is alive today mostly by sheer force of will. Yes, we've gotten plenty lucky, too, which I realize, but her determination to keep living and enjoying her life are what makes these days so wonderful.

Today was no exception. She slept really well last night and was able to sleep in a little bit in the morning, though it's always noisy at the Kline. We had breakfast, then immediately Mom had her weekly shower/bath. This is also when Mom gets weighed and her weight is holding steady: the same for 3 weeks now. The woman who helps is so lovely and we had a little bit of a laugh when I told Mom that I now weigh more than both her and her wheelchair combined and the woman said, "it's okay, honey, you can always loose it. Plus, maybe someday you'll have a baby and need to gain that weight!" Mom and I both giggled and I said "Oh, I AM expecting a baby! That's why I'm gaining the weight!" But she's not the first of Mom's helpers to tell me they thought I was just putting on a few pounds after getting married.

After her shower, Mom did more physical therapy. It was the first time I'd seen her walk without any assistance at all, just strolling down the hallway. Awesome. She walked right into the gym where she rode the bike and did various other stretches and exercises. After Dr. L this afternoon, we went home (!!!) and Mom decided she wanted to go upstairs to her closet to go through some clothes. So, she climbed the two flights of stairs and sat in her closet with me while we looked for some specific items that she wanted. Then back down the stairs to sit at the dining room table for a lovely immediate family birthday dinner. It was awesome. She works so hard every day.

Tomorrow the services for the blind are coming back to help her with more mobility. I'm hoping she has more opportunity to rest in the afternoon tomorrow to allow her to rest up before chemo on Thursday.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Hard to believe 31 years ago I was in labor to deliver our first baby. I'm so grateful that it's hard to express how proud I am of both my kids. Happy happy birthday Ross and Aynsley.

I would love to leave Mom's simple words alone, but today was too eventful to gloss over. For one thing, I understand now much better why Mom sleeps all weekend. Today was insane and the rest of the week looks to be that way, too. The first "shift" of visitors arrived at 8am. Usually only one person comes at a time to make sure Mom's never alone and to help her with meals, walking to the bathroom, taking pills, etc. This morning, two people came and visited. With mornings being generally busy anyway, Mom had no chance of a nap before 10am. She ate her Cheerios and banana very slowly and took an anti-nausea medication before eating. Ross and I both arrived at 10am and Mom still wasn't ready for a nap.

At 11am, two friends came to do their weekly Qi Gong session.

Then it was lunch time.

At 1pm, physical therapy. And here's where it gets exciting. Mom started off PT as usual: walking to the exercise room, but today she walked without a walker and using her therapist as a "sighted guide" as the sight connections liason taught. She wasn't using a walker and she wasn't as supported from behind as usual, so she was a little off in her gait: not really putting any weight on her left leg. She got to the gym, did some work there, then opened up the white cane to walk back. Instantly, her gait changed. She was walking without a limp, in full control. It's amazing to see how much of her lack of speed and maybe even lack of balance come from simply not trusting what's in front of her. It was very exciting.

After PT, a massage therapist came by and gave both my parents massages in the room. Full on with a massage table and the whole bit. Awesome, but now Mom's SORE and a little nervous that she'll sleep badly due to having been worked on. She intentionally drank a lot of water to flush her system out so we'll probably be up a few more times than usual for bathroom breaks. But I think it was so worth it-she's been cooped up and stationary for so long that her muscles really needed to be prodded and nudged. I'm hoping that tomorrow she'll feel awesome.

And after that, we had a little pre-birthday party for me at the Kline-tomorrow I'll be 31. So, all in all, a jam packed day. As worried as I was yesterday when Mom slept for so many hours, I understand it much better now. She doesn't get nearly as many resting opportunities during the week, so she needs to take them when she can.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Mom slept nearly all day today. I woke up about 7am and did some internet errands while she slept until about 8:30. She did some stretches, then ate her usual breakfast of Cheerios and bananas. We did the regular morning routine: walking to the bathroom, washing up, brushing teeth, changing clothes, and as she was walking back to bed, a wave of nausea hit and up came all of her breakfast. As I am now the Queen of Nausea, I had just bought a box of my favorite ginger candies (Reed's-they're amazing), so once Mom finished vomiting and got back in bed, I offered her a candy to suck on. It seemed to help and she wasn't sick again for the rest of the day, but she was exhausted. She slept from about 9:30am until 12pm, when we did lots of stretching and massage, then joined her BFF for an alfresco lunch (Mom ate saltines with PB&J and some nectarine). Immediately after lunch, she fell back asleep for another couple of hours. She woke up with an appetite and polished off a Greek salad leftover from dinner a couple of nights ago. We did some more exercises, talked Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga and Mom took another nap.

By 6pm, she was feeling better-she ate a few bites of baked ziti for dinner and seemed to have more energy. I'm hopeful that a weekend of rest and relaxation will leave her feeling refreshed for the week ahead. It's going to be a big one with chemo starting back up.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Mom has a theory about her napping schedule: it's great if she can get a mid-late morning nap in-that leaves her more energized-but she generally feels more tired and a low key if she takes a long afternoon nap. She hasn't been able to get in a morning nap in what seems like weeks due to construction noise, moving rooms and other interruptions. Today she had to change rooms again, so around 11am Dad started getting everything packed up and ready to go. Ross and I arrived about 45 minutes later and helped him finish up the packing and moved and unpacked. So, Mom missed her morning nap.

The new room is in the other wing of the floor and has different staff. However, Mom's nurses requested that they continue caring for her, so they'll stick with us while we're over here. The plan is to move back to her original room once construction is finished in a week or so. In the meantime, we should have a reprieve from jack-hammering and drilling. Though now on this side we have traffic noise...can't win.

Mom took a few afternoon naps today. I'm not sure if it's her afternoon nap theory or just the fact that Saturdays are a catch up day, but she seemed tired all day. Even when I arrived this morning, she was mellower and just quieter. She walked to her new room and sat outside today for a few hours, but that was the extent of her exercise. I think she needs Saturdays to be fairly quiet because inevitably the weekdays aren't. With two moves this week, it wasn't restful even though she didn't have any medical treatments. And with chemo beginning this coming week, I'm glad she was able to have a day of relaxation and sleep.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Today, Seattle clearly had the best weather in the country, if not the world. I had a wonderful day. Still on EST, I woke up at about 5:30am and was able to get a lot of internet errands and work done before Mom woke up. We had a really nice morning all to ourselves, and did the typical girl stuff: nails, massages, talking about pregnancy and raising kids. Mom then showed off in physical therapy by telling the new aide today how everything is done. Mom knew her exercises better than the aide and was showing her how to do them properly. She also intended to ride the bike for 10 minutes, but went for 16 minutes. She walked all over, stretched and strengthened and then enjoyed lunch.

After lunch, she enjoyed a long nap while I went home to work out, unload my luggage and shower. When I got back to the Kline, she was hanging out in the courtyard with some of my favorite people and we all sat in the sun for about an hour. Then back to her room to listen to President Obama's speech, another nap, then an impromptu dinner party with more of our favorite people.

We also got tentatively good news today: Mom has been having neck and back aches for the past week and had an X ray done on her clavicle, back and hip on Wednesday. The results came back today and no cancer showed up in the bones, which Mom was a bit worried about. So, the cancer in her bones hasn't spread up or down so far. The neck and back aches are managed with ice and heat packs and occasionally a topical analgesic. And after we got the news that there wasn't additional cancer in her bones, Mom said that the pain was really being helped by the heat and ice and that it was a little better today.

Mom will also resume systemic chemotherapy next Thursday. While it's been nice for her to not have to deal with chemo side effects, I know she's chomping at the bit to get started with treatment again. It feels like moving forward.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Jam packed day. I arrived in Seattle around 1pm and headed over to the Kline right away. This afternoon we caught a concert, which was lovely. Then after that, a woman from services from the blind came and hooked Mom up with an audible book subscription and showed her how to walk with a guiding person and a guiding cane. It was so interesting-everything she told us made sense, but definitely needs to be taught. Mom, of course, was stellar using the cane and walked the halls with her physical therapist and the cane. Her strength and balance have improved so much and continue to do so.

We had a call with Dr. C. this evening and discussed next treatment options. Mom is planning to start up again with the systemic chemotherapy at the end of next week.

Forgive my brevity, I'm exhausted from traveling and it's almost midnight my time. More tomorrow

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Finally, a day where the sun was out! Mom spent time outside today, for the first time in a long while and, in news that I found thrilling, was too warm! Ever since Mom's diagnosis, she's battled cold-from drafty hallways to losing any insulating fat layer (not that she had much to begin with), to not being able to cover her head because of surgical sites. And today, eating tuna salad in the courtyard, she needed to move around to get out of the direct sunlight. I love it.

Today my parents moved rooms to accommodate construction that the Kline is doing. I'm not sure if this room is temporary, but for now, it should be a nice change, just to get away from the jack-hammering. Also, for the time being, they're in a double room without a roommate so my dad gets to sleep in a bed. Amazing what we take for granted. I'm so so so excited that he gets to both sleep in a bed and sleep next to my mom. He hasn't had that luxury in 7 months.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


27 years ago, Dad called me on the phone, elated with this news: "you've got a new baby brother!! What do you think?" One week shy of my 4th birthday, I honestly answered, "Frankly, Dad, I'm rather disappointed." Of course, I wanted a sister. Growing up, Ross proved game for sisterly activities like being dressed up, having make-up applied and playing with dolls, though, usually, his versions weren't quite what I had in mind. In fairness, my versions of baseball weren't what he had in mind.

Clearly, 27 years later, I'm no longer anything close to disappointed.

Happy birthday, Rossy!

Monday, July 18, 2011


And the streak continues. Mom had a jam packed day, with chi gong in the morning, physical therapy in the early afternoon and finally a sun break and a chance to sit outside. While I sweat in the 95 degree heat, Seattle remains autumn-like with cool temperatures and rain. But today the sun made a rare appearance and Mom jumped (maybe literally, she's getting so strong) at the opportunity to catch sure vitamin D. Tomorrow is supposed to be another nice day, and my family is planning to celebrate Ross's birthday with pizzas in the park.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I feel so fortunate that Mom has had a string of such good days. When she was first diagnosed, all I kept thinking was that I wanted however many days she had left to be as good and meaningful as possible. I've seen chemo ravage healthy, vibrant people. I've heard stories of treatment ultimately ending patients' lives before their cancer does. And I did not yet know what a fighter Mom is. Faced with her options, I don't know that I would have chosen the way she did. But knowing that she was in full control of her treatment choices allowed me little time to question; my role has never been decision maker, it's only been full support. So I supported every choice she's made along the way. I don't give advice, I don't research options, I just support her decisions. And knowing that she's intending to fight and live as long as possible, I try to give her milestones to reach. Moving our wedding up was partly to give her motivation to be in this world to see it. Though we didn't "try" to get pregnant, the rapidity with which that happened makes me think that meeting her grandchild may be another attainable milestone to reach. In any case, it's something positive and joyous to talk and dream about right now.

Setting milestones aside, I'm still trying to practice living in the moment and not get ahead of myself. Presently, Mom seems to be on an upswing. She's feeling well and sounding strong. The days are good and meaningful.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Finally, Mom slowed down a little bit. The past week had been a constant stream of visitors, therapies, an emergency, little worries here and there and some projects. Today, it finally caught up to her and Mom just relaxed. In her words, it was a lazy day. Summer has yet to arrive in Seattle (which I am very much looking forward to experiencing-today it topped 90 in Brooklyn and my tubby pregnant self is not enjoying it!) with rain and clouds all day today. A perfect day to nap, listen to the radio, chill out and recuperation from the week.

Friday, July 15, 2011


This morning I woke up to a text from Dad correcting one of my earlier posts about Mom's leaking CSF. I said they went via ambulance to urgent care, when in reality, Dad drove and they were fine in the car.

This just got me thinking that I hope all our readers take everything I say with a grain of salt. Clearly, I embellish details. Clearly, I tell lies of omission (like not announcing my pregnancy until 13 weeks, which I maintain was the right thing to do, but I wasn't 100% honest abut everything that was going on in our lives). Clearly, the only truth I'm telling is my truth. We try to give varying voices to the blog, but I selfishly use my daily logs of events as a form of therapy and often don't let other people write. I can only speak from my point of view. To me, Mom sounds better and better each day this week. I don't know if she's physically feeling better and better, but that's my perception. Even when I'm there and spending hours a day with my family, I can't tell you how they are feeling. I can guess, and that's what I communicate through the blog. We get medical reports, but even those need to be taken with a grain of salt. Nothing is definitive. Everything changes all the time.

So, for today, from my perspective, Mom is doing great. I hope that's her perspective too.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Mom has recovered from the re-suturing and is feeling really good. She's eating like a champ, which has been such a struggle up to this point. This week she is finishing her meals, the entire portion. That's never been the case before. And not only is she finishing the meals, she's still snacking between them and enjoying what she's eating. That can only be contributing to making her stronger. I'm so looking forward to seeing her next week and sharing a meal.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Mom got very lucky last night. One of her girlfriends was over and saw the seeping near her incision and mentioned it to her doctor husband when she got home. He immediately called Dad and told him to go to urgent care right away. So, at 8pm, they traveled by ambulance back to Bellevue urgent care. Mom's neurosurgeon was out of town, but had a great surgeon covering for him. He was on his way home when he heard about Mom, came and took a look, put away his car keys and scrubbed up.

Mom was leaking cerebral spinal fluid.

The neurosurgeon re-sutured her up, being extremely careful not to stitch too tightly or too loose, and they were on their way back to the Kline. The whole ordeal was about 3 hours. The surgeon explained that this could have been fatal-Mom could have continued to loose too much CSF and she was at heightened risk of a brain infection, which would have been game over.

I feel so so fortunate that we have such an amazing team of knowledgeable advocates in our inner circle. Our doctor friend has been crucial-he speaks the language, explains procedures, knows when urgent care needs to be called but is still first and foremost our loving friend.

When I mentioned that Gary and I are planning a home birth to our MD friend during my last visit, he stared at me, confused. "Where are you going to put the stirrups?!" he asked. I've been chuckling about that comment for weeks now, and when I relayed last night's events to Gary this afternoon, he promptly said "we need to get MD some stirrups as a thank you gift." I don't know if this is humorous to anyone but me, but I find it a classic example of the way my husband thinks and keeps me sane. The first thing he jumps to is birthing stirrups as a thank you gift for quite possibly prolonging Mom's life. Brilliant.

Mom, of course, is taking everything like a champ. She took a full dose of pain medicine last night after the stitching and was able to make it through the night comfortably. So today she only took half a dose and was doing fine. Her head aches, but not terribly. She still had a good appetite today and slept well. Her blood pressure is good, her temperature is normal, she doesn't have an infection and she's still on track to complete her antibiotics this weekend. All in all, an extremely positive outcome. I still can't believe how lucky we were.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Mom's incision site is seeping fluid again. This is how we initially found the infection that lead to the O'Maya Reservoir being removed. Now that it's out, the same spot is seeping fluid again. A sample was taken today and we should get analysis tomorrow or Thursday. Mom is still on antibiotics, so the hope is that this seeping isn't an additional infection or the same infection or any infection at all.
The seeping is annoying and the spot itches. Really, a lot of Mom's body itches. Between the metastatic "rash", the radiation to fight it, dry skin, morphine and countless healing wounds from surgical sites or other pokes and needles, it's a wonder she's not constantly scratching.

The possibility of an infection worries me a lot these days. Just in general, infection halts treatment, makes Mom ill, and requires more interventions. And the possibility of an infection so near her brain...scary stuff. I try not to focus on that, because I can drive myself crazy with all of the what-ifs. And, really, none of the what-ifs matter. Only the how it is. And we don't have that information yet, so, in the words of Jewel: Worry is wasteful and useless in times like these. I won't be made useless. Won't be idle with despair.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Ross and Mom had a wonderful day together. The night was restful and they were able to sleep in this morning! Mom had a great appetite today and a strong physical therapy session. She also was treated to a private chi gong lesson, which she loved. It made her feel so good.

She and Ross has such a nice day, Mom didn't get a nap in until he left. She needed to rest up before Book Club meets tonight and she gets back to the social events.

She is such a social person, she truly thrives on other people's energy. I sometimes get annoyed when visitors come and stay, chatting away through a meal or time when Mom is visibly fatigued. But Mom never does. She's always so happy when people come, and she figures she'll just sleep a little later. And I have to remind myself that Mom is still 100% in control of her care. She can articulate (and does!) when she needs to rest or needs to eat or needs something else. I think I project-often I'm the one who needs a snack or needs to rest or just needs some time to be quiet. Mom seems not to need this time. And when I think back on my life, she never really has. She's content relaxing with people. She never seems to need alone time, though she copes fine with it, too. She's equally happy soaking up sunshine on a dock by herself as she is surrounded by her girlfriends. Or even just her girlfriends' teenage children and their friends-she loves people. Loves talking to them, loves listening to them, loves learning.

When my parents visit me in New York, we travel by subway. Invariably, Mom makes friends. She'll jump into someone else's conversation easily and find a restaurant, an unknown museum or a long lost sorority sister. Dad and I just sit back, slightly nervous and slightly amazed. It would never occur to us to start a conversation with strangers on the subway. Our comfort zones are completely different shapes. But Mom's life of sociability has truly shaped the last six months. People are lining up to visit with her. She still has not been alone. I was speaking with a good friend of mine from childhood and musing about the support systems we have. She has a friend who, when her mother went through cancer treatment, was all alone in the hospital. No one else came. The burden was on the daughter alone, and it truly became a burden. I can't imagine going through such a time without support. We need other people to bring us meals, make us laugh, cry with us, advocate for us, help with travel, explain the bills. Mom has always understood this. It takes a community to be a community.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Ross arrived around noon today, and relieved Dad of his caretaking duties for about 24 hours. Though he hates time spent away from Mom, he also needs to little bit of it now and then and Mom was gushing about how happy she was that he was taking the day tomorrow to take care of himself a little bit. Seriously, she was thrilled. So nice. Mom's words, it's going to get pretty wild with just her and Ross hanging out!

Mom continues to feel better. Her stomach has been bothering her less and less and the infection is all but cleared up. She's still on IV antibiotics for another week, but she's not feeling side effects. So for now, it's just a waiting game until she sees Dr. C. again to discuss next steps. In the meantime, she's continuing to gain strength and astonish everyone.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Last night brought some challenges. A nursing error screwed up some things with Mom's antibiotic IV, which interrupted her sleep throughout the night and again at 6am when the mistake was realized. Luckily, Mom didn't have any adverse reactions to the IV drip not being sent through the machine-she received it faster than she's supposed to and in a different amount, but it ended up not being a catastrophe.

Mom was nauseous this morning, but felt better in the afternoon and evening. She's trying to limit the amount of medication she's taking, but she realized that she may have decreased the anti-nausea meds a little too much. She took them again this afternoon and felt better. While I am no big proponent of medication, it seems to me that if you can take something to make you immensely more comfortable on an ongoing basis, you do it (excluding, of course, heroin). Mom's anti-nausea medication clearly fits the safe-in-my-mind bill and hasn't seemed to create any horrendous side effects.

Overall, it seems like both my parents had a good day. Though they were up at 6am dealing with the IV debacle, they were able to fall back to sleep and sleep late through the morning. Considering that last weekend they were in the ICU at Overlake, this weekend is leaps and bounds better

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Another great day of tenacity and general ass-kicking by Mom today. Strong physical therapy and socializing interspersed with the constant IVs, medications, meals, poking, prodding and daily life in a nursing home. These were her words, not mine. I always take heart when the treatment starts to be annoying-that's when you know you're not so sick that all you can do it look forward to the next hit of whatever.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Mom is doing amazing. Her day was much less hectic today, so she was able to get in a LONG PT session which included walking (almost running, really, at this point she treks so quickly), riding the recumbent bike and lots of stretching. This isn't ordinary stretching, it's assisted by the aide and is very specific and fairly intense. Good good stuff.

Mom hasn't run a fever or felt feverish since Overlake; the antibiotics are being well tolerated and she's feeling well. She has a good appetite and enjoyed a leftover July 4th BBQ drumstick for lunch today as well as all the regular meals and snacks.

I often feel like I'm interviewing Mom about her health when we speak on the phone. I always want to know the nitty gritty, which sometimes she doesn't offer, so I ask a lot of probing questions and am probably super annoying about it. Tonight, after all my questions, I remembered Bruce Feiler's rules and just told some stories. I rarely have good gossip, but I usually have ridiculous things to share from my day, which I feel lightens the mood and makes it more enjoyable for Mom to talk to me.

It's amazing what the past week has brought. It's been such a roller coaster. Today I see it as a microcosm of life and of that fundamental truth: this too shall pass. Nothing is permanent. Not the good days, not the bad days, not the infections, not radiant health. I hold this when I'm still pregnancy sick and I hold it when I'm feeling amazing. A reminder to be here now. Just sit with it, whatever it is. It will pass and it will be gone forever, for better or for worse. Cherish the present.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


In Mom's words, today was very hectic. Mom has different IV schedules for different antibiotics: one is every 12 hours and one is every 8 hours. Sometimes they overlap, sometimes she's just hooked up to an IV for hours on end. In addition to nurses in and out of the room on IV duty, Mom had her port dressing changed, a bath, physical therapy, a visit from the Kline's rabbi (who is amazing and who we all adore), lunch with girlfriends, a lengthy visit from Ross, time out in the sunshine and a nap or two.

According to the physical therapist, the surgery and all of last week's interruptions didn't have any negative effect on her strength. According the aide who bathes Mom, she didn't lose any weight despite not being able to eat anything for two days due to impending surgery and not being able to eat much for a few days after that due to feeling like crap after surgery. (Apparently, Mom has been making up for lost calories in the past few days). According to Mom, she's feeling better and better. According to the sound of her voice, I will attest to that.

Monday, July 4, 2011


In a surprise move by Seattle, the weather for 4th of July was gorgeous. Sunny with a breeze, temps in the mid to high 70's, no rain in sight...definitely atypical. And my parents made the most of it. When I called to check in late this morning, Dad was on the driving range and Mom was eating lunch with girlfriends outside in the courtyard.

Later in the afternoon, I called again and Mom had just finished a nap and was gearing up to head outside to once again dine al fresco. She's feeling so much better each day out from the surgery. Great appetite, less aches and pains and an easier time sleeping. And enjoying all of her visitors.

My weekend was also really nice. Gary and I spent all day Sunday and Monday outside with friends. I am covered in bug bites, full of BBQ and so content. As we were coming home tonight, the sky erupted into a magical sunset. This photo is taken from a train, so it's not the best quality, but you can still get a sense of what a beautiful weekend this was. For all of us.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Last night and today were all about rest, relaxation and recuperation, for both Mom and Dad. They spent a much more restful night at the Kline than those nights at the hospital and were much more comfortable overall. Mom is getting her antibiotics via IV, so there are some interruptions at night with the IV going off or needing to be watched and it's another thing to maneuver when she goes to the bathroom, but overall, they're happy to be back.

Before the infection, Mom was hoping to be able to join her friends for a 4th of July get together at a friend's home, but now she's just hoping to maybe sit outside in the Kline courtyard if the weather is nice. Her head is still a little achey and she's still recovering from pretty major surgery, so she's just taking everything easy for the next few days.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Today was all good news:

  • All of Mom's infection cultures have come back negative, which means whatever infection was going on is very mild and already responding to treatment

  • Mom only needs to stay on antibiotics for two weeks, not six as previously thought

  • My parents are back at the Kline, where they are much more comfortable and can sleep easier

  • Mom's pain has subsided considerably

  • Mom's appetite has returned

Thanks so much to everyone who sent all their healing thoughts and prayers. It's amazing what such a vast collection of love can achieve.

Friday, July 1, 2011


I'm not gonna lie, yesterday was rough for me. I was very worried about Mom's surgery, much more than I admitted to myself. I slept fitfully Wednesday night and last night, up every few hours checking my phone, seeing if there was any news. I'm mad at the timing-I was just there. I saw the seeping, why didn't we catch it a couple of days earlier and I could have been there with my family in the waiting room?

And of course, as I am about to throw myself an indulgent pity party, I get disgusted with myself. Yesterday was rough for me? Am I insane? It was a million times rougher for Mom. Suck it up, kid, your life is fine.

And so I started counting my blessings, thinking of all the things I am grateful for:
  • Mom came out of surgery well and enjoyed her (still ongoing) stay in the ICU-there are far less interruptions and she was able to rest reasonably well last night and today
  • Both my parents ate well today-that's one of the beauties of Overlake
  • I am able to talk on the phone with my family virtually any time I want.
  • Mom had an army of support with her at the hospital last night and today all day; my absence isn't leaving a void
  • Ross texted me throughout the surgery letting me know how everything was going and who all was there
  • My job is endlessly forgiving of me taking phone calls during the day, taking time off at a moment's notice and otherwise being distracted
  • My husband is endlessly patient with me coming home and crying, being too wound up to sleep (and therefore talking to to him at 4:30am) and taking off to Seattle at a moment's notice
  • Everyone in our enormous support network's endless love and support and especially those with the willingness to continually provide meals, lattes, funny stories, supportive emails, laundry, special time with Mom, chauffeuring me to the airport at's boundless and astounding.
  • My friends and colleagues continually checking in, asking how Mom is and waiting for the reply
  • Fireflies at dusk in New York City
  • Being pregnant, focusing on the future, feeling optimistic
  • Chocolate
So, that's the list from today. I know there are many, many more and I look forward to recognizing and appreciating them.