The Breakdowns

I break down every day.

Sometimes, more than once.

The triggers vary.

Like watching this song being performed on the “Today Show.”

I am generally neither sappy nor a fan of country music, but wow! These lyrics.

This puppy also made me cry, and I mean THIS SPECIFIC PUPPY.

Her name is Tina.

Last summer I was walking in our neighborhood and saw a tiny, adorable fluffball that looked like the puppy version of When the Gremlin Was Still Good.

Minor stalking later, the owner told me it is a Havashu, which is a designer dog cross between a Havanese and Shih Tzu.

These dogs are not easy to find, but a random Google deep dive led me to Tina, who was available at the beginning of the year, right around the time of my diagnosis.

Spouse – who probably would have done almost anything to cheer me up – offered to make Tina part of our family.

That idea was wildly impractical for so many reasons, but the one that hit hard was the fact that Tina’s life expectancy – 16 years – may exceed mine.

Cue the waterworks.

Lost professional opportunities are also hard to swallow. From a career standpoint, 2019 was a banner year, and 2020 held infinite promise. It is hard to decline invitations and cancel plans for speaking gigs or conferences. I fear that my professional stock has fallen now that I am sick and broken. I see it already. Maybe I will not come back – ever – to where I was B.C. (Before Cancer). People will whisper, they will be sad, I remain a Cautionary Tale.

But I am saddest when I think about my children.

While I have not shared this here before, my son – MGM – has autism. There is a distinct possibility that he will not be able to live independently in the future. Until now, I thought my predicted longevity and earning potential would be a cushion for him as he grows older. His vulnerability is nearly too much to consider.

And my daughter. Oh, my daughter. She is so smart, strong and independent – and honestly, she probably would be with or without me. However, the thought of her college entrance essay’s theme of “My Mother’s Death” is a loop I cannot stop playing in my head.

I hate that movie.

Two Steps Forward

^^^^ With the Birthday girl, BC (Before Cancer).

Yesterday was not a good day.

After several days of steady progress, yesterday slammed me back to square one.

I woke up with a mild headache, which evolved into a full migraine within two hours. I was so nauseated, dizzy and generally in pain that all I could do was go back to bed for the next seven (!!!) hours, floating uncomfortably in a zone between asleep and awake, but always with pain.

I did not enjoy this.

Although I have some prescription pain pills from my surgery, I am against taking them, as nausea and dizziness – not to mention rebound headaches once they wear off – are potential side effects.

The thing that helped the most: a cold pack to the head.

Yesterday was also Trixie’s 11th birthday and I was determined to participate.

Spouse stepped up and made a birthday cake plus bought sushi (Trixie’s request; I declined) for dinner. I weakly sang my part of “Happy Birthday” and hoped that her memories of this day would focus more on the happy moments than images of her mother horizontal on the sofa with an eye mask and ice pack.

To stack the deck in my favor, I’d wildly overcompensated prior to my surgery and ordered her a Harry Potter LEGO set with over 6000 pieces as a Super Gift. Spouse brought it out last – after all the other packages had been opened and it seemed that it was all said and done – and her joy was palpable. Unexpectedly, MGM also got into the act and the two of them happily started building the set. Given that the instruction manual is 628 pages, they should be occupied for a while.

Holiday 2019

Yesterday I finished the last bit of holiday shopping and wrapping.

Well, at least until today.

Trixie and I hit the mall(s) early Sunday morning to avoid the worst of the crowds. It was *mostly* successful.

I heard on TV that Saturday had been dubbed “Panic Saturday” for holiday shoppers and was expected to ring up more retail sales than Black Friday or Cyber Monday. If that was Saturday, I’m not sure what moniker Sunday earned – perhaps “Last Chance Sunday?” “It’s-This-Or-Walgreen’s-Sunday?”

Hard to say.

In theory, I love Christmas.

I love the music.

I love the lights.

I love shopping and selecting the perfect gifts.

I love the holiday candy and treats.

I love the decor – as long as it’s not littering my house until March.

But the reality is that there are many things about the holidays I DO NOT love.

The endless wrapping.

The paper and tape that run out with four packages to go.

The post office. THE POST OFFICE!

Tripping over Amazon boxes.

Breaking down those Amazon boxes and deflating those awful plastic packing bubbles.

The puzzle-cramming operation that is fitting everything into our vehicle.

Driving back and forth to various family members’ homes, where we invariably are late and don’t stay long enough.

No one is happy in the end.

Of course it’s too late to follow through on my threat to spend Christmas in Hawaii, but a girl can dream, right?

What will happen:

  • Christmas will come and go. Too quickly.
  • There will be moments of joy.
  • There will not be enough sleep.
  • There will be laughter.
  • There will be at least one Can-You-Believe-That-Happened moment that we have to process later.
  • There will be one unbelievable gift that Everyone will be talking about.
  • We will make memories.
  • Someday I will wish I could reverse time and do it all again.
  • We will still struggle to fit everything in our vehicle for the trip home.

Happy Holidays, Friends.

Family Pictures

After a several year hiatus, we’re sending out holiday cards.

And I have to say, our friends Scott and Kelly at Olive Juice Studios really knocked it out of the park, although all props go to Spouse for the concept.

But if you look closely at our “family” photos, you may notice one thing: I’m not in them.

Was I supposed to be?

Yes.

Did I want to be in them?

Also Yes.

Where was I?

Work.

Sometimes, there is no balance.

This may sound utterly counterintuitive, but it’s true.

One of the many reasons I went into medicine was autonomy, a way to (hopefully) have some say over how I spend my time.

I envisioned a schedule that included time for exercise, dog walking, occasional lunches or daytime coffees, kid driving, school activities, etc.

But at a certain level, the responsibility becomes so great that the balance is less. Every day, I am the following: a full-time physician in a busy, busy practice, a Kick A$$ Lady Boss to over 50 people, a Mom, a Spouse, a small business owner and a Person Who Generally Tries to Be a Decent Human Being.

And none of these take a day off.

Also true: Some days I do a better job at one or more of these than others.

I hope that these two get it, maybe not on the day these photos were taken, but thirty years from now I hope they can look back and realize I was doing the best I could.

XOXO.

Happy Halloween, 2019

Confession: I’m not a big Halloween person.

I haven’t worn a costume since my freshman year of college, and that was only to be able to use a fake I.D. to get into a bar.

But others around here do not share my indifference to October 31.

Even the dog gets into the game:

And a wig on a pumpkin, why not?

Spouse still swears by his regimen of offering Fireball shots to weary parents.

And this flashback is just ALL THE FEELS. Sniff.

The One That Got Away

Last week I posted about house hunting.

Spoiler: the search goes on.

Spouse and I have been going back and forth about putting in an offer on a groovy 70s house.

Not this one. Possibly worse looking.

It’s so intimidating, though.

The 70s house needs A LOT of work. The punch list starts with:

  • New master bath
  • Convert an upstairs bedroom into a master closet
  • Re-configure an upstairs hallway bathroom to an en suite with one of the bedrooms
  • New lighting fixtures in the dining room, kitchen and entry
  • New front doors
  • New garage doors
  • De-popcorn ceilings EVERYWHERE

Plus we are without sufficient furniture for at least nine rooms. The 70s house is huge.

Gulp.

We asked our realtor to write an offer on Thursday night, and then like magic! I found a brand new house in our neighborhood that called my name.

We asked him to set up a showing at the new property. This was Friday after work and he had an event to attend. He showed up in a tuxedo.

While the house wasn’t 100% to my taste, it came really close.

The inside was light and bright. The lines were clean.

There were two master bedrooms. The bathrooms were free of popcorn ceilings, tacky gold fixtures and wallpaper.

It smelled NEW.

I even loved the doorknobs.

It had price and location going for it. I loved the design of the interior, not to mention the sound system, energy efficiency and other high tech features.

But the tiny garage – with zero room on the lot to expand – made it a non-starter.

We had to immediately cross it off the list.

I wanted to sob.

Our realtor had brought all of the paperwork for the offer on the 70s house, but I was too sad about losing my dream of a modern house to sign at the moment. The realtor was gracious but I am sure he was not impressed by how wishy washy we (ok, me) were.

Spouse and I spun round and round on Friday night and Saturday morning, trying to decide what to do.

I think I am over-thinking at this point.

Historically, I have viewed the inability to make a decision (a non-decision, if you will) as a decision in itself. Having to hem and haw, and then talk myself into the 70s house probably isn’t the best case scenario.

The search continues.

 

 

 

 

 

House Hunting Update

We’re still looking for a permanent place to live.

The four of us are ready to shed our temporary digs, especially now that we’re squarely stuck in mid-winter and figuratively on top of each other in our tiny rental house.

Weekend days are long.

We dipped our toes into the real estate market about a month ago. We initially planned to start looking for a place to buy in early spring, but an open house in mid-December caught our eye.

I don’t want to post pictures of the house we looked at, but it’s a funky 1970s gem, replete with popcorn ceilings and un-retro-cool brass chandeliers.

It needs some work.

On the other hand, the proximity to work and the school district are perfect. The garage is huge, which is a major deal considering a lot of properties we’ve seen have two or even one car garages. Three is a relative anomaly, but this garage is even bigger. This is a major selling point for Spouse.

The kitchen appears to have been remodeled about ten years ago. It’s definitely not to my style but too nice to rip out.

This house is also spacious, probably to the point of being too big for the four of us. We wouldn’t have enough furniture to fill half of it at this point.

And then there is the pool. While I wouldn’t build a house with a pool (this is Minnesota, after all, and a pool is useful for about ten minutes per year), I have to admit I am intrigued about the possibility of buying a house with one already in place.

We’ve been going around and around about this property, and I’ve been scouring real estate websites for anything and everything that comes on the market. Nothing’s been right so far, even when I dream and stretch our budget beyond what is realistic.

Fortunately, we’ve got 4 1/2 more months on our lease. This sounds like a lot of time but when I do the math, it could easily take a month or two to get an offer accepted and take possession of a house.

And if the house we buy needs some work, that cuts our timeline closer to have it done by the time we need to move in.

Final thought: at least buying a house seems easier than selling a house. Spending money has always been much easier for me than making it.

Fingers crossed to find something that feels like Home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Wrap Up

Pun intended.

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Christmas came and went, again.

This process seems more fleeting each year.

2017 held a few unexpected turns. We discovered late in the game that our planned accommodations weren’t going to work out, and we booked the last room at the local inn.

This turned out better than expected.

We were able to use the hotel gym to exercise.

We watched “Elf.”

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The glass wasn’t ideal but the wine was delicious.

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We opened family presents with just the four of us.

Santa still found us on Christmas morning, too.

I may make this a tradition.

 

Christmas Brickmania Display

Last weekend we went to see a massive Lego display sponsored by Brickmania Toyworks.

The Christmas diorama was fantastic:

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It was hard to capture Santa’s train:

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A huge State Fair/Circus scene was also so much fun to view. There were a lot of surprises – aka Easter eggs – hidden in plain sight, like the Mystery Machine from “Scooby Doo” in the parking lot.

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Storm Troopers were also riding the Giant Slide.

While Spouse originally planned this with the kids in mind, we all had a blast.

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If you’re in the Twin Cities, this is worth a visit.