All Dressed Up with No Place to Go

IMG_2101The laundry is all done, the fridge is almost empty, the minor details of life are all on auto-pay and I’m ready for our little mini vacation.  Steven has been literally begging me for months to go on a vacation to the mountains.  I’ve tried to talk him out of it a hundred times.  He wanted to go to Gatlinburg, Tennessee for some unknown reason.  I could give a rat’s ass about most of Tennessee.  I used to work regularly at a few comedy clubs in Tennessee back image95496121in the day and I have bad memories of drunk women incoherently heckling and simultaneously projectile vomiting.  It seems needless to say that I have no desire to visit Tennessee.  My shoes cringe at the thought!  So it’s been painful for me to be hammered for months about getting away for this idyllic holiday to a place I regard as a little slice of hell.

y4m58PGrXQCRrNBNDGdnPpNVCIn5Hrl6U3ieE-AminrVDxOOdBkDZaP2JxnqLf3fOZpI4eBBzn1QPgEsvagr9Cl9mRDiEu6Dfbm4zM7KXtX-B9UcQmdt-vQnKWS_vU8to2aavmJ2fjASWzjqW2bXSKfs63XYfl8gbUmn6m2gyWqcrMrHVvtwxWDDXQuite a few weeks ago I was reading Yahoo News and a click lead to another click which put me on a page about the big Hemlock Festival this weekend in Dahlonega, Georgia.  For whatever reason, it seemed like fun.  A festival celebrating a tree could not be more innocuous.  I could really get into a perfect low-key getaway.  The location seemed perfect as well.  It’s just the other side of the Blue Ridge Mountains that had become Steven’s new fixation.  It was quite a few hours shorter in drive time than Tennessee…and as far as I knew, no projectile vomiting.  So I summoned Steven to Molly’s Porch for a quick family meeting and vacation plans were set in motion.  I requested official time off from Nana duty, and Steven quickly went about making reservations in a pet-friendly hotel and began his due diligence in compiling the historical, meteorological and socio-economic background check on the area.  He LOVES. LOVES, LOVES the planning part of the vacation experience.

Compliments of Steven,  I’ve been getting local temperature and other oddball tidbits of fullsizeoutput_60eDahlonega, Georgia factoids sent to my phone about 4-5 times a week for the past month.  I’ve also been getting snapshots of a live camera somewhere in the town showing me the state of the leaves on the trees, so I can keep up with the fall foliage color change…BTW- it hasn’t happened yet.  I’ve also received text updates from Steven noting celebrities who hail from that area so I can keep my eyes peeled while walking around town lest I trip on a famous person.  And I even got an email from him about the state of the ground cover where the festival is held because the out of town festival is in a grassy area that might be muddy if the weather is too wet prior to Hemlock weekend.   We are prepared for weather dips into the 30s with layers of clothing to protect our delicate Florida anatomy (I use the singular “anatomy” because I’m always warm and Molly comes standard wearing a coat so really, we’re talking about Steven…THE ONLY ONE WHO WANTS TO GO TO THE FUCKING MOUNTAINS!!!)

IMG_2313Nevertheless, we are ready to Rock and Roll.  Today is Wednesday.  I have a little Nana duty later on today and then tomorrow I have the day to get our stuff together for a nice, leisurely trip to…NO WHERE.  Because I always forget that Steven loves to plan vacations but has a hard time going on vacations.  No.  Steven loves to plan trips but has a hard time going on trips.  No.  Steven loves to plan leaving the house but has a hard time leaving the house.  YES!  That’s it!  That’s exactly it.  This morning he informed me he really, really, really doesn’t want to go.

Welcome back to one of the recurring themes in our life after cancer, lymphoma, a stem FullSizeRendercell transplant, chemotherapy and all of those life changing things that Steven has had to endure.  The aftermath of the physical and mental trauma that now haunt Steven cause and so much anxiety stress for him and in turn for me.  It’s such a shame.  We have time and a little spare change to do a few things, but a lot of times, I just can’t get him out the door.  The world is a scary place and when one feels weak and vulnerable, it’s even scarier.  And that’s the bottom line.  Home is safe DSC_0895and secure.  His needs are all met.  His food and beverage are all readily available whenever he wants without any fuss or bother or wait.  If he’s tired he has multiple areas to rest his weary bones.  If he’s feeling anxious, he can take a pill and chill out in a cozy familiar place, or he can go socialize in the big bold world that is right outside our community where home is a blink away if his mood changes and he needs to get back.  Therein lies the distinction between vacation and home.  Vacation is just too far away.

IMG_1846So my job, for now, is to make every day at home like a vacation.  Well, hell…for me it already is.  I don’t have to go to work every day.  I get to see Lil’ G A LOT!  I”m finally spending quality time with Steven in person instead of texting and calling all day from an office or car.  I feel like I’ve won the lottery.  Steven’s life is a vacation, too.  He just doesn’t know it.  He no longer has chores to do in the garden or garage or attic or anywhere that involves tools or safety glasses or power tools.  His daily responsibilities are so minimal that he actually puts in MORE effort when we stay in a hotel.  But he doesn’t see that.  So periodically he decides he needs a vacation and I guess all I have to do to make him happy is to just say, “Yes” to all his vacation plans.  Let him enjoy the planning that he loves so much and just know that we’re not going to go.  Reserve away big guy!  From now on, I say, “Yes!” to going no where!

 

 

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Happy Holidays to You and Us

Coda & Lil GWith the typical beginning of the holiday season being Thanksgiving, we started out with a bang…or maybe it was a SPLAT!  Cue the sound of water breaking! Is that the sound of a tall horse peeing on a flat rock?  No sir, it was the soggy sound of a newborn’s pre-flight check list!  We were over the moon to be blessed by the early arrival of our first grandchild.  His due date was December 5th but  he decided to show up unexpectedly before the holiday, and kept the new parents in the hospital until Thanksgiving day, thereby showing us IMG_1503all who will be running the show for a while.  But we are all thankful that his arrival was fairly easy as fast for Alexis (or as easy as it can be to squeeze an oven-stuffer roaster through a ketchup bottle), steady but controlled enough for Matt to navigate the rush hour traffic from work to home to hospital, and timely enough for the whole herd of grandparents to arrive before he landed.  We now have a beautiful baby boy to cuddle and love, only to pass him off to Mom or Dad when he starts to smell bad.  I think because his mother has worked on special events at Walt Disney World for such a long time, Lil’ G loves nothing more than having a Pyro Party in his Pants!  Cue the fireworks and hand him off!  I knew I’d love being a Nana!  Steven has chosen to stay with Shreve as his grandpa name, leaving the other more traditional names to the other grandpas.  It fits!

FU** CANCER TATTOOIt’s hard to believe we have more news even better than our baby’s baby…but we do!  It looks like Steven will be around to show this addition what NOT to do for a LONG time.  The results of last week’s PET scan came in the form of a 1/2 page report which was “No Abnormal Activity!!!”  In layman’s terms that spells NO CANCER.  Another holiday miracle for our family!  Even though we had no reason to think otherwise, it’s always great to get confirmation in black and white!  The IMG_1529stem cell transplant worked, the new cells are doing what they are supposed to be doing without being mugged by any Crips or Bloods gang cancer cells and we are breathing completely normally for the first time in 12 years!  To celebrate this momentous event, Steven got himself a new tattoo that is totally inappropriate for a new grandpa…or 62 year old man for that matter.  But somehow we both decided that it was perfect for the situation, so an early Christmas gift was permanently etched on his forearm today to mark the end of more than a decade of sickness and worry.  Sometimes inappropriate is the only way to go…thus making it appropriate!  I don’t have a single tattoo on my body, but I kinda want a smaller version of this one.  But I also want to win the lottery, so we’ll see how that goes!

All Knowing Orchid - December 2015

The All Knowing Orchid

And finally for today I checked with my magic crystal ball substitute…my monster orchid plant.  To refresh your memory, it started blooming the day I was laid off from my job.  That was August 5.  Not only is it still blooming, it has thrown off 4 new shoots with buds on them all.  I know I need a job…I puke a little in my mouth every time I remember that I had to sign up for Obamacare……there it goes again…a little puke.  But the buds are telling me to hang in there and not worry, it will all work out.  And that’s exactly what I’m doing!

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I’m Happy to Say, “My Husband is a Pain in the Ass!”

DUMBASSThat’s right!  I said it!  Steven is a pain in the ass!  He’s pissy and needy and demanding.  He’s driving me crazy and I think that’s AWESOME!  It means he’s getting better!  Sick people don’t generate these feelings in normal people…or even cranky, bitchy people like me!  Even WE feel empathy for sickies, we feel sorry for them, we feel caring towards them.  “Well people” exhibiting the same behavior are a pain in the ass.

Steven’s blood pressure is still unbelievably low.  In clinic this morning, he tested at 71/53.  And that was after walking to the front entrance of the hospital in 88 Blood Pressuredegree weather and then having me wheel chair him up to the 7th floor…which may or may not have involved a minor crash into the elevator wall, a close call in almost knocking over an industrial trash can and parallel parking job that nearly crushed another patient.  But even after all that, which by the way made him a little snippy, low blood pressure comes with the common-sense safety precaution of monitoring his every move.  Only now that he’s back on the outside where reality involves gravity, there are moves that he thinks he can make…but probably can’t.  Unfortunately, if anything bad happens where gravity introduces his bald head to the rough concrete, it’ll be on my watch…it’ll go on my permanent record.  So it’s safer and will make me look better if I just wait on him…and damn, he wants a lot!

I need my charger, I need my meds, I need something to drink, I need to go to the bathroom, I need to take a shower, I need to eat, I need, I need, I need.  Do you know what I need?  I need him to shut his pie hole and let me collect my thoughts.  Yesterday he was in a safe bed with everything at everyone’s fingertips.  If he needed help there was a nurse who was only caring for him and the guy next door.  Granted it was a 12 hour shift of constant care, but she didn’t have laundry or errands or calls from work, the insurance company or AT&T.  She was already AT work and also had a PCA to help her if both patients needed her at the same time.  And there were about 4 techs running around assisting the nurses and PCAs.  And they were all in a goddamned hospital where everything was set up for the ease of all of those rat bastards.

MOANING IN BEDNow it’s just me, trying to navigate a glorified hotel room, a regular bathroom and an average mid-sized SUV to cater to his every need.  And, by the way, I still have that arthritic toe (read my 2nd post ever – My Guide To Surviving Cancer) so I’ve got my own aches and pains that slow me down.  And after almost a whole year of cancer being the focal point of our lives, I’m a little tired.  I’m tired of rushing to work without getting everything organized before I leave.  I’m tired of racing out of work knowing I’m already exhausted but I have a million things that still need tending at home.  I’m tired of driving from Satellite Beach to Orlando or Gainesville.  I’m tired of trying to figure out how to put in a full week’s worth of work into 3 days.  And I’m tired of always being 3-4 weeks past due for a hair cut or pedicure or washing my own underwear.  So I’m getting a little cranky.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I can see Steven is finally on his way back to recovery after a really hard hit.  It’s just not quite here yet and we’re both in that vortex of irritation.

Today we were in the out-patient chemo room on the 7th. floor of the BMT wing at Shands. I could see our old stomping ground Chemo Room 6-18-15from there.  But instead of getting infused in a bed, Steven was in one of the comfy chemo loungers.  The nurse had given him a plumped up pillow and 3 warmed blankets to keep him cozy.  And all the patients there were wearing street clothes because when the IV pump beeps that it’s done, we all got to leave.  We get in our respective cars and go somewhere that is not a hospital.  And I am so happy that we’ve finally come this far.  I could see the stem cell collection room from there, where we started our journey.  And I could see our future in front of us, with all the fabulous new experiences yet to come.  And now, I can see Steven getting back his strength and stamina and energy.  And I just pray that I have a little more patience to get to that time.  Because sometimes, with a pain in the ass, you imagine him asleep as you hold a pillow over his face…

And if you’ve never felt that way about someone you love, then you’re a big fat liar.  I just say what other people think and I think we all have had similar thoughts sometime.  In reality, I know I’m the luckiest woman in the world.  Steven and I have come so far in this incredibly challenging situation that I’d never really kill him, I’ve got too much time invested in convincing him I’m a trophy wife, that the world revolves around me and he’s the luckiest man in the world…and he is…which makes us the perfect mates!

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widgetTHIS IS IT! Unfortunately, we don’t know when Steven will be released from Shands or how long we’ll be at Hope Lodge afterwards. What that means is that I don’t know how much time I’ll be away from work without pay. I’ve only got 2 sick days and 1/2 a vacation day left and our bills still keep coming! If you think you’d like to help us, we’d really appreciate it. Visit our GO FUND ME page and drop a bit in the hat if you have some to spare.