Another Milestone of Many

Today marks a year since my mom was diagnosed. On this day last year, I was sitting at work waiting to hear if she was being released from the hospital. I got a call in the middle of the afternoon, so I walked into the hallway to take it. It was my mom telling me that she gets to go home and then she says very nonchalantly, “Well, I have cancer!” She tried to sound like it wasn’t a big deal, and she went over the top, to the point that it was awkward. I don’t remember my immediate reaction or what I said to her, but she gave the phone to my dad who told me that it wasn’t as bad as it sounded and why don’t I come over after work to talk about it more?

And then I went back to my desk and continued with my day as if nothing had happened. Looking back, why didn’t I leave then and there to go see her? Even after work, when I got to the house, I don’t remember asking any questions. I didn’t ask how serious it was, or what her prognosis was, or what the doctor said, or even if she was scared. Nothing. I suppose I was in shock and I should give myself a break, but really? I remember desperately wanting to know how long she had to live, but I didn’t dare ask that because it seemed so negative and I didn’t want to upset anyone. Throughout the entire course of her treatment I never once asked her or my dad that question. I finally did talk to my dad about it a month or so after my mom passed, and he said that they had been given a rough estimate of 13 months, which is the standard amount of time for stage IIIb lung cancer, but he also said the doctors were always so optimistic that it wasn’t really an issue.

I’ve already reached several “this time last year” moments, but this feels like a big one to me. It’s the beginning the end; the point at which I really felt my world crumbling. I knew what cancer meant. I knew that she wouldn’t make it very long. But I really held onto that 13 month estimate and hoped that she would at least get that long. I figured that would buy enough time to make some more happy memories and have one last everything. Unfortunately things don’t always work out the way we want them to, and we lost her after only five short, horrific months.

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NY Ink

As I was lying around doing nothing all weekend because of a nasty sinus infection, I happened to come across a marathon of NY Ink. I’m not really into tattoos, but I was too lazy to change the channel and ended up watching the whole thing. The show itself is decent, although most of the cast makes me want to drive into the city just to punch them in the face.

Despite being somewhat watchable when there’s nothing else on, this show is horribly depressing. Does anyone get a tattoo for a happy reason?? My goodness, it seemed like every person who walked through the door was getting something in honor of their friend/parent/child who passed away. Every single one! Maybe they only show those ones on tv because they have stories attached? I suppose watching a bunch of 20-something girls get tramp-stamps and butterflies wouldn’t make for very good television, but still. I was on the verge of tears the entire time.

I started thinking about people I know with tattoos, and the majority of them chose things to honor lost loved ones, too. I understand the reasoning and I think it’s a nice gesture, but I was just so surprised to see so many people going through such difficult times. This one young woman came in and asked for her daughter’s footprints on her forearm. Before she even said anything, I knew that the daughter didn’t make it. Sure enough, the woman went into labor early, had complications, and the baby only lived a couple of hours. A couple of hours! I can’t even imagine her pain. The tattoo artist (Tony) told her that maybe her daughter had to die so her future brothers and sisters can live (which I didn’t think was all that comforting) and the woman left with a whole new perspective.

Other people had portraits done, but mostly the images were symbolic and those were my favorites. My absolute favorite one was the first one I saw. This young woman lost her dad when she was in high school and had a really hard time dealing with it. She rebelled against her mom and got into a bunch of trouble. They’ve since repaired their relationship. She decided to get a tattoo of a few different flowers and a hummingbird, over her left ribcage where her heart is. Each element of the design represented a different person in her immediate family and she said this way she will always have them close to her heart.

One Year Ago

One year ago today, my mom was admitted to the hospital to determine once and for all what was making her so ill. She had an appointment at the doctor and I remember her telling me the day before that she was bringing an overnight bag with her because she was pretty sure she would be admitted. I knew at the time that it wasn’t going to end well — at the time they suspected ovarian cancer. I went to see her after work and she was in a surprisingly good mood, considering everything. I didn’t stay long; she told me to go home and relax and she would be ok.

Funny that I ended up leaving work early today to go to the doctor. My throat started to bother me last night, so much so that I woke up twice. It got progressively worse throughout the day today, and since three if my coworkers have had throat infections over the past week, I figured I should go get checked out before it got worse. Turns out I have a sinus infection and was sent home with several prescriptions and over-the-counter recommendations, as well as an order to get some bloodwork done when I’m feeling a bit better.

I got my medicine and freaked out when I saw that the antibiotic prescribed is sulfa based. As far as I know, I’m inky allergic to penicillin, but I know my mom was allergic to sulfa. In fact, the medicine they gave me (bactrim), is the same one they wanted to give her in the ICU to treat the lung infection she had. She couldn’t take it, obviously, and there was no other known cure for her infection since it was so antibiotic-resistant. I called my dad in a panic to find out what her reaction was to it and what I should do. He told me that she had it when she was young and not since then, and he told me to ask the pharmacist. I went back in and asked, and the poor guy had to try not to laugh at me. Apparently, medicinal allergies aren’t generally hereditary and he said I would be fine. I took the first dose almost two hours ago and seem to be doing fine with it. My entire body aches, my throat is on fire, and I can’t breathe out of my nose, but at least I’m still breathing and haven’t broken out into hives or anything.

NKOTBSB!

Warning: I am a total geek in this post.

When I first heard that the BSB and NKOTB were getting together for a tour, I was beyond thrilled! I used to watch a video of a NKOTB concert over and over when I was younger, and I used to kiss my door-size poster of them goodnight before I went to bed. In high school/college, I went to 3 BSB concerts and loved them. Just the thought of these two combining almost made my brain explode.

Then my mom passed away and I lost the excitement and didn’t want to go anymore. I don’t know why exactly, but it felt almost wrong. About a month or so ago, my husband and I bought tickets to the Glee concert (this Friday! Eeek!) and I couldn’t get the NKOTBSB concert out my head. I figured I would go online and just see if there were any tickets left. There were, and they weren’t nosebleed seats either! I got in touch with a childhood friend of mine (with whom I saw the other BSB concerts) and asked if she would want to go. She said “probably” and then never got back to me. I decided once and for all that I wanted to go anyway, so I asked my husband if he would go with me, and because he is so awesome, he agreed.

The show was scheduled to start at 7:30 pm, and we were still sitting in traffic outside the theater at that point. I was a mess of nerves. We finally got parked and ran inside and found our seats. We walked in during the pre-opening act and I was relieved to know we hadn’t missed anything! Our seats turned out to be amazing, but I wouldn’t realize just how great they were until later that night. We were on the first level, about 4 rows up from the floor seats, right in front of the round stage that was connected by a walkway to the main stage.

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Look! Proof that my husband wasn’t the only man there!

Jordin Sparks opened for them. She was actually pretty decent — I wasn’t overly excited about her at first, but she did a great job!

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Then, finally, the show started and it was just amazing! They did all of their most popular songs and kind of took turns — they came out together at first, and then the BSB would do a song, then NKOTB, etc. It was so surreal seeing them all on the same stage at once. Plus, we were close enough that they were actual people-size! I’ve never seen anyone famous that close before — I could see their tattoos and their sweat and everything! The pictures really don’t do it justice — I had wanted to try and smuggle in the DSLR, but good thing I didn’t try because they searched each and every bag and even frisked people.

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During one of the slower songs, they did the typical pick-a-girl-from-the-audience-and-bring-her-on-stage bit. Brian picked an adorable little girl, which is why he is my new favorite now that Kevin is too cool for the group (what a party pooper – it was weird only seeing 4 BSB).

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So during this NKOTB song (I can’t for the life of me remember which one it was), they decided to leave the stage and disperse amongst the audience. I almost DIED when Joey McIntyre started walking toward our section! He jumped on the concrete wall that separated our section from the floor seats – FOUR rows right in front of me!

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They all re-grouped on stage and I noticed that there were security people in the aisle on my right. They were roping off the seats on that side so that none of us could leave to go up those stairs. There were 2 girls separating me from the aisle. Obviously, when this started happening, everyone in our section turned to face the top of the stairs with cameras and cell phones poised and ready to capture whatever was about to happen. Well. Dear Internets, do you have any idea what happened next? Nick Carter and AJ McLean walked down those stairs. They both passed by not even a foot away from me. I could have slightly leaned over and easily licked Nick Carter’s face, that’s how close he was. My husband was yelling at me to put my hands out and touch them like everyone else was doing, but for some reason I restrained myself — maybe 10 years I would have done it. Instead, when Nick got a step below us, he turned around and looked me IN MY EYES and SMILED AT ME. I’ll take it! I’m blushing and getting all giggly just thinking about it now.

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He really is very pretty in person. And AJ is very short.

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Towards the end of the concert, they brought out a surprise guest: Naughty by Nature! Not that I was a huge fan, but still, how cool! My husband was thrilled that he decided to come, LOL.

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And then before I knew it, they were doing the closing songs and the encore and it was time to go.

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They’re doing another show down in AC next month. Is it crazy that I want to go?!

This time last year…

Just a warning: this post may be super rambly. I’ve had a bad day and have a ton of thoughts running around in my head.

Most people get excited about summer. The weather is nice, the sun stays out well into the evening, and there are vacations and pool parties and barbecues to look forward to. I used to get excited about those things, too. That changed six years ago after my best friend’s diving accident — she was left paralyzed and now deals with chronic daily pains, both physical and emotional. Ever since that day, the summer has felt ruined and wrong. I remember standing over her bed in the ICU looking at her all wrapped up and broken, and the sun was shining through the window, almost mocking the situation. I clearly thought to myself, How can it possibly be a nice day out today? As time went on I realized that just because my world had changed, the world kept spinning and people went on living their lives.

This time last year is when everything started to spiral out of control with my mom. She was terribly ill but no one knew why. She couldn’t keep any food down and she was losing weight like crazy. There were tests done, there was even talk about ovarian cancer. Her GYN finally admitted her to the hospital to monitor her and run even more tests, and that was when they finally found the cancer. I got a call from her one afternoon at work and all she said to me was, “Well, I have cancer.” I agreed to come over after work to discuss it more and then I went back to my desk to finish my work.

When I saw her that evening, she looked fine. She explained that they were going to treat it aggressively and she told me that she was going to fight. I never asked her if she was scared, not once throughout the entire treatment process. I wish I had. I wish I would have taken the time to really talk to her and find out what was going through her head.

We were supposed to go back to Disney World this summer together. My mother always hated all things Disney. She thought Mickey was terribly annoying, and she loathed the image that the princesses projected about needing to be saved by a man. Donald was her favorite, though, because he was grumpy and always fired up. When I decided I wanted to get married at Disney, my mom was less than thrilled, for many reasons, but she ended up having a fabulous time and even enjoyed meeting all the characters. She had such a great time that she and my dad asked if they could come with us when we went in 2009. The four of us had a wonderful time and it was nice to be able to show them a good time and why we love Disney so much.

My husband and I decided that we wanted to by ourselves last year, since it had been a few years since we had: in 2007 we got married and our families were there, in 2008 we went with my best friend, and then 2009 was the trip with my parents. We wanted to go back to doing Disney our way, on our schedule, without having to worry about anyone else. Of course, this was planned before we knew how sick my mom was. Our trip was already booked when my mom was diagnosed and she insisted that we go and have a good time, even though she was scheduled for her first treatments during the week we were gone. I know hindsight is 20/20, but i beat myself up over (1) going away so soon after she was diagnosed, (2) not inviting them to come, (3) not canceling the trip to spend more time with her, knowing our time was limited. I spoke to her everyday on the phone and I remember one phone call in particular. She was feeling pretty low, I could tell by her voice, and she made a comment about being strong and fighting because she still had things to do, and she specifically mentioned needing to be around to see our house and “your babies.” She never ever mentioned kids to me before that (she never wanted me to feel pressured), so I guess that’s why it stands out so much. For her to say that means that it was really important to her. And now it won’t happen.

We’re not going to Disney this year, for the first time in 8 years. I just can’t bring myself to do it, knowing she should have been there. Even last year wasn’t as enjoyable as it had been in the past because I was so worried about her and what was going to happen. I don’t want to ruin my happy place even further by forcing myself to go while I’m grieving. At the same time, it makes me incredibly sad to know that we’re not going this year and why.

I had a meltdown at work today and had to go to the bathroom so as not to cry at my desk. I was having a rough morning, thinking about all of the above, and then I had to deal with a stupid travel agent who just hit the wrong nerve. I’m tired of having to deal with people who think that they can tal to me however they please and act obnoxiously just because they’re the client. I am not cut out for sales at all. Anyway, I cried uncontrollably in the stall, washed my face, and went back to my desk, but I’ve had a ball of anxiety sitting in my chest all day. And what do I do when get depressed? I eat. I ate FOUR slices of pepperoni pizza for dinner and now i feel sick and absolutely disgusting. I don’t know how to break this emotional eating cycle. I know i need to be stronger and resist the temptation, knowing that food won’t make anything better, but it’s so hard in the middle of the moment when I’m not thinking clearly.

New toy!

I’ve been debating for months about buying an iPad. The biggest thing stopping me was the cost — I had serious anxiety about spending a few hundred dollars on a gadget that I didn’t need. I mean, couldn’t that money go towards something more useful? A more noble cause? I felt guilty for even considering it.

So, I started looking into less expensive alternatives and ended up seriously considering a Nook Color. It gets great reviews, and it seems to be THE iPad alternative. It has wifi, a web browser, email and apps! I had almost convinced myself I would be happy with it, but I knew deep down that I WANTED the iPad. I love my iPod touch, but the screen is so small and it gives me a headache. Essentially, I wanted a larger iPod touch which is exactly what the iPad is.

On Saturday, I told my husband we should go shopping and he immediately knew what I had in mind. We tried Best Buy, but they only had the 3G versions in stock, and all I wanted was a wifi one. We ended up going to the Apple store (which I don’t care for at all, by the way — too hectic and pretentious) and I was scared they wouldn’t have it either, but they did! I love it so far. I can watch Netflix movies while my husband watches the NBA finals, I can check my email, and I can easily blog from my couch! It’s perfect and I am so glad I got it.

So what made me take the leap and stop worrying about the money? The simple fact that I’ve come to terms with the idea that anything can happen to anyone at any time. Bad things do indeed happen to good people. I don’t want to put things off anymore because what if I never get the chance to do them? We can’t take any of this stuff or our money with us when we die. Sure, an iPad is completely unnecessary and materialistic and all those other bad things. But I wanted it and I had the money and I don’t think I went overboard. Of course, now I do have this little voice in my head telling me I need to donate some money to a worthy charity, but whatever.

I want to enjoy my life. I don’t want to have regrets. This silly little gadget is making me happy at the moment, so that’s all that matters.

Have you ever splurged on something that you knew you didn’t really need, but you REALLY wanted?

Thankful Thursday

I’m having a really hard time coming up with something for today’s post. I know I missed TT last week, but I can’t remember why right now.

Anyway, I guess I’m in a bit of a funk and don’t feel particularly thankful for anything aside from the obvious stuff, which is really unfair because I know I am so so blessed with great things. Let’s see…

I’m thankful for my cat. Well, all animals really. How can you not like animals? They’re cute and fluffy and good snugglers. Rosa comes to visit me in bed every morning and will start eating my hair if I don’t pay enough attention to her. She talks to me while I get dressed and sits patiently in the bathroom while I brush my teeth.

Gizmo, my cat who lives with my dad, always comes to say hello as soon as I walk in the house. He crawls up on my chest when I sit down and pushes his head into my face until I scratch his ears. Even Ozzy, who up until my mom passed was borderline schizophrenic and agoraphobic, will squeak hello (he doesn’t know how to meow) and jump into my lap looking for love.

My brother-in-law’s dog, Leelu, just about has a coronary when I come over. She makes it her life goal to lick my face as many times as possible, and unfortunately she has succeeded more times than I’d like to admit.

Animals are always there for you. They don’t judge. They don’t offer unwanted advice. They love unconditionally and with their whole being.

Want.

>My friend, Brandy, recently posted a blog about forks in the road and not choosing the other path. I can really relate to this, especially in terms of my job. I complain about my office daily, I fantasize about what it would be like to quit, I dread going there in the mornings, and Sunday nights are just terribly depressing.

I know that I don’t want to work there for the rest of my life. Not only do I not like the work (or the people or the environment…) but it’s a small, 9-person office and there is ZERO room to grow into any other position. It’s a classic dead-end job.

The problem is that I don’t know what I do want to do. I can tell you a million things I don’t want to do:

I don’t want to work in sales.
I don’t want to work with numbers or money.
I don’t want a job that requires a lot of phone conversations.
I don’t want to work in another small office.
I don’t want to work for someone else.
I don’t want to work in another “open plan” office. (I like cubicles and privacy, dammit.)
I don’t want to deal with people and have to smile and be polite while someone yells at me and makes me feel like an idiot just because they’re the client and I’m providing a service.
I don’t want to have to go back to school.

In terms of what I like… I just don’t know. I like animals, I like writing, and I like taking pictures. I don’t want to be a vet or an author. I used to think a veterinary technician sounded like a good job for me, but apparently it pays diddly squat, and although I’m not exactly raking in the dough right now, it would still be a step down and would make paying bills a bit difficult. There is a small zoo not too far from me that hires from time to time, but they pay minimum wage. I’ve considered dog grooming, pet sitting, and every other animal-related career I can think of. Dog grooming requires a 2-week training session somewhere a few hours away (at one of the big chain pet stores), or a license if I wanted to open my own place. Pet sitting requires entrepreneurial skills that I just don’t think I have.

I like to write, but I prefer this kind of writing rather than creative, fiction writing. I don’t have enough ideas to write a book. I don’t have the background or experience to write articles.

I like taking pictures, but I don’t have any professional training, I’m not overly creative or an out-of-the-box thinker, and I don’t like editing and doing all those fancy effects that photographers seem so hung up on nowadays — what ever happened to just plain old good photos? Now you have to be versed in Photoshop and know how to basically create an entirely new photo than the one you took.

Yes, I’m lazy, and I know that’s part of the problem. I want to sit and complain and just have it all magically fixed. I want an opportunity to just *surprise!* present itself and make me happy. I know that’s not going to happen. I know that in order to change things, I have to be pro-active and DO something. It’s just so frustrating and I lose motivation so very easily.

Cravings

I weighed in yesterday and am up a pound. I couldn’t figure this out since I really upped my workouts last week, and I was seriously frustrated this morning when I could barely button my pants. About halfway through the morning, I was visited by my monthly little friend and suddenly understood why I was bloated, cranky, and completely broken out.

Today was my first official day back on WW and tracking my points. Although I went over, I don’t think I ate anything overly horrible: grapes, a Fiber One 90-calorie bar, half a chicken Caesar salad (Panera), a cup of broccoli cheddar soup with bread (Panera), pineapple Chobani, a bowl of Kashi blueberry clusters cereal, and a Skinny Cow strawberry shortcake ice cream sandwich. I drank lots of water (and some tea), had a Diet Coke with dinner (well, cereal… I was in a breakfast mood), and did 20 minutes on the elliptical.

About 45 minutes ago I started getting this really strong craving for bread. I drank a bunch of water and tried to distract myself. I couldn’t get this buttered roll out of my mind. I consulted Google to see if maybe my body was missing some nutrient, but everything I read pointed to a good old fashioned craving. I gave in. I took one of my husband’s hoagie rolls, slathered on some butter, and enjoyed every single bite. The problem now is that I want another one (or three). I’m resisting because I’m full and would be eating just for the sake of eating.

I’m not good with food substitutes. I have a bag of Thomas’ Bagel Thins in the kitchen and could have had one of those for about 2 Points Plus, but I wanted the roll. When I want something specific, nothing else will do. I knew that if I had one of the bagels, I’d end up eating the roll later.

How do you deal with cravings? Do you give in and allow yourself to have what you want? Or do you have some tricks for making yourself forget about them?