Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Super Human

I have always believed that Brian is a superhero.  From the day I met him I was positive.  He must be bulletproof (and when fighting crime 10 feet tall also). 

When we were introduced, I think the friend who made the introductions felt unsure about my choice.  You see, he had given me my choice of three policemen.  I had chosen the last one he thought I would.  He counseled me, "Heather--Brian is SuperCop.  He eats, sleeps and breathes his job.  Are you sure about this?"

It's funny, but I don't remember being that sure about much in my life before or since.  He was in the Gang Unit with basically a completely opposite schedule from mine, but I had to have that man in my life.  And I stayed stubborn on that point for many, many years...well, haven't changed on that point, actually.

The last few days Brian has been up to his SuperCop stuff again....  He's keeping odd hours, following robbers around hoping to catch them in the act.  He's trying hard not to be tired, but it's catching up to him a bit. 

His hair is thinning out more and more every day and I think he's doing whatever he can to prove to himself that he can still do what he wants to do at work.  That he's not all that sick.  I think the hair thing has been such a big deal to us because bald=sick in our minds.  That may or may not be the right way to look at it, but after sitting in the chemo room all day, the people with no hair definitely do not look WELL. 

BALD is another dose of cancer reality that we would be happy to avoid.  We have been quite happy (relatively speaking) the last few weeks.  BALD means more acceptance of what we are experiencing.  (Besides, he is leaving hair EVERYWHERE!)

My SuperCop is more of an In-the-Moment kind of guy, so though we talk every day about things,I hope we are talking enough for him to be able to work through things. 

Brian and the guys, despite their best efforts, did not catch the bad guys during their stake outs this week.  I do hope though that he feels like he is still SuperCop.  He is my SuperCop for sure, and for the way he is taking all of this cancer stuff in stride...maybe even a little super human.

Does A Body Good?

Ok, so after working like a maniac today (it's the end of the six weeks, you know), I decided that working out could be put off no longer.  My friend Julie, the incredible shrinking woman, has been counseling me on my sensible meals and exercise.  She is a real success story in weight loss and an inspiration.  I believe she's lost 50 this is my appointed task master.

After tutorials, I put a sign on the door not to disturb us and locked it.  I knew it wasn't going to be pretty;  I didn't want anyone busting in on us.  I even put paper on the little window...NO peeking, people!  I would soon be huffing and puffing like my high school alma mater's mascot (uh, that would be the buffalo). 

Julie cued up Gillian Michael's and her 30 Day Shred up on the big screen, we moved the furniture a little and away we went. 

Let me say up front that Ms. Michaels has put together a very nice little workout....but I am one out of shape little woman.  Holy crap.  I thought she had to be kidding every time she switched exercises so quickly even though Julie had tried to warn me. Now, on the one's pretty good that you only have to endure the exercise for a very limited time.  But inevitably, she returns to it.  Sigh. 

There aren't any pre-work out stretches to this workout and I didn't have any forethought on that one, so of course, ten minutes into the workout...I got a my butt.  My left cheek.  Argh.  Well, isn't this special? Gillian is telling me to feel the burn...Oh I am, Gillian.  I am, but I don't think  it's quite what you had in mind. 

Finally the ol' cheek relaxed and I kept going.  Next Gillian wanted me to kick myself in the butt for my turn at cardio...well, yes...I'm definitely doing that and have been most of the day, week, year even, but Julie laughed and told me that she's pretty sure that metaphoric butt kicking doesn't count for cardio.  Dang! 

So, I started kicking my butt...feeling the burn.  Then the final straw was when Gillian saved the bicycle crunches for LAST!  My quads were jelly from her little lunges.  My arms were sore from my little 2 pound hand weights.  I've kicked myself in the butt and boxed imaginary opponents (twice).  And now she wanted bicycle crunches to FINISH the workout.  Oh go give yourself a butt cramp, Gillian!  I don't think so!  Not this time, anyway! 

Julie and I have another workout date tomorrow.  That is if I don't need assistance to get up from a sitting position from all these squats...that's probably going to bring on another butt cramp, you know. 

Monday, September 27, 2010


Today I had the opportunity to have a massage.  My sister-friends from grad school thought that I would need an hour of "Me Time" so they gifted me a massage.  I chose a Monday afternoon; it seemed like the perfect time to unwind.  I was right.  I think.

I went into the Tranquility Room to wait to for my therapist to call me for my hour of bliss.  And though I had to sit there with a girl dressed like it's still July with crazy eyes, I did start to relax.  I just didn't look at crazy-eyed girl with the straw one told her about the Labor Day rule, obviously. 

My highly-trained massage therapist soon came calling and off I went to our room.  I shimmied out of my clothes as instructed and assumed the position...face down on the table.  Bring it on! 

Susie Q came in to commence my hour of power and I drifted in and out of consciousness, feeling all the yucky stress and pain leaving my body...until all the rubbing, etc. brought up a eyes flew wide open and I squeezed my butt cheeks together.  This woman is doing a pretty thankless job.  The last thing she needs is a poot in her face.  I try to settle back in and relax, but all I can really think about is not letting one rip.  Finally, the urge seems to subside, so I relax again. 

Susie moves on to my legs...about the same time I realize with a certain degree of horror that I didn't shave my legs this morning because I was wearing leggings and in a hurry.  Dang it!  And as she moves down my leg to my feet I realize I didn't cut the snaggletooth toenail.  Crap!!  Hello Redneck Girl!  Got the name on the back of your belt?  Getting the massage today because of a long weekend preparing the deer lease?  GEEZ! 

And here comes Mr. Poot again.  How am I supposed to relax again with the gas bubble, snaggletoe, and hairy legs haunting me???  I bet crazy-eyed girl with the straw purse isn't having this problem.

I finally tell myself that I can't possible be the ickiest client this girl has ever had...I am not, in fact, a GUY.  So once again, I tell my brain to take a freakin' vacation for a minute and enjoy the time I have left in the hour of power.  And for once, it listens. 

And so this post is brought to you by a very relaxed and happy girl...who still needs to shave and cut that snaggletoe.  I'll get around to that tomorrow...probably.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Retail Therapy?

I spent the weekend shopping.  I had a splendid time with the two friends I spent the days with, and I found some cute clothes but something keeps nagging at me. 

I have gained quite a bit of weight since Brian and I got, those of you who are shaking your heads and saying, "Oh you have not," are sweet, but the scale and my clothes from last year don't lie.  Neither does the ratzin, fratzin mirror.  So, I know one of the things nagging at me is the fact that right now, I have to buy these cute clothes in slightly larger sizes. 

Of course, I also bought a workout video and hand weigths as well.  I do have a plan.  Thank you for your wise counsel, Julie. My meal plan for tomorrow is already made. 

But I think what REALLY bugs me is that I can't cure what really ails me with retail therapy--even if I was currently a size 6. 

I can't MAKE Brian well.  I know he will BE well.  But I watched him count off on the calendar tonight when his treatments would be and I realized that they would only take place on those days IF he is well enough to have his treatments.  When I told him that, his sweet face fell and I didn't enjoy being the voice of reason.  The GROWN UP voice. 

I felt very out of sorts with my spending by the second store today (also probably because I only got paid Friday and it's Sunday.  I won't get paid again until Oct. 25th or so.) and I started to think about why. 

I hadn't bought anything I didn't like or wouldn't wear.  But I felt a little...angry.  And it's not Time For Aunt I dug deeper.  Why am I upset?  Brian is sweeter than ever.  We get along better than ever.  Why am I upset?  We are planning for trips and the future.  Why am I angry? 

I can't fix it.  And I have to let it happen in its course.  I promise I've given it to God, but sometimes I have to go and check on it.  Not that it isn't being handled, but being the good Southern girl I am, I just want to help in any way I can.  And I know I am helping the only way I can. It just doesn't seem like enough. Brian is so patient. 

I'll tell you why I'm also annoyed and it's silly. I've said it before.  I don't like that I can't go to chemo on Friday.  I know I don't need to go.  There isn't any need for me to go.  Chris will entertain him just fine.  Yeah, I did say I know it's silly. 

So, I spent a lot of money this weekend and spent some quality time with good friends.  Time well spent,  Hmmmm...check out my outfits this week...

All Grown Up

I've wondered for a long time when I would feel like a grown up.  I watched all my beautiful, younger cousins marry before me, and it was like a light switch was flipped in them.  It was like the next time I saw them, they knew things I didn't.  They seemed... grown up, and I did not feel the same way. 

I looked in the mirror and I saw the same girl every time that I had seen since high school.  So...when did it happen?  Brian and I had been dating for, when would my switch be flipped?  And did I WANT it to be flipped?  My cousins appeared happy (a bit tired perhaps, especially after the babies started to arrive, but happy). 

And so life continued...

I'm not the most patient person on the planet, so I bought a little house, testing the waters...would this flip the switch?  Nope...I don't think so.  I love my little house, but I feel the same. 

Then one Christmas morning Brian proposed.  I thought the transformer blew, to be honest.  But, despite a few last minute hiccups that do not need to be rehashed, the wedding went off beautifully, he moved into my little house and life continued.

We started looking for OUR house, but again...didn't really feel different...just felt like I'd been through a lot of paperwork to get that long-awaited name that the grown up look my cousins sport?  Surviving the social security office?

No, I suspect not. 

I think, unfortunately, I FINALLY stumbled onto the answer, though I think it's a little different for everyone.  You acquire that look when you have to take on the responsibilities your parents always took care of for you.  In my case, when Brian got sick, suddenly I am the one finding out about insurance, medicines, treatments, side effects, prognosis...I'm the one sitting patiently in hospital waiting rooms.  I had to be the one to tell Brian he did in fact have cancer. 

I almost wish there were still tickets available for us to Never Never Land.  Growing up hasn't been much fun, I have to say.  But we're here.  And it's not so bad.  At least I have acquired that long sought after Grown Up Look. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010


This week has been a little hectic.  I feel like I'm drowning at work.  I've been behind all week and I'm still there..and the view from the back of the pack isn't appealing. 

Unfortunately, despite all the offers of help I have from wonderful peers, I can't farm out what I have to do.  I just have to keep swimming until I get to the surface.  What worries me the most is that I don't remember feeling like this so early in the year ever before. 

I know this year is like no other I have ever had...and that isn't just because of my Brian.  It's a new curriculum and textbook.  It's a new policy concerning the children's quality of work and I am one of the it irony then that I am the one drowning? 

I am a strong swimmer.  I'll get there.  I'm just so tired. 

Brian's second treatment is coming up.  He's been a little tired lately.  His hair is starting to come out slowly.  I think we are about to get another dose of cancer reality after having it pretty easy these last few weeks.  It's ok.  We are ready.  Pass me my floaties.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Just Another Monday

It's Monday again. We had a hectic weekend...Brian felt good enough to go to Grapefest so you know I jumped up and we went to Grapevine. We didn't stay long--too hot!--but we had a nice time. I finally tackled the house cleaning. Got our fair share of football watching in, too. Go Frogs and Colts!

I think the litter box is still patiently waiting for me...dang it.

Brian went to the doctor today. He had to go alone today because it was set for the middle of the day and I guess I can't be there for every little thing. He met with the PA this time.

He got a good report. The stomach pain he felt was probably the chemo shrinking the lymph nodes around his diaphragm...we'll take that kind of tummy pain! We need to do a little work to keep the mouth sores away, but that's easily done. Baking soda mouthwashes, here we come! He needs a flu shot on the 30th--the day before his next treatment because his counts will be highest then.

If you're sick, he has to avoid you. (Sorry about that.) He has to wash his hands often and make sure his food is more sushi. (Good thing he hates it.)

That's about it. See what an easy patient? Still waiting on that hair to fall out...I'm thinking of taking bets...make some money on him while I wait.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Simple Gifts

As a teacher, sometimes I envy people with year round jobs. The summer off sounds nice, and it is....but, we have to return to our jobs after that cushy vacation. It takes so much energy to get back into the groove, I envy the people with jobs that keep them in the groove year round.

I am normally exhausted the first six weeks of a school year working the kinks out, but this year it's a whole new kind of wiped out.

My house is a terrible mess. The yard needs to be mowed. And when I get home, I look around at all of it, and I flump down into a chair and grab the remote to wait for Brian to get home.

So pity party aside, I write today about the angels in my life. The angels who realized that the simple gift of a meal at the end of a long day would be priceless. I just didn't realize, especially since Brian has taken all of this so well so far, that we would need things like that.

These simple, Southern suppers are so soothing and reassure me that I can get my rear end out of this chair and up to do what needs to be done.

And so tonight, after sheperd's pie and fruit salad, I will get up tomorrow and fight through another day with the strength from these simple gifts. Thank you, my angels.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Family Photos

Brian and I had pictures taken yesterday with the pups.

Our little family.

We met the photographer, a precious girl named Crystal I know through a friend, in Grapevine at Nash Farm. We had never been there; it's quite charming. There is a large, old green farmhouse, fields, and an old red barn on a city block in Grapevine.

We started with pictures with the boys. Bear can sit and pose all day long, and let's just say that Badger did his best. He was so excited to be out and about that he had a difficult time sitting still...see? Just like a little family.

It was so hot and humid! We had to work fast so that we didn't look like we had run a mile in our later pictures. When we had finished with the boys, we poured them some water and turned on the air in the truck. I have to admit, I kept looking over, just sure that Badger would have put it in drive in his enthusiasm. He managed to contain himself (or his brother managed to keep him in check--one of the two.)

At any rate, Crystal took some very sweet shots of the Brian and me. I felt like we were getting our engagment pictures done all over again. When Brian looked at me, I felt lost in that moment and that we had to be the only two people on Earth. I don't think I have ever been looked at with such love and devotion.

I'll be sure to post some of the pictures if I can. I'm sure they are wonderful. Just before we left, Crystal realized she had no close ups of Bear, so he and I showed her the one trick he does. My 55 pound border collie (yeah, yeah, I know--he has a thyroid problem, thank you very much) leapt into my arms and I held him. I love my dog.

I am so grateful for that family time yesterday. Thank you, Cyndi for introducing me to Crystal and thank you, Crystal for taking the time on your Sunday night to spend some time with us!


I've been struggling within myself these last few weeks to reconcile who I am these days. Usually this time of year, teaching is who I am. All that changed quite a bit last fall when Brian and I got married. Teaching became more of what I do and being a wife became who I am.

This fall, teaching definitely does not feel like who I am. It was like moving a mountain to get myself to school this morning after the weekend of Brian's first chemo treatment. Now, I know there is no reason to sit at home; he is just fine. He hasn't felt sick at all, and you can bet he went off to fight crime today. But this weekend was so nice; it's harder and harder to tear myself away to go to my day job.

While I am at school, I am fully there, but I don't stay a minute longer than I have to. I skipped the kids' games today even though they asked me more than once to come to both the volleyball and football games. I skulked past the football field on my way home.

I'm not beating myself up about wanting to be with Brian more; it's just taking some adjusting to find a balance. For so long before we were married teaching was who I was, just as police work was who he is. I don't think it's that cut and dried for us anymore, and it shouldn't be. Especially now. If we have the privilege of having children, it will further complicate the roles I play, but I would welcome the pleasant insanity.

I suppose I'm just ever more grateful for the little moments. I'm hoping that it doesn't take a major trauma to remind me who I want to be ever again.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Day After

So far, Brian is just the same. He hasn't felt ill and he's eating well. He wanted to go out and do errands and couldn't wait for the TCU game tonight. (62-7, sorry about that, Tennessee Tech.)

I am in awe--as usual. I am the one who feels like she was hit by a linebacker. Every part of me hurts--especially my lower back. I'm told that's my stress hangover. I slept like the dead last night. It was fabulous.

Tomorrow we are having some family pictures made with the pups. We are told that we only have about 10 days before Brian loses his hair. Although I swear since thus far he has refused to give in to anything else, I don't know why that should happen either. It's like he's willing himself to be as well as possible. What a Superman.

We have resigned ourselves to the hair loss, of course. I still have to help him wash it because of the port. (He can't get it wet yet.) He smiles grimly and reminds me that I won't have to help him with his hair for long. It's all part of the journey. He'll get it back.

I just have to say something here about our go-to person for all of our information. We have our very own cancer warrior, Amy. She has been on this lymphoma journey already and her wisdom has made a frightning experience much more bearable. Kathy has been a wonderful source as well. I want to take a minute and thank these wonderful survivors for teaching me so much already. Mostly that we are definitely going to come out on the other side of all of this. We have felt like hands have held ours through each step...God holding our hands through these wonderful women and their experiences they so willingly share with me.

Thank you, Amy and Kathy. I hope Brian and I don't have to pay it forward, but we will be glad to and will do so confidently with such excellent teachers.

Friday, September 10, 2010

First Chemo

It's a lot of hurry up and wait. There are rows and rows of chairs with men and women of all ages sitting patiently, hooked up to their IVs. The nurses are soft-spoken and full of gentle humor to try to make this surreal situation more bearable. Everyone has a peaceful look. You can't help but wonder the prognosis for some of the weaker looking patients. Will Brian look that weak before he is all better?

It was hard not to cry at first. It's finally all very real. Brian is the super hero he always is. Didn't even fall asleep during his Benadryl treatment.

We are here so long today that we watch as people finish and go on their way. I wonder if and when they will feel the effects. When will Brian feel them?

We have 10 more days until his hair falls out. Honestly, that freaks me out the most. I'm not sure why. I know it's fashionable for guys to be bald. I suppose it signifies to me that he really is sick and we really are fighting something awful. He won't look like my Brian...or will he? I keep watching him, trying to decide.

I hope I look braver on the outside than I feel on the inside. I have no doubt that Brian will be in remission in a few months. I've honestly never doubted that. It's the journey to remission that's scaring the hell out of me at the moment.

Fan Club

We have picked up quite the support group over the last month. You might suspect how much you are loved right now, but until something happens to rock your world, you never really know how much.

I really feel that the life lines we have in both our work families help keep us as normal as possible. Brian has been even more overwhelmed by the offers of help and support than I have. He's a cop; cops don't say much. They just act on instinct usually. So when the guys in his unit, his old partner, and other friends on the department started offering help, it meant the world to him.

We have already received delicious meals--at just the right times, I might add. On days when we are so tired already that we might have settled for cereal or even nothing at all.

We have been provided time out with friends where we are just regular Before Cancer.

And no matter how crazy I feel, there is always someone at school to say, "Here, let me help you do that." What a miracle that is.

We love all of you. For your prayers, for making us laugh, for your hugs, for the meals, for the time to just be normal. What precious gifts you all are to us.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Port Day

This morning Brian will have his port put in to make chemo a bit easier. He's a bit nervous about the risks, but he has a sense of humor about it. His bravery continues to inspire me.

It's been easier the last few days to feel normal. We did things with friends that had nothing to do with the C word and no one really mentioned it. It was nice since this is our big week.

Chemo starts Friday.

It's raining cats and dogs this morning. A welcome break from the heat, but it feels a little ominous since we are to spend our day at the hospital. At least we won't be missing beautiful weather by being there all day.

I guess I went to bed too early last night though I was exhausted because here I am, up at four a.m. unable to sleep now. I'm not outwardly worried about today, but I guess there must be some anxiety pent up somewhere or I would still be snoozing away.

It's hard for me to know where I fit in to this picture sometimes. I'm on this journey with Brian and yet, there are many roads he will travel alone and I can't be there even when I'm right beside him. It's extremely difficult to know that there isn't much I can fix in this situation. The best I can do is just to be there. For a woman of action, that doesn't feel like much. Fortunately my rational side is telling me that it's more than enough. I'm selfish in many ways...I want to take care of him. I don't want anyone else butting in. He's my soulmate. It's my responsibility to make sure he's taken care of when he needs it.

Sometimes I feel like I go too far. Like when I caught myself checking his plate after he eats. He's already lost 10 pounds. He doesn't need to lose more. I apologized to him for praising him when he eats well. He's 44 years old, not 4. He just laughed and assured me it was okay.

It must be unbelievably hard for him to know that he will have to let me take care of him when he doesn't feel well. He always takes care of me. I don't open my own doors, or carry groceries, sweep the floors, fold laundry or mow the grass. (Although, admittedly, the mowing thing could be because I have a tendency to run over tree roots...)

I'm so thankful that we get to continue our life journey together after this detour. I'm having a difficult time seeing cancer as a gift, but it has already brought us closer together. We talk more. We are more affectionate and we say what needs to be said; I am not sorry for those things. So, I will be glad for those gifts from this strange source, and not take them for granted.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Stress and Other Diversions

I guess I've been a little stressed the past month. I can't remember anything from 5 minutes ago. My back is killing me. I'm tired all the time. Possibly a little cranky. Nauseated frequently. Sigh...well, I can't let Brian have all the fun.
I suppose it's time to start exercising again. Sigh. I have no excuse on this beautiful, uncharacteristically cool, late summer morning. I should clean the house and the garage, too. At least I have a long weekend.
Up early on this Saturday thanks to a headache that is now dormant, I'm looking forward to the TCU game tonight. First game of the season and at Cowboys Stadium, it will be a welcome diversion. I have no doubt my beloved Frogs will dispatch the Oregon State Beavers with precision.
A busy weekend will hopefully keep our minds off of next week...the journey really begins. Port is put in on Wednesday and chemo starts Friday. I'm praying that it isn't too hard on him. He's always been super human to me. I guess now he gets to prove it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Oncologist

With very little sleep the night before, we went together to the oncologist. We were so anxious to know what our journey would be, but were terrified just thinking about what would be involved in making my brave husband well. Everyone in the office was caring and gentle, not just with us but all the patients. All the patients were called by name as if they were old friends. I felt calmer.

The nurse praised the doctor highly and we waited patiently for him to enter the room, our lives. Matter of factly he told us that Brian was going to be just fine. He has lots of chemo in front of him, but he will be well again soon.

I resisted the urge to jump and squeeze the stuffing out of this man who just gave me my world back. Cancer had been holding it hostage; I got it back and I'm not letting go.

It's a lot to take in...chemo every three weeks for 4 months. It will be so hard for Brian, but we have a wonderful support system and lots of faith. And we have each other. What more could I ask for?