When Time Has A Due Date

One of the hardest things I’ve had to struggle to accept since the Husbandly One’s diagnosis is the knowledge that our time together now has… an expiration date.

It’s something you don’t think about at the beginning of a relationship, when you’re all starry-eyed and planning your life together. You plan a budget wedding, you get married, you scrimp and save, you get a dog, and your whole lives are laid out in front of you, you have years, you’re going to grow old together, it’s all part of the plan, right?

When we reached our twenty-fifth anniversary, the Husbandly One said, “Do you realize we’ve been married half our lives? Can’t wait to see how the other half turns out!”

It was exciting, even after twenty-five years of marriage to think that, you know?

Then he got so sick and lost so much weight, and we found out he had cancer. And suddenly, the rest of our lives shrank and I found myself begging the universe, “Please, don’t take him away from me, please, don’t let him die, please…”

We found a doctor, the treatments are working, and it looks like we will have more time together. But the likelihood is that… we won’t grow old together. And that just… breaks my heart.

I knew it wasn’t going to last forever. I knew one of us would go first. But… people in both our families live well into their nineties, it wasn’t inconceivable that it would be that way for us, too.

We’re 53 years old. I hope we both see 63 together, and I will count us lucky if we do. I will count every single moment as precious and golden and take whatever time we get. I want more. I want so much more.

I hate thinking about it. But it’s there.

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The State of the Husbandly One…

So, the latest in the Husbandly One’s treatment.

He’s had four chemo treatments so far, and it looks like treatment is working.  His initial bloodwork showed his cancer markers at 1800.  The bloodwork at treatment #3 showed they’d gone down to 370.


He’s also gained a pound.  Before, I would tell anyone who asked, “Well, he hasn’t gained any weight, but… he hasn’t lost any, either.”  So he was holding his own.  But he’s gained a pound, and it’s ridiculous how happy one damn pound makes me.

THO gets chemo every other Monday.  He spends thirty minutes getting a dose of steroids and anti-nausea drugs, and then almost three hours getting his initial dose of chemo drugs.  Then they set up a pump to deliver the drugs continuously for the next day and a half.  We leave and depending on how he’s feeling, we might get a few errands done, or just head home.  On Wednesday, we return and the pump is removed, he’s checked over, and we again go home.

By then, THO is usually exhausted and goes to bed.  He’ll spend the next two days sleeping a lot, or lolling in a warm tub to help with his pain.  It’s not as bad as it was, but a tub with epsom salts helps.  By Friday, he’s starting to feel more like himself again, and over the course of the next few days, he’ll want to do more things, get a little more active.  Which means I have to sit on him a bit to keep him from doing too much.  Next week, he’s supposed to get scanned to see what’s going on with the tumor and with his liver.  We’ll just have to see.  But for now, I’m more hopeful than I’ve been.

*keeping her fingers crossed*


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Things and Such…

So, things have gotten a little better.  I’m not panicking and crying at the drop of a hat any more.  We found an oncologist, we’ve got insurance, and we have a goal.

The Husbandly One has lost dangerous amounts of weight, because he’s extremely anemic and is like… two points away from needing a transfusion.  The oncologist, however, feels that an iron infusion would be more beneficial, so next Tuesday, THO will be sitting in a recliner for five hours while he gets intravenous iron.

On Monday, he’ll be getting an IV port surgically implanted for future chemo treatments.

Hopefully, the iron will help with the anemia and will stimulate his appetite so he can eat again.  He’s so so thin, and it’s hard not to be a little scared by it.  I have watched the weight literally bleeding off him…he now weighs 121 lbs, whereas he weighed about 165 to 170 last year at this time.  He was about 145 in September, which we had both said was a good weight for him.

121, though, not so much.

He’s going to get through this.  We are all going to get through this.

We can do this.

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Reality Bites… i.e. 2016 REALLY Sucks

I fully intended to work on a novel for NANOWRIMO.  I had a plot, and outline, was working on the characters, all of it…

Why didn’t I?

Because my husband’s health took a serious turn for “OMGWTF???”

He left his job in late September, because it had reached the point where the stress was quite literally killing him.  He wasn’t sleeping, he wasn’t eating, he was in serious pain… and he seriously wanted to murder his boss.

So, THO left.  His mother had left us a tidy nest egg that would see us through till at least January, and he could look for a job closer to home.  He got rid of his dying Honda Accord and got a used pickup that was in awesomely good shape and we settled in to get things done that needed to be done around the house.  Stuff we’d put off because he was too exhausted from work to deal with.

At least, that was the plan.

And at first, things were going well.  He felt better at first, and got a lot of stuff done.  We did stuff.  Went places.  And then… he started feeling worse.

He stopped being able to eat.  He couldn’t sleep at night.  And he had serious pain in his back, legs… and bottom.

It took weeks for me to convince him to go to the doctor.  And the gastroenterologist promptly scheduled him for a colonoscopy.

He has a malignant rectal tumor.

All I can think is, “No, I can’t lose him, I can’t lose him.”  I’m terrified.  HE’S terrified.  And I don’t know what to do.  He’s already giving up and it’s all I can do not to grab him by the front of his shirt, shake him till his teeth rattle and scream, “What is WRONG with you??? Why don’t you want to FIGHT this??? Aren’t we worth it??? Aren’t your children and your wife worth fighting to LIVE for???”

It’s not logical.  It’s selfish and scared, and it makes me feel terrible to think that way, but there it is.

I’m watching him fade away and there’s not a damn thing I can do to stop it.

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Because she’s losing her memory…

The day is coming, probably sooner than I would like, when my mother won’t know who I am. 

I’m braced for it.  I have promised myself that I won’t fall apart… at least, not in front of her.  I’ll wait until I’m out in the parking lot, and then I’ll probably cry until I’m calm again.

We stopped by the nursing home she’s in this evening on our way home to Central Texas, and when I greeted her, she sat up with a smile, happy to have visitors.  Even though at first, she had no idea who we were, just that we were family.

We all said hello, and I sat down next to her and took her hand after helping her get her glasses on, and I could see her staring at my face, trying to get some sense of recognition.  So I said, “Do you know who I am?”

She smiled and said, “Yes, I do.  You’re Blondie… no, wait… you’re Toast.”

A lot of people who haven’t see us for a few years usually mistake me for my middle sister.  A few might mistake me for my oldest sister.  Blondie and I share a lot of personality traits, and facial expressions, but she’s fair, blonde, and green-eyed, and I’m olive, auburn, and brown-eyed.  So it’s not that far out of the way that Mom would guess I’m Blondie first.

Except she’s my mom, and in her normal state of mind, she’d never make that sort of mistake.

In her normal state of mind.

I hugged her and said, “Yes, I’m Toast!” and proceeded to chat with her, and have the kids sit with her and visit, but I could see that she had no real idea who I was.  Just… that I was family.  That I was one of her daughters.  But… she didn’t know me.

It wasn’t until we were leaving, and I had hugged her and said, “I love you, Mom.”

She said, “I love you, too.”  Then something seemed to spark in her mind and she stared at me intently.  “I love you,” she said as I stepped back to the curtain divider.  “I love you… like… a bush.. and … and a.. pickle.  A peck.”

I felt tears sting my eyes, and I sang, “A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.”

She joined in.  “A hug around the neck, and a barrel in the heap.  A barrel in the heap and I’m talking in my sleep about you, about you…”

“Toast,” she said with a huge smile and recognition in her eyes.  “There you are.  There’s my baby.  That’s my girl, my little Toast.  My tomboy.”

I fought back tears and kept singing.  “I love you, a bushel and a peck, you bet your pretty neck I do.  Toodle oodle oodle, toodle oodle oodle, toodle oodle doodley doo!”

I hugged her again, and she whispered, “You’re my baby, and I’ll never forget my baby.”

“I know, Mom,” I whispered back.  “I love you.”

I left, and I had tears running down my face, but I held it together all the way home, until now. 

That day is coming, when even singing what my daughter used to call affectionately “The Grandma Song,” won’t fire off the right neurons in Mom’s mind.  I’m going to hate that day.  But… I think I’ll get through it.

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Warning for Whinage…

Sometimes, I just need to… vent.

I am so tired of being… tired.  I am tired of the cycles of feeling kinda okay, and then feeling like absolute crap.  I am tired of not having the energy to do the things I want to do… or the things I need to do.

I am tired of watching my husband come home, exhausted from a day’s work, only to have to take up my share of the workload because I can’t do it.

I am tired of the headaches, the joint pain, the muscle weakness, and the overwhelming fatigue.  I am tired of my hair falling out.

I am tired of wishing the rest of it would just fucking fall out already so it would stop making my head hurt.

I am tired of my fingers looking like sausages when they swell.   Of the way my feet ache.

I am tired of being cold all the fucking time because my thyroid is playing dead.

I’m tired of my immune system playing helicopter parent and attacking every single part of me just because it’s paranoid and thinks I’m about to get sick.  Or that I’m already sick.

I’m tired of having to say no to my husband and kids when they want to go do something that requires energy that I don’t have, because I really, really, really want to go swimming and hiking and climbing and having adventures… but I can’t depend on my body because my thyroid is an asshole and my immune system is stupid and…

I’m just tired.

Mostly, I have good days.  And I’m able to be positive and somewhat philosophical about having an autoimmune disease.  I try to look at the positives and try to basically make lemonade out of the lemons life has thrown my way.

But every once in a while, it just… overwhelms me.  There’s so much to do.  So much.  Just doing a couple of loads of laundry will sometimes take me all day.  I just swept the dining room and living room and it feels like I’ve been cleaning the entire house, re-digging the garden, replacing the roof, mowing the lawns, and jogging a marathon right afterwards.

No, seriously, if I’m going to be this tired and sore, I want to have earned it, not just… gotten up out of bed.  If I’m going to hurt this bad, then I figure I should have, oh, I don’t know, climbed a mountain.  Or taken on four teams of Navy SEALS in a hand to hand fight and WON.

I know that in a couple of days, I’ll feel better and my mood will improve.  But right now?  Life sucks and I just want to curl up somewhere and cry for the next two or three hours.



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When Good Sons Smell Bad…

So… the Impossible Son is now a freshman in high school.

*pause for motherly whimpering*

In our small town, the freshman campus is separate from the high school.  It’s also on the other side of town from where we live.  Not a big deal, because this is a small town.  I am lucky, though, that his first period class, athletics, is at the high school, and so is his last class of the day, because this means he can walk to school in the morning and walk home in the afternoon, since the high school is just down the street from us.  Which means… no more sitting in long slow lines of cars to drop off/pick up my student, HUZZAH!!!!

*dance of joy, dance of joy*

Since Impossible is also on the high school cross country team, this also means that every other morning, he has to be at the high school at 6:30 a.m. for running practice. The Husbandly One drops him off on his way to work, and if I wait long enough, I can go out on the back deck and see the whole team go running by.  They get back to the school in time for the team to shower and get ready for their first period class.  Which, for my son, is athletics, as I mentioned earlier.

The next thing I need to mention is that my son, at 14, is the tallest person in our house.  He is all long arms and legs, and the basketball coach pretty much started drooling the moment the Impossible Son loped into the gym.  So… the Impossible Son spends first period playing basketball pretty much nonstop.  All. Period.  Long.

All freshman who have their first and last periods at the high school are required to ride a bus to go back and forth.  This bus leaves at a very specific time, and if a student isn’t there at that time… too bad, so sad.  There is only ONE bus for this.  I totally get that.

However, what this means for athletic students is… depending on the coach, there is NO TIME FOR A SHOWER.

This… is NOT a good thing.

So, Tuesday morning of the second week of school, I was sitting and staring at the story I’m presently working on and wondering if I needed to do little tweaking of my outline when the Dropkick Murphys start screaming, “I’m a sailor peg, and I lost my leg! Climbing up the topsails, I lost my leeeeegggg!!”

It’s my phone, and I think, “I turned in the athletic forms, he has all his school supplies, omg, what has he done now?”

“Hey, Mom.”

I frown at look at the clock, thinking, did he miss the bus?

“I need to come home and take a shower.”

Blink.  Blink.

“Wait a minute, didn’t you take a shower after class?”

“There was no time,” he said a little sheepishly.  “I mean, I barely have time after practice to throw on my clothes!  I have to get out to the bus as fast as I can, no time for a shower!”

Okay, I know that’s true, it was true when my daughter was a freshman, and will probably be true until the construction at the high school is finished.

“Impossible, you’ll just have to suffer through it,” I begin, knowing the school won’t just let him come home.  Then I realize, the ringtone was the Dropkick Murphys, not the Legend of Zelda.  He was calling from the school office, not his own phone.

“Mom, everyone in my class says I reek!  I stink, Mom, even the teacher says so!  I need a shower!” he insisted.

It doesn’t normally take me this long to catch on.  “Wait a minute, are you just calling me on your own, or did the teacher send you to the office to actually go home and take a shower?”

“Yes, Mom, my teacher insisted!”

“Okay, I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

I was sort of stunned, but, having been around the Impossible Son when he was sweaty, I could sort of see it.  Thing is, he didn’t have that much of a body odor problem, really.  It was mostly his feet that would get us during soccer season, where we would beg him to keep his shoes on until we were out of the car.  But that’s soccer pong, and just means keeping his gear clean.  So, I got in the car and drove over to the freshman campus to sign him out.

The freshman campus was built in 1923 and has all the problems you’d associate with a building that old.  It’s small (the current class of freshmen are practically bursting out of the seams), it smells, and it’s hard to air condition.  In fact, only the classrooms and offices are air conditioned, while the halls are NOT.  It’s like walking into a sauna when you enter the building, and you want to hold your breath until you get into the office, where it’s nice and cool.  At least for a few minutes.  Air conditioning at the freshman campus really means not as hot as the hall way.

So, I wade through the sauna to the relative comfort of the office to sign my son out.  He arrives and keeps a careful distance from me, and when we get outside, immediately moves downwind of me.

“It’s bad, isn’t it?” he asks, eying me as we walk to the car.

“Not really.”  I take a careful sniff, but I don’t smell much because… he’s downwind.

“Just wait,” he says ominously.

Amused, I unlock the car, we get in, I pull the window shade off the dash, start the car and get the AC going… and immediately my eyes start watering, my gag reflex leaps up and punches me in the throat, and my nose and lungs start rebelling and trying to escape.

“Oh… my… God…” I gag, turning to stare at my son in horror.  “Did you roll in something dead??”

He’s grinning at me.  “I know, right?” The Impossible Son’s cheeks are red with embarrassment, but there’s an odd sort of pride in his eyes, too.  “It’s awful, isn’t it?  I told you!  You didn’t believe me!”

Frantically opening all the windows in my car, including the sun roof, with the AC going full blast in the faint hope of getting the… the… STANK out of my car, eyes watering and leaning away from my child, all I can say is, “Holy crap… how the fuck did this happen??

“Mom,” the Impossible Son says as leans helpfully away from me, “we ran four miles this morning in cross country, and then I had to go straight to basketball practice!  No time for a shower!  And then we barely have time to dress before we have to catch the bus!  We all reek!”

I think all my nose hair was gone by the time we got home.  My eyes are watering just remembering this.  It was horrible.  Like… old cheddar cheese that’s been sitting in a bowl of water in direct sunlight for three days, and moldy soccer socks in a hot car, with a little muddy dog and three weeks unchanged cat litter box.  During a hundred degree summer.  With… sweat.

*is still horrified*

I never thought I’d ever say that about one of my children, but omg, he reeked.  It made soccer pong seem… pleasant.

So, after he’d decontaminated and changed clothes, he told me the story.

He was in his second period biology class, and the teacher had broken them up into smaller groups to work on their assignment.  First, the kids in his group had started moving away from him with, “God, Impossible, WTF?” and “Dude, did you even take a shower??” Then some of the groups that were close to them started complaining and became vocal about insisting he go home to take a shower.  The teacher, noticing the increasingly vocal protests, called him over to find out what was going on.  At this point, Mr. Impossible had had enough.  “Miss Biology Teacher, I really need to go home and take a shower,” he said apologetically.

She said humorously, “So you’re a little sweaty, you’re fine, stop messing around and get back to work.”

“No, I really, really stink, that’s why they’re all complaining,” he insisted.

At that moment, the AC came on, and the vent was apparently behind him and blew air directly toward her.  He said she was opening her mouth to probably tell him to go back to his table when his personal cloud of stench was blown into her face.

She froze.  Her eyes went wide and her nostrils flared.  Her eyes bulged as she stared up at him with horror, then they reddened and started to water.  Her nose looked like it was trying to pinch itself shut.  Her hands gripped the desk so hard, her knuckles went white.  And her mouth snapped shut.

He said, “I seriously started to worry about her, because it was like… she stopped breathing!

Of course, she stopped breathing!  She was trying to not smell him.

After a moment, she started frantically pointing at the door.  “You,” she said, scooting hastily away from him after thrusting a hall pass at him.  “You!  Home!  Now!  SHOWER!!!”

“Well,” I said, leaning toward him, “you smell much better now.”

“I should,” he said as we got in the car to go back to the freshman campus.  “I used almost half my body wash cleaning myself off!  Do they make industrial strength body wash?”

“No, and before you ask, Axe Body spray is not shower in a can,” I said firmly.  “If you had used it you would not have smelled better.  You would still have the Stench, it just would have been… the Stench WITH Axe Body spray.  And that would have been much worse.

“How do you know?” he asked as we pulled up to the school and I parked.

“Because the pot smokers at my high school used to try to disguise the smell of what they’d been doing before school started with this mint breath spray called Binaca.  And it never worked.”  I grinned at him.  “They never understood why they kept getting caught, but you know, it was because instead of smelling like pot smokers, they now smelled like Fresh MINTY Pot Smokers™!”

He laughed.  “I’ll pass that on!”

“Good.  Because we’re all kind of tired of smelling sweaty teen pong with Axe Body spray!”

You know, I’m still working on getting the smell out of my car!

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