Thursday, April 27, 2006

Fast Forward, One Month (Originally written 3/11/2006)

What a difference a month makes. The A, B, C's of parenting from last month was a theme I planned to continue for a bit, so perhaps I will. But I might skip to another letter in this update, S. Keep reading, I will get there.

I realized when I sent the update in February that I had forgotten another of the C's...

C is for CAMP and the challenges of summer....

Who knew, when applying for international adoption of my adorable toddler girl, the challenges that summer would bring post pre-school/daycare days. I guess I just had not thought this all out, but the public school system is not year round! Duh. So I was a little taken aback when advised by a more seasoned parent (who has a first grader), that the selection of summer camps has to begin early. Like in December for some of the more popular ones.

There are books and magazines and of course, websites for all this. But it is daunting none the less. I decided that I would try a few camps for her this year, since I am not quite sure what she will like. One is a three week camp that my friend's daughter went to, a "pure camp experience" and Sofie is registered for three weeks, mid-summer. Then I filled in with the life and science museum camp for at least a week and then mostly YMCA camp. She goes to the Y programs during the school days off (schools close for "teacher workdays" and holidays that UNC does not seem to recognize, so additional care is always needed on these days). The Y is great, she skates, swims, uses the gym and comes home worn out and happy.

And it is close to our neighborhood, and on the way to work, so it is almost ideal. Except this is the south, so the C in
Y M C A is a bigger deal here than say, in Berkeley where you have to really look to see what it means at all. The pool area is festooned with messages about G_d, and there are other messages more subtle but ever present about developing Christian values and character. I had a talk with one of the program managers, Gordon, a fresh faced, earnest young man who seemed to get that I had some concerns about over-doing the Christian aspects of the YMCA in programming. He was pretty reassuring that this was not heavy handed, but there was something in his affect (reminded me of those earnest missionary people in the Downtown SF area, smiling at you as they attempt to stuff booklets into your hands...they look so sincere, but they also were a little too Clockwork Orange for my taste...maybe it was their suits). Anyway, Gordon and I reached some sort of understanding, and to be honest, the convenience, price and all round location of the program won out.

So, hopefully, the full summer is scheduled with camp experiences. And Sofie will surely tell me which she likes the most. I know that developing friendships is important as she is getting older. And so being at the YMCA will hopefully make that a bit easier, with some consistency.

So, now for the other letter in this update: S is for surgery.

Last week, I found out that I have a "mass" on one of my ovaries. Not small either, about the size of a grapefruit (small grapefruit, but all the same.....). In a matter of days, I went from my perception of myself as doing pretty well, health-wise, to "patient". It started the moment I walked through the doors of the Morris Cancer Clinic at Duke. Yep, there are the "CLINICS" and then this special door. Why, I am not sure, but it is creepy that even "suspected" cancer patients have to enter through a special door, in a different area to get to see their doctor. But as soon as I crossed that threshold, I felt a subtle but real transformation from person to patient. I got there at 8 am. I left the clinics at 2:30, scheduled for surgery the following Thursday and having had myself EKG'ed, chest x-rayed, blood drawn, examined by a number of various folks in the pre-op area and all that. I did my best to keep a sense of humor throughout, as those of you who know me might imagine. For example, my height and weight was recorded in the gyne-oncology clinic by one nursing assistant. An hour later, Lisa in the pre-op area told me to stand on the scale and be measured and weighed. I mentioned that in fact that had just been done. But evidently, one floor does not trust the measuring of the other, so on I went. Sadly, the weight did not change, but I seemed to have grown a half inch in the hour between measuring. So that was good, I guess.

Everyone was nice, it is a big research center, just like UCSF or any other big place, so I signed two or three forms consenting to be in this study and that tissue bank and all that. The very last person, a nurse assigned to get me to consider giving tissue samples to their tissue bank, was unexpectedly the one who finally, gently and without much fanfare, acknowledged that this day must have been hard and that the surgery must be scary. And she was so right. She shared some wisdom from her mama, about letting go on some things, and I found myself relaxing just a bit.

Interestingly, I had not been able to shed a tear from Monday, when this all began, until Thursday PM, when I watched the DVD of RENT. From the opening song, I just let the tears flow. It was quite cathartic and I felt like now I can deal with the logistics of all of this, getting help (thanks to Barbara and my sister) and support from friends (you have all been wonderful and I can literally feel the energy coming from West Coast to East Coast). The lesson learned for me, from this, is that I have in fact, learned to ask for help. A big deal for me as some of you might know.

So now, I have to tell Sofie this weekend. Will put this into simple, clear and 5 year old operation at the hospital to take out a lump in my body that should not be there. Hopefully she will be able to see me on Thursday night or Friday. And we will retain as much "routine" which is the best thing for a little person. But I imagine she might be worried. She is kind of intuitive, I have found. And if she is, she will know that my darkest thoughts have been about not being able to see her grow up. I cannot imagine that. I am trying to stay positive, at the same time, signing legal documents, getting paperwork together, etc. Very complex and also a good distracting project to take my mind off things sort of, for a little while. There is not much time to organize all of this, but you know I love a good project and a deadline to motivate me. So I am writing, clearing things off of piles, etc.

Did I mention this sucks?

Hopefully, the outcome will be a benign mass, a quick recovery and a much more organized office and guest room.

I will keep you all posted. Barbara might use this list to update you all after the surgery or later in the week.

I love you all and thank you for your support. And I believe in the healing power of energy. So send that this way.

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