Sunday, May 30, 2010

M- Molly and Daddy's spontaneous adventure

Despite my less than perfect health (Bryan keeps calling me Chester when I walk...or more accurately waddle....but fortunately the reference is lost on me), I decided to take a quick 4 day trip to Phoenix to close on another house. Molly had been really lobbying hard to go, but I was firm that the tickets were too expensive, the trip too short, and the business on hand would be too boring.

I thought she had pretty much resigned herself to these facts when we pulled up at Bellingham airport....with me being all packed for the trip and Molly having nothing but but the clothes on her back and her Nexus card for the return drive home with Les, Lucas and Fin. However, when I checked in and picked up my ticket, Molly still thought there was some lobbying to do and made sure she let the Allegiant Air ticket man know how much she wanted to go. When I let slip that my main objection was the cost of the ticket, the friendly agent Johnny disappeared for a few minutes after uttering "let me check on something". With Molly by then in the car, Johnny came back to me with the offer of only having to pay for the return trip and I couldn't say no. I took the tickets back to the car, handed a disappointed little girl my ticket to hold, and got the satisfying screech when she read Butler, Molly Clare on the ticket.

For the next three hours, Molly just talked and talked, in the way that only over excited kids do. We had time for a quick trip to Bellisfair Mall for some shorts, t-shirt, flip flops and a bite to eat. As excited as Molly was, it was equally evident that Finny was pretty bummed at the whole turn of events. She handled it remarkably well for a five year old..... but it was pretty clear that despite her age, Fin was able to project herself mentally out into the future to the moment where her Dad was taking her onto the plane and she would get to smugly wave goodbye to her sister.

Although Molly had flown a couple of times before, this was the first time she was old enough to actually remember the experience. Everything was awesome......"they even have a potty on the plane Dad!" It was great to see the wonder in her eyes, taking off, going above the clouds, even being able to order candy was special. We each read our books for a while and then Molly made her first plane friendship with an elderly lady sitting beside her.

Words for a baby not yet born

My friend Sam is pregnant and being in the book business, she is creating a volume dedicated to the best advice her friends can give the new human she's made. It's a freaking fantastic idea.

I spent a lot of time thinking about what "words of wisdom" I had to share. In the end, the best I could come up with was sent off to accompany the photo that is the heading of this blog.

They aren't sage, sober words, but they are my truth.

Be goofy.

This, little bean, will stand you in good stead. Almost nothing in life requires total seriousness. Seriously.

There are many kinds of laughter. Try them all. Belly laughs. Titters. Giggles. Snorts. Guffaws. The sort that comes from such a deep place that it Will Not Be Stopped. Howls. Chortles. Tee hees and har-de-hars. The laugh that makes you pee...just a little bit. Go ahead. It's worth it.

Laugh with others. There is a magic that comes in shared laughter. You can test this magic. When you accidentally dump a full cup of soy milk into your mumma's purse, try this: look her in the eye, tell her you are very, very sorry and then laugh. I would be shocked if she didn't join you. You will both feel better. Little tip: help her clean up. This will also make things better.

Laugh alone. People may think you are crazy, but you aren't.

Most importantly, laugh at yourself. This one goes beyond simple laughter. It demonstrates a way of being that will bring you joy in your life, I promise. Many times when things go awry, the result is funny. Or it can be, if you choose to look at it that way. Do that. Look at it in the most lighthearted way you can. My estimation is that 99.998% of the frustrations, irritations and obstacles in life can be viewed with a laugh if you try (there are a few that need a bit of time to be funny, but they'll get there). The ability to smile will give you the power to stand strong in the face of both large and small defeats.

After all, as Mark Twain said, "against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand." Trust that guy.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Now that's a promise...

This is what was on my kitchen counter this evening.

It is just sitting in between my flour and sugar jars. Parked, I guess. Maybe the fire-rescue officer from inside the car is inspecting the pantry for moths (if you haven't read Eric's post about the Battle of the Moths...well...don't).

Our place has been fully infiltrated by toys. I think the little car on the kitchen counter is a symbol of our complete surrender. It isn't pantry moths we are battling, it's inanimate objects.

I remember buying my very first package of diapers. It was the first baby item I ever purchased by myself and it was surreal. I could not believe that there was going to be a BABY living in the same place I lived. The novelty of small things was intoxicating. Then...little clothes, small toys, stuffed animals.

Since then, there has been a slow creep of stuff. Three kids, three sets of favourite things. Three overactive imaginations playing with toys in every nook and cranny of the house. The crane in the bathtub, or the bear wearing my shoes at the front door. Every single place I turn, there's another toy in another odd place. Sometimes I laugh. Sometime I shake my head and try to imagine what game was being played. Sometimes I silently curse the mess and bend down for the thousandth time in the day to tidy. Sometimes I holler at the kids and drag them in to bear witness to the chaos and force them to put it all away.

Sometimes my shoulder slump and so do my spirits.

But then, sometimes, I think about the day when the toys will all be gone and so will the little bodies that animate them. Those little people will grow. The brains that produce those funny, nonsensical games will be replaced by more rigid minds that file papers in an office or create lesson plans for a classroom (probably not Finny...she might be running an ashram in India or something).

Things change. They just do. Lukey and I were walking out of his swimming lessons today and he told me that he would hold my hand forever. I said, "Promise?", but I realized as the question came out of my mouth that it couldn't be so.

As much as the IDEA of that is appealing, the reality would be weird. I don't actually want to hold hands with my 38 year old son. But I always want to hold hands with this little boy who was holding my hand TODAY. So...that won't work out.

Also heartbreaking was the certainty in his voice. He was so sure that he would want that forever. Why wouldn't he, he must think? How much could things change, he must wonder? So much. So crazily much.

One day walking across a parking lot holding Lukey's hand will be a physical possibility, but impossible nonetheless. There is a last time for all those things. The last time, ever.

Alright, I know what you are thinking. A bit melodramatic. The kid is three.

I know. I know, I know. But geez.

It makes the car on the counter a tiny bit sweet. Still super annoying, but a little lovely too.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

E- Happy Birthday Steve and Jim

With a cold, rainy Spring, it wasn't surprising that Sakinaw lake was only 61 degrees on the May long weekend. The sun didn't really cooperate to heat up the lake either. The big surprise however, was that our girls, who sometimes complain about getting in the warm pool, became gung-ho adventurers who kept trying to get the adults to jump in the lake with them. They even decided skinny dipping was a must.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Feeling summer coming...

We had our first picnic of the season today at Molly's school. It was the best kind. We started before school let out for lunch and we were still out there when school got out at 3 o'clock. Solly's bagels and treats, fruit and veggies. It was divine. We had good company, too. Eric's cousin Heather and her husband Steve, and another cousin, Claire, joined us.

Heather and Steve are living our lives, about eight years ago. He is playing professional volleyball overseas and they just got back from the year in Japan. We never lived in Asia, but so many of the experiences of being an import professional athlete are the same no matter where you are. It was great to catch up and think about how different our lives are now. In some good ways, some sad ways. We used to pick up with 45 minutes notice and go to Prague for the weekend. Now we are lucky to get to IKEA with an hour lead time...well, that's a little harsh...but you know what I mean.

This evening, we celebrated Eric's mom's birthday with dinner together at the Arbutus Club. They had activities for the kids' tonight, with a magician, face-painting and balloons. Kids are pretty predictable in their pleasures, really.

Here is Lukey making his scary tiger face:

Here is Lukey looking terrified next to a bunny. I told him how funny it was that the bunny looks chilled out and the tiger looks freaked. He thought that was hilarious.

The bunny was a big hit. The kids are campaigning hard for a pet. We, the parents, are equally resolute in our rejection of the idea. It's a cold-hearted, dream-stomping, straight-up NO.

At the end of the night, we were all tired. But sleepy (lily-livered) tiger said it all with the picture below. We were all a little blurry around the edges.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

E- 2 weeks post-op

Exactly 2 weeks ago right now I was lying on the operatIng table joking with a couple of the 8 people who were in the room with me. My humor was a pretty superficial attempt to hide my nerves and also a test to see how alert the operating crew was. I wanted to know if I could see any signs that one or two of them had stayed out way too late watching the Canucks playoff game the night before. I'm not sure what I was looking for...... perhaps that look that we all have before we are about to ralph......but I was happy to see that everybody looked pretty good for 8am.

My day had started 3 hours earlier with a shower at home in special antiseptic soap. No eatng or drinking for twelve hours before surgery meant no stopping for breakfast, but straight to the hospital with Les. We saw the same lady in admissions who said the exact same words to me as last time three months earlier. "Wow, you are far too young to be having this operation. I can't believe they are operating in you. My husband is in his fifties and they won't operate on him".

It doesn't take much to figure out that this probably isn't the most sensitive thing to say to someone as he goes into a stressful day where his life will be irreversibly altered, for good or bad. Somehow, hearing her say it the second time, totally unaware she had made the exact same comment to me months before, was a little extra aggrevating. I mostly thought of all the other people she probably planted an extra seed of doubt in as they entered this hospital.

Les got to stay with me in my preparation at Surgical Daycare, were I was given a couple of pills and had an IV started. Something about slipping into the hospital gown feels like a magic transition from normal person to patient. Maybe it's purely functional, but I can't help but feel that part of the reasoning behind hospital gowns is a psychological transition to let the person know they are truly now a patient and under total control and care of the nurses. Nothing tells me that all the normal rules for my life have changed better than sitting in some hospital gown that comes half way down my thighs and exposes everything on my backside. It amazes me how quickly I can lose all feelings of modesty or even caring under these type of conditions.

A short time later Les and I said goodbye and I was wheeled off like a piece of meat to the operating room. I say piece of meat because the orderly who took me came, and without a single word, pushed the bed out of the Daycare, down the hall, up the elevator, through the ward and parked me in front of the operating room like a slab of cow that needed to be chopped up before it was any use. It's amazing to me that by lying down in bed in a silly hospital gown and getting a few tubes running into my veins can do so much to change my social status that this person wouldn't eve say Hi or tell me where she was taking me. Maybe it's none of that and she just wasn't a very friendly person but one thing was very clear at this point......I was no longer under control of what is happening to me.

After waiting for about 15 minutes outside he OR, Dr Smit came to see me and talk about the surgery. We had a brief conversation about what it was like to be stuck in a Dutch airport for a couple of days and I was then wheeled off to the room. I was carefully transferred to a very thin operating table that is just barely long enough to fit on. At this point I was sat up and told to bend as far forward as possible for Dr Friezen (great name for an anithetist) to give me an epidural in my lower back. I was then laid down and placed on my side, with a fluffy pillow between my arms and then my whole arm assembly was taped to the bed. With no sign of hungover Canuck fans in the room to make me nervous, I peacefully drifted into Lala land as the sedatives were cranked into the IV.

E- Can the love of nature go too far?

That's the question I find myself asking.....or am I a crazy bloodthirsty psychopath with no regard for the sanctity of life. For about two years now we have had pantry moths come and go from our lives. After an initial surge a couple of years ago, I threw out most of our grainy foods like cereal, rice, pancake mix, flour etc that were likely infested. I also cleaned and vacuumed every cupboard in the kitchen and pantry hoping to rid our homes of the problem. As bad as the moths were, it was really the job of having to squish the larvae crawling along the ceiling that bugged me the most. And I got rid of them.....for a bit.

Apparently I missed a couple of the microscopic eggs because a few months later they reappeared. I felt better about the problem when I discovered how successful the sticky traps are. However, it wasn't long before I realized that the breeding cycles were continuing despite my traps. Naturally I continued to pursue an aggressive extermination policy by chasing down every moth I see with the electric tennis racket zapper in the hopes of minimizing any chance the moths have of further breeding. However, because I am temporarily hobbled to the extent that I can't even keep pace with a pantry moth, I thought I would enlist Les as a temporary replacement in the moth war.

It never occurred to me that in all the time we have been dealing with this, I don't think I have ever seen her kill a moth. Yet somehow I was surprised and a little put out when she told me she couldn't do it because she didn't believe in killing moths. I got defensive and started saying things like "are you just going to let them get into all your food and take over the house". Les responded with "they haven't taken over the house yet, I think we'll be fine".

Of course I wanted to fire back with " the only reason we're not over-run yet is that I have killed every moth I have seen over the last two years" but thought better of it. After all, this is a woman that will take every spider or even wasp that finds its way into the house and either leave it be or carefully find a way to get it outside without killing it, so I know she has some thought behind her stance. Although I can respect this gentle side to her, I have to say that I feel an extra loneliness tonight as I realize that I am truly alone in the battle of the pantry moth. For now I just have to keep my fingers crossed that my health soon returns to the point that I can effectively continue the fight.

In the mean time, I have had my little grumpy fit to express my frustration and Les has gone to sleep. I realize it's not a very mature response, but I guess it allows me to express my displeasure at Les not seeing the world in the same way I do. It's probably just human nature, but I can't help but be annoyed by her NOT seeing things my way. After all it's so clear...... to me.

But I I guess that's what a working marriage is about.....being able to accept a partner's view point even when we don't agree with it. Luckily Les and I agree with most of the major decisions that life throws at us, but even after almost 19 years together, we continue to find little things to disagree on. However, from this example I chose to look at the positive......I can sleep better than a lot of husbands with good life insurance policies.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

E-2 down none to go

I am now one week into my life with two replaced hips. It amazed me
how hard it was to talk about this hip resurfacing operation, or my stay in the
hospital, or any part of this experience without comparing it to the
first one. It made me realize just how much of my life is spent trying
to evaluate by comparison. And comparatively speaking this operation
was pretty good. Apparently I lost a lot less blood during surgery
and woke up feeling like my leg was far less swollen and painful.
However, over the next three days I seemed to make up for this as my
butt and thigh kept growing like Oprah did through the 80's. Okay, bad
example, but hopefully it conveys the image of progressively getting
thicker. By day 4 Saturday, the combination of ice and elevation
seemed to help as I finally began the deflation stage.

The surgery itself wasn't bad at all thanks to the sedatives and
epidural. Apart from a few, okay many, needles, IV's and blood samples
taken, there isn't much for a patient to complain about. The hip after
the surgery isn't too bad either. The muscles cut around the hip are
pretty tender but the pain killers cut the worst of it. However, the
effect of having so much blood flow and pool in the quad, glute and
hamstring is a different story. On both surgeries now, I have noticed
the pain and general discomfort that comes from doing anything other
than lying perfectly still in a very limited range of positions, is by
far the worst side-effect of the procedure I had.

Luckily, my only job right now is to lie and rest, with the occasional annoying trip to go pee. And the pee is a big catch 22. Last operation I woke up with a catheter in place. Although it is slightly uncomfortable and I was dreading it's removal, I was quite happy to not have to get out of bed every time I needed to go. As I prepared for this operation, I wondered whether I would get another one and if I wanted it or not. I woke up happy to find I hadn't been given a catheter this time, but was informed that I wouldn't likely be able to pee on my own until all effects of the epidural wore off. No problem, I can hold it for a couple of hours. What, that's 18-24 hours from now? At this point I realized I needed to hold it for a long time and that I was being told I absolutely needed to drink a lot of fluid while also being pumped full of saline through the IV. No problem I thought...with enough liquid and determination in my veins, I could surely make myself go....after all, how hard can it be to just let go.

For a while I remained optimistic....if I just keep concentrating hard enough, it has to work eventually. As desperation took over,one nurse who had probably studied Pavlov too much ran the sink in the bathroom for about ten minutes. However, as my lower abdomen became further and further distended, and I noticed that it was 3 am and I hadn't slept yet, I eventually came to the much fought against conclusion that I would indeed have to be catheterized. I hit the call button on my bed and moments later a young nursing student was asking how she could help.
I'll summarize the experience by saying that it wasn't a lot of fun......I'll take the discomfort of getting out of bed with a beaten up leg any time over having a nursing student shove a catheter up me in the middle of the night. I've always admired Stoicism in a person and feel like I have an appropriate amount in my life. However, anyone who heard me groaning as the tube just seemed to be shoved further and further inside would have seriously doubted this claim. My one consolation was that they removed over 3 litres in the next 3 hours, meaning it probably was good that I didn't wait too much longer.

Anyways, I am out now and that's all done. I am able to hobble around with the help of crutches and have a pretty good idea of what to expect from here on out. Les is once again taking great care of me, the kids and the home while also writing many hours a week. She really is the best.....but I know would be quick to deflect praise by saying how great the support from our families has been.