Monday, August 8, 2016


On 8/8/08, Phil got his multiple myeloma diagnosis. Today marks the eight year anniversary of that diagnosis. To mark the significance of today, I have assembled a list of eight eights that I never could have envisioned on this day eight years ago.

1. Ruby. We decided in 8/09 to try for a third kid. She was carried and born in the middle of the chaos and ended up being one of the greatest joys of my existence.

2. At age 8, Iris has read all 8 Harry Potter books. Random, but she was only 8 months old when Phil was diagnosed. It's awesome getting to see who these kids are turning out to be.

3. 8 hours a day of time for myself. Kids in school = life changing. I'm not the mom who cries on the first day of school. I love my children, but I'm a better parent when they are away from me most of the day.

4. 44 months at Torrent. (4+4=8. That counts, right?) During treatment I couldn't envision Phil feeling well enough to return to work. Now he has realized his dreams of being an entrepreneur. And business at Torrent is good! Pretty sweet.

5. Joy. Joy in suffering didn't really happen for me. The kindness and help of family, friends and strangers was profoundly moving and helpful but I wasn't able to rejoice in my suffering. Sorry/Not sorry. It was hard. But I'm glad to say that joy has returned to my life in many forms, 8 ways to Sunday.

6. Fear has subsided. I used to carry so much anxiety around and thought it would always be that way. I still struggle but 8 times out of ten in the face of something scary I feel strong and capable instead of pressed and beaten down.

7. 8 Hours of Sleep. Three babies in quick succession. Multiple hospital visits. I was in a constant state of sleep deprivation. I thought sleep would never happen again. It does! Almost every night!

8. 8 days a week don't feel like a gift. I thought I would begin to appreciate each moment of every day and never take anything for granted. I still yell at the kids and have completely unproductive days, and honestly life feels pretty mundane most of the time. But hey, it's real. It's normal. I'll take it.

Here's to eight more years!


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

friday night meningitis-y fever

I never forget that Phil has cancer.

But sometimes I pretend he doesn't. I like to pretend that I have all the time and energy in the world to drive a carpool or volunteer at my kids' school or plan a trip. Pretend there's no possibility that I'll have to scramble to find coverage at work and for the kids at the last minute. Pretend that Phil won't have to be rushed to the ER, put in isolation, and end up on antiviral meds and morphine through a picc line. Pretend that the month he has to take off from work to recover is really a vacation.

Pretend that our life is normal.

But occasionally circumstances pop up in my face to remind me that our "normal"... isn't.

Last month, Phil came home from work on a Friday with a headache and fever, and by Saturday night he had been admitted to the hospital with Shingles and Meningitis, probably a result of the chemotherapy he currently takes. He was in a ton of pain. I know this is true, not because he was complaining (he never does) but because he asked me to take him to the hospital which just never happens. He ended up hospitalized for a week and just went back to work this week.

We live our lives in a way that probably looks typical... school, work, church, soccer, doing housework and homework, getting together with friends, exercising... but most moments of most days I am braced for chaos. I evaluate Phil's headaches and heartburn with the same scrutiny as his quarterly blood work. I sort medications into one of the biggest pill boxes I've ever seen. I carefully craft soft words into gentle sentences to explain to our tender-hearted kids why their dad is in the hospital again, and when he will be home, and why he has to go there so much.

(The reality is, he doesn't go there "so much", but they are observant enough to know that most of their friends have parents that have to go to the hospital exactly NEVER, so the few times they remember are just a few times too many for their comfort. But still I do my best to comfort.)

My whole life revolves around making sure everyone stays out of the hospital, and when that becomes unavoidable I do everything I can to make sure we all survive with as little trauma as possible. I still pack the lunches and get the kids to school. I still read to them and sing silly songs in the car. I still make sure we have clean clothes and clean dishes. I still get up with kids when they have a tummy ache or a nightmare. I control the things I can when chaos erupts. It's how I survive.

Phil and I don't feel sorry for ourselves. We realize we don't have any other option than to push forward and keep living our lives. But sometimes we look at each other, shake our heads and say, "Damn. How much more do we have to endure?" Then we laugh. Because that's also how we survive.

And then we continue with the parenting and the working and the living. And I continue with the caregiving. I do it because I have to. But also because I want to. I feel responsible for making decisions about Phil's health and advocating for him when he's unable to. (That's marriage.) I feel responsible for making sure our kids know they are loved and safe. (That's parenthood.) And I feel responsible for making sure I don't go off the rails once the dust settles. (That's good sense.)

Here's hoping we have another good, long run of health and hospital-free living. Hoping the same for all of you.