Friday, March 30, 2012

Happy Birthday Dad!

I admit, I stopped counting once you got to 50. And while I know your birth year (I think) and could figure it out, basically forever in my mind you're 54. And until Mom throws you a crazy "happy 60th" that's just always how it's going to be.

Today is my Dad's 54th birthday (just like last year and the year before I believe)! I tried to think of what to give him - I mean, what do you give the man who has everything you can afford and probably won't open the gifts he wants but you CAN'T afford until you play with them for a few weeks. And then he notices and says "hey, is that mine?" I mean, I COULD go for one of the latter group, but this year I'm not really sure which technological gadget to go for. New iPad? iPhone? Something cool I've never heard of?

In the end I decided to go with blog post. I mean, it's been awhile anyway and it's time to come back! And since it's no fun to open with "guys. Still have cancer turns out," I'm going to make my come back with: "My dad is the best!"

Why my dad is the best:
1. When we recently demanded that he pull all his strings and not to feel below stooping to use the "cancer" card - he managed to get me and ALL my siblings (and their spouses) and his spouse, tickets to The Hunger Games premiere and passes to the afterparty. Woot woot! That marks the first time we have ALL gone together to a premiere. And it was awesome.
2. After the premiere is over and we don't want to be carrying around all the souvenir cups we took that people had left behind in the theaters and some of us girls wanted to trade out our awesome high heels for more sensible partying shoes - dad took the armfuls of loot (and some free drinks) back to the car. But not before getting caught by fellow producers looking like he was robbing the place. If only they had let us have cameras in there it would've made for a blog worthy picture!
3. Even when I get out of surgery looking like death my dad leans over and first thing says "you're looking great!" A few days later when he comes by after work to check on me he'll say "oh cutie, you look SO much better now. Last time you looked like eek (and he makes a scary face)."
4. He calls everyone "cutie." Sometimes, without thinking, when he would coach my little brother's basketball team he would call them cuties too. This is what happens when you have predominantly daughters. We worked hard to let him know "don't call them that. Think of some other term. Like 'sport' or even just 'number 5'."
5. We go camping on the beach at Carpinteria nearly every year. And every year his vote is to stay in the nearby motel 6. But, generally, like a true camper (or a beach camper), he stays at camp with all of us. On his air mattress.
6. He still thinks its funny every time he goes on a bike ride in his spandex shorts and red pepper biking shirt, to come home and try to hug us when he's disgustingly sweaty. And it still makes us all run.
7. When we were kids and dad was in charge we knew we weren't REALLY going to get in trouble. If mom was in charge and threatened to spank you, oh you'd better knock it off because that threat was for real. But if dad was in charge and you wouldn't share the book and you got told on there was no worry in your heart. Dad was just going to tell you to get along. Muah-ha-ha-ha-ha!
8. When my dad traveled a lot when we were younger he would ALWAYS bring us home books. And we loved it. It was always exciting to see what new books we were going to get.
9. And, since dad traveled a lot when we were kids, WE got to travel a lot too - every summer and sometimes on breaks. We went all over the country - Oregon to Montana to Missississippi to New York and Illinois and Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut (lets be honest - once you're up there you hit all those little states), Florida, etc. It was awesome. Except Missississippi - I didn't love it there. I was pretty little but I think it sparked my phobia of hotel rooms being nasty. Now I'm a total hotel germaphobe and don't like any of the bedding touching my exposed body parts. Yes, that means sleeping in socks, long pants and hoodies. But enough about me.
10. One summer we went to Ireland. I remember at first REALLY not wanting to go. A summer away from my friends? BOO! But I loved it. Dad made it all happen. He also took us to Israel which was equally cool. A lot warmer than Ireland. But I loved both!
11. Watching funny TV shows with my dad is a riot. He laughs sooo loud and hard if he thinks something is funny you can't help but get a kick out of it and laugh along with him. He's passed this trait on to Bryn and Hannah. Watching TV with them is also hilarious.
12. Dad likes to keep up on good music. I don't know how much he beats Hannah and Delaney to the punch anymore what with the advent of iTunes, but when we were teenagers one of his favorite things to do was to buy whatever CD was hot that he knew we'd like and nonchalantly play it in his car while we were riding in it so we'd be like "DAD! Is this [fill in the blank]?!" And he could be like "oh, yeah. You like them?" As if he didn't know...
13. Dad is into gourmet cooking. And he's very methodical about it. Follows the recipes he finds online and turns out DELICIOUS meals. It takes him a good portion of the day and costs the entirety of the kitchen, but man it's worth it. He makes a stir fry that is to die for. ....He's come so far from when we were little.
14. When we were little and Dad was making dinner you could be sure it was going to be either pancakes or tuna cheese and rice. We were equally happy with either. :)
15. Dad loves ice cream. This comes in handy because whenever he has an excuse to buy it "it was on sale!" or "Mehgan needs to fatten up!" he will. And that's the only way it's making its way in THIS house. :)
16. Dad came to all our sporting events he could possibly make when we were growing up. Of course when he traveled he had to miss some, but I think it pained him not to be there more than it pained us. He loves cheering for his kids on the sidelines and he's pretty good at it. Although there have been a couple times where we've had to warn him "hey, shhhh - the ref is going to card you!" So it's always better if our team is winning by a lot - that way he can relax a little and just shake his head at bad plays instead of verbalizing his disapproval.
17. When we were little we always knew that if we wanted something from Dad (and now that I think of it, I don't know what kinds of things we were going for. Candy? Probably not even in our house. Money? To do what with? Freedom to run around? Already had it.) we knew to get Leah to ask him. She was the one mostly likely to come back with positive results. And we played that up for SURE!
18. When we were little we used to go to my dad's church softball games at night. They were so fun! We would play in the dirt (park?) with the other kids and occasionally pay attention to the game when our dad was up to bat. And dad was GOOD. So he usually homered. Which was exciting as a kid - cheering for your dad, MVP of the team!
19. Dad is an all around great athlete. And when he gets the chance to play basketball with his sons and sons-in-law (and Kevin) he's an unexpected threat. He's got a great little jump shot that, when on is ON. ...Of course he's 54 now (or thereabouts) so his knees aren't so into the basketball thing anymore, but in his hey-day, just like softball he was GOOD.
20. Dad's also not afraid to try snowboarding. He's pretty good, but the scariest moment of my LIFE (and this is true) was when he fell in front of me and, due to the narrowness of the trail and the number of people on it and how fast I was going, I couldn't stop or get out of the way and I hit him in the head with my board. I thought I'd killed him. He held his head and his face was grimaced in pain but he didn't say much. I, of course, was panicking like "dad?!? DAD?!" Luckily he ended up being okay. Still. I'm pretty sure his being okay was a miracle so I didn't have to forever live with having killed my father.
21. But sheesh, on to better memories! My dad loves books on tapes. Probably because he does a lot of driving. But this works out nicely for me because he passes all his read books on to me which come in very handy for MY long commute!
22. Every year for mother's day my dad gets my mom her favorite flowers. Every year. No matter where he might be in the world he makes sure it happens. I've always liked that.
23. Despite all his travels, my dad has made it to the births of all of his children! Given that there are six that's pretty good. Leah was a close call there and probably required some holding-in on my mom's part, but he still made it!
24. I have always felt very taken care of by my dad. I've always felt like if I ever needed something (or even really wanted it) he would make sure I had it. Even if it was to his own detriment (which he probably wouldn't tell me). It's just nice to know that no matter what I can count on my dad. He'll always be there for me.
25. I love to talk about work with my dad. HIS work - not mine. Mine's a bit boring to talk about. But HIS? I love it. I don't know that any or my siblings share this love, but I just love knowing what he's working on, how things are going, logistics, his thoughts, personalities he's juggling, etc. Love talking about work with him.
26. My dad has, and often wears, aloha shirts. It's definitely his thing. If he's going to dress up but not have to get TOO dressy - then it's an aloha shirt and khakis. I suppose being Polynesian he makes it work. :)
27. Whenever we're in Hawaii and my dad ends up talking to any locals he reverts to his version of pidgin. And that would be fine except...he grew up in North Hollywood where they speak normal English (maybe with a Jewish accent), so his pidgin is kinda main-land sounding. It's cute that he tries but we try to steer him away from that. You can say "bra" but otherwise...stick to the King's version of English. It's what you know.
28. My Dad's a big BYU fan. Maybe it's because that's where he met his wife, maybe it's because all his kids (so far) have gone there, or maybe it's just because he's a Cougar at heart and bleeds blue. Whatever it is, it's fun how much he cares about how their sports teams are doing (even if Bryn's not playing). He tapes mens and women's basketball games, volleyball games, and of course the football games. We'll go to any games that are being played out near us, and he gets season tickets to the football games even though we live in California and rarely get a chance to go to a game in person. Still. I think it's awesome.
29. Dad pretends to hate the dog although, when no one is around, he's secretly really nice to her. He won't let her on the couch, but if he's bbq-ing he'll sneak her bits of steak. She's constantly trying to win him over, but it only really works if they don't have an audience. :)
30. And last point, thank you Dad. For being there for the family after all these years! You've taken care of us, made us feel loved, and entertained us. I love you soooo much. You're the best dad ever. Even when you wear your biking gear. Happy birthday!!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ah, cancer.

Okay so I wasn't as good about keeping up with the blog as I thought/said I would be. I'd blame it on the new job, but lets be honest - the job is part time and not that hard to manage (so far). I just haven't been writing! Anything. I'll probably regret that later, but I still haven't learned the greatness of preserving your thoughts for the future. So far every time I go back to read something I wrote years ago I only think "what an idiot." And I think that discourages me from writing in the present. Nevertheless I should push forward and preserve the idiocy!

Well as I believe you're all aware I've had this pesky ovarian cyst giving me sass. They gave me hormones approximately six weeks ago to shrink it, but alas it continues on as big as it ever was. Persistent bugger! The doctors I've seen about it say if it's giving me this much pain/trouble (and it is), and hormones didn't shrink it, we might as well do surgery and take it out. I like the thought of not being in pain anymore, but I must admit I'm dreading the thought of another surgery. I've only had three surgeries but they've been enough to make me hate the process - from the first IV going in to the day 3 of try-to-sit-up-okay-good-now-lets-walk-around-the-hospital to the week(s) following of pain medication and healing scars. I just don't want to do it again.

But then again I don't like having to sleep sitting up so....I guess I'll do it.

Turns out though the cyst isn't my biggest problem. Yesterday I saw my doctor and he sadly informed me that my cancer had metastasized and was now in my liver. Sigh. I'll meet with my oncologist on Monday to get the details of the plan from this point, but it sounds like the gist is that they'll probably put me on some clinical trials and hope they/I find a drug that works for me. They told me some people do go into remission so I've definitely got a fighting chance. We'll see. Meanwhile I shall take this opportunity to solicit any prayers you're willing to send out! I know the prayers of many saved me from a permanent colostomy once - so I believe they can work miracles! Here's hoping for more than my fair share of miracles. :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Work Like a Beaver

Well it's been almost a month since I last posted. I feel guilty about this every time I read my friend Malinda's blog and think to myself "why doesn't she post every day?!" Well. Guilty and selfish. But apparently not enough of either to actually remedy the situation.

Until now! Today was my first day back at work. Yep. I went back to work. More because I need money to live in America than because I have a deep seated love for labor. Luckily the job is part time so I don't have to show up EVERY day. Woo hoo! But I tell you what - going from a year of nothing (I mean, besides trying to get healthy) to spending a whole day working is a shock to the system. I left work tonight feeling kind of sick. Like when you exercise too hard after not exercising for a long time. Yes. My body is pathetically weak. It takes so little to wipe it out. BUT. I'm sure that I'll get stronger every day. ....Right?

The good news (besides having an income) is that I THINK working a full day is going to make me properly exhausted enough to sleep tonight. Won't that be nice! (In case I haven't made it clear, I agree that it's pathetic that one day of work - ONE - has made me so sick and tired).

I haven't slept more than three hours at a time since...October. And I haven't slept lying down since mid-November. So I am hopeful that tonight will be the night that breaks the cycle! If not then maybe after TWO days of work I'll sleep a full night. It could happen.

Pretty sure the not-sleeping thing is due to the cyst pain. Lying down and standing up are just the worst. But sitting is....a little bit better than the worst. So I sleep sitting up. There are worse things. I'm just grateful to sleep at all. And hopefully the cyst will go away in the next couple of weeks. If not then I've got "a different issue." But my doctors are pretty certain that it'll go away. Here's hoping!

Other than the cyst, life is pretty great cancer-free and bag-free! I have developed kind of awful neuropathy in my feet that makes it really hard to walk, but thankfully my hands aren't so bad. I'd rather have bum feet than bum hands.

Also right now I'm watching "Half-Ton Mom" and I feel like as bad as some of my health things can get, at least I can stand and walk around. This poor woman is over 900lbs and hasn't moved from her bed in I don't know how long. That sounds miserable.

Anyway things are good. I'll try to post more often. Happy 2012 to everyone!

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's official

I'm bag-free baby! I'm reacquainting myself with the restroom and we're getting along fine so far. I'm not quite used to not having the bag though. I notice every time I put my pants on I automatically adjust for the bag and then realize - wait, I'm free! And now my dog can sit on my lap without me having to worry that she'll squish my bag. Really anyone can sit on my lap now, but Lily was the most likely to take advantage of that offer. I do have a weird tan line where my bag was attached to my skin. I don't know how that happened since my belly never saw the light of day while I had ol' baggie attached. But whatever! What else? I can sleep an entire night- no getting up at 3am to empty an uncomfortably full bag. Life is great. And if anyone needs ostomy supplies I can hook you up; plenty of leftovers. :)

On a completely unrelated note, happy birthday to my dear brother-in-law! I'm glad you're part of the fam, and this year I hope we send out a Christmas card where your eyes are open. :) Love you!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Hospital

Wednesday I spent the day prepping for my last surgery! (assuming, of course, the cyst thing clears itself up). Prepping basically involves drinking only clear liquids and downing two bottles of magnesium citrate. I don't know if you've ever had to drink magnesium citrate but I hope for your sake that you haven't. It's not good. It's actually not that bad going down, but the aftertaste creates that involuntary shudder and once it's in your stomach it starts things moving and doesn't want to stay in there long. Ideally you end up having to go to the bathroom within about a half hour. But if you're my weak little stomach you will desire no part of the magnesium citrate and will promptly throw up the entire bottle of stuff. Luckily (?) I had to drink two bottles so I was counting on the second bottle to stay down and do all the work. And it was touch and go there but it all stayed down. Hooray!
So Wednesday I got no food. Thursday morning in we came to the hospital bright and early. Thankfully I was the first surgery of the day so even though I couldn't eat anything Thursday (not even gum!) it wasn't a big deal. I probably wasn't going to eat breakfast before 5am anyway. The surgery went swimmingly. They stuck my intestine back inside me and took the port-a-cath (technical term?) out of my chest and I was good to go. AND, wonder of wonders - I woke up without throwing up! It was a miracle. Thursday I was feeling pretty good. I ate some ice chips, sipped some water....things were alright.
Friday started out the same - clear liquid diet which was fine - I wasn't hungry anyway - and mostly just recovering from surgery (i.e. laying around). But then Friday afternoon my head started hurting something fierce. And I noticed that every time I pushed the little button for more pain medication I started to feel nauseated. So I stopped pushing it. But I kept feeling sicker and sicker. And soon enough I was puking my guts out.
Thankfully by Saturday morning I was feeling much better. And starving. I mean, I hadn't eaten anything "real" since Tuesday. And my last "real" meal was a vegan meal so that hardly counts. Unfortunately my doctors wanted to keep me on the clear liquid diet all day Saturday. So by late afternoon when Emily and Kyle came by with a burger and french fries I couldn't help myself. I ate some french fries. And then later I ate a snickerdoodle. And totally almost got caught. It was really close - I even had to spit out part of the cookie as the nurse was walking in. I guess I'm not the best patient ever.
So this morning my diet finally got changed - I could have real food! And it's been grand. Well, the eating part is grand. My insides haven't fully adjusted yet so they get pretty cramped up pretty immediately, but I'm grateful that despite the discomfort they seem to be working. And I don't have a bag anymore! Hallelujah! Instead I have a little tube sticking out that drains whatever fluids are in my belly needing to be drained. After having my intestine stuck to my belly, one little tube is not a big deal. I'll take it.
With a little bit of luck I'll be out of here by tomorrow morning! And it should be a lovely bag-free Christmas. :) My surgeon is the best.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy Birthday

In a mere matter of days my little sister will be turning 30. I know what you're thinking "you're not old enough to have a younger sister that's 30!" You're right. I'm way too youthful for that. Well, actually now that I have had cancer I feel like I'm old enough to have a sister that age. I mean who gets colon cancer? Old people. And heavy drinkers. So, cheers everyone!

And in honor of her upcoming special day, here are 30 things you may not have known about dear old sis (I would've saved this for your ACTUAL birthday but since I'll be in the hospital and high on drugs that day I am not entirely secure in what 30 things would end up coming out of my brain):
1. Most people think she's older than me. Not because she looks older - well actually she DOES look more adult so it probably IS partly that - but she also has kids and I don't. So. She's often known around my apartment as "my older younger sister."
2. Her favorite singer when we were young was Billy Joel. I remember her showing me how to moonwalk to "Uptown Girl." But when you're 4 moonwalking is basically just walking backwards. So I picked up on the technique easily but I don't think it's all that accurate.
3. She still has an old school ipod. Like the ones that first came out. But I guess if it still works...
4. When we were kids I stuck a stick in her ear (my early days of wanting to be a doctor) and scratched her ear drum. I was pretty sure well into my adult life that this was the cause of her partial deafness. ....But it's not, right?
5. She tells her kids that my parents' dog is their dog that just lives at grandma's house so that they don't beg for a pet. So far it seems to be working.
6. She is a fantastic artist. Not, like, kinda good - like REALLY good. If I could show you some of the stuff she painted (or drew or watercolored or whatever) in high school I would.
7. I remember one Christmas when we were writing our letters to Santa and she just kept putting down everything I was putting down. It really bugged me so I wrote down "caterpillar" thinking she wouldn't be so bold as to put that down too - who would ACTUALLY want a caterpillar? - but she wrote that down too. She's gutsy like that.
8. She convinced me to go to BYU Hawaii with her one summer. I don't know why I needed convincing but that's beside the point. She met her husband, and I got a job working 4pm - midnight four days a week. So, good call there sis!
9. We took sign language classes together in high school and college. She was really good. I was okay. We used to have her sign stories and I would "interpret" them for all the hearing people. Sometimes I took liberties with what she was signing. I don't think she thought it was as funny as I thought it was.
10. I was there when her first child was born. I was the photographer but I stayed up near her head and only took very classy photos.
11. We went to outdoor school together. That was unusual only because it was the year they were transitioning from having outdoor school be in sixth grade to fifth grade. So both sixth and fifth graders went that year.
12. We had bunk beds when we were young. One night she was bugging me about something and when she dropped her head over the side of the top bunk to annoy me again I pulled on her sleeve and pulled her right off that bunk. She's never let me live it down.
13. We went on a family vacation to Hawaii sometime while she was dating her now-husband. It must've been near when they got engaged or shortly after it. All I remember is he wasn't on vacation with us and she was mopey without him the whole time. Psh. Crazy engaged folk.
14. We used to play duets on the piano. She had the harder parts because she was the better pianist. She's still the better pianist. I'm not even a pianist. That would be giving myself way too much credit.
15. She was there when I found out I passed the bar. I was at her house (which was right by my work) when I checked online. She was appropriately excited for me.
16. She and her husband got me my first law job. I now hope to spend every unemployed holiday at their house in hopes that it will happen again.
17. She loves licorice. Specifically Twizzlers.
18. She can quote movies with the best of them. Although I'm pretty sure now that most of her movie quotes come from Disney flicks.
19. We were on the same softball team growing up. She played 2nd base and I was shortstop and I always thought it was cool that we held down the middle of the infield.
20. When she was 14 she had a wheelchair for awhile. We liked to kick her out of it as often as possible and practice doing wheelies in it.
21. Despite living in almost constant pain from her stupid joints, she never ever complains. Ever. I've always thought that was amazing.
22. Her lung sometimes spontaneously collapses. She didn't realize that for awhile since she didn't go to the doctor because she figured she just had a cramp from being out of shape. I'm pretty sure she has a really high pain tolerance.
23. If I ever get to be a mom I want to be a mom like her. I think she's so good at it. She's patient, loving, firm, fun and supportive of her kids. And they're all great kids. My plan is to try and copy her someday.
24. She's awfully selfless. Despite having a family of her own, when I was in the midst of chemo and radiation treatments (because why not do both at once?) she came down and stayed with me for a week cooking and cleaning and taking me to my appointments. And she bought me donuts too. It was so great having her here. Both my roomie and I missed her a lot when she left!
25. She saves me from being set up with just any random available guy. I appreciate that she uses discernment and decides she's never going to subject me to going out with someone nicknamed "Dusty Buns."
26. She's an amazing photographer. I really think she could make money taking pictures if she wanted to.
27. She's a fantastic writer. Even writing stuff like thank you notes. People would call my parents to tell them what a nice thank-you note they received from her after her wedding. (People did that with my other siblings too. Thanks a lot guys - way to set the bar low. )
28. She's loyal to the end. If she's on your side she's ON. YOUR. SIDE. It's a fabulous trait to have in a sister and in a friend. I know if I ever need anything (even if it's someone to be mad with me) she's there.
29. She's beautiful. (Sometimes this is annoying).
30. She's the best sister anyone could ask for. It's been a fun 30 years knowing her and I'm grateful to have her in my life.

Friday, December 2, 2011

San Francisco

It's been a long time since I put any pictures up in my posts. The reason for that is pretty simple: I don't take many pictures. do you take a picture of cysts? Gross.

But now it's picture time. I only put a couple up though because I'm not sure my trip companions would approve of the other pictures. Not that we took pictures of anything sketchy - just that we're girls and they mentioned something about needing to approve the way they looked in pictures before the general public could see them.

The weekend before Thanksgiving (a wonderful time deserving of a post of its own although I don't know if that will ever actually happen), Amy and Tiffany and I went to San Francisco to celebrate Tiffany's birthday. It was a magical time. A time when we could appreciate mother nature and all her cold and rainy glory.

Really though it was fun. We did all the touristy things (well not ALL, but a lot of them) from Fisherman's Wharf to watching the seals off Pier 39 (that IS the right pier number, right?) to Ghiradelli Square (it's freezing outside and I didn't bring the appropriate jacket? Absolutely I'll have an ice cream sundae!) to Muir Woods. Walking through Muir Woods was awesome. And I must be a big baby because both Amy and Tiffany gave me the clothes off of their backs to try and keep me warm. So Amy's walking around in a dress, Tiffany has a sweatshirt, and I'm wearing a sweatshirt, Amy's sweater, Tiffany's jacket, Amy's mittens and hat and carrying the only umbrella (it was raining). Needless to say I was fine but I think Amy and Tiffany might have ended up with pneumonia afterward. Thanks for the clothes friends! :) Happy birthday Tiffany!

Of course we went down the crookedest street in the world. And then took a picture by it. And then looked it up on Google to see if it really was the crookedest street. It's not. But it's probably the most popular crooked street in the world. It was crazy to see how many people were just standing around taking pictures of it. So we joined in and got a picture. Why not?

We also hit up Coit Tower. It doesn't seem particularly tall when you're looking at it, but you can see all of San Francisco from the top. And when you look up you can see angels. Just kidding, all you can see is the sky. I don't know why we're looking up in this picture.

So our trip was fun. It was also nice for me because I had spent the whole week up north visiting Leah and her fam trying to get in good with my niece and nephews before they came down for Thanksgiving and played with the more fun aunts and uncles. It almost worked. But Laney and Chris are good. I can't compete with them!