Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Bike rides and the continued suckitude of cancer

Daniel rode his bike to Vancouver, BC this weekend. He's the type of person that finds it fun to ride his bike 200+ miles on the weekend. I worry about him. The ride went well though and he had fun chatting with other riders and he continued to be extremely fast at riding and said this ride went better than when he did it 15 years ago. He's in crazy good shape now, so I'm not surprised. It's been so great having him commute to work on his bike- all the biking has relaxed him and even got him off of 3 of the 4 medications that he was taking for his rheumatoid arthritis.

The kids and I dropped him off at the start line at 6 am on Saturday morning, where I gave him a hard time about the fact that, out of the hundreds of riders there, we were the only family with small children up that early and in tow to the start line. Then we came home and I napped and the children, being small children with endless energy, did not nap, but did something with electronics. We spent the afternoon at the world's loudest new play area and ate sushi and finished the first Harry Potter movie. Then I tried to sleep on the tiniest piece of my bed that was not occupied by Vivian or a cat.

She also stole all my blankets and left me with just her princess sheet. She's so generous. 

Sunday we got up and somehow got the car loaded and the house ready and made it to church only about 5 minutes late, which I took as a great success. I haven't sat in the church service at our own church in months, thanks to travel and teaching the preschool children's church, so it was lovely to be back for the service. 

And then we drove to Vancouver and eventually met up with Daniel at the finish line of his ride and met his friends and then headed to meet up with his parents for dinner.

A week. It had only been a week since we last saw his dad and the decline was shocking. He's losing weight rapidly and now is in pain in his bones (the cancer has spread there). The doctor is concerned that the cancer has spread to his liver as well.

We've been up there almost every weekend and had planned to stay home this coming weekend, since we're heading up with my parents in just over a week. As we drove home last night though, I knew Daniel couldn't stay away this weekend. It's hard to be helpless to make things better, and I know it helps Daniel to be there and doing things for them like running errands or moving furniture. I sorted his dad's medications into pill boxes yesterday and felt better about it, just DOING something to help. 

On our way out Daniel's mom was giving the kids big hugs and then she was standing by the door chatting with me (we don't chat a lot) and I am kicking myself today for not giving her a hug, because I could tell she needed one. We are not a hugging family- she's hugged me something like 3 times in the 11 years I've been around and they never hug each other. Next time, for sure. 

I don't want to adult anymore. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Ethan is Eight!

I'm sitting in my dining room trying to wrap my brain around the idea of my first baby being 8 years old. Not sure how that came about so quickly. It's not been a stellar birthday so far. 8:30 am found me scrambling to get dressed and move my car out of the driveway as one of the subcontractors for our bathroom arrived a day early. Then our contractors showed up and the house got loud and I had thing to do for work this morning, so that was all fun. I let the kids play Minecraft on their kindle while things were crazy and now they are crying because the battery on the kindle is dead and I said they need to do something else for a while and that they can't have it back as soon as the battery is charged.

Electronics are not my friend this summer and have been largely banned because EVERY time, playing with them ends up with crying and/or fighting. NOPE.

Anyway, that all to say that it hasn't been a very birthdayish birthday. But he did celebrate this weekend. His main birthday desire was for Vivian to go away for a while so he could play the Kindle in peace. Fortunately, one of her friends was celebrating on Saturday, so she and I went to the zoo and saw former kindergarten friends while he played. Then it was into the car and up to Vancouver for all of us, where he got to swim for a while, have sushi for dinner, cake with Daniel's family and TV before bed. So I feel better about today not being particularly birthdayish. There will be cake later, mostly for my sake in having gotten through today. :)

So, Ethan at 8.

We've managed to fatten him up pretty well this summer, thanks to a steady diet of chocolate peanut butter and chocolate chip pancakes. He's actually on track to have his feeding tube removed in another month if we can keep up the weight gain! As of last week he was up to just under 41 pounds! Making progress!

Things he loves include- all sports, Minecraft, video games, comic books, and fighting with his sister. He still has an endless abundance of energy and happily stays up until late at night, just lying in his bed and talking to himself about video games. Or sports. His life goals are a bit contradictory- he either wants to grow up and be a professional athlete or just finish college and then play video games all the time. I believe he's still aiming to have at least 5 kids. It'll be interesting to see how he works all of those things out.

He has a few friends at church and at school, but the center of his life is his sister and they are pretty much lost without each other. Even though it's been a challenging summer with Daniel's dad's health and our bathroom remodel, it's also been a fun summer to listen to them interact and make up stories. Super Ethan and Super Vivian have been spending a lot of time defeating foes named Mac & Cheese or Poop & Pee.

My mom posted on Facebook this morning that she had an 8 year old grandson and my first reaction was to think "who is her 8 year old grandson?" And then I realized it was my kid. Which fits, because my reaction when I first met him took place when I was coming out of anesthesia from his birth and the nurse said "here is your son" and handed me a baby and I just laid there and thought "son? I don't have a son!". Before realizing that I, in fact did.

It's been a crazy 8 years, but I think I'll keep him. It's fun watching him mature and grow and develop his little personality. I can't wait to see what future years bring for us.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Being a witness to the process of dying

We're just home from another trip up to Vancouver. Daniel had just gotten home from Vancouver on Tuesday night, so we had planned to take this weekend off before heading up again later. But on Thursday, the home care nurse came to talk to his parents about future planning. Nothing for right now, but to start thinking about when his dad will need to go into hospice care and being realistic about my mother-in-law's inability to care for him alone, as she is also very frail.

This conversation seemed to make the reality of the situation click for my brother-in-law and he and Daniel realized they still had tasks to take care of. And my mother-in-law was, understandably pretty sad after the nurse visit. So back into the car we went on Saturday morning. Because if there's one thing that my kids are excellent at, it's making lots of noise and being completely silly and serving as a fantastic distraction from the realities of life. The current state of my home is evidence of that.

This is a new thing for us and a new state for our marriage. We've been together a little over 11 years and in that time we've lost Daniel's grandmother (to old age in her 90s), his uncle (hit by a car), his aunt (cancer, went quickly), and my great-aunt (float plane accident). With the exception of his aunt, no one was sick, they were just here and then not.  We've never been through this situation of watching someone we care about gradually get smaller and sicker and knowing that the end is coming soon.

I'm, admittedly, not close to my father-in-law. We've probably only had a handful of conversations. The language barrier is big and therefore we don't know what to talk to each other about. He's not a particularly talkative person in general and mostly keeps to himself. So I'm not dealing with this cancer diagnosis as one who is emotionally involved with him, but as one who knows how much those left behind are going to hurt. My kids love their grandfather and he loves them. And Daniel's really reeling from this all as well. The people I love are going to have their hearts broken. My mother-in-law is going to lose the husband that she's had for over 50 years, who has been with her through some serious hard times and many joyful ones as well.

This is hard. Even with knowing that we will all be together again someday in Heaven and we will be free of this life's pains and sickness. It's just hard.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Bathroom remodel

Our main bathroom is currently ripped out down to the studs.  There is an electrician in there now wiring things. Our contractor is worried that the lighting we chose wont work well for me putting on my makeup.  He can clearly see that I do not actually wear makeup and I keep pointing this out, but he still seems concerned. Oh, and the sink that we chose and purchased and assembled with the cabinet is too big.

My husband is not answering his phone. He is in meetings or something. This bathroom remodel is his project, but I'm the one who has to make on the spot decisions. I dislike this intensely. I'm also the one who has had to keep the kids busy all week so that they do not impale themselves on power tools. I have no idea where one of our cats is.

Might I suggest not doing a major remodel at the same time as dealing with a close relative with a terminal illness? We're a little on edge.

And then I went upstairs and found that Vivian had gotten marker on the couch. With the markers that I repeatedly asked her to not take upstairs.  That resulted in her being disciplined (I threw the markers away) and then she threw a massive temper tantrum. I'm sure the electrician is very impressed by my parenting skills.

I can see why home improvement projects get expensive. Once you're into it, you'll do anything just to get it done and functional.  I do not even care at this point, and we're only on day 4.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Monday was a no good, very bad day.

We went up to Vancouver last Thursday night, right after Daniel got off of work. Even though the first part of the trip was just for hanging out and having fun, I was still so stressed that we had to pull over by the side of the road so that I could throw up. Stress manifests in stomach issues for me. It's lovely. We spent the next few days swimming and then staying at a rental property and doing local sightseeing in the 95 degree weather. I melted.

And then Monday we loaded up the car and headed back to Vancouver and dropped the kids off at my sister-in-law's sister's house (thank goodness for large Chinese families!). We'd been told that Daniel's dad (FIL) had an 11 am appointment, so we left early and all arrived at the cancer center by 10:40. Turns out the 11 am time was a check-in time for a 11:15 blood test. So after the blood test, we planted Daniel's parents in the cafeteria and walked over to the nearby mall for early lunch. We'd been told as well that the real appointment was at 12:15. Turns out the 12:15 time was to meet up with the interpreter to do paperwork. That we'd already finished with his dad. So then we went to a different waiting room and sat while the clock moved very, very slowly towards 1. Around 1:10, the 5 of us were finally issued into a small exam room.

The first doctor we saw was a resident and boy, does he need to work on his bedside manner. He spent quite a while asking Daniel's dad about his symptoms and how he was feeling. I understand it was necessary questioning, but the way he went about it was painful. He wrapped things up by asking FIL what FIL's understanding was about the cancer. FIL responded that he thought it was a small tumor and not widespread.

That's when Dr. Rude responded by saying "It's actually a very large tumor and it's spread to your bones." At which point no one in the room moved a muscle or so much as twitched, except me. I started to cry a little. I'm a really non-emotional person normally, but in this particular family I'm actually the wildly expressive one. I think they were all too much in shock to respond right away.

There's one possible treatment that will buy him a few more months, if his cancer shows the right genetic markers, but it's terminal cancer and no other treatment is being recommended.  We've spent the past few days emailing and calling back and forth with his parents and brother and uncles and cousins and making sure everyone understands what's going on. Really understands. Medical stuff is hard enough, even without the language barrier factored in.

Honestly, I've probably spoken just a few sentences directly to FIL in the entire decade that I've been a part of the family. He's a very quiet man and his English is poor. But he's a really good man and this is all really hard on Daniel. And I know it's going to devastate Ethan in particular. The kids love FIL so very much. They know he's sick, but they are kids and in their world, sick people get better. And they are old enough to understand when he does die and it's going to hurt them. I hate not being able to head off a painful situation for those I love. Cancer is the worst.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The second-to-last day of school.

Well, I've pretty much made it to the end at this point. Lunches are packed for tomorrow and I'm getting ready to make the kids' "last day of school" signs. Plans have been made for post-school ice cream celebrating. I just went by the school to watch Ethan eat his "summer birthday kid" popsicle. He was less than excited to see me. This is the same kid who sobbed for a good 20 minutes last night at the idea of growing up and having to move away from me. I really never know where I stand with those children.

I've been spending the last week and a bit frantically scheduling all the things that I can't do easily when the kids are at home. Dentist appointments and pedicures and hair cuts and such. Even though I knew the end of school was coming, the reality of them being home all day hadn't occurred to me until it was almost too late. I'm very quick these days.

No good news on the Daniel's dad front. He's been in the hospital since Wednesday, after a bad reaction to a medical test. Still waiting for test results. Every so often, Daniel and I just look at each other and say "THIS SUCKS." There is no other term for watching a parent go through something like this. We know that he will either get better or he will get to go be with Christ in heaven, and we will see him again someday. I'm just not ready for this. Prayers greatly appreciated.