Friday, September 27, 2013


I haven't been able to write these last few weeks because I've been holding back the feelings. When I write or scrapbook I feel all the feelings. Sometimes it is too much. Sometimes it makes me feel alive, really here, really living this life, instead of watching myself live this life from afar.

Melanoma Man's health has been relatively stable. His moods have not. I have been performing his Zemaira infusions for a few months now, but hit a bump in the road a few weeks ago, having some difficulty accessing the port. It all came together in the long run. I contacted my nurse friend Sara to come over and troubleshoot. We started a peripheral IV since we had port difficulties again. I honestly think it is just me being psyched out by Melanoma Man. The following Friday I had his official infusion nurse, Kathleen come over to help. I accessed the port with no difficulty. Melanoma Man has not been kind, refraining from speaking to me for two days after the first debacle. Then implying with words and tone that I am some kind of incompetent idiot in front of Kathleen. I announced that I would be in the kitchen while he talked trash because I didn't need to hear it, already knowing what he thinks of me. A moment later Butter joined me in the kitchen and asked " What is Dad talking about Mom?" I replied " I don't give a damn what your father has to say about me." Butter went to his room, sad and upset that I used the word "damn" until I told him he could fine me a quarter every time I cussed. I don't consider damn to be a bad word. Butter however is a purist. The quarter made all the difference in his mood. Money talks.

Yesterday was my last day at the job I began in January 2007. They gave me a wonderful send off breakfast. There were tears and hugs and cards and well wishes. As dysfunctional as we were, my work family has seen me through so much. I can't really imagine going through the day without them by my side. On Monday I'll give it a try. We will see if I can swim on my own.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


I don't think of myself as much of a risk taker. The biggest risks for me were getting married and having children. I remember me at 8 1/2 months pregnant thinking I'd rather not go through with it, knowing it was too late, knowing how ridiculous I was being. At the same time being sure that plenty of women before me had wanted to turn back too. It just seemed like too much risk, to love yet another person, too too much.

I was not sure how to turn myself into the type of mother who lives in a Pottery Barn catalog. The catalogs kept coming, Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids. Crate and Barrel too. After awhile I stopped looking, heaving them to the recycle bin without so much as turning back the cover. The catalogs were full of safety and certainty and served only to remind me of the risks I was taking with these people who were becoming my family.

Last week thinking about all the changes going on at work and thinking about Girl number three, I thought to myself " I can't do this anymore."

Girl Number three is dying, the third in a series of young women that I have Case Managed. Although it doesn't feel like case management. It feels like my title should be Suicide Witness. All the tools of health laid out before them: pill boxes, free medications that work, check lists, encouraging phone calls, physicians, social workers, pharmacists, and psychologists and nurse.Yet they still march smartly toward death.

A text arrived on my phone from V, the other lucky case manager in my clinic. V manages the adults. I manage the children. If they are closing in on death I won't let them transfer from the pediatric to the adult side of the clinic even if they are 20 years old. I just think it's best to stick by them. The text from V is a job description. She knows I've got to get out. V calls my desk phone to see if I have filled out the online application. I edit my resume and have V and Dr. Ann look it over. Application submitted. Two days later a call comes to set up an interview. Wednesday morning I spent two and a half hours meeting with the folks at my prospective employer. There are windows. The staff bathrooms are clean. The commute is a little shorter. The patients aren't terminal. They are simply allergic. It feels like where I am supposed to be. I'm thinking about what to wear if I get a second interview when my phone rings. It's the offer, sooner than I expected and $5 more per hour than my current salary. I am happy, sad, exhausted, elated. I'm getting out. I am leaving people I love behind. I am choosing a job with potential, that will be infinitely better for me and the kiddos. I worry too about Melanoma Man and how long he can keep up the after school activities, homework, dinner prep. Whether this is a risk I should be taking at this time. V sends another text to me on interview day reminding me that there is no right time. So I stop waiting for all the planets to align just right and I accept the job.