when it rains it pours…or snows?

Reporting to you live from my command chair. The last two days have been rough and bumpy. It’s hard to believe I had surgery 2 days ago. It’s even harder to believe it’s been 2 months since I got the call about the cancer. My CJ is 2 months old and I’m both physically and emotionally wiped out.  I’m exhausted from keeping it together all this time and I’m starting to doubt my stamina for the months ahead.

For those pop culture junkies like me, you may recall a show on VH1 called ‘Best Week Ever’ in which they highlighted some unlucky schmo who did something incredibly lame or stupid and as a result was selected as the recipient of the BWE crown. Lindsay Lohan, Whitney Houston and Mel Gibson come to mind as past winners of this dubious honor. Not to mention the plethora of young Hollywood starlets who decided to pop out of a limo sans undies for some widely circulated (and unflattering) crotch shots. I mention this because I feel like if the show was still on today, I’d be this week’s big winner. Best Week Ever – uh, yah right.

If you can’t handle my wallowing, then I’d suggest you find something else to read online. Because yes, I’m going there. I promised to share my journey and it feels disingenuous to not share how fragile I’ve felt the past few days. But first: another trip down memory lane, to another era, when I also felt despair and frustration.

Rewind eight years to summer 2005. Miss J is 5 months old, and the guys are nearly 3. We are supposed to drive up to  Lake Tahoe to spend a few weeks with the family. It’s an annual highlight for sure, especially when the cousins from Germany come. We’ve expanded from a cozy crew of 8 to a clan of 20.  This is the kind of vacation where we eat one meal and plan for the next meal. Yes, we are those people. My mom even takes it one step further and makes a hand-written weekly calendar of all of our meals in Tahoe, from J’s famous ribs, BBQ dinners, Wet-Woody’s and pancake breakfasts.

As if driving up to Tahoe with 3 kids under 3 wasn’t enough stress, my tire pressure light went off and we pulled over at Nyack. And that’s when the clouds swirling overhead me (figuratively) started to turn grey and stormy.  Within a 48 hour period, I’d experienced a mini-van with a busted tire, a tow-truck, (no spare tire!), 2  broken double strollers and a 5 month old with a double ear infection. My older and wiser cousin S observed: “It’s like you have your own personal black rain cloud.”


I feel as though that personal rain cloud has returned. I got  a call from Dr H’s assistant yesterday informing me that my oncotype test was in fact never submitted two weeks ago.

[Pause while you un-hook your jaw off the floor.]

Turns out, the assistant called in the request for the hospital to send out the tissues to the lab on November 26th (a day after my appointment), someone dropped the ball and they didn’t do it. She apologized profusely, and praised me for being so on the ball about it and calling to check in about the progress. In an ordinary situation, I’d feel pride in my type A behavior, but not now. I’m pissed, angry and frustrated. Seriously? So this means two more weeks of waiting. Ugh.

I know because of Wednesday’s repair surgery that means that I’m in limbo at least until the first week of January and couldn’t begin treatment whatever that may be, but it’s extremely difficult the not-knowing. What this also means is that I had to push back appointments with other oncologists for 2nd and 3rd opinions. Quite simply, the first order of business is for my left breast to heal so everything else (reconstruction, fills, etc) is on hold while this happens.

I went to see my plastic surgeon Dr K today in the city to get my drain taken out. I’m drain-free which is nice because it means I’ve been given the green light to shower tomorrow, but I’m still in a lot of discomfort on my left side. When Dr’s K’s assistant C came in and asked how I was feeling, I just broke down in tears. “I so feel fragile,” I sobbed.

Dr K and C were reassuring “I know it doesn’t feel like it now,” they said, “But time will heal everything.”

And so, I’m back in my chair, back on the painkillers, (Groundhog Day anyone?) longing for the simpler days of flat tires and ear infections (if only!) and snuggling the guys super tight (Miss J has her Holiday Pops dress rehearsal tonight) while we binge-watch Survivor.



7 Responses

  1. Thanks for being real, Jen, about how hard it is. You have all kinds of bravery, and your honesty is a big part of that. I hope Jeff Probst is also helping. (Did you know that I had pizza with him once when Alice was a baby?)

  2. Jennifer,

    Sometimes I write to joke and hope that you “get it” and laugh, and other times maybe the time is for something more meaningful. Like you, sometimes we write as a catharsis….not always for others but for ourselves.

    Sometimes we feel like we work in a vacuum and no one really knows what we do. You, however, should be reminded a umpteen times that you continue to make a difference in the lives you touch. Huge difference.

    It is easier for most people to talk about “other things,” “other people,” and everything/anything other than themselves. Most people do occasionally forget they have a home life. Maybe it’s just easier to be “other directed” as I call it. I appreciate your ability to hit home for all of us in such touching ways. I’ll try to give you a little something for your quiet time tonight.

    I love that you refer to your new puppy often. Lean on her a bit more these days. It feels good and she always has the right words for you, huh? Better than the rest of us. That pup is a buddy, a silent friend, a compassionate commiserator, unconditional love…the best of all during these tough days. I would bet you that even at her young age, she has the best sense of when to curl up on the couch, when warmth matters more than all else, and when to seize the moment to bump your arm for affection again. It’s okay to switch roles. Just make that same sound that gets your ear scratched or maybe someone to come give you a treat while telling you how much they care about you.

    When my own Sammydog died a few years ago, the vet lifted her on the table and prepared her for the injection. For some strange reason, Sammy held her head high, refused to whine, and regained her great smile for a few moments-perhaps she knew why we were there. She stared at each of us for just enough time, one by one. The look. I could have sworn that there were winks from Sammydog to each of us. She knew we understood. It was her way of telling us the very same message we were saying to her for all our years together.

    Homes and hospitals, doctor’s offices, and the zillion other places you spend the majority of your time over the coming months need to be places where they not only perform their expected function, but you can start demanding that they also provide room for pets and friends.

    The NEXT time the nurse screws up with a test or forgets to turn it in, turn to your doggie and ask what she would do? Yes, yes, bite that beaatch in the ass. Your doggie will bark with approval and the nurse will never screw up again. You may have to find a new hospital, but if laughter is the best medicine, it might be worth it.

  3. OMG – healthcare at its worst. You have every right to be pissed and angry. Sun is shining today – hope it burns a hole in your dark cloud! You’re brave is so many ways – thanks for keeping it real.

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