Sunday, June 30, 2013

Of Shirts and Quilts

Team Miner:

Our week with Grandpa Dave in town visiting, sadly, just came to an end.  It was great to have his help and we are looking forward to seeing him again soon.  Emily is here now, and having Stella's professed "favorite adult" (that's right, not me, not Jeff) in town is always excellent.

Jeff's treatment this round is going a-ok thus far.  San Francisco - as well as the rest of Northern California apparently - is undergoing a heat wave.  His hospital room is stuffy and quite hot.  But, he is not confined to his actual room this time, and has been able to move about the floor.  Probably due to the prednisone, he has been more restless and has found it difficult to sleep the past couple of days.  Prednisone is also making him extra hungry.  He ate enough breakfast this morning for probably 3-4 people.  He looks a lot more like himself these days, and it is wonderful to see him with an appetite again, even if it is partially "roid" induced.  

I don't have all that much else to report, but I do want to share with the general readership our family's amazing artistic creations.  

First, Uncle Tom designed t-shirts.  "Jeff" is drawn from a photo Grandpa Dave snapped during his initial hospital stay, back when he had hair, and even a beard.  In classic Jeff style, he is posing "thumbs up."  The quote, of course, is from Monty Python.  I wouldn't expect anything else from my husband.

Here is a close up of the shirt:

And here is Stella "posing" at my request to model her shirt.  Not quite the pose I was looking for, but that gives you a sense of her energy level (OFF the charts) and the challenges that hospital visits typically present...  Some other pictures of people sporting the shirts are posted on the Lotsa site in the "photo gallery."

The entire family also participated in the illustration of fabric squares which Jeff's aunts (Lydia, Caroline, and Jinny) and Grandma Robin designed and pieced into a gorgeous quilt.  It turned out really well with awesome messages and sentiments from across the country.  If you happen to come to the hospital, we have some squares that are still available to decorate. Below is the man himself holding the quilt:

These tangible and creative gifts certainly make us feel loved.  As do the kind messages and letters we receive, your thoughts, prayers, meals, and visits.  Thanks, as always, for the support.

GO TEAM (especially Team Captain Jeff)!!!


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I've Never Actually Been to Fresno... but it makes a convenient fall guy.

Team Miner:  

A while ago I posted an article on the concept of "comfort in, dump out." I love the simplicity of that rule, but I have come to recognize a limitation. Or maybe just a need for further refinement.  

Before I launch in, I should say that Jeff co-wrote this post. I was struggling to put this concept into words in a more generous than critical way, while still being honest and true to how I feel, to explain and share where I - and no doubt others - are coming from. 

So, the issue is with the definition of "comfort."  When going through an experience that fundamentally has no upsides (e.g. when your spouse has cancer) it is not comforting to hear about the "bright side" of your situation or "how lucky you are, relatively speaking." This may seem odd or counter-intuitive, especially given that Jeff is often quick to bring up the silver linings in our situation when asked about how things are going, rather than dwelling on the monolithic negative of having cancer.

Don't get me wrong. I am also quick (though less quick than Jeff) to count our blessings. We are still here in SF, surrounded by people we love who have been able to support us in so many ways. We have phenomenally supportive families.  We have great health care and other benefits. We live close to UCSF, not in say, Fresno. And, I can be thankful for not living in Fresno for other reasons, on a daily basis.

Still, blessings are something best counted for oneself, rather than to have counted for you by others. And really, I would rather not have to walk this path, blessings or not. It's not at all fun. And, despite what I am sure are the best of intentions, hearing anyone say anything along the lines of "you're so lucky to have a supportive network..."  just grates on my nerves.

So, I write to encourage everyone to tread gently and with emotional "attunement" when interacting with anyone who is coping with mega-stress, grief, miscarriages, losses of jobs, the list goes on. For comforters, this means being sensitive to the possibility that what you perceive as "comforting," may not be so for your "comfortee." Being comforted and cheered up are not always the same thing - try to take your cue from the person going through whatever it may be. It may be more comforting just for you to be present than to try and help them feel optimistic, cheerful, or thankful - even if that's obviously what we want for those we care for. For comfortees (in this case, us) it means learning to practice empathy as well - to receive comfort in the spirit in which it is given and with compassion for the giver. It also means sharing our experiences in the hopes that we and others can learn from articulating them.

Katina (with some help from Jeff)

"Careful consideration"

Team Miner:

First, a disclaimer.  I'm guessing that not everyone who reads this blog agrees with my politics, but this is my blog, so I get to write what I think.  [More on this blog being productively "self-centered" at another time.]  Today, by and large, I am happy.  Happy that marriages for same-sex couples can resume in California.  I am elated for friends who are moving on to plan their weddings, which had been on hold.  I'm also delighted to see news that the DOMA decision is already putting the brakes on deportations, and happy that this decision was rendered on the basis of equal protection.

These opinions are cause for celebration.  [They are also a ripe time for me to insert the best blinged out image of Justice Ginsburg that I have seen.  Just because.]  But at the same time, I can't get too excited because of the VRA opinion yesterday, and because the DOMA and Prop 8 decisions don't go far enough.  

I am also, selfishly, lamenting the fact that I don't have time to scour and analyze all the opinions that came out this week (I haven't even had a chance to skim the one on the ICWA) because I'm holding a baby... basically all the time.  Intellectually, my life is pretty void of stimulation at the moment.  Such is the reality of maternity leave, especially a leave compounded with the kind of drama we've been dealing with.  So I am left to ponder haphazardly about the Article III issues, federalism, and the odd alignment of justices along the political spectrum in the Prop 8 decision.  And, I guess, wait - along with everyone else - for the marriage case that comes along that is actually "ripe," in which all justices agree there is standing for a decision on the merits.

In other, less newsworthy news, Lydia is four months old today!  She has fat rubber band wrists, several chins, and lots of smiles for everyone, especially her Papa.  And her Papa goes back in for treatment (probably) tomorrow, so if you want to visit him, check out the Lotsa page and see if there's a time that works.

Love to everyone, for everyone,


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Something about Saturdays

Team Miner:

I felt really down this morning.  Part of it is that I'm sad my mom is leaving tomorrow.  I also got all forlorn when I saw one kid arrive at Stella's dance class with her auntie - who lives very nearby.  That made me miss my siblings and caused me to rue living so far away from family.  Part of my down mood was also certainly the lingering effects of sleep deprivation.  And another part of it was that I was slow to obtain caffeine today.  (When I did get coffee at the ungodly late hour of about 9:15 AM, I got a vanilla latte - with house-made bougie vanilla extract - from Coffee Bar.  I highly recommend.)

Ultimately, I rebounded with thanks to a nap and an attitude change, but I feel like griping for one more second about the root reason for my low mood earlier today.  Bear with me.  Here's the problem: Jeff is not even halfway done with chemo.  This is really starting to feel like the marathon it is.

Now, on the bright side, Jeff is still doing pretty well.  He has a rash (again), he is tired, he has neuropathy, but his immune system has not yet hit bottom on his chemo regimen, which means the doctors get to pump him full of yet more drugs next time he is admitted to the hospital.  This is good.  It means he gets more cancer killing drugs.  It also means he is a very strong dude.

But, on the flip side, it means he may feel even worse during and after the remaining rounds of chemo.  I hate seeing him feel sick.  I just hate this.  Selfishly, I am also kind of hitting my wall and I'm tired of this reality.  As Mo Williams put it in the new "Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs" book we picked up at the library today - "If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave."  I wish I could do that.  Or just "choose a new [your own] adventure" and rewrite what's going on so that we were packing to move to Kentucky, as originally planned, instead of gearing up for yet another hospital admission and separation and hoping and praying for remission.

Anyway... as I stated, my mood did change, so I should stop dwelling on things I cannot alter.  Post-nap, Manou and I took Stella and Lydia on a walk up the hill to the library.  It was a perfectly clear and sunny, if windy, day.  As Stella put it, "A perfect day for a popsicle."  After checking out some books, we got gelato pops.  They were delicious.  Pistachio for me and Manou and rather bittersweet chocolate for Stella.  

As we walked over and down the hill towards home, with sticky fingers and the smell of wild fennel in the air, we watched huge cargo ships float in the bay, and I felt fine in that moment.  Just fine.  Fine is enough, for now.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Slow News Day

Team Miner:

I don't have all that much to report today.  Jeff got his "power port" this morning, through which his chemo will be administered instead of the PICC lines going forward.  For the most part, it was uneventful, but for a brief loss of consciousness when a nurse ineptly tried to place an IV line.  Watching my husband pass out is something I would prefer not to do ever again.  Luckily, Lydia basically slept through the whole thing.  And Manou was able to take Stella to school so we were sans toddler.

After the initial fainting hiccup, the procedure was uneventful and a success.  When it was done, and Jeff was recovering, I jokingly referred to the port as his third nipple, given its placement near his right pec.  Even hopped up on pain killers, and having fasted for hours before the appointment, he made a witty - and totally nerdy - joke about being lucky to live in this current age so that he would not be mistaken for a witch.  I guess a third nipple raised suspicion back in the day?*

Like I said, slow news day. 

In closing, a week from today Jeff should be returning to the hospital for round three of chemo.  We have updated our "Lotsa" site so that folks in SF can visit Jeff and support the rest of us as well.  Despite the conclusions you may draw from the above, we do not need for anyone to send us smelling salts.


*I'll refrain from posting thematic pictures of supernumerary nipples or power ports.  But, I will say this: more humans than you might expect have "extra" nipples.  Fascinating!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sappy Times

Team Miner:

I just finished reading "Help, Thanks, Wow" by Anne Lamott the other day.  It is a pithy and good book.  I'm not quite at the "wow" stage of prayer at the moment.  Life is sucking a little bit too much for me to feel all overwhelmed by the awesomeness of dandelions, ripe strawberries, and sunshine very often, but I'm working on that.  The first two chapters on "Help" and "Thanks" were right on point though for me.

One thing I've been thinking about a lot lately is how this experience with Jeff having lymphoma has made me realize just how ordinary, but also special, we are.  Crappy diagnoses, and just flat out crappy things, happen to people all the time.  Out the blue.  Just on any otherwise ordinary day, to ordinary people.  It's an unfortunate fact of life and there's nothing anyone can do about it.  Initially, this observation feels very unsettling, and it is, but there's also something a wee bit comforting about not being in control.  Once you can accept that, of course.

The "special" realization stems not from thinking that there is something so unique about our family, but from realizing, through this experience, how many people seem to care about us, and love us.  We have been flooded with kind emails (to which we rarely find time to respond), cards, gifts, and acts of kindness.  People are rooting for us.  We matter to our friends and family, and that's what I am realizing makes us special.

Thinking about that has made me a little more compassionate to the DBs in line for coffee who aggravate me, the drivers who have annoying habits of not using their turn signals, and even (to a far lesser extent) the jerkwad politicians who want to take food from the mouths of hungry kids.  I would hope that even those sorry souls are special to someone.

And on a deeper level, with this insight, I have been saddened to a new degree when I see forlorn mentally ill or homeless people in our neighborhood.  I hope that someone finds them special, that someone loved them like crazy when they were kids - as much as I find myself loving Lydia and Stella.  And when I think about this, I can only be thankful for the support and love that I have been showered with and ask for help for others who have much less than I do, and are facing life's trials alone.

The following is one of many little quotes from the book that I thought was appropriate for this entry. I'll spare you the rest and cut the sappiness now.  We have to leave for the heme/onc clinic in a couple of minutes anyway.
"They say - or maybe I said - that a good marriage is one in which each spouse secretly thinks he or she got the better deal, and this is true also of our bosom friendships.  You could almost flush with appreciation.  What a great scam, to have gotten people of such extreme quality and loyalty to think you are stuck with them.  Oh my God.  Thank you." - Anne Lamott

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Weekend Update

Team Miner:

All in all, it was a good weekend.  There were tantrums, there were some somewhat sleepless nights, but  - thanks in very large part to Manou - we succeeded in enjoying our "family days" together.  After dance class on Saturday, we went to an awesome art supply store (Flax) and got materials to make glitter "mind jars."  Stella has succeeded in using the jar once for its intended purpose already.  She took a couple of deep breaths and actually settled down for a nap on Saturday afternoon quite quickly.  I hope the concept takes off with her.  Stella and Manou made some tasty lemonade yesterday as well.

Jeff is not feeling too shabby.  He is tired, and sore, but at the moment he has no metallic taste in his mouth, no nausea, and no shingles.  In fact, we are increasingly certain that the rash he had after the last round of chemo was due to a reaction to the adhesive used to keep his PICC line in place.  To think that kept him locked up in one room for five straight days is infuriating, but still, good thing it wasn't shingles.  

Today, for Father's Day breakfast I made Smitten Kitchen's peach "upside down" pancakes (mine were delicious but not as beautiful as the ones depicted in the link) and we ate sausage.  We (well, the adults) also drank juice (in my case, lemonade) out of wine glasses - the three remaining IKEA wine glasses that we have which have not yet broken.  We also have one large plastic "wine goblet" from my law school days of drinking two buck chuck with Rortina and Rup-dog.  In the interest of classiness, I kept the goblet in the cabinet this time.

To compliment the ever-so-fancy victuals, Stella bestowed a handmade, tie-dye "handkerchip" on Papa.  (Translation:  "handkerchip" is, to other English speakers, "handkerchief."  But if you tell Stella that, she will correct you and tell you that the word is actually, "handkerchip.")  I gave Jeff some woolen clogs - recommended by Uncle Tom, and the same brand that I sported in high school.  My old pair later became my thrifty sister's "house shoes."  I hope Jeff's new pair will keep him cozy when he walks laps at the hospital this summer and shows lymphoma who's boss.  To say the least, Jeff is a brave and amazing father who deserves the very, very best in clogs, handkerchips, and life.

I have more to say about thankfulness and communities of people and what makes each of us so special and so ordinary all at the same time, but I will save that for another day.  


Saturday, June 15, 2013


Team Miner:

You may have inferred from my last post that we are having some sleep issues around these parts. You, dear reader would not be wrong.*  The issues all stem from Stella's persistent refusal to go to sleep or stay asleep at least a couple of times per week. Everyone else's sleep problems arise as a result of her struggles and multiple night wakings.

Thus, even though Jeff is the one who is super tired from countless meds and chemo, when I am honest with myself, I am also exhausted.  Bone tired. Not Neulasta bone pain tired (thankfully), just wiped out.  It hasn't even been two months since Jeff's diagnosis, but it seems like this has been our reality for much longer.

With my nerves shot from exhaustion, it's just a perfect storm:  Running on a sleep deficit, Stella acts crazy. I am tired as a result of her insanity, and less patient with her when, of course, she most needs patience and kindness.**

Given my mood and these circumstances, I am especially glad my mom is back and hanging with us. And I am grateful for my maternity leave. There is never a "good time" for cancer - let me be clear, not to mention obvious - but this would be a whole lot worse if I were working full time, if we had already moved to Kentucky and knew virtually no one, if I were still pregnant and on bed rest, etc etc.

So, to all of you who are pitching in to help us in countless ways, thank you. We would be struggling much more without you.


*After my last post, some kind readers sent me ways to defeat fruit flies. I so appreciate the advice - though I hope I will never have to use it. Although my previous post implied otherwise, we are not battling that particular scourge at the moment. I just hate fruit flies with a burning, furious passion, so I felt they belonged on the list. Down with fruit flies! Down with sleeplessness! DOWN WITH LYMPHOMA!!!

**I'll take this opportunity to go on a tangent and share a tiny bit of wisdom I have gleaned from parenting regarding sleep.  Sleep is the single thing that parents talk about most.  Poop probably comes next for the parents of infants set.  Here's the deal:  there are some children, allegedly, who "sleep through the night."  Some babies even.  But these children are close to mythological creatures.  You hardly ever find them in the wild.  If I could teach new or prospective parents one thing it would be to sleep when you can and remember not to get cocky.  As soon as you begin to think that the sleep habits of your younguns are improving, something or another will take a turn for the worse.  At best, it's a "two steps forward and one step back" kind of thing.  So, rest easy in your restlessness, knowing that you are not alone.  That is all.

PS - I was going to post a picture to make this entry more entertaining.  But the only image I could think to post was a picture of a fruit fly and that was just TOO harrowing. Wait, I've got it.  Here's one of Jeff and Lydia from the last round of chemo.  That's better.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Things That Suck In No Particular Order

  1. Lymphoma (and cancer of all varieties).
  2. Having a 3.5 year old who sleeps far more poorly than your not quite four-month-old.
  3. Sleep deprivation.
  4. Tantrums.
  5. Fruit flies.
  6. Humidity.
  7. A child who will not give it a rest.
  8. Sleep deprivation - did I mention that already?  I can't remember because I am so tired.
  9. California drivers: who do not use their turn signals, who cut me off, etc.
  10. A child who will STILL not give it a rest.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Trying to Press Play, Not Fast Forward

Team Miner:

I'm writing this from my side of the bed.  Jeff is next to me playing a computer game involving dwarves, or something equally nerdy.  My mom arrived just a bit ago and is in the living room snuggling Lydia.  Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, Stella has been asleep for almost an hour.  

Jeff is sore from his latest lumbar puncture and is tired, but feeling okay.  I also feel good at the moment - given these peaceful circumstances.  But, at most other moments in the past couple days I've been struggling with feeling stuck.  I can't shake the feeling that our lives are on pause.  I hate this.  And I hate cancer.

Of course, in reality, we move forward every day:  Stella, and especially Lydia, get bigger on a daily basis, Jeff undergoes chemo and kicks cancer's ass, and I try to hold it together from one day to the next.  However, the overwhelming undercurrent of this whole experience for me has been a deep sense of uncertainty. We are waiting for the mid-chemo PET scan, waiting for what comes next, waiting, waiting, and waiting without absolute answers.

It doesn't help that cancer, which I presume always pulls the rug out from under whomever it affects, really threw our future plans for a loop.  I had intended to spend this summer house-hunting, packing up our life, and moving cross-county.  That's on hold, obviously.

So, I find my mind racing ahead all the time.  This is futile.  I know that.  But it's hard to stop the train once it's chugging along.  I can dream of various different outcomes, and contemplate what I will do when, but fundamentally, our family's life path is just going to unfold bit by bit, day by day.  This is always true to one degree or another, but I feel it acutely now.  Thus, remaining in the present is my challenge.

Fortunately, Jeff has been helping me with this.  I am so proud of him.  (Parenthetically, I resent the fact that I am so proud of him for going through something I would have rather never seen him experience. But I digress...)  

Lately, I watch him when he is with Lydia and Stella and witness mutual delight.  Those moments could not be sweeter.  Especially in contrast to how Jeff was feeling before he was diagnosed with lymphoma.  He really was not himself a couple months ago.  He was so exhausted that it was hard for him to breathe normally, much less find joy in the kiddos.  Even though chemo is literally wiping him out, he is feeling a lot better in some ways already.  For instance, he can breathe again.  ("Breathe again..." that phrase always reminds me of Toni Braxton - and I hate that song.  Sorry I brought it up.)

Now that I've written this down, I'm feeling a wee bit more settled already.  I can find things to be grateful for in this period of uncertainty and in this present moment of quiet and peace.

I hope you all find quiet and peace tonight, too.  And also that you will appreciate this picture of Toni in ubiquitous 90s mom jeans.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Breaking out...

Team Miner:

Jeff is slated to break out of his hospital cell later today. The last bag of chemo is up and dripping and Jeff is waiting for the "delightful" spinal infusion later. I cannot believe that he has endured life in this tiny room since Wednesday night. It is seriously claustrophobic.

On the other, rash-related, "breaking out" front, Jeff's arm is looking all cleared up. The first test for shingles came back negative, as did a second, more sensitive test. So maybe it was just a generic rash. 

As for the rest of us, we are fine. Our weekend was rather jam-packed with activity so Stella is running a sleep deficit. That's less than ideal for all parties. If you read this this morning or early afternoon PST, please send us vibes for a smooth (and speedy) hospital discharge process. 

Thanks to all who visited and fed us, sent care packages, and even did our laundry during this admission. We are deeply appreciative. 


Thursday, June 06, 2013

Latest Bump in the Road

Team Miner:

As it turns out, this latest scheduled hospital admission has not been entirely uneventful.  Jeff developed this rash on his upper arm where his PICC line had been during his first hospital admission last Saturday.  It itches and is annoying, but he was never running a fever or experiencing any symptoms other than itchiness, so none of the doctors on call with whom he spoke on Saturday or Monday advised coming in to get checked out.  Instead, as directed, he just took Benadryl as needed.

Yesterday, when the oncologist actually looked at the rash, it appeared to her that it may be "zoster," aka chicken pox, or in Jeff's case, shingles.  Other people at UCSF think it's simply a skin irritation.  On the one hand, fortunately, Jeff is not experiencing pain, and shingles is usually quite painful.  Let's hope he stays pain free.  On the other hand, shingles flares up when your immune system is compromised, so maybe it is "zoster?" And it is only presenting on one side of his body (or "dermatome" - new word for me), as is true of shingles.  So, the jury is still out and we should know tomorrow after the results of a lab culture are complete.   

If you'd like to send "innocuous arm-irritation from original PICC line" vibrations to the pesky rash, that would be most welcome.  Until we know what it is, Jeff is in semi-quarantine and not allowed to leave his room.  The room - on the plus side - is a single room, and it has a large TV, but I have to imagine that it feels a bit like a jail cell.  And, also, until we know what it is, I am keeping Lydia away since she is too young to have been vaccinated for chicken pox.  Consequently, since I am tethered to Lydia as her sole food source, I am also unable to see Jeff.  It's a bummer.

All this said, chemo is proceeding as scheduled.  And they are treating Jeff, essentially, for either skin condition.  He's getting extra anti-viral meds - if it's shingles - and lots of Benadryl if it's just a rash.  So, we'll see.

I'll close out with two photos of the chicas.  Stella is on the left, Lydia is on the right.  Lydia is just learning the trick of bringing her hands (and toys) up to her mouth.  That nom nom nom reflex, displayed by Stella here, is really coming into full effect.  I'm struck by the similarities of both girls at approximately this age.  Of course, the single-minded obsession with this particular toy does heighten the likeness.

Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers.


Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Another Episode Featuring A Nudist, Or, Rather, Just Nudity

Team Miner:

Jeff is back in the hospital as of noon today for round two of chemo.  Uncle Tom is here.  It is totally awesome to have his help and Stella and Lydia are becoming big fans of him.  We are all doing pretty well.  Stella has a sniffle, so I will be home with her and Lydia tomorrow while Tom keeps Jeff company.  Jeff gained about four pounds since last he weighed in.  The pie for breakfast must have helped!

So, since there is relatively little to report on the lymphoma front, I will relate a bizarre story of something that happened today.  I'm typing fast while Lydia dozes before she and I both head to bed.  Apologies for typos.  This story - though weird - is 100% true!  

Tom and I were driving back with Lydia from UCSF at about 4:45 this afternoon.  We passed by the intersection of Castro and Market and I warned Tom, jokingly, that he might witness more skin than he perhaps wanted to see.  Fortunately for him, there were no nudists hanging out in the plaza.  It was pretty windy.  Perhaps too cold?

A few minutes later, as we approached Mission Street on 17th, lo and behold, I saw a naked guy sitting on the flat-topped roof of a store.  The store in question is just to the right of the Kadampa Buddhist Temple of San Francisco - Saraha Center, pictured below.  To orient yourself, Mission Street is to your right in this picture, Valencia Street is to your left.

At first glance, it looked like the guy was sitting in a hot tub.  But I realized that would be a really odd location for a hot tub, given the apparent commercial nature of the property.  And then the dude stood up.  He was indeed totally naked, and he was not wet.  That ruled out the hot tub scenario.

We were stuck at a red light, so we witnessed all of the following happen next.  An elderly man walks up towards the temple.  In the picture above, he was walking in from the right, approaching the blue sign that reads "Saraha Buddhist Center."  Naked man, meanwhile is on the roof of the building to the right.  Being on the street, elderly gentleman cannot see nude man above him.  And suddenly, naked dude shimmies off the roof and tries to place his feet on the fence above the blue sign.  It's not easy to see in the picture, but this fence has spikes.  Big iron spikes.  They are gold, which makes them kind of difficult to see for lack of contrast, but they certainly looked spiky from our vantage point in the car.

Wisely, naked man reconsiders his plan to put his feet directly on the spikes.  Somehow managing to avoid impalement - he scampers over the edge of the roof he is on and places his hands between the spikes and then jumps down from the rooftop fence and lands on his bare feet.  Lands, right in front of the elderly pedestrian.  

The elderly man, who probably assumes he is hallucinating, barely has a second to react before the naked guy bolts down 17th towards Mission Street and darts across 17th Street.  At that point, I lost sight of him, traffic began moving, and Tom and I were left to surmise what on earth had occurred to create this spectacle.

My first inclination was just to assume... drugs.  I figured, maybe this guy is just completely off his rocker on some substance or other?  A la the recent naked guy at the 16th Street BART?  (Note: one image in that link is not terribly offensive in and of itself, but it is probably NSFW [not safe for work].)

While drugs, or perhaps mental instability, could be the explanation here, I think that the most likely scenario is infidelity.  Why else would the man find himself naked on a roof?  I imagine him escaping an imminent confrontation with an angry boyfriend and then events transpiring to where he is suddenly stark naked and alone on 17th and Mission.  Next, I see him dashing kitty-corner into Thrift Town and grabbing the first item(s) of clothing he needs to cover himself and somehow walking (?) home in his haphazard ensemble to wherever he hangs his hat.  Well, he has no hat, but you get the picture.

While I think that the infidelity story line is most probable - I think the likely ending for this naked hombre was an arrest or citation of some sort.  After all, being naked in public in SF is no longer acceptable (with a few exceptions:  read the article in the link if you need specifics).

And with that, I leave you, dear readers, to come up with your own back story for this truly absurd episode.  And I also invite you to come visit us.  If I drive you back to our place from UCSF, I can now practically guarantee that you will witness something crazy, or if not crazy, just something nude.

[I shudder to think what search terms will now point to this blog, but I am posting it anyway.]



Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Pie for Breakfast

Team Miner:

Jeff and I had pie for breakfast today (well, our first course was pie).  Peach pie.  It was amazing.  Jeff is scheduled go back for chemo tomorrow, so we figured we'd live it up.  He's also feeling pretty good, which is what we expected from others who have gone through R-EPOCH.  As soon as you start feeling more human and less fatigued from the chemo, you have to head back to the hospital for more poison.  Sucks.

My conclusion from this morning's experience:  we should all eat pie for breakfast more often.  It doesn't actually have to involve pie, and it doesn't necessarily have to take place during breakfast - though it does start your day off right.  Just enjoy the moment.  

I've also been reading, in fits and starts, Tara Brach's new book, "True Refuge," and am gaining some insight.  In particular, I'm opening my eyes to my addiction to "to do" lists and a need to constantly accomplish things.  This quote spoke to me:
"The character was continually trying to protect herself, but in the process, she was disconnecting more and more from herself, from authenticity, from the potential sustenance of feeling connected to others.  And in each scene, I saw her perpetually 'doing' in order to feel better about herself, 'doing' in order to avoid pain, 'doing' in order to avoid failure."
That's all for now.  Chew on it.  Perhaps a piece of pie would do...


Sunday, June 02, 2013

Cardinal Rules

Team Miner:

Yesterday was no fun. I couldn't dig my way out of feeling super blue and bad for myself. Today I am no less tired, but towards the end of the day yesterday I managed to remember our nuclear family's two fundamental rules:
  1. Be in love.
  2. Have fun.
Of course Jeff and I coined these rules, so we are true believers, but they solve most everything if you can actually remember to follow them. They even have new importance in light of current events in our lives.

For instance, when I remembered to "be in love," I felt more tender and patient towards Stella, who was, I'm just saying..., not a perfect angel yesterday.  I also decided to stop moaning and dreading Jeff's return to the hospital quite so much. I am still dreading it, don't get me wrong, but I am trying harder to enjoy the hours we have together now before he has to go back. And, sappily, I remembered that I'd like to enjoy several more decades of marriage with him, so I might as well restart loving our time together now.

"Being in love" of course dovetails with having fun too. Making the most of these days will obviously help me enjoy them more than if I am glumly fast-forwarding through the remaining hours to dwell on how much I hate semi-single-parenting and loathe having Jeff endure chemo at in the hospital (mostly) alone. I will probably have to recognize this "carpe diem/gratefulness concept" over again before each cycle, but there's really no point in feeling so resentful.

It's pointless because we can't change our situation. Chemo is happening, even though we don't like it. Or in the immortal words of William Steig and the devious fox and the amazing bone, "[we] didn't make the world."

So I'm off to a birthday party with the little ladiez while Jeff rests/works. His fingers are still numb, so send some vibes to restore them full sensation if you can. That particular side effect is distressing and, we hope, reversible or at least non-progressive.

Grinning and bearing it,


Saturday, June 01, 2013

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

I mentioned this earlier in the context of waiting for a final diagnosis. That was true then, but I think it's still just as true now. Or as Jeff put it the other day, "every part is the hardest part."  But I still categorize what I'm experiencing at the moment as "waiting," because we are waiting, and will be waiting through three more cycles of chemo, to witness progress (we hope) on a PET scan.  In the meantime, we just have to trust that the vicious drugs are working their magic.

I haaaate waiting.

And in the meantime, we experience our fair share of normal challenges which exacerbate the waiting problem.  On some days - those ones when your dear sister-in-law is leaving to go home, when you have slept less than six hours with at least four interruptions, when you don't get coffee as soon as you need it, when your elder child is flipping her $*#% instead of napping, and so on and so forth - you feel this sense of impatience and a deep sense of being uprooted and anxious more than others. I realized today, too, that part of what I'm feeling is flat-out bitterness. It is awful not to know what's coming next. And legitimately scary. And I am bitter about having to go through all this crap.

Sometimes, on days like yesterday, I'm able to squelch these feelings and "focus on the positive" or live in the moment or whatever.  But at other times, negative feelings overwhelm any others. Such is today.

Thus, I've discovered that it really doesn't help to placate myself by "hoping for the best" or trusting that "things will get better." I certainly hope that's the case, but it might not be. So I'm going to allow myself to just be bitter when these feelings bubble up. And, hopefully, through this process I will learn to rest and live through all this turmoil. Right now I feel no real "sense of peace," but if I can learn to find that, despite all this despised uncertainty, that will be a real win.

Blergh. Yours,

Katina the Sleep Deprived