Monday, September 17, 2012

My Second Family

After I posted yesterday’s blog I basically passed out. I was absolutely exhausted, nauseous, and burning up. Most of all, I was frustrated. Rachel had typed it out from my dictation (my own human “Dragon”), I read it over just once, and still, I could barely pull it off. Pathetic, I thought. After a two-hour nap, I cautiously ate a piece of toast for dinner, and then began to dread what I thought would be a sleepless night. A few old “Friends” episodes later, I nodded off. Then, it happened…I slept through the night! Brian said our celebration over this achievement officially proved my newborn baby status. It really was like the first night that our kids slept through the night (yes, Teddy was 14 months old when that happened)…when I woke up and it was light out, and I was confused, shocked, and totally excited.

Last night, since my Mom has a terrible cold (poor thing, she just keeps saying, "I just hope you dont get it"), Rachel kindly volunteered to play night nurse. She stayed next to me and woke me for my nausea medicine when the time came. I remember her handing me a pill in the middle of the night and saying, “Take this then go right back to sleep.” And I did.  Then she stayed half awake all night making sure I didn’t need anything. She's so truly good to me, and not only because I know how much she loves her sleep.  

This was already enough to totally make my day, but it only got better from there. Last night, in an effort to do anything that would stop the nausea, I stopped all meds except the antibiotic, Advil, the anti-nausea medicine, and the stool softener.  That meant no more narcotics and no more Ativan.  I still haven’t taken either in over a day.  Finally, I feel like myself again -- I know what day it is, I’m no longer repeating myself, and I can remember if I talked to someone this morning rather than asking whether I have talked to that person since my surgery. More importantly, I am happy and hopeful and hungry! Today, it’s official -- I turned a corner.  

It felt so good to feel good, I didn’t even know what to do with myself.  So after Brian emptied my drains and gave me a "sponge bath" (see below) we went out to lunch.  It was 11AM and we were the first customers at Joe’s. I couldn’t eat much, but it didn’t stop me from ordering half the menu. It was delicious and even though we had to scarf it down to make it back in time for the visit from the home health nurse, it was one of the best lunches I’ve ever had. 

(Oh, while Brian was giving me the “sponge bath” (i.e., wiping me down with a wash cloth while I shivered in the cold with my tubes and drains laying on the bathroom counter top), I came up with my own quote that’s parallel to one I have previously posted – “The measure of a husband is not whether he pampers you on your honeymoon, but whether he pampers you after a major surgery.”)

After the nurse’s visit, we enjoyed a quick visit from Brianne’s mom, Rena, who brought over some delicious homemade chicken soup.  We all slurped down a bowl right away – it’s that good.  Rena has fed me since I met Brianne 18 years ago, and she does it all without ever expecting so much as a thank you. More than that, she's been a part of every milestone in my life since I was 14. She's a truly remarkable wife and mom and second mom, and I don't know if she has any idea of that fact.  

Then we enjoyed some time with my cousins who stopped by to catch up. Brian was at Kyle and Susan's wedding with me and my family almost 12 years ago and since then, we have watched our kids start to grow up together. I know they'd agree -- there's something so totally cool about that. Then, still high on the feeling of no-more-nausea, I decided to go with Brian to pick the kids up from school. With my trusty pillow under the seatbelt chest strap, we headed to school, me feeling like I hadn’t seen the two of them in months. When they saw me, they both let out a gleeful little shriek.  Teddy was so gentle and cautious, and Annabel was the exact opposite.  “Mama Up!” she kept yelling at me, stomping her feet when she realized she wasn't going to get what she wanted. It was a bit of a scene (too bad she weighs more than ten pounds...much more), but Teddy’s teachers completely understood and we all exchanged our hugs before we headed out.

The next three hours proved to me two important things I’ve known for years – that young kids are exhausting and that I really do have the best best friend I could ever ask for.  While Brian was playing baseball in the back with Teddy (no surprise, Teddy insisted), I tried to watch Annabel on my own. That proved impossible, and I realized that at almost the exact moment that Brianne pulled in the driveway to drop off dinner.

I don’t know how she does it, but Brianne always shows up at the exact moment that I need someone most. And there she was, as Annabel was climbing up and down chairs in the playroom, while I wondered if I should be there to catch her if she fell. I couldn’t decide what would be worse – her falling or me catching her.  I know it sounds so selfish, but at this stage, she really is much tougher than I am.  Luckily, I didn’t have to decide because there was Brianne, with a hot plate on top of her makeshift potholders -- a folded up Budlight box and a Westwood High School athletic t-shirt. How could you not love Brianne?   

While the girls colored pictures and played games, including Annabel’s favorite game of running down the driveway into the street, Teddy practiced his hitting and Brian practiced his patience.  Finally, we released Brianne, and enjoyed our homemade dinner (made by Brianne’s cousin, Lynne…sooooo delicious!). 

After baths, iPad (Annabel officially can play more games on the “iPee” than I can), and Cat and the Hat, it was bedtime. Teddy struggled with the idea that I needed to sleep away from home one more night. I had to explain to him that we had to move "my chair" to our house before I could sleep there.  He told me to move the chair tonight.  I lied, and said I’d try to.

And then again, I returned to wondering what we would ever do without Brianne and her family. About a week after my diagnosis, Brianne stopped by. We were hanging out when the nurse from my health insurance company called. Brianne overhead my side of the conversation when the nurse asked me if I had a good recliner to sleep in after my surgery – I said I didn’t. 

A few days later, Brianne and Seamus gave me the ultimate gift – the recliner in which I sit now, and in which I have sat for the majority of the time since my surgery.  They had collected money from Brianne’s family and together, they all bought me my “healing chair.”  And so I have healed – because she’s always one step ahead of me and what I need. 

So I arrive again at the question I keep coming back to -- how does anyone get through this process without a family as fabulous as mine?  And if there’s any proof of how lucky I am – I have two fabulous families.  Seriously, I feel like I should share.  Because really, I’m just spoiled rotten, and I didn't even need to turn any corners to know that.   


  1. So glad to see you're recovering well! My thoughts are always with you! <3

  2. So glad to see that you're feeling much better today! Lots of relief for your good news and prayers that your recovery continues on at warp speed!