peace, health and happiness in 2010
we tend to travel during the fall and winter school vacations. teenage daughter goes to camp – her heart of hearts as it was mine – and that leaves most of the summer as unusable to travel together as a threesome family. and we like it that way. we travel well together. i was worried early on that our daughter might be a wiggly non-distractable traveling companion but she’s happy to sit and read or watch passengers go by while waiting for trains, planes and boats. we all like to explore in new cities and new destinations – incorporating a big museum or site in but also liking to just walk and watch and be delighted at unexpected findings.
this trip isn’t new. we’re out in victoria, b.c. to stay with husband’s family and just all be together. oldest nephew will graduate high school this year and the adults feel the impending change – the first of the kids to be out of obligatory schooling – so we wanted to have a time together before that happened.
there is something easy about traveling somewhere that does not guarantee sunny sunny weather. grey skies and on and off rainy days take the pressure off – we don’t need to be outside but when we are, we see it all from a different often-stormy skyline. fewer people and more space to let your imagination drift out over the insanely beautiful sea – dotted with bobbing seals and the occasional regal heron perched on a flotilla of seaweed and driftwood. some people see grey. i see shades of stormy blue.
so many ideas flit through my head over the day and i thought i’d be posting about my day yesterday – a trying day of my now-yearly mri. in a way, this is about that. at 4 years out, i’m in a twice a year mode with my radiologist. in june i have a bilateral mammogram and bilateral sonogram and then in december an mri with contrast dye. in sorting out the things that you don’t mind/can handle and the things that drive you crazy, i’ve settled on being unable to handle nausea and hating needles…specifically iv’s. i was adamant that i didn’t want a port put in before my chemo and had all my chemos iv’d through my left hand. the result being that i have about 2 veins left that anyone can find to put an iv in when needed..and am not allowed needle sticks nor blood pressure readings on the right side because the surgeon took so many lymph nodes out and i have dealt with mild lymphadema (but under control). all of this is a leadup to the dreaded mri in december. i have the most amazing and compassionate radiologist – she had better be because she’s completely out of network for my insurance. however, the ‘regular’ nurses really have trouble finding veins in my arms/hand so i have a dance. i go to my surgeon’s office on 34th street at nyu cancer center and her nurse puts in the iv. they check the blood return, and then tape that sucker down and wrap me up in a gauze bandage. coat slung over my shoulders, i hail a cab and bump up to east 84th street to my radiologist’s office. (and, yes, this is the one appointment my darling hubby still comes on with me…nice to have him there to distract me.) then i wait in the office – last year for an hour and this year for about 10 minutes only, and then on to the mri. last year was awful – took even the super-talented ex-oncology nurse 3 tries to get an iv in. but this year took only twice and i was much calmer in general. in fact, no tears. i tend to have emotional flashbacks at the iv experience and this year, i will pat myself on the back (now that the iv is out and the mri done) to say that i did not cry. i had about 2 minutes of panic while in the mri machine but forced myself to think about something else (the panic was about the ‘what if’s’ and not the being in the machine…even though i don’t love that..at least i’m laying on my belly and head toward the front.) haven’t gotten the full report back but she told me that the quick look looked ok.
after that long-winded setup, what i really wanted to write about was the waiting room. my husband took his customary chair in the corner of this estrogen-heavy waiting room – lots of woman’s magazines and he was the only guy. there were 3 women there. i figured out that they were waiting for a friend who was in the back having a procedure. they were the epitome of the upper east side socialite women-of-a-certain-age. one dressed in workout gear – she had very apparent face work done ..her cheeks seemed to be a different age than other parts of her face. one in stilletto-heeled ‘jungle’ ankle booties, cream apres-ski pants and perpetually blond hair. the third very petite and chewing gum. yes, i was quietly judgemental. it’s hard not to be and anyone who says different is simply lying. i’m sure people make judgements when they see me. to some i’m too fussy or too dressed and to these women, i didn’t even rate on that style scale. ok. but their talk was particuarly vacuous – it was clear that they operated in a small privileged social circle.
when i got out of the mri procedure and came out dressed to wait in the waiting room, they were still there. a few minutes later their friend came out of the back – i’m pretty sure she had a biopsy done and was obviously cradling one side which was probably painful and had obviously already been through some treatments…her hair was at her shoulders but very thin and she looked fragile. they were so there for her. they knew her and they were going to take care of her. she went into the back for a few minutes and i looked over to them and said: “it’s good she has you as her friends…i wish her all the best.” and even though they wouldn’t ever have socialized with me in the real world nor i with them, they smiled at me and we were just 4 women standing there all in the same or potentially the same boat. we all understood each other completely for a few minutes.
it’s the year of independence. for some it’s earlier and others later but for our teenage daughter, turning 15 tomorrow, it’s this 9th grade year. tho her dad likes to walk her to the subway in the morning – claiming that he needs the exercise but really because he just loves being with her and she with him … they are the proverbial two peas in the pod – she’s taking the subway to school and often back home. for the past few days letting herself in the house. i work close to her school and as i am a freelancer, i am often available to give her a ride back. but also often not. we want her to be confident and independent in the world – especially navigating her native brooklyn and nyc. it’s an interesting time for a girl with her head often lost in the clouds of thought.
so far this week, she’s forgotten her phone; then forgotten her key (she happily sat in the back yard waiting and doing homework but i also presume, just grooving on the cool fall garden); then forgotten to answer her phone; then her phone went dead today. none of this phases her. much of it phases me. i figure i’ve really done my job right as a parent if i can get it into her head that she needs to go out into nyc prepared and that simply means: cell phone, wallet with a modest amount of bills and change, house key and a loaded metro card.
i am baffled that i am about to celebrate my beautiful daughter’s 15th birthday tomorrow. she came into the world 4 weeks early and weighed a whopping 3 lbs 14 ounces and was feisty as a little prizefighter. her grandma marianne called her an ‘imperious imp.’ truer words have rarely been spoken. she’s brave and quirky and uninterested in being like everyone else. she fits in and doesn’t fit in. i worry for her and i hope she finds a way to give all her gifts to the world. but mostly, i often want to know: where the heck is she? happy birthday to my wonderful girl.