Operation Puppy

(The following is not supposed to be a tale of woe or a cry for help.  It is just supposed to be a snapshot into our swirly existence.)

To quote our friend, Doug, who has a puppy story of his own, “Operation Puppy was an unmitigated disaster.”

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Dave has only been able to go to work for a few hours here and there since the Hopkins clinical trial started.  Between driving up to Baltimore and feeling crappy, it just hasn’t been possible.  Last week we both came down with colds so he spent most of the week laying low.  Thursday night I gently encouraged him to get out of the house and go into school for a few hours on Friday.  I suspected he wouldn’t because I wouldn’t be there in the morning to push.  Sure enough around noon on Friday I got a text saying that he was not going to go into work, but because the cleaning ladies were coming, he was going to go to the Y to sit in the sauna.  I texted back to say I understood but that I did feel he needed to push himself to go to work on Monday to “reengage the old thinker” and that I didn’t want to see him “checking out from everyday life”.

Right before my 6th grade class arrived, I noticed another text from Dave on my phone.  This text said that he had bailed on the Y, gone to a local pet store, negotiated with the guy on a corgi and he was going to “pull the trigger”.  He ended by saying that he would return the puppy before Parker got home from school if I was against it.  My response was “NO NO NO”.  When I didn’t get an answer, I decided that I had better call.  When Dave picked up he was on his way to the vet to “get the puppy checked out.”  I told him he needed to return the puppy immediately – that he was behaving selfishly and I was totally against it.  I could barely concentrate as I got through the sixth grade class.  When they left, I talked to my friends and colleagues, Linda and Sue.  It was when I started to verbalize how I was feeling that an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion hit me.  Suddenly, I felt the weight of all the stress that I have been carrying around come crashing down on my shoulders.  Linda and Sue were both so supportive and reasonable and reassuring.  I cried, which I hate to do, especially at work.  But I literally was so angry and tired and frustrated that i couldn’t hold it in.  How could Dave ask me to do one more thing?

I called him as I was driving home silently praying that he had returned the dog.  We had a conversation that was full of silences (his) and hysterics (mine).  What I wanted to say was this –

I get up every morning at 6AM.  It doesn’t matter if I am tired or not feeling well.  If Grant has to be up that early, I feel that the least I can do is see him off with a decent breakfast.  Then Parker and I get ready, I drop her off at school and then I head to work.  After work I pick up prescriptions, or groceries, or run errands, or take Parker to oboe or pick her up from play practice.  This week also included the adventure of going to the DMV for Grant’s driver’s permit test and dealing with phone calls and paperwork to get Sam into the OI clinic.  When I walk in the door there are usually dishes in the sink and laundry to be done and mail to be sorted through.  Then there is dinner to be made and homework to be done.  And I don’t mind.  I feel that the least I can do is take care of the house and family stuff so you can concentrate on feeling better.  But did you consider for a moment how I would feel about having another responsibility put on my shoulders?  Because realistically, it is going to be me outside with a puppy every hour in the snow covered grass.  It is going to be me watching the puppy to make sure that he doesn’t chew furniture or shoes or cords.  I don’t have an ounce of energy to dedicate to anything else.

What I did say was this –

Your actions are incredibly selfish.  I am exhausted and broken and have nothing left to give.  I have a big threshold of what I will put up with but I also have a limit.  You have reached and crossed that line.  When I asked you to return the puppy you went to the vet instead.  I have been there for you every minute of every day since this journey began, and I want to be there.  But you can’t have it all.  I know you are scared but this is not the way to handle it.

I passed the turn for home and drove to my parents instead.  Grant texted me to tell me that “Dad got a dog.  A sudden wave of stress has flown over me.”  I told Grant that I understood and that I had told Dad to return the puppy.  I don’t know what happened when Parker got home but I can imagine that it wasn’t good.  Dave texted me to say that she wasn’t able to get excited over the puppy and wondered if I had said anything to Grant.  I took a screen shot of our conversation and texted it to him.  Parker was upset, of course – to have something given and taken away within the same moment just wasn’t fair.

In the end, the puppy was returned.  The store does not ordinarily do anything but give store credit towards another puppy or kitten but Dave must have said something convincing.  And he felt terrible for what he had put us all through.  I have no doubt that Dave thought he was doing something fun and memorable for the family.  I believe he thought it would be a big bonding time for him and Parker.  Ultimately though he realized that shutting out his partner was not the right move.

We move forward and the situation did spark conversations that might not otherwise have happened so it was not all for naught.  These are stressful and uncertain times but the one thing we both need to be able to count on is each other.  And I believe we can.

xoxo,

Robyn

Just Say No

While Dave was at Hopkins last Monday morning, he got an email from a lady with whom he works.  She knew of someone who had a three year old old english bulldog that he was looking to sell.

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Sam thought she was adorable and was already thinking of names.  My responses are the ones in blue…

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Dave asked if we could go and look at her over the weekend.  I said we could look but that I had many reservations (time, space, energy, money) about adding another dog to the family.  I also thought it would put additional stress on Cupcake, the senior citizen of the group.  I was very clear about it being highly unlikely that I would agree to get her.  I also went on to tell him that the only reason that I was even willing to look is because I didn’t want to say no to him because I understand how important is to have things to look forward to especially this week while he is housebound.

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So this morning we loaded Winston up into the car and headed off to meet Kahlua.  During the drive, I was thinking about the fact that I didn’t want to say no to Dave.  I was also thinking that the bulk of the responsibility of another dog would be on me if he has more weeks like this one.  Understandably he spent much of this week in bed sleeping.  I wondered if he was giving as much thought to how I felt as I was giving to his feelings.

As soon as we walked in the door I thought, “Oh no.  We are going to get this dog.”  She is very very cute.  The owner started to tell us a little bit about her.  Alarm bells and whistles were going off in my head – sensitive skin, special diet, cleaning between the wrinkles, rash under the tail, keep her in the crate while you are out, chews.  Dave didn’t seem to hear any of that as he was too busy bonding with her.  We walked Winston outside to have a family meeting.  I was still wrestling with saying no.  To my surprise, Grant was the one who dug in his heels.  He explained to Dave that we already have 2 tortoises, 3 leopard geckos, fish, a guinea pig and two dogs and that was enough.  He said he didn’t think that it was fair to Cupcake who is already stressed out by Winnie.  So in the end, Grant and I said no and Parker, of course, wanted to bring her home as did Dave.  We didn’t get her.

On the long, quiet drive home, I felt very very guilty.  I hate saying no.  I do it frequently but I always feel a little bad about it if the request is at all reasonable.  When we got home, Dave headed back to bed and I soaked one of the geckos who was having trouble shedding.  In the meantime, Winnie threw up all over the carpet.  This is when I discovered that we were out of carpet cleaner.  So off to the store I went.  On the way, I noticed that Dave’s car needed filling up so I took care of that.  I came home and scrubbed the carpet.  All the while Dave slept.

There is not an ounce of guilty feeling left in me.

xoxo.

Robyn

A Great Escape

I met my boss, Ann, when I was a sixteen year old working at Friendly’s.  She was attending George Mason and was one of the assistant managers.  She’s been my boss for a LOOONG time.  Our paths crossed again my first year out of college.  I took a second grade teaching position at Dranesville Elementary, (Dave was also a first year teacher there that year but that is a story for another day) and Ann was teaching fourth or fifth grade at the time.  Fast forward a decade or more and I hear through the grapevine that Ann is now the principal at Herndon.  I shoot her a quick email of congrats and that started the ball rolling to me rejoining FCPS after a 16 year hiatus.  I’ve already waxed poetic about how much I love my job so I won’t bore you with all of that again – but I really do love my job!  Needless to say, I am very grateful to Ann for encouraging me to come back to teaching and creating an ideal situation for me.

Dave and I decided that the week of New Year’s we wanted to take a three day trip somewhere with the kids.  Our plan was to get the green light from his doctor that Monday and then head to NYC Thursday-Saturday.  Last Monday as we were sitting in the infusion suite at Hopkins looking at theater tickets online, we overheard from another “pod” the weatherman on the TV saying that it was going to be 16 degrees, windy and snowy in New York.  It didn’t take much discussion to decide that we would go somewhere else.  We spent the rest of our time discussing options, but didn’t really come up with anything so we figured we would discuss it with the kids when we got home.  Later that afternoon, I posted on Facebook asking friends for suggestions of destinations.  Many of them were for either an indoor water park or tubing.  Parker and Grant would LOVE either of those options but with Sammi’s OI, she wouldn’t have much that she could do either place.  So, in the end we thought we would head to Williamsburg or spend a night or two at the Hyatt Chesapeake. The problem with Williamsburg is that we have been there a lot so it hardly felt novel.  And the issue with the Hyatt was that we weren’t sure there was three days worth of stuff to do in the cold weather.

That evening, I got a message from Ann offering up her house in Colonial Beach.  She mentioned there was an indoor pool.  I thought “Oh that’s nice.  The community has an indoor pool.”  A few email exchanges later, I realized she meant her house had an indoor pool.  With a screen and projector for watching movies.  We happily and eagerly took her up on her generous offer.  Colonial Beach is less than two hours from our house.  We were able to explore the town on the golf cart.  We read and watched movies and swam and listened to music.  We napped and snacked and played games.  With Dave feeling run down after his chemo infusion it was the perfect getaway spot.  Grant’s friend, Sean, had been with us for the week so we just brought him along with us.  Parker also brought her friend, Paige.  There was a little excitement when a bird hopped into the house through the doggie door, but luckily he quickly flew his way to freedom through the back door.

So, once again, I am reminded how lucky I am to have a boss who is a friend or is it a friend who is my boss?  Either way, I am grateful.

xoxo

Robyn

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Reflecting on 2013

Salario-minimo-vital-y-movil-2013-2014I woke up this morning with a blistering headache.  One of those “every inch of my head is pounding and I think I’m going to throw up” types of headaches.  A few Advil, a few Tylenol, some ginger cookies and a cup of coffee later, I am feeling like a brand new person.  As I was laying on the couch thinking this didn’t seem to be the best start to the new year, I also was thinking about the events of 2013 and what I learned over the year.

WordPress sends me an end of the year synopsis.  I learned that I had people check in from 61 different countries in 2013.  I discovered that my friends like a little drama – my most read post was where I was unapologetic for my description of an old friend of Dave’s and I set the record straight on some assumptions https://embracingtherollercoaster.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/clearing-the-air.  The second most read post was where I gave my brutally honest opinion of the friend in the first place https://embracingtherollercoaster.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/learning-curve.

I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions.  Maybe because I haven’t really stuck to them in the past, so why set myself up for failure right at the beginning of the year?  I do believe it is good time to reflect on what you learned the previous year and think about the moments that made you proud or what you might change if you had a do over.  There are a couple of ideas that I accepted as truths that have made my life so much easier.  I find that I am much less frustrated or judgmental when I keep these things in mind.  People are who they are and based on that they are doing the best that they can.  Do I always agree with them?  Of course not.  When I accepted that I can only control my actions/responses/emotions and have very little chance of changing someone else’s, it felt less stressful.  The tenet that I have added to those is it is better to be kind, than right.  Why argue a point to death only to have the other person walk away feeling defeated or down?  Often times this means keeping my mouth shut.  You can imagine that this has been a personal challenge!  This shift in mindset is definitely still a work in progress but awareness has made a monumental difference.

I am a little anxious about this upcoming year but am also hopeful for all of the possibilities. I look forward to continuing this journey with you and appreciate you coming along for the ride.  It means so much to know that people care about our story.

xoxo,

Robyn

 

A Right, Not a Privilege

I was looking something up on our Carefirst member portal when I came across this –

Calendar Year To Date Claims Paid Jan 01, 2013 – Dec 31, 2013 $264,759.06

This is the negotiated amount Carefirst paid on our behalf this year.  I can’t begin to imagine what the actual billed total must be.  I am so thankful that we have excellent health insurance.  No matter what our copays or coinsurance amounts, they pale in comparison to the exorbitant cost of treating cancer.   I believe that everyone should have health insurance.  Hopefully like your car or home owners insurance, you will never need it for anything catastrophic.  I certainly never thought we would need it to this degree.

xoxo

Robyn

Flipping Out

ImageBefore Dave and I had kids, we treated the dog like our baby.  We often made pancakes on weekend mornings.  After we had eaten our fill, we would take the rest of the batter and fill up the frying pan.  We called this HUGE pancake the Luthercake and would butter it up before giving it to the dog.  We did refrain from using syrup.  I mean that would be crazy.

Why the random pancake story?  I guess because that’s how all of the thoughts from Monday seem – like I am flipping them around to make them palatable.  I am pretty sure that I am the only one who left our appointment on Monday feeling like I had just experienced a pretty convincing sale’s pitch.  Information that we had heard before was presented with a different slant.  The statistic about one of the drugs “only adding a month or two” to life expectancy was a far cry from a previous conversation about those odds being averages.  In other words, some people gain no time, some gain a few months and some gain a year or more.  Of course Dr. A wants Dave in her study, and she was very persuasive.  He is the ideal patient.  I am not second guessing the decision to participate, and you never know, this may be the wonder drug for which we have been praying.  At the same time, I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that we are choosing between crap and shite.

xoxo

Robyn

What Love Looks Like

Love comes in all forms and shapes.  Today it revealed itself as tea.  I have talked about this tea a couple of times before.  Here https://embracingtherollercoaster.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/friends-2 and here https://embracingtherollercoaster.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/5-cancer-y-things.  Since Dave was out of FlorEssence, Grant and I drove out to Leesburg on Saturday to a cute natural foods store called For Goodness Sakes.  (The trip wasn’t entirely altruistic since we also had lunch at a delicious pizza place!)  I was quite surprised to see that it was $35 for 17 oz. of tea.  To put this into perspective, 17 oz. lasts about eight days.  But they offered up another choice.

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This packet was the same cost and you can brew the herbal tea yourself.  Easy, right?  Well, 12 hours later it is done.  The tea involves boiling and stirring and boiling again and stirring again and sitting for most of the day followed by “scalding” which should not be confused with boiling.  The final steps involve straining and storing in sterilized jars.  I am quite proud of myself. This box makes the equivalent of six 17 oz. bottles at the same cost.  So, well worth it I think.  Sometimes this is what love looks like.

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So far Dave has been feeling good after his Vectibix infusion on Friday.  He felt a little tired and icky Friday night but has bounced back quickly and so far no signs of skin troubles.  We are keeping our fingers crossed that this continues.

Finally, this has nothing to do with anything but is worth reading because it is hilarious.  And we can all use some levity in our day.  (If you are too tired to read it, click through and look at the pictures.  I promise it is worth it.)

http://thebloggess.com/2013/09/i-doesnt-take-much-to-make-me-happy

xoxo

Robyn