The Last Year of the One-Handed "This Many"
In Which I Go Total Mommyblogger Up On Your Ass

Subplot

So let me tell you what else was going on last week, now that I can. Now that I'm no longer curled up in an unwashed little ball under the covers. I mean, I'm still unwashed, but it's still better because at least now I'm sitting upright, on TOP of the covers.

You may remember -- or not -- that I casually mentioned awhile back that Jason was sick. A weirdly persistent sore throat turned into the most vicious acid reflux I have ever had the privilege of hearing about over and over again. Having never even HAD heartburn before, he woke me up in the middle of the night to describe his symptoms to make sure that's actually what he was experiencing. I muttered something about having it for nine straight months, grarrrrr cranky smash, and went back to sleep. Since we were at his parents' house, which hasn't contained so much as a single Tylenol caplet since the mid-1990s, he had to go out in search of a 24-hour convenience store in order to find some Tums and Zantac. 

They didn't help, so once we got home he went to the doctor. By this point, he was having trouble swallowing and some mysterious back pain at the same time. His doctor didn't like this combination of symptoms and sent him off for an abdominal ultrasound and a chest x-ray. These were scheduled for Thursday, Noah's birthday.

He went first thing in the morning, but around lunchtime they called because OOPS, they accidentally did an abdominal x-ray instead of his chest. OUR BAD, LOL. Come right back. He did. Then I went to get my hair done.

When I came back, he was sitting on a chair in the living room. Ezra was on his lap, Noah was playing with his Legos and being AWFULLY patient for a kid who hadn't gotten to open his birthday presents yet. But judging from Jason's face you would have thought the boys spent the last hour and a half screaming non-stop and attaching fireworks to the dog's tail. 

He walked me to the kitchen and delivered the news: There was an abnormality on the x-ray, behind his esophagus. 

***

Usually, I'm good at times like these. I'm good at staying positive. That bad things aren't going to happen because bad things aren't going to happen. Because they aren't! They just. Aren't. I won't let you dwell on the what-ifs. I won't let you talk about how bad the general prognosis for esophageal cancer is because...SHUT UP, that's why. 

This time I just sat down and cried. 

***

We took Noah out for pizza and cupcakes, as we'd already promised, trying so very very very hard to focus on his birthday and block out everything else. A simple "How's everyone doing tonight?" from our waiter made me laugh, right before I fought the urge to slide under the table in a pile of boneless goo. 

How were we doing? Which disaster do you want to hear about first? Or can I just order the pepperoni?

***

The next morning, Jason got up and went for a CT scan. He came back and I hadn't moved out of bed. The sitter was with the boys, I was supposed to be working, but I couldn't. He didn't want me to write about him until we knew more, so I just laid there, occasionally fielding text messages from my mom about my dad. Still in the ICU. More tranfusions. It's pneumonia again. Antibiotics aren't working. Diverticulitis in his colon. Congestive heart failure causing too much fluid in his stomach. 

She needed me up there, but understood that I needed to stay put. At least until we got the next phone call. We should know something by noon, I told her.

***

I gave up on working or doing anything remotely useful or productive. I fought the visions of doom and death and widowhood as hard as I could, but I failed most of the time. Cancer was officially coming to decimate my entire family, to trample everyone I loved. It was unstoppable and it didn't matter if you were a good person or a bad person or young or old or had babies or dreams or plans or someone who needed to not ever be left behind. It didn't matter, it was fucking cancer, and it was goddamn everywhere. 

***

Noon came and went. No phone call. Jason called his doctor, then the radiologist. Then we waited another hour before he called again. 

"The worst," he said, "will be if we have to wait until Monday to get the results."

"Your worst is better than mine," I thought glumly, but did not say. 

***

Finally, at 4:45, the phone rang. It was neither the doctor nor the radiologist. It was a random receptionist at Georgetown University, calling to let him know that some radiology lab was faxing over his medical information to a doctor that no longer worked there? Over and over again? FYI, and stuff. You should probably call them and make sure they have the right fax number.

"WHAT THE FUCK?" we both screamed in the general direction of the ceiling fan.

***

A few frantic phone calls later, the doctor had his results. It's a cyst,, she said, a congenital thing that's just gotten really big all of a sudden (six centimeters!) and is pressing against his esophagus and causing all these weird problems. It will need to be looked at with a scope and removed and all that, but. BUT. It's just a cyst, nothing more. 

Jason looked at me and gave me a thumbs up. I decided it was okay to leave his side for the first time that day and take a shower, finally.

***

The next morning we were packed up and in the car, back on our way to Pennsylvania to visit my dad again. During our visit, he stablized, moved out of the ICU and was given hope to go home either today or tomorrow. He's doing better, save for...you know, the dying of cancer bit.

Yesterday was their 35th wedding anniversary. 

I don't know what he'll decide to do about chemotherapy, though we had a long, good talk about it and why it's okay to stop. He asked me to promise to take care of my mother and burst into tears, right before his heart went into tachycardia simply from the thought. I held his bruised hand as hard as I dared and crossed my heart with the other. 

Comments

Mo

You're breaking my heart. Big relief re: Jason. Wishing you strength re: your Dad, and Happy belated to little N.

Tracy

Well fuck. SO GLAD Jason will be okay. SO SORRY about your Dad. I buried my Dad this weekend and it was the hardest thing I have ever had to be a part of. Hang in there. We all are sending prayers your way and healing thoughts to your Dad.

Kim

I am so happy to hear that Jason will be fine. Fuck cancer and all of it's scary friends. And I hope for the best for your dad and mom...not that I know what that is, but...

Peachy

No words. ::passing huge pitcher of margaritas, plate of brownies, and a semi-full box of tissue::

Diane

Oh, Amy. I found tears in my eyes by the end of this, because this is so much more than any family should have to deal with at one time. Thank goodness Jason is okay. Much love to you all, and bathing is totally overrated.

Michele

Amy, I am so sorry for you right now. It's good about your husband's prognosis, but I can only imagine that worrying has got to sending you right up the wall. My thoughts are with you.

The Mother Tongue

Usually this is the point where I feel the urge to say something like "when it rains, it sure pours!" but you would be justified in gouging my eyeballs out.

So instead I will say: Bless your heart, honey. If Kentucky were close enough, I'd drive up and take you out for hot chocolate and cookies. *hug*

txmama

I cannot even believe you are going through all of this right now. I am so, so sorry but so relieved about Jason. I just gasped when I started reading this post. Just...no. Major hugs.

Elizabeth_K

I'm not sure my thoughts are helping you now, but ... you and your whole family are in my thoughts.

Catootes

Hugs, big ones to you and your family.
We had a couple of years where every time we turned around something fucking awful was happening to people I loved. You just do what comes next and love superhard on those around you.

chris

Hugs.

stacy

I am so sorry Amy, for all that you are going through. I am so glad that Jason's cyst can be removed and he'll likely not have any more problems. As a person who suffers from acid reflux, it really is a ridiculously awful pain. My thoughts are with you all!

Anne

I just cried some spectacular ugly-cry tears for you all, Amy. I'm so sorry this is all happening with your Dad, and the scare with Jason, and on my WORD but I wish I could fly there and help or something.

theresa

Good Christ Amy, this is all too much. You poor thing. Huge hugs from a grateful reader.

AmyH

Dang. So sorry. I know there is nothing anyone can do or say but I want you to know that you are in my thoughts and I am sending positive energy your way.

Starbuck

I'm at a loss for words. Just know I'm sending love and hugs to your whole family.

Lisa

Oh my gosh. That is a lot. So sorry. I like you very much, even though I only know you through this blog, and therefore I am sorry you are going through so so much.

kim

Holy crap. I'm am so sorry you're in the middle of all of this. I don't think I would've gotten out of bed, either.

Hsng in there. You're in for a rocky time, but you will get through it.

baltimoregal

You need a box of wine. The size of your refrigerator.

On a serious note, I am so sorry you are all going through all this right now. My absolute best thoughts to you.

Kate

And all this proves that life is just.not.fair. It feels ridiculous to say "Yay! Jason has a cyst!" but I'm so glad that's what I get to say.

Life will be some semblance of semi-normal again. In a while. In the meantime, know so many of us are thinking as many positive thoughts as we can. There are miracles. There are.

susan

My prayers continue. What an awful awful scare. Stay strong, Amy!

Ann

I know there's no words, no actions that can bring the sort of relief you need right now, but I want you to know I'm thinking of you and your beautiful family. Stay strong, and lean on the people you love for support as much as you need to. It's going to hurt, but you'll get through this together.

Deanna

Oh, Amy. Praying for you!

Megan

Oh, fucking hell. God, plesae give this family A BREAK.

agirlandaboy

I can only say that I'm thinking of you and your family and that I'm really super glad Jason is doing okay.

Christine

Oh my God. Things are just seeming to pile up on you and your family right now. I'm so happy it's a cyst that I could cry! And your dad is at least out of the ICU.
**hugs you and hands you a giant tub of Ben & Jerry's with a spoon**
I know you don't feel like you're holding up well despite all of this, but you really are. To be able to function at all despite all of this is pretty amazing. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers!

wealhtheow

How horrible! I'm so glad Jason is going to be okay.

Kimberly

God, there just aren't enough things happening right now, are there? You all are in my prayers, Amy.

Also, I'm in DC, so if you ever need something that a random stranger from the internet can help with, please, please don't hesitate to ask.

Denice Johnson

Ok, honestly, the hell? That so completely sucks. You are going through hell lately and I wish there was something I could do other than wish I could take you out drinking and buy you cheesecake. You must want to punch something but I bet you don't have the energy to bother.

Seriously, I am so sorry and even though I am a perfect stranger I am sending you big fat hugs (and wine and cheesecake).

Sarah

Oh sweetie, it is too much. I am so so sorry for everything. Your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Susan

In the words of my favorite blogger, "Fuckity fuck fuck." Hang in and know you're being thought of. By those of us who dangle prepositions. Hugs.

Katie Serendipity

Holy fuck my heart was in my throat. So, so happy Jason is okay. So sad for your dad, I can't even imagine.

Sprite's Keeper

Just glad you finally got an answer you wanted instead of more bad news. Your family is in my prayers.

Esther

You continue to be in my prayers.

Brenda Flynn

I was worried about you all weekend, but I figured it was all stuff with your father. Thank God that Jason's problem is fixable and not that damn C word.

May you have months and years of peace and quiet in compensation for this!

Tammy King

I'm sorry, Amy. I just wish I could help you.

Mir

Jesus, I need a Xanax just from reading that. GAH.

I'm glad Jason is okay. I'm glad you got back up to your folks. Still praying.

Springsteen fan

Oh my poor cyber idol. I am so very very sorry. In Brideshead Revisited there's this line, "a blow upon a bruise." This is like a freakin' pile-on of crap. Thank god for the stupid cyst. May there be a special circle in hell for bureaucratic bs that makes a living hell for my Storches.

Brandi

Damn Amy. Talk about when it rains it mutherfucking pours. Where can i send the crate of wine, chocolate, and Xanax?

I'm glad Jason is alright, and i'm glad that your dad is out of the ICU and back home. And i'm sorry that everything has been so fucking shitty lately. Here's a big hug from me, and i will continue to pray for you and your family.

meowlam

Oh dear God.

And thank God that Jason is okay.

The love you and your Dad share...tears, I have tears, so many tears for you...not that you don't already have enough.

Wish I could do more than read and pray for you all.

xoxoxoxoxo

JB

Holy shit. I'm so sorry. I'm literally shaking right now after reading this (should probably stop reading your column at work...). Because yeah, with some minor details changed, that's what happened to me. Whew, I'm so relieved for you that it was just a cyst.

So, I don't know if this helps at ALL or not, but....it does get better and it does calm down, it just takes a long time. For me it took a few years to calm down, unfortunately.

Ugh, I am rambling but the gist of what I want to say is that I know exactly what this is like, and I'm so sorry, and so relieved that Jason is ok.

Ginny

Enough. Amy and her family have had enough. *Are you listening to me, God/higher power/unnamed entity out there somewhere?

Hugs.

Ginny

Enough. Amy and her family have had enough. *Are you listening to me, God/higher power/unnamed entity out there somewhere?

Hugs.

kris

Ummm...you poor thing! So glad Jason is OK. Words don't really seem enough for your Dad's situation so I'll just say that I wish him some peace with whatever path he chooses. And I wish your Mom the strength she needs to make it down that path with him.

Rhia

Oh Amy.
I don't know you, except through these words. And I'm so sorry you're going through this and I hope against all hopes that you can get some good news soon, something, anything, a little piece of happiness against all this burden.

Julie

Holy baby jesus on a stick...can you catch a break already?! Sheesh. I mean, it's fantastic news that it's just a cyst, but still, did you guys really need to deal with it NOW? Sometimes the universe has really crap timing. I'm so sorry that all of this is raining down on you.

lizardek

No words for what you are going through. :(

Sunshine

Holy hell. So glad to hear Jason is ok.

melanie

I don't usually comment on your posts though I read every day.
But I felt I needed to tell you that my thoughts are with you and I'm so sorry that you're being hit with double the emotional turmoil. You seem like an incredibly strong person Amy and your parents and Jason are so lucky to have you around them. Stay strong.

Stephanie

I was this close to bursting into tears until I finally scrolled through and saw that it's NOT cancer. Thank GOD!!!!

I'm so sorry you're going through all of this, so sorry. But just know that your entire family is so lucky to have you. And that it's okay to not want to write or do anything but crawl into bed. Be strong.

Sara

I'm so sorry you're going through all this.

MS

Jebus H. Someone or other. Amy, my God-I'm so very sorry to hear about Jason's (minor by comparrison) cyst in the midst of all the stuff with your dad. It must be kind of suffocating to have that much stress and worry and sadness right now. You and your family are still in my thoughts.

(Sidebar to Universe: ENOUGH ALREADY! Amy has had enough. Move on to someone else...I believe my supervisor is available if need be.)

Leeann


Oh God. I can't imagine how hard that was to live because I could hardly even read it. I read it in fits and starts.

Then it was good news, and I cried.

Then I read about your dad and I cried again.

Girl, it is hard to be you right now and I don't even know what to say.

bethany actually

Heaving a big shaky sigh of relief for you about Jason; and another big shaky sigh of sadness about your dad. Prayers, strength, hugs, all that stuff. xo

Alison Green

My dad died of esophageal cancer, nine years ago. Just yesterday I was going through some of his boxes and reading all his old medical records and crying. And then I read this, and oh -- I am so, so glad that that's not what's in front of you.

I will say this though, to you and everyone: Regrets after someone's gone are excruciating. I would give anything -- anything -- to have just one more hour with my dad and say the things I should have said then but didn't. Nine years later and I'm still haunted by it. We should all ask ourselves what we'd regret if someone we loved died tomorrow -- and then we should do whatever it takes to make sure we won't have those regrets.

Best wishes to everyone. This is hard.

Tara

Jesus Christ, what a mess. I am so glad that Jason's problem turned out to NOT be cancer, but all that time of not knowing, on top of what you already know about your dad. . . I know how I would handle that sort of stress, and the answer is "not well at all." I think you're managing incredibly well under the circumstances.

My heart goes out to you and your family.

Jen L.

I can't even begin to think of the right thing to say, so I'll just say I'm so incredibly sorry and your family is in my prayers. And this blows.

amanda

Oh Amy. I, like others, had to scroll to the bottom before I read the whole story through. I know how much it sucks to feel like a bad-news target. Like, no matter where you go, bad news- more and more of it - is going to find you. I am so glad that Jason is going to be fine. And I am sending healthy thoughts to your dad, and to you. xo

suzanne

I read this article by Atul Gawande in the New Yorker a little while back about end of life care, it's something we should all think about for ourselves and our loved ones. It will depress the hell out of you, but it will also make you think about what you want for yourself and how you can help a loved one who is dying. Read it if you get a chance.

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/02/100802fa_fact_gawande

Karen

Oh sweetie....
I am so sorry. My dh has reflux so badly and gets so violently ill. I never treat it seriously because...i dunno. Guess I should try to.
As for your dad...woman...I haven't the words.
Hang in there and let yourself cry when you need to. Eat all the chocolate you want and wear stretchy-waisted pants. That is all I can think to say. *huge hugs*

Karishma

oh my lord.... when it rains, it just effing POURS, doesn't it. i cannot believe everything you have had to go through lately. it just can't be real, i feel like. thank god jason is ok. b/c i don't even know what i would have been able to say otherwise, and that's not even the point. hugs, amy.

Ashley

Totally crying over here. Hang in there. Cancer is a bitch, and there is no way around it. But glad to hear that J is going to be fine (although honestly? any procedure is still scary) and spend every quality moment with your Dad. (Duh right?) He knows how much you love him... it's obvious by the way you talk about him. Hugs and Martinis from the West Coast.

Ashley at Bosssanders.com

Prayers going up all over the place...so glad Jason is okay and still praying for your daddy. Hugs

Beth

Jesus Christ *hugs*

Life of a Doctor's Wife

I am so so very glad that Jason has a cyst and nothing more. As glad as if you were part of my family.

I'm praying for you, for good things.

Habbala

Amy, my heart is breaking for you. I am so glad that Jason is going to be totally ok. But I just want to wrap my arms around your family to protect you from losing your dad.

I guess I just want to say that you're not alone. And that we are all here for you and your family.

sarah

No. No. Too much. Hey universe, give the Amalah family a break, please.
Things like this remind me of the Anne Lamott quote about when everything in your life goes wrong at once, something big and lovely is about to get born. I'm not sure its true, and I'm not sure I find it comforting in the depths, but one has to believe that things work out some how. (says the woman who was in labor with the first great-grandchild, during the great-grandfather-to-be's funeral).

sheilah

Oh, my god...so glad Jason's okay. I think I held my breath until I got to the end.

amy

Well, it looks like things are starting to turn around now. *knock on wood* I know it's hard for you to stay positive so I'm doing it for you. Everything is going to be fine. Everything is going to be fine. Everything is going to be fine...

Nora

Found you by way of Habbala's blog.

I'm so glad Jason is okay but I'm sorry that things are getting worse with/for your dad. Will be keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

kilowatthour

God, Amy, I bawled all the way through this. Hugs to you and yours.

(Fuck cancer.)

Amy in StL

"He's doing better, save for...you know, the dying of cancer bit." So true. I never know what to say when someone asks how my dad is doing because while he's not currently dying of anything he just has so many health problems and daily my mom calls with the latest drama and "He's fine." seems not right but "He's not currently dying." seems kind of snippy. I'm never sure how to answer that when it's not a really close friend; but a friend who knows of the general drama but probably doesn't want the latest, "He made me go to the bank with him yesterday because this time the cough might be pneumonia."

Alicia

My god. I had serious anxiety as I read this.

I am SO happy for you and Jason that it's nothing serious. And, although it's not as great as being cured, I'm relieved that your dad is out of ICU. This is too much for one person to go through all at once. I echo everyone who has commented before me and will comment after, we're all with you!

Meegan

Oh, honey. What a trying time this is for you. I'm so sorry. Your internet "friends" (me!) will be thinking about and praying for you and your loved ones. So glad Jason is okay. ((Hugs))

Parsing Nonsense

Wow Amy, that is a huge load of worries and sorrow to carry around with you. When it rains it freaking pours, but I'm so glad Jason is ok and your Dad is a bit more stable.

Cora D

Hey - we don't know each other but you helped through my first pregnancy with your 40 weeks journal on that site, the name of which I'm forgetting. Thank you.

I am so sorry to hear about all your compounded...stresses...heartaches...I don't know what to call them really. I just wanted you to know that my heart goes out to you and your family.

Abbey

I am so sorry! I don't have any great words of strength or insight. Only "I'm sorry".

Lizgizzy

I'm so sorry. I'm glad that Jason is going to be OK though.

Shannnon @nwaMotherlode

You are so brave. XOX

Katie

shitfuck I am sure you will get through this but I'm just so sorry it has to be such a painful ordeal... maaaannn, I can imagine what you are going through and I feel for you wholeheartedly. Wishing you and your family all the best from afar.

Goddess in Progress

I have to say, the fact that you've gotten out of bed AT ALL is impressive in my mind. I can't believe how much has been thrown at the loved ones around you in the past month or so. SO SO SO glad that Jason is A-OK, and also very glad to hear your dad is stabilized.

Hugs to all of you. If I lived closer I'd come drop off some cookies, but I guess we'll have to settle for good wishes from up here in New England.

liz

((((Amalah)))) (((Jason)))

Thinking of you. So glad it's not cancer. So sad your dad's is.

Karen

Oh, Amy. That is too much for one family to go through in a week. At times like these I - like so many other people who are commenting - wish I could be a real friend instead of a virtual eavesdropper, so I could cook some meals*, feed your dog, take Noah and Ezra on fabulous, stress-free playdates, and just help in some real, tangible way. Know that we all would, if we could.

*I' don't really cook, so perhaps this one is for the best.

Sunny

"The sensitivity of a woman's middle finger is reduced during menstruation."

That is a true fact so just think about that for a minute or two.

Ok, did you get a tiny break from life? I hope so. Remember to take care of yourself, and here's my middle finger to all bad health issues.

Black Belt Mama

Unfortunately, when it rains it pours. It's always like that and it's not freaking fair. I'm so glad Jason's issue is an easy one. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Kim

I will continue to hope for the best for Jason and peace for all of you with your dad. Please take care of yourselves.

Jacquie | After Words

That's one hell of a subplot. Glad Jason is ok.

Sending best wishes to your family.

Amber

Holy shit.

Sorry, I don't normally curse on other people's blogs, but there really are no other words for what you're going through right now. I'm so glad to hear Jason's going to be fine and so sorry that you've had to go through this on top of everything else. I don't think anyone could possibly blame you for wanting to just crawl into bed right now...

Julie

So sorry about your dad, but happy Jason is okay. My husband and I have the exact same anniversary as you and Jason and also have two boys (8 and 5) and we found out in August (day after our 12 year anniversary, as a matter of fact) that he has stage IV colon cancer. Fuck cancer, indeed.

kelly

Dear Universe: please give Amy a break. No more on top of everything that's already happening, okay? Please?

SO glad Jason is okay.

Thinking of you and your family daily.

Liz

Once again, words fail me. They wouldn't be enough anyway. You're in my thoughts and prayers and I will toast a sip of Moscato to you. And another for your dad. Hang in there, Amy. #fuckcancer #fuckcyststhatscaretheshitoutofyou

Jenna

Holy Effing EFF. It is just plain wrong that you've had all this on your plate at once. JUST WRONG.

I'm so relieved for you all that Jason doesn't have cancer. And so sad for you that your dad does.

Nina

Yeah, okay, I'm crying. I'm so sorry. I'm so glad Jason is okay (minus the cyst and major heartburn of course). I'm so sorry your dad is dying. I hate cancer. I hope he can find peace, whatever of it can be had in the face of what is happening to him. And you too. And your mother. I'm sorry.

Lori

I don't know how you kept it together as much as you did. I just burst into tears for you after I read "cyst." You deserve all the hugs.

And oh my god, so do your parents.

MargieK

And now I feel so GUILTY for checking your blog and being disappointed that there wasn't anything new to read!

I'm sorry you're going through this. Glad to hear that Jason's only got a cyst. Hope his surgery goes OK.

Sue

Sometimes life just sucks. Hang in there. I am praying for all of you.

Issa

Holy shit.

I am so glad Jason is okay. Sigh. I'd send you truffles and wine if I could. Just know, my thoughts are with you all right now.

Kailee

As I read this entry, I literally held my breath until I got to the cyst part. THANK GAWD.

I cannot imagine what it is you are feeling. Fucking cancer. Fucking chemo. You're a goddamn champ, unwashed or not.

I'm so sorry you and your family are having to go through this. I'm just so very, very sorry. It breaks my heart. And, as cheesy as it is, I'm sending you loads of e-hugs and internetz well wishes!

Leora Thompson

Holy shit balls, you guys just can't catch a break can you? Sending much love, prayers and happy thoughts to you and all your family.

Amy J

Thinking of you.

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