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

Marianne

My heart is just breaking for you, Amy. All the STUFF you've been through.

I'll be praying for you and your family. And I'm so glad Jason is okay.

Miss Britt

Fuck.

I'm sorry, but that just seems the most appropriate response right now.

Francie

Gosh, Amy, you can't catch a break!! Glad to hear that all is well with Jason. I'm praying for your Dad and your family.

Lesley Gallacher

I cannot really imagine all that you've been and are going through. I admire your ability to put it into words, at least partially. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family for strength now and for the road ahead.

Kyla

They say when it rains, it pours...but this is like a goddamn monsoon.

Glad Jason is okay.

Stephanie

Don't always comment but I have been checking your site all the time waiting for updates. Stay strong hon! You are an amazing woman. Thank goodness all is good with Jason. Whew.

Happy Birthday Noah. Hard to believe his is five. I have been reading your site since before he was born.

Keep up the awesome work girl!

Rachael

How are you still even functioning?! I'm glad you had Noah's birthday in there for at least a little bit of happy-child watching. I'm sorry all this is happening, especially all at once. (Hugs)

mrs. q.

I just had a vision of a T-shirt with the words "Fuck Cancer."

Seriously, universe? Give this poor woman and her family a break. Enough.

I am so sorry for all you've been through. Terrible things seem to happen all at once. When my dad was going downhill with cancer, my husband and I found out we'd probably never get pregnant on our own. We got the news on my birthday. On our way to visit our best friend's newborn baby, who was: born on my birthday. 2004 sucked. But if it's any consolation, there is a bottom and you will rise back from it. I did. You will. You all will.

Peace and hugs...

Accidental Poet

I just cannot tell you how sorry I am that you are going through all this right now.

Brooke

Oh mercy. I feel compelled to comment because omg how awful and yet I can come up with nothing to say except trite cliches about when it rains it pours. It's emotionally exhausting to feel sad and terrified and then relieved and still so sad. Sorry you are dealing with so much right now.

heather

I was OK until the promising to take of your mother part. *sniffle*

Melissa

I would still be in bed if I had all that to deal with, on top of everything with your dad. Jesus God.

Very glad to hear the news about Jason.

Still, it's too much. You don't deserve all this.

Rebecca

Hugging you HARD right now.

Swistle

Aaaaarrrrrrggggccccckkkkk.

@tiffany

Oh Amy. I'm imagining that you're feeling tremendously weak and drained, but from here on the outside of this and looking in, you're SO strong. *hugs*

Jen

Oh my god.

I would really, *really* like to send you something. A box of cupcakes. A pretty card. A bunch of flowers. Because commenting to say "HOLY FUCK, this is shit and I am with you" just doesn't seem to cut it anymore.

Anyway. In lieu of being able to send you things, I'll just say HOLY FUCK, this is shit! And I am with you. We all are.

Kate

So happy for you...My husband was 35 when he found a lump and had strange symptoms. 5 years and too many hospital stays later, including a transplant we are still here. Having lost one parent to cancer, and another coping, plus my husband, I think cancer (and God at times) sucks. However, as a woman, I really and truly think that we are stunned for 10 minutes, and then spring into action as soon as we know the worst. Because if we don't, those menfolk just fall apart! The worry never leaves, I hate when he needs to go in for a checkup. And you will too, for him, for your dad, for your mom. But know that it can be alright, as painful as it is in the long run.

Liza

wow, that's a complete emotional roller coaster. so sorry you had to go through that but happy for you guys jason's going to be ok.

shriek house

Jesus fuck. I am so sorry, for ALL of it. I'm glad Jason's thing is just a cyst (imagining him saying "it's juuuste a cyst" à la Monty Python) and that your Dad gets to go home soon. But I'm sorry for you, for all the worry and the heartache. I don't know you, I know, but my thoughts return to you often and I'm sending non-pervy stranger love your way. xo

ccr in MA

Ah jeez. I'm glad Jason's problem is smaller and fixable. Still so sorry about your dad.

I think staying in bed is a totally rational reaction. I would be afraid to go out of the house in case a lightning strike was next.

Kate

Oh, so sorry- so much to deal with all at once. Glad to hear Jason will be OK.

Hi, I'm Natalie.

Oh, gosh. I'm hoping for only rainbows and unicorns and sparkles for you from here on in. *internet hugs*

Madelyn

HOLY F!@#$)*@ $&)@!!! I'm so sorry that you guys are going through all this. I simply can't imagine what it's like but if kind thoughts and good wishes and curses at the universe will help I'm doing all three on your family's behalf.

Dawn

You have got to be kidding me. Seriously, how much can one person take? God, Amy, I am so sorry all of this is going on. I hope this all turns out okay, and you make it through in one piece your own self too. xoxo

Lisa V

Damn Amy. When it rains, it fucking pours. Thinking of you. Cheering for you. Crying for you.

Kristen

The fact that you made it to the blog with the letters making words, and the words making sentences astounds me - I can't imagine the strength that this post alone took, let alone the events that lead to it. I am so sorry for the unbelievable heartbreak that you're bearing - that your whole family shares. Just sorry.

Megan

Oh honey.

Kat C

Amy, I'm not sure what to say except that I'm so sorry for everything you're going through, and I'm thinking of you and your family. Now I'm going to go hug my husband and call my dad.

Emily

I am not very good with words during devastating times. I just want you to know that some random girl in Nashville is thinking of you and your sweet family and sending all the positive energy she has your way.

parodie

Oh amalah. I... wow. How horrible a week for you. I'm so sorry.

Cara

Good lord. This is getting ridiculous. How are you supposed to keep from losing your mind in the midst of all of this? Thank goodness the news is good for Jason.

T

This is so similar to a stretch my own family went through a few years ago, so I empathize with what you are dealing with right now. The enormity of it all is so completely overwhelming, and you have every right to feel sad and to grieve. It is obvious that writing about it helps relieve your stress (even if it doesn't feel like it!), so keep on posting. God bless.

Katie

Delurking for the first (or second? who knows) time in the three or so years I have been coming to your blog for a laugh or a cry every morning as i battled through my dad's cancer whilst giving birth to the first of my two sons (my youngest is the same age and so much like Ezra it is scary). Sending my understanding, sympathy and hugs from Australia. As we say - you poor bugger. You'll get through it I promise.

Linnee

I care, Amy.

Meghan

Lord, woman. I wish I could hug you in person. And pour you a big fucking shot of tequila.

xoxo

Heather

Geez, just what you needed, eh? I'm glad Jason's okay, and of course you and yours continue to be in my prayers!! <3

Heather

I'm so glad Jason is going to be ok, and I'm so sorry everything's happening to you at once. I wish I actually knew you in person so I could give you a hug.

Momnivore's Dilemma

Amy-

My life mirrored yours when I had my first son three years ago. Reading this brought back that pain...

You are in my prayers tonight...

kat

man someone is really testing your strength. who ever is up there - quit it. amy is tough! and she can take whatever it is but quit!

hugs amy - lots and lots of them.

sharon

Oh Amy, that was the absolute worst time for any problem to come up with Jason's health, let alone the possibilities of that particular abnormality. So very glad it's not the awful news you dreaded and hope his eventual surgery will go well and his recovery rapid. It's good to hear that your Dad is improving and probably won't have any more chemo. I hope your family manages to squeeze in lots of happiness to replace the arduous and painful treatment that would have eaten away at whatever time the cancer leaves you all.

Kristin

Oh Amy, this fucking roller coaster really SUCKS. I am so damned sorry about everything. Thank God Jason is ok.

Anna

I think you've given enough this year, time out please

Victoria

Oh my god, I don't know what to say. I must admit, I haven't read the whole entry properly, I just had to skim ahead to see that Jason was going to be okay. Am thinking of you all.

Anna

I am so sorry for everything your family is going through. I hope the outcome for everything is the best it can possibly be.

Plano Mom

Dammittohell you deserve a break. Well, I guess you got one sort of, but dammit that's not enough.

Virginia

Oh, Amy. A thousand cyber hugs to you. No One should have to wade through this much crap at once. I'm so glad that Jason's cyst looks like just a cyst. Hang in there.

Patti B.

Hooooooooly hell...Enough already. Like you need me to tell you that. Lots of prayers and thinking of YOU ALL.

Nancy R

Crikey, Amy.

drhoctor2

I rarely comment.I read you daily. I am so sorry for your troubles. Sending thoughts of grace and strength your way.

Hamlet's Mistress

Holy shit, woman.

Christine

I'm still so sorry for your father. But so, so very happy that Jason is okay. Goodness. Unfair.

Christine

Sorry, rather, unfair all the crap you've been going through. Sounded funny otherwise

Elisha

HUGS

JenniG

Dear universe,
Please knock it off. Amy has had enough.
kthxbye,
All of her loyal readers who love her

So relieved Jason is okay. So sad for your dad; I can't even imagine...

Toni

What the fuck xxxxx

Andrea

Oh Amy. I'm a long time lurker. Had to add my own to the comments today. So so so sorry that you guys are going thru this. Cancer is a bastard ass mfer. Sending you strength and hope and prayers and good good good things. Hang in there.

karengreeners

I'm so relieved for you that the news about Jason is not dire. It's hard not to go straight 'there' when there are unknowns.

And I'm glad your dad can go home. It's better to be at home. When my dad made the decision to stop chemo, he said he just wanted to be at home. It's not easier, but it's better to be at home.
peace.

Jem

omg...i'm so sorry Amy.........i'm glad Jason will be okay and i'm thinking of your dad <3

Txtingmrdarcy

Christ on a pogo stick. Amy needs a break. And lots of wine. And for all the internet love to become tangible, so she can wrap herself in it and know that we won't judge, even if she's not showered.

mrschaos

I don't even know what to say. Everything I come up with sounds ridiculous or is riddled with "WTF?!" sentiments.

You've got a lot on your plate...and I'm sorry for that.

Hugs and blessing to all of you.

Avitable

Maybe you don't feel like it, but while I was reading this post, your strength really comes through.

WendyB

Wow. Was holding my breath reading thru that, so happy that Jason is alright. Continued healing positive thoughts to your dad and mom. You so deserve a break girlie...and a margarita...and a chocolate cake...and a magnum of champagne...and big ol' hugs

Sarah

Poor Amy--you have had a bad effing stretch. Here's hoping things look more tolerable soon.

marissa

You are my hero. So strong. You're awesome!

Barb

taking a deep breath here and marveling at how you are helping your father at this critical time. (Glad to hear Jason is going to be ok, too.) You continue to rock. You continue to BE a rock eventhough you don't think you are. You're doing good, Amy. Really, really good.

Robin

Oh dear god.

Big hugs and big salty tears, for what they're worth.

Erin

OMG. I am so sorry. How horrifically scary. I am so glad that Jason is ok (and also glad to hear via Twitter that your dad is at home!). Thank goodness that good news manages to break though for you finally!

Liana

I'm so glad Jason does not have stupid evil cancer. SO glad.

And...that last part about your dad...well. Yeah. No words, really. But I hope the time he has left is as peaceful and agony-free and full of love as possible.

MG

Wow, what a terrifying wait. I'm so glad the results for Jason were okay. Even though I'm just another stranger on the Internet, I'm still sending good thoughts your way and best wishes for your family.

Liz

I'm a few days late but wanted to say I'm so glad Jason is alright. As usual, you are tugging my heart all over the place. Thinking of you and your family.

caramama

I am thinking of you and hoping that things start easing up. That seems so trite. I don't know what to say. Effing cancer sucks. I'm glad it was just a cyst. I'm so sorry for all of it.

Maria

Initially my heart just stopped. I'm so glad Jason is ok... cos cancer? Seems to have declared war on everyone! Two of my acquaintances have just had their 5 year old children (!!!!) diagnosed with cancer. My heart is just breaking.

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