Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bring on 2009

Christmas plus two December birthdays in our immediate family make Wabi a frantically busy nonblogger this month. But I'm slipping online in the dwindling last hour of 2008 to say HOORAY, this damned month and annoying year is finally over!

Don't get me wrong, we had a great Christmas. The kids were adorable, and even though we had fewer gifts under the tree due to the loss of my income this year, we seemed to enjoy it more than usual. I can honestly say that I'm grateful for every damned, sleepless, stomach-churning moment. And sitting in front of the TV watching Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve tonight may be lame, but it feels like progress to me. After all, last year Little A and I spent this night together at Children's hospital, Big A spent it sleeping at her aunt's house in Sonoma, and DH spent it by himself. (Poor DH ... I can only imagine how lonely he felt that night, coming home from the hospital to our empty, cold house.) Now we are all together under one roof again. Thank God.

I would like to say that since Little A didn't die -- something I really feared could happen last December -- the rest is just gravy. But I am a small and bitchy person who bounces between immense gratitude and equally huge pissiness. Because Jesus H. Christ, 2008 was hard. Financially, professionally, physically, and emotionally difficult. Something had to give this past year, and over and over again, the thing that gave was me. I'm heavier, wrinklier, drabber, and poorer in so many ways. So while I'm glad it wasn't worse, it could have been a damn side better. Really.

I don't usually do resolutions, but this year I'll bite. In 2009, I want to hunt for joy. Too many of the past few years the Wabi-Sabis have measured the worth of their years with the yardstick of past horrors. And I am really tired of saying that a year must fall into the good category only because I somehow survived it. I am ready for a good year by anyone's measure -- even the happy oblivions who skip through life. I want one of their good years.

It's time to try for something new and different. But after being in crisis mode for so long, I fear my horizons have narrowed to the point where I don't even know how to dream big anymore. I'm actually having a little trouble figuring out what might bring the family more joy in the coming year. It's a little alarming.

So help me out: When was the last time you were deleriously happy? And is it something you willfully made happen, or was it happenstance?

Friday, December 5, 2008

The House Whose People Sit in Darkness

The report for Little A's CT scan came back today. The problematic area of her right lung is not a tumor or congenital anomaly. The most likely big bad we dreaded -- bronchiectasis -- got ruled out as well.

So, we're left assuming that this weird patch of lung is scar tissue that developed during Little A's back-t0-back bouts of pneumonia last winter. Scar tissue is great news, as it can reverse in small children. So we'll continue to carefully manage her asthma and try to limit the amount of colds she gets (ha, ha, ha on this last one ... hoo, so funny).

After I talked to the pulminologist I hung up and skipped around the house and high fived Little A 50 times. There is nothing like a toddler to happily indulge a giddy adult in the high fives. Then I put Little A down for her nap and in the silence of the house, found myself crying.

Three years ago today I sat at the desk where I now type this post. The phone rang, and as I stared out the window into the backyard, a perinatologist I'd never met before told me that the baby in my belly had a 1 in 5 shot at having either Trisomy 18 or Trisomy 13. And so it began. The waiting, the hoping, the crushed hopes, the termination, the complications, the marital strain, the depression, the subsequent pregnancy, the pain, the worry, the uterine rupture, the joy of Little A, the medical problems of Little A. Had that call not come in December 2005, what would my life look like now? To be honest, I don't even know how to imagine that scenario anymore. It's all too strange too contemplate.

They say it's not uncommon for people to associate sounds or smells with the moment they receive terrible news. For me, the thing that always pops into my mind when I think of this day in 2005 is The Epic of Gilgamesh. For some reason -- probably because it is shorter than most other Penguin Classics on my shelf -- I happened to be rereading Gilgamesh around the time of that phone conversation. And now the call and the poem remain linked. Especially the passage about Gilgamesh's best bud Enkidu, who dreams of his own death, of going to the palace of the Queen of Darkness, which is described as the house from which no one who enters ever returns, down the road from which there is no coming back:

There is the house whose people sit in darkness; dust is their food and clay is their meat. They are clothed like birds with wings for covering, they see no light, they sit in darkness.

It sounded so familiar to me, that Palace of Darkness. I lived next door in the House of Grief for a really long time. Food's just as sucky as it is at the Palace, and the lights are out, too.

But at least the road from the House of Grief runs in two directions. And sometimes you get to walk back out of there and into a real home. You get to turn up the thermostat, flick on the holiday lights, and enjoy a nice cup of tea while you bake cookies. And if the wind is blowing ominously outside, maybe this time you can just ... shut the damn blinds and ignore it, and not have the weather serve up a tornado while you're not looking.

Sometimes you can do this. And today, I am so thankful for that.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Scans, scans, scans

It's been a scan-tific week here at Casa Wabi. Yesterday Little A had her chest CT, which probably took six seconds, but required us to not feed her for 12 hours ahead of time and then be at the hospital for several hours. That's because toddlers won't hold still for scans, so they need to be given IVs and sedated. Thankfully preparation for the scan was way more hoopla than the actual deed. I was a bit of a wimp, sniffling as they escorted me outside the CT room after Little A went to sleep. But aside from waking up from the anesthesia incredibly pissed off afterwards, Little A did just fine.

We should find out the results of the CT scan by Friday. I'm hoping the pulminologist is just test happy and abusing our good health insurance. In that case, the results should be that her lungs don't appear to have any growths or congenital anomalies. Then all of her respiratory problems this year could be safely chalked up to her asthma.

Maybe I should be more worried about the results. But for some reason, I don't feel worried. And I'm just going to go with that for as long as I can.

The other scan that occured this week was on me. My quest to figure out what the hell is wrong with my body continues, and so today I got a pelvic ultrasound to check for cysts, fibroids, and other oddities in the nether regions.

This is the first pelvic scan I've had as a nonpregnant entity, and I'd been hoping that the drink-a-bucket-of-water prep was something only pregnant ladies have to do. But nope, all women need full bladders for pelvic scans. Lucky us!

I have what one medical professional once dubbed very efficient kidneys. Which is a nice way to say that my digestive track, it processes water like Niagara falls. I can (must) pee out a glass of water within ten minutes of ingesting it. So when told I was to drink 48 ounces of water 90 minutes before the test and not pee until afterwards, I practically fainted at the thought.

So, I cheated on the prep. I scaled the water back to 32 ounces and drank it less than an hour before the scan. But even so the tech informed me that I had too much fluid in my bladder, and so I had to go to the ladies room to get rid of some. I'm not sure what was more satisfying --peeing out a fish tank's worth of water, or the feeling of vindication I had in blowing off the exact test instructions to begin with.

Anyway, the good news is that there wasn't anything noteworthy on my scan. Since my pain does seem more stomach/upper GI related than gyno, that isn't a big surprise. But still, it's nice to hear that I can cross some stuff off the list of possible problems.

Next up: food allergies? Can a person become lactose intolerant at the ripe age of 37?