Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Denial: A great place to live.

So, I didn't want to, but I went home this weekend (denial is a great place to be; nothing bad ever happens there). I had told the folks that I'd be home on saturday. I had to help M in the animal lab for about 3o min, we went and had lunch, and I really didn't want to go home. But, being the good daughter that I am, I called home to ask mom if it would hurt her feelings if I didn't go home. Not permision, exactly. more like...a positive acknowledgement-Like, "Oh, it's ok, Daughter, I understand that you're busy and are having a hard time making it home. We'll call if we need anything."
What I got was, "What? Well, what are you doing that you can't come home? Well, if you CAN'T, then we can probably get along without you (pause, for the guilt to kick in)". What could I possibly say to that? So I went home. My sister-in-law had cleaned the upstairs, swept, vacuumed, dusted, etc, and my dad was scrubbing the kitchen, so I mowed. They have a big yard. But, it was a riding mower. I have to say, while I didn't outwardly show it, I really didn't want to mow. I made like I was HAPPY to do it, HAPPY to contribute, but I wasn't really.
And then I accidently (welllllll) forgot to take clothes for church, so I left HomeTown at 7:30AM, with the pretext that I would go to church at My home. I came home, cleaned up, even got dressed, and then I sat down on my couch, and stayed there for awhile. So, I finally gave in and went in and put away my nice clothes, and proceeded to clean my house. I swiffered, vacuumed, and did laundry.
I think I'm angry at God right now. I'm having a hard time even praying. I know, I should pray. I'm a good Conservative Lutheran, and I know what the Bible says about prayer. But I'm still mad, and it will take me awhile before I'm ready to go back to church.
I understand that we aren't being picked on (as a family, I mean), but I'm having a very hard time not being bitter and angry right now. Normal grief, healing, blah blah blah. I know that, too. Eventually I'll reach acceptance. But in the meantime, keep praying for me and my family. I need the prayers, because I don't seem to be able to pray right now, about anything. And my family just needs the prayers.

Friday, September 21, 2007


It's friday. around 8PM. I'm drunk. there are not enough people to call in my phone, but I don't want to talk to any of the people in my phone. I have too much to say, but nothing I can say outloud. I need to say too much, but no one to say it to. What can I say? I'm mad, sad, tired, frustrated, crazy, depressive, manic...I need to cry, but I can't. What can I cry about? Should I cry because my mom has cancer? I've done that. Should I cry because it's her and not me, or because it's not me, but it's her? Is this my future? Am I weak to fear it, when she stands so strong? Is she strong for herself, or for her family? Does she cry at night? Is she scared? Should I be scared for her, because she doesn't show that she is afraid? Can I be this strong? Is it easier, having done it once, or is it that much worse? Does knowing how much the chemotherapy hurts make it easier, or more difficult? My dad had a feeding tube. Does seeing it in him make it easier to bear when it's in yourself? How do you wake up each day, and know what the day brings, and still get out of bed? And if she, and my dad, can do it, how can I be any less strong? Can I go home and be this weak? How can I not stand up and face the day? How can I not see my mother, and not be her daughter? I am as strong as my mother, because she has shown me the way. I am as strong as my mother, because I am her daughter. She is in me, and I come from her. What she is, I am. I am as strong as my father, because he has shown me who I am. I am as weak as my father, and strong in his weakness. He is in me, and I come from him. What he is, I am. What he isn't, I will become. What my mother is, I will continue. I will be strong, because it is from my mother, and for my father. I will be strong, because there is no other way to be. I will be strong, because I am my mother's daughter, and I will be strong because I am my father's daughter. How can I be anything else?

I need more beer.

Breast Cancer

YEAH! It's breast cancer! If you can be excited about it, we are. The doctors are pretty sure it's....wait for it....CURABLE! not just treatable! This is the best possible news we could have gotten! If you call being told your mother has breast cancer Good news...isn't life a bitch sometimes?!
So. Here I am. Relieved that is a treatable-probably CURABLE form of breast cancer. I didn't realize I was this anxious and tense about the type of cancer this could be...it could have been horrendously bad. I feel like a weight has been taken off my shoulders. I'll probably be able to sleep tonight without a sleeping pill.

I'm certain that this will be a topic quite often in the coming months. I've always known that I am at a pretty high risk for breast cancer, but for mom to have had it twice makes my risk MUCH Higher. hhmmmmm

Dear Lord,
Thank you, that in all of the possible outcomes, this is the most likely to allow my mother to stay for a few more years. Be with us all, help us to stay strong for my mom, and for my dad. And THANK YOU that this wasn't lung cancer...my father would have had a breakdown if he thought he had given my mother lung cancer. Amen.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The C Word

My mom has cancer. They did a biopsy on Monday of the Mediastinal lymph nodes, and they found cancer. They don't know what the origin is, if it's breast cancer or lung cancer or what, and they don't know how much, or if, it has metastisized. We'll find that out on Wednesday.

This isn't the first time my mom has had cancer. She was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 1996. She was 48 then. She's 59 now. My dad survived lung cancer, diagnosed in 2002. He was53 then.

Please keep my family in your prayers.

Dear Lord,

Monday, September 17, 2007

Closed doors

When I first graduated college in 1997, I didn't know what I wanted to do. My dad got me an unofficial interview at the Department of the Interior Customs office in Houston. I spent one day with the office, and learned what all they did and didn't do, who they were and what they did, different jobs, just general stuff. I was very excited, and submitted my application that evening. Then I reread the fine print. My vision wasn't even CLOSE to the requirement. And given that this was on 1997, LASIK surgery wasn't an option. I was crushed. I really liked the idea and was very excited to do it, and to learn that I couldn't just because I wore glasses really upset me. However, life went on, and here I am, doing infectious disease research and loving it. But this morning, 2 US Customs and Border vehicles drove past me, and something in my heart constricted. I flashed back to that time, to my intense disappointment, and somewhere in my head or heart (hard to tell which), I wondered What Might Have Been.... I'd have been at that job for 9 years now. Where would I be? Would I be a field agent? Lab worker? Would I be in DC? my Local City? Married? Children? Divorced? I've always kind of thought of life like a series of doors. You stand in a room with a bunch of doors. You pick one and go through it. But there is almost never a way to go back to those other doors. The door to the US Customs offices was closed a LONG time ago, but sometimes I still wonder about all of those closed doors behind me. What did I miss? Was it good, or bad, or both? Would I have succeeded? Failed? Would I have still ended up in the same place, just via a different route?

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair, A
nd having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I'm not sure I took a road less traveled, but I definitely feel the tone of this poem.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

too much, and not enogh

I've had a hard time getting the desire to put a blog here. There has been much happening, but much of it is hard to put into words.

My mom is in the hospital. They know it's not cancer, and it's not emphasema, but that's about all they know. She is short of breath, can get 4 or 5 words out and has to stop to breathe. They have her on a mask that forces warm moist air into her lungs, she isn't too thrilled with it because she can't read or crochet because she can't get her glasses on with the mask on. However, she can talk and carry on a conversation when it is on, so she wears it most of the time. They've done X-rays, CT scans, MRI's, more X-rays, more MRI's...yesterday they were going to get all of her doctors together and have a 'Discussion' to try to figure out what it is. It's making the whole family a little edgy.

What else?

The new grad student in our lab has had a slight personality change, and it isn't for the better. She's begun to act...condescending is the best word I can find, but that's not quite right, either. I hate to tell her, but I'm not going anywhere. We are getting thumbs up from NIH for the animal research from the last 2 years, and they are sending us some compounds to test...this is extra work, but it is a huge indication that the NIH likes and trusts our work...work that I've planned and executed and documented and reported. I'm good at my job.

In the last 2 1/2 years I have ordered, planned, executed, and documented 95% of the animal experiments that have been done in this lab. That is both Level 2 and Level 3, and sometimes crossover (start in Level 2 and finish in Level 3). I also am the primary animal technician for a separate lab. They don't have a lot of work for me, but I do whatever they need me to do. Now, in addition to these 3 labs, a tech in a collaborating lab is pregnant, so she is out of animal experiments for at least the 12 months, maybe longer (and it's possible that she isn't coming back), so I'm helping with the animal experiments in that lab, too; I'm the second, not the first, but I am still in the animal labs, so they count, too. Last year, we went through 3000 mice on 1 protocol, and another 600 on a second protocol. In addition to all of this, I am in charge of maintianing and ordering all of the consumables in the lab, as well as whatever equipment or extra purchases that DrC approves. Also, I am maintaining cell culture and will be restarting confocal experiments to show how our Toxin intereacts with some cell surface molecules. For awhile I was the primary person doing all of the cell culture, but I've passed that on to another lab member.

Now, to be fair, I don't prepare the bacterial inoculum, the grad student does, and when there are dissections and plating to be done, there are at least 2 of us, and we try to get 3 of us to make it go faster. She has to maintain the stocks and the stock paperwork. And I will admit, that it's been nice to have someone help in the 3 lab, so maybe I've been slacking off a little and letting Grad Student take some of the weight. But when she's gone next year, guess what? I'll once again be responsible for it. DrC has stated that perhaps we'd hire someone to help in the 3 animal lab, because if the NIH likes us and our work, they will be sending more our way. Yeah! and OMG! More work???

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Dear Arrogant Grad Student

I really like it when people speak for me, or around me, or over me. I really really like it. Especially when it is a grad student doing it for me. I'm not in charge of this experiment, but I am #2. You are not. You are closer to #4 or 5. I actually can do this without you. I can't kick you off of this experiment, because DrC won't allow it. But I'd like to. It might make my job harder, but I'd like to prove to you that, in fact, you are NOT a necessity. I can replace you. Easily. With nicer people. Or I can do it myself. That would be preferable at this point. Go away. No, really. Be gone...