Six Days of Separation

Last Tuesday my dad checked in to Banner Desert Hospital out in Mesa to have half of his left lung removed. He told me this morning that he barely remembers anything from the week, which is probably a good thing considering what he went through. I’ve just returned home myself and I feel like I’m stepping out of a bizarre dream.

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I’m quite certain every hallway at Banner Desert looks exactly like this one and winds around in some MC Escherish fashion. I got lost going to the (best most amazing incredible) cafeteria yesterday morning, and even though I had walked this path around three times a day, in my hospital-fog I somehow found myself in an unfamiliar place. Everyone who walked by me appeared to be the type of person who could immediately shape-shift into a tentacled monster wearing white coats and quiet shoes.

Which is unfair, because every single person I encountered was helpful, friendly, and kind. (A stark contrast to my neighborhood hospital, Phoenix Baptist, where I felt like I needed to pack heat just to walk from my car to the building, and the staff seemed to believe we were a necessary evil as opposed to the purpose of their job. Maybe Mesa isn’t so bad after all.)

If I had any scrap of energy right now I would collect the names of the nurses and aides who took care of my dad and send them a note.  They all responded to our every need with a level of compassion and professionalism I have never experienced. Even when I called late Friday night after a particularly difficult day, the night nurse said “He is going to be fine and he is resting. You need to rest too.”

I’m trying to remember that.

Yesterday we all finally escaped those hallways and took my dad home.

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Yes, my badass father walked out of the hospital on his own two feet.

I rushed home, folded some laundry, we took our kids to Easter Brunch and I hightailed it back to North Scottsdale where my parents live. I worked out my dad’s pain med schedule, and asked him if he wanted to go for a walk.

Everything I have done with my parents since my dad was diagnosed on March 5th has been more vibrant, more important, more interesting and more powerful. This small walk around the property is no exception.

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We looked at every cactus, all the flowers, we checked the pack rat traps and saw some crazy funnel spider web.

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See that board? It goes across a little ravine in their back yard. We walked across it together. There are brilliant purple flowers and the three of us stopped to admire them. (Just to give you all a small peek into my mental state, I just looked up “board” to make sure I spelled it correctly.)

What an experience this has been. I am extremely grateful for the kindnesses of the giant net of friends we have. My kids have done their best to understand why I have been away, and how important it is for us to take care of one another.

All is well. Or as well as it is going to be. There is a new normal, and maybe tomorrow I will take a minute to myself to figure out what that means. For now, I will bask in the gratitude of the hundreds of people who have reached out and offered their prayers/positive energy/happy thoughts/support/advice/assistance over the past month and a half. Our road ahead is long and scary, but as Julie keeps reminding me, today is Monday….

 

 

Juice, Fast!

My friend Lenny shows up in my cubicle this week all bright eyed about a juice cleanse he did and the fact it will be on sale next week. Now, much of my time with Lenny has been spent on a bar stool consuming way too much alcohol for someone my size and age, so to hear him talking up health and wellness is not what I would normally expect. I’m used to him waving bartenders over and convincing me I need more gin, not trying to talk me into cleansing my system.

But Lenny is very persuasive. I first took a look at the site for Juicd Life, did a little more searching around the internet learning about what it means “to juice”. If you don’t know, it’s all the rage. You buy 6 little bottles of cold pressed juice and that is ALL you consume for the entire day. (The bottles do not seem so little by the 5th one.)

Did you know there are 24 reasons to juice? I didn’t. But the girl at Juicd Life was happy to share them with me. I asked for the one day cleanse and she looked quite concerned. “Oh, you won’t see any results with a one day cleanse.” Apparently there is magic to a three day cleanse, plus I am the type of person who should always stay away from salespeople. All sales tactics work on me.

So I loaded up my cute shopping bag with what appeared to be 758 pounds of juice and rushed home, because the liquid was so precious it must be refrigerated immediately. Another concerned employee asked how far I had to go and did I need some ice perhaps? Since the bag only contained two days worth of juice and my arm was already breaking, I declined the ice and just drove a little more quickly. (Why only two days? Because if I took all three days worth my juice would expire before I could consume it. Egad.)

The next morning I was full of excitement with my first juice. Having done a little research I was happy this particular regimen included two protein “juices”  – almond milk, dates, local honey, and rice protein. Technically not a juice? Perhaps.

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Wow. Talk about sweet. Maybe because I typically don’t have anything sweet in the morning, but this felt like I was eating a spoonful of sugar.

By the time I dropped the kids off at school and go to my desk it was time for my second juice:

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This one I liked – I’m a fan of green drinks overall and this was yummy. You’ll notice I was also drinking green tea in my Bookman’s mug there – I needed something to cut all the sweetness! And green tea is an antioxidant, is it not?

Not kidding it felt like I just finished that juice and was on to the next.

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Carrot and ginger. Yum. You’ll see, however, that my phone is off the hook, which means my headset is on, which means I’m on a conference call. I actually planned this poorly because I had back-to-back calls for 3 straight hours. And I consumed 48 ounces of juice, 24 ounces of water and some green tea.  On one of the calls I honestly was wondering what would happen if my bladder exploded right there at my desk. Would I be airlifted? Would I have to finish the remaining calls from a helicopter?

Nope, I would run to the restroom and make it back for another call and another juice:

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I messaged Lenny. This is a lot of juice, I said. Yes, it is. My teeth were starting to hurt.

For my last juice of the day, I decided to take a walk. This time of year in Phoenix is simply awesome. All the annoying Spring Training visitors are gone (love you guys! don’t love the traffic), it’s warm and sunny in the day and the Palo Verde trees are blooming.

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I felt great and vibrant and happy to be outside. I didn’t feel hungry all day and didn’t have any of the negative side effects some people complain about – nausea, fatigue, other symptoms related to detox.

When I got home I immediately brushed my teeth because they felt so incredibly weird. I got out my final protein non-juice and started drinking. I felt hungry. It was sweet and cloying and I couldn’t drink it. I made dinner for the boys and tried to choke down my drink.

Granted, I am not currently in the best mental state for will power. And frankly I don’t care about proving anything to anyone. And I love food so much. So when it started to become more and more stressful to drink the final, non-pictured juice I gave in.

The night before Joe made this delicious brown rice pasta with peas. I heated up a bowl and it might have been the most beautiful food I’ve ever consumed. So I had one more bowl.

The next day I repeated the juicing during the day and ate dinner that night. I’m kinda fine with that, considering. Lenny called me a pussy, and I’m kinda fine with that too.

I will continue to buy a juice or two from this lovely little establishment. At this juncture a juice cleanse/fast is not really the best thing for me. I’m old enough to both love the idea and understand that my body and soul need something a little different right now. Banner Desert Hospital cafeteria will make me a gluten free grilled cheese sandwich for lunch tomorrow, and maybe I’ll have an ice cream for desert. Not necessarily cleansing, but nourishing nonetheless.

(And if you haven’t seen my million Facebook posts, my dad is doing well. He had surgery today, will be in the hospital at least until Friday. More to come on that.)

 

 

 

Dinner, and the unwanted visitor

Last night we went to dinner at St Francis. What weird service. The food is absolutely delicious, but we can’t get over how strange their kitchen works. It seems to me that they look through the tickets and pick and choose which ones they want to fill. Five of us arrived and were seated. We ordered. A sixth person arrived. The children were fed first (as they should be) and our sixth guest was given his dinner (which was exactly the same meal two of the remaining three of us had ordered.) A few minutes later the remaining – and earlier ordered – food arrived. Long enough to be weird.

I start this way because I don’t know how else to start. We were at dinner with my parents. Look at them:

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We went out to dinner after they took my boys to the State Capitol for a Cub Scout event while I was at work. What on earth makes them want to do such a thing is beyond me, but I am grateful.

Cub Scouts at the Arizona Capitol Times.

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So here I am at dinner with my parents and my kids and their dad, and we are talking about the most awful topic.

My dad has lung cancer. We have to talk about it like we’re planning some visit from an unwanted visitor. Next week we will all assemble at the hospital, my dad will be sliced open, a tumor will be removed, and we will all pray-cry-doraindances-hope-getangry-putupwithdoctors-amusethepatient-knit-read-talktonurses and overall freak the hell out while trying to act like we are not freaking the hell out.

If you are hearing this information for the first time here, I apologize. I have forgotten who knows and who doesn’t know. I cannot keep up with the updates and on a regular basis I am near panic trying to ensure I have done everything that needs to be done.

Lung cancer sucks, as far as cancers go. If you start googling around you will be terrified and depressed. There isn’t much good news out there. And what is out there is hard to decipher. My best friend Julie said it best when I told her the news. “Get ready for this to be your part time job.” Indeed she was correct.

So here are a few details. Next Tuesday my dad will check in to Banner Desert Hospital (right by the good old Fiesta Mall where I had my first job). They will cut a hole in his side and remove the left upper lobe of his lung. They will sew him back up and keep him there for 5 to 8 days and send him home. Afterwards there may be chemo, or radiation, or a variety pack depending upon what we decide.

Our lives are layers upon layers of fear and surprise and terror and deep love for one another. We are all emotional – I’m to the point that when I was on a chat with a woman from the cancer center and she asked me how I was doing I started to cry. At my desk. In my cubicle. My friend Martha at work gave me flowers and told me she knew I could be strong enough to do anything and I cried. At my desk. In my cubicle. And I walk around every day realizing that nothing will ever be the same again.

But I am also lifted up by the love and support we all have in our lives. And the fact that right now I can go to dinner and enjoy my parents and laugh about weird service and eat delicious food. We are lucky. In the middle of the chaos, we are lucky.