Sunday, November 23, 2008

I Want Sprinkles

So most or all of you know that I am a huge fan of Cake Wrecks and read it nearly every day. While the majority of the cakes posted are absolutely hilarious (and a few a little sad), I have my favorites. My new, all-time favorite is this graduation cake. For those of you who aren't getting it (as my husband did not at first), I imagine the phone conversation between the customer and the decorator went a little something like this:

Customer: I'd like to order a graduation cake, please. It's for my daughter.

Decorator: Ok, a graduation cake for a girl. Got it. What would you like to have on it?

Oh, I was thinking something pretty simple. I'd like to have the colors in pink and purple. I'd like to have a graduation cap with a tassel, and "2008" on it. Oh! And I want sprinkles on it, too.

Decorator: No problem. I can do that!

Too bad the decorator had such difficulty deciphering those instructions. He just couldn't grasp that "I want sprinkles" means...I want sprinkles. (Ok, so really the back story is that this is a reference to an episode of "The Office", and the customer really wanted the cake to say that, but it's much funnier to imagine the bakery screwed up, so that's how I choose to view it. :-) )

I had something just as interesting happen to me this last week. (Bear with me, I promise the two stories do mesh.) It was really an awful, stressful week for me. While nothing seriously bad actually happened to me,
after nearly a month of being sick I am still coughing up a lung on a daily basis, and after being in Court four days straight, followed by a day of hearings, and clocking over 46 hours of work (this with leaving for 2 hours in the middle of one day for an appointment), I was done in. Not to mention the fact that I witnessed a massacre of epic, if not biblical, proportions of debtors' counsel (every debtors' counsel) in Court on Tuesday, as well as an out-of-control psychotic creditor, and a debtor who was essentially (proverbially) drawn and quartered right in front of me. Talk about a rough week.

So there I was on Thursday, a little over half-way through this monstrosity of a work week, and a very nice surprise arrived for me:

Beautiful, aren't they? And smell great, too, since the lilies are especially fragrant. They instantly made my whole office smell wonderful, except to the paralegal in my office who said that the smell was "shattering" to her, since it was so strong. Along with the wonderful smell, they did wonders for my spirits as well. Except for one thing - I had no idea who they were from.

Yes, of course there was a card. But it did not say who the sender was. The only thing on the card was this: "AC WHAT A GIRL WANTS" Just like that. Typewritten, all caps, italics. For a minute I thought they had delivered the flowers to the wrong person. But no, I checked who it was addressed to, and it was definitely me. So I reread the card. I had no idea what it was supposed to mean. I couldn't figure it out. There was no special occasion, no holiday that I would normally receive flowers for, so they were totally unexpected. It is not like my husband to send flowers for no reason (though he does come home with flowers for no reason every once in a while). It is also not like him to send them anonymously. There's always some indication that it's him, either his name or "Love, Me". Just to be certain, I checked our bank accounts to see if there was a debit to the flower shop. There was none. I even tried calling the flower shop to ask who the sender was. When the woman answered the phone, I told her I had just received a flower delivery and was wondering if she could tell me who placed the order. Haughtily she replied, "I'm sorry, I cannot disclose that information."

Slightly irked, I said, "You can't disclose that information? I'm just trying to find out who sent me these flowers. I don't understand the card."

She said, even more snobbily, "I'm sorry, we have a duty to protect the identities of our patrons."

I was floored. Absolutely stunned. "A duty to protect the identities....lady, I'm not asking for credit card numbers here. All I want to know is who sent me these flowers. A first name would be all I need!"

She repeated, "I'm sorry." And then promptly hung up. Ooook then. Note to self: once the sender is found out, suggest they use a different flower shop next time. So, my mystery continued. I wracked my brain. I could not think of a single person I know who would have a reason to send flowers and not let me know who they were from. Not one. Obviously the flower shop was a dead end, so I thought maybe the card was a clue. First I looked up the lyrics to Christina Aguilera's "What a Girl Wants", thinking there might be something in the song that would give me a hint or switch on a light. Nothing clicked. So then I started to think that "AC" was really the key. I wondered who I know with those initials. I went through all of my address books, both personal and business. Believe it or not, I know not one person with those initials. Then a co-worker asked if I like that movie. I didn't know what she was talking about. I had no idea that there was a movie named "What a Girl Wants". I knew about the Mel Gibson flick "What Women Want", but not this one. Imagine that. Movie buff me didn't know there was a movie by that title. Hmmm. So I looked up the movie. Of course, I've never seen it, and the plot didn't strike a chord, so I could not see how that would give me any inkling as to who the mystery sender was.

Finally, stumped, I gave up trying to figure it out. I had no time for an enigma this week, so I went on about my work. I did decide not to mention it to my husband, though. I thought if he had sent them, he would probably make some mention of it, or some slip of the tongue that would give it away. (Aside from Christmas or birthday gifts, he doesn't always do well with keeping a surprise. :-) Love ya, honey!) Anyway, I thought that the last thing I needed this week was to freak him out with the idea that someone else was sending me flowers, especially when I didn't know who the somone was. So I kept it to myself.

When he called that day, he asked me if anything exciting had happened. This is not unusual, as this is a normal part of our daily conversations. I told him no. Through the course of the conversation he asked me several more times if I had anything exciting to tell him. Each time I told him no, finally thinking he had asked a few too many times for this to be our ordinary banter. I asked him why he kept asking. He said no reason. I replied that he was asking as if he knew there should be something exciting going on, so what was up? He said nothing, he just wouldn't worry about it then, and refused to answer me when I asked what "it" was. I suspected he was the would-be mystery sender, but opted to wait to say anything until he gave me more to go on. He said nothing more that evening that would have given him away, and I still was unsure that he had sent the flowers.

The next day, Friday, my husband had the day off. Unfortunately I was stuck in hearings for most of the day, and wasn't able to talk to him until well after 2:00. When I was finally able to call him, he nearly immediately asked if I had any exciting news. I once again said no. In an annoyed voice he said "Well then, I guess someone owes me $40." Ah ha!!! Jackpot.

I replied, non-chalantly, "Who owes you $40?"

He replied, "No one. I guess I just have to make a call and chew someone's butt." Actually, butt wasn't the word he used, but I'm trying to keep my blog a respectable place to visit. LOL! Yeah right.

Anyway, I replied, with a slight giggle in my voice, "It doesn't happen to be someone you paid $40 to for flowers, does it?"

Of course the answer was yes, and I caught a ration of crap for not mentioning the flowers to him. I told him until I knew for sure it was him I didn't want to say anything because I didn't want him freaking out over it, and he gave me a hard time about "all the guys" that send me flowers on a regular basis. (He has told me several times (jokingly, of course) over the last two days how he's sure I didn't tell him because I thought my boyfriend sent the flowers. Right! Like I have the time, energy or patience for a boyfriend.) I told him that it was not like him to send flowers without something saying it was from him. He said he did send a card, that it should have had his usual on it. I told him it didn't, it had some weird, cryptic message. He said the flower shop must have screwed it up, wanted to know if they had gotten the flower order right, and described it to me. I told him they did. He told me about how he had chosen that particular arrangement and talked about the description of it on the website. Then it occurred to me.

"What was the name of the arrangement?" I asked.

"I dunno, something about a girl," he replied, in typical male fashion. I started to laugh. "What?"

"It wouldn't happen to be 'What a Girl Wants', would it?" I asked.

"Yeah, that sounds right." I laughed harder. In fact, I nearly fell off my chair and peed my pants all at the same time. I explained to him how I had struggled with the "clue" on the card and everything I had gone through to try to figure out what it meant. And all the while it was just an order code and the name of the arrangement. Of course, this has just increased all the jibes and teasing he has given me, but it's all in good fun.

After I finished my phone call with him, I went to tell my co-worker, who had stuggled with the mystery right along with me, what had happened. She rolled her eyes, and in between fits of laughter said, "That's an 'I want sprinkles' moment if ever I've heard one!" And, of course, she's 100% right!


I've been reminded of a few things I left off my last post. Thanks to my friend Em, I was reminded that you know you've gotten old when:
  • The toys you played with as a child are having their 25th Anniversary celebrations.
FYI, Cabbage Kids now have their 25th anniversary dolls out. There's one on my Christmas list. Another thing that came to me while recently reading about the planets with Sweetpea was, you know you've gotten old when:
  • You've actually heard yourself say "When I was your age, Pluto was a planet."
Also, with the descending of the holiday season upon us, it occurred to me that you know you've gotten old when:
  • The phrase "requires some assembly" has taken on a whole new meaning.
  • For you, Christmas is usually more work than fun, and is sometimes just another day.
And, for that matter, you know you've gotten old when:
  • Your birthday is just another day, but it perplexes you when other people don't celebrate theirs.
I suspect there will be many, many more revelations of this sort, and once they present themselves I will be certain to share them with you. Happy growing old to you!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

You know you’ve gotten old…

Lately I’ve been feeling pretty old. (With everything that has been going on lately, I'm sure that's not really a surprise. But I mean that in addition to all of that, I have been feeling quite old.) Granted, I know that some people I'm friends with and who I work with consider me to be a young ‘un in comparison to them. And I certainly know I’m not nearing the end of my years or anything so silly as that. But there have been some things lately that have just made me feel, for lack of a better word, old. Which, of course, I’ve absolutely had to put into a list. You didn’t really expect otherwise, did you? So, here we go. You know you’ve gotten old when…

Music you listened to, or that was part of movies you watched, while growing up is being played on the local “oldies” station.

Your kids use terminology that makes absolutely no sense to you in the context they are using it.

“Remember when” has become a staple in your daily conversations.

You catch yourself thinking that a walk around the block is a whole lot more work than it’s worth.

You find relating to your parents a whole lot easier than relating to your children.

Dessert is seldom something you would consider eating first. (Ok, usually.)

You feel guilty for eating a potato chip before dinner, because you know “it will spoil your appetite”.

You clean your entire plate, whether you want the food or not, simply because you feel guilty about wasting what might be left: "There are starving people in Ethiopia who would love to have that food."

Your friends marry and divorce, instead of hook-up and break-up.

You consider renewing your vows for no other reason than all the cool “wedding” gifts you would receive.

You send your friends housewarming and “happy divorce” gifts instead of care packages and “to cheer you up after the breakup” gifts.

You catch yourself arguing with your child over whether the correct spelling is “cookie” or “cooky”. (BTW, spell check doesn’t like “cooky”.)

If someone younger than you says they’ve never seen a movie you consider a classic, you are shocked and insist they need to see it immediately.

You find things such as the Doodlebops, Courage the Cowardly Dog and the Teletubbies, boring, weird and just a little creepy. They will never be as good as the things you used to watch.

You find yourself struggling to keep up with the changes in technology. You reminisce about when things were “simple”.

Your class reunion comes and goes, (doesn’t matter what year), and despite your promises way back when that you’d make it to every single one, you’re not the least bit sorry that you missed it – but are pretty sorry that it’s already time for that reunion.

Pets are suddenly a whole lot more work than they were when you were a kid.

You resist change. Change on a small scale makes you queasy and interrupts your sleep. Change on a large scale gives you chills up and down your spine and breaks you out into a cold sweat. Sometimes it even has the ability to send you into convulsions.

Walking to school "in 6 feet of snow, uphill both ways" suddenly doesn't seem so unbelievable, because when you were a kid...

Suddenly Friday and Saturday nights are just like any other night, and you generally can be found vegging out on the couch in front of the tv.

Your children listen to an Ipod with headphones, and you are constantly telling them to "TURN THE MUSIC DOWN!!!!!"

Having drinks in a bar with your parents is suddenly no big deal.

The price of a ticket, a bucket of popcorn, some Raisinets and a large soda at the movie theater nearly gives you a heart attack, and sends you running to check your bank balance.

You no longer consider the first row in the movie theater as "the best seats in the house".

You find yourself thinking that "these movies have just gotten so loud!"

A DJ on the radio makes reference to some young famous person, and you think, "Who??"

Reality shows are just perplexing to you, and you find yourself wondering "whatever happened to good, wholesome, family shows like M.A.S.H. and The Cosby Show?"

9:00 p.m. rolls around and you start wondering what you're still doing up.

You get surly with teenagers who drive by your house too fast.

You check movies for ratings and read reviews about them before deciding to see them or not.

You fear you've developed AOADD at the ripe old age of 30.

You catch yourself saying ridiculous things you never thought you'd say: "We DO NOT put Pez up our nose!"

You've nodded, smiled, chuckled or outright laughed at everything on this list, knowing I've experienced each and every one - and so have you!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Shadow of Fear

It's official. I'm a dork. Of course, this was never really a question. In so many ways I am the definition of a dork. I got great grades in school. The only sport I played was softball. Fast pitch, but softball nonetheless. I lettered in Drama. I used to write poetry. Now I'm a lawyer. I decorate cakes for fun. I cross stitch, also for fun, but for relaxation. I cry, without fail, at any sad or touching books, movies, songs - even tv commercials, for crying out loud - regardless of how often I've read/seen/heard them. I'm a M.A.S.H. fanatic, to the point I want to buy a M.A.S.H. t-shirt and dog tags, (and would wear them in public!) I collect miniature tea sets, Christmas Bears, quotes and useless facts. I get overly excited - and defensive - about cute shoes. Not to mention my numerous quirks. But last night, on my way to my car after work, the fact that I am actually a dork became solidified, without a doubt, in my mind.

First, you'll need a little background here. Unfortunately, while this incident is humorous, I'm afraid it arises out of a situation that is extremely serious, sobering and frightening. About a week and a half ago there was a rape that occurred in the middle of the day, in broad daylight, in a parking lot directly across the street from my office building downtown. I never heard of the incident until Friday morning, after which I forwarded the linked article from the Trib to all of my co-workers and everyone I know in the area to warn them to be safe. A co-worker of mine is married to a police officer. She immediately contacted him to ask questions about obtaining pepper spray for anyone in the office who was interested. Preparations were made, and a group order placed. We received our order today.

You'll also notice that the linked article contains safety tips. Two that have stuck in my mind are: always be aware of your surroundings and what is going on around you, and never talk on your cell phone or listen to your Ipod while walking to your vehicle. I have worked downtown for the last 5 1/2 years. I have always been cautious, since downtown is not the safest place in the valley, especially after dark. I always try to be aware of my surroundings, and the people and happenings within those surroundings. I even try to practice my "witness" skills, making sure I can describe people around me, having had nothing more than a glance at them. I am never distracted (or try very hard not to be). But I have never been afraid. Until now.

Since last week, I have heightened my awareness. But, quite often, I listen to my Ipod while walking to or from my car. It has previously occurred to me that this is not safe. I still do it. I love my music. I love my Ipod. I know I should probably change the habit. I haven't yet. Last night I worked late to make up a couple of missed hours. I was the last one to leave the office, and though it wasn't that late, it was after dark. As I waited for the elevator, I had all of these recent occurrences and safety thoughts swirling through my head. I even considered how I might use the empty Rubbermaid tote I was carrying as a weapon. "Here Mr. Rapist, catch!" or "Didn't anyone tell you to duck?" Or, if nothing else, to use it as an object to put between me and an attacker. Right, like any of those ideas would work! But, the most foolish thought I had was one of pure defiance. I am listening to my music because I am not going to let some psycho control my life and therefore take away any of my enjoyment. Yes, I am perfectly aware that this is a STUPID thought to have, composed of nothing more than absolute stubbornness. We are talking about safety, for goodness sake. And that's certainly more important than my music.

That's how I view it now. Then, I just stuck the ear buds in my ears and headed for the car. Despite the holiday, the building had quite a few people in it. There is a Distance Education college that holds a few classes in the building, and has offices there. Their classroom was full, there were people in the office, and there were a couple of students outside the doors on a smoke break. I continued on past them, still practicing my awareness skills, and despite my Ipod blaring away in my ears, I knew there was no one behind me. Once I got into the parking garage, though, there was suddenly no one around. At all. There weren't even cars coming and going from the other levels, like there usually are. It was a bit creepy. To top it off, it's a parking garage, which means not exactly the best lighting in the world. Even in the daytime, this garage is pretty dark. The florescent lights cast pink and yellow shadows all over the cement walls, pillars and ground. I started to get nervous.

I continued on around the corner, since my parking spot is on the opposite side of a wall directly across from the door, and headed cautiously to my car, bending down just a bit to peek under and make sure the rapist dude wasn't hiding under it waiting to grab my ankles. Reassuring myself that no one was there, I stopped at the passenger side door, opened it, and deposited the tote and my purse on the passenger seat. As I shut the door, I glanced slightly over my left shoulder. I caught something move out of the corner of my eye, and realized a dark figure was standing against the wall my spot butts up against. My heart leaped into my throat, my stomach dropped, and I whirled around to face my would-be attacker. Already my mind was mapping out which way I could run to get away. Should the person move just a little to the left, they would be blocking one way out, the way I had just entered by. I would have to run down, further into the garage, to try to reach the second exit door at the other end. My right hand still held my keys. Somehow I had reacted, drawing on a safety article I had once read about using your keys as a make-shift weapon, and slipped several of the keys between my fingers, narrow ends out, to be used a bit like you would use brass knuckles. My left hand went to my pocket, where my cell phone was. To my credit, I did not scream. So there I stood, ready to defend myself against, or run away shadow.

Go ahead. Finish your laugh. I'll wait...

That's right, folks. I gave new meaning to being afraid of my own shadow. Once I realized that the dark figure was me, I just dropped my hands, rolled my eyes, practically ran to the car and leaped into the driver's seat. I shut the door and locked it....then I began to laugh. Only after I was safe, theoretically from myself, inside my locked car, did I actually laugh at myself. I laughed most of the way home. Along the way I called my sister and my friend to regale them with the tale of my silliness. My friend thanked me for the much needed laugh. My sister reminded me that it was a similar situation that caused her to slip on the ice and consequently break her ankle. And when I started to tell her about my foolish thought of defiance, I said "and I thought 'I'm not going to not listen to my music just so -' " She broke in with "so I don't get raped?" And then started to laugh. Ha ha. Ok, so, I know it was dumb. But you can bet it won't happen again.

Geez, I'm a dork.

Monday, November 10, 2008


First, I would just like to say thank you to all of you who have expressed your condelances for our loss, and expressed your concern for my well being. I do appreciate how difficult a situation this has been, even for those only indirectly involved by the sheer misfortune of knowing me and/or my family. I understand the effort it takes to say something when it seems there is nothing to say. I just wanted to let all of you know that I greatly appreciate every word I received. Even the simple "I'm sorry" is something I am thankful for, and, in some cases, was the most meaningful thing I heard. I had forgotten, I think, how extremely lucky a person I am in life, even when it doesn't quite seem so. I am truly blessed to have friends and family such as you.

Now, some of you have also expressed concerns about my mental health. After re-reading my own two last posts, and not to mention realizing my tendency to just latch on to anyone who mentions the situation to me, and just chatter up a storm with them, all the while seeming to be perfectly calm about it all despite that wild look in my eyes, and probably scaring the crap out of them in the process,
I can completely understand why. (Sorry, Lee, didn't mean to do that to you in Court!) I would just like to let you know that I am completely aware of my mental state, and have decided along the way that some therapy might do me good. Keep in mind, though, that I consider there to be lots of different kinds of therapy. Over the last several weeks I have indulged in attempted several types of therapy. I have several more I intend to try out as well. And while no one method has worked wonders for me, all have contributed to allowing me to keep little bits of my sanity. Hopefully you will see a return, (if not slow and extended, at least steady,) to my old self, and therefore my old blogging ways.

Let me share with you my exploration of the World of Therapies. The first therapy attempt was that of Retail Therapy. You know, this is where you go out and spend inordinate amounts of money on things you really don't need. I did spend a little money on things we did actually groceries. But for the most part it was completely unneccesary items that did nothing more than make me feel happy. There were four new pairs of shoes (two for me and two for Sweetpea), because I made the mistake of going into Payless to look for ballet shoes for Sweetpea's Halloween costume right in the middle of BOGO. Usually I would have been more aware of this, and try to stay out of Payless during this event. But, with all that had been happening, I don't remember paying attention to any commercials for it, and didn't even notice the signs as I entered the store. Imagine my surprise and delight when the very helpful clerk informed me of the sale. Just ballet shoes turned into ballet shoes and black boots for Sweetpea, and black ankle boots and red and black Airwalks for me. Too cute! (BTW, I am completely aware of how much several people will make fun of me for the Airwalks. I don't care, I love them!)

My shoe splurge was followed by a trip to my favorite store to hate, Wal-mart. I did have a legitimate reason for going to Wal-Mart that day. I had groceries to buy, and several other household items, which I did purchase. And of course I needed a new shirt to go with my Airwalks... In addition to that, I had to buy Halloween treats for my niece and nephew. (My sister is so kind as to spoil my daughter at every possible holiday, I MUST return the favor! :-) ) Ok, so that wasn't so bad. Until I really stopped and looked around in the Halloween aisles. Then suddenly I realized I didn't have any treats for work. So into the basket went six more bags of candy (all of which I did actually have coupons for). Then I realized my friend might like a treat, too. So a couple little things for her went in the basket. Then I saw some really cute pumpkin tatoos. You use them to decorate the pumpkins instead of carving Jack-o-Lanterns. So into the basket for Sweetpea they went. Oh, here's a pic of the result of that therapy:
She did pretty well, don't you think? The Mr. Potato Head ears were a nice touch, I thought.

Then I realized we were supposed to have company for Halloween dinner and I had no indoor Halloweeny decorations to go with our Dinner in a Pumpkin dish. There were several adorable Halloween table cloths, so I thought that would be cute. I saw an equally cute haunted house tea light holder that I thought would be adorable as a centerpiece.

And of course I had to have the black and orange Halloween tea lights that went with it. No, the bags of white ones I have at home are not good enough. But then I noticed it was probably just a bit too small to use as a centerpiece by itself. So I looked around for something to add. Then I saw the artificial black roses. And I thought, hmmmm. A dozen black roses in a clear vase with black river stones in the bottom would be a perfect addition to the tea light holder. Orange ghosty table cloth - check. Haunted house - check. Black and orange tea lights - check. Dozen black roses - check. Tall, clear, slender vase - check. Black river stones - whoa, not so fast! They ended up being like $5 per bag and I was figuring about 3 bags for the vase. Ok, so there may be something called too much Retail Therapy. Instead I opted for vase marbles I already had at home. And the result:
Kinda cute, huh? Forgetting for just a minute that my Retail Therapy doubled my Wal-Mart expense, I didn't do too shabby. So ended that therapy session. (Kind of. Here and there I've bought a couple things along the way. :-) )

The next therapy I sampled was Assisted Flight of the Imagination Therapy. This is therapy where, by perusal of certain fanciful texts, the imagination is transported to exotic and far away places in the past, present and future... Ok, so it's reading a book. Hey, I needed an escape. So I re-read one of my favorite romance novels and spent a few days immersed in the romantic and fascinating medieval era (one of my favorite time periods). This therapy has provided a most favorable release for me, and I think I may continue on with this method.

Next I attempted Dexterity Completion Therapy. This is the therapy of finally finishing the million and one craft projects you have started over the last umpteen years. Ok, so this one wasn't so successful. I got some work done on the cross stitch I'm doing right now, and I got Sweetpea's headpiece together for her Halloween costume...and that about sums it up. However, I believe this form has its merits and future attempts at this therapy may be beneficial. (If for nothing else than finishing the cross stitch I promised my mom three months ago.)

Annoyance Therapy has been something I've returned to over and over again. Annoyance Therapy is applied by sinking your proverbial "claws" into whoever might be available (or just in the wrong place at the wrong time) and annoying the hell out of them by discussing every gruesome detail of the horrific situation you are currently going through. Unfortunately, participation by the opposite individual is completely involuntary, and prior participation of such individuals is not taken into account. Let me just say, I'd like to apologize to all past and future participants in my sessions of such therapy. Equally unfortunate is my apparent inability to stop myself from practicing such therapy, and I do feel quite sorry for my victims friends and family when I am driven to the practice.

The most recent test therapy has been Beautification Therapy. This is the practice of doing something to make yourself feel, if not look, pretty. It does wonders for the soul. In my case, I had my nails done:

This was something that Sweetpea was more than happy to also participate in, so after mine were done, I did hers, too:

No, I am not multi-talented. Mine were done in a salon, and hers are those sweet little girl press on nails you can get a Wal-Mart. We just also add a little super glue so they stay on for more than five minutes at a time. She always gets so excited to show everyone her pretty nails. Anyway, Beautification Therapy proved to be a success as well. I think it is something I will have to continue, especially since I've noticed over the last few months that my normally dark brown hair has taken on a silvery luster that was not quite so apparent before...

I'm also considering some Hands-On Therapy. *gasp!* Get your minds out of the gutter! I know what you're thinking, and you ought to be ashamed of yourselves! I am, of course, referring to massages, wraps, body scrubs and other relaxation type therapies available in a spa. *Ahem* Anyway, I have a gift certificate my dear husband gave me for this last Valentine's for a massage that I need to use so it doesn't expire. I was saving it for a maternity massage as time went on, but maybe now a hot stone massage or aromatherapy massage might be in order...

And maybe, just maybe, when all is said and done, I might actually consider some professional therapy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

When It Rains

First, I apologize for the length of this post. There is a lot of information here, and I'm afraid there are not a lot of ways to get it all across without the length.

I feel like I’ve slipped into the twighlight zone. I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going. Processing simple thoughts and performing simple actions suddenly seems complicated and difficult. I’ve lost the ability to perform mental checks on myself to make sure I’m not flying off the handle for no reason, or saying something I shouldn’t. I don’t know what I’m thinking. Most of all I don’t know what I’m feeling, or even what I’m supposed to be feeling. Suddenly all these unreal things are happening. Someone I’ve known since grade school had her father pass away this past weekend. Both of her parents have passed in the last five years or so. She’s the same age as me. That is unreal to me. A friend of mine, who I never thought would be a parent, has told me of a pregnancy. Another person, someone who has never, ever taken an interest in my life at all, (at least, not a genuine interest), is suddenly offering me condolences on my loss. A co-worker thought her 24-year-old sister had a heart attack last week. My mom is once again enduring chemo. My grandma is basically sitting at home waiting for her cancer to take her, all the while wishing she could fight. (Not to mention Obama winning the election.) All of this is enough for me. Given this alone, I would think I had slipped into some alternate universe, some freaky, out of whack third dimension. But then add what additional developments have happened with my personal situation, and life has truly turned upside down.

My D&C (sorry, I have been corrected as to the true name of the procedure, it is not a “DNC”), went fine, and while I was very tired, I felt no pain by the afternoon of the following day. In fact, by that afternoon I was feeling really good about the whole situation. It was as if I had a little closure on the ordeal, now that the procedure was over and didn’t turn out to be quite as bad as I had expected. The day after that, October 24th, a Friday afternoon, I received a message from my doctor on my home answering machine. But that afternoon I was already on my way to Wyoming for my bil’s surprise 30th birthday party, so I didn’t actually hear the message until the following Sunday night. The doctor said she had received the pathology results from the D&C. She said she wanted to discuss them with me. This is not something I was expecting, since I had been told that I would just need to come back to see her in six weeks for a follow-up to make sure everything was ok. The message said that if she had not heard back from me by Monday afternoon, she would call again. This worried me, though, since it was the doctor herself who had contacted me, and not some assistant that just wanted to set an appointment for me. But, since there was not much I could do about that on a Sunday night, I thought I’d just call her sometime Monday morning, after I had returned from my Court hearings.

8:30 Monday morning, as I was in the process of hustling Sweetpea out the door to school so neither she nor I would be late, the phone rang. It was the doctor. She checked that I had gotten her message, and then said she needed to discuss the pathology report with me. She wanted me to come in to meet with her. When I asked if there was anything to worry about, she told me no, but that there was just something a little unusual with my pregnancy that she wanted to explain in person. Needless to say, this really offered me no comfort. Especially since the last time she said there was nothing to worry about, there actually was something to worry about. I managed to concentrate enough to get myself through the day, then hurried to the appointment. Unfortunately, due to an accident occurring right in front of me, I was about half an hour late. Thankfully, the doctor felt the matter was important enough to stick around and wait to see me, and had not left the office yet. When I asked what was going on, she had some difficulty explaining the situation to me. After having talked to her about it, and trying to read about it on the internet, I understand why. I will try my best to relay the scientific mumbo jumbo to you.

Originally they told me I had a misabortion, which I have since found out basically means a miscarriage that has not been expelled from the body. There is an embryo that forms, but almost immediately dies and then is reabsorbed into the body, leaving only the placenta and possibly the yolk sac. Then these things remain until a miscarriage or D&C occurs. Instead of this, the pathology report came back indicating that I had a rare occurrence called a partial molar pregnancy, which is something different than what they had told me I had experienced. Molar pregnancies occur in 1 in every 1,000 pregnancies. Partial molar pregnancies occur less that that. This is how the doctor explained it to me: a normal, fertilized egg has 46 chromosomes – 23 from the egg and 23 from the sperm. When the egg ends up with 45, 47 or 48, the majority of the time the pregnancy will end with either a miscarriage or a misabortion – though sometimes an embryo with 47 chromosomes will survive. This is where Down’s Syndrome comes from.

In my case, the egg had 69 chromosomes. What this means is that there were two sperm and one egg, and all three contributed all of their chromosomes. Or, there ended up being two copies of the chromosomes from the sperm. The result was a fertilized egg with 1/3 more chromosomes than it should have. Some of my readings about this have indicated that this is actually a form of twins, though my understanding is that the egg does not split as it should. Other readings have said nothing about it being a form of twins, so I’m not 100% sure as to what is right. In the articles that indicate twins, what appears to happen is that there is one viable embryo, and one embryo with three sets of chromosomes. That embryo immediately dies and forms this abnormal tissue resembling a cluster of grapes (called a mole). The tissue continues to grow and quickly destroys the viable embryo. In the articles that didn’t mention twins, this is the best I can translate: the same cluster of grapes forms, but somewhere inside it is some normal placental tissue that does begin to develop into an embryo, but not one that could ever survive due to the abnormal tissue and abnormal number of chromosomes. In a molar pregnancy, no embryo ever forms at all. I found these two articles the most helpful in learning about this: Parent Center: Molar Pregnancy

Wikipedia: Twins

Now here comes the really wacked out part. Ready? This abnormal tissue actually acts like cancer. While Wikipedia refers to it as cancerous tissue, most of the other articles I read stop short of calling it cancer. However, it is abnormal tissue formed from normal cells that continues to grow. If all the cells are not removed with a D&C or miscarriage, the remaining cells can actually begin to re-grow. If not treated, they can spread to other organs of the body and can be fatal. Sounds a hell of a lot like cancer to me. The articles refer to the re-growth as Persistent Gestational Trophoblastic Disease, which is 100% curable if caught while the cells are still only present in the uterus, and 80 – 90% curable if the cells have spread to other organs. Now get this. Persistent Disease is treated with chemotherapy. That’s right, you read it correctly. Chemo. One minute I’m pregnant, the next minute there’s a possibility that my failed pregnancy could lead to cancer. Or, at least, cancer treatment. On top of that bit of news was the additional blow that because of the way they test for the disease, an attempt at another pregnancy would not be possible for at least six months. The possible re-growth is monitored by blood tests insuring that the pregnancy hormone has reduced to zero, then remained at zero for six consecutive months. If another pregnancy were to occur during that time, there would be no way to determine whether the presence of, or increase in, the pregnancy hormone is due to the disease or the new pregnancy.

My first reaction was not to the news of a possible disease, (though this did hit me later). It was to the news that not only had I lost something, but that something had now been taken from me for at least six more months on top of the additional nine months necessary for a healthy baby. In addition, on the chance that my husband and I decide we don’t want to have children a minimum of six years apart in age and choose not to try for a baby again, it has been taken away from me permanently. I know the doctor tried to break this to me gently. I did not take it well. I dissolved into tears right in the middle of the poor woman’s examination room. And I don’t mean just silent, upset tears that do nothing more than run down your face and maybe make your clothing a little damp. I mean the out and out sobbing in your hands so loudly the woman in the examination room three doors down can hear it, while all of the belongings that were previously neatly perched upon your lap fall to the floor and you don’t even care about the embarrassment that it may cause you later to have to pick them up. I really don’t remember a whole lot of the rest of the conversation. In fact, I don’t really remember much of the rest of the evening. All I know is that I was upset, and couldn’t understand why all of these bad things keep happening in my life in such close proximity to each other.

I did go home that evening and try to educate myself on this anomaly. I’ve found that because this is so rare, there is not a lot of expanded information on it. Most of what I found said the same thing over and over again, with maybe the exception of change in numbers here or there (i.e. 5% chance vs. 20% chance, or 6 months vs. a year). I spent most of Tuesday miserable, until I realized at bedtime that I was literally making myself sick. I woke up Wednesday with a full-blown cold, the stress of everything that had happened finally catching up with me. To be honest, I’m a little surprised it has taken me this long to get sick. After all, I have been on total stress overload since July. But, when I woke up sure I was sick, it was a bit like a mental slap in the face. I told myself that I had to pull it together. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t get well, and I was doing myself no good being sick. I’ve managed to feel better for the last week. While that worked for now, I believe it is only temporary. Especially after the phone call I got just this past Sunday evening.

My doctor had called and left me a message on Thursday to let me know that, as suspected, the blood test had come back with the pregnancy hormone still present. This was no surprise, as she had told me that would probably happen. It is too soon after my pregnancy to have it returned to zero. She wanted me to return to have my blood drawn again sometime between Monday and Wednesday this week. Sunday evening she called to make sure I got her message. I told her I had, and asked what the count actually was on the hormone. She said it came back at 938. When I asked if that was normal, she told me she had discussed my case with the head of the research department at the hospital. Apparently this man is also heading up a study dealing with miscarriages and the affects of low-dose aspirin on attempting to get pregnant again after a miscarriage (something I was looking into participating in). Because this man has so much experience, he is apparently the resident expert on miscarriage and related events. She said she had gone to him to make sure that he agreed that my hormone count was normal for the amount of time that had passed after the pregnancy. He agreed that it was. She then questioned him as to whether I would still qualify for the study since I had experienced the partial molar pregnancy as opposed to simply a miscarriage/misabortion. He then told her he didn’t think I had a partial molar pregnancy. This was not based on his review of my records. Instead it was based upon the fact that she was the second doctor to approach him with questions concerning a patient diagnosed by the same pathologist as having a partial molar pregnancy in a two week period. Since the disease is so rare, and it is practically unheard of to have two cases in such proximity to each other, he doubts the pathologist’s diagnosis. He is concerned that the pathologist may be seeing something slightly unusual in the tests performed, and rather then taking the extra steps to perform additional genetic tests to verify the results, is defaulting automatically to a partial molar pregnancy diagnosis. He suggested that she contact the pathologist to determine if they actually performed the additional tests, and if not, order the tests to verify the diagnosis. She intends to do that when she returns to work Thursday this week, but results won’t be available until sometime next week at the earliest.

Frankly, I don’t know what to do with this information. I cannot absorb it. I cannot process it. I cannot fathom it in any way at this point. So I simply am not. Until the doctor provides me with some additional information, I am continuing on as if Sunday’s phone call never occurred. I simply do not have the capacity at this point to deal with any more, good or bad. Until then, everything is as it is, and is no more.