Friday, June 26, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Correction: Normal white blood cell count is between 10,000 and 12,000. Good news, my dad is up to 4,200.
Mom and I made a Father's Day brunch that we took to the hospital this morning. The three of us snacked on her tasty cheese-egg-avocado omelets, grapefruit, and chicken sausage. It was a nice little celebration.
I leave in a few hours to get back to LA (let's just hope it works this time!). Just hanging out in the hospital till then, and Mom is catching up on some things at the hotel (hopefully, but not likely, including a nap). Dad's trying to sleep with some wet washcloths on his head to help break another fever.
As Mom puts it, "This isn't a vacation and it isn't reality." It been really hard emotionally and physically to be here this week. I so greatly admire both of my parents who have been here so much longer. On the bright side, it was good to see them, and I ate some amazing food and did some fun shopping. More posts to come later about the other restaurants we went to, as well at the aquarium and the museum.
I have mixed feelings about going home. I'm looking forward to my bed, my cats, my friends, my fiance... well, my life, really. Selfishly, I'm excited about days that end around 6pm. However, it's a struggle to lead a 'normal' life, knowing this stuff is still going on here. It's sometime a fight to enjoy my life and take care of normal activities (going to work, going to school, cleaning the house, seeing friends) while I know there could be a health crisis with my dad at any moment. Still, can't put my life on hold, especially considering this has been going on for most of the last decade. It's a balancing act. And I will also miss the indulgences. Eating out is a much rarer treat back in LA. But overall, I am looking forward to going home.
If this was a Lifetime movie, he'd be all better by now. If this was an episode of House, he'd be better now. It's not. But we're all taking it one day at a time. My gratitude and thanks to all my wonderful friends and family who have been so supportive during this difficult time.
Live Long and Prosper!
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Good News: Craig got Franklin adopted. A nice family with a few other cats got their 13 year old daughter a kitten for her birthday. After careful kitten inspection at the adoption fair today, she chose Franklin. Yay! We wanted Franklin and Bootsy to go to a home together, but a home is better than no home. And 'the orange kitten' was so popular before, I'm pretty sure we'll get Bootsy a home soon.
More Good News: Dad's white blood cell count is two thousand! You need 500 to fight any infection and 1,200 is normal-ish.
Bad News: He's still spiking fevers on and off. But they say that's normal. Sucks, but is normal.
This was supposed to be a goodbye photo
Bad News: I can't read a calendar. I was supposed to fly back to LA today. After some issues with the self-check in at the airport this afternoon, I went to an attendant. She let me know that the ticket was for 6.27 - next Saturday. Oh shit! I booked the ticket for a week in advance. Damn. Ironically, I also sent my itinerary to Dad, Mom, and Craig, and not one of us caught that. Guess I should buy tickets when stressed out with finals. American Airlines told me it would cost a thousand dollars to re-book this weekend. I nearly died.
4 hours later, my parents got me a ticket back to LA tomorrow on Jet Blue- for far less than a thousand too! Thanks Mom, Dad, and Jet Blue. AA- you failed me. A taxi ride back to downtown Chicago. I've had better days.
Better News: I got to have dinner at Karen's, a favorite vegan restaurant of my mom's out here. I had an amazing polenta, and an pomegranate soda martini with natural vodka. Most tasty! My mom got 'ribs'- which tasted like good hotdogs with amazing bbq sauce. The cornbread and carrot cake were ok (bit dry, not sweet enough for me), and the mead wasn't as sweet as I like it. But overall, super fantastic food. And not even 'fantastic for vegan,' but really tasty.
Even Better News: Now I get to spend Father's Day with my dad. I tell him I arranged all this to spend father's day with him. Ok, it's a lie that he knows isn't true, but it's a good lie.
It's 11:45 pm just got back from the hospital. Kinda tired. Miss kittens. But Mom and I picked up brunch stuff Father's Day brunch tomorrow. Yay. Ok, nap time.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Dad's white blood cell count is now 0.3! Yay! What does that mean? I don't know, but it used to be 0.1, and 0.3 is much better. This is a very good thing.
I also made it to the aquarium today, videos of leafy sea dragons to come.
And my sister did well on the GRE.
Good news all around. Now does anyone want a kitten? (Seriously.)
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Update: It's almost ten, and my dad's fever spiked.
Mom staying at the hospital to see what the doctor says.
I offered to stay instead or stay with her, but they said to just go home.
And now I'm back at the hotel debating whether to wait up or go to sleep.
Hate feeling so helpless, but can't do much -
except wash my hands a lot, take care of myself, and wait and see.
There's a TV in the hospital room, and apparently there is a 'zen out' channel. Probably really great if you're on lots of drugs, but not too bad when you're just sober and tired. It just plays non-confrontational shots of nature. It's nine at night, and I'm almost dozing in a chair while watching this channel and listening to Barenaked Ladies on my computer. It's a really comfy chair. The kind where you can kick up your legs.
Barenaked Ladies not on hospital TV.
I think I've just watched various angles of waterfalls and bird of paradise flowers for the last five minutes. It's a nice channel. Whenever I'm really stressed, I can usually decompress with some sort of wildlife channel. This channel has all the wildlife, but no carnage. No circle of life, just life. Waterfall
Trees. A hummingbird.
Oceans. A beach. A sunset. Clouds.
A lot like this.
I have no idea if there is sound, since my dad doesn't play it with sound. But I imagine Enya would probably be singing something soothing. Probably about a boat or the rain, or boating in the rain.
Enya is not on hospital TV, but maybe she should be.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Maybe I'm still on California time, maybe I have too much on my mind, or maybe I just miss my cat, but I just can't get to sleep anymore. Took an ambien, and waiting for blissful unconsciousness.
Before I left for Chicago, a lot of people acted like I was going on a great vacation. It was difficult to respond, because, well, this isn't a vacation. As my mom so eloquently put it, "This is a medical trip interspersed with good restaurants, but it isn't a vacations." It helped to think about it like that. I've been feeling guilty and frustrated that the only 'vacation' I've had in a while involves spending most of the day in the hospital. Yes, the food here is great and it's fun to do some shopping, but the majority of the time is spent in the hospital. I never know when any plans we have will be canceled because things have gone poorly for Dad that day. It is stressful. It is the uncertainly that kills me. I would love a trip to Chicago without the hospital junk. But seeing this as a family emergency instead of a fun vacation makes this trip so much easier.
Should Ambien make you see in double?
Ok, must stop typing. Ambien is killing any of my typing skills. Good night and good luck.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Friday night I took a red-eye to Chicago. It was too cramped and too cold to sleep much, but I made the effort. I get to the hotel around 6am and my awesome mom makes me awesome egg on toast. Finally, I get to nap for a few hours.
Around 1ish we got to the Saloon Steakhouse, which is right next to the hotel, for lunch. It is incredible. For $13 I get filet mignon covered in blue cheese with mashed potatos and green beans. It is bliss on a plate. Knowing the hospital is the next stop, I also pair it with their house Cabernet Sauvignon, which was pretty good. It is the lunch of kings. Or at least Brandies.
Sometimes I feel like just a number.
Ok, fun part done, time to get my butt to the hospital. Dad's up on the 15th floor, and in serious get-no-freaking-germs-in-here condition. There are 2 sets of automatic doors, with a sink in the middle. Enter one set of doors, wash your hands, exit the second set of doors. Only one set can be open at a time. I felt like I was living in "Andromeda Strain" and almost expected infected crazy monkeys to run by.
See any crazy monkeys?
After the doors, we went to the end of the hall, where we got disinfectant goo to rub on our hands before entering my dad's room.
I was a bit shocked, ok more than a bit, to see him laying on the bed. He was weak, half conscious with his head shaved. Lots of the usual tubes and wires of any serious medial stay.
Mom and I wear face masks for the first part of the visit, though they aren't really needed later. Despite her saying we could draw happy faces on them, seems no one remember to bring a Sharpie. Maybe next time.
I just sat for a while. Stunned with the situation and still pretty tired from my trip. I felt a little lightheaded. Somehow, the whether or not I'm going to have kids came up.
Let me preface- I have no intention of having kids now, near now, or possibly at all. Craig doesn't really want kids and I can't imagine trying to be responsible for a small person right now. So, we may not have kids, and if we do, it will be quite a ways away. If (and it's a big IF) we have kids, we have discussed adoption. Craig and I both feel that there are enough unwanted children in the world, that if we ever have a home for kids, we might as well give it to them. Or as Craig puts it, "Puppies, kittens and children- if we get them, we're getting them from the pound." Ok, the sentiment if there, even if Craig lacks subtlety or tack.
So, somehow the topic of me having kids came up at the hospital, and I casually mentioned that I wasn't sure if I was having kids, and if I was, they would probably be adopted. My dad's eyes got really big and he very seriously demanded, "What's wrong with my genes? Why don't you want to have your own kids?"
I couldn't believe we were even arguing this. This, coming from the man who kept telling me not to rush things and make sure I did my own thing free from the responsibility of others. I'm trying to get through grad school and my dad is freaking out because someday I might adopt- MAYBE? My dad, who is trying to get me to shop for a husband and gets 'nervous' when I even tell him the date of our wedding (2 years mind you), and now he's getting upset that we might not have biological children? Seriously?!
I try to remain calm, and see the absurdity of the situation. Remember, he's on a lot of drugs. I try to calmly explain that there are no plans for kids in the near future (or even the not-so-near future), but if we decide to have kids, I will let him know.
He still really wanted to argue the point, even compromise with 'you know, you could have one of each.' And I tried to politely tell him, that really, he had no say in how I decide to reproduce (or not). I can't believe I'm even having this conversation. I can't believe he is seriously concerned about this. I can't believe he's trying to tell me how to have kids. And I really can't believe that he's asking what's wrong with our family's genes as we sit in the isolation floor of the hospital because he's going through chemo for auto-immune problems, which run in the family. It's pretty much too ridiculous to get upset about.
I also didn't mention to him that I have a hard work ethic and Craig had a penchant for mischief. If we have a kid- he/she might inherit both of those traits. And a mischief maker who works hard at it... well, evil world domination is clearly t
Monday, June 15, 2009
On the bright side, I really like the hotel. I'm staying with my mom at the Seneca hotel. She's been here for 3 months. With my dad in the hospital, I get the second bed. Yay for not having to sleep on the couch. Two years ago my dad was really sick and my parents stayed at the W Hotel near UCLA Medical Center. While that place is a chic/trendyplace for a drink, it was a little weird (ok, a lot weird) for people trying to deal with serious illness. The hotel here is much cozier. And oh-my-god the water is so soft! I could shower for hours in its soft, warm caress. Being used to water hard enough to bruise in Los Angeles, this is heaven. I may never shower again. (Just kidding Craig... mostly...)
I have to admit that I miss my cats. Ok, I miss my fiance Craig and my friends, but at night, I really miss my cats- especially my grumpy little Scottish Fold Kelvin. While Craig and I do live together, we have separate rooms. (Actually works really well- I have room for my shoes and he has room for his multiple fish tanks.) Since Craig has a back issue, he likes to sleep on the floor (I kid you not). Plus, he's a night owl and I live in the world of sunshine, so between the weird hours and the fact I enjoy sleeping in a bed, generally the man in my bed at night is my kitty Kelvin.
Some people have accused me of becoming a crazy cat lady, and well, they're probably right. If I had the room, money, and time, I'd love to adopt more cats. As it is, we're a big happy family with 3 cats and 2 more fosters. Craig also likes to name our cats after scientists.
My big love bug. We adopted her (with a buddy, Edison, who sadly didn't make it) from the local shelter when she was 4 months old. She's a total attention slut kitty, and getting fat. When I feel guilty, I let her sleep in my room. But then she'll wake me up at 4 in the morning by deciding to sleep on my head. I then decide to use her as a pillow.
Like a burnt marshmallow, he's grumpy on the outside and sweet on the inside. (Some would say the same thing about Craig.) I've loved Scottish Folds since my mom read me the memoirs of the famous Scottish Fold Norman in "The Who Went to Paris," and have read a lot about them. They are quiet, sweet, and loyal. So I was thrilled to find a Craigslist posting for a 9 month old Scottish Fold. However, Kelvin is the loudest (meow- feed me I'm dying- meow- I haven't eaten wet food since last night- meow- I'm lonely...), grumpiest kitty I've ever had. He hates our roommate's dog (who just wants to be his friend), and barely tolerates the other cats. Yet, all this changes come bedtime. Then, he's all snuggles and purrs as he flops onto his back in a fat Buddha way to demand Pounce cat treats and belly rubs.
And the rescue kittens!
My roommate found 3 5-week old kittens on the street, and Craig and I are taking care of them. We're keeping one, but looking for homes for the other 2 cuties. (Anyone looking for 2 adorable kittens in the LA area?)
The little girl. She's more shy than the boys, but a total sweetie once she warms up. Craig felt she's too shy to be on her own, so she's the one we're keeping. (Plus, she has Craig wrapped around her little finger... errr... tail.) She looks like a mini-Tesla, and is even acting like her.
Franklin (I adore the yawn/moon the camera/nap video)
He was originally called Gimpy. When we first got him he was the tiniest, scrawniest kitten and one eye was sealed shut. Happily, he's just as big as his brother now, and his eye is fine. Totally playful, and with strong attention loving qualities (he purrs when you pick him up).
The only kitty we didn't name, he is the most adventurous of the trio. He will even take on P-Funk, our roommate's dog. Ok, it's a small dog, but still bigger than the kittens. Bootsy is ready for action!
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Sleep comes so easy to kitties, why not to me?!
So it's 1am and I am desperately tired, yet I can't settle my mind. Seems the times that all I want (all I need) is to sleep, are the hardest times to do so. I took half an ambien, so I imagine sleep will find me soon. And if you read fffffffffffffffffffff, it means I feel asleep on the keyboard.
I'm also looking at the book my dad bought me, and I understand why it's not always a good idea to shop Amazon on painkillers. The book in question is "How to Shop for a Husband," and keeps referring to guys as though they were items of clothes. This book has chapters that describe how to speed date and whether or not matchmakers are right for you. This would only be a little weird, except that I have been engaged for almost half a year to my boyfriend of almost 3 years. Oh sigh. While Craig, my fiance, does not fit my dad's idea of my future husband (ie he is not a lawyer, banker, hedge fund manager), I still do not plan on 'shopping' for a husband. Ok, enough for tonight. While it isn't good to shop on vicodin, neither is it good to type on ambien. Good night gentle readers.
I am a 24 year old grad student working on my MBA part-time at UCLA while working full-time at the front office of a TV production company. I have aspirations of completing my masters and taking over the world. Or at least starting my own company. Between work and school, there has not been much down time. Yet, finals are over and I have a week off of work. Seems like a good time to start a blog.
This week off finds me visiting Chicago, which would be all fun and awesomeness if it wasn't for the fact that the main reason I'm out here is to see my dad going through the worst part of the chemo related to his stem cell transplant. See, my dad has been sick for the better part of the last decade. It's hard to describe exactly what he has, because it is so complicated and so rare. Basically, he has auto-immune problems. After years of different treatments, he's finally going through with a stem cell transplant. People I've told about this say 'how cool' it is to have this cutting-edge procedure. Cool? Well, I hope desperately that it works. Of course, cool is not the first thing that comes to mind as a I sit in a hospital room with a father who is half conscious and pumped up on painkillers. Cool is not having to wash my hands (twice!) every time I come to the 15th floor of the hospital to my dad's room, because he has about two white blood cells in his whole body. Cool is not watching my dad dry heave. When I first got to his room, I felt afraid to even breath.
Dad and I - pre stem cell transplant
So here I sit at the hospital half freaked out with what is going on and half wondering was tasty restaurant will be a good choice for dinner. Dad is on enough drugs that he's telling us about the dead people he saw (maybe in a dream?). His grandfather, his best friend, our old greyhound, and the kitten I had who got sick and died. They're all hanging out with him on the beach. Just chilling. Seems like everyone is having a good time.
Fortunately, every restaurant here in Chicago seems to be tasty, so that takes care of dinner. Too bad the hospital part isn't so easy to fix. And that's the crux of living with someone seriously and chronically ill. How does one live their life, and enjoy it, while someone they love is so sick? I refuse to not enjoy myself for the days/months/years he is sick, but it's difficult to find the balance. Whether it's leaving the hospital for dinner or just getting up everyday to go to work knowing he went to the ER last night. It's something I've wrestled with for years.