March 31, 2009

Kimchi Parent Moments

On Kimchi Mamas, MN challenged bloggers to a contest about a Korean parent moment. She said in-law stories could count. It started me thinking of many random memories. Not so much a story as a series of impressions.

-Before I'd ever met them, Mom K invited me to Thanksgiving with the family, then freaked out and took back the invite. She had the courage to talk to me on the phone and explain that she just wasn't ready yet.

-When I did finally meet them, I practiced saying 'on-yang-ha-se-yo' under my breath over and over. When I got to the door of the hotel, I bowed and said the Korean hello while she reached up to hug me and say 'Hello' in English.

-The first time they came to visit our home after we'd married, I was a nervous wreck. I spent days cleaning our shack of a house. Jrex kept repeating it didn't matter, stop cleaning. She walked in and said, "Wow! It's so clean." Later in the visit she confided to me, "I know I can trust you with my son. You're so good with the house." The irony was, I was too intimidated to do any cooking while they visited. On the drive home, apparently my FIL said, "We go to our daughter's house, her husband cooks. We go to our son, he cooks. Am I supposed to start cooking?"

-After 8 years of marriage, I called Mom K while I was waiting to meet a friend. We chatted, she asked how Jrex was doing, I was giving her a bunch of prayer requests. After a while she said, "You are so good. You are like that woman in the Bible, in Proverbs." That woman is lauded for an entire chapter about getting up early and going to bed late, taking care of her family, making her husband proud, being of high worth. I almost fell over when she told me that.

-A year ago, Mom K was visiting and dropped another bomb. As we sat chatting on the couch, she nodded and said, "I think I like you more than my own daughter." I was horrified. In my mind, I thought, 'please don't tell me you told her that!'; she continued, "The other day, I told YJ that. She laughed and said she was glad we got along so well."

It was a long, hard road, but we've definitely reached a place of mutual respect and love.

March 25, 2009

Let's talk about cysts, baby!

Whenever I mention that I've had a cyst removed, I hear someone tell me their cyst story. Today, as I was fitted for a bite guard by my dentist, she added to the litany.

I've heard about my mother-in-law having an ovary removed due to a cyst. She was 24 and still in Korea, the doctors told her she'd never have children. She told me the story to encourage me that I can still have babies.

My dentist tells me that she had one in her early 20's. In fact, she didn't have her period for two years, saw 20 different American doctors, and was finally diagnosed by a Chinese doctor (she's Cambodian). In the process of telling me about that, she mentions that she has two uteruses. Her doctor told her she was one of 150 women in the world with that condition. I was able to chime in, "One of my close friends in college had that. She has two cervixes, too. Every time she goes to the OB/GYN they ask if they can have their colleagues examine her as well (since it's so rare)." The dentist laughed and then asked if my friend had children. She was SO relieved when I told her that yes, my friend had a daughter and the pregnancy was fine. She told me she'd tell her boyfriend the good news that night.

It's strange to have the key to such intimate conversations! I've found out more about the bodies of women I know than I ever wanted to! I'm grateful for so much advice and commiseration, but still find myself a bit weirded out.

March 19, 2009


I got to meet one of the Kimchi Mamas yesterday, Mary. She lives in the East Bay and had to take a class at Stanford. After coming up to Menlo from campus, we only had time for a quick lunch, but it was fun to meet her in person. I also enjoyed going for a walk without the dog tugging at me. After lunch I visited the bookstore in town, then, to my chagrin, was almost too tired to walk home. I'm ready to be better already!

OTRmama left on Monday. Tuesday I got really sad and overwhelmed. It took me a bit of journaling to figure out what was going on. Basically, with her here, I didn't have to ask for anything. She was amazing at anticipating needs, even finding flowers while walking the dogs and bringing them back to put in vases around the apartment. Jrex is fairly depressed about this paper he's working on. He's got 'one more' experiment now before they can try to publish it. This thing has taken 5 years of his life so far and he doesn't even care about it. Usually when he's depressed, I do what I need to to take care of myself and try to make home life as light as possible for him. Unfortunately, it's harder to suck it up at the moment!

We talked about it over dinner that night. A lot of it was missing having a Mom. I'd forgotten what it felt like to be cared in the way a good Mom can. I felt so humbled and blessed to have someone willing to do that for me. Jrex has been great, of course, it's not his fault he's not a Mom! We're working out how to care for each other when we both have low emotional/physical reserves.

I sent an email yesterday to work telling them I'll be able to ease into working from home starting on Monday. Sigh. I haven't missed work AT ALL.

And that's all the news from Lake Couch-be-on, where the Gilmore Girls are in Season 3 and the pace of dialogue over dinner has picked up accordingly.

March 13, 2009

How I suffer, part 2

While excursions and visitors can be surprisingly tiring, it's also crazy-making to just stay in the house. I've never liked watching TV that much, so I can only do 2-3 episodes of GG in a row.

The last two days we did two excursions. On Wednesday we visited the Cantor art museum just down the road at Stanford.

Then, yesterday, we drove up to Fort Funston in San Francisco. Everyone who has a dog has recommended visiting it, so when OTRmama commented that the dogs were restless, I thought that would be a fun day trip.

I've never seen SO many dogs in my life! There were at least 10 dog walkers, each with 7-10 dogs. Dozens of people with one or two dogs.

AND there's a hang gliding take-off/landing spot.

The other weird thing, OTRmama commented this morning that it's my Mom's birthday today. It hadn't even occurred to me. The strangest thing is that it doesn't make me sad at all. Mom being gone is a fact of life. Sure it would be nice to have her around, but my life has reshaped around the hole and there's no more active ache. It was very strange however to realize she would be turning 70 today. That sounds old. Sure my Dad has gotten older, but I saw his 60's happen, with Mom, I don't know what that decade would have contained. At least now when she shows up in my dreams, she's no longer the cancer version; when I see her, she's healthy and in her 30's with vibrant hair and smile.

I'm glad that in honor of her birthday, I get to spend time with her best friend. OTRmama brought me Mom's bread recipe. Perhaps that's what I'll attempt today in her honor. Throughout my elementary school years, I came home to the smell of cookies or bread and Mom asking, "How was your day?" as she cleaned up the kitchen.

March 9, 2009

News from the other side.

Pull out the pillow from between my legs, put it on top of the cover. Grab the headboard with my left hand, push myself up enough to get my right elbow digging into the bed, move my feet out to hover over the edge, push/pull/swing all together until I stand with a grunt. Sway slightly. Shuffle to the bathroom. Repeat 3x per night.

The good news is that my kidneys are in great health despite pain meds and ibuprofen!

I've been home since Thursday. I never felt nauseous from the anesthesia, the worst the pain ever got was a 3/10 (I suspect I have a relatively high pain-threshold) and I have the entire Gilmore Girls box set to tide me over to a healthy state. As of today, I'm off the Vicadin and just using ibuprofen and tylenol. The staples come out this afternoon. I suspect that I'd be up for working by a week from today, but I'm not telling work that! I'll wait until my follow-up appointment and decide from there.

My Mother-in-Law calls Every. Single. Day. She couldn't be here, so apparently, telling me what to eat, drink and do has to substitute. It's been very kind of her to be so concerned, but phew! I'm glad we don't normally do a daily phone chat. Honestly, not that much changes in 24 hours. I'm still doing well. Still enjoying my Mom's friend. The dogs still like each other. It's still sunny outside. I'm still not working.

I love having OTRmama here. She's a fun yet comforting presence. As much as I love my family, each of us are high-intensity personalities, so I think we all drain each other a bit. Jrex is extremely grateful that OTRmama can walk the dogs. In an expression of gratitude, he's been cooking for us. Yesterday was pancakes and eggs for brunch and a honey/soy-glazed salmon for dinner.

I can tell that a bunch of people are praying. There's been an overall sense of love, peace and safety throughout this whole experience. I feel a little guilty being the invalid! Jrex cooks, OTRmama cleans up and I lay around on the couch watching DVDs. It doesn't seem fair, but I'm surviving the ordeal despite the guilt!

Now for the photo essay. From there and back again.

A nurse with a sense of humor is great! I was STARVING after the surgery, but couldn't eat anything until I passed gas. Talk about losing all sense of shame! I was never so happy to announce "I farted" to a stranger.

I even had a private room! Right next to the nurses station, but earplugs (and pain meds) cover a multitude of evils.
My 'happy button'. Gave me a shot of morphine whenever I wanted it!

My beloved book pile.

Back home again, the two dogs have settled into a more or less peaceful companionship.

Doggy BFFs.

How we suffer here in the invalid household.

OTRmama and her little Azure shadow.

My throat has been raw and dry in the mornings, so I had to go to Target to buy a humidifier. The one that was ultrasonic and had an adjustable rate of flow, also comes with an elephant head! It makes me laugh every time I look at it.

March 6, 2009

I'm home, I'm good

I'm doing a fast post to 'test' my blog. Where did it go? I see no posts on screen?!!

March 3, 2009

The cyst will come out tomorrow...

A collection of completely random thoughts:

My last day at work. Everyone keeps telling me it will be fine. I'll be able to work in 10 days or so. What they don't understand is that given a choice between politics and stress or pain, I'll take the pain, thank you very much! If my doctor is tough and won't let me go back to work early, I think I'll be just fine with that.

I'm not worried. I don't know enough to be nervous about the pain, since I've never been injured before. I'm more worried about what I'll be like after a week of sitting around. Without my bike ride and climbing, I get a bit twitchy.

The other day, the VP in charge of this account stopped by. As mentioned before, we affectionately call him The Devil. He starts telling me stories of how soon he was working after having his gall bladder out. How it only took three days before he grabbed back his Crackberry after his liposuction. I actually laughed in his face as I said, "That's cool. I can tell you now, I won't be back that fast! I don't have a need to be needed." My creative director was with us and he started coughing he was laughing so hard.

I'm grateful I have the health insurance to cover this. Grateful I have job security. Heck, it's taking three people to replace me. When I sent the intro list to our client, there were a total of five people (including the two positions for the help I'd already needed). Compared to all that, I'm cheap!

OTRmama and her dog Azure are on their way down from Portland. They stopped for an overnight last night in Northern California. My MIL is sad that she can't come to help. I've tried to tell her it's not that I don't want her, it's just a neat opportunity to spend time with my Mom's best friend. I know she understands in her head, but I can tell she's hurt. If I didn't have OTRmama coming, I'm sure it would have been fine to have had my MIL. It's just that she comes with my FIL attached, and I don't see that being stress-free AT ALL.

In any case, having OTRmama is as close as I can get to having my Mom come. We grew up a block away from them. Her three daughters are the same ages as the three of us. They were a source for TV (I remember a summer of All My Children), art lessons, playing with Barbie, laughter, cats and goldfish with mile-long tails. She's bringing Mom's bread recipe (I never have learned to bake).

I raided the library and am well stocked. I found The Muppet Show, Season 1. My So Called Life, Seasons 2, 3, 5. One of my work friends is bringing in the box sets for Friends, Gilmore Girls and Sex in the City. The comments for what to do while sick have been really helpful. It sounds like I'll have the attention span of a six-month old kitten, so I figure sitcoms are the way to go. I do have a few books, but nothing super serious.

On Ash Wednesday, I went to a Lutheran church nearby. I grew up in a (very unconventional) Lutheran church and miss those traditions on the high holy days: Ash Wednesday, Advent, Christmas, Good Friday, Easter. During the service, I asked the Lord what I should give up for Lent. I could feel him laugh quietly. I realized, "Oh, I'll be immobilized for most of it! I'll truly have time to enter into the rest, silence and Presence that You keep calling me to seek. I guess that's plenty to give up (and gain), huh?" Gentle agreement.

I'm looking forward to it.