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Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go: Putting 2017 in the Rearview

12 Dec

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PHOTO (AND RUSSELL KID BOMB) CRED: ANI VATTANO

Even though the rapid succession of mergers and acquisitions in IT that started in 2016 resulted in bringing my business to a grinding halt, I have to admit that the universe probably had a hand in it looking back. And that may be the only reason I’m not completely bald. (The Rogaine helps too.)

I am going to dub this year THE SHOW ON THE ROAD YEAR. Mostly because the YEAR OF DEATH is just too macabre. Even for me.

Let’s get the sad part over with first, shall we?

The first one came mid-January. The death of democracy as we know it vanished before our eyes as the Grabber-in-Chief was sworn into office. Setting the tone

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The bean machine

for what would become a daily diatribe between the hubby and me as we agonized over some new bit of news. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. This election has set the tone for us this year as we entered a level of mourning and sadness that we didn’t think was possible. Leading us to march in Denver as a family for women, science, the EARTH, common sense, equal rights, immigrants, blacks, browns, LGBTQ…pretty much ANYTHING EXCEPT power-grabbing, rich, white guys. (Don’t worry. It’s all fake.) And here ends my political rant, as I know better than most that it falls on deaf ears anyway among those of you who still, in spite of everything blazing into our brains daily, LUV YOU SUM TRUMP.

Then, end of January was Uncle Dick. It was a very hard hit because even though we knew his diagnosis of ALS was really, really bad…we all thought we’d have a little more time. Uncle Dick was one of our most favorite people. Always good for a laugh, a little gossip, a fantastic manhattan. He introduced us to The Stinking Rose, our favorite city, San Fran, and was one of the inspirations (along with Val) behind our move west. As Kenny’s godfather and uncle, he was a constant source of inspiration for a life well lived, outside of the normal, expected boundaries. I don’t know that we ever thanked him enough for always being there and for the positive impact he had on our lives. I hope he knew.

It wasn’t until June that the next news came. Just a few short hours after we’d returned without the hubby (who flew straight to Greenville, SC) from Montana. My aunt Kathy. She’d been in the throes of dementia, but now there was more to the story. Stage IV metastatic bone cancer. She’d be gone in two months. I’ve written quite a bit about her and you can too here and here. It was an incredibly rough summer.

During this ordeal with Kathy, our dear friend, Martha (age 15), had a scan that showed her Ewings Sarcoma had relapsed. So shit news all around. In fact, I was driving Martha and her mom back from her first chemo when the news came that Kathy had died. Life is just really a shit show sometimes. For real.

So why THE SHOW ON THE ROAD YEAR? That sounds so exciting, right? Well, seeing as how the hubby was gone for most of the year for work and we’d have to meet up with him to do things like celebrate his 50th in NorCal, but then attend his dear uncle’s funeral later the same week…well, you get the picture.

We were, however, lucky enough to stage a full-fledged getaway to Riviera Maya at the Andaz Mayakoba for spring break. Even scoring a sweet day in the epicenter of the

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In the belly of the Spring Break 2017 BEAST

spring break maelstrom also known as a catamaran in Cancun. (We are SO smart. The girls have now been officially indoctrinated! Rum punch and death-defying spinnaker flights for everyone!)

We made the best of the trip the following month to Marin and Sausalito, even through it was under such sad circumstances. The hubby was in San Jose that week for Monday and Tuesday. Flew back Tuesday afternoon (his birthday) just in time for some champagne on the porch and dinner at Blackbelly with the girls. And had just enough time to pack again and fly back to San Fran the very next day.

We got to hit Zuni Cafe (we live and die for that chicken!), saw a guy smoking crack on the way back to the car (“welcome to the city, girls!”), stayed at an awesome carriage house in Sausalito, tasted vino in

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A buncha hog legs

Healdsburg, shopped at the Heath outlet (yay for new dishes!), ate our collective body weights in oysters at Hog Island, and then spent the weekend celebrating the life of a man well-loved. It was beautiful, joyful, sad, bittersweet, and we were so thankful to be there.

The next month it was off to Montana to celebrate our sweet Ty-Ty and her amazing high school achievements.

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Congratulations, Ty!

Then, upon receipt of the Kathy news, Lucia and I were back on a plane to South Carolina to check in on her, get her settled in with Hospice, and help her friend, Bobbie, with anything else that was needed to sell the house and settle her affairs.

When it was time to leave, I was extremely upset and torn. I felt I needed to be in SC as much as possible and knew I’d need to go back as soon as I could. As luck would have it, Kenny was working in Greenville a ton, so it wasn’t very hard to arrange an extended stay for the end of July. Plus, there was a work event his boss asked us to attend in his place at the Ritz-Carlton at Lake Oconee, so with a huge amount of logistics wrangling, and a schedule for 2 ½ weeks that took a spreadsheet to manage, we were set to return.

On July 4th, we were enjoying the respite at home before we hit the road again. Lucia had headed up to a friend’s family cabin in the mountains to spend the day BBQing, canoeing and hanging with friends. Sella was jumping on the tramp with some neighbor kids. And Kenny and I had just scooped ourselves some freshly made frosé for our planned Crown marathon on Netflix. So you can imagine how startled we were when three of Lucia’s friends — who were supposed to be with her at the gathering — show up asking if we know where Lucia is. It was one of those moments every parent of a teenager dreads.

After a short bout of questioning, Kenny whipped into action, getting both the car description and license plate and placing a call to the police. I grabbed my keys and loaded the boys into the car with me to retrace the drive up the canyon. It was a very solemn ride and I kept reminding them to look down the cliff on BOTH sides and keep their eyes peeled. I was fuming a bit assuming they had done something stupid or were pulling some antics.

Well. Turns out they weren’t. I arrived to a scene of cops, paramedics and another frantic mother who had beat me there. My legs turned to lead as I started to get out of the car. The frantic mom was on me immediately and I whipped my head around looking for Lucia and her boyfriend as I took in every fourth word or so from the stream being hurled at me. It went like this: ACCIDENT. ROLL OVER. AMBULANCE. As my level of hysteria grew, my knees started to give way and bile rose up in my throat, a police officer grabbed my arm and said the words I so desperately needed to hear, “Every. One. Is. Safe.” And that’s when I finally spotted Lucia. The relief flooded me as we hugged for dear life and cried our hearts out. She’d lost her phone. I told her I could care less about that. All I cared about was her. Patrick was okay too. He’d just burned his leg a little on the exhaust pipe as he helped everyone out of the car.

The car came by on the tow truck about then. It was totaled. And I think I aged about 15 years in 15 minutes.

Yes. Lucia has a boyfriend. They have been an item for almost 9 months now, are inseparable and Kenny is having the appropriate dad-of-a-baby-girl fit. Luckily he’s a

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Love birds

good kid and treats her like she’s made of spun gold.

Then, Lucia had her wisdom teeth out three days after the accident (wanna see the video?) and, a few days after that, it was time to hop back on a plane to head south again. The spreadsheet was officially enacted and we traipsed from one side of the state, then to Georgia, then back again with a little lake fun thrown in between visits to the nursing home to see Kathy. Then a few days at the HAUNTED rental in Greenville (blog on that coming soon) while Kenny worked and the girls and I goofed off. We got home to Colorado and had two whole days before Kenny left for Chicago and Lucia left for five days in Minnesota with Patrick’s family. (Are you keeping up still?)

Then it was wedding weekend for our dear friends, Julie and Tricia. (So incredibly happy for them! What a touching day.) And then school started back (Bean is a middle schooler!

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First day: 11th and 6th

Teen Queen is a JUNIOR and looking at colleges! Shitdamn.) A few days later we celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary, then the very next day, Martha started chemo and Kathy died.

The month of September was a blur of funeral planning and crazy cat ladies and chemo (for Martha). And then we were back on planes to say another final goodbye.

Even though some may think I should call this THE MOST FREAKING DEPRESSING YEAR EVER, I’m gonna stick with SHOW ON THE ROAD and make that my silver lining playbook.

At this point, I am happy to report that the deal finally closed for Kenny’s original company, paving the way for the deal for his new company to close. So he is now officially an employee of Ruckus Networks, an Arris Company. He has no travel planned for the rest of the year and we are all happy, healthy and glad to be home for a bit.

As for me, I am actively plotting a March adventure and fervently hoping 2018 will be a little more kind.

Here’s hoping it is for ALL of us.

Some 2017 Highlights and Bragging Rights:

  • Bean was Simba in the Lion King and graduated from Mesa Elementary, thereby ending an 11-year run at the school for us. It was sad!

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    Behold Simba-Bean

  • Teen Queen got her license (my heart still hasn’t recovered).
  • We fit in at least one camping trip and didn’t tip the camper over or anything.
  • We hiked our butts off every minute we could — our adopted home state is a truly glorious place.
  • Bean secured a spot in the middle school jazz band as the only female trombone player.
  • Bean braces went on 12.12.17. Jumping straight into the season with a sore mouth. Oy.
  • Teen Queen has thrown herself into photography, guitar lessons and hip-hop dance in between boyfriend and school. I don’t know how she does it. 😆 🤪
  • We got two toes in sand times for the year. Not too shabby considering.
  • Our dear friend, Amy’s, book was published and will be available for orders soon 22770521_922019764616703_4899359695158133580_othanks to the passionate efforts put in by her loving husband and family. Her memory lives on in her vibrant words. We love you always, Amy.

 

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Seize the Day

28 Jul

On June 25th, the children were nestled all snug on their pallets in the basement. Our temporary daughter for two weeks (love you, Rhys!), and the two permanent ones, had just started to dozIMG_9441e. It had been a long day (bean played a double header). It was a late bed time. The hubby and I had just dozed off too, when a scream from Teen Queen jerked us both awake. “Mom!!! Something’s wrong with Sella!”

When I say we may not have touched a stair when we flew down there, I’m not exaggerating. I didn’t know it was possible to move that fast at my age.

Teen Queen flew UP almost as fast, with temporary daughter right on her heels. She was crying hysterically, but I barely noticed. Focused entirely on bean, who was, at that moment, holding her arm in the air and saying over and over, “Is it my HAND?” I thought, “WTF is she talking about?” Hubby says, “She said she had the hiccups.” Then, she yells that her belly hurts and runs to the bathroom.

So picture all of this happening when you’ve just been woken by a scream. Yea. Chaos.

The next few minutes were us trying to calm down the big girls, trying to calm down bean who was freaked and shaking, trying to figure out exactly what in the ever-loving hell had just happened.

I said, “Just come sleep with us” to bean because TQ and TD were all — no way are we going to be able to sleep if she’s down here. They even moved to the bedroom, trying to erase the memory.

But we, in our infinite wisdom and utter exhaustion, just wanted to go back to bed.

The next morning, the big girls were still freaked. “Mom. Why didn’t you call the ambulance?” asks TQ almost the moment she’s up. And that’s when I started digging in. Questioning them both, in detail, separately. Then together. And the picture starts to come into focus finally at around 11am the next morning. And it was this:

She was making a weird sound that woke up the big girls. They thought it was the dog tapping on the floor. Then they realize it’s bean. TQ grabs her head and turns her over. Sees she is shaking violently and flips on the light to see her eyes rolled back in her head. Screams for us. Said she was choking and she thought she couldn’t breathe.

So I freak. I tell the hubby, “She had a seizure.” He’s all, “Nah. I don’t think that’s it.” So I ignore him and go call the pediatrician’s answering service. I go from the triage nurse’s voice changing completely once she hears what’s happened, to the on-call doctor saying she’s calling Children’s Hospital and will call me back immediately, to another call with her, to being told this is an emergency, to you may not be able to go on your planned trip to Yellowstone — we’ll let you know. My heart skipped 100 beats. We should’ve called 9-1-1. I felt like the worst mother ever known.

The next couple of days were multiple calls with bean’s regular pediatrician (love Dr. B) — who called THREE times to make sure we were okay. Who said, “The part that really sucks is she may never have another one, but you just never know.” And, “I’d keep a hand on her at all times when you’re near the thermals in Yellowstone.” And he may be the most mellow doctor I’ve ever met.

So this was serious. Serious enough that they prescribed a nasal emergency seizure-stopping med and told us we had to rent a satellite phone to go on the trip. Serious enough that we are to call 9-1-1 if she has another one. Serious enough that we were given an emergency appointment four short weeks later with the in-extremely-high-demand neurologist at Children’s.

I had to drive to the Anschutz campus of Children’s in south Denver just to get the Rx filled since no one else in maybe the entire Front Range will fill the prescription. And we had to rent a phone from a guy in California, who overnighted it to us — no problem. And off we went.

The horseback ride was my scariest moment of the whole trip. But once I heard the music of her incessant chatter with the head wrangler, my racing heart calmed and we settled into the pace of the trail

We made it home without incident. She may have even spent one night back in her own bed (after sleeping with me and sending the hubby to the couch for days and days).

The in-laws arrived just a few days later, so we were on an air mattress right outside of her bedroom for that whole week. Then the hubby and in-laws left on the same day, and we settled into a girls only week and it was almost like it had never happened.

The hubby came home for two short days. Weary and half-broken with a hurt back that landed us in Urgent Care on Sunday. And then he left. And then it was THE BIG DAY.

Teen Queen reluctantly came to support me. And bravely recounted the story over and over for the nurse, the neurologist. And the neuro exam with the gazillion questions, reflex tests, eye tracking. It was one of the longest days I’ve had in a long, long time.

We left at the end of the day with an EEG on the books and training for intranasal midazolam mastered.

There were theories floated and an indication of what this could be. How her history of migraines played into it all. How her restless sleeping ways that have us all playing roshambo to see who has to share a bed with her was something. How her late night sleep walk-and-talks were possibly a puzzle piece. The EEG was going to be the big reveal.

Said EEG was a 90-minute test that she had to be severely sleep-deprived for to get optimal results. And you can imagine how well that went over with newly arrived home from 2nd work trip broken boy/hubby. We quickly strategized. He had to work late (end of quarter) and TQ volunteered to stay up with him. So they took the up until midnight shift and I went to bed at 9:30 with an alarm set to wake up sleepy bean at 4am.

That was when she finally agreed to a post on social media. Up until that point she had said, “I really don’t want you talking about it. Please.” So I agreed. And only mentioned it to a very small few who happened to call when she wasn’t around. (Which is basically never since it’s summer and we are all up each others’ asses 24/7. Yay. Working from home.)
Bean was so nervous before the EEG that she was shaking. It went well though. They strobe-lighted her then hyperventilated her and then let her sleep at long last. It was like a mini-torture session starring my baby girl. And I somehow didn’t cry.

So then we waited. Until today. When the fabulous Dr. Yang called just as the hubby and I were ALONE in the car by some miracle. Her suspicions were confirmed by “some abnormalities” in my baby’s brain. Diagnosis (which I know you’ve all been waiting for): Benign Rolandic Epilepsy.

In spite of the fact that any time a pediatric neurologist calls you to tell you that your child has an official diagnosis based on abnormalities in the brain is cause for feeling like you may vomit, this isn’t all bad news.

She WILL grow out of it. Or at least is likely to. She may not ever have another one. And she doesn’t have to start meds yet.

The other part is they DO want to start her on migraine meds. So that is happening. And I asked for a MRI — which they willingly agreed to and, in fact, supported. So another test for bean. (And she ain’t happy.)

Otherwise, we are going to have to train the school on how to administer the seizure stopping drug (and any other camp or place she will spend any length of time). And she will not be able to swim or take a bath without eyes-on-her-at-all-times supervision.

It’s one of those mildly life-altering things that comes along and smacks you right in the face. Just when you thought it was summer and you could kick back a little.

Footnote: Hubby still isn’t better. But at least he’s home for a little while and we can pretend to be normal.

PS: HUGE thank you to Sean and Tina for jumping to my aid and answering my million+ questions when I felt like I was teetering on the edge of the abyss. Your insights calmed me more than you could know.

TODAY’S THEME SONG: I hear the drums echoing tonight. But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation. Africa. Toto.

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