Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bravo Angelina!!!!

So, I've just read Angelina Jolie's op-ed in the NY Times.  What an amazing story from a very brave woman!  Of course, as you know from my prior blog posts, I also had the double-mastectomy surgery.  I did not have the BRCA gene (or at least, my geneticist told me that I didn't test positive for the BRCA gene mutations that they currently KNOW about...who knows what future medical research might bring????) but here's a synopsis of my story:

I had big cystic breasts.  Well, as far I as I knew, I had just big breasts, but when I went to a doctor for a check up and she told me that my breasts were cystic and she also recommended, at age 37, that I have a baseline mammogram.  I did it and never thought they would find something small come up on the screen that would turn out to be such an aggressive form of cancer that I would be subject to chemotherapy (even though it did not spread to my lymph nodes I was Her2Nu positive...not a good thing).  I lost all of my hair and that was extremely traumatic.  But look at me now:

Long, long hair...I might never cut it again, who knows?  I just love long hair!!!  In any event, this is a far cry from just about four years ago:

This feels like it happened to someone else!

I am digressing and obsessing over the hair thing, I know!  It is wonderful that Angelina had the prophylactic bi-lateral mastectomy. I WISH I could have saved my nipples...but because of the size and sagging, I had to choose a different route.  And also, my doctor told me that it was still possible to get breast cancer in the nipples, so I hope Angelina's procedure works for her (how things can change in only four years!)  Though my doctor did create new nipples, and they look great, but they are just not the same...And it was very disappointing not to be able to save as much of my breasts as possible, but they are much perkier now and really don't require a bra at all (still amazing to me!)

I guess the point I am trying to make is that everyone is different and has different choices.  Some women aren't as fortunate to be able to spend the money to know whether or not they carry the gene.  And even if they don't carry the gene, but do have cancer, some doctors might have tried to push some other sort of treatment and not been so agreeable to do the bi-lateral mastectomy.  I did it because I had to have some sense of control that I was doing everything I possibly could not to let the cancer come back or spread anywhere else in my body.  And my cancer surgeon was EXTREMELY supportive of my decision.  I could just as easily have had the lumpectomy with radiation, but I did not want to do that.  I also had a reconstruction surgeon who told me at the outset that if I was having the bi-lateral mastectomy for cosmetic purposes, that I was doing it for the wrong reasons!  I cried when I left his office, but I am so glad that I used him as my reconstruction surgeon...he did a great job!

I do believe that a woman should be able to make their choice without concern about backlash from a doctor or society at large.  I truly hate the way my implants feel and how sometimes I get a phantom itch somewhere and because I had some of the nerves cut, sometimes I scratch on my breasts and the itch still never goes away.  Think of someone who still thinks they feel a limb after it has been amputated (though not even close to as gruesome!!!)  I would never WISH a bi-lateral mastectomy with reconstruction on anyone, because it is not only not fun and a difficult recovery, but it just feels different and not in a good way!  But it sure beats the alternative!  And if this gives Angelina the piece of mind and gives her a sense of "control" over her body, then that is more important than whether she kept her breasts or not...while they are beautiful and feminine, they are just boobs!!!  I just want to live to a ripe old age and enjoy my beautiful kids (and extremely awesome and supportive husband) and annoy them until they are too old enough to annoy their own kids!!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Who Are You?

To my brother, Harris,

I wish you were still around so I could ask you why Quadaphenia had the ocean sounds throughout the entire rock opera.  Honestly, I wish you were still here so I could brag to you about the amazing concert I just saw.  I know you would have appreciated it and I just wish you were around to talk to about the show.  But you are not around, so I will tell you how great the show really turned out to be.  I had only heard the album when you played it, and boy, was it boring.  But, hearing the album live, I think it is totally awesome and I have a new found appreciation for Pete Townshend.  He is incredibly creative!  I had forgotten about the song Dr. Jimmy and Mr. Jim and was so pleased when I heard the song.  I know you would have been singing along with me throughout the whole concert, and at the end of Quadraphenia they played a bunch of their favorites (and mine!)  I hate that you aren't here to enjoy this with me, but your nephew and nieces were very upset they weren't along!  Reminds me of when we both saw The Who back in high great as they were back then, this concert was even better.  I know you would have had a blast!

As good a time as I had at this concert, I really missed you alot tonight.  I am happy to know that you are still in my thoughts and my music.  I love you bro!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Ode to Martha Soffer

Wow, it has surely been too long since I've blogged!  And so many good things have happened and so many things to write about, but right now, I'm going to post what I said at my grandmother's funeral yesterday.  I loved my grammie very much.  She lived to be almost 93 years old and had such an interesting life:  from the artwork I have all over my house that she painted and sculpted, to her tiny miniatures that she crafted from scratch (truly remarkable stuff!), to the teddy bears she made from scratch, to working in her mother's dress shop in Coney Island, NY and even running some family carnival games on the beach at Coney Island...but that's not what I talked about yesterday.  I just talked about what I remembered about my grammie:

Dear Grammie,

I can hear your deep laugh and see the glimmer in your eyes when you smiled.  I picture myself in your kitchen, poking through your cabinets to see what you had to eat and your telling me, "Eat this because if you don't eat it, I'm going to eat it and I don't need it, so you'd better eat it!"  And I can see you cooking big meals in your kitchen, always at ease in the kitchen.  And I can remember being one of the vultures to grab little bits of whatever you were carving as we waited for dinner.
And I can see myself in your house with a copper watering can watering your plants all over the house.  I can also remember making dollhouse furniture with you and Harris and being able to play with your dollhouses in the house.
And I can remember being sick and home from school and watching The Price Is Right while drinking warm Coke and eating Ludens cough drops with you.
And I can also remember trying to complain about mom to you and your reply was, "You only have one mother."  You didn't yell at me and you didn't correct me.  You simply and calmly stated your point and moved on...not that you didn't have a quick wit or sharp tongue, you just never used it on me.
And I can remember your staring at me as a little girl and when I asked what you were doing, you said you were studying me.  And then, when we came to visit you a month ago, and you couldn't even talk, you were studying my kids' faces with your eyes like you were drinking them in...and you seemed more peaceful then.
I can remember my revelation after moving to New York that you weren't always wearing black because you weren't fashionable, but because you WERE fashionable!
I have memories of you at your strongest and at your weakest.  I also remember being mad at you for not taking care of yourself after grandpa died.  I was selfish.  I wanted my artistic, beautiful, kind and wonderful grandma to keep it up and never stop!  But I get how much you loved grandpa and how hard and tiring it must have been taking care of him and his needs.  But even though you tried to give up, your body was so strong!  It wouldn't let you leave this world.  Otherwise, you would not have met my kids nor would they have had a chance to know their great-grammie!  And EVEN THOUGH you weren't as active as I remembered you, your personality always came through and I know that the people who took care of you really knew that same vivacious lady I always knew and loved!
I've missed having long conversations with you and getting advice from you and doing things with you for some time now, but now that you are really gone, I miss you so much more!  I know you are resting peacefully now, and I'm glad that you had such a long life...and the secret is that through whatever comes your way, KEEP EATING...even if you might not need it!

I will love you always!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sadness Beyond Control

It's hard to be sad on Halloween, especially with my guys all dressed up for the holiday, but I found myself so sad the past two days that I found it worse than anything I've felt in quite some time.

I know what started it off...yesterday we were supposed to have plans with friends, and they canceled, which left us with a whole free day.  With birthday parties, and Hebrew school and soccer and football, we haven't had a full free day in a VERY long time.  So, I mentioned to my husband that I wanted to take the kids to the aquarium, since my son is very psyched about sharks these days.  He didn't want to do that.  So, I said, how about the aircraft carrier?  The zoo?  Central park zoo?  No, he didn't like any of those ideas.  Didn't want to go anywhere where there would be crowds...I didn't get it.  And then I just got mad because he said he wanted to buy wood to build himself a custom closet or take the kids to get skis.  Okay, I understand we need to get skis for the kids for the season, but we had a WHOLE day to play...and then my son said he'd rather have a playdate with his friend than go somewhere with me...and then the girls didn't want to go because my son didn't want to go...the day was such a BUST!!!  Oh, and might I add that my husband could have done the closet thing next weekend when I was taking the kids away...and I FREAKED OUT on everyone, especially my husband. 

I just couldn't understand why he wouldn't want to do something educational and outside with the kids on a beautiful fall day...was it me?  I really thought so.  But, I did freak out (I mean slamming doors, yelling, and just being plain mean to my husband who was happily doing his woodwork in the garage, which he rarely does) and finally begged and pleaded with my daughter to come with me to the Central Park Zoo.  And we did have lots of fun.  But I was so nasty to my husband.  And I couldn't bring myself to be nice to him...not then or later...even when we did something as a family with another family.  What was up with that????

And why?  Cause he wanted to do something else for one day?  And then when I started thinking about that, I started kicking myself and I couldn't stop.  Like, what's wrong with me that I am being such a brat?  Why am I so sad?  I actually had to leave an exercise class this morning because I was crying.  And then I came home to an empty house 'cause my husband was with the little one and the older two were at Hebrew School and I was still crying and crying even more because I was trying to stop myself from it just me or has that happened to you?

Finally, my husband saw me crying and I told him that I was sorry for being a psycho the day before.  While he didn't say he accepted my apology (I don't think I would have either) he did say that it was okay to be sad because then you appreciate being happy.  So, then I stopped crying and my daughter came to lay down in my bed with me and held my hand while we watched TV and I wasn't so sad anymore.

So now, I'm still trying to figure out why I was so so sad...could it be that the last 3 years have been really hard and after trying to be so strong and I just snapped?  I don't know but I guess I don't care.  I will just type this and argue with my son about whether or not he's getting a clone gun...and whether or not he'll put his costume back on...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Don't forget these guys!!!

 Look at these guys!  They are hysterical, drive me crazy with their personalities!  They are all mine and I am so proud of that! 

My mom tells me that if I don't start writing down some of their stories, I'm going to forget them, so I'm going to write a few of them down here for each of them and hopefully continue as the stories keep coming!
 My son, the pickiest eater on the planet.  While he does eat some decent stuff (yogurt, cheese, deli turkey, homemade chicken nuggets, egg fried rice, bananas, apples - that might be the only healthy stuff he eats), he's never met a vegetable he liked.  One night, I had totally had enough of his shenanigans of not trying food.  So, I told him that no matter what, he had to eat ONE green pea.  He cried, he was hysterical, he kept trying to talk his way out of it, he pretended to gag on one of them and spit it out on the I told him no dessert without eating a pea.  I finally got him to put it in his mouth with a huge mouthful of other food...he tried to gag and spit it out, but I made him drink some water and he got it down!  Actually said it wasn't so bad.  He actually said that sometimes he's just afraid to try big brave boy!  Though, he does jump off the diving board at the pool after one summer of really swimming so he can be brave, just not with food or the dentist.  He says he's going to be a shark hunter, or a soldier, or a Jedi, or an archaeologist (how is it he cannot pronounce the word skeleton but he knows the name Giganontasaurus when he sees it???)

He plays sports, but I think he only does that to hang out with his friends.  He'd much rather pretend to fight bad guys with his lightsaber (or a stick, or his fingers as guns) than even have a real battle with his friends.  He likes to laugh and have fun, but he's definitely not rough and tough!  And he likes to give hugs to his mommy still, so I think that's just great!

My little daughter is soooo stubborn.  All she wants to do is be like the big kids, but if she doesn't get her way, she screams like a banshee...she thinks that will let her win.  That used to work with my husband, but even he's caught onto her scheme.  With that one, you just cannot tell if she's really hurt or just being dramatic...most of the time she's just being dramatic.  And to brush her teeth with big kid toothpaste, forget about it!  Though when she screams when you get near her mouth, it does make her mouth open so you can get the toothbrush in for a count of about 20...but she is funny!  We were at the doctor's office the other day, and a woman asked her what her name was.  She said, "Minnie Mouse" as she often does.  The woman said, "Oh, that's funny 'cause I'm Donald Duck."  My daughter said, "No, you're not, you're Goofy!"  Totally straight face!  She is constantly amazing me with her agility on the computer.  When my son was her age, he could barely figure out the up and down arrows...she can navigate to the website she wants without any help.  I should probably set up computer filters now!!!  She can be the biggest cuddle-bug and loves to sing and dance and pretend she's from Star Wars.  Her favorite song is "Thriller" and she will sing it all the time and then do the evil Vincent Price laugh at the end!  So funny!  She thinks she's scary!!!

Onto my middle child.  She can be sweet, artistic, funny, creative, or you could say she's a compulsive liar.  Let me just throw out a few examples:  Yesterday, she cried at school when they were serving cupcakes for someone's party.  When asked the problem, she said, "I'm allergic to vanilla" (I guess she was given a vanilla cupcake) but the truth is that there's no allergy problem, she just wanted chocolate.

When told it was back-to-school night at school, she said that President Obama was babysitting for her.

She told her teacher she would not be in school the next day because we were going to Disney World (not true).

She told me she had a baby in her belly (to which I said to her, "That's great, I really want to be a grandma someday...but could we wait a bit for that???"  She said okay

She said she went to Iceland with her Papa and bought special sticks (she's never been out of the U.S.)

She told her religious school teachers that she was allergic to honey, milk and nuts.  Guess what?  She is not, but the teachers sure yelled at my husband for not filling out an allergy form!

But she says it with such conviction that everyone believes her.  I tried to explain to her teacher this year that she has a vivid imagination (but I probably should have just said she's a complete liar) I think the teacher believes me now...But she amazes me with her ballet and even more so with her artwork.  She actually drew a picture of a bench looking out on the water that looked like a bench looking out on the water.  She's only 5!  I cannot even do that!

Well, I need to go to bed to get ready for the Halloween festivites at school and afterwards, so with that said, I'm off to bed.

I wonder what these kids will be like in 5 years.  All I can say is that I sure hope they stay as sweet as they are now (no matter how I try to complain about them, they are totally awesome!!!)

Friday, September 17, 2010

What a Day...Can My Description Do It Justice???

Where do I begin?  I'll start with the fact that my youngest daughter, she's almost three, has been sick since Tuesday, I just thought she had a stomach bug, but she was getting a bad cough by last night, so I decided today that I should take her to the doctor. 

So, after the normal antics of trying to get three small kids ready for school, you know, screaming about brushing hair and teeth, getting them to sit down and actually eat their breakfast, fighting about not watching TV before breakfast, am I the only one who goes through this each morning???  Oh, and the two-year old has to fight me on whatever I choose for her to wear and to fight me about changing her diaper...I FINALLY get the 1st grader and kindergartener off to school and I make a doctor's appointment for right then.

I get my youngest to the doctor's appointment on time, and while I'm in his office, my phone rings and it looks like the number for the nurse at the elementary school.  So, I pick it up and the nurse says, "Hi Mrs. N, your daughter is here and she says her ears hurt her.  She doesn't have a fever but she's acting kind of clingy to the teacher's aide and she seems a bit weepy.  I think you need to come get her."  So, I look at the doctor and tell him the story and he tells me to bring her in right away.  Thank goodness I live close to both the school and doctor's office.  So, I run into the school to pick up my daughter, who is acting fine and happy, by the way, and run her back to the doctor's office. 

After a quick check up he determines that she's fine.  So he asks her if she wanted to go back to school or if she thought she needed to stay home with Mommy.  She said she needed to stay home with Mommy, at which point I told her that she was going back to school.  So, after a sticker and some animal crackers at the doctor's office, we go back to school.  In the car ride, she kind of mentions something about a fire alarm, but I didn't really get the gist so I just told her that fire alarms can be loud and send her back to class on her merry way...and she seems totally fine with that.

So, after school, I told the teacher that she tends to be a bit of a Sandra Bernhardt and that she needs to be distracted if she doesn't seem to be acting quite like herself (cause she is one of those kids where if you ask her if her head hurts, not only does she say it hurts, but she then starts to believe her head really hurts!!!)  Then, I just ask whether they had a fire alarm that day, and the teacher said, "Yes, in fact, we did, how did you know?"  Then I put two and two together.  My daughter was holding her ears in class because of the loud fire alarm and she was trying to prevent another one from hurting her ears.  Her ears didn't really hurt, but when asked if her ears hurt, she, of course, said, "yes!"  Mystery solved!

Now, back to the child who is actually sick.  After a little nap, Little Miss Monster wakes up.  Now, I mentioned that earlier in the week I thought she had a stomach virus and, as a result, had a pretty nasty diaper rash.  Well, she's been quite the dream to change a diaper these the past few, she's turn into the Exorcist  child.  She screams, kicks and hits me while I am changing her.  I know, I shouldn't laugh at her when she's doing this, and trust me, I'm not laughing maliciously at her, but I am trying to figure out how to change her diaper without getting kicked in the chest or head.  It is quite the challenge.  Tonight, I really thought a neighbor was going to call Child Services on me because she was screaming sooooo loud and our windows were opened.  In any event, I hadn't done the best job changing her diaper and I wanted to make sure her diaper area was clean before putting her into PJs, so I decided to give her a quick rinse in the back, just to clean her diaper area.  But there she was, kicking and screaming and all I wanted to do in the bath was her diaper area.  Quite the challenge, I must say.  So, then I tried to get her dressed.  Mistake number I-don't-know for the day.  At this point, I don't care about her screaming and I didn't even try to put diaper cream on her tush, I just wanted her to not be naked going to bed.  I finally get clothes on her, and she's still swinging her arms at me.  So, to take her off of her changing table, I pick her up but pin her arms under mine so she can't swing them at my head.  So, do you know what she does?  She's so freakin' smart she starts trying to bite me!  I hope you are laughing, because at this point it's comical! 

And my other two kids keep coming up to me to find out what's wrong with the Exorcist child, and then they both try (at separate times, of course) to give me a hard time over something for another.  I let them know, especially as the older and wiser children, that I've spent all of my patience quota for the day on the Exorcist child and they better just get in line 'cause I couldn't be held responsible for what happened but seriously, I just told them she was crazy and I couldn't afford for them to be crazy too.  A little bribery of dessert and a little TV kept them in line.  Exorcist child wasn't allowed downstairs after all of that.  No, I didn't lock her in her room, but I certainly kept my distance! 

Okay, I know, I know, poor baby is sick, but it's not like I was shoving medicine down her throat.  Oh, which reminds me, that the doctor told me that I should give Exorcist child honey instead of cough medicine for her cough.  I thought that was a great idea!  Who doesn't like honey?  Exorcist child.  In fact, she disliked it so much, that after trying to give her a half of a teaspoon full, and smelling that her diaper needed to be changed, she not only refused the honey but proceeded to vomit up all over the changing table.  And still kept screaming...oh wow!

And my husband left me with Exorcist child and two others (who really were pretty much angels when they weren't trying to leave the dining room table and avoid eating dinner or jumping on each other with food in their mouths...I don't live in a barn, I promise you!  I kept trying to get them to sit at the table and use good table manners and eat their food, but tonight just wasn't Emily Post night at my house!)  while he went to services.  So after all was said and done and I spent time making a big dinner for everyone, I still had to clean up...which isn't a big deal, but I just felt like bitching about something else.  I guess I should call this Dali Mamma Lama and the Terrible, Horrible, Not So Good, Very Bad Day.  The End.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Carpe Diem

For all of you out there who are Jewish, L'Shana Tova to you and your family!  May this year be a happy, healthy and prosperous one for us all!

I was at high holiday services today, and our rabbi kept talking about how we have to listen better, listen to our friends and families, listen to the world around us, and also to listen to ourselves and not brush aside those ideas that we say we want to do.  The rabbi said that he has heard many people talk about things that they regretted not doing in life, so he suggests that we do those things that inspire us and not just wait to regret those lost ideas someday...

So, as I was trying very hard to continue to listen to what the rabbi was saying, I was trying to think about those things that I wanted to do, that I always talk about doing but haven't yet done and also what I would regret not having done if I died today.  Then, I reminded myself that I needed to listen better, so I asked my husband to remind me to write tonight so I could concentrate on the sermon.

What would I regret if I died today?  Besides the obvious of not seeing my three beautiful children grow up to be adults, I would regret not making them laugh more, not giving them enough hugs and kisses, yelling at them maybe a bit more than necessary.  I would regret not writing down the stories I make up for them every day, maybe not for the public to read, but for them to read someday.  And I would regret that I didn't get to grow old with my husband and nag him forever and ever...that's a joke but I'm not sure he'd see it that way! 

But there are things that I would regret that I have not personally done.  I would regret that I never really wrote down how my husband and I pulled together a wedding in 2 1/2 weeks, we had such a good time and I love telling people the story (whether they want to hear it or not), and I've always said I need to write the story down before I forget it.  Maybe turn it into a book, that would be cool!

I would regret never learning to play the piano.  We got an old piano from a neighbor and I've even had it tuned...I took one lesson 7 months ago, but haven't gone back to it.  Okay, so I had another medical procedure shortly after that lesson, but I've got to figure out how to fit it into mine and my children's schedules...I want to be able to sing all of the songs that I love anytime I want to and entertain people on my piano!

I would regret not having a huge party for all of my friends and family just because they mean so much to me.  I always talk about having a big party, but get caught up and never get around to that.  I want to remedy that one if not this year, then for our 10th year anniversary, just having a big party to celebrate how important people are to me.

I would regret all the times I held back, that I didn't say exactly what I felt or did what I wanted to do for fear I would embarrass myself.  I know that one sounds hokey, but sometimes I think I'm a bit too reserved, especially when I'm not really reserved.  I know, everyone is allowed to be shy once and a while, but sometimes, I think I do it because I'm afraid.  I don't want to regret that...

For the most part, I am really happy with my life and especially how good I feel after the horrible year I had last year.  But there are these few things that I talk about too much and do too little about.  Maybe this year will be about making those things, I must go write down some stories for the kids, for them to have someday...Carpe Diem!!!