Cake or death?

So, I have a new counselor. I had my second appointment with her today. Getting through my family history and prior hullaballoo takes at least eight sessions, so since this is only the second session I’ve just started on the week of July 21, 1968, when I was just two weeks old. Just kidding. Anyway, this new counselor is a real sweet person but I am always wary of beginning a new relationship with anyone of the counseling profession. Why, you might ask?

I kill therapists.

Before you call the cops to have me arrested for my serial killing ways, please note that it’s not by my hand that these fine counselors die. They just die. And it’s always in the midst of my really needing someone to talk to. It’s like I unload all of my crap on them and “poof!” They explode. The sheer weight of my earthly burdens crushes their spirit causing them to curl up and die. I am an enigma of the psychosocial world. A crazy that cannot be de-crazied. A true blue mess.

I imagine my prior counselors having conversations with their colleagues that goes something like this: “Today I found a “Sarah” eating berries off the bushes outside of my office. I’d heard of this elusive species only through text books so to find one in the wild, well, what a boon to my career! I coaxed her into the office with a Payday (the “Sarah” loves nuts, after all, she is one!) and offered her a seat on my couch. After exhibiting some nervousness and random running into walls she calmed down and started telling her story.”

Eight sessions later, their dialog might resemble the following: (slightly twitchy and clearly sleep deprived) “I’ve, uh, been listening to, uh, the “Sarah” for several weeks now and she is simply freaking me out. Do you want to switch me? I’ll take your Manson and Bundy for the one Sarah. That’s a fair trade, right? Please? I’ll throw in some tickets to the Psychology trade show down at the fairgrounds. Bound to be lots of cool new self-help books there. Please. I’m begging here. I can’t make any sense out of this “Sarah”. She’s driving me insane.”

Two weeks later at their usual psychologist’s pow-wow, the gossip mill runs heavy with rumors of the demise of their colleague, the one who tried – and failed – to cure the elusive “Sarah”. They’re happy to keep their Manson’s and Bundy’s as opposed to face the horror that answers to one name: (said in an echo-y whisper),“Sarah”.

Some say she’s still out there, snatching Payday’s from unsuspecting people at the zoo. If you encounter her, don’t taunt her. Just hand over the candy. She ain’t right in the head.

Okay. I’m done with my tirade. Honestly, though. Two therapists have DIED while I was actively in their care. The first died right before I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer back in 1993. I remember I was telling him about this lump on my neck and how I was going to have it checked out later that same day. He told me that he’d be on vacation for the next two weeks and hoped everything went well with my doctor’s appointment. I never saw him again. He died while water skiing at the age of 45, the very same week that I was diagnosed with cancer. Man. Talk about horrible timing.

Please don’t think I’m terribly insensitive (I am, a little) but after such a diagnosis, I really needed someone to talk to.

The second therapist had an embolism and died in 1999, shortly after the Columbine Massacre. I was living in Colorado at the time and I distinctly remember talking with her about the tragedy that had occurred 50 miles away from us. I was also sinking in a failing marriage. I kinda needed therapy so, of course, she up and dies. It was tragic, actually. I was completely floored by her death. After that, I assumed that anyone I entered into counseling with would die while I was in their care.

And I always preface my initial meeting with a mental health care professional by stating, “I’ve killed two of my therapists.” They are initially troubled but then, like the counselor before them, become filled with intrigue. By the eighth session they’re just searching for a way out.

I sure hope this one sticks around. I certainly need someone to talk to.  I got a whole lot of crazy going on.

It’s “National French Toast” Day

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but French toast isn’t French. The earliest official mention of French toast is in the Apicius, which is a collection of Roman recipes dating back to the 4th or 5th century. So French toast is actually an Italian invention! Ain’t that a hoot?

Nearly all cultures have some sort of French toast recipe, it’s just called different things. In France, it’s called “pain perdu”, which means “lost bread”. The story behind calling it “lost bread” is based on the ability to “recycle” the stale bits of bread you didn’t eat yesterday and make a delicious egg battered treat out of it. Voila! Pain perdu!

I can’t help but imagine Scooby Doo and Shaggy looking for the “pain perdu” in hopes of making a delicious snack of French toast. “And I would have gotten away with the lost bread if it weren’t for you meddling stoners.”

I can’t write today. Depression has the best of me. I celebrated French toast day by having waffles and I just can’t seem to shake my betrayal.

Sorry, French toast. You deserved better.

It’s “Celebrate Your Unique Talents” Day

“Unique” is a key descriptor for the entity we all know and love as “Sarah”. Here are a few of my unique talents I believe I possess:

1) I can roll my tongue. I can also flip my tongue upside down. BOTH WAYS! THAT, my friends, is a rare trait (give it a try!). I have actually found that my tongue is always rolled. The tension of how tightly my tongue is rolled is an amazing gauge of my stress level. If it’s lightly rolled then I’m in my normal element, which is always a bit stressed. However, in high stress moments, my teeth clench as they lock down the perimeter of the fleshy keeper of my taste buds. If my tongue is the diameter of a pencil, I’m near spontaneous combustion.

2) I can take any scrap of information and make it into a story. Just read my blog.

3) I like to think of myself as creative. I love to craft, make frames, take photographs, make cards… you name it. I’m a craft store junkie and always looking to expand my papercrafting skills.

4) I can find humor even in the most dreadful situations. Some might call it a coping mechanism but I have made it into an art. Someone nail me to a wall. I am finely honed.

5) I love tap dancing and consider myself to be quite skilled as far as adult intermediate dancers go.

6) My brain holds an impressive catalog of movie quotes. Actually, I am in possession of copious amounts of entertaining, yet completely useless, trivia. I can entertain you for hours without even trying.

7) I am a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to prior jobs: I can teach you to dance, check you into your room, serve you some delicious Mexican food, talk you down from your schizophrenic ledge, explain your benefits package, type 100 words a minute, show you the ropes on a sailboat, explain the inner workings of a non-profit organization, teach you how to mix developer in a darkroom and artistically compose your photographs, talk you into letting me frame your project in a much simpler manner than what you had in mind, teach remedial French, write a newspaper article, make hundreds of copies and bind your book, write your resume, help you decide which winter job-opportunity would best suit you, balance your checking account and make change, up-sell you to a better ski boot, massage away your tension, promote your film, interview and hire enough people to fill an entire call center – and then fire them all, track 72 different medications for my kiddo’s cancer treatment and all the other ridiculous hooey that cancer brings with it (like giving shots).

I gotta stop here. I’m overwhelming myself with my “mad skillz”.

If I’ve missed something, let me know. 🙂

It’s National “Homemade Bread” Day

Bread. Warm. Toasty. Delicious just right out of the oven. I’ve not mastered the art of making yeast breads but I’m pretty darn good at making banana bread. The trick is in the bananas. If you have bananas that are on the verge of going bad, stick them in the freezer. Defrost them before you make your bread. It seems gross because they slide out of their skin looking like, well, there’s no description for what they look like, but they are the perfect consistency for mixing into the batter. You don’t have to mash them or anything. Oh, and add some sour cream to the batter. That’s the other trick. Homemade banana bread is the BOMB.

Bread is also slang for money. I wonder if today’s “Homemade Bread” is truly about counterfeiting? I don’t think frozen bananas will help you there. Although if I were laundering money here at home I might actually throw in a few towels from time to time. Man, I hate doing laundry.

So. What are we up to here in Denver? We’re enjoying some time off from treatment! Ben doesn’t go back for his next round of antibodies until December. He needs to make up that bone marrow biopsy he missed last time due to his throwing up but we’ve still got a couple of weeks to go before heading back to the Big Apple. In the meantime, Ben is doing school (he’s on track with his class), taking swim lessons (he is ROCKING the pool), and just being a normal kid. He’s even gained a whole pound! That puts him up to 45 pounds! Keep going, Ben. Unfortunately, you’ve got a long way to go.

When Ben was a toddler he didn’t really like to eat then, either. Who knows if cancer was already wreaking havoc on his little system. He just would not eat. I would get notes from his daycare provider asking for tips on how to get him to eat. I was looking for tips, too. Every time we took him to the pediatrician, which was a lot, we would ask her what we should do. Nothing she suggested really ever worked. It was troubling.

One day, I took Ben to the grocery store with me. I plopped him into the cart and strapped him in. The very first thing I picked up was a package of buns. Ben pointed at the bag and made a noise that I could only decipher as him wanting what was in the bag. I gave him one. With a voraciousness I had never seen from The Bean, he crammed it into his mouth. Before he was finished with the first bit of bread, he was pointing for more. I gave it to him. He kept eating bread until he was halfway through the bag. It was really the first time I had seem him eat that much in one sitting. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen him eat as much since then.

The chemo, of course, has played a big part in his not wanting to eat. From what I understand, the amount of chemotherapy that he’s been through has done quite a job of frying his taste buds. He never really got a chance to develop a taste for anything. We still have big issues with getting him to eat. Nothing really tastes good to him. He’ll go through phases where cheeseburgers taste good but then he’ll stop liking them altogether. Just when I think I know what he likes, he stops liking it. His taste buds keep me on my toes.

There’s only a couple of things that have remained on his list of things he will eat: Pringles in the green can and pizza-flavored gold fish. And the occasional binge on bread. He’s a carb kid. You’d think I’d be able to bulk him up from that, but he maintains his weight at that pesky mid-40’s range. At least he’s not losing weight right now.

So, I think I’ll make some yummy bread for The Bean today. Maybe I’ll try a yeast version? We’ve got all day to be stuck inside (it snowed last night and left a blanket of ice on the roads and we don’t need to venture out). We can break bread together once it’s done and toast the fact that he’s cancer-free.

Ain’t that the best news ever?

It’s “I HATE NEUROBLASTOMA” Day

I do. I really, really, really hate neuroblastoma. I hate it so much that I’d willingly go to prison for killing it with my bare hands. I can hear myself screeching at an ear torturing decibel before launching across the room and throttling it to death. I want to torture it like it has tortured my son. Take from it like it has taken my son’s childhood. Scare it like it has scared me. Destroy it like it has destroyed countless children and their families.

I hate you, neuroblastoma. I wish I could just decide to not give you any more power. But you really don’t care what I think, do you? It doesn’t matter if I think shiny, happy thoughts. You come even when we try to beat you back with harsh medicines, painful therapies, or copious amounts of prayer. You just don’t care.

You freaking bully. Why do you come after children? Why are they your target? What have they ever done to you? They just want to ride their bikes and play with friends and do normal kid things. You’ve stolen a big part of my son’s childhood. I have to try to explain to him why he can’t have that back. You jerk. You probably think it’s funny, watching me try to explain to my beautiful son why he can’t go to school or do most “normal” things kids do because of YOU. I’m sick of trying to explain you. I’m sick of watching you take. I’m sick of you messing with us.

I just told my sweet son what you’ve been up to. That you’ve come back a third time to mess with our good friend, Justin. Ben knew something was wrong when he saw my tear-streaked face. He asked me and I told him that you didn’t care that Justin had beaten you TWICE, you came back to get him again, despite his going through the same painful antibodies that Ben is going through. The stuff that is supposed to teach these brave warriors how to fight you. Ben closed his eyes and sighed heavily. He completely understands what you’re up to.

You didn’t give Justin the chance at normalcy that he deserves. He’s been fighting you for so long that he is now tired of fighting you. That’s what you want. That’s why you came back. You are licking your lips in anticipation of putting this poor child through your hell yet again.

I hate you, neuroblastoma. I hope you die a horrible death. I almost said a “slow, horrible death”, but I don’t want you around any longer than necessary. Die quickly. Get it over with. We’re done with you.

It’s too bad that you’re not done with us.

It’s “Deviled Egg” Day

Ewwwww. I really don’t like deviled eggs. In fact, the only way I like my eggs are scrambled with fresh ground black pepper or mixed up in cake batter (without the pepper). Otherwise, you can keep your eggs, deviled or otherwise.

After a bit of research, I found that deviled eggs are important to mainly Americans and the French. And the term “deviled” doesn’t have anything to do with horns or pitchforks, it has to do with being spicy. Since I don’t eat deviled eggs I don’t know if they’re truly spicy or not, but who cares? It doesn’t change my opinion of them. Icky, ewww, gross. Hard boiled eggs are the devil.

So. You can guess that I do not own a plate specifically designed to hold deviled eggs. Now, I’m all for kitchen gadgets – one might say that I’m a bit obsessed with them – but I believe that owning a plate specifically for deviled eggs goes a bit too far. I feel the same about toast grabbers and taco shell holders. They are not used often enough to warrant taking up precious cabinet space. My opinion, friends. I won’t judge you if you have these items at your house. Okay, I might. But just a little.

The other interesting fact is that today’s holiday falls on Election Day. I can definitely get on board with politicians being like deviled eggs. They can be slimy and act like the devil. And I’m not talking about the “spicy” kind of deviled.

Speaking of devils, Halloween just passed. Last year found 1/2 of the Brewers (mom and Mad) trick-or-treating and the other 1/2 (Ben and dad) stuck in the hospital with neutropenia from chemotherapy. Ben was so sick for one of his favorite holidays. The scariest thing he got to do for Halloween was get a blood transfusion. In fact, I made a door hanger for his room that said “No candy, just blood.” He didn’t really find mom’s humor very uplifting, but that’s nothing out of the norm. He often looks at me like a parent looks at a misbehaving child. Who’s supposed to be the adult here? There’s no question that Ben plays that role when it comes to me and my sense of humor.

So, this year I thought that a party was in order. We hosted several classmates and friends for what turned out to be one heck of a party. There was screaming, bobbing for apples, silly string fights, tons of sugar, crafts, and  a pinata (beautifully created and generously donated by my friend, Tracey). It was lots of fun. I hope it rubbed out the memory of last year for Ben – at least a little bit.

This year was good. Ben and Mad carved pumpkins, went to a pumpkin patch, dressed up as a ghost and a witch, and trick-or-treated with neighborhood friends. It was a precious bit of normal.

Deviled eggs, though. There ain’t nothin’ normal about those.

(Don’t forget to vote!)