Monday, March 30, 2009

The Health Museum and Fort Jackson

I have been pretty busy lately and have been too tired and/or lazy to blog about it all. For instance, I visited my sister and her boys a few weeks ago and never blogged about the cool museum we went to. So after unloading some pics from my camera I decided to post several to just show what we have been up to.

We visited Jenni on a rainy, rainy weekend early March and had planned to go to the newly renovated and reopened Houston Children's Museum. But when we got to the museum district we saw that the line to get into the Children's Museum was around the stinking block from the entrance. They had just reopened and were having a no-entrance-fee Saturday so the entire city was there. We decided to visit another museum in the area, the Natural History Museum, but found that other people must have decided the same thing because the lines there were also huge and intimidating. Instead we decided to hike through the rain and puddles over to the Health Museum. No one wants to visit the health museum, right? Right. It was not busy. But it was cool. Check out the huge game of Operation! How cool is that?

And they had a body you could tour. Like you walk into the guy's mouth and then through the stomach, etc. Jackson had fun in there, he liked sitting on the molars. He enjoyed it until we got into the brain section and there were all these electric currents and a huge eye sitting there looking at him. That kind of freaked him out. More than kind of. We retreated into a side room to get away from the eye, only to find a wall of life-sized fetuses. Sounds sick, but it was a cool look at the development of a baby from fertilized egg to term. But imagine leaving the brain/eye trippy room and entering the hall of fetuses and you can imagine why we quickly retreated to the huge Operation game. That was truly cool.

This weekend my Dad came to town and we spent many, many hours building a swingset/playscape in my backyard. We didn't realize when we bought it how many hundreds of pieces of wood and thousands of screws and bolts and pieces it was in. Man. The directions said it would take two people 8-10 hours to put together. I am pretty sure we overshot that. Half of Saturday and most of Sunday and we are still not quite done with the roof. And we need to dig out from under one of the legs so it doesn't tilt quite so much. But it is swingable and slideable at least and Jackson loves it. When we quit for the night on Sunday he kept begging us not to put his swingset away. Heh. As if we could. Here is the almost finished product. We are calling it Fort Jackson. It will be nicer once it gets a roof. But we ran out of sunshine, energy and weekend.

Before we started on the fort, we stopped by our local bank to deposit a check and they were having a freebie day. All kinds of crap with Compass written all over it, free pizza, radio station remote - all that stuff. But the cool thing was the clown lady painting faces. Jackson has always refused to have his face painted before, but this time she suggested she make him look like a kitty and he agreed that he'd like to be a purple kitty. I got a picture quickly cause I knew it wouldn't last. And as I expected, he hated the stuff on his face and we had to immediately go to the bathroom to wash it off. He kept saying he didn't want to be a kitty forever. "I want to be a boy, not a kitty!" Funny child.

I went back to the pulmonologist today to get the results from my tests from last week and there was good and not so good news. My heart looks good, he said. Functioning fine even though it beats a little off now and then. But my lung function tests showed that I am not moving air in and out of my lungs as well as I should be. He called it Hyperactive airway disease. Which googling shows is the description of a group of disorders, including asthma. He didn't say I have asthma though this is probably asthma-like. He prescribed singulair and advair and I have to stay on my allegra. We will do all these meds at first to see if we can get it under control, then cut back on them to see if I can get by on less. I hope that is the case, cause I would rather not be on all kinds of drugs forever. Though if they help me breath, I guess I will do it.

I got home to a bill from the radiologist for $500 more than my insurance company said they could bill me. So here we go again. Procedures, followed by hours spent on hold trying to get the billing errors taken care of. Sigh. I know, at least I have insurance.

On a fun note, I booked a Bed and Breakfast in Boston for me and Andrea'. Have I mentioned that Andrea' and I are going to Boston at the end of April? Well we are! Four days of checking out Boston and Salem, Mass. I will miss Jackson and David, but I sure am looking forward to getting away with my best friend. I know we will have a good time. And get this, the B&B is called Encore and it is a modernly decorated row house in the historic South End with decor and rooms named for playwrights. We are in the Sondheim Room. I can't wait!

I start rehearsals for Hay Fever on Wednesday. I am excited and ready to get back out there and into a show.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I had my echocardiogram and my pulmonary function tests today. I was only scheduled to do the echo today and I was supposed to do the pulmonology test tomorrow but when I got there they decided they could do both today so I don't have to go back. That was nice.

The echo was easy, I just had to lay there and let them do an ultrasound on my heart. Luckily I got a lady tech. I was sure I would have to lay there bare chested while some twenty-something cool guy did the procedure. But I was spared that indignity. The chick did put one of the ekg sticker thingies right on the scar from my port. And taking that off did not feel good. But it was smooth all in all.

The pulmonary test was not so easy. You have to sit in this glass box contraption and breath into a machine in different rhythms - blow out hard and fast, now slow and hold it, pant, do it again closed up in the box, etc. Then they gave me a nebulizer treatment of albuterol and did the tests again. Albuterol makes me shaky, jumpy and wired. And it took a few hours to feel somewhat normal again. And doing that much heavy breathing is tiring. I am really glad that is done. I will meet with the pulmonologist on Monday to get the results of the tests.

Jackson played at Kid Space for an hour this afternoon and when I asked him who he played with we had the following conversation:

Jackson: I played with Maddy who is black all over. Some people are black all
over and some people aren't.
Me:Uh huh, that's right, but we are all the same on the inside.
Jackson: Inside where your feelings are?
Me: Yup.

Then he changed the subject. This was our first conversation about race and I wasn't sure what else if anything to say at this point. I am really glad that Kid Space always has a mix of kids there giving him the opportunity to play with kids of all different colors and backgrounds. So I don't know if I should be saying or doing anything else at this point, but I guess that is a good beginning. He of course notices that people look different, but doesn't seem to care. Awesome.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Jackson is nicer than me.

Yesterday as I was driving an asshole cut me off on the highway. Instinct kicked in and I yelled at the other driver, as if he could hear me, "You suck, mister!" Jackson was intrigued.

HIM: Who sucks mama?
ME: That guy in the white car who just cut me off. He sucks.
HIM: He doesn't suck, mama. He just wanted to pass you. That's all.

My son is more moral and/or pragmatic than I am.

I have appointments next week for the echo of my heart and the lung function testing. Though I am sure it will be tedious, I am glad to get them done. Hopefully they can rule out everything serious and figure out a treatment plan to get me breathing better.

And that can't be soon enough because I have been feeling like a lump on the couch lately. Have put on a couple of pounds and can feel my body crying out for some exercise. Seriously, I feel like doing some crunches and exercising my arms and legs. Only I get so worked up without much exertion, heart pounding and breathing heavy, that I feel I need to wait to get doc permission to exercise. So maybe after next week and can make an effort to, well, make an effort and get my ass off the couch.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Is it the heart or the lungs? Or both?

The pulmonologist I met with today was really nice and very thorough. He had my recent scans, looked up my old scans and x-rays from July 07 when I was a raging cancer incubator, and had an overview of my story before he ever came in the room. And he had a pleasant bedside manner to boot. He listened to my complaints and asked questions and did an exam on me that seemed pretty thorough.

We learned a few things in the appointment. One is that there is residual damage in my right lung. Nothing catastrophic pictorially. Some narrowed airways and scarring, but nothing crazy. The other thing is that my heart isn't beating normally. It skips and dances a little bit. He said it was musical. I am not terribly surprised by that since I have lots of palpitations that go along with my shortness of breath. This could be a combination lung/heart problem. We have to do some test to figure that out.

He ordered an echo cardiogram which will check for heart damage and look at my valves and such. Also a pulmonary function test before and after albuterol treatment to check my lung function. The hospital will call me tomorrow probably to schedule these tests and I go back to this doc in two weeks to follow up and get a treatment plan.

So here we go.

At least I am helping to prop up the health care economy. I am expecting a $600 bill for my Feb PET scan and though I am not sure, an echo cardiogram doesn't sound cheap. Does it? Oh well. It must be done. I am grateful for the insurance.

Mom went to the appointment with me and afterwards we took Jackson to the park. It was such a beautiful day and he had a really good time throwing rocks in the river.

He has been spending a ton of time in my bed at night. He comes in at some point and doesn't want to leave. Then I get him to go back to his bed only to have him come back half and hour later. It makes it difficult to sleep, especially when I have such a hard time sleeping anyway. My breathing is worse when I am laying down. So last night at bedtime we had a discussion about how I need him to stay in his bed till morning. He said, "But mommy, your bed is cozy." Which made me laugh and want to invite him in my cozy bed whenever he want to come. But we need our sleep, all of us. I will be content if I can get him down to an occasional visit and get him to go back to his bed when I ask him to. I don't want him to think he can't come in if he has a bad dream or needs me for some reason.

Last night when he went to bed he said, "Mommy, I promise to stay in my bed all night." And he did. He didn't come in at all. He knows it is time to get up when his daddy gets up and gets in the shower to get ready for work. But David didn't go to work today, he worked from home. So around 7:00 this morning I heard the door of my bedroom open and then close after a few seconds. Jackson had come to see if his daddy was up and when he saw that he wasn't, he went back to his bed. He was checking to see if he could get up yet. I got up and asked him if he wanted to come get in bed with me since it was morning now. So he did get to cuddle in my bed for a little while but he didn't spend half the night there keeping us awake. He says he will do the same tonight. I hope it is this easy. Just a discussion and his behavior changes. Nice. Knock on wood.

The pope sucks.

Dear The pope,

Jesus would say, 'Use a condom, man. It may just save your life." Fuck you. (I said that last part, not Jesus.)

Read this BS.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A new show, a visit and a stew

I have been pretty busy lately. I auditioned for a show on Tuesday, Hay Fever with North by Northwest Theatre Company in Austin, and I got cast along with some wildly talented local actors. I am so excited to be doing a show with such an awesome group of people. We start rehearsals April 1st and I am really looking forward to getting back out there.

I finished the Grease playbill and got it sent off to the printer yesterday. It was a big undertaking, but we got the pages laid out with headshots of all the actors included. This will make our patrons happy, they can put a face to the names and the word is they are excited about that. It is also a little extra recognition for our actors who work so hard for a couple of comps and some stage time. The only downside is that I had to cut the bios shorter than usual. So if you are in Grease and are reading this, sorry I cut the crap out of your bio, but with 27 of you to fit into four pages I didn't have much of a choice. I tried to keep all of your basic sentiments, though. If you thanked your mother, it is in there. But if you once played a rock in the elementary school play, it probably isn't.

I am currently packing a bag for me and Jackson. He and I are driving to my sister's house when David gets home from work. We are going to spend the weekend there. Jen and I will probably veg and hang out and her boys and mine will probably make a lot of noise and destroy her house. And since it is wet, there will probably be some mud tracking to do. I am looking forward to it, since I haven't seen them since Thanksgiving, I think. And the boys sure love to play together. They are all excited and I suspect none of them will sleep tonight.

My posts about my breathing issues have gotten some of you really worried and I apologize about that. I didn't mean to make you think I am about to pass out from lack of air or keel over or anything. My lungs are just irritated and I am coughing all the time. The shortness of breath is a little better the last few days, but the wheezing and coughing kinda sucks. But I have my appointment with the lung doctor next week and we will see if they can help me out a little. No worries. I am fine. Better than last week for sure.

Last night I went to a play at the Hyde Park Theatre. They were kind enough to donate tickets to Planet Cancer and I went with a group of young cancer survivors. Andrea went as my date and we had a really good time. The play was Bombs In Your Mouth, the kind of contemporary play that drops a lot of F bombs and doesn't care what you think if they do. I find it refreshing sometimes to attend such plays. I have almost always worked in theatres that have a patron-base over the age of 60. And exist in Williamson County. We have to carefully guard our subject matter and language so as not to drive off the people in this area. Many Austin theatre companies don't have to do that. They can perform whatever piece they want, using whatever language they please and have people 18 to 40 years old make up the bulk of their audience and eff you if you don't like it. I enjoy that from time to time.

Of course, they probably don't have a renovation debt of half a million dollars and a $700k yearly operating budget and 300 seats to fill to keep the doors open. So our considerations are not theirs. We do a different kind of theatre. Georgetown is not Austin.

I'm getting hungry. I have a beef stew in the crock pot that has been cooking all day. It smells really good. It smelled good at noon before Jackson and I went to work. When I was getting him dressed he asked me, "Mom, what is that smell in the kitchen." I said it was dinner. "Does it smell good," I asked. "MmmHmmm..." he said. Hopefully it tastes as good as it smells. I hear David coming home a bit early from work so we will soon be able to taste it.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Pulmonology and Mouth Sores

Poor Jackson has two mouth ulcers in his gums that are really bothering him. Thankfully (or not) we have the medicine cabinet of a chemo patient. Which means that I have probably six different medications/treatments for mouth sores. I have viscous lidocaine and mouth rinses and dental pastes and peroxide cleansers. But he doesn't want me to get in there, doesn't want to let me see. Which is understandable, since it hurts. But I got him to open up and let me put some of the dental paste directly on the sores at bedtime. But it tastes a little funny and kinda forms a little barrier that he could feel and it freaked him out and made him cry "I can't move my tongue, mommy." It was very sad. But after a sip of water and a good cry he calmed down and fell asleep.

When I talked to my oncologist last week about my breathing issues, he said I should see a pulmonologist and that there was one in the same building. I have been meaning to look into it since I can't fricken breath, but today I got a call from the pulmonology office. I guess Dr. George sent them some of my records and asked them to call me to make an appt. So I will go in next Tuesday to see about my breathing. I sure hope they can help me. I have been getting short of breath off and on for some time and my allergies really exacerbate things and I end up not being able to sleep because I can't breath. I wake up in the night and have to sit up because of it sometimes. But my CT/PET scan was clear of cancer. So that is not the problem. Hopefully they can come up with a way to get my lung(s) working better. I can't say I am looking forward to more test and doctors, but I guess if I want more air I have to stop pretending there isn't a problem and go get looked at.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


I am really low-energy lately. Unmotivated. I force myself to do some of the piled-up laundry and pick up around the house a little. I just don't want to get up off the couch and do anything. I am wondering if the fact that this cold I had settled itself deeply in my lungs and I can't breath well, has something to do with it. I have no fever. My nose is cleared up, but I do have this lovely spasmey cough. I got an inhaler from my doc, and it does help. But it makes me high and shaky and less likely to get up off of the couch.

I talked to Dr.George about my lungs and breathing issues at my appt last week. My scans are clear, so I don't have any obvious lymphoma activity causing my lungs grief. But whenever my allergies act up or I get a cold, and sometimes for no reason, I will feel short of breath. And it makes me tired.

I will probably make an appt with a lung specialist to see if some residual damage/scar tissue in there has made me asthmatic. Dr. George said it was a possibility.

I am ready to not be so lethargic for sure. I'm tired of being tired.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

What does your kid say about you?

This has been going around facebook and I thought it would be interesting to see how Jackson would answer these questions even if he is a little young at 3 1/2 to understand some of them. It was pretty funny and he had a good time. He wanted more questions about me and then he wanted me to ask him questions about him. Here is some of the responses I got.

1.What is something mom always says to you?
Don’t play with glass things.

2. What makes mom happy?

3. What makes mom sad?

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
Silly faces (I rarely make silly faces : )

5. What was your mom like as a child?
(I skipped this one)

6. How old is your mom?

7. How tall is your mom?
seven legs high

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
feeding her baby (He means himself. He often asks me, "Mom, do you think I'm your baby boy?")

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
Find me! (It is all about him. If he isn't around, obviously I must be looking for him.)

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
(skipped this one)

11. What is your mom really good at?
Helping her baby clean up

12. What is your mom not very good at?
Opening cars at Target (Is it my fault that effen toy packages are effen impossible to get into without a chainsaw?)

13. What does your mom do for a job?

14. What is your mom's favorite food?
Broccoli & cheese (I don't know what he is talking about...)

15. What makes you proud of your mom?
ME. (Maybe he thought I meant what is your mom proud of.)

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Mickey Mouse

17. What do you and your mom do together?
Help clean up (Together is a relative term in little boy world. He means I do most of it while attempting to get him to help while he complains, "I'm tired of cleaning up.")

18. How are you and your mom the same?
blank stare

19. How are you and your mom different?
blank stare

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
by giving kisses

21. What does your mom like most about your dad?
Me (huh? I asked this one twice and got the same answer.)

22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
my house

Very entertaining conversation. I will have to do this again in six months or a year and see how his answers change. It was a lot of fun.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Colds suck.

I'm not feeling well. Just a cold. Using up tissues. Lots of fun.

I have had a little whirlwind of medical activity here lately. The day before my scan I went in for a blood test just to make sure I wasn't pregnant. I didn't want to nuke any potential offspring. Then I had the scan which was a day and a half of yuck. My results came back clear again, btw. No evidence of cancer. Then yesterday I had a filling replaced which was a great deal of fun as you can imagine. I had fat-numb-face most of the day and it wore off just in time to be sore for dinner time.

Today I have a cold. Achy. Tomorrow morning I have an exam with my oncologist with more bloodwork. Though I am doctored out right now, perhaps my onc will refill my allergy meds and prescribe an inhaler for me since I have been having lung issues lately.

I'm sure you all want to hear me complain about not feeling well. Especially when I was just given the gift of a clear scan. But what-the-hell. I don't feel well and my breathing has been an issue lately. Makes me tired and low-energy. And cranky, I guess.

Though I will talk about something that makes me happy. Being busy at work working on a challenging playbill. Grease opens March 20th and this playbill is a doozy. We are starting a pilot project of adding headshots to the actors' bio section. This means reworking the pages so they all fit within the allotted number and all kinds of shuffling. I spent most of the day on it today and I just enjoy being busy and thinking about how things should fit and solving these little problems. I really enjoy working at the Palace even when things get crazy and tedious. I enjoy the volunteers and my co-workers and am so grateful to be working in theatre.

When we were leaving work today we went through the auditorium to go out the back door. Jackson asked me if he could get on the stage. He said he wanted to dance and sing to the people. So I sent him out onto the stage and told him to go for it. Of course he got all shy and wouldn't perform. He looked out into the empty seats and said "There's no one there. I can't sing now." I offered to sit in the audience for him but he instead said that I should sing and dance while he sat in the audience. He climbed into a seat and I did a quick little silly dance and told him it was time to go. I should have played more with him then, but blame it on my runny nose, ok? On the way out he said that next time there is a show and all the people came in to sit in the seats and in the seats upstairs that he would sing and dance on the stage. Funny boy. I am going to gather volunteers up one day, sit them down in the theatre and see if he will go up and do something for us. I won't hold my breath, but I love that he understands what goes on where we work.

Ha, I just had a terribly thought. I am watching that crack-addiction-slash-child-abuse TV show Toddlers and Tiaras and saw the brief appearance of a little boy in the competition. Perhaps Jackson's future lies in the Chitlin Pageant or the Kentucky Southern Celebrity Pageant. Ok. Or not. Considering his performance in Kinderdance last summer I am not sure he is a fit. Not sure if they have a race car category.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Where do your keep your love?

Jackson and I were sitting on the couch. I had my arm around him and we had this conversation.

Him: Mama, is this love we are having?
Me: Yes it is.
Him: Can I have some more?
Me: yup (I gave him a kiss.)
Him: I have some more for you. I have more love for you inside me. Here you go. (He kissed me.)
Me: You do? Where do you keep it?
Him: Here in my brain. I'll get some more for you.

He poked the top of his head with his finger like he was punching a button, made a whoosh noise and kissed me again. Cute.