Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Everything went fine and the Dude is doing well. He still tugs at his ears, but wouldn't you if someone stuck a tube in it?

Last night, Christmas Eve, the in-laws came over for dinner and gifts. In Germany gift-giving is done on Christmas Eve. I made an "American Christmas Eve" Dinner: Shrimp and Grits, Hush Puppies and Apple Pie. It was great but I did not eat much because my stomach was tore up from the night before. I have discovered the lethal combination: mulled wine + NyQuil. Trust me, just say no.

You know it is Christmas in Germany when you hear Wham's "Last Christmas." It is almost comical how bad this song is and how much they play it here. The Dixie Peach can back me up.

Because the German is one of the best husband's ever, he sent me this video.

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

How does that saying go?

All good things come in threes? Or is it all BAD things come in threes? All I know is that I have had just about enough.

Everything with mom went really well in the U.S. As she recovered we watched movies, I cooked and cleaned, and bonded a bit with the family. I even managed to get in a day with lunch, shopping, old friends and chugging a Margarita (it will give you brain freeze). Good times. Because my work was done, it was time to head back home.

The trip back to Germany was almost effortless, but then again I discovered the secret to the trans Atlantic crossing: Coladapin. Okay, so taking anti-anxiety medication is NOT the best idea without a prescription and visiting a doctor, but a friend passed me an extra and smiled, "You will thank me." After two glasses of wine and some food, I flew from Charleston to Charlotte. After waiting in the most cramped gate area ever, I got on the plane to Frankfurt. I turned down the evening meal, took a glass of water and my pill. Just when I thought nothing was happening and I had a long 8 hour flight ahead of me, I began to feel warm and fuzzy. I drifted off. I did not sleep the entire time. I got up to go the bathroom and had some pretzels. In my half-sleep I did notice a little turbulence, but I smiled and said to myself, "Bump, bumppity, bump, bum . . ." An hour before landing they served breakfast (which I ate!), and I landed in Germany totally refreshed and relaxed. Wow.

Although, I made it safely back to Germany . . . my luggage did not. Seriously, I had one, small bag. With a large sigh, I went over to the Lufthansa counter. The woman confirmed my information, which was already in the computer. "Yes, this has happened before," I smirked. She actually looked embarrassed.

Losing a bag when coming home is annoying, but it really is not the end of the world. They had it at my doorstep that evening and it saved me the trouble of going through customs . . . where I would have nothing to declare anyway . . .

Wednesday I was just the Dude and I. He mercifully slept until 8am. We had breakfast and played. It took me 3 hours to do the dishes and run the vacuum cleaner, but I just could not stop hugging and kissing him.

"Claire, none of this sounds too bad." Oh, it's coming . . .

Thursday we took the Dude to the ENT specialist. It was a routine check-up after his ear infection(s) last month. The doctor took one look in the Dude's ear and got tense. "It iz not better." Not only was his ear worse, but now both are completely blocked. The eardrums are swollen, and no air is moving at all. The doctor estimates that the Dude has a 33% reduction in hearing with his ears like this.

So . . .

Tomorrow morning the Dude is going in for an operation. They are putting in tubes and removing his "Rachenmandel" (palatine tonsils). The procedure should take about two hours and we should be able to take him home that afternoon.

Several friends have tired to comfort me. It is "just" tubes. They do it all the time. Honestly, this does not help. The anesthesia bothers me the most; reading the "fact page" scared the hell out of me. Watching my son go through that . . . oy, not looking forward to it. I am taking it better than the German, though. I thought he was going to cry in the doctor's office.

"Wow, Claire. But that is only two bad things."

I forgot to mention that I found a cracked tooth while I was in the U.S. And it is finally starting to hurt and I cannot chew on that side of my mouth. Thus it is off to the dentist and a possible root canal in the coming weeks.

Between my mom, the Dude, my tooth. Ugh. I have had enough.

And don't even get me started on the Christmas shopping.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Part Where My Mom Gets Abducted by Aliens

First, let me apologize for putting up a post about depression and then leaving for a few weeks. Not cool. I apologize, but then again every thing went a little crazy a few weeks ago . . . It started with a call from my mother and ended with me sitting jet lagged in front of a computer in South Carolina.

About 3 1/2 weeks ago, on a normal Sunday afternoon, my mom called. This was not too strange, as we often chat on Sundays. She told me that she had gone to the gym the previous week and had hurt herself.

"Man my abs and stomach area hurt so bad, I could not get out of bed the next morning."

"Good for you mom! That is a good workout."

"Not really. I went to the doctor thinking it might be a ruptured cyst. She sent me for an ultrasound and I am going to in for the results tomorrow."

"That does not sound so bad, Mom."

"Well our conversation went like this . . .

The Doctor: We found something on the ultrasound.

Mom: What is it?

The Doctor: I am not sure, but I do not think it is life threatening. I want you to come in soon. Is Monday morning okay?

Note to doctors everywhere: Never tell someone that you "think it is not life threatening" on a Friday afternoon and then make an appointment for Monday. This does not make for the happiest of weekends.

The next day my mom called me back. The doctor thinks it is a tumor. On her ovary. A 10 cm tumor. My mom was, understandably, a little freaked out and had in her hand a referral for a surgeon that specializes in gynecology and oncology. She went there on a Friday.

That doctor was very optimistic. There was nothing on the ultrasound besides the one "growth" but we would never know until it came out and so that needed to happen and soon.

The Monday before Thanksgiving (this was last week, ya'll!) my mom called me with her surgery date: Monday, November 30. After much discussion, the German and I agreed that I would fly out to SC. Not only did I want to take care of my mom and hold her hand, there were other things that needed to be done, which I could help with. Last Wednesday I bought a ticket. On Thursday I fed the masses with a 12 pound turkey. On Saturday I taught all day and administered an examination. On Sunday, I took the Dude to my in-laws, kissed my boys goodbye and flew to the US.

That brings us to two days ago. Dad-squared and I sat and sat in the waiting room. When I get nervous, I clean. So I kept wandering around the waiting room putting away magazines and throwing away empty coffee cups. It drew stares.

A few hours later the doctor came down. It was the first time I met him. He looks just like Steve Colbert and he gave me some of the best news of my life.

"It's not cancer," he said with a wide grin. "But it also was not on her ovary."

Um, say what?

Upon entering the abdominal area the doctor found a perfectly healthy ovary. Looking to the side he saw the tumor growing on the inside of the abdominal wall. He gave us pictures, ya'll! Pictures! I think it looked like a testicle, a ball hanging in a sack. (For those worried, I did get permission from my mom to use that description!) after taking it out both he and the pathologist agreed that it was a fibroid tumor. Smiles all around.

My mom stayed in the hospital overnight and after sneaking her out for a cigarette, I was able to take her home yesterday. I will be here the rest of the week taking care of my family, a roll that I never expected, but happily assume.

The doctors have no idea why these kinds of things develop. Our theory is that my mom was abducted and impregnated by aliens.

This entire incident has brought up feelings and anxieties that most ex-pats face. Who will take care of my parents when they get sick? My parents did so much for me as a child, especially my mom. It not only my duty to take care of them, it is an instinct, a pull that I feel. Just as I want to sooth and reassure my son, I want to give my parents the same care when the time comes . . . so when I go home, I may have to start converting the basement into an apartment, because you never know what the future will bring.

Until then I am going to enjoy my parents, curl into bed with my mom, watch really bad TV and drink tea. We always joked that my mom had balls of steel, given all of the things that she has experienced and accomplished in life. I just hope that we have not removed the source of all her superpowers.

Oh, and the pictures . . . this year's Christmas card, baby!