Friday, July 22, 2011

Rad Girl

July 21

These crises are happening as soon as I awake: Kilian is wailing for a bottle. Naomi is hungry. She wants to know the schedule and if we can make masks again. And Henry has fallen into the toilet. Really. He slipped while trying out his new potty skills. He manages to pull himself out. But there is toilet water on his bottom and the seat. Good morning.

My body feels like it is 100 years old. Everything is stiff and achy. My skin burns from the radiation treatment over half my chest and into my armpit. And I’m sooo tired…. even while sleeping in till 8:15. I’m now at the point in radiation treatment where fatigue has set in.

Naomi asks me something about three times. I don’t remember what. I just know I didn’t use a happy mom voice to answer her. “Are you mad at me?” she asks.

“No. I’m just tired and my body hurts,” I answer. I take Henry to wash him off. Somehow magically Kilian stops crying. When I come out of the bathroom with a naked Henry, I see why. Naomi started feeding him the bottle.

“That’s the best thing that has happened to me this whole morning so far,” I tell her.

But the morning continues to nose dive. Henry is screaming because he wants me to carry his pop-up toy downstairs. I look at my arms. I’m holding the day’s worth of pull-ups, clothes, dishcloths and towels, a bottle and Kilian. I tell him he’ll need to carry it down. He lets me know how upset he is with this decision with his very loud, brain-shaking voice.

It doesn’t get better for Henry. I set out their bowls of cereal and declare no one will sit on the Tinkerbell chair this morning. I don’t want to listen to a fight over that. Steve picked up the Tinkerbell chair at Salvation Army. It is purple and missing the back part of the chair that you lean on. But for some reason it is the most coveted seat among children 5 and under in my house. The chair is the #1 cause of fights at breakfast and lunch. Who gets to sit on it? Who got to sit on it last time? Who knows?

But no one is ever satisfied with the answer. I want to throw the chair out.

When I make my pronouncement about the Tinkerbell chair, Henry decides he’ll sit on this giant bouncy ball. What a great solution Henry. Not.

The problem: I’ve had to save Henry from at least 5 life-threatening choking incidents thus far in his 2-and-a-half years. Sitting on a ball that you bounce on while eating doesn’t seem like a good idea for Henry’s track record of choking. This is another very unpopular decision with Henry.

More brain-shattering screaming. I throw the boy in time-out, repressing the urge to physically hurt him, and throw his ball outside. I’m thinking outside is a better place for the ball so I don’t have to deal with him trying to sit on it again. He sees how angry I was and that makes him scream even louder. He is really sad and mad. Henry can be very intense. But I am still too angry and tired to sit down and calmly coach him out of his funk.

When he calms down, I let him get out of time-out. He wanders outside. A few minutes later, he has brought the ball back in. I throw it back outside and another loud screaming fit ensues. Henry is back in time-out.

Kilian is fussing again. He’s been playing happily, batting and grabbing the toys dangling over him in the pack and play. He’s tired. I pick him up, swaddle him and for a moment get frustrated that he takes seven minutes to fall asleep while being jiggled instead of three minutes. That baby is a complete angel. Seriously, when my other children were infants, I would have kissed the ground if one of them had fallen asleep in seven minutes – just being swaddled.

I try to sneak in getting dressed before I get hit by another request or another fight breaks out. My dressing strategy is to have as little fabric touching my chest and armpit as possible. I gingerly pull a cotton tank top with a shelf bra over my shoulder. It feels like I’m rubbing steel wool across my skin. Still it is not so bad once it is on. I got lucky with this Target purchase.

When my skin really started bugging me about halfway through my 30 daily radiation treatments, I tried to find less irritating bras. But when I noticed that I was leaving a layer of skin in almost every garment I tried on, I just grabbed a few, went to the cash register and crossed my fingers.

I apply these hydrogel sheets to my burns. They supposedly provide a moist environment to aide my skin in recovering. They feel like someone bottled heaven and squirted it onto a slightly adhesive pad. I put two on today instead of one - for twice the heavenly feeling. I make a mental note to ask the nurses for more of these at radiation today.

I go downstairs. Naomi again wants to know what the schedule is for the day, if we can make masks. We made these masks at their Super Hero Birthday party and still have several. We decorated a couple more masks a few days ago. But it is now about one-half hour before I’m supposed to have them at someone’s house so I can go to my radiation appointment. I still need to pack a bag for them and get them dressed. I tell her after taking them to Jesse’s house, I’ll inflate the mini-pool in our backyard for them to play in. “That’s it?” she says. She is not impressed with this schedule. It is too short. “That is all we’re going to do?”

These kids are sadly in need of a schedule, discipline, less television and some personal attention. But I’m in no shape to provide it. I feel very unqualified to be a mom this morning. They need someone else right now.

At 11:15 I’m pulling out of my garage with the kids to take them to Jesse’s house. I’m supposed to be putting on my gown for radiation right now in another part of town.

Steve, the creator of nicknames, calls me rad girl sometimes … since I’m going through radiation. But I don’t feel so rad this morning.

So after radiation, I stop home to rest for a few minutes before picking the kids up. Then I write this blog entry. It somehow makes me laugh at whole morning.


  1. the fact that you can laugh even a few hours later is amazing. That would be so hard to handle on your own when you are so tired and achy. Bless your heart. You are a great mom. Your kids know that you love them. I wish I was nearby to help you.

  2. Wow. Your day sound so much like so many of mine... minus the radiation. So, what's my excuse? My oldest has to know what our schedule is three days out to function... "intense" is definitely a good adjective for number two and the tantrums. Number 3 is a pint-sized houdini and I can't leave her alone for a second... and the fighting seems constant some days. Every object is the equivalent of that tinkerbell chair. If someone likes something, suddenly the other two have to have it immediately! I realized some time ago when I watched "Annie" with my girls and suddenly felt a huge surge of sympathy for Miss Hannigan that this stage of motherhood wasn't going as perfectly as I'd dreamed. The fact that you handle this in addition to your battle for health, and can laugh about it leaves me completely in awe.

  3. I echo the above sentiments. I was happy to read your last sentence and know that you were able to laugh. I was relieved to read that you didn't beat yourself up. You don't deserve to feel less than what you are. KJ, you are a woman of strength, a mother of love, and a fighter of breast cancer. You are an inspiration. Sending all my love. xoxo

  4. MY FRIEND. Thank you for taking the time to write this down. I hope it did you some good because it did good for me. Even while you are writing about all the hard parts of this morning I feel you exuding this strength, that you are able to step back a tiny bit and say HOLY COW. This was a seriously sucky morning, but here I am. Still here.

    prayers and hugs for you :)

  5. I've so been there... minus the painful burning in my skin from radiation. I can't claim to know what that feels like, especially on top of living through the tantrums and chores of being a mother. Ouch. I'm amazed that you were able to laugh at it all by the end of the day. I find that sometimes even if things aren't funny, laughter is the best medicine. I try to make myself laugh as often as possible - sometimes even in the face of a screaming child. Strangely, it makes me feel better, and seems to confuse them for a brief moment. I figure if it's enough to make them stop screaming for a second - it's worth it. Hang in there - you're doing an amazing job as a mother, and your kids won't remember you throwing their ball outside or denying them the creation of a mask, but they will remember you being there with them, and that is what counts. You're the best. Hopefully by your next update you'll be feeling better, and your kids will be perfectly agreeable (at least one for two wouldn't be bad...) Sending lots of love and prayers your way. XOXO

  6. Thank you for sharing. You are an inspiration whether you realize it or not...