Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Feel scared, feel embarrassed, but feel your boobies

So I wasn't sure whether or not it was a lump.

It's just hard to tell. But it was bothering me and not going away. I went to the midwives, who take the best care of even non-pregnant women such as myself.

"It's movable," she said, after examining the -- lump? Cyst? Other random thing? -- in Lefty (Yes, they have names.) Movable lumps are apparently better than non-movable ones, that is, not usually indicative of cancer.

"But let's get it checked out just in case," she said. Wrote me a script for the Breast Care Center. Which is housed in the Cancer Center, I learned when I made my appointment. Not exactly a confidence-booster, that. It really made me screech to a halt and realize:

"This lump could be breast cancer."

I waited a very long week and a half, then went in for both a mammogram and an ultrasound today. I had forced myself not to think about it until I was in the waiting room and then I saw a very ill-looking woman with thinning hair sitting across from me, and felt a small wave of panic.

It really could be cancer. I started thinking about my husband, my kids, my sisters and tried to focus on the TV, which was blaring what I thought was Young and the Restless but turned out to be As the World Turns. Someone was waking up from a coma. Good. Distracting.

Then the nurse called me in. First up: Mammogram. It's unpleasant. Like an apple press, only with your boobs shoved in there and smushed. From every conceivable direction. I started to cry not because it hurt but because there was no going back now; I couldn't put off and ignore it anymore because now machines and tests and other people were involved.

Then, not knowing the results of the mammogram, I was ushered into another waiting area. This is the part of the story that gets a little surreal.

The TV in this waiting area had on the awful afternoon installment of the Today Show, with Kathie Lee Gifford. I joined it just in time for their segment on Life After Breast Cancer: How to wear a bra after a mastectomy. Exercises for after a mastectomy. Nutrition to prevent breast cancer. Oh, did we mention October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month? Oh and also, one in 9 women will get breast cancer.

After about a thousand years, or so it seemed, they brought me in for the ultrasound. The tech spread the gel on me and moved the wand around. For about a year. Then:

"I don't see anything."

Whatever was bothering me is apparently a normal part of my left breast, and isn't showing up as anything bad on either the mammogram or the ultrasound.

The whole day was pretty scary. And it's embarrassing to be topless for that long in front of total strangers, even if they are nurses. But now, I know. I was braced for the worst, and still sort of can't believe I got a clean bill of health.

I know I'm lucky. I know there are a lot of women who won't get this kind of good news after their mammograms. I wish I had some sage advice or thoughtful perspective to offer. Just feel your boobies. Get a mammogram. Rule it out so you don't have to think about it. Or, catch it early. Anything. Just don't ignore it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The "Why" of your blog

I went to PodCamp Pittsburgh two weekends ago, and sat in on an excellent session by Michelle, the talented writer behind The BurghBaby, an excellent blog. I was excited to meet her and even more impressed after she was done speaking.

The essence of blogging, she says, is to know the "why" of your blog.

That seems so simple, but it had eluded me to that point. It's important to know why you're blogging, otherwise you'll be all over the place and unfocused and what's the point of that?

Simply put, I want to write about things that interest and/or bother me. Whether anyone wants to read that, I have no idea.

I'm hoping the list of things that bother me isn't longer than the list of things that interest me. Because bitching all the time isn't really interesting either, even if it's done in a clever way.

So I'll probably be writing a lot about being a working mother. I am one, and there is no end to the things within that spectrum that both interest me and bother me. Mommy blogging isn't for everyone, but I think that's where I'm headed anyway, so why fight it?

There. Glad I got that off my chest. And special thanks to Michelle for helping point me in the right direction.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

if there's anything cuter than feetie pajamas...

... it's feetie pajamas with dinosaurs on them

Monday, October 12, 2009

reaching new heights...

I have noticed that my kid is getting tall enough to reach things he couldn't reach a month ago, which has forced me to reorganize some countertops, but has also confirmed: he's going to take after me and be tall.
But, he's a boy.
I'll just say it without a qualifier: it's easier for boys who are tall than for girls. Yes! I know. Gender bias. And I'm not saying it's smooth sailing for guys who have to duck through doorways and can't fit behind steering wheels. Ask my new PodCamp buddy over at The Size of Life.
Being tall is not easy; clothes, cars, airplane and bus seats, bicycles, ceilings, doorways, full-length (ha!) mirrors, beds, and showerhead heights are all challenges at one point or another... see, these are all the things you people under 5' 11" don't think about.
But speaking from personal experience, I think it's a whole lot tougher for girls than guys. I've been six feet tall since like, age 16, and let me tell you how popular I wasn't in high school. I was taller than all the boys, and some of the teachers. I was all knees and elbows and incredibly awkward, or so I thought. Nothing fit right.
Of course, there may have been other factors working against me in the popularity hell of high school, but I was convinced it was my height. The nasty kids who make fun of everyone in high school took the obvious easy target, and I was ripe for the pickin'.
So I slouched to look shorter. And wore shoes that were too small but weren't available in my (giant) size. I even shaved a few inches off when people asked how tall I was.
I wasn't fooling anyone and was just building resentment over something that ultimately, I couldn't control. There are upsides, after all: you can always reach that top shelf, you never get lost in a crowd because you can usually see over them, and it's a really easy conversation starter. PLUS, the taller candidate apparently has won 10 of the last 12 presidential elections.
So yeah, it kinda sucks being tall, and it looks like my little guy is about to join the club. But at least he'll have me to instruct him on the necessities of the aisle seat. Really. It's a must.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

His mother must be proud...

My 5-year-old loves hockey. More specifically, he loves the Pittsburgh Penguins. And to narrow it down even further: He loves No. 87, Sidney Crosby.

We watched the Penguins' home opener last night, and saw the Stanley Cup ("Mom, look how shiny it is!") get hit with the spotlight at Mellon Arena, and the championship banner raised at center ice. We clapped and he was as excited as if I had given him ice cream for dinner (ONE TIME when he was sick, ok?)

During the ceremony the camera caught Crosby looking up at the banner as it ascended into the rafters. He looked so young, but at the same time, respectful; he knows what a huge, big, giant deal it is to win Lord Stanley's Cup.

It got me thinking how glad I was that my little guy had picked someone who, for all intents and purposes, seems like a great role model. I'm not usually one to pick sports figures as role models (because most of them suck at it), but then remembered this video of a 14-year-old Crosby. He talks with absolute glee about how he can't imagine how great it would be "getting paid to do something you love to do." (3:11 in the video).


It doesn't seem to me that Crosby has changed all that much since then. A reporter asked him during the last playoff season how he felt about the fans in Philadelphia yelling "Crosby Sucks" whenever he took the ice. "I don't love it," he admitted, ruefully. That's about as strong a criticism I've ever heard him give of another team or another player.

And after the win last night, there was a really nice, typically Crosby moment. A reporter noted that both Crosby's grandmothers were in attendance and got to watch him score a goal (ha ha, bite it, Rangers). "Do they still give you a dollar for every goal you score?" the reporter asked in an on-ice interview. Crosby smiled, "no, they stopped doing that a long time ago."

How do you not love this guy (be quiet Flyers fans, nobody cares what you think).

So as the Penguins start their final season at Mellon Arena, Dominic and I will be watching (sometimes covering his eyes when the boys get wound up, as it were) a player who loves the game so much it's contagious, even to a small fry as little as 5.