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New Year’s Eve

December 31st, 2007 by Joyce

I keep thinking "Happy Birthday" instead of "Happy New Year" tonight.  I think it means I’m tired.  Or confused.  Or both. 

So, let me say (very deliberately), Happy New Year.  No boo-boos this year.

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Drive me nuts

December 31st, 2007 by Joyce

C&D have been sick, and I have been very tired, so we’ve been spending most of our time at home.  They’ve kept busy, though, playing and eating and occasionally wiping their noses on my shirt and pants.  (So we’ve also been busy doing laundry.)

Eating peanuts kept us busy for a good long while.


But when we sat down to decorate gingerbread men, we realized it was too hard to keep from eating our project so that exercise ended early.


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December 30th, 2007 by Joyce

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December 27th, 2007 by Joyce

We have colds.  I can’t imagine from what because we don’t go anywhere, really.  Carmen came down first; the first sign of her cold was that she seemed awfully short-tempered.  By afternoon that day she acted congested and cranky.  She and David requested relief from their old arch enemy, the blue sucky bulb.Until I made my first bribe.  I started with Carmen.  “You know,” I started matter-of-factly, “when Carmen blows her nose Mommy and Grandma are going to make hankerchiefs for Carmen for her own.”  Within seconds, she was blowing like a champ.  She has requested butterflies.This evening David started coming down the cold, and proudly blew his nose into a tissue.  When I called my mother later, he sat by the speaker phone with his order:  “David needs handkerchiefs with tractors with treaded tracks . . . and a working man, and lights.  Some tractors have lights.”  My mom said, “oh!”  I could imagine her nodding.  Then she said, “what???”  She hadn’t known I had set her up to do a project, and I hadn’t expect she would be expected to create such a complicated tractor design on something that was really just an incentive to get C&D to blow their own noses.  Sorry, mom.~~~~~~~~ I was thinking earlier about doctors and hospitals and I was thinking about St. Luke’s, how they made us wheel out and how the food was better than at the other hospital (they never paid attention to my food allergen form, but at least they asked) and how they had figured out to be careful not to push the drugs so fast (so I didn’t get dizzy or react like I had fallen backward into a bed of ants) and how it was actually a pretty good place to have brain surgery, and how one of the residents in the neuroICU really needed sleep, and was grouchy, and let me tell him so.  And I remembered joking with the nurses in the ER if I was going to have my own McDreamy (I learned all about McDreamy back when I rocked Carmen every night).  I remember talking about kids and when to have them and which doctor is cute, and my nice nurse giving me a kid-sized catheter because she knew I didn’t like them, and Clint in angio assuring me sticking a catheter up my leg and into my carotid artery to light up my brain like a Christmas tree would be okay, really, and admitting to me he had a stent in his heart.  I remembered talking to the nurses who transported me to the ICU, and talking to them about catching crabs in Galveston, and one of the nurses mentioning that the AVM he thought was near my amygdala, and wasn’t I scared?  I shrugged my shoulders and answered with a smile, “Nothing I can do about it now,” while secretly screaming in my head and trying to remember what the amygdala* did. I remember talking to the nurses in ICU about parents and kids and how old theirs are and how many and how they slept at night and who took care of them when they worked, and commutes and working hours and going to school, and who-was-who in the hospital, and it just occurred to me that I talked a lot, especially given that something in my brain just broke.I have an aunt who laughs when she gets nervous.  Maybe my way of coping with life’s surprises is to talk right through them.  I also just to talk to have fun, and also because I like company.  So I talk a lot, to just about anybody.The other thing, though, is that what’s great about all this is that the nurses listened.  We actually had conversations.  Good ones.  For that, especially because I was nervous, especially because I was uncomfortable and lonely, especially because I was worried about C&D, I will always, always grateful.A lesson in this?  Yeah.  Part of what’s doing good in the world isn’t what you do, but what you hear.  Sometimes listening is just what someone needs.  Thanks for listening, and thanks for reading.* The amygdala helps you process emotions.  Thanks, Wikipedia.This entry was finally posted March 22, 2008. 

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A little hole in my head. (My Brain Post-AVM)

December 26th, 2007 by Joyce · 1 Comment

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MRI without and with contrast, October 2007.

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Christmas Story

December 25th, 2007 by Joyce

The Christmas story holds more weight and magic than it did before I had C&D. When they swam and squirmed in my womb, I listened to our advent hymns and thought of Mary’s awe in knowing that she, a girl with no pretentions, would soon bear a child that would change the world.  Even textbooks and routine ultrasounds couldn’t erase my feeling that pregnancy–even without miracles and angels and centuries-old prophecies–is a privilege, a gift.When my own babies were born a month after Christmas, amidst the monitors of a sterile operating room, blinding bright lights and a collection of nurses and doctors as our own Heavenly Host, we knew we entered an event awesome and sacred.  I hesitated to even to name them . . . they were too pure and beautiful to be marred by a label.Now I look at their broad smiles and long eyelashes, their delicious curls and soft apple cheeks, kiss my gifts, and hold them tightly.

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That Noah, he gets around

December 25th, 2007 by Joyce

This Christmas was a quiet one, and included a lot of sleeping on my part.  Christmas Eve I slept most of the day away, then washed up for a quick dinner and candlelight service at church.  I prepped C&D briefly, explaining that we were going to celebrate Jesus’ birthday, and for this birthday we won’t have hats or cake or cupcakes, but we would have singing and organ and candles.  When we squeezed into the end of a pew, Carmen looked up and saw wreaths of evergreen, white candles lit around.  “Fire for cupcakes!” she laughed.  We didn’t stay long enough for the small tapers to be passed around as is customary for Christmas, but I’m certain C&D would have wanted to blow them out.

While C&D sat in church, they looked at books and pretended to read the music.  While she busied herself Carmen listened to the readings and sermon, occasionally offering her play-by-play.  “He’s talking about David.”  “He’s talking about playing!”  We were impressed at her multitasking abilities.

Christmas Day we stayed at home, resting and preparing for the next day, a work day for Matt.  The neighborhood is quiet.  No parties or great phalanxes of relatives visiting neighbors, no children trying new bicycles in the street.  Even the trash bins look ordinary; at our old house the bins would be overflowing with tissue paper and boxes.


We didn’t do the Santa thing with C&D.  So whenever C&D see the images of the bearded man in the red suit, they call him by the name they know for another man with a big white beard:  Noah.

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