Difficult Conversations

(For a little additional background, here’s a post with links and stuff: Distractions)

I talked to my parents last weekend.

“We told your grandmother.”

I told them of Hansland, and how I will be blogging about this saga (within limits, of course). Dad seemed a little surprised, as I hadn’t mentioned the site. I think he liked the idea of having a place where I could collect and disseminate information to the family, and they both agreed it was okay.

Monday morning, my cell phone rang. It was my little sister.

“I need someone to talk to me, to tell me what’s going on. What are they going to do? Why won’t the doctors just take a biopsy? I need someone to give me straight answers, and I can only get that from my big sister. I know you won’t bullshit me.”

Here we go.

I spent the next 20 minutes explaining how I thought they would do the biopsy, and how they could choose to do the biopsy if they wanted to remove the tumor immediately and start limb salvage at that time. She wanted to know what the chances were it wasn’t cancer. I told her I wasn’t sure, but it didn’t look good. I used this as an opportunity to remind her to follow Wheaton’s Law, to listen to her doctors, to ask questions, to find advocates and others who can help her navigate this new reality, to take care of herself.

Possibly the highlight of the entire conversation:

Me: “If the biopsy comes back, and it is malignant, they will take that part of your leg. They may have to take your knee, too. BUT! If they take your knee, they will give you a new Terminator knee! You will be CYBORG JENI. Wait a minute. Which leg is it? I’ve always gestured using my right leg, but no one seems to know!”

Jeni (formerly B): “The right leg. My driving leg. OF COURSE.”

Me: “Sweet! That should give you another excuse when a cop pulls you over for your chronic leadfoot. ‘But officer, my prosthetic knee locked! I couldn’t get off the gas!’ Who would give you a ticket after hearing that?”

Jeni: *laughing*

Yes, I am using her real name. I told her of Hansland, too. She is fine with this site, and has made this public, and it is silly to think you wouldn’t be able to find out my sister’s name.

I’ll be honest. My sister and I have always fought. Always. It’s embarrassing. After about 48 hours, we tend to start grating on each other’s nerves. She’s asked me to come and stay with her – to help out, to keep her entertained, to be there when she needs me. It may be a week or two. It may be more.

I’ll do it. Without hesitation.

March 21st is when she meets with the doctor, to find out the plan. No diagnosis until biopsy. No diagnosis until biopsy. No diagnosis until biopsy.




Still waiting on official word, but it’s pretty easy to figure out what’s probably wrong. B* was turned down today by the second surgeon, and referred to a surgical oncologist affiliated with Northwestern University. Dr. Peabody specializes in sarcomas, limb reconstruction, and metastatic disease. Looks like B is in some incredibly talented hands.

(* Not a real name, obviously, or even the correct initial. I prefer to provide some anonymity for my family. B is over 18, and has a right to privacy. Leave it alone, please.)

Naturally, I’m spending too much time online researching limb salvage surgery, long-term survival odds, treatment plans, etc. (while I am not that kind of doctor, I like to learn as much as possible when faced with the unknown, and I have a feeling this will come in handy in the near future). I need a break. I need…


It’s almost the start of the 2012 Formula 1 season, and its time to make sure copies of the regulations are ready to go for the first race (soon….so very soon). I had to hop over to The Site and grab this year’s technical and sporting regulations. Too bad that only took about five minutes.

(Ooh! They have an appendix to the technical regulations, too! Can’t forget that.)

A friend of mine was talking about blue towels, and it made me think of the blue canary in the outlet by the light switch (who watches over you) – and if you didn’t get that reference, I’m a little sad for you. Anyone who has lived without They Might Be Giants as part of their personal musical soundtrack is missing out a little, I think.

While I couldn’t find a good copy of “Birdhouse in Your Soul,” I was able to find “The Guitar,” which is both awesome and underappreciated.


You’re welcome.


Bad News

My family was given some potentially devastating news over the past week (nope, sorry, that’s all you’re going to get until something’s official) that’s caused me to ponder several things. How do people, in general, transmit bad news? Blurt it out to others, in the hope that it somehow dilutes the power of the message? Speak in hushed tones, in coded conversations, dancing around words that still can’t be said out loud? As if that somehow makes things more real┬áif spoken?

(Family dynamics and relationships also play into this, I think. Oh, yes.)

The other part of this is dissecting how people react to bad news. I’m sitting here, for example, writing a veiled post full of nothing instead of doing something productive. Coping mechanism? OF COURSE! I really just don’t feel like cleaning right now, which is Option Two. Option Three is knitting.

Then again, there’s always Option Four.