Blood is Not Always Thicker

On October 21, 1996, she was induced, but the pitocin didn't work. On the monitors, I watched as the baby inside her went under stress. The nurses rallied around her, quickly preparing her for emergency surgery. As they rolled her away on a gurney, I got dressed in scrubs and prepared for one of the significant events of my life.

As her best friend and labor coach, I hadn't planned for this. I had planned on doing the breathing exercises that we went to classes for together. But that wasn't to be.

The nurse that brought me into the OR schooled me as we walked together. In the operating room, the C section was under way when I entered. A sheet partition was hanging between her and her stomach so she couldn't see the operation, but she was awake. I sat on a stool by her head and talked with her while the doctors and nurses did their jobs. She was drugged up but conscious. The anesthesiologist asked her if she wanted to listen to some music. She answered "Sure." He rifled through the 6 CDs he had available and asked, "How about Abba?" The doctors and nurses all groaned, "No, not Abba". This was 1996. Abba had been popular in the late 70's to early 80's. They hadn't made a come back yet and this was before "Mamma Mia" the play or movie was even thought of. As everyone in the room voiced their opinions, a small voice came from the table that said, "I like Abba." The anesthesiologist said, "The patient wins. Abba it is" and put in the CD. Up to that point, I hadn't heard Abba in years.

As the doctors worked, I had to make a decision on whether I wanted to see the baby being born or not. I had never seen an operation before and was worried that I might pass out and thus be of no use after. But as I sat in the OR, before I could think about it, the doctor called out to me, "If you want to see the baby being born, you need to stand up and look right now." Thinking I may never get the opportunity again, I stood up quickly and peered around the sheet. Her stomach was clamped wide open. What appeared to be intestines were laying at her side. There was blood. Lots of blood. But within that gory mess of insides everywhere, the doctor reached his hands inside her stomach, enveloped a round ball and gently pulled up. It was the head which came out first, then the shoulders and before I knew it, he was holding a baby girl up in the air. I was asked if I wanted to cut the umbilical cord. To tell the truth, I can't remember if I did it or not. I think I did with the assistance of the nurse. A nurse grabbed the baby and suctioned its nose and wiped the blood away with towels. The baby started to scream, thus letting us all know she was alive. The mother lied there, still unaware that all of this was happening and still unable to see. The nurse swaddled the baby quickly. Everything was happening quickly. It seemed chaotic to me. Surreal that this was happening at all. Again, I hadn't planned for this. For 9 months she went through her pregnancy and I hadn't realized what this would all mean to me.

I watched as her stomach grew, and bought baby stuff, and picked out names. Maybe Ali? Maybe Kendra? Maybe Mia? Out of all the names in the baby books she read, those were the 3 names that she had narrowed it down to. The whole time, my stance was, you'll be doing this alone because I don't want kids. We were roommates and she took this on herself because she did want kids. Her biological clock began to tick away, and at age 39, she bit the bullet and said she wanted to have a baby; someone to take care of her when she got older. To me, this wasn't a good reason to have a child. But she was determined to go through with it anyway.

There I stood in the OR amazed that this was all coming through to fruition. I didn't feel like fainting. There was no time for that. Actually, I felt a spirituality come over me that I had never experienced before. A belief that there has to be a God, to grant women such a gift of being able to give life to another human being. The nurse who swaddled the baby, reached out and handed the baby to me. I held her in my arms for the first time and started to weep. Do you believe in love at first sight? I do. Now. Since that day. I fell in love with this thing in my arms that was blood covered, mixed with a layer of green gunk similar to what's inside lobsters, who looked like a little old man looking person, wrapped in a blanket. I fell in love as only a mother could do. Instantly, I knew my life would never be the same again.

She lied there on the OR table as the doctors and nurses worked to put all her pieces back together again. I sat next to her head and said, "Look, here's your daughter. Isn't she beautiful?" She looked and said nothing. I don't know if it was the drugs she was on or whether she just was expecting the baby to come out all clean, looking like a doll. All I know is she said nothing, while I sat there immediately smitten with this little life I held in my hands.

Sitting there, talking with the baby, all of a sudden I became aware and there it was. A sign from God. In the background, Abba was on, and still playing. As I stood there introducing mother to her daughter, I realized, "Oh my God, the song "Mamma Mia" is playing." In shock, I started to scream with delight that "Mamma Mia" was playing and for the mother to listen. I told her that this was a sign from God that "Mia" HAD to be her name. This was one of her choices. And so it was written. Mia Muscarella was born.

Due to having a C section, she was unable to do much but nurse the baby. She hadn't known how to diaper a baby or give a baby a bath. This was the first baby in her family; the first grandchild, and it had been 40 years since her mother had a newborn and she was basically of no use in the process. I had taken care of my niece when she was a baby so I knew how to do these things. I was experienced. (ha!) So I taught her how to do these things. How to dress her, how to feed her, how to wean her off nursing and move on to real foods. I taught her everything! I even had to sit on her one night to break the habit of her picking her up every time Mia uttered a sound in the middle of the night. Once I showed her that Mia could put herself back to sleep if she just gave her a chance to console herself, she was okay. But I had to prevent her from going into Mia's room to break the habit she was creating.

Speaking of Mia's room, my house was transformed into a playland for Mia. The formal dining room that I always wanted for the full set of dining room furniture that I had was all pushed aside to make that room into a play area for Mia and her plethora of toys. My yard was decorated with big hunks of plastic Little Tykes amusements for her. We set up changing tables on two levels of the house for convenience. Oh yes, my life had changed.

I potty trained Mia by offering her M & Ms as a reward. If I hadn't done that, she'd still be in diapers today (She's 13). I taught her how to walk and to talk. When she was 3 years old, she was telling me a story about the theater and pronounced it "see-ater". Upon disapproval from her mother, I corrected her. I worked with her to overcome the s/th sounds and she speaks beautifully today because I wouldn't let her form bad habits. Was it easy? No. But did I have the patience to guide her through it where her mother had not? Yes.

When it came time to pick out a pre-school for Mia, she went to the school that my niece had gone to. I drove her to school everyday and picked her up from school. I attended all her events at school; attended all her doctor appointments; tucked her into bed every night; I read books with her every night; we sang songs every night; we ate all 3 meals together every day; I took her on every trip I went on. She was not only my Goddaughter. But for all intents and purposes, she was like a daughter to me. There was never a time when Mia didn't come first in my life. And I know this sounds awful, and it's indescribable, but even after my own daughter was born, Mia still got more attention from me. It always seemed like she needed me more and I had to be there for her. To me, she was my first born.

I was also the disciplinarian in the house. At 2 years old, Mia's Pediatrician gave us a guideline on punishment that I never forgot. She said to only punish the child if she was going to hurt someone or hurt herself. I took that to heart. Mia's mother on the other hand, never heeded the advice. If Mia spilled milk, her mother would punish her. Irrational outbursts of "off with your head" moments for things the child did or didn't do that would drive me crazy. So I would step in and protect Mia from these unwarranted punishments. The punishments themselves were things that Mia's mother could never uphold. "That's it, you're not going to the party!" she'd say to the 4 year old standing in front of her dressed up for the birthday party she was supposed to go to. Five mintues later, they'd be in the car driving to the party. The threats went in one ear and out the other with Mia. It was non-effective. But I knew how to fit the punishment to equal the crime. Or at least I knew how to make an impact by taking something realistic away, and most importantly, I would stick to it. It was decided somehow that it would be left up to me to administer punishments, since I understood the concept of NOT punishing the children for every little mistake they made. So I was the bad guy; the disciplinarian. But I always told them I loved them after and hugged them so they knew that making mistakes was okay.

In 2008, for reasons I will not get into here, it became obvious that Mia and her mother had to move out of my house. The friendship had deteriorated and no mending was possible. Let me rephrase the previous sentence. Mia didn't have to go anywhere. She could have stayed and if I had had my way, she would have. But that wasn't going to happen. They moved out and I think Rachel and I suffered the most, left in the house with all the memories. Mia was 10 and Rachel was 6. Mia always said that all she wanted to do was come home and have it be the way it used to be. But the adults surrounding her could never go backward.

For the next two years, we carried out the traditions of having Mia over at our house for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Years Eve with us. We were a family and just because they had moved out didn't change that. However, over the last year, Mia became a teenager. Thirteen. And the only way I can sum this up is, her mother didn't know how to raise a baby, toddler, pre-schooler, pre-teen, MUCH LESS a teenager so things got even more complicated. Coupled with her mother meeting someone and having that person move in with her (That person will remain nameless because they don't deserve to be mentioned in my blog) who didn't/doesn't like Rachel and I. So EVERYTHING CHANGED! Rachel and I were ostracized from Mia's activities and her life. Mia was being brain-washed into thinking that we were bad people. And since she had to live in the same house with the people who were turning her against us, she succumbed to the pressure and started to ignore us.

I ran into Mia at the NFA Art school (which Mia and Rachel both attended. I had sent her mother the brochure and told her to sign Mia up because she likes art. Even though we didn't live together and none of us were talking, I still had Mia's best interests in mind when these opportunities arose.) I was walking down the stairs and Mia was walking up. She was going to walk right past me without saying hello. I stopped her and said, "Hey, you can't say hello?" Very seriously she said, "I can't. My mom will punish me if I talk to you." I'm not sure what emotion came first. Anger? Disbelief? Sadness? Rage? Dumbfoundedness over the absolute stupidity of her mother? I don't know. But I held it together for the moment, long enough to utter the words, "I understand, Mia. Some day when you get older, I hope you'll come to realize how wrong that is." I walked outside and cried. After that, I was constantly conflicted upon talking to Mia because if she did talk to me, she would get punished. She feared the people she lived with and I didn't want to make her home life any worse than it already was.

To make matters worse, as she descended down the stairs that day, she called back to me, in a you're not going to believe this way, and said, "And you know what Sha? I spilled milk on my Mom's kitchen chair and she grounded me for a week." I almost lost my mind. Partly because I couldn't protect Mia from the insanity anymore because I didn't live with her. And mostly because I couldn't believe, or for years didn't want to believe, that the woman who I had considered my best friend for so long could be so stupid.

I had taken care of this person for 13 years who was now standing in front of me telling me she could no longer talk to me. And for what? Because someone's significant other doesn't like me? Because they were jealous of me? Because I had a better relationship with Mia than they did? Hurt the child to get at me? (And now you know why she had to move out, due to ignorant decisions like these that would drive me crazy!)

Not only was I hurting over all of this, but on top of it all, there was never any consideration to Rachel's feelings. Rachel had lost a person that was like a sister to her. They had lived together for 6 years and had a bond. They shared a room together. They went on trips together and were buddies. But because it was always all about Mia, Rachel's feeling were never considered by anyone but me. The moving out was hard on everyone. But the stopping all communication after was unwarranted and devastating to both of us.

For the last year, the traditions stopped all together. Long story, but Mia never came to my house again after telling me on Christmas Eve 2008 that she wanted to spend her Christmas Day at home, meaning her new home. We were crushed. And her mother did nothing to help the situation. Again, no consideration to how Rachel would feel on Christmas morning going downstairs to see if Santa came - alone for the first time without Mia by her side. No consideration to anyone else, except themselves. The word "hurt" doesn't quite cover it. So after that, there was a silent war going on. Mia didn't understand how she hurt us, and I never got the opportunity to explain it to her. And her mother didn't care if she hurt us. So I knew Mia had learned nothing from it.

Through the last year, Mia and I had run into each other and were slowly working our way back to communication. Mia and Rachel go to the same school. So for the last year, I would get to see Mia, little glimpses at a time; quick little blurts of what was going on in her life. "Hi Sha, (that's what she called me. And she's the only one that ever called me that and that's how I want it to stay. I'm her Sha and nobody else's. She came up with it one day and I loved her little voice calling me that.) "Hi Sha. I got my period 2 months ago." "Hi Sha, I went to the movies with my first boyfriend." "Hi Sha, I danced with Aidan last night." (I taught her how to slow dance and didn't get the benefit of watching her carry it out with a boy. The knife in my heart twists.) These quick little casual blurts, milestones in Mia's life, that I was missing out on. It was all so hurtful to me in a way I can not describe.

As an adult, it was a quandary for me. I didn't want her mother freaking out on her for talking to me, but I missed her terribly and had to talk to her. I missed laying on the bed together, telling each other what happened in the day. I missed her running up to me and giving me a big hug. I missed all the major events in her life like boys, dating, blossoming into a young woman. And more than that, I knew her 8th grade year would be coming to an end and then I didn't know when I would ever see her again.

Flash forward to this week. June 21, 2010. 8th grade graduation at school. Do I go or don't I? I had made her a DVD of all little clips of times we spent together so she could look back on it one day, or if she ever missed us, she would have it to look at. I wrote on it, "Don't forget us." I cried the whole time making it. Watching the clips of me teaching both my children how to ride bikes; watching performances that they would put on for us, singing and dancing; all of Mia's "firsts". It was emotional torment but I had to do it. She needed something she could watch to help her remember how important we were in her life, and how important she was in ours. When her mother talked bad about me/us, she could have the video and maybe someday she could make up her own mind on what is the truth.

I decided I should go to the graduation because she will only graduate once and some day this might be all over and I want to be able to say that I was there for her. I cried through all of the graduation. At the end, I wanted to give her her present. She looked like a battered wife, flinching as I approached, putting on a show for her mother so her mother wouldn't think she wanted to talk to me. (Little did her mother know that prior to the graduation, I had to get there early to set up the sound system for Rachel's hearing equipment and Mia came right over to me. We talked and agreed that she couldn't come over to me after the event in fear of what her mother would do. I agreed that I would approach her, this way her mother couldn't get mad at her. Eff'd up, right? But I would do anything to be able to communicate with her. Even if it meant being sneaky. And if this is what she had to do to be able to talk to me, then I was going to do it.)

After graduation, I went home, and just to torture myself more, I watched a copy of the video I had made her and wondered the whole time if she would love it or throw it in the trash because it wasn't a cell phone or some other material present that a teenager would rather have. When we handed it to her, she started to cry when she looked at it. So I know deep inside her, she is still the little girl who loved me more than anyone else in the world. (Including her own mother - and that's possibly where the resentment started and the separation from me started on the part of her mother.)

The day after graduation was the last day of school. I believe I almost had a nervous breakdown that day. I knew that this was the last day that I might see Mia ever and I didn't know what to do. I walked Rachel into school. As we were walking, Rachel asked me, "Mom, do you think that when Mia gets her driver's license in 3 years, that she'll come visit us?" I answered, "I don't know Rach. But that's a great question for her." So we paid Mia one last visit in her classroom. Rachel asked her the question and Mia responded that she didn't want to get her license at 16 because she was afraid of teenager driving accidents. (Someone had obviously instilled fear into her. What else is new? Instilling fear was a regular occurrence.) The three of us talked for about 15 minutes and I cried the entire time. My baby girl was going away and I had so much more to teach her; so much more to guide her through; so much I would miss of her life and she would miss of ours. It is possible that one of us might die before speaking again. And I knew I would never be there to see the rest of her milestones in her life. We wouldn't be invited to her wedding. And worse yet, could my heart handle the short, brief visits that might happen if we ran into each other in the mall?

I told her that I missed her and that I loved her. Rachel, my profound daughter, wise beyond her years, said to her, "Mia, watch the video and you'll figure this all out."

When I walked away from her, I was absolutely heartbroken, as if she had died. My heart felt like it was beating out of my chest. We were at school and I knew I had to keep it somewhat together as to not cause a scene. But I couldn't breathe. There was no air. And tears were streaming down my face. I walked Rachel back to her classroom. I was a wreck. People were passing by me, looking at me, wondering what was wrong with me. They probably thought I was upset over it being the last day of school. Listen people, I don't need to run to the safety of a bathroom, so that I can catch my breath because I'm so upset over the last day of school! No, it was because I had just kissed one of the most profound, deepest, loves of my life goodbye.

I wondered to myself, how do people that lose their children deal with the pain of it. As much as I was losing the ability to talk to Mia and to see her, she hadn't died. But it sure felt like she had.

I also found it amazing that under such duress, how very few people stopped me to see what was wrong. Those that did put their arm around me or offered me words of support as I rushed past them to get to the safe haven of the bathroom, I truly appreciate your kindness. I just couldn't talk.

I pulled myself together in the girls' bathroom and prayed nobody came in. I left the school and went to work. There, I found the support and comfort of a co-worker who had lived the joys and hurtfulness of raising someone else's child. She had raised her brother's child and could relate to everything I was crying about. She knew the heartbreak of caring for a child, just to have that child turn on her without merit; she knew the rollercoaster ride of them coming in and out of her life, leaving her upset when they went; she knew the anger that comes along with the unfairness of it all, the lack of appreciation for everything that she did for that child; the having to sit back and watch as the child strives to gain the love of the parent that treated her badly, and not care about the one that gave her their heart and soul when they didn't have to. It felt like she was the only one in the world who could understand all these feelings I was going through. Thank God for this co-worker/friend because I truly believe she lifted me out of the depths of despair that day. No small task.

Those of you with kids, you can't relate because they are your kids. And most of the time, even when parents get divorced, they get visitation. I left Mia on the last day of school not knowing when I would ever see her again. Look at your children and see if you could face never seeing them again at the age of 13. Not easy! When children go off to college, usually parents are somewhat seasoned for it by going through the teenage years which prepares everyone for the separation. In my case, this was a premature separation but there was nothing I could do about it.

My Kaneclusion: I raised a child, who I considered to be my own flesh and blood, and then had to give her up and let her go. I realized that I could never be a foster parent even though the thought had crossed my mind over the years. I can't love a child then have to give it up. Not again. My heart can't take another loss like that. And maybe my time with Mia is over, but maybe just for now. Maybe someday, our paths will cross again, and she'll realize just how much we meant to her and what we did for her. It shouldn't have been a choice she had to make. She shouldn't have been forced to choose between the adults in her life, but rather she should have been taught that she has enough love in her to go around to everyone that was in her life. But that's what happens when adults don't agree on what is right and what is wrong. At the very least, I hope she carries the lessons that we taught her through her life.

Thank you, Sheila, for being there and making me laugh over the whole ordeal. Who knew coconut was the cure! :-) And I'm working on those t-shirts - "Everything would be fine if I could just hold on to my anger."

Mia opening the graduation card Rachel made for her.

Mia and I prior to Graduation.

Darn Southerners

Hello. You may not know me, but my name is Gloria's Sister. Yes, that is what I am called when I'm around my cousins from Virginia who were in the area this week for a funeral. I don't know why I'm referred to as "Gloria's Sister". I can't decide whether my cousins can't remember my name or if they truly just believe that they are cousins with my sister only and not me. I'm thinking of having a button made up that reads "Gloria's Sister" and wearing it on our next visit. But anyway, Sharon's sister and I (yeah, it doesn't quite work when I do it) went to my cousins' uncle's funeral (no relation to us) and then after, met up with my cousins Tom and Michael Kane for dinner and drinks at the Norwich Marina. I won't say how long it's been since I saw Tom because that would give my age away. I saw Mike at my Uncle Archie's funeral approximately 10 years ago.

To describe Tom. Hmm. What can I say. I have to be nice because, periodically, he reads my blog. Hmm. Tom is older than me. Much, much older than me. Matter of fact, I think he's old enough to be my father. Okay, maybe not that old. He's actually turned out to be a very nice man. And funny too. Upon looking at the menus, Mike, Tom's brother, announced that he was paying, so order anything we wanted. Tom, without skipping a beat, closed his menu and said, "Then in that case, I'll have page 2." (The entire entree page.) Right then, I knew I had found a kindred spirit in my family.

Mike is my Italian cousin. My uncle married my Aunt Gerry whose maiden name is Quintiliani. (Note: My Uncle Tom married my Aunt Gerry. They were Tom and Gerry. Ha!) Anyway, Mike was the cousin that got the Italian looks. Dark skin, dark wavy hair, Gepetto mustache, and to boot, he's part of the Carpenter's Union. (Sure Mike! Are you sure it's not the Teamsters Union?)

Cousins make great friends because they know where you came from. They typically know how you were raised. They know all your relatives and need no introductions. (Although my cousin Tom had to tell his 80 year old mother, my Aunt Gerry, who I hadn't seen in 30 years, who I was. After 5 minutes of catching up with her, she grabbed her son Tom's arm and said, "Tom, this is your cousin Sharon". "I know Mom. I just told YOU that."). Anyway, it's fun to reminisce about the olden days with folks that were part of it. It's funny what you remember of them. Mike kept telling me that I was a shy little girl and that's what he remembered of me. Can you imagine that? Neither can I.

It's funny how their faces are the same, just with more character. I found myself searching for their parents' faces in theirs. Tom looks like my Uncle Tom. Mike looks like some character from the Sopranos. But as soon as he speaks, that all goes away. When we were kids, my cousins from Virginia only came up to Connecticut once a year to visit. It was always in the summer and there was always a cookout at one of the Aunt's/Uncle's house to commemorate them being in town. It was usually at my Aunt Mary's house because she had a pool. Back then, that was a big deal. I can still smell the aroma of lighter fluid and burning charcoal in the grill. I don't think gas grills had been invented yet. To me, there's nothing like regular old chicken legs, basted with butter, on the grill, with baked potatoes wrapped in tin foil, cooking directly on the hot coals, turning a golden brown that only direct heat can cause, that just screams summer and brings me back to my childhood and those days.

The cousins that came from Virginia didn't know us all that well and vice versa. What I remember most about them was they had to address their parents as ma'am and sir. "Would you like a hot dog?" The cute little kids would reply, "yes, Ma'am", in their southern drawls. They were cute with their military "yes, sirs". But let's face it, they talked funny. (But we liked 'em anyway.) They say, of course, that we were the ones that had an accent. But we all know the truth. We speak perfectly fine here in Norwidge. By fa. And we don't make words last longer than they have to or add syllables to one syllable words. "Whaaaale, I reckon I should just mosey on o'er tha-air for a spay-ill." Truth be told, I couldn't understand 'em as kids and I still didn't know what the hell they were talking about last night. But as long as they keep buying, I'll keep nodding politely as if I do. Don't matter. Won't see 'em again for another 10 years. (Unfortunately, and sadly, that's probably true.)

I noticed when chatting with these folks that, in my family, we don't brag about our accomplishments, or try to outdo each other with who has the biggest house, the most money, the fanciest cars. No, in my family, the true competition lies in who has committed the worst crime. Mike claimed to be the first "bad boy" in the family, telling us tales of his juvenile delinquent antics. I promised not to divulge these types of personal things like what he did in my blog. I stand true to my word. (Call me. I'll tell you everything!) To figure out who was second place in the line up of disappointments to our parents, we had to turn to other cousins who were not there to defend themselves. They couldn't embellish their younger day mishaps. All I know is I wasn't even in the running, having never been arrested. Always left out of everything!

My Aunt Mary and Uncle Tom were twins. We asked Mike when my Uncle Tom's birthday was (his father). Trying to use some calculation that would help him figure it out, he said, "Well, let's see, Aunt Mary's birthday was in May and I think my father's birthday came sometime after that." Me: "Um, Mike, they were twins...they'd have the same birthday". “Oh, yeah...Right." I didn't say my Virginian Cousins were bright. I said they were cute.

Oh, I guess us Connecticut Kane's our flawed too. Well, at least my sister is. Ha! Count 'em with me people. Not once, not twice, but three times my sister knocked over her full glass of wine. At one point, I told the waiter to just pour her wine on the table and give her a straw. You might consider her unlucky (or clumsy!) that this kept happening. But I would disagree. The wine spilled on my cousin Tom's camera but it was in its case, protected. Lucky! It spilled on my Blackberry but my phone was keyboard-side up, so the only thing that got wet was the camera part of the phone. Let me tell you, she's VERY lucky that it didn't spill on the keyboard! And unlike me, she was 3 glasses shy of alcohol poisoning. Lucky, indeed. She was also lucky that she didn't have to drive. Her husband Chuck wasn't drinking. Oh, except for the 6 shots of tequila he did. But those didn't count because he was drinking soda.

I don't know when the bill got paid or how much it was. We were there for 7 hours so it must have been close to 4 digits. I don't remember if I contributed or not. I'm fairly certain I didn't. But I had earned my keep by making the decision to go to the marina that evening. That was a hard decision to make and my payment was in sweat equity. But it turned out to be a great place to go. It was a beautiful night at the Marina. Warm, no mosquitos, and they had a band there that granted us the opportunity to play name that tune. This provided the perfect opportunity to make asses of ourselves. The lead singer challenged the audience, "The first person who can name the next song, scream out the answer, and if you get it right, you can buy me a drink." Well, of course, my sister and I took on the challenge and yelled out the answer. Did we end up buying him a drink? Probably.
Seriously now, I want to say thank you to whoever picked up the check. I think it was Mike. If so, Mike, McDonald's is on me next time you're in the area. LMK. (Now, we covered this several times during that evening. Do you think the rebellious, I'm-not-into-technology-and-refuse-to-give-into-it-but-will-text-if-I-need-to (Gloria and Mike) will remember what LMK stands for? And no, it doesn't mean "Like Michael Kane"! They're probably scratching their heads right now saying, "Now what did that stand for?" Oh no they won't. They don't use computers so there's no way they can read this blog. Unless, of course, someone prints it out and sends it to them via pony express.)

Anyway, I tease, but it was a fun night. As cousins, none of us really look alike (see pictures below), and we all have different tastes, and viewpoints, and have very little in common with each other EXCEPT for one thing. We all have been granted a great sense of humor. It was a laugh a minute and my sides ached the next day from laughing so hard. Hope to do it again soon.

Gloria's Sister

P.S. LMK = Let Me Know. Both my sister and cousin Mike tried to correct me by saying it should be LM*N*, not K. Yeah, Mike is Gloria's cousin alright, not mine. These are the same two people who had to discuss twice that when texting, Mike wanted Gloria to know in advance that if he ever types the letter "k" to her, this meant okay. As if this needed explanation. Not once, but twice we had to review it. And Gloria had to explain back, twice, that she types "ok" and that means okay. Lord, it must be tough to get old like them. Anyway, I'm Tom's cousin because not only does he remember my name, but we both know how to spell 'know'.

From L to R: Tom Kane, Gerry Quintiliani Kane, Mike Guido Kane

From L to R: Tom Kane, Chucky Daddy Butkiewicz, Sharon's Sister (Ha!), Nancy, Mike, and yours truly.

In a Fix

I haven't written in a while because I've been busy. This past week, Dianne went in the hospital to have a radical hysterectomy. She was supposed to be in the hospital for 3 days. I had planned on taking some time off of work to help her through the rough time of recuperating. Knowing I was going to be home, I planned for Swiffur, the ever-increasingly destructive cat, to be neutered and declawed that same week. I wasn't sure I wanted him neutered or declawed. But an old friend gave me a talking to, and insisted that I get it done. She referred to him as a teenage boy whose goal was to destroy my furniture and he must be stopped. Or at least that's what I heard her say. I wasn't sure if I wanted to stud him out or not. He's so beautiful to look at and would have beautiful kittens. But I guess the thought of him spraying all over the house brought me to the conclusion that indeed I did not want him to mate. And ripping his claws out seemed so inhumane that I was undecided about that too. But after talking with the vet, she made me feel okay with it. She described the procedure and how they used to do it, and it seemed less cruel than in years past when they would declaw by guillotining the first knuckle of each toe. Seemed barbaric to me. But after talking with the vet, she said that the way she did it was more of a surgical procedure, using a scalpel, etc. So I decided to go forward. This way, if I was going to be home taking care of one patient, I could take care of the other as well. Or at the very least, they could commiserate and help keep each other company while working their way back to health.

Dianne's surgery went well, but her hospital stay didn't turn out to be 3 days, but rather 7 days. Swiffur's surgery was already booked so I went forward with getting that done, but it wasn't as convenient as I had originally planned. But all went well.

At some point during the week, it became painfully obvious to me that everyone around me had gotten "fixed". Now, this may seem funny to some, but there are definite drawbacks to this.

If you have kids, or maybe you remember doing this as a kid,
do you remember Venn diagrams? A Venn diagram is taking two circles that intersect. You take a subject matter and write all the commonalities of that subject in the middle where the 2 circles overlap. Then you write in the outer parts of the circles the things that are not in common. I would like to do this exercise here. This is what would be in my Venn diagram:

The Subject Matter: Taking Care of the Fixed

Things in Common Between Dianne and Swiffur This Week:

They both needed to be transported to and from the hospital at unreasonable hours. Dianne had to be at her surgery in Hartford for 5:50 a.m., which meant we had to leave at 4:50 a.m., which meant we had to get up at 3:50 a.m. Absurd! Later in the week I had to drop Swiffur off at 8:00 in Norwich, which normally would have been fine, but being exhausted from the rest of the week of going to work, dropping Rachel off at school, driving back and forth to Hartford to see Dianne, 8:00 may have well have been 3:00. (Side note - How does one get their friend to the hospital in Hartford for 5:50 in the morning and get their daughter to school by 8:00? Good friends who are willing to help out at the very last minute, that's how! I was definitely in a fix. So a big shout out to the Geragotelis/Carty Family for stepping up when I needed them. You guys rock!)

Both Dianne and Swiffur had surgery preventing them from pro-creating. And both seem to be okay with that. Although, last night Swiffur got right in my face and meowed and I swear he said, "whyyy?...WHYYYYY?". I did the only thing that a good pet owner COULD do. I rolled over and pretended to be asleep.

Both patients are walking funny, post-surgery. (You would too if you had your nuts clipped away! Poor Dianne. LOL!)

They both were given drugs for pain...not necessarily to ease their pain, but rather mine.

Both sleep a lot. What's cute is when they fall asleep together, next to each other. Priceless. That is, until Swiffur wakes up and decides to walk over Dianne's stomach to get off the bed. Not so cute then.

Neither of them got stitches. With Dianne's surgery, they used glue to hold her together. (Side note- Are cat whisker stitches a thing of the past? How will we determine how severe a cut is now? "Man, I had to get 32 stitches". All sympathy was based on that number. What will it be in the future? "Man, they had to use 3 droplets of super glue." Doesn't have the same impact, does it? No more having to go back to the doctor to have your stitches removed. So much for suture scissor companies. If doctors make a mistake, will they be using Gumout? Anyway, someone must have thought it was unsanitary to use some other cat's whiskers to stitch up another cat's ball sack. Actually, as it turns out, they don't need stitches for that procedure. As the vet surgeon assistant explained, "We made a little slit, pushed his testicles out, snipped the veins, then hold the sack together at the slit for a few minutes and it just sticks together." No stitches. No glue. For $430, I could have done that!)

Back to the list.

Both have that same look of determination on their faces when having to go to the bathroom. The "I don't know if I can do this" look.

Both the Hartford Hospital and the All Friends Animal Hospital had others that had less than happy results with their experiences. On the floor that Dianne was on, all the patients were women who were either having the same surgery as Dianne, or had difficult, problematic pregnancies. Upon one visit, I passed by a family who was wheel chairing a woman in her 30's out of the hospital. She was crying. Her family members trailed along side and behind her, crying as well. Her husband, I presumed, was carrying the baskets of flowers that people had sent to her, all with well wishes. But seeing this family, I knew the well wishes had not come true for them. I found myself tearing up for whatever their misfortune may have been. Not everyone that comes out of the hospital is better than when they went in. My guess was that she either lost the baby or was diagnosed with cancer. Either way, they were devastated. With Swiffur, upon leaving the vet's office after his surgery, they had forgotten to give me the Yesterday's News Kitty litter that I was supposed to use so his paws didn't get infected. I had driven down the street and remembered I hadn't received it. I turned the car around and went back in to get it, telling Rachel to stay in the car with Swiffur. When I went back inside the office, there was a family of three, sitting in the waiting room, petting a cat inside a pet carrier. The cat had a towel on it and was very still. The young girl, I would guess she was about 14, was sobbing. The girl's mother was wiping tears away from her own face while petting the still kitty. The father held the cat carrier and looked like someone had punched him in the stomach. It was obvious that their cat hadn't made it. It was remarkable to me that the vet's office did not give these people a room to grieve in. Although, seeing this, made me appreciate that my Swiffur was alive and made it through the surgery.

Although I joke around to make light of things, I am truly blessed that the outcomes of both these events were not the same as these poor people that brushed my path ever so quickly, but their presence was enough to reinforce the point, never take anything for granted because it can be taken away.

Okay, those were the things that they had in common. Now for the things that were different.

The Outer Circles of the Venn Diagram - Things NOT in common:

Swiffur had surgery to remove 2 grape-sized organs; Dianne had a tumor removed the size of a grapefruit.

Swiffur had to wear the "cone of shame" (from the movie "Up") so he didn't try to lick his incisions; Dianne had no stitches (glue) and does not have the flexibility or bendiness to lick her incision. (Although under the influence of percocet, I think she believes she can do anything, even that. If I catch her doing it, I WILL put that cone of shame on her!)

Removing Swiffur's manliness, he has become much more calm and loving now; Undergoing a radical hysterectomy put Dianne into instant menopause. So calm and loving? Um, not so much.

Swiffur had his front claws physically removed; Seems Dianne's proverbial "claws" got sharper. (How long does menopause last? Is it the same as PMSing? Like a week, max? Right?)

Swiffur couldn't care less what the temperature of the room is; Dianne is constantly cold or hot, and there seems that there is no in between. I stopped trying to accommodate her 3 days ago. Useless to try. That may seem slightly cold or uncaring, but in all honesty, there is nothing I can do for her. Shutting up is my best course of action at this point. Which, if you know me, is an act of kindness on my part.

One of them had their butt shaved. I'll leave it to you to decide which one.

Swiffur is content eating his Iams dry cat food every day; Dianne has special requirements to facilitate nature's course. Like a pregnant woman with cravings, she beckons from a reclining position, "I need ice cream, but it needs to be chilled to 17.5 degrees Fahrenheit, must have 1" size uncooked cookie batter in it, with 10 choc chips. Not 9, not 11, but 10". OK. Got it.

Swiffur is very happy when I give him a Pounce treat. He even purrs and climbs up my leg to get it, rubbing himself against my leg for more; I brought ice cream to Dianne while she was in the hospital for a treat. She immediately cast it aside with all the other Saltine packages, fruit cups, and unopened tea bags, on the hospital tray, that were banished to the land of misfit foods that wouldn't be consumed. Or at least until she was ready...which was 5 minutes later. But it had to be on her terms. (Say a prayer for me, will you!)

Swiffur, at 8:00 a.m., needs an oral injection of pain meds. Thank God it didn't come in pill form. Ever try to get a cat to take a pill? Not easy. Thankfully, they gave me his medicine all measured out, in syringes and I just needed to put him on my lap, open his mouth and spray the liquid into his mouth. No worry of taking it on an empty stomach or any post nausea. Piece of cake. Dianne, on the other hand, "I need graham crackers now to take my pill...I need cranberry juice to take my pill...I need ice cream so I can take my pill." See the trend.

Remember the aforementioned "I don't know if I can do this" look regarding intestinal movement? Well, when Dianne "performs" or "produces", there are news flashes that go out all over North America (her peeps live in Canada). There is cheering that can be heard across the continent. Confetti falls from the bathroom ceiling and "She's a Jolly Good Fellow" plays in the background. When Swiffur accomplishes his goal, he pretty much just shoves a few Yesterday's News kitty litter pellets around the litter pan and walks away without any fanfare. Sometimes it's not fair to be a cat. But I do tell him he's a good boy, to encourage him to keep up the good work. Which is something that Dianne does NOT get from me.


My Kaneclusion: I joke about all this now, but for the last few weeks I have been on a roller coaster of emotions about it all. I am happy to report that in Dianne's case, the pathology results came back negative and she does not have cancer. (Insert some celebratory Hoorays here.) I welcome the day that we can go back to laughing and she doesn't have to double over in pain, yelling at me not to make her laugh. Something I'm not good at curbing. And Swiffur is out of pain meds so he's gingerly walking about, trying to adapt to jumping up on things and sliding off like Teflon. I have managed to keep them both alive for the last week, and considering I can't keep tomato plants from dying, I think this is a major accomplishment.

Here are some pictures of the patients:

Swiffur, wearing the Cone of shame

Dianne, sitting back having a drink and toking on a bong.

Me, taking care of the patients...

(Nurse Diesel from the movie "High Anxiety" played by Cloris Leachman.)

P.S. I used poetic license when writing this article. Dianne doesn't really have her claws out and has been very nice through this event. "Ok, Dianne, NOW will you put the gun down?" Ha! KIDDING!