The greatest love of all

As we were walking to Ward C (oncology) today to have Boeta’s Broviac flushed my heart just exploded in my chest.  With love, sadness, everything at once.

Boeta and Carien were running ahead and as they approached the end of the main corridor and had to turn left to ward D or right to ward C someone walked up to them from behind.  Boeta didn’t even bother looking around.  Carien on the other hand swung around, spread her arms wide and kept herself between the visitor and her big brother.  She inflated herself like a startled cat and hissed “Los uit my Boeta.  Boeta pypie afbjeek.”  (Leave my Boeta alone.  Boeta’s little pipe will break off.”) 

I’ve always taken my children’s love for each other for granted.  Given the choice of being together or apart they will always choose to be together.  The surest way to stop them fighting is by scolding one of them.  Even while I am busy telling one off the other will give me the evil eye and run over to side with the enemy of 2 seconds ago.  Wouter and I haven’t spent a night in the same bed in a long, long time.  Boeta and Carien have started insisting on falling asleep in our bed and it didn’t take long for us to realise that they both sleep a lot better that way.  Where they would both wake up at least once during the night in their own beds, they sleep right through in ours.  Throughout the night they reach for each other and sleep like logs with their bodyparts thrown over each other.  Carien is particularly fond of flinging her legs on to anyone and everyone near her.  Very early this morning Wouter woke me up to have a look at them.  Boeta was lying with his head on the pillow, cuddling Carien’s feet which were also on the pillow…  And with them cuddling each other’s feet they had no duvet covering them.  So they were cold and cuddled even more.  I am planning to move both their beds into one room and using the other room as a play room.  Since they prefer sleeping together I may as well get them out of our bed and into their own.

Of course, being typical children, they also try to lovingly rip each other to bits every now and again (OK, a bit more often than that).  Boeta teases Carien mercilessly and she doesn’t take it well.  Carien on the other hand has no concept of “my stuff, your stuff”.  In her frame of reference everything is her stuff.  So she appropriates whatever she likes whenever she likes and heaven help anyone who tries to tell her that she can’t have it.  It is an interesting life trying to mediate.

The reason why I bring this topic up at all is that I spoke to Annelize, the occupational therapist / play therapist yesterday and she mentioned how rare it is for siblings to really truely love, or even like, each other in the cancer world.  There are so many possible issues. 

The healthy child becomes resentful because the sick one gets more attention, time, gifts.  And depending on the cancer, the healthy ones may be required to be stuck full of needles too to donate blood or bone marrow or some other piece of their bodies to the sick one.

The sick child becomes resentful because the healthy one has it so easy and can continue with his/her life like normal.

And whether the issues are real or perceived, the impact on the relationship between the siblings is huge.

Once again I am struck by how immensely, indescribably, wonderfully blessed we are.  Why didn’t our children go down that road?  Carien has so much reason to dislike Boeta.  Because of him I was away from her so much.  Because of him she even now gets ignored by many people who greet him, talk to him, engage him but don’t bother talking to her – she is the healthy one after all.  Because of him they spent the last year and a half mostly indoors and cut off from the outside world.  Every day her nose gets rubbed in the fact that Boeta is still “special” because he has the Broviac that needs to be protected. 

But instead of becoming resentful she has become the ultimate little mother hen.  Last week she was already in the bath while Wouter was still herding Boeta closer.  Very earnestly she told Wouter:  “Ekke nie Boeta se pypie natspat nie” (I won’t splash Boeta’s little pipe).  She is 2 years old…

 If possible, Carien is even more attached to Boeta’s Broviac that he is.  And let’s face it, Boeta and his Broviac are as close as one can be to something that is surgically implanted into your body.  With the removal of the Broviac looming we have to get both of them emotionally ready to let go of it.  And I suspect Carien is going to take it even harder than Boeta.

But they will survive.  They will see each other through.

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To everyone worried about my going to jail

Following my previous post I’ve received numerous queries. 

The most asked question:  Is Wouter still alive?

A:  He is.  And he is enjoying his notoriety way too much to my liking.

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Q:  Do you realise you will go to jail if you murder your husband?

A:  See, that is the beauty of it.  He is obviously suicidal, judging by the way he courts disaster.  So it wouldn’t be murder, it would be assisted suicide.  Much lighter on the sentencing side.

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Q:  Are you guys OK?  Don’t you need to see a councelor or something?

A:  Are you kidding me?  Of course we are fine.  He made tea afterwards after all.  I can forgive a lot of things if you give me tea.   And I packed biltong and nuts and other lekker stuff for him for work the next day.  So he is happy, I am happy and anyway, he may be a pain in the butt but he is my pain in the butt. And I am his.  We are so well suited!  😀

Do you know my husband?

Do you like him? 

In that case I would recommend you phone him right now and say goodbye to him. 

I am >this< close to murdering him.  I want to kill him, annihilate him, grind his bones to nothing and then stamp on any remains.  Actually that isn’t what I want to do.  Doing all of that will mean that I have to spend more time near him.  I think shoving him in front of a moving truck may be better.

The one thing that Wouter and I realised very early in our relationship is that we can not share a computer.  Under no circumstances.  So what do I do?  I stay away from his computer.

What does he do?  He starts off by running through my internet quota in a flash by looking at 70 houses-for-sale every evening.  I have 2Gb of 3G monthly for R450.  After that I go into out-of-bundle rates and those are horribly expensive.  Soon after I got this, my own computer, I ran up an account of R2500 because Windows 7 downloaded updates all the time.  So I stopped the updates and voila, it was sorted.  At least until Wouter got this bug in his ars behind to know of every single bloody house that comes on the market in the whole of bloody Cape Town.  To the best of my knowledge we can’t afford to buy a new house.  But does that bother Wouter when he goes on a wishing spree?  No, not him. 

The same way that he now has 3 / three / III (one less than 4) freaking keyboards.  He had one.  It got old.  He got a new one.  Is he satisfied?  NO.  So he goes and buys another one.  Does he sell one of them?  NO.  Why?  WTFK.  So now half of our supposed dining room (which he invaded and called his office for some time but he hasn’t worked from home for 2 years and he still hasn’t vacated or sorted it out) is his “music studio”.  What does that mean in real terms?  Simple.  I have no space for my stuff.  Nothing.  He has half the dining room for his “studio” and half for his office crap.  Of course he denies this and says that my stuff is clogging it up.  Uh huh.  I am the one trying to sort it out – I will know what is where.

Back to my computer.  When I am the only one using my computer I stay within my monthly bandwidth cap.  As soon as Wouter get his filthy claws on my computer I magically run through my cap by the middle of the month.  Co-incidence?  Absolutely, according to my dearest, soon-to-be-deceased husband.  After all, how could dozens of image heavy sites use up a lot of bandwidth?  He doesn’t appreciate it at all when I confront him after a spree and tell him how much bandwidth he used.  He prefers to blame it on the computer malfunctioning or some such lame excuse.

Tonight I saw him working on my computer (as I was lying down on the couch trying to get my head to stop spinning) but I am used to it by now and after all, the internet costs come off his account (not that it really makes a difference – we don’t do the mine/yours thing with money).  I have to lodge token protests.  It is my responsibility.  But I can sort of forgive him for being reckless with internet use – it is his one indulgence (except for his three mistresses, Miss Technics, Miss Yamaha and Miss Korg).

What I can’t forgive is what he did next.  In an attempt to hide what he did (ie he looked at houses) he Wiped My Computer’s History. 

 Does he think I am an idiot?  How could I not notice that he did this?  And how stupid does he think I am – did he really think that I didn’t know he was checking out houses?  It is all he ever does on my computer.

This is too much. 

I use the history.  If I wanted to retype the address of every site I wanted to go to I would’ve.  But I don’t.  I want to click on my history folder and go to the sites that I went to previously.  I want to keep up to date on certain things by going to the history tab and looking for it there, based on how long ago I last visited it.  I don’t want to add it to favourites because then I don’t have a record of how long ago I visited the site.  It may not be the mainstream way of doing it but it is my way and I like it.

And let’s not forget, in the process he somehow managed to turn off Google’s autofill.  So now, instead of starting to type “krok” and Google guesses that I want to go to krokkenoster, I have to type out the whole of my request.  I.  Don’t.  Want.  To.  Do.  It.  That.  Way.  But according to Google that function isn’t turned off.  So while wiping my history file Wouter changed another setting too and now I am so mad I could kill.

Some of the sites in my history file takes 100’s of clicks to get to (or so it feels anyway).  Clicking on the eventual page means that I don’t have to wade through all the crap to get to it.  I am so mad I can’t even tell you.

And why did all of this happen?  Because Wouter couldn’t keep his hands off my computer and specifically its settings.  I am starting to think that it may be particularly rewarding to return the favour soon.  Be afraid, my dear husband, be petrified.

Oh, you might want to try and phone him on our landline.  Because like usual Wouter can’t be reached on his cell phone.  The battery is flat / it is diverted / it is on silent / I hit him with it.

And to top it all off, we had a fight about this now.  Which means that he said, I said, we said together, he told me off, I told him off and then I slapped him because we were laughing so hard.  Which takes all the fun out of writing an update like this.  And then he made tea.  Die bliksem.

Here, there, everywhere. Really.

All the people on the left.  All the people on the right.  And seeing as how my head is spinning at many many rpm’s, all the people who are sort of blurry in the middle too.

Peoples, you have no idea what is going on in my head at the moment.  I am having a lot of trouble typing this up!  My head and my body and my world are revolving at different speeds in different directions.  It is a bit interesting, a bit confusing and definitely freaky.  As long as I keep absolutely still everything stays in place but the moment I move anything I feel like those 80’s desk ornaments with different rings orbiting in funny ways.  Do you remember those?

I wish I could say that I did something fun and freaky to deserve this.  But no.  I changed from one anti-depressant to another a week ago and now this is hitting me.  I am still waiting to hear from the doctor if this is normal or not, but until then I am going to love you and leave you. 

See you soon!

Shiny hair, small hair, lots of hair

I’ve told you many many times that Woutertjie had nightmare hair before he was diagnosed.  He had thick hair and every single strand was more unruly and voluminous than the next.  Every morning I had to wet all of it and cow-lick it down to make him presentable.  I suppose we could’ve had it cut shorter but that was even more of a mission.

When the chemo started and his hair started falling out he was very upset – not because he would be bald, but because it was in his mouth, in his eyes, in his nose … you have no idea how many hair you have until you loose it all at once.

To be honest, Woutertjie has always been very naive and unconcerned.  Having hair or not couldn’t faze him in the least.  I suspect if we made him aware of how other people had hair and he didn’t he would be very surprised. 

The first time that we became aware of Boeta becoming aware, was when he started dragging Wouter to the bathroom as soon as Wouter’s hair was more than 2mm long, demanding that “Daddy’s hair must be such like my hair” (Pappa se hare moet wees so soos my hare).  Wouter started shaving his own hair as soon as Boeta lost his and you have no idea how quickly he goes through razor blades now.

The last couple of months Boeta very proudly told friends and strangers alike that he had shiny hair (sulke blink hare).  This usually after flipping his cap or beanie off if he was wearing one and then angling his head in a rakish manner, making sure that the recipient of the information got the optimum look at his bald (and indeed shiny) pate.  Strangers were completely taken aback when they channeled their “poor little sick boy” attitudes and then got confronted by this pride.

Now his hair is starting to grow back.  From about 2 weeks ago we can see the change day by day.  Now he proudly repeats the above performance, stating that he has “such small hair” (sulke klein hare).  And strangely enough, this seems to upset people even more than when he told them he had shiny hair.  Don’t ask me why.

Carien, the ultimate copycat, has started assuming the same pose and tells people that she has “such big hair” (sulke voooot* hare).  And for better or worse, she is quite on the money.  Carien has the same head full of voluminous hair – fortunately she seems to love getting her hair cut.

But with parents like Wouter and I, I shouldn’t be surprised at their hair issues. 

*voot = groot in Carien-ese

My friend Sandi

How to introduce Sandi?  I had just found out that I was pregnant with Woutertjie and was still completely shell shocked.  I didn’t want to spread the news around yet (first time moms are strange that way) so I went online and for the first time ever went onto a chat site.  A parenting site.  And I never left.  The friends I made on BN are priceless.  Even more so because I’ve never met (and probably will never meet) most of them.  But minor issues like that don’t stop us from sharing advice on pregnancy, raising mostly-balanced-children and literally love, life and everything else. 

Sandi joined soon after I did and her son, Nate, was born 2 days before Woutertjie.  When Woutertjie was first admitted to hospital on 23 December 2008 (diagnosed the next day) Sandi was one of the first people I informed.  I still remember sitting and waiting in Schnetler, Corbett, etc (radiologists) for Woutertjie’s turn to have a sonar of his abdomen and typing up the text message.  I was quite impressed with the paediatrician who hung around.  Little did I know that he was worried out of his skull.

Back to Sandi.  A couple of days ago she posted the next message on the chat site.  Nate has also just turned 5 and he is a smooth operator who loves big words (“I have a genius suggestion!” is a favourite) and money.  I loved this so much that I had to copy it.  Boys! <shakes head>

SANDI’S POST

Not a good idea to ever nick money from my wallet – I always know EXACTLY how much is in there.  I open my wallet this morning and there’s R450* missing.  Rush over to my husband’s office to see if he borrowed some, checked in the car, my entire bag, T checked the house … suddenly I have an idea.  Time for a phone call to a local creche:

Me : Morning, Sweetheart! (sing-song controlled voice)

Alleged Offender : Morning back at you Sweetheart! (equally sing-song but genuinely light-hearted voice).

Me : I need you to tell me something and I need you to tell me only the truth. A “promise” kind of truth, okay!

Alleged Offender : Sure Mommy!

Me : Did you take any money out of my purse?

Alleged Offender : Oh maaaaaaaaan! I forgot to tell you. I took an Orange one with the Leopard on it, two Blue Buffalo and a Pink Lion. I needed some money and there wasn’t any coins where the zip is.

Me : (through gritted teeth) Where is the money, darling?

Admitted Mugger : In my Spiderman bag, in my Ben 10 box I keep my gogo’s in, Mummy!  I’ll give it back to you later. I just NEEEEEEEEDED it…

Me : xyz, you musn’t take money, blah blah blah blah.

Serial Thief : I always take money out of Daddy’s wallet and he doesn’t even notice!  Anyway, mum – see you later – I’ve got work to do!  Byeeeeeee!

*R450 is a lot of money.  About $70, from the top of my head.

Ethan is done!

Congratulations to the Taylor family!  Ethan (the player) finished his 34 weeks of chemo today.  Of course it took a lot longer than 34 weeks to get here, with lots of delays due to blood counts being too low and all those other lovely bits of cancer treatment.

We met them last year during the Easter weekend when Ethan was just diagnosed.  Since then Deirdre has become my sister from another mother.  She brings out the best and worst in me.  The worst usually meaning that I let my mouth run off without my brain following and then I end up having promised the world and needing to deliver…  Fun!  Really! 🙂

I can’t remember how many times Deirdre and I had impromptu tea parties in hospital.  More accurately, we propped each other up on days that the world weighed us down.  And so we both kept going.

I’ve said many times that I wouldn’t want to redo this year at any cost.  But at the same time I wouldn’t change it.  I’ve learned so much about myself, my family and my friends.  And we met Deirdre, Damascene and the boys.  That makes it all worth it.