Thursday, May 28, 2009

Good News

Our family got some good news today.  It seems as though my dad may be a candidate for surgery after all.  

Just two weeks ago we found out my dad has cancer.  The news came out of nowhere.  He had been having trouble swallowing so he went in for an endoscopy.  The doctor found the cause of the problem, a large tumor right where the esophagus meets the stomach.  They ran a biopsy on the tumor and the next day we learned it was cancerous.  Without treatment we were looking at six months.  Thank goodness it's 2009 and treatment, although not glorious, is available.

Because my dad had that awesome near-death heart attack a few years back the doctors were initially thinking he would not be a good candidate for option A which would be surgically removing the tumor as well as part of his esophagus and reconstructing that part of the stomach.  This would remove the cancer pretty much completely and would subject him to minimal radiation and chemotherapy.  But my dad's heart is weak, he has the pace maker and he's on daily blood thinners that keeps his heart from... you know... stopping.  Blood thinners equals bad when you're facing a scalpel. 

So we were heading for option B which includes extensive radiation, chemotherapy and hope that it shrinks the tumor and keeps it from spreading.

But after what seems like a hundred additional tests and numerous appointments with doctors, it seems like surgery might work out after all.  His heart is stronger than they thought and a risk of a clot is not as significant a risk as feared.  He still has several appointments and maybe one more test to endure before surgery can be scheduled.  And surgery is no picnic either.  It would be a seven hour surgery with at least ten days in the hospital.  But the doctors are very hopeful of a full recovery afterwards.  

And although I have been doing my best to be optimistic all along and to have faith that my dad would be around to watch his grandson play little league and watch me become more than I am now, I was scared.  Really, really scared.  And... I still am.  We have a long road ahead of us.  But... I get to enjoy a new brand of hope now.  And it tastes really good.

Thanks for your prayers.  They have provided me with strength I know I wouldn't have had otherwise.  Please keep them coming our way.

Monday, May 25, 2009

AirTran Nightmare

My mom and I went to see my baby brother graduate on Saturday.  It was beautiful and my chest swelled with pride as he walked up to the stage to receive his degree which he earned with high honors.  I was so glad I was able to be there... in Rochester, NY... to see the moment live.  Especially since I paid for it with the last strand of dignity I had left.

Our flight was set to take off at 11:30 PM (PST) on Thursday.  This would take us to Baltimore where we would have a 5 hour delay before our connecting flight to Rochester.  We would land at 2:15 PM (EST) which would leave us plenty of time to get to our hotel, hang with Wayne and get plenty of sleep before his graduation at 8AM the next day.  

We got to the airport early.  By 8:30 we were checked in, through security and at the gate.  At 9:30PM they announced that our flight was canceled due to an "insufficient crew."  I walked up to the counter to ask questions.  I was the third person in line.  They were going to postpone the flight to 7:30AM and transfer all tickets for that flight.  This solved the problem for the 90% of the passengers that were flying just to Baltimore.  But it didn't solve the problem for me.  11:30PM - 7:30AM is more than a 5 hour difference.  We would miss our connecting flight.

Apparently neither of the only two people AirTran sent up to the gate knew how to solve my problem.  Oh, they tried.  They tried really hard.  For almost two hours... in between other customers.  They helped me intermittently between the easier-to-help passengers.  When they finally told me they couldn't help me there and to go down to the check-in desk on the other side of security there were only 6 passengers left.  I went to grab my original boarding passes but the girl, the supervisor, said to leave them there.  She would be down shortly to help me at the other desk... as soon as she helped the rest of the passengers.  I hauled my mother and I down the two sets of escalators, onto the stupid tram thing and back to where we had started over four hours ago.  I waited there for 30 minutes.  The supervisor hadn't shown yet.  The other passengers who also had to go down there to receive their hotel vouchers were all but gone.  I approached the counter thinking somebody else could start working on this problem.  

A girl worked on it for about three minutes before she called another supervisor who wanted to know where my boarding passes were.  He couldn't help me without the boarding passes.  "Can't you just look me up in the computer?  The girl upstairs said to leave them there."  The problem was that he couldn't find me in the computer (a persistent problem).  I suggested he use the walkie talkie attached to his vest for good.  So he jabbered a lot on his walkie talkie to the girl upstairs at the gate and began to sweat.  He told me since it was Memorial Day weekend that all connecting flights to Rochester were booked... actually oversold.  Could we go Saturday and be there by Saturday night?  No, we'd miss everything.  He graduates in the morning.  He sighed.  He thought that maybe he could help.  Maybe.  But he couldn't do anything that night because "Ticketing" was closed and wouldn't reopen until 5AM.  It was almost 1AM so I asked for a hotel voucher and said we'd be back at 5AM.  He said they were all out and walked away.  So, while I was standing at counters for four plus hours not getting help, everybody else walked away with vouchers for a free bed to sleep in.  Awesome.  

My mom and I found a patch of crappy carpet and set up camp for the night.  It was horribly uncomfortable and I "slept" for maybe an hour combined between blinks.  At a quarter to 5, my mom and I went back to the counter where I gave the completely new crew my name and a brief description of the issue at hand.  The guy at the counter said the problem had been fixed and handed me my tickets.  I looked at them.  There was a flight to Baltimore leaving at 7:30 as planned and a flight to Rochester.  Yippee!!

My mom and I went through security again and made the trek to our gate.  By 5:30AM we were sitting at our gate waiting for our 7:30 departure.  Which was now an 8AM departure for unknown reasons.  The guy that had helped us last night was there and he came up to us and asked if we had received our tickets.  I said we had (obviously because we were at the gate and not crying) and thanked him.  Prefusely.  Because we were going to make it in time after all.  He smiled and walked away.

I looked at our tickets again, so pleased we had them at all, when I noticed a problem.  Our first leg landed in Baltimore over an hour after our second leg took off.  I looked around.  Not an AirTran worker in sight.  I ran around the gates and finally found somebody.  He looked at them, shrugged, and went into a bag cubby to investigate.   He came out 30 minutes later and pretty much just said, "I don't know.  All flights to Rochester are oversold."  He found another worker who looked about 16 to get on the case.  There was another flight leaving to Atlanta whose customers took priority.  The guy told the girl not to help me until everybody else was taken care of because my problem would take a while and the others' were easy to fix.  By 7:30 when I still hadn't been helped I demanded to see Rudy... the guy that had "fixed" them earlier and came to receive his compliment this morning.  He didn't come.  I saw him on the other side of the terminal talking to other workers.  I pointed at him and did the teacher finger that means, "Get over here right now!"  He Charlie Brown walked over to me.  The plane to Baltimore was boarding.  My flight would be leaving soon.  I demanded that he figure this out immediately because I was going to miss it.  I was going to miss my brother's graduation even after I spent an entire evening standing at AirTran desks not getting helped and sleeping on an airport floor... with my mom!

He suggested I just get on the plane to Baltimore and see what they could do for me there.  I was already on the standby list for that flight.  It was over sold by one and my mom and I were number 3 and 4 on the standby list but sure... maybe 5 people would decide not to use their tickets to Rochester that day.  I told him that there was no way in Hell I was going to fly my mother and myself across the country to Baltimore just to see if maybe five people would randomly ditch their airplane tickets.  I had endured enough and, up to this point, had never raised my voice or become emotional.  He looked at the gate that they were about to close and said, "Get on the plane!  I promise you that I'll call Baltimore... I'll make them get you on that plane!!"  And I did.  I grabbed the luggage, yelled at my mother to follow and we got on the plane.

Our flight to Baltimore landed late and it took longer to unload because the ramp guy couldn't get it lined up right... maybe it was his first day... I dunno.  This left us with 40 minutes before our connecting flight, which we didn't have boarding passes for, was set to take off.  My mom and I ran to the gate and... stood in line.  There was one person manning the counter.  He was arguing with some woman about a seat assignment for a flight that was to leave in four hours.  The time ticked away.  My mom went to the people collecting boarding passes and explained what we needed.  They said to talk to the guy at the counter.  We waited some more.  When the last call had been declared I finally yelled, "That's my flight!  That's my plane and Rudy from Seattle promised us we'd get on it!  It's about to leave and I'm not on it yet!"  The man said not 
to worry and turned to help the woman again... the one that had four hours.  I told him no.  That I was panicking.  He stopped, apologized to the woman who was more irate about a window seat than I was about being ignored for 35 minutes and printed me two boarding passes.  I thanked him and got on the plane.

We made it.  But I was dead inside.  In 72 hours I had slept for a total of 4 hours and had had exactly 2 meals.  I had rescued my mother from security during our first trip through because they had dropped her hearing aides and she started to meltdown.  But we made it.  

We had dinner with Wayne and his friend, took a tour of his boy-smelling apartment and his awesome looking campus and then went to our hotel.  It was almost midnight by then and I got a full five hours of sleep before I had to wake up at 4:30 AM (PST) to attend Wayne's graduation.  The graduation that was beautiful and so worth the torture that led up to it.  Because look at him! 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Kid You Not

No kidding.  Ichiro Suzuki, Ken Griffey Jr and Mike Sweeney among others came to MCMES Elementary today.

One of our tutors sent a letter to the Mariners months ago and they agreed to set up an assembly.  We all assumed they'd send the Mariner Moose, the team mascot, or maybe a random player and we were excited about that.  But... wow!!  These guys?!?!  Awesome!!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This Week in Pictures

I volunteered at our school's Beach Party.  
It was great to be able to just play with the kids without having to be all teachery.

My baby Yaris hit 20,000 miles.

I drove down to Lakewood to have dinner with some past coworkers.  
I had a great time catching up!

I took advantage of another opportunity to see B swim.  Besides my sister and I, my parents came along and so did my Aunt Wanda.  B was in good form that day... obviously.

OK.  Just one more video clip of B for good measure.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


My nephew seems to be going through some type of incredible growth spurt.  Within one week he went from sitting and cooing to crawling and making human sounds assisted by two brand new teeth.  But I think I'm going through a growth spurt too.  Or something.  I have found myself doing some things that just a few weeks ago was totally out of character for me.  I went to  a huge singles activity even though I didn't know a soul and stayed much longer than even I thought I could last.  I got excited over my recent (boring) purchases that included a vacuum cleaner and interior doors.  I didn't freak out over spending the money on those items either when just a few weeks ago anything over $20 sparked a long internal personal debate.  I told somebody no.  I took a mental health day and don't feel guilty about it.  And... I hit the snooze button now.  I never could before because before I go to bed each night I make a mental list of all the things I need to get done before I walk out the door for work and then I calculate approximately how long it will take me to get those things done and take that number from the last second I could leave the house without being late for work.  I give myself no buffer time.  This forces me to jump out of bed and start running as soon as the alarm blares.  But even though my bedtime tradition hasn't changed I have found the ability to snooze anyway.  I just run faster once it goes off for the second (or third) time.  And I haven't been late for work.  Yet.  Except now that I've taken the time to write this blog... I might be late.  Gotta run!!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Swimming B

Brayden is in "swimming lessons" at our local pool.  He's in the toddler class for kids 6 months to 3 years old.  He totally loves it!  It's not like he's actually learning to swim or anything... he's 8 months old.  But they throw water in his face and dunk him which doesn't faze him a bit.  They get him used to the feeling of floating on his back and teach him to kick as he's propelled through the water.  He laughs and splashes and doesn't want to get out.  I went to watch him on Tuesday.  David's a swimmer and it was cool to see father and son doing something they love together even at such a young age.  Just wait until he's old enough to start playing catch... :)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


This little guy has been hanging around my condo for over a week now.  I've grown accustomed to his shell.  Here's the thing about snails.  They're kind of cute in a completely disgusting kind of way.  But of all the garden pests, the snail is my favorite.  Their cousin, the slug, is intolerably gross.  I get that all the parts are pretty much the same besides the fact that the snail carries his own house.  In any case, Snaily has been in the little garden space in front of my bedroom window.  And I'm okay with him staying.  But cute-ish or not I'd rather he'd go.  Because I'm pretty sure he's the one eating holes in the flowers.  Also, I almost stepped on him today and that would have been icky.