Show us yer tumor!

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May 30, 2008 by 8junebugs

Alicia told me last night that when Mom comes to visit, she and the rest of our friends will “be nice.” I’m not sure what that means in our crowd, as we are well behaved and parent-friendly. But it devolved into a very uncouth discussion during which the title of this post escaped my lips in a very Mardi-Gras tone.

There are some things you can only say around some people. This is one of them. But in the interest of full disclosure, you should all be aware of the sick personality behind this blog. Thank your lucky stars I don’t talk about poop as much as I used to.

As anticipated, I am getting filtered information about Mom’s progress and it’s making me twitchy. I’m waiting on a response from the primary oncologist about the results of the radiation, but the paraphrased version is this:

The main mass has shrunk. It will continue to shrink, because radiation kills cells and they don’t all die at once. Her throat feels dry and the cough is dry — this is a result of the radiation and of not smoking. Not being there, I don’t know the ratio of these factors.

They’ll scan her brain and evaluate her for chemo next week. She has lost seven pounds and the doctor is more worried about that than about any other symptoms. Losing weight on radiation isn’t great, but losing weight on chemo is a lot worse. The doctor told her to eat whatever she wants and if soft-serve ice cream is all that tastes good, there’s no reason she can’t have it for three meals a day.

As less anticipated, my work situation is not terribly flexible. Although it is true that my job can be done from just about anywhere, especially now that my focus is supposed to be web content and UX, it is clear that my physical absence from the office continues to be difficult for key members of my team. In fact, the hardship presented by my once-weekly telecommuting arrangement was brought up.

That was a little hard to take.

My original plan was to work three weeks of each month from Vermont. I would need to be back here for at least one week out of the month for work and other obligations.

My current plan is to use PTO as strategically as I can. Mom and I are working on what she would prefer — more time less frequently or less time more frequently, and Enjoy-Life time or Puking-Sick time.

The good news is that, by her own admission, she has sisters who want to be there for Puking-Sick time.

Excellent! I’ll just sit in the corner and make balloon animals, shall I?

I will intersperse as much FMLA time in the coming months as I can afford, which could be up to 4 days a month. My hope is that, if I’m careful and maintain my current income and budget for a couple of months, I will be more comfortable taking unpaid leave when I really, really have to.

Could I quit my job and live off savings and tax-decimated retirement accounts until the end? Probably. But that’s not the best solution. It might even be the worst.

So I’m not terribly happy, but I am also being forced to think of my situation as realistically as I think of my mom’s. It isn’t necessarily fair to expect to work full-time from another state…in most companies, anyway. Here it is not unheard of, but it’s a case-by-case basis and a level of technical aptitude is required on all sides to pull it off.

To be perfectly honest, living in Vermont for three weeks out of every month would probably put me over the edge. As selfish as that sounds (and I know it does, trust me), I’m thinking about Mom and the rest of my family when I say that a Vermont-bound Jen is not a happy Jen, and an unhappy Jen is a champ at making everyone else miserable.

Seriously. If the Summer Olympics had an event for taking internal crap out on the people closest to you, I’d be on a fucking Wheat1es box and planning my first trip to Asia.

And so the next however long is back up in the air, which is not where I usually keep it. That which I know, I know. I had just hoped to expand that list a little bit.

Here’s what bothers me the most about having to build a Plan B:
Knowing that my main reason for spending Christmas in Vermont has always been Mom, I am not saving any of my PTO for December.

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