You Can Say ‘Toot’, But You Can Nevah, Evah Say the Word ‘Faht’, Jennifah, and I Mean It!

I lived the first fourteen years of my life in Greenville, South Carolina.  I lived most of the next 10 in Madison, Georgia, which is where I was born, and where my Mothah’s family is from.  I have livdonkey-clip-art-dec3111ed the past 21 years in Atlanta, Georgia.  Now, if  I’m not Southern, I’ll kiss your ass….

Growing up, we had rules at our house.  We had respect for our elders, not only for Mothah and Daddy, but for our grandparents and our teachers and the parents of our friends, and also for adults we did not know.   We said “yes sir and yes ma’am”.   We knew our boundaries, at least most of the time.  We did not talk back.  Things were different than they are today, and I am not exactly sure why–they just are.

When my brother and I were kids, there were just certain words that we were not allowed to say.  I am not talking about run of the mill cuss words. (Here in the South, some of us are not so formal as to say curse words-at least not all the time)  Of course those were off limits!  But so was the word butt.  Mothah considered that common and white-trash.  We had to say bottom, or behind, or derri√®re,  but never, ever butt, unless we wanted to get sent to our rooms.  We could not say shut up.  Our alternative was  please be quiet, which simply does not have the same effect as yelling a good, forceful SHUT UP  at one’s sibling.  Yelling or saying or whispering,  or even mouthing shut up would get us sent straight to our rooms.  The very worst verbal offense; however, was not butt or shut up.  It was the word fart.  We were straight out forbidden to say fart.  In fact, I can remember Mothah threatening to wash our mouths out with soap if we were to ever say it, and we could bet our little asses that if we even whispered or mouthed the word fart,  we were headed straight to our rooms, and most likely after having had a spanking! And spankings from Mothah were few and far between.   I remember it like it was yesterday….”You can say toot,  but nevah, evah, can you say the word, faht, Jennifah, and I mean it!” Mothah said, whispering the ‘faht’ part like it was taboo, and it was for her. And for us!  So, we did not say it.  At least I did not.  I don’t know if my brother said it.  If he did, he said it on his own time!  Of course I grew up only to cuss like a sailor.  My children are not supposed to say fart.  They know that I cannot stand that word.  I was programmed to despise it.  So, all three of them like to get in my face and say it as often as possible.  The boys do have a point.  It does not, in any way, sound the least bit manly or boyly, to say the word toot or the word poot after the age of four or five.  My girl child, though, The Middle Child, she just needs to avoid the subject altogether.  I think Mothah will agree.

What were you not allowed to say when you were a kid? Do you impose the same rules on your kids today?

Toot Your Horn

Mini Me and The Middle Child’s Cover of Trey Anastasio’s Cover of “Clint Eastwood” By The Gorillaz ;)

*My Facebook friends will have to pardon me for “double-dipping”, but I wanted my WordPress friends to see this! ūüėČ

Mini Me and The Middle Child decided to perform in their school’s Talent Show¬†together this year. ¬†This would be their¬†only¬†opportunity to do so, with Mini Me graduating this year and The Middle Child, only an eighth grader. ¬†To say that I was¬†elated¬†was an understatement. ¬†I will admit to some sicko fantasies of a Partridge Family-esque lifestyle for our family. ¬†I could damn sure see myself driving a hipped out school bus, though it would only need to be a¬†short bus, seeing as though we only have¬†three kids…but that did not bother me. ¬†So, after Mini Me and The Middle Child signed up, I thought they¬†must¬†know what they were going to¬†do. ¬†About a week before the Talent Show, Mothah texted me to let me know that she and their Cousin-Uncle Clint (No, he is not¬†both their cousin and uncle. ¬†I call him that because he is¬†my¬†first cousin, but we are as close as brother and sister, so he is more like¬†their¬†uncle) would be coming to see them perform. ¬†This led to my finding out that there was not yet a plan. ¬†No act. ¬†No song. ¬†No nothing. ¬†Mini Me and The Middle Child had not planned shit. ¬†This,¬†of course, led to lots of screaming, stomping, slamming of doors, and even some crying, and crying by anyone other than¬†me¬†is actually quite rare around here. ¬†It also led to Mini Me announcing, quite immaturely, that he was no longer going to perform with The Middle Child. This led to me, quite equally immaturely, announcing that oh hell to the yes he was, whether he wanted to or not. ¬†Needless to say, it was a rather grim evening. ¬†In the end, Mini Me and The Middle Child worked it out between themselves and picked out a song. ¬†Cousin-Uncle Clint took ill and was unable to join us. ¬†The day of the show, Mini Me forgot his pants, his shirt, a pedal and a cable–this was not a surprise. ¬†They were third in the line-up. ¬†Our family took up almost an entire row. ¬†I had been receiving text messages all day long from both of them–complaining about the other. ¬†With all of the fighting that had gone on all week, honestly, I was not expecting much, but they are both pretty good at what they do, so I knew they¬†would¬†pull it off. ¬†The curtain opened. ¬†The audience was cheering. ¬†The song began. ¬†¬†This¬†was¬†not¬†the song they had been practicing. ¬†They had totally changed it at the last minute. ¬†¬†I had a death grip on my seat until they were finished. ¬† ¬†They took home second place. ¬†Bravo Mini Me and The Middle Child!

Out of the Mouths of Babes: My First Time Speaking As A Writer/Blogger

It was a momentous day in my career as a writer, as that is what I call what I do, as opposed to being just blogger.  Bloggers are writers!  We are writers who blog our writings. Anyway, back to my momentous day…. I was asked to come speak to The Baby’s second grade class about creative writing and about writing my blog!  I was so excited.  I knew that The Baby’s teacher read my blog, because she had emailed me about how much she liked it and related to it with two teenagers of her own.  There is just one thing, though….I write how I talk….which is quite, um….sailor-esque.  I kind of equated my invitation to speak to the class to Heidi Fleiss being asked to speak about running her own business.  Well, maybe not that bad! hehehe ūüėČ   I did know that there probably were some parents (some maybe blog readers ūüėČ some maybe not!) who, if they knew that this momentous event was going to occur, would probably have tried to put a stop to it.  This, in and of itself, made me even more excited.  (I am sure that those parents would just have been worried I might let the name of my blog slip and then their kids would sneak online and read the profanity!  I did not tell them the name of my blog!)  I will say; however, The Baby knows the name of it!  Kids these days just know how to access anything on the computer!   I decided to take some early examples of my writing.  Mothah had put my very first “book”, The Adventures of Lady Clinton in my senior scrapbook, along with a copy of a poem I wrote for the Valentine’s edition of the Hughes News in 7th grade.  I grabbed those and a copy of Hobba Hobba Jobba , my collection of short stories I had bound for a creative writing class at the University of Georgia.  I also picked up two photo books I had made for my family, because I had also added narratives to the pictures, and those are great examples of creative writing–made easy.  The Baby and I set out for his school.  He asked to see some of my stuff along the way.  I could tell he was looking at the poem because he gasped and said, “MOM! look at this date!”  Of course I could not look, as I was driving on 85 S.  “It says February 14, 1984! MOM! You were 14 years old!”  He said it as if it were 200 years ago.  I gripped the steering wheel a little harder than I already was in morning rush hour traffic.  “Yep.  I was the same age as your sister is right now, ” I said, and I tried to muster a smile.  It was very difficult.  It seemed like yesterday.  Okay. Maybe day before yesterday, but still–not 31 years ago.  He babbled a little and I got lost in thought in my head about days of yore at Hughes Middle School in Greenville, SC…. We got to his school and I told him I loved him and I would be back at 9:00am sharp, then I headed straight to Starbucks to get my head on straight.

The teacher was telling the class about me when I got to the classroom door.  The students were all seated on the rug–waiting for me.  The Baby was sitting in a chair in front of the rest of the class, next to the chair where I would sit.  I came in and took my coat off and sat down.  Immediately, 9 or 10 hands shot into the air.  The teacher told them to put their hands down, as there would be a time for questions when I was finished talking to them.   I told the kids that I had known from a very early age that I wanted to write, and I showed them The Adventures of Lady Clinton.  The table of contents page is actually typed from my old electric typewriter, so we talked about that, and about correct tape, and how there was no “spell-check” in the olden days…. I told them I could not pass The Adventures of Lady Clinton around because it was an ancient artifact, and it might fall apart.  I was being serious about not passing it around because I did not want it to get torn up, but they believed me about the ancient artifact without question.  That was somewhat disturbing to me.  We moved on to the poem.  I showed them the date.  They did not gasp in horror, so that was somewhat redeeming.  When we got to the collection of short stories, we talked about book binding and how typewriters changed over time.  I then opened one of my photo books, and I happened to open it to a page that had a picture of Jack with his 7 inch Mohawk.  This is not important right this minute. Remember it for later.  I told the class that I had always wanted to write a book, but I had never taken the time.   5 months ago, I decided that I should start a blog, because if I could not even start and maintain a blog, then I would probably never write an actual book.  The teacher then helped with a question session.  It was quite entertaining.  I did get mostly amazing questions.  Do you write on your blog every day? No.  If I wrote on my blog every day, people would get tired of reading it.  If I did not write often enough, people would get tired of waiting for me to write.  I try to write on it at least once a week, maybe twice.  Where did you get your inspiration from to be a writer? From my Aunt Amy.  She is also a writer.  She was my English teacher in high school, and taught me how to write.  Where did Aunt Amy get her inspiration to write? From famous writers, I think.  Then we started to go downhill a little….Where did the famous writers get their inspiration to write?  I don’t know. What came first? The chicken or the egg? Then we got to the real doozy:    What was my favorite blog post I have ever written?    I had to say that my favorite blog post is one I wrote about taking Mini Me (though in class, I used his real name, as that is how the class knows him)  to the grocery store and he said a bad word.  Of course I should have lied.  Because that, my friends, that, opened up a can of worms that I should have expected!  But, flaky, artist, airhead that I am……I never saw it coming.  Hands shot up into the air right and left like I was playing whack-a-mole on steroids.  WHAT WAS THE WORD HE SAID?  was what every kid wanted to know, of course!  Holy shit. How stupid was I?  The teacher tried valiantly to put this fire out.  One kid mouthed to me across the room, “DID IT START WITH THE LETTER F?”   Oh. MY. GOD.  I  was laughing.  I mouthed back to him, “NO!”  “JUST GIVE US THE LETTER IT STARTED WITH!”   “NO!”  “PLEASE!”  “NO!”  “WE ARE LITTLE KIDS! WE PROBABLY WON’T GUESS IT ANYWAY!”, one even said.  My head was kind of spinning at this point.  I looked straight ahead and watched this one little girl, in her sort of metallic longish jacket, sitting in her chair with it leaning back on it’s back legs.  She had her legs spread apart and her ankles hooked around the front legs of the chair.  Her wildish hair had some colorful streaks in it and she had on a little make up.  She stared at me and got her lip gloss out of her pocket and put it on while she watched me.  I smiled at her and she smiled back.   She reminded me a lot of The Middle Child at that age.   Everyone was coming back under control and I made a mental note to try not to make a stupid mistake like that again.  These were 7 and 8 year olds, for the love of God.  Of course they want to know what bad word Mini Me said!  Finally, we moved on.  The teacher asked me how important I thought it was to proof read and how important drafts are.  I told the class that even after I have proofread a blog post 3 or 4 times, I might publish it and still find something I have to correct, and I correct it.  Proofreading and drafts are extremely important! They all groaned.  They apparently hate proofreading and drafts.  This was not at all surprising.  In second grade, it takes some of them forever to write a sentence!   Next question:  Why did you let Mini Me (but by his real name) get a Mohawk?  The teacher put a stop to this one.  She said, “We are asking questions about writing, and that is not about writing.  I should have known that one was coming too.  How many books have I written?  None.  Unless you mean the paper ones like The Adventures of Lady Clinton. Then probably hundreds! My mother would probably tell you I killed an entire forest, using paper. No, I did not tell them that.  I’m telling  you that.  What was the hardest part about writing your blog?  Writing my blog is not hard.  It was the technical part!  I was determined to buy my own domain and set it up all by myself, with zero help from my computer guru husband or my children, who know far more than I! It was not terribly hard, but I had to learn new stuff.  I managed to do it, and I consider it a huge accomplishment!  What do you write about?   Hmmm…. ūüėČ  That one I had to think about before I spoke…I write about my family and everyday life.  Sometimes I write stories from when I was growing up.  Have you ever written a story about your entire family?  I think so.  I think maybe the one about The Santa Photo has all of us in it-I would have to go back and read it again.  Then, I think maybe my favorite question….When you write, do you sit down and think about what you are going to write or does it come to you like AHA! THAT’S WHAT I’M GOING TO WRITE ABOUT!  My answer was BOTH!  I had to say that if it comes to me like AHA!, if I am driving, I have to hope I remember it later! If it is something really, really good that I am super excited about, I might pull over and write the topic down in the notes section on my phone.  I explained that I don’t really have a set time to write every day.  I may not finish something in one swoop.  I have to stop to do laundry or drive carpool or cook dinner.  I urged them all to make the time for their passions like writing  when they get a little older.  I have to say that I was quite impressed by my captive, yet very engaged audience.  One kid even asked the teacher if they could go write after I left.  The teacher and I both told the kids that there are places where kids can blog for free, but we both told the kids that they should never do anything like that without their parent’s  permission.  They all thanked me for coming and I thanked them for having me.  I hugged The Baby goodbye and told him I loved him.  As I was leaving, I felt a tug on my sleeve.  I turned around and that same kid from earlier was standing there.  He whispered, “Come on, just tell me what that word started with! That word Mini Me said in the grocery store– I won’t tell anybody–I promise!”    Don’t worry.  I did not tell him.

Karma is a Bitch and I Mean It…..

I used to work with someone who cried a lot and was always in pain and was finally diagnosed with something the rest of us dubbed as complete and total bullshit, but our co-worker who had it, called it “Fibromyalgia”. ¬† This was in the early 2000’s. ¬†Fibromyalgia was a new¬†thing. ¬†There were a few advertisements for Fibromyalgia medications that would pop up occasionally on the television. ¬†These were some of those first medications that would have the long lists of horrible side effects that were¬†possible but not probable, and a narrator would read them aloud. ¬†By the end of the damn list, any sane person would most likely opt just not to take the shit. ¬† We felt badly for our friend. ¬†She seemed to be in a¬†lot¬†of pain, both physically and emotionally. ¬†The problem was, that this friend had previously struggled with emotional battles, and she happened to be someone who¬†always¬† had some problem going on–perhaps I should rephrase that. ¬†As I have grown up, I have learned that most of us¬†always have some problem going on! ¬†This person just always wanted to talk about hers. Looking back, I have certainly had times when I did just exactly the same thing, and I am quite certain that many people wished I would shut the hell up. ¬†¬†She cried constantly. ¬†Since we were teachers, this was not exactly conducive to our work environment. It scared the children. ¬†She missed¬†a lot¬†of work. ¬†When she was¬†at work, she was crying and talking about how bad she felt. ¬†The rest of us turned into a normal bunch of catty bitches. ¬†We would doubt that Fibromyalgia was even¬†real. ¬† It seemed like a catch-all for what doctor’s couldn’t find a diagnosis for. ¬†After a while, we were not good friends to our co-worker, and I regret that, but not for the reason that you will think as you continue to read this. ¬†I regret it because I was not the supportive friend that I should have been, and that is all. ¬†It’s not like we were best friends or anything before–I just could have and should have been nicer. ¬†Whether I think Fibromyalgia is¬†real¬†or not, is neither here nor there. I should have been a better¬†friend. ¬†That being said, I¬†do¬†believe in Karma. ¬†And Karma, my friends, Karma…..¬†she is a real¬†bitch.

Fast forward to 2013, ¬†I was having such terrible problems with my lower back, as well as nerve pain in my right leg, that my doctor gave me the option of having a T-LIF, which is spinal fusion surgery. ¬†I opted IN. ¬†On October 18, 2013, I had L4 and L5 fused together. ¬†When Dr. Jeffords got in there, he found that my sciatic nerve in my right leg was being squeezed because it was surrounded by bone that had grown tightly around it. ¬†Of course, there was no way to know how long the bone had been squeezing the nerve like that, but that was why I had sciatica so badly. ¬†He removed the bone from around the nerve, freeing the nerve, and instead of putting plastic between my two vertebrae, he put my own bone there when he removed the damaged disc. ¬†He told me that it was¬†possible¬†for the nerve to get better, but we might not know for quite some time. ¬†Anyway….in the year prior to the surgery, I had started waking up in the morning all stiff. ¬†I was having problems walking down the stairs in our house. ¬†Not¬†major¬†problems, but I was not running up and down them like the young 43 year old that I was at the time. ¬†I still worked out every day or at least every other day, and that helped me to loosen up, but I had experienced a few spells that had lasted several days of not being able to get out of the bed, crying uncontrollably, and hurting all over. ¬†I had chalked it up to¬†my crazy¬†and called it a day. ¬†The spells had occurred in the winter time, when it was cold. ¬†We live in Atlanta, GA, so it’s not like it is ever 20 below here. ¬†I’m talking it rarely goes into the twenties at all here, but¬†the cold¬† seems to trigger it. ¬†The summer had been relatively uneventful. ¬†I live in my pool, on my big round float, basking in the vitamin D, and soaking up all of the skin cancer I can get, every year. ¬†This year had been no different. ¬†Now, post-op, moving into November, the temps were cooling down. ¬†I moved into the worst spell I have ever had. ¬†The uncontrollable crying was horrendous. ¬†The pain was horrendous. ¬†I had pain all over. ¬†My whole body hurt from my head to my toes. ¬†It hurt to lift a finger. ¬†All I wanted to do was stay in bed and cry, so that is what I did. ¬†It was so depressing. ¬†I would look out the window, at my horrendous back yard that I often times want to set on fire, and cry harder–wondering what the point of living actually was…..Then, I would think about my children, and how I had brought them into a cruel and callous world, and¬†why, oh why, had I chosen to do that to them? ¬† Then, I would think about how we are all going to die one day, and what was really after this? Is there anything really?¬†OH. MY. GOD. Stop the fucking insanity! ¬†Please! It was terrible. ¬†I did NOT want to kill myself, but I was finding it very difficult to see the point in living. ¬†So, I got a recommendation for a rheumatologist from my endocrinologist, and made an appointment. ¬†When we got there, I refused to look at the scale because I had gained over 10 pounds since the back surgery. ¬†I was crying. ¬†I could hardly move. ¬†I could not get my shoes on and off by myself. ¬†My endocrinologist had given me a blood test for immune diseases. ¬†The test was positive, but all of the markers for specifics were negative. ¬†This meant that nothing could be identified, but there was¬†something. ¬†The nurse practitioner started poking all over me. ¬†I screamed a few times. ¬†I screamed “SHIT!” ¬†They gave me two steroid shots-one in each hip-for bursitis that I did not know I had until they poked me and I shot up off the table. ¬†That was one of the times I screamed “SHIT!” ¬†Not only was I crying uncontrollably, unable to get out of bed, in immense pain, and depressed, but my hair was falling out and my fingernails were ridged and brittle and had splinter hemorrhages badly. ¬†I knew they were going to tell me that I was dying. ¬†The thyroid cancer did not get me, so now, something else was going to. ¬†I did not really give a rat’s ass at this point. ¬†I had on my Bruce hat (figuratively speaking) from Bruce Almightly. ¬†I was basically yelling in my head, “SMITE ME, OH MIGHTY SMITER!” Take. ME. Down. Mother. Fucker. ¬†I. Am. Done. ¬†That is when the doctor told me that he had looked at my bloodwork and after looking me over, he was very comfortable with the diagnosis of “Fibromyalgia”. ¬†Well, well, well. Karma, you bitch!¬†¬†I did not want to tell anyone I had Fibromyalgia. ¬†Even the word sounded like bullshit. ¬† I got a bunch of new medications and detailed instructions on how and when to take them. ¬†After going home and looking them all up online, I vetoed several because they had a 95% result in weight gain. ¬†The doctor’s office hates my guts because I will email the patient portal and leave emails that say shit like “I am not going take such and such because I just read online that most people gain an average of 15 lbs in the first month. ¬†You can just forget that. ¬†Please prescribe something else and send it to the Rite Aid on Chamblee Tucker Road. ¬†Thank you very much.” ¬†They will respond back with “Mrs. Boyanton (which immediately pisses me off because it makes me feel old) you have not even tried such and such medication. ¬†You have no idea how it will affect you. ¬†It affects everyone differently. ¬†You need to stay off the internet.” ¬† To which I will respond, “I have now found that I would like to try such and such. ¬†Please send a prescription to Rite Aid on Chamblee Tucker Road. ¬†I already told you I am not willing to take such and such. ¬†Thank you very much.” ¬†Thank God we have now found a combination of medications that seems to be working well. ¬†This year, I am just now having my first “Fibro Spell” of the winter, and while it does completely suck, it is¬†mild, compared to the past 2 years. ¬†It is difficult for me to get out of bed in the morning. ¬†I go to bed earlier than everyone else–not dreadfully earlier, but a little earlier. ¬†I do dread night time and going to bed because I dread morning and getting up. ¬†It is very hard to drag myself out of the bed, and if we are running late–just fucking forget it. ¬†I can’t do it. ¬†My legs just will¬†not¬†move. ¬†This morning was particularly bad and there is no rhyme or reason for it. ¬†My rings do not fit on my right hand right now. ¬†My wrists are slightly swollen. ¬†I worked out yesterday, but doubt I will today. ¬†I try very hard¬†not¬†to complain. ¬†I am not crying all the time¬†this time–which is a definite plus, but I can and do cry.¬†I¬†attribute that to my medication combo being close to spot on. ¬†Just like the thyroid cancer, I try very hard not to define myself by this bullshit Fibromyalgia stuff, but sometimes I can’t help but be taken over by it for a bit, but seriously–I remind myself daily of Karma. She is a real bitch….and I mean it.

Don’t Ever Break Him

When I was pregnant with Mini Me, I was terrified that something would be terribly wrong with him–mostly because of all of the terrible things I had done during my very in-depth studies for my PhD in partying at the University of Georgia. ¬†Of course I was¬†not pregnant with Mini Me¬†during these studies, but I was convinced that I had done irreparable damage to my body that would cause great harm to my unborn child. ¬†I went to my OB/GYN and asked if there was any way that he could tell if the baby had a port wine birth stain all over his face. ¬†My doctor just looked at me as if I had totally lost my mind. ¬†“Um, no. I’m afraid I cannot. ¬†Does that run in your family? Because that is a hereditary condition.” I looked at him and said, “NO. IT DOES NOT, BUT IT HAS TO START SOMEWHERE, DOESN’T IT?” ¬†I had him there. ¬†He just looked away and said I should not bother myself with such concerns and I had absolutely no reason to worry about a port wine birth stain. ¬†Ahhh, but I did. ¬†I drank so much red wine in college, I was sure that there was some stored up in there just waiting to stain that baby all over his face to punish me. ¬†Of course I did not think of this¬†prior to getting pregnant. ¬†All¬†I thought about was the adorable baby that was to be. ¬†I did not think about the 65 extra unwanted pounds or the purple stretch marks that would cover the bottom part of my belly. ¬†I did not think about the sleepless nights. ¬†The many, many sleepless nights. ¬†Around the eighth month of my pregnancy, when I was having trouble sleeping, ¬†Mothah was in town for a visit. ¬†“Jennifah, ¬†I hate to tell you this, but honey, you have had youah last good night of sleep.Forevah.” ¬†I just looked at her. ¬†What she really meant was this: ¬†In the sleep department, I was totally fucked. For the rest of my life. ¬†She was right. ¬†We brought Mini Me home from the hospital and put him in the family cradle next to our bed. ¬†He screamed his ass off. ¬†We would pick him up, swaddle him, rock him, etc. , put him back in the cradle. ¬†He would scream his ass off. ¬†This is how Mini Me ended up sleeping in our bed. ¬†It was the¬†only way that¬†I¬† could get¬†any¬†sleep. ¬†I say¬†I¬†because JC could sleep through the atomic bomb going off in our bedroom. ¬†Now, this was 1998. ¬†I knew that I was not supposed to put Mini Me in our bed. ¬†I had sworn I wouldn’t. ¬†I will just go ahead and admit that, pretty much, everything that I swore I would not do as a parent, I have done. And then some. ¬†Because before you are a parent, you don’t have a fucking clue. ¬†So shut the hell up with all of your “well I would do this and I would do that” because frankly, you don’t know what the hell you would do. ¬†So Mini Me slept in our bed for three years. ¬†I am not really sure how we even got The Middle Child. ¬†Maybe Mini Me went to his MiMi’s or his MiMa’s to spend the weekend. ¬†He would¬†do that. ¬†And yes, he had to sleep with them too.

The Middle Child came into this world and did not want to sleep with us. ¬†She wanted to sleep in her Moses basket beside our bed. She slept in it until she was too big for it. ¬†We could even put her down in it¬†awake and she would go to sleep¬†with zero crying whatsoever. ¬†I remember thinking “where did this angel come from?” ¬†I guessed God had sent her to make up for the spawn of….okay I won’t say it. ¬†I know I shouldn’t. I don’t really mean it, but dammit he was a difficult sleeper! ¬†When The Middle Child moved to her crib, we could put her in it, again¬†awake, and she would roll over, suck her thumb, and go to sleep with zero crying whatsoever, sometimes she would say “Night Night” and roll over and just go to sleep. ¬†This, my friends, was a dream come true. ¬†When she got a little older, if she got tired, she might just disappear and we would find her asleep in her bed! I could not have asked for anything more.

If you happened to read “The Prize At The End Of The Cancer”, it is basically The Baby’s birth story. ¬†He entered this world under extreme circumstances, and I was not in the best mental or physical condition that I could have been in at the time of his birth. ¬†I say that¬†not¬†to excuse what I am about to tell you, but in an attempt to explain my actions. ¬†The Baby, like his brother Mini Me, did not like being put in a cradle or a crib. ¬†We would swaddle him and put him down and he, too, would scream his ass off. ¬†This would make me cry uncontrollably. ¬†It broke my heart into a million pieces. ¬†The thought of his sweet little self, back there in that big, beautiful, yet awful, $500 crib, surrounded by wonderful, yet somehow awful and scary bedding, swaddled in the softest, yet most horrible blankets, and clothed in the most wonderful, yet also most harrowing nightgowns with his monogram on them, screaming in misery…..I just could not take it. ¬†He wanted¬† me. ¬†If I held him, he would sleep. ¬†So, I would hold him. 24/7. ¬†And I was so tired that one night, in the middle of the night, he and I were sitting in the glider out in the den, and I fell asleep rocking him. ¬†I woke up and he was face down on the carpet! ¬†He wasn’t crying. ¬†I was sure he was dead, and I had killed him by dropping him on the floor. ¬†I picked him up and he looked at me and blinked his eyes. ¬†We had very soft, padded carpet. ¬†Mothah was staying with us to help me and try to keep me from going over the edge. ¬†I went and woke her up. ¬†I was crying hysterically and told her I thought we needed to go to the hospital. ¬†She started laughing. ¬†She took The Baby from me and looked him over. ¬†“He is FINE, Jennifah. ¬†He does not need to go to the hospital. What probably happened was that he just slipped down, slowly, onto the floor. ¬†The carpet is soft and padded. ¬†He is totally fine. Stop crying. STOP IT.” ¬†I did. ¬†About 30 minutes later. ¬†You would have thought this was my¬†first¬†baby, not my¬†third. ¬†The loss of 2 liters of blood when he was born had really done a number on me. ¬†My mother in law found a contraption that would fit inside our bed and The Baby could sleep in it. ¬†It was like a little box. ¬†It was low enough that he felt like he was sleeping right next to us, but we could not roll over on him and he could not get tangled up in the bed covers. ¬†It even had a little light on it. ¬†It folded in half for easy travel. ¬†The Baby actually liked the damn thing! So, The Baby slept with us. ¬†It was, again,¬†the only¬†way¬†I ¬†(or Mothah!)¬†could get¬†any¬†sleep.

Here is the part that should be embarrassing. ¬†It’s the part that you might judge me for, and that is totally fine because I really don’t give a shit what anyone thinks about it. ¬†The pediatrician knows already. ¬†The Baby slept with us for 7 years. ¬†In fact, he just moved out. We have¬†tried, countless times, to move him out over the years. ¬†We have used charts and stickers and money and prizes. ¬†Nothing has worked. ¬†We have tried reading to him and staying in his room until he falls asleep. We have tried leaving a light on–all to no avail.¬†¬† For the past 6-8 months, he has been sleeping on the floor in our room. ¬†2 weeks ago, he and I rearranged his bedroom so that his bed is positioned for him to be able to see my bedroom from his bed. ¬†He has slept in his bed, all night, every night, ever since. ¬†He was¬†ready. ¬†He has been sleeping in his own bed at his MiMa’s or in a sleeping bag at his MiMi’s ¬†for over a year now–so it’s not like he couldn’t do it–he just wouldn’t do it at home. ¬†He just wasn’t ready¬†to do it at home. ¬†We did not feel like it was necessary to force him. ¬†We kind of miss him now… means he is growing up and we are getting older and things are changing…..There are a whole lot of feelings that I don’t want to feel! Imagine that.

I guess my point of sharing this with you is that my kids dictated¬†how¬†they¬†wanted to sleep. ¬†I know that there are many books about how to force your kid to sleep…how to make them cry it out….etc. ¬†I know all of that psychology. ¬†I have read it. I have all of those books. Or had them. ¬†Shit, I hope I have given them all to Goodwill by now. ¬†I allowed¬†my kids to dictate how they wanted to sleep–right, wrong, or indifferent. I was and still am judged for it. ¬† And I believe that it was the right thing to do for us, no matter how painful it was at times. ¬† I will end with this story. ¬†When Mini Me was about two and a half, we were at a park in Memphis, Tennessee. ¬†There was a homeless man there who was watching my us play. ¬†He went up to my husband and said, “Whatever you do, don’t ever break him.” ¬†That has stuck with us ever since. ¬†¬†¬† For us, that has meant allowing our kids to be¬†themselves, and sometimes it means not going “by the book”. ¬†¬†I believe it is okay to¬†not¬†go “by the book”. ¬†¬†Don’t ever break him……¬†it resonates deep within my soul today and Mini Me is 17. ¬†I try to live by it with all three of my children.

The Prize at the End of The Cancer

So…all I could see was the darkness. ¬†After spending five days alone at Mothah’s, watching television talk show’s and talking on the phone, and showering non-stop to get the radioactive sweats off of me, I left and drove back to Emory for another body scan. ¬†Along the hour’s drive, I had a melt down. ¬†One thing I failed to mention in my previous post is that during my hypothyroid state, my paranoia made me borderline on the ridiculous….perhaps lean towards the psychotic…. I am quite sure that my family would say that there was no¬†perhaps about it! I was bat shit crazy there for a few minutes. ¬†¬†I could not see this¬†then, of course. ¬†I would purposely listen to songs in the car that would make me think of things that would bring me to tears. Now, why¬†I would do that to myself is the million dollar question, ¬†but it made total sense to me¬†at the time. ¬†So, I was driving up I-20, listening to one of my favorites: Mr. Brightside by The Killers…..This song made me think about how after I was dead, JC would be dating someone else….if you know the song, then you can piece together the rest of this scenario. ¬†It was complete and total bat shit crazy at it’s very best.¬†¬†So, I cried my way to Emory. ¬†By the time I got there, I was a hysterical mess. ¬†Remember, I was about 8-10 weeks post-op, having had absolutely no thyroid medication….my TSH was sky high. ¬†I was like a time bomb waiting to go off at any second. ¬†When I walked down the hall in the hospital, I would walk right next to the wall–not because I needed it for physical support, but being out in the “air of the hallway” made my paranoia worse. ¬†When I say I was bat shit crazy, PEOPLE, I am NOT joking. ¬†They took me in to do the body scan and when it was over, they told me that there was something glowing on my head. ¬†This was not good,¬†they said. ¬†They needed to scan again,¬†they said. ¬†I thought I was going to lose my shit,¬† I said. ¬†I asked if I could see the scan, which I expected the answer to be¬†hell no. ¬†To my surprise, they let me. ¬†I had to laugh. ¬†The glowing thing was sticking straight out from my head. ¬†What was I laughing at,¬†they asked. ¬†THAT IS SO OBVIOUSLY MY HAIR!!!¬†I practically spat in the guy’s face. ¬†“I’m sorry, ” I said, “But do you see a knife like protrusion sticking out from my head?” The technician did not find this the least bit amusing, and back into the scan I went. ¬†I was sure to smooth my hair down to my head this time. ¬†Sure enough, ¬†guess who was right?¬†Moi. ¬†This time, the glowing strip was straight down on the side of my head, right where I had smoothed my hair. ¬†I was sort of starting to get a big head. ¬†If I could read a damn body scan–hell, I might ought to apply for a job in Nuclear Medicine! ¬†So, the official ruling was that I had sweat so much that the RAI had pooled in a strip of my hair. ¬†Clean scan. ¬†This meant that I got to start taking Synthroid and get back to feeling normal (whatever that is!) again–until July, when I would have to do all of this¬†yet again, for the massive therapeutic dose of RAI.

After a few weeks of taking the medication, I was able to get back on my feet and go back to work–teaching Art and French at St. Timothy School. ¬†I taught Pre-K through 6th grade, and I loved it. ¬†Unfortunately, in May, I was forced to have the world’s most heinous surgery ever. ¬†I can assure you that this is a tale on it’s own, but I will say this: ¬†I would not wish this upon my worst enemy, and if faced with the problem again, I would choose to bleed out. ¬†That is all I will say about that now. ¬†Those of you who know me, know. Those who don’t, can just wonder. ¬† I am simply adding that to tell you that my life was in no way a piece of cake at this point in time. ¬†We also decided to¬†move…..¬†Talk about crazy….

The time flew by and mid June came much faster than I wanted it to. ¬†It was time to stop the Synthroid and start eating shitty rice cakes and natural peanut butter from Whole Foods, yet again…dammit. ¬†This time, since school was out, we sent the kids to Mothah’s for a week. ¬†JC and I had read up on RAI and discovered that if we stayed a certain distance from each other, we could stay in the same house. ¬†I ran this by the doctor, who said YES, thank GOD. ¬†This meant that I would not have to be quarantined in total isolation. ¬†Emory did not run out of RAI¬†this time. ¬†Everything was much smoother,¬†this time. ¬†After it was all over….clean body scan! ¬†I went back on Synthroid. ¬†I did not know that it would take an act of God to regulate the Synthroid… I remained somewhat of an emotional basket case for a while. ¬†A year went by. ¬†The medication was still not regulated. ¬†I did not feel like myself. ¬†I was beginning to think that I may never feel like myself again, and I was just going to have to be okay with that. ¬†I was alive. ¬†That alone was enough. ¬†I decided that if I couldn’t feel like myself, FINE.

The next part of the story should perhaps be called¬†The Epilogue…..

*WARNING: ¬†SOME OF THE FOLLOWING MAY BE TMI….just sayin’……if you cannot handle women’s health and pregnancy, perhaps you should exit and consider the above the end of the story. ¬†For more adventurous readers, carry on….

It was time for my yearly OB-GYN appointment. ¬†I loved my doctor. ¬†We talked about the possibility of my birth control pills and the Synthroid not working well together. ¬†We decided that I would stop taking the BCP and in a month come back for an IUD. ¬†I was 36 years old. ¬†JC and I had always talked about having more than 2 kids, but at this point, we really thought that was off the table. ¬† ¬†So, I immediately stopped the pills and honestly did not give it a second thought. ¬†I did tell¬†JC about the plan, though–it was not a secret. ¬†A couple of weeks went by–and I mean literally a couple, maybe 3 weeks….and I knew I was pregnant. I am¬†that¬†in tune with my body, but I did do 3 tests just to confirm….¬†The endocrinologist told us not to get all excited yet. ¬†Too late! ¬†He said that since I was a year out from having had the RAI, all was safe as far as that was concerned; however, my Synthroid was not yet regulated and it was all very¬†iffy in the beginning….. ¬†I had to have a neck ultrasound in my first trimester and the doctor discovered a couple of growing lymph nodes. ¬†This, of course, scared the shit out of me. ¬†Now, here I was pregnant, and having to have surgery. ¬†We had to wait until the first trimester was over because I would have to be knocked out with the old twilight stuff. ¬†It was the only anesthesia that would not hurt The Baby. ¬†The doctor removed 13 lymph nodes–none cancerous, thank God. ¬†My medication had to be kept at a lower level because I was pregnant. ¬†I had zero energy. ¬†¬†I had to visit the perinatologist every other week for him to check The Baby’s thyroid. ¬†I have a wonderful collection of 5 x 7 glossy photos of The Baby, in utero, as a result of these visits.

The Baby was not due until the middle of March 2008. ¬†I was extremely uncomfortable. ¬†It hurt to walk. ¬†It hurt to breathe. ¬†At one of my mid-February visits to Dr. Korotkin, he said he thought The Baby might weigh over 10 lbs! He was going to do an amnio to see if his little lungs were developed enough to induce. ¬†HELL YES! ¬†This nightmare was soon to be over, I remember thinking to myself. ¬†I received a phone call telling me that¬†¬†I was to report to Northside Hospital at 8:00am on February 28, 2008. ¬†The induction would begin soon after, and since this was #3 for me, I was quite confident that it would be fast and The Baby would be in my arms by early afternoon. ¬†WRONG. ¬†Oh, how wrong I was. When the nurse came in to give me the epidural, a sensation of panic spread over me. ¬†Mothah had told me that I would regret getting that damn tattoo on my lower back! ¬†I had gotten it in San Franciso,¬†in sobriety, and I had chosen that area of my body because I knew it could be easily covered up. ¬†I had never heard the term¬†tramp stamp….until about a week after we got home from San Fran! OMG. ¬†My first tattoo…I was actually quite proud of it, was indeed, a¬†tramp stamp. ¬†It is not the kind that spreads the entire width of the back. ¬†It is relatively small–the size of a silver dollar–under normal conditions. Now, it was about the size of a dessert plate. ¬†I had clocked in at 225lbs the day before at the doctor’s office. ¬†I had gained a whopping 85lbs. ¬†I felt like complete trash, sitting up there, waiting for that epidural with my backside exposed and that tattoo hanging out. ¬† I told the nurse that Mothah had told me I would regret that damn tattoo, and that right then, she was right. ¬†The nurse started laughing and told me that mine was very minor compared to some that she had seen. ¬†This made me feel a little better. ¬†A little.

The ¬†epidural did not work the way it had with Mini Me and The Middle Child. ¬†It made me numb from my toes to my chin and I threw up intermittently all day long, which was¬†lovely. ¬†I felt like I was paralyzed. ¬†Afternoon came and went and I was not even dilated half way. ¬†SHIT!¬† I did¬†not¬†want The Baby to be born on February 29. ¬†That would mean he would only have a birthday every 4 years! How would we ever explain that? Finally, around 11:00pm, I was 10cm dilated and ready to push. ¬†The only problem was that I could not feel my legs¬†at all. ¬† In fact, I could not even hold one of my legs up by myself. ¬†Hell, they weighed about 80 lbs each. ¬†I pushed and pushed–or thought I did. ¬† Finally, when midnight came and went, we decided that my in-law’s should take Mini Me and The Middle Child on home. ¬†At 1:30am, the doctor decided,¬†FINALLY,¬† that an emergency c-section was in order. ¬†They wheeled me into an OR. ¬†I was feeling enormous pressure on my lower back, and it was very painful-regardless of the fact that I was still numb from my toes to my chin. ¬†The anesthesiologist was sitting on a stool up by my head. ¬†I was begging him to knock me out. ¬†He could not until The Baby was out, and unfortunately, The Baby was stuck. ¬†It was starting to get a little chaotic in the OR. ¬†The doctor got up on top of me, straddled me backwards, and was trying to pull The Baby out of the birth canal. ¬†I was screaming. ¬†The lights were bright. ¬†It was a complete clusterfuck. ¬†Why was I not surprised? ¬†The doctor was calling in for back up….they were going to have to break my pelvis to get The Baby out, when we heard what sounded like a cork coming out of a bottle of champagne. ¬†That was The Baby’s head popping out of the birth canal. ¬†He looked like he had been in a bar-room brawl, but he was totally fine. ¬†I was still screaming for the anesthesiologist to knock me out. “Don’t you want to hold The Baby first?” he said. “HELL NO! HE IS THE THIRD ONE! I WILL HOLD HIM LATER! KNOCK ME OUT PLEASE!!!” I screamed…..then all I saw was black. ¬†Peace.

When all was said and done, I had lost over 2 liters of blood and they would not give me a transfusion. ¬†I was at Northside for 5 days. ¬†The Baby weighed in at 9lbs 3 oz–my biggest baby. ¬†We named him Truman Hayes Boyanton. ¬†His birthdate is February 29, 2008. ¬†I got over my not wanting that to be his birthday. ¬†He loves his birthday. ¬†When everyone else his age is 100, he will only be 25. ¬†He gets it. ¬†I was a complete wreck for almost a year. My not holding him right after birth had zero affect on our bonding. ¬†He was mine. ¬†¬† We moved when The Baby was 2 months old. ¬†Moving does nothing to help with psycho. ¬†It took me 2 years to lose the damn weight, and FINALLY, FINALLY, my thyroid meds regulated!!!! I have felt like myself for about 7 years now. ¬†I told you….it took an act of God.

Protocol has changed for thyroid cancer patients, and after the 5 year mark, I have not had to have another body scan.  As long as my bloodwork comes back looking good, I get an ultrasound every year and I see my doctor every 6 months.  I have moved on.  I rarely even think about the cancer anymore.  What I like to think about it is this:  It was a terrible, scary time in my life,  but at the end of the cancer drama, I got a prize! A great big, bouncing baby boy prize, and I cannot imagine what life would be like without him.



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