It’s November. We emerged from October bloodied, but not bowed. All the kids’ costumes are back in storage, and the ghosts and phantoms of Halloweens past have been laid to rest – for now.
Choosing just the right costume is not easy. These things must be done delicately. Brodi’s husband, Sam, claimed to be a metrosexual. However unclear I am on THAT concept, nevertheless, diplomacy above all - as Mother-in-Law Superior, I decided not to ask, and not to tell.
I have discovered that I suffer from that rare and medically unsubstantiated condition known as “ghoulrophobia,” a fear of cadaverous and scary things. That’s a fact. So I simply donned my fake fat butt and went around making snarky comments. Being snarky is an acquired skill, requiring practice and a propensity for self abasement. Well, the stress eventually caused me to break out in shiny vitreous crystals and shed flaky biotate mica. I worried about eroding away to nothingness, leaving only a thin layer of scar tissue and body fat encased in a Depends in a greasy puddle on the floor. I finally decided to drop the snarky, and just keep the fake fat butt. Sadly, nobody seemed to notice I was in costume.
This is the time of year when I become lost in small thoughts – random acts of mindless - so I won’t be swallowed by large thoughts. On October 1st, we had our Christmas lights installed. This made me a little cross, but the installers offer a discount for early hanging, and I just wanted that task off my mind. (An early-season snowstorm had frosted my tundra, which only served to up my irritability quotient.) However, there’s something hard-core unnatural about cross-decorating. It’s irksome. I felt like my whole house was in drag with orange pumpkins, black cats and white ghosts on the porch and red and green lights on the roof. “Scary” and “merry” are a bizarre cocktail…a little like multiple personalities occupying the same psyche. This is SO wrong! But it’s the season for the criminally confused.
October was also the month for Dennis to have his blood tested. There are so many important statistics that must be monitored. But the most crucial of vital signs, is the CA 19-9, a tumor marker whose rising value can signal a trend that could indicate recurrence. We approach that blood draw with reticent respect for the power of conscienceless numbers.
We were disappointed to learn that Dennis’ numbers were elevated just out of the range of normal. It’s hard not to be paranoid. But Dr. Jones scheduled a re-draw three weeks later. We spent 21 agonizing days in strident and often erratic distraction. Not obsessing about something consumes a massive amount of energy. Useless activity burns a lot of calories. After the allotted time, we returned to the blood lab…a little mangled and unhinged. And then we began the wait for the results, and the highly anticipated and equally dreaded phone call that would determine our future.
There is a computer in China, the Tianhe-1 machine, that is capable of sustained computing of 2.507 petaflops, the equivalent of 2,507 TRILLION calculations, per second. Sadly, the lab at the Huntsman does not have access to technology of such velocity. So we had to pace out the next 24 hours desperately searching for comic relief. Thankfully, we have grandkids!
After an agonizing, interminable time, the results came back. While the CA 19-9 is still slightly elevated, it has dropped six points, from 48 to 42. Most important, the trend is down, not up.
Needless to say, we are all euphoric and raised our voices in ebullient shouts of “BOOYEAH!” In an effort to find a unique way to celebrate, Erin, Brodi and I took the grandkids to Dennis’ office for flu inoculations. (We’re nothing if not innovative.) Some got the mist, and two got the shot. Those who got the mist were flinging snot like the rankest bulls in the PBR. Those who got the shot screamed louder than Jamie Lee Curtis in “Halloween.” We didn’t care….shot or snot. We simply mopped up all the viscous projectiles and apologized to the other patients and noise enforcement Nazis. As we were leaving the waiting room, Carter shrieked in his finest demonic voice, “SHOTS KILL KIDS!” Celebration is in the eye of the beholder.
There is a protocol in soccer that is observed when a player is down or injured on the field. Both teams go down on one knee until that player recovers. It is a gesture of sportsmanship and support. Throughout the month of October, there have been a multitude of friends and loved ones on one knee. Our family is now on both knees in gratitude – most appropriate for the month of November.
However, I am already planning my costume for October of 2011. Next year for Halloween, I’m dressing up as a PETAFLOP!