Difficult tasks

My dad had a life insurance policy.  He paid the premium, every pay period.  I’m sure he paid more over time than the policy was worth.  Actually it’s the same policy I have.  I remember when he filled out the “beneficiaries” form, him saying 90% would go to my mom and 10% to me.  We joked about it.  At the time his death was probably 20 years away.  I never thought this day would actually come. A few months ago, my mom and I received letters saying we were his beneficiaries.  And we had to fill out a form and mail it back to cash the policy in.  My mom did it, and got her check.  I just couldn’t.  let the envelope sit, and sit, and sit.  Finally I opened it.  The letter began “we are sorry for your loss”–and somehow, curiously, that little touch of humanity made me feel so much better.  I filled the form out today.  I still have to mail it. It all made me very sad.  I still remember like yesterday us joking about the 90% and 10%.  I don’t want any money.  I just want to see my dad with his grandbabies. Yesterday was the third anniversary of my great-uncle’s death.  He lived to be 93 and met his great grandchildren.  My family’s WhatsApp group is blowing up with tributes, etc.  I wonder what it would have been like to have my dad until he was 93, until I was older myself. My boss’s dad died a couple of weeks ago.  She’s my age.  It really brought back a lot of bad memories.  He had a nice death though; he never suffered with dementia or indignities or the loss of independence, and it was over in an instant.  After seeing my dad I didn’t think a “good” death was possible.  I wish he had one, but I guess death is as random and often as unfair as life is.

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This time of year

It’s a year since my dad fell ill.  Several months since he passed.  It’s snowy now, just like it was last year when he fell in the snow and could not stand up.  We thought his legs were cold–nobody suspected that his fall was the first symptom of a large brain tumor which within months would make his body and mind useless.

If I could go back and talk to myself of a year ago, I would tell her to be strong.

I would tell her that her worst nightmare was going to come true.  Dad was going to have a lot of futile treatment, suffer a lot, and die, after barely meeting his grandbaby.

And I would tell her that her life would go on, and that it would not always remain at the intense level of horribleness of that particular moment.  And that with her father’s death, his suffering would be over.  That the phrase “brain tumors” would plop back into the murky whirlpool of horrific things that happen to Other People, and she should live her life and let it go there.  There is a poignant line in Dr. Frank Ochberg’s Survivor Psalm:

I may never forget, but I need not always remember.

I started bleeding the other day.  We called the OB late at night.  He told us that this far into pregnancy (it was 15 weeks or so) the most likely cause of bleeding was placenta previa.  We asked if we should go to the ER (same ER that, a year ago today, told my dad he was fine and sent him home.)  He said that in principle yes, but that in practice the ER would run a lot of useless tests and make us sit there all night.  So just come in stat first thing in the morning.

We did.  Since it was a walk-in appointment, we waited about two hours.  The sonographer was the same sonographer as in my previous pregnancy, at another practice.  She was very kind.  She did a detailed sonogram.  She was careful not to let us see the screen until she had found the baby.  She consulted the doctor and returned and said that my cervix was closed and long, the placenta was anterior (not placenta previa), and basically that they didn’t know why I was bleeding but it didn’t seem like anything was wrong.  Come back if it got worse or started again.  The doctor didn’t need to see us at all.

I have never bled during pregnancy before, so it was a pretty unnerving experience.

2nd Prenatal Visit

I had my second prenatal doctor’s appointment.  The first visit was quite difficult (blood draw, Pap and internal exam, transvaginal ultrasound, referral to a maternal-fetal medicine practice for a first-trimester screen).  The MFM visit was pretty rough too–genetic counseling, a lot of blood taken for cell-free DNA testing, and as usual trouble finding a vein (interestingly, the phlebotomist was a former L&D nurse), and then an ultrasound that didn’t go so well because I was dehydrated.  The water there tasted like metal and I felt nauseous drinking it.

This visit was barely five minutes.  It was the first one I’d gone to alone.  The doctor began by asking me if I was feeling more human, which surprisingly, I am.  I had a bad cold and sinus infection but the OB told me to just ride it out.  He just listened with a fetal monitor and they took weight and blood pressure, and that was all.  I’m supposed to make an appointment for the anatomy ultrasound at 18 weeks, and another OB appointment at 19 weeks.