The kitties hate that I've gone back to work. They have had more time with me than they have their entire lives this year.
When Beau moved in with us, he decided it was his job to "supervise" when Mark or I take showers. (Sometimes Chase's showers, too, but not always for some reason.) Every morning, he jumps down from the bed and leads each of us to the bathroom for our morning ablutions. But this week, as soon as Mommy puts on scrub pants instead of her Jack Skellington glow-in-the-dark pants, the look on his face becomes baleful. If you aren't a cat person, you may not realize that cats actually do have expressions. He hangs his head, and looks up at me, looking dejected and glum. He does not purr, even when I scratch his butt. He follows me from room to room, and as I leave for work, he sits, a pensive pouff of orange and white, inducing as much guilt as he possibly can.
Bella is more vocal about her protest. Cats often don't maintain eye contact, as it is often a sign of aggression in cat speech, unless "I love you" blinks are exchanged. Although our cats have learned the behavior that humans don't intend aggression when we look at them, they do not ever tend to stare. Once an "I love you" blink has been exchanged, they will look away. This week, Bella has been staring straight at me, yowling, and daring me to look away from her. She is indignant. She begins crying as soon as she sees the scrubs, and does not let up until I walk out the door. She'll pause briefly to allow me to kiss her head or rub her ears, but the second I step six inches away from her, she continues her kitty harangue. She doesn't care about the soothing noises, full of explainations about working so I can pay for her cookies that I make at her. She is UP. SET. about this going-back-to-work business.
So they are happy this afternoon, showing affection not just because they love me but to ensure I remember what I'm missing when I go off to wherever it is I go half the day that can't possibly be nicer than where we are.
And so here I am, in a warm puddle of grateful. The pain in my ribs isn't bad. After I left work today, I had a "fill" done into my tissue expanders...an injection of saline into each breast implant. I was achy enough to take the oxycodone by the time I got home. Of the thirty tablets I had on October 6 when I was discharged from the hospital, twelve remain. Ibuprofen, and honestly, the distraction of being a useful person in the working world again, are making those less and less necessary. I will likely save them for "fill days," which will likely get more difficult.
This was my first week back to work, part time. I work with awesome people, and it's done my heart so good to catch up with everybody. It's good to see patients. It's good to be a nurse. I spend my working time in a place I genuinely enjoy, being with people I genuinely respect and appreciate. While Bella is right that it's not as wonderful as a warm sunny bed full of happy, drowsing cats, it's still pretty damned good.
Nine weeks away meant a lot of change has occurred. That's true of any hospital, but the change is seismic with new management at a teaching hospital. Old ways of doing things are being gutted, and I think it's fabulous. I'm a Scorpio. I'm okay with burning unnecessary or archaic things down to make way for new. But it hasn't been easy on any of them. I am so impressed about how my team's kept it together, though. They may feel like the clinic has been a "shit show", because they don't see what a beautiful job they've been doing. It's fantastic, the improvements they've made, the efficiencies they've built. They don't see it because as they've been fixing processes in the clinic to make patient care better, the sheer VOLUME has gone up. Sam's doing better than some because she sees the numbers...call volumes, visit volumes, etc. I mean, they've been killing it. But they're tired. They want to offload. They've more than earned it, and I'm really glad I'm coming back because I want to help.
Reconnecting. Stuff happens, people move, people are bidding on condos, some show me pictures of their new flooring, some kids have started school, some kids are seniors in college now, babies are due, Halloween costume pictures swapped, big exams are coming for some, new vegan cupcake recipes have been learned. Several new people were hired, new faces to get to know.
Not everybody knew about the cancer. I've been pretty frank about telling people. "I'm cancerless, which is cool, but also boobless." We're all medical people, so nobody flinches about the way I talk about what I've been through. People cannot help but look down at my chest when talking to me, so I'm getting used to that. Quite a few of the nurses and MAs have poked at my fake boobs curiously as I've talked about the process. One of my NPs today told me she noticed how firm I was with the hug I gave her yesterday. We laughed about it, but I think I have to think about that in the future. These babies are freakin hard, and I imagine I could hurt somebody with them.
I am deeply happy that I have such a home there. I am so grateful for this place, these people.
Chase is practicing trumpet in the basement. We told him he doesn't have to go down there, but I think he would prefer we not hear any mistakes (?). I'm still listening to him, obviously. Sometimes, he's doing scales....he's really getting good. With trumpet, the higher notes are more challenging, and I can tell the difference in how much better he is doing with those notes. He's learning/recording an assignment that's due (for upload) tonight. "Chase Fridays" (i.e. every other Friday) tend to be a family night of pizza and unwinding in front of screens of some kind. He's already inhaled his half a pizza, and I'm sure he'll switch to screens soon and be up until one in the morning killing the avatars of other teenagers in Smite or Hearthstonne or Heroes of the Storm. (We're the set of parents that are far more lenient about things like bedtimes and screens and internet. We realize that he is sixteen. But we also see that the kid's getting his homework done on a Friday night first, with no prompting from us. I don't know that any of us can take credit for who he is and is becoming, but he is a good. kid.) (I guess I could start calling him a young man, but I get verklempt when I think about that.)
Mark's new toy arrived tonight: a gaming laptop. He didn't tell me it's a gaming laptop, because he realizes I'm aware that the word "gaming" means "add at least $500 to the price", but I don't care. He will be fussing with that, installing things and downloading things on and off all weekend I imagine. He's so excited. It is "Omen by HP, with Bang and Olufsen audio." It's a computer that they named. The keyboard glows red beneath the black keys. (Okay, I'm a little jealous because he his keyboard is cooler than mine.) (I just asked him again how much it cost just because I'm messing with him.) I wish he would let me buy these things for him for Christmas or birthday. He has that look on his face that I had when I was ten years old and Dad bought me that Lego tractor. (That was such a cool tractor.)
We've got tickets to a movie tomorrow mid-day, some superhero thing. Sunday, I'm heading to a stich and bitch with a friend, to meet some new people. Haven't decided what project to bring...mostly because the projects I'm working on now are too big. Darn, I might have to go to the yarn store tomorrow to pick out a skein or two to make a scarf to practice a few new stitches I want to learn. Then my mother-in-law (and possibly father-in-law) is coming down for the Sunday afternoon Packers game, and I'll probably hang out, too. It's family time, and I try to be present as I'm getting better.
It's been a hell of a year. I'm not done with my medical stuff yet, but I think....today, anyway....the end is in sight. February will be the last of this scalpel business for the forseeable future.
I signed up for another class for the spring....nursing informatics, which sounds interesting to me. We'll see how things go.
I'm okay. I'm better than okay. The song that floats into my head is "Beautiful World" by Colin Hay. It's a song that has the same feeling as the book The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which I read when I was too young to understand it (I was in my 20s.) It's an ambiguous, but profound happiness. Contentment with the fleeting nature of things. And I do think you have passed some milestone or milestones in your life to feel that. I don't know what those milestones are, but I know that I didn't get it when I was younger. I'm sure the Germans have a word for that (and if you're reading this, Adisa, I'd love to know what that word is.) When you can say "This is as good...as it gets..." and it can completely fill you with the brightest gratitude... If you don't know the song, you should, so here it is:
This is as good as it gets.