Monday, March 31, 2008

Ritter's Diner

Three more trips to Pittsburgh since my last post. We discovered Ritter's. A nurse at Hillman told us about the place, it's right around the corner from the hospital. Ritter's is the best diner we have been to in years. It's just like the places we all hung out at when we were growing up in North Jersey. Ritter's has a non-smoking section. The rest of the booths and the counter all have ashtrays so you don't have to feel like some kind of outcast for having a smoke with your coffee. The coffee is very good by the way. Nothing fancy, no latte mocha Seattle yuppie crap, just good coffee. They have CD jukeboxes at the window booths. Waitresses who call you "honey, dear" and "sweetheart".

So the next step is to schedule the surgery. She saw the plastic surgeon last week, he can handle the reconstruction. He works closely with the people at Hillman, with her surgeon/oncologist in particular. They will want to see her one more time, at the plastic surgeon's office, after they schedule the operation. The hospital will need her to come in for one more biopsy about a week prior as well. They want to do a lymph node biopsy as a precaution.

She is scared now. It all seems so final now. A bilateral, or double mastectomy is in her near future. Reconstruction will begin on that day, it's actually the best time to do it. She had a hard time making that decision, to have the reconstruction. She said she felt like it made her seem shallow to want that. The plastic surgeon gave her a DVD to watch. The DVD explains the whole process, it also includes interviews with many women who have been where she is now. They all said the same things, they all felt felt the same things. They all expressed the same thoughts about breast cancer that she has been having, from diagnoses up to and including reconstruction. They were all glad they had the reconstruction.

Hey Tommy. Yeah bro, sorry I havn't written nothin' for a few weeks. Just ain't been happenin' for me, you know? I went to Jersey. I saw that old man. He is on his way out. I think he's okay with that. It was good that we talked, me and him. Our old neighbors from a few doors down when I was growing up, their mom is in the room across the hall from my father. Talk about a strange reunion. It was good to see them. Well, two of the brothers and the one sister were there. The other two brothers I didn't get to see this time. Me and "J", we exchanged e-mails. Me and him are the closest in age. We ran around together when we were kids. We were all part of the same crew. Yeah, Jersey was a lot different back then. We all grew up blue collar and regular. It's all yuppies and big money these days. "J" said that my old house is for sale. "J" said he had to take a walk through when they had an open house. "J" said it was cool, lots of memories, good times sneaking out the side door runnin' wild. "J" said the guy who's sellin' that house is asking over a million for the place. That's just nuts. My parents sold it for a little over a hundred thousand back around 1981. That's a real shame I think. Jersey is gone. Ain't no Jersey left, not like we knew it. It's just a big friggin' suburban wasteland now. Too much money. How much is enough?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

3-3. 3-11

We reported to Magee Women's Hospital on Halket Street in Pittsburgh this Monday past. The first thing they did was a head and eye x-ray. That didn't take too long at all. In fact she was done before her scheduled appointment time. Second stop was across the third floor lobby to the Breast Center for mammograms. She was in there for two hours.

I had gone downstairs to get her a cup of coffee while we waited for her scheduled two o'clock mammogram appointment. I returned with her coffee and she was gone. They had called her a few minutes early. I read the Pittsburgh Post while her coffee went cold. I walked out into the third floor lobby. Leaning against the railing looking out at the city I saw a medi-vac chopper make it's approach. Cautiously, the bird flared for it's landing on a nearby rooftop. Judging the angle I assumed the chopper was landing at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital located a short distance from where I stood. It's odd seeing and not hearing a helicopter in such close proximity.

I went outside to call our daughter, the older baby girl. I had our pre-paid Trac Fone in my pocket. She picked up her sister at the bus stop.


So I started this post on the eighth. Today is the thirteenth. On Monday, the tenth, we were back at the Hillman Cancer Center on Centre Avenue in Pittsburgh. They drilled holes in her. Biopsy. She's waiting to hear from the doctor. She is bruised. She is uncomfortable. She did not go to work on Monday night. The doctor said no work for twenty-four hours. She went in on Tuesday night at midnight. She went in again last night. She's sleeping now.

When we were at Hillman the other day, I went outside and crossed the street to have a cigarette. I stood near the corner of Shadyside Hospital, the northeast corner by the overpass. I don't remember much. I guess nothing stood out. They have free coffee at Hillman. In the main lobby when you first walk in, and up on the third floor to the right of the reception desk for outpatient services. The coffee on the third floor is better.

I have a pit in my stomach.

We have a new dog. A puppy. He's a Papillon. He's great. My wife said we need something positive in this house. She's right. The girls love him. I love him too. The other two dogs get along with him just fine. The Shep, she looks out for him. The younger mutt, the smart one, he's teaching the puppy how to play.

I still have a pit in my stomach. Don't know what to say so I don't say anything at all. It's not working out very well.

It was Tuesday the eleventh when we went to Hillman. It was not Monday, it was Tuesday.