Showing blog posts tagged with: milo

Extra everything with icing on the top. And a cherry.

by Hilla Duka - View comments

milo portrait with too much Photoshop effects

I decided I deserved a real camera, so for the first time in my life, I invested in a proper DSLR camera. I know this is going to make me sound ancient, but I kind of didn't follow into the digital camera era - I learned how to take pictures using film and develop them in a darkroom when I was in school, and loved it soooo much, but then when everyone decided digital photography was the real deal, I just didn't join in. Until now. Welcome to your new home, Canon 700D, we're very happy to have you. Well, I am. To be honest, the others don't care so much.

 

The thing is, between getting myself a proper camera, and deciding to learn Photoshop properly, I will willingly admit I don't know where to stop. I am going all extra-everything-and-some-chips-on-the-side on my poor images. The kids will hate me for it when they grow up and see the pics with soft focus and romantic light... I will try to control myself, especially tomorrow, when we celebrate Jacob who turns eight!


Milestones passed

by Hilla Duka - View comments

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Milo’s lost his first tooth! A very proud little man, who’s been walking around with a wriggling tooth for weeks now, wondering when it would ever come off, has now had it exchanged for a gold coin from the tooth fairy. Big milestone passed here.

 

And I’ve passed my own milestone, treatment no 4 is now working its toxic ways through my body, and the blood sample I gave the day before yesterday came back showing the highest blood count (haemoglobin), since I’ve started treatment - a staggering 112 instead of my usual 95! This meant that I didn’t need a blood transfusion, so the time in the ward was a mere two hours, the shortest so far. Though no-one seems to understand why my blood count was higher this time, everyone seems to think it’s a good thing. It’s normal to have a low blood count when going through chemo as it attacks all fast growing cells, and haemoglobin, hair, skin are all fast growing. But as I have metastases in my bone marrow my haemoglobin production is poor in itself. If I try to think positive, I think that maybe my better values come from some of the metastases being altered in their progress. Since no-one knows for sure, it seems only reasonable to think positively about it. And, very importantly, it means two more bags of blood are thankfully available to someone in more urgent need of it than me!


It’s during this cycle of treatment that we will do the CT scan and see how the progress is going, and I’m hoping this is a good sign for the news to come. I can’t say I’m not nervous about it. But the tumour in the breast is visibly smaller, and I can’t feel the lumps in my neck anymore. I don’t have such a pain in my lower back as I used to, though that is most likely because of the skeleton strengthening medicin they’re giving me. The chemo is taxing, and I often have aches in my joints, and at times parts of my body feel like someone’s been going at me with a small hammer all night… Still, this is a far cry from how awful I thought it would be! I’ve managed not to have to take any of the extra medicines they’ve prescribed for side effects, so I only take the anti-nausea meds three days after treatment. Small things to be grateful for!


Being weak

by Hilla Duka - View comments

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Five days in to the third treatment, and this time is definitely worse than the ones before. Day three I couldn’t do anything. I mean absolutely nothing. All day was spent lying down, sleeping on and off, while nausea and pain and uncomfortableness rolled over me in waves. Breathing was a task that had to be managed. On those days, it’s hard to find anything to be grateful for, other than when evening comes and I get to go to sleep and soon it’ll be another day. Being weak is not one of my stronger points, so this is a bit of a learning curve.

Little mr big man now...

Still life goes on around me, even when I’m not really participating in it. Milo has started training for school, so for three days now he’s been heading off in the morning, together with Ilir, to get to know his new teachers and the school. He’s been kind of nervous about it - it’s a big step - but calmed down as we talked about what a good situation he’s got going for him: two older brothers in school, who’ll always have his back. We were joking about how no one was going to dare to be mean to him (which was his major concern) with two fierce brothers around, and gradually the nerves receded, and now he’s really happy and proud to be starting school. I’m sad that I’m missing it, but at the same time grateful that I am at least here when he comes home, and get to hear about his day and what he’s learnt and done. I filled out his papers for school and his schedule, and under “Anything else we should know about?” I filled in “Milo is still not speaking clearly”, then as an afterthought, I wrote, “Also, his mother is suffering from breast cancer, stage four”. Well, yes, maybe they needed to know about that too...

 

Most people are going back to work now, and it’s making it harder to pretend that I’m just on a really long, weird holiday. I miss my job, I miss the people there. I miss being normal. I feel like I look and behave more and more as a cancer patient, no longer strong enough to go for a proper walk, my head bald, and now my eyebrows and eyelashes are thinning out as well. I used to have hair down to my waist, thick eyebrows and long eyelashes. I used to at least be able to dress up and put on a pair of heels and still pass for decent-looking. Now, all I am is cancer-looking. That’s ok, and I’m really trying to not focus on that, but it’s harder than you think to let go, even of small stuff like that. Then add to that the effect of chemo brain, where my once so organised brain is no longer really working the same way, and I’m constantly in a haze of chemo fogs… I do feel in some ways as if I miss myself. I’m still grateful that I am here, but I wish I was more me. I try to focus on the fact that this too will pass, but as I’ve treatments lined up until February, it’s not like it will pass any time soon. And then there’s always the question of what comes after...

 

So, I focus on the shorter goals. Right now, it’s just getting past this first week of third treatment. Once that’s over, I should feel better again, more like myself. Then it’s managing no four and five, and then, it’s the big October checkup, halfway through the cycle of treatments. It’s the first real indicator of how the chemo is working, how much of the tumours are left. Even though it means a new bone marrow biopsy (not pleasant), it’ll be good to know how my body’s doing, to really be able to see that we’re making progress!


Celebrating and commemorating

by Hilla Duka - View comments

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My lovely little Milo - not so little anymore, is turning six today, so obviously we have major reason for celebrating! He’s still not speaking clearly, and the baby curls still fall in lovely little ringlets around his shoulders and down his back. His amazingly long and curly eyelashes hit nearly upon his eyebrows, and when he smiles, my heart misses a beat. He’s funny and charming and impossibly headstrong, and clever and inventive as well. He’s at that stage where he’s still a bit of a small boy, and at the same time growing into a big boy with big ideas.  I’m so unbelievably proud of him - of all my boys of course, but today is Milo’s day.

 

Yesterday would have been my grandmother’s birthday, she would have been 93 but passed away five years ago. I don’t mark her day of passing, but her birthday instead. I was very close to her, though I probably felt closer to her than she did to me - after all she had many other grandchildren, but my other grandparents were in Israel and I didn’t see them often or talk to them often. Being with grandmother was a refuge from everyday life. I loved the freedom of being with her, she just accepted me the way I was, and it  was a simple and respectful togetherness - I accepted that there were things she wouldn’t talk to me about, and she did me the same turn. Instead, she taught me cooking, baking, sewing and crocheting. And while we worked, she told me little stories from her childhood, that became little treasures for me. I’d learnt not to ask myself, as there was no knowing what she wanted to share and not, but whenever she would share a small bit, I sat listening with rapt attention, savoring every word. I need to write those stories down for the kids for the future.

 

Even when I was quite young, I don’t think I could have been more than ten, my grandmother started talking about her impending death. Not in a morbid way at all, I think she was just trying to prepare me for a time when she wouldn’t be there. It was just small things, like going for a stroll in the spring and her wondering if she would be here to see next spring. After all, she’d already said goodbye to most of her siblings, so wondering would be natural I suppose. The last time we spoke before she died, she told me “It’s quite alright, I’m more than willing to go now”. When my kids went through the phase of worrying about death, that’s what I told them. “People go when it’s time for them to go - when they’re ready” I hope that’s true, because then I’ll be around for a long time. I’m not anywhere near ready to go, not any time soon! I want to raise my kids, see them grow up into teenagers and adolescents and grown ups, find their person and maybe have kids of their own. I want to grow old.

 

Today, I’m so thankful that I get to be here for Milo’s sixth birthday! I had my third treatment yesterday, so I don’t have tons of energy, but I’m here, and that’s enough. I can cuddle him up, pour kisses on him and touch is soft curls. I can tell him I love him and how proud I am of him, and I get the pleasure of seeing him opening his gifts, hopefully being delighted with them. I get to hear him play with his brothers. All of these things I’m grateful for. Six years ago, he was a healthy, sturdy and absolutely brand new person, and I did as all new parents do - counted his toes and fingers, touched his little button nose and his impossibly soft skin, stared into his blue eyes, thinking he was absolute perfection, and how lucky I was to get to be his mother. That’s what I’m thinking about today - actually what I think about most days now - how lucky I am to get to be their mother.

 

Monday panda

by Hilla Duka - View comments

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I don't know, maybe it could be a thing? We could all just post drawings of pandas, with different themes for each week? Or maybe it's just me.

 

Anyway, Milo asked me to draw him a panda, and since I'm better with pixels and vectors than I am with pen and paper, this is what he got. He's not thrilled with the end result, and kindly pointed out that the panda was not wearing any clothes, and was therefor, by definition, naked. "I did not ask for a naked panda!" So next Monday Panda will be clothed. I'm thinking sailor outfit? Or biker panda? Oh the possibilities! Feel free to make suggestions below!

 

Oh and if you're using my new fancy schmancy rss feed to read this, I know you (probably?) can't see the pic, but don't worry, it's just a panda. But you probably figured that out by now. The thing is, I haven't entirely figured out how to add the image to the atom feed. Yet. 

 

Update: I caved and dressed him. Well, slightly, a hat counts as clothes. Also cristmassified the pic a bit. Like it? The kids do! :)


Birthday circus

by Hilla Duka - View comments

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Milo turned five a few weeks ago, and for his birthday got a trip to the circus for the whole family. While I was less than thrilled, all of the kids where excited to go - all though Jacob expressed some concers about the clowns and whether or not they where frightening. 

 

We all ended up having a wonderful time. The kids from watching the show, and me from watching the kids. It really was amazing seeing how they reacted to all of it. Jonathan with shining eyes, on the edge of his seat, laughing and clapping. Milo watching, and without realising it doing the movements along with the performers. And Jacob sitting as still as a statue, nothing registering on the outside, just taking it all in. He was quite concerned about the elephants, and had that one lost its tusks, and did she not look sad. He is such an animal lover...

One of the best things, as far as the boys where  concerned, was the candy floss. Milo ended up having spun sugar all over his face, his hair - everywhere. After the show two kids where asleep, while the third declared it to have been the best night of his life. All in all - worth it. 


So this is a holiday then?

by Hilla Duka - View comments

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Week two of holidaying is almost finished. I have to admit - it took some getting used to!

Strangely, it's weird having all three kids at home. Normally, we only have about an hour in the morning, usually a very stressed hour, filled with "Can you just eat the porridge!" cries and "Whyyyy wont you get dressed?" questions. The one bit of quality time in the morning is usually the walk to nursery and school, when I can finally leave the morning rush behind, admit that we're probably going to be late (we usually are, I get dirty looks from Jonathan's teacher...) and just enjoy their company and talk about stuff that comes to (their) mind. Usually Minecraft.

Then we each go through our day, only to meet up at sixish, when I throw something together, call it dinner, and the kids question said something being anything remotely close to dinnerish. After having either won or lost the dinner discussion, all there's basically time for is watching a show on telly, throwing the kids in the shower and tucking them in. They go to sleep at half seven, so it's just ninety minutes of together time at night. As you can probably see, quite different from having them 24/7!

 

But we do our best, filling the days with homemade ice creams (I'm really not as wholesome as that makes me sound, but I've long since realised that any amount of processed sugar makes my kids behave like little monsters, so I mash up fruits, chuck them in the freezer and call it ice cream. The kids have yet to call me on it. ), visits to parks and playgrounds, where I get to play the super fun game of one-two-three with the kids. Not heard of it? It goes like this: One, two, oh-no-where's-the-third-one? Oh god, there he is! What's he climbing on? And then you start over again. It's surprisingly not fun.

 

Also, I don't really like other parents. In the park, it seems you need to be making conversation with other parents all the time. I wouldn't mind, if only it wasn't so boring! And it's not like you get to talk about interesting things, like work, travels, politics or current events either. Conversations are stricly restricted to who has injured what body part recently (children, that is), what respective families will be doing for upcoming holidays (there seems to always be one coming up!), and of course, the ever so popular weather.

 

I miss normal conversations with grown ups. I miss them so much I try to have them with my kids. With, actually, better results than I have with the parents in the park. 

 

Two weeks done, and only two more to go. Then life can return to normal again. The only thing I'll be sad to give up is the sleep ins. Lately, I've slept to eight almost every morning - heavenly!