Monday, October 18, 2004

This has been one helluva day...

Shortly after the alarm went off this morning, we heard an odd sound. I thought it sounded like a tapping of some sort; boyfriend thought it was more like a scratching. He got up to investigate and paused by the bathroom sink. I thought maybe the pipes were making some weird rattling noise. Then he went out to the living room, came back to the bedroom where I was putzing around and calmly said, "I think we have a creature." Come again? "A creature?" Gekkos get into the house all the time, so I knew he didn't mean one of those. I feared the worst--a mouse. My heart sank...or maybe it was that my stomach flopped. "A mouse?" "No...a rat." I FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKED. Seriously. Boyfriend learned this morning that a fear of rats is at the top of my phobia list. And as much as it freaked me out to learn that it is/was/had been inside the condo, I was equally upset at the thought of him leaving for work and leaving me inside with it (if in fact it was still inside--we do have a tiny place and there was no sign of it). I kept saying, "You can't leave me here with it!" He kept insisting, "But I have to go to work!" His workday starts at 6:30; mine starts at 7:30. I told him to wait just a minute--I'd drive him and go to work early. I may have set a new Guinness world record in the "How fast can a woman shower and dress?" category. When we went to leave, I saw the hole in our screen door that "the creature" had gnawed, so I knew he was right to assume it had been a rat.

They're all over the golf course. When friends lived a couple of doors down, the husband was sitting on the balcony one morning and one ran right in front of his feet. When boyfriend first worked at the golf course as a starter, he'd see dead rats precariously balanced on the rafters over the starter area and hope and pray that they wouldn't fall onto the customers. I did see one scoot across our darkened balcony a couple of nights last week (after boyfriend was in bed). There everywhere here, so I've been very fortunate that I haven't had to get up close and personal with one...unlike my boss's wife. When she first moved here, she was shopping in the supermarket one day and had one jump off a shelf onto her shoulder. But then she also had an iguana jump from a tree onto her head, too--so she does have a pattern of things leaping at her.

When boyfriend got home from work, he checked under the bathroom sink and discovered that the noise we'd heard this morning was from "the creature" trying to tear away the drywall next to the drainpipe. I stopped at Home Depot on the way home from work, and between the poison, spray foam and replacement screen material, we think we've covered our bases. Not to mention the traps. When I spoke to the boyfriend from the office he mentioned that he'd picked up a couple of "mouse traps" from his supervisor. I figured they might be better than nothing, but a little tiny mouse trap didn't seem like it would be very effective. But, no, these are some big-ass glue rat traps. He said his boss had them on hand because he's had a problem with them getting into his office. And then boyfriend kind of chuckled and said, "Yeah, he caught one last week that was this lon..." That's when I told him I could do without the details.

Boyfriend was scheduled to play a gospel gig downtown this evening. He really didn't feel like going, even though he loves gospel music. The guy who asked him to play was already going to have a drum machine there, so he had pretty much decided to skip the gig (and he would be volunteering his time). But the guy called to make sure he was coming, so he felt obligated. There was no way I was staying home on Rat Patrol (even though I doubt we'll see him again) so I went along. It was a "Thanksgiving and Praise" service. Basically one of the churches was having a celebration that we'd made it through hurricane season safely. A little premature perhaps, since hurricane season isn't over until November 30. But a nice thought nonetheless. The music was wonderful, there were a bunch of totally adorable kids there and I was actually enjoying myself...until late in the program. They had handed out programs with the song lyrics. When there were only a couple of songs left, the minister took over the soloing from the woman who'd sung all of the other songs. Just when I thought the program was drawing to a close, he said, "Please be seated." Uh-oh. Now, I mean no offense to any Christian readers. Boyfriend's a (okay, not really a practicing, but still) Christian and I was raised Catholic. But when ministers pull out the bible and start preaching, I sometimes lose interest. Sometimes I can glean some personal meaning from morsels of it, but not tonight. And I couldn't stop yawning. The car was only about ten yards away, just across the street from the gazebo where boyfriend was playing (and the preacher was preaching). It suddenly occured to me that instead of struggling to stop yawning while perched on a concrete bench, I did have another alterantive. I could climb into the passenger seat of the car where I could still hear the goings-on, recline the seat and possibly doze off behind the tinted windows. Of course, that wouldn't be very 'spiritual' of me. I'll let you guess what I did.

We arrived home to a message from my stepmother asking us to call. We figured they must have received the anniversary gift we sent them. Their 26th anniversary was last Friday, but their gift was late because we didn't have the right sized box to pack the framed photos we'd made them (photos of their big 25th anniversary bash last year.) And yes, they did receive the package and loved the photos. And then she said, "Getting your package was the bright spot in our day...because I'm afraid we have some bad news to tell you today." I thought, "Oh god, who died now?" And then she said, "The cyst they removed from your Dad's neck turned out to be cancer." And I felt stunned...because he'd had it biopsied a couple of months ago and the results were benign. In fact, the doctors encouraged him to NOT have it removed--they told him that benign cysts like that typically disappear on their own, and my stepmother agreed with the doctors. But my father insisted and thank god he did, because the cancer diagnosis caught his doctors by surprise.

He had the cyst removed last Wednesday, but the area on his neck has grown more swollen and tender since then. The doctor left a message on their answering machine today, but they were unaware of it because they were in town taking care of some business. Dad insisted that they go by the doctor's office so the doctor could take a look at his neck since it didn't seem to be getting any better. When they walked into the doctor's office, the receptionist said, "Oh, he left you a message." Just then the doctor walked out and asked them to come into his office. Dad said he thought, "Well, this can't be very good." As soon as they were seated, the doctor told them that he and the other doctor had gotten some information they hadn't expected--that the cyst is cancerous. Dad said, "You see scenes like that on TV and you wonder how you would react (if someone told you that you have cancer). I didn't know how to react." He was back at the hospital for tests today, and he'll go back on Thursday to get the results of those tests and to have even more tests done (pricking and poking, as he puts it).

We've been dealing with my father's heart disease for 20 years. I guess I didn't see cancer anywhere on the horizon, since the heart stuff has seemed like enough to deal with. This has caught all of us off guard, since the fear and alarm we felt when the cyst first appeared on his neck was alleviated by the benign diagnosis as a result of the needle biopsy. Now we're back at the fear and alarm stage. If you'd be so kind, please hold a good thought.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Marilyn, I am holding good thoughts for your dad. I hope his spirits are good. How absolutely crazy that they would never have found out if it wasn't for his good sense. Some doctors--sheesh

The RAT stories freaked me out. Oh my god. Hope that is the last you see/hear of them chez vous. ~bluepoppy

7:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh hon . . . sending you adn your dad hugs and well wishes . . . if you want me to look more into it, drop me an email at the nomadicgrace email. As for the rats - may I lend you The Hoon? Bluepoppy has him first to help with her fly and mice issues but he'd be happy to take a little working island vacation :) smooches to you . . :) Kat

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best wishes going out to your Dad, and to you.

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sure hope you are doing all right...and make Mr. Rat find a new home...


12:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure your dad will be just fine, maybe little tired of everyone poking him but that's ok. It's amazing the advances they are making every day to treat cancer. He'll be fine.

Rats, I hate them! One time when my dad was in Tahiti sleeping in a family friends house, one dropped off the roof rafters onto his head. Yuck! When I stayed at the same house, I couldn't sleep all night.


8:18 PM  

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