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katemikkelsen
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Artsy fartsy gal at home in Wisconsin.
Recent Activity
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This is the first three week cycle where I didn’t get the cytotoxic chemo drug in my infusion. I had no idea. I don’t think I really grasped how sick I was even on my “good days”. There was a predictable rhythm the fourth, fifth and sixth cycles—I was “fine” for three days after infusion (thanks to steroids which had their own awful side effects but made me feel false energy), then sick for ten days and then “ok” for seven days before the next round. I was not fine. I was not ok. Today is the first day I... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at girl at large
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This is the time of year we usually plan our spring break road trip. Me, Mom, Viv and my copy of Historic Hotels of American hitting the road. Last year, we canceled at the last minute as COVID was closing in and states were closing down. This year I hoped to do a localized version, perhaps a trip along the Mississippi River in western Wisconsin. But I hadn’t booked anything yet, because you know...cancer. After five months of chemo, this week was scan week. Monday was my PET scan, Tuesday we got the results. As my oncologist said, in his... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at girl at large
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Thank you Internet, today was a good day. We managed three big wins you and me together: I successfully won a medical billing dispute. We completed the registry for Viv’s two week summer camp. And best of all, Mom got her vaccine! It’s been a very good day. I’m going to bed now to savor the relief. Continue reading
Posted Feb 8, 2021 at girl at large
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The monochromatic outfits we all loved have to be inspired by The Crown, don’t make fun of the Queen ever again. Men need better dress up clothes. Get some interesting coats dudes. Bernie is in front of me at the post office every time. Every event needs a mascot. I didn’t know it was Gaga because I had on only audio at that moment, I thought it sounded weird. I am clearly not musical. The whole of my creative life will not add up to one tenth the impact of one line of Amanda Gorman’s poem. I was on the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2021 at girl at large
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I can’t tell you how much it means to see these two together. It’s been a hard hard year, this kiddo needed this buddy so bad. It’s a daily joy to watch Viv be responsible and empathetic, learning how to take care of a living thing. My favorite moments are when he’s worried that Stevie isn’t warm and comfortable at all times. Viv’s favorite hoodie is frequently found gently placed on Stevies snoozing back. For my reflective and reserved child, who misses classmates and playgrounds, running errands and seeing grandparents, this little friend has woken something up that has been... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2021 at girl at large
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The timing of the fourth round of chemo, just a few days before Christmas, sucked. I was the sickest during the height of home bound festivities. Chemo day itself is not hard. After chemo is hard. Like the unexpected (and rarely talked about) challenges after childbirth, the after affects of chemo are less known, wildly varied, and involve a lot of fluids. I’d been overdoing it for the holiday for weeks; keeping busy keeps my mind off the illness. Making good things happen for the kids keeps the darker thoughts at bay. Sometimes, in the early morning when I was... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2021 at girl at large
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Me: “Charlie, how many cookies have you eaten?” Charlie, gesturing adorably to the nearly empty tray: “I’ve eaten all the ones that are missing” Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2020 at girl at large
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Tomorrow is chemo round three and I’m sleepless on steroids and dreading it so here is a picture of how my husband arranges the kids’ treasures after a pandemic Autumn walk. At least when he leaves a mess on my desk he does it correctly. Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2020 at girl at large
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The thing about chemo nurses is they will cheerily ask “So, what did you do this weekend?!” like you didn’t spend it: having diarrhea being constipated feeling nauseous feeling dizzy taking nausea medication that makes you dizzy counting hives having bloody noses counting pills, writing it down and then immediatly forgetting what you've taken being cold, then hot, then cold gargling with baking soda and salt gargling with apple cider vinegar having bone pain sleeping not sleeping while everyone else is sleeping moisturizing your bald ass head Continue reading
Posted Nov 17, 2020 at girl at large
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(This is my favorite photo of exhaustion.) I’m in the infusion room right now and all the nurses are talking about the next phase decisions coming down from their organization leadership. So far I’ve overheard chat about—-surgery and electives are going to be stopping, procedures that might have been overnight admissions are now only proceeding if the patient can tolerate same day outpatient, they started another tier of hazard pay at +$30/hour, “But what difference does that make if you get quarantined and yeah you made all that extra money but you get back to regular when you’re off and... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2020 at girl at large
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Halloween 2020 is testing the creative powers of parents across the country. Tonight I’m thinking about my greatest parenting triumph when at seven o’clock on a work night we made a Batman costume from household items (including a tarp, duct tape, construction paper and shoelaces) in ten minutes so Viv could go to the elementary school monster mash party at the very last minute and then promptly take it all off to jump around in a cafeteria with a throng of sweaty seven year olds. We did not take a single fucking picture. So, here is photo of Viv the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2020 at girl at large
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So the best fix for mouth sores from chemo and the pain of thrush, also caused by chemo, is a prescription mixture called Magic Mouthwash. It wasn’t provided in advance, or even mentioned by my chemo nurses. Typically around 50% of chemo patients experience canker sores, mouth sores, mouth pain and/or a thrush infection. Many experience a change in taste so extreme that even water tastes bad. Water. This is me. After some back and forth with the nurse line and doctor, we finally got the prescription called in for Magic Mouthwash today. But it’s not covered by my insurance.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2020 at girl at large
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I have breast cancer. It’s an aggressive type, fueled by my own hormones, and like a constellation it has traveled in a great arc from my breast to my sternum, out to my arm and up past my clavicle. I won’t go in to the story of how I was diagnosed, why it wasn’t caught “earlier”, or the howling anguish of the last thirty days. Not yet. Today I’m ready only to say that things look bleak but also better than they did a week ago. It’s all horrible but also I’m very lucky. I feel like shit but I’m... Continue reading
Posted Oct 25, 2020 at girl at large
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I’m trying to convince Paul to be on time for this morning’s grocery store pick up appointment by just going in his pajamas. He won’t do it. “Paulie, have you seen how people dress here?! Even in your pajamas you have more buttons on right now than the average Wisconsin man at a wedding!” Happy Birthday my love. Next year will be better. Le Mans is waiting for you. So are the groceries. There’s booze in that order, get going. Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2020 at girl at large
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We helped Mom move into a new apartment in her building the first week of July; one that is just a bit roomier so she can have more studio space, and it has an updated kitchen. She had quite literally worn out the previous unit’s 1970’s era kitchen. I’m still haunted by how close in time frame that move was to our Covid exposure, but somewhat relieved when I recall that we were extra diligent about masks and keeping physical distance, especially from Mom. And the kids haven’t been in her presence at all since they had returned to daycare.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2020 at girl at large
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The night before the positive case notice, when we still had summer at our house. There’s a lot of Covid information out there, and a lot of it is confusing. Sometimes there’s a source that combines smarts, facts and a style of communicating that really works for me. Below is one of those posts, and very timely one to boot. This bit of critical information became very real to us when I asked my physician father if we had to be masked indoors all the time with Charlie even if there was a good chance of already being infected (it... Continue reading
Posted Jul 27, 2020 at girl at large
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I had a blind spot. I wear a mask all day at work, we require our customers to do so too, and we control the entry to the store to keep capacity low. We only see my mom outdoors, and with masks on. We’ve cancelled every trip, even Elkhart Lake because the hotel didn’t have a mask policy for guests. We haven’t set foot in a store or a restaurant since March. Paulie is working from home indefinitely. Viv’s two-week day camp doesn’t allow contact with parents, requires masks when indoors (yes for the kids too), does temperature checks and... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2020 at girl at large
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“Firefighter Dan came to our school Mama and we sat outside and he put on a funny mask and we got to talk to him and ask him questions after he gave us badge stickers”. Oh, what question did you ask Firefighter Dan, Charlie? “I asked him about the Great Chicago Fire”. Wait, what? You asked about what? “Yep, but Firefighter Dan didn’t know too much”. (shakes head) Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2020 at girl at large
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Things are not back to normal. They shouldn’t be. The kids are back in daycare and I’m back at the store, which means no other activities for us, our exposure is just too great. I’m worried for myself and for others. I’m worried I’ll give it to someone. So, while the rest of the world returns to entertainment and bars like nothing ever happened, we are doing a daily balancing act. To treat the kids this weekend to a bit of at-home summertime “normal”, I ordered a HUGE inflatable kiddie pool water park thingie... It came in a tiny box.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2020 at girl at large
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I went out beyond my house yesterday for the first time in many weeks. My exciting adventures out into the world have never before had such a modest destination. How did it feel? What thrilling things did I experience? First, I have forgotten how to drive. And Brown Deer Road is still uuuuuuugly. When the governor relaxed some restrictions for retail businesses last week, I was extremely nervous. I felt pushed to move faster than I could be ready for, it moved the timeline up by two weeks. But I was coming around, with every preparation it got easier to... Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2020 at girl at large
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Here is a photo of 3 1/2 year old Charlie painting the basement wall during quarantine to show that Paulie isn't always a softie. Paulie and I have long argued that he dotes on the kids too much. Of course, the other side of that argument is that I am Slacker Mom. Or Strict Mom. Or just Exhausted Mom. Tonight, as usual, tired Paulie was drawing pictures of the full cast of The Muppets on demand, making multiple snacks, and sitting in a chair 5" off the ground. I offered to take care of the kids the remainder of the... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2020 at girl at large
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(Delivery truck and crew by Viv, circa 2018) Pro Tip: when supporting small and mid-sized businesses, keep to the services and products they have OFFERED. Don’t ask for more. Don’t ask for an exception. Don’t ask for shit Karen. The phased back to work plan can work, but only if we observe all the safety guidelines. The next phase can’t happen is the first phase fails. Don’t assume everyone has the capabilities to meet those safety procedures right this minute. Just because they technically CAN do business doesn’t mean they are READY to do business. Many businesses laid off and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 29, 2020 at girl at large
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Easter is a bit different this year. No big beautiful family meal at Aunt Lisa’s, no dressing up fancy and no Easter egg hunt at the park. Instead only six eggs to color, scrounging up strange kitchen drawer candy, raiding the present closet for a basket filler. This is week four of the quarantine, week four of the emotional roller coaster, first full week of homeschooling, second week where I have no sales team left to work with, fourth week of no customers, fourth week of no answers. What will the kids remember? The tears and arguments? The short tempered... Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2020 at girl at large
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I’ll always question why I asssumed it was safe to have the kids at Grandmas house the first week and half. Once I developed a cold (only one day of low fever, no other covid symptoms), it came crashing down on me just how selfish and risky that was. I hope that lesson wasn’t learned too late. Now that they are at home with us all day every day, I’m learning first-hand how amazing Grandma time was —activities, schedule, lessons schoolwork. And the snacks! Oh the snacks. I’m finding out just how impossible is it to Work From Home and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2020 at girl at large
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This has been one of the hardest weeks of my life. We say that and then something worse happens. I began this blog because of 9/11. This is worse. Worse personally because I have more to lose. Professionally because I have more responsibility. Emotionally because I also lost a friend to fucking murder last week. And for the world, because it involves the entire world. (Though the fallout of the wars after 9/11 would also qualify but who’s keeping track). In trying to make sense of what we are facing with this virus, I’ve been overwhelmed by the scientific information,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2020 at girl at large