My Brother’s Penis

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My brother accidentally uploaded a photo of his penis onto FaceBook. Need I say more?

OK, I needn’t but I will.

Yes, I’m actually blogging about my brother’s penis.

This is actually a relatively old story, since it happened late December (the 25th to be exact). But, I promised (or threatened) him that I’d eventually blog about it.

Well, Frank, your time has come (so to speak)!

Think of it as a Christmas story, if you will… It was (or ’twas) Christmas Day, and we had family over for dinner. My husband cooked a huge, yummy feast, as usual. We had just said the prayer (like good Catholics, we pray on Christmas, Easter… and Thanksgiving). We were stuffing our faces and chit-chatting. It was nice, but then again, I love all events that involve family and food. Then, out of nowhere and with no warning whatsoever, my brother brought up (not out, up… well, up isn’t much better, I guess) his penis. Not exactly your typical holiday dinner conversation, he told the tale of how his penis ended up on FaceBook.

He had very recently bought a new cell phone, and he was at home alone testing its features… by, uh, sexting (unfamiliar? look it up) with his girlfriend. At her request, he took a naughty picture of himself, and texted it to her… or at least he tried. It was meant to be a private communication between two consenting adults. Harmless fun, right?

Anyhoo, the photo somehow took a wrong turn somewhere in cyberspace and ended up on his FaceBook feed. Yep, right there on his wall, for all eyes to see, was a picture of my brother’s penis!!!

At first, he didn’t even know it was there. But then, how would he? He was obviously busy at the time. He didn’t even find out until later (how much later? Minutes? Hours? I’m not sure) when my best friend (Hi, Diana!) saw it and contacted him.

Not believing her own eyes, she assumed it was some sort of virus, a hacker’s penis perhaps, certainly not my brother’s. For a bit of back story, Diana and I have been friends since the 9th grade. She was my college roommate, my maid of honor. She’s family, like a sister. Therefore, my brother is like a brother to her. When you look at it that way, it’s almost like seeing her own brother’s penis! See how I managed to make an already icky story about my own brother’s penis that much ickier? You’re welcome. Being a ‘do the right thing’ kind of girl, rather than pretending it never happened or poking out her own eyes, she notified him discreetly via email to avoid any potentially awkward conversation.

Horrified, he rushed to remove the picture.

This story would’ve (and probably should’ve) ended there. But, then he had to go and tell me!

Of course, the awkward conversation started the moment I found out, and the end is nowhere in sight. Don’t look at me like that! He brought it up. The blog on the topic practically writes itself! In all fairness, Diana would have probably never told me. She wouldn’t have wanted to cause him any embarrassment. Had he not mentioned it to me, I would’ve never mentioned it to her and she would’ve kept it a secret (at least from me) forever.

I have to give her credit for that too because I would have told me immediately!! Heck, I’m telling YOU! Because funny stories should be shared, that’s why! It took all my willpower to keep it this long. In fairness, I called her the very next day after hearing my brother’s version of the story. I needed to get the rest of the story and I’d have called her sooner, but it was Christmas Day! I couldn’t have possibly waited any longer. I needed to tell someone, anyone, everyone. I had questions. I had comments. I had jokes!!

So, I called her, and said “Merry Christmas. So, I hear you saw my brother’s penis?!!”

Funnier still? She told me that someone else had actually seen it first and told her about it! Yes, that’s correct. She was not the first or the only person to see what she saw that day. Another mutual male (not mentioning any names but you know who you are) friend saw it too, and called her about it. So, two people definitely saw my brother’s penis posting. Well, two who we are aware of, but it seems that word gets around real fast when you post your parts online!

Personally, I never saw it. Thank you, God! If I had, I would probably be far too busy with therapy sessions to write this blog.

The best thing about having a relative (especially one with a great sense of humor, like my brother) accidentally post his penis online is the fun you can have with it. Hmm, that didn’t come out right, but I hope you get what I meant. Since then, I’ve started more sentences with “My brother’s penis” than any sister ever should. It’s been three months, and I still can’t stop talking about it. My brother’s penis is a hot topic!! It’s all the rage. It’s inspirational!

It’s impossible not to somehow work my brother’s penis into practically every conversation. Humor-wise, it may just be the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me and my family. Think of the endless joke possibilities! I bet your mind is already filling up with never ending innuendos. I’ve had so much fun with the one-liners, which often come to me at the strangest times.

There are far too many to list, but here’s a sample:

  • My brother told a story about his penis, and my poor mother nearly choked on it
  • I realize the topic may be a bit hard to swallow
  • But, it sure is fun to slip it in as a conversation starter
  • I’ve tried hard not to think about it, but it penetrates my thoughts and the ideas come so quickly
  • At first, it seemed like such a limp topic, but now it’s the climax of conversation
  • Realizing we’re discussing my brother’s penis, keep in mind that this was meant simply for play
  • And, please take a long, hard look at yourself (and your own brother’s penis) before judging me!

This has been huge fun. It’s been a ball, if you will. Until now, it’s been an inside joke amongst close family and a few friends. But, now you know. And, I must admit, it feels darn good sharing it with you.

MRI

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I get my second annual MRI of my kidneys tonight, and I’m scared.

It’s no ordinary MRI. If you’re a science-nerd, which I am only the latter half of, it’s a pretty cool test actually. When it’s done, I will have two very thorough 3-dimensional images of both my kidneys in all their polycystic glory to share with family and friends. Last year, I printed them out and physically showed everyone. I was like the chick showing off her brand new boob implants at her first post-surgical frat party. This year, I might even post them on Facebook (my kidneys, not my boobs).

Now, if you’re not a science-nerd, I must warn you that the images might turn your stomach, but that fact doesn’t make the results any less interesting. The test will show my kidney volumes and give some insight about my cysts, their quantity and quality (for lack of a better word). I had the first test done a year ago. It told me the then status of my kidneys. This one will tell my current status and, when compared to that one, my kidneys’ rate of digression. It should also give me a sneak peek into my future… or at least the future of my kidneys.

While I’ve been looking forward to this for a year, part of me doesn’t want to know. But, I need to know.

I say I’ve been looking forward to it, but the test itself is no fun. Laying flat on a table, strapped down, practically naked, inside a tube, alone, arms crossed above the head, claustrophobia sets in rather quickly. At least they let you select your own music. But choose carefully because you’ll be stuck with it. Last year, I requested the Grateful Dead but had to settle for the Doors. My advice: don’t settle for the Doors when you’re going to be confined inside a coffin-esque box. While I love the Doors, scary, depressing places, like coffins and MRI machines, are probably not their best venue.

Here come the instructions. Stay still. Don’t swallow. Breathe in. Hold it. Hold it. Hold it. Exhale. Repeat on command for approximately 45 minutes – longer if I accidentally breathe or swallow or move ever so slightly when told not to do so.

Why does my nose always itch during times like these?? Also, why is it so damn cold in here? This paper nightgown isn’t doing a thing for that situation! And, why must the machine scream at me? This was already scary enough without the sound of metal scraping metal. It sounds like a car accident. Are you sure this thing is safe? That reminds me. Why exactly did the tech ask if I have any metal in my body? I quickly responded, “No.” But, am I really sure? Oh God! And, I’ve had to pee from the moment they strapped me down. Yes, I went before I got here! Hello, I have kidney disease. I always have to pee. This process would be better if it included a pee break. Just one. That’s all I’m asking.

Finally, it’s over. Hurry up and get me out of this thing! Get dressed. Go home.

Then, there’s more waiting. After waiting a full year to take this test, it will take three more weeks to get the results. Three long agonizing weeks. Does anything take that long these days? Last year, I discovered that three weeks is the precise amount of time it takes to drive yourself completely insane, if you haven’t already driven yourself there long ago. Here we go again.

I have a few things to fill my time… toddler, writing, Zumba, toddler, writing, Zumba… There are other people, places and things too obviously that will fill my time (family, friends, work, sleep, school, yoga, meditation, compulsively reading my horoscope…), to distract me, and to help me through this. My family and friends are wonderful. They will help happily without even realizing they’re helping.

I have my life to live and for that I am extremely grateful, but the waiting for what I don’t yet know will always be there in the back of my mind.

I can do it.

I will do it.

Now, excuse me, I have to pee.

Nipple Cream Makes the Best Lip Balm

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I breastfed my daughter for six months.

One of the pros of breastfeeding, aside from the obvious good it does the baby, is saving money. Well, that’s what they say anyway. While this may have been true at one time, it’s hardly true today. My husband and I invested a small fortune in breastfeeding. From pumps to storage systems to special bras and bra inserts to all sorts of accessories (pads, creams, gels, ointments). We even bought something called a breast stool, which despite its name is actually for feet. Anyway, you name it and we had to have it.

I say “we” because he, my husband Jason, played a huge role in my ability to breastfeed our daughter. It sounds funny to say but without his support, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. From day one, I struggled. I struggled with latching and then unlatching. The pain was unbelievable. My nipples bled. They cracked. They bled more. I hung in there. My daughter bit me every time she nursed. The milk turned Pepto Bismol pink! Still, I hung in there. It was important to me. Jason knew that, and so it was important to him.

I’m obsessive by nature and a glutton for punishment (this explains many things in my life). Being together for 9+ years and counting, he obviously knows this about me. As always, he helped me every step of the way. He provided emotional and, at times, even physical support. During my third trimester, he took a breastfeeding class with me! When our baby arrived, he helped in every way imaginable. While he couldn’t do the main task for obvious mechanical reasons, of which we are both grateful, he did more than his fair share. At one point, I fell asleep while he worked the pump (get your mind out of the gutter, people!).

Then, a few months later, I got sick. I tried to ignore a fever for 30 days. I was hospitalized. While the doctors struggled to diagnose me (Polycystic Kidney Disease, we later learned), they treated me for every disease and ailment imaginable. It was like being on an episode of the TV show House. While they worked hard to figure out what was wrong with me, I continually slipped in and out of consciousness and fought the worst fever of my life. They were baffled by my symptoms, so I was quarantined – on lockdown in the infectious disease ward. Due to risk of illness and unidentified potentially contagious diseases, visitors were told not to touch me. My daughter, who was just 3 months old at the time, was not permitted to visit.

It was horrible.

I was determined to continue breastfeeding. Since I wasn’t allowed to see, hold or touch my baby, it was my strongest connection to her. So, from my hospital bed, I pumped and stored my milk every day. And, every night, when visiting hours ended, my husband drove the milk home to our daughter. For 6 days, I was poked, prodded and tested for everything under the sun. The cocktail of antibiotics, pain killers, fever reducers and blood thinners grew and grew. Each individually was “OK” for breastfeeding, they told me. But I was concerned.

“What about the combination?” I asked.

They were confused by my question. So, rather than risk it, I opted to pump and dump for fear my daughter would pay the price. In case you’re not familiar, pumping and dumping is pretty self explanatory. Pump the milk. Then dump it. It’s a method passed down from mommy to mommy, primarily so mommies can partake in the occasional cocktail. A good friend had told me about it during my pregnancy to sell me on breastfeeding. She had me at margarita.

It sounded easy enough, and I couldn’t wait to try it. Unfortunately, my first postpartum cocktail was in the hospital. And, my first experience with pumping and dumping was way outside the recreational happy hour context. In fact, it wasn’t happy at all. For me, it was heartbreaking. Aside from the aforementioned financial investment, breastfeeding also requires a huge emotional and mental commitment. Dumping milk that was meant to provide sustenance and nourishment for my baby? Well, it hurt far more than the biting ever could.

Many of my friends and family advised me to give up on breastfeeding altogether. It wasn’t worth the agony, they’d say. But, I wasn’t so sure. Trying to comfort me, they’d tell me I’d tried hard enough. Um, have we met? After being diagnosed with PKD and released from the hospital’s infectious disease ward, which I later learned was the worst place for a kidney patient with a compromised immune system, I continued to pump and dump for a full month before being able to get back into the game. But, I got there… because I’m obsessive, remember?

Then, a few months later, I got sick again. Stress. Fatigue. Dehydration. These things added up, and I eventually threw in the towel. Basically, I dried up. It certainly wasn’t for lack of trying. I was producing less than 4 ounces of milk in a whole day, while pumping every 2 hours around the clock, 7 days per week. I went from supplementing formula to supplementing breast milk. My body wasn’t cooperating and after an emotional rollercoaster, I finally gave up.

I had to admit to myself that I couldn’t continue physically. My body wouldn’t let me. It was hurting me more than it was helping my daughter. Sure, I could produce plenty of blood, sweat and tears but not milk?! Why?? What a joke!

I felt like a failure.

It may seem silly, but I had to forgive myself. Once I realized that my daughter was as healthy and happy as could be on formula as she was on breast milk, I felt better. I suddenly had more time to play with her and for other things like sleep! Eventually, the hormones shifted back into place, I was me again and I was able to truly appreciate all that I’d experienced as a new mother. Even though my original goal was to nurse my daughter for (at least) a full year, I was grateful for being able to have done it for as long as I did. Sure, it was painful and expensive but it was also wonderful while it lasted.

I eventually moved on to other obsessions. For example, I still refuse to accept the fact that we invested all that money for a mere six months. Come hell or high water, I’m going to get our money’s worth out of it!

This is the reason I currently use my breast stool when I need a boost to reach out-of-reach things, and why I occasionally use leftover Milk Screen alcohol test strips when I’ve had a few glasses of champagne. It’s why I know that breast pads make excellent coasters (they’re very absorbent & they stay put!) and that breast milk storage containers work just as well when freezing adult food. And, perhaps most valuable of all, it’s why I know that nipple cream makes the best lip balm!

I still haven’t found an alternate use for my breast pump yet, but I’m working on it.