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Posts tagged “cyst

And Now We Have Deatheaters

WARNING: Straight up, this is going to be graphic, probably long and definitely rambly. You might want to get a drink or snack now. Unless you are one of those weak stomach people, then don’t get the snack ’til later. I’m not going to give the warning again, so it would behoove you to skip this one if you don’t like to know all the details of what’s shaking with the pufferfish and the havoc it plays on my female anatomy. Additionally, there may or may not be morbid comments made about my demise, which I found particularly funny, and thus wanted to share. There may be political ranting and more unsolicited opinions which I will impose upon my readers. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED AND CAN CLICK THE X NOW if you want to wait for an entry about ponies or fairy princesses.

But first I must offer a more detailed explanation for prolonged absence from the blogiverse (or rationalize my lack of motivation). See, right now I am sleeping on the couch, or rather I am occupying the couch 24/7. The reason for this is that the pufferfish requires that I sleep no more than two hours at a clip. There’s no way around it – I could not drink a thing for 12 hours and I would still need to get up and hit the bathroom. So because I get no extended sleep, I’m kinda tired. Really. So I take lots of naps. Sleeping on the couch forces me to get exercise by going up and down the steps at least twelve times a day, usually more. I need as much forced exercise as I can get. My new sleep habits and constant tiredness are also not conducive to doing things that require extended focus. So no matter how much I want to write, the whole getting the laptop and opening a file and all that seems like a ridiculous amount of work. Making a fucking hot pocket is a lot of work these days. Andy also got me a iPad for Christmas, so it much more convenient to dilly dally with that in the short wakeful periods than to get the lap top. Problem is that Apache’s Open Office, which is what I use for word processing, has no app for the iPad and I can’t write on the iPad I can do multiple virtual jigsaw puzzles, however, as well as use virtual coloring books. But I can’t write, and since I am leaving these files for Andy to publish if he wants after I am departed. I have to leave him some sort of legacy, because we all know my biggest financial accomplishment is the fact that I will be sticking the US Government with the balance of my student loans when time comes for me to go on disability or drop over. While my vast possession include a cache of craft supplies in case there’s a craftpocalypse, and multiple curious items and rocks, their value is more of a personal nature than monetary. It is at this juncture I will share the delightful conversation my beloved child and I had regarding the future the other morning when he came home from work:

Andy: What’s that?

Me: A record I got from Anxious and Angry and my new flexi.

Andy: You only got one?

Me: It’s not like you don’t get all this stuff when I am dead.

Andy: Speaking of that, suppose you prolong this and you don’t die for say, a long while, which is what I hope for, but, do I have to wait that long to get your vinyl collection?

Me: You can always borrow them, as long as you take care of them, if that’s the case. I’ve always let you borrow records.

Andy: Yeah, I know, but it’s still your stuff, I was just wondering when your stuff is my stuff. Not that I’m in any hurry or anything.

Me: Laughter

I am very glad we can have these refreshing conversations. But back to my excuses for the delays – sorry, I just didn’t have what it took to make the effort. I am feeling better today for the first time in a while. I spent an hour floating in an isolation tank at Art of Floating yesterday. There’s a 1000 pounds of Epsom salts dissolved in the water in the tank, and you just float in silent darkness. It’s like you are on a warm cloud. Very, very relaxing and it’s supposed to be very good for detoxifying your body, because of reverse osmosis where the salts in the water extract the toxins through your skin. Whatever, I just know I was jelly when I was driving home but by the time we got here, I was really sickish, which pissed me off a bit because I wanted to go to work today and I was afraid I would be sick again. But when I woke up today I felt pretty good – albeit tired as usual with the spewing in full swing, but no wretching and gagging. I made it to work, and even went grocery shopping. I am going to try to do the floating once every other week, so hopefully it will make me feel healthier. And while that was a real convoluted way to get to the fact that up until today, I didn’t feel like making the effort to write, and couple that with post holiday seasonal depression, if I lived in a rain forest, there would be moss growing on me. But here I am, full of snark and what not, ready to tell you all about the deatheaters and update you on the current state of my health with full graphically gross details (there would be pictures, but I don’t take my phone in the bathroom because I am afraid it will fall in the toilet). Aren’t you fabulously lucky?

Please also be advised that the new season of Vikings starts tomorrow. I will be unavailable on Thursday nights.

Now, back to this month’s doctors appointment, and it’s prequel, the CT scan. Back in January, I buzzed on down to Hershey for my scan. Now, since I was attacked and brutally tortured with tubes and catheters, when I go in for a scan, we now have to talk about my kidneys before I get the scan due to the contrast die they use. The technician decides to check my blood before giving me the dye, in case they have to decrease it. It only takes her a few minutes to come back and say there’s concerns with kidney function and they will just give me a low dose. This immediate turns on the freak out switch in my brain, because Dr. K constantly reminds me that if my kidneys aren’t 100%, he’s making me go back to urology. I will fight this tooth and nail because those two horrid months of the tubal torture when I had that stupid nephrostemy and catheter made me realize that I am not even considering that being part of my end of life scenario. I’ll get eaten by a shark first. Anyway, panic has set in. So I headed home so I could obsess about how long it would take for them to post the scan results so I could then also obsess about said results until I see the Dr. six days later. It took almost until like 1am to get them posted. And they were perplexing. Pufferfish was smaller, which was not surprising as it was constantly spewing nastiness, but as for tumors on my lungs, the one on the left disappeared, while the one on the right grew .5 cm. Which leads me to believe that these were not really tumors to begin with, but flies on the screen or spilled coffee. The scan says that the pufferfish is showing signs of necrosis and that there is no signs of the cancer spreading. I am familiar with the idea of necrosis as I have a weird interest in flesh eating bacteria as well as having watched an episode of House where House used maggots to eat away dead flesh on a patient. I am not sure that this is a good thing, but the more I read about it in tumors, the more it seemed like a good thing.

My research explained that necrosis in a tumor means the tumor has lost it’s blood supply and is now dying. This is good. The body has two processes for getting rid of dead cells and tissues – the normal one dissolves the dead stuff and it processes it through the blood and liver. And all is good. You can look the name of the process up, I can’t recall it right now. The process in necrosis is a tad different because it’s not a normal cell death, so the body turns the cells in to a blackish bloody pus that is the bane of my vagina right now. I should own stock in feminine hygiene products. What google’s sources of necrotic info didn’t tell me is that sometimes the cells and tissues don’t dissolve – they are just ejected. Cue arrival of the deatheaters. Slipsliding their way through whatever hole is or isn’t there in pufferfish, they slink their way out of my vagina like ghostly black boogers, or sometimes like larva or weird vein like creatures, or even more unnerving, things that look like curdled coke that sometimes happened when you made an ice cream soda. Understandably, the first few big ones make me a little nervous, but it’s not like I was in a lot of pain or anything.

I was feeling kinda positive when I headed to the Dr. on Monday, with my new found knowledge. My blood pressure was perfect, I wasn’t nodding off in the exam room, my appointment was only 45 minutes late, and the waiting room was actually not packed like a tin of whiny sardines. And I was early so I wasn’t even rushing. This semester’s minion came in and I told her about the deatheaters and all the other flotsam and jetsam being flushed out of pufferfish and she took appropriate notes. Then she went off to fetch Dr. K. He came in with my scan results and said “well, your cystic mass is smaller (yes, read the same report) and that we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. He assured me that things falling out of my vagina are okay. Unless it’s like an organ or something. As my cancer has been the exception rather than the rule, he can’t tell me what the pufferfish is going to do – in the best case scenario, it will be devoured by the deatheaters, and it will be purged from my body, and then we will focus on the lung tumors. It could also stop dying, or it could affect the surrounding organs. But it’s a good sign that I am a non-stop fountain of pus. So as Dr. K put it, we’re no worse, so that’s a plus. I know he’s trying not to give me false hope. I’m okay with that, and with the wait and see approach. In the meantime, I get to continue to take the dreaded chemo pills, particularly the hated Tamoxifen. Dr. K seems to think that this change in the activities of pufferfish is a result of the chemo pills, I choose to believe it was the use of herbal medication, turmeric tea and constant visualization that the pufferfish was turning into the black-hole of my pelvis and folding into nothingness. Either way, we”ll just keep visualizing it vanishing, and hope it doesn’t get creative. I don’t have to go back to the Dr. until April and then we’ll decide what’s next. In the meantime, every bathroom trip offers the opportunity to first hand examine rotting flesh as it’s spat from my body. Cancer, people talk about you like there’s nothing positive – hell, I am getting a live anatomy lesson daily. To help you get your head around what a deatheater looks like, picture a piece of spinach in a soup, it’s all feathery and floaty, except deatheaters are black and look like dementors from Harry Potter.

Fortunately, none of this is more painful that having cramps before your period. In fact, all of it’s very much like a period, except for my lack of a uterus and ovaries. It’s amazing the multiple shades, sizes, and behaviors of this decomposing flesh. The worst of it is it’s impact on my liver, which is fighting to filter grossness out of my blood and how exhausted that makes me. But as I told Dr. K, if this is the alternative to being stuck with tubes, and being in pain and having brutal pressure, I’ll take this 1000X.

And now, I am tired. My head feels much lighter. I’m even considering taking down the Christmas decorations, at least outside, this weekend. I’m still not much of social animal, my limit is like 2 hours, but visitors are always welcome at the house where Christmas puked. Social interaction is always welcome. I’m gonna go whip up a hot pocket and then snuggle in for a two hour nap. Send good mojo that the pufferfish is in its last days and that it stops when it’s done eating itself, and continues to push out deatheaters Enjoy your evening and remember the days are getting longer and spring is just little over a month away. Soon you will be blessed my annual obsession about spotting the first robin. Yes, yes, I know you can’t wait. Now be off.


Hibernation is No Excuse

I am sorry I am ignoring you, my peoples, I suck. Yesterday, it dawned on me that I am in the midst of a postchristmas depression in addition to the new stress on my body from the deatheaters, who will be discussed another day. There are a number of excuses I have made for not writing: I now have an iPad (how you iPhone people lived so long without swipe  I don’t know) so in my waking hours I do virtual jigsaw puzzles, because I am too tired or too bitchy or too depressed or just want to stare at the Christmas trees. Yes, they are still up, and I am still enjoying them so bah. I have also ignored many craft projects, reading,  laundry, showering unless I am going somewhere, and meditation. This is when I realized I am in the midst of a depressive episode. But it not the worst I have ever known, and I am probably through the worst of it. January is a cruel Month, and February is just about waiting for March to get here.

Anyway, I owe my blog  an entry about the last CT scan and subsequent dr visit. It will happen, because the deatheaters are new to the story but the gist of the ct/visit was that the the puffer is smaller now that it drains 24/7 and it is being attacked by deatheaters, which is the positive news.  Also a plus is that the tumor on my left lung vanished. On the downside, the tumor on my right lung is bigger, but with my strong faith in turmeric, positive imagery and the regular use of herbal medication, I believe we can work on that. We are now in a holding pattern – and the prognosis is status quo. No more likely to die than before so that’s a bonus. And while I piss and moan about the constant oozing from the pufferfish, and how it sucks the life out of me not just because my body is stressed by the constant inflammation, as well as whine because I cannot sleep for more than 2 hours at a time, so I sleep for like 90 minutes, get up to make a bathroom trip, medicate, and fall back to sleep for another 90 minutes, the fact is, the alternatives are much worse. But enough whining, I have access to Amazon prime and Hulu and HBO go, so I sleep through a lot of really bad horror movies. And with that I am off…be well friends , and I will look for some motivation.


And On Mondays, We Get Probed.

happy-cancer1

Hi there happy people. I hope you’re happy people. It is Friday after all. That means it’s the weekend, right? I don’t care so much about the weekend anymore since I hardly work these days, but it does mean that people are available to do things, which they typically are not during the week.

So I could tell by the number of new views on my Peckalicious facebook page that people were wondering where the most recent post is. While they share the same name, that page is for shit I make and want to try and sell. When I actually thought I could make a side income from making shit. What I learned is that people want handmade shit for like pennies, unless you claim to be Amish, or “country”neither of which apply to me. So now I just make shit to give people. And beside, having to make things for money kind of kills the joy for me. I do it because I like to; money is nice, but I like the creative process.

If you are a facebook friend, you got the condensed version of the Dr. visit on Monday. I get tired of typing it out again and again, so I usually send a group message after my visit and post a synopsis on Facebook. Sometimes it just seems like it’s redundant – things don’t change much, or there’s waiting for things to change. But before I continue, I’d like to make a request or perhaps, just an comment, to people who frequent doctor’s offices, and particularly those who are only there for a damn blood test: YOU DON’T NEED AN ENTOURAGE. Really, unless this is your first blood test ever, you don’t need to bring your whole family. Even if it is, you don’t need more than one person to hold your hand. And pay attention to the instructions at check in. Just because you didn’t listen to the helpful staff who told you what to do with your purple or yellow folder because you were talking to YOUR FUCKING ENTOURAGE, doesn’t mean that because you sat there with it for an hour and now you realize you were supposed to put it in the bin so they know you are here, that the world should stop and you should be called next. Also, to all the fucking whiners in the waiting room. You have cancer. You are here to see the Dr. Threatening to leave because your name was not called in the 10 minutes since you sat down, (with YOUR FUCKING ENTOURAGE) is gonna hurt no one but you. You should be grateful you have time to wait. I know I would personally prefer being at home on the couch with my medication, but hey, you drove here, you parked the car, and came inside, commit. I’ve rarely been to a Dr. where I have been seen on time. The nature of medicine itself does not cooperate with linear time. Bring your happy face with you. And if you are in a hurry because you made other plans (with YOUR FUCKING ENTOURAGE), then you can cancel the plans, or the reschedule that visit. You and YOUR FUCKING ENTOURAGE took up seven seats in this waiting room. I have to sit out in the hall on a bench, with a sweet grandma and her grandbaby (this is sort of a blessing because the baby is muffling your bitching and moaning). I’m not complaining. I brought a book, and my phone to listen to podcasts. There’s a damn refrigerator with drinks for those of us with cancer. Get a fucking cranberry juice and shut the fuck up. I’d like to clarify that it is usually one or two people complaining, not a large number, but they always have a FUCKING ENTOURAGE and they are always loud. You know this waiting room is small, and there is limited space, but please, make sure that you and your FUCKING ENTOURAGE spread out as much as possible. AND WHATEVER YOU DO, PLEASE MAKE SURE THAT YOU AND YOUR FUCKING ENTOURAGE STOP DEAD RANDOMLY IN FRONT OF PEOPLE WHO ARE WALKING BEHIND YOU. Here’s a tip – if you are just there for a blood test, try showing up in the morning. Early. BEFORE YOUR FUCKING ENTOURAGE GETS UP.

My appointment was at 2. That’s “the get here on time” time. The appointment is really at 2:15PM. I am feeling week and tired, but am having a lovely conversation with the sweet grandma I met who was also a patient of Dr. K, and was scheduled for 2:30. Her grandbaby kept us all amused. I had enjoyed a brownie on my way to the Dr. so I was rather mellow, which I should bring for the whiners and their FUCKING ENTOURAGES, come to think of it. I was finally called around 3:05, which was pretty good for Dr. K, because unless you are one of the first three appointments for the day, you typically wait. No med students today. Just the nurse, Anne, and the Dr. I have no fever, I am not depressed or suicidal, and my blood pressure after a few moments of meditation, is a sweet 124/83. Dr. K and Anne come in, and I tell him about the continued bleeding and my exhaustion and blood craving. I’m not having any pain. He’s super-stoked when I tell him I’ve been off the opiates since Christmas Eve. My herbal medication does that job, although I’d rather have a brownie or some tincture. Dr. K says he’s pretty sure that the pufferfish exploding and continuing to drain is a good thing at present – at least it’s not crushing anything and forcing the intrusion of tubes into my body. I think Dr. K is trying to impress upon me that my experience with tentacles is not forever over because then he starts talking about the possibility of a fistula pushing into my bladder and then requiring double nephrostomies. I remind him that it’s quality over quantity and I’m on a no-invasive-tubes mission. What’s the point of being housebound and miserable in order to extend your life a couple or three months? Better to burn out like a fucking comet. This should come as no surprise is you know me well, even if it makes you uncomfortable. There’s a huge difference between living life and existing.

Anyway, I tell him I want to go to Ireland in April, and I need to know if that’s a reasonable expectation or should I put things in motion sooner, and Dr. K says he thinks it’s reasonable and he’ll work with my treatment to help it happen. It still doesn’t mean I am getting some delicious rejuvenating blood. He says we’ll wait another month and see how the chemo pills have worked, and then I get to have another thrilling CT scan and then we’ll talk about what’s next. My next appointment is February 1st. It’s almost like the pufferfish will be pelvic groundhog, letting us know if there will be six more weeks of bleeding. It’s not even like a period, it’s so random and weird. There’ll be hours of nothing and then it’s like the tide’s coming in. He asks how many pads a day…I guess at 4, but then when I get home, I realize it’s more like 6. Oh wait, I forgot to do my “THIS IS GROSS” warning. Oh well, suck it up ponies. Anyway, we chat and he says we should probably do an exam, considering there’s a hole in my vagina that spewing internal muck and we should make sure it’s not become a disaster area. I agree as much as I hate the probing. I really do. If you ever get cancer, which I sincerely hope you don’t, wish that it’s in your toes or left pinkie, or ear. This internal examination nonsense never becomes an enjoyable part of the visit. I know that some guys think that we ladies enjoy having things in our vaginas, no matter what that might be, but no. We don’t. Especially not while at the gyno. After we have agreed, he and Anne leave so I can get undressed.

I do what I need to, and notice there has been no bleeding since I took a shower at like 10am. Odd. I hop up on the table (when will a woman doctor design a more exam friendly table? There’s nothing remotely comfortable or relaxing about it.) At least, there are no inspirational quotations on posters that you can stare at while being probed. However, if anyone at the PSH Cancer Institute powers that be are reading this, a small TV screen featuring the food network, or the ID channel, or even South Park would be far more effective in distracting me. I sit there on the edge of the table, swinging my seriously unshaven legs back and forth, when – well, hello there tidal wave of blood. At least Dr. K can now see what I am talking about. Gross. I keep waiting. I hear Dr. K on a phone somewhere and then hear him in another exam room. It seems likes it’s been a really long time that I’ve been waiting. Did he forget me? Time is always a little skewed when you are fueled by a brownie, and I am sorta ready for a nap. I don’t want to lie down, because that’s just weird, but I am nodding off. Finally, after what seems like 2 hours (it was 20 minutes) Anne comes back and asks if Dr. K came back. I say nope, so we both sit and wait and chat .Finally, Dr. K returns and we get to the business of ramming instruments of torture into my vaginal cavity. He confirms that there is still a hole in the vagina, but again, comments that this could be a positive thing, and, once again is pleased that I do not try to leap off the table in pain while he does his exam. As long as there’s no pain, that’s a good sign. He says that fistula word again, I shush him. He says that there any odor is probably just because it’s old blood. Double gross. But I’ll take it because anything is better than tentacles and pain. If I have to start wearing Depends to deal with this, I’ll take it, because ANYTHING is better than dragging a catheter around all day and having it cause you even more pain. I don’t think Dr. K or anyone can fathom what it felt like to have that fucking tube jammed in my bladder and constantly abraded by the movement of the cyst. Anyway, we wrap up the exam, I get another prescription for oxy, and sent on my way. It’s 4:10pm.

I gave a brief thought to getting Indian food for dinner, but that would mean exiting the warm car to fetch it. Nope, it’s 20 degrees. I’m not getting out of the car until I am home. As I am exiting, I see Alice, the sweet grandma, and she has still not been called back. I give her a fist bump and tell her I hope they call her soon. I was smart and used free valet parking today, even though I always tip, and stand inside while some poor soul freezes getting my car. I hop in, pleased to find that the root beer I purchased earlier is still delightfully cold. Dinner will be Arby’s. It’s on the way home and no need to exit the car. I’m exhausted. I just want medication and sleep but I still gotta pick up the faux beef sandwiches. Finally, I made it home, and the comfort of my couch. And that’s mostly where I am, except when I am in bed, or at work, or out.

Dr. K is always surprised that I continue to try and work. He said he’d be happy to say I can’t but I tell him I need those couple hours of socialization. He’s fine with that if it’s what I want. I was a little concerned that he didn’t want a CT scan right now, but then I realized, what’s the rush? If the cancer is disappearing through the hole in my vagina, that’s a good thing; if things are status quo, we already know that; and if things have gotten worse, there’s not gonna be a lot to do about it, and the knowledge isn’t going to make me feel any better. So I can wait a month. Bad news is that the scan is on the 27th, and the appointment is on the 1st. Five days of knowing what they find, without being able to see the doctor until Monday. I supposed I should be used to that though.

Well that’s all for now people. I am going to work this afternoon from 2:30 to 4:30 if Andy ever returns home with the car, since, of course, I have work and he decided that he needed to get an oil change NOW and oh, by the way, the check engine light is on and he thinks it’s the O2 sensor. That was two hours ago. So I’m gonna grab a little nappy nap and wait. Have a good weekend, and week, and life, and such. Peace!

Update: I was sitting here thinking how pretty sweet my life has been lately, no drama, bills paid, plenty of oil, etc. Then in walks Andy. There’s a cracked tire rod, blah, blah, blah and it’s going to take at least $1000 to fix what they know is wrong, and that’s not including what is the source of the engine light being on.  Car = undriveable. Fucking yay. Well, I’m not dead. That’s a plus. And we didn’t die in a fiery crash when the tire fell off, so that’s good too, I suppose.


Pufferfish’s Christmas Surprise

 

I went through and corrected my grammar and other errors in the light of day…sorry for the mess this was in it’s original state – it was late and I was, well..

It’s really not a surprise anymore, because it was part of yesterday’s blog entry, but it was still a surprise to the Dr. But I get ahead of myself here. Be warned, after I relay the story of my Dr. visit using words like vagina, mucus, and probing, I also get a little raw on what I am feeling. So if today isn’t a good day for you, or you don’t want me to kill your Christmas joy, come back and read this on a raw snowy day in February after listening to too much Morrissey and Elliott Smith and already want to put your head in an oven. (for those of you unfamiliar with that particular method of offing yourself, it requires a gas over with a blown-out pilot light. Not your electric oven. That’s called self-immolation.) Then you can get a real feel for it. But as you’ve been warned in the past, continuing to read this is at your own risk – you were warned. I have to purge the noise inside my head and heart.

So, after the horrible ride home with all the bloodshed, and my long-death-like sleep, Andy woke me up to ask if I called the ER yet – and in true sleepy mother fashion I lashed out like a tiger with a thorn in her paw and told him I’d find my own fucking ride to the ER if I needed to go, and if he needed to be somewhere to just fucking go. I was tired. And I went back to sleep. When I finally felt human again, I crawled from my crypt, er, couch, I called the Careline and relayed my story to the nurse on call for women’s health. At this point, I was back to spotting, and wasn’t really too worried. The nurse however, gave me a stern talking to about how when you start bleeding heavily when you shouldn’t be, you go to the ER. I didn’t even try to argue with her about why I couldn’t go the ER in Indiana or Ohio, because I don’t know what kind of doctors they might have there, and if they even have doctors there, or hospitals. Having had the tragic experience of going to Schuylkill Medical Center once instead of Hershey, I know how bad going to an unfamiliar ER can be. I just took my lecture quietly. Then she told me as long as it wasn’t heavy bleeding, I could wait until the morning to go see Dr. K. BUT if I got dizzy or sick or faint, I needed to go to the ER now. I agreed.

Then I went back to bed. My body refused to tolerate consciousness, and since I left my medication in Chicago, I was not a happy camper, even though there was backup at home. I got up bright and early on Monday, made some tea and then took on the challenge of getting an appointment on a clinic day, knowing I might just get sent to the ER. First three calls I got kicked to a voicemail box that was not the one I selected. So I called the Careline – the person who answered my call did not believe my story about being put into the wrong voicemail box, until she tried it and it happened to her. By this time it’s 9:30. She gets me to the right voice mail box, but as I leave my message I am a little nervous, because what if she doesn’t understand the urgency or she’s off sick. But I’ll wait a bit. By 10:30, I’ve still not heard from anyone, so I call back and get Victor. He puts me on hold to see if he could squeeze me in, and finds out that he can’t until he talks to Anne, my treatment coordinator. At this time, I realize I should have just called her directly, but I’ll wait. Around 1pm, I get a call back to be there for 3:15pm. Now that would seem like plenty of time but I still need a shower and Hershey is an hour away. Still I am out of the house by 2 and on my way. I actually get there early and need a water. The closest place to get water in the hospital is the Starbucks and the line is snaking it’s so long. So I just check in. That’s when the fun starts.

My Dr. used to be in the Women’s Health Building. It was always a mix of women seeing the Dr for an annual exam, the cancer women, and pregnant women, but at least we all were seeing the Dr. for the same general area. Now his office is in the Cancer Institute, which makes sense, but it also means the waiting room is almost always packed with people with all kinds of cancer and people waiting for lab work. Even at 3, it’s standing room only. Dr. K is a great doctor, he doesn’t rush, he talks to you like a person, and he actually cares. He’s also a surgeon. This means he runs late most of the time. Like an hour late. So I am not really all that surprised that I am waiting. It doesn’t really bother me, until the whiners start “what’s taking so long?” “my appointment was at 2, it’s 2:55” and “I don’t care, if he doesn’t see me in 15 minutes, I am leaving and too bad, I just won’t see him.” The last one was my favorite. Why wait? Leave now, make things go faster for the rest of us, and you’re so right, that will show him for making you wait, you have cancer and you clearly have an appointment with an excellent doctor, you’re so right, leaving and not getting examined or treated will show him. I realize that future visits will require headphones. Not only because I have to listen to whining, but because Faux News is the station of choice. The waiting room is clearing out, and I am happy to hear my name called around 4:20. Off we go to get weighed, which is surprising stable in spite of the ravenous hunger the Megase causes.

Once in the exam room, I realize there was a clear absence of minions. I thought they were on winter break. While I am waiting, I hear a discussion about Dr. K’s associate,if you remember, the one that wanted to put me on a psych hold? Apparently, she is not building a fan club because the discussion is about how the patient doesn’t like her at all and will go to a different hospital for treatment because of it and wants all her records transferred. I feel vindicated in my refusal to be seen by her again. The nurse takes my blood pressure – it’s off the charts, because I had to endure that stupid blood pressure machine. I tell her to come back again in 15 minutes and it will be normal. After the nurse leaves, I hear a knock and in comes a minion, well, a resident minion, not a student minion. I tell her my story and then she is off to confer with Dr. K. GRAPHIC DETAIL WARNING: What follows will be gross, but there’s no reason to pretty it up, so continue if you dare.

Dr. K arrives with minion in tow. He asks what happened and I tell him that I got tired of having the cyst drained all the time, so my body just decided to pop that pufferfish and let all the goop out. He seems a little surprised. Unfortunately, I can’t escape the probing exam due to bleeding. Dr. K asks if I am sure the fluid and blood are coming from my vagina. I tell him I am quite familiar with my vagina and yes, that’s where the gushing is coming from. I tell him it looks like the mucus-y blood goop that they drained out the last time and showed me in Radiation. I get warned that if I get dizzy or weak, I need to head to the ER, but he believes I am correct. He is not as cheerful about it as I would hope. I don’t know why I would think he would be, but I was a little let down that he was not as excited as I. Poking around in the darkness with probing tubes, Dr. K and the minion concur, the cyst has possibly eaten through or eroded my vagina. The good news is that it’s relieved all the pressure on my bladder and rectum, and that precious kidney, but the bad news is that there’s blood and there are other concerns that makes Dr. K get the serious face and tell me that let’s do another month on the chemo pills, and come back in January after the holiday and we will come up with a plan. He hugs me, and tells me to have a good holiday. His message is loud and clear. He does ask me how much I am troubled by the bleeding – I tell him if it’s a choice between blood and catheters, I’m going with blood every time. Before they found the first tumor I was literally hemorrhaging daily anyway. What’s a little bloody snot? He doesn’t think I need to worry about dying before the new year, so I’m okay with that. It’s now 5:30. I was going to get Indian takeout on the way home. I’m really no longer hungry. I am however grateful that the fucking pufferfish is no longer pressing against anything that will require scalpels and tubes to correct.

The waiting room is empty when I am leaving, except for the Christmas tree. I was the last patient of the day. It’s dark outside, and raining. I like dark and rainy, but it’s weird how the words sink in when I get in the car. Words like “eroded” or “eaten through.” Statements like “we’ll have to figure out what we’re going to do about this, and see what’s going on in there in January.” Threats of catheters. I had a much more positive outlook, like my body was done dealing with the puffer, and was pushing it out. Or that all that visualization about shrinking the cystic mass worked and my body was getting rid of the cancer. Never really went to the the “oh this is very bad, and not a good sign for me.” I mean I knew it wasn’t exactly a “good” thing, but I didn’t really go to “serious development.” There was no pain from the blowout, so that’s a plus. But sitting there in the car, I suddenly thought, what if this is the beginning of things moving to the end? What if my hopes that I can play this out for a few years more are going to come to screeching halt in January? What about the Riot Fest tickets I already bought? What if every thing I was planning over the next few months now has to be done now or it will never happen? The palliative care Dr. asked me what my line in the sand was – where I’d say no more treatment. I started to think about how I am not going to live out my remaining months sick in a hospital bed. I don’t want this to be my last Christmas. And while I know someone out there is thinking you have to be positive – thinking that isn’t being negative – it’s a totally legit fear. Sitting in my car, I was afraid. Afraid of running out of time before I’m ready. Afraid of my body failing me before I can do the things I need to.

And you start making lists of things you need to get done. It’s really numbing. I had to run to Giant to get a few things, and I just kinda wandered around. Then I headed home, trying not to focus on the dreaded bad words, but more on that it could be good, and to just enjoy the holiday. It wasn’t an easy ride home there was a lot of scringing on the way home (screaming+singing = scringing). And I hesitated on telling Andy anything negative. Not that there is any definitive negative, but I know my doctor and I know what he was saying without saying it – but I can’t just pretend it’s all glitter unicorns and dancing cupcakes. The ticking clock is always there..lately I had a few days of feeling almost normal, albeit crazy tired, and for the briefest of seconds I thought that maybe the cancer decided to enter remission. But then there were those motherfucking hawks. Dirty motherfucking hawks.

So since Monday, I am still bleeding. I go back to the Dr. on January 4th. On the plus side, if I lose enough blood, they will give me fresh stuff at the hospital, and I really, really, really enjoy getting new blood. No really, there’s no sarcasm there. I like a fresh pint now and again. The things you learn to enjoy when you have a cold uncaring tumor eating away at you from the inside. Jello. Blood. Headphones. I am kind of nervous for the bleeding to stop, because what if the reason it stops is because pufferfish has reformed and is going to resume blowing up again. But what if the gross ooze is actually doing more harm than good in flowing out of me? I mean Dr. K wasn’t too concerned, and in fact, was quite pleased, that his probing swab didn’t make me leap of the table screaming. That was, by his definition, a very good sign. So now I just sit around, leaking. I am trying my best to make the house of Christmas vomit a joy for Andy this year, even though he says he doesn’t care. I am even going to try and bake some of my amazing cookies this weekend. I am doing okay as long as I stay medicated and take lots of naps. (like the two I had writing this) I even made it into work for two hours today. I am mailing Christmas cards. So while life changes, it still stays the same. I’m not sad or depressed, just anxious and afraid – it will all work out as it has to, I just don’t want it to happen quickly. And just when Punk Rock Bowling is coming to Asbury Park.

Well this was much longer than I thought it would be. I still have several others to finish, but I think it’s bedtime for this monkey. We have almost located all the Christmas bins that Andy denies existing – I found 2 just this morning, but I am still missing the box with the dancing Santa lights, the bottom of the crystal tree, and the ice skating snowmen. I have a lot of Christmas shit even with the purge that has been going on all month. I did acquire a lovely black flamingo ornament for the white tree the other day. I’ll share some of the more charming ornaments with some photos on the ol’blog when all the trees are up, and the house looks like a magical forest. I do really enjoy overdoing the decorating. Who needs tasteful when you can have this beautiful Christmas disaster? Even the outside of the house is improved by my overdosing on lights – you can barely tell that the front porch is crumbling and collapsing. Andy better board up the porch before the skunks, raccoon and whatever else roams the town at night crawl into the basement through the holes.

And that my friends, is it for tonight. Hopefully I will find my way back before Christmas. Now I need to sleep sweet sleep. Buenas noches mi pequeño amigos cucaracha.


The War on Christmas Road Trip (with PICTURES!)

Wow, I realized that this last month I have sucked at actually completing a blog post and then posting it. Again, I’ve been writing them, or perhaps I should say, I start writing them, get in the flow, getting my words on, and then I start to feel nauseated and have to get the medical equipment and address it. Then, as those of you who are familiar with the medication are well aware, one of three things happen:

  1. I continue writing but by the time I get to the end, I’ve rambled on for seven pages and feel that I need to split it up into sensible chunks before I can post it. (rare)
  2. I say, gee, I just need a little nap now, and I’ll finish it in in a hour. And then two days later, I have to recover said document and save it because I never titled it, and then the computer froze. It’s still not done. (happens pretty regularly)
  3. I see something shiny or flashing on the internet, or decide I need to make some Christmas doo-dad, and then fall down a fuzzy rabbit hole in which I learn that baby reindeer start growing antlers almost immediately after being born. Oh wait, I haven’t watched https://reindeercam.com/ today. (and off I go to watch reindeer – happens all the time) (I just went to the interwebs to get the URL for reindeer cam and found out I have been eating pancakes all wrong, you should make a hole in the middle of the stack and pour syrup in there. Wow. Yes, I’m medicated)

And as you can see, the likelihood that I ever finish what I was doing becomes very small, and I promise to do it tomorrow, just like I do with letters, bills, unanswered text messages and laundry. But not today my faithful readers, I will complete this. I have sworn not to do anymore origami Christmas wreaths for my Christmas card until I write this entry and post it with the photo collages I spent hours creating this morning. (do you want an origami Christmas wreath ornament, or a Christmas card? Because I am so on that this year – send me your address). That is not to say that I have not completed some things. The house is well decorated for Christmas, although not quite finished. Fear not, the pictures of the house where Christmas threw up will eventually make their way to the blog and social media. As will the entry about what happened at the Dr. on Monday in all its gross and graphic detail, but I am here with a purpose today. So with no further delay.

Well the plan was to leave at 3am. Which was actually 5am. I cannot sleep in the car no matter how medicated I am, and no matter how tired. So Andy drove first for a while, and then I drove through the visual wasteland of Ohio and the flatness of Indiana. Andy took over and drove the rest of the way when we got to Illinois. I let him drive in cities because he thinks he’s better at it than me. It’s one of those battles I don’t care to fight. We got to the hotel earlier for check in because I forgot the time change, so we checked in at 2ish, and I finally got to nap. We ordered delicious Thai food, watched criminal minds and were asleep by 9. The hotel was very very nice, amazing beds, and pillows and quiet and right next to Lake Michigan. I would be amiss in not noting that while we were driving, I saw two hawks. I may or may not have talked about hawks and what they mean to me, but I was not pleased to see them because they always are a harbinger of change for me, and it’s never initially good. Saw a hawk, got laid off, saw a hawk, find out my cancer is back, see a hawk, overdraw my account. There’s a pattern. I know change is always ultimately good, but I still hate to see them, and this time, one of those motherfuckers flew straight at the windshield like that damn pigeon did on our 2013 Mother’s Day road trip to the beach. Except it didn’t actually hit the windshield. Anyway, I was on alert. I know that is sounds superstitious, and I typically don’t get all wound up by those things, but hawks freak me out. I can’t really explain it.

Day two started with Andy deciding to let me know he was going out to wander the city at 5am. Have fun honey. Bring me breakfast. I’m still sleeping. Off he went, and I slept and slept and then he came back by nine-ish with some lukewarm cocoa. And no breakfast, so I ate leftover curry. Then I decided to go for a swim in the hotel pool. It was a lap pool with no children in it so it was heavenly. I actually swam at least ten laps and felt amazing. I knew I would pay for this later, but hell, that’s what the medication is for. Then I even enjoyed the sauna. Since we were planning to go to the aquarium, I woke the sleeping Andy and we headed to the see the fishes. Curiously, Chicago’s aquarium and museum have odd admission prices. Like the GA admission to the aquarium is only $8, but if you want to see the sharks, and the stingrays, and the penguins and something else, it goes up to $30.95. Having seen sharks, penguins and rays, we elected to get the $8 tickets, which was the wise choice, because the penguin exhibit was under construction, the rays were closed for the winter and well, I’ve see sharks. It was a cute little aquarium without all the bells and whistles of the special features and had many penny-flattening machines. The Amazon exhibit was exceptionally humid and it started to make me feel a little sick so I was sitting down a lot during a visit. I was only able to take pictures in the very well lit places so I think I took three. Then I ordered Andy about to take more since his phone camera doesn’t suck the way mine does. We saw monkey and frogs and birds, as well as fish. I must say my favorite were all the big fish that had funny fish faces, the lumpfish, and the giant snapping turtle. And I gave every pufferfish I saw the finger and told them I hate their fucking presence everywhere.

We headed back to the hotel after buying expensive souvenirs, magnets and the photo package of the photo they take of you when you enter the aquarium. It was time to get ready for The Lawrence Arms First Annual War on Christmas show, and I needed a nap and a shower. This is where the not so good changes from the hawk comes in, and I am about to get graphic, so if that bugs you, STOP HERE. You can resume at the word RESUME. Anyway, I had to pee before I took my shower, and as you may or may not know, the pufferfish that lives inside me has been growing back to it’s original size after the last draining. It really started to cause issues the last week before leaving and all I wanted to do was have my trip to Chicago and I swore I would call the Dr. when we got back. Especially since I did not want to end up in the ER with tubes. Wednesday night, I was having some issues with being able to pee, and was worried, but that worry was gone by Thursday evening. Not only could I pee as I can when the cyst was drained, there were waves of fluid leaving my body. I was like, hell I didn’t drink that much water. When it finally stopped, I went to flush and realized is was a weird bloody mucus fluid, just like they drain out of my cyst, but then (GETTING EVEN GROSSER HERE) I also have had the gift of hemorrhoids since I was pregnant with Andy, and they occasionally burst, so I thought maybe that was it too. Whatever, I had a show to go to. I wasn’t saying anything to Andy, and was just gonna hope it was a fluke. I padded up just in case, and off we went. Whatever it was, could wait until after the show, unless I began hemorrhaging, and then we’d have to reassess the rate of blood loss to see if it could wait until after Off With Their Heads’ set. You may RESUME HERE.

So we got in the car and headed to the Double Door. We found it no problem. We should have taken Uber or public transportation, but then we FINALLY found a parking space just an ½ block away. Of course we started walking in the wrong direction and then realized that the one minute walk had turned into a ten minute walk, and I turned to my trusty GPS to get there on foot. The will call line was literally down the block. And we had to wait. I was beginning to get nervous because it was close to the time of OWTH set and I was like, we did not just drive 10 hours to miss this. We got in at the nick of time, just before they took the stage. The first person I saw was Tommy at the OWTH merch table and after an exchange of hugs and such, he told me to stand behind the table for the set, because he was going down front, and I would have a great view from where I was. And I did. And I did the best ever job of selling nothing for OWTH for their entire set. Then Tommy came back and took over, and introduced me to his friend Sarah who then because the merch girl while Tommy socialized. And I must say she did an excellent job, particularly with the complicated notebook sales recording system.

OWTH were great, it was very festive set, and as always, amazing. During the break, Ranae suddenly appeared and we too exchanged hugs and stuff and snuck away downstairs to talk during part of the Lawrence Arms set. We decided that Brendan Kelly looks like a golden retriever with his bandana around his neck and you just want to scratch him under his chin. I drank cranberry juice straight, as I am still protecting the kidney from any more tubes, and asked Ranae what hospital I should go to if I needed one. The rest of the time, I pretended to be perfectly fine. Ranae and I had a great time chatting, and hanging out, and of course I got to see Ryan, Nice Jon, Robbie and Ryan Fisher too and get hugs. I can’t believe I used to not be a hugger. They were going to go across the street after the show, and as much as I wanted to go too, I was just wiped out and more than a little nervous about the whole blood thing. And my body has a way of just shutting down when it has had enough. I get cramps in my legs, a pain in my lower abdomen, and cramps in my sides. It’s like it just says stop. And it was saying stop. So I had Andy take me home – I told him to go back and hang if he wanted to, but he worries and stayed with me. I had a medicinal mixture when I went back to the hotel and passed into a coma. At least I didn’t see anymore blood.

No more blood in the morning. I went for another swim/sauna deal, while Andy when and got breakfast – yummo. Challah bread french toast and home-fries with ham, swiss, and mushrooms. He ate many plates of eggs and potatoes with chorizo and cheese. I then took a nap and we watched Christmas specials like Rudolph’s Shiny New Year and The Year Without A Santa Claus before we got ready to go to the zoo. Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo is free, and has Zoo Lights. Again, my camera pictures suck so what you’ll see here is my shitty pictures. It was beautiful. And and awesome zoo with no major hills. It has tigers. And lions. They gave out cool 3d glasses that turned the lights into little elves’ heads. I wished I was medicated. Because not only were the glasses cool, so were the lights on their own. We had a great walk and the lights were amazing. Even Santa was there. Again, an ridiculous amount of money was spent of souvenirs. And we headed to the Big Bus Tour Holiday Express which is a nighttime tour of Chicago’s Christmas-y attractions. We started at the Chicago Hershey’s Chocolate World, which is not even close to the well-loved Hershey attraction. We waited and waited for the bus, as it was really late, and Andy was being a cranky baby because he ate way too much food and had a belly ache and was being a buzz-kill Finally the bus came and the bus driver was like, no you have to go get a paper ticket before you can get on, and I was like for real? We just waited for you for 40 minutes (they are supposed to be on a 10-20 minute cycle) and now you want me to walk to another stop and wait for you there? Do you see this miserable 20 something with me? Do you think I want to tell him he has to walk somewhere? So she said stay on the bus, and I’ll take you to the scanner stop. Yay! A small win. And I’m still not bleeding. Maybe things are fine.

We ride up in the top part of the bus, and enjoy the lights and what not, and decide to check out the Christkindlmart which had some beautiful things, but you could not get close to them because PEOPLE. It was a mob scene. I am not a big fan of people or crowds to begin with and this place was insane. Any food stand had a line 100 people deep. You could barely walk. Andy wanted hot apple cider and got in line for it. I managed to walk the entire market, even pausing to look at a few things, and by the time I got back to the hot apple cider stand, Andy was just being served. We took a sip or two of cider and headed back to catch the bus. We rode it to the rest of the stops, and then returned to Chocolate World, got our free hot chocolates, bought some cookies and headed back to the hotel. Again, my body was letting me know it had enough. And now the blood was back. I ate a cookie, drank a ton of water and went to bed. I wasn’t bleeding enough for it to be an emergency, but enough to be annoying.

On Saturday, I tried to get together with Sarah and Christy for breakfast or something but Sarah had already left to the airport and I wasn’t feeling very good, so we just packed up our shit (or most of it, forgetting my toothpaste and brush, all the leftover food, beers, and most importantly, the medication in the safe, at the hotel) We were going to go to the museum. Which like the aquarium has a GA price and then all the really cool exhibits are extra. First we were going to try to hit the Christkindlmart again, but when we drove by it was already a mob scene and NOT EVEN OPEN yet. Scratch that. Onto the museum. By this time, we decided we would just get out and take pictures of the cool Chinese zodiac sculptures and then get a Chicago hot dog, take a picture of outside of the museum and head home because I don’t feel my best, and well, blood. And that’s what we did. We also planned to stop to see some of Andy’s fellow Milts, Christina and Eric and their little guy Zane outside of Indianapolis. This is when I discovered that Jack in the Box exists in Indiana. Next to seeing OWTH and hanging out with Ranae, this was the best part of the trip. I was able to get and devour the unidentifiable flavors of the Jack in the Box tacos and egg rolls, bringing back California memories of looking for some place to get food after being out most of the night and heading home. Still tastes the same.

We stopped at Christina’s and were going to stay a couple of hours, but that’s when I really started to bleed heavily, so since I didn’t have enough supplies and I was afraid to sit down anywhere, we had to leave early. Andy is such a trooper and ran in Target to get pads for me; I am thinking maybe we should go to an ER, but really, I just want to get home, and if we have to drive straight through to Hershey to the ER, then that is what we’ll do. I tell Andy we need to stop at the first rest area because I need to change clothes and when we do, it’s virtually impossible to discreetly make it to the restroom to change when you’re drenched in blood. But I do, and things stay heavy for a while, and then slowly taper off. Andy and I switched driving around 11 and I drove through Ohio and into PA. When we got to PA, I started getting really tired, and would stop every 50 miles because I couldn’t keep my eyes open, but I also wanted to get home ASAP so I can decided what I need to do next. As I mentioned, I can’t sleep in the car, no matter how tired I am, so every time I stop, I end up just sitting there with my eyes wide open. Finally I woke up and Andy and had him drive the final 150 miles home. We got home around five, and the bleeding seemed to have stopped. I slept the sleep of the dead for at least 5 hours.

I’m gonna end this here, because it’s pretty long, and I can pick up with the call to the hospital when I tell the tale of the Dr. visit. No matter how much blood I lost, it was entirely worth it to have had this adventure. I can’t even put into words what it means to be able to do this stuff with Andy and make memories of good times for us. It was a fabulous time, and I would do it all over, even with the bloodshed, again because it was so fun. With that said, and it being Christmas time, do fun stuff with the people you love – buying shit doesn’t mean nearly as much as having adventures. Andy and I never really had “vacations” when he was growing up, and I regret that now – not that we didn’t go on day trips and stuff – but I wish we had taken more vacations, had more adventures. So take my advice and have as many adventures as you can. And now that I am done this entry, I can resume writing a whimsical holiday poem as is my tradition. Enjoy your evenings, lovelies, and don’t forget I still didn’t get a real puppy yet, or a miniature pony, so please let Santa know. I do have my other puppy sitting right here though, but he doesn’t like to go on walks. And I am always available for cookie tasting. Now, be off with ye…

And excuse grammar and such errors. I really don’t feel well today and I am staying medicated, so I can’t properly proof-read today.

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Free At Last!! (At Least From The Horrors of the Tubes, Anyway)

I actually got ready early this morning, because we had several things to do be we left for my appointment at Hershey – which included going to vote with Andy and having a discussion about voter suppression, since once again, illegally, the polling place had a sign that said new voters had to show ID. I don’t know whether it’s blatant disregard that that no law was ever passed, or just ignorance developed from watching too much Fox News. Whatever. Not to mention that the polling place door is always surrounded by people campaigning for local candidates, making it somewhat intimidating to enter without being assaulted. But enter we did, and refused all the little cards the lurkers tried to force upon us to help up select our candidates. Really, if you don’t know who you are voting for and why when you get to the polls, you shouldn’t be voting at all, because you are clearly uninformed. I hate the way small town voting always seems shady, but our votes were cast and we received our stickers, which is my favorite part of voting.

After voting, we then had to hit the pharmacy because I was not going anywhere near that hospital today without being armed with a full prescription of pain meds. I wish I had had something for anxiety, because while the pain of the last tube procedure was just a memory for my brain, my body was fully remembering the trauma of the last visit, and on high stress alert. Not to mention that I couldn’t eat or drink anything for several hours before this stabbing, and I was nauseated by the Tamoxifen and shaky from not eating or drinking. My brain kept trying to deny that this time would be as painful as last, but my body was having none of that. Being sedated last time when I was leaving the Vascular Radiology department, I could only remember it was down the hall from Interventional Radiology, and wandered around lost in the bowels of the hospital trying to find it. I did find my friend Joanne, who works at PSHMC, and we then wandered together until I found it. I checked in and went to the waiting cell. As is typical at PSHMC, Fox News was on. I was doing okay until they started interviewing Donald Trump, and he began spewing outright lies, and no one even challenged him. At that point, I went and stood in the hall, because Tamoxifen raises my blood pressure and that asshole was making it worse. Not to mention all the crazy supporters in the waiting area who find him appealing as a candidate. And lest I forget, the man who spent his time reading his magazines aloud, then also audibly commenting on the articles he just read. I could feel my blood pressure soaring.

Finally I was beckoned to the dungeon, er, staging area. IV insertion did not go smoothly, and my very sweet nurse called for a vein whisperer after her first two attempts did not go as planned. My left hand is now going to be a large bruise. The second nurse got the IV started in my right hand after a few harrowing minutes when it looked like that vein was going to blow too. Settled onto my bed, I actually had a pillow this time instead of a fold-up blanket like last time. I tried to lie down, but I wanted to puke, so I asked the nurse to help me sit up so I wasn’t choking. She offered me Zofran, I wanted my herbal medication, and declined, and said I would deal with it when I got home. She said, oh do you drink ginger ale and I giggled and said, yes, but I also smoke marijuana. She nodded her approval. The Dr. then came out and told me that they had discussed my tube at their morning meeting and agreed that if they ran dye through my tube and it made it to my bladder, they would pull that sucker out. I agreed completely – then found out that since that was the plan, there’s be no sedation, no pain meds and no need for the IV so carefully stuck into my hand. However they left it in, and wheeled me into the procedure room, where in 15 minutes, my 13 weeks of torment were over. It was almost painless, but not really. I couldn’t wait to get a drink and some oxy to ward off any impending pain. I was wheeled back to my waiting space and released. Now to find Andy and my mango smoothie.

Andy and I hit the road after finding each other, and headed home. I drank my smoothie and ate my pills and was still cranky because I needed to eat. I wanted wings, but the wing place didn’t have any interesting flavors, so I settled for a jr. bacon cheeseburger, and some nuggets from Wendy’s. After my angry, hungry beast was fed, things were much better. We got home without any serious pain like last time. My little friend Erin was there to great me when I got home, and after a couple minutes of chatting with her, I headed to the tower, more pills, my medicine pipe, some advil and water. Having adequately medicated, I tried to sleep. Then the pain came. I guess I didn’t take my meds at the right time to prevent the last dose from wearing off completely, and just like last time, I couldn’t move my right side for without screeching pain with every movement. It’s since toned down a little, but that’s the main reason I am blogging tonight, because I need to get another dose in before I go to bed, so that I don’t wake up crying. My kidney spasms every now and then like it’s pushing small pieces of glass through it, and that my friends, is horrific. It lasts less than a minute, but it jolts me awake. Hopefully by tomorrow morning it will be tolerable.

The pain however was what got me thinking about blogging tonight was, because I don’t know if this happens for other people, but it does for me, when I am in pain I tend to hum, and then I hear songs in my head that are relevant to my situation. For instance, the song of the evening that is replaying in my head is Off With Their Heads’ Trying to Breathe. It’s my way of self-soothing I suppose. But I seem to have certain soundtracks to my life – like last month, I often heard one of U2’s earlier songs, October, over and over in my head. November is the month of the Jesus and Mary Chain because Joey’s birthday and the day he died are both this month, and the JMC is what reminds me of our friendship. And when the depression hits, I often turn to the Smiths and Elliott Smith to highlight my misery. When I was first diagnosed with cancer and I had to make the 4:30am drive back and forth to Hershey, I listened to OWTH’s In Desolation, to and from, every day…it got me through those six weeks and far beyond. OWTH is still one of my go-to bands for catharsis, and that’s the reason I try to see them as often as I can because there’s a sense of belonging among that crowd that I am not alone in my pain, fear, and frustration. It’s healing and cleansing. In fact, if you were to ask me about specific times in my life, there would be an album or a band that I would identify it with. R.E.M got me through being dumped during my pregnancy. I made mix CDs (and now playlists) of songs for seasons – there were summer songs, and loneliness songs, and dark brooding goth mixes with Black Tape for A Blue Girl. Some people enjoy music – my music gets me through the hard times, helping me put to words what I am feeling inside, and scream it out loud on winding back roads, helping me heal. There’s even driving music, which I have to be careful with because it seems to enhance my leadfoot. Then there were the new bands I discovered and would listen to when I first got to California and had to take the 2.5 bus ride to and from work every day – Husker Du, the Replacements and the Hoodoo Gurus to name a few. And Echo and The Bunnymen’s Songs to Learn and Sing. Andy’s first show was the very first Lollapalooza when I was 8 months pregnant. Most of my friends are clueless about the bands I listen to and love, but without my music, I’d be lost. It’s not just music, it’s my way to cope. Especially while I have been dealing with this C-monster that has me in its clutches. When I got the last prognosis, I spent hours driving and crying and singing my throat raw before I could pull it together to come home. I listen to classical when I need to focus; I listen to weird rhythmic pieces by Gabrielle Roth when I need to stretch, and I had playlists for the gym when I still had the strength to go. There was music for strength training and music for the elipti-hell machine. And there are songs that I will listen to on repeat until every ounce of pain has been expunged. And while I find peace in the bands I discover and love, there’s also music that makes my ears bleed – and gets under my skin like a festering splinter that I can’t wait to be rid of. Like when we went on the dinner cruise in DC, and the music they played on the observation deck made me want to leap into the Potomac or shoot out the speakers, or both – music can indeed make me miserable. Or it can make me laugh, like the song Bunnies by Pansy Division. (Go ahead and download that one) And for those who received them as holiday gifts – there are my impressive holiday songs collection, which have had some gems on them. It’s not just music, it’s part of who I am.

Music was the reason I was willing to put off chemo for two months so I could go to shows and festivals and see the bands I love. And while I made it the shows that mattered most to me, we all know how difficult the kidneys and bladder made following through on a lot of that was. In fact, going to shows made me fight a little harder to stay healthy so I could go. And it gives me a connection with Andy, that we enjoy a lot of the same music gives us something we can do together. In fact, my Christmas present is going to Chicago for the War On Christmas shows in December. Part of my “things I still need to do list” includes seeing bands I’ve always wanted to see live, which is a pretty short list these days, but there are still a few I haven’t seen.

Well now that I spilled all of that out there, it’s time for another round of pills. I’m still having pain, but it’s getting better – I will probably need my dressing changed in the morning – the doctor said that my kidney will seal itself, but there may be some discharge for a few days. I am allowed to swim and take baths again – they said 2 days, but I’ll wait a little longer, like when the hole is actually closed, and I don’t need a bandage on my back. It’s really the tape tugging at my skin that causes the most pain – there are scars around my back where the tape tore away my skin just like it did on my thigh. And it itches. But it’s almost completely over and I am so thrilled that I can’t even stand it. I rolled around on the bed just for fun, because nothing was tugging and pulling at my skin and kidney for the first time in over two months. I could literally feel the stress slide off after I got in the car to come home. I can deal with cancer, and I know at some point these things might have to be a part of my life n the months to come, but they don’t need to be here now. I just want to be able to do things and go places now while I can, without these encumbrances. Not that I minded taking the punk rock stroller to the shows, but I’d much rather be free of the attachments. No, that’s a lie, I did mind taking it, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

So now that my pain pills are slowly making their way into my bloodstream, I am ready to head to bed so that I can get up and get things done tomorrow, at least some laundry and maybe making dinner. We’ve been eating a lot of fast food, food other people have so kindly made for us, and frozen food. I haven’t had the energy to cook, but I’m hungry for jerk chicken and mashed potatoes and corn, and I know Andy would be grateful for his mother’s cooking again. The ladies arrive from CA here in Shenandoah on Friday, and Saturday morning we are going to Shady Maple for breakfast (and for the gift shop so I can get a new toy). I am so excited to see them all and spend time with them. And I am very thrilled to see all my other friend at the benefit on Saturday, and to score some of the good food that will be there, especially the stuff Lisa’s making, because that woman can cook. Best breaded chicken ever. My only hope is that my dad doesn’t over do the wine and drag up every less that optimal decision I ever made in my life. Presently, he’s blaming my circumstances on moving to FL with my much older alcoholic and drug addicted boyfriend when I was 17. That’s a long time and a lot of therapy ago. But that’s my dad. It’s still going to be a good time.

Before I forget, I did get my panda suit. It was very hot. I sat on the porch for over an hour waving at cars, but only 4 people total ever waved back. I scared Andy, Eric and two other people walking by. People showed the panda no love. If I saw a giant panda just sitting and waving on a porch, I would have stopped the car for pictures. Then I let Andy borrow the costume for a show he was going to. The panda body no longer exists any more because he was far too tall for it, and it showed. However, panda’s head is just fine, so I’ll just toss on my new security blanket, my OWTH hoodie, and sit on the porch as punk rock panda, and see if that makes a difference. Now it’s time for bed, and more water because we have to keep the kidney in good shape. Sweetest of dreams, I’ll probably be back after everyone returns to the West coast with pictures and stories to tell. Enjoy these last few warm days. And remember to give lots of hugs and tell people you love them every chance you get. You can’t do either enough. And sorry for the rambling, it’s the medication, I swear.


And Then It Was November…

Well happy people, it’s my birthday month. It’s also time for seasonal affective disorderr to rear its ugly head. The time of year when everything dies and I feel the urge to sing along with Morrissey and Elliott Smith. But surprisingly, increasing my antidepressant seems to have stayed the invasion of winter blackness for now. I tried taking my new dose for a few days, and it made my head feel all scrambly, so I decided I will alternate every other day, one old pill and one new pill. What, you say? How dare I disregard my physician’s instructions? I do it all the time – I know my body and brain better than any doctor, especially my brain, and it says I’m doing what I need to. Although it also was nice that my new palliative care doctor agreed with my method of medication administration.

Oh yeah, you want to know how that went, right? Surprisingly well. I really like the Dr. – she reminded me very much of my good friend Jess, with her manor and her tone, and I felt very comfortable. She was also very cool about my morbid sense of humor, and asked all the right questions without being intrusive. She is going to get me hooked up with a counselor who I can vent to on a semi-regular basis who will listen without trying to make me feel better and who will not give me “sad face” or pat my fucking arm. This is very comforting. We talked about end of life planning, what I should look for in terms of my disease taking a downturn, living wills, and what would be “my line in the sand” in terms of when I would say enough with treatment, and again, it’s quality over quantity. Her office will be the one I call for pain meds and if any new symptoms come up, or I want to discuss options for care. I got all the paperwork to make Andy my power of attorney and provide a living will – I hesitated to fill it out at first because I wanted to make sure he was okay with making those decisions. I don’t know who else I could trust with them – I don’t know how many people would honor what I want without question. Andy said he’s fine with it. All I know is that I don’t want to be come mean and miserable and trapped in a hospital bed to die. If I have no control like I did when they forced Dana inside and drilled a hole in my kidney, that’s one thing, but if there are options, I want to be in control of when and how I leave this particular life cycle. My biggest fear is to find myself unable to say “turn those fucking machines off’” and being a human vegetable. Okay, my biggest fear is being buried alive with clowns, but that’s my second fear.

I’m feeling better lately. I had a few days of a being a bit out of it after my flu shot. My joints are achy today, but I don’t know if it’s because of the flu shot or because I was cleaning in my lame, not a lot of energy way. I managed to clean a 4′ x 3′ area today, and do a load of laundry. I am getting better at throwing things away. You can’t even begin to understand what it’s like to have to think about holidays in the context of will I even be around to use this next year? Or things that I was saving for one reason or another, I now look at and say there’s really no reason to hang on to this anymore. It’s liberating and sad at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not miserable over it – it’s just thoughts and emotions and they are all just temporary. Just like not that long ago I didn’t even want to be awake, and I just kept reminding myself I only needed to get through today, until the blackness receded and I got my ass out of bed and started moving again. All I am hoping now is that: 1. They pull this tube on Tuesday and 2. That when they pull it I don’t end up in bed for 2 or 3 days like the last torture session. The benefit is on Saturday and I still have some straightening up to do, and jello shots to make. The California girls get here Friday, and then the fun starts. We’re going to Shady Maple on Saturday for breakfast before the benefit because those silly Mennonites don’t work on Sundays and they’re closed. Good times. Maybe this time I can get a stuffed black mamba or maybe a vampire deer for my collection. Hmmm, Paige is getting my scary baby collection after I’m dead, I wonder who have’ll dibs on the stuffed animal predator collection. I know Andy doesn’t really want a stuffed komodo dragon or wild african dog.

I try really hard when I am around people who give me sad face not to talk death. The problem is that it’s constantly on my mind. With that said, it’s not like it’s all doom and gloom and I’ve accepted that outcome as final and non-negotiable. I think anything is possible – I think about my stupid pufferfish every day and visualize it growing smaller and smaller and picture it vanishing. I think about how the human body is an amazing self-healing machine and if it’s meant to be, I’ll be around as long as it’s necessary to learn whatever I was supposed to learn in this life. There are no real certainties with this disease. I mean nothing was worse after cyst drainage – things actually improved with the departure of Dana and the impending tube removal. Yet you don’t ever stop thinking about what is happening in your body and trying to figure out was this something that you brought on yourself, or is it just one of life’s lessons. You start trying to figure out why this is happening to you. It’s such a rollercoaster and right now it’s like I am standing in line for my next go round.

Then there are the multitude of questions – am I doing enough? Should I get a third opinion? Maybe I should stop eating bacon and candy (gasp). More fruits. Veggies. Get back on my tea regimen. While I was checking in at the Cancer Institute the other day, there was a sweet old lady behind me who asked me about my OWTH hoodie – as we started talking we both discovered we were patients of Dr. K and both adored him. We started talking about second opinions and how it felt like we’d be cheating on Dr. K if we got one, but that people around us encouraged us too. She has had ovarian cancer for over 5 years – and it was nice to talk to someone who has a very similar stupid disease. We went our separate ways, she off to do blood work, and me, off to my appointment. I have to say I am not as fond of the new offices as I was of the old. Maybe because there are people with all sorts of cancers in the waiting room of the new offices, and some of them are very clearly very sick, and it reminds me of what is to come. I don’t want to be that person. It makes me uncomfortable. It also makes me glad that Dr. J left Hershey before I found out about the recurrence. I am glad he never needed to know that the cancer was back, and he got to leave thinking I was cancer free. Although I wonder if Dr. K ever mentioned it to him, since they were friends.

I know I am just rambling now. I want so badly to go to sleep but I had a bit of a row with Andy earlier and of course it was right before I was to fall asleep. Naturally, I got fired up and sleep wasn’t going to be coming anytime soon. Of course, he’s upstairs snoring, and I am down here trying to get my brain from firing on all cylinders so I too can snooze. I am both excited and stressed about the benefit on Saturday, and then the next week is my birthday. Of course, I want it to be a fun filled day, because I don’t know if there’ll be another one – in my gut I believe there will be, but I don’t want to wait to celebrate until I find out. I know this all sounds sort of sad, but trust me, I really am in mostly a good headspace right now – these are all just thoughts that I am stuck with every day, and they no longer are good or bad, just are. On the good news front though, Ranae’s mom had a pet scan and has no new cancer and can stop chemo – which is fabulous news. When I told Andy, he said, well let’s hope you’re next. Let’s hope. Today is one of those days where I feel I can face anything that is ahead. I appreciate these days because I know the other days when I feel like the floor has dropped out beneath me rip out my soul. If there’s one thing this fucking miserable disease does, it teaches you that there is a very broad spectrum of emotions and states of mind out there, and it will make you feel each and every one of them.

Okay, finally I feel like I can lie back down and curl up to sleep. So far the evil Tamoxifen is not giving me too much trouble with hot flashes. While I still get them, I believe the increased Effexor is keeping them in check. I still play the blanket game every night, and I still wake up damp with sweat every morning, but it’s not so bad during the day. The one thing I really hate about Tamoxifen is that it make my boobs bigger than they are. I really miss my perfect B cup boobs from the time before Andy. I hate slinging these things around, tucking them in to bras and then releasing them like Kraken when I get home and can take the boob harness off. But again, I should watch what I say before they become a source of pain and anxiety.

And now I must depart for my bed. I’ve finally watched all of Season 3 of Hemlock Grove, which just left me anxious for the next season and now I will have to wait for what seems like forever. So now I just watch reruns of last season’s Vikings and hope the new season starts soon. I’m still making pumpkin hats and making some cards tomorrow, and going to finish coffinizing the babies tomorrow. I’ve only got 8 more to go. I forgot how many I really had. Lots of babies. I did notice that one of my babies is missing her rat and another his bloody cleaver. And when I went to take them out of the storage bin, some of them had taken their shoes off. I wonder what was going on in there. I hope no one tries to steal one of them at the benefit – I’ll have to cut off their hands. I also thought about offering my gargoyle collection for table decorations – I forget how many creepy things I collect. So scurry off now, and enjoy your night or day, or afternoon, as will I – and keep sending the good vibes. And for those of you who send me cards, please continue – I love getting them in the mail, and they always seem to come at a time when I need them most – especially the ones from Jeanne. I’m sure I’ll be back later this week before this benefit to tell you all about how I was brutalized and made to cry by the kidney people when they go in after my tube. This time I’ll be taking the oxycodone with me. Delightful dreams my friend and happy adventures. Peace.


Tarpits, Minefields, and the Joy of a Tuesday

Well here it is, Tuesday. I feel like I have slept most of this month away. I am up and awake now, before 10 am, out of bed, which is crazy, because the only reason I was getting out of bed before 10 am for the last three weeks was for dr. appointments and to puke. It feels strange and wonderful, and shaky. I’m craving a mint hot chocolate, but today is shower day, which I can’t take until Andy is awake to do a new bandage on my back.

So what’s new in my world? Lots and nothing. I’ve been down with the sickness pretty much every day. I feel better one day, and think I can actually be social and do things, and then someone is unknowingly carrying a rare virus that is usually defeated quickly by your immune system until it gets to me, and then hello, it’s a human with very little resistance, let’s dance. I am sure I’ve endured the black death the last few days, and probably some extinct pox. I’ve puked more in the last 30 days that I have in my whole entire life. And that’s with using appropriate nausea control techniques. And the things I have puked in and on are countless! Plus let’s not forget that tube in my back that gives me an added thrill every time my automatic nervous system spasms. It’s good times.

The tube in my kidney. What a pleasure source that bad boy is! I did get a mini-reprieve with it, though. When I went in for my tube change, I laid down my case for why it should come out, and almost won. But using logic, my plan was confounded. We agreed to leave a tube in, capping it off, sans the pee bag, for two weeks – if my kidney goes back to doing it’s job without complaint, then they will pull it. In the meantime, I’ve discovered the sweet spot on my hip where I need to place my hand when I need to cough, sneeze or breathe deeply, so I am not thwarted by pain.

But let’s talk about pain. Last Wednesday, I went in to interventional radiology to have the tube change done. I took a couple oxy and some medicinal herbiage before the ride so I’d be more comfortable when I got there. I was. Then they promised me some more medicine, when they did the procedure. Unlike the draining of the cyst, I don’t believe they give you any medication to help you be drowsy. No, they are very kind to you, promising pain relief until they wheel your ass in the procedure room. Then they tell you to get on your stomach, put your arms above your head and trust they will not hurt you. They lie. First they start poking you in the back with needles they claim are local anesthetics. Just a pinch they say. Just a pinch. Just a pinch of the claw of giant crustacean tearing into your flesh like it intends to eat you. I stay surprisingly still for the first two shots. Then the third hits a nerve or something and I elevate three feet from the table and mutter “ouch”. I think the team realizes that they might have hurt me. Now, I am shaking from the pain, and it’s freezing in there, so I shake for the rest of the procedure. They took out the old tubing and put a smaller less cumbersome tube apparatus in there. They did a really good job with the bandage. I get to roll back on my back and go to recovery. I’ve done really well they tell me. I just want to go home. They must have given me fentynal at some point because I’m mostly not in pain now. I get dressed and they even let me walk up to meet Andy.

I was hungry. I wanted one of those turkey and cranberry sandwiches from Panera. I went in with Andy at first, but realized I needed to be back in the car, so I gave him my order and went outside. He brought out the goods and I ate a cookie and some lemonade. I thought I was going to be fine. Just not really hungry. The sandwich could wait. Then the meds started to wear off. I didn’t bring any with me. In the next ten minutes, my pain went from 2 to 2.4 trillion. Every inch from my waist to my neck on the right side of my body was a fucking minefield of pain. I do not exaggerate when I say that speaking hurt me. Breathing hurt. Coughing was some primitive torture activity. I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t talk, I could only whimper like I was hit by a car and left alongside the road to die. I wanted to die. I wanted fucking morphine.

Finally we go home, I thought I was going to be okay. Then I tried to get out of the car and walk into the house. Every fucking step was a new adventure in torment. I got in the house, and faced the steps where my safe bed and vial of oxy were waiting for me just a few hundred steps away. And every step found me crying and moaning and doubting that I would ever get to the bed. But I did. I shoved some oxy in my mouth, and advil, and tried to smoke but couldn’t really inhale. Then I tried to lie down. That was not easy. I literally had to throw myself down on my right side and not move from that position. I told Andy if I didn’t get some relief in an hour, that we would need to call an ambulance. I was having really bad pain in my chest and back and I was scared it was serious. But I also tore cartilage in my chest before and it often would be painful if I was in a position that pulled at it again, so it could have also been that. I was hoping it was that. I nodded off for an hour and when I woke, I wasn’t in as much pain, so that was good. I was still paralyzed and unable to move, but I was no longer in fear of imminent death. Another four hours of sleep and I was almost able to move. By morning, I could actually sit up. A few more hours, and I could walk. Things were improving.

I couldn’t make my appointment with palliative care. Reschedule. I didn’t have the strength or the energy. I had to blow off the Bouncing Souls show that I was so looking forward to. I shouldn’t complain, my kidney was working and I could move and most of the time, breathe. I was still having trouble coughing and sneezing. Then the black wave of depression crept into the space where pain had been hanging out in my brain, and down, down, down, way fucking down, we went. If you don’t have depression, you can’t understand. I try to make it as visual for the untainted as I can, and this was like the La Brea tar pits of depression and I was a fucking woolly mammoth. It was all over except for suffocation. That sucking quicksand of sorrow ate me up, and the crying started. Without belaboring the incessant crying and snot-blowing, let’s just say thoughts during the breakdown run from “I’ve failed as a mother, and Andy will hate me for the rest of his life” to “what the fuck have I done with my life?” to “I’ll never get that PhD, great work dumbass.” Until you really spend a lot of time reflecting on your life and the possibility of a very short future, you can never understand that level of sorrow or failure. People can tell you otherwise for hours, but you can tear any positive self image down to smoldering ash in a matter of minutes when you start to consider things that will most likely never happen because there’s just not enough time. I’m just now starting to realize the psychological impact this disease has on me. I keep it together most days, but when this shit crumbles, it goes down hard and and fast.

I hate to keep harping on this but I feel I have to remind people that I write this to sort through what is in my head more than anything else. If the details of this fucking monster inside me helps someone else, I am thrilled, but writing is always for me. I love that people read it, I love that people comment on it, but I love the way I feel drained and empty when I stop writing, like all the shit that swirls in my head has finally been released or at least organized. Writing also scares me – when I see what I have only been thinking appear on the page it’s like tearing off a scab and wondering if it is ever going to stop bleeding. How raw this gets depends on how much pain I am in when I write – and sometimes I hold back because I can’t face another entry that is just all about my grief, and I know I shouldn’t. I can’t – because there’s no where else I can go with this. I know there are therapists, and I know I have friends, but let’s be honest here, very few people pour out what is really inside to anyone else, because we all want to keep our pain, our shame, our fears hidden. If you don’t, I admire you – I know I have secrets no one will ever know.

So now it’s evening – I went out for a bit today in the car. Visited work until I started to feel nauseous and then took a ride and spent some time in a cemetery until I felt better. Then I drove and cried and screamed and came home exhausted. Smoked my nausea away, and hoped for sleep, but no, my feet are twitchy and my legs are restless and so is my brain. Part of it is knowing that next Monday we’ll be talking treatment and progression (or hopefully, lack of progression) of this stupid C-monster and the damn pufferfish. And as many of you know, my friends are hosting a benefit for me on November 7th here. Some of my oldest and dearest friends from California are flying in and I am thrilled – it’s going to be amazing to see them all again. And I am sure many of my dear friends that live here will also be there and I am so blessed and grateful that they are doing this for me, but there’s a huge part of me that realized just now that it’s like saying goodbye to my loved ones and I don’t know that I am ready for that. I know that sounds negative, because anything can happen, and I do believe that, but I am also very much a realist who prepares for the worst, and the very thought of maybe never seeing them again after that weekend tears my fucking heart out. Just like every day that I wonder if I have told Andy every thing I want him to know – and hope that he knows that he changed my life and I love him more than I have loved anyone in my life. That, my friends, is my nightly terror – leaving my son alone in this world. I don’t care about anything else. I just want to make sure that my baby is going to be okay and that he knows how sorry I am that all this has landed in his lap during the time of his life when he should be discovering what he loves and who he is and he’s stuck taking care of me. And the tears flow again.

I was trying so hard to keep this light and fucking positive and I can see that that has been a huge fail. So much is undone. And you’ll think to yourself, well get out there and do it! And the reality is that there are somethings you don’t just “go out and do.” When faced with what you are going to do, you have to let go of the dreams you had that can’t possibly fulfill because it’s just not possible. And you grieve for all of them. So much grieving. And even as I type this I’m trying to self-talk myself calm – I want to bolt and stop writing because it hurts so much. But this kind of pain is progress. Unlike the physical pain – which is nothing more than annoying. And at this point, more of an annoyance than a hindrance. There’s that at least.

Well, I am spent for tonight. I’ve tried to enhance this post with some cemetery pictures from today. It didn’t work. Maybe I didn’t save them in the right format. Who knows. The featured image was supposed to be this crazy tree that is way at the back of a pretty hidden entrance to a cemetery I frequent. It always has artificial flowers attached to it. And it’s updated regularly for the season. I like to sneak into the cemetery that way so I can check out the tree. People don’t appreciate the subtle beauty hiding in the places most people ignore. I’m always going to find my happy in an interesting cemetery. It’s like water is to my soul. Maybe Saturday when we go to Philly, I can convince Andy that we need a stop at Laurel Hill…it’s such a beautiful place in the fall. Just so I can take a drive through and enjoy the trees and death and decay. I am going to head to sleep, so I wish you sweet dreams, cupcakes. Thank you and come again.


It’s Like A Monkey on My Back, Except No Monkey.

I was trying to coax myself back into a blissful oblivion, which is evading me tonight. The last few days have been pretty much nothing but tears when I don’t specifically do something to keep myself busy. Of course, as I was sitting here, reflecting in the warm glow of a decorated bic as I try not to burn my finger, I noticed the flashing red and blue lights just down the street on the corner. Of course, that window has an air conditioner in it, and made it impossible to be a gawker. Since I wasn’t gonna be able to sleep with the lights flashing anyway and I wouldn’t know what was going on unless I went down the stairs to the porch, I figured I would write and cry and vent because at this point I don’t know where to go with this shit. I don’t even know what it is…all I know is that it’s a fucking huge ache I can’t stop.

I wish I had an easy answer, but none of this is easy. One thing goes better, another falters. A million questions suddenly need answers, there’s a million wise things I want to tell Andy and a million things I want to leave behind for him and any future progeny. I hate seeing him so sad. It kills me that this is killing him. I am afraid of who will be there for him when I am gone. Or who won’t be. And that’s the pain nothing touches. I can’t smoke or swallow that away. And it’s more physical that anything else I am feeling.

I would trade anything to just have normal back – the daily bullshit, the humdrum, the worrying about just bills and heat and easy shit like that. If I could just undo what’s been done. I just want to wake up and have it be okay. To be okay.

Being sick last week made me realize that it’s going to get really bad in the coming months, and I don’t know that I have that kind of strength. And before you tell me how fucking strong I am and all that other supportive shit that I appreciate but right now don’t care about, I know me better than anyone, and I know right now, I am not sure of anything any longer. Other than I now want this fucking tube out of my back too. It’s going to make it impossible to drown in the Pacific Ocean if I can’t get the tube underwater.

That was a joke. Kinda.

Look, here are the facts. You may want to stop reading this blog and forget you ever found it. Because it’s going to get more raw and more painful because this is where I go when my head is so full of crazy thoughts that only moving my fingers across the keyboard can help line them up and get it together. Again, it’s not about needing people to console me or make me feel better. It’s about me making me feel better in the way I know best. I am not going to lie and tell you that I am going to be a spirited fighter until the end. I am not going to be the smiling turban headed warrior all those fund raising ads show. I don’t know what I am going to be. I might be a sniveling fucking crybaby who feels sorry for herself. I just know that all I keep telling myself is one more day. Just one more day. You can get to tomorrow. Some people would be thrilled to have one more day. Suck it up whiny bitch.

And I always feel so ungrateful. People do nice things for me and I am thankful and I appreciate it, but sometimes it’s like I don’t feel like I show it enough. And then the guilt comes in. I wish cancer was just about physical pain. That I can manage. The psychological part not so much. Even with my vocabulary I don’t have words that describe it – it’s like a million sharp daggers that tug on the strings of some weird emotional harp that’s crazy out of tune. I don’t know what I want. I don’t know who I am. I am broken and trapped and very much afraid. And I can’t even tell you what I am afraid of. If you knew the truth of this, you would know why that is so scary.

I’ve cried as much as I can right now. I’ll wake up in a few hours with slimey sticky eyelids and a clogged nose. I’ll lie there listening to the birds and see it getting lighter and everything will seem normal and then I feel the stitches tug in my back and it all comes back.

One more day. Lots of people are suffering more than you are, you whiny bitch. You should just stfu. And I’ll tell myself one more day.

Johns Hopkins called today. No trial for me. The cancer’s rare and pretty and all, but not what we’re looking for. At least it was a shot.

Next Wednesday my back tentacle is scheduled to be replaced; I am going to advocate removal. Maybe I will feel better once my body is no longer is a constant state of stress. Next Thursday I see palliative care. The assuring you the best quality of life people. I see a huge breakdown coming when I go there.

I didn’t want this; I don’t want this. I am going to try to close my eyes for a few hours before the sun is up. One more day.


Falling Down a Rabbit Hole

It’s Monday. I’ve lost a full week. I’m sitting up and made my own bagel for breakfast after enjoying several trips to the bathroom to pee, which since Dana is gone, is a celebration each and every time. I’m working on scheduling doctor appointments and getting up the energy to leap (that’s a fucking exaggeration – I am not leaping anywhere anytime soon,) I am happy just to move forward without falling or gagging or wretching. I puked more in the last week that I did throughout both times I did chemo. Which is a special time when you have a catheter and a nephrostemy, because you may not know, all that shits connected in bizarre ways, and that nephrostemy tube in my back moves in and out as my kidney moves, so when your stomach is twisted up and hurling all that ice water back you just drank back into the sink, it’s also trying to simultaneously push out the catheter and the nephrostemy tube, which being sewn into your kidney and back is being torn out unless you put your hand on it to hold it still. This feat, called contortionism, requires that you twist your right arm completely around in your socket to put your palm on the bandage. This leaves your left arm available for all of the following: keeping you from slamming your face into the sink or holding your stomach, or covering your mouth if you are on your way to puke again all while making sure you don’t step on Dana or get it caught on something. Fucking phenomenal. Then you can try to brush your teeth and hope it doesn’t spawn a new round of hurling. This is followed by return to bed, where you freeze, sweat, freeze and then not be able to figure out of if you’re freezing or on fire. Only ginger beer brings a smidgen of relief. I didn’t even want to sit up long enough to medicate with my fine herbal medication.

So here it is Monday. I’ll eventually write more. For now, I’m sorry if I missed your birthday, or ignored your text, or message or didn’t respond with appropriate enthusiasm to something you said or did, I’m sorry. I went to see my brother and his wife and spend the whole time puking in their bathroom and spreading disease. Today is the first time I even opened the laptop in five days. I’ve spent more of the last week crying and wishing I could just die than I have the last 10 years. And now I’m about to make an appointment with palliative care, the call I never even thought I’d be making.

That said, OWTH was fucking amazing, as they always are, as was spending time with the Erica, and Denise and every one else. Ryan, I hope I can get a bunny shirt on Friday at the D4 show. I’m going to stop now, because I realized I am purposefully avoiding making this phone call. And at some point, I’m gonna need to shower and get in the car and get some sun on my face. Be well. Love each other, and get all the hugs you can. Even if it spreads plague.


Pufferfish Takes Its Show On The Road

Joyeux après-midi, mon petit kangourou amis I’ve been putting this off, not because I didn’t want to write it, but more because I am mostly a miserable bitch these days, and I don’t like that part of me. There is no position in which I am comfortable – the best I can get to is tolerable, and that takes a special medication combination that usually ends up with me falling asleep while typing. Or forgetting what I was typing. Or both.

WARNING GRAPHIC DESCRIPTION OF THE PERILS OF THE PEE BAG AHEAD. If you want to skip over the gruesome details stop here and pick up at the word SAFE.

I just need to bitch right now before I get into the trip to John Hopkins. My thighs are covered in black and blue marks from the tape constantly pulling as it holds the vagina tail to my thigh. It makes me feel like I have to pee constantly. Today there was all sorts of blood and clotty strings in the bag – gross as it is, it’s kinda like a sick set of sea monkeys. This is somewhat alarming when you go to bed with normal pee and wake up to bag of fruit punch. All the walking I have done this week cause irritation in the urethra and caused bleeding. I called urology who told me to stay in bed and drink more water which is silly, because the more water I drink, the more often the sacks of pee need to be drained. Then sometimes it causes a spasm, and then there’s more blood and tissue scooting along the tube. It hurts. I try not to take opiates and just stick to natural cures, which helps most of the time, but the last few days it took the muscle relaxers, medicinal herbs and tinctures and opiates to try and get to a point of just calm. And the hot flashes are still happening, not as often, but dear dog, just let me sleep. The nephrostemy is a piece of cake compared to the catheter, although the last few nights I wake up with the nephrostemy bag ready to burst because that kidney works really hard at night. Rant over.

SAFE TO RESUME READING

Andy and I made the trip to Baltimore to Johns Hopkins to get a second opinion yesterday. It was actually a pretty easy ride, it took just under 3 hours and we did not get lost once. I had to super medicate for the ride, because I didn’t know what to expect being in a car that Andy is driving for that long in my present condition. Needless to say I was quite comfortable when we arrived at JHOC. Well not really, with my vagina tentacle currently holding me down, I’m not ever really without discomfort. I suppose I could really just say I had a really good attitude when we arrived. Andy dropped me off at the door and I found my way to where I needed to be. I found the Women’s Health clinic on the 6th floor – JHOC is huge. Kind of intimidating. You get a wristband as soon as you enter the building – it’s like going to a show. Then there are there touch screen check-in kiosks when you get to where you are going. I tried, but I couldn’t get registered that way. Of course not. When I finally did get registered, I was handed a questionnaire and herded off to the waiting area. And wait for Andy and my nurse navigator to find me. While I was waiting, another female patient came back to the waiting area escorted by a nurse; she was clearly unhappy and shouting about how she should have gone to another hospital because they aren’t giving her the help she needs here. I’m trying not to judge, but her whale tail draws my attention as she’s huffing and bellowing in a seat four seats away. What I want to say is, bitch this hospital is ranked 6th in the nation in treatment, where ya gonna go? But I just keep answering my questionnaire.

I am supposed to meet my nurse navigator here. She said she’s meet me at 1:30, and when I look at the clock it 1:40, and I realize my ringer is off. I rifle through my purse, and find my phone and sure enough I missed her call. I quickly call her back and let her know I’m waiting, when they call me back to the exam room…she’ll meet me there. The nurse brings me back to do my vitals, and the nurse navigator arrives, her name is Liz. Introductions ensue, and I do some deep breathing exercises and surprise surprise, the combination of herbal medication and meditation has kept my blood pressure low. I’ve lost more weight. I’ll take that. I confess to my use of plant medication, and then of the JHOC minions comes in to review my medical history (because she didn’t have time to go through the 5 discs of medical history I provided to them minutes earlier). I tell the sad sad tale of the tumor gigantica and the first series of chemo and then the emergence of the cyst and its current incarnation and end with me crying that the tubes are not letting me live my life and that I how is this quality of life. The minion is very compassionate. They teach bedside manner well here. I regain my composure and make jokes. The Pietkiewicz Way. When faced with horrible circumstances, make a joke. Make many jokes.

Andy asked me on the way what I was hoping to hear at the appointment. I told him best case scenario would be to have them say “we’ll whisk you into surgery tomorrow and cut that cyst right out” and worst case is that I leave the way I came. I relay this to Liz and the minion, Shanae. I just want to be able to walk and sit and sleep without encumbrances and pain. That’s all. I don’t even care that my days are rather numbered – all I want is for them to be good days. I don’t like the bitch this pain is turning me into, I don’t like that taking a shower or making a sandwich or getting some juice becomes a gargantuan task that requires a logistical plan to move myself and my coterie of pee bags without any tubes catching on something or dragging behind. I just want to not have to wear a long skirt to go out to hide my vagina tentacle I hate the spasms and gasping when the pain shoots through my bladder. I hate that I feel trapped and isolated and incapacitated. I feel cheated.

I feel I am keeping it together pretty well. My mouth is drier than the sahara and I am out of water. Finally the Dr. comes in. What is with the Drop Dead Fred look these days? He’s a much classier DDF. He sits down, and we do a quick review of my history again. He’s a really nice guy, and probably just 30 years old (Ashley F, are you reading this? I didn’t see a wedding ring, you could be a stay at home mom, like for unicorns or cats) He’s rocking a emerald green and royal blue ensemble, so he’s a man of fashion sense and confidence. I like him. Then I brace myself for what’s to come. No, surgery isn’t an option, and not just because I’m a big girl, but because the cyst is smack dab in the middle of the area where I received the radiation treatments when I was first diagnosed. I already knew that I had received my lifetime dose of radiation in that area, which is why there was none this go round. When you get radiation, it forever damages the tissues in the area. This makes them slow to heal and regenerate if you cut into them again. And removing the cyst would require clearing the margins around it which as we know means goodbye rectum, bladder, and vagina, and hello tubes and bags (not all that different from my current rig of hoses and external bladders). And that would entail the removal of a massive amount of tissue in an very damaged area which would be brutally slow to heal and would run the risk of massive infection. The risks of that surgery would far outweigh any minimal benefit and would likely shorten, and without question, diminish the quality of, my life. He would start me on a regimen of more Tamoxifen (boo) and Progesterone which has the delightful side effect of making me even fatter and more miserable emotionally, or since I am not a big fan of Tamoxifen, there is a chemo drug called Doxil which has had some success. Don’t google it. It’s terrifying, but it could work. There’s some other hormone therapy and medications that have shown some success. The prognosis isn’t going to change. I have recurrent endometrial stage 3b cancer, that shows signs of metastasis in the lungs. It’s got a super low survival rate. Recurrent endometrial cancer isn’t one you survive. That said, Dr. T said that the issues I am having now are not really a result of the cancer, and in fact, the cancer is slow growing, and is mostly contained, and that the cyst is the source of all of my woe. For this, we discussed the risk of putting a drain in the cyst for several months to keep the fluid from building up and the possibility of it seeding cancer elsewhere vs. suffering with a catheter forever the duration. As the brutal urine extraction device is painful and unwieldy, I would rather take my chances with the drain. Dr, T agreed that at this point the risk is worth the procedure and said he would recommend that to Dr. K in his notes to him. So hopefully, the visit on the 21st will begin with “let’s pick a surgery date for a drain”. Dr. T said that if Hershey’s interventional radiology still doesn’t want to do it, then give him a call and see is JH’s interventional radiology will. He said the other option is another nephrostemy, but not a really good option. Finally, he said there is the smallest of possibilities that I could participate in a trial that is currently showing promise at JH, and just was published in a medical journal, but he would need a slice of my tumor to find out if there are these special satellite cells in it, because my tumor would have to have them in order to be considered for the trial. Other than that, Dr. T said he would have done exactly what Dr. K did, and would alternate chemo with hormone therapy as my cancer is not aggressively trying to take over. He brought up quality vs. quantity, and I quickly told him that I’m on the side of quality – that being riddled with silicone piping in my excretory systems is not how I want to go out. I would even suffer the permanency of the nephrostemy tube, if only, oh my dog, please, if only I don’t have to live with this catheter.

He also said that I should just continue treatment with PSHMC’s Urology department too. We discussed the potential for self catheterization during the day, and with the difficulty they have had inserting catheters in the hospital because the cyst is in the way, why would anyone think I would have an easier time of it at home? He did say there is a suprapubic catheter that could be inserted into my bladder through my belly, and while there would still be a bag, it would not be brutal and painful like the vaginal one is now. Wicked cruel vagina pee serpent. All I know is that it needs to go. It’s like a fucking albatross, except it’s not around my neck, it’s shoved inside me. So there you have it – even though I left upset that there was nothing else to really do, that wasn’t already being done, I felt validated that my Dr. was doing all he can. I knew that in my gut already, because it clearly pains Dr. K to give me bad news, but now, I’ve heard the same things from another well respected professional, so I can just say fuck off to the next person who says “there has to be something else they can do.”

So I held my breakdown in check until I was in the car, and even then, Andy and I just made death jokes. Being told this kind of news takes days to sink in, the sheer magnitude of what it means is overwhelming. I know I’ve told a handful of people personally, but with shitty news like this, blogging about it is easier than texts or phone calls. I don’t have to hear people tell me their sorry. I don’t have to see sad faces. I don’t want to be around people who are saddened by this. I want to spend my days laughing when I can. I want to say cancer fucking sucks. So I called my little fucking hummingbird friend Debbie, and had the conversation that only someone else who has had to face cancer can truly understand. And at the risk of alienating people, I need to be brutally honest, just give me fist bumps, stop asking me how I am. I have cancer, I’m sick and in pain, that’s my fucking reality and I am tired of pretending that my fucking world is fine. Yes, I can still laugh and smile and appreciate the beauty of the world around me, but asking me how I am doesn’t help me or you. And stop talking about miracles and me kicking cancer’s ass because while it may happen, it probably won’t – and I am not being pessimistic, I am a realist. I’m going to do all I can to prolong my life as long as it fit in with what I want out of life. Please don’t tell me what you think I should do, unless you yourself have been in my situation. Because until you are here, you don’t fucking know. And stop talking about this being a battle, and being a survivor or keeping up the fight, because you what that implies? That if I die, I failed. That I was not strong enough to overcome this disease or that I didn’t have the strength or will to beat this disease. That’s a judgment on me that I don’t need. Bottom line is this: In a perfect world, I will live a long disease free life. In a perfect world, I will go to my next appointment and Dr. K will have a cure. In a perfect world, no one will ever have to go through this again. It’s not a perfect world, and while I am not giving up hope that things can turn around, I am also not going to live in fantasy land, avoiding the very probably outcome. And I am gonna make death jokes. Because I can. I know I’ve said some of this before, but it bears repeating. I am comfortable with dying; I’m not afraid of it, but I am not going to stop living to wait for it. I am not ok with what is happening, but I am not going to sit in the window and wait for death. Support me by spending time with me and laughing with me. I need as much laughter in my life as I can get. And there are only so many names Andy and I can come up with for the hideous hose that rules my life right now. (Thank you Deb, for the conversation that was long overdue, and for letting me rant and not trying to make anything better, punches to you my friend)

Well it’s taken two days to write this. Oh and one other thing – think about this whenever you have to talk to someone who has something unfortunate going on in their lives – don’t say “ I felt so bad when I heard” or “I feel so bad that I didn’t know” – you know what that does? It makes the person feel like they have to make you feel better, which is the exact opposite of what they need. I hate that people get upset when I lay out the facts, because I feel like I am hurting them, and what I should be doing is using my energy to stay healthy. Not trying to make you feel better about my disease. I know it’s all done with love, and with a pure spirit, but it makes me not want to talk to anyone because it’s hard work to make other people feel better about my sad news. And now that I told the story, and vented, it’s time to release the sea monkeys in the pee bags to the ocean via the toilet-ocean pipeline, and then take some more pills and go to bed. I plan to venture out in the morning with Andy to go get supplies, so I can stop suffering from the assault of this nasty tape that is holding on my bandage on my back.

On the positive side of things, you can order replacement catheter bags from Amazon. I got to have onion rings when we went to JH. It’s only three weeks til OWTH in Philly/Baltimore. And since I can’t go to Riot Fest, I can use that money to get my passport. Sleep well my friends, and visitors, and critics. Hug your people and tell them you love them, and tell them how much they mean to you. And appreciate your excretory system. For real. Love you all.


No Bueno II – Return to Oncology Hall

Calvin-gets-existential

Go get your tissues, cuz it’s gonna be sad. Sorry. I really didn’t want to write this tonight, but my brain won’t let me sleep despite all my efforts to turn it off until this is in black and white on my screen.

Today was doctor day, in the new offices in the Cancer Institute. Heidi came to pick me up and take me to the dr. Andy wanted to know if he should come, but I told him no, he didn’t need to stay up all day and just get cranky waiting and get no sleep. The news would be the same whether he was there or not. We got there kind of early, and then waited about an hour after my appointment time before I was called. By that time, my “relaxation” medication had worn off, so I was clear and lucid for the visit. Damn.

There were an alarming number of cranky people in the waiting area. It’s not like the Hope drive office, where all the patients were women. My dr.’s new clinic is in the same area as the infusion suites and the labs in the cancer institute. It really only makes sense because he’s not just the gynecological oncologist but the surgeon, and the Hope drive offices were alll the way across the hospital campus from the hospital and the Cancer Institute. But it’s change, and change is uncomfortable. And there were really sick people there. And people who just wanted to get blood drawn. In my head, I am trying to guess the type of cancer that has attacked them. I see some women in wheelchairs and on scooters, and not just for fun, but because they need them, and I think…I don’t want this to be me.

When they call me, the nurse takes Heidi and I back to an exam room. At least she didn’t ask me when my last period was. She uses the medieval torture device of an automated blood pressure machine to take my blood pressure which registers at a scary 150/110 or something. Not normal and not good. I’m feeling fine, so I blame the machine. Those machines always get it wrong. Now, the scale on the other hand, it got it right. Even better than right, because after slurping down a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and tortellini sandwiches and chips and peanut butter m&ms and Chinese food and Taco Bell the last few days, my weight was actually down, instead of up. I am friends with this scale. After the nurse, in comes a minion. Very nice minion, but very tired. I tell her my story, I tell her I’ve seen the scan, I know it’s bad, and I want to stop taking tamoxifen because I hate hot flashes. I also tell her to tell Dr. K no chemo until November if that’s the option. She asks me if I get nauseous to which I respond, no, I smoke weed, there is no nausea. She laughs at my forthrightness. I tell her Dr. K knows, he just doesn’t put it in the medical record. We review meds, blah blah blah.

And in comes Dr. K. Wellm he actually tried to kick the door in, claiming he tripped, as he was coming in. I ask him how bad it is, and then it gets all kind of  surreal. I can see on his face, no bueno. He says it’s larger; I say I know. He reads the report to me, which if I read once, then I’ve read 1000 times since last Monday. I get the feeling he didn’t really look at it closely before I got here. I can understand that when you see 22 patients in 3 hours, sometimes you aren’t as prepared. He’s really bummed, he says he feels like the grim reaper. I tell him I know it’s bad, but like, what are we talking here? I asked if they could drain the cyst again because it’s bigger than ever, and while it’s not causing me more than a 5 on the pain scale, it’s uncomfortable, like an alien baby. Or hey, a pufferfish. He said they can’t do it in radiology again because inserting a needle in to the cancer ball would create the opportunity to spread cells as they pull it out. I can see he’s struggling with this, and I feel bad – I don’t want my doctor to feel so horrible about this. He says he’ll make a referral to urology and see if they can insert a stent. Then we talk a little about options, I tell him I’m down to do chemo again but not until November. I have too much to do in the next two months. He’s okay with that. He wants me back in a month and he’ll come up with a plan. Maybe a trial. Heidi asks him some questions about chemo and stuff, and he says that we can try some other flavor of chemo since the last one didn’t work. I am just happy that he said to stop taking that fucking tamoxifen.

There was no avoiding asking the big question though, and I asked him about time, and how much I have left…he didn’t want to say. He said I would make the OWTH show in September. I said good, but how long, ball park, and again he hesitated and I said I just want to know if I am going to have another summer. I’d like another summer. And bless him, Dr. K. said I think I can get you another summer. And then he hugged me hard. Like really hard. Like the kind of hard that says I wish I could have done something to keep this from happening to you. I like having a Dr. who cares.

I see the urologist next Tuesday. They are filling out FMLA paperwork for Andy and I. I see the Dr. again on September 21st. I was super proud of myself for keeping it together during this visit. I joked. I tried to scoff at the spectre of death. My voice only got wavery once. I checked out without tears, and with another prescription for oxycodone. I even kept it together having a drink with Heidi, and at dinner and the ride home. I almost kept it together when Andy came to unlock the door. Until I had to say “he thinks he can get me another summer/” That’s when I lost it. I couldn’t look him in the eyes. No one should ever have to tell their child that they aren’t going to be around much longer. And every unseen milestone keeps running through my head. I can’t even write about that because it breaks my heart and tears up my stomach. If I have one regret in this life, it will be not be around to see him live his life.

Then the texts – maybe I should call people, I guess, but I don’t want to be all sobby on the phone. Crying isn’t going to change it or cry the cancer out. Mike and Amy and Alan know. They’re the only people in my family who need to know this right now. My dad will be 87 this year, I don’t need him to die of worry about this; he already spends too much time stressing about my sister and her drunken idiocy. And while I am very public about this disease and my life and shit in general, I reserve the right to be the one who speaks for me. I don’t want my siblings to share this with people I don’t know so that people are stopping me on the street. Or asking my friends.

And now it’s blogosphere official. The stupid psychic was wrong about this one…unless something magical happens. I need to get on that passport thing with my next paycheck and start saving for that trip to Ireland. I’ve also got to start getting rid of a lot of things. Physically and mentally. Am I scared? Yep. Will I get through this? There’s no question, good or bad. Even with everything that is uncertain right now, I feel weirdly peaceful that the other shoe had dropped. Weird I suppose.

Anyway, I was a bit peevish yesterday until I got kind of fuzzy and was distracted by a puzzle and did most of an entry about what you should and shouldn’t say to someone with cancer, but it was a touch bitter. Here’s the gist of it, without all of the snark:

  • Please don’t ask me how I am unless you have the time and desire to listen. Most times I will say “fine” because I know you are just being polite and I don’t want to burden you, but sometime, I may feel I need to talk about how I really feel. So, if you don’t really want to hear about how I am, just tell me I look good today, or Happy Wednesday.
  • Don’t get all weird when I make death jokes or talk about dying. If you are my friend, you know I have always been a touch far on the dark side. I only have two choices for how I will deal with this fucking puffermonster: laugh about it or cry about it. Laughing feels better and doesn’t require tissues, so expect me to joke about it. Don’t tell me we need to talk about happier things – this is my reality and I need to talk about it or joke about it now and again. Otherwise this giant dead elephant is in the room. (see what I did there?)
  • Don’t worry about having the right words to say or even saying anything. And don’t try to be positive about it all the time because cancer sucks, and while I try to stay positive, there are days I am very angry at my body and this c-monster. It’s okay to say it sucks to me. And if you can’t find the words, a hug, or a smile, or a fist bump will do. And you don’t need to be sorry. You didn’t cause this. I have a theory about who did cause it but they’re dead now, so it’s not like I can exact revenge. But don’t let our paths cross in the next life. I want every day from here on out to be about laughter and fun. Fun which will involve death jokes.

Finally, I know this is why you all stuck around…there’s an Indian Restaurant in Hershey that opened up on Fishburn Rd called Khana Indian Bistro, and the food was fabulous!!! Very fresh and well prepared and reasonably priced. It’s BYOB, but you can bet that the new highlight of driving to Hershey for medical appointments will be take-out Indian food. If you down there, check them out. The green chili naan and lamb Xacuti were excellent. Service was great, very nice people. And there appeared to be other Indian people there as patrons, which is a good sign since they would be authorities on Indian food. So go there, or if you are in Hershey, text me and ask me what I want you to bring me for dinner. Ha ha.

It feels like typing this drained me, or the stress of today just subsided, or that last oxycodone and “medication” are working but I can barely keep my eyes open. I guess I’ll be writing more often to share the tales of my urology appointments, I know, I know, you can barely contain yourself. Thanks for reading and hey, feel free to use the comment section on the blog, I like to know who was here. Sleep tight muffins!!


Shit Just Got Real. (or Well, That’s Fucked)

I saw a dead porcupine the other day, near the center divider of the road, on my way home. You almost never see dead porcupines. I was tempted to go back and get some quills, but decided that it would not only be risky but also gross, and vetoed the plan.

And before we get to the meat of the story, the main event, the moment you have all been waiting for, I feel compelled to inform you that there are certain species of butterfly that subsist on the tears of turtles and alligators. I found the idea of drinking tears rather poetic. And as I was crying on and off most of yesterday and today, I was romanticizing the idea of beautiful butterflies landing on my eyes and drinking my tears. Then I remembered that butterflies are bugs, and bugs are creepy, and that I would appreciate butterflies more as they flutter about me, rather than dipping their proboscis in my eye sockets to suck away my tears. So much for that.

Yes, yes, the scans. You want to know about the scans. Well, I am comfortably medicated now that I can write about it without histrionic weeping. Can you be histrionic if you don’t have a uterus? I don’t know, but for the sake of good writing, let’s pretend we can. You’ll just have to wait while I tell the story of scan day, because there is a story, although it may not be my funniest adventure to the hospital, it was still a bit amusing.

To fully appreciate my day, first I’ll set the stage. The subee needed breaks for over a week. The car would make this horrible woosh, woosh, woosh sound when going forward, followed by a terrifying grinding sound that pulled at the hair at the back of your neck every time you had to brake. It was horrible – it was supposed to be fixed yesterday, but as usual, plans made with my family don’t always work out the right way. So I had to drive the sad subee to Hershey myself.

I was having my CT scan done in the main hospital instead of the CT center at Hope Drive near my dr. old offices. I won’t make that mistake again. At least I still had my “I have cancer” parking pass so I can get premium parking near the building. (I can also get free valet parking but I am too embarrassed by the metallic grinding and whirring of the subee to consider letting someone unused to the sounds of destruction drive her) Unlike the other CT scanner office, to get to this department, you have to walk walk walk walk all the way to the middle of the hospital and then go downstairs and walk some more, whereas the other is just inside the door. When finally I arrived, it was hardly busy, but I forgot we were in the hospital, and that hospital patients get first dibs on the meat slicers, and they only have 2. Which makes no sense, because there’s always people waiting for scans, so a third one would come in handy. I also forgot that in the radiology dept of the the main hospital, there’s no cell service. So I can’t answer all of the text messages I got that morning, even though now would be the perfect time to do so. Once I am checked in, I want to read my book, but dumb ass left her glasses in her purse in the car. My stomach’s been wigging out all night, but I don’t want to go to the bathroom because they will most certainly call me when I do. In the midst of this there’s a great commotion to get the Hoda and Kathie Lee show on because apparently Frank Gifford, Kathie Lee’s husband, had died, and it was an absolute priority of every senior citizen to get the dish. No cell service, no glasses, and depressing TV. This does not bode well.

Finally I am called and shepherded away to the slicers’ area. The nurse put an IV in. The IV itself was painless, but I don’t understand why I must be brutalized with tape??? I know you have to keep the IV in, but for dog’s sake, lighten up with the bandage. Once I am prepped, I go back to waiting. Wait wait wait. Then I get called and off I go to hop on the table. The nice nurse begins her questions, and I tell her I’m a bit of a pro at this, and no allergies, no diabetes, no kidney disease, blah blah blah. And then it’s strike two against getting a scan here again…NO STICKERS. The machine has no stickers. Not a pink bear, or pufferfish or Mufasa or nothing! What am I to look at while the machine scannerizes my insides? Sigh. The nurse explains it’s a brand new machine and they haven’t gotten any stickers yet, because it’s new. I tell her I am not sure I can do this without Woody and Buzz, but strong soldier that I am, I brave it. Slide slide slide, whirr whirr woosh, and I’m done. The nurse removes the IV and then bandages my arm with that cool self gripping tape I love but wraps so much of the tape so tightly around my arm, that I believe my circulation is cut off. And off I go.

I was dreading these scans. I barely slept the night before, and I wasn’t able to have anything to eat before the scan so I’m a bit shaky. Now they are over, and I just have to wait for the results. That should only take a few hours. I wrestle the tape and gauze from my arm to see that I will have several delightful bruises, Yay.

I did some grocery shopping, hung out with my friend Kelly and her boys, ate a donut, stopped to see Jenn and get some more quilts for clients at work, all the while, periodically checking for my results. Why are they not posted? This is making me nervous. Delays are never good, it means they need other people to confirm the results. Finally, about 3pm, the results are in. And I take a peek. And it’s no bueno. I was hoping that there’d be no change, or when I was being wildly optimistic, that the tumors had vanished. I knew that it wasn’t likely since my pain came back, and I could feel the bloating in my belly. But I had hoped.

I’m blogging about it because I’ve told the people who needed to be told. Once again, I am keeping the news from my dad, as well as brothers Leo and Stanley, because I don’t want them to upset pop. I sent a text to Mike and Alan. As for Janie, my “sister”, I doubt she even knew I had cancer the first time. If I am not sporting Andrew Jackson or Benjamin Franklin on my belly and you can use me to buy beer, she wouldn’t recognize me. Not that this causes me any trauma. I didn’t want to tell Andy because his birthday is today, and I knew that for the rest of his life, the day before his birthday was the day his mom told him the bad news. I didn’t want that, but I also couldn’t pretend that everything was ok, or crazier yet, wait until after his birthday for the results. I needed to know too, because if the news was going to be bad, I wanted to make sure I spent his birthday with him, because who knows if it will be the last time.

Oh right, I didn’t tell you want it says. Here’s the gist: pufferfish is now 12x12cm. A bit larger than a grapefruit and bigger than it’s ever been. The tumor on the interior has also grown. The tumor on the outside has shrunk. The cyst appears to be blocking a urether for one of my kidneys, and my bladder lining is thickened which is indicative of disease. There are also two brand new spots on my lungs, which appear be metastatic. Like I said no bueno. Three months of Tamoxifen may or may not have worked because the cancer is still there and starting to spread out in the neighborhood…did the Tamoxifen slow it down? Or did it do nothing? We’ll never know.

Naturally there was a lot of crying yesterday. I don’t see the Dr. until Monday, and I know that I am going to hear things I’d rather not, but it is what it is. I am no idiot, I know this is not positive in any way. It broke my heart to tell Andy, because that’s my only real regret, that it isn’t likely now that I will be here for the important moments in his future. I don’t know if I will ever see him graduate from college or get married (or not) or have grandbabies (or not.) I am scared for him. Like every mother I guess. That’s what made me cry so much. In addition to crying, I was able to acquire a more potent herbal medicine and that in combination with a few oxy turned my frown upside down, or rather, gave me shiny eyes and made me feel all floaty, and numb for a few hours. A very welcome numbness.

There are plusses I guess, I mean it probably means I’ll get to stop taking the tamoxifen, which seems to have done nothing but make me hot, pimply and nauseous for the last three months. And made my boobs swell, which is not a plus for me, simply an annoyance. It looks increasingly likely that I will get out of having to pay back those student loans. And that if I am going to Ireland, I’d better get on it.

Now you know. I’m really very tired, and also very medicated but I wanted this done so I don’t have to answer any questions right now. As I told Andy, whatever happens is going to be okay, because it’s what has to happen. There’s a fucking lesson here somewhere, or maybe this is just getting the crap out of the way so that in my next life I can assume the role of queen of the universe without any setbacks. Or be an alpaca. There’s a strange sense of peace in all of this – the anxiety of not knowing gone for now. At least I have a ton of people in my life who love and care for me, and in the end, isn’t that what matters.

So I’ll leave you with this…hug your people in your life. Hug them a lot. Hug your friends, and laugh.

And

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

Nelson Mandela


Sunday, Lazy Sunday

It started out like a good idea. I wanted to post a positive, inspirational quote in the FB group of quotes I started. So I googled. I’ve been struggling with the idea that this cancer came back to teach me a lesson – and what that lesson could be, so I thought, hey, why not a quote about dealing with the lessons taught by difficulties. Had I known that I would have to sift through a bazillion quotes about how I should turn to god in all this, I would have just written my own. As I’ve said before, I am all about people believing in whatever gives them comfort in their heart. Yet, I still get frustrated as hell by the idea that for me to get well, I have to have faith in a god. I don’t. That doesn’t mean I don’t want people to pray for me if that’s what they believe in, because positive energy is good energy in whatever form it takes, but please don’t tell me to put my trust in something I don’t believe in.

That said, the other day when I was thinking about dying, which I do a lot these days, since it’s not something that I can just put aside, I thought for a minute that I would get to see my beloved friend Joey again when I am dead. Then I though, oh shit, I will also have to see my mom. That’s not gonna go well. Ick, and a bunch of ex-boyfriends. Then I remember that we are all energy and no one is really gone anyway, their just a different type of energy, so the “dead” are always with us, just not as we remember them. Then the snowball started – all death related questions, so I thought I’d share a few for you to waste a few hours pondering:

Catholics are taught you are going to purgatory when you die, then you have to atone for all of your sins until you get to go to heaven or hell on judgment day. Also, the unbaptized and sinless get to go to limbo to hang out until judgment day too. So, if that is true, why do we pretend that when someone dies, we have an angel watching over us? Isn’t that like a lie? And where in the bible does it say that you get turned into an angel anyway? I thought the bible was pretty clear that angels are angels and humans are humans and never shall the two interbreed, or HELL. Not that I am worried about this for my own self, but I just wonder about it.

Another catholic concern: If on judgment day you get restored to your perfect human body, if you are going to heaven, which human body is it? Because I would like the one I had at 19. I was really happy with that one. I don’t want this year’s version. And, if you get the body you want at a certain age, and you are trying to reconnect with someone in the afterlife who never knew you at that age, how will they know you, and what if they choose an age when you didn’t know them, then how will you ever find each other and what if one of you is 19 and the other person’s perfect body was at 72, would you still be friends? Think about that. And if you get to pick the age of the body in the afterlife, why even bury dead bodies, because pretty likely you don’t want the one you died in. Unless you were 19. And if you are going to hell, wouldn’t you just get to keep the crappiest form of your body there was?

And why don’t we put wooden crosses at hospitals everywhere the same way we put wooden crosses at crash sites? I mean people die there every day. And at home. I just don’t get it.

Now that I’ve got you thinking, I’ll move on.

I’m doing okay. It’s almost 3 weeks of the tamoxifen. It’s not bad, except for the pimples, nausea, and hot flashes. And now, weight gain, or at least bloating. As if I didn’t have enough weight already. I am trying to figure out if I am dealing with the diagnosis okay or if I am depressed. I’m having pain again, which I manage the best I can depending if I am at home or at work. I am trying to stay off the opiates as long as I can. I feel like I am in limbo now until August, and wish I had a personal CT scanner so I could follow the progress of the ol’ pufferfish myself. I know it’s gotten bigger, because I can feel the changes in my body, and how it impacts my stomach and intestines. I just want the other stuff to disappear, and I wonder if it keeps growing, will they be able to drain fluid from it like before, or am I just going to have to suffer from it? I don’t like suffering. I don’t do well, even though I have a particularly high tolerance for pain. So I just need to know what’s next.

I am not sad. I’m just lacking motivation. There’s a lot of things that go through your head when you have a very uncertain future. A few weeks ago, I was reading an article about being less materialistic. It said before you buy something that you want, ask yourself will anyone want that when you are dead. Amazingly, it really limits the amount of useless shit you buy. Like before I buy another ball of yarn, I say what is Andy going to have to do with the unused crates of yarn you already have, for all the projects you were going to make and haven’t? Then I don’t buy it. It’s morbid and useful all at the same time. So if there’s something of mine you want, better call dibs now, because who knows what will become of it later.

It’s not that I don’t think there’s hope. Because I do. I just have lived my life with preparing for the worst and being pleasantly surprised when the worst doesn’t happen. And if it does, then I was prepared for it I just don’t want to be a fucking Pollyanna thinking that nothing bad will happen, because ignorance is not bliss. I still envision this annoying beast inside of me shrinking and disappearing, I drink the tumor tea, and chant healing sounds. I just don’t want to think that I can go on living like I have all the time in the world. I don’t and none of us do.

I went back and forth on the idea of a bucket list. I don’t like that cliché, but I made a list anyway – it’s pretty short, because I realized I did a lot of the things I wanted to, and the rest, well, either they don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, or I put them on the list. Mostly, I just want to spend time with people laughing, (which is why I spent the entire weekend alone in the house, medicating) and just hanging out. There are really only three significant things, in addition to my 1000 books read plan, flying in a fighter jet, and do a couple barrel rolls, and maybe a loop, go to Ireland (with a side trip to Stonehenge) and get a van and drive cross country, hitting up all my friends in different states as I make my way back to the west coast. Oh and get a passport. I still haven’t actually gotten around to that. I do have other plans as well, but they aren’t “bucket list” per se, just stuff I am not going to put off doing any longer.

Anyway, this was kind of random. Maybe because I had a lot of pain this morning and I treated it. I also thought it was Father’s Day today, and called my dad to wish him greetings, only to have him inform me it was next week. Andy and I are going to see Against Me! next Saturday in Lancaster, and hopefully my shark sister and her husband will join us, and we can finally get Himalayan food before the show. As for now, I suppose I need to go through my washed clothes in the dryer so I have work clothes for this next full week of work ahead of me. For the record, last week I worked on two case dictations – 41 pages of typing and over 50,000 words total. And only 7ish cases left to go. So be well my friends, enjoy your Sunday, and hope that the next time I blog, I make sense. Be well.

Oh, and you should read this article on impermanence. Here ya go…

http://www.tricycle.com/blog/accepting-unacceptable

lotus_om_mandala_by_lilyas-d7fsjh0


Because Sleep Is For The Weak, I Mean Really Weak, and Tired, and Cranky

I’ve got my crankypants on today. I am on the verge of a breakdown, which I am eagerly anticipating since once I have it, I can get back to the business of being me. I almost typed normal, which I have never been, or will be. Even commercials are annoying on TV – especially the flonase one, in which I am told repeatedly that six is greater than one. Thank you very fucking much flonase. I know that the American education system is flawed in a lot of ways, but I am pretty sure anyone who ever attended school learned that six is greater than one. In fact, my guess is that unless a person was raised by wolves, EVERYONE knows that six is greater than one. I don’t need big pharma trying to sell their product to me with a condescending commercial. So fuck off Flonase.

And Snapple commercials – also fucking stupid. And any feminine hygiene commercials, except for those great commercials from a few years ago, where the woman mocked dancing and riding horses when a woman has her period. If you want to sell me you shit, appeal to my intellect, or make it direct, but don’t try to trick me. Again, I suppose it’s because I don’t consider myself a sheeple, that I think most of what I see or read is skewed and manipulated and trying to make me a mindless consumer. With this is mind, I have taken a new approach to shopping, from an article I recently read about living a more simple life, and death – when I am going to buy something, I am now going to ask myself, will anyone want this when I am dead? Because if not, I don’t need it, because people will only throw it out when I die.
These are the things keeping me awake besides the decadron tonight. And since I cannot escape the omnipresent thoughts about this fucking vicious monster inside me, you, my friends, will also be subjected to it until it either a: it goes into remission, or better yet, vanishes or b: I have a breakdown and stop stressing over it or c: I die. Yes, I said it – die. Because we all do, and since I see more and more people my age doing it, and because of a conversation I had with my old friend Anne, in which we realized that most of the people we hung around with / dated in high school are, well, dead, it’s been on my mind. And the tragic mess that is my house is also a reminder that should I die tomorrow, from this disease, some other medical issue, or from walking under a falling piano that Wylie Coyote was planning to drop on the Roadrunner, it could happen. There are journals to be shredded and/or burned, wills to be amended, and just other odd bits to be destroyed/discarded. I am not worried about what I put on Facebook or in this blog, because whatever I put on a computer will live forever. I used to think about that when I wrote in my journals, but there are some very dark times in years past, that are better left unread. Nothing that would enrich or improve anyone’s life. Of course, there’s a burn ban in effect in Schuylkill County for the next month, so it’s not like I can burn them right now anyway…but if you read this, and if I should die before the end of May, there’s one journal in my bedroom, and I think two are in the giant steamer chest in the living room with all of my photo albums and a copy of Madonna’s Sex book which I put in there because it would be too much trouble for Andy to move all the stuff on top of it to get in there and find it. Somebody get in there and destroy that shit ASAP once I am cold.

And while we are being candid here, I am gonna put this shit out there too, again because I am cranky and I am gonna be up for a few hours because the sucky decadron make me superhuman and amps up my anxiety x100 the night before what we are hoping is the last chemo for the next 20 or 30 years. When you have the stupid c-monster, or any other chronic disease, people will ask you how you are feeling? I really want to tell people how I feel, but most times you just say, fine, or tired, or great, and slap that stupid smile on your face, to make other people feel more comfortable. After the next two or three weeks, that might be true, but this deep into chemo, the answer I bite back is this: I feel like shit. I could sleep 24 hours a day, every day, except when it’s warm and sunny, and I want to go out somewhere but don’t feel up to driving myself. So I sit on the porch. I feel nauseous most of time (this is new, I have to eat every few hours or address the need to hurl with other treatments) and nothing that I eat or want to eat really tasted good. I have this weird smell in my nose that won’t go away. While my eyebrows have not completely fallen out, most of my eyelashes have and I wake up with my eyes crusted shut every morning and my greatest fear is that I will lose my excellent health care insurance because I will get too sick to go back to work and I will be reduced to substandard health care, or worse yet, medical assistance, and will not be able to afford getting well. I have weird pain, I forget shit all the time because of my chemo brain. And I am afraid every time I go to the doctor that I will get bad news and have to continue with my treatments indefinitely. That’s how I am feeling – how are you? But you don’t get to say that. (sorry I know I’ve said this all before, I apologize for the redundancy. No, not really, this is my fucking blog and since the only people here in the house to talk to at this time at night have their eyes permanently sewn open and their mouths sewn shut, there’s a lack on interactive conversation.) Random thought: Does Chris Isaak even write music anymore? You never hear about him anymore. That’s what I need, I playlist with Chris Isaak, Morrissey and Elliott Smith, with a dash of Jesus and Mary Chain circa Darklands tossed in there and I would never leave my bed again.

Yes, it’s true I am feeling sorry for myself. I am scared to death of what’s to come in the next month. I am scared that I will need to have more chemo. I am scared that the scans will show something I don’t want to know. I am not a fan of this nonsense at all. I’d prefer to lie in bed sleeping all day because I am just a lazy cow instead of it not being my choice to do nothing. I would prefer to go through life not thinking at all about whether or not I am going to have to have treatment again. It’s so not fair. I long for the days when staying my jammies all day was a decision, and not because I am too weak to get dressed. I want to enjoy a shower, not dread the exhaustion that follows. I want to look forward to cooking, not just pray I can find something that tastes good and requires minimal exertion on my part. I want to enjoy drinking water, and not fear it will taste like poison when I drink it. I want to walk up a flight of steps without gasping for air like a fucking trout out of water. I want eyelashes dammit!

It’s now 2am. We are leaving at 7:30 tomorrow because my doctor’s appointment is an hour earlier. Of course it would be on the day that Andy is going to be my chemo pal. Hopefully the Dr. will be on schedule, and we’ll be in and out of there, and Andy can go sleep for a few hours at Tom’ house while I get my treatment, so he’s not up all day and then has to go to work with no sleep. What does that mean? It means if you feel like visiting me while I am pumped full of poison, I will be in the second floor infusion room, hopefully one with windows, and a decent automated bed (not like the bed that required manual adjustments the last time I was there) after 11 am, because before that, we will be getting Asian rice crackers, Starbucks and some more oxycodone, to make chemo more fun. It’s only 3 more hours until decadron dose number 2. Good times.

I was going to try to end this with something positive, but I feel that would be fake, so I am just going to start packing my backpack for tomorrow. I’ve found that since I don’t need to bring a blanket to the infusion center, I can actually get the laptop, my stuffed friends, and snack all in one backpack so I don’t look like a dying homeless person when I go to the hospital. I suppose that’s positive. And I can throw my sheets and blankets into the washer and actually dry them before I go so I can have a clean fresh bed when I get home, so that’s positive. And I already have ginger beer, honey and pineapple juice to get through the next few days. That’s plenty positive.

I think I might actually blog from the hospital tomorrow to document the day’s events. That could be fun. Now I am off to fold another load of laundry and eat a yogurt. Then try again for sleep. So curl up with your favorite toy, my puppies, and sleep tight. And think about all the people who have bed bugs, and be eternally grateful you don’t. Bon soir.

Addendum: There should be an assessment period before people are allowed to be on Facebook. Like they should have to have a myspace and it should be monitored for stupid and annoying things that are misspelled, bigoted, or obviously scams or urban myths. If a person posts that shit, they should never be allowed to move up to facebook. I am tired of being the internet police, sheesh.

Also, why when you google anything about cancer, everything is pink and has to do with titties? I mean I get that breast cancer is a huge issue for women, being that I am one of them, but what about all the other killer cancers out there, why does it seem we only care about cancer that affects the one part of women that, aside from the vagina, are something of interest to men? That pisses me off.

angry-cat_o_1041758I don’t usually like grumpy cat, but this made me laugh.


Taste the Rainbow (A ‘Twas the Night Before Chemo Tale)

So here we are – 2:20AM, on the day I am supposed to do cycle three of chemo. I should be sleeping, and indeed I was, once again with the lappie in my lap. It was long day today – there was a weather delay and I did not want to go to work at all, but I went in, and got through the day. Yay me! I took my first 5 of my pre-chemo decadron, after some initial panic that I was all out. As I pulled out my plethora of pill bottles, and tried to read the labels without putting glasses on, I was once again pondering the fact that no two pills that I take are the same color. Decadron is green, morphine is robin’s egg blue, synthroid are purple and pink, and effexor is yellow. I have more, but I imagine you get the idea that I have like the skittles collection of medications. I don’t even think my dad takes as many pills as I do.

The rainbow of flavors, or rather colors, of my meds is not what brought me here tonight – no, my friend, it’s something much more serious. I can’t find my backpack. Or my iPod (yes, again). I believe both are in the house, I just can’t remember where. This is another of the great gifts bestowed upon my by chemo. Fluffy chemo brain. Sometimes I think my brains fell out with my hair. And as you know, the only thing of value that I own, or at least am still paying for, is my brain. I’m not real pleased when it won’t function like it should. I was hoping to use my backpack tomorrow when I pack for chemo. Yes, I said pack. I need to take my blankie, and monka monkey, and zombie sock monkey and snacks and my purse and my oxycodones (they do not give me pain meds during chemo, but I am free to medicate myself) and my sandals because stupid ass snow is preventing me from getting through this winter without having to put shoes one. Next time my body decides to betray me, I hope it chooses early spring, because having to do all of this during winter really sucks. But back to my issue – if anyone can help me find my missing stuff, let me know. I swear they are right here in the bedroom, but I can’t even keep an eye on the remote control or my phone for more than an hour, so like remembering where I put the backpack two or three months ago isn’t likely to happen.

Anyway, I realize some of you who read this are not on facebook or perhaps done check it daily, or hourly, or every five minutes, like some of us. I had a Dr. visit yesterday, to which I wore the beautiful fox hat (yes, I made it) pictured below:

foxhate2 foxyhate

I thought we were just gonna talk about my blood work, which I would like to announce, looks great. The tumor markers that show in my blood, known as CA125 are back in the normal range with means it appears the chemo is working. I am counting on this round of chemo being the last before remission. So after meeting with Anne and telling her all the things I am doing different this time and how it’s making the sickness easier to bear, she goes to get Dr. K – but she comes back and tells me he wants to do an exam, thus ruining my whole day, because a girl has to prepare for internal exams. I had no time to build the dread that is normally part of being probed. And as if lying on the table, while wearing my fox hat, wasn’t torture in itself, while the jabbing is going on, Dr. K’s pager goes off. Now his pager sounds exactly like the on-call pager at work. The screeching of the angry beast throws me right into a flashback, and I am fearful that they will have to treat me for PTSD. Dr. K tells me he can still feel the damn pufferfish, because it’s still a pufferfish, but is pleased that I am not shrieking in pain while he is doing the exam, which I interpret as meaning this is a good sign. I get another prescription for my pain meds, and more blood work papers and head on down to the vampires in the lab so they can drain more blood (and get my sticker) and then I am set free to roam around for the rest of the day. As per usual I decide what I am hungry for (Five Guys) and drive to go fetch it. I purchase my yummy burger and start driving home, looking forward to shoving it in my hungry belly. Until I don’t want a burger anymore. Now I want a blizzard from DQ. Except they’re close. At 6 pm. What kind of place does this…so now I need to get back on the interstate and drive ten more miles to McDonald’s for a McFlurry. Dinner was served, with a side of french fries, and the burger went in the fridge as the mad craving for red meat had waned.

And now here I sit. I want to sleep, and indeed, I do nod off from time to time, but the decadron makes me hot, and restless. And if I wasn’t having difficulty sleeping already, there are showing a Vikings marathon on the History Channel, in preparation for the new season which premieres on Thursday. I find myself obsessed with it, particularly the soundtrack. It’s like SOA but with horses and battle axes instead of bikes and guns. It even has a Jax Teller look-a-like in Earl Ragnar. I suppose I am also anxious about chemo, and being sick again, but not as much as usual. In less that 24 hours, I will be halfway through this round of chemo. Time to celebrate.

That’s all I’ve got for today. I don’t know when I’ll feel like sitting up again before next week, so if I don’t write tomorrow night, I’ll be back in a week or so. Thanks for sticking around my friends. I swear I’ll try to have my full sarcastic temperament back soon. You have no idea how much energy you exert trying to be funny. I might even try live blogging tomorrow. Maybe even video. But for now, I must rest. As should you. Good night, my friends. Be well.

UPDATE: At 4 am, after a second load of laundry because I can’t sleep, the back pack was located, in only a most obvious place. Next challenge – finding the ipod. Which is probably in a very obvious place as well.


This, That and Other Random Stuff All Tossed Together

For the first time ever, I completely scrapped the post I was writing and decided to start over.

I’ve started and stopped writing entries several times these past two weeks, (there’s extra bonus writing at the end – a longer post I started and didn’t want to keep writing so I’ll just slap it on the end of this one as a bonus). I don’t know what’s keeping me from writing – anxiety, exhaustion, procrastination – I mean I know it’s not because I don’t have anything to write about. Sometimes I think that I avoid it because I don’t want to have to keep whining about this cancer nonsense. I just can’t help that the stupid monster inside of me just kind of pervades my thoughts every day.

I do think of other things – like getting a pet goat, what book I should be reading, how I wish I had a maid, how I am hungry for brownies, that the season premiere of Vikings is next week, how I would rule the world when I am Empress of the Universe, calculations for the diameter of watermelons at the store – you know, important things. It’s not that I don’t want to write – I do – but half of the time, I find myself slipping into medication-assisted sleep, and the other half, I nod off, unmedicated. Some days I am all fired up about some social issue, I get ready to write and then I get distracted and next thing you know, drool is slobbered all over my cheek and my own snoring wakes me up.

Which is exactly what happened after I wrote that last sentence – I fell asleep, laptop in lap, and woke up this morning at 7ish. I had my wonderful morning cancer killing tea, and just finished some yummy oat meal. I realize I have little to complain about this morning – I feel okay, I can make tea in my bedroom with my loverly keurig, and oatmeal too. I am warm, and comfortable, and I can just spend the day doing nothing, which is what Saturday is often about here lately. I’m still undeniably anxious and restless about next week’s events but I’m grateful that I have such amazing health care that I don’t have to worry about the financial side of this. This whole cancer thing does put things in perspective, but I’m still not in that “live every minute as though it was your last” mindset. I am still too scared about what is to come to get there.

But let’s move away from this cancer nonsense and talk about what is going on in the world. I am sure we all know it’s cold. Well those of us in the snowy areas of the northeast do. My county has finally established a foot hold for a shelter for the homeless, but it’s causing quite an uproar because the shelter is part of a store front in the business district of the biggest town in our county, or I guess what has been formerly known as the county seat. The frightened townspeople are afraid that the existence of shelter will lead to more homeless people. Really? Like a funeral home would lead to more dead people? I often wonder when stupidity and hatred became the norm. Why is there so much opposition – I mean there’s already a drug and alcohol rehab on the main thoroughfare, and we still have the same amount of salt heads as ever. The homeless are still gonna be here, people…they will just squat in vacant buildings or spend the day in the library or the night in a laundromat or Wal-Mart , doing what they need to do to keep warm and alive. How stupid people are that thinking helping people who are in danger of hypothermia or frost bite will lead to more people wanting to live on the street. I just have such a hard time reconciling the emphasis in this area on being good Catholic and Christians and then in the next breath not turning your cheek, but rather turning your back on the people who need your christian charity the most. I feel like hell when I am driving my fat ass to work and I see someone walking in this cold, and people here are too worried about their “things” than they are about another person. These are the same people who will wax poetic on the value of a fetus, until that fetus is born and homeless and grows up in poverty. Then they will call my office and ask someone to go out and “take those kids away” forgetting that this was one of those fetuses that they insisted be born into to poverty. End of soapbox tirade. I have others, I’ve just decided if I am going to post anything, it’s gonna have to happen quick.

Round 4 of attempting to finish this – this is just an example of how tired this stupid chemo makes me. This is my fourth attempt to finish this post. I fell asleep three different times. Even after I drank coffee This is why nothing gets done around here. I get all excited with plans, I get all the stuff out for whatever project I have planned, and then before I know it, I’m under a blanket, dreaming about being attacked by a vicious and violent kitten I am supposed to be pet-sitting. Needless to say, that did not improve my opinion of cats. But on a night like tonight, being warm in bed with many blankets is not such a bad thing. Of course, since Andy is out on the road somewhere with friends tonight after a hockey game, I am now awake because I am worried about his safety on this hellishly frigid night. I couldn’t fall asleep easily anyway, with this howling wind. My multiple layers of blankets on the windows isn’t even keeping the icy breeze off my adorable bald head. I don’t want to text him because I don’t want him checking his phone wherever he is driving considering there is little visibility with the blowing snow. I just hope he had the sense to stay put wherever he is. Motherhood. It’s like an itch you can’t get rid of.

Well, since I have failed at humor and don’t have much else to write about until after my Dr. visit on Monday, I’m just gonna put this lame excuse for a blog post out of its misery. But not until after I share this facebook post from a young man who was one of my students when I was teaching at Lebanon Valley College…it’s nice to read these things when I often wonder if I have made a difference in this world…and according to this, I apparently have:

Everyone please keep Diane Pietkiewicz in your thoughts, prayers, etc. I’m not one for religion, but I’m making an exception and praying to the big guy. Diane is the most memorable part of my Academic collegiate experience. Best professor ever. She consistently made me look at the big picture, taught me never to settle, and that the history of our nation is far from that which we’re taught in highschool lol. She is fighting a bullshit disease, and deserves all the support in the world!

And since Joe talks about praying, I just want to say this…all of you lovelies should know by now that I tend to follow Buddhist philosophy, rather than religion. I am not one for praying although I do chant daily but I do appreciate prayers, in whatever faith and form they come in, because I believe in the power of focused attention. For me, putting positive vibes and thoughts out in the world can’t do anything but good, so I am grateful for whatever words or thoughts you put into action. I spend time every day visualizing this damn puffercyst inside me shriveling up and dying. So pray on, or chant, or just think good things. As a matter of fact, I am really grateful for everything people have done/are doing for me while I endure this latest go with chemo – everything from offers to run things up from the netherworld of the office so I don’t have to, to sending me surprise packaged, to simply asking me how I am. And I apologize for not being as shiny and happy everyday as I have been in the past – I try, but as I’ve whined about, I am so tired all the time. In fact, today as I was rolling over in bed, I realized I would have made a damn fine bear. But not a polar bear, because apparently they don’t get to hibernate. But a grizzly. I would be a fine grizzly. I could be a panda too, but they aren’t really bears, and they also don’t hibernate – but they are pretty lazy, which if me right now.

And with that, I shall try get comfortable and warm in bed, while I wait to find out if my kid is safe. I tacked on the post I tried writing the other right at the end of this one – I promise to try and rein in my adult ADHD next time and stay awake from start to finish when next I write. So stay warm and dry my darlings. Bonne nuit.

BONUS READING:

(I started this on the 29th of January, or so)

On the first day after chemo, chemo gave to me…so far, nothing that I can’t really complain all that much. I ate some chili (not always nausea friendly, but I am not known for always making the wises decisions), had some tea and ginger beer, and some nuts. No fever, took a couple oxycodone and a zofran (super effective anti nausea drug) and I am drinking water like a camel ready to hit the desert. Of course, that means I am spending a lot of time running to the bathroom, but if it means I don’t get sick, I’ll do laps. Andy cut off his dreads today and then I buzzed the rest of his head, because he wanted to show his solidarity in the current situation. He was pissed that I buzzed the last of the zombie grinch or some other weird Dr. Seuss character hair without him, but I explained I couldn’t go out in public to chemo looking like that…I love making and wearing funny hats, but hats get hot pretty quickly inside, and frankly, I love my bald head. It’s a weird time of year to be bald because it’s freezing outside, so when I am in the cold, I need to wear a hat, but at home it comes right off, and now that I don’t look like I wondered out of a nuclear bomb blast, I won’t be wearing hats indoors at all except to make my doctors, nurses and small children laugh.

The day was long yesterday, my doctor was running late and then I found out my co-pay went up, and I got to chemo late. It was quiet on the infusion unit yesterday, but the day was fun since my friend and co-worker Heidi took a vacation day to drive me to chemo and hang out with me. We played the Chupacabra: Survive the Night Game which could be very fun in you add alcohol and make it a drinking game. Otherwise, playing to best three out of five is enough. But between the game, and conversation and people watching, the day went quickly. My nurse had a bit of hard time getting my IV started…she didn’t want to go with the vein I thought would be a good choice at first, so she tried my hand – no go. She then decided to try around where I thought would work, and hit one, but today it has a huge bruise, which doesn’t typically happen for me, so on my point scale of 1-10 where ten is I feel nothing and 1 is “oh my god are you doing this for the first time????”, she only gets a 4.8 downgraded from the 5.2 or 5.3 she got yesterday. I knew I’d have a bruise on my hand, but I didn’t think I would have on my inner arm. (as of February 14th, I still have remnants of this bruise) It doesn’t hurt, it just looks ugly. But the doctor did say that my blood work looked good and I looked good and let’s just see what happens by the 3 cycle to see if this thing shrinks, and that it’s important for me to just stop what I am doing when I get tired, and walk away from it. I know I don’t now, because when I am at work I don’t think like “I’m sick” and just do the work, and exhaust myself so I suppose I am just going to have to remind myself my body is in a fight, and I need to put it first. Alas, I also need to work to have health insurance and to pay the premium. I am very excited about my first paycheck since December tomorrow. I am going to do something crazy with all that cash…like pay rent.

And speaking of crazy, a couple weeks ago, there was a contest on the facebook group, Saving Money, Living Smart, that I belong to…at Christmas, there was wish list to put on the items that you wish you could get for Christmas, and I put down a Keurig. Well a couple weeks ago, the group owner asked a few of us if we got our Keurigs, and then had a second chance contest to nominate someone who we felt deserved it. Well I felt I did…I mean, especially today, the day after chemo, and then next week, when Andy is sleeping after work, and I am too sick to get out of bed myself and I want a cup of hot tea and can’t go get one and have to wake him up. I don’t know if anyone else entered me too, but I told my story about how I found out about the cancer two days before Christmas and blah blah blah, and today, the FedEx guy shows up and what? Whoa. I now have Keurig from Saving Money, Living Smart and the Keurig Company. How awesome is that? As soon as Andy gets up from his nap, I’ll have him take a picture of me and my Keurig…what a great surprise and what perfect timing. (Even though I bitched all the way down the steps about who was knocking on my door because don’t they know I am resting.) This is fabulous…I can’t wait to take it out of the box and check it out once I get a picture. I just need to get one of those reusable cups for my ginger honey tea. I am excited. (and that’s where I fell asleep that time)


Fall Out Girl

Hi there kittens!

It’s Tuesday. I’ve made five days of work so far. Woo hoo. I even manage to get through an intake, complete with the funnest amount of paperwork EVER! I can’t wait til next week!

I know, I know, my joy is infectious. Which is surprising because my hair started to fall out yesterday when I was busy showering for work and believed that I had been attached either by leeches or wet black snakes all over my body. Turns out it was just chunks of hair. You really can’t notice yet, and I am hoping it stays that way until at least Friday night, because if it lasts that long, I am having Andy shave the sides and I am gonna rock a mohawk this weekend. There’s definitely not enough left for liberty spikes, but hopefully I can get a really wicked mohawk going this weekend. Maybe I’ll even color it with some kool-aid for old time’s sake. This will probably be the last time I will ever dare a mohawk, so mark your calendars.

Much discussion was had yesterday about the impending loss of eyebrows as well – if you have followed this blog from the beginning, or if you know anything about hair loss from chemo – you will know that you lose ALL your hair. Legs, arms, pubes, eyelashes and eyebrows along with the hair on your head. I don’t mind the legs at all. Having no eyelashes is odd, but no eyebrows weirds me out too. I didn’t do anything last time about them, but I am going to this time. I don’t want to draw them on, because that just doesn’t work for me, but I might glue some on, or maybe crochet some, or use fuzzy fake caterpillars. Think of the fun when I drop one on the floor at work…EEK caterpillar! Nope, just an eyebrow. Think of all the things I can put above my eyes in lieu of eyebrows. Plastic farm animals. Spaghetti, cooked of course. Orange slices. Gummy worms. Duct tape. They can also come is different shapes – like a big V between my eyes to scare people. Or just one raised eyebrow. Or I can attach them to my glasses. For a change of pace, I can attach them to the back of my head, just to keep it interesting. It will be nice not to wake up with a mouth full of hair in the morning, or have to drag the nest of hair out of the drain. It takes at least 5 minutes off the time it takes for me to get ready in the morning.

In less exciting news, I found out that in my quest to make sure I had mid-length disability insurance I elect for the coverage that would last until I was seventy. Unfortunately, that means I need 90 unpaid days before it will kick in, instead of 15. FML. I am less worried about money than I am keeping my health insurance – if I were to lose that, I’d really be fucked. I am blessed with excellent health care coverage. But you know me, ever the pluck entrepreneur, I’ve got some stuff to make and sell if I find myself really desperate for cash. And no, I don’t mean my painkillers. Or Meth. Speaking of making things, last time I lost my hair, I made fancy little hair animal sculptures for those who so desired them – I hate to waste perfectly good hair. So if you would like a rabbit, or a puppy, or perhaps a lemur (they are all gonna look the same, I will just give them exotic animal names for your enjoyment) leave me a comment on this here blog, and one can be yours, gratis. I will even mail these special trinkets for those of you who may live on the favored coast, if you find you can’t live with out one. The one thing I am a touch negative about is, that when my hair comes back, it comes back curly, and I hate looking like one of the hair bear bunch (see below)

bear

I took a brief interlude to do some eyebrow research and as you can see there are a lot of creative options. I did not know, but wasn’t surprised to find out, you can also buy stick on eyebrows made with hair, for that realistic look. I am pretty sure I will find a better alternative. Like fur. But for your viewing pleasure, I provide the following collage. I’m quite fond of the black eyes of death. It will give me that Uncle Fester look I so covet.

imagineyebrow

Also during my little break, I finally checked my blood tests from yesterday to see what’s what. My CA-125 marker is lower than earlier this month, which is good, but still not in the normal range, but I will take what I can get. Other levels are lower than last time, and lower in a not so good way, which means I will either get a bag full of liquid vitamins and stuff at chemo, or, the dreaded neulasta shot. Let’s just hope I can get them up a little with better food choices by next Monday. It’s amazing what the internet can teach you, and while also filling you with dread. Like when I looked up CA 125. It’s the marker in your blood for ovarian/endometrial cancer. It was only slightly elevated in this test – two weeks ago is was about 10 points higher. Which means the chemo seems to be doing its job. Well, of course it is, my hair is falling out and I am tired as shit. Until this month, I didn’t know what a CA 125 marker was. I didn’t what a lot of things on my blood test meant. Now, I know – and believe me, I could have gotten through life without having to know, ever. But I do, and I imagine, am wiser for it.

I am trying to get back to healthy eating once again – I had made the most beautiful taco salad this morning with the other half of the marvelous avocado I had yesterday. I was swinging my bag on the way in to work and out flew the salad. A sad, sorrowful mass of spring mix, perfect avocado, sweet yellow cherry tomatoes, taco meat and beans all lightly dressed with some sour cream, like a healthy oil slick on the office floor. And since the healthiest of lunches was destroyed, I had to eat cookies for lunch, and a bag of chips for dinner. We’ll try again tomorrow. I’m still a little broken up over it.

Well that’s about it, happy people. Tomorrow is hug it out hump day. I am limiting my hugging lately because, I am not sure if you know this, but people are germy. Like until you have to be careful about being around the infectious, you don’t really think much about germs. Now there are certain people I will conscientiously avoid, because they don’t wash their hands. I constantly use hand sanitizer to the point that I have icky dry patches on my hands. Last thing I need right now is the flu or a cold. I have also manage to get past some of the anxiety issues keeping me up at night. I slept a solid six hours last night. Go me! I’m going for the big six again tonight…so I must bid you all most pleasant dreams and restful slumbers. I’m hoping for a snow delay in the morning – it’s unlikely, but a girl can dream. And let me know about those hair sculptures. Peace, lovelies.


The Taste of Metal and the Sting of Tears.

I’m giving you plenty of warning today.abcsnot

If you woke up to birds singing and cuddles and happiness, click that X in the top right corner and get the fuck out of here now. I’ll give you a few seconds to escape.

Still here? Well I am not responsible for how you feel all day if you read this. I’m giving you fair warning.

Okay, fine, the choice is yours, but you will be sorry. I am, and I am writing the shit.

I started having panic attacks yesterday. Serious sobbing, full on snot slinging, not enough tissues in this fucking box, I can’t catch my breath panic attacks. I am still having them, on a less severe scale than last night, but isn’t that how horror works? The most terrifying things live in the dark and no amount of light, sunlight, electric, candle, is gonna take the terror out of it.

I am still sick. I want to get the fuck out of this house today, and just go somewhere. Anywhere. No, not anywhere. An ocean – okay, Pacific ocean where my tears can get sucked into the gigantic vastness that oceans are. It seems like it’s been months since I got this news. It’s only five weeks, but it seems like forever. And all at once it seem like it all happened so fast. And here I sit again, with a fucking cancer garden dying deep inside of me. (That’s right you nasty poisonous bastard, you’re dying inside me, because you have no right to be there) It’s so very different this time – last time I was all like, okay stupid cancer, you will be gone in six months. The second time, you’re not so cocky. I mean, I was supposed to have made it past the recurrence window. This little monster sprouted and started taking over in a two month window. I know what my stage is, I know what my odds are, I know that it is definitely possible to win again, but it’s a 1000x more scary the second time. And a second time where they can’t just do in and cut it out like last time. I have to live with it inside, knowing that the only way it’s going anywhere is if the combination of chemo, positive energy and visualization of it vanishing make it go away. Stupid cancer. It takes so much more than your health.

Yeah, I am strong, and brave and have the guts to take this on again. But I am also a tearful mess who is so scared I am not gonna be around to see the way life is supposed to play out. What if I am not to see Andy get married? To see my grandbabies? To see my niece graduate or my nephews get married? I am not afraid of dying. I am afraid of what I’ll miss. What I thought was in my future and what might be so unfairly snatched away from me now. Oh sure, I know you’re thinking, well miss fucking sunshine, that’s not a very positive attitude! You’re right, it’s not, but it’s a very real one. It’s whats’ gnawing at the back of my mind 24 hours a day. Most people are afraid of dying – I’m not. I’m afraid of leaving. I know I will always be connected to the people in my life now, we’re all energy, we all are connected, but I am not done with this life yet. I have plans. I need to retire in Bali, I need to join the Peace Corps, I need to make a half-assed attempt at surfing, I have several more tattoos planned, I need to drive cross country and couch surf a few months on the west coast. I still want to get a PhD, and teach. I am not pleased that my plans are compromised by something completely out of my control. And in my mind, I rehash every doctor visit, every test result, every procedure and I wonder why the fuck I can’t win the lotto, but cancer II? I win that. How could it just show up like that? What did I do wrong? And believe me, I look back over my life, at every less that stellar choice or thought I had over the last several decades, and wonder what I am being punished for? It seems like every questionable thing I have ever done is being returned to me in the form of a nasty little parasite that is eating me up from the inside.

I didn’t even think it was possible for a human body to hold so much snot. Where does it come from? I am so scared this time. I have never been this scared. I feel like a caged animal. The chemo sick is so much harder this time – five days later and I am still tasting metal and not sure whether or not food is going to stay down. I am out of effexor – this is probably part of my non-stop panic attacks, I know I have a prescription bottle in this house somewhere that’s half full, but I can’t bend over to look for it, because I feel like hurling. Every joint in my body hurts, and motrin, tylenol and percocet are like a roulette wheel to see if one will actually help. I can’t get the weird chemo smell out of my nose, no matter how many bazillion times I blow it. I think my blood is part ginger now. It’s the only thing that keeps me from spending my day huddled over the bathroom sink. I lie down one minute and feel fine, and then in five minutes, my stomach is cramped up so much, that I want to unhinge my jaw and tear my stomach out. And, for comic relief, how about a post-chemo fart? Toxic clouds are less vile. Dick Cheney is less vile. As if you aren’t sick enough already, your body attempts to suffocate you in a noxious cloud at random points throughout the day.

At least the crying has slowed down. Blood tests tomorrow. Woo hoo. And I have two more weeks before I have to go through this nastiness again. I really feel for that 17 year old girl who wants to refuse her chemo – how is it more compassionate to put her through this when it’s not what she wants. I’ve already had the conversation about quality of life vs. quantity with Andy and my brothers – if it ever gets to that point, I’m cashing in my retirement, buying a surfboard, renting a car and driving to California, buying as many edibles as I can eat without freaking out in paranoia, paddling out and waiting for a great white to eat me after it mistakes me for an elephant seal. I am not dying in a hospital, all weak and sickly, it’s gonna be on my terms. Morbid, yes, but when have I truly not been? Really, I continue to watch Meet The Press, and I know how that’s gonna end every week, and yet I go back.

So next time you want to tell me how brave I am, or how strong, just remember that I am also a very scared and tearful little girl, wishing someone would save me from this monster. Facing this a second time is not about a fight, it’s about getting up everyday and doing what I have to keep from being paralyzed with fear. When I smile, it’s because I can’t rub my nose anymore or the skin is going to come off. When I make jokes, it’s because I’m scared and I need to find a way to cope. I’m gonna keep coping – I have to – it’s not time to give up. I’m not a survivor – that’s a fucking stupid word. I’m a person who has a fucking obstacle ahead – I may not overcome it, but I’m still gonna try. I’m also smart enough to know if at some point I have X years or months left, I’m not gonna waste that precious time trying to give me 10 extra sickly days, when I can have 5 days of fun. Look out Disneyland if that happens. Or Ireland. Or Bali. Or all three, and Peru.

You were warned to not read this. If you’re crying or horrified, that’s on you, not me. This is my blog. I have to face this shit down daily, and this is my process. This is how I sort through the rapid firing shit in my head that just won’t stop. You only have to read this once, and never again. I’ll be the one having a breakdown during Fairly Oddparents or Iron Man 3. I can’t promise that I won’t be maudlin or dramatic in the future either, but I can promise that I’ll do what I need to do to get through today, and tomorrow. Like my friend Debbie reminded me, these are the real feelings, these are what people with monsters inside them really do feel, and it’s ok. OMG, where is this fucking snot coming from???? It has to stop sometime!!

So that’s that. I’m gonna try to slog down another ginger tea. And check to see if my prescriptions are ready. And maybe take a drive. It’s a beautiful gloomy day out there, and if I can unswell my eyes, maybe I’ll go hang out among the dead for a few hours with my camera. Or do laundry. The mundane shit goes on, even when you’re having a meltdown.

Enjoy your Sunday, mes jolis canards aperçus! (use your google translate if you must know)

PS. To all of you wonderful friends, who call/text/message me to see if I need anything, thank you. Mostly I don’t need anything – I don’t really eat much lately but these are things that I always can use: Fresh turmeric root, Ginger-Honey Crystals, Reed’s Ginger Brew – Regular, Premium, or especially, Extra Ginger, Ginger Ice Cream, Anti-Viral Tissues, and bottled water – but not Arcadia or whatever the store brand at Boyer’s is – I don’t care what people say, water has different tastes depending on where it comes from. And sesame crackers. My food tastes are really different this time, and what I am hungry for can change hour to hour. If you are worried about Andy starving, don’t be, but if you insist on feeding him, there’s nothing the boy won’t eat except mushrooms. Well, he’ll even eat certain types of those, but he also gets random drug tests at work, so no thank you.

IMAG1489abfeedsGingerBrewTurmeric Roots


My Body is Temple (Of Doom)

Yeah, it was that kind of day. The kind of day you won’t forget and you hope will never come again. It’s still all very surreal, even though I have a folder with hard copies of all that went on and I can sign into the computer and see with my own eyes what I don’t really want to know. Stupid internet. S tupid body. Stupid cancer. You all suck.

I actually was early for my appointment today, even though I didn’t get out of the house as planned this morning. I skipped a coffee because I didn’t want to jack up my blood pressure which I anticipated as already being high due to anxiety. Surprisingly, blood pressure was perfectly normal. Better than ever, and I didn’t even take any pain meds this morning And I only gained a pound and a half in two weeks, which must have mostly come about last night when I was stuffing chocolate into my mouth with pretzels in order to create chocolate covered pretzels and then stuffing more feelings with a bag of sweet potato tortilla chips Yes, I wasn’t really hungry, yes, it made me sick, but the food just kept being shoved into my chomping jaws. Just like after my doctor’s appointment today when I tried to quell my emotional upheaval with taco bell and a banana milkshake at Sonic. As if it matters what I ate today, because tomorrow is chemo and I won’t want food for at least 4 or 5 days.

Okay, okay, I’ll cut to the chase. They didn’t have my MRI results posted last night or today. Dr. K came in to see me by himself, even though I heard the chattering minions whispering outside my exam room door. Not the best indicator. He looked at my MRI images on line and said he really didn’t see too much different from the last CT scan, and again went over the treatment options I had. I asked a few more questions this time, being that I was less in shock than last time – until he started talking about options. My beastly cancer-garden cyst is in a place that should he operate to remove it would cost me both my bladder and my rectum, because the pufferfish and friends are in close proximity to both and somewhat connected and that means they have to take anything that is possibly harboring mutated cells in the neighborhood. Fucking cancer. I don’t really need to elaborate on what the end result of that would look like, because I am not even entertaining that option. Even if he did surgery, there’s no guarantee that it would be a success, for a plethora of reasons including the fact that it would just delay chemo until my body healed, which would cost me time, and it would involve a very long healing time, and would be risky and very hard for me to recover from. Not to mention that it would change the quality of my life forever. He again explained why there’s not going to be any radiation, and discussed chemo versus anti-estrogen therapy. He remains positive that the ol’ c-monster will respond well to chemo, but really what else can you do but hope for the best? So after much sighing, he gave me a big hug, told me Anne would be in with my schedule and paperwork, and said he’d see me in three weeks. No minions today – they appeared to be a fresh batch because it was a new semester and I am sure he didn’t want to traumatize them too much on their first day in gynecological oncology.

Anne came in and more hugs ensued. And crying. And laughing. And she gave me my schedule and reminded me to pick up the good ol’ decadron and compazine so I would be prepared for poisoning tomorrow. She kindly color coded my schedule for me so I know when I have chemo, and dr. appointments and blood tests. Blood tests are going to be weekly this time because the radiation from last time has compromised my bone marrow and they want to make sure my blood counts stay where they should be. I also signed a release for blood transfusions. I got kinda excited about that, because fresh blood is a pretty good thing, I like when I get blood, it makes me all energized. We talked about herbal medicine for side effects and to compliment my treatment and I’m going to explore that with her okay. No zofran this time, just compazine to start for the nausea. She’s a great coach, and told me I did this once and I could do it again – the difference being this time the monster is still inside, and last time they cut the shit right out. And last time they took organs I was not longer using anyway. This time, I’d be missing parts I’m kinda fond of. Which again, not considering as an option. I’ll be seeing her pretty regularly at the ol’ Cancer Institute, as I go through this cycle. I also made sure I got my note saying that chemo would be poisoning me and I would be missing work. And a lovely catalog of hats with fake hair attached as if I am going to be seen sporting fake hair – if I want fake hair, I’ll draw it on with my sharpies. And off I went, to get my first of a bazillion blood draws. I did get a penguin sticker for my bravery during the blood draw. I am going to keep my stickers on my folder. My new rule is no sticker, no blood.

And in a repeat of two weeks ago, me and the phone returned to the car, and did our texting. And crying. Much shorter this time. I just wanted to get home, so I ran in to Karn’s and located both the delicious Halos and some Ginger Brew, so I can get through the next week. Then I comforted myself with the aforementioned taco bell and banana milkshake. It didn’t really work, but I did see my beloved pony-pony and that made me smile. He was hiding in the barn trying to stay out of the freezing wind. Another day out of the glue factory.

I was going to drive around for a while but I decided to just go home and curl up in bed and pretend none of this was happening. Of course, I had to check my online medical record when I got home, so I could add to the joy of this day by reading the MRI report. Apparently, pufferfish is now sporting two tumors, instead of one. Two. Two bloodsucking leech tumors. Two. The second one is 8cm long. The first is 10cm. So they aren’t exactly petite. Doesn’t change the treatment, but causes additional emotional damage. More crying, more curling up in a ball, more cursing my luck and trying to figure out what I did in a past life to be poor, fat, and get cancer in this one. Of course, as you can read, I’ve rebounded somewhat because I am writing about it. Cancer fact – every tumor after your first one is not only considered to be the same type of cancer as your first one, but also considered to be the same stage as the first, so they are all IIIB. Lucky lucky me. If only cancer was the powerball – I wouldn’t have won the jackpot, but I would have five numbers. Cancerpalooza.

So yeah, I am feeling sorry for myself. I’ll get up tomorrow and pull it together and get to chemo with my new skull blanket and some projects to keep me busy for the six hours of poisoning ahead. Cross your fingers that the weather folks are right this time and there’s no more than 3 inches of snow tomorrow. And that I don’t get the evil wicked winter plague that Andy has. And that there’s no more brutal wind. Oh there’s the bell saying take the decadron – be right back. Decadron pills are green. So now I take a pink, purple, green, white, yellow, red and white, and brown pill every day. If I start to take morphine again, I will add a blue one again. A rainbow of pills and no unicorn. So that was my day peeps, what did you do?

It’s time for me to load up the iPod with some podcasts and go down and make sure I turned the oven off because I actually made dinner since by the time I get through chemo sick, the roast would have been ready to throw away. I have to get up early again and pack my stuff. I know this wasn’t one of my funniest or most amusing entries, but hey, we have to take the bad with the good. I am sure chemo will be eventful. Apparently they have me scheduled for an infusion chair instead of a bed, and I am hoping that will change by tomorrow, because I am there for six hours, I should get a bed. I may or may not feel like writing tomorrow after all the fun, but I am sure I will be back in a few days, snarky and sarcastic as ever. As always, keep sending the good juju my way. And I’ll keep you entertained with these thrilling bloggy bits.

Night night my friends, and in case you were wondering, the Daily Show is back. And Crunchwrap sliders do not slide, they must be chewed. You’re welcome.IMAG1485


Magical Mystical MRI (or The Time I Got “Blue in the Face” Instead of “Trying to Breathe”)

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Let me begin with this: I am not going to be making a resolution involving vodka and orange juice, because I decided that my relaxation cocktail is just that: pineapple, orange, and veggie juice with coconut vodka. It’s mighty tasty. I am having a lot of anxiety this evening (as will be discussed in the next paragraph) and I am trying to chill because I need to be bright eyed and bushy tailed for my Dr appointment tomorrow. I know I gained a little weight. I am not sure how, but I feel fluffier. I’m not stressing about that, because in three days, I’ll be so sick that food will be my enemy once again and the only thing I’ll want to eat are my go-to foods: pineapple juice, english muffin, oatmeal, yogurt and ginger beer. I want to make a pork roast tomorrow for dinner but I am afraid if I eat my friend, the pig, before chemo, I will lose my love for the other white meat the way I have lost my taste for artichokes and parmesan cheese the last time. And if I can’t eat bacon, what’s the point of living? Right now I am trying to coordinate with my brothers to get me to chemo and back because Andy is afflicted with the winter death plague, and I cannot be trapped in a car breathing his germs for an hour while we drive to Hershey. As it is, he is forbidden to be within six feet of me. And if he gets close, I pelt him with a hand sanitizer. So right now, it’s looking like I will be arriving two hours early for my appointment, and then waiting an hour or two for a ride home after we’re done. It’s gonna be a long, long, long day. But when in my life has anything been simple or easy. Enough stressing about what hasn’t happened yet, we have to review today’s adventure.

Let me preface this with this: the internet is a dangerous tool. Useful, but dangerous. Damn Penn State Hershey didn’t put my MRI results in my “My Health” account like they do with with my CT scans. How am I supposed to make myself anxious all night before my appointment if I don’t read them like I read my CT scan reports? Hmm? How can I prepare for the worst if I don’t have the info? I, of course, interrogated the nice young technician who did my MRI as to what she saw. She confirmed that there is indeed something in there, but I knew that – when I asked her if I should be prepared for an unpleasant surprise at my visit tomorrow, she would not commit. That typically means yes, I should be, because when they don’t put your fears to rest immediately, they are trying to find a way to avoid a straight answer. So we shall see. But again, I can’t worry about that until tomorrow. That is the point of the relaxation cocktail.

Well it was a lovely ride to Hershey. The fog was thick and murky on the interstate, as I tend to like it. It feels like driving in a thick cloud. I forgot it was a travel day and that Canadians would be in our country and on our roads, making driving difficult, which can also be said of New Yorkers, and also those from New Jersey. They should just stay home and enjoy their holidays in their own country/state. I had to stop and get something to eat because I was feeling nauseous, so I also took a percocet because it’s hard to tell if I am feeling sick from not eating or withdrawal, so I addressed both. I tossed back my chocolate milk and rolled into the parking lot at The Cancer Institute, realizing I would need to pick up my parking pass tomorrow for this lot for my treatments. I scurried into the building, looking like I rolled out of bed and fell into the door because I was trying to dress in things with no metal so I wouldn’t have to change into a gown. Nope, that didn’t work. I soon realized I had to go in the main entrance, and I meandered down to the radiology department, the same place that had tried to empty the cyst for the last year. I was the only one there, so I was personally escorted to the MRI room. I filled out my questionnaire about all of my surgeries and tests and radiations and chemos and skin pokings and jabbings and big giant incisions and medications and answered some math word problems about trains and wrote a short essay on what I did on my winter holiday. I signed releases I didn’t read. Then I was escorted to the changing area. It was pretty much the same deal as going through radiation, except there are no animal themed changing rooms and no waiting corral. I did get a locker for my stuff, and I actually had two gowns that covered me, instead of feeling like I always had to close some area that was exposing skin.

In typical fashion, I needed to repeat my name and birth date about 3,129 times. I had to show them my tattoos – MRI tip – an MRI will cause certain inks in tattoos to swell/itch because some inks have metal particles in them, particularly bright, vibrant colors. It’s not the best idea to get a tattoo right before you get an MRI. The technician asked me if I wanted some music during the procedure, and I said sure, but you probably have nothing I listen to – and to my surprise, she said give me the names and I will use Pandora. So I rattled off some of my faves: OWTH, Against Me!, The Go Set, Pennywise, Alkaline Trio, excited that I wasn’t going to be forced to endure One Direction, or Creed, or worse, Nickelback,

We entered the MRI room and to my surprise, the MRI machine is not so different from a CT scanner. However, there is the obvious lack of decorative stickers. I pointed this out immediately, and suggested some Brave, or Jungle Book, but no Toy Story 3, because I am still traumatized from that one. The tech said she’d check but they probably cant because of the risk of metallic particles.

Curiously enough, the room itself has a background hum that sounds like the womb sounds that my Sleep Sheep makes, which would have been soothing if not for their loudness. Unlike the CT meat slicing machine, the MRI tunnel is entered feet first. I had to get an IV started because there would be contrast dye for this one. They put some boards and blankets on my belly, and start the IV, which actually hurts at first. I told her to choose my right arm, because I was saving the left for chemo on Tuesday. Chemo tip – always go for the left arm. You will get a lot of fluids and will spend an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom – you want that right arm unencumbered. We got the IV issue worked out and that arm got strapped down. I was given a emergency call bell in case I started to freak out for the other hand. Then they put my headphones on, and I get launched into the tube. It’s a pretty small space, and I am a pretty fluffy girl. I had wiggle room but not much. The music started to play, and amusingly, the first song is an Alkaline Trio song, Blue in the Face, which ends with the line, your coffin or mine? I found this so amusing but being that I had to remain still I was not allowed to chuckle. The MRI imaging is done in time limited sessions. 45 seconds, 1.5 minutes, and then 2, 4, 5, 6, and (2) 8 minutes. Then the dye is injected, and you do 2 more 2 minute and 4 minutes sessions, and then (4) 18 second images images holding your breath. The instructions to hold your breath are supposed to come through the headphones – the tech broke into the music to tell me to follow along, except the instructions were in spanish, and she then had to just tell me what to do each time.

The actual imaging sessions are noisy. I was doing okay though, because I had music. Curiously, even though I had given her the names of the bands for Pandora, I got mostly Alkaline Trio and the Menzingers, and no OWTH for the first session – there was some Taking Back Sunday and some AFI – but no OWTH or Against Me!. This was tolerable initially, and I shouldn’t complain, because it could have been worse, like noted above, Nickelback, or even, ~shudder~ Macklemore or Pitbull. When the tech came in to start the dye, I asked her to restart Pandora with OWTH and the other requested bands – I got one OWTH song, and then it went right back to the Menzingers – weirdest thing ever, I wonder why that is? Anyway, the last sessions were the most difficult to stay still during because the machine was literally rattling. And your body gets really hot. Like it’s cooking. But I did really well keeping still, I turned on my meditative brains and pretended that I was a corpse. Of course, then runaway brain came along and I started to think about what it would be like to be buried alive, and this is as close as I hope to ever come to it. Then I started to think about all the poor people who were buried alive and what that must have been like to wake up in a box underground and be trying to claw your way out, and then the terrible realization that this is it, and you are trapped and never getting out. I then realized that I need to modify my living will to specifically state that under no circumstance whatsoever am I to be buried, or placed in any boxes unless my heart has been removed from my body or my head severed. That freaked me out. I realized then that the only suitable way to die would be drowning and then eaten by fish. Fear of being buried alive moved to my number 2 fear. Clowns were downgraded. Fire is still at the top. Again, drowning would be the only acceptable way to go.

Returning to our discussion track, there’s a lot of noise during an MRI. Banging and whirring and swishing and thunking. I did okay with most of it, the music minimized it but it still all seems to be going on by your ears, instead of where they are taking pictures. At one point it felt like the hair on my legs was being magnetized Totally bizarre feeling. It’s not constant. It starts and stops, and they tell you through the headphones when the next imaging will start and how long it will last. I only got caught off guard once with the loud banging, and fortunately, since you are in a restricted space, you can’t really jump out of your skin. I kept referring to my meditation practice and controlled my breathing the best I could, trying to relax. This is an important tip for those having an MRI. Work on your breathing. When it was all said and done, and I got to sit up, my whole body was stiff from staying still for so long. Even though the actual imaging session are short, the whole process lasted about 1.5 hours. Keeping still is a lot more work than you would think it is. As I mentioned, I asked the tech what she saw, but I also asked her why they do MRIs on a Sunday. She said they have to staff the MRI 24/7, and since someone has to be there all the time, they decided to make use of those hours by scheduling outpatient scans so they use the time effectively. There are a lot of emergency and rush procedures during the week, and it’s really stressful. Weekends are more laid back, there’s no tension and it can accommodate both staff who want to work only weekends and patients who need an urgent but not immediate scan, or people who can’t take time during the week. My tech said she actually prefers being there and doing procedures on the weekend. I have to say, it is a much more pleasant experience for the patient too because you aren’t jammed into a room of sick people to wait and you don’t feel rushed and everyone seems more calm and relaxed. There’s also better parking and fewer people in the buildings. After I regained my sense of stability, I was given my key to my locker and changed into my clothes and then scurried (IE. Walked slowly and stiffly) to reward myself with a chestnut praline latte at the hospital’s Starbucks. Twas yummy.

I took a longer scenic route back home – I had planned on going to dinner with my sharksister, Ashley, but she came down with the flu or plague or west nile last night, and we had to cancel. I was disappointed because I was really looking forward to seeing her, but we’ll have time, I have 4 months of appointments yet. We were going to go to Pho Miss Saigon in Hershey – a super yummy pho/noodle house – I still don’t have much of an appetite, but I was looking forward to Vietnamese iced coffee, which is my most favorite. If you frequent the Hershey area, I highly recommend the spot, particularly if you like pho or noodle dishes. It was still quite foggy as I headed home and was dark, so more stupid people than usual were about to hinder my ride home. Tomorrow is doctor and blood work day, and laundry. Weirdly, I need to make sure that I have a fresh blanket and sheets on my bed for after chemo – because of the whole weird smells thing, I need to have things as fresh as possible the first few days. Andy is also going to need to clean the car and quit smoking in it, because the odor of cigarettes is the one scent that makes me want to immediately hurl once I start chemo. At least I know what to expect. I also don’t have to have the nasty neulasta shot, at least not initially, so that’s a huge plus. That shit is the worst part in my opinion – the pain in your bones is as horrible as the pufferfish. I’ll have to get a picture tomorrow while I still have my hair…I figure it will be gone by the beginning of February I’ve started work on a fox hat, and I have patterns for a raccoon, panda and queen crown.

So that was the MRI. To summarize, much like being buried alive but without the bugs or dirt or paralyzing fear. Also much noisier. Not for the claustrophobic. In other news, I facebook blasted that my cancer is back – it may seem like an attempt to get attention to some, or putting “my business out there” but you know what, I don’t really care. People are naturally inquisitive – they want to know – and I don’t think this is something I need to keep private. It’s scary and people are curious. If I make it easier for someone else, all the better. With that ma petites, I shall leave you for today. I’m gonna finish my cocktail, and tuck myself in. Hopefully I’ll have more details tomorrow. Sweetest dreams my friends, and like I said on facebook, send me your good vibes, positive thoughts, prayers, animal sacrifices or good juju, I can feel it and it helps.

And don’t be afraid to ask me questions – it doesn’t bother me a bit.


Return, Resolutions, Repeat

I'm back....

I’m back….

That’s right, my lovelies – I did not run over any armadillos, I did not get a cat, I did not mix vodka with orange juice, I did not become a brain eating zombie, I managed to stay awake for at least one hour a day, I resolved to clean the house when absolutely necessary (which it never truly was), I did not use a drone to attack the neighbors, I ate no cauliflower, I checked my phone once a day, and I never told facebook what city I live in, no matter how many times it asked. 10 Resolutions made, 10 completed. Completing such daunting tasks gives me such a sense of satisfaction. I don’t know that I can top this in 2015, but damn it, what’s live without challenge?

I’ll get to this year’s resolutions in a moment. I really want to give the real ending to the attack on the cyst, because I couldn’t before I told my dad (aka pop) the facts – I didn’t want to ruin the holiday for him or for my niece – I mean I had to ruin it for Andy and some of my brothers, co-workers and friends, and of course, it was a bit of a downer for me too, but I couldn’t do it to my dad. I think I’ve told most people, if I haven’t and this is where you get the news first, I’m sorry. It’s not the thing you get any enjoyment out of telling people and one thing I’ve learned is that no matter how many people I tell, there’s always going to be someone that I forgot to. I can think of five or ten or fifteen now. Fact is, I’m tired of telling people. Here’s a fact: Telling people you have cancer (again) is fucking hard. You feel bad that your are giving people bad news, you feel you have to make them feel better, they always ask how they can help and it’s just generally a bad thing. If I tell you, just tell me that you love me. Or if you don’t love me, just say, hey, whatever you need. I’ll keep talking if I feel like talking about it, and if I don’t keep talking about it, and you have questions, ask me. I have a blog, seriously, it’s not like this shit is secret.

Anyhow, I read the CT scan before the surgery. I saw the words “possible malignancy” – I saw the look on the ER doctors face when he had to tell me there were some concerning items on the scan. I know my body. I knew something was wrong. After surgery, when Minion 1 arrived, and I asked her about the offending nodule and if they found cancer, she danced around it, saying that they “don’t think” anything is wrong, but they are only using human eyes. I much preferred the way I found out the first time – the resident held my hand and said it straight up, we can’t confirm it yet, but from the preliminary pathology, it looks like cancer. This time, I knew I was going to hear not very good news at my appointment. I know when they take a biopsy, they look at the sample to make sure it’s a good one. They don’t just randomly snap out a bit of tissue and hope for the best. And while they are checking, they can notice whether they have good cells or abnormal cells. Sure, they may not know if it’s malignant with certainty, but they know if something’s up or not. Minion 1 needs to work on her delivery. I should give lessons.

I also knew I wasn’t healing as quickly as I have in the past. I had some pretty hideous bruising. I lost my appetite. I knew things were different, but I wanted to believe what the Minion 1 told me. So when I got to my appointment on the 22nd, I was ready for the news, or at least I thought so. I went by myself because Andy was in Pittsburgh with my nephew and brothers for a Steelers game. I didn’t want him to not have fun because I had an appointment. I asked my niece’s mom to go with me last minute, but she couldn’t. So I just resigned myself to going it alone. I got there on time, checked in, and waited. I got weighed, and found out I’d lost 40lbs since October. That’s a lot. And then I waited. My blood pressure was almost normal, but there was much excitement by the nurse when I told her I was off the morphine and just taking percocet. I wasn’t in pain. That’s good. Yay. No need to undress. Hang out, Dr. will be in. Now, Dr. K is a presence. He’s a tall, funny guy, with a southern twang to his voice and he’s always cracking jokes with nurses and staff and patients. I suppose you have to when you have to give the news he’s giving. He’s almost never late. I can sometimes hear him talking to other patients when I wait for him. Today I can hear him telling one that they will beat this thing, and that they will be in to review the chemo and radiation schedule with her, etc, etc, etc. Not good. It’s still taking a while for him to see me. I wonder where my treatment coordinator is – I have presents for her and Nurse Sue and Dr. K – just little holiday gifts to say thanks. I don’t hear Anne outside either – not good. Finally, Dr. K arrives with Minion 2 from the ER nightmare. They sit down. Sit. That doesn’t usually happen, so yes, it’s another harbinger of doom. Dr. K looks at me and doesn’t mess around – the biopsy shows cancer, and launches into how we could treat it. No surgery, no radiation, two different ways to address it with chemo, there’s no protocol for cancer in this area, quite frankly he doesn’t even know how or why it came back, it shouldn’t have at this point, once you pass two years, there’s a much less likelihood of recurrence. I just kinda look at him, and tell him I don’t have dying on my agenda. He said that’s good because he hasn’t, and isn’t, giving me permission to die. I’m not crying, I’m almost relieved because now I know – I awkwardly hand him the card and ornament I brought him – tell him I don’t know if he Jewish, or celebrates Kwanza or Christmas, but he can hang the ornament on his Hanukkah bush if he wants to – and thank him for taking such good care of me. I can tell this is as hard on him as it is for me. I think the Minion 2 wants to bolt, but is glad I am not crying and that I am, matter-of-factly, addressing what I need to do. Dr. K tells him to talk to me about the MRI, since he hasn’t staged it yet, and needs the MRI to determine what all is happening in the dark recesses of where the stupid pufferfish lies. I tell him I think the unwieldy beast is starting its dark resurgence because I’m having some discomfort in the area, and he says that’s what he wants to see on the MRI. Minion 2 has ceased sweating, I truly believe he thought I would lose it like I did when they offered my the psych hold in the ER. I maintained calm. OK, I was in shock, but it still didn’t involve crying.

You are never really prepared for the news. I’m still not sure I have accepted it, and probably won’t until they hang the poison bag on the rack and it starts dripping into my arm. Dr. K and I hug, he assures me that we will kick cancer’s ass and be laughing about this in no time. He tells me this is a shitty way to end the year, and a shitty way to start a new one, but go home, enjoy the holiday, and they will call me with the chemo schedule the day after Christmas. I tell him I trust him, he got me through it the last time and will this time. I shake the Minion 2’s hand, and like a scared bunny, he hands me the packet of papers for checkout and flees the room. I head to checkout. As I stand there, alone, having just been told my body has betrayed me, it hits me, and I tear up. I have cancer. Fuck. The receptionist asks me about the papers – I tell her all I know is I have a 4 week appointment on the 5th, and Dr. K wants me to have an MRI. She asks if it is scheduled – I tell her I don’t know – I was just handed papers by the Minion 2. She looks, and doesn’t have a clue why I have been handed all of Dr. K’s results and notes. I suddenly realize I need a note for work, and another prescription for percocet. I ask if she can get that for me when she asks him about the other papers. She does – he tells me I’m off until after my 4 week check up. I realize we never even looked at the incisions. Good thing I heal OK. She comes back with all my papers – I ask her if she can give Anne and Sue my cards and ornaments. She will. I’m still not really connecting to any of this. I get my appointment for the MRI and visit summary and head for the elevators.

I don’t break down until I am in the car. Then I am a snotty, sobbing, weeping, sniveling, snorting, coughing, choking mess for about five minutes. And alone. Horribly alone. And also very glad to be alone because I don’t have to worry about making anyone else feel better about my breakdown. I text who I need to text. I need to get groceries while I am down here. It’s funny how the trauma and the mundane activities intersect here. I need to get food. I also need to get home. I start the car and go to Giant, and mindlessly wheel the cart up and down the aisles, tossing shit in I don’t really need, but I have a fuck-it-you-only-live-once attitude and decide we’re having a fucking rib roast and ask at the butcher counter for a small incredibly expensive rib roast. Two hundred dollars later, I’m checking out of Giant with my rib roast. I forget to buy water. I’m not even hungry. I need to go home and that’s the last place I want to be. My iPod won’t fucking charge. I’m not going home until I have the opportunity to sing loudly with my iPod, and preferably with OWTH, until the pain inside is purged. I must also see my friend, Pony-Pony. I need some normality in this surreal scene. I also need gas. Actually, GAS first.

So I drive – first to a gas station. I fuel up and head to the MHS barn to see Pony-Pony. He’s not there. They probably are making him be the stupid donkey is some live nativity somewhere. I keep driving. I see my friends, the goats, at the goat barn, and I yell “fuck you” at the sheep in their pasture. My iPod is still not charged. I see some cows. I see another pony, and another, none of which are Pony-Pony, but at least I saw them. I keep driving. I realize my blood sugar is quite low, and I am a little shaky – I’ll got to Hardee’s. This whole time I feel like I am in weird freaky film where my character is in a dream world unbeknownst to everyone who sees her. It’s like none of this is real. I finally get the iPod charged enough to commence screamsinging. Fortunately, RTE 322 is not busy and I can cry and sing and drive all at once with no worries. It’s not real. It’s not real. I get to Hardee’s and order some sort of burger and onion rings. I manage to choke down the onion rings. I head home.

The drive was cathartic. And pretty scary. Occasionally I would look down at the speedometer during pauses between songs. I pushed 100+mph more than a few times. It’s not really my fault the car goes that fast. I slowed down several times. I wanted to get home and then I didn’t. I would have to tell Andy and then other people. This is the part that sucks. I finally drove home – I walked in and Andy was all excited to tell me about his trip and the game – and I killed that with a look. He asked how the visit went and I lost it. I sobbed and cried and told him how sorry I was he had to go through this all again. My kid is a good hugger. He told me I was the strongest person he knew and it was just cancer, and I could beat it. Then he proceeded to hug me some more. When he was adequately covered in snot, he went and got the groceries from the car. I didn’t want my expensive rib roast being stolen in this neighborhood

The C-monster is such a fucking burden. Not only do you have to worry about being sick, but you have to worry about bills and work, and the house and telling people and not upsetting people all while being told that this is the time you are supposed to focus on yourself. If there are people who are able to do that, I wish they would have a network where you could find out their secret. Because once you recover from the shock, you have to think about who to tell, and when and where and how and how are they gonna react and if they are old, like my dad, are you going to kill them? And then there’s the logistics – appointments and chemo and food and laundry and the joys of all the changes in smell and touch and taste. And when you have been the head of household for the last 24 years, that just doesn’t stop, you still worry about that. It’s just a lot. And no matter how much you have people tell you they will do whatever they can to help you, you don’t want to ask, because you don’t want to be a burden, and you want to be strong and tackle this yourself.

I’m tired of writing tonight, and I am tired of watching this fucking pathetic Steelers game while I type. I’m tired of being sick and doctor’s appointments, and not wanting to get out of bed. At least there’s minimal pain. At least there’s plenty of food in our house and we have functioning utilities. I can still write. My bed is comfy. I have a new blanket to take to chemo with me. It’s all gonna be over in 18 weeks (it better be). Tomorrow is the MRI – it will be a whole new experience for me, so look forward to that blog entry. I sure hope there’s no metal inside that suddenly gets torn from my body like I’ve seen in horror movies.

Good night my happy people…I’ll be keeping you updated – hug on your loved ones and do something fun with them before they can’t, or you can’t. Sleep well. Oh, about those resolutions, still working on them. I won’t be bound by your constrictive linear timetables. Kisses.

Oh yeah – three years ago yesterday, I got my first diagnosis. Happy Anniversary. I didn’t know the 3rd anniversary was also cancer.


Slice and Dice With Minions – Part Dos

Ah my friends, I have returned, later than planned, but back nonetheless. It’s early morn on Christmas eve, and I am still a little amped up from crafting like a loon as if I could ever finish everything I want to before Christmas day. As we know I am a grasshopper in all things. I did however, finish a project for the tree I have moved from project box to project box for two years now, so I’m kinda stoked. Now the tree just has to go up. Again, another attempt to get Christmas right gone awry because of the stupid pufferfish — which leads us to today’s entry where the minion encounters the pufferfish for herself in the operation remove and apparently realizes that I wasn’t kidding about the torture it was inflicting on me.

When last I wrote, I left you with a cliffhanger about how I was going to see Dr. K on Monday to discuss the future of pufferfish residing in its pouch. I hope you googled pouch of Douglas so you can visualize the pain I endured from leaving the ER and enduring the rest of the week lying on my side because it was no longer possible to sit or stand for very long after that no good horrible very bad day. Monday arrives and Andy drives me to my appointment. LONGEST hour of my life. Every bump stung. We could not get there fast enough. I am sure Andy was doing at least 80 but it felt like 40mph, and every stupid person who could possibly be on the road was on in front of us slowing us down. I get to the appointment. Dr. K is running late. I can’t sit. It hurts too much, so I am standing and pacing and squirming and just generally miserable. Did I mention by this time I have also run out of percocet? Yes, well I was out on Saturday. I have seriously pondered removing this thing myself. FINALLY my name is called. I jump on the scale, and guess what? I am down 30lbs. Since October. Being unable to eat has its benefits. Onto the exam room.

Again, no one is taking my pain as seriously as I am, even when I tell the nice nurse I am at an 8, pushing a 9 on the 1-10 pain scale. I am lying down on my side on the exam table, my blood pressure is “going to pop a blood vessel” level. I am rocking and crying and waiting for Dr. K. He will save me. He arrives. I blubber about how this is now unbearable and I cannot go on, this monster has to come out. He nods and says, yes, I agree. Finally!!! Someone is taking me seriously. He’s gong to get me on the surgery schedule for tomorrow. YAY!!! And even though this means I cannot have anything to eat or drink from now until after I am gutted, I am elated. I would not eat for weeks if it meant I was going to have some relief. Whatever it takes, I tell him, just get it out of me. I pause in my blubbering to complain about his new associate and the minions and how they wanted to keep me overnight on psych hold and how his associate should never ever use the words sympathize and/or empathize ever again because she is clueless about what my pain was like and it came off as cold and uncaring, and they sent me home in the exact same pain I arrived in. And also, please let them know I know the difference between “the pufferfish is trying to assassinate me” and “constipation”. So there.

I meet with the necessary folks to get all my surgical ducks in a row and get some sodas and water from the kind nurse Sue. She’s the best. They will call me with a time for the surgery tomorrow. No more eating and no drinking anything after midnight. Fine, what ever, just give me another ‘script for the happy opiates and I’m on my way. Oh wait, you need to go to anesthesia. No, not them, Dr. Doogie will say I have a heart murmur again. Damn. Okay fine. Whatever it takes to be released from my bonds of pain.

I go find Andy in the parking lot and give him the news. Now we have a dilemma. Do I go home, an hour away and usually 20 degrees colder than Hershey with a winter storm pending, and risk having to drive at a super early hour to the hospital in snowstorm, or do I stay in Hershey? It seems logical I stay here. I have clothes in the car since the ER trip. I have friends I could call and stay with, but with a storm swirling off the coast, I don’t want to inconvenience anyone, so I decided to book a room. I get one at the Simmons Motel which I will plug here as a very nice, quaint, clean and comfy room and a 50’s feel and a super soft bed. And quiet except for the damn train. But I am getting derailed. (see what I did there?) In the meantime, Andy makes arrangements for his friend Tom to pick me up and get me to the hospital in the morning so he doesn’t have to come down and just sit around all day. Now some may say it’s odd that I don’t want anyone with me – but frankly, it’s easier to be by yourself, in my opinion, you don’t have to make anyone feel OK, and comfort them. You can just get shit take care of. We go hang out with Tom for a while, I get my pain under control with some medication, and head back to anesthesia. I meet with the goofy anesthesiology associate – I think you have to be a bit odd to work in that department or working in that department makes you a bit odd, because she asks me this litany of questions but doesn’t put down the answers as I tell her as I find out later. She asks me about my “heart murmur” and I ask her to keep reading so she can see that I had an expensive EKG after that diagnosis, and that there was no heart murmur. Her response? Oh, right I see that now. Then she asks me about my anemia following my surgery. I tell her continue reading, so she can see that I lost a ridiculous amount of blood from my tumor and that once I got some blood bags hooked up, anemia gone. Again, Oh right, I can see that. Then she asks me about my thyroid. Again. I tell her to read ahead, and again, she sees the answer I was going to give her. It takes forever. I want out . I just want to go to the hotel and sleep until I get the call. Let me go. Please. Finally, she leaves and the Dr. comes in. She checks to see that I am still breathing and I still have a heart. I sign the papers. I get to leave. I go to the hotel and check in and send Andy on his way. All is going to well, see you in two days. We hug, and give the usually mother/son affection. I tell him, no worries not gonna die.

I find that my surgery is scheduled for noon. Oh good, I could have gone home – but hell, the room was only $50, I don’t have to worry about being tempted by food or drink because I have none, and I can just lie there, in an opiate haze and do my bowel prep. Those of you with previous abdominal area surgeries or in the medical profession will understand that this means a lot of time running back and forth to the bathroom, typically in the middle of the night. I drift in an out of pain riddled sleep, literally counting the hours until I will be rid of this nightmare inside. I finally doze off for a few solid hours until BOOM. The medication for the bowel prep sends me running to the bathroom. Now the fun starts for the next 4 hours. I get through night, and though I’d like to remain in this super soft and comfy bed, I have to go. Tom comes and picks me up and takes me to the hospital around 10, because he is squeezing me in between work, and I wait. Counting. I am all checked in and they tell me a volunteer will come get me when I need to go to the surgical wing. I am stoked because I can then get a wheelchair ride instead of having to make that long walk. I connect to the free wifi, and get down to the business of saving baby pandas from the mean dragon. I will save you baby pandas.

Noon. Gee, all the volunteers have gone home, so here’s a map and off you go to same-day surgery, ma’am. What? I have to take myself? No wheelchair. Walk? Oh fine, and I head off. (please make no mistake, I love Hershey Med Center, they are awesome and I would not go elsewhere for my health care) I get to the elevators when I encounter on of the Sons of Anarchy Pennsylvania motorcycle club members. I can tell this by his hoodie, that reads “Sons Of Anarchy – Pennsylvania.” He has a pager. He must be a MD too. Why else would he have a pager, being in a biker club? He notices my Spamalot t shirt I am wearing from the musical. He shares with me that Spamalot is one of his favorite musicals too. If only I wasn’t about to have surgery, I may have just met my soul mate, a biker who loves musical and is clearly a doctor to boot! But as my luck would have it, after we exit the elevator on the surgical wing, he turns left and I go right, and our potential love affair is over. Sigh.

At the unit, I am escorted to my prep area and given a gown and some special washing clothes to prepare. The nurse shows me the chart and tells me how to wipe down for surgery and says when it comes to doing my back, ring for her and she will do it for me. I do that and a different nurse comes back to help. I tell her what I need, and she says to open the last package, place the pad against the wall and rub up and down against it like a bear scratching its back on a tree. I look at her surprised, about to question her, but still ready to follow her instructions, when she says, “just kidding”. I laugh with her and said that I guess they have to get their fun anyway they can, and she said she was gonna see if I was going to do it, but she decided against it. I told her had she not stopped me I probably would. I hope on the bed and entangle myself in my blankets and listen to an Anxious and Angry episode on my iPod I guess my laughing to myself troubled the nurse and one comes to hang out with me and get all my vitals and shit. She hangs out for a while, and finally I am ready for the big surgery, when they ask where my ride home is. I said I am not going home til tomorrow, and she’s all – well it says here that you are going home after surgery – I look at her and say, uh no. That’s not what the Dr. said. She leaves to go get that worked out. Time check. 2:20PM. Technically I am supposed to be in the ER in ten minutes. She comes back to assure me that I am indeed staying overnight and informs me that surgery is running about 45 minutes late. I tell her it’s cool, I was a last minute add on, and as long as the pufferfish is dealt with, I will wait. I pick a movie to watch on Netflix and wait.

3:45. Still waiting. Me and another woman are the only people left in this holding area. She’s crying and whimpering, and I am am just happy that gutting will occur. 4:30. I’m on my way. Next stop the OR. I tell the operating room nurses that they better keep Dr. K focused and don’t let him mess around, I want be in and out and in recovery before the Season Finale of SOA at 10pm, so no dilly-dallying around in there. They assure me they will keep in him in line and before you know it, I am waking up in the recovery room to another nurse asking me if I want ginger ale. And this Mennonite lady in a rocking chair smiling at me. I wasn’t sure what was going on at first and then I slipped into full awareness once I noticed there was no pain. JELLO!!! I could have JELLO!!! It’s JELLO heaven. I immediately order up a few orange jellos and some water and eat like I haven’t eaten in days. Oh wait I haven’t eaten in days. I inhale the JELLO and begin to keep the nurses and the nice Mennonite lady in stitches with my sense of humor until they determine I can go to secondary recovery down the hall. The doctor will see me then. My “sister” Paige calls me and we chit chat for a bit as the anesthesia wears off. I assure her I am fine, and think about getting more jello. The little boy in bed across from me belongs to the Mennonite woman, and needs to go to the NICU, but there’s a problem getting enough people to help transport him – I tell my nurse she can go help, I have things under control, I’ll be fine. She is about to do when word comes down, I’m off to the next stage of recover and away we go. At this point I realize I still have a catheter. I am not please by this. I ask for its immediate removal. Denied.

I get settled in my room. I have some sort of inflatable bed. It’s very comfy. I have the special massaging boots I love so much on, and my phone. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is about to start and I can have all the Jello I want, and when I am ready, even a sandwich. I make sure I am not dead, because it seems like heaven. Especially the no pain part. No pain. Did I mention NO MORE PAIN. I get a new nurse. Like all of the nurses, she is super nice. She tells me I am staying there all night as there’s been some sort of influx of patients on the Women’s Health wing and there’s no room for me there. I see all kinds of people walking the halls – they aren’t stuck with a catheter. I ask again for mine to come out. Wish Granted. I am even allowed out of bed. I get up and head to the bathroom, just for fun. I have no pain. I am so happy I can’t even explain. I jump back in bed, watch the final episode of SOA, call Andy and eventually get my sandwich. I take several trips to the bath room, roam the halls for a while and finally fall asleep around 2 am. I still have no pain. If I didn’t know better, I’d say I’m still not awake and this is all a dream.

I get up around 6 when the female minion arrives. I remind her that in the ER she said she said she would not be gutting me. I ask her what happened in the ER, because none of the nurses knew the exact details. She tells me that they went in, it was hard to get to, they just drained it and did a bunch of biopsies. I ask about the C monster due to the what I read in the CT scan and she tells me that they are pretty positive that things were normal, but they won’t know until the reports come back, because you can’t tell those things with human eyes. I ask where Dr. K is. She tells me they will be back between 8 and 9 to discharge me. At this point I am starting to think he called it in, and let her do the surgery because I didn’t see him before surgery or in recovery and now he’s sent her in here and I am not even sure he didn’t go back to Disneyland. But I’ll wait to see.

I alert Andy to come fetch me. I am starting to have pain from surgery but not pufferfish brutality. I am told to wean of the perocet first and then the morphine. I get up and head to the bathroom to produce enough pee to be allowed to go home. After succeeding in that area, I am provided with a delightful breakfast of eggs with salsa. I can’t really eat, but I try. The nice nurse who was with me through the night tells me that Dr. K and the minion aren’t coming back but I can go home. I find this odd, and now I am sure he is just a figment of my imagination, but I am going home. I get freed from all of the IV tubes and machines and dress to go home. Run to the bathroom again. When I get back Andy has arrived. I am free to go. Still no pain. It’s a early December miracle. The minion comes back with my note for work, and a pretty prescription for percocet and I am turned out into the cold. Andy and I head home, after stopping for chinese and a chocolate croissant. I am cured.

This brings us to today. The pufferfish remains. He is still under the watchful eye of Dr. K and my close monitoring of my body. There are more tests to be run, but I remain pain free. I am weaned off the morphine (yay) – I have no debilitating pain – I had my one week check up – wounds are healing very slowly, and there was a lot of bruising inside and out. My incision did not start spouting fluid like they did during the last surgery. I can eat a little and sleep a lot. I have lost 40lbs now. Things are looking okay, but I cannot go back to work until the 6th after my 4 week check up and I can’t lift things. This means no holiday baking, not decorating, and only doing things that require sitting or lying down. I drove the car to the Dr. yesterday – I am still recovering from that, but the bottom line is I am recovering and will be able to enjoy the holiday with NO PAIN.
And that my friends, it the second part of the story. I will relay the story of my one week check up at a later date, but it involves minion 2 (the male one). It’s time now for me to return to watching White Christmas and sleeping. Have an awesome holiday and be sure to savor every minute you are with those you love. Eat, drink and be merry. I know I will be when I am gnawing on the bone of my rib roast on Thursday. Tomorrow (actually today) is the annual family Christmas eve dinner. Pictures will be forthcoming and I bought a special surprise that will bring joy to the hearts of many and make the family photo spectacular. I will share that debacle with you all later. Merry Christmakwanzakuh. I hope it’s all you wish for an more.


The Minions Meet Pufferfish…The Beginning.

Well, well, well, I’m back to write. I bet you’ve been wondering if you’d ever hear from me again. It’s been a long haul. I’ve been tempted to write a million times, but when you are on morphine 24 hours a day, you tend to lose interest in things you love, and/or lack the enthusiasm to finish things you start. It was like being in a fuzzy cloud, and one that didn’t feel all that awesome. I knew what was going on, could function, but sometimes my brain stopped dead, and I couldn’t remember what I was doing, or what I wanted to do. What was harder still, is because you “appear” normal, albeit somewhat slower than usual, people don’t quite grasp that you aren’t yourself in any way. Unfortunately, after the horrible experience in September, in which we attempted once again to thwart the pufferfish with drainage, that ultimately backfired and cause me unprecedented pain, I had to try and manage the pain in any way I could.

Until I couldn’t.

Some of you know what happened next, some of you don’t, and for those of you who are new to my blog, this is the true story of a girl and her pufferfish. And the tiny blue pills. And tears, lots of tears. It may be a two or three parter – I have a lot to write about and this morning I’ve decided I am not taking any more morphine, and just going to try to finish my withdrawal from opiates by weaning of the percocet instead – but that’s for the end of the story, and I’m jumping ahead.

It was the week of thanksgiving. I had to leave work early on Monday after court because I couldn’t even sit down – I was on the phone with an agency provider discussing a family and I was in such brutally punishing pain I wanted to scream, drop the phone, and run from the building. As she’s telling me about her concerns I’m fighting back the tears, and trying to get the attention of one of my coworkers to ask her if she could please take me home because I am not going to make it through the day unless I drug myself to sleep. Finally I just said, I’m sorry, I have to end this call, I’ll call you tomorrow and with the kindness of Momma Y, I made it to the sanctuary of my bed and sweet narcotic sleep. I made it through Tuesday, and Wednesday ended up being a ½ day snow day, so I had four days to try and recover. I spent all of thanksgiving in bed. I was supposed to go to my sister-in-laws, but I was suffering and it was best done alone and not in the company of others. My brother brought me food – I ate about two pieces of turkey and a few forkfuls of stuffing and spent most of my time in my bed asleep. On Monday, despite the lingering pain, I tried to convince myself I could go to work. I got up, dressed nicely, and headed off to the office. I made it until lunch time. I lined up some people to cover my on-call, (thank you Amanda and Kaylee, I know you probably don’t read this, but thank you anyway). I called the Dr.’s office that afternoon and they assured me my pain was likely constipation from the narcotics. I disagreed, but I agreed to follow their instructions. Without being totally graphic, it involved taking things to make my body expel waste. It mostly worked, but did nothing to alleviate my pain – it made me feel a little better at first, but that was short lived. I had to stay close to the bathroom – until things seemed to shut down completely. I mean stopped dead. I thought my body had just said no more.

Now it’s Wednesday morning. I wake Andy and tell him I need to go to the ER. We get in the car and I endure the horrific hour-long ride to Hershey. I could have gone to a local ER, but since all of my records are at Hershey and I trust them more, I suffered the trip. Luckily the ER is empty. The triage nurse takes my vitals, and we head off to an exam room – and as we turn the corner, we walk smack into a small group of hospital staff in haz-mat suits who will not allow us to go further – yes, haz-mat suits. They redirect us and the nurse assures me it’s just an Ebola drill, not really an Ebola outbreak but all joking aside, the way I was feeling, if expelling my internal organs in a bloody heap would stop the pain, I was down for it! We round the next corner, and bam! – more haz-mat suited peeps. No entrance. We reroute yet again and finally I am permitted to enter an exam room. The doc comes in, I tell the long sordid story of how I ended up here and my stupid ass pufferfish and tell them my pain is at an 8 after taking 15mg of morphine 3x a day and at least 4 percocet in the last six hours. He orders a CT scan and some dilaudid. Yay for dilaudid. Yay for CT scans. Yay for someone taking me seriously.

Now is when the story starts to get amusing/sad/disconcerting. I’m waiting for a CT scan. A new nurse comes in, a new doctor, another nurse, and every time I have to tell the story of how I came to be in the ER starting with my hysterscopy, hysterectomy and the c-monster treatment. I wait and wait for the CT scan. In the meantime, I get an IV started, and they ask me for a urine sample. I can’t pee. I haven’t drank anything in hours, and frankly, the last few weeks, I can’t pee on demand without pain and a short walk around the house first. So guess what I get? Yep! Catheter. And sad to say, I was perfectly okay with that because I was in so much pain, that couldn’t be much worse. Well apparently it is. But whatever, I am just glad I am in the hospital and they will make me well.

Finally, I’m off to radiology. I get a CT with contrast dye in a cool machine with Minion stickers. I am glad that Hershey understands the importance of stickers on the CT machine. It makes it so much more relaxing. The staff are great, they always joke with me and help take the edge off. Then it’s back to the room. Dr. #1 eventually comes back and tells me that gynecological oncology is looking at the film as there are some concerning developments and they will be over to talk to me because I may be admitted for surgery to day. Nervous at the word “concerning” but relieved that I am not crazy and relieved that there are changes in pufferfish, and that I am not just imagining it, I nod in understanding. It’s okay, the dilaudid is still working, and I’m sure I am going to find relief.

Understand that my doctor, Dr. K, has elected to take his family on vacation this week, so he is not privy to these developments, but they assure me his associate Dr. F will be over to talk to me. The door opens – enter two gynecological oncology minions – and no Dr. F. I ask if I will be gutted today – they say not likely, and proceed to examine me – they ask about my pain, and my use of colace and senna and what’s going on. I ask them about the CT scan – they say they didn’t really see too much of difference, the pufferfish is only “marginally” bigger and there’s a nodule now growing inside, and the fluid is clouding and not clear like it was, but they think it’s just because pufferfish ate the hematoma outside of it. I’m dying of thirst. I’m crying again trying to tell the story and explain my pain. They look at my stomach and notice some (old) bruises. I explain that I pushed again the banister trying eliminate the pain in my stomach, and could have possibly caused them. I also bump into the top of the banister frequently as well, which inevitably leaves a bruise. I am fat, I have a huge belly, I sometimes don’t negotiate well in the middle of the night when I am trying to get to the bathroom. They seem appalled at this. I don’t get it, but they assure me, they will be back shortly with Dr. F. They will have a plan. They are pretty sure I am going home today. They scurry out.

At this point, it’s noon. Andy has been patiently sitting with me, but he has to work tonight, so I try to get someone to come bring me home if I am not going to be admitted, so he can go home and get some sleep. When the minions and Dr. F don’t return by noon, dear sweet Paige agrees to fetch me home and I dismiss Andy. I am alone. Waiting. It’s now 5 hours in the ER. I continue to wait.

Enter Dr. F and the posse. She’s very nice. The dilaudid has worn off and no one asks about by pain level anymore. I can only lie on my side, but I roll onto my back for another exam. Dr. F talks about the CT scan – she says if I was her patient, she’d remove the pufferfish, but she has to wait for Dr. K to come back because I’m not her patient. Great. She uses words like sympathize and empathize and I tell her she has no clue what I am feeling because unless she has had chronic pain herself, she has absolutely no understanding. I need this thing out of me. It is causing me crushing pain, which she proceeds to dismiss as constipation, and tells me I just need to follow the colace/senna regimen for a few more days and it will go away, because my pain is now the result of massive amounts of narcotics, not the pufferfish. I disagree – it may be compounded by it, but it’s the pufferfish, it’s in my fucking body and I know what is hurting me. Then comes the most ridiculous part of the tale – she says her bigger concern is the bruising on my belly. She is concerned that I am trying hurt myself and tells me that she herself gets a little crazy with road rage from time to time and that she will be happy to allow me to stay overnight if I feel the need to be safe and talk to someone. Meltdown mode initiated. Eyeroll commences. I try not to react inappropriately, and through my tears, I tell her I do not need a mental health hold, I need someone to stop the pain. She says, no, no, she doesn’t think I have mental health issues, but just that she is afraid I am doing dangerous things to hurt myself because I can’t cope. I tell her that is insane. I was just trying to help relieve the pressure for a few minutes, because I couldn’t make the pain stop, even with all my pain meds. I don’t need to talk to someone about my pain or how my pain feels. It hurts and talking to someone about it, will not lessen it, extracting the pufferfish will. Thank you very much for thinking I am on the edge of a mental break down, but make my pain stop. She then proceeds to tell me that there’s really nothing they can do, so go home, keep taking pills, and come back and see Dr. K on Monday for my scheduled appointment. Really? 8 hours in the ER, and your response is, head on home and come back on Monday. Unless you want to spend a night on the psych ward, because sure, that’s gonna help. They will do nothing to help manage the pain, but they will help you talk about it. My response, no thank you, I will just go home and cry myself to sleep. Dr. F tells me she has ordered a suppository to help with the swelling in my rectal area. I ask if this will stop the pain – she says it might. Might. Yay. That’s fucking awesome. Another hour waiting for the suppository. 9 hours. I feel not one iota better than when I came in, in fact, I feel demoralized, frustrated, and now, starving. ER Fail.

It doesn’t get better. I go to the hospital cafeteria. I spy the special tandoori chicken wrap. Of course, it’s sold out. Why wouldn’t it be? Curry makes me feel better, so of course there isn’t anything curry flavored to help me. I choose a veggie brie and mushroom sandwich. The lady at that station is mostly ignoring me. Finally she acknowledges me and allows me to purchase some food. It’s cold. So now I have to figure out hot to warm it up. I find a microwave and make it lukewarm. I inhale it because I am starving and suck down a green juice. Sated, I head off to the lobby to await Paige’s arrival. Fortunately for me, there are screaming children in the lobby as well. And potential clients. I only want to go home. Home. I want to take a handful of pills and sleep. Please.Let.Me.Sleep. I could have had just as much success with treating my pain at home as I did here. Children continue screaming. Fucking hurray.

Paige arrives to rescue me and bring me home. I pass Andy on his way out to work, fill him in.

I can’t go back to work – I can’t sit or stand or lie on my back or stomach. I can lie on my side. Until that side goes numb and then I flip. Moving causes pain. Walking causes pain. Eating causes pain. Breathing does not cause pain, but allows me to remain alive, which causes pain. And my mind is still chewing at the fact that the only thing that was offered to help manage this pain was a psych hold.

The days pass waiting until Monday. Monday I see Dr. K. Monday Dr. K will fix me. I drift in and out of painful sleep, spend too much time in the bathroom in futile efforts and spend an equal amount of time rocking myself back and forth trying to make the pain stop.

Of course, this part of the story wouldn’t be quite complete without me sharing the fact that I also can see my CT scan as part of my health record. I can also read the summary. I see the words “potential malignancy” “node” “marginally larger”. Previously, pufferfriend was 10X11X9cm and today, it is 12X12X10cm. In one month. Now, yes, it seems like that’s not much, I mean it’s centimeters. Pufferfish is located in the pouch of Douglas (here’s where you google where that is). There’s this ancient torture device called the pear of anguish. It used to be inserted into the vagina or anus of the victim and then it was opened internally, mutilating them while causing unimaginable pain. It would be slowly increased in diameter to rip you apart from the inside (again, use your google skills for the detail) An 1 or 2 cm increase in the size of the pufferfish = 100 or 200% increase in pain. It’s no wonder that the morphine isn’t even touching this. It’s an internal wedge between my bladder and rectum and it’s making everything else compact so that it can take up the space. Fuck you “marginal” increase – it wouldn’t be so marginal inside of your uterine cavity or if someone started ramming a giant tree branch inside of you that just kept getting wider and wider. It’s like having a baby grow inside in a very wrong area, and without a reward at the end of nine months. I’ve had this thing longer than I carried Andy, I’ve had it longer than I had cancer treatment, I’ve had it too long. It must come out.

At this point my friends, I will pause and leave you hanging for the rest of the story. I don’t want to write a novel as an entry, and this shit’s already three pages long. I will tell you that things have improved somewhat, and will return with details tomorrow, because I know, you can’t even imagine not knowing the intimate details of what happens next. It’s no Sons of Anarchy finale, but if you like medical dramas, it’s all about that, both medical and dramatic. So enjoy chapter one, my friends, and I will return with my next installment tomorrow.