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The Most Wonderful Day of the Year

Okay, it was three days, but that would make a super-long title, and I was trying to be succinct. (As if that ever happens.) I bet you thought I was going to write about Chemo Day, but that’s today, and hasn’t technically happened yet, except for the pre-gaming with Decadron and water and the daily cancer killing tea. I still need to shower and pack my stuff for the day, and am faced with the usual decision of do I take my cute pink back pack and carry the lap-top separately or do I take the black one with wheels? I am leaning towards wheels today because it fits more and well, has wheels, and I’m not feeling my best but I don’t seem to have a cold or ebola, and I don’t have a fever – which is awesome because I was scared I would be sick today and then have to postpone today’s fun fun fun. My chemo-buddy today is Kellie, who I know is thrilled beyond anything to be accompanying me to today’s festivities.

BUT! This entry is about the best three days I have had in a long, long, long, long time. If you have reading my blog, you know Off With Their Heads is one of my very most favorite bands. Listening to their record In Desolation (“Drive” video here) got me through my first six weeks of radiation and all that first round of chemo and their music accompanies to nearly all of my drives to and from Hershey over the last 3.5 years. When I remember my headphones, I listen to Ryan’s Anxious and Angry podcasts at work, or in the car. The music has become part of my support system. Well, Thursday, Andy and I drove to Pittsburgh on what was supposed to be a beautiful day to see OWTH play at Howler’s Coyote Cafe (note: saw no coyotes – I would make a cougar joke here, but I find the term cougar offensive, I prefer tigermom). Their show was amazing, the energy and passion of the band was amazing. They played songs from all of their records, and Ryan was awesome. The energy was awesome. The opening bands – World’s Scariest Police Chases, Barons, and PEARS – were all incredible. I met an internet friend, Erica, her husband Brian and some of her friends at the show – we became friend because we both like OWTH and punk music in general, and surprise, we are both work with kids in the system – I snatch ’em and she assists the ones that the court declares incompetent. After the show, I got to get hugs from Ryan and talk to him for a little while, which is always fan-girlie for me, because I can’t believe someone that I look up to takes time to talk to me. I got to introduce him to Andy too, which was cool. I had to have a drink with him, but alas, Howler’s is a bar that allows smoking, and by the time the shows were over, I was dizzy and shaky and a little nauseous and just wanted to go home. Ryan said they would probably be playing in Philly in September, so I hope to have that drink with him then. It was an amazing night. I also got to meet and talk to Zack from Barons while I was standing outside the bar waiting for Andy to bring the car around. Fucking stupendous night. (and if you read this Ryan – THANK YOU for being who you are – you made my night)

Day two was supposed to be the Warhol Museum, but Andy and I decided that even though it was snowing, we were doing the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, because when I have to choose between becoming more cultured or seeing animals and making animal noises, I will ALWAYS choose the latter. Bring on the Komodo dragon, red pandas, and giraffes. And very sad elephants. And PUFFERFISH. Several different kinds of pufferfish, evil, evil pufferfish. Did I mention that the Zoo is on a hill? Or should I say a mountain? Because it’s a mountain. A huge mountain. And Andy would not push me in a “safari cruiser” IE. wheelchair. So I had to walk. Wearing heavy Doc’s sandals. Carrying water. It was brutal. We probably walked at negative 1 mph. Lots of heaving breathing and a frequently sweating head that was frosted by the subzero wind chill and flurries. It was fun though, spending time with Andy, telling him about the trips to the zoos and aquariums when we lived in California, making animals sounds, trying to find the animals that were clearly not home, and making flattened pennies like when he was 5. Afterwards we went back to the condo, got some great Italian beef sandwiches from a tiny place called Tooties (yum!), then just hung out and watched non-cable tv and napped. Later we got pizza from this greek pizza place called Ephesus, and again, awesome food. We just hung out and talked and slept the rest of the evening.

Saturday, we got up, cleaned up the condo, packed and headed out to an overlook to see Pittsburgh from the top of one many hills. Pittsburgh is an awesome city. We found an overlook, not the one we were looking at because in addition to sucking at taking night pictures all of the sudden, my phone’s GPS takes us to places that don’t exist. Or rather, when asked to take us to a location, it agrees but then leaves us in spots that are clearly not even remotely near where we asked to be. We did get to see a lot of Pittsburgh though, and Andy is even considering going out to Pittsburgh to finish school (YAY, FUCK YEAH!) Fortunately, the GPS cooperated with taking us to Abby Lee Miller’s Dance Studio, where I stalked cars pulling into the parking lot to see if there was a real Dance Mom getting out for class. None were available, but there were the cutest little people being brought to class. The studio was less impressive from the outside that it appears on the TV, but it was still cool to see it. Then we headed to Philadelphia. Did I mention it was FREEZING? Like super freezing. And snowy. We got to Philly by about 4, and hung out with Blaine and Lizz and had a delicious dinner from a real Mexican restaurant called El Jarocho that made scrumptious lamb tacos. Then we headed to see TBR/The Wilhelm Scream/ Pennywise, which was a fabulous show, but in my opinion, lacked the energy of the bands on Thursday, although it was very cool to realize that Pennywise has been a band for longer than Andy is alive, and I finally got to see them with their original vocalist. I hadn’t seen them since 2008. Long time. Unfortunately, I got a horrible horrible pain in my side and had to go stand in the back to try to work it out – we ended up leaving before the last song or two, but at least the pain subsided for the most part. We caught a cab back to Blaine’s to get the car, and headed home. But not before we stopped at Wawa, and got to see two drunk girls in ridiculously high heels almost wipe out several times in the store as they tried to outlast the state police DUI checkpoint. Good times.

We finally rolled home about 2 am. The house was freezing, but honestly, it was a small price to pay for such an awesome weekend. It felt so amazing to be among my people, enjoying simple things with my son, and talking about life and lessons and futures and hopes and dreams, and meeting awesome new people, singing at the top of my lungs to songs I love, and finding some peace in all of this. I basically slept through the next day – I was exhausted. I made it to work on Monday, and realized that if I died that day, I’d have no regrets – not like I don’t have plans for the future – but I was pretty damn happy, and would be okay if there wasn’t anything else ahead – I’d made peace with what could lie ahead. And made arrangements with Andy to be turned into fireworks whether things end in the next few years, or 50. I’m okay with it all. That’s not to say that I am not concerned, and wouldn’t prefer to live another 50 years, but whatever is ahead, I’m gonna be okay with it.

I’m actually finishing this early Thursday morning – post chemo. I’m going to stop here, and write about my Dr. visit and chemo later today, because I decided to wind down tonight with a cocoa-vodka/oxycodone mix, so I can sleep pretty soundly tonight. I also drank a lot of water today, so I am trying to avoid waking up ever hour to run to the bathroom. And I’m still feeling okay with my life, and what’s unfolding in it. The three day trip really refreshed me, reminded me that despite the horror of the last year and a half, from the time the pain started to today, dealing with this stupid fucking disease, I’m learning about me and what matters to me again, and finding the strength to make plans again, even if I still can’t act on them. Life is still hard, I’m still not always making the best choices, but this weekend reminded me of the person inside, and what brings me joy. I just need to bring more of it into my life.

So with that said, here’s some of my favorite pictures from the weekend – I didn’t take any pictures at Blaine and Lizz’s house – I don’t know why because their puppy Pancake is a sweet dog and fun to play with. It was great to see them again, and just hang out. But I am derailing again – here’s the pictures, including the evil pufferfish, enjoy them and come back later today to learn what the Dr. said my future looks like…sweet dreams my dahlings, I will have a peaceful early morning rest, hopefully, before the sickness starts.

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It’s Spring, Bitch.

Yes, I know that spring is still a few days away according to the calendar, but you really should go by my feet. I’ll explain. I hate shoes. I used to be barefoot all the time, but then I moved back to good ol’PA, where life is not cooperative with my need for foot freedom. This means that at some point, I can not longer plod through the snow in sandals. My foot liberty is curtailed when the temperature gets into the teens, or snow accumulated that it covers my toes. On my little escape to Maryland this weekend, my wiggly toes realized that the temperature was above freezing, and plotted an escape. Monday morning, my fake super cheap ugg boots were set aside for an old pair of Doc’s sandal and I called “Spring.” (note: I still think ugg boots are stupid, but I can say they are warm and when they are only 19$, you can’t go wrong – at least the snow doesn’t soak them as quickly, as say, sneakers) So there you have it, I have declared winter to be over. Today I wore capris to work too…

There are other signs as well here in Northeast-kinda-Central PA. Some are clearly evident, others not quite yet, but my springy senses tell me that even those will emerge by the weekend. Mounds of snow are nearly pure black as they always are within a day or two after a snow; the melting snow on the highway reveals tons of garbage pitched out of car windows by nasty pig people or overturned big rigs who can’t drive in the snow. Firecrackers ring out at night. Bath salt heads screaming the street increase in number. The vampire children emerge from their winter slumbers. And before you know it, the pajama pants parade will commence on the main street of town, when all the teen mommas who proudly announce their job is “stay-at-home-mommy” on Facebook will don their finest pajama pants, pop their spawn into a stroller (first dressing the little in seasonally inappropriate garb) and march proudly, sprag smoking twixt their lips with the ash dropping on the kidlet’s head, up and down the avenue. What a sight the herd of future and/or present CYS clients are! Trying to act like they aren’t pushing a baby buggy, their posturing screams “look at me, I’m a fertile breeder” as they try to attract the attention of their next baby daddy. The cluster of children who have children will then mass together at either the notorious One Stop Shop, where you can get birthday cards, cut rate sunglasses, cold cuts, beer, and all of your bath salt and paraphrenalia needs met, or they will move to the corner closer to the town’s main intersection, and sit on the curb, alternately ignoring or screaming at the little person, while they wave to the potential absent fathers as they walk/drive/stumble by. That very same corner where I once hung out with my girls in my wicked youth, when we would wait to be notified where that nights party was, or for some older boys to stop and ask us to go for quarts or to burn one. Things harder to do when you are pushing a stroller. Although from the looks of Team PJ Pants, I somehow believe they probably manage to push those stroller along narrow wooded paths or up slippery slate banks to get to a bush party. Some nights I wish I had a van and the authority to just scoop those poor babies up and get them to safety – but alas, as a caseworker I don’t have that authority without a court order. The final marker of spring will come when the days final hit 60 degrees, and the pajama pants are replaced by shorts and tank tops that would make Miley Cyrus look modest, and those poor tots being carted about are still roaming the streets at 11pm. Then you know, summer is just about here.

Pennsylvania black snow mountains…way to make winter even more depressing that it already was…

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I managed to escape the my mesmerizing hometown, and came down from the tower to visit with my brother and his wife this past weekend. As wonderful as it was to get away, and spend the weekend eating, drinking and watching my family drink to excess and give me tons of great blackmail video on my phone, it was exhausting and I was glad to come home. My brothers, as wonderful as they are, should never sing. They can dance, but the singing…no, never, nyet. But it was a good time, and amazing to be out of my bed, and socializing with humans, and Bailey, my brother’s playful and willful boxer, who was so excited to see so many people, jumped all over me while I was lying on the couch and gave me multiple bruises from his paws as he attempted to lick my head. I am seriously hoping I don’t have to have an exam tomorrow when I see my Dr. because I may end up in a psych hold for real this time because I am so bruised. No Dr, I wasn’t trying to hurt myself, my brother’s dog threw himself on me, and assaulted me. And then it’s a 72 hour involuntary with chemo. How super would that be?

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Sweet innocent Bailey the rescue boxer. (after he ran away from me when I let him outside without his training collar. I swear he laughed at me before he took off)

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Bailey, projecting innocence because he knew he was in trouble

Yes, tomorrow is chemo infusion number 4. It was a little sketchy earlier, because I came home from work and took my nap only to wake up feeling nauseous and with a low grade fever, but it passed. I probably have one now, because I am now on my second dose of my pre-chemo decadron, the lovely steroid that makes me feel 20 degrees warmer than I actually am. Which is why I am up writing at 5am, instead of sleeping. Decadron is also responsible for keeping me from sleeping. It’s intent is to keep me from getting violently ill from the chemo, but as a steroid will, it gives you a sense of invincibility. So, instead of sleeping, I watch the same episode of Vikings three times, did two digital jigsaw puzzles, sorted my snacks for tomorrow, did two loads of laundry, looked for claw clippers, because the toe and finger claws are growing quickly, cleaned out my purse, packed monka-monka, lotioned my feet, scanned some receipts, updated my C.V. with some additional training info, and ate some crackers. I am sure I did other things, I just can’t remember them. Oh right, I made seven hundred trips to the bathroom as I slurp water to try to plump up my veins for the good time poking tomorrow. I am sure anxiety has played a role too. Since I have to leave early today with my chemo-buddy for the day, Ms. Crystal, I might as well stay awake and just forgo sleep. I did have a few naps, after all.

It’s amazing how great my family, friends and co-workers have been, in being my chemo-buddies, giving me rights, cards, gifts, food (especially food). And even what might seem like little things, like text message and calls, just to see how I’m feeling – it means so very much. I am blessed with astounding people in my life. And I can’t forget how much Andy has stepped up to help too – he’s been working a lot of overtime to make sure bills get paid, and buys groceries, and brings me food when I ask. I am very proud of him – he can still be an asshole sometimes, but he’s still a kid – and feel bad he has to sacrifice to help care for his mom. And don’t tell me I shouldn’t, because that’s what moms do. So thank you for all of you who are there for me, even if I tell you I don’t need anything – I appreciate it all more than you know.

It appears that it is nearly time for me to get ready for today’s fun and to eat some breakfast. I’ll be back again soon – til then, aloha, sweet friends.

Photo Extras:

My sister-in-law, hiding under the table because she didn’t want me to take her picture. Then I explained that cameras can take pictures of people hiding under tables –

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My baby brother, my dad and my sister-in-law rocking out to Eminem

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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.

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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.


The Only Guarantee in Life is That Things Will Change

Just a quick update, because I feel like sometimes I just whine and I don’t feel like being that person today – it was a gorgeous early fall day with the blue-est of blue skies and a nice breeze. I made an awesome dinner and spent an hour or two with a good friend and things were progressing nicely. I was sorting through craft shit, had managed to get through another week of not overdrawing my checking account. The car is behaving nicely, I was making crafty things, laundry was getting done and I was, dare I say it, looking ahead to the future – what was next, trying to get past the fear of letting go of things and making huge changes without a safety next. Try to not let the world define me. You know, spiritual and philosophical advances and the like. Trying to find myself.

And the universe’s response to this?

Hey, guess what? Your landlord wants to sell the house you are living in. NOW.

Thank you, Universe. Apparently if I don’t make change quick enough – you will do it for me.

As to what’s next – who fucking knows? All I know is that I need to remember that anytime I feel comfortable in where I am at, and where things maybe going, that it’s all going to fall apart in a few hours so don’t even bother.

No worries – I’ve been here before, and I’ll get through again.

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I’ll be spending the next few days cleaning, not that it’s going to make much of a difference in the way this place looks – but maybe that will be the motivation to downsize even more. Anyone who wants to come over for Disaster Fest 2014, feel free to text or call, and bring a hazmat suit cuz it’s gonna be ugly.


Oh Yeah! We’re Puking Rainbows Again!

So, massive doses of vitamin B, medication, meditation, and writing kept me from sinking into the sucking abyss. You can all go back to poking me with sticks without fear of my mental breakdown again. It’s something you can’t even explain, but I will try to – it’s like waking up one morning and you just don’t even care that you have no money, and no gas, and there’s nowhere in walking distance that you want to go, and the house is a mess, and you have a stack of bills, but that’s all okay, because you’re fine with just hanging out at home, and it isn’t even depressing. Like that giant safe that was dropped on your soul from forty stories above has been pushed off and you can breathe again, and think of sad things without having a sobbing meltdown. You eat things other than chocolate and ice cream. You don’t really care that you aren’t chasing every dream you ever had, you’re just happy that you don’t have to fight to get out of bed, that you are back to considering a future, and the physical feeling of drowning under the weight of your tears is gone. Boom. Like that. Even though I don’t have the power to turn my depression on and off like a switch, some times it comes and goes like someone else has the power to control it. It’s not like anything changed in my life to make it better, it’s just I woke up on a perfectly gloomy day, continued to do the same mundane things I always do, but suddenly, it wasn’t like physical torture anymore. And I am grateful for everyday it gets to stay this way.

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This is a good thing because two year check up is in two weeks. I do believe my baby alien re-inflated itself after the last tortuous surgery, or at least that is what I am hoping. Actually, I’m not hoping that it did, I am just hoping that that is all that is wrong, because something is, and rather than whining about it, I’ve been just patiently waiting for the next day of probing to address it. It’s not like waiting a month would really make a big difference anyway, but I’ve got pain and weird sensations going on in ground zero and I know something is up. I’m pretty sure I’m still cancer-free, but I think that the poking around at the chrysalis in my former uterine cavity did little to eliminate the problem and was just a stop-gap, and at some point it’s gonna be either me, or a qualified surgeon, going in there with a knife and cutting that shit out. And if it is cancer, well, not much I can do about that except treat it – it’s not like it’s flesh eating bacteria or a bot-fly larva erupting from my skin. See? I come out of the darkness, and I’m all like, who gives a fuck? For the record, Vitamin B is nasty, but clearly works. Or I believe it works, and thus I prove the placebo effect valid once again.

puking_rainbows_for_real_by_pacifictoast-d2xv9byHopefully you are all breathing a sigh of relief at my return to normalcy. Normalcy is relative though, and I’m still pondering the secrets of the universe and scheming great schemes. Andy has agreed to go to Riot Fest with his mother, and I am buying his ticket for his birthday. The last time we went on vacation together was when he was five and we went to Disneyland for a week for his birthday – Riot Fest will be much like that trip, except, I won’t be charged with child abuse if I smack him in the head for being whiny. In other words, he will fall asleep in the car, whine about being hungry, complain about the music I am listening too, wander away and want to go in the opposite direction of wherever I want to go. And like when we went to Warped Tour to see AM! and Pennywise, he will spend all his money, and come looking for me only when he is covered in mud and has lost his shoes and is hungry. Mother and son bonding at its finest. If you want to join us, let me know – I will be staying in a hotel – he wants to stay in a tent – or the car – or on the ground – and as he will ditch me to see the bands he wants to see once inside the gate I will technically be alone. We’re driving because I love a good road trip. You can get tickets on layaway, which is the only reason we can afford it – because the universe has some sort of issue with me having a bank account with any sort of substantial balance in it (grasshopper).

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Well friends, it’s almost time to make something for dinner. Maybe if you are lucky, I will make something amazing and you will be treated to pictures of it on FB.  Have a great rest of the weekend, and Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful dads out there, including my “son” Corey, and my dad, if he’s ever allowed to return from where he is being held hostage at my brother’s home (detention camp) in Maryland, and to all the moms out there who are filling in as dads. And the men who are like dads to the dad-less. Fight the power!

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Black and Tan and Blue

I’m waiting for my laundry to get done so I can hang it up in order to be dry for the morning work. I suppose I should do this earlier in the evening, but I was unwinding from another troubling day of working for the man.

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As you may or may not know, I finally made it to the ocean. The Atlantic, not the Pacific, but the sound and smell of the sea took cleared away a lot of things that can only be washed away by something so vast and timeless as the ocean. I needed that. For those of you who have not seen both, I have to be honest when I say the ocean in northern California is a far more powerful force, even on calm days, than the Atlantic in New Jersey. Not to mention that the shell selection is somewhat better, and there’s more beach glass, and sea otters and sea lions, maybe an elephant seal. But still, the ocean soothes a lot in me. And made for a delightful Mother’s Day, even though it meant spending much more money than I intended to. I am somehow okay with that though, because every cent was worth hanging out with my son and laughing. It reminded me of when he was a little, and we would take road trips and adventures to see and do things we hadn’t done before. I miss that. And I miss the spontaneity – not many people I know are willing to do things at the drop of a hat, and thanks to my excellent child rearing skills, Andy has that inherent spontaneous streak. The beach trip came about at breakfast when I said, hey let’s go to the beach, and he said okay, but I need to go change first. And within an hour, we were on our way. It reminded me of when he was just a toddler and we would be leave the house to head to work/daycare and I would look at him, call “mental health day” and he and I would head to the ocean. Or the zoo. Or a park.

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And, as you may or may not know, during the beach trip, I learned some important information, which I believe should be shared. Large rocks at the beach are slippery if there is moss on them. Also, slippery without moss. Cement piers are also slippery, with or without moss. Women of my age should be careful on any of these things, lest they fall, as I did, and almost drown in the ocean/smash your camera/kill your ipod/get covered in blood, moss and sand. I also did some serious damage to my unscraped knee. It is getting better – but I keep thinking back to my fall, lying there like a giant beached pilot whale, flopping around as I tried to get up on the very slippery moss. Ah, a mother’s day to remember. My right leg looks like I was mauled by a demon too. Reminded me of the time I was going to showcase my mad skateboard skills for Andy and immediately had the deck shoot out from underneath me and I fell, slow-mo style, to the ground and smashed my head into the drive way. Days to remember.

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Well, I do believe the laundry is ready for my attention. Tomorrow, or today, depending what time you are reading this is “hug-it-out-hump-day” and I encourage you to drop your inhibitions, invade the personal space of friends and coworkers and hug the shit out of them. They might scream or tell you that it is unwelcome or unwarranted, but deep inside, they want them. Don’t let the mace or threats of legal action deter you.

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Good night my friends.

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btw, the title comes from the fact that I had Yuengling Black and Tan ice cream, and I was blue because it was all gone. sigh.

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Idioglossia. Idiocrassis. Idiomorphic.

There’s a Dr. Suess alphabet book that has a corresponding video. When Andy was a wee one, I’d plop him in his rocker chair and let the idiot box tend him while I snuck away for a cigarette. But I can still hear the video play in my head, big I, little I, what begins with i? as I sit down to do these entries. Clearly I am behind. I don’t even know what letter I am supposed to be on. I write them and then I save them, to post them at work before my day starts or on break or lunch or after work. Never on work time. Never. I would never misuse work resources inappropriately. Never. Anyway, this is why they appear in lots of three or more entries at one time. Sorry. But the fact that I have made it all the way to I is pretty impressive. And that I am still interested in writing more. That’s not to say that I won’t be glad to get through my alphabet, but I’m somewhat impressed with myself that I continue to indulge.

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So what begins with I?

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Introspection. Something I have been doing a lot lately. Impulsivity. Impetuousness. Like this past Sunday, I made the road trip to see my brother and his wife in Maryland, and every time I got near an interstate that I knew traveled from the east coast to the west, I just wanted to say fuck it, I’ve got my retirement money if I quit my job, I could live on that for a few months until I find a job. I can leave all this shit behind, hit the road, don’t look back and start somewhere fresh and new. Today. Well not exactly today, it would have to be Friday, when I got paid, because I would need gas money. Oh wait, not then either, because technically, the car is in Andy’s name. So that would be like theft. And that would lead to that other I word. Incarceration. I have spent enough time just visiting with clients at Schuylkill County Prison to know that I do not like that I word. Then there’s the other I word that rears its ugly head. Insurance. The health kind. Because I’m only coming up on two years cancer free, and I have three more to go, before I can comfortably say, let’s go, and get out of here, because I don’t need your stinking health insurance any more. This brings me to another I word…impatient. Because I don’t want to wait. So for now, I’m immobile. And looking inward, imagining what it will be like to return to my life on the opposite side of the country. And those are my I words.

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And since today’s letter is I, let us not neglect the other powerful word, intoxication. Which despite the pictures and multiple facebook posts that occurred on Saturday night, I truly was not. I was feeling quite pleasant, but hardly intoxicated. Not like some people who wore chicken suits or engaged in the very sad white boy dance party. A good time was had by all though. And a very necessary one.

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So enjoy this drunken chicken picture from Diane’s Adventures Below the Mason-Dixon Line:

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And some more I words: inferiae, ingluvies, innominate.

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Onto J. You’re gonna want to stick around for that…we’re talking justice.


Hwyl

Hwyl is the emotional state capable of arousing intense eloquences.

Let’s see if we can achieve that here. I’ve already written a few paragraphs and then deleted them. Not happy or hopeful enough.

So let’s talk about home. Because lately I’m thinking a lot about what home means. I have a house. Well I rent a house. A big house. For me and my son. We’ve lived here for almost ten years. It still doesn’t feel like home. It’s a building, like a storage unit where we sleep. It’s never felt like home – always a temporary stop in finding home. It’s in my home town. Near my dad’s house. Where I grew up, and never felt like home. Just another place to keep my stuff temporarily. I’ve never really lived anywhere that felt like home. And weirder still, when I dream of home, it’s an ocean. A beach. Not a house. A small beach, with crashing waves. Maybe I’m a former elephant seal. Or walrus. Who knows? But home is an ocean. But for now, home is a box. With things in it. And most of these things were bought to try and make it a home.

Yesterday, when we were driving home, we were behind an airstream trailer. I told Andy that the airstream was my dream home if I couldn’t have a little stone cottage near the beach. Because I don’t know what it means to stay in one place. I’m a nomad who is stuck. Home isn’t meant to be a place for me but a feeling. And I haven’t found it yet.

So h is for home. And the hope I’ll someday find one.

 

and because you are waiting for them:  hadeharia, haslot, helminthology


Cynanthropy, cromnyomancy, cell phones, crepitus

well, I kind of fell asleep right after work the last two days. Of course then I wake up in the middle of the night, panicked that I didn’t do my blog entry. Well, not exactly. Tonight it was the pinging of a message on my cell phone.

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If you know me, you know I don’t obsessively check or text my phone like some people. I usually can’t even find it or I left it at home, or forgot to charge it. Part of the reason is because it’s old and small and not very useful for much other than playing words with friends, text messages, taking pictures and checking the weather. Nine times out of ten, to do most things I have to restart it and wait. So I’m useless in an emergency.

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I clearly have a love/hate relationship with my cell phone. I know I need it for emergencies, and it can be useful to communicate with people when you can’t say things out loud, but sometimes when I am with people who are constantly checking their phones and texting it makes me feel like I am somehow boring them or less important than whatever is popping up on their screen. I know it seems like forever ago, but there was a time when you could go out to dinner with people and no one had a phone to check. And conversation ensued without interruption. And the world managed to go on without you while engaged in human to human contact. I like conversation, and I hate having one where the other person is looking at a screen while I am talking to them.

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There’s something more evil about cell phones though…

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No filter. You can type shit and hit send and nothing can stop those words from flying through the ethers and hitting the screen of the person who is the unfortunate recipient. No filter, no second thoughts, no pause button. Your nonsense is now in my hands. You will regret sending it tomorrow, but for now, I’m reading it and having to respond to it. Or not. Typically, I don’t really pay much attention to the phone once I am home. If you want me, you will call me. But late at night, (and maybe this is a mom thing) if my phone is pinging or ringing after 11pm, I’m sure it’s an emergency. Andy will attest to that – I immediately switch into panic mode. So if you ever want to get my attention, send me a text at one am. And make sure it is vague but threatening and able to make me fearful of what your intentions are. Make sure that when I respond with care and concern, you reply with some drunken nonsense and tell me to fuck off. Because you are the one who texted me in the first place. Drunks and cell phones don’t mix. It reduces a normal adult to an insecure, moody, unstable 14 year old in a matter of seconds. And you can’t take your text back. It’s now in my phone as a reminder that you should never ever drink. Ever.

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Dear readers, please do not drink and text. No good can come of it. Not for you, not for the recipient. Just say no.

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This was a public service announcement. I am crawling back into bed, and will return tomorrow with the letters d and e. Unless I remember there’s a Game of Thrones marathon on free HBO. Be well my sweet peeps. (get it? Sweet peeps. Because peeps are marshmallow and marshmallow is sweet?) Hey, don’t judge, it’s three am.

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Creatophagous – carnivorous, flesh eating.

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Clinophilia – passion for beds

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20100330-Whataburger-burgerand finally – chevaline

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I am realizing the English language has an awful lot of words which normally we are unaware of and will likely never use. I for one am adding chiliomb to my daily vocabulary as soon as I find a reason to use it in a sentence.