welcome to the danger zone

Posts tagged “fear

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.

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 My Days in Poppyland…

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So, I’m trying to wean off of the morphine. I had my appointment with Dr. K. My treatment plan is this: suffer. No, really, it’s manage the pain for now, try to lose 30lbs or the weight of a medium size dog, and then try some laparoscopic surgery in the New Year. Not exactly what I wanted to hear as my doctor was stabbing me in the side saying “yep, your cyst is back and no, I won’t cut you open.” Apparently, the pufferfish is not the toxic life threatening kind of blowfish. It’s just a pest. An inconvenience. A bother. And I’m stuck with it at least a while longer. Because of where it is, and my “fluffiness”, the Dr. would like to see me drop some “fluff” to be in a better place for the procedure. He has said if he goes in and it would be more hazardous to remove it, than it would to leave it be, it’s gonna stay. If he can’t get it with a laser, I’m stuck with it unless something more dangerous grows alongside it or I am impregnated as part of an alien experiment. It’s like a baby I’ll never deliver. Again, another example of me wishing for something and getting it, but only in the universe’s twisted system of fulfilling my dreams.

So my days are now categorized into “manageable” and “unmanageable” – the pain is ever present, but there are days when it is tolerable, and days, like this morning, where it is brutally cruel and tortuous. I waited too long to take a pill, and I was rewarded with two hours of writhing around on the bed bellowing like an elephant seal and looking like a beached beluga whale. And to make is stop, or rather, dull it, I had to double up on the opiates and send myself into a coma for an hour until it was time to go to work. Don’t worry, I am smart enough to not drive on coma mornings. And every time this happens, I make a silent wish that medical marijuana will someday be the law in PA. Because I believe that much of my pain would be squelched by a cannabis brownie.

This will not deter me from the Wine and Whine OTR trip this weekend in which we shall descend on local wineries like thirsty locusts and suck up grape nectar until we tumble back onto the bus. I’ve never done one of these wine tasting trips, but I am looking forward to it. Although I believe there’s some sort of cautionary bit on my prescriptions about alcohol intensifying the effects. Also long as it’s not intensifying the pain, I should be OK.

I apologize for my failure in the witty blogging that you’ve grown accustomed to, but the narcotics dull my shine. I hate not being myself, and I hate being in pain and there’s no happy medium. But I’ve committed to myself to write my way through this, so maybe one other person who is struggling with the magnificent residual gift of the c-monster doesn’t feel insane. They give you all these pamphlets about what treatment is like and what the effects of chemo are, etc, etc. And they show all these smiling “survivors” on TV, all bright and beautiful – but what you don’t hear about is all the goodies that the disease and the treatment leave behind. I’m still having to randomly smell phantom odors (all of which are unpleasant), I’m tired a lot, my hair still tries to be curly, and then there’s this fucking stupid cyst. But there’s no evidence of any cancer, so for that I’m grateful

So since I took my happy little blue pill an hour ago, I’m nodding off as I type, so this signals I should try to get some rest while I’m in the honeymoon stage of numbness. But before I go, I should announce that in my efforts to defluffitize, I’ll be trying to eat in a healthy manner. That means no more “single serving” pints of Ben and Jerry’s and stuffing pizza in my mouth like I am the beaked creature in Beetlejuice whose head practically opened in half. I’ve asked my coworkers to punch me or knock unhealthy food from my hands at the office, so if you see me in a public space dining on sugar bombs, please feel free to do the same. I am somewhat upset that I am trying to do this during the eating season when orange kitkats, turkey cranberry paninis, and warm chocolate cookies are taunting me like tiny demon sprites around my head. And now it’s time to watch American Horror Story, because the morphine and percocet don’t give me enough weird scary dreams on their own.

Peace my pumpkins, be well.


Aside

Mission Gyro: FAILED (or What Maps Are For)

I wanted a gyro for dinner. I was headed to Nesquehoning where there exists an alleged Arby’s that serves this coveted treat. Yes, I know it’s not a “real” gyro. But it’s tasty. And what I wanted. And I was hungry. It’s not really alleged. I’ve been there. And had said gyro. This time however, I was trying to find it from a completely different direction. Yes, I had my cell phone and I could have mapped that shit, but where’s the fun in that? I was going to guess where it was. Bam. Gyro is minutes away.

I know the road where the Arby’s is. I just need to find it. I’ve gone there on a back road before, and though it was in the middle of the night, and few lights or roadmarks were to be seen, (and it was two years ago) I believe I’ve retained enough details to easily locate my dinner with minimal difficulty. Of course I can. Toss in the added factor that I am on a long-acting narcotic, I’m tired and according to my treatment coordinator, it probably isn’t my best decision to be driving, I will still continue on this fool’s journey. I make the first turn of my adventure. Crossroad? Left, right, forward. Um. Left.

Here’s where I tell you that my sense of direction sucks. Which is why I also have a compass app on my phone as well as the maps app. Am I using either of these? No. That would only make sense. And there’s no need for sense on this road trip. I decide at the next intersection that a left turn is in order, because another left turn is probably required at some point, so let’s just go for it. It only takes a few miles on the road to realize I am driving in a direction that is probably directly opposite of where I would find Arby’s because I am on the side of a mountain. I know this is definitely where Arby’s is not. I suppose I could turn around, but I know I’m not going to. Because becoming lost in my attempt to find my way to dinner has just become the allegory of my life.

I can see how this has caught your attention. I will explain. I realize as I am driving along, that the scenery is gorgeous. I know I’m not headed in the right direction. I know what I should do is turn around and find my way back to what I know, but I’m not going to. I’m going to keep driving and see where I end up. The gorgeous autumn colors of the mountains have caught my attention. I’m not paying as close attention to the road as I probably should be because I am looking around. I’m pretty much alone on this road anyway. I spy a lake. I decide to tuck this nugget of knowledge into my “check that shit out another day” file, even though every fiber of my being wants to go see it now. I remind myself I am on a mission, and I am already headed in the wrong direction. My curiosity is forcing me to explore this new road. Normal people would turn around. Normal people would look at a map. Normal people would have looked at the map first. I am not normal people.

This has been my life. I know where I need to go, most times, even how to get there, or how to figure out how to get there. Sometimes I am on the right road, and make a wrong turn, or sometimes I am on the right road and let something else distract me, or sometimes I make a wrong turn right at the start. And instead of turning around and correcting my course, I just plunge headlong forward. I justify it in my head as “learning experience” – sometimes I get so lost that I never get to where I started, but in that journey I get so many lessons and rewards, as well as setbacks and deadends, that even when I fail (IE: no gyro for dinner) it’s okay, I’ll just make do with something else (IE: sucky Turkey Hill mini pizza). This has been my whole life. But so far, instead of enjoying the ride, I’ve been cursing my stubbornness and cursing the fact that I didn’t turn around. I forget what beautiful (and dangerous) things I’ve seen along the way. I forget that the success was in continuing to go forward, despite the obvious signs that this was not how I was supposed to go, but going ahead without reservation. Not traveling recklessly, like crossing into clearly the wrong lane, but sometimes driving onto the shoulder and suffering some bumps until I get back on the road. Sometimes traveling too fast and hitting a pothole that jars me back to reality. Sometimes just losing track of time that I miss out on something else. My life is a series of wrong turns that start off as trips to other places. I sometimes get to where I was going, but even when I don’t, even when I break down along the way, it’s an adventure, and I see a lot of cool things, and sometimes I learn the hard way that some chances aren’t going to work out.

So what did I see on my trip today? Beautiful scenery, gorgeous houses tucked in the woods. Log cabin. An amazing line of gnarled trees to go back to photograph another day. A lake to investigate, a new alternate route to a destination. Knowledge that next time it’s a right turn or straight ahead instead of left and left. Knowledge that Turkey Hill pizza sucks and that I shouldn’t have an energy drink if I am already cranky. Sunbeams. And the knowledge that I just need to keep driving.

So this is the lesson grasshoppers. It’s okay to use a map. That’s what they are there for. However, when you choose not to, you also choose to accept whatever the road you follow brings you to. Good or bad. Yummy gyro or nasty pizza. You can go probably go back for gyro another day, but if not, you can still have other delicious treats. Unless you refuse to let go of your desire for the gyro. This is all very zen.

I leave you with a picture of how you can take something ugly, like the stubs of dead bushes, and turn them into something magical. Or you can leave them like ugly remnants of another life – the choice is yours. Every time I see them I think of the great imagination it took to transform those dead sticks into a roadside coal reef to make the day brighter for every person who takes the time to notice it.

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But wait, there’s more. There’s this tree.

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It’s at the top of a hill. A hill in the middle of a cemetery. You can see death all around it, or a magnificent tree at the top of a gorgeous hill on a sunny afternoon – which leads me to this parting thought…I saw a retirement/nursing home today adjacent to a cemetery. It made me think about the home’s residents – does it trouble them, this reminder that their time is now so limited or is it comforting to have the constant reminder that every day is precious and that the reality of death keeps them focused on the present. Just a thought.

No news from the Dr. BTW. Pain is still my constant traveling companion. Always screaming for attention in the background. Hopefully tomorrow brings answers. But for now, it’s carnage and death, SOA style, my guiltiest of guilty pleasures.

Be well pretty ones. If you’ve got gyros – eat them.


50.5 Hours ‘Til Depufferization

I am so restless. Monday cannot come soon enough. I had to stop taking motrin last night because of its blood thinning properties, and I’m out of tylenol until later so I’ve been nibbling on percocet trying to make the pain go away. It’s not.

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In an effort to distract me from writhing about in bed, bemoaning my situation, I decided to give cleaning out my closet a go. I applied the fifteen minute rule, and actually was at it nearly an hour. I got rid of a lot of things I won’t/don’t want to wear again. There are still some things I can’t get go of including the very Victorian/gothic long black dress I bought trying to hang on to my goth past, and a crushed red velvet mini dress from the same desperate period when I dreamed of returning to my glorious youth. I tried – I event took the black dress of the hanger, but in the end, I clutched it my hands, as my opiate-sotted brain harkened back to the days of pale skin and clove cigarettes and dancing wildly to Echo and the Bunnymen, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and Love and Rockets. Sigh. I realistically know that the dresses will hang in homage to my youth, never to be worn again, the same way there’s a pair of size 5 shorts in a box somewhere from when my short-lived border-line skeletal hips slipped them on one summer day following my high school graduation. Strange the things we treasure. Now, I’m lucky if I could get them over my ankles.

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Even though the pain is still a constant ache despite the medication, the sedative effects are doing just fine. My eyes keep slipping closed and I should probably take a little nap because I’m going to head in to the den of babysnatchers to get a few more things done before I am off on Monday and Tuesday to have my procedure and biopsy done. They pushed the time back to 12:45p so a pathologist can be available when they retrieve the tiny chunks of flesh from SPFXL from snappy steel jaws that will be tearing them out of me. Of course, I don’t expect to have the pathology completed before I am released to go home, even though I secretly know they do because all they have to do is look at the sample and it’s either normal or it’s not. I don’t need to know how normal or abnormal the cells are, I just need to know one way or the other.

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Not that it really matters, because as I was driving back from Pittsburgh on Thursday night, I was on Interstate 99, and if you have never been on it, there are 11 miles of the most beautiful stretch of highway I have been on, outside of Hwy 1, aka the Pacific Coast Highway, in California. The sun had just about set, the hills were green and purple and some of PA’s tallest rounded mountains were rising above the fog that was settling into the valleys amongst the farms and random houses spotting the countryside. It was so magically beautiful, I kept waiting for it to end, and each curve of the highway just became more breathtaking than the previous one. At one point, when the sun had almost sunk below the horizon, there was this lone cow standing next to a barbed wire fence on a hill close to the highway, silhouetted black against a violet twilight and I could not even remember when I saw something so simply marvelous. If I wasn’t moving along at 80mph, I would have hit the brakes and captured it on film. Fortunately, I can still picture it in my head. And I realized, after travelling 500+ miles that day, in the car, alone with my thoughts and in silence most of the car ride, that there’s nothing to fear, no matter what happens next. In that moment, it didn’t matter if I was going to live or die, because everything is connected and timeless. Yes, I had brief reminder of nirvana, one of those glimpses of what being human is all about, and why nothing is ever lost, why we are here, and why it matters, and that whatever comes is just another lesson for me to learn. It’s all going to be okay, even if it seems like it’s not. And I’m okay with that. I forget how strong I really am, and how much I have gone through and how I am so grateful for everything I’ve endured because generally speaking, it has made me the pretty fucking awesome person I am. And even all the not so positive bits, the parts of me I don’t like, are just challenges yet to overcome. Including the SPFXL.

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So now that I have waxed philosophical for the day, I’m off to get ready to face the day and head into work to tackle a few things so I can come back after the probing and get back to the grind. Then it’s off to Presto’s 3rd Birthday Party. Have a great weekend, friends. And if I don’t check in before I’m rocking the CT scanner on Monday while I’m probed like an alien in a secret lab out at Area 51 in Arizona, send me some good vibes – especially that they have some good jello in the recovery area. Peace.


The First Offensive, Second Edition

We’ll be going in to try and attack the SPFXL (see previous entry for clarification) which we determined today to be the size of my small desk fan. I’m just waiting for a procedure date – my treatment coordinator told me that they asked for it to happen in the next seven days, and if they don’t schedule it within seven days, she will call and tell them to make it happen, because I am symptomatic (based on my near-encounter with the ER yesterday). On the plus side, most of today was pain-free, or rather, pain-minimum, because for the last six weeks, I’ve been in pain to varying degrees.

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Like the last attack on SPFXL, when it was known as PF, there will be an attempt to aspirate it, followed by the painful snapping of flesh from the beast itself for purpose of looking for the C-monster. The difference is this time, it will be more pieces of flesh being torn from me, and in more areas to see if there is something that was missed last time, resulting in the return of SPFXL. They still will force me to be awake throughout the whole ordeal, but at least I can play with the monitors and make them think I am dead several times for my own personal entertainment.

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I’m trying to be positive, but pain puts a damper on that shit, especially when it feels like sharp spines in my lower back most of the day. The fact that it is in exactly the same are is a plus, and as I was told, I shouldn’t worry about it, it’s just concerning, not alarming. Of course when you have a blob the size of a newborn’s head inside of you, you are just a tad concerned. I will keep you darlings updated, I’m just not feeling the joy tonight.

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Sweet dreams my pretties.


Pufferfish Becomes Superpufferfish XL

Who ever said ignorance is bliss should have a monument erected to them. I believe I would be so much happier if I was stupid. There’s a price to be paid for knowledge, and for having information at our fingertips on the internet.

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I won’t belabor the issue – my most recent CT scan (yesterday) report appeared online last night. In addition to having a ridiculously low and almost non-existent level of thyroid hormone (I knew it was low, but this was way below the low end of the measurement scale) I had the joy of reading that the former pufferfish has, in less that four months, become superpufferfish xl. That’s right, the pelvic mass that we all thought was defeated in a previous episode has not only recovered but has evolved like a Pokemon, say like a Igglybuff transforms into a Jigglypuff (see images below). It is now the size of a pink grapefruit or softball instead of a common baseball. And being that it is a holiday, and my dear Dr. K is out of the office until Monday, and probably did not feel compelled to check my medical records at midnight as I did, will not see the transformation until Monday, and they are not going to call me until Tuesday. I know my treatment coordinator saw it, because she called me about the thyroid thing, and left a message about that, but nothing about the SPFXL (Superpufferfishxl). Back to the waiting for the news.

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Of course, as is typical, I use the sacred interwebs to research this evolution. Things that grow so fast are often malignant. The only positive I can derive from my online inquiries is that there is no change in the nearby lymph nodes or other organs, which is a good sign. Whatever it is, I will deal with it, but I hate being in the no woman’s land of not knowing. I can feel it fighting with the other organs nearby for space, particularly my bladder and stomach, and it is annoying. Not to mention the pain it is inflicting by its inflation as it rests on the nerves in my lower spine and coccyx. (I should state that I love the work coccyx). Either way, it is going to be jabbed and poked and prodded with sharp needles and cutting tools, and it’s gonna mean that there’s gonna be no Riotfest in my future because I’m gonna have to take time off for hospital visits.

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And I’m scared. That actually goes without saying. To deal with the fear, I’ve been binge eating because nothing conquers fear than a package of limeade oreos, Chinese food and coolattas. Which makes me more uncomfortable. But I am letting myself have the 4th of July to wallow in self-pity. Tomorrow I’ll take an extra effexor, and get out in the world and see some babies I don’t have to take away from selfish, self-absorbed and self-indulgent adults, and remember just how strong I am. And see fireworks. The world is a better place with fireworks. Or explosions. Explosions are good too.

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Celebrate the day, my little firecrackers.

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Deep in the Valley of Pufferfish We Go (aka No Two Year Cancer-free Celebration Yet)

Yeah, I started to write a blog on Saturday. I was full of joy and rage and fear and I was inspired; then I got way-laid, and tried again on Sunday, but then the joys of being a baby-snatcher intervened, and I had work to do. Then it was Dr. Day. And after enjoying a day full of describing and pointing and whining and diagnosing I got home and passed out and woke up at 11pm wondering why it was still dark at 6am, and once realizing it was not 6am, I ate a bundukie (lithuanian meatball, a delicacy) and trotted my sleepy butt back to bed. I didn’t even want to write tonight, but as I ate the last cold bundukie in the fridge, I felt compelled to share the events of yesterday with you, my faithful companions.

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Yesterday was starting out pretty well, for Dr. Day. I won a necklace with a raffle ticket I bought at work, and was awarded my prize when I ran in to drop off the carseat I needed on Sunday. Then I buzzed up to court where the court hall patrol tried to halt me from seeing my client before I took the long drive to Hershey. But I could not be denied, and when he wasn’t looking, I grabbed a quick visit. Then I was off.

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Of course, I should have known when I blew by the poor man who was lying on the side of Rte 209 that this was not a good sign. I barely even realized he was human until I did a double take and saw his hand waving. I pulled over as soon as it was safe to stop (not many pull-outs on 209) and called 911. I was stunned that I was the first person to call 911, because he looked like he was there a while. Once I saw someone else had stopped and that an ambulance was dispatched, I was on my way.

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Being a good Samaritan made me late. Much to my glee, when I was finally called, I’d lost 16 pounds. Then the fun began. The nurse, who clearly did not read my chart as so often happens, asked me when my last period was. I told her it was when I last had a uterus and she gave that uncomfortable chuckle that finding out she didn’t read the chart always brings. She didn’t do any of the usual interrogation that my visits begin with. She tried telling me my blood pressure was high. Why do they insist on telling me my blood pressure is high, when it’s really not? Are they trying to see how long it will take to get it high? Fortunately, her painful encounter with me ended quickly and then it was onto the med student.

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Her name was Sam. She had at least read the chart. I told her my symptoms and whined a while about pain and pressure and how I was sure there was some small animal lurking inside. Or a rock. It does really feel like a rock. A boulder. But it was probably the return of the pufferfish. And then she went out to see Dr. K. He came in ready for me to tell him I’m great. You would think I killed his puppy when I said, I have complaints, I believe my pufferfish is back. And then it got really fun. That’s right, you guessed it…we have to feel internally for the pufferfish, and then we have the med student feel for pufferfish, and then we go back in and jab the pufferfish and confirm that yes, there is a large mass in there. Does the fun end then? No of course not – we then poke me in the stomach and lower abdomen about a billion times and ask me if it hurts. YES, YES, YES! It fucking hurts. There and there and ESPECIALLY THERE. Take the pufferfish out I beg, or give me a scalpel and I’ll do it myself. No such luck. Dr. K makes a grumpy face. He does not like that there may be a return of the pufferfish, but gutting me is not going to be our first move. No. Not even close. I will be the lucky recipient of another CT scan, and once we determine that it is a pufferfish and not an invasive lionfish or even a barracuda, or perhaps a giant ball of chewed gum, we can choose an option. Most likely I will get to have another one of those great draining biopsies like last time, except this time, they will take chunks out of the pufferfish in multiple spots using an ultrasound machine. I will undoubtedly be awake again. No morphine, not sedatives to make me enjoy the whole event asleep. Woo hoo. And no fucking jello.

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If it is a rock or a barracuda, we’ll explore other options. At this time we are not tolerating the idea that it is anything other than a return of the pufferfish, which will require a good poke with a sharp needle several times to make it go away.

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You thought that was the end of the adventure, eh? Not so fast.

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So Dr. K’s apprentice comes back and give me papers to checkout. And off I go. Only to get sent back to my exam room to wait for the nurse who does the surgical scheduling to get me over for a ct scan. Today if possible. She has me wait and while I am waiting I hear my treatment coordinator’s voice in the room across from mine talking to someone who has been told there is a contingent of rebel cells in her body that have created the dreaded C monster. I hear her being told she is on a schedule of 3 weeks on and 1 off and for 3 rounds. I want to cry for her. I hear the most feared words in the universe: Taxol and Carboplatin. And a cold chill runs down my spine. I can only imagine what stage she must be at, and I realize Dr. K was expecting me to be disease free to offset having to tell someone they are seriously ill and I really did kill his puppy.

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The nurse comes back and tells me I’m due in the meat slicer with toy story stickers on Thursday at 12:45. And we’ll know on Tuesday what happens next and when that can be scheduled. And you thought that was it? No, I still have one more appointment today.

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Off I go to visit a friend until the next appointment, which I believe is at 2:30. I am sure is at 2:30. So sure I didn’t even listen to my reminder message. And when I arrive at 2:20, I learn my appointment was at 1:50. I could have had a CT scan at 2:00 today, but I couldn’t because I had another appointment. Well now my appointment is at 3:10 because I missed my 1:50. I could have had a scan. I read my book, writhing in pain because the last 3 motrin have yet to kick in. Then I get ushered into the next exam room. No stickers. I read my book. I finally see the Dr. at 3:40. They take my blood pressure, which is NORMAL, but I’ve gained five pounds since this morning and all I ate was some cheese fries with honey mustard and a water. This is a female Dr. K. She’s a brandie-new Dr. She is excited that I came back to see her. She is glad to see the medication is keeping my blood pressure normal. I tell her I don’t take any medication, it’s always normal. Then I tell her about the problem of the pufferfish and what they plan to do about it. She asks me about 10 times if I see an oncologist or a gynecologist and I repeatedly confuse her when I say he’s a gynecological oncologist. And I’ve seen him for over 2 years. I tell her about the pain and now she thinks I have a kidney infection, and I have to talk her down from that. When I finally convince her I know my body better than she does because I’ve had it probably twice as long as she’s been alive, she lets go of the kidney infection diagnosis. But not until I show her EXACTLY when the pain is. Then she leaves me for about 30 minutes to confer with her attending. I’m still in pain. I’m trying to read to distract myself but all I can think about is how I want to go home and sleep the pain away. At least I don’t have to repeat this appointment for another six months. She knocks on the door and comes back in, and tells me they reviewed my blood tests from six months ago and it appears my thyroid level is really really low. I know this, I saw the results myself. Now she thinks that maybe I have too much medication for that and that is why I lost weight. I find this amusing because I’ve been taking this dose of meds for 18 months and weigh more now that I did when I started taking it. If anything, I need to have my dose increased. I don’t argue the point. I will let them take my blood. On Thursday. When I come back for the scan. Because I am tired, and anxious and need a Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard. Can I be excused?. She starts to insist I come back in six weeks for the results, and I tell her no, I see my endocrinologist in six weeks, so I’m good with six months. We agree, and I promise to lay off the lattes and try to walk more. And I am released into the sweltering summer afternoon.

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And thus the two year check-up and Dr. Day ends. So I won’t be celebrating two years cancer-free yet. Keyword YET. Unfortunately I know there will be some sort of procedure because I can feel this thing myself from the outside, and it hurts. I’m gonna make sure there’s jello for this one, and if I have to have the same procedure again, I’m getting that stuffed animal too.

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And there it is, the story of the two year Dr. visit, and a hiccup in the road. I’m gonna go creep into bed now and drift into air-conditioned comfort, and hope things are going better for that lady in the room across from me yesterday and that man on the side of the road. It’s a real reminder that things could always be worse. So sleep well friends, and enjoy tomorrow.

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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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Good Weekend? Bad Weekend? You Pick.

I came home this evening from hanging out next door with the Rooney’s, enjoying a glass of blueberry wine that I bought at the Pennsylvania Flavorfest, laughing til I cried while listening to Eric Rooney read some of my best impromptu poetry, including “Ode To Mikey” about his dead rabbit only to get some weird facebook message about pictures being posted of me on some ugly people website. At first I wanted to look, and then I decided not to, because one, I just had a weird vibe this was some sort of hacking activity, and two, because why would I subject myself to someone’s need to hurt me in that way (the link this person gave me had my name in it). This of course took the edge off my happy. I was about to launch into a rant hear about bullies and people who do ugly things like that. I was like, really, at my age who really hates me that much and has pictures of me that are, as the person who messaged me put it, disgusting. Whatever, nothing anyone else can say or do can cause me to feel worse about my body as I already do. So sorry mean people, I believe the word is “fail”.

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What that little message did though, was make me realize, once again, that nothing is permanent. And maybe, I should take my own advice, and make a list of positives and negatives and see which wins out in the total score for the weekend.

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Positive: Ryan Young actually had my email to him on his podcast (Episode Number 8, Anxious and Angry – Free on Itunes or here Anxious and Angry) You should download all of the episodes. They’re funny and interesting and will make you think.) He also said nice things about me. It made me happy.

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Negative: I re-read my email and saw that not only did I use some poor grammar, my dumb ass fingers are still switching letters and my brain is still tricking me into thinking I typed one word when I really typed something else. So, if I have spelled things wrong or used the wrong words in sentences, my brain corrects things so I don’t catch it until days later when I re-read something, or in some cases, never.

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Positive: I had an awesome Saturday with Kelly and her boys who are the most delightful littles ever. Rodney even performed a magic show with a rabbit in a hat. We had an awesome lunch and a semi-awesome milkshake. (Note to Sonic – Jalapeno Chocolate Shakes would be awesome if they did not have chunks of jalapeno getting stuck in the straw all the time. Find a way to fix that.)

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Negative: There were so many chunks of jalapeno in my shake, I thought it was salsa.

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Positive: I went to two impromptu barbecues today.

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Negative: There’s none for this really. I had fun. played in the pool with Presto. wrote some side splitting poetry. Ate corn. Drank wine. Can’t really find a downside.

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Negative: Andy was a served an arrest warrant for non-payment of parking tickets.

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Positive: See above, because those unpaid tickets were mine, and the car is in his name.

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Positive: I had three days off from work.

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Negative: My weekend started with having to do something I hope I never would have to do and trying to prevent from happening for almost two years. This was a big negative. Huge. Unfortunate. Sad. Troubling. Some days, work sucks. The only minute, teensy-weensy upside was that I took care of it myself, and no one else had to do it.

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Negative: I can’t sleep again.

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Positive: You get to have one of my more boring, less comical, blog entries.

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Honestly, I’m a little fired up about misogyny, murders, the internet, stupidity, gender inequality, remembering things I forgot to subtract from my bank account, the lack of breakfast food delivery services. I also hate my hair, the fat suit I am living in, the lack of motivation I have to do anything about it, social injustice, climate change and the fact that there is no IQ or other suitability test before people are allowed to use the internet. I need another week or three off. I got some bad news about a friend and my dad has some serious valve issues with his heart and I am not thrilled with the hospital he is choosing to address it.

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However, I got an awesome hug on Friday from a little who wouldn’t let me go until the stress was all hugged out of me, I laughed a lot, I ate good food, I slept, I met an alpaca that was wearing sunglasses, convince a little that his magic wand turned a girl’s hair pink, got to re-live some of the fun that having little kids around brings to your life, spent some time with my niece and relaxed.

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In other words, it was life. And tomorrow will also either suck or be awesome. Since it’s court day, probably more of the former and less of the latter, and I have the paper work from my unpleasant Friday surprise to deal with.

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If your Tuesday is in need laughter, you should check out Ryan’s podcast, really. It may also make you sad, but again, see above, ie: life.

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Be well my pretties. I wish I had flying monkeys.

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Monday Night MERS

I suppose I could go back and read my own blog to see if I blogged about Mother’s Day. But being that I am sure I am suffering from MERS and insomnia, I prefer to just pretend like I did, and say that the injured knee seems to be healing, without medical intervention. I stayed off it all weekend, and it seems to have made a difference. Remember people, just because other people are having fun on the rocks does not mean it is safe for you. Also, remember the larger you are, the faster you will slide and smash into said rocks.

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So here it is Monday night. I rested all weekend only to wake up from a restless sleep filled with nightmares about centipedes, cockroaches, and rabid aardvarks to realize I am infected with MERS. But I had court today, so naturally I had to drag my ailing body to work despite an half hour of retching in the bathroom sink. Now, I know you are saying to yourself, self, how ever did she get MERS? Was she in Saudi Arabia? Of course not, I just asked Web MD, and of course, my symptoms match. They also match food poisoning, and multiple flus and viruses. But I am positive it’s MERS. And I can’t sleep. I have been trying to nap on and off since I came home after court, but it doesn’t last long. I think I am afraid of having more nightmares. I would try meditating but I am also afraid that whatever opened those shoeboxes of fear in my brain will find meditation an opportunity to empty out a few more boxes of terror. My brain has been in overdrive for a few weeks, and we all know what that can lead to.

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I’ve been meaning to write all week and up until I started writing I have big plans for some serious commentary, but now all I can think about is why I have to wait so long for more lives on Maleficent Free Fall, and how much I want to sleep and can’t. I believe my intestinal tract and stomach have come to terms about how we’ll get through the next 8 hours, so all I need now if for the sandman to cooperate. I’m off tomorrow to go vote, so I can sleep in, but first I have to sleep. The vampire children have even been unusually quite for this time of night so I can even sleep with the window open. I’d go get a cup of chocovodkacocoa if I didn’t think it would make me sick all over again. Maybe I’ll just watch the season finale of Vikings again for the 37th time.

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Be safe my readerlings, I’m gonna go do a jigsaw puzzle and see if I can fall asleep with the computer in my lap.