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‘Twas A Couple Days After Christmas…

Hey there! How was your holiday?

I hesitated on writing this entry because I didn’t want to be a buzz kill, but of course, my self then reminded itself that this is where I go to make the bad go away, and decided I could be happy and sad in one entry and just be done with it. And post pictures. Pictures are always good. And if you don’t want to have any of the sad stuff on you, you just don’t have to read it.

Christmas eve was pretty good. I made crab and shrimp korma. Delicious. Dinner was also okay. I was late, but only because I figured everyone else was going to be late like they were last year. Apparently not. But even when we go there, we couldn’t just get to the business of eating because there needed to be more ice purchased and beer retrieved. We eventually ate, as usual, the prunes, mushroom soup and seafood dishes. Amy put bacon in her shrimp dish she made, not knowing that my family believes that you aren’t supposed to eat meat on Christmas eve. They’re wrong, but I don’t even bother going there anymore because apparently no one but me paid any attention to those Vatican council things in catholic school. Two days of fasting only. Ash Wednesday, Good Friday. Even though I am not longer catholic, or even christian, that shit was drilled in my head by nuns, and will remain a part of my knowledge base forever. Of course, since it was Amy, it was laughed off, but had it been me who dared to bring meat to the Christmas Eve dinner, I would have been banished to eating in the car and ridiculed the rest of the evening. I love you Amy, sneak bacon in every year. So we ate, and then we waited for the nephew(s) and niece to show up for the secret Santa exchange and family photo. After the photo, we are free to leave, but no one leaves until the photo is taken. But I get ahead of myself.

Much of the holiday evening in spent on the back porch because it’s too hot in my dad’s house for anyone to be comfortable for any extended period of time unless you are dressed for summer. I remembered this, and wore shorts and a sleeveless top. Even so, the evening was much more comfortable outside than in, and since my family home is in an alley, it was convenient location for regular medication administration for me. I only had to comment on the racial slurs and reference klan meetings twice. Finally it was time for the exchange. First, we had to debate whether or not we change the way the way we do the exchange (20 minutes) and then another heated discussion about who should go first (10 minutes). Finally, we decided on youngest to oldest. I wanted the box with the sock monkey on it. I didn’t get it. Since I am the oldest child, I went second to last, as only my dad is older than me. I elected not to steal anyone elses’ gift, and picked a box. Here’s where the fun starts. Inside is chick-fil-a cow in a Santa suit in the package that reads promotional item not for resale. I only wish there was video of me saying “oh, it’s a chick-fil-a cow” and then moving it out of the way to see what else was in the box. Tissue paper. Under that, nothing. Nothing taped in the lid. Just a 5in stuffed cow in a Santa suit from a restaurant I won’t eat at because I am opposed to their anti-gay positions. Double insult. Not that I really care all that much about getting a gift, because quite frankly I rarely get things I want, and I really don’t need anything besides an Amazon Fire TV stick, and I am getting that on Friday. But the irony of the situation – I spent all week making sure I met the 25$ minimum and selecting the perfect gift that would be enjoyed by whoever got it. And I got a cow. Oh well. My brother did give me his PSP business card in case I get caught speeding, and a gift certificate for another float in the isolation tank, which is exciting, and I won 25$ on lottery tickets, so it wasn’t a totally bust. Here’s the cow…

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Next was the photo – which didn’t take nearly as long as it usually does – and probably turned out pretty well, although I never get a copy. This year we had new guests in our home, Andy, Buck and Mike C, and they were unfamiliar with the practice that if you are in the house when the photo is being taken you immediately become family and are expected to be in the photo. This added a few extra shots. I stood in the back row next to Jamie, who had his arm around my neck so tightly I thought he was trying to strangle me. I did manage to get my head semi-erect for a couple takes. The rest I just gave in. My neck still hurts. Which one of my brothers is Jamie? He’s not, but Jamie is always included in our family photo, and we don’t even take it until he’s there. He’s my youngest brother’s friend. This year, his new girlfriend joined our family too. Finally it was over and we were permitted to depart.

Andy had told me he wanted to put up the last tree, the one I call the memory tree, and decorate it on Christmas eve, and I agreed. He was planning to go out for a bit, and I told him just to get the tree fluffed and the lights on and we’d finish when he got back. I reminded him to put the top of the tree on before adding the lights. I went next door to hang out with the Rooney’s as usual after returning from Christmas eve dinner, but had to leave early because my body was shutting down from all the activity and said to go lie down. I returned to our abode to see the tree Andy was going to fluff and light looking like someone was trying to tie it up with lights. And none at the top, because the lights went on before the top of the tree. I started to take them off, but when I found they were wound around the tree like a yo-yo, I decided that I’d wait for Andy to to come home and take them off. And I fell asleep.

Lo around 2am, Andy came home. I asked him to take the lights off the tree. He was pissed because he was proud of the job he had done. I insisted and he started to spin the tree around like the head of Linda Blair in the Exorcist. I was afraid the trunk of the tree would split because it was squealing like a piggy. Finally the lights were off and I told him to go to bed, and I would fix the tree and the lights, and we’d decorate in the morning. So at 4:45 am, I returned to bed, the tree properly lighted and starred and fluffed. Around 8, Andy came to ask if we could open presents. I said when the tree was decorated. But I wasn’t getting up yet, so it would wait. I relented about 10, we decorated the tree and proceeded to presents. Andy was very excited to give me mine. My first two were an adapter and USB cord. The third was an iPad mini. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. I turned it on and it went nuts. We tried to hard reset it and nope, not working. So day two of gifts went afoul. Although Andy was thrilled with everything Santa brought him. Especially his new turntable. He was very happy. And he told me I outdid myself with decorating. I returned to bed – the pork for the enchiladas was cooking and I was exhausted. In fact, I spent almost all of Christmas asleep. My body was not allowing movement even if I wanted to. Which was okay – we got Chinese and just chilled. It was a perfectly happy Christmas No stress, no drama, just quiet, and my son.

Here’s the pictures of some of the highlights of the house where Christmas threw up. Andy and I got these really cool painted cinnamon ornaments from a friend of his. They are awesome. I didn’t include the white tree because I couldn’t get a good picture yet.

So that’s the good. Then there’s the sad – like when you realize that you don’t need to go after Christmas shopping because you are not expected to be here next Christmas, so don’t go investing in Christmas displays for next year, because it just might not be happening. I don’t want to say that I have given up hope on that, because I haven’t, and I want to say I believe in my gut that I’ll have another Christmas, it just seems silly to plan a year away at this point. It’s just a reality I face. The days go by and I wonder if this is the last time I will do this or that and the worst is wondering how Andy will get by without me around and I am just so glad I was able to give him this amazing Christmas. Even though I suck and didn’t get around to making Christmas cookies, but there’s still time for that, they’ll just be new years cookies. And today, I found out that a long time friend’s sister who was dealing with cancer, passed away right before Christmas. And I had just sent her a Christmas card, and I thought how sad it is that my card didn’t get to her before she passed, and how difficult this must be for my friend, who was very close with her sister. And I think about them both having to face this nightmare and how it takes and takes and takes and what a mind fuck it is. And I think of all the platitudes people must be saying to my friend, how she put up a good fight, and she was strong (which I am sure she was) but the bottom line is that no one should even have to deal with this. You shouldn’t have to be a “fighter” or a “survivor”- as if she had any control over the rouge cells that attacked her body. Cancer really sucks. It robs the world of some very bright lights.

My next doctor appointment is on Monday. I am nervous about what is next. My biggest fear is not pain or chemo or sickness, but having tubes stuck in me again and having my ability to go about life relatively normally stolen. I can’t do that again. It really affected me mentally and physically. I am still trying to get back to “normal” – which is hard since I bleed all the time – and am once again adopting that luxurious pallor of the undead. The bleeding has me a mite unnerved, but again, I will take it over tubes any day of the week. I am just hoping that when I get sent to get scanned again that things are looking better than ever, and there’s a little mer-person spotted in there with trident stuck into the pufferfish. I am nauseous most of the time now, from the stupid chemo pills, but I have managed to pack on 10lbs over the last week from what I believe was eating chocolate and pizza in my sleep.

Wow, all that to say I was bummed thinking about how there may not be another Christmas in my future. I guess sometimes you have to take the long way there. Now it’s time for another bad movie on Netflix, and some more medicine and sweet, sweet sleep. I won’t be back until the new year, I have things to do. Now go on, and go hug your people tight. And say I love you – a lot. Happy New Year, for those who believe in that sort of thing. Me, I never understood why we get so super drunk and happy because we’re one year closer to death – and this opinion was formulated long before I ever was diagnosed with the c-monster. Dream sweet dreams.

Edit: You may or may not know that I usually come back a day or two after I post these entries and correct spelling, words I never completed and grammar. I am never going to be a proofreader. What I did notice is that these pictures do absolutely no justice to the real magic of the house where Christmas puked. Maybe I’ll take video tonight. I really is a magical thing.

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Pufferfish’s Christmas Surprise

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Beating Back the Blackness

So as I was shoving that third piece of pizza into the yawning chasm of my mouth, I finally gave in and accepted that I am sunk in blackness and I was stuffing my feelings. Also why I have put off writing for so long again. Because I’m a scaredy cat. Not like a cheetah or a lynx, but like a big ol’ cowardly lioness. And it’s paralyzing.

I promised myself that I would write first about the good things, because there have been a lot and when I look back at them, I feel like a whiner for feeling the way I do. Of course that doesn’t make my pain and weakness go away, or make it any less valid, but I am grateful for so much and for the people in my life, and I don’t say it enough. So let’s do this, and if I am not ready to pass out when I get through the good, then we’ll move on to the bad. If not, there’s always tomorrow.

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OWTH

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Silent Bell

So first there was the fabulous road trip to Minneapolis. Once again, Andy and I hit the road for punk rock adventure. Andy got me tickets to Dillinger Four’s 21 birthday 4th of July Show at the Triple Rock in Minneapolis. We drove straight from home to Minneapolis, speeding through the dark night through the states of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Well, okay, it was getting a little light out as we drove through Chicago, but for the most part, dark Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio are similar to the daylight version. Wisconsin was pretty and has a curious number of large animal statues at different roadside shops and hotels. Like a giant moose. Or a giant mouse with cheese. There were more, but Andy wouldn’t pull over for everyone. Minnesota is also quite lovely. We hit the aquarium in the Mall of America, which was small but very cool, unlike the Mall of America, which is, though large, a mall. Okay, okay, it has an aquarium, and that Nickelodeon amusement park area, and a way cool lego store, but bottom line, its a mall, and the massive amount of people and the mindless consumerism reminded me of why I shop online. Of course, that was the first time during the trip my body betrayed me and we headed back to the hotel, which was fabulous. My sore sick body fell in love with the bed, and even more so after I swam for an hour in the pool. The next day, we went to the Minneapolis sculpture garden which was very cool. (Note to self: EARLY mornings and LATE afternoons are best to be outside when your body likes to randoIMAG2366mly overheat to 1000 degrees throughout the day.) They have a giant spoon with a cherry on it that’s a fountain, and a bell that doesn’t ring, for which Andy and I posited theories about what a silent bell represents before moving on to two sculptures which we both decided were representative of vaginas. Once again I had to retire to the hotel to rest before we could go to the D4th show. After a quick nap, we headed out to the Triple Rock. The show was amazing – albeit hot – and I hid behind a tree most of the time avoiding sun. Even cooler than the show was getting to meet Ranae and hang out with her at the show, not to mention that Ryan gave me an awesome gift of the vinyl Jesus and Mary Chain’s Darklands, which is my favorite record of all time. I also got to meet a bunch of great people and make fun of a selfie stick. After the show, Andy and I went back to the hotel to catch a quick nap before the after party, but Andy is a still a young pup and he fell asleep so I ended up going back to see The Underground Railroad to Candyland by myself, which was a big deal, since I never have gone to a club in a strange city by myself. I was glad I did, because they were amazing. Really, every band that played was excellent, we missed some of the openers, but thanks to seeing the line up posted on FB, we got there in plenty of time for OWTH. We also saw Toys That Kill, Dillinger Four, Lftr Pllr (the special guest whom I never heard before but were amazing) Scared of Chaka, Tim Barry and Against Me! It was just one of the best days ever, and after the show, I went back to the room and tried to trick Andy into letting me sleep in, but no, he was up and ready to head back at the crack of dawn. So with a stop at the cheese shop where we bought a ridiculous amount of snacks, we headed home, tired, bruised, but happy happy happy. And Andy and I had only two screaming matches at each other during the whole trip – once at 5am when I needed to pee and couldn’t find a bathroom and the second when we were stuck in traffic in Chicago for 2.5 hours because of those damn hippies at the Grateful Dead thing going on there. Still, it was a fantastically fun weekend and I am so glad we did it. Plus spending the time talking with Andy always is worth it. And Andy got a ton of fireworks that could not be purchased here, so he was very happy too.

Then I got to see two of my oldest and dearest friends, Donna and Denise, who were in town for a wedding. It was 15 years since I’d seen either of them, and it was like we never had been separated. We drank and laughed and looked at photos to point out all the people we knew who were dead. I also got to see all of the kids, which was great. Then we also got together for breakfast which was another laugh riot. It would have been complete if our friend Anne could have joined us, but she had an event that she needed to prep for, so hopefully another time. Nevertheless, we had a blast and we need to not wait so long to hang out the next time.

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me, Denise and Donna

After that, my friend and former common law domestic partner, Debbie, her husband, kids, and her parents, brothers, sister in law, and niece and nephew came to Hershey to meet Andy and I to hit Chocolate World and get some dinner. I hadn’t seen Debbie since Andy’s graduation, and I hadn’t seen her family since Andy was 10. It was a day of great hugs, great laughs, and fun. The girls, Tyler and Kylie, are gorgeous and I adore them. And again, it was like the miles and the years between us just disappeared, I only wish we had had more time to just hang and talk, but I’ll find my way home to the west coast eventually.

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me and Deb

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Jenn, Kellie, Sue, Heidi and moi

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Komodo Dragon

Then was my surprise trip to DC with my friends from work. We left early Saturday and got to DC around noon. After a fun drive with mimosas and my breakfast of brownie, we parked and headed off the Natural History Museum. Now, you may or may not know that the National Mall is under construction which means if you want to get to something on the opposite side you must walk ALL THE WAY AROUND. Now, had I known this I would not have worn my black OWTH shirt and would have applied sunscreen, but I trudged through the heat (and it was fucking hot) darting under shade trees as we traveled along. We paused for rest and put our feet in the fountain on the mall, which was enjoyable until you realized how warm the water was. I saw my favorite strange bunny sculpture,  but my phone dieIMAG2453d so there are no pictures. We checked out the museum, which was crowded but fun, and then took a pedicab back to the hotel which was ultra fun, as I waved, queen-like, to the masses as we traveled. The guy who pedaled our cab was interesting and it made a great way to get back to the hotel. The hotel was very cool, and I had my own room, with another one of those comfy beds. When we got back, we grabbed some drinks and headed up to the rooftop pool, and I got kicked multiple times by a rambunctious child without parental supervision. My leg buckled under me after getting out of the pool, and I had a major cramp, but it went away, and and after a nap, I had a brownie and we headed out to the dinner cruise on the Potomac. Our cab driver was an idiot and it took us twice as long to get there as it would have if we walked, but I couldn’t handle anymore walking. The cruise was very nice, the food was awesome, and I ended up hanging out with Jenn on the observation deck most of the night, just enjoying the night air, the lights on the shore and sailing. Unfortunately there was non-stop “cool jazz” playing and it was making my eyes bleed by the end of the night. After the cruise, we’d planned to go to the hotel bar, but once I got to my room, I was cooked. The next morning we got up and headed out to the National Zoo where we rented me a scooter and began the zoo adventure. Unfortunately, the red pandas were unavailable, and the elephants under quarantine, but the Komodo dragon poked his head out when I got to his enclosure. We got to see some special “double turtles” (see photo) and vultures. I tried to race a cop who was on a segway, realizing after I IMAG2478dared him that I had had a brownie for breakfast and probably shouldn’t have been driving a scooter at all, not to mention racing cops. There were three lazy pandas there though and that was pretty awesome. We made it through the zoo by noon before it got REALLY hot (it was already blazing by then, and not even mid-day). After the zoo, we were all really tired, and headed back home. We stopped to get some fabulous Thai takeout and have lunch at Quaker Steak and Lube, which none of us had been too, and now having been, really have no desire to go again. Tired, and full we finally made it home. It was very fun, and I am jusIMAG2573t glad none of us were arrested. What was even moIMAG2466re special about this trip was that ALL my coworkers contributed to it – they had a pot luck luncheon where we all paid $5 for lunch and we brought a dish, and then the next day, we had a reduced lunch for $3 – which was actually a fundraiser to raise money to do something fun for me. I know I’ve said it before, but I can’t say it enough, I work with the best people – our job may suck, we may bitch and moan, but my friends at work have the most generous hearts, and the fact that they did this for me made the trip even more special – I only hope I can return the kindness for others later. Needless to say, after the trip, my body decided I needed to stay home with crampy legs and nausea, but it was well worth it.

And that brings us today. All that goodness took the edge off the gloom that’s clinging to me. I expect I will write more over the next two weeks as I stress about my upcoming CT scan and Dr. appt. I am bummed that my CT scan is the day before Andy’s birthday, and I am going to try not to read the results until the day after, but let’s be realistic, I’m gonna be hitting refresh until the scan is posted on my online med portal. The next couple months will be busy too, we’re planning to go to Riot Fest, and then I have OWTH tickets for September in Philly and Baltimore, and we got Bouncing Soul tickets in October, and if I can manage it financially, and physically, I want to go to Fest in October too. I’ve been putting these things off for years and I need to do it now or it may never happen, especially since I think there may be chemo ahead and the pain that was my constant companion last year, has returned and PA is still lagging on the medical marijuana bill. Sigh. Call your local representative.

But before I go, I strongly encourage you, if you are a fan of OWTH, or Bad Religion, or good music in general, to go to Ryan’s Anxious and Angry web store and buy something so you can get the free flexi of OWTH covering Bad Religion’s Sorrow. It’s amazing. Just buy something from Ryan even if you don’t want the flexi, because he’s a good guy and is super generous, and is always willing to help people out. And because his cat Stray Charles is blind. Or don’t buy anything and just make a donation to suppor the podcast. And listen to his podcast, which is very interesting if you like punk rock and mental health issues, and has helped a lot of people dealing with mental health concerns know they are not alone. Really, it’s worth the listen. And now it’s time for bathroom trip 5 tonight and then try and sleep. Let’s hope it comes quickly. Sweetest dreams, my dahlings!


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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Fall Out Girl

Hi there kittens!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Return, Resolutions, Repeat

I'm back....

I’m back….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Minions Meet Pufferfish…The Beginning.

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

Until I couldn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Because Sleep Is My Best Friend

I’m rewatching the most recent episode of Sons of Anarchy. I spent most of the day in bed – I’ve been spending most of this week in bed – due to the never ending pain that writhes through my body and my days like a nest of snakes. 12 days until I have another dr. visit, and hopefully find a stop gap for this stupid pain, other that 24/7 morphine with percocet chasers. So that’s why I’m not writing much – I hate the fact that my days are reduced to whining. I try hard to find beauty, be positive, laugh, but it’s a struggle and feels so fake – but I fake it anyway, because there’s no other way through. I keep reminding myself there’s a reason in all of this, a lesson, and I think back on the last time I was pain free like it was trip to Disney. I remind myself that life is suffering, that art takes pain, blah blah blah, but right now the only thing pain is doing for me is clouding my mind and making me sleep, and a sleep full of crazy mixed up dreams that leave me wondering what day it really is when I wake.

Yeah, I’m feeling sorry for my self. But in other news, this healthy eating thing seems to be working out. And some days I remember that I actually like eating things that are good for me. Even if they aren’t cookies.

I’ll find my way back here eventually – there’s too much in the world that I have opinions about not to.

Peace and pumpkins, people. It’s time to squelch the pain with another pill.panda


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.