Friday, December 19, 2014

It's (Not) A Wonderful Life

I've always loved It's a Wonderful Life. I mean, seriously, like always. Of course I was one of those nerdy kids who loved old movies from the time I could turn on a TV and even at six or seven  -- like the darling lil insomniac I've always been - would stay up all night watching the old black-&-whites on Channel 2 from Denver, where in the good old days they would play classic movies all night long (you could sometimes catch four in a night) until they started up with The Little Rascals or The Abbot and Costello Show about the time the sun came up. Eleanor Powell dancing to Begin the Beguine with Fred Astaire in Broadway Melody of 1940, where it looked like they were flitting across a floor made of stars. (Oh how I wanted to be Eleanor Powell for a time -- or Kim Novak in Bell, Book, and Candle, or Veronica Lake in My Favorite Witch. Yeah, I was a weird kid.) I love Fred Astaire, and I loved Ingrid Bergman. But there were always the big three: Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart. So, given that, there were certain movies that were favorites of mine -- heavy on the screwball, the sophistication, and the schmaltz: The Philadelphia Story, Bringing Up Baby, Arsenic and Old Lace, and, of course, It's a Wonderful Life.

So, it being the holiday season and all, and this holiday season in particular, that movie has been on my mind.

For anybody who has lived in a cave their whole lives and is scared by moving pictures, this is the plot in a nutshell:

Everyman George Bailey lives in the All-American hamlet of Bedford Falls, where he runs the family savings and loan, having given up his dreams to travel and do what-not because of various things that have happened and he, being the sincere, responsible, Jimmy-Stewart-everyman that he is, has put off everything to take care of whatever needed taking care of. And life happened to George Bailey -- he married and had children and bought a drafty old house that he couldn't pay to fix up, because being selfless tends to keep you from being rich, unlike Old Man Potter, who is the opposite of George Bailey and, being the scurvy spider that Old Man Potter is, hates George Bailey and all the schmaltzy, sweet, idealistic things he stands for.

And so it comes to pass that on Christmas Eve, George Bailey finds himself in crisis -- his life didn't turn out like his dreams, he really doesn't care for his job, his children are in need of constant attention (as children are wont to be), and his wife sometimes snaps at him because she has just as much to deal with as he does. And now he's found that because of a series of mistakes/happenstances, the old building and loan is going to fail. So George sees himself as a failure, and in his despair, goes to throw himself off a bridge because he figures he's worth more dead than alive. George Bailey has had enough.

But, because this is a magical place, this sweet, 1940s hamlet of Bedford Falls, an angel stops George and shows him all the terrible things that would have happened had he not been who he was, had he not been there at all. And by the time Clarence the Angel is done -- and he has quite the job, does old Clarence, because George Bailey has really had quite enough -- George realizes that, indeed, he did have a wonderful life, because he was kind and thoughtful and responsible and had ended up with the things that are the most important: the love of his family and friends and the respect of those around him. And so George Bailey -- praying that it's not too late -- goes home and finds that all the people have rallied around him, because George Bailey didn't realize how much he was loved, and how much he had touched everyone's lives. And he's still in the drafty old house with the decrepit bannister, and he still has a passel of kids that need constant attention, and his boring old wife who is busy with keeping the family running, and he still has his plain old job at the good old building and loan,  which is not fun or glamorous or exciting or any of those things.

And I still cry when George finds Zuzu's petals in his pocket, and when Harry raises a glass to "my brother George Bailey, the richest man in town."  (Just as I still cry when the Grinch hears the Whos down in Whoville singing and his heart grows three sizes, just as I still cry when Linus tells Charlie Brown that "it's not such a bad little tree.") I cry because those things are woven into me, despite my years as a card-carrying cynic -- and I was a pretty good cynic even at age 7-- because, especially in this season of goodwill towards men, and magic, and belief, I believe. I always have. 

And I am crying as I type this, because all those other things that could have happened to George didn't: he didn't throw himself off that bridge, he didn't carry on with Violet, he didn't leave Mary and the kids in that drafty old house and run off to a quiet and uncomplicated shack in Potter's field. And, yes, maybe I'm as heavy-handed as old Frank Capra, but it irks me when people are shallow and facile and selfish, and they pretend they understand what these things mean.

And I get up in the mornings these days, and I try to be George Bailey, even though I have come more than passing close to throwing myself off a bridge into the inky blackness below a few times lately. Because, despite it all, I have had a wonderful life in the important aspects: I have four bright, kind, marvelous children; I have spent the last almost-20 years with a man I adore, who has almost always been George Bailey himself; I have rescued my share of critters and given them their own wonderful lives; I have created things of beauty, or at least honesty; and I have tried my best to be kind and faithful and true and brave.

So this post serves as my Annual Christmas Post -- which has usually been about how fortunate I am.  Because right now my wonderful life is pretty much a smouldering ruin, or at least feels like one, and I am daily fighting the cynic and trying to hang on to my belief.  There are a few Old Man Potters around me, who seem to hate me just because I am not like them, and I do my best to ignore them. They're used to winning, because it's easy to win when you're selfish and thoughtless and shallow. But still....the Whos keep on singing, and Charlie Brown's friends wave their hands and uncover the beauty of the sad, little tree, and somewhere, George Bailey finds Zuzu's petals in his pocket and realizes it's not too late.

So happy season of belief to all my friends and those I love -- may you find your own wonderful life, and even when it's darkest, may there be a light you follow to guide you home.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Embracing My Inner Lorne Malvo

This is a test. This is only a test. If this wasn't a test, it would say something pithy or interesting. Maybe.

Ringing out the old, ringing in the new.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Today has been a stupid day.

I am tired and feeling the effects (I think) of the hyperparathyroidism, which include diminished fine motor skills and some cognitive difficulties. This is not helpful at all, seeing as I work with my brain and my hands. They say it all goes away with surgery. I sure hope so, because otherwise I'm slowly grinding to a halt.

I'm trying to get so much work out to clients, but nothing will attach in email. No matter how small the file. The glorious effects of living in an internet black hole.  I need to bill people, but it's impossible if I can't deliver any files because THEY WON'T FREAKING ATTACH.

Avs lost in overtime. Again. On paper our offense should be explosive. In reality, not so much. YET. (I DO have a sincere pumpkin patch. Maybe the most sincerest.) Sigh. This has been a tremendously depressing hockey season so far. Also, I think the Jets had an illegal force field around their net.

Was reminded today why I make sure I'm always with my kids. Some people just can't help themselves, no matter how many times they have been expressly told to STOP DOING SOMETHING THAT HURTS PEOPLE. Kids are mad, and now I'm mad, and I am tremendously exhausted by all the times I've been forced to be mad. STILL MAD EVEN THINKING ABOUT IT. (Stupidity or Evil? Why not both?)

It's become rather inconvenient having to unplug the fridge and plug in the washer every time we need to wash clothes. We either need to stop eating anything refrigerated or start throwing out our clothes when they get dirty.

Forgot I had another doctor's appointment tomorrow, 45 minutes away, in the middle of the day. (This is that whole cognitive difficulties thing.)  Going to doctors 4-5 times a week is really meddling with my freaking work schedule, at the time when I can't really afford it. And by "afford it," I mean I HAVE NO MONEY. I can't work when I'm at the doctors, and I can't bill for the work I have done, because NOTHING WILL ATTACH TO EMAIL.

In the words of Nathan Fillion as Sheriff Bill Pardy, "My easygoing nature is being sorely fucking tested."  Amen.

Update: files won't even upload if I use Google Docs or  I'm going to have to trap some carrier pigeons and equip them with snap drives. And some of my clients live very, very far away. Like Europe and Australia. I'm not sure carrier pigeons can even make that trip unless they find a wormhole.

So, yeah, a little shouty and a little stabby today. Hopefully Walking Dead tonight will be as good as the last two episodes. (LESS EUGENE PLEASE.) When I go to bed tonight, I'm going to erase this day from my memory, and start over fresh. (Does electroshock therapy help with that? With the wiring in the house, I could probably arrange a home treatment for myself. )

In short *grumble grumble grumble, yell, grumble grumble grumble*

You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming, which is hopefully not an Avalanche game or an episode of The Walking Dead featuring any Eugene. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Where Every Day Is An Adventure.

Man, am I getting tired of being all complainy. I really try hard to look at the positives, which is sometimes quite difficult, being the normally gloomy pessimist that I was born. But things do just keep getting better and better (she said sarcastically).

Needed labwork yesterday to check on the worrisome hypercalcimia and to make sure my white count, platelet count, and hematocrit weren't taking a dive. Went to the lab bright and early -- well, at 10:00 -- and there was a room full of people. The tech said, "Sorry, Ma'am, we're closed," which seemed odd because there was obviously a room full of people and it was, after all, only 10:00 in the morning. I must have looked non-plussed, because she further explained, "After I see all these clients, I'm closing up." It seemed perfectly normal for me to ask when she would reopen. She replied, "I have no way of knowing, Sometime this afternoon, but you'll have to check back to find out the afternoon hours."  This struck me as a very shoddy way to run a business. Still, I had little choice.

We took fancy take-out lunch to one kid (well, as fancy at Taco Bell gets -- for some reason the kids think it's haute cuisine) because he was having a particularly rough time and I hoped it would make him feel better.  Then we walked around Walgreens for 45 minutes, because, why not? We drove back to the lab, found out they would be open again at 1:00, so did defensive driving maneuvers in the parking lot for a half an hour, just in case a zombie apocalypse broke out while we were inside. You never know.

Blood taken, went home, just in time to go back and start picking up kids. Another day shot!  Dropped one kid off at drama and took the other kid to get some Taco Bell for dinner -- important rule: if one kid gets Taco Bell, the other kid must also get Taco Bell within 24 hours or there is a rip in the space/time continuum.  Or as Nicky calls it, a rip in the space/time condominium.

Got kid back from drama, came home, opened the fridge. The fridge was not on. Checked around, found the breaker for that part of the kitchen (stove and fridge) was tripped. Switched it back, it tripped again.   Once more, with the same result. Pulled up info from the interwebs which said, "If a tripped breaker immediately trips again, DO NOT TRY TO FLIP IT BACK ON."  Oops.  Clearly said to call an electrician immediately before your house burns down and you all die. This was alarming. Not as alarming of as the smell of smoke in the hallway, though. It turned out to be from a power strip in the boys' room which was kind of scorched. Yeah, no idea. Unplugged it and threw it away. By this time the alarmed feeling was definitely increasing. Unplugged fridge and stove. Tried to calm kids down. Debated whether we could all fit in the car, along with the dogs and cats, overnight in case the house did decide to burn down. This seemed unworkable. No help from any quarter. Didn't want the food to go bad, so took the extension cord that runs the washer (the laundry room outlet that regularly runs the washer had shorted out about 18 months ago -- and there's also a shorted out outlet in one of the bathrooms -- yes, the house was apparently wired by meth-addled woodchucks and is probably a deathtrap in ways I haven't even considered) and found that if I plugged that in in a different hallway, we could alternate plugging appliances in. So most of the time we'll run the refrigerator off the extension cord, only unplugging it when we have to do laundry. And we can unplug that if we have to plug in the oven, or simply only eat things that can be heated in a microwave or eaten cold.)

And, yes, you're asking why I haven't called an electrician. Well, like doctors, electricians like to charge for their skills. Unfortunately doctors have already taken up all the money, and there is currently none left over for electricians. (Which is also why we have no working heater in the house -- hoping for a mild winter!)  Come to think of it, though, if we lived totally without any utilities for a while, we might be able to afford to choose one item to get repaired! Maybe we can score a reality show about people who live like pioneers, or possibly cavemen!  Really, there's opportunity everywhere you look.

Also, went back to the oncologist today to check yesterday's labwork. My WBC, RBC, Platelets, and Hematocrit all look good. So no expensive Neulasta shots to boost my immune system. Yay! But -- and there's always a but anymore -- the high blood calcium is yet higher and and the parathyroid hormone analyte is also way high  The good news is that doesn't indicate any kind of cancer. The bad news is that it does indicate a wonky set of parathyroid glands. This, unfortunately, necessitates seeing an endocrinologist that is located over an hour away (because that's the only endocrinologist anywhere within driving distance that is covered under my insurance). It also means another surgery to remove my parathyroid glands. Yippee! The trifecta. I asked if this was something that needed to be done soon. My oncologist replied, "Well, soon-ish. Within the next two months."  I asked because, even though I have already hit my out of pocket insurance limit with copays alone, it's all happened so fast that nothing is showing up on my insurance yet. And being that they won't take my word for it in any fine doctoring establishments that I am currently frequenting, I'm still paying hundreds of dollars in copays every week, with no end in sight. The copay well has run dry. After this week, it will be a choice between copays or eating food or defaulting on all the household bills. I'm supposed to be on a conference call with my insurance company case worker and the benefits department tomorrow to see if we can get all the claims expedited, but, honestly, at this point, I don't hold out much hope. Maybe they'll take an organ in exchange for enough money to pay for the next chemo round. Although I'm starting to get low on the organ front. I think most of the ones I still have left are pretty vital.  So we'll see.

I was recently told that my health problems are "very convenient" and quite burdensome to the delicate sensibilities of certain people. Something about making me too sympathetic for some people's tastes.  To which I say:  Why, yes, this is all very convenient!  Just as I planned it. Muhahahahahahaha. Even I can't understand my own evil genius.

So there, I groused about it, and now I go forward. I don't think people are bound to feeling sympathetic to me, because as bad as things are, there are tons of people who have it worse. Lots of people who have things that are waaaaay worse. Things I probably couldn't even imagine dealing with. And there are people who suck, and have to live with the fact that they suck, while at least I feel pretty good about myself 90% of the time. (And of course there are people too self-involved to realize how much they suck, but what are you going to do? Live and let live. I'll worry about myself, thanks.) In some respects, I'm quite, quite fortunate, and don't think I'm not grateful for that.

Message for the day? I don't think I have one. I've expended a lot of words in a lot of different mediums lately -- should that be media? I dunno anymore. And for all I say, a lot of times it just feels like messages in a bottle or scraps thrown into a wind storm. But at least saying things gets them out of my head. It's the only way I have left to deal with things, because every other avenue has been blocked off or bricked over or shunted into another dimension. Every signpost I relied on for the past 20 years to show me the way to safety has been systematically dismantled and burned until there aren't even any ashed left. So maybe the message is, as usual lately, to do your best. Do what you need to get by, to stay sane, to protect yourself and those you love. Sometimes it's a little to much to try to save everyone or help everyone, especially those who see your help as a hindrance (or an evil plan).  Do what you can, when you can. Pick your battles. Decided which hill is the one you're bound to die one, the one that is truly worth it,  and make that one count. Think good thoughts for those who have it tougher than you, no matter how tough you have it.  Because no matter how tough you have it, there's ALWAYS somebody who has it tougher. Understanding that helps you keep your perspective and stalls the little pity-party that sometimes springs up. It's all right to feel sorry for yourself. To feel pissed off. To rail at the unfairness of something. To scream at someone that this, this right here, is the final straw. To want someone to hold you or take your side or just make you feel that everything isn't an unmitigated disaster, to make you feel safe, to tell you everything is going to be okay and make you believe it. But sometimes all you've got is you, and it seems like that's just not going to be enough. So you cry or fall apart a little, or even a lot. And after you've got that out of your system, go forward. There's no other direction that's going to take you anywhere good or anywhere worth being. .

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Victory! Sort Of.

So, chemotherapy kind of kicked my ass. Not the first day or the second day. But the third day was pretty brutal. Feeling like crap intensified my pre-existing soul-crushing depression issue.  (Health care providers keep asking me if my depression is related to my cancer diagnosis -- which is apparently pretty common -- and I keep telling them, "No, trust me, finding out I had cancer was NOT the worst thing that happened to me this summer." And then I explain the situation and everybody feels bad. Right now I am the opposite of whatever a ray of sunshine is, spreading darkness and gloom wherever I go.)

So this weekend I mostly tried to make myself eat, vomited repeatedly -- in the parking lot at the SLU homecoming game, once so violently that I vomited blood, every time I thought about ingesting anything -- and randomly burst into tears. It wasn't so much physical nausea as the trauma-induced anorexia I've been fighting with since July, so the anti-nausea meds aren't really helping, because it's mostly in my head. Oh, and the body aches. The heating pad was not large enough to cover everything that hurt. The dogs all got up on the bed and cuddled me, because even as dumb as they are I think the realized how pathetic I was, and that helped some, but still.

So Monday it was back to my GP, who prescribed a new drug to add to the regimen to help with the anxiety, insomnia, and anorexia. And some great news -- other than the crippling sadness and cancer, I'm really, really healthy! So last night I took the new pill along with my regular anti-depressant, and within an hour I was asleep. I didn't have any disturbing dreams -- in fact I had a rather affirming dream. And I didn't pop awake at 3 AM or 4 AM. I did however sleep through the first and second alarms, and only woke up when it was 10 minutes before the kids had to leave for school. (It seems Nickolas kept helpfully hitting the snooze bar....) But I got lunches and snacks made and got them dressed, kitted up, and brushed and combed in time for them to make it. I went back to bed for a bit, because I was still a little groggy, and didn't get back up till 9:00. So either I've got to take the pill earlier or try cutting it in half. I feel enough like a zombie right now that I don't need any chemical zombie enhancement.

When I did get up, I managed to go shopping without feeling too nauseous -- even seeing food in the store is a bit too much lately -- and also managed to make three phone calls. Then I managed to eat a chicken strip, a snack cake, and a quart of skim milk. An hour after that, I also had a package of oatmeal/brown sugar/nut granola (thanks to my daughter who is trying desperately to supply me with snacks I can eat) and a cranberry Sprite. And, so far, knock wood, I haven't thrown up!  So, yay, me.

And there was something else I realized this weekend, when I was laying there feeling like hell. Sometimes the only way is through. Sometimes you have to have a whole lot of patience. You definitely have to have a lot of faith. And if you do your best, keep your faith, and try to be true to the things that are most important to you, there is always hope, no matter how hopeless things may temporarily seem. And while it's really tempting to rise to the bait that some people of bad intention throw out, that only sinks you to their level, and there is nothing to be gained there, so it's best to just walk on by and not give them the satisfaction of screwing up the universe any more than they already have.  I've been told by several people lately that karma works, sometimes it just works really, really, almost glacially slowly. That there is a righting of things. And while things seem so unworkable and hard and terrifying and heartbreaking right now, in the end I do have complete and utter faith that it's going to be okay. Someone I love very, very, very much once told me that certain things are fate, that there is no explaining them. And sometimes those things that are most important to us become temporarily lost -- through carelessness, through a passing lack of faith, through a web of circumstance that seems impossible to navigate back to through to where you're supposed to be. A lot of people give up, cut their losses, shut down a piece of their heart, and crawl away. But that is not in my nature. And so, despite the transient moments of despair, I will not give up. I will repair whatever needs repairing, do my best to replace anger with love, and always be there for the people who need me, whether they notice it or not.  And I won't succeed every day -- in fact, I imagine there will be days that I feel like I can't succeed at all and I'll fall prey to worst things in my nature. But I will remind myself that this too shall pass, and with every setback I'll learn something. And when it comes down to it, I have nothing but time. And with enough love, faith, and time, nothing is truly lost and nothing is impossible.

So yeah, a chicken strip and some orange juice is a victory of sorts. Getting out of bed and making a phone call is a victory. Helping your kid with a tough piece homework is a victory. Cuddling your kid when he feels like his world has fallen apart and making him believe that things will be better is a victory. Celebrating with your kid when she accomplishes something that seemed so intimidating is a victory. Telling someone how much you love them is a victory. Holding your tongue when you are tempted to say something petty or hurtful is a victory. Remembering the good things in the midst of all the bad is a victory. String enough of those things together, and you've gotten through a day, a week, a month, a year. String enough of those things together and you've gotten back to where you were supposed to be. Be truthful and faithful and do your best to make the world a little better whenever you have the opportunity. Don't beat yourself up when you fail to match up to your own ideals, but try harder next time. Admit when you are wrong, apologize to those you harm or hurt. It's the small victories that will get you through to where you need to be. I know where I need to be, and I'm not stopping until I get there.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Either This Wallpaper Goes Or I Do

So, today was the first chemotherapy session. I entered with a lot of trepidation, and it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it might be. (Portions of this narrative have been redacted to avoid any pearl-clutching or fainting couch usage.  Thanks, William Vitka!  You're my hero. Fill in the blanks with whatever your heart desires.  It'll probably be funnier than what actually happened. Also, remember that the visible length of the redacted portions has little relation to actual length of the un-redacted original, because math is hard and hockey is coming on. So make your answers as elaborate as you like!)

Woke up this morning at 5:15, gave up on sleep. I've been having really vivid dreams that wake me like a bucket of cold water, both good dreams and bad, bad ones. The other night I had a dream where I found a lovely old Victorian I wanted to buy, but there was already someone in it refusing to leave. A squatter, if you will. Eventually the remaining members of SAMCRO and Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder came to take care of the problem -- and if you watch those programs you can guess how the problem was taken care of. Let's just say, the person left. Maybe in several pieces. So that was a bad dread that turned into the type of dream that might disturb some people who don't regularly watch the full FX lineup.  Do you know why they don't schedule anything important next to Sons of Anarchy?  The gunfire is bound to spill over into other timeslots and kill a lot of innocent TV bystanders.  So this morning I had a dream about  REDACTED , which I guess was a good dream, but still left me awake.

Got kids up and dressed for school. Went and got them up again and told them to brush their teeth. Went and got them up again and told them NOT TO LAY BACK DOWN IN BED. Eventually they were out the door. REDACTED, which was nice, and left me in a better mood. Then I went to get some biscuits from Piggly Wiggly, where I noticed they had a case of expired meat. Yay!  I came home with six biscuits and $40 worth of expired meat. (For those of you not familiar with the expired meat trade, that's a lot of meat.)

Finally, at the doctor's. Amazingly on the way there we didn't see any  REDACTED which I was beginning to think was unavoidable.  So I didn't have to pull out any of my embarrassing "rollin' in my Volvo" moves, which will probably someday get me arrested.

At the oncologist there was weight (Minus two more pounds since last week, which will make Doctor Davis hit me with her clipboard), blood pressure, temperature and then a visit with Doctor Davis to go over labs. She asked me questions and then gave me a concerned face, the kind of face Doctor Handsome (that's not his real name, but that's how I remember him) gave me whenever he had to talk to me in the hospital and tell me something worrisome. Seems my blood calcium is high -- for those playing at home that's hypercalcemia. She looked back and saw that my blood calcium had been high for quite a while, and wondered why no one had ever mentioned it. I'm thinking with the giant REDACTED tumor, they were probably thinking a little extra calcium was the least of my problems.  But she said we need to figure out why (bone cancer (highly unlikely) a problem with my parathyroid glands, or good old-fashioned dehydration). She also said that if we can't resolve it, she'll need to refer me to an endocrinologist, at which point the voice in my head went to Bill-Paxton-In-Aliens-Game-Over-Man mode, because if add one more doctor to my posse I will be able to field a freaking baseball team -- not a good one, mind you, unless we can bring Doctor Handsome in as a ringer -- but a team, nevertheless. (And you should hear some things the voice in my head says -- if you get agitated by anything I say, just remember the things that get caught in the filters are so, so much worse and so much more plentiful.)

Finally it was time for the chemo. Now, I had read up on "what to bring to chemo" so I had a bag with two novels -- both Neil Gaimen, a bottle of water, carmex, socks, a sleeve of Fig Newtons, a Milky Way bar, and a cold Mango Madness Snapple from the Dollar Store, where they always hide one behind the fruit punch and strawberry-kiwi and you have to dig for it. I also brought my squishy pillow in it's festive, happy, dancing Dio des las Meurtes skeletons pillow case and a blanket. They told me to pick a chair so I picked one in the corner, and then the nurse came to hook me up.  First, I told her that I was having an allergic reaction to the steri strips and they were itching like crazy, so she pulled a couple of them off in the middle, uncovering some decent-sized blisters. She trimmed the others down to the bare minimum, which helped a lot. Then she cleaned the area with alcohol.

I screamed. Loudly. I managed not to blurt out any colorful expletives like REDACTED REDACTED, which I picked up from The Bridge -- ON FX. (I see a pattern here -- and trust me, you don't want me to say that one out loud.)  You know what, if you ever want to go all Jack-Bauer on me, all you need is a bottle of rubbing alcohol and a papercut. The alcohol in that fresh incision hurt like a REDACTED. A few rounds of that and I would break like a dry twig.

Then she put the butterfly needle/valve thing in --which didn't hurt, but felt creepy -- and started the pre-chemo drugs, which take about 20 minutes to infuse. So there I was, and it hadn't been so bad. Then the guy across and down started talking about REDACTED and REDACTED, which upset me to the point that I did use some choice expletives possibly just within hearing. In my head I immediately dubbed him Racist Gerald McRaney, because he looked like Gerald McRaney (no offense to Gerald McRaney, I was a huge fan of Simon and Simon!) He tried to engage me in conversation at some point, at which time I feigned sleep. Eventually I was no longer feigning,  and when I woke up they started 3 hours of Taxol. Note to self: bring headphones, because even if you're not listening to anything, people will still not try to engage you in unacceptable conversations that might cause you to become a little stabby, and will eventually escalate into something untoward.

So now the lines of chairs were starting to fill up. I was the youngest person in there by about 25 years. I was also the only person in there with hair, which made me feel guilty when I took my scrunchy off and shook out my hair so I could get the tendrils back up, and realized I was swinging my hair around like a girl from a '70s Breck commercial. (Do you remember the Breck Girls?  I also remember Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific, which my children refuse to believe is actually a product name, because it just seems like an open invitation to stalkers and pedophiles.) Anyway,  it felt kind of like telling an anti-Semetic joke in the Catskills, where everyone just looked at me in silence. I quickly put my hair back up. Anyway, the joke's on me, because all my hair is going to fall out soon anyway.

Also, everyone in there was dressed like it was a Polka Festival in 1978 Des Moines, Iowa. Very popular were track suits. You know the kind, a little shiny and baggy with white racing stripes and a zippy little jacket, the kind now only worn by white rappers, mid-level Russian mobsters, and elementary school PE teachers who don't realize that 1983 HAS LEFT THE BUILDING. I always think they should hand out an enormous clock necklace with those things. Or at least several gold chains.  (Once  REDACTED and I went to a wedding reception where there was a cadre of guests in those track suits and we spent an amusing hour mocking them and wondering what failed heist they were going to pull when they left all hopped up on Blue Hawaiian daquiries.) But I digress. Suffice to say that I -- in my scoop neck black tank top, fashionably old Levis, black suede mocs and hoodie -- was positively stylin'.  Also, note to others, even Dr. Dre doesn't wear a track suit anymore. Give it up. It is not hip, in fact, it's whatever the opposite of hip is. (Hey, maybe I can get Dr. Dre on my all-doc fantasy baseball team. If I can add Dr. Pepper and Doctor Who -- we'll be unstoppable!)

Also, I sat lotus style the whole time, even when I slept, because that's how I always sit. Apparently I was bucking the flow there. The lady across from me whispered to nurse about how could I sit like that?  She commented that she couldn't even bend her legs like that, let alone sleep. So now everything was falling into the normal rhythm.  I was the weird girl in the corner, with all the hair and no track suit, sitting funny, pretending she didn't hear Racist Gerald McRaney trying to start a conversation, nibbling her snooty Fig Newtons and sipping her West Coast Mango Madness Snapple, with her skeleton pillow. Then my son brought me a chocolate malt from Sonic, which I think the woman across from me found a little quease-inducining, in the vain attempt that Doctor Davis wouldn't berate me for not eating. But I ate five Fig Newtons, most of the chocolate malt, half a junior cheeseburger, and my Snapple. So that's a win in my book. I guess I'll save the Milky Way for next time.

The time came when I decided I was too hot instead of too cold, so I attempted to remove the hoodie. I had not realized that the nurse had taped the infusion line to the hoodie, which led to me wrapping both the hoodie and the infusion line around my head, and trying to signal the nurse with my one free hand to come help me before I pulled the port right out of the not-quite-healed incision, for dog's sake, because now I'm like a toddler who has his underwear on his head and can't quite get the snowsuit on over them. Eventually I was untangled and retaped and all was right with the world. I texted for a couple of hours, which made me realize that I need a full-size keyboard attached to my phone to text adequately, because it took me forever to get all the corrections, especially since the "A" is right next to the Shift, so every letter ends up a capital A, and the BACKSPACE it next to the M, so every M ends up erasing the letter that preceded it. I could always do the thing where I speak into the phone, but then people could hear what I was saying, and nothing good would come of that. Really. But the texting was really good and calming despite the corrections. REDACTED It kept me occupied and made me happy.

 The rest of the session was uneventful, and after only 5.5 hours, I was unhooked and allowed to leave racist Gerald McRaney and his track-suited minions behind, with a bright blue Scooby Doo bandaid over the hole in my chest. Luckily it was just in time to get one kid from school and take him to speech, get the other kid from another school and take him shopping for the cookie guts he needs to make two dozen cookies for Robotics class tomorrow, go back and pick up the first kid again, and get home to bake said cookies, finish a science poster, and whatever else I'm sure I forgot. Luckily the older kids have really stepped up and are taking on driving, cookie-baking, and poster-finalizing with only some input from me, so it'll be okay.

I don't feel too bad, just a lil tired, but the nurse said any bad fatigue and nausea will probably hit Saturday, so there's that to look forward to. Still it's not worse than learning Varly has gone on IR for a non-specific groin injury, the fact that they haven't renewed The Bridge yet, and REDACTED REDACTED. Oh, and I think the heater has decided not to participate in warming the house anymore. I think it's in cahoots with the washer, where you have to use a safety pin to pop the button out to make it work. I tell you, watch it, once the appliances become sentient, we're all doomed.......

And don't get me wrong, especially after today I know how lucky, lucky, lucky I am that this is a temporary blip on my screen. Six months is nothing. I can do six months standing on my head. Well, maybe not actually standing on my head, but you get the idea. I'm Steve McQeen, underneath your radar screen.  I'm the Cooler King, Baby, and it's all going to be copasetic. Just a little patience.....

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


I'm going to finish my thrilling hospital tale, I promise. I've just been busy rearranging my entire personal and financial life and all that entails, getting back to work, and suddenly having six doctor's and other professional appointments every couple of days. Add the kid stuff, and it's exhausting. So I haven't had much to say that wouldn't just be depressing, and I figure there's enough depressing out there already. I'm trying to regain my sense of humor, but it may be temporarily in hibernation.

So in the meantime, be kind to each other. Tell someone you love them. Hug your kids, just because. Play a little extra fetch with your dogs. Do something good for yourself that you've been putting off. Time is short, and it goes by so fast -- make those moments count.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Earworm

I have entered the post-operative stage called "permanent nausea." Doctor says it'll get better...eventually. I should "eat smaller meals," although I don't know how much smaller than "one freezer pop three times a day" I'm going to get. Blargh.  Don't get me wrong, I'm tremendously grateful for how well things are going, but still.... 

Before I go barf again, here's the latest song playing constantly in my head. Heard it first on the local college station, and now it's all over in that Levi's ad.  Catchy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Rumors of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated (Part Deux)

(When last we left our plucky heroine -- Part I -- she was busy being slapped and wanting to pee, and terribly disappointed at the lack of a Machine That Goes PING. )

As the afternoon wore on, I spent the time mumbling and pushing The Button. They hooked some more things to me -- enough electrode adhesives that I resembled a hyperactive 3-year-old's sticker booklet, a telemetry machine that apparently did something, but did not go PING. Eventually I was introduced to Dr. Napier, who would be my on-call physician overnight. (Of course the first thing I asked Dr. Napier was if he was related to Charles Napier. He looked at me quizzically. "The Blues Brothers?" I said. "Bob's Country Bunker?" Nothing. I gave up.)

If you looked up "tall, dark, and handsome" in a dictionary, there would be a picture of Dr. Napier. He was like a cross between the George Clooney and Johnny Depp of on-call physicians. I imagine that Dr. Napier is tremendously popular with all the nurses and patients, even the semi-conscious ones. Hell, maybe even the unconscious ones. When I talked to one of the nurses about something Dr. Napier had said, she replied, "Oh, yes, Dr. Napier, he's really...nice." Emphasizing "nice" in that way that made it clear that Dr. Napier would be even nicer if he'd take his shirt off. But I digress. He seemed very knowledgeable and competent and sharp, which is the important thing. Mostly.

Dr. Napier took a look at the Foley catheter receptacle and said, "This concerns me." It seems the bag was still mostly empty. If he was concerned, I was concerned. If he had told me they were going to sell me off for medical experimentation, I would have said, "Sure, whatever you want." He then listed a number of steps they would take to address his concerns, something about a bolus of fluids, lasix, and an abdominal CT. He said this all very calmly. They hooked me up to a machine that takes your blood pressure every 10 minutes. After a couple of cycles, he looked even more concerned. "Let's get that CT scan," he said.

They weren't about to have me try to stand up again after the last fiasco, so in some manner involving a sheet they transferred me to a gurney. I don't remember much of that, except the disconcerting feeling that if they weren't careful my abdomen was going to burst open like a pinata and it wouldn't be candy that would come spilling out. We went through a series of doors and elevators and hallways while the theme music from "Get Smart" played in my head. They has sent me with the assistant-assistant nurse, probably so that if anything happened to me on the way, they would have plausible deniability. Finally we ended up at the CT scanner place, which seemed to be somewhere in the bowels of the hospital. It was dark and quiet and soothing, and the scanner was manned by three very pleasant young men in scrubs.

They transferred me to the Scanner Gurney (or whatever it's called) and ran me through a couple times, telling me to put my arms up over my head and hold my breath. When they seemed satisfied, they stopped. One of the scanner guys asked me to sit up. I said, "I don't think that's a good idea." He said it would only be for a minute.  What could it hurt?

I was right, and it was a very bad idea. As soon as I was upright, I felt an intense wave of nausea. I barely had time to register the thought that, "Boy, am I nauseated," before I projectile vomited all over the CT scanner and the pleasant young man standing next to it. And when I say "projectile vomited," I mean Saturday-Night-Live-Will-Ferrell-Parody projectile vomiting. I mean Linda-Blair-Exorcist projectile vomiting. I mean six-foot-distance-several-quarts-of-fluorescent-yellow-goo projectile vomiting. 

There was a slight pause. Then I vomited again. And again. Everyone was rushing around trying to find something for me to vomit in. First try was a partial cardboard box, which proved inadequate. Then there was something like a plastic sleeve, which proved even less adequate than the cardboard box. Finally somebody emptied some kind of a container full of something that made a clattering noise when it hit the floor. I hope it wasn't expensive. Eventually I stopped vomiting. I apologized profusely to the pleasant young man now covered in fluorescent yellow goo. He said, "Don't worry, it's not the worst thing that's happened to me," but he sounded like he was lying. 

Next thing I remember, I'm back up in my room, and Dr. Napier is still looking concerned. He's also looking very disapprovingly at the numbers on the blood pressure machine. I eventually learned that was because numbers that low are considered "incompatible with life." Yikes. Turns out the CT scan had showed I had a large hematoma in my abdomen that had collapsed my bladder, and that event had followed backward up the chain of command until it was throwing my whole system off. Add to that the fact that I was very probably overly dehydrated when I went into surgery (thanks to the bowel prep stuff I drank on Sunday), and the fact that I had spent 20 minutes vomiting on everything, and it was a perfect storm, but not the kind where William Fitchner has the Southie accent.

For a while, it was just fluids, blood pressure readouts where they called out numbers like a really boring game of bingo, a parade of phlebotomists tasked to draw blood every hour, and lots of people looking very concerned. At least until the spiders.....

(This is turning out much longer than I had anticipated. I blame Stephen King. To be continued....)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Rumors of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated (Part I)

This should be the penultimate of the giant tumor updates, in which I detail the removal of the giant tumor and all that came after it. It's funny now, mainly because I didn't die. What I don't specifically remember, I'm filling in with things other observers have told me.  Think of it as a shoddily made documentary related by numerous unreliable narrators.....

On the morning of the 15th, I went to the hospital, arriving promptly at about 5:30 AM for a scheduled surgery at 7:00. I changed into a gown and handed over my clothes to the SO to be kept in a plastic bag until such time as I might need them again. It was pretty boring for a while, interspersed with some drawing of labs, placing of IVs, etcetera, and a final pass by my doctor, who explained I would not be receiving the robot surgery (BOO!), but would have a full laparotomy because she doubted she'd be able to actually remove the tumor unless I had a HUGE incision. I reluctantly agreed. Then the nurse asked me to hand over my glasses to the SO for safekeeping, and explained she was going to give me a little Versed to relax me. That's the last thing I remember, although I'm told I did say, "I feel a little woozy...."

Flash forward some hours later -- I'm not sure how many hours, because a lot of Monday is just strobe-lit images and vague sensations, and not a lot was really clear until much later in the day. I'm told I said a lot of nonsensical things, to which I replied, "And how would that be different than any other day?"

Anyway, at some point I woke up in the room. My mom and oldest son were there, along with a nurse and assistant nurse. (Apparently you get a doctor, a nurse, an assistant nurse and an assistant-assistant nurse assigned to you, which makes you feel special and important until you realize that all of these people will be constantly poking you with various sharp and dull implements for as long as you're there.) It was probably sometime in the early afternoon. I was hooked up to all manner of machines and tubes: oxygen, blood pressure, pulse ox, fluids, pain killer drip, foley catheter. It had taken me longer than anticipated to come out of anesthesia, so there was mild concern and I was being carefully monitored. I asked questions about how the surgery had gone, and then asked those same questions several times more because I immediately forgot what the answers were. Apparently my doctor was "positive" and "upbeat" and "90% sure" that the surgery would take care of the cancer. They had removed cervix/uterus/ovaries/fallopian tubes and, as a special bonus, my appendix. Apparently with this kind of cancer, the appendix acts as some kind sleeper agent, waiting until you're not paying attention and then going all crazy like a mole in an old episode of "24," so it's best to dispense with it early.

So the surgery was deemed a great success and the hard part was over, now all I had to do was rest, and I might even get released late the next day or early on Wednesday if I could jump through all the pre-release hoops that are set up. You have to perform a number of tricks before they'll let you go, to make sure you're not going to expire in the parking lot and make them look bad. Easy-peasy. I was encouraged to push my painkiller button as often as I wanted to, which I certainly intended to do.

At some point my daughter arrived, and everybody just camped out waiting for me to do something unintentionally hilarious or embarrassing that they could mock me with later. Be careful what you wish for.

I was pretty doped up, but I had this terrible sensation of needing to pee. Most of you, especially women who have been pregnant, will understand the extremely uncomfortable, overwhelming desire to empty your bladder. If you are forced to wait, it becomes incredibley painful and nearly unbearable. I didn't want to be a problem, but I finally told the nurse that she needed to do something. She told me not to worry, that sensation was just a sensation, and that there was no way my bladder would become distended because the Foley catheter would take care of that. I heard what she was saying, but the agony in my lower pelvis was not buying it. I became a little agitated.  Time went by and I became more agitated. It was getting no better.

Finally someone looked at the collection bag for the Foley catheter. (I'm assuming nobody had looked at it before.)  It was distinctly lacking urine. "Well," the nurse said, in that way that indicates the words following "well" are not going to be good. I'm a little fuzzy on the exact next chain of events, but it involved clearing the room and calling in additional personnel and at my best count, four different people tried 3 different catheters. (I think this has something to do with the lemon-sized dark-purple bruise somewhere very uncomfortable). Whatever occurred, it did not produce a satisfactory result for anyone. I believe I am partially to blame for what happened next, because by that point I was in considerable pain AND was "hopped up on goofballs," as they used to say in the 1950s teen crime dramas, and I may have overtly threatened someone that if I wasn't allowed to pee RIGHT NOW bloodshed would ensue.

So, against their better judgement and probably out of extreme frustration that my bladder seemed to have adopted a "no catheter" policy, the nurses agreed to help me to the bathroom so that I could actually pee like a normal person. Sitting up in the bed went well, and I think I managed to take an actual step before I uttered the famous last words I had uttered once already that morning: "I feel a little woozy...." That's the last thing I remember until I woke up to this:

There were literally doctors and nurses standing on the furniture and spilling out the doorway. Various health care personnel kept slapping me and asking if I was awake. I was very annoyed that so many people kept slapping me and asking me stupid questions. Really, like six different people slapped me, as if I'd opened up a slapping booth at a local fair and was having a two-for-one happy hour -- a slappy hour, if you will.  Various crowd estimates have come in so that as best I can figure there were between 15-22 hospital employees shoved into my room in the space of a few minutes.   Unbeknownst to me, at the exact moment they had called the rapid response code on me, my SO and the two smaller children had just stepped off the elevator to visit.  This apparently led to some consternation, especially on the part of the 9-year-old, who burst into tears, causing his sister to burst into tears. Or so I'm told. I was busy being slapped. At one point I distinctly remember requesting "The machine that goes PING," and being upset that no one laughed. At that point I was only talking in movie quotes, which may have made them worry I was not getting enough oxygen. Other than that, I was semi-conscious, which is probably good because at some point someone put in another Foley catheter, and I'm sure there was a sternly-worded admonition not to get up to any further shenanigans. Time passed, slapping me lost its novelty, and most everyone shuffled out to find entertainment elsewhere. Which is a shame, because that was only the opening act.....

(To Be Continued, because I can only sit in the desk chair for so long before I need a pill to combat the numerous throbbing bruises....)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Friday Earworm -- Just a Tad Early

Been working like a dog. Well, not my dogs. They mostly lay on the bed, unless the ice maker goes off, and then they run to defend me, barking furiously.

Here's the earworm around our house right now, and the song we sing really loudly in the car. (Well, when I get the boys to stop singing Billy Joel -- today it was "Moving Out.")

Meghan Trainor is pretty adorable. Dare you not to dance.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Pre-op check-in went fine. I guess. My EKG was good, and they took more blood, nose swabs, and a chest x-ray. They have a nifty red binder all about me, so hopefully I won't wake up missing a kidney instead a large, creepy mass. I will say that every healthcare professional I have dealt with since I first went to a GP to treat my depression about five weeks ago (and this whole merry-go-round started) has been really good.

Various people spent various length of time telling me various things, like I can't take a bath after Friday -- showers only. Chicken noodle soup is NOT the same thing as clear broth. They were going to try to make me drink apple juice, but relented when I insisted on cranberry.  Blah, blah, blah. Paperwork.

Finally after about 3 hours of being shuffled from one cube to another, I was released, and got on the highway to come back to town.

Anybody who wants to guess what happened next may form a polite line and raise their hand.

The clutch on the Vibe started to slip. Not on every gear, just third and fifth. And not all the time. It only did it every time I decided it wasn't going to do it again and was just an aberration. (If you would care to read more of my adventures with the Vibe, see this post  --
Some have said it's one of my finest rants.)

I was near a panic attack when I pulled into the Sonic to get a drink. I might have freaked the girl who bought the tray out just a little, because by the time the order was up, I was really crying.

Because, seriously, that's exactly what I need at this exact moment. I really, really need the car to break down, necessitating a costly repair that I REALLY can't afford since A) I just had to find a small fortune to pay my medical bills, and B)  I'm supposed to be taking a week or two off work after surgery.  (And the bad thing about being your own boss is that there is no one to pay you when you don't work....)

So, seriously, whoever is in charge of handing out catastrophes, FUCK YOU.  I'm going to find where you live, and when I do, I will not be playing anymore.  I. WILL. NOT. BE. PLAYING.

I'm calmer now, and I suppose I will deal with this when I have to, just like I've dealt with all the other bullshit that has been shoveled my way this summer.  Because I'm not stopping now. Nope. Although I don't promise I won't come out of surgery, put on a serape and start roaming the countryside seeking vengeance like The Man With No Name. Or put on a track suit and some Tiger tennies, and grab a samurai sword.  No, I don't promise that at all.

And with those pleasant thoughts, I will leave you with a one of my favorite movie clips of all time. (Coincidentally from the director who brought you the awesome Guardians of the Galaxy). As it usually does, this pretty much sums up my innermost thoughts and feelings. Enjoy.

Monday, September 8, 2014

I Wanna Get Better

It's been a rough couple of weeks. There has been some good news, some bad news, and some things that are unclassifiable because they're just so far outside of what you expect to happen that there is really no way to handle them or even fully process them.

Tomorrow I go for my pre-op check-in. I've been informed of the costs I will incur to have the cancer cut out of me, and I've found a way to pay for it. I have some trepidation about the surgery, because I don't know exactly what they're going to do or exactly what they're going to find. It could be great news and it could be dire news. But I am eager to have it over with. By noon on Monday, I expect to know my final prognosis.

I did not think a few months ago that at this point of my existence I would be at a terrifying, life-altering crossroads, and that I would be standing at the crossroads alone. And I know I'm not totally alone. I have my mom, my brother and sister-in-law, my kids, my friends -- both my RL friends and my on-line friends, clients, and fellow writers. And I am grateful beyond words to all the people who have been so wonderful and supportive during the darkest period of my life. Still, inside my heart, I am alone.

I understand now what has happened, and have a name for the thing. That gives me a certain power, because the naming of things is powerful. It has allowed me to let go of the concepts of blame and regret, because those are useless and only cause more harm in a situation that has harmed everyone enough.  I know now that what happened had nothing to do with me, and there is nothing I could have done to prevent it. There is nothing I can do now to change it, although I'm told that it changes on its own, given time. But the important thing is that I can't count on the change or when it will come, I can only get on with my life.  I know that the reason there is such hatred for me at the moment is because there was such love for me for so long and I am so fortunate to have had that, because love like that is not guaranteed to anyone. Even knowing what I know now, I would not change one moment of the joy and love I have known.  I know that the worst aspects of the situation will burn themselves out, sooner or later, because that's the only future of things born of bitterness, fear, confusion, and sorrow. There is an abstract comfort in knowing how the most troublesome aspects will end, but sometimes abstract comfort is no comfort at all.

I have found some peace with what has happened. But it is a delicate and uneasy peace, and sometimes it seems to dearly cost me. Sometimes it is so damn hard.

One of my favorite bits of poetry is an American proverb:

For every evil under the sun,
There is a cure or there is none.
If there is one, then find it.
If there is none, then never mind it.

I would give almost anything I have or will have to have the person I love most in this world return for just one day, the one day that seems the fulcrum on which my past and future balance. I feel I am owed that by fate, but some debts are never paid, and we grow old and bitter waiting for recompense.

Still, my love is bruised, but undiminished. I will lock it away and keep it safe, in case it's ever needed again. I will be faithful. I will be forgiving. I will try and repair the things in me that need repairing, and hope that the rest takes care of itself. I will try and be generous in thought and deed, and charitable to those who need care. If the phone rings in the middle of the night, I will pick it up and I will listen. I will stumble and I will fall short, but I will be strong and true, and never give up.

I am leaving my bitterness behind me. I will find the cure for the things I can cure, and never mind the things I can't. I will tell myself this when I am alone in the dark, or when I feel a cresting wave of despair or anger. I will tell myself this when I am faced with the memory of what is lost, and the fear the future holds. I will tell myself this when I am in a situation where grace is the only thing that will serve me. I will tell myself this when the people who would harm me seem so callous or careless that I feel I will break into pieces. I will tell myself this when I do what I know is right, regardless of what it costs me.

I will tell myself this until I believe it.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Random Thoughts 9.5.14

(Disclaimer -- these random thoughts are all my own. Therefore they may occasionally be totally nonsensical. But I swear there are no secret codes contained in anything that could conceivably fuel any conspiracy theories. They should not be taken out of context, despite the fact there is no context. And I do not know the Yellow King and have never been to Carcosa. You may proceed.) 

I forgot how good listening to Al Green makes you feel.

Binge watching FX's Fargo this week. It's awesomely bizarre and darkly hilarious. Not least because there are several characters named Knutson. How about some hot dish, eh?

I've been watching videos of robotic abdominal surgery, since that might be what I'm getting next week. This is both awesome and a little scary, because the robot looks like a giant gleaming spider covered in plastic. I imagine somewhere in my brain that image is being filed away to be produced in some far less appealing context in the middle of the night.

If I could teach the cats to answer my emails, I would be roughly 150% more productive. 

Although it is annoying, it's also funny when someone parses my every utterance to see if I've said something to upset them. Of course, even if I didn't, they'd make something up. But, still, the power of words, baby! Apparently I have the most awesomely terrifying intellect in the country.  I wish that paid better.

Kids told me last night that Orlando Bloom punched Justin Bieber. I'd buy that for a dollar.

Do the people on Facebook know that if they comment on somebody else's post that it will show up on the timeline of anyone they're friends with, even if the original poster is not friends with them? I don't think everyone does. Or else the world would be a much less interesting place....

Speaking of Facebook, you know how they have Throwback Thursday? I think they should institute Fuck You Friday, where you're allowed to grouse about anyone who is currently pissing you off. And then they can't get mad at you, because it's, like, a meme.

(Warning -- The Bridge spoilers ahead. Skip to the next paragraph if you did not watch this week's episode) Watched The Bridge this week (did I mention how much I love that show?) I was tremendously upset that Fausto Galvan's men shot both Cesar and Hank, although apparently neither Cesar or Hank is dead yet. DO NOT KILL CESAR OR HANK. Also, too, despite the fact that Marco saved her at the last minute from either being shot by a contract killer, bitten by a rattlesnake, or dying of heat prostration (depending on which came first) Sonja is still disappointed in Marco. Because Sonja is disappointed by everything and everyone. Soon Sonja will run out of people on the show to be disappointed in and will break the fourth wall and be disappointed in random viewers. Mark my words, it's coming.

Three (three!) days without a panic attack. I'm thinking about making a workplace-injury type of sign to post by my desk.

The new trailer for Sons of Anarchy is insane. And adds to my belief that everyone on the show will be dead by around episode seven and the remaining episodes will just be a live cam of Kurt Sutter snoozing in a hammock or sipping a drink with a little umbrella in it. 

 It is very annoying that, due to the fact that I live in an Internet black hole, I can't play a YouTube video and attach a file to email at the same time.  The wonders of technology (she said sarcastically).

Maybe I should add (she said sarcastically) to everything I say.

Certain things are not a good look on certain people. Said people rarely recognize this, and hence are unaware of the people either quietly laughing or sadly shaking their heads behind certain people's backs. But pretty soon everyone is thinking the same thing, and they tell you they're thinking the same thing, because it's too much not to share,  and then it stops being pathetic and starts being really funny.

Kids believe that I have bought so much almost-expired meat from the Piggly-Wiggly bargain bin that we are all now immune to any zombie virus that might pop up.
I feel a little guilty, but, yes, it is satisfying when you find incontrovertible proof that someone is as dumb as you thought they were. 

Nicky's joke from last night: "You know if you go to jail in Canada, they only feed you maple syrup. No waffles." Of course it was much more adorable and hilarious if you saw him say it.

While I would not recommend my weight loss regimen of stunning heartbreak and cancer diagnosis, I have lost 40 pounds in two months and this morning drove the kids to school wearing my next, next smallest pair of jeans. At this rate, by Halloween I'll weigh less than when I started high school. Oh, and I have a great idea for a costume, but don't know if I have the guts to do it. But it would be hilarious.

I imagine all my random thoughts are being said in a Jack Handy voice.

I think I may be entering a manic phase of manic depression. I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Or perhaps the result of the anti-depressants I'm taking interacting with the almost-expired meat I've been eating. Maybe soon I will exhibit another superpower besides sarcasm. 

There is a great relief in knowing that a wide sampling of people you talk to share your opinion about something contentious. It makes you feel like you're not crazy or unreasonable, even when that accusation has been thrown around.  Repeatedly.

I still do not know who all the Russian visitors to my blog are. If you are a Russian visitor to my blog, please leave a comment. Although you probably shouldn't leave it in Russian, because I can't read Russian. (Or as Yakov Smirnoff would say, "In Russia, comment leaves you!)  Seriously, despite the whole Putin thing, I love Russians. So, say hi or something.

Cankles will never go away, no matter how much you exercise. Luckily I was genetically blessed with the feet and ankles of a foot model. So I have that going for me.

Okay, I have run out of things to say. Until I post this. Then I will immediately think of something else.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Yes, I Suffer From Clinical Depression

You ever have that feeling that you're stuck in limbo, like maybe you're in some hyper-realistic dream that should end at any moment, and you'll wake up and everything will be normal and mundane and you'll kind of laugh to yourself about the crazy thoughts that must have bubbled up from your subconscious?  But it would be a nervous laugh, because sometimes the lines get really thin and move unexpectedly and you end up in uncharted territory, and you don't wake up, you never wake up, and eventually that surreal, dream-like feeling of unease, of holding-your-breath-waiting-for-things-to-be-okay is all you have.

Sometimes the things you know with absolute certainty turn out to be untrue. Sometimes the people closest to you turn into strangers. Sometimes you are weighted down with a knowledge or a burden or a bright slice of pain that feels like a weight you can't find a way to be free of, something tethered to you so fast that you'll never become untangled from it before it takes you down where the light doesn't shine and you drown.

Jeez, but that sound morose. Which doesn't make it any less real. Today is the National Alliance on Mental Illness Day of Action.  A commenter on a blog I frequent put out a call for people to spread the word.

So, let me tell you something. I suffer from Clinical Depression and Adjustment Anxiety Disorder. It's relatively new to me, just a couple of months. Of course time has become frustratingly elastic and those months seem impossibly long, with the time ahead seeming impossibly longer still. Right now I'm not seeing any light at the end of the tunnel, even though I keep trying to squint hard enough to make it out. People tell me it's there. Sometimes I even believe it's there. Most times, though, it is all pain and darkness, and dragging myself from one minute to the next, distracting myself with work, with helping the kids, with doing the everyday things that need to be done for us to keep functioning.

I'm seeing a doctor and a therapist. I'm taking an anti-depressant and I have something to take when the acute panic attacks blot out everything but the pain and I squeeze my eyes shut so hard because I just can't stand to look at anything, because everything is bad and wrong and agonizing and impossible to bear even one second longer.  The feeling passes, but the specter of it hovers over me often, and I feel the beginnings of it creeping toward me, and I never know what might set it off again, because my world is full right now of hidden pits filled with sharp sticks, so well-hidden that I can't always see them and then suddenly I am falling.

The story of how I got here doesn't really matter much. Some people know some of it. A few people know all of it. In short, something really awful happened -- unbelievably awful -- which was quickly followed up by something else slightly less awful. And neither of these were just events -- like the unexpected death of someone you love, or a singular traumatic occurrence. These are ongoing things that I'm carefully trying to negotiate, sometimes with people who are not negotiating in good faith with me. So each day brings something new and hurtful and callous and unexpected.  I suspect I am becoming somewhat numb, because numbness may be all that's left as my defense. I suspect that someday I'll just write it all out, every bit of it, because I'll have nothing left to lose, and keeping it inside may be part of what is poisoning me.

Someday I may get better.

Why am I saying any of this today? Because, like so many "unpleasant" things, depression and other forms of mental illness are kept in the shadows. Lied about and covered up. Ignored. Looked down upon. Too much for certain people to deal with, and so they abandon those who need them most. I had a specific life experience that led to my depression, but many people don't have something that they can point to -- it just is.

And if you are feeling that way, or know someone who is, you are not alone. It is not your fault. Keep trying to help yourself, in whatever way you can. Seek out others who can help you. Don't be afraid to be open and tell people how you feel and what you need. Don't give up.

Someday you may get better.

Don't give up.

For more information about NAMI and #act4mental health click here

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Random Thoughts (Now with more Harvey Specter) + HOCKEY

This is the best website I've found lately. Just a simple thing.

How Many Days Until Hockey

Which will tell you how many days until opening day, how many days until preseason, and if you choose a team, how many days until certain events for that team. This is helpful because I often forget what day and, occasionally, what month it is.  And if you're interested, right now it's 35 Days Until Hockey, or more importantly 36 Days Until the First Avalanche Game.

Just finished binge watching Rectify on the Sundance channel. If you haven't seen it, you really should. Watched the Season Two finale last night, and found that I was actually holding my breath for the last couple of minutes of Daniel's "debrief." It was mesmerizing.  Admittedly, it not the feel-good show of the season, but it's a really elegant, gorgeous, well-acted thing. Thankfully it's been renewed for Season Three, because it was a real cliffhanger, with all the little plot threads from the past two seasons suddenly woven into what feels like a noose. Also, it's got to have the most interesting and apropos soundtrack of any show on television, which is saying something. 

I am still pissed off that Rick Hoffman did not get even an Emmy nomination for his role of Louis Litt in Suits.   And if I could figure out how to do it, I would have Gabriel Macht as Harvey Specter saying "What have you done?" as my ringtone for every single incoming call.  It's got just the right note of incredulous exasperation that is so, so familiar.

Speaking of TV: The Bridge is a show I would watch every single day. I especially enjoyed Mexican drug lord Fausto Galvan's "Have you ever been to Norway? The fjords look relaxing." I think I'm going to make a t-shirt logo for that. And I'll have to find a recipe for Monte P. Flaggman's (Lyle Lovett's) three-bean casserole. The show is actually bursting with so much really bizarre yet somehow compelling STUFF, that it's hard to focus on any one thing.

The kids and I are also enjoying The Strain, especially Kevin Durand as Vasily Fet, the Russian exterminator, and the always excellent David Bradley (Broadchurch and Game of Thrones) as Abraham Setrakian, who knows everything about the creatures. Of course he keeps telling the hapless CDC protagonists what he knows and they keep not believing him, because they are idiots. And so he says, kind of in the Harvey-Specter-exasperated-tone, "I've been right about everything so far, so why do you stupid people not believe me?" The stupid people have no answer for that, because they are stupid. I feel his pain.

Excited that Sons of Anarchy starts next week, but sad that there's only 13 episodes left. Of course at the rate that Kurt Sutter kills off characters, we may just be looking at an empty chair by the time the last episode rolls around.  And, really, after last season, I'm wondering what bit of envelope there is left to push. I am very happy that we'll see the return of Venus Van Dam, because Walton Goggins is maybe the best thing on TV.

Not TV-related: Pete is the worst cat in the world. He is the cat that, if he feels you are not paying attention to him, will jump on the highest shelf and begin batting down whatever looks breakable. He will also perch on the back of my desk chair and bite my head if his food bowl is empty. But he is extra soft to make up for the extra evil.

My comma splices are a style choice. So sue me. 

Some people make other people worse people just by being in proximity to them. They're like plague carriers. The terrible thing is, these people often seem like perfectly nice people until you scrape away the surface and see the ugly stuff that lies beneath. Like Twinkies filled with poison fungus instead of cream filling.   But there are always people who only see the spongy outer cake covering, either because they are invested in only seeing the outer spongy cake covering, or because they just haven't really bit down hard enough yet.  There should be a warning label, or maybe if you get close enough, a Harvey Specter voice intoning the dire consequences of allowing these people near you. In fact,  Harvey Specter should just narrate everything.

In closing, if you are having a bad day, think to yourself, "What Would Harvey Specter Do?" Or maybe visit Norway. I hear the fjords are relaxing.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Giant Tumor Update and Rant of the Day

Today was another one of those days. You ever get blamed for something you didn't do, or were even aware of? It's exhausting. And maybe you start to think, "Hey, if I'm getting blamed, I might as well get some satisfaction by actually doing something." But then someone will see you had that thought and then preemptively  blame you for something that hasn't even occurred yet. (Oh, yes, I'm being blamed for things that will happen in the future, because I'm actually the first female Doctor and I've disguised my TARDIS as a desk chair.)  So I guess there is no winning. And you know what, I'm so freaking tired from working 14-hour days and dealing with anxiety attacks and dealing with the kids' anxiety attacks and having this giant freaking tumor that I don't have time for half the shenanigans someone would blame me for anyway. And so I say to all the special snowflakes out there: there are things in the universe that do not pertain to you and, in fact, have nothing to do with you, regardless of how earnestly you believe that everything revolves around your very, very special snowflakeness. YOU. ARE. JUST. NOT. THAT. IMPORTANT.         /end rant

Now that that's out of the way. I saw the oncologist today -- and I really, really like her. Both the tests for cancer markers (CA 125 and HEP4) came back within normal range, and although the tumor is a complex cyst, it's possible that the nodules are confined to the inside of the capsule since there's no outright evidence that the cancer has spread. She said that bigger means it's more likely to be benign or low-malignancy, because if it was a carcinoma this large there would likely be other areas of obvious cancer.  She also said that radiologists love to jump the gun and she would smack the radiologist who read my CT in the head if she every met him/her.

So tomorrow I'll set up surgery for some time next week, at which point they will scoop out anything I'm not using anymore. There's a chance they'll be able to do the surgery with endoscopy and a robot -- which would be really cool, and also not nearly as invasive, but it's a long shot. I'll probably still have to have a full laporotomy. So I've consented to both procedures and she'll decide once she does the endoscopy. They'll see if it's malignant during the surgery, and if so, stage the cancer and do biopsies on whatever organs and lymph nodes are handy. But there's fair chance it may be benign or an enclosed low-malignancy cancer that will be cured just by removal. So that's what I'll go in thinking.

And for all my writer friends -- I've stocked up on books for my hospital/bed rest: the Stephen King JFK time travel book (which is huge and I can't be bothered to remember the actual title right now), the new Jonathan Kellerman, two James Lee Burke Dave Robichaux novels that I somehow missed, and Neverwhere and American Gods by Neil Gaiman, which are books I was meaning to read anyway. So I shall be in fine company, even if I end up alone.

That's all the news that's fit to print and probably more than most people wanted to know about the bad Lifetime movie my life has become. And now I have to go back to work, because I still have 20 client projects unfinished that need to BE finished before I hit the hospital, and those 14-hour days don't work themselves.

Thanks again to everyone who has been so swell and supportive during the recent troubles. It means more than I can say.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

To Blog or Not To Blog, That is the Question

This is a personal blog, as anyone who has read it over the years can attest. It's catharsis for me, putting words down and letting them loose. I am, above anything else, a writer, and I always will be. Sometimes it's humorous, sometimes it's serious, sometimes it's just a random, crazy thought. It's more for me than anyone else, although hopefully sometimes somebody finds something amusing or otherwise worth reading.

I've missed blogging, and in my new, post-apocalypse world, I'm eager to go back to it. I've lost a lot of things recently, but this is my patch of ground. This is me and no one else. I've been warned, post-apocalypse, to be careful about making certain people "uncomfortable." Well, not to put too fine a point on it, fuck that noise. My purpose in life is not to make random people comfortable or uncomfortable. And if you are uncomfortable, perhaps you should look deep inside and explore that a little, because maybe you should be uncomfortable.

I've spent a lot of time lately keeping my mouth shut, and spent too much time surrounded by some people whom I could please only by my sudden and unmourned disappearance. Too bad. I will be judicious, because as the great Buckaroo Banzai said, "Don't be mean. We don't have to mean," but I'm through being, as I was brutally called recently, "invisible."

And no, for select people who might work themselves into a lather, I'm not burning anything down, just reclaiming what's mine. I'm sure there are going to be a lot of tortured metaphors, inside jokes, cryptic blatherings, and general nerddom. There will probably be some very sad and difficult things, at least for a while as I work out my new place in the world. I've given a lot of thought to what I will write, and to what I won't, and to the toxic things I will write and never post, because once I've got them out of my head they will have lost their venom and would do no one any good in the end.

And if you have the time, you might go backwards and read some of the archives. There was some really funny stuff and some really touching stuff, and a few moments in my life that were very important, caught forever in a little snowglobe world. No matter what happened or is yet to happen, those moments are real and they are precious and I'm glad that I put them down on paper when I had the chance.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Long Dark Teatime of the Soul, Redux

So, I've been gone a while. I mean really gone for a really long while. Things, as they are wont to do, have changed. My life has undergone a catastrophic upheaval (preceded by a limbo period where I apparently became someone I shouldn't ever have been.) But out of the blue the other day an old friend, a very dear friend and one of the finest, most honorable people I've ever known, called me (totally unaware of said catastrophic event) just to tell me something he forgot to tell me 30-odd years ago.

And when he learned of the catastrophic event (and I really feel like it should have some signifier of import but I can't think of a title that really does it justice yet), he told me something very simple. He said, "That's not who you are. You forgot who you are, but that's definitely not who you are."   And, like that, the light switch that had been flipped off a couple of weeks earlier, leaving me in a pitch black room that was totally unfamiliar and full of potentially deadly things, flipped back on. Sure, the light isn't very bright yet and I can't see the corners, but sometimes those things take a little while to warm up. I have to believe that the light will get brighter, and that eventually I will find my way out of that dark room. Maybe it'll take a special key I don't know I have yet, or maybe I'll just have to take an ax and hack my way out, but I will find a way out.

And so I'm going to start blogging again. Why? Because I have too many words, always too many words, and they need to go somewhere. And it doesn't matter that much if people read all of them -- although I'm somewhat amazed that this blog still has regular visitors, years after I last posted -- but it matters to me that I put those words somewhere. That's something that keeps me healthy and keeps me sharp. And maybe I'll occasionally write something that someone finds funny, or true, or makes someone feel some emotion they need to feel. For me, it's another way of moving forward and keeping the gremlins in the garret from getting too restless and turning on the landlord.

See, I feel better already.