All Dressed Up with No Place to Go

IMG_2101The laundry is all done, the fridge is almost empty, the minor details of life are all on auto-pay and I’m ready for our little mini vacation.  Steven has been literally begging me for months to go on a vacation to the mountains.  I’ve tried to talk him out of it a hundred times.  He wanted to go to Gatlinburg, Tennessee for some unknown reason.  I could give a rat’s ass about most of Tennessee.  I used to work regularly at a few comedy clubs in Tennessee back image95496121in the day and I have bad memories of drunk women incoherently heckling and simultaneously projectile vomiting.  It seems needless to say that I have no desire to visit Tennessee.  My shoes cringe at the thought!  So it’s been painful for me to be hammered for months about getting away for this idyllic holiday to a place I regard as a little slice of hell.

y4m58PGrXQCRrNBNDGdnPpNVCIn5Hrl6U3ieE-AminrVDxOOdBkDZaP2JxnqLf3fOZpI4eBBzn1QPgEsvagr9Cl9mRDiEu6Dfbm4zM7KXtX-B9UcQmdt-vQnKWS_vU8to2aavmJ2fjASWzjqW2bXSKfs63XYfl8gbUmn6m2gyWqcrMrHVvtwxWDDXQuite a few weeks ago I was reading Yahoo News and a click lead to another click which put me on a page about the big Hemlock Festival this weekend in Dahlonega, Georgia.  For whatever reason, it seemed like fun.  A festival celebrating a tree could not be more innocuous.  I could really get into a perfect low-key getaway.  The location seemed perfect as well.  It’s just the other side of the Blue Ridge Mountains that had become Steven’s new fixation.  It was quite a few hours shorter in drive time than Tennessee…and as far as I knew, no projectile vomiting.  So I summoned Steven to Molly’s Porch for a quick family meeting and vacation plans were set in motion.  I requested official time off from Nana duty, and Steven quickly went about making reservations in a pet-friendly hotel and began his due diligence in compiling the historical, meteorological and socio-economic background check on the area.  He LOVES. LOVES, LOVES the planning part of the vacation experience.

Compliments of Steven,  I’ve been getting local temperature and other oddball tidbits of fullsizeoutput_60eDahlonega, Georgia factoids sent to my phone about 4-5 times a week for the past month.  I’ve also been getting snapshots of a live camera somewhere in the town showing me the state of the leaves on the trees, so I can keep up with the fall foliage color change…BTW- it hasn’t happened yet.  I’ve also received text updates from Steven noting celebrities who hail from that area so I can keep my eyes peeled while walking around town lest I trip on a famous person.  And I even got an email from him about the state of the ground cover where the festival is held because the out of town festival is in a grassy area that might be muddy if the weather is too wet prior to Hemlock weekend.   We are prepared for weather dips into the 30s with layers of clothing to protect our delicate Florida anatomy (I use the singular “anatomy” because I’m always warm and Molly comes standard wearing a coat so really, we’re talking about Steven…THE ONLY ONE WHO WANTS TO GO TO THE FUCKING MOUNTAINS!!!)

IMG_2313Nevertheless, we are ready to Rock and Roll.  Today is Wednesday.  I have a little Nana duty later on today and then tomorrow I have the day to get our stuff together for a nice, leisurely trip to…NO WHERE.  Because I always forget that Steven loves to plan vacations but has a hard time going on vacations.  No.  Steven loves to plan trips but has a hard time going on trips.  No.  Steven loves to plan leaving the house but has a hard time leaving the house.  YES!  That’s it!  That’s exactly it.  This morning he informed me he really, really, really doesn’t want to go.

Welcome back to one of the recurring themes in our life after cancer, lymphoma, a stem FullSizeRendercell transplant, chemotherapy and all of those life changing things that Steven has had to endure.  The aftermath of the physical and mental trauma that now haunt Steven cause and so much anxiety stress for him and in turn for me.  It’s such a shame.  We have time and a little spare change to do a few things, but a lot of times, I just can’t get him out the door.  The world is a scary place and when one feels weak and vulnerable, it’s even scarier.  And that’s the bottom line.  Home is safe DSC_0895and secure.  His needs are all met.  His food and beverage are all readily available whenever he wants without any fuss or bother or wait.  If he’s tired he has multiple areas to rest his weary bones.  If he’s feeling anxious, he can take a pill and chill out in a cozy familiar place, or he can go socialize in the big bold world that is right outside our community where home is a blink away if his mood changes and he needs to get back.  Therein lies the distinction between vacation and home.  Vacation is just too far away.

IMG_1846So my job, for now, is to make every day at home like a vacation.  Well, hell…for me it already is.  I don’t have to go to work every day.  I get to see Lil’ G A LOT!  I”m finally spending quality time with Steven in person instead of texting and calling all day from an office or car.  I feel like I’ve won the lottery.  Steven’s life is a vacation, too.  He just doesn’t know it.  He no longer has chores to do in the garden or garage or attic or anywhere that involves tools or safety glasses or power tools.  His daily responsibilities are so minimal that he actually puts in MORE effort when we stay in a hotel.  But he doesn’t see that.  So periodically he decides he needs a vacation and I guess all I have to do to make him happy is to just say, “Yes” to all his vacation plans.  Let him enjoy the planning that he loves so much and just know that we’re not going to go.  Reserve away big guy!  From now on, I say, “Yes!” to going no where!

 

 

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Enjoying The Morning on Molly’s Porch

 

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MOLLY’S CORNER

As Mr. Rogers used to say, “It’s a beautiful day in our neighborhood,” and I’m still lucky enough to be enjoying the retired part of the ‘semi-retired’ status I claim.  Steven is watching the FOX Business Channel keeping an eye on whatever it is that he’s buying and selling to keep me from having to get an office job.  I’m trying to lay low and let him keep at it so I don’t44425f9fd85525f34098985ebe3e7044   have to get that dreaded office job!  Meanwhile, the Unsinkable Molly Brown-Dog and I have come to agreement that her porch and my porch are one in the same and we live to enjoy it in peace and harmony without barking at the neighbors or growling the UPS delivery people who frequent our abode  As the bumper sticker says, “Life is Good.”  My status as “Broke Foot” has been upgraded to Gimpy Girl and I’m doing my best to rehab myself with some serious work in the gym and pool to make myself the best Nana I can be.  So all in all, I’m good.

As a follow up to Steven’s follow up to his last doctor’s appointment, apparently he is either a miracle (God’s opinion) or an anomaly (Dr. Sprawls’ opinion) or a freaking piece of work (MY opinion)

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DANGER

.  The quarterly check up and labs right after we moved showed rising numbers in his LDH blood test.  For all you noobs, I’ll shortcut you and say that that test result can mean a million things, but for anyone in the cancer community it’s a BIG FAT FREAKIN’ RED FLAG with herpes on the pole, if you know what I mean!  We poo-pooed the higher numbers in March because we had just moved and Steven had been doing a lot of lifting and toting.  His aching joints and arthritis was so bad that it had him tearing up with pain.  So it was no wonder that his blood showed inflammation and we wrote it off as just that.  And we went about our business…ignoring the nagging feeling that something might be rotten in Denmark!  I hate that little voice in the back of everyone’s head, don’t you?

One would think that coming up on the June blood test that Steven would have babied himself looking to recover and rest up from the March debacle.  One would think…but not our Steven.  The day before he went for his labs…let me rephrase that…THE FUCKING DAY HE BEFORE HE WENT FOR HIS FUCKING LABS, he was out in the Florida sun all day, DSC_0749washing and waxing and polishing and romancing his car from dawn until he finally dropped to his knees in exhaustion.  He was dehydrated, sunburned and sore from his neck to his toes.  He couldn’t move his shoulders for a month from the pain and at that time finally determined that his joints would no longer allow him the repetitive motion of “wax on” “wax off” detailing to his beloved Cadillac.  Oh yeah, he failed the blood test with sinking colors.  Dr. Sprawls gave him the old, “Don’t worry yet, we’ve got therapy drugs if you need them.”  (HEY NOOBIES – YA KNOW HOW YA SAY ‘BURGER’ WHEN YA MEAN ‘HAMBURGER’?  SPRAWLS SAYS ‘THERAPY’ WHEN HE MEANS ‘CHEMOTHERAPY’)

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SUPER STRICT DAD = FACELESS BABY PIX

Needless to say we had a nervous-y 3 month wait until September.  I will give Steven credit this time for being semi-patient and semi-calm.  He took care of himself by listening to me more.  He was mouthy about it but eventually he listened!  He now has “a guy” to wax his car.  He walks Molly for exercise.  (Thank you Broke Foot)  He eats what I give him, including the vitamins and supplements and even his treats are healthful…and he rested.  A lot.  It’s been a hard transition to move inland and a lot hotter and more humid than beachside. So summers in Orlando are great for afternoon naps and Steven got good at taking breaks when nothing was going on.  He’s finally starting to learn to just rest.  It paid off.  Big time.  Number reversal in cancer care is not the norm.  When it happens it’s like watching the ball drop on New Year’s Eve.  It’s a big deal and that’s exactly what the last quarterly visit was.  A GREAT BIG FANTASTIC BIG DEAL OF NORMAL!

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Lil’ G  AT FIVE DAYS OLD

So today, I’m sitting on the Molly’s Porch, enjoying the beauty and glory of the day and thinking about the future.  How’s this for the future.  I took this photo of Alexis almost 2 years ago.  It was the day after she and Matthew brought Lil’ G home from the hospital.  Since Matt had to work, I went with her to a pediatrician appointment and then we took Lil’ G to  witness his first pedicure.  He slept through the whole thing.  I wonder if we’ll be able to do that with the next one this coming April?  We’ll just have to see, won’t we?  If it’s a girl,

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HE REALLY DOES HAVE A FACE AND HE’S QUITE HANDSOME!

 

maybe she’ll get her first pedi too!  Whether it’s a boy or a girl, I really don’t care.  I’m just tickled that we’re getting another one!  This Nana gig is great and I’m glad to keep on keeping on.  Quite frankly, now that I remember all the ins and outs of babies, I’m ready for one more because they’re fun,,,and I still get to go home at the end of the night.  But since the parents don’t,  I can see they’re gonna keep on needing me, and I’m loving that!

It’s Good to Be Back

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OK…I’m going to try this. It’s been so long since I posted anything that I’m curious about my ability to write a cohesive post. I thought I’d just start with a topic, but then I decided that playing catch-up was probably in order for my few faithful readers. So for today, let me nutshell this last hiatus and then next time I can just start blabbering.

The book I bragged about is still in my head. A decent amount ended up on paper but I let myself get tangled in a big messy knot after talking with an old comedian friend about writing the book. He’s written a few and suggested a book for me to read about writing a book. For future reference this is what one does (or what I do) when one feels insecure about a new thing. So I bought the book and began to read. Big mistake! Both he and the alleged instructional book suggested IMG_1688within the first few pages that “book characters have way more sex than you have in real life.” Neither my old acquaintance nor the recommended book have any concept of the whole lymphoma thing, a stem cell transplant or any life altering events that are attached. We’ve had way more puke that you have in real life, which is hardly a good parallel worth expanding upon! The book fell to the wayside as did the old comedian who was going to call me every week to cheerlead but stopped after the initial “RAH”. For future reference, the book is not dead just in an induced coma for now.

img_1268Then there was the broken foot that happened on the job, which lead to my surprise phone call from the employer suggesting we “separate” during my recovery. That phone call from him lead to a phone call by me to a lawyer who then requested that I refrain from any comments in written form about said employer, accident, injury or anything that I might think was funny. I learned that you can be let go from a job while out on Workers Comp, so allow me to suggest that you write that down as something to be remembered in your life. NO one I know thought it was legal. Unfortunately, the only thing my silence earned me was a foot that was semi-healed “as good as it would get at my age.” Which, by the way, is only worth $9000 in settlement money. So if you’re gonna break something at work, do it before you hit your 60’s!  After that, the settlement is short lived and the limp is forever.

LIVING ROOM 2During the time I was unable to walk, Steven and I finally came to grips with the fact that our house was way too much for either of us to handle alone. I have been struggling for years during his down times and chemo with upkeep, barely keeping the dust from overtaking the overflowing laundry basket. Unfortunately the stem cell transplant left him with way less stamina than ever before and he MASTER BATH 1couldn’t pick up the slack at all. So we finally had that tough conversation about selling the house and finding a more manageable situation. Being the stubborn designer that I am, I fought him tooth and nail on it at first. That house finally had my artistic touch on two incredibly designed spa bathrooms of my dreams and I’d been waiting for 20 years to start on the blank canvas known as the kitchen. But now with no design center MASTER BATH 2connections and no real job on the horizon for gimpy old me, Steven finally convinced me that the project needed to be turned over to someone willing to dump a pile of cash into the place and unfortunately that just was not US. Hobbling in to interviews like Grandpappy Amos (Google it pre-Baby Boomers) did not net me a job so it was time to sell.

 

Again I was requested to keep my fingers off the keyboard and my pie hole shut as we HALL BATH 1went through the selling process. To further add insult to injury, I began the long, hard, emotional task of going through all our earthly possessions and weeding out the things would we would NOT be able to take with us to our new smaller abode. We found a lovely luxury apartment in Orlando, meaning we were giving up our beach life. Steven was smart enough to know that THE ONE AND ONLY THING that would make me go peacefully was finding a place less than 8 miles from Alexis’s house. And on February 23, 2017 just two weeks shy of 20 years in that house, we loaded up the truck and moved to the big city.

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So we have a new life. We also have a new family member. We decided that we missed fullsizeoutput_75having a canine daughter and since we were moving, why not get one to make sure we had any house breaking worked out on the old carpet. No IMG_1870judgements, please. They buyer was planning on ripping out the carpets and his realtor was such a bitch that is was the small amount of pleasure necessary to get me through it. Besides, The Unsinkable Molly Brown-Dog was a 2 year old rescue who came house broken and a little psychotic, so she fits in just great. You can check her out on Face Book to get a taste of her antics, but for the most part she’s exactly what we both needed to add that extra zip into our lives.

7f637948030b231d9738fa7833a4ce17bf5eeb0dI know I’ll have to pick up a little part time work after the summer, because Pie-Chart Boy is back on the job and he’s got our fixed income budget worked out for the next 10 years. It’s the one part of Steven that I just don’t get. I’m not an analytical maniac like he is, so even though I’m a fan of a good spread sheet, he takes it past plain spread sheets to pie charts, graphs and color coded itemized formula inserts. But that keeps him busy as he studies Fox thBusiness News daily and investing our house sale profits to allow me to stay out of the workplace.  All the while I get to babysit Lil’ G several times a week and hang with Alexis and him on her days off. We now do those Mother / Daughter things we were never near enough to do. We grocery shop together, do lunches, pedicures, coffee clatches, walk the malls and generally just yuck it up while we both watch Lil’ G grow. It’s FUCKING AWESOME!

IMG_1879And since we have no back yard, but a beautiful campus here at the luxury complex, Steven is never alone and never left to sleep away the day thanks to the very playful Molly Min-Pin.

All in all life is great. Except for this one thing. Steven’s labs in March showed a rising in his LDH blood test. This last test in late June show them up even more. According to Dr. Sprawls, the levels are still in a normal range “FOR STEVEN.”  However we’ve been down this road before. If you are lucky enough to be unaware of this particular blood test – here you go:

An elevated level of LD may be seen with:
Hemolytic anemia – NOT
Pernicious anemia – NOT
Infections such as infectious mononucleosis (mono), meningitis, encephalitis, HIV – ABSOLUTELY NOT OR I’D BE OOZING SOMETHING, TOO
Sepsis – DEFINITELY NOT
Intestinal and lung (pulmonary) infarction – NOPE
Acute kidney disease – UH…NO
Acute liver disease – HOW HIS LIVER EVEN WORKS IS A MIRACLE, BUT NO
Acute muscle injury – POSSIBLE, MOVING, LIFTING & FALLING ON HIS ASS A BAZILLION TIMES HAVE BEATEN HIM UP PRETTY GOOD
Pancreatitis – NOPE
Bone fractures – NOTHING BROKEN
Testicular cancer – TESTICLES HANG LOW BUT NO CANCER
LYMPHOMA or other cancers –     →HERE WE GO!←

And so I’m back! A word to the wise. Don’t try to tell us not to jump to conclusions. We well know that this could be nothing. It also could be something. But we both know that when we try to keep our heads up our asses we don’t like the smell. So Steven is facing this head on, ass free and I am too. And while we wait for next quarter’s blood tests we’re enjoying no lawns to keep, handymen that run to us to fix every burnt out light bulb and my favorite neighbors who are only 8 miles away.  For whatever reason, I’m glad to be back!

I’m Writing a Book

MacWriter-APPLEphotoOK – I wrote it…not the book.  Just those words, which carry the intent that I’m gonna…write the book.   I’m doing this for a number of reasons but I’m telling you about it for only one reason – to keep me honest and hold me to it.  So buckle up and please, please. please come along with me for this ride.  I want to drive and I want you with me.

I’ve always thought I was destined to write a book and I’ve included the the phrase, “I know I’ve got a good book in me,” to countless people in thousands of conversations over the years.  But jobs, life, fun, sickness, health, child care, laundry, shopping, shaving my legs and multitudes of “good” reasons have always gotten in the way.  The truth of the matter is that the only real reason was laziness and fear.  I could have scraped together the time to write, hell…I’m writing now!  I just never wanted to take the plunge into the deep end of the writing pool because it seemed so… deep.   I can swim, but I’d rather just float…with a drink in my hand and my eyes closed.  Now, suddenly I don’t think I’ll drown.  I’m ready to do this.

Don’t ask me why.  I’m not exactly sure myself.  It could be, and probably is, a culmination of all the events that have led me to now.  It’s also a ton of little tiny signs that have converged into a tipping point becoming so obvious that I can no longer ignore them.  And then there’s this blog.  There are probably 3  entire books worth of posts in here, some of which will probably be, or be the basis of, a chapter or 10.

I believe in God.  I was brought up in a severely Catholic situation.  Catholic grammar Pond lily 4-3-11school, an all-girls Catholic high school and a Catholic college.  The only reason I didn’t end up as a nun is…well all the reasons.  Sex was probably the biggest.  But the costumes being black and I’m a spring who shouldn’t wear black, and the praying thing and my knee problems and the behaving all humble and… all that.  Let’s face it, just because I could recite the Mass in Latin doesn’t mean I would have been accepted into the convent.  But the point is that I just remember all nuns saying they heard God call them.  I’ve spent my entire life in close proximity to dozens of phones.  I never got the call.  Until this.  I think I got a writing call.

Yearbook Photo-MeCatholicism aside, my relationship with God has mellowed over the years.  For very personal reasons that are between me and Him, I was put in a position that forced my hand because of the strict rules the Catholics of the 1970s.  They liked to play hardball.  In order to marry a non-Catholic I was forced to make promises with which I took exception.  I had a long chat with God.  I assured him that I would get married in a church to make my family happy.  But I also assured him that I thought the priestly power play was just as skeevy as the fee I had to send to the Pope for papal permission to let me marry a rat-bastard Christian Scientist.  I told him if the parish was going to force me into a corner,  my Catholic days would be over.  And they were.

So for years my relationship with God has been pretty loose-goosey.  I actually really like it img_1435this way.  When I moved to Florida I realized that God doesn’t live in Churches.  Have you seen a sunrise at the beach.  That’s where God lives!  He owns oceanfront.  And when I talk to Him, which I do A LOT, I talk to Him the same way I talk to friends.  He knows I use the F-word.  He knows I’m sarcastic and bitchy.  He also knows I’m as dense as a fat chick in Extra-Small Spanx!  So over the years I have begged for signs when I’m at a crossroads.  And He humors me with HUGE effing signs when He’s finally decided to shoot me a map.  So for the past six months I’ve been praying every morning as I would drive to the crappiest job ever.  Nothing…until…

  • I sprained my ankle, tore a ligament and broke a bone in my foot while working.  Not sure about this but I think maybe God tripped me.  This was too stupid of an accident for me.  I’m pretty careful.  I know I have been the family breadwinner and golden goose since we started the Lymphoma Limbo in 2004.  I’ve changed a lot in order to protect myself just so I could continue in that responsibility.  This injury was freaky and the only way I could start making sense was when I tried to… WRITE about it!
  • I got fired from a crappy job, which in retrospect was the worst one I’ve had since a 4 hour stint as a dressing room attendant in a Gimbels department store in NY. Even though the Gimbels gig was a part-time college job, I wouldn’t put up with crap for a whole 8 hour day. I went out to lunch and found a new job…a better job….a more fun job.  Instead of clocking back in, I quit after 4 hours and couldn’t have been happier.  That had been my M.O. for the last 42 years so keeping a crappy job was WAY out of character for me.  I didn’t even realize that until I dissected it – in WRITING
  • I used to be able to get jobs really fast and pretty easily.  When I found something I wanted I was good about landing it.  Suddenly I can’t even land an interview.  And if and when I do, I damn sure know they’re going to be really impressed when they see the boot!  What about that?  Answer – It’s gotta be time!  Sit back, shut up and WRITE
  • My son-in-law makes little videos on a FB site and I want to watch them but can’t.  All his positive jibber-jabber has been pissing me off lately.  I’m trying to wallow in pity and self-help advice from a thirty-something is irritating.  But I accidentally clicked on him the other day and before I could stop it I heard him say, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”  “Screw you Matt!  Blah-Blah-Blah…I can’t hear you!”  But I did hear him and immediately my mind clicked….Answer – WRITE a book.
  • Finally, there’s nothing that interests me on the entire world wide web, I can’t find a book I want to read and all 6000 channels on my TV suck.  I’m so bored and yet usually I have no problem entertaining myself.  Why now?  How can I occupy my time?  Answer – WRITE

So there you go, those are my signs.  And I think rather than wallowing in my own crap any more, it’s time I put the Can in Cancer.  So here’s the Premise:

Sept. Lymphoma Awareness monthCancer touches everyone. Yet it still has the stigma of leprosy and AIDS combined with the death sentence of a convicted criminal. People bristle when they hear the word; saying, “Cancer” evokes the look of pity, horror or uncomfortable dismissal from bystanders. It’s an awful disease. It’s scary, it’s unpleasant and it’s all around us. We need to learn to embrace its being, take a deep breath and look at it face on. We need to be able to make fun of it, to take away its power. And to use the word in conversation as a piece of news just like pregnancy, a tax audit or a sale at Macy’s. It’s something that’s going on in our lives. It’s something that effects us. It’s something about which many people need to talk. And the response doesn’t ever need a story that ends in a cemetery. You wouldn’t talk miscarriages with a newly pregnant woman, or jail time with an unfortunate taxpayer. And you certainly wouldn’t reminisce about a relative getting hit by a bus on the way to the semi-annual white sale at Macy’s. It needs to be the same with cancer. Scientists and doctors are working non-stop to obliterate the disease. We need to obliterate the stigma as well. Let’s make America great again and let’s make cancer fun again.

What do you think.  This one time, I’m asking you to use the LIKE BUTTON at the bottom like-buttonof the post if you’re on board.  And more importantly, please just this once, make use of the  “Comments” option below to tell me what you think, what you suggest, want you want me to cover…or anything you can think of that I should know.  Share all your thoughts.  I really want to know.  Share with any friends who you think will have an opinion and get me the feedback I need!

I’m going to do this and I want you to be part of it, so hop in and buckle up.  I told you before, I’m driving!

 

He Calls Me “Broke Foot”

IMG_1508My life is sucking right now. On a scale of Life and Death, which is the one Steven and I have used throughout each lymphoma tango in the last 12 years, I know this is all on the plus side of Life. No one is dying here. I also know that all the “think positive” crap that everyone, including ME, pontificates is generally the best way to go. But for right now at this point in time, I need to wallow in my anger and fright without being reprimanded by the gurus of good thoughts. I can’t get over being angry unless I take the time to BE angry. And damn, I am!

Back in July, I was leaving a client’s condo after an in-home consultation and while walking down the stairs to the parking area I had one of those “Oh Shit, I’m going down” moments where your life passes in front of your eyes and all you can see is the chalk outline of your fat ass splat on the the cement as the last frame. I’ve only been able to determine that as the scenario because I ruined my pedicure, scraped up my shoe and scared myself to death! I thought I was going to fall down the concrete stairs with and armful of lighting catalogs and a handbag full of things that suddenly seemed very unimportant! Luckily I caught myself before I tumbled in an area where the breeze off the river would have most definitely blown my dress over my head leaving my Granny Panties on display for the whole condo to enjoy.

My next step after the save was the one that revealed that I just suffered a huge mishap. Asimg_1287 soon as I put weight on my left foot, I knew something very bad had happened. I hobbled to my car like a woman who should wear Granny Panties and headed off to the showroom. My first thought was to go home, to ice and elevate, but I knew we were short-staffed that day and I wanted to give my co-workers the opportunity to take care of me. They did not. Since there was no manager or person of authority there, I relied on the veteran sales ladies to make the call. After I told them my tale, they smiled at the Granny Panty part and suggested I go help one of the customers wandering around the store. Ahhhh, another day this big shot designer would be selling light bulbs. How wonderful that my years of experience have brought me to this!

By the end of the day, my ankle was the size of a ham and when I finally got home I went MULTI COLOR MARTINISto the bedroom and never moved. Well, maybe I limped to the bathroom a few times to return the martini fixings back to the Beefeater gods. But other than peeing, I stayed on the bed with my leg elevated on several pillows while Steven timed the 20 minutes on / 20 minutes off icings so he could report good nursing practices to Alexis. He’s kind of afraid of her when it comes to all things healthcare. She can be a bit of a Nazi-daughter when we don’t take good care of ourselves or one another!

The following Monday was another short-staffer. And like an idiot, I expected that someone would take pity on the gimp limp. Nope… I thought I was dying, foot first. By the time I got home I knew this wasn’t a regular sprain. Something bad was going on. So bad that I couldn’t walk the next day, so I called in injured and went back to bed for the ice and elevate game.

img_1268I can go on about how many steps I walked on my “sprained” ankle after the Workers Comp doc put me in one of those big black boots with the Velcro tie downs and sent me back for “light duty”. I can lament about all my protests to co-workers that I was really hurting and couldn’t keep chasing down every wayward customer. I can even regret that I trusted the people with whom I worked to have some compassion for my pain and suffering. But, I can never communicate how mad I am about it.

It took almost four weeks before I was sent for an MRI. It turns out I have a broken bone in my foot and a img_1324completely torn ligament. My employers would not provide me with a “sitting duty only” job and filed me as out on Workers Comp without a blink. I received an email disguised with false empathy letting me know that I wasn’t welcome to return until I could come back at full duty. I got a call about a week later from the President. He said it wasn’t working out and that we had to part company. I was dismissed. They broke me and then threw me out. That’s why I’m mad.

I’m frightened because it’s been almost 2 months since the injury. I’ve been off my foot in a sitting or prone position for 2 months. My foot might feel a little better. It’s hard to tell without walking. My ankle still hurts like a son of a bitch. There’s a burning feeling someplace in there. It’s the same burning that you get when you pee and there’s something really bad going on! And it’s just as hard to diagnose. It’s not my ankle outright, it’s not my foot either. It is inside where I can’t rub it or ice it or make it feel better. It hurts in the boot and hurts out of the boot. It hurts sitting, elevated or down. And it’s not getting better and I’m totally scared because at 62 years old, I’m worried that it might never get better. I don’t feel any change in 2 months…so when is the hope of improvement just a dream?  Who wouldn’t lose hope if you went for 2 months burning whenever you pee?

I have no job. I need a job. Since Steven’s stem cell transplant, he’s healthy and alive and IMG_1424great. But he’s not in any shape to work. His stamina is way better than it was a year ago, but a year ago he had the stamina of a dead person, so….I need a job. But after no activity for 2 months, my back hurts. Of course, it only hurts when I’m lying around. The pain KILLS me if I’m standing. My muscles aren’t being used to hold me up and now they don’t want to play nice anymore. My knees worked after the menisci surgeries last year. But by not using them at all for 2 months, they don’t want to act right either. I’m not supposed to exercise. No walking, no biking, no swimming. So I’m atrophying into a blob and someone please explain to me how to present that blob for a job interview…with a space boot and a limp and gasping for air because a walk down the hall is now more aerobic activity than I’ve had in months.

I see the doctor on Monday. I’m going to give him a copy of this post. He needs to know I’m freaking out. This injury started as my foot and ankle. It’s now destroying my entire body. It’s messing with my mind and it’s making me lose my sense of humor. I can’t let that happen. I need that. Because deep down inside I might still see the glimmer of hope that this will all work out. And when it does, I’ll need to be able to make fun of it and I need my sense of humor for that.

Head Gravy

THIS IS A POST THAT I WROTE OVER 5 YEARS AGO.  I’M REPOSTING IT TODAY BECAUSE STEVEN MENTIONED THAT HE READ A LITTLE SNIPPET ABOUT SHANNON DOHERTY.   ACCORDING TO STEVEN’S REPORT, SHE DISCOVERED HER CANCER HAS RETURNED BECAUSE IT WAS DETECTED BY HER DOG.  BEFORE YOU THINK THIS IS A BIG HOLLYWOOD HOAX OR MAJOR SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY, PLEASE READ ON.  SOMEONE HAS TO DO A STUDY ON THIS, SO IF YOU KNOW A GUY WHO KNOWS A GUY….PASS IT ON!

This is a little news flash that I saw on thirdage.com and it got me thinking:

Cancer Breath

We all know about the sensitivity of dogs to imminent hurricanes and tornadoes. Now it turns out that dogs can detect early and late stage cancer by sniffing a patient’s breath. As it turns out, tumors have a very faint smell that dogs’ sensitive noses can pick up. Researchers in Germany trained five ordinary household dogs to recognize the odor of tumors in both early- and late-stage lung cancer patients. The dogs had a 71 percent accuracy rate in detecting tumors, and a 99 percent accuracy rate in smelling study subjects who didn’t have tumors. Finding early tumors can pave the way for more accurate treatment. The American Cancer society has been cautious but not dismissive about the findings, with its chief medical officer, Dr. Leonard Lichtenfeld, saying, “I learned a long time ago never to say never. And when it comes to detecting cancer early by a smell test, well….stranger things have happened.”

ZOEY SLURPING STEVEN'S PILLOW

ZOEY SLURPING STEVEN’S PILLOW

Fascinating, wouldn’t you say?  I’m leaning toward believing that it’s true because:

  1. I love stuff like this
  2. I love my dogs
  3. I love knowing obscure trivia
  4. I love being quirky

So, I’m all in.  And, although my backup is not at all scientific – just observational, I concur that dogs can sense when something is physically off …by the taste of head gravy.

If you are not in the science and research field as deeply as I, you probably aren’t aware of head gravy because it is a term I coined to describe any moisture, sweat or residue left on a pillowcase after a night’s sleep.  Thus far, the study of head gravy has been limited to my bedroom, predominantly on Steven’s side of the bed.  However, I believe the patterns I’ve witnessed are astounding.

ZACK & MISSY WARMING THE GRAVY

ZACK & MISSY WARMING THE GRAVY

We got Missy, the original Chicky-Monkey cocker spaniel, before Steven and I were married.  I remember having a dog bed for her in my townhouse.  I remember Steven taking her home with him several times when she was a puppy, so I could get some sleep.  And after that it all becomes fuzzy.  Steven and I were married, he moved into the townhouse, the dog bed went away and Missy slept with us…not necessarily in that order.

Then we moved into the house, and we got Zack.  When he was being house trained, he was gated in our bathroom at night, while Missy tormented him from our bed.  He had separation anxiety and would wake up in the middle of the night whimpering.  I would get up, lay on the carpet by the bathroom door, stick my fingers through the gate and let him nibble on my fingertips until he fell asleep.  One morning Steven awakened to find me asleep on the floor, so torqued out of shape that I couldn’t move, and Zack looking guilty like, “Don’t blame me, Dad.  It wasn’t my fault!”  After that, Zacky Boy got upgraded to the bed, too.

We had them for years with no incident until suddenly they both  started this maddening habit in the morning of licking Steven’s pillow.  It’s not a loud noise, or even a slurping noise, but it is so annoying. (Go ahead, try it, lick you pillow)  It would go on until I finally either yelled (which might or might NOT work) or pushed the licker off the bed.

ZOEY - SLURPING AND SLEEPING

ZOEY – SLURPING AND SLEEPING

MARITZA HAVING A PILLOW SNACK

MARITZA HAVING A PILLOW SNACK

Here’s the science.  They never did it to my pillow.  So then I started trying to figure it out.  I used Steven’s hair gel…no licking.  I used Steven’s shampoo…no licking.  I wore his baseball cap…no licking.  What was so great about his head gravy?  It was the same dilemma that Madame Curie faced, I’m sure.

Missy and Zack continued the head gravy licking on and off throughout their lives, but all my charts and graphs still had me barking up the wrong tree.  Cut to the present.  Missy and Zack are now peeing on God’s azaleas, and we have Maritza and Zoey.  They have never been pillow lickers, until recently.  Within the last few months, the have slowly started on Steven’s pillow.  What the hell?

And then just like Sir Isaac Newton and the falling apple, Shazam!  I’ve got it!  It’s got to be the fabulous flavor of Lymphoma Head Gravy.  That’s the only constant in this equation of licking.  And I’ve figured it out.

Yipee, Skippy…I just know I’m going get the Nobel prize, and then I’m going to become a millionaire off a dog biscuit company…if I can figure out what lymphoma tastes like…to dogs.  Wanna bet it tastes like chicken?

Reflecting and Rejoicing

Laptop To GoToday is the culmination of weeks of deep reflection for both Steven and me! May 27 marked his one year anniversary of his stem cell transplant, and the days following mark a collection of all the unimaginable ups and downs that followed that auspicious day. I vaguely remember posting photos and updates to Facebook for our friends and family. But it’s been shocking for me to see them all again compliments of Facebook’s “Memories from 1 Year Ago” function. There have been days where I wanted to find Mark Zuckerberg and yank out his nose hairs so he has something unimaginable to remember next year!

The DriverThis biggest difference today is that for the first time in many years, Steven is driving us to Gainesville for his one year follow-up appointment. His stamina is slowly increasing and his confidence is re-building. I credit much to our weekly drives to babysit Lil’ G, the most handsome grandson in the world, There’s nothing that builds stamina like a teething 6 month old, and there’s nothing that builds confidence like finally getting him to sleep!

We have no reason to think anything bad will come of this Steven teaching Gvisit, since all his blood tests have been showing improving numbers each successive time. But unfortunately, Steven did make the decision to forego the 6 month PET scan thanks to the crappy Obamacare insurance we have. Our particular plan comes with a retail value of over $1200 a month for insurance. If we hadn’t been governmentally forced to sign up for insurance, we could have just saved the monthly fee since it barely pays for any of our medical needs right now and then we would have had the $1200 to pay for the PET scan. Unfortunately with a job that is no longer lucrative, we couldn’t have both. And, since my employer doesn’t HAVE to provide health insurance…well I think you’ve got the picture. I’m just abundantly grateful that LAST year I worked for a large corporation that was able to provide the option for coverage that mostly covered the enormous expense of what turned out to be a million dollar make-over for Steven. Even though we drained all our reserves and then some, we’re here…Alive and bitchin’!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Steven’s old “treasure chest” of medications is empty. For the first time in years, he’s only taking  3 medications and none of them are meant to put him in a coma. He’s been able to manage his pain with over the counter options, and the other side effects of the chemo have somehow evened out to the point when he can control them. It’s awesome to have hime back at 93%…I can’t give him 100% because it’ll go to his head if he reads this! And he’s gotta lose some points for the chemo brain.

CorvetteWe’re making great time driving through the Ocala horse country. The grass is green and the sun shining on the few rolling hills you can find in Florida. On this beautiful day, it’s hard to believe how our life has changed in a year. Steven is literally a new man. We are grandparents. There’s a 1975 Corvette Stingray in our garage that thus far hasn’t moved on it’s own power, but Steven has been making progress in that direction and is enjoying the hell out of the project. I know we’re on the brink of a whole new life and I’m excited to see what comes next. As usual, I wish whatever is coming next will hurry up and get here, but just like Christmas, it’ll be here when it gets here. And until then I’m just trying to limber up for all the bigs hugs we’ll be getting and giving when we arrive at Shands.

Hey…It’s been nice chatting with you again! I hope we can do it again soon!