Laptop Cancer

It happened the same way it happened with Steven.  There were no warning signs, no textbook symptoms and no way to prepare.  Suddenly the screen went black, the system shut down and we knew something was very wrong.  Just like with Steven.

I jumped in the car, laptop safely tucked beside me and hurried to the doctor, in this case our local Apple franchise.  And just like with Steven, I had to leave my baby in the Apple hospital.  Techs had to run tests, diagnose problems, confer with experts, blah, blah, blah.  And again I found myself waiting and hoping that I could have my world back the was it was.

But again, it was just like Steven.  The problem was diagnosed but the treatment wasn’t an easy fix.  It took quite a few attempts, and even one false-positive when we thought all was well but it wasn’t.  The one main thing that was different this time…insurance.  My 16 month old laptop was 4 months past the point of “we got you covered”.  And, I didn’t have “Apple Care”.  Now I truly understand how extremely lucky we were when Steven started his journey down Lymphoma Lane.  My new job had given us some kick-ass insurance. Granted, I had to pay a healthy portion out of each paycheck for my share, but we had options and access to the best.

I have read many articles written by cancer care-givers, patients and medical professionals addressing the insurance issue.  I now have a better understanding of what it is like when people have to make decisions based on the financial aspect of the cure, rather than what is best for the patient.  It sucks, but it’s reality.  And even though this was not a “life or death” situation, I get the severity of life without insurance.

But on the other hand, I try to learn from every squeeze I experience and I think I cracked a code.  That one year warranty  that comes with purchase…that’s Obama-care.  They tell you what you’re going to get…take it or leave it.  I didn’t like it.  I didn’t think I was treated fairly.  And it still cost me a whole lot of money in a very round about way.  But you get what you pay for and I’ll pay for the Apple Care from now on!

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Is This A Commercial Break?

I never thought I would be one of those people who has a meltdown because my laptop is out of commission.  I am!  My Mac has been in the shop for a week and I’ve been trying to exist on my old rickety PC.  Now I remember why I traded up.  I haven’t been able to write anything substantial because the keyboard doesn’t always cooperate.  But I will be back next week in full force, as soon as I have Old Faithful back home.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I’m going to share some info that may sound like a promotion, but I think of it more as a PSA.  I’ve become more of an online shopper than a mall rat.  Right before the holidays I stumbled upon a website that actually does what it says – sends you money.  Check out the link I’m adding.  Sign up and the next time you do any online shopping go through the E-bates web site and you’ll rack up bonus bucks.  You don’t have to do anything else.  They do all the tracking, and then they just send you a check at the end of the quarter.  I got a check at the end of December for the rebates from Christmas shopping.  How cool is that?  FULL DISCLOSURE –  if you use the link below and sign up, I get a bonus…which will help me make up some of the unexpected bail money I need to get my Mac back!  Talk to you next week!

http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=Joc5uPqNs4mZ%2BZzTVjilNQ%3D%3D

If A Tree Falls In The Forest And No One Hears It…Or If A Blog Entry Gets Posted and No One Reads It…

My thought for the day is fairly philisophical (I think). I’m drinking a martini as I write.  So is it, or isn’t it?  Am I really smart and not so smart all in the same brain.  Seriously, sometimes I innately know  things, and other times I can’t remember where I parked the car. That being said, I do my best thinking when I’m putting on my makeup and doing my hair in the mornings.  It’s like autopilot.  I finish my free association thought process at the same time that I arrive at my destination – a totally powdered and painted look that seems like I’m not wearing any make-up at all.

Today I realized that cancer is just like the playground bully.  And that also applies to so many other aspect of life.  Your job, your health, your family relationships, your friends and even the behavior of your pets can be a playground bully. You never know when he’s going to sneak up on you and kick your butt.  Rarely do you expect it.  Even if you have that nagging feeling that you’re due for another attack, you just never know where and when.  So you start to get a little hinky, always looking over your shoulder, planning an escape route and preparing for the worst.  And wasting time. Because, and write this down because it really applies to all walks of life, YOU CANNOT PREPARE FOR A WEDGIE!

Enjoy your day, enjoy your life, enjoy your grooming habits and enjoy your cocktail.  And if you get that wedgie, just yank it out and ease on down the road.

So even though the New Year is here, and I feel good and Steven feels good and all should be right with the world, I still have that little gnat flying around my brain annoying the heck out of me.  So here comes the next monumental revelation.  WE ALL HAVE THAT GNAT!  It’s not just cancer, it’s job security, it’s keeping our friends, it’s getting along with family, it’s aging and acne and measles and mortgages.  That playground bully disguises himself throughout our lives and keeps coming back to taunt us.

My Guide To Surviving Cancer – Health Insurance

I’m amazed at how this pesky little cancer problem has changed the entire way Steven and I view life.  The thought of the day is about the way we now rate matters of importance and concern, and how it has changed tremendously.  Today I’m weighing in with work.  And by that, I mean my day job.

My whole approach to my job has become a new experience.  I used to insist that a job be fun, interesting and challenging for me to stick around.  If free drinks were part of the deal, that made it even better.  When the spark was gone, and work became, well, WORK, I’d move on.  (Even though that sounds like I couldn’t hold a job that is not at all the case.  I’d always have a new one before I left the crappy one.  What can I tell you?  People like me… and want to have me around!

Now however, I’m like one of those guys you see on the side of the road with the sign “WILL WORK FOR FOOD”.  Only my sign reads “WILL WORK FOR INSURANCE”.  Until cancer, insurance benefits were never the main focus of my employment decisions. Luckily, Divine Intervention put us on the right path before we ever knew we needed to be there.

Steven’s medical problems were discovered a mere 4 months after I began my current job, which has the best insurance program I’ve ever had.  And I am grateful every day for that.  But that has changed my approach to my work situation for the first time ever.  I’m a designer who is tied into the builder/new home industry and we all know how fabulous that is right now – about as fabulous as hemorrhoids when you have diarrhea.  Coming to work is a barrel of laughs, if you’re someone who laughs at car crashes.  But since I don’t want to be working in a situation that forces me to say, “Do you want fries with that?”, I’ve become a lot less apt to utter the phrase, “Kiss my ass” when work gets to be …work.

I guess I’ve kind of become a company guy, or at least more of one then I ever have before.  I don’t really like losing that much of my renegade attitude, but it’s necessary, since one day of chemo without insurance can cost up to $10,000.  For a co-pay of $40.00, all I really have to do is suck it up and roll with the punches.  In the grand scheme of things, it’s really not such a bad trade off.

Again, I go back to the lucky thing.  We have been lucky enough to have built an excellent medical team of doctors and specialists who keep that pesky cancer at bay.  And I just have to remind myself that when I have a crappy day at work, what I’ve really done is racked up another free PET scan!  Now, if I could just get Beefeaters on the prescription drug plan, I’d be all set.

My Guide To Surviving Cancer

Cancer is such a buzz kill. It’s worse than swine flu and harder to talk about than herpes. But it touches all of us in some way. Right now, you either know someone, or know someone who knows someone with cancer.
Living with cancer boy, your job is to keep him on track in every way.  You are his cheerleader when he gets blue, his home care nurse when he looks green, his medical insurance coordinator when he’s in the red, his tough-loving lecturer when he starts a black downward spiral, and most importantly, his standup, sit-down, lie-down comic when he gets too serious.
When we first learned about Steven’s cancer we could barely comprehend the magnitude of the diagnosis.  It was overwhelming. We felt numb. We knew exactly what it meant and we didn’t want to think about, it but we had to.  There were tons of decisions to be made right away. Most were really scary because they were so extensive. It can be almost paralyzing if you allow yourself to consider the outcome of a bad medical choice. That’s pressure!
Cancer came into our world seven years ago. My way of addressing that big fat elephant in the room was, “You could die from this, and that would suck…for me.  Don’t do that”. That was the only time the subject came up.  We acknowledged it and moved on.  And from that moment we’ve tried to make the most of each day, to laugh in the face of cancer when we can, and to take each hurdle as it comes.
When things get tough, I bring it back into perspective with my arthritic toe.  I have one.  It hurts a lot.  Especially when it gets cold or I’ve been wearing heels or I walk into the coffee table.  Doctors concur, it will never go away.  I like to remind Steven that lymphoma can be treated, but my arthritic toe will ache forever so I have it much worse. That absurdity is monumental, disarming the scary, solemn moments.  Luckily we both find my arthritic toe funny, which is good because (boohoo) there really is no cure!  Every caregiver has an “arthritic toe”. Find yours.
As we get further along, living with cancer, I oversee Steven’s history and future.  I think he has amazing insight, strength and leadership.  He is one of the smartest people I know.  But both his spelling and grammar suck. So I’ve designated myself to be the Recording Secretary of Living with Cancer.
I also prefer keeping accuracy in describing chains of events and details.
Steven likes to use “Chemo Brain” as an excuse for informational mistakes from memory lapses.  What the Chemo Brain has made him forget is that his memory wasn’t that great before the chemo. The good thing is that I can tell him he promised to take me out for dinner, and he just assumes he’s forgotten.  So for me, cancer has brought a lot more dinner dates!

Hello, World!

We live life just like everyone else.  But instead of having a cranky neighbor or pain in the neck mother-in-law or a delinquent teenager, we have lymphoma.  It’s just another annoying road block on the trip of our lifetime.  When you’re lucky, your cranky neighbor moves, your pain in the neck mother-in-law starts to like you and your deliquent teenager straightens out and grows up.  And when you’re really lucky, your chemo works and your lymphoma goes away.  Right now, our only problem is the neighbor who just won’t move!

I’d like to share the ups and downs of all of it.  Somewhere out there, someone will feel better knowing he or she might get lucky, too.