In Sickness and In Health

I was at the Royal Wedding today.  OK, I was in my jammies in the family room, but I was wearing a hat with a REALLY big flower, a long feather and some corkscrew twigs.  By the way, does anyone else think that Elton John is starting to look less like a rock star and more like the crotchety neighbor who stands in the yard with a rake and yells as passing kids to “Get off my lawn”?   And, I think I decided that my favorite hairstyle was Posh Spice’s simple pony tail.  It was smashing, as we say around the palace.

I have a few more thoughts before I head out for the royal after-parties, so let’s get to it. What I’m really reflecting on is weddings.  First because today’s wedding was the most fairy tale news this year.  No one lost a home, a life, a fortune or his mind. (Duh! Winning!)   It was just plain fun.  Secondly, who doesn’t like a happy ending?  Surprisingly, that happy ending is also a happy beginning of a cycle that continues for  dot, dot, dot.  (For non-math geeks, that means infinity)

As I listened to Kate and Wills (yes, I’m on a first name basis…I was at the wedding, remember?), say their vows, it reminded me of when I married Steven.  That sickness and health part is a real Where’s Waldo clause.  As you stand there promising to support each other ‘in sickness and in health,’ you are usually at the peak of health and can’t even imagine the implication.

Not that it was a deal breaker in any way.  My only deal breaker was one I didn’t foresee in my first “rehearsal” marriage.  I thought after you got married, you should stop dating other people…he disagreed.  Hence the end of the rehearsal.  But I knew Steven to be a great fit for me.  We agree on a lot, compromise some and enhance each other in our differences.  When you find that, you’ve got a keeper.  And if that Where’s Waldo day ever comes, you can get through it.

The Dynamic Duo - Phone Portrait

The Dynamic Duo – Phone Portrait

Marriage is being a team, even if it’s only a team of two. It is one of life’s best little surprises.  In my world, Steven is the one I want on my team.  When it comes to making deals, negotiating and figuring out win-win endings for life’s obstacles, he is THE man.  He is brilliant at navigating the problems and finding solutions.  For real.

Once, in the Bahamas, in a rental boat with a broken gas gauge, we stalled.  It was dawn.  We were in the middle of Abaco Sound, heading back to catch our plane. We were out of gas.  I panicked the kind of panic that makes those little sweat circles under your boobs.  Alexis was just kind of dazed.  It was still WAY to early for her teenaged brain to deal with the drama.  Steven was like McGyver.  He put up the canvas Bimini shade to act as a sail, he had Alexis hold an oar off the rear as a rudder and had me keep waving my arms to get attention. He managed to catch enough wind to sail us close enough to shore to get help.  I thought he was superman.  To this day, I never feel so trusting and safe than I do when I’m with him.

My forte?  I keep him alive.  That’s not nearly as amusing as a story at cocktail parties, but I’m Superwoman to him.  Because I also keep him young and I keep him on his toes.  But no matter what, we’re a team.  We’re in it to win it.  In sickness and in health…you know the rest.  Happily ever after.  Now, I’m off to the palace for hors d’oeurves with Benny and the Jets.  Cheerio!

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Hey!!! I’m Talking to YOU

This one is for you.  You know who you are.  You think no one is paying attention to your cancer because so far, your treatment is looking good.  Let me tell you something: We’re paying very close attention.  We’re just trying not to freak you out by hovering.

Now, while I have your attention, let me tell you a few things:

  1. My Water Garden / Meditation Spot

    My Water Garden / Meditation Spot

    Just like we’re not hovering, you need to stop hovering too!  Quit hovering over WebMD and the symptom checker.  You have a doctor, you have a plan and you’ve started the process.  Sit back and enjoy it.

  2. Yes, I just said enjoy your cancer.  It sucks, but it’s there.  So learn how to just ‘be’. Quit making lists, schedules and alternate plans.  Get into the moment.  Get Zen.  Get back to the basics in life.  Pet your dog, read a book (a fun one, not a cancer book), get your nails done, do yoga and start learning how to relax.  Part of recovery is eliminating stress.  Quit stressing!
  3. Trust your decisions.  You picked a doctor and a plan, just like picking one from Column A and one from Column B at Wing-Tip-Shu Restaurant and Bar.  You picked what you thought would be best.  Now just eat.  Don’t compare the food here to the food up north.  You always think it was better up there…Remember the time you saw the roach walking across the table.  If the doctors in Florida (or fill in your state here) weren’t any good, THERE WOULDN’T BE ANY PEOPLE HERE…just cemeteries.

Now go eat something chocolate and enjoy being alive.  I got your back.

Breast Cancer and Uggs

My "IT" Bag - Chloe

My “IT” Bag – Chloe

I’m a little worried about Catherine Zeta Jones.  I’m not concerned about her medical condition. I’m absolutely sure that if she can get through throat cancer treatments with Michael Douglas, managing her bipolar situation will be a walk in the park.  What I’m worried about is that bipolar disorders will become the “it” bag of fashionistas and the LBD of diseases, breast cancer, will be “OUT.”

Could this really happen?  It would totally screw up the entire month of October, which breast cancer has claimed as heartily as Santa has a lock on December.  And I love the accessories that come with breast cancer.  The tee shirts that read, “Breast Cancer Sucks” are defiant and poignant at the same time.  “Bipolar Disorder Sucks…Sometimes” just doesn’t pack the same wallop.  That goes double for the “Fight Like a Girl” memorabilia – LOVE THAT.  I’m not seeing the “Fight With Yourself” trinkets being big sellers.

Those little pink ribbons are adorable.  What would a bipolar logo be?   ; )  : (    Happy face, sad face?  Comedy and tragedy? Yin and yang? Those belong to text messages, teenage girls, thespians and fortune cookies respectively.  And October just wouldn’t be conducive to bipolar disorder.  If it comes to assigning a time period, I say March, in like a lion and out like a lamb.

The only way this is going to work, folks, is to just let breast cancer remain the Little Black Dress illness.  You just can’t screw with a classic.  Let’s let bipolar disorder be the UGGS…in for a while, and pretty comfy…just not red carpet worthy.  Who’s with me on this?

Pinheads, Patriots and Patients

In the spirit of full disclosure, we watch O’Reilly and we get our news from Fox News.  You’re welcome to draw your own conclusions from that little snippet, but this isn’t meant to be my politics. Today it’s less about what’s happening in the world and more about how events are presented.  I’m fair and balanced.  I make fun of it all, especially now, with everything soooo bollixed up.

I have a real problem with news.  I think it’s all slanted, not to the right or to the left, but to the dramatic.  Whatever it takes to get and/or keep viewers is usually gory, scary and depressing, because that’s what THEY think we want.  You know that crap isn’t healthful, right?  Patients don’t need that negativity, caregivers can’t take that negativity, and regular people will end up as patients if they get drawn into the negativity.  Rule of thumb: If you’re watching the news and your butt puckers so much that you get sucked into your sofa, the news is too scary!

So bring out the sarcasm.  Let’s start being a little more politically incorrect and laughing about it.  America is full of both pinheads and patriots who are all too serious.  Loosen up while you love this country.  I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else anyway, would you?  I couldn’t live in England.  It’s too rainy; and if the wonky dental work is the result of their socialized medicine, I’m too vain and Steven’s lymphoma is too precarious.  Russia is out, too cold…and I’m spoiled by Cottonelle.  I want to be able to get as much as I want, whenever I want.  Now in France, wine trumps water as their national beverage and I REALLY like that…but I also REALLY like to shower every day…and so should the Sasquatch standing next to me in the elevator.  Then there’s China…too soon?  Let’s just say that I live in Florida, I’d take a hurricane over a tsunami any day; P.S.- soy sauce makes me bloat

My soloution is easy.  We need more of the good old days!  We need Ben Cartwright, Joe Mannix and Jim Rockford.  You tip your hand to your age depending upon your familiarity with these men.  If you’re close to AARP age, you definitely recognize the names.  If you are young with a sleeping disorder and an addiction to TVLand may know them.  If you’re stumped, you play too many video games!

The “Good Old Days” were the good old days because things were simple.  On Ben’s ranch there was an occasional cattle rustler who had to be run off by Hoss and Little Joe, but no “Identity Rustler” who could hack into your bank account and drain you!  The bad guys wore black hats, had bad complexions and showed up chewing tobacco and wreaking havoc.  They didn’t try to disguise themselves as Nigerian royalty requesting your social security number!

Joe Mannix, a man’s man in a suit and tie, solved his investigations in one hour, including commercials.  He was tough, fair, and always got his man.  Good always triumphed over evil and evil looked smarmy, and talked out of the side it’s mouth.  There were no terrorists looking to take over the world.  Crimes were simple, like robbing a bank or ‘offing a stoolie.’  You could watch the show wrap itself up in a neat little package and be able to sleep without dreams of pipe bombs and anthrax.  (anthrax-the poison, not the band..And poison-the toxin, not the band)

My favorite, Jim Rockford, was a piece of work!  Smart mouthed and casual with side kicks who were also quirky, he always managed to close his case without getting too beat up.  He could see a little more of the grey areas in life than Joe and Ben, but when it came right down to it, he was a good guy who always did the right thing.  That’s what made it all so simple.  It always landed right side up!

My Grand-dog Watching IMPORTANT News

My Grand-dog Watching IMPORTANT News

These were the men who got Steven through the worst part of his chemotherapy.  We NEVER watched the news during  that time.  Almost and entire year, and the world didn’t fare any better or worse during that time.  “It is what it is” – a really annoying saying, but it’s true.  We ‘ordinary people’ can’t change the world right now.  We can change how we view it, and how much we view it.  You want better news?  Stop watching.  Eventually they’ll get the hint that all this negativity isn’t getting good ratings, and they’ll stop.  TV news, politicians and even terrorists can’t survive without our attention, so ignore them.

Concentrate on the important things, family, friends, spring, health and all things positive.  Draw strength from feel-good drama like Kirstie Alley falling down on Dancing with the Stars, but getting right back up and dancing her butt off.  Charlie Sheen may be a train wreck but we need start having his optimism and attitude of WINNING!  DUH!!! Every Adonis with tiger blood coursing through his veins knows it.  Let that be you.

If I’ve offended, let me finish off the job.  I’m glad I’m allergic to cats.  Otherwise I might be tempted to get one just so I could name him Barack.  What better name for a Wussy-cat.  (Yes, that was Groucho glasses and mustache disguising a dirty joke.  Note: If the lights were dimmed and there was a two drink minimum, I wouldn’t have said ‘wussy’ and you would have laughed!…and THAT was political.  But it’s funny…I don’t care who you are!)

Driver+Chemo Brain=YIKES

TCB - TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS

TCB – TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS

Steven is a driver.  He always has been.  If you’ve ever taken one of those personality typing tests, a driver is one of the many names, based on whatever brand test is given, to describe a Type A personality.  A leader.  A doer.  A ticking time bomb!  

In about 5 B.C. (Before Cancer), a few years after we moved into our current home, I was examining the orange tree that came with the back yard.  The tree seemed to have some kind of funky stuff growing on the trunk.  The oranges were about the size of meat balls and kind of tasted like meat balls.  I knew that was wrong! I diagnosed it as Botanical Herpes Simplex 10.  We tried a few tree salves, lotions and douches, but it didn’t go away.  

One evening, Steven and I were sitting on the back porch sipping a glass of wine and I said, “I think that orange tree might have to go.”  We enjoyed a little more idle chit-chat and then I got up to start making dinner.  As I was tossing a salad, I heard a chain saw firing up.  What the hell?????  I ran to the backyard and there was Steven, goggled up and cutting down the tree.  Now he’s not Paul Bunyan, so I will say it did take him a good part of the next day to chop it up into small enough pieces to drag to the curb.  But, that tree was down before I finished making dinner.   

The moral of this tale is that I learned, first hand, the true ‘driver’ personality.  They get stuff done.  I also learned that I needed to keep my yap shut until I was sure I wanted to do something.  Drivers are deaf the word ‘might’.  “The orange tree MIGHT have to go”, “ The orange tree has to go”.  Can you tell the difference?  If you can’t, you’re a driver!  If you can tell the difference, these are things you never want to say:

  1. Sure, we can go look at cars.  (Or, at least clean out your trunk first)
  2. I think the family room needs repainting. (Or, pick out the exact color first)
  3. I wish I had gotten my tubes tied. (Or, hide the steak knives)

Now, living in 8 A.D. (After Diagnosis) we have a driver who forgets things.  Sounds like a sit-come, doesn’t it.  Give a smart, adult male with credit cards and an ass-busting personality a second chance at life…and make him forget where he’s going.  Then, watch the hijinks ensue. 

One morning last week, Steven got up and said, “I’m going to make coffee and take the trash out to the curb.”  I thought this was going to give me a little more time for a few more ZZZZs.  It was a beautiful Florida morning, the air was cool, the windows were opened and the birds were chirping.  I dozed off until I thought I heard heavy breathing…in a tree.  It was Steven, up in a 20 foot palm tree with a saw, pruning.    

It was a regular start to a regular day at our house.  The trash didn’t make it out, but they come twice a week, so no big whoop.  The palm trees needed pruning  anyway and look great.  And I’m past the age of needing my tubes tied.  So it’s all good.