A New Year, A New Attitude, A New Year’s Resolution

IMG_2501I can’t believe it!  It’s 2018, Steven is still cancer-free and I think I might be starting to like people again.  I’m definitely not grouchy all the time anymore, and when I see an idiot out in public, I can actually feel a little compassion for the poor wanker rather than getting pissed off that he/she broke out of protective custody to screw up my world!

I don’t know if it’s the relaxation of retirement, the joy in being G’s Nana and knowing that in April when he gets promoted to “Big Brother” I’ll also have another little boy-chick to call me Nana…or if it’s just the happiness in IMG_2724another year where Steven doesn’t have cancer.  Whatever it is, it’s making me feel like I did when I was in my 20s.  I feel hope and anticipation and expectation of good things.  WTF?  When did I get so goopy?  Did it happen all at once, or was it a gradual ripening into a sweet little old lady who neither looks or feels old? Don’t know, don’t care!  I’m just liking it.

Not having to go to a stressful job where other people’s drama gets my panties in a wad is awesome.  That part of retirement is the bomb.  I highly recommend it!  The being on a budget thing isn’t my cup of tea, but I’m doing it because everything else is so great.  I spend my days with Steven and we really enjoy the company of each other.  After so many years of me trying to work hard enough to keep our insurance and earn enough to pay all the co-pays and out of pocket expenses of before, during and after lymphoma treatments of every variety, it’s great to have him healthy.  And even better that I get to be around him to enjoy it for a change.

STEVEN SELFIE FAVORITEAlso knowing that the world is now to the point that treatments for blood cancers are quickly approaching the cure is a huge relief.  Even though we try not to expect anything bad, we are realists and know that shit happens.  So even after the stem cell transplant, we have anxiously awaited the coming of the cure.  And just this morning we saw a great story on Fox Business Channel about the advances the Celgene company has made in a drug to be released mid-2018 that will be a lifesaver for blood cancer patients.  So help is on the way, and advancements are coming to make treatment less life threatening and more effective.  If that isn’t hopeful new for the new year, I don’t know what is.  Now that I know Steven no longer has an expiration date stamped on his ass, I’m planning on having him around for a long time.  And do I have a “Honey-Do” list for him!

So in case you can’t tell, I kinda made a New Year’s resolution this year.  It was really fullsizeoutput_6c8simple.  Be nice.  That’s it…just be nice.  Don’t be a dick, don’t bust asses for fun and profit, don’t make things harder than they have to be and just get along.  That all falls very non-specifically under “Be Nice” yet without so much detail that I gave up on January 2. And it takes all pressure off everyone else in my world.  If I resolved to “be nice to every asshole” you would know that when I treat you nicely that meant I think you are an asshole.  If I’m nice to everyone, we all win.  Who would of thunk it?

I’m finding with the simple act of being nice, potential problems are smoothing themselves out.  No negativity to be attracted here.  Because I realized that a resolution is more than one thing.  It is defined as a firm action to do or not do something.  As in DO be nice,  DO NOT be a dick.  But it also means the action of solving a dispute, problem or contentious matter.  And it seems that in my case if I do one, I get the other.  And what retiree on a budget doesn’t like a BOGO?

IMG_2754So today I’m putting in Day 3 of making Mango Chutney.  Why?  Because Steven likes it (as do I) and because I have the time and because I can.  Sunday I peeled cut and chopped fruit for hours and mixed up the potion to steep it all in two huge industrial, cafeteria size Hellman’s Mayo jars.  Yesterday was shaking and moving the jars to make sure the flavors all married and brewed.  And today is the final step of chopping and adding the rest of the ingredients and then cooking off the gallon of vinegar until I’m left with the tangy, sweet and spicy chutney.  And for the first time in years it’s a joy.  Because I have the time, and the energy and the right attitude to make this monster vat of goodness.  And it feels nice…just like me!IMG_2759

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.