Friday, March 30, 2012

Cancer is Chaos

This cancer stuff is vicious.

I got the report on the lumpectomy.  They didn’t get it all, so now I have to go back for a mastectomy.  I asked the surgeon to schedule it soon so I could get it over with.  She asked if I want reconstruction.  I told her, no.

She insisted I make an appointment to talk to a plastic surgeon.  I called.  The man is on vacation. I couldn’t see him until next Tuesday and his receptionist said I could be waiting hours in his waiting room.

I read up on the options on the web.  My surgeon is partial to saline implants.  Picture a sandwich baggie full of salt water stuffed under the breast muscles.  Now picture hugging somebody against that baggie.  I have trouble thinking of something more repulsive.  How to ruin a hug!

There are other options.  There are silicone filled baggies.  Same difference.  Then there’s double surgery where they take tummy fat and transplant it to the breast location.  Zow – for a word we weren’t even allowed to say when I was a kid, I have to use this word (breast) frequently now!  Like I really want double surgery, or a tummy tuck? They can also take the fat from thighs or buttocks. This kind of surgery causes months of soreness and restricted activity levels, and the transplanted fat cells still might die.  No thanks.  I’d way rather stuff my bra.

The more I thought about it, the more repulsive it all became, so I cancelled the appointment with the plastic surgeon and again asked the breast surgeon to give me a quick appointment.  I’ve got Passover next weekend, and a Film Festival shortly after that.  I want to be in shape for that Festival.  The sooner I get this over with, the better.

No word in my morning email from the breast surgeon.  No word from pathology if I’ll need chemo.  This is a stage 1 tumor.  And it’s causing this much chaos with my body and my life. 

It’s weird to have a potentially lethal disease and feel healthy.  I want to stay feeling healthy.

I want to get on with my life.  I'm doing EFT to try to stay calm.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Long Life Warranty

I have known since I was 9 years old that I have a warranty. I will live to at least 96.  I had been diagnosed with scoliosis and my family acted like this was a tragedy. The doctor wanted to fuse my spine and put a rod in my back. If I refused, he assured my family that I would grow up to be an ugly cripple.  During some quiet time, alone in my room, I demanded that the universe tell me what was really going on.

I found myself in a black marble courtroom with a judge who loved me very much.  The judge said I didn’t need to get the surgery I would not grow up to be an ugly cripple. Since this judge seemed to know (and control) my future, I asked for a long life.  The judge warned me that a long life is not always a blessing.  He made me promise not to forget to love life.  Then he promised me at least 96 years.

Silly me.  I thought that meant 96 healthy active years.  I was 9. I was healthy. I didn’t then know anybody who had experienced anything worse than a broken arm or leg.  The kids got a cast put on them and they healed.  I refused the surgery and I did not grow up to be an ugly crippled adult.

I didn’t take this as license to abuse my body or take unnecessary risks. I eat whole foods. I exercise daily. I stay active mentally and physically.

For over 60 years, this paid off.  Then I got hit by a car.  Not lethal, but enough to let me know that no precautions in the world are the same as protection.  That 96 years might mean many years in a wheelchair.  But I got my collar bone repaired. I got a new hip. I went to PT and I got my life back.

Two weeks ago I found a lump in my breast. I’ve had friends and relatives die of cancer. And before they died, they had surgeries and chemo and radiation and a generally painful miserable existence.

Since then I’ve been on the medical test circuit with injections and withdrawals and scans that mean fasting and lying still for half an hour.  (I HATE needles!)

I decided to meditate which keeps my body fairly still.  Afterwards the technician asked if I’d taken a sedative.  Hah! I rode my bike there.

These folks scanned my entire body, looking for cancer.  All they could find was the lump that I could feel.  Then the surgeon made an appointment and took it out. The preliminary lab report said it was cancer. She took a couple of lymph nodes. They did not have cancer.

The lump has been sent to another lab for further testing.  Later this week I’ll find out if I need radiation and / or chemo.  

I’ve had 4 surgeries in the past 3 years, and I’m looking at more painful treatments.  This is not the quality of  long life I was hoping for at age 9.  I see why some people forget to love life. It surprises me that I do not doubt that warranty.  I will live through this. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ghosts from the Past

My friend Jean had a parakeet that loved to ring its bell.  That parakeet has been dead many years, but Jean and her houseguests often hear that bell.

I recently had a houseguest who asked me when we’d gotten a new dog, and how did we get one that looks just like Buffy? My houseguest assured me that this dog had run up to us as we opened the door.

I don’t have a dog at the moment, but I’d love to find one who looks just like Buffy, my all-time favorite dog on the planet. 

Perhaps Jean and I are being haunted by pets who loved us.

There’s another kind of ghost I’d rather not encounter – the kind that I thought was a dim memory of an unpleasant encounter.  Shortly after we moved into this house about 20 years ago, I hired a neighbor to fix the roof and put on new gutters.  He gave me a 10-year warranty.  The first rainstorm, which happened about a month after he did the work knocked the gutters down and showed that we still had a leak.  I had asked this neighbor to come fix it, as he had promised in the warranty.  He said if I wanted more work from him I’d have to give him more money.  I hired somebody else, and the roof stayed good for about 15 years. The gutters are still on.  This inept roofer no longer lives in the neighborhood.  But, yesterday, as I was carrying my bike up the stairs to my living room, he came up to me. “I used to be your neighbor. Could you help me out?”  I said no.  Nancy Reagan was right – Just Say No.  Why go into long explanations? Why prolong an unpleasant conversation?

And finally, another kind of ghost. A ghost that serves as a trigger to action.
When I logged into Facebook, George Takei had posted an appeal to make 2012 the year Joseph Kony stops terrorizing children in Uganda. Kony has been kidnapping children for 26 years.  Takei had linked a YouTube video in which a young boy whose brother had been killed by Kony talked about his conversations with his dead brother.  I shared that post on Facebook and Twitter. I made a STOP KONY 2012 sign and posted it in my window. Next, I’ll write to my representatives and try to get the UN involved.  

No more ghosts.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Entertainment is Fragile

I used to get upset when people talked during movies because it meant I was missing the dialogue. But now, I watch most of my movies at home. I can press the pause button on the remote. I can even rewind and see / hear something again if I’m unsure about what happened. I can even stop the movie if I want to go to the bathroom, or go for a walk, or answer the phone. It will be there when I get back.

So, when my husband, the alien, and I were watching Nancy Drew, and he became worried about her in the opening sequence when she’s slipping on the roof, I stopped the movie.  “There’s no reason to worry about Nancy Drew. She always has something in her pocket that will save her.”

“But she might fall off the roof.”

“Look, the worst thing that ever happens to Nancy Drew is that the bad guys will knock her out with chloroform, and then Ned will come rescue her.  It never seems to harm her lungs.  And if you check out a calendar, time doesn’t work the same way for her as for everybody else she’s solved over 100 mysteries during her 18th year and each one takes more than a week of concentrated sleuthing.”

We started the movie again. Of course Nancy had the right tools in her pocket and was able to get them into play in plenty of time.  

I remembered being a Nancy Drew newbie – worrying about her for several books – but then I caught on.  She’s a franchise.  

But being able to stop a movie makes other entertainment seem less fragile.

Yesterday we attended a play.  No subtitles. No stop and start. If we didn’t understand a line of dialogue, we just had to continue with the show.  It was a murder mystery. Members of the audience, including my husband, the alien, were constantly guessing who-done-it.  I never responded to any of his comments.  I didn’t have a clicker.  And besides, it was an Agatha Christie.  Anybody who knows Agatha, knows that the character who has the most lines is always the murderer.  While in Earl Stanley Gardner mysteries, it’s the character with the least lines.  


The next question is how to make live entertainment rewind or pause.  Even Newbies want to see the whole thing.  They’re not being rude.  They don’t sense a difference between live entertainment and home entertainment. talking about it is part of the entertainment.