Thursday, September 28, 2006

Get ovary it already

He rummaged under the sheet, stiff tool in hand, watching the screen with curious abandon.
"A little lower," I suggested.
Sorry, he offered, embarrassed.
"Right there, you got it," I encouraged.
That's good? he asked.
"That's good."
endometrium is pretty damn thick.
Doubtful my 15 days of spotting should be considered a period. LMP date goes in chart as 7/2/06.
Right ovary is near explosive proportions, including a ginormous cyst that may or may not need attention. My current risks include torsion or rupture.
Pain pills, rest, wait and see.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


I sat here today, hand on the phone, trying to work up the nerve. I haven't spoken to her in days... possibly weeks. Okay, maybe just two weeks - but had it really been that long? It might have. What do I say? She hadn't called me, either. Knowing MaryAnn, I'm placing a huge bet that she doesn't want company, she didn't feel like talking, she's being strong, or stubborn, or just pretending. However, having been through grief myself, I know that sometimes human contact is welcome, even if not desired. The attention creeps up on you, and by the time you tell them thank you, you realize that you did need it, after all.
So, I called her. I don't know if I was avoiding her and her situation, or if it was mutual, but she wasn't cold, at least not completely. I sort of apologized, and she sort of acknowledged that she hadn't really been interested in company anyway. The results of her bone scan showed the cancer is in her bones; ribs and right femur. What they had originally proposed as a 'cure' (!) has quickly spiraled down to just getting her into remission. She starts chemo on monday.
Once metastisis has begun, the life expectancy for SCLC is about 6-18 months (around 12 weeks if left untreated). It's been almost five months since they found the tumor, which was good sized to begin with, and they hadn't done the bone scan until now. It is possible it had spread a while ago. Do we figure the lost weeks out of her survival time?
I'm visiting her today (with her permission). I thought I'd bring her flowers - but they die all too quickly. I thought maybe a book, then, to give her something to do during her long chemotherapy sessions. Somehow I know that a feel-good, inspirational, chicken-soupy kind of book just isn't going to work. I think just a caring presence might be worth something, at the very least. I feel guilty. I feel like I should be doing more. I want to run and hide. I don't want regrets hanging on me after she's gone. I don't have the strength to deal with this.
She was with me during my hospital stays with Nicholas. She couldn't bring herself to visit when he was born. She came to his funeral. We didn't talk much about it after that. I know she cared, she just has this avoiding-uncomfortable-thoughts thing. As do I. I know she cares. She knows I care. And it doesn't matter anyway, because nothing is going to fix it.
Even though she doesn't want hugs and tears and pity, I will be available to help her when she gets weak and is hurting. Chemo alone is an ugly thing, but once this spreads further into her bones and organs, as it quickly eats her away from the inside, she will be needing more help than her family can give. She probably won't ask for hospice care, but I hope that she does. I will do my best to nurse her through this. I don't know that I can. But I have to.
And I think back to all the "god thoughts" and the dismissive statements that there's a reason for this, this is his will, it's part of The Plan, ad nauseum. Who, exactly, benefits from this? Am I going be a stronger person? Is her family going to sit back and say, Ok, I get it now, we didn't need her anymore? Just when I thought I was getting a grip on any possible 'good' coming from losing Nick, such as taking in foster babies, I'm hit with losing her, and I'm more pissed than ever. It is senseless and hateful and has no purpose whatsoever. This is why I don't believe in a all-powerful 'plan'. It is just random, and that's all there is.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Thoughts on Hope

Or, the loss of.

Hope is a palpable, living emotion. You can feel it, sometimes only by its absence.

This is so true.
It got me to thinking about the little silver medallion from Catherine. The first thing I thought of when I pulled it from the package was, "She sent this to me, because she's not using it anymore". Hope, that is. She's lost hers. And so have I, in many ways. As I clench the cold metal in my hand, it warms slightly, and I'm left feeling confused, sad, and detached. I can hold on to hope only as long as I feel obligated, committed, compelled. Soon, I find I need my hand free. I need to move on, to get busy living life. My life. Whether or not that life holds every single dream I've dared to fancy for myself or not. The quality of my existence is what I make it to be, what I strive to achieve, what I can control. Does that always turn out the way I had intended? Do I still mourn my losses, my failures, my shortcomings?
I'm so tired of being force-fed the Big Plan the universe supposedly has in store for us. I honestly do feel that life is a big series of unmitigated random events that compile into what choices we next make.
If I had been 5 minutes later arriving at my friend's house that day, I'd have not met her brother's friend, whom I later married. If I would have accepted the invitation to attend OU and play my clarinet in the marching band... If I would have moved to Stittsville... If I didn't have passive restraints in that old VW that got totaled... If I didn't recycle that old psychology paper just to get a passing grade in a rhetoric course... If Nicholas would have been born.
So many things that would make my life different. Some regrets, some not. Some decisions, some just chance. Some would call it fate. Perhaps. Who really knows?
I will place this hope on the mantle among the angels residing there. I will hold it, I will set it aside, I will cling to it, I will remember the sentiment, and I will always wonder at the "what ifs".

When hope is removed, the air is violently sucked from the environment leaving an oppressive stagnation in its wake.

The atmosphere becomes heavy.

You become numb and your knees want to buckle under the weight of the anvil on your chest.

You stop breathing. For a minute.

All the stress leading up to that moment shows its effects in your face and the exhaustion that has been building, repressed, flows to the surface.

Questions are asked. You answer them, but you don't remember what you said.

You begin to dread what you now know will happen.

Your body still functions. You walk, but you don't feel your legs. You cry, but the anvil stays firmly in place. You try to sleep, but you are too exhausted. You haven't eaten in three days. You aren't hungry.

The questions begin. Why? What if? How?

Questions that will often be unanswerable.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Pick a number, any number

CD74/CD1 - eh... who the hell knows, really.
Either this "spotting" business is developing into an insanely "light flow", or I now have a legitimate excuse to stuff the crotch with some cotton.
At any rate, the helpful staff at Dr. Wonderful's office agree that my endometrium has begun "to shed". Is that cool, or what? I'm shedding! Molting, if you will. I'm losing my summer coat in preparation for the long winter months. Whatever. You always knew I was backassward. At any rate, I'm guessing the old ute got so full it had to eek out eventually.
The jury is still out on whether or not I can consider this a cycle or not. I need to see just a little more action going on before this phenomenon can be called, in fact, a.period. Whatever it is, I'm going to make it the best goddamned happy period I can. Put on your party hats, bring on the cake!
In continued celebration of my extraordinariness, I will take a moment now to recognize the incredible Catherine for her adept timing on the "thinking of (me)" front. Even through her own personal hell, my very good friend was kind enough, generous enough, and damn well ambuscading enough to send me gifts on two.seperate.occasions. (!) I wuv her to pieces. One was a care package doubling as a birthday gift that she intended to bestow upon me during our postponed but still very necessary retail therapy appointment. In this, she included two awesome candles of the orange spice cake variety, a sterling silver "hope" medal, and a kick-ass tee-shirt that was intended to be worn together with hers on aforementioned outing. Today, I received a congratulatory gift card to buy some work-stuff! So I still get to go shopping, even if it is all alone. (That is somewhat bittersweet, my dear). You, my darling bud, are a wonderful person, and I do not deserve your thoughtful friendship.
Donations will continue to be accepted. Ask how now! Hee hee, just kidding. Sort of....
So, The Boy just waltzed in the door asking to be fed, so I'm taking my shedding self into the kitchen to find an MRE.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


I just spent a happy hour with gals from work (including a few assorted children thrown in for distraction). Remember the good old days when drinks were half price? Or maybe the appetizers? Better yet - BOTH? Heh, well, no longer my sweeties. Drinks were $1 less and a few, selected, "choice" appetizers were reduced. These would be the ones that don't sell well on their own. Why(?), you may be pondering. Because they suck.
Total damages were worth at least 3 hours spent hard at work. This is why I do my drinking at home, alone, in my underwear.
Speaking of underwear. Dr. SomewhatHot must have been wearing a thong today. No panty line whatsoever, not even a thigh band from long-leg skivvies. You could see where his shirt-tail was tucked, but the rest of his khaki pants were smooth and snug from the behind. We spent a few moments pondering the possibilities - commando vs. a slingshot - but nobody was in agreement. Some mysteries just need to stay that way, I suppose.
Gas is gone, after my morning coffee. Still the occasional spot on the paper, but no other signs of impending menses. Thanks for your concern about my stick-peeing faculties. I've got it under control. They know when it is Thursday, and are ready to turn fifty shades of white. There's only so much pink dye to go around, and I'm not getting more than one line, ever. EVER! Argh! And that's that.
DD tagged me. I never do these memes, but since she's such a stogger I figured I'd better play nice this time. :-) Wouldn't want a plague of creepy-assed spiders to find their way to me.
I am to type the first thing that comes into my pea-brain at the following words:
1) Jacket: Off - (2nd thing I thought of was Full-Metal... just so you don't think I'm a nasty ho)
2) Bury: Strawberry - all I can think of are fruits!
3) Lexus: Dream on, darlin'.
4) Pansy: Ass
So, my tags will go to:
Catherine, Kellie, Ann, and Diana
Your words, should you choose to accept the mission, are:

Monday, September 11, 2006


I was in bed by 5pm yesterday. I didn't intend to fall asleep and stay that way, I just did. My initial plans were to make a dent in the seemingly insurmountable pile of clothes residing in baskets stacked on top of baskets, on top of my bed. My pillows whispered to me in a low, dusky drawl... hey baby, we need fluffed. And they did. I decided to do one. I fluffed it, and fluffed it well. I wanted to do them all. So there I am, fluffing my ass off, when the crisp clean sheets perked up that they needed some smoothing. Smoothing, and fluffing, and writhing about made me want to just snuggle in and bask in the glow of a freshly made bed. Yes, I do things backwards. But I wasn't the last one out, so I very well couldn't make the bed with my old man still IN it, right? What's a little bed-making behind his back? Alas, I fell asleep, and the laundry still sits on the floor next to that naughty, naughty bed.
Somewhere around 9pm the hubster asked me if I really wanted to sleep, undisturbed, all night. I believe his words were "I thought you were going to put the clothes away". I told him I wasn't feeling well. And, in fact, I wasn't at that point. Earlier in the day I had suffered an unusually painful bout of unpassable gas. It's not that I couldn't fart at work if I had really wanted to, it just that this gas wasn't interested in escaping. During one attempt to sit on a chair, a sharp pang of surprisingly intense, knock-the-breath-out-of-you pain hit me like a bolt of lightning throwing meat cleavers. I spent the remainder of the afternoon feeling somewhat constipated, though I absolutely know that was NOT the case, and wishing I could just cut the cheese and go home. Upon my arrival home, the feelings had passed - and possibly the gas as well, though I do not recall an event that mighty - and as such I promised the spouse I'd do some chores. heh. Well.
I rolled over, and the damn meat cleaver twisted in my gut as I wrenched myself into a pretzel shape. No lightning this time, just sharp metal slicing through my pelvis. WTF? I felt such an immense pressure, but not really an 'urge' to go visit the porcelain goddess, so much as a 'might as well try it' concession. Nada. I'm telling you, I am not constipated, I know, I know, I know. Then it hit me. I have a tumor in my colon. I'll bet that's what it is. Or an ovary has just festered up and torsed (is that the proper usage of torsion? Will torse, has torsed?) Maybe I 'do' have endometriosis, and it has grown to the point it has covered every pelvic organ I own and is choking the life right out of them. Hmmm.
Throughout today the feeling has waned just a wee little bit, and, as days do, things got in the way of my self-diagnosing and obsessing. Until I noticed a slight hint of pink on the paper. Am I spotting? Is it my period? After a mere 72 days? Wha?
And... that was the end of that. I haven't spotted one teensy bit since. I even put on a pad for the occasion. All dressed up, and no place to go. My poor little girl, the wallflower. (I always thought she was a little dorky, but I try to improve her self esteem).
Yeah so anyway. Sigh. Woe is me.
In other fantabulous news, I .. uh... well. I got nothin.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I told you not to eat that

So last night I gave myself the mini-spa treatment. I shaved, I tweezed, I exfoliated. I colored my hair. I did some godawful damage to my facial skin. I think they tell you not to scrub after a chemical peel, and if they don't, they should. I did a pedicure. I ate a burrito. I went to bed.
Somewhere between all the chemicals on me, and the refried beans in me, I had a weird dream. No, this one isn't prophetic, or even loosly grounded in any sense of reality. (This, after I've come to grips that Catherine's mother will not be twirling with a high school marching band anytime soon).
I was in England, visiting some very good friends of mine whom I've never met. It was raining, of course, and we were awaiting "the big event", such as a wedding or something. They lived in this sprawling mansion, yet the front porch looked suspiciously like the one at my brother's old house, complete with a mortorcycle covered in a tattered blue tarp, and various car engine parts strewn about. I had been wandering the grounds, and found myself towards the rear of the property, lush green with rolling hills and large, ancient trees towering overhead. In the distance, I saw a gathering of an unusual sort of critter... what appeared to be a typical Pennsylvania groundhog sat up and hopped, like a kangaroo. These smallish creatures must be a type of European Wallaby, I thought. How odd! As I got closer, I noticed one of them was sporting a sports drink bottle, complete with nylon carrying pouch and neck strap. I wondered why he didn't just keep it in his pouch. As I turned to leave, the animal with the bottle scurried up next to me, and asked, "Where're ya off to, mate?" This wasn't a groundhog OR a wallaby! It was a capybara! That hopped! And walked upright! And was talking to me!
I immediately noticed that the water-bottle-on-a-rope belonged to The Dude of the house, and suggested we return it post-haste. The capybara was in agreement. "I meant no harm," said he. We sludged through the now-swamplike yard (because it never stopped raining) towards the home. I rang the bell and asked to speak to Pru, who was getting ready for her evening of elegant show-offery. Of course, she was too busy to attend to me and my needs, but The Dude came to the door. I explained how I had located his water bottle, and asked if my new friend could attend this evening's festivities as well, because he was kind enough to be honest and return the bottle, and besides that, he spoke perfect english. We agreed it would be fine. But he could only have one plate of salad because he was exceeding the guest list and the amount of food that had been prepared.
I awoke to a screeching alarm telling me it was time to get up for work this morning. I never got to see how it all turned out. Damn.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Hurry up and wait

In the month of May, my friend noticed chest tightness, a cough, and difficulty breathing.
By the end of June, her cancer was detected and she began an array of testing.
Not treatment.
All through July and August, she went to Big City Hospital for one procedure or another, only to find out the samples obtained weren't good enough for what they needed to know how to treat it.
Her latest biopsy on Friday hit the jackpot.
Small cell (oat cell) lung cancer.
The really bad kind.
According to the National Cancer Institute, this type of cancer can only be staged in two ways. Limited-stage, or extensive. Usually, by the time SCLC is diagnosed, metastases has already occurred. As opposed to NON-small-cell cancers, which carry an array of letter and number coding to their staging, and have numerous treatment opportunities... this kind is inoperable. Chemotherapy is her only option. Which will be beneficial just in case it has spread. Oh, and the survival rates? Only 10% of the total population of patients remain free of the disease over two years from the start of therapy... the time period during which most relapses occur. Even these patients, however are at risk of dying from the cancer. The overall survival at 5 years is 5% to 10%.
One of her doctors called it "aggressive". They will not be doing any more cutting and sampling "just in case it were to enter [her] bloodstream or lymphatics". Shame they didn't think of that eight biopsies ago.
Now, to be sitting on this side of the news, having seen first hand how slim "odds" don't mean a thing (how many of my readers fall into the " < 1% " category?)... it is hard to be hopeful. My friend, who has a long and varied medical background, has also seen some amazing shit in her life. She knows. She's not wearing blinders. She watched her own mother died of gallbladder cancer, which is pretty rare. She knows what she's up against, and right now appears to be in the acceptance stage.. If you subscribe to the Kubler-Ross model of grief, MaryAnn went from denial and bargaining a few months ago, skipped anger altogether, was in depression while waiting so damn long to find out what she already assumed to be the answer, and has now landed dead-on in acceptance.
At 57, she is trying to get her affairs in order.
She hasn't told her children (three boys my age) the magnitude of her illness. She doesn't want to upset them. Her husband is completely out of the loop, even though he knows the diagnosis. He just doesn't know what it means, really. Either he wouldn't understand, or she doesn't want to sit down and teach him, so he's merrily moving along about his day without a second thought. She calls me when she needs to vent. I'm at a bit of a loss on how to deal with it, myself. I know the "right things" to say, and not to say, I have learned how to give comfort and care, but this is different than dealing the typical patient/patient's family. This is different than if it were my own family. If it were my parents or inlaws, I could swoop in and take control and be the hero.
She wanted me to come over and help her wash her hair. She can't shower yet or lift her arms above her shoulders, because this latest biopsy involved cutting out a piece of her rib and going in from the side to "punch out" a portion of the tumor. She has pain. She has to sleep sitting up on the couch. Life goes on around her, and she has (temporarily) lost her independence. She knows she will have to get used to it, though. Her independence went out the window once she got the final diagnosis. Chemo will completely kick her ass. She will lose her hair. She will be nauseated. She will become weak and sickly, and contract every virus she comes in contact with. She is a proud person, who doesn't want everyone feeling sorry for her, and for now has chosen not to share the news. She wants to spend more time with her grandkids. She wants to acomplish a few things she never got to do. She will be too weak. She isn't too hopeful about this whole thing. And rightly so. How on earth does one come to grips with something like this? I can't and it's not even me who is facing it.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Dear Husband,
The primary reason for sealing foodstuffs in plastic is to protect it from the air.
When you continue to seal large amounts of air INSIDE the bags, you are drastically reducing the life expectancy of the bread, cheese, lunchmeat, fresh tomatoes, etc.
Stop it.
Crusty McCheeser