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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Last Dragon's Blood Aftermath

I haven't blogged about the "c" thing for a while, but oh, this last one....after I was off the predisone....kicked my ass.  I wrote on Facebook.....

Dec. 16, 2014

"For the last few days, I've been wracking my brain trying to think of someone I personally know and would wish this c crap on.....and......nope, I don't think I dislike/hate anyone THAT much. 

This too shall pass. But for now, this last dragon's's kicking my arse! Literally and figuratively. Being trapped in the house is not fun. 

I've also been trying to figure out what the "lesson" is with this whole mess. 

The upside is people have been amazing and if I ask for help, they seem more than willing to help. So grateful for that."

A friend, Peg, wrote this......and I wanted to hang on to it......

Why does there have to be a lesson.....something to learn? Some go so far as to say God wants your attention....or here's another lie....God must be punishing you with sickness....Oh how great religion can comforting....yes that is my sarcastic voice speaking. I believe life is life....just exactly God is in every moment we breathe in and out....He is in every moment, hear all our moments His life lives in us and His life will continue on in us when we no longer take in breath. your quiet time of reflection....just let Him tell YOU all about it. He will ya know! Love and Hugs..

Disney Cruise Pt. 1

I may the oldest, meanest, baldest, wig-wearing-est, chubbiest-armed broad to ever don a strapless, "princess" type dress but I'm going on a damn Disney cruise in January and I'm going to try like hell to rock it!!!  I may even wear my damn tiara.....LOL!

So watch our Belle, Elsa, Cinderella, and Ariel!!! Here comes the Old Princess!!!

As long as my undergarments don't start singing, "Let It Go," I think we're going to have a smashing time!

Brought To You By The Letter S

Today's strange event is brought to you by the letter "S."  Kim S. and I were STALKED in Goodwill by a lady who wanted a Sweater with a Sequined zipper (!!!) that I had Snapped up but hadn't tried on yet.  "Are you going to get that sweater?"  She followed us around for an HOUR and lay in wait, just like a Spider outside the dressing room.

(I got the sweater, by the way, just to Spite her!)

The Hungarian horse trader in me ALMOST said, "You want the sweater?  Give me $20 and it's yours."

Cost of Sweater --- $7.

Look on her face when I said I was getting it --- Priceless!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Make-Up This Early?

5:30 AM this morning.  I am in the cat room-slash-"boudoir" and the Spousal Unit pokes his head in (pre-coffee).
The only light is coming from the make-up mirror.
S.U.: What are you doing?
Me: Experimenting
S.U.: What?
Me: (Louder) Experimenting.
S.U.: With what??
Me: Makeup!!
S.U. (slightly baffled) OK, then.....
I have two excuses: Prednisone. And newer makeup.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Fall Evening

I feel this constant, burning need to be outside all the time, especially on my front porch.  I would imagine that I'm getting all the good weather before it's too cold to sit outside comfortably.

Tonight I'm sitting on my front porch.  It's near dusk, one of my favorite times of the day. It's when my vision is at its clearest and brightest.  The ice cream truck is playing the same merry tune as ice cream trucks did in my childhood. I see kids frantically biking home to hit their parents up for a buck or two.  (Ice cream sandwiches were ten cents when I was a kid.  Ah, inflation!) I hear the crickets' song and the breeze ruffles the tops of the trees.  It's not enough wind to move our four flags; they stand sentinel on their poles.  I hear kids bouncing basketballs, yelling, laughing and calling to each other.  I hear the neighbor's dog squeaking in concert with a train horn as it clacks and rattles on the tracks in the distance.  I lean back in our beat-up redwood chairs and let the sounds flow over me like a lullaby.

It's a soft night. It's early fall in my town.  It almost could be early fall when I was a kid in Lakewood.  I'm happy to be here, to be alive, to be present in this moment of almost suburban Americana perfection.  It doesn't have the glamour, bustle, vibrancy or movement of Chicago, New York or Paris.  It is a quintessential American small town. It's all good. I am content and blessed.  I'm alive.

Monday is infusion three of dragon's blood.  But that's then. For now this is a form of bliss.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Artie Bloo Goes To The Dog Park

Artie says, "Thanks for taking me to the dog park with  Mom!  I was pretty good!  There was a cattledog boy there, he was younger than me.  He'd get a little stupid and Mom would have to tell me NO! I wasn't allowed to 'discipline' him even though he's a less mature than I am...."

There were some stupid people who stood around yakking while their dogs were being bozos.


I still had a good time at the Dog Park.....

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Androgynous Mia Rides The Short Bus

Got my first strange reaction to having no hair.
"Are you a man?"
"Ah, nope."
Bless her heart, I think she was a bit slow

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Second Chemo Done!!

Music therapy was interesting while getting the second dose of dragon's blood.....the therapist recorded it!  FAR OUT! Silly stuff....If anyone want to hear 12 minutes of silliness, let me know.  PM me. The therapist's name was Samuel; he had a big old pony tail!  He had a really cool set-up with a MacBook, iPad, guitar, headphones, mics etc. All on a little trolley!  Brilliant idea!

The nutritionist hopped by and gave me a book of recipes: Eating Well.  That was nice.  the part of the book that cracked me up with "High Calorie-High Protein."  How about LOW calorie, HIGH Protein.

I'm still hoping for Art Therapy and Pet Therapy. Next time?

Wasn't prepared for yesterday "happy accident."  It's been a long time since I've needed to buy "feminine hygiene" stuff.  (OH, did I gross out the guys?  Did I?  Yippee!)  I peed my pants yesterday and today.  FK!  So upsetting.  I have a bladder infection so yet another addition to the drug collection.

Came home and drank some green dragon fuel (smoothie with kale, spinach and fruits....)! I do a smoothie every day.  Now if I could stop eating like a lumberjack at night.  Sigh....

Two down, four to go.  No radiation, thank you very much!  Dragon's blood is ok, dragon fire, nah-uh!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Crickets' Song

I sit on my porch and listen to the crickets singing their late summer song.  the night gives me a chill and a thrill as I gaze up at the night clouds, grey against an ageless blue sky.  I feel small and yet infinite in my connection.  I am not alone.  Spirit is always with me.  Love is all around me. I am beyond grateful even in the midst of stress and fear.

"Out of this situation only Good will come.  This is easily resolved for the highest good of all concerned.  All is well and I am safe." (Louise Hay).

The moments of panic and worry about the show, my body and my strength will pass.  Spirit runs through me and will sing through me. The dragon's blood will only strengthen my soul in the long run.  I may be in a crucible at times but gold comes from such things. I have to hold on to it.  The right people are all around me, Spirit brings me such gifts beyond human comprehension. I just have to keep on walking.

And the crickets sing on in the deepening night.

Highs and Lows and Calvin Klein

NO wonder this dress looked good even on Tubby The Fuzzy Headed Tube (me!) It was a Calvin Klein and at over $200 it was way out of my budget.  But it was fun to try on!  Covered all the bad crap. Made the fat crap look ok.

Man, my old Spanx saw me today as I pulled them writhing in agony out of my purse and almost ran screaming out of the dressing room!

"They've outlawed whaling!  I can't hold her any more, Captain!!!  She needs a friggin' Iron Maiden!"

They WERE old but I think trying to squeeze myself into them has forced them into honorable retirement.  I saw that big old stress runner.

What a day of ups and downs, highs and lows, disappointments and great finds.....I need a bath and I wish I could have a drink, LOL!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Snort Fest

Having a giggle with friend Rob the day I discovered that yes, my hair was starting to fall out! There was much snorting as well....

I snort when I laugh!

Man, am I fkg fat!  Bleech!

Fuzz Butt, Fat Butt

The preemptive hair cut.....a few weeks ago.
I couldn't imagine being in a better place (Hungarian Festival) or with better friends (Bini and Rob) to discover that yes, my hair was starting to come out today! Ironically, it was the gray hairs that were coming like gang busters! It was kind of nuts!!!!
Hair before the cut....

It starting falling out today (the hair) so The Spousal Unit shaved it off. I knew those dog clippers would coming in handy, LOL! I know the SU did want to shave it but when your public hairs start falling out, it's MORE than time!  I can only imagine how frustrating and frightening it must be for him. 

My friend Kim shaved the nape of her name for me and her friend Linda who has breast cancer. Kind of overwhelming to have a friend will to do that for me.Christy Duran Warthling was right; I'll kind of rock this new "do." Now if I could just drop 40 pounds.....LMAO! I feel like Tubby the Tuba was a fuzz bucket head. Henna cap, here I come!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Pit Bull Freak Out? Not Me!

As I was waiting for basement workmen to come to the house, a lady in an SUV came driving by. "Have you seen a dog running loose?" 
"No, what does he look like?" 
"Brown with a white face," then tentatively, hesitantly, tearfully, "He kind of looks like a pit bull....??" She's in tears, "He's our baby!" 
"I have lots of pittie friends, no worries!!! I've worked with the bullies before. Let me get my guys in here to work, and I'll help you look for him." I even tell the Spousal Unit to keep an eye out for a lost dog. The lady gives me her name and number. She's shaking and in tears; her kid is manfully holding back his tears. About 20 minutes later, she drives by. "We found him!! He was just down the street!" Thank goD! I felt kind of good that I wasn't one of the Freak Outs when I heard the words "Pit Bull...."

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Brief Joyous Euphoria

Wednesday August 6th, my sibs and Spousal Unit met with the first oncology doctor, Dr K.  He's like a high functioning Asperger's person.  He was thorough, kind in a weird way and answered all my questions.

The great news (if great news can be had from the word "cancer") is it's NOT in my blood, it's not in my bone marrow, it's just (just??) Stage 2A lymphoma.  Highly treatable, high remission rate.  It's kind of just in my neck mostly.  They're prescribing chemo AND radiation (eeeuuuu to both). When he said where it wasn't, it was as though someone had let the air out of a balloon!  Phew!!  

What's fascinating to me is how people have heard this and say, "Oh, OK, you've got this; it's not that bad, you won't need that much help."  Etc.  Yeah, I will.  We'll see who shows up to the party, won't we?  Also interesting are reactions from old friends saying DON'T DO THAT SHIT, IT'S GOING TO KILL YOU!  IT'S GOING TO COME BACK AND BITE YOU IN THE ASS!  Now these people are admittedly freaking me out more than I can comprehend now because they have pretty decent powers.  I know they care and I know they've been through this before me.  I get that.  But can't you express this concern in a not-so vehement way.  I can unFriend those folks and for a few I've done just that.  Friends who also think "outside the box" metaphysically (so to speak) are saying more reassuring things.  I think I need a fair amount of protection and it's going to have to come from ME!  The Spousal Unit has too much on his plate to help.

Dragon's Blood #1 Etc. Etc. Etc. (3 Days Full of Fun & Games)

August 20th, 2014.

Dragon Blood #1 over and done.  I never have to go through the Big Unknown ever again. (Thanks Heather L. for that insight.)  It may be different but not how they do stuff.  It was strange and somewhat scary and surreal. My nurse was Kelly.  She was nice but never commented on the Grinch or my blanket.  The end nurse was Katie.  (She did comment on the Grinch!) Al was the volunteer, he seemed nice.

They stick you in a room by yourself.  I'm assuming this is so if it all goes south in a hurry you're not freaking other people out.  They "accessed my port" (stuck a needle in the damn wiggly thing), take blood (vampires) and give you shit for nausea.  Then you wait.  Then they give you prednisone and benadryl.  Which make you thirsty and dry as all get out.
The CHO (of the RCHOP) part begins.  I didn't feel any different.  They wait and watch you like a hawk. Nurse Kelly did say something about poison and I put the kibosh on that right away!

It's Dragon Blood~can be hard and challenging BUT, I'll be better, faster, stronger, more resilient when this is done.

"It's Dragon's Blood. It's RED!"  This is also the stuff that will (most likely) make me hair fall out.  That's ok.  I'm OK with that.  I have to be, honestly.  The damn stuff grows back.  Always has!

Then the R (Rituxan) shit is injected.  The part I was the most worried about.  It wasn't a walk in the park by any stretch but it could have been so much worse.  I flushed, itched some and kept them abreast as to how I felt.  I remember watching the count-down as that takes a long time, about 2-3 hours for the slow drip-drip.

I was really glad that my sister and Deb L. were there for part of this event. Even though my poor sister, who does NOT like closed in rooms at all, was pacing like a caged animal. I felt terrible for her.  Deb, of course, made fun of me.  But they were both dears to be there.

I had my Nulasta shot Tuesday. A prick in the arm.  I guess it's better than a prick in the arse.

Nulasta.  Why does that sound like it should be a condom?  "'ll last-ya all night long!" Or how about a name for pantihose?  Who thinks up this shit?

Afterwards, my sister took me to Moe's Restaurant in the Falls.  It was strange finding a dip I liked for my yummy potato puffs.   I kept switching.  Are my taste buds changing already??

All along I'm drinking water like it's my job!  Glug, glug, gulp!!

Earlier this morning (Tuesday August 21st) my brother's house I had breakfast on the veranda.....Yogurt, berries on some weird bran cereal with flux seed or oil in it, mango & aloe vera juice.  This is not my usual fare!

This was my view, which is pretty damn nice......
Not bad at all.  Que serene!!!

Wednesday was NOT a day I'd like repeated.  Marty had another damn arrhythmia episode at work and ended up at Ahuja Medical Center in the afternoon.  I didn't have my damn phone at my (basically useless) Wigs and Browns class.  When I came home the phone was off the hook ringing.  It was Marty at the ER.  Thank God for Al & Terry, who came BACK and picked me up.  Thank God for Laurie and Christ ScubaCook who came with pizza for poor Marty.  Otherwise, he wouldn't have had anything to eat at all.  

Doctor?  Patient?  Silliness?  

We waited for his room for SEVEN fkg hours.  Needless to say, I (like Queen Victoria) was NOT amused!  I had to wear a damn mask the whole time which makes me feel six shades of weird.  I felt so bad for my darling spousal unit, waiting in the stupid bed for another stupid bed.  Hopefully, that bed was more comfortable.  

It's Thursday, August 23rd.  It's a new day, another day, a better day.  God willing and the creek don't rise.  

(Yes Laurie, I said Crick not Creek.)

Wigs & Browns....Meh....

Well, Wigs and Brows "class" was a lovely idea BUT not all that and bag of chips.  Did meet a very nice lady, Sheila, an esthetician by trade at the "class."  She was very cool!  Otherwise, it was basically an advertisement to Wigs and Things, which is a very well stocked store and the people are very nice there.  But talk about sticker shock!!!????  A low-end wig for $179??  I am pretty sure my insurance covers one hairpiece but I could probably get about 3-4 wigs for that price.


The higher-end micro-filament wigs (which are very nice) were (gasp) $379 and up. I discovered that light brown-red and reds look good on me, not the darker browns.  I think I could rock Reba Red!!

I did learn some rocking ways to tie a scarf thought.

I'm looking forward to the ACS "Look Good Feel Better" class. Hoping that's a bit more comprehensive and robust.  This one was disappointing.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Pre-Emptive Hair Strike

I hate cell phone selfies, just matter what you do, you look like a friggin' chipmunk!

After talking to Linda Panda (my Utah Support System), and thinking about my hair....I decided to do a pre-emptive Hair Strike and get my hair cut short. I don't like myself with short hair.  Frankly I think it makes me face look chubby and harsh and you see (da-da-da-DUM!) The Jowls.  (Boo!)

If I keep my hair, it grows quickly.  If I lose won't be quite as shocking! Even though I'm ok with the hair thing (not the eyebrows or eyelashes thing; that's a bit freaky, to be honest), I feel a bit more in control.  If you know what I mean.  I like me in longer hair but this will do.

Friday, August 8, 2014


No land speed records. Average 8mph. 
No long distance.1.75 miles. 
No hills conquered. 
And it made me a bit tired so I'll rest now. 
But oh it felt nice to be untethered for a brief time.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Too Darn Hot

Holy Hot Flashes Batman, the refrigerator looks REALLY awesome at times.....

"Oh, if you were just big enough for a lounge chair, a bar, a TV set and a computer..."

I had such a bad one earlier that one of my band-aids from the port placement flew off my neck!  I mean melted like a Dali painting and THEN flew in desperation!

I look at that box of HRT patches with tearful longing, "I miss you guys, you kept my body temp normal and toned down my moodiness."

Can't decide which hurts more: my butt (from bone marrow), my chest top (from the port thingie) or where the ENT tried to extract stuff from my neck.

And nobody told me I'd be wearing a bra 24/7.  Hey, port radiology peeps, nobody told me I'd need that kind of support....

Sunday, August 3, 2014

I Am

 I am female, a goddess, a woman, a wife, a singer, an actress, a photographer, a writer, a cyclist, a dog and cat mom, a friend, a sister, an aunt (and great aunt)....I am all this and more.  These are the things that define me.  I must not allow that crappy C thing to define me or steal what helps me feel whole and part of the Universe and Life.  It's just something I have to get through, to drive through, thrive through. I want to be a cancer "Thriver" not just a survivor. 

I have moments where I completely break down and feel immobilized, terrified and devastatingly fatalistic. I have other moments where the whole thing seems surreal, bizarre and twisted. I have moments of laughter, which are the best times of all.  I'm so grateful for my friends and family who encourage my absurd, witty side.

I'm so glad for the rehearsals for my show too even though it's a lot to deal with.  I am grateful for the silliness of my co-stars.

I needed today to connect with my art and nature and I thank my darling Spousal Unit for getting my carcass out of the house.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Lipstick & Makeup

I grew up watching my mother and grandmother put on lipstick with no mirror.  A skill set that my sister and I both inherited. My mother wore mostly the deeper reds; she never really changed her style with that.

Unlike most of my peers, my mother wanted me to wear makeup! Like many, many women, our family seems to look a bit better with some color on our lips.  I vividly remember my mom giving me a tube of Yardley's of London lipstick saying, "Wear this so you don't scare people."  I was about 12 or so. The lipstick was a frosted pink and tasted actually quite good unlike Mom's Revlon.  Then she bought me blush, eyeshadow and maybe mascara.  My mother also bought me a striped mini-dress which got me hauled into the principal's office in 8th grade for being too short.  I think we could only have our skirts 2 inches above the knee while kneeling down.  Oh, yes, seriously.   I had a Twiggy haircut too.  When I look back on it, my mother wanted me to be in style.  However, having moved from an arts-oriented Cleveland social circle to a rural, mostly Baptist-populated middle and high school, this hip look didn't cut it.  You were a Greaser or Preppy or a Jock.  Period.

In the late 60s, the whole "hippie-natural" look was coming in and wanting to be "cool" I jettisoned the makeup thing and started growing my hair long.  My mother didn't approve of this AT ALL!  I was the ONLY girl in my high school who was putting makeup ON at the end of the day instead of frantically scrubbing it off!  "I can't go home without some makeup on, my mom will kill me!"

I still don't feel quite dressed without lipstick.

Coming Of Age In An Orange Jumpsuit

There's a family story, now a bit of a family legend having to do with fashion and my coming-of-age.

Mom had bought me (I kid you not) a bright orange short-short jumpsuit with a scoop neck, short sleeves and a white zipper.  Very mod.  I believe I was probably 16 or thereabouts, maybe older.  My whole family and my either soon-to-be (or newly made) European sister-in-law were invited to a dinner at the Blank's house on the east side of Cleveland.  (Mrs. Blank had a kind of "secret" crush on my father, which even to a teenager, was somewhat obvious.)  I asked Mom what I should wear to this dinner party and she suggested the orange jumpsuit.  "Seriously, Mom, don't you think it's a little short and casual?"  No, she said, it'll be fine.  Having Miss Manners for a mother, I relied on her judgement.  All righty then.  Orange it is.  (By the way, it is one of the only items of orange clothing I have ever worn in my entire life to date.  I hate orange on me.)

Now Mr and Mrs Blank had 3 sons: a precocious, annoying one, a nice, cute one and and kind of middle-of-the-road one.  And Mr. and Mrs. Blank were NOT happy with my father because, as I recall, Dad had helped a non-WASP move into their little WASP-island community.  Quelle horreur!  Mrs. Blank obviously, patently disapproved of my attire and we set into an evening filled with snipes, innuendoes and frosty conversations.  Cocktails began and Mrs. Blank proceeded to get slightly blitzed. Mr Blank was also feeling no pain.  My brother was wondering when this evening would end and I'm sure my sister-in-law was wondering what the hell kind of gauche American heathen's nest she's inadvertently stepped in. My mother, with all her many faults, had impeccabile social manners and kept up that good old Yankee upper lip stiff and unfailingly polite.  She skillfully steered the conversation in "safer", more neutral topics but even "Weese" couldn't keep that boat on course.

I have to tell you that I grew up in a family that is smart, quick-witted and well-spoken.  I was the family oddity; I didn't feel comfortable in social situations being very shy, a mumbler and insecure.  I never made eye contact; a tract I still struggle with. I always admired my family's quick repartee and was secretly envious.

Dinner came; there was more liquid libations and the veiled niceties were quickly going by the wayside as Mrs. Blank and my father were now starting to take the verbal gloves off.  It was getting ugly.  I remember looking at my brother across the table; he looked miserable and embarrassed.  It was cold in the house, and I starting rubbing my arms.

"Are you warm enough, dear?" said Mrs. Blank in a nasty, uppity, almost sickly sweet tone.

Without missing a beat, I looked her dead in the eye (very unusual for me) and distinctly replied, "Yes, but not from the love exuding from the table!"

(Exuding? Yes, I used that word.  Not bad.)

Silence.  Dead silence.  Tension.  My eyes dart across the table and meet my brother's. He gives me a little head bow as if to say, "Bravo!"  I had made the passage from little girl to young adult in one sentence.  There was a hesitation and then conversation returned to a fairly civilized tone.  The horrible evening wound swifty to a close with me as the clear winner in the verbal game of repartee.

Port (And Not The Wine) Whine

Thank you to my sister and Kim!  If I ever need to storm the beaches of Normandy with spies disguised as The Entertainment, you're the ticket!  A two pronged approach to "git 'er done!"  Margit kept folks on their toes and Kim kept me laughing. I've been thrown out of worse places than Akron City Hospital.

The Grinch went with me into surgery, LOL!

Took forever to get me processed for the surgery. (The Female Sibling Unit was NOT amused).  I did make one of the intake nurses laugh to the point where she dropped her pen.  I guess it was the "squeaking  while walking" reference.

I had a few melt-downs especially after they'd taken me back, given me the Dreaded Gown and left me there for what seemed like an eternity.  I surreptitiously texted my Battle Team and they were back with me in nothing flat.
The nurses who did the intake were very nice, esp. Sandy.  She answered a ton of questions and was patient and kind.  We only had one potential duke-it-up when she wanted to put the IV in my hand or wrist.  Oh, hell no!

My Battle Team escorted me to the pre-surgery area.  This was dismal little room about the size of the stateroom in A NIGHT AT THE OPERA where I half expected to see a bare light bulb dangling from the ceiling and a weasly little guy with glasses, a trenchcoat and a fedora smoking cheap Turkish cigarettes.

"Vee haf vays of making you talk..." he says with a sadistic giggle.

My sister rolls her eyes and looks around this cubicle.  "Oh. (Pause) Cheery."

 Nurse Marcia (yes,  of course, we did the "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia" reference) talked with  me about The Procedure.  Why in the hell do they call it that?  You're cutting me open and sticking plastic shit into my body.  It's surgery.  Dr. Rosenblum came in and we talked about where to put the damn thing.  98% of the time it's on the right hand side.  But, nooooo.  I have to be different. Big Surprise.  Not.

Nurse Marcia comes back into the room with some guy (Jeff the Radiologist) with his protective gear on.

"My God, you look like an extra from Star Trek!"

"They say black makes me look slimmer."  (OK, this guy is going to be all right.)  They explain a few more things and my Battle Team kisses me goodbye.  Into the surgery room I go.  They start to transfer me over to the table.

"You folks know you're putting the port in on the left hand side, right?"   Pause.

"Oh!  That's right!" A somewhat frantic scramble ensues as they switch everything around.  Grinch, mind you, has been with me the whole time.  They put him on a shelf to observe.  The usual fussing begins (mind you, I'm still wide awake and bushy tailed).  I gaze up at the ceiling looking at the ugly tiles (why can't they put stars or something pretty up there?) and say, "Man, this is real. This sucks," and start tearing up.   I think it might have been the oxygen port and the mask (on me). The action stops.  I mean stops. The prep nurse (can't remember her name) puts her gloved hand on mind and just holds it.

"I bet it's really overwhelming. It's OK, we're here for you. Take your time."

"We all have breakdowns. I had one the other day, here at work.  It's fine," say Jeff (the radiologist).

 I finally suck it up, wipe my eyes and she starts the prep.  Cleaning and draping, telling me what she's doing the whole time.  I'm a bit more chatty now; we're talking about different things.  I tell them I'm a singer, photographer, cyclist (always good conversation starters.  "I guess I might not be doing that metric century this year...damn!").

"Would singing help you?"  Interesting question. Fascinating, actually.

"Yeah, it would, I think."  So I sing "As Time Goes By." I would guess that would get my breathing more concentrated and controlled.

"I need a port and a doctor!" says the prep nurse.

For some reason this strikes me as rather amusing, "Yeah, that might be helpful."  Dr. Rosenblum comes in, gloved hands upright.  Now, again, why this suddenly strikes me as eerily akin to Groucho Marx's Dr. Hackenbush is beyond me.  Marcia starts administering the drug cocktail.  I don't doze off.  Oh, no.  We all actually have a surprisingly coherent conversation about singing and exactly what IS a metric century anyway?  I can feel the shots they give me.  I can feel him stitching me up, which is surreal. The doc finishes, says something nice which I can't remember and leaves me with Marcia and Jeff (the radiologist).   I look at them and say, "I'm not exactly a church-going gal or even a Christian but I have a really strong feeling I'd like to ask you to pray for me, Jeff."

"Do you want to do that now?"

"Yeah, I kinda do." So while I'm laying on the bed, the Grinch next to me, Jeff, Marcia and I join hands and he says a simple prayer.  They roll me out and Kim comes down to meet me and take me home.

I feel this lump in my chest. It's all bandaged up and such.  I'm sore.  My arse is still sore.  I had nightmares this morning.  But I'm home and I'm safe and I would like to believe it going to be just fine. And I'll do my damn show and at some point that damn metric century.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bone Marrow Aftermath.

Well, the silly bone marrow do-dah went better than I expected.  I made the staff laugh.  This is a good thing.  (I think.....)

"It's probably a good thing you're not giving me Demerol.  I'd be singing."

"That's OK, you sing if you want to."

 And yes, I sang.  Of course.

A lot of pressure.  It's not something I'd want to do again but it wasn't too terribly bad.  Now that the lidocaine has worn off, it hurts.  I did get to see the little piece of bone they took out. Nurse Nancy was pleased they got such a good sample.  (Groovy....)

The best part was afterwards at my friends' Al and Terry's house where I had homemade omelettes.  When I went to the ladies' room, my dressing came off (which was to be expected).  With my drawers down in back, I waddled into their kitchen and said, "Which one of your guys can put a band-aid on my arse."  There was a pregnant pause and Al went to fetch a band aid.

His retort was, "It's been a loooooong time since I've seen a woman's arse." LOL!

Wisdom From Ann Lamott vis-a-vis Bone Marrow Crap

Thank you Joni Liebel for sharing  Anne Lamott....these lines rang well with me even though she's (Anne) about five steps ahead of me.

"I have long since weeded out people who might respond to my condition by saying cheerfully, "God's got a perfect plan." Really? Thank you! How fun. 

"There is no one left in my circle who would dare say, brightly, "Let Go and Let God," because they know I would come after them with a fork."

Let today's games begin!!  I will feel a sense of major accomplishment if I don't find myself running down the hall in a backless hospital gown as they try to do whatever they're going to do with my bone marrow today while I reenact "The Scream" in real life.

I can do this.  It's just a big prick (or a poke) and a big sting and a fair amount of pressure.  I've dated those before.

Monday, July 28, 2014

First Day of Testing.....The Ugga-Mugga-Walla-Walla Heart Do-Dad

I have a heart.  I've seen it!  LOL!  It looked like stars, like a galaxy through a big telescope.  They took blood from me, put some tin in it, and stuck it back with radioactive shit so I would be all glowy!  The tech, Tim, was nice and kind of funny. I think he read me pretty well because he showed me one of the pictures. I came home, ate two sandwiches and SLEPT.

I've been thirsty as hell.

However.....on a totally downer note.....

My regular doctor has dropped the ball. The ball that is me.  I asked for a lidocaine cream script and help getting a temp handicapped placard for the car.  I really need one for whoever's car is nice enough to take me places.

Nixed on both. "You have to get that from whoever is doing your treatments."  Really?  REALLY? Seriously?  WTF?

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Barrage of Appointments

....It felt good to have a ride my friend's convertible and feel the wind whip through my hair late this afternoon!  But I do need to sleep.  Stupid.

A fun filled week ahead: Tomorrow (Friday) the Cancer Shrink ("Can you shrink this?"), Yeah, I snapped that appt. up like an alligator!

Rehearsal for my show Saturday a.m.

Monday the Mugga Heart Scan (yes, I have a heart but a mugga sounds like a Marx Bros. stage direction...."And Chico does a mugga..."

Tuesday the somewhat dreaded Bone Marrow Biopsy Needle Crap thing.  "Can I have a tequila sunrise infusion with that too?" Because apparently they don't give you sh*t except a local. Where's my calming meds or twilight sleep?  I just have to put on my big girl pants and pony up.

Wednesday is the PET scan and I highly doubt that has anything to do with the backseat of a '57 Chevy or massage.

Thursday is OFF!!! for good behavior!  I need to do something awesome!!  What shall I photography that day??

Friday is the dreaded Port Insertion.  They put me out for that one. Groovy, baby.
Wednesday the 6th is meeting with first oncologist and hopefully that is the week for second opinions. Oh, that's going to be a f----- weird day.....

Niece Alexandra suggested I start taking a stuffed animal to be my friend, so I chose this one out of all the bears and bunnies.

S/he doesn't have a name, any suggestions? I was going to take my stuffed Grinch, LOL!  That seemed a bit random and weird.....but maybe a bit "me" too. (he's very soft actually) What do you all think?  I'm on the fence....

Alexandra also suggested taking tunes.  My MP3 players are a bit long in the tooth and don't hold charges well but they'll do just fine.  I have a nook too, thank God.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Today's No News Neck Stuff

Back home from the doc and NO NEWS! They were still waiting on the damn labs to come back and be read or whatever the hell they do with the crap they take out of you. I know nothing except he didn't like the looks of what he took out of me last Monday. And the swelling neck stuff is more crap in there. Seriously? That could have come out to while you were in there!

Groovy. Not. It's not his fault, it's the lab taking their time staining the slides or whatever the hell they do. They were calling the lab and leaving messages for the head lab doctor. So my ENT said he'd call me by the end of the day with either results or more of an idea when there would be results. I texted family earlier and ended my text with Well. F---- (spelled) and (oops) sent that mass text to my m-i-l. Sorry! My bad Potty Mouth and Fingers! Of course she's a nurse; I'm sure she's heard way worse!

A couple of words I didn't want to hear: lymphoma, stages (and not the kind you act on) oncologist, chemo, radiation, bone marrow biopsy..... For some reason the remote possibility of an autoimmune thing didn't phase me as much. 

I need to put on my big girl panties and suck it up. Three meltdowns a day. I've had one already. But I will say "sh*tf--kbuggerf--kf--kbuggersh*t" quite a lot. Because sometimes there's nothing like some good old fashioned cussing! Thanks for caring, God/dess knows I feel the love and support.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Opportunity Wasted In An Overdose

Am I supposed to feel sorry for the young person who overdosed after doctors spend hours and hours getting his bad leg straight again (basically making him a new hip and thigh)?  A surgery that cost tens of thousands of dollars so, with work and healing, he could walk normally again, eventually being able to hike or cycle and live a normal life?  Why am I pissed?

Why am I pissed after watching my spousal unit suffer daily from chronic pain, lack of free mobility, going through two knee replacements and two back fusions and yet he still keeps moving ahead?  Why do I feel this kid was a selfish brat because he couldn't suck it up for a while and deal with the pain of his surgery and rehab? We knew this kid; he occasionally would come and hang out while the others painted and scrapped our house.

I bet the medical team is wondering why they bothered when there are people in need of the same kind of surgery that would pony up and put up with it all. Not only did this kid kill himself and rip his mother's heart out, he wasted a fantastic opportunity.

Why are we supposed to feel compassion for the drug addict who won't get help, who won't work a program or who won't say, "Enough is enough.  I'm getting off this ride?" I've known young and old people who just "do it."  I met one recently and I think of him daily with affection, respect and prayers of support for his continuing recovery.
Why is it that the only people I feel sorry for are the families of addicts; the people who put their lives, hearts, health, pocketbooks, houses on the line?  The families that never go on vacation, that neglect other family members, that go broke (or worse into serious debt), that have to get their family member arrested; THOSE are people I feel sorry for.

Can I pray for the addict?  Sure.  But I can't seem to get up one ounce of compassionate feeling. All my compassion goes to his family. I'm tired of the selfishness and self-absorption of addicts.

Why is the only person I feel heart-broken for is his poor mother who poured her heart, soul, time, money, energy into this kid?  I feel devastated for her; that's her kid, her baby. She has to walk forward in life, one faltering footstep at a time.  He's out of pain. He's free.  All the rest of his family and friends are left to wonder why, especially when given such an opportunity to recover and live a normal life, would he make that conscious choice to use?  The women will be weeping and the men will be pissed. All I can come up with is "his poor mother!"

Friday, July 11, 2014

Artie & Elke July 10th, 2014: A dialogue of sorts

Elke: So yesterday that nice guy comes to our house with cameras and such.
Artie: A person! A Person! Throw MY TOY!! Yeah! Yippee!! Somebody to throw a toy for me! 
Elke: He's a nice guy even if he DOES smell like other dogs. 
Artie, Hey dude, hey dude, hey mister, throw my Hollee Roller thing! I will chase it and shake it and jump for it!
Elke: Mom tells me to sit and makes the squeaky noise. She has treats. He take pictures of me. She takes pictures of me.
Elke: Really?
Artie: It's a visitor and we are outside! It's toy time! Throw my toy!!!! Yippeeee!!! Toy time!
Elke: OK, let him be an athletic jerk. Mom has treats in her pocket...

The Family Reunion Picnic

A family reunion picnic.....
"Damn, Uncle Grinch hit the sauce again...."
"I'm taking Freddy's iPod from him! He can talk to people, for crying out loud!"
"Aunt T makes the best tea!"
"Ralph better not be hiding a bearlie magazine inside that Peter Rabbit book...."
"Did Cecy break up with ANOTHER guy again. She's picking daisies. That whole 'he loves me, he loves me not' schtick!"

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Bill Cosby And Speaking English etc.

A FB friend posted this comment
I'm not black, but I have to say that a lot of this makes a lot of sense to me -- especially the talking part. (and the parenting part, cause that applies to everyone, I don't care what color you are.) I've worked in several fields and watched people stop, listen to someone speak, and go "No, thanks, I want to be helped by someone else".
Worse, I've been in a jury and heard a LAWYER, in the defense of his CASE, come out with "...they was...." and "....he seen...." and "....she be...." and boy, let me tell you, there was talk about THAT in the jury room! And a good chunk of that talk was "....maybe this lawyer doesn't know what he's talking about -- did you HEAR how he talks?" which could have put his client at jeopardy. If you can't even speak properly, how can you be trusted to know the law you are trying to present?


Bill CosbyThey're standing on the corner and they can't speak English. 

I can't even talk the way these people talk: 
Why you ain't, 
Where you is,
What he drive,
Where he stay,
Where he work,
Who you be...
And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk.
And then I heard the father talk.
Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth.
In fact you will never get any kind of job making a decent living.

People marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an Education, and now we've got these knuckleheads walking around.
The lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal.
These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids.
$500 sneakers for what?
And they won't spend $200 for Hooked on Phonics.

I am talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit.
Where were you when he was 2?
Where were you when he was 12?
Where were you when he was 18 and how come you didn't know that he had a pistol?
And where is the father? Or who is his father?
People putting their clothes on backward:
Isn't that a sign of something gone wrong?
People with their hats on backward, pants down around the crack, isn't that a sign of something?

Isn't it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up and got all type of needles [piercing] going through her body?
What part of Africa did this come from??
We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans; they don't know a thing about Africa .....

I say this all of the time. It would be like white people saying they are European-American. That is totally stupid.
I was born here, and so were my parents and grand parents and, very likely my great grandparents. I don't have any connection to Africa, no more than white Americans have to Germany , Scotland , England , Ireland , or the Netherlands . The same applies to 99 percent of all the black Americans as regards to Africa . So stop, already! ! !
With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap ......... And all of them are in jail.

Brown or black versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person's problem.
We have got to take the neighborhood back.
People used to be ashamed. Today a woman has eight children with eight different 'husbands' -- or men or whatever you call them now.
We have millionaire football players who cannot read.
We have million-dollar basketball players who can't write two paragraphs. We, as black folks have to do a better job.
Someone working at Wal-Mart with seven kids, you are hurting us.
We have to start holding each other to a higher standard..
We cannot blame the white people any longer.'

~Dr.. William Henry 'Bill' Cosby, Jr., Ed..D.


Someone's comment I think it's easy for people like Bill to say "better yourself" 

when he went to college and was in the military. 

He obviously had people helping him and pushing him. 

No one is going to listen to some stranger.


I wrote

I'm sorry J. but I vehemently disagree.  I am the grandchild of immigrants.  My grandparents spoke better English (not their native language) then many people today.  It's b.s., it's excuses.  
My father was kicked out of his house at age TWELVE by his step-father.  He slept on sofas at his friends' houses.  He graduated from high school, earned a Silver Star in WW2, college and law school grad. He worked 3 jobs and had a wife and 2 small kids while in law school. 
I have a friend, younger than I am, who grew up on W 25th in Cleveland.  She had to leave school at age 12 to earn money to help her family survive because her father's was disabled in a bus accident.  She now has her PhD.  
Don't tell me anyone of those kids today that Cos is talking about can't do the same. They can and many do. The first thing many Southerners do who want to get ahead in their careers (esp. if the go East or to the Midwest) is lose the accent.  Why?  Because you are judged on how you speak.  There are powerful examples on TV and in the movies on how to speak correctly.  Instead of listening to rap, they should be watching The Daily Show or PBS. 
And if these kids' parents aren't pushing them to be better, speak better, look better, respect others better, than shame on them.  It is NOT a color thing, it's not an ethnic thing.  It's a lazy thing. Keep your d---k in your pants and your panties on.  If you're not going to be responsible for the next generation, than don't reproduce.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Step Forward: The Best Of Social Media

Artie May 8, 2014, 10am:
D7100, 1/1000, f8, iso 640, 140mm (18-140 lens), out of camera, uncropped.
I want to thank Pete W. for sharing his "Flying Goose" settings. I just went out and shot 111 pictures of my silly dog and instead of having maybe 2-5 decent ones to choose from, I have over 60 to maybe 80 to choose from!  Some are a wee bit fuzzy (because it's hard to throw a toy AND whip your camera up to take  the shots) but this is leaps and bounds to where I was just yesterday. This is just one shot and I'm pretty happy with it!
Instead of crying tears of frustration and anger ("why isn't my eyesight better?" "why can't I do this?"), I'm actually crying tears of joy! (OK, I'm a girl, give me a break!)
This is what this group and social media is at it's best: people helping people, people connecting with people. From the UK to Northeast Ohio, Pete helped me to improve and gain some confidence with this camera.
My heart is full of gratitude.  Thank you!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mom Arm

Mom Arm. It's built in.  Along with:
Eyes In The Back Of Your Head and Thermometer Hand! Many men possess these attributes as well. The Spousal Unit's Thermometer Hand is accurate to about a 1/10 of a degree.
There's also Mom Extendo-Arm which can reach into the back of a conversion van to whap somebody upside their head.
(I wish i had drawn this....)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Camera Frustration Mode

Elke is bored with being a model.
Someone on my Nikon D7100 Facebook group gives me this article on the Focusing System to read. (I'm an earnest but wildly impatient student, as many will tell you...)

Here is an excerpt:

"In menu item a2, you can select the AF-S release priority, meaning that you can choose whether or not the camera will be in release priority or focus priority. Release priority means that the camera will deploy the shutter when you full-press the shutter button, regardless of whether or not the subject is in focus. It is sometimes jokingly called "focus frustration mode", as it gives you snappy AF speed, but if you didn't focus adequately during the half-press there would be nothing to stop you from taking an out-of-focus picture. Focus priory is the the opposite; even if you full-press the shutter button, the camera won't take a snap until the AF sensor thinks that it has achieved focus. This mode is sometimes jokingly referred to as "subject frustration mode," as the AF operation is slower (but more accurate), allowing for the subject to drift out of composition after focus has been locked." 

So THAT'S my problem!  I have the camera in one of two Frustration Modes!   LOL!  Explains EVERYTHING!

Is there a Banging Your Head Against The Wall mode??

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Camera Fear

Selfie, Lafayette Hotel, Marietta, OH, 3/30/14

I think sometimes I forget my Nikon is a CAMERA, I shouldn't be afraid to take snapshots! It's OK. It's not degrading to the camera. (Well maybe mine are....)
Does anyone else suffer from "OMG, it has to be competition-gallery worthy in order to use this expensive camera" syndrome? 
Does anyone else, when they're thinking of "Just a quick shot" reach for their phone or pocket camera? I couldn't FIND my pocket camera & my phone didn't have a charge so I grabbed the D7100 to take a quick picture of my wellies (boots) And felt guilty for it.
Is anyone else afraid to take their camera out for fear it will break? Am I the only one? I am so afraid to break or mess up this expensive thing and its attendant lenses. I freaked when my Spousal Unit said, "Just throw it in your bike bag," the other day. He got pictures of Great Blue Herons with it.
I'm actually afraid of this camera!

Friday, April 11, 2014

The MM Collection....Even More

Started really cataloguing The MM Sheet Music collection today.....I had found what songs I could find recorded, now I'm making lists.  Hand-written lists. Lists of songs by title and grouping some by composers/lyricists!!!  Cahn-Styne, Adamson-McHugh, Burke-Van Heusen, Johnny Mercer, female contributors (the unsung, unknown lady composers/lyricists of the Great American SongBook).

I can't thank Debbie L. for allowing me to have this stellar collection and the honor and challenge of finding and learning new-to-me "old" music. Every time I touch this music, I dedicate it to her mom and her amazing, varied, multi-faceted, decades-long career. I dedicate each song to the memory of my mom, dad, Aunt Nancy and Uncle Bill Atwell, who loved this music.....

Special performance announcement coming up for October!! One night only!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Doctors: Good People Who Need To Stop Hedging Their Bets

Got a text yesterday that Grandson Aidan (the older one in picture) is coming home today. He'll still need recovery at home, of course. Thank you for continuing to think of him and praying for him and his family! 

BTW, I'm not buying any the doctor b.s. that says he'll have asthma or prone to bronchitis the rest of his life. I know he's going to have a complete healing, living a happy, normal, healthy life with sports, travel, pets etc. 

If my parents had bought the Doctor Bullsh-t when I was little, I wouldn't be sitting here, typing to you all. The doctors wanted to put me as a little one in a home for retarded children. In Nebraska. That I had to go to a school for the blind; I couldn't go to Lakewood public schools. That I'd never walk. My Christian Science grandmother told my mother she had to "accept" what I was. (Totally against the teachings of that religion, BTW.) 

Blah-blah-blah....nobody cares. Ancient history.

Needless to say, my father told them all (including my grandmother) to f----- off. He also filed a lawsuit against the Lakewood Public Schools the result of which allowed me, the first "vision impaired" or "disabled" child to attend Lincoln Elementary School. 

And if I were in Joisey in those doctor meetings about my grandson, I'd tell them the same thing. You don't know Jack, you're hedging your bets. The nurses are the real angels.