Saturday, December 31, 2016

I had to call for the colonoscopy results because it seemed like it was taking an awfully long time, wasn't it? There was a message on my phone but I didn't play it until the next day because I have to be ready, ya know what I mean? 

There was no cancer(yay) but there was, however, a however. 


It's not a crisis but it's not the celebration I had in mind exactly. 

Tonight we're going to eat 12 grapes and some round food, We'll burn a wish and drink it, throw water off the back porch, drop ice cream for Grantley to lick, break a dish and bang some toast against the wall because we are not taking any chances. 

Tomorrow is sauerkraut and some sort of black eyed pea goosh(not the goosh of my family in Texas but something pea-filled)and then we'll go on special assignment sent directly from the far off state of New York. 

There will be photos. Stay tuned. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Falling Apart/Falling Together

Nope, I have not heard anything from Loyola about my polyp rodeo jamboree. I'm not worried and I'm not-not worried but mostly I'm not thinking about it which is the best way to go. 

I have other things to think about. 

Here goes: 

I've done my parents' Christmas Card forever. I don't even know how long. All kinds of crazy paper extravaganzas. I'm gonna see if I can find some of them. They have got to be around here someplace. 

This might have been the first one. We decided not to buy gifts and 
to make a donation to Heifer International( instead. 
We paid for a box of quackers. 

This is the(only) year my Mom made Tofurky. 

Okay so. This year, I had to kinda put it off for a bit until I exercised all the self-care that had to happen in 2016. But I got done with a week to spare and I was talking to my Dad on the phone and about to hang up and I said, oh yeah. We gotta do your card. I was thinking to shoot his portrait and make it half drawing/half cartoon. Or something. 

They used to do a lot of walking. 

We had previously discussed that it was going to have to be a New Years card again-hey man, if it had to be a Valentine that was the way it was gonna have to be, you know? It doesn't matter really though, does it? (I hope not because I've only got three cards done so far THIS year.) 

They had a pet bird for awhile. It got so cold in their dining room
that the bird's water actually froze. They were from the Deeeeeepression. The bird 
shoudda put a sweater on.

I-personally and quite frankly- am still so shocked to get a real piece of mail that's not from Blue Cross and Blue Shield these days, huh? I saved all the cards I got this year and I am opening them tomorrow like the gifts that they are. 

They did a lot of walking. And when I'd say I would-once again- 
make my parent's card? (Of course I would. I loved it.) She'd say: Oh goody! 

So, my Dad says, oh you don't need to worry about that. You'll get yours tomorrow. 

Here's me: whuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut? 

The year she got her hip replaced. Different gait-still walking. 

Yeah yeah he went to Hallmark. His grandson did the mailing labels and they're already out. 

Me again: uhhhhhh Whuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut?

She didn't like this one. It was the year Haley's Comet passed by on her Christmas Eve birthday and she thought the candle was a phallic symbol. 

Like I am sophisticated enough(not to mention strangely diabolical) 
to add a subliminal phallic symbol. 


This one was her idea. 

A little more sedentary in 2014. They played dominos every night after dinner. 
The idea was to let your food digest. 

He had a yellow kick bike and he posed for this one in the alley. 
We joked that the inside should say: I'm still here. 

He complained about the cost last year, so we went with a postcard. 

This was everybody's favorite. She got on her back on the cement and I hung out 
the upstairs window to shoot the reference photo. 

Yeah so. Apparently, while I was away, I got fired from my annual Christmas card gig. It wasn't like a, "There there dear, you're SO overburdened with your various obligations, I've decided to go with a little company I'd like to call Hallmark, instead." 


It was a deal that was already done. 

It's been angsting me like a freight train but I remembered the days my Mom plunged into dark moods and knitted therapeutic afghans and how much that actually sucked for everybody else, so I decided I'd write, maybe decorate some-already baked by somebody else-Christmas cookies(I have a deep yearning for sprinkles this time of year), try to be positive and maybe go for a walk.

Or two. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

My belly is making weird noises. Last night, it sounded like the ocean and now it sounds like Saturday morning cartoons. 


I don't always miss my Mother like normal people seem to do. I lived with them for three years after I got divorced and moved back to Chicagoland and my best gift was to tell them the truth. This was/is not always valued in my family but they knew who I was. We had miles of communication toward the end. She kept saying she was so proud of me and I'd be like, what are you talking about? I'm not even done yet. 

But there is this one thing. 

I was making some soup the other day. Potato. I got all the stuff from Aldi-hoisted it up in a giant paper bag-maneuvered my 25 cent rental cart around the parking lot like a boss. I think those vitamins are really helping. 

A man noticed me. Offered assistance. Said I was a 'beautiful woman' and I thought yeah, that's because I can clearly bring home the bacon, hoist it into my car etc etc. But I appreciated the non-creepy sentiment. I must be feeling better, thought me.  

Got home, opened the potatoes and there was one that was the size of Grantley's head. It was YUGE(as they say in New Jersey). And just for a second, achhh (as Benita Epstein would say)I missed my Mom. 

If she found two carrots that had grown into an embrace or a tomato with a nose or whatever--because she was a finder of these things for sure--she would find you and show it to you. 

Once she made me come outside in my pajamas(horrors!)to see a turtle walking through our backyard. 

And there I was with a giant spud and nobody to show. 

Today, I was peeling some other not-quite-so-mutant potatoes for a sort of a white bean vegetable soup extravaganza, and I peeled? And a face appeared. Like an eye with a smile. 

I guess these things-they never leave you. 

I'm working on the book again. 


I had intended to walk you through the colonoscopy so when it's your turn, you won't be scared. Here we go: You have to be there 45 minutes early. So 8:15-ass in chair-for a 9:00 appointment. You need your phone for distraction. A whole lotta people cancel on this particular procedure. I can understand it but there's such a huge investment in time-why not just get 'er done, right?

You check in. They call you. You have to say what you're there for. You get taken to a room with a really weird open garage-type/curtain covered door but that's because once you get in the bed? You're going to be wheeled around. 

They give you yellow socks and two plastic bags to hold your stuff and that gets shoved under the bed. You have to take everything off. You put the gown on-open to the back and you hop on the bed-there are towels underneath you-and you get under the white blanket and wait. 

I try not to act like a sick person once I hit the hospital bed. Try it. It's not easy. 

They start a line in a vein. They take your history. The anesthesiologist comes and chats. The doctor stops by for one second. And then a younger anesthesiologist comes and tells you it's kiss and hug time. You wave to P who's head is bobbing because he worked the whole night before in the ice cold and they give you an injection into that line that's supposed to help with nerves or something like that. I was fine and then I was gone. 

You get rolled into a different room. It's got a lot of computers and stuff in it. Somebody tells you to scoot over onto your left side and you wake up in your room with plastic tubing all over the place-all covered up. 

There is absolutely no mortification involved. 

Now you know. 


P has a friend who's having some medical crap happening. I mean like authentic crap. Like hey, guess what? You're hanging out in rehab until your medicare runs out sort of stuff. 

I said, well, how is she? 

Her knee hurts, her ankle hurts and her ass hurts. 

Her ass hurts?  

Yeah that's her sister Eleanor. She's a pain in the ass. 

I walked right into that one. I am so off my game. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Colonoscopy Stuff

1. I wasn't afraid of dying. Which I had been before-I dunno-I didn't have much in the way of information about these things, so every procedure was pretty frightening. This time-I was familiar with the beginning/middle/end so I was perfectly cool and I think that helps(<---understatement).

2. Having done this maneuver together (four times actually-between both of us). We kinda knew how to move through it. 

I remember the first one and asking him if he could eat somewhere else (Wow, what a jerk, huh?) but I was so agitated(also known as scared-ya know-cuzza that whole cancer thang)I guess I feared I was going to eat his leg off or something. 

This time-knowing it's only one day of clear liquids and they're not actually asking you to starve-you can celebrate an all-day festival of chicken broth if you have to-he did his eating and I just moved through my day doing something else. See:new scarf. 

I did-full disclosure-ask him not to open this package of Italian salami we have in the fridge. He didn't. No big deal.

3. I also went out on Sunday for a few hours. So I wasn't just sitting here going nuts-crucial to my personal development and the proper spinning of the globe. 

4. I cheated. 

And I am not telling you to do this-in fact-I'm officially telling you not to do this-but this is what I bought. 

From the Dollar Store. 
I was about to type the price but 
I realized that's not necessary. 

This is complicated and stupid, but I had this whole assembly line set up and it went something like this: I had a Pyrex measuring cup mixed with one of these Wyler's things and some of the goo in the freezer. It got to a sort of a Slurpie consistency. And then I took the big jug of nearly frozen plain goo, and poured that over the yellow ice. Over and over and over. 
When the yellow ice got too bland, I added another Wyler's thing and I just kept pouring and drinking and pouring and drinking. 
I stood in front of the kitchen sink for the whole thing. It's pretty nauseating-this business-so I thought it'd be a good place for my Prep Bar. 

Where it got extra stupid was when I had to wake up at 3:30 AM and the big jug was frozen solid. I thought it was kinda funny actually. So I had to melt that with hot water on the outside the bottle to get the job done. 

I spilled a couple of times in the moonlight session because the big plastic jug had this lingering massive frozen lump that kept falling forward and slopping every-thing-every-where. So, paper towels are a nice-to-have item. 

I thought about John McCain and how-what if I were in a prison camp and the only water they'd let me have had bugs in it and here I was, enjoying this fantastic medical care. Hey you get through it-how you get through it, no? 

I followed the official rules of the timing eventho I was severely tempted to keep drinking-beyond the first cut-off time. And I got some sleep in-between sessions. 

I knew-and this is because I'm familiar with the process-what I was headed for was yellow water. The iffy part was the 'Hey Kool-Aid!' shade of yellow and that had to be from the Wyler's but it never came up as an issue. "Say Mizz Farrell. Your ass seems to be glowing. Have you met this reindeer?" That didn't happen. 

Too bad, huh.

The facility got a makeover since my last visit. Everything was shiny and new and they even had in-room TeeVees which you know we didn't turn on because that is not our thing. 

The nurse was incredible getting the IV thing started. The other nurse took my history. We met the anesthesiologist and then the doctor who looks exactly like Elvis-not the boyhood Elvis and not the almost dead Elvis. Maybe just past boyhood? He's really cool and we were all good to go. 

Woke up an hour and a half-ish later and had to hang out till they decided I was good to go. I felt just a tiny bit off my game-balance-wise but we shuffled off to the auto and back into the world. 

We went to FatDuck. It's a restaurant in Forest Park on Madison Street. I had a massage (client)person who was a rancher-you really never know who you're gonna meet-and she actually admonished me for not having checked that place out sooner. 

We split a bleu cheese burger-she was absolutely right. It was really good. And that's the final tip for Colonoscopy 101. The day before-don't be all-this may be my last meal on the planet boo hoo hoo so I better get something fantastic. 

That is hard for your system to negotiate and while you're pretty restricted in terms of choices of things to eat(that is if you actually READ the handout duh=me)you're from Chicago, dammit, and you know-if you have ANY control over anything, your last meal has to be pizza. 

I had 5 polyps removed(Someone talk me out of using them on my Christmas card, won't you?) and we wait for the pathology report. I don't want to get too excited but I did hear her say if everything is cool, I won't have to go back for THREE BLISSFUL years. 



Sunday, December 18, 2016

T'was the night before my colonoscopy
and all through the condo
clear liquids were flowing
from my head to my toe. 


So yeah, here we are again, wandering up the driveway into colonoscopy town. It's our third visit. Some people haven't even been once! Imagine. 

The glorious P-keeping the voyage afloat-with his "You don't want to screw it up now, right?" and by that, he refers to any potential misbehavior on my end-which wasn't going to happen, but it's good to draw some sort of line. And he's right-he's right-he's right. These excursions do not come cheap and are not so easily planned. 

I had to take two shifts off of two different jobs and one is beginning to balk-along the lines of-'Can't you pick a different day for these appointments?' to which I replied, so uhh, what's the penalty when I don't show up, because I'm not going to be here that day(I mean, you don't really want me here that day-I'm tellin' ya.) so, uhh ya know, what are we talking about? You gonna 'write me up' and then how many of those 'write-ups' equal being fired because I need to know that upfront. 

The shift magically disappeared from my schedule. 


And I actually can and have(!) tried to balance different jobs and different days off for doctor stuff but the colonoscopy is a different sort of thing and here's why: If you take the Monday morning appointment, you spend Sunday in the colonoscopy prep position-so you only lose one day of pay. 

I don't know what rich people do. When that happens to me-I'll let you know. 

Prepping the Prep
The milk jug in the upper right hand corner of the photo is a half gallon. 
See how gigantic this is? 

The prep seems different this time. They mailed me instructions which I was supposed to read one week ago(oops) and there were certain things I was supposed to avoid(oops) and so far I haven't had to do anything exceptionally crazy except mix and chill. We put the jug between the two backdoors because it's cold outside. 

I did not add what they call 'the flavoring'. Yipes. 

Starting tonight at 7:00 PM (Central Time) and flowing all the way till 8:30(I know it will take me longer. "Just throw it back" never works for me.) I have to drink half of this giant jug o' joy. 

Then-not long after that-the games begin. 

The second half starts again at 3:30 AM(uh-huh) and goes until 5:00 AM. We have to be there at 8:15 AM when P is just rolling off his night shift so I won't be surprised to find him nodding off in the new and improved waiting area. That's just the way things seem to roll. 



There's a woman I have to come in contact with. She's done a significant amount of cancering herself. People feel badly for her. Me-I dunno, ya know? I don't know if 'feeling sorry' is actually beneficial to anybody. How long does the license to be an a-hole-because you've suffered the indignantcy(Is that a word? It is now.) of cancer-how long before that card expires?  

The first time I spoke to her, she was disappointed that my story seemed to trump her story. (What an unfortunate phrase that has turned out to be-all the way around, huh.) Like it's an f-ing contest. 

More recently, an encounter with her-started with the phrase
"Can I have a word with you?" where she separated me from the group and asked if I would be insulted if she offered me her old pre-cancer clothes from "when she was bigger". "Extra large", she said. It wasn't the offer that irked me-(well, not 100%)it's that she felt free to have that conversation in my workplace. 


The last encounter went exactly like this: Oh. You didn't have radiation, did you? Like this disqualifies me from dancing with the Prince at the Cancer Ball. 


I did not pass go and went directly to text my comedy cancer-kicking pal. She threw me back a small,yet delightful, ball of swearwordology(thus the title for this segment) and I cannot tell you exactly how much better that made me feel. 

I also went shopping today. I realized that the area of my hernia is completely numb so there's no reason to keep swaddling myself the way I had to when it was swollen and painful. I scored some extremely cool items at the Goodwill(a Perry Ellis Asian print inspired fishy scarf for 3 bucks? Yay me!) And tighter jeans. A little bit tighter anyway. 

As I drove away-I thought about my powers of being able to handle personal criticism. It takes me about a week to recover from an unsolicited personal critique but by then, I can sort the message from the sting. 

And guess what, I'm not preparing for the Cancer Ball. I will always have both eyes on it via my rear view mirror and everything, but that's not my final destination-thankyouverymuch. 

Next week I am slated to join a Support Group at Gilda's Club. There's a 12 week commitment and I think you're not allowed to share exactly what goes on in the group. Let's see how it goes. 

And now, it's time to drink the goo. 

Umm cheers. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

If you were hoping to get some sort of doctors appointment, you can forget it. I have all of them. 

On top of job one. On top of job two. On top of job three. On top of Grantley-not having received the memo regarding the rapidity of older age approaching at the speed of light-smashing her leg straight into a stair step on her way flying up the steps and glimping(grimacing and limping) for the rest of the week.

I could still get thyroid cancer. 

Wait, what? says me to the physician who will monitor my markers till the end of time. But I don't even have a thyroid anymore. How could that be? 

We got into a great discussion starting with my favorite topic in the universe-hair.(It's not really just hair. It's style and design and transformation but you can call it 'hair'. I don't care.) I had been to get my roots done the afternoon before our first party at Gilda's club and when they rinsed me off-I looked like somebody dropped an egg yolk on my scalp. 

Naturally, I blamed myself and my lack-o-thyroid and then they dumped on a toner from the purplish-blue realm. It. Made. Me. Beige. For the love of JAYZUZ. Me=beige. And late for the party. So we had a crappy view of the hula lesson. And we had both hunted for Hawaiian shirts-P more successfully. He found ones that were a dollar. I just couldn't throw $5.99 times two into the wind. Ya see what I'm sayin' here? 

No she said. Your body doesn't know you don't have a thyroid because you're taking pills. Oh, says I. So how come I'm. so. cold. 

Because I've been FREEZING and I'm never freezing.I love the winter. I welcome blizzards. I'm the first neighbor out to make the snowmen. Or at least top two. But now? It's so bad that I can't write at night because my computer is by the window and there's just no way typing can happen from icicle fingers. (I've thought about wishing for an iPad? But wouldn't that permanently install my arse upon my sofa? If I didn't have to get up to write? Right?) 

The doctor said, because it's cold this winter.

Really? said me. That's it? Are you sure? 

When I called our condo's management company and a day or two later they decided to get back to me-it turned out there were SEVERAL people presumably with thyroids intact that were also too cold. Imagine that. 

We talked about the party at Gildas Club where I am so dumb(sometimes don't you TOTALLY surprise yourself?)I didn't really grasp exactly how heroic the people who showed up for this party actually were. Took me a couple of days. It was a Hawaiian theme holiday party and it looked like some sorta senior citizen extravaganza. Mostly everybody seemed old and they were sitting in a circle and there was this slow motion hula lesson thing and some very strange hors d'oeuvres(I don't know what this means but suddenly? If I'm eating something and it grosses me out? I must find a napkin and get rid of it. This spew thing is a new thing.)and some Really Tasty (virgin) Pina Coladas. I mean, those things were nice. But the thing is, when the salsa band came and started to play, I started seeing compression garments and just tiny tiny tiny indications of cancer and a few days later I thought,ye gods, when I was at my sickest? There was no WAY I could have gotten my arse outta the house and joined in on a Cha-Cha lesson so who am I to judge. Duh and a half o rama. 

I'm learning. 

I made some comment to the doctor about being old and she looked at me and said: You're not old. And I said...oh come on. And she was dead serious and I thought, ya know what? She must see people in their 80's and 90's. I think I am actually not old and I'm not wasting another second on that. (And if you're in your 20's and you beg to differ? I think you're a punk and I'll see you on the inner tube hill once I find my long underwear.)

We talked about how doctors prefer Universal Health Care and we talked about asking for assistance and she really hardcore lectured me about how-before all this cancer business-how much I had been contributing to the system and that this period of time when I'm in a sort of a regrouping period that it's just my turn and I said yeah but you're not really supposta(speaking Chicago here) and she looked at me like, hey(a-hole)listen to me, will ya? (Only she would never say a-hole. I can't stop saying it myself. ha ha ha.) 

Thyroid cancer is predicted to be one of the top three cancers by 2025. Or some year like that. Far away but not THAT far. And that is because of new and more powerful detection systems and I thought wow-bad-wow. And on the tiniest good side, yay for me because they're never going to let me stop following up on mine. 

Next appointment 6 months. If that's successful-I can go for a whole year. 

Then there'll be room for someone else. 


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Ya need romance, don't cha. 

Okay how's this: 

I had to get a blood test in anticipation of an appointment next week. There were 3 options. One-at the primary care's office. They are not so good at taking blood. That's where I got yelled at for saying I was a' hard stick' because I was scaring the nurse and Scaring My Veins. That's what one nurse told me. 

Option two. Go to the regular blood test place in the outpatient section of Loyola. They can be anything from great to horrible but they're not nice to you-unless you put on a puppet show of joy-which I do. Or I have done. I'm sorta way, way, way, over that. 

Option three. The Cancer Center. These women are amazing. Even if it looks crowded, they're fast. And, as the Primary Care pointed out, they have to be Really Good because the veins they deal with are under siege from cancer. 

But! It's 5 bucks to park in front of the Cancer Center. There is absolutely no reason to hand someone an extra 5 bucks at the moment, yes? 

So, the glorious P made a plan. 

He dropped me in front of the Cancer Center, he had Grantley in the back of the car and they went across the street to the Forest Preserve and waltzed around sniffing things until I texted that I was done. 

When I see a commercial for these things, I always think they look like somebody's arse. In a million years, I'd never trade having my dog strolled while I suffered a decrease in teeny painlings for the honor of having the outline of someone's behind hanging around my neck. 


In the department of pulling oneself together(aside from preparing to look for additional work, I think it has something to do with healing. Like putting that stuff behind yourself. Er sumpthin'.) Got into a conversation with a make-up-loving person. She was telling me what was good to buy. Look, I need assistance in these matters. I'm kinda on my own in this department. Anyway, as the conversation goes on, there's a sentence that smacks me in the actual face and it starts a little something like this: Since you had chemo.....blah blah blah. 

I guess the gist was why my skin looked as bad is it does-I can't say for sure because from there on out, I was just watching her lips move.

Ummm I didn't have chemo. 

That was the day. The Very First day in all the drama-and I know we can agree there's be a lotta drama-that I came home and I had had e-f'ing-nuff. 

Head squished into center of bed. Do not approach. 

When I was a tot, my Mom kept this little diary about me. I wish I had it now. Things like-that I ate the seeds out of green beans instead of the beans. Things like that. There was one story, where my Mom took me to the bakery with her, and the lady behind the counter-this is what they used to do in the olden days-they would grab a flash of that white pastry picking up paper and if you were a little kid-over the counter, they'd pass you a little butter cookie. 

According to legend, I cried and cried because she gave me one with no sprinkles.(I believe that's child abuse now, isn't it?) However, by the time we got to Woolworth's, I snuck under the counter and ate it anyway. 

Same thing this. A week-ish or later, I found myself in front of the very same recommended make-up counter with my Very Good Pal MK. We had just performed glasses hunting at Costco-MK is all strategy-if you ever get to hang with her-she she knows the best woman behind the counter to give you the truth about your glasses choices and stuff. 

Anyway. We ended up in front of this very makeup counter-and we're having a rare moment of girl time and I say something and MK says: You're always playing that CHEMO card, aren't you? And I tell you what. We had one of those hard, hard, we-know-what-we're-talking-about-and-we-are- not-permitting-this-shit-into-our-psyches laugh. 

Oh it was good. 


On the news front, soon I expect to be fitted for my Wonder Woman wrist cuffs as I have been diagnosed with all kindsa vitamin deficiencies. Which is bad. Which is good. Because they're fixable. Taking iron, B-12 and today's addition-and this was based on P's suggestion to the primary care doc-a big wallop of Vitamin D. 

I know it's crazy, but I'm kinda psyched there's a possibility I might come out of this feeling expialadoshus