Tuesday, February 28, 2017

I just made my Dad laugh and laugh. 

My work is done here people. I mizewell go back to bed now. 

When you dialed the house of the parentals for these past oh...fifty-ish years? Not only do you get to use the Exact Same Phone Number-which is a luxury-it's gonna be a Sad Sad Day when that number belongs to someone else, but if my Dad would answer, he'd perform the 3 second phone pass in which the receiver would be passed to 'Your Mother' and she'd probably find some nice place to sit because talking was going to happen. A lot of it. 

Now it's he and I. I call everyday. I try to have cool stories but most of the time there's nothing new. Which is bad but it's good-generally speaking. The coolest thing? I never knew how hard he could laugh. It is a marvelous thing. 

The minor roar of laughter came after I got him going about having spent 15 seconds of the early morning being barked at by a K-9 Unit. I mean, think about that. There we were, minding our own business when this evil psycho bark came through the air. 

It was fantastic. 

The major howl was when I told him about The Diarrhea Guy. 

Mercifully, my insurance came back and in the meantime I'd gotten one of those robo-calls about my annual physical so I went ahead and called and was able to get in next day-which is fantabulous-so then I did what I always do and that's called make a list. 

(You'll notice I'm going to be doing more drawings or at least I'm going to try. I massaged the Coolest Person. She teaches Medical Ethics. She rocks a PhD. Wow.-And last time I saw her? She was ready to chat and she told me about this thing that exists now called 'Graphic Medicine'. And I think maybe maybe maybe it might slow me down a bit and there's nothing wrong with that.)

Anyway yeah. And behold my usual TMI in which I reveal that I've overdone it with harsh detergents in the hand washing category of massage and I bring your attention to number 2. Which looks like the Partridge Family bird, no? Kind of a little bit. 

Digestive Uproar

Okay so, I was leaving Improv last week and if you ever want to see me work at the height of my squirming intelligence, watch me try to explain my unusual personal digestive output to a doctor. (It was not diarrhea.)Turns out on this very topic, I use my hands a lot and look toward the ceiling because I'm trying to filter out elementary-school level description. 

They should have a broad vocabulary of available words like the Eskimos have for snow, ya know? Shit. 

And that's another thing. At the same time, I'm desperately trying to avoid expletives. 

I know that might look like a baby talking but 
I am 54 and this is not The Weekly World News. 

I share that the aftermath of all of this surgical/procedural stuff is that my gut-if you will and you don't have to-now announces itself. Loud. Well in advance of any impending action. It's like a portable internal symphony of sound. I'm sure I lose massage points over it. People complain about anything. 

(Full disclosure. I complain when food is served that is not hot. It just strikes me as wrong. Heat is free. It is not truffles.)

Primary Care kinda tilts his head looking at me and we go through what we think it's not. Like he asks questions-have you lost a lot of weigh lately? Unfortunately no, I say. But that's a good thing in this case, he says. And it goes on like that. 

It's a cool thing because I get to say what I think it's not. I think it is not cancer. I think it is not ____. I think it is not ____. But I don't know what it is. And it's not that much fun. 

He says, okay the good news is that I'm not going to send you for another colonoscopy. I'm not afraid of colonoscopies, says me. They saved my life. Okay so, he says, better than having me guess-I think I'm going to send you to the Diarrhea Guy.

The what? There's a guy? What?

It's the kind of physician that deals with things like IBS and colitis and I'm like...oh. There's a guy for that? Wow.

My Dad thought that was HIGHlarious. 

Primary Care is going to see what the colonoscopy guy and the surgeon think and get back to me but he thinks I need to visit The Diarrhea Guy.  

We also had a hearty exchange about Vitamin D. The difference between being prescribed D2 and D3? You're gonna love this. It's what insurance companies are willing to pay for. Form follows dysfunction, huh. 

And we talked all about moles. It's not the big ugly ones that are worrisome. It's the little irregular ones. Which is interesting to me because one of my jobs is to look at people's skin for hours at a time and it's all good to know. Ya know? 

Uh huh. 


Saturday, February 25, 2017

In a stunning bit o' irony, today I had to tell a family member to eat more and this is the same family that used to perpetually tell me to eat less. 


P has a cold and things have been crappy and as it turns out, I'm one of those cluckers. You know like, clucking over him with this continual, Are you okay? Can I get you something? Can I get you something to drink? Are you warm enough? sort of a thing which makes me, once again, grateful that I've not been cast in the roll of The Caregiver. 

Perish the thought. 

It's also telling that when your person is experiencing some stuff-how you can't change it-you have to watch and let them work it out. 

Easier said than done, yo. 


We were watching Orange is the New Black and I could not believe when I saw Fig perform the maneuver. Nobody even asked me what the maneuver even was(!) from my last post-making me think I'm talking to myself but for that one person listening to me in Singapore, here's the maneuver:

It's a little scribbley, huh. 

Okay here's what you do. You put your opposite hand in the cup and you lift your tissue up and across. The idea is to fill the cup completely. Then you do the other one. 

You're welcome Singapore. 


I did something brave and heroic last week. It only took me like oh six months or something. The last surgery was six months ago and ever since-in some effort to attempted to recapture my finances-I've been working my ass off. No, really. Three jobs, social media every other week, angsting about my art and the rest of the time complaining about how tired I was. Even I heard myself after the 27 thousandth lamentation and believe me when I say it, that shit got old. 

If your parents were from the deeeeeeeeeepressssion, getting rid of a shift is like slicing your own throat with an emery board, right? But Gilda's Club offers improv and when last I stepped off the improv platform-it was because the person in charge sort of off-handedly suggested 'Finding out you have cancer' as a basis for a scene and here was I barely glued together along the line of my giant red scar. 

I never looked back. 

But Gilda's Club, I thought, would be safe. And I have got, I thought to myself, to make a change. 

One day, last week I went to refill my all-important Vitamin D. No big deal, right? Got to the counter, and our friend the pharmacist kinda whispers, which insurance do you have now? And I say,(not whispering because my shame left the building ages ago) I think I have XYZ. I thought I had ABC but someone told me I don't have that anymore. So yeah, XYZ. 

She looks at her screen. Hmm. Bad hmmm. Yeah that doesn't show up for you and (big pause)yeahhhh even on the sort of generic insurance coverage listing? You don't have XYZ.

Huh. Says I. Well, uhhh until I get that straightened out? Can I just buy some regular Vitamin D? Well yeah, she says and then she looks at the prescription. Wait, no. You'd have to take like...her voice drifts off. I said well that's okay. I can take a bunch of them. She said, the prescription is for 1.25 MG. The 50,000 unit. 


That meant a trip to an office not very far away. But you know, it's just like the library and how you go through your life relying heavily on some spot on the Dewey Decimal system, until you move on to the next one and pretty soon after a bunch of years, you've covered quite a bit of the third floor?

This is a building on a street I've driven 100 times but I never turned my head to even know I'd be visiting there one day. It was very crowded with people of every color-I kinda kicked myself for choosing neon green as my jacket color of choice because it seemed to make everyone who wanted to cut through the line to get to the end? I guess neon green indicates a cutting point. Go figya. There was even a guy with an illustrated face. Completely tattooed and that led to a lot of thinking about why that terrified me which gave me something to think about. 

I was there long enough to smile at the lady in front of me and the one behind. We were all too hot and there was one spot in line where you could actually feel some air and that got us talking about snow. 

Anyway, I got to the front and learned that 'due to a glitch in the system' (people actually use that phrase-can you f-ing believe it?), I was indeed eligible for insurance and I received a copy of a list of Important Numbers to Call and I said to the woman with green gem studded fingernails, does this mean I get to get out of here? Yes, she said. 


Anyway, called the number and apparently by March 1st? I'll be back in business. 

Good Lawd Have Mercy. 


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Once more to Nordstroms-as a teeny political statement made possible by a Christmas gift card bonus from one of my jobs-that was one of my life goals-to work a job where they passed out a Christmas bonus. CHECK! 

One of the greatest experiences a person could have in the universe with my Mom(who died three years ago this week-thanks Facebook for the 'after the exact anniversary day' reminder)was to have her take you to Oak Brook. It was a whole ritual including probably getting something to eat in the basement of Marshall Fields and bringing home a bag of licorice for my Dad and then, when we got home, having a fresh out of the bag fashion show. And here's me now, going alone. To a different store in a different corner of Oak Brook. Brave New World. Or something. 

Anyway yeah, this time for what they used to call underpinnings and I consulted with my cancer kicking pal if I should call ahead or just show up and she told me I should make an appointment with a fitter. 

Oh. Okay. 

Her name was Faye and I bumped into her right away and she looked nicely neutral, if that makes sense. There are a lot of style masters strolling around Nordstroms with all forms of intimidating sharp-edged eyeliner. Faye asked me what I was looking for and I used the code word: comfort. 

We entered the fitting room, she measured me and set off to gather an armload of choices. Eight all together. I tell you what, eight never happened on the third floor of Marshall Fields. I put on the first one and bravely stood before the mirror with Faye peeking around behind me and I heard an audible gasp. 

I thought, well THAT'S seriously weird, having the fitter react like that at this very moment in time and then, pow, I realized the gasp had actually come out of me. 

I completely forgot about the gigantic scar that runs straight down my body and there it was in all it's rosy red glory reflected in a three-way mirror and here's the dumbest thing ever: I apologized. 

Which is more frightening, the exposure of the scar or the apology. Right? Sheesh. What a maroon. 

The way this went was, I put one on and she stood behind me-frowning in thought-making some adjustments and then passing the next possibility around me. I was-for sure-naked but at the same time never really exposed. That's why you go to a professional, right?

Also I learned a putting on a bra new maneuver that nobody ever told me about. What's up with that? 

We got down to three and then one revealed itself as being The One. I added ten dollars and ten cents to my gift card and off I went. Got home, put it on and started in on handcrafting my taxes. I was sitting for an hour or two and I keep hearing this creaking noise. Creaking is not good.

Reconsulted my cancer smashing pal, found the receipt, called Nordstroms and apologetically(you see a theme happening here?) inquired about returning said merchandise. They said fine. 


I didn't get this one but you might wanna.

I went back the next day, got a different salesperson. Way much younger and I had given it miles of thought and decided my codeword wasn't actually 'comfort'. Or anything resembling 'full-coverage' which seems to me to be like having your bosoms individually gift wrapped. She knew exactly of what I spoke and probably like 25 minutes later and I think-another three dollars and change? I was done. 

I saw Faye on the way out and I apologized(because apparently that's the way I currently roll)and she completely waved me off along the lines of: this is how the game is played. 

Oh thinks me. I didn't know. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Prospective Valentines

For Valentine's Day, I had my phone set for midnight. I was going to wake up and try and score two tickets to the Chicagoland Pizza Summit. For $35 bucks you'd receive all- you-can-eat pizza, 5 beers and some sort of commemorative plate and didn't I used to do crazy things like that all the time? Oh yes. I did. 

But against my better judgement, I decided to pre-discuss the idea with P and we hashed it out and came to the unfortunate conclusion that A) We're not really drinking-I mean I'm not and he might have one beer on alternative Thursdays in Leap Years and B) my stomach-in it's current incarnation-can't really manage thirty-five dollars worth of pizza or even really half of a six dollar Home Run Inn. 

I remember once watching two friends-one had gastric bypass surgery and the other had the sleeve and they were surrounded by The Most Delicious Pizza and they nearly had tears in their eye-they just couldn't do it. 

I guess we'll have to find something else. 

Too bad there's not an entire universe of choices out there, huh. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Today is World Cancer Day and if you did not get me a card, it's okay, because I did my celebrating yesterday at work. I would love to give you the exact details, but for the moment I also need to remain employed-so you're going to have to do a bit of reading between the lines here and that's not exactly easy once you've spent the day dancing around the Cancer Februarypole and Bobbing for Chemo and enjoying a nice slice of Cancer Day Cake.  That stuff wears you out. 

This client-as they refer to them-I call them "people" because I am a renegade-has "issues of digestion". And they are the grossest thing you can imagine. No no. Worse than that. Yeah that. In real time. Actually going on during the massage. 

Uh huh. 

If it were ME! boast my twenty year old coworkers, I'd tell her the massage was Now Over! And in a perfect world I would totally find the words to do exactly that, but at the moment I need the money so I put up with all kinds of shit. 

Gettin' it now?

Uh huh. 

So okay, she came back and that is because I tell good stories and that is because I make sure to have a lot of adventures because while I don't consider myself a master massage technician like a lot of the other children do-I am a master of making people feel better and that is because I have good stories and I operate at the level of maximum chill. People walk out the wrong door when they leave my massage. That's how good I am. 

She was in a lesser form of intestinal distress-tanks be to Jayzuz as my former spouse would say-but still there was the essence of GAAAHHH going on. Can you dig it?

We got on the topic of colonoscopies and how she-she must be in her 65's at least-had never had a colonoscopy and I was like

big long pause here

Okay so, you know I had colon cancer, right? And she was all, what?!?!? 

And I take a deep breath and I spill the story how it started with a colonoscopy and then bounced to being a pretty crappily painful hernia and then the possibility of a blood clot in my lung and then the miracle of the catscan that started at my neck which revealed the lump in my thyroid that lead to the removal of the house that Jack built and the other miracle of yet another colonoscopy-but it might have been a different kind of test-I don't remember now-but I know it involved drinking something horrible-that led to the discovery of the blood clot that's currently resting in some sort of unproper spot within my being-in real time they call that-and she wanted to tell me that cancer doesn't run in her family-okay except for this person and that person and that person but mostly her family had to deal with issues of the heart and I left another huge space in the air and said, there's nobody in my family that has colon cancer either. 

Only me. 

And she said, you know what stops me? I'm afraid I'll lose control while I'm doing the prep. And I said what about dying from colon cancer-how do you think that feels? 

She tipped me twenty. 

Happy Cancer Day everyone. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Okay SO!

When you're doing all this cancering, most other things get set aside(you should see my desk-it looks like a landslide about to happen) and that includes fun things. 

If you recall and even if you don't, my Mom's advice in the last year of her existence upon this planet were the following: Keep having fun. 

I've been feelin' way out of balance in a sort of a 'who am I now and how did I get here' way. Anybody else? I used to do things that didn't involve having a needle shoved in my arm(Didn't I?) and be a little more risky in the department of fun. Okay a lot more risky. Maybe that's something post-cancer that has to grow back. Your groove. 

I work one job with a whole buncha 20 year olds who commonly use the phrase "I'm gonna quit" and in my heart I'm going....oh my God how bad do I want to regain the ability of feeling like I can ever do that again.  

I also had the gift of somebody looking at me like I was crazy and that came from my co-worker Karen. She has cosmetic knowledge far beyond my scope and I remember I was saying how I bought all this stuff from this one line and she looked at me and I was like....uhhhwhut? Long story short she delivered the gift of reminding me that all of this is supposed to be fun. 

Thank goodness for that. 

Anyway. One of the casualties of-I think-the thyroid cancer and subsequent removal is that my eyebrows stopped growing. I mean like, full stop.


And that is very weird for me because ever since I met the glorious Jeanne Finneran in NYC, the one thing I always kept after was the maintenance of my brows. I mean no gigantic deal here-I'd go to the nail salon and get waxed or maybe I'd find a threader and yes(!)I realize that most of you do your own and that's fine for you but you're not me, okay, okay, okay, okay? 

Okay then. 

So here's the before:
 Got a couple of Andy Rooney's going on but 
ya know, just generally scraggly. 

I made a 10:00 appointment at Anastasia at 
Nordstroms in Oak Brook and the store opens at 10:00, so I got to go stare at my brows in the most important brow staring place. 

That is correct. The rear view mirror. 
I bet there's a connection with the increase of women drivers and the existence of brow maintainers. 

It's not always easy to get an appointment at Anastasia. I've attempted to walk-in a couple of times and they're always like, sure we have an opening for Thursday. Next Thursday. So I finally wised-up and called ahead. 

True confessions: There's a former co-worker of mine and occasionally when I'm thinking about eyebrows(actually not that often except maybe in the rear view mirror) I go to her instagram to gaze upon her impossible crayola'ed eyebrow. 

One will look okay-ish but the other one is completely manufactured and I'd be always thinkin' does she think we don't realize that brow two is fake? 

Then it was my turn. 

So. This is me with one brow filled in according to a stencil. That little beige dot on the inner left? 
That's where my brow is supposed to land. 


Here I am starting to realize my resemblance to the thespian John Goodman
Have I said how much fun this experience was? Big fun. 

So here I am-all charcoaled in. If the universe was perfect, this is what we'd be working with. Whoa, huh? 

This is how many sticks it took me to get waxed. They do not double-dip into their magical wax formula. *This will become important later. 

Here's the set up of stuff. Nice and clean. 

This is the magical wax. It belongs only to Anastasia

Now you can see the process. Kinda cool, no? 

Here is Sarah. She is-honestly-the loveliest human I've ever met in at a beauty counter-which can be a sort of a intimidating, hostile environment if you're over 50. Or if you're a woman. 
If you decide to go, ask for her. 

Okay back to the drama. 

This is the mirror that you hold because the idea here is that they're teaching you about your brows. 

Here Sarah is demonstrating what to do with the products. She draws a nice brow, doesn't she? 

This is the stuff she recommended for me. I got two of them. The prices were not that of Beverly Hills-they were doable. I was really surprised. 

So here's me at the very end-very much a work in progress but I can honestly say it was very high on the fun/adventure scale and well worth the price. 

The price. Well, see for me? Because the brakes have been installed upon my brows? This is completely economical eventho it appears a bit splurgy. 

And then the final test, the rear view mirror. 

Dramatic twist: The next morning I woke up to an arc of red spots. I called and spoke to someone I'll call NotSarah who told me that it's not them because they don't *double dip(the wax) and it might be because I haven't been waxed in awhile, or that it might be hormones or That Time of the Month. She must mean, the time in which the mortgage must be paid, right? She suggested a little cortisone and then she suggested alcohol(maybe she meant wine) and I decided to just give my face a day off. 

So. Here's me. One day later. 
With no product and fresh outta bed. 

Sarah was also kind enough to write out my instructions. That is SO COOL. I forget everything when I'm having this level of f.u.n. 

And heads up/FYI. They're having a Masterclass on March 22nd at 6:00. $25 and you get that back that very day. Check it out, if you're long on Andy Rooneys and short on fun. 

Nordstroms Oak Brook 630-571-2121


In other news, my stomach and it's not my stomach-I know that but I don't know what else to call it-has been giving me a little trouble lately. I'm playing around with the possibilities that some food is not agreeing with me or maybe I have to cut back on my one cuppa coffee or I dunno, but anyway, I have this day off today and I decided maybe it'd be a good idea to have a chat with my Primary Care. 

I called and uhhhh guess what. 

The insurance I thought I had-I do not. And the insurance that would allow me to continue to keep my primary care as my primary care got finished January 31st. So, while I am not currently uninsured which is a Very Good Thing, I have to work the phones today to see if I can get this straightened out. 

Do you know what all that nonsense did to my stomach? I felt like someone was playing pool on top of my intestines. 

It is a very funny thing. I was having a verbal log jam with someone I know AND my gut was frowning and I said to P, what IS this? (indicating my belly) and he said: Betty Sue. 

And I thought yeah. Any kind of emotional drama seems to go straight to my gut now. 

Even good things.   

Imagine that.