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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Cancer Surgery

Tomorrow I go to the hospital at 5:45 in the morning for surgery that will last 18 hours. I have the recurrence of cancer on my tongue, and it's worse this time. Besides losing more of my tongue, and having my neck cut for more lymph nodes, they're going to have to split my lower jaw. I'll have a scar on my face and a titanium plate in my jaw. I'll lose a lower front tooth.

Then, to repair my tongue, they'll take a flap with blood vessels off my arm, and then a flap of skin from my leg to patch the arm. The leg, apparently, is on its own.

And to complete the nightmare add a tracheotomy and a feeding tube through my nose. I'll need rehab to learn how to talk and how to eat.

Besides the fear, I'm so damn angry. I have no risk factors for this kind of cancer. 2 doctors looked at my tongue months ago and told me it couldn't be cancer. Because of them I've gone through months of pain while my cancer grew. It would have been so much easier if it had been treated WHEN I FIRST SAW IT. They didn't listen to me, they wouldn't do a biopsy, even though I'd had this cancer before. Assholes. So now I'm faced with major surgery and a very long recuperation because they just glanced and assumed.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Someday is a lie.

Nothing like knowing for sure and certain that your days are numbered to give you focus. This oral cancer part 2 has no good outcomes. Part 1 gave me a 41% chance of survival. I thought that the fact that I had no risk factors for that kind of cancer gave me an edge. Wrong! Now I have a 28% chance of survival. Best case, I lose more of my tongue but can still talk and eat, and have to undergo more radiation. Worst case of course is death.

My priorities have shaken down. If I could have 5 more years of life and not have to work, I could get 10-20 more books written (using the 'novel in 3 months' method. I've already chosen which ones come first). Finding a cover artist (I'm indie so there's no publisher doing it for me) is a holdup; I've got two books finished & ready, but my dazzlingly brilliant and very affordable cover artist, Donna Casey, lost her own battle with cancer. My attempts at covers look pathetic next to hers. So, the hunt is on.

I also need to save up $2K to get a tombstone ready. My husband has already passed on. His ashes are in an urn that is still sitting in my closet. I want to get my own cremation planned and paid for. The people who love me can throw whatever memorial they choose. Funerals are for the living, not the dead. I won't be there, so I want them to do whatever gives them comfort.

Someday I was going to travel, someday I would write a hundred novels, someday I would find true love. Nope.

There is no someday. You want to do something, do it now.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Oh cancer, my cancer

Cancer. I have cancer. Why doesn't it seem real? I should be frightened. I should be angry - I have no risk factors for this cancer I now have had twice. Maybe I'm in limbo until I know the prognosis and what they're going to have to do to me this time. I know I'll lose more of my tongue. Will I still be able to talk? Eat? Has it spread farther? Has it metastasized? Will I lose part of my face, my jaw? What if it gets into my brain? Instead I'm just going on with my life until I face the doctor. Until they run the tests. How am I supposed to react here?

Terror, first. All Sunday morning I've been fighting back tears. Anger, second. At the two doctors who looked at it, told me it couldn't be cancer, and wouldn't do a biopsy. The first was in the fall. So it's had nearly six months to grow.

Best-case scenario, I lose another chunk of my tongue and have to do more radiation and/or chemo, but can still talk and swallow afterwards. Or I'm left without much tongue and can't speak clearly enough for anyone to understand, and have to be fed in a tube into my stomach. Or it's spread, and besides my tongue I lose the right side of my lower jaw and maybe more teeth and part of my face.
Worst case, it's metastasized and I'm terminal.

Monday I call the doctor's office to find out when my appointment with the oral surgeon is. After tests I'll have my prognosis and know which nightmare will come true.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Cancer, part two

My tongue cancer is back. After being told by two different doctors that the thing on my tongue could not possibly be cancer, so there was no need for a biopsy, after four months of pain during talking, eating, swallowing, I finally see an ear-nose-throat (ENT) doctor who tells me it is cancer. And it's had all these months of pain to grow and spread. I've been referred to UNM Hospital, where tomorrow I'll learn the next step. Most likely a bunch of tests, then surgery, then some sort of follow-up treatment. And learn soon how much more of my tongue will be cut off. Last time I could speak clearly although with an impediment. This time, who knows? Talking, tasting, maybe eating or swallowing altogether might be gone.

Everyone thinks I'm so brave because I'm not a quivering mass of tears. At least, not on the outside. On the inside it's a different story as all the possible futures play out in my head, most of them short and painful. But you go on. What else are you going to do?

Friday, April 14, 2017

How I learned to knit

A friend gave me a bag of yarn she thought I'd like. She's weeding out her stash. This is one of those balls. White background with random bursts of rainbow and white metallic eyelash.

The little ball had 97 yards on it, if I read the weird and possibly foreign label correctly. After looking in vain for a pattern that would match, I decided to knit it up in simple garter stitch and see how far it went. It'll make a decorative scarf.

Knitting this fine yarn on thin needles in garter stitch gave me a flashback to learning how to knit. You see, both my mom and her mom were awesome crocheters, doing everything from lace doilies to afghans. I so wanted to learn, but I just couldn't get the hang of it. Finally I gave up.

I think I was eight when Mom's church group had a project of knitting bandages for a leper colony. If I'm right about my age that would have been sometime around 1961. The bandages had to be knitted from a certain kind of fine cotton yarn on very thin needles. I was fascinated by this process. I asked Mom to teach me that, and she did, but she was rather annoyed. "I hate knitting," she said. "I can teach you to cast on, knit, purl, and bind off, but that's it."

I loved it and knitted half her bandages. Afterwards, I knitted everyone I knew garter stitch scarves out of that good old acrylic Red Heart yarn that was nearly bulletproof. It was the only yarn I knew of at that time. Eventually, when I found some simple patterns, I branched out. When the craft became more popular and I found others who knitted and an amazing variety of yarns, I learned more stitches and more creative projects. Now I can knit lace - haven't yet attempted a doily, but I've found some patterns - and cables, and have knitted sweaters, hats, mittens, leg warmers, socks, toys.

It's the perfect craft for someone like me. I master a new craft and promptly am bored with it. There is no way anyone could learn every single knitting stitch, every technique. There's always something new to try. And it all started with bandages for a leper colony.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

So where's my Manic Pixie Dream Man?

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl. It’s a common Hollywood trope, though I’ve got to admit I’ve never met one of these women in real life. A man is trudging along in his boring/routine/depressed/dead end life, and Poof! There she is, dropping accidentally into his lap, and for no apparent reason deciding he’s the man she wants. Promptly she sets about dragging him into fun, shaking up his routine, pulling him up from depression, and showing him a brand new way to live. This trope wasn’t given a name until recently, but it’s been around a long time. Example: Bringing Up Baby, 1938, starring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. It’s one of my favorite rom-coms. (Baby isn’t a human, it’s a leopard.)

Others include Elizabethtown, I love you, Alice B. Toklas, The Garden State, Butterflies are Free, Almost Famous, and many, many more. The main characteristics include joie de vivre, flakieness, a bit elfin, quirky to a fault. Sadly, this is all there is to these characters. They have no goals, no depth, nothing else to them. They're bubbly, cute, and impulsive. Nothing else.

So where’s the male equivalent? It is actually out there. Sadly, they aren’t as wonderful as the dream girls. The qualities just don’t seem to transfer well, because the Manic Pixie Dream Man is basically Peter Pan. He never grows up. As shallow a character as the Girl, he has no goals and no depth. He’s childish instead of childlike, charming but shallow, and for absolutely no apparent reason is devoted to this woman who frequently doesn’t want him. She may even be committed to someone else. Looks good in a rom-com, but in real life it’s a disaster. In real life, women want more. Shallow wears thin fast. We want men, not perpetual boys. Someone to be a true partner, not one more child to take care of.

But hey, right when your life is boring and routine and seems like a dead end, when you’re depressed and feel hopeless, wouldn’t it be great to have a Sean Spencer (Psych), a Lloyd Dobler (Say Anything) or a Benny (Benny and Joon) come and fill your life up with quirkiness and drag you out to make you have fun, even if it’s just for a while?

Monday, January 2, 2017

Anything's a cat toy

The other day I came home & sat down at the computer in my study to write. Suddenly realizing I still had my bra on, I took it off and dropped it on the floor to take with me when I left. A bit later I come out of the writing zone and hear something odd. When I looked down, I beheld my cat Renee slaying my bra!

Lying on her side and with her front paws wrapped around it, she was biting the daylights out of one cup while eviscerating the other with her back feet. My phone was nowhere near, so I couldn't take a picture. I just watched her for a bit laughing then took it away from her and put it up.

Life would be so dull without cats.

This is Renee, slaying a catnip toy in the same manner.