Saturday, January 27, 2007

Here he is, Miss America

Monday I went to meet my new dermatologist, Dr. Crawford, who was referred to me from my new PCP, Dr. Gomez, also known as Dr. Sensitive Ponytail Man.

Now keep in mind that for the last couple of years, the majority of the medical care I've received has been from Parkland Hospital, a local county hospital for those who do not have insurance or can not afford care ("indigents," like me, they are lovingly called). I was all too appreciative to be treated at Parkland, especially considering the number of times I was turned away for treatment. But the truth is, it was sort of a sock in the stomach everytime I went there. For one thing, all the walls are grey. I'm not sure if it's paint or if it's just the color of wear, but it's a sad, dull grey. And the lighting is pretty nill. The place is dirty, overcrowded and always chaotic. In fact, whenever all the Hurricane Katrina stuff went down and they were showing clips of people packed in hospitals and stuff, I was always reminded of Parkland.

For a county hospital, it gets a lot of press. Lots of research is done there, lots of innovations. I'm sure it's like most county hospitals, though- and patients don't get to see this side of Parkland. What we see is the sadness and craziness. Think ER without all the beautiful doctors and caring nurses. At Parkland, everywhere you look, there are sick people lined up in chairs and against the walls. Kids are crying, people are bleeding, and it's just a really sad place. Like a last resort for people to go to, a place of very little hope.

Now, think of the opposite- walking into a big, clean, beautiful waiting room. That's what Dr. Crawford's office was like. These people not only treat medical conditions, they do a lot of things like dermabrasion and medical grade peels, that sort of thing. You know, medical procedures for the rest of the world. Things that don't exactly get done at Parkland.
So keep that in mind when I tell you that the first thing I noticed when I walked into the waiting room were the chairs: huge, tall, clean cushy gold chairs. It's funny now, but at the time, honest to God, that's what I thought. Look how nice these chairs are; these are like movie theater chairs! Look how clean this place is. The next thing that I noticed was how friendly the staff was. It was like a different world. Then we were ushered back to a room, where I was promptly instructed to put on a lovely paper gown, and Dr. Crawford came in.

Dr. Crawford, who Bobby just refers to as Dr. Beautiful, is an older, slightly less attractive version of Brad Pitt in a Ted Nugent shirt. And he uses the word "man" at least once in every sentence. As in, "Lori, looks like God's been good to you, man." or "Okay, man, looks like you recovered pretty well."

And not only that, but we saw the picture of his family. I think they all had their teeth whitened just before the photo was taken. They're ALL beautiful. Like ridiculously beautiful. I kept telling Bobby, "People have to go to school with his teenage kids! Can you imagine? You can't compete with that kind of person!" I can't really describe how freakishly beautiful these people were. In fact, I put a picture together, which is the closest I can really come to giving you an image. It's more accurate than you can imagine.
So we're standing in line to pay, and I turn to Bobby and say, "I think I'm in love with Dr. Beautiful's son." And he admitted to the same. This isn't normal beautiful. This is freakishly beautiful. I bet even his wife wonders if she belongs amongst these people.
The boring details are that I have a follow up on Monday to have a few biopsies. But don't focus on that. Focus on this picture and the fact that I have to face these freakishly beautiful people again with my Target clothing and 80 pounds overweight body in a paper gown.

Friday, January 26, 2007

When Good Germs go Bad

Well, it's cold season, and guess who's got one. Could be a lot worse, but I'm definately down for a few days. Called in sick 2 days in a row to work, so I know it's more serious that usual. Pretty normal, I suppose, though, for the first year back as a teacher. In fact, Friday, every 5th grade teacher was out sick except for 2. We have finally succumbed to the carrier monkeys that brought the germs upon us.

It's been a long time since I've been sick like this and it wasn't from chemo. I'm thinking it was when I had pneumonia in San Diego, actually, the last time. And that was much worse than this. Though the Robitussin gives me a nice flying :) feeling, I'm hoping today I can lay off of it so I can maybe get some work done. The good news is today is the first day I've woken up and my chest doesn't hurt. That's a good sign, I think, and I'm armed and dangerous with Puff's Plus this weekend.

I've missed the last couple of Gilda's club meetings due to feeling ill and just being so darned busy. I'm really hoping I can make next Thursday's group. I haven't really decided on this post-treatment support group, yet. I can't decide if I really want to stick with it or not, but since I've only given it one try, I'm definately gonna hit it a couple of more times to see how it goes. It's become pretty obvious that I need to do something, that I need to be in touch with all that's going on with me and my fears about cancer recurrence. I think this will be good outlet.

I'm sure, if you're like me, everytime you get sick after the CA diagnosis, you go into panic mode. I immediately began to worry that the cold would move into my chest, and my immune system wouldn't be able to fight it. This, friends, is called paranoia. Kinda like every time I get a headache that little voice goes, "OMG! Brain mets!"
This, I suppose, is the adjustment period to that "new normal" everyone talks about. I wish I could just get to that "new normal" and get it over with! Move on! Geezy Creezy! Build a bridge and get over it!
Anyway, that's today's rant. I'll fill you in later on my new derma. Now THAT's a good story.

Monday, January 15, 2007

I also think you're more than just fat

When I was 22 years old, I was "hospitalized" for 2 weeks for severe depression. "Hospitalized" as in I was institutionalized for major severe depression. I don't mind telling people that; in fact, it's been 10 years now, and I can't even remember ever having shame about that- even though, at some point, I'm sure I did. But I know that it's a part of me and my past, and because I still suffer from depression sometimes, it helps to remember that time. In fact, I learned so much there that I use in everyday life. When I tell people that and they seem shocked or embarrassed for me, I makes me so sad for that person. It must be so hard for them when they have to admit how human we all are.

That experience, believe it or not, was the beginning of my "real life," the one I've been living for quite some time now. It led me to what I do, what I am, how I believe.

My hope is that I will walk away from cancer with this sort of attitude. I guess because I had a sort of life changing experience so early in life, I haven't exactly had the same view of cancer as a lot of people I know. I still get mad in traffic, I still haven't found my greater cause for having gone through this. Is that negative? I'm not sure. The Boob and I both believe that a lot of good has come out of this, and it's not like it hasn't changed my life. But I guess I'm just not over it.

I hate it. I hate cancer. I that I had it, I hate that it's changed who I am. I hate that I don't know how to be who I was. And I'm pissed.

Where am I going with all of this? Well, I'll tell ya. All these thoughts have led to a lot of reflection, and I finally broke down and just decided to get some good ol' fashion therapy.

So I found a therapist. A great therapist, actually, and even though I've only chatted with him once, it made a tremendous difference. He even has some experience counseling cancer patients, too. I'm really hoping this will help out this whole process. I mean, hey, it can't hurt, right? So, yeah, I'm stoked. I'm in therapy. Let the mother f**king healing begin.

Oh, but that's not all. There are changes abound going on up in this mug. I also started a running log online, and you gotta check it out. I'm on a roll. Seriously. I'm the next big thing in fat girl running.
Bobby and I also had some excellent advice the other day when we were both bitching about the state of things in these United States. Some good friends of ours are planning on moving to Costa Rica, and it just might be the spot for us, too. Did you know they did away with their military and put, literally, all of the money they were spending on education instead? So, as poor as this country is, it's got a 100% literacy rate. Is that awesome? How can you not love this country?

Also, it's one of the most biologically diverse and ecologically friendly countries in the world. And, this is the kicker- it's warm all year round. Consider me a Tica, hooches.

Amazing, isn't it?
How something so awesome can fall in your lap? I'm personally excited.

I've also started the quest for a new tattoo. I'll keep you posted on that, but the prospects are almost as exciting as my new life in Costa Rica.

That's it for now... peace and porkchop grease-


Monday, January 08, 2007

Free, Free falling

Uggh. I suck. Every weekend I try to force myself to post a blog, and every weekend I come up with some reason I can't. Well, I'm not standing for it, I tell ya. I'm demanding a post.

Not sure why I've had an aversion to post lately. It's not really work, which has been good. And I've started running again (I'm a MACHINE, I tell ya), slowly, slowly but surely dropping my time and trying to get back up to the 3 mile mark. And, I went back to Gilda's Club for the first time in forever, seeing all those faces that supported me while I was on Interferon. It's been good, and busy, and nice to return to all of these things.

But I'm thinking the truth may be (can you handle the truth?) that I've taken time off from the blog the same reason I've taken time off from Gilda's- which is, of course (are you ready for this?) DENIAL, baby. That's right, good ol' fashion denial, as in, nope, I don't have cancer, didn't have cancer, won't get it again even though I never had it. And, even though the sane part of me knows that's ridiculous, there's that part of me, too, that wants to pretend that I'm immortal again, that these things can't happen to me and won't happen to my friends.

For instance, there's a girl in my support group- she's around my age, she's funny, she's great- and, her breast cancer has spread to her brain. Now what? you may be asking yourself. Well, doc says she can get 1 of 2 treatments, and the choice is hers: treatment 1 will extend the length of her life, but she'll likely lose most of her normal functioning; treatment 2 is likely to extend the length of her life but will almost definately cost her the ability to see. Or she can do neither, and have a very short life expectancy, I suppose.

Unfair. Unjust. And, just as we all know it, unbiased. Cancer is so cruel sometimes. I wish I could unlearn all I know about it today, and just be back in that place where I didn't know that people I have grown to love have such hard choices to make and such short lives ahead of them.

Ah, well. Such is life. I'm just trying to find ways to deal with it.

See, now you're not going to be so gung-ho on my posting again, are ya?




I'm Too Young For This!