The Last Thing

Looking for a new job is stressful. It’s even more stressful when you are currently unemployed in a foreign country and only have a limited amount of savings to keep you afloat. Let’s not even discuss the chaos of unpacking and trying to organize a lifetime of items in a new space that is over twice the size of any place you’ve ever lived. My skin has broken out. I hardly sleep at all. Or I sleep for 12, 13, 14 plus hours and can barely function. I’ve scratched holes in my scalp without even realizing it. My stomach can decide on a whim to not like whatever I’ve eaten and gurgle in turmoil. It will even out. Things will fall into place in their own time. Everyone says so but, they are saying it to someone with anxiety and probably a little OCD if the truth were to be told. So, I scratch and run to the bathroom and try and take Zzzquil or set alarms for early in the morning to force exhaustion the next day. And I job search online. I fill out web questionnaires that take an hour and supposedly rate my ethics and math skills. I cross my fingers and hope that I’m not too over qualified or too under qualifed.

I found a list of jobs I wouldn’t hate and are within walking distance of my house which really are my only criteria. Some of them needed to have forms printed, filled out in blue ink and scanned back in. No problem. I have a printer. Sadly in the 2 months in transit the brand new black ink cartridge decided to go kaput which with my sweet cheap printer means that it won’t print or do anything. While frustrating, I’m not really surprised. I’m lucky that the store that happens to carry ink on base is right across the street so, I just walked over. I contemplated getting the 4 pack that included the 3 color cartridges as well but, as mentioned before, I have a cash flow problem, so $12 and one black ink cartridge later I was home. By now it was dinner time so I called it good for the day.

After a great night of falling asleep at 4am and waking at 6, 7:30 and finally the last time at 9:30am I just gave up and got up. I made coffee. I checked my email. I skipped breakfast because my stomach felt angry, like it might or might not be filled with napalm. After a few good deep sips of glorious caffeinated beverage, I decided to install my ink. My stellar printer LOVES to struggle with printing when a new cartridge gets swapped in. Two hours later of cleaning the printer heads and check and re checking the vertical and horizontal alignment it was in the last step of cleaning the printer heads one last time when and error message popped up and let me know that all three of the motherfucking color cartridges are empty. Fuck it. It was past lunch time and since I hadn’t eaten in the morning, I was hungry. As I warmed up my left over risotto my stomach gurgled and twisted and sent me running to the bathroom before the 2 minutes on the microwave could even run out.

I ate my risotto at barely above room temperature while staring at our new very disorganized entertainment cabinet with all of our DVDs stacked up next to it and cords hanging out the front doors. Rather than angrily walking in the hot windy  drizzling day to the store for more ink, I set to the task of organizing the entertainment stand. I cleared everything out, reworked wire locations, and organized the DVDs that we still have cases for; organized and neat, stacked and sorted. It helped relieve some of the irritation of the ink being lame. I sat down to re-set up my Echo so I could be super lazy and ask Alexa for the weather especially now during typhoon season. It’s tricky setting up a device for a foreign location where you now live but, you’re address is has a technically US zip code. Some googling, and trial and error I got Alexa connected to the new WiFi and answering “What is the weather?” and telling me the weather close enough to where we actually are and not Norfolk or a random US west coast city.

Pleased with myself, I plopped down on my couch to start the job search back up with a plan to hit up the library later in the day to print out all the necessary forms and make copious copies of them. As I picked up my laptop, I heard a pop and felt my glasses shift… So weird. As I reached up to take my glasses off to look at them, they wobbled strangely and bloop, the lens plopped out into my lap. My black frames miraculously just cracked in half at the side. Not even at the bend or hinge, just a random ass spot popped.  Granted I think I paid a whopping $15 for the frames so they weren’t exactly top of the line but, dang. I just got them maybe 5 months ago. Obviously you really do get what you pay for.

It was one more thing today, just one more thing and it was the last one. The last damn thing. So, now I’m just sitting on the couch eating cheese mindlessly watching whatever happens to be on. I’ll just try again tomorrow but, today? Today is obviously done.

Today I Grated Cheese and Cut Off My Toenail (Original Post 04/13/16)

I always buy blocks of cheese and grate it to have fresh shredded cheese when I need it. It just seems to melt better and has a nicer texture. For the last almost 5 weeks I haven’t been able to do that. I just simply didn’t have the strength.

For the Sailor’s birthday, (2 weeks after my surgery) I wanted to make him his favorite homemade macaroni and cheese. I have a food processor with a grating blade that I pulled out to shred a block of cheese but, I couldn’t find one small integral piece. I searched every drawer, cupboard and shelf in the kitchen multiple times with no reward. At some point in the hubbub, the Sailor came in the kitchen to see what the racket was about only to find me crying at the counter staring at the block of cheese. He searched for the part as well promising to find it but, he didn’t have luck on his side either. So I sobbed and blubbered into his shoulder as he hugged me about how I couldn’t grate the fucking block of cheese because I didn’t have the arm strength yet. I couldn’t even make a simple dinner. I felt worthless in that moment. Always wanting to fix my problems, he grabbed the hand grater and offered to “be the muscle” and shred the cheese. The man who’s cooking repertoire consists literally only of a bowl of cereal, instant oatmeal packets and ramen in the as seen on TV microwave ramen cooker, offered to grate cheese for me on his birthday for his birthday dinner. I just had to tell him which side go the grater to use and how to hold the block of cheddar so that he didn’t grate his knuckles or fingers in the process.

I thought of that evening today as I stared at the block of Monterey Jack cheese that I wanted to put a portion of on my baked potato for dinner. I could hack away at it with a knife slicing off slices and cutting them into as small of pieces as I could. Or I could pull out the grater and shred it the way I really wanted so that it would melt nice and gooey and even. So out the grater came. I grated not just enough for my dinner but the rest of the block just because I could. A small victory in my recuperation.

I started off the week with 2 easy shifts at work. I was worried that my chest would start to ache or that I wouldn’t be strong enough to carry the thick heavy diner plates. Turns out, I was fine. Other than my feet hurting like a mofo, I was fine. So I picked up 3 more shifts to help me drudge myself a little out of the financial hole I have felt to perpetually be in and occupy my time while the Sailor is out at sea.

Today was my third of five shifts. My big toenails were sore. If you are not aware, my fantastic last chemo rounds turned parts of my large toe nails black and I have been just waiting for them to fall off. The one has slowly been lifting away over the weeks. It’s gross. I hate it, I hate them.

After dinner and a hot shower, I sat down to try and file them down as low as possible in the hopes that they wouldn’t continue to be irritated by being in actual socks and shoes for 6 hours at work. So I worked on the lesser of the 2 evil zombie toes trimming and filing until as much of the front lifted part was gone. Just a few millimeters really.

I set out to approach the next one to just make it match. It was gross, appearing to be attached only down near the cuticle. I can only image my scrunched, squinty, pinched looking facial expressions as i trimmed and filed and scrapped black old blood out from under the floating putrid nail. I couldn’t stop. This fucking nasty ass black nailed zombie toe had been irritating me and mocking me since December when it first showed signs of turning. Fuck this toe. I hacked and filed and scraped until I felt a ping of recognition of attachment on one side. I stared down at the lopsided nub that was once my toenail. The cuticle bed that the nail had previously been attached to but, for the last 3 to 4 months had just been floating above was soft and pink and a little wrinkly from the shower I had taken earlier. It reminded me of the infant rats we used to have to feed the python in my high school biology class. It felt almost good. The other side was still sore, but resembled a normal nail covered toe. This one looked broken, sad and a little weird but, it felt better.

I knew the last nub that was still hanging on would inevitably get caught on a blanket or sheet or my sweat pants so, I cleaned it one last time and slapped a bandaid on that bitch. I’m sitting here now wiggling that stupid rat baby toe while I smile because, it feels so much better now that I cut my toenail off. At this point, fuck wearing sandals this summer. I’m just happy my damn toe isn’t throbbing anymore.

6 Shitty Questions in 6 Shitty Months (Original Post 04/11/16)

Here are a list of 6 things that people have asked or said to me in the last 6 months that have made me want turn into the Hulk and smash shit recklessly and without abandon.*

  1. “If I were you I would…” Well you’re not me bitch so shut it. You’re not actually in this position dealing with cancer and all the shitty effects of treatment so it’s easy to say what you WOULD do when you don’t actually have to do it. (See my previous post titled That’s What You Would Do? GFYS for detailed clarification on why this one will set me off.)
  2. “How are you feeling?” Like fucking shit. I have fucking cancer. Dumb question but, I know that you’re trying to be nice so, I’ll answer generically. I’ll say something about how I’m OK blah blah while secretly thinking this is the dumbest question to ask someone who has a serious illness that is widely known to make people feel like dog shit. A much better way to be nice is to ask, “How are you doing?” It’s more general and implies you are concerned about my life as a whole and not just wanting to know how shitty I happen to be feeling at that moment.
  3. “My neighbor/friend/sister/mother died from breast cancer.” Wow. Thanks. Didn’t I just tell you that I was diagnosed with breast cancer? Way to really pump me up for the fight ahead! But, I know that you’re just trying to, again, be nice and relate. Let’s face it, who out there doesn’t know someone that has been effected by breast cancer specifically, let alone cancer as a whole. I get it but, what you don’t get is basically you’re reminding me that I have a rough, shitty, horrible battle ahead of me that yep, I could die from. I get it. I COULD DIE! You really don’t need to remind me of that in any way. Want to relate? Sure, tell me how your friend had breast cancer, just leave out the part about her dying. Unless I specifically ask, “How is she?” because then I’m asking for it. But, I won’t because I’m afraid to hear, “She died.”
  4. “Oh, you shouldn’t get XYZ. You need to talk to your doctor about ABC. It’s so much better. XYZ will totally mess you up. Oh and have you thought about that new LMNOP pill?” Thank you. Also, when did you get your PhD in Oncology? My invitation to your graduation from medical school must have gotten lost in the mail. I know, you are trying to help. You have heard about about a new drug, procedure, herb, chant that is so much better than the nasty chemo, radiation and surgeries that the doctors are currently peddling for billions in profit. I get that you are genuinely concerned and want to make sure that I have the best care with every option imaginable. Just don’t think for a hot second that I haven’t researched my illness and all the possible treatments. Your approach to the subject comes off pushy and frankly adds more anxiety than help most of the time. I already question every decision and every step of this exhausting treatment. You telling me that possibly one decision that I have already made is bad or wrong adds more angst to an already shitty situation. Ask about the treatment plan the doctors are recommending. Ask about what options they have offered me. Ask about what decisions I have already made before trampling into my personal health choices and taking your katana like words and slicing them to shreds as if you were playing Fruit Ninja.
  5. “Are you super sad out about losing your hair?” No. I always dreamed of looking like fucking Powder. Of course I’m sad asshat. At least the hair loss is temporary.
  6. “Are you excited to get new boobs?!” Are you fucking kidding me? No. I am not excited about undergoing major invasive surgery that results in a long recovery with possibilities of countless complications to amputate the two parts of me that I have never had a problem with (like my frizzy hair or my flabby gut or my flat ass) and that I considered to be my most feminine feature. I never wanted plastic surgery to enhance them and I sure as shit never wanted to get rid of them. But the fuckers attempted to murder me so, they had to go. This is not a matter to be “excited” about. With that said, the new ones will probably be a little bigger. As the Sailor says, “Go big or go home.”

So there you have it. The 6 things that have been said to me (more times than I can count) in the last 6 months that pushed the red angry button in my brain. Maybe I’m just being sensitive. Maybe I’m just a bitch. Maybe people just need to think a split second before say things on a topic so personal and scary.

*If upon reading this you find that you have been the deliverer of aforementioned statements to me, worry not! I don’t hold a grudge. And I have chemo brain so chances are I don’t exactly remember who said the words that induced the previous rant. We don’t even have to speak of this again. Truthfully, I prefer not to. Let’s move on and find new ways to irritate each other, shall we?

Today Was a Bad Day (Original Post 04/10/16)

Bad days come and go. I try and remind myself that during bad days. Today was a bad day. My bad days come more frequently now, with the cancer shit and all. My hormones have been all jacked up from being put into early menopause and now, being allowed to come out of that medically induced perpetual hot flash. Not to mention the countless chemicals that have been pumped through my body for the last 6 months. Lets top that all off with major surgery and well, I am physically and emotionally a hot fucking mess.

So, today was a bad day. I woke up to my stiff joints not wanting to move, a very regular reminder that chemo and the steroids with it, fucked me. I may have this stiff sore joint shit every time I relax and sit still for more than 5 minutes for ever. Like until I die. Awesome. So, I cried a little because it sucks.

I stubbed my toe later because the house is a class A disaster. Instead of the normal throbbing pain of a stubbed toe, it’s a prickling burning sensation that feels like my toe was actually ripped off. Another delightful reminder that chemo fucked me. Numb, asleep feeling, prickly, burning toes for, oh, the next 6 months to a year +/- a couple months. Great. So, I cried a little more.

From my disheveled seat on my dirty living room floor I looked around at the chaos. Shit piled everywhere. Stuff to sell or donate or trash. Collapsed boxes waiting to be taped together and filled with our shit. See, we’re moving at the end of this month which, I am excited about. Or I was until at last minute the good ol’ Navy decided the Sailor had to go do sailor things for them some place that is no where near here for several weeks. He will be home just in time to chuck some shit in boxes and mass exodus us to the new place. Here I was thinking I was going to help by purging shit and filling a few boxes but I could barely summon the upper body strength to pick myself off the dirty floor where I was sitting. Thanks bilateral mastectomy. Way to make me feel pretty much fucking helpless from the waist up for the last 4 weeks. I love having my chest constantly ache and having sharp nerve pains where my tits used to be. So I ugly cried. I bawled my eyes out because my house is a fucking disaster, because I don’t want to pack, because when I do try and pack it makes me feel like I have the strength of a toddler and because my husband who happens to be my best friend is out in the ocean somewhere on a stupid ship instead of here giving me the hug I so desperately needed today.

After going through kitchen crap and purging things I no longer really need, taking some pictures of the nice things and listing them online for sale, I vegged out on the couch. And I cried. Because I realize it’s Sunday and I didn’t make pancakes for the first time in weeks and at this point, that’s all it took.

Eventually I went up to take a shower. Let the hot water wash away my ridiculous sadness. FALSE. The mirror in the bathroom served as a glaring reminder that I no longer have breasts. Hard bulbous barely inflated implants under angry pink scars covered in the remnants of steri-strip adhesive (that shit is no joke) that refuses to let go of my skin stared back at me. Not to mention my round dome barely covered in velvety new hair sticking up at wonky angles from being slept on mocking me from the mirror. And I cried. Giant elephant tears mix with hot tap water as I sobbed my way though what could have been a relaxing warm wash to rid myself of sadness. Instead, I wallowed. I let the depression and sadness and anger just wash over me as much as the water from the shower head and I let the sobs wrack my body as I hiccuped in air. I cried while I scrubbed the cleansing conditioner into my new velvety hair covered scalp and while delicately scouring at the steri-strip glue (seriously, that shit is not fucking around) off my wonky chest. By the time I am out of the shower and in my room lotioning my dry jacked up body, nothing more than a few silent tears were left.

So here I sit. Feeling sorry for myself and empty of tears. I just don’t have any more at this time. Plus I’ve given myself a head ache from the last good shower cry so, now I’m irritated with myself along with my normal being irritated with every thing irritation. I’m glad I’m alone right now. I’d probably be cussing out anyone with me. That’s how I roll these days. Ugly crying right into go fuck yourself mode. Thanks cancer for bringing out the worst in me.

That’s What You Would Do? GFYS (Original Post 02/18/16)

“That’s what I would do”. I have come to loathe this short statement. It didn’t bother me until just recently. Usually I have welcomed sage insight from my elders and sympathetic advice from my peers but, when it comes to cutting my tits off, frankly I don’t want to hear “what you would do”.

See, they aren’t your tits and you don’t have to make the choice to cut them off or not so it’s easy to say what you would do when you don’t actually have to do it. Trust me when I say, when you are staring down the reality of looking in the mirror and seeing an angry set of red scars and fake bloated implants beneath said scars and no nipples, you question every angle. It is not an easy decision. It is not a flippant choice. Hearing you tell me, even with your immense sympathy and concern, in the 90 seconds it took for me to answer your question on what surgeries were my options, that you would opt for the bilateral mastectomy for sure, makes me want to spew vitriol and rage like a pissed off silverback. I know you were just meaning to comfort me, that the decision to amputate my knockers is the right one. I get it but, your flippant answer meant for comfort hurts way more than it helps.

I would not wish this situation on my enemies (I have a handful assholes I dislike with the white hot intensity of a thousand sons which isn’t healthy and I’m working on that and I still wouldn’t wish this on those fucking douche canoes)  because, it is gut wrenching and fucking permanent. A fucking permanent reminder of a disease hell bent on trying to kill me. A visual reminder that I will, for the remainder of my life, be a cancer patient; I’ll ether be a cancer patient in remission or in treatment. A reminder that one day I could have a child that I will have to explain my scars too, that I won’t even have the option to breast feed. A visual reminder that tomorrow, I might have to do this all over again without warning. That just because I’ve come through this dark bullshit to the light, I could still end up back in this dark place again and possibly die there. An angry flag of fear waving across my fucking chest. A permanent and daily fucking reminder that cancer changed my life forever.

My choice of surgery was just a matter of what kind of shitty permanent reminder that I wanted. It was not one that I took lightly. It was not a choice made in a few minutes or even a few days. It is not a choice I will ever be happy about or even comfortable with. It’s the best decision I could make at this time based on the information I had available at the time. This was what my best friend told me when I confessed I was afraid that I would always feel the decision I made was the wrong one, no matter what option I chose. It was the best thing she could have said, and I love her for it. It helped. So, next time you’re faced with talking to someone having to make this impossible choice, and you will because Breast Cancer is a wide spread fickle, all encompassing, bitch, and you start to say, “That’s what I would do,” stop.  Don’t say it, because you have no idea and I hope you live the rest of your life never knowing.

A Series of Unfortunate Toxic Titty Events (Original Post 10/05/15)

WARNING! I’M GOING TO SAY FUCK. A LOT.

5 weeks ago I got pathology results that informed me that I have breast cancer. Fucking 35 and I have fucking breast cancer. What the fuck? Really?

In the last 6 weeks I have been poked, prodded, stuck with needles and felt up by so many people with so many things, that I literally can’t even remember it all. I’m trying to keep notes on shit but, it’s fucking overwhelming. Like nonstop. I think I’m finally getting to a point that I can sit down and write about it here and there. I mean, I struggled for several weeks to even say “I have cancer” to people I care about. Literally, I told my mother that I have fucking cancer via text. I don’t care if I go to hell for that. I just could not deal with hearing her cry over the phone so fuck it. She got a text. Just like everyone else I love. In the last week or so though, I find myself getting back as close to normal as I’m going to get. Example, last night one of the kitchen managers at my job said something to me and my response was, “Huh?” and he proceeded to jokingly yell about how he hates “HUH” as a response because that’s all his kids ever say. My response was, “Sorry, I didn’t hear you. I have cancer,” and smiled and did my best Puss-In-Boots face.

So there you have it. Perhaps you’re a family member or  friend of mine and you already know all the above. Then this post is boring and old news. But, perhaps you aren’t one of those and you’re reading this news for the first time. Maybe you are one of the estimated 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer cases expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S. in 2015. Or one of the estimated 2,350 new cases of invasive breast cancer expected to be diagnosed in men. Maybe you’re one of the innumerable individuals who’s just been touched in some way by the evil shithead known as breast cancer. If you are, I just joined your fucked up fraternity/sorority so I feel you. Maybe you have questions. Ask me. I am an open book. Every person’s journey (BTW I HATE that they call diagnosis and treatment a journey but, I’ll discuss that loathing more later) is different but, we can all relate in some way.

So, y’all can look forward to rants about fertility treatments to help keep my dreams of mini-me’s alive, chemo and all the possible fucked up side effects, my irritation at everything, torturing my poor sailor and my crazy friends and their wonderful antics for me. Forgive me if the posts are infrequent at times or rapid fire others. I have fucking cancer and I do what I want when I fucking feel like it.

And if you so feel inclined (no pressure) visit my Christan’s Breast Cancer Sucks Fund Raiser and check out if you’d like to donate. Or send me a virtual hug. Or share it via social media to help me spread the word. Cancer is not only physically and emotionally exhausting but, financially too the bitch.