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(From the “I don’t think that word means what you think it means” department.)

1.  White men

2.  Christians

3.  Gun Owners

4.  MRA’s

I’m talking to you, Duck Dynasty phony-baloney coonass dudes, Bundy Ranch brigade, Ted Nugent, Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher,  any Palin (excluding Michael), and George Zimmerman.

Tech Support!

There is a tiny little picture of me up in the top left corner of my screen next to the title of this blog that I can’t get rid of. I’ve gone through all of my blog settings, I’ve gone to gravatar, I’ve gone through all the media associated with this blog, and I can’t git it gone. URRGGGH. so frustrating.

Interestingly, the correct image that I want associated with the blog is appearing in the top right corner of the screen next to my username.

It is a picture of Jesus in a dog’s ass, in case you’re wondering.

Healing is Weird

When you allow strangers to inflict grave insults on your machine while you are unconscious, like opening up your mammary glands, hacking off your nipples, scooping out all of the breast tissue therein, then slicing your belly open from hip to hip, excavating a layer of fat and blood vessels and using that tissue to reinflate the aforementioned fat sacs, then yanking your belly skin down like a roller blind and creating a new belly button, you should probably expect to have some pains in the aftermath.

If, like me, your machine has been ridiculously, almost vulgarly robust for half a century, voluntarily incapacitating any part of it seems counter-intuitive, weird and wrong, and yet, well, there is that whole cancer thing.

I’m lucky in that I have a stupidly high tolerance for pain (haven’t touched anything stronger than an aspirin or ibuprofen since I left the hospital), which is good in that I tend to be sort of stolid and bovine in the face of it, but it’s also bad, because it means I probably “power through” things that send regular folks running to doctors. (See previous post, where you’ll note that I had CHEST PAINS and didn’t go to an emergency room. Who does that?) It’s also bad because it tends to make me a wee bit unsympathetic and all “Walk it off!”  towards others.

When I got home from the hospital, I had minor post-surgical pains. (Well, they were minor to me.) Once I got past the terror of that  first sneeze (which has steps that run like this:  feel sneeze coming, hug pillow to abdomen as hard as you can, try to not cry, try to make it a tiny little cat sneeze,  feel like you have split your torso open and your intestines will pour out of your body if you move that pillow as the pain flashes outward from your incision so fast and so white-hot that it almost doesn’t register as pain, lift pillow and inspect area with extreme trepidation, feel relief that intestines are still on the correct side of skin), my pain has been manageable and minor.

First, can we talk about the “zingers?” Zingers are basically sharp, stabby pains in my breasts, that are kind of like hot needles being shot through them. In my research, I’ve learned that these are nothing to worry about — just nerve endings trying to find each other and  knit back together. During my leave, I could massage the area and the pain would abate. This will not fly now that I’m back at work, but I’m working on a whole new category of poker faces to show during meetings.

This was me a few times this past week:


One of my favorite movies of all time, btw.

I can now raise both arms almost all the way above my head without pain. This is HUGE, or as we say in Pittsburgh, YUGE. When I got home from the hospital, I couldn’t lift either arm higher than shoulder level. If I reach too high, I do get a reminder from my torso that um, yeah, no, you don’t want to do that. So, no weight lifting yet, but soon, with light weights, I’m sure.

My torso is feeling so weird, though. Numb and tight and tingly, all at the same time. I understand that this is normal post-tummy tuck. I did wear abdominal binders for three weeks and those hateful compression garments for the last two weeks, and was able to stop both this week. Strangely enough, I kind of miss the compression garment (it’s a sort of super-duper-Spanx-like garment).  There was something comforting and hug-like about it. I didn’t like walking around without a compression something this afternoon, and in fact, felt sore and tired after running errands with Dood. But, that could have been the heat, too.

Side note: word from the oncologist is that he does want me to consider tamoxifen. Boo. We are re-convening at the end of July to discuss further, since he won’t start me on it until I’m 3 months out from smoking anyway.

Did I mention that I’m still not smoking right now? I did try a puff on one of Dude’s American Spirits one night, and it was disgusting. So, that’s 7 weeks now! The near-total lack of craving makes me suspect the surgical team may have been horse-whispering me while I was unconscious.

In January 2013 I caught a bad flu, and I was down for nearly 10 days. It was awful, but what was worse was the cough that hung around for nearly 2 months afterward. I finally went to the doctor for the cough when I started having chest pains on the left side of my chest. Chest pains! Alarming!

After examining me, the doctor diagnosed costochondritis, which is basically…chest pain. The treatment recommended was Tylenol and time. So, when it flares up, take an OTC and it should go away eventually.

A year later I’m diagnosed with invasive breast cancer on the left side of my chest, have a mastectomy, and I realize that those chest pains have disappeared. Of course, there are a whole host of other “chest” pains I’ve been having since my surgery, but that particular subset of chest pains is just gone.

Not that the chest pains have anything to do with my breast cancer, but as Tucker Carlson or Bill O’Reilly might say, I’M JUST SAYIN’.

Wordless Wednesday

Helper

Now I’ve reached the point of just killing time until I go back to work. So, here are some of the thoughts shit-kicking around in my brain.

I’m not sure how I feel about going back to work. On the one hand, I like living like a house cat, or a first wife with an excellent divorce lawyer. On the other hand, I also like having something to do and a place to go to every day, not to mention I’m quite fond of having money to buy things like food and electricity.

And of course, I’m finally feeling physically well enough to accomplish things around the house, just as my time runs out to do said things. I can pretty much lift my arms all the way over my head, but activities requiring big stretches are still out of the question, as is any heavy lifting. Sometimes I forget this (when you’re recovering from a bodily insult like surgery and begin feeling well, you forget that you have limits, I guess), and will overextend, only to have my body remind me, “Nope, not that. Oooh, not that, either, sister.”

Dood has dragged out the Rubbermaid storage containers full of summer clothing for me to do our wardrobe switch, but have I even begun my winter clothes-summer clothes switch? Well, let’s see, I have dug through a couple of the bins looking for things to wear as the days have grown warmer. Does the mix-mastered pile of clothing in the middle of my closet room count as being “switched?” Also, my sweaters have been dry-cleaned and are sitting in the corner, waiting to be packed with mothballs and stored away. So close, yet oh so far.

I don’t want to hear anyone say a word about mothballs. The wonderfully effective naphthalene! I get it, it’s poison, VOC’s, yadda yadda yadda. However, the one year I tried to do “environmentally friendly” woolen storage, with cloves and lavender, I ended up with two beautifully-scented cashmere lace scarves and nibbly little holes in all of my wool clothes. I literally had moths fluttering through my house all summer long. I could almost hear them taunting me, “neener neener neener! We are chowing on your Ralph Lauren Blue Label sweaters!” The little bastards also ate the fleece lining out of my cute Ugg clogs. So yeah, I go full-on mothballs for storage. Non woolen/moth-prone garments like long johns and flannel  can go into regular boxes with the enviro-friendly storage stuff, but if it came off a sheep, it gets chemicals.

(Note to self about cashmere, Dood is not allowed to borrow my cashmere scarves next winter, due to the fact that he tends to be careless about where he leaves things. Some customer of his is now storing my Italian cashmere for the summer. My ass is still chapped about this.)

I haven’t written a single thank-you note, but I have moved the boxes of thank-you cards from the shelf where they were stored to a table where they can shame me every day.  PS, Why are you not ordering note cards from Crane’s? If you go to their sale section, you can get beautiful engraved note cards for about ten bucks. I ordered these nifty black cat cards today to replenish my card supply which will be depleted after I write all those thank you notes. Plus, you are supporting a 100% made-in-the-USofA company.

I spent a full day last Wednesday going through insurance claims online and matching them to the bills I have received, and then paying what was owed. I got about halfway through that task before I lost my will to live. That stack of papers has been languishing on the kitchen table ever since. I suppose I will tackle it again tomorrow. As the saying goes, never put off till tomorrow what you should have done last week.

A few weeks into this whole adventure, I tried to log into my work email. My network password appears to have expired in my absence, so the last email I can see on my work-issued iPhone is dated 5/11, the day before my surgery.  I can’t even access the VPN from my laptop, so I guess I will spend my first day back at work re-establishing credentials so I can actually do work.

I was going to spend my lovely long summer days shredding several boxes of decade-old bank statements and other personal papers that I have been too afraid to throw away. But, well, fuck that noise. I just learned that there are shredding services that will bring a truck TO YOUR DOOR and shred while you watch. Or you can take that shit to them and they’ll shred it — while you watch. Either way, sitting and shredding two or three pages at a time on my $40 Office Depot shredder, which sounds — IN THEORY — like a good way to zone out while watching television, is for the freakin’ birds. Besides, as the machine fills up and I empty it, that cross-cut confetti gets everywhere. I’ll pay a hundred bucks to have someone else do it, just to get that shit out of my house.

I have not yet worn the compression garment my surgeon wants me to wear. I tried it on, and seriously, I don’t think I can get it on without a Valium. I’m going to try again today, but what with the forecast (heat and more heat), the outlook is looking grim. Not sure I can handle wrapping myself in elastic before dressing on a 90-degree day.

NOTE: I’m not really complaining about the heat. I remember February. I REMEMBER FEBRUARY!

That’s all for now.

First, let me say the past couple of days have had my least favorite weather of any kind of weather. Humid, not hot, and overcast. Your basic clammy-sheets nightmare. For some reason, Dood calls humid days like that “balmy.”  I haven’t the heart to argue with him about the definition of balmy (“pleasantly warm”), because he does come from New Orleans. To a New Orleanian, maybe 70 degrees with 85 percent humidity is balmy.

Okay, that’s out of the way.

Yesterday I met with a fabulous medical oncologist to discuss next steps for my treatment. And I don’t say that he’s fabulous because he gave me good news. I got the impression he actually gives a shit. (Even if he was faking it, that actually counts for something.) He went through all of my pathology reports with me, page by page (it was a huge stack of papers, yikes), so he would have the complete picture. You know how sometimes you go to see a new doc and you just feel like you’re being bumrushed in and out? Didn’t happen here. This guy spent close to an hour with me, going through the pathology, discussing prognosis and treatment.

So here’s the excellent part. He looked at everything and his call is: No chemotherapy needed. He wanted a couple of weeks to re-review my outcomes and talk to my breast surgeon, but he also thinks that hormone therapy is probably unnecessary. He was bold enough to suggest that perhaps I can safely consider myself … cured? (The other C-word! I know, people with cancer never say cured, they say in remission, blah blah blah). So he said, come back in 2 weeks, eat a low-fat diet, get a colonoscopy, see your GYN, and then go live another 50 years.

I think I’ll do that.

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