Thursday, October 27, 2016

Prologue

October 21, 2015 
(The day Marty McFly goes Back To The Future {Part II})

This started out as a story of my journey with cancer. But after careful consideration, I have decided my story is much more than that. Yes, I have cancer; Stage IV Colorectal Cancer. I’ve been fighting it for well past two years now, and still undergoing treatment. However, I am currently 39 years old, so in comparison, two and a half years isn’t really that long. Plus, I refuse to be defined and labeled as a disease statistic. If, I am to be remembered in relation to cancer, I hope to be “that girl who made cancer her bitch and whipped it like a man behind the toolshed”. No, my journey has been much more than this disease. I would even say it's been absolutely wonderful. It has been full of adventure, mischief, bad behavior, good deeds, acts of kindness, despair, tragedy, pain, hope, dreams, love and ideas; both big and small. As far as a life can go, mine’s been a pretty damn good one I think, and I like to believe it’s far from over. Then again, I may get hit by an asteroid later tonight, so I figure I should at least get the prologue done for the book I’ve been wanting to write since I was about ten years old. It’s changed quite dramatically in the last 29 or so years, and it may change yet again before I’m through writing it. But for now, this is the start. 


This is what I have always wanted to do. It’s too bad that I had to come close to dying before finally doing it. This is my story, as best as I can recall. 

Chapter 1:


Sunday, October 9, 2016

A Perfect Day

Life is better in the South. I’ve read a few Southern writers who have said something along the lines that Southerners have better stories. Mostly, in part, because Yankees are too cold to stand around and tell ‘em. Well, I think it’s true. But that’s another story.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, coming out from under a chemo fog, is a whole new experience. You don’t really feel great, until you have felt absolutely terrible. That’s what chemo is like, for anyone who would like to know. You feel the very life of you slipping away, and when it’s over, you think, “Holy shit, I’m glad that’s over.” But you feel somewhat renewed. Or I do anyway. I can’t speak for anyone else living this.

Every time I go into a treatment, I am filled with dread. I have anxiety the night before and barely sleep. I know what’s coming. And every single time, I think, I can’t make it through one more. But then, somehow, I do. And when it’s over, I look back and think, “I made it.”
And I’m grateful. I’m grateful for the chance to say I made it. So many don’t get that opportunity. And sometimes, when I’m laying there, feeling sorry for myself, I think of the all the people who weren’t given the chance; those that were given a death sentence and some morphine to ease the pain. And so it seems rather selfish to throw a second chance into the wind. It’s wrong not to fight.

Cancer is not the worst thing that can happen to a person. There are far worse fates. It’s just the name we give to a disease we don’t understand. It’s not fair, but nobody said life was.

I recall my Mom, Dad and I having casual conversations around the dinner table about how we would choose to die... not necessarily your typical dinner conversation, yet nonetheless, we did so more more than once. Maybe we’re just morbid. I always said I would rather have a disease like cancer so that I would know the end was near and make necessary preparations. My mother always opted for a car crash, or something immediate. My dad usually leaned toward my way of thinking, but perhaps slightly more hesitant.

Given everything that’s happened, I still stand by my original decision. At least I have a chance.

It’s always darkest before the dawn.



Sunday, September 25, 2016

'Cation

I’m officially on vacation, at Gulf Shores in Alabama, thanks to a friend of mine who is letting us use his condo for the week.

Why am I writing this? Because life is good today. You never really realize how stressed and tense you are, until you get somewhere where stress and tense do not exist. And then all of a sudden, you don’t know how to act. Wait...what is this? No alarm in the morning? A beer for lunch? Don’t mind if I do....

We’ve only been here one day and so far we have seen six dolphins, although really it was the same three dolphins; twice. Once, earlier today, on their trip out to sea, and this evening, with the same three dolphins on their return voyage. Or, at least, so we’re guessing. And Seth caught two hermit crabs and got nibbled on by a school of fish. We went to The Hangout after we got in last evening and watched people dancing on tables and ate some of the best shrimp I’ve had in a really long time.

I love the ocean. I love how it makes you feel so small and tiny. No matter what is going on in your life, just sitting outside on the beach at night, with the sound of waves crashing in, neighboring vacationers dancing, drinking, or solving world peace; it’s like the “real world” no longer exists. All of the problems you have, all of the drama you have to deal with, or just the daily grind, just melts away. Slowly at first, as your body and mind adjust to the calm. And then, before you know it, you’re running down the beach with seashell braids in your hair, pulling a Bo Derek.

There’s an old saying, something about how if you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. And then there’s the one about creating a life that you don’t have to take vacation from. Well, that sounds pretty fabulous in theory, but most of us do not have that luxury. We have to take it when we can get it, and enjoy every single second of it, knowing that it’s only for a limited time, and next week, it’s back to reality.

Time for another Corona...

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

These Feet are Made for Walking

In July of 2003, I severed my Achilles tendon. All the way. Completely in half. 

I was married only a couple months before this. My newlywed husband and I had been at a friend’s house, soaking in the hot tub, drinking a few beers. On the way home we got into an argument. It was over a hypothetical poker game, and somehow, between the beers and the hot tub and the heat of the summer, it escalated into a full blown yelling match. 

We pulled into our apartment building, in downtown Birmingham. We had a large deck facing the driveway and parking area. We got out of the car, still screaming at each other. My husband was much larger than me; about six feet tall and weighing in at around 200 pounds or so. I am 5’4” and 120 pounds soaking wet. He made it out of the car first. As I came up the back steps leading to our back deck, he stood in front of the door way. He told me that I was not coming into HIS house. 

The rage overtook me. How dare he try and block my path. I lived here. I paid half the bills. I owned half the furniture. I would be damned if some man was going to tell me I wasn’t welcome in my own home. My first instinct was to kick him. Hard. Maybe in the groin. But he was much larger than me, and I realized the alcohol was clouding his judgment, and he was already angry. What if he kicked me back? 

The apartments and houses in this part of Birmingham are typically much older homes. Full of charm, but with old home problems. The door on the back deck was a glass paneled door, and if often stuck; meaning you had to push with authority at times to get it open. 

It was hot. I was wearing brown leather Eddie Bauer sandals. I reared back, and kicked at the wooden frame portion of the door, right past where my husband was standing, second panel up, probably close to 18 or 24 inches from the ground. I missed. I hit the glass. 

The door burst open. I immediately crashed inward and landed inside the house, just past the dining room table. The lights were off in the house. That’s when I felt it. It hit my stomach. A strange, sort of nauseating feeling, like I was about to pass out. I immediately knew something very bad had happened. 

“Bart,” I said. “Something’s wrong.” He had walked past me in a huff making his way toward the kitchen. “Whatever,” was his response. He turned the kitchen light on. Just then I saw every bit of color leave his face. 

It’s a strange moment when it happens. Everything that was just a second ago, so very important, all of a sudden, didn’t matter anymore. He grabbed one of his t-shirts that happened to be lying close by and wrapped it around my ankle. Blood was pouring everywhere. “Can you walk?” he asked. “I think so,” I said as calmly as I could. He said he was going to get the car and I would meet him downstairs. The walk down my steps was surreal. 

Once, years before, I was driving a car and the front axle went out. I could turn the wheel as hard right as I wanted, and the car only drifted in whatever direction it felt like. It was the same sensation. My foot floated and twisted loosely in my shoe. I was turning the steering wheel, but the tires weren’t moving. I assumed it was from the blood pooling in my shoe. My foot just can’t get any traction. 

We lived two blocks from St. Vincent’s hospital. We came in damn near sideways. Bart jumped out of the car in front of the emergency room doors. He told me to sit tight; that he was going to get help. As I sat there, I could feel the life drain from me. I knew if I waited any longer (it felt like eternity) I would surely bleed to death. I opened the car door. I hobbled slowly from the passenger seat. I felt dizzy. Small black specks were starting to float in front of my eyes. The nauseating feeling in my stomach grew more severe. Had to make it. I started trying to walk. I limped, half-dragging my useless foot and faced the sliding glass doors in front of me. They didn’t move. My dizzy head couldn’t stand there any longer and try to figure it out. I spotted more doors off the right. I dragged-limped over to them. They opened. There was a long hallway. The dark spots got bigger. I laid down - right in the middle of the hallway. At this point I realized it was either lay down or fall down. I chose to lay. A nurse spotted me. “Honey, are you alright?” she asked as she leaned over me. All I could do was raise my head, point at my foot, and say “I cut myself. My ankle.” 

I could see, out of the corner of my eye, my poor husband, followed by a medical team and a gurney, making their way to our car. I can only imagine their confusion, as they approached an empty vehicle, passenger door open and a trail of blood leading to yet another door. They hoisted me onto the gurney and started to wheel me into the emergency room. “BP 66 over 22!” I heard the nurse to my left yell to her cohorts. I shot straight upright on the bed. “Is that my blood pressure?” I asked, completely wild eyed. “Yes!” She practically yelled her response at me. “Well, that’s not good,” I informed her, just in case she was unsure. “I know,” she responded, “now lay back down.” 

And that’s it. That’s how I completely severed my Achilles tendon. At the time, I had no idea. I just thought I had cut myself badly, possibly severing an artery or something. It was later pointed out, while laying on a hospital bed, (by my husband, to the doctor on staff), that hey, that Vienna sausage looking thing coming out of my leg, looks like it might be a tendon. It was. I’ve not eaten a Vienna sausage since then, by the way. They stitched me up, and I met with a surgeon the next day. I had a tendon repair surgery, and spent about six weeks in a cast, followed by a couple more months in a walking boot, followed by a few more months of incredibly painful physical therapy, to learn how to use my foot again. I now have permanent surgical staples in my ankle holding my tendon together; reminding me on a daily basis that if you’re going to lose your temper and put your foot through a glass door, you should probably be wearing boots. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Thoughts Worth Pondering

I have a love hate relationship with the television. Don’t get me wrong. There are few things better than a lazy, rainy Sunday spent on the couch wrapped in a blanket watching whatever Lifetime movies are on or any one of the Alien movies, or Shawshank Redemption. God. I love that movie. Ol’ Andy Dufrane. Get busy living or get busy dying…. one of my all time favorite movies. But sometimes, more often than not, it’s just an annoying noise in the background. Bored Housewives, Keeping Up with the Krazies; who watches this shit? Really? Does anyone? Most of the time all I hear is blah, blah, blah or more like muah muah muah (think Charlie Brown and his teacher). Background noise. 

The news is horrible. If you watch the “Evening News”, you get 28 minutes of horror, followed by a thirty second clip of the oldest woman alive skydiving or a Marine that saved a dog; and then you’re supposed to get all giddy about that shit. Nevermind that you were just subjected to the worst humanity has to offer: somebody shot somebody, somebody blew up somebody, somebody scammed somebody, but hey, here’s a puppy!!! 

And cable news? Forget it. 24 hour revolving door of death, murder, kill. But why don’t we all just get along? Hmmmmm…..

I like good movies. I like movies that make you think. One of my all time favorites in this particular think genre is called “Crash”. If you haven’t seen it, and you think you might possibly be a narrow minded nilly wilily; you should probably watch it. It might give you second thoughts. Then again, if you do happen to be a shallow asshole, then it probably won’t do much except confuse you.  

So my best advice to most of you, is to just turn it off. Turn. It. Off. Put down the t.v. remote, set aside the IPad, stop connecting to social media (it’s making you dumber) and go do something. Anything. Life doesn’t happen on the InterWebs. And it damn sure ain’t happening on the tel-o-vision. It happens every single day right outside your door. And if you’re lucky, it’s happening right now, inside your doors. Put your phone down, turn the tv off, and get freaky with your honey. Or go read your kids a book. Or go catch lightning bugs. And if you don’t live in the South and have lightning bugs, then move to the South. And then catch lightning bugs. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

‘Merica!!!

Happy post 4th of July celebrations. It’s Tuesday, so you should all be dragging yourselves back to work now, except you teachers, and we all know you don’t really work anyway. Ahem...

I used to get very involved in politics. Or put another way, I used to enjoy debating political policies while drinking beer and sitting around campfires. Being a democrat in a “red” state, I’ve had my fair share of heated talks, and have even been accused of being one of those “liberals”.  To be fair, if I lived in a more liberal area, I would probably be accused of being too conservative. Yes, compared to some of my peers in the rural South, I fall on the liberal side, but that’s mostly because I just happen to think people have a right to be happy, and do what they want to do, as long as what they are doing doesn’t somehow cause myself or others harm (physically, mentally, or otherwise). You want to drink beer on your front porch and jam out to Lynard Skynard? Fine. I don’t care. Just keep it turned down when I start blasting my CCR and dancing in the kitchen at two in the morning. My one neighbor is probably trying to sleep.

But then I just stopped. Not the dancing in my kitchen part; I still do that from time to time, but the engaging in fruitless political arguments (no longer debates) part. Either you discuss with like-minded individuals the best ways to solve the world’s problems, and then go back to business as usual, with nothing actually having been accomplished, or end up throwing said beer can at someone’s head because you think it might help dislodge it from their ass.

The idea of a democracy, or so how it was more or less explained to me, is that politicians are elected to represent the interests of the people. Hence, we LITERALLY call them “representatives”, as such, they should represent the interests of the population that voted them into office. But let’s take it a step further. I think there’s more to it than that. To me, at least in theory, a politician should take themselves out of the equation. No brainer, right? You are elected to serve the peoples; not yourself. But I like to think of it as akin to being the adult in a room full of small children. Let’s say you run a daycare, and the majority vote is ice cream for lunch, as it has been every day this week. Some of the children are even protesting loudly; two are screaming and wailing, one kid is refusing to breathe, and Timmy is picking his nose and closely examining the contents as a possible lunch alternative. However, as the adult, it is your job to say “No. No you can not have ice cream for lunch every day. It’s not good for you. Eat your vegetables and take a nap.”

Wake up, ‘Merica. It’s time some of you (us) remove our fingers and look around at the situation. For a great many of us, we have become polarized in our political stances. You’re either a Democrat or a Republican. Red or Blue. Liberal or Conservative. Right or Wrong. Hell or High Water. I can keep going if you’d like.

But maybe, just maybe, it’s time to shake things up. It’s time to decide what is best for this country. Maybe the time has come for a new party to emerge. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time in American history. Those crazy independents....damn, them!  Or maybe, the time has come to unite as a nation, put our petty little non-issues aside, and take measures that will benefit the majority of the people. For our own good. For our world. It’s not them or us. We are all in this shitstorm together, even though I know at times, it may feel like some piles are bigger than others. But don’t worry, everybody gets handed a handful at some point. Errbody.

Now who wants some ice cream?!?! Happy Birthday, America. I love you.




Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Tribute to my Boyfriend

Thanks for putting up with me. And you don’t have to thank me for putting up with you. I will gladly do so; for all that I get in return:

Someone that loves me in spite of myself. Someone that accepts my faults and flaws and still thinks I’m awesome, for whatever reason. 

Who thinks I’m beautiful, even when I’m not.

You find me charming and irresistible. You know you do. 

For making me smile and laugh, every single day. Every. Single. Day. Never do you not make me smile on the daily. That’s pretty amazing. 

For balance. I may be the female version of you, (so you say, and I still think that’s creepy) but you bring balance to my life. When I’m crazy, you’re sane; when I’m mad, you’re reason; when I’m down, you bring me back up. And when you’re being ridiculous, I will be sure to point it out. 

Thank you for being you.