It’s Like Deja Vu

Wow.  Okay, so apparently Feedburner has lost its mind.  Those of you who subscribe to the email list probably thought I’d reached new heights of slothfulness when you got an email yesterday containing a post from February.  You were thinking, “Dang, Moody, if you’re going to try to recycle some old post, the least you could do is pick one that was more than 3 months old.  That way, you know, you might have a chance of passing it off as new material.  Or perhaps if you’re too lazy to actually write, you should consider plagarism.  Sure it’s intellectual theft, but we don’t care if you regurgitate someone else’s work as long as we have something new to read.”

 Alas, I did not try to Jedi Mind-trick you into thinking I’d posted something new Wednesday.  And have no idea where that feed has been spending its time since February.  The Bermuda Triangle?  Area 51?  Walmart? 

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 About that old post…um, yeah, I didn’t go.  I know, I know.  I got you all worked up with that poll and everything, and then I just couldn’t make myself do it.  Even Hubster was like, “Don’t go—why should you burn a whole day on that?”  That was all the enabling I needed to blow it off.  I’m pretty easy to enable.  Sorry.  I guess if you want to know about the wisdom circle, you’re going to have to go to one of those things yourself.  What was that?  You say you don’t want to actually have to go participate and try to keep a straight face all stinkin’ day when you could be sitting at Starbucks or yard saling?  Yeah, well, me neither, so I guess that’s one juice box worth of wisdom we’ll never have.   Amazingly enough, the absence of this knowledge doesn’t make me feel the least bit incomplete.  Shocking, I know.

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 Note to Union Hospital: While it didn’t bother me in the least (in fact, it gave me blog material), some more sensitive types might get a little freaked out by being asked if they have a living will prior to a routine, non-invasive procedure like my recent ultrasound.  I realize that you have your standard battery of questions, but seriously—living will? 

 Of course, it’s not the first time I’ve been asked that.  You know, when you have a surgery, they ask you stuff like that just in case they somehow scramble your brain in the process of making your newpple.  “Gee, we’re sorry that your wife is now a vegetable, Mr Foodie, but we did have to harvest tissue for the nipple from somewhere, and since your wife obviously doesn’t use her cerebral cortex much, we thought that was as good a place as any.”

 And, we are talking about me, here, she for whom everything is a blog post.  So, you know, they really could be concerned that I might not make it out of there alive, and I’d still be taking mental notes for a later entry.  But, some folks are kind of sensitive to that whole brain death thing.  So, Union Hospital, you might want to re-think the necessity of some of those questions.  Just sayin’.

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Well, You Must Have Done Something

Believe it or not, I don’t always blog everything right away.  Some stories, for whatever reason, just need to age a bit before they’re ready to be told.  Or is that fester?  I guess it depends upon the subject matter.  So, in spite of the fact that I actually do have a newer story, you’re going to get an older one.  Because I’m feeling like telling it now.

 About a year and a half or so ago, when my hair was short enough that it was pretty obvious that I’d recently finished chemo, Susie and I went to a dinner together.  This particular dinner was a fundraiser for the local Right to Life association, which another friend of ours is heavily involved in.

 We were seated at a table with our friend and a few other people.  Introductions were made and our friend told the folks at our table that I was a breast cancer survivor.  They asked me some questions about my treatment, and we made some general small talk before the meal.  No big deal.  Dinner was served, and our friend got up to introduce the guest speaker.  The speaker’s claim to fame was that she was Malcolm X’s dog groomer’s niece.  Or maybe she was the uncle’s 3rd cousin’s step-daughter of another famous figure of the civil rights movement.  (Something like that.  I don’t remember exactly—chemo brain, you know.)  And she’d had an abortion when she was younger.

 So, there we sat as this lady spoke about all the reasons why it’s a bad idea to have an abortion.  All the things you’d expect to hear were in there, spoken about and projected in a Power Point presentation containing neatly arranged bulleted lists.  And all was well until she got to the part where she announced that a big reason not to have an abortion was because it causes breast cancer.

 Yeah, she really did say that.  And lest any of us not hear her right, there it was on that bulleted list.  So meanwhile, there I sit trying to keep my cool, feeling as if there is now this ginormous spotlight shining down on me, thinking, “Great, now all these folks at my table are saying to themselves, ‘Oh, so THAT’S why she got The Cancer.’”  That’s just fabulous lady, thanks a lot.  Hey, how about next time you make up some random scary thing to try to make your point you pick another malady?  Like maybe The Gout or The Hammer Toe.  Cancer girls have got enough stress already.

 Gee, if only breast cancer prevention were that easy, right?  Don’t want cancer, don’t have an abortion.  And, seriously, that was what this lady was saying—if you have an abortion, you will get breast cancer.  Of course, the fact that she didn’t have breast cancer, and therefore disproved her own theory, seemed to completely elude her.  Which somehow didn’t surprise me in the least.

 Sure, it doesn’t make any sense, but you know how that goes—if you say it enough, or if, God forbid, it ends up on the internet, then some people will start to believe it.  You know, we cancer girls already have to put up with our share of “well, what did you do that caused this” crap.  Do you smoke?  Do you wear deodorant?  What do you eat?  We get all those ignorant questions and more.  Do we really need to have the abortion question thrown in there, too?  Or worse yet, not the spoken question, but the unspoken assumption? 

 Listen up—I didn’t DO anything to cause The Cancer.  My friend Tanya didn’t DO anything to get The Cancer.  My girls Nina and Shirley didn’t somehow bring The Cancer on themselves.  Folks, it just IS.  Some things don’t have easy explanations.  You know, I wish there were a list of things to avoid that if adhered to, would guarantee you’ll never get The Cancer.  Avoid circus peanuts, abortions, tobacco, and Hot Pockets and you’ll always be cancer-free.  Make sure to eat three rum-soaked raisins, do yoga, wear garments made of a 50/50 blend of organic cotton and hemp, and drink a half cup of garlic steeped in hot vinegar every day and you’ll be invincible. 

 But there’s not a list like that.  And that’s why it’s important to get your mammos and do those self-exams.  A Hot Pocket-free life won’t save you, but vigilance just might.

I’d Rather Have a Butterfly Hand Than a Crab Arm

Yesterday I had my check-up with Dr Birhiray.  The worst part of that these days is the blood draw.  Lymph node removal on the mastectomy/reconstruction side dictates that  blood pressure cuffs & needles are forbidden on that side forever.  For-ev-er.  The reason being that any sort of infection in that arm could lead to lymphedema, a condition in which the lymphatic fluid doesn’t drain out of the arm like it should, and causes the arm to swell.  Permanently, in some cases.  This always makes me think of the fiddler crabs we saw a few years ago on Little Tybee Island, and while I thought they were neat, I really don’t have any desire to sport the fiddler crab look.  So, I try to avoid punctures and other arm trauma at the doctor’s office, although I only sometimes successfully manage to avoid such things in the kitchen.  So far so good, though.  No crab arm yet.

 Anywho, the end result is that any time blood needs to be drawn, it has to come out of the right side.  And these days the right side is putting it’s foot down and refusing to give the requisite blood.  You can only poke the same place so many times before it forms a shield of scar tissue not unlike the armor plating on the Batmobile, or at least as tough as that really sorry excuse for Indian flatbread I made the other night.  (No wonder that cookbook was on the clearance rack at Half Price Books.)  Yesterday was the second time in the last three visits that I’ve had to have my blood drawn via the little butterfly needle in the hand that is normally used to administer chemo.  More than once I’ve suggested that they stick my foot.  The foot has nice, plump veins that look up at me and laugh as I’m sitting there for 5 minutes waiting for an adequate amount of blood to be drained from my hand.  But, for whatever reason, they never take me up on that. 

 After my blood was drawn, I could have gone back out to the waiting area like a normal person.  But I like to visit my chemo nurses.  Maybe because we bonded during chemo, or maybe because they always tell me how great I look.  Okay, probably the latter.  So, I went back to the chemo area to say hi to Leslie and Karen, and I told them that I started chemo on May 8th, so it’s been almost exactly 2 years.  As usual, they commented on how much my hair has grown, and then they said, “Come out here and meet some of these ladies.  They’re just getting started, and they’d probably be encouraged to see you.”  As is often the case when I’m visiting back there, I’m like their poster girl for good attitude and good health.

 So, I got to meet some of the ladies on the chemo floor.  Nurse Leslie pointed out to one group of ladies that I’ve “been through everything you guys are going through and look how great she looks.”  I then explained to them that I’d been through chemo, radiation, and 6 surgeries, so indeed, I had done it all within the last couple of years.  They asked me questions like “Did your hair come back the same color?” and “How soon did you hair start growing again?”  Hair, as you can see, is a hot topic with chemo girls. 

 Soon, though, another nurse came and fetched me.  For once, Dr Birhiray was only half an hour behind, and my exam room was waiting for me.  But, I’m so glad I got to spend some time talking to those ladies—even if Hubster did wonder what had happened to me.  I am so blessed to have the opportunity to encourage folks by sharing my experiences.  I enjoy doing that in person, as well as here on the blog, so please don’t ever hesitate to ask questions.

 While I was there, I showed Dr B his fan club page on Facebook.  Not being on Facebook himself, at first he was a little confused—he thought I’d moved my blog or something.  But I soon had him straightened out, and he read the messages and got a big kick out of the whole thing.  So thanks to those of you who joined the club and left him a little note.

If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…

What is wrong with people?

What thought process is involved in deciding to tell your horror story to someone who is facing a scary situation, anyway? Is it just lack of social skills? Is it your way of trying to convince that person that you know what they’re going through? Can you just not resist the urge to try to one-up the person in question? Do you really think it’s helpful to tell your so-and-so died from story?

I’ve dealt with my share of those folks over the past couple of years. Fortunately, I’m just stubborn enough to think that the rules don’t necessarily apply to me. You say your great aunt Millie puked for 12 solid years from chemo? Well, that doesn’t necessarily mean I will. I might, but doggone it, I’m going to try to figure out how to avoid that. Your 3rd cousin’s uncle’s sister died from The Cancer at exactly the same age I am? Thanks for that nugget of encouragement, but I really don’t have time to be getting killed off right now.

Like I said, it kind of rolls right off of me, and gee, at least I have something to blog about, right? In fact, if you ever see me dealing with someone like that, just picture a cartoon thought bubble over my head that says, “I am SO blogging you when I get home.” So, it doesn’t really bug me when that stuff happens to me, but it does send me over the edge when I see it happen to someone else. Especially when it’s done in a public forum so that their family has the opportunity to be collateral damage.

A very important person in my life is facing a big, scary surgery tomorrow. Pastor Mark is in his early 50’s and on Wednesday, he’ll be having open heart surgery. He has a page on Caringbridge where folks can keep track of his condition and leave messages of support. Unfortunately, some folks’ idea of support is “Blah, blah, big scary, surgery, blah, scary, painful surgery, blah blah blah. Did I mention scary and painful blah blah blah?” I’m sure Pastor Mark will let stuff like this roll right off, and so will his wife, Debbie. But they have 3 kids, who I’m sure will probably read this stuff, too. And that’s upsetting to me. Because the situation is tense and scary enough on it’s own without help from the drama mongers.

So again, I ask, what is the thought process involved in deciding to tell your horror story to someone facing a scary situation? I’m all about telling someone the truth, but maybe some folks need to wait a minute before they open their mouths. Just sayin’. If you’ve been through the same thing, tell the person, and then wait for them to ask for details. And if you’re not sure whether you should say something that you’re thinking or not, then you probably shouldn’t. Let the person know you care, but keep it light, okay?

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I’m sure that Pastor Mark would appreciate any prayers y’all would want to offer on his behalf. If you’re praying for him, please leave a comment saying so. Debbie reads my blog, and I’m sure they’d both be encouraged to see some love on here.

Candy is Dandy (or Why It’s Not a Good Idea to Stop at the Tourist Trap Candy Store When You’re Hungry)

munger moss

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the fam and I went on a little weekend trip to southern Missouri. No, not Branson. I read your mind, didn’t I? Okay, not really, it’s just that pretty much every person I mentioned our trip to asked if we were going to Branson. Branson isn’t really an option for us, because Hubster breaks out in hives whenever he’s subjected to country music. I’m pretty certain the man would explode if we were to even drive through Branson. And, really, if I’m gonna go to Pigeon Forge, I’ll go to Pigeon Forge, not to Pigeon Forge’s Ozark cousin.

The real reason we went to Missouri was to check out the spring planting festival at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Yeah, we’re plant nerds like that. In spite of the fact that we got drizzled on all day Sunday, the festival was a good time. Got to hear lots of live bluegrass, and cowboy music, including Sourdough Slim the accordion playing cowboy. And we picked up some interesting varieties of tomato and pepper plants. I also got a very cool African basket.

About 3:00 or so, we decided to head back to our motel in Lebanon—the very cool Munger Moss Motel located on Route 66. Did it have fancy amenities like internet? Heck no. But what it did have was a very interesting mix of folks staying there—including the Harley Riders from Finland. Awesome. But Lebanon is a pretty small place, so there wasn’t much going on Sunday night, and we decided to head over to Springfield. After an evening of Bass Pro Shop and Buckingham’s Barbecue, we went back for our final night at the Munger Moss.

The next morning, we checked out and did some hiking in Bennett Spring State Park. After a quick clean-up and change of clothing, we headed for home. It was about 1:00 and we were getting pretty hungry. When we reached I-44, there it was, like a beacon of love, and rainbows, and sugar, and tooth decay, and empty wallets—Redmons Candy Factory.

Taffy. Oh man, this place had more flavors of taffy than I have ever seen. And in spite of the fact that as a mother, I’m supposed to encourage the consumption of healthful foods ahead of the consumption of sticky, sugary goodness, I totally blew off that whole responsible adult gig. So as Hubster carried around a white paper sack, picking and choosing a few pieces here and there, Mini Me and I ransacked the joint, grabbing handfuls of various flavors and throwing them in the sack. “Mmmm! Cinnamon roll taffy! Ooh look, lemon meringue taffy!”

Somewhere in the back of my mind, a little flicker of June Cleaver managed to escape the duct tape she’d been wrapped in and push its way to somewhere near the front of my mind. “You haven’t had lunch!” it protested, “And what about Mini Me’s braces? Is she supposed to even have taffy?” However, I quickly squashed June’s rebellion by pointing out that the pomegranate taffy was almost like a fruit—so it was perfectly healthy, and…hey, pecan logs! Poor June was left struggling against her duct tape somewhere along the dusty trail between good sense and sugar overload, and I was on my merry way to pecan log bliss.

Oh sure, I saw the sign that said the bulk candy was $3.49/lb. But, since Hubster was holding the bags—oh, yes, eventually there were two, because the other side of the store had hard candy—I didn’t even think about how much we’d accumulated. I figured than when it started getting heavy enough to be expensive, he’d shut us down. Because, whether he realizes it or not, that is one of his primary functions in our marriage—to keep me from going over the top stupid all the time. There was only one problem—Hubster hadn’t seen the signs. So, he was a little shocked when after adding in a couple of white chocolate turtles and a few mints, our bill came to over $30.

Oops. I guess maybe it was a bad idea to go there hungry.

(Oh, and if you’d like to read Mini Me’s account of our trip, you can checkit out HERE)

Cookin’ Like Crazy

 This past week was a tad insane around here, but it was the good kind of insane where I got to make lots of yummy food for folks.  Not the bad kind of insane where I used a breast cancer bagel to beat the living daylights out of an entire table full of gum-smacking, loud-talking, OMG-saying girls at Panera.  Nope, that was the week before.  

Anywho, last week saw the convergence of three separate events in the span of two days.  Thursday was the surprise party for Bagel Sis who was doing the mini marathon up in Indy on Saturday.  Much to my amazement, BIL Bobo and I managed to pull this off without tipping off Bagel Sis.  This is particularly impressive considering that I spent several hours with Bagel Sis on Monday and without saying something stupid like, “Hey, do you know if Garlic Sis is going to be able to make it to your surprise party on Thursday night?”

 Prior to Thursday, I’d already spent the first part of the week cooking items for the Domestic Divas ladies event at church.  Divas was scheduled for Saturday, but since the fam and I were leaving town on Saturday, I wouldn’t actually be there.  All of my eleventy-seven platters and cake stands would be, however, and they’d need to be set up Friday night.  But, they couldn’t be set up until after the Vigo County Relay for Life survivor dessert, which ran until 8PM.  Oh yeah, I made a couple of cheesecakes for that, too.  See what I mean by insane? 

 But it was good, really.  I enjoyed the whirlwind immensely.  Because one of the hardest things about the whole cancer experience for me was all of a sudden having people not ask me to do things I loved anymore.  Granted, when I was doing chemo, I wouldn’t have been able to manage all this stuff in a weekend.  But the problem is that once people stop asking, they forget to ask again.  I know you’ve all heard me say (okay, maybe that should be “seen me write” but it just sounds weird) that from my experience, what a cancer girl craves most of a big slice of normal.  Well, it’s not normal for me to sit on the sidelines when food is involved, so the past two years or so have been difficult in that regard.

 So, Friday night was the survivor dessert, and I think I’ve finally figured out how I can participate in this type of thing without feeling weird about it–do what I love.  This time last year I posted an entry about the Relay for Life, where I talked about how the survivor activities just suck the very life out of me.  But Friday, I got to be a part of it by doing what I do best.  Now that’s MY kind of survivor activity. 

 Funny thing was, when I went to tear it down at 8PM sharp—because remember, I still need to drag all this stuff over to church and get it washed and set up there—I swear I was getting this entitlement vibe from the few survivors that were still hanging around.  Like, “I’m gonna stand here in front of this chocolate fountain as long as I want, until the cows come home, in fact, because I’M a survivor!”  I told my friend Dawn, who works for the ACS and is kind of in charge of this deal that next year I think I’ll wear one of my pink Komen shirts or maybe just go topless.  You know, whichever one she thought would be more effective of getting the message across, “Hey, I’m a survivor, too, so get your badonkadonk out of the way so I can get out of here before that creepy luminaria ceremony!”