Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What "Covfefe" Really Means! (To the Tune of L.O.V.E)


 "C" is for the furry thing I like . . ."O" is for the osteoporosis pill I take . . . "V" is for the very, very, extraordinary me, and last but definitely not least, . . . "F" is for what I like to do to "E," for everyone. Yes, "F.E," that's my refrain.

If only things were that simple. I'm whistling in the dark. If only the clown were making a fool of himself yet again. But looking like he's making a fool of himself is this clown's Modus Operandi for getting rich and screwing the planet. So "Covfefe" is either the deal he's cut with Putin, or the fate of the investigators of his Ivanka's Chinese operation: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/31/activists-investigating-ivanka-trumps-china-shoe-factory-detained-or-missing.  
Or maybe the fate of "C," as in Jim Comey. Watch your backs, folks. Here's Nat King Cole, singing the song as it ought to be sung.



 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

My Multicolored Pill Cabinet

Since I'm now taking a daily pill--the estrogen-blocker, the one that makes me age at five times the normal rate--and another every third day one that's supposed to protect my bones, I bought a pill-organizer. My previous system was none: leaving the pills in the plastic bag in which they'd been shoved when I purchased them, and making sure, every evening after my last glass of wine, that I popped the medicine as I was checking emails. 
I'm now the proud owner of a multicolored set of drawers, the cheapest thing I could find on Amazon, that look like Barbie's Winter storage containers. The lime-green Monday drawer, like the baby-blue Tuesday drawer, the forest-green Wednesday drawer (you get the idea) contains four tiny drawers labeled Morning, Noon, Evening, Bedtime. This contraption is for serious pill-taking. I've just dumped a week's worth of pills in their proper compartments, though some are in Evening and some are in Bedtime, because I didn't notice which flap I was opening. If I go away for the weekend, I can take one tiny drawer with me, my daughter pointed out. I enjoy looking at the thing parked on my desk, a symbol of organization in the midst of my crumpled-paper chaos. I've never yet forgotten a pill--once I got up in the middle of the night, but I was only an hour late. Yes, I take them around eleven in the evening, because the other side effect is that they make me sleepy. Even after galvanizing myself with coffee, I'm still sleepy at 9:33 on a sunny day in this year of post-cancerhood. In which I still like to say the word "cure" as faces flush or twitch or get angered, as if I'd mentioned child abuse. But I'll keep taking those pills as long as they make me do so, and reflecting on the luck that got that dang tumor discovered before it hit my bones. Get your mammograms, girls. If for no other reason, so that you don't have to run out and buy Barbie's Winter storage containers.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Afro Circus: First Time I Dyed My Hair After Chemo

For a long time I was bald. Then came the prickles. Then I resembled a certain middle-aged male colleague. I walked around the department in my cute blonde wig, ducked into the office of the one secretary Who Knew The Truth About My Breast Cancer, whipped off the blond thing and said, "See? I look like so-and-so," naming my colleague.
She gasped. "Yes, exactly. Gruesome."
But now, today, finally, I really have enough hair to dye. The comfortable ritual, the glancing at the clock as I pull on the latex gloves and mix the components of L'Oreal Ash Blond, is once more a part of my life. I never thought I'd live to dye hair again! The trouble is, as my children point out, this:
My hairdo isn't this pretty. I haven't gone rainbow. But I have gone Afro. My kids sing "Afro circus, afro circus, polka-dot, polka-dot afro circus!" when they see me coming. Are they becoming horrid little racists? Not at all. It's just that mom of the long slightly wavy hair now really has hair resembling that of the happy dancing giraffe. Dry. Steel-woolly. Sticks out like that lion's mane, too. What's a post-cancer girl to do? Actually, should I buy shampoo and conditioner products for African-American hair? Or very curly hair? Or wait a year or two and do nothing, as my hair gets to be as long as that of the polka-dot circus giraffe? I've seen women with hair like that in the waiting room. Makes a statement. Just not the one I want to make. I want my original hair back. I like to be able to part it on the side and brush it. 
I like to brush it, brush it. I like to brush it, brush it. I like to . . . BRUSH IT! 
I better not hope too hard. I saw a woman coming of of the waiting room who had a Jimi Hendrix-do. Really.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Comey on, Folks

Make America Read Again
Make America Love Again
Make America Work Again
Make America Help Again
Make America Hope Again
Make America Honor Again
Make America Honorable Again:
Dump Trump!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Eldercare, The Puritans, and Me

If, like me, you have a cheerfully spendthrift, hale-and-hearty parent residing in an assisted living facility, heads up!
Should your profligate parent happen to live in one of thirty U.S. states retaining "filial responsibility" laws, you might find yourself in the stocks--with the law throwing tomatoes in your face. Here's the Massachusetts statute, which dates back to 1600, that is, before the Mayflower:

Section 20: Neglect or refusal to support parent

Section 20. Any person, over eighteen, who, being possessed of sufficient means, unreasonably neglects or refuses to provide for the support and maintenance of his parent, whether father or mother, residing in the commonwealth, when such parent through misfortune and without fault of his own is destitute of means of sustenance and unable by reason of old age, infirmity or illness to support and maintain himself, shall be punished by a fine of not more than two hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both. No such neglect or refusal shall be deemed unreasonable as to a child who shall not during his minority have been reasonably supported by such parent, if such parent was charged with the duty so to do, nor as to a child who, being one of two or more children, has made proper and reasonable contribution toward the support of such parent. 

Punitive, right? Two hundred bucks PLUS prison for a year PLUS the criminal record. Oh, but surely this isn't enforceable? It was in Pennsylvania, where a nursing home successfully sued a man for his Mom's $93,000 bill. Yes, the nursing home or assisted living facility can send you a bill the minute Mom can't pay. Maybe you can't pay, and maybe they can put a lien on your apartment or garnish your paycheck. States need money--more and more, these days, and are looking for ways to get it. As long as Trump remains in office, and probably for long after, things may worsen. 

What to do? Well, I'm trying to acquire a form of power of attorney that allows me to find out exactly what's in her bank account and, if necessary--and it probably will be--remove her checkbook, so that she no longer sends a thousand bucks a month to her girlfriend. On top of the six thou she's already shelling out for her own rent and care. 

And then I get to hope there's a crumb or two left over for my kids in her will. Which she will probably change the nanosecond she finds out she can't write checks to everyone who smiles at her. Am I saved, and we get to pay the kid's dorm room rent? Or damned, and the girlfriend takes all? I hope the Almighty, oooohhhh, Grace Abounding, nudges Mom to leave us some dough.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Me and My "Variant of Unknown Significance"

I got my BRCA test results from Color Genomics and lo! I am negative. Hurrah, hurrah--the breast cancer I spent the year pulverizing (or my doctors did) had, apparently, no genetic origin but was "sporadic." Any old thing started it--being a mother at a late age, eating chocolate, drinking red wine, boiling my water in a plastic water heater--who knows. At any rate, I'm not genetically programmed to develop cancers, which means my twelve-year-old daughter is safer than she would have been if I'd tested positive. 
Except for one little thing. I did test positive for a "Variant of Unknown Significance," (aka "VUS") which is exactly what it sounds like: a genetic change about which nobody knows anything. "Most" of them are "harmless" but actually nobody knows what the heck they mean so let us assure you that if we find something bad we'll "try to contact you."
La de dahhhh. I'll go right back to eating chocolate, drinking read wine, and enjoying my husband and kids. A relative of mine tested positive for an ailment and freaked enough to have a device implanted surgically to prevent
 . . . whatever. Something that probably won't happen. They'd have to wrestle me to the table to implant anything in me if I weren't feeling sick. 
That's the trouble with genetic testing. These tests are great if you just want to know. But if you're the nervous type, you're probably better off with your blissful, or at least speculative, ignorance.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Reagan was Bad and Trump is Worse: Four Points

Some talking head on CNN said all the kerfluffle about Trump was just like whatever everyone said about Reagan, and his was "a great presidency."
It wasn't. I'm sixty. I remember.
But don't take my word for it. Just read Wikipedia. Here are a few of the more disastrous doings of Ronald Reagan and his administration:

(1) Ignoring--and refusing to fund--AIDS diagnosis and research. Under the hostile eyes of Ronald Reagan, who tolerated and encouraged the notion that homosexuals were being punished by God with AIDS, the epidemic flourished. Because he didn't give a damn about gay men, and wouldn't believe that the disease would afflict plenty of other population groups, we now have an epidemic that won't go away.
For details, see Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart. See the 1989 film Longtime Companion. Yes, that is really the way things were. 

(2) Reagonomics. National Debt exploded. Debt increases now because of Reagan, who increased the national debt by more than 200 billion. Boom!

(3) Invasions. Grenada. Etc. A kill-the-commies paranoia.

(4) Iran-Contra. How many remember local delicatessens serving the Oliver North special? Bologna with Swiss cheese.

Reagan's Alzheimer's, by the end of his presidency, forced him to read from file cards. By comparison to Trump, he was a prince. But don't get me started, unless you have seventy-two hours. On what grounds do I say Reagan was remotely better? At least he had some regard for his family. A man who destroys families is a man who says he'd date his daughter, and who appears, in widely available internet photos, to have already molested her. That's what's sitting behind a desk at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. John Cleese, save us!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Like a Scene from Grey's Anatomy

In she walked, the radiologist who had muffed the initial diagnosis. How well I remember her cheerful, reassuring face and her perky, definitive voice: "I have absolutely nothing but good news for you!" The hospital must have deliberately kept her off my treatment team, and I certainly had not expected to see her, nor she me. But there I was with the suspicion of a cracked rib, and she was the radiologist on call. 
She entered, smiled, and did a double take. "Oh, we got started off wrong. I want to say that I would absolutely understand if you would like a different doctor." She looked straight into my eyes with that German earnestness that I trust, and I decided to give the gal a second chance, on the hope that she'd now read my scans extra-carefully and have learned something since she let my breast cancer go undiagnosed for an extra two months (could I have avoided so much chemo? So much radiation?) But I also let her interpret the scans because I didn't want to sit around that waiting room for another three hours. I'd already waited nearly that long. The kids needed dinner. 
"Thank goodness the cancer got discovered!" was all I said. She agreed, fervidly. "Just read the scans really carefully, OK?" I added. 
Her interpretation was characteristic for its positive note: "I see no evidence of metastases!" she chirped, smiling.
This gave me a chill. She did make an interesting remark or two about how my pronounced scoliosis likely made my ribs shake around more when I fell, which is probably why I continue to have this stabbing pain with every false move. She saw "no evidence of fractures," either, but my eyes must have gotten round at that point, because she added, "But I would like to look at this a second time, and show it to colleagues." She was reassuring me that she would not be the sole judge of my scans.
"I watch a lot of Grey's Anatomy now," I confessed. "Show it to the chief. Or to Derek Shepherd. Or Cristina Yang."
She smiled.
I added, "Wave it at X!" (I named the radiologist who had found the malignancy she missed, and who "preferred not to talk about" Dr. Perky's failure to diagnose.
She laughed. I sure do hope she shows it to that guy, and I think, given German earnestness, she may well do so. If she were a character on Grey's Anatomy who would she be? Hmmmm, maybe Dr. April Kepner, the one whose moment of distraction during a chaotic emergency room scene leads to a patient's death. (A patient she is examining says, "Look!" and Dr. Kepner swirls to see a fireman's axe embedded in the chest of someone being rushed into surgery--then forgets to examine her own patient's throat.) Dr. Kepner became extra-careful after that incident (and even more perky). Let's hope for at least the extra-careful from my doc. Along with the extra-ability to interpret scans. 
P.S.Well, she was at least as good as her word. She must have showed the scans to Dr. X, the one who found my tumor when she had not. 
He also found my fracture when she had not: "the fifth rib!"
Yes, my own hunch was right. I really had broken something. Your body doesn't hurt so much over a sprain.
That's two strikes, Dr. Lovely Bedside Manner. Not going for a third.