Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Thoughts while trying not to breathe. Or move.

I have to believe that if men had to have an annual screening for testicular cancer that involved having their nuts crushed in a vice, every insurance company in America would fully cover the cost of an MRI as an alternative.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

March madness in April

Yeah well it's been a whole year so it was time for me to go see the oncologist for the annual weigh-in and chit chat. The last few years I was seen by the fabulous and funny right hand woman. I'm embarrassed to say I never knew her official title. Is she a nurse? Is she a nurse practitioner? If I ever knew it's been lost to the mists of time and chemo brain. Anyway, she's moved on to one of the other branches of the wonderful outfit that took care of me and so this year I saw the doc herself.
It was great seeing her again, and after all this time I no longer associate seeing the doc in charge as meaning I've got something that only the doc in charge can talk to me about. You know, the kind of visit where you the patient ends up sitting in your car in the parking lot sniffling and wondering if you can see through the tears to drive home and collapse in the privacy of your own bathroom.
So we're chatting, and she goes over my history, and then she asks me if we've ever talked about genetic testing. This would be to see if I'm at risk for one or two other cancers. I told her that my memory was that we touched on it once a long time ago but we all (me, the spousal unit and the doc) decided that doing the testing might screw my chances for getting health insurance in the future. She seems to think differently now.
But the thing is, I don't wanna think about any of this. I don't want to find out what my genes might indicate for the future, and I don't want to have to think about the possibility of maybe having all my girl organs yanked to be on the safe side. I'm manly enough, thank you.
Really, who would want that? I know, there are lots of people who have to think about much more serious, life threatening things all the time; regularly facing the choice of some fucked up medical procedure or death, and they happily choose the procedure. I know if push came to shove I would too, but not now. Not this week or month or year.
No pithy ending this time. Just a pissy one.

Summer's a-comin'

Time for the hot weather breasties. If only such a thing existed. I suppose I could make a pair out of lightweight fabrics like linen and silk (and stuff them with cold packs. Whee!). At least they'd be cooler than plastic.

Anyway, that's not why we're here right now. Today's sermon is about words. I had occasion recently to spend some time with Carny and she was sharing her feelings about words. And personal stories. And she got me thinking. I hate when that happens.

She got me thinking about the times when I think that there's no point in relating any part of one's own story to anyone other than the shrink who gets paid to help you make sense of that mess. It all seems so freaking pointless. I mean, in a thousand years, these words will probably be forgotten, never read by more than a handful of humans, and even if they survive there will probably no longer be the proper version of Windblows that could enable someone in the future to read them.
But here's the thing. I also started thinking about other people's words and how they've affected me. We could go down the list of the usual suspects, like Dr. Seuss, Lewis Carroll, Joseph Heller, Katherine Dunn, and every author of every cookbook I own, but there's one author who stands out in my head as someone who gave me an important gift at a time when I really needed it.
His name is Evan Handler, and he's an actor who also happens to be a cancer survivor. His first memoir 'Time on Fire' leaped off the sale table at Big Corporate Bookstore right after I'd been diagnosed with the first cancer.
Time on Fire

I read that book and clung to it like it was a lifesaver in a sea of soft focus PG rated cancer books.
Having spent half a year in the hospital when I was a mere sprat I was familiar with the horrors that can come with living in a ward with eight other girls in a hospital that was understaffed with nurses and overstaffed with roaches. I learned the art of diplomacy dealing with the humans and a deadly aim with whatever was handy dealing with the bugs. And that was while I was bedridden.
But getting back to the PG books, I found at the beginning of the cancer tour that many aspects of the experience are cloaked in pastel colors and spoken about in restrained tones. This was a bit of a challenge for me given that my brain was needing to express itself more like it was dressed in black with and sporting a safety pin through its cerebellum. I needed one other voice in the world of cancer that resonated with mine. I found it in this book. It's not that he was so defiant and off the wall and crazed beyond what would be considered appropriate under the circumstances but rather it was that his story, his words, didn't read so much like a Hallmark TV movie but more like a twisted indie film that few people see but those that do no longer feel alone.

So to my comrade in arms I say, the words may still count for something, so don't give up on them just yet. Besides, in fifty years when we are creaky old geezers we won't remember most of them anyway, so let's play with them while we still can.

You never know who's reading.