It’s Good to be Red!

I heard on the radio this morning that it’s the 50th anniversary of the Flintstones and I immediately thought of Wilma. I’d just like to thank her for being one of the few cool redheads of her time.

Growing up it didn’t seem like there were many of us on TV so I remember the ones who were. There’s Wilma who could really rock those beads:

Only a redhead could keep Fred in line!

And Lucy, who made it ok to be a lunatic:

Plus, she's gorgeous!

And let’s not forget Pippi who gave me (and now my daughter) years of halloween costumes:

If anybody called her carrot top she'd have taken them out with a braid!

But, my all time favorite came along when I was in grade school. The day after she showed up on Happy Days I was a little more cool at school. Hey, if the Fonz liked redheads they can’t be all bad! Here’s to you Pinky:

Aayyyy!

 And a few other things I want to mention ~

To my friend’s father who told me (in elementary school), “I’d rather be dead like a bump on a log than red in the head like a dick on a dog”: FUCK YOU ASSHOLE!!

To that sweet boy on the field trip bus in 6th grade who told me my hair in the sunshine was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen, and who recently told me he’d married a redhead because I’d ruined him for blonds and brunettes all those years ago: Thank you! A million times thank you! You finally made it ok to be a redhead that day.

To the little boy in my daughter’s 4th grade class who told her her hair was “beautiful – like spun copper and gold”: Thank you too! She already appreciates having “different” hair.

And finally to Science Guy who married me despite his mother also being a redhead: Thank you and I love you!

Now if I could just get it to grow back!

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Diva For a Day?

Help!! My daughters and I are doing a 5k “diva walk” on Saturday and I have nothing to wear.

 It’s a fun ladies only race that’s followed by a women’s health fair, massages, prizes, kids events etc. Since Science Guy is hanging out down south it seemed like a cool mother/daughter thing to do. Well except that my soon to be 14 yr old doesn’t want to go. Do I care, you ask? Actually I told her I didn’t give a rat’s ass if she wanted to and signed her up. I predict a fun day for all!!!

I’m currently planning what I’m going to wear to the Mother of the Year award banquet as well.

A friend we’re walking with asked if we’re going to “diva up”. Stupidly, I said sure, why not? Uh, maybe because I’m the opposite of diva and I don’t think when they say dressing up is encouraged, they mean my best jammies.

So, ladies of the blogging world, I come to you. Help me be a diva for about $20 or less please. What separates the divas from the dorks? Does it have to involve boas and tiaras? When I googled “diva costume images” this is what I got?

Diva?? Really??

 

You all can do better than this right??? Thanks, smooches and bless your hearts!

The Cost of a Life

Yesterday I was reading this article on the cost of the newest cancer treatments. It asks the question, “how much is a life worth?” D1 asked me last night to print her a current event for school. I chose that one because it was on my mind. Still is obviously. To me it asks, “is it worth keeping me here if we bankrupt the family?”  Thankfully, it’s never gone to that extreme.

 One of the drugs mentioned in the article is Gleevec, the one I was on for 3 years. We were one of the lucky ones – insurance covered it completely. When it stopped working and I changed drugs, our insurance didn’t cover it. Something about it being experimental. Suddenly we owed $1300 in one month – our deductible and out-of-pocket max for prescriptions. The pharmacy wanted it all up front. No credit card number, no treatment. Sure it was paid at 100% after that, but the one time we owed so much just happened to be late December.

Christmas was a little bit smaller that year. It was more along the lines of “Hey girls, guess what? Santa brought you mom this year! Woo hoo!!”

We didn’t actually say it like that, or at all. We just got a little bit better at bargain shopping and filed our taxes the second we could so we could pay me off with our refund. Seeing the question in print like that really made me really think though. Not that I haven’t all along. An $80,000 hospital bill can absolutely make you question your worth!

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve asked if maybe it wouldn’t it be cheaper to just hire somebody to cook, clean and wash their underwear. At the moment we have running tabs with 2 different hospitals.

Do the bills change things? Of course. My plan was to go back to work when the girls went to school. We bought a tiny house on a big lot with the intent to add on once we had the 2nd income. When I got sick that 2nd income got put on hold and all our “extra” money has gone towards my treatments, surgeries and scans. 

We’re still in our tiny house with 1 bathroom and 3 daughters. But you know what? Surprisingly, we really don’t need 3000 sq. ft. – when the house closes in on us, we can always go outside. Even if it’s snowing! If only we could pee out there too.

Keeping me home was a decision we originally made a long time ago. I was working in corporate America importing athletic wear. Science Guy was doing, of all things, cancer research at a top medical center. I was making more money that he was, which says a lot I think. It would seem the war on cancer is best fought in overpriced licensed apparel. 

Somehow, despite my higher salary, we came up with the bright idea that me staying home was more cost-effective in the long run. Hey, I didn’t say either of us were financial wizards. Work with me here.  When the younger two were born practically the same year, the decision actually worked out. SG just wasn’t equipped to be the stay at home one. For some reason he lacked the ability to breastfeed, who knew?

The company I worked for went under anyway so things happened to be on our side.  It also turns out that not adding another income is much easier than losing one had I already been working when I got sick. It really is true that you spend what you make regardless of how much it is.

If, like one of the drugs in the article, we’d have paid $24,000 for only an additional 12 days, our story might be different. But, we’ve paid just the various in-network, out-of-network and pharmacy deductibles and out-of-pocket max each of the additional 4 years I’ve gotten to be here. Without the drugs, my prognosis would have 12-18 months at the most given how advanced it was. That extra time, at least to me, has been priceless.

If a small house and a line for the bathroom is our biggest problem, I’d say we’re damn lucky!! Is the cost of my life worth it? I’d say yes, I know they would too. Would the answer be different if we weren’t insured? I don’t know. I hope we never have to find out.

Baby Come Back!

My better half is leaving me this week to go see his parents and “take care of some things” whatever the hell that means. That’s right, while I stay home and breathe clean mountain air and read our liberal leaning newspaper, he’s heading down to the land of BBQ, bibles and bless your heart’s.  Truth be told I am a little jealous about the BBQ part because damn, they know how to make a pulled pork sandwich down there!

He’ll be gone 8 days but 2 of those will be travel days – he said feels like that should give them enough time to “cover all his failures”. Which is sad because he’s brilliant and wonderful and he grocery shops, WITH THE KIDS. They should be as proud of him as I am but they keep wondering when he’s going to get a “real job” since he’s still at a university. Um hello – he’s a research professor with a Ph.d. not a student!! Oh well, not my battle to fight. I’ve tried. We all think he’s the best thing since sliced bread and I try to tell him that often.

By the way, he really needs a name here in Chaosville. If I tell you his real name and someone we know comes across this blog, all anonymity is gone. It’s that distinctive. You’re curious now aren’t you? Not like this wouldn’t all be recognizable to anyone who knows us, rare cancer, 3 daughters, a photo of the dog and all that but you know how I am. I can’t vent about friends & cancer like I did 2 posts ago if I think they’re reading.

Would I be considered one of those “anonymorons” I read about in somebody’s comments? What the hell is that anyway? Are we all supposed to go public, flash pictures of our lady parts and declare our names, rank and serial numbers? Because I have a camera, and a vag, and I know how to take a picture if you want me to.

Speaking of my cooch, have I ever told you the story of my phone number growing up? One time I was trying to figure out what it would be if we used letters instead of numbers. I was spelling it out to my mom and we realized the last 4 numbers were T-W-A-T. I totally should have made business cards, I might have gotten a date in high school.

No plans Saturday night? Call Annie at 555-TWAT!

Ok, so back to the guy who ‘s totally got my number. Let’s call him “Science Guy or SG for short” because yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m married to Bill Nye. And yes, he prefers to do me with his bow tie on. Ok, that’s not true but my Science Guy does like to blow things up and he makes liquid nitrogen ice cream with the girls on a regular basis. So SG it is, write it down.

What was I supposed to be talking about? Oh yeah, he’s leaving me for a week. It doesn’t sound like a big deal but y’all don’t understand. That means I’m going to have to roll my ass out of bed before the kids get up in the morning and make them breakfast and their school lunches. I can’t just mosey out in time to help them with ponytails and kiss my guy goodbye.

I can feel how sorry you are for me! The sympathy is just emanating through my computer screen. Yes, I do know how good I have it. I’m grateful every day for this amazing man who somehow found his way across the country and into my bar. I was a bartender/student, he was a grad student. It was a match made in heaven, or a brewery. I’m not sure which.

So please do feel a little sorry for me. Did I mention I have to make my own coffee?!?!?

My Tail Wagging Pain in the Ass

The nose knows!

I can’t believe I’ve forgotten to introduce you to the other member of our family. This is Sadie, she’s an idiot but I love her anyway. She likes long walks, pancakes, things that fall off the grill and memory foam. She spent the first 8 months of her life running free on a Blackfeet Indian Reservation near here so she’ll escape whenever she can, nose to the ground, on the look out for anything that moves or smells like deer. Or cats. When she runs she doesn’t remember her name. She’s lucky she hasn’t been run over yet. 

She will also spend hours under our maple tree staring at her squirrel friend while it hangs off the branch and chatters at her. She’ll chew up any toy except the stuffed squirrel we got her – that she buried under the grapes. Feet up. 

This may be the only picture of her in existence that does not include her tennis ball – otherwise known as her pacifier because she’ll fall asleep with it in her mouth. She even puts her ball in her water bowl so no one takes it while she’s getting a drink.  The day I brought her home from the shelter I threw a ball for her and she ducked. I guess she had a lot of things thrown at her as a stray but none of them were any fun. Once she figured out it was actually a game and I wasn’t aiming for her, she went crazy. She’s my happy girl! She loves me best – probably because I got her out of that cage but also because I don’t leave her to go to school or work.

Did I mention she can smell cancer?  Before I was diagnosed, I remember complaining that every time I sat down or got on the couch, she’d get next to me and put her head on my stomach or side and would NOT move. Last April I knew my scan was going to be bad because she’d started following me around again and absolutely wouldn’t leave my side. Who needs $2500 scans when I have a $60 shelter dog? Too bad insurance doesn’t cover a year’s supply of tennis balls!

Days like this.

I’m afraid that some days my posts will suck – I’m sorry for that. Today is one of them. It should be a happy post because I got fantastic news today that a friend of mine is cancer free. She was diagnosed with lung cancer in March and had surgery in May to remove about 2/3 of her right lung. She just completed her rounds of chemo and called to say her PET scan is completely clear.  No more surgery, no more scans, just a 3 month appointment in December. I am so happy for her. It’s the best news ever! She’s been my friend for 20 years and I love her. So why did I immediately nose dive into a funk?

I think I slipped into self-pity mode. I’m jealous, plain and simple. And tired – after 4 1/2 years of fighting this, I’m tired. Yes, I realize I also had a good scan this week. But not a clear one….that’s the way it is. My friend had to get off the phone because her boyfriend came over and she had to tell him the good news. I know I’ll never do that. I’ll never get to meet my husband at the door and say “honey, i’m cured”. Partly because he goes to all my appointments with me, partly because that will never happen. It’s not curable. I’ll never get to say I’m done. I’ll never feel good and be energetic because the only way I’m done with these fucking pills is if they all stop working and I’ve run out of options. At that point the “feeling good” ship will have sailed.

So, yeah. I’m in selfish mode and all that’s part of it but the real reason? She hasn’t quit smoking yet. She has a clean bill of health and a second chance and she’s still smoking. Yes, I know it’s hard to quit but shouldn’t missing most of a lung be a motivator? She has opportunity to do what she needs to do to keep herself cancer free. I don’t have that control. My body will decide when it builds resistance to the next drug.  I. Have. No. Control.

In the end that’s what it all comes down to. And yes, I know that nobody can really say what’s going to happen next. We have no guarantees. I learned that the hard way at 37 with 3 small children. But dammit if there was any way at all that I could take charge of this thing and do anything I could to keep it from growing you can bet your ass I’d be doing it. Damn her for not truly appreciating the 2nd chance she’s been given. Damn me for not being a better friend and just being happy for her.

This was not the post I’d intended to write but there it is. I had to get it out because if I don’t, I lose it in front of the kids and that’s just not an option.