Showing posts with label cancer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cancer. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Best & Worst

Around this time of year, I like to take stock. I like to take stock of how my year went, I shaking my fists at it and stomping around, cussing like a crusty old sailor? Or just giving it the middle finger raised defiantly up high, in a really indignant manner? I'm certainly never hugging it. I don't think I've hugged an old year going out and a new year coming in since 1982. There's usually something in the past year that has really made me put my hands on my hips in a very annoyed manner and say out loud to no one in particular, "Really, Insert name of year here? Really?? What the freaking heck."(Full disclosure: I might--or might not--use much swarthier words than freaking and heck. It would just depend on the issue, and the year.)

Another thing I do is come up with Un-Resolutions. This is a very Alice in Wonderland thing to do, and I prefer it because I know I'll be 100% successful at these. For example, in 2012, I unresolve to spend less time on And, in 2012, I unresolve to spend half of each Saturday lying around staring at the ceiling feeling guilty about all the things I really should be accomplishing. Also, in 2012, I unresolve to clean my toilets more (though I did find a really earth-friendly, economical, most awesome solution of part vinegar/part water/Dawn dishwashing liquid you can make at home that can supposedly scrub blood stains off the inside of a person's body).

But I also like to review my personal year's Best & Worst. Just like they do in People magazine and on E! News, except without the paparazzi pictures:

Best Kid Moment: Potty training accomplished! No more poopy diapers, no more diaper bills, no more worrying about contributing to the land fill diaper problem in America but being too 21st century lazy and harried to actually switch to cloth diapers and do something about plus that would involve more laundry and I'm really anti-more laundry....woohoo! No more diapers!

Worst Kid Moment: Realizing potty training isn't (1) fool proof or (2) consistent. Most embarrassing example of this: the infamous McDonald's Poop Explosion of 2011.

Worst Job Moment: Volunteering to leave the dream teaching job I adored to venture forth into unknown waters. Teaching (the Education field in general, actually) seems to be in a bit of a scary and massive upheaval these days, and so who knows where I'll be at this time next year? Upheavals can be both bad and good, but I am never a fan of change. Even and especially when I instigate it.

Best Job Moment: Finding out teaching 3rd graders is surprisingly a breeze. Jolly Ranchers and lead pencils and the ability to place a "I Actually Don't Find You Funny At All" look on my face in a mere 1.5 seconds really helped that. And the change in focus turned out to be fairly good for me...after teaching 1st grade ESOL for about 10 years, I could pretty much do that with my eyes closed. It's stressful to have to locate, plan, and coordinate new lessons, and I wish I didn't end up staying until 5:00 pm most days. But it keeps me on my toes. And that's a good thing, because I'm the kind of person who really needs to be kept on her toes. Otherwise, I spend way too much time staring at a ceiling for half a day feeling guilty about all the stuff I could be accomplishing.

Best Health Moment: C got a new knee. It's a lot of work right now, and his body is still adjusting. But in about 6-8 weeks, I predict he'll be walking around like Melissa does when she gets a new bouncy ball: "Mommy! Look at meeeee! Look at me and my new bouncy ball! Look at how good I am with my bouncy ball! I can bounce my bouncy ball really, really high! No! You can't have my bouncy ball! It's MINE!" (C, of course, will not be bouncing as high as he can, but I do suspect he won't share his new knee with anyone.)

Worst Health Moment: Well, I got skin cancer. That was the worst. But it was a fortunately/unfortunately kind of thing: Unfortunately, I got skin cancer. Fortunately, it turned out to be the unscary kind, harmless little Basal Cell that can sit on your skin for years and years and never make a peep (except you should get Basal Cell off of there ASAP if you do find him sitting there, because occasionally he can turn into his big older brother, Malignant, Scary Carcinoma. Scary  Carcinoma is a really crappy bastard, and even his own mother ignores him on his birthday). Fortunately, it was an easy procedure to remove. Unfortunately, I'll be at a dermatologist's office annually for the rest of my life. Fortunately, this will quickly help us meet our insurance's out of pocket maximum so C can get another new knee next year and we don't have to pay a thing. See? Fortunately/Unfortunately.

Worst Celebrity News: The Kardashians are really getting on my nerves. I don't understand them, and I don't understand the nation's love/hate relationship and fascination with them. I'm just glad they're in cahoots with Sears. If I had to see them and their sweat shop clothing line every time I bought contact lens cleaner at Target or Wal-Mart, I really think I'd lose my mind.

...Except I have to say, I do begrudgingly like Khloe. Khloe seems like someone I could have over for dinner and laugh with. Oh, okay...and Kourtney, too. Her little boy is too, too cute. As long as she left the icky boyfriend/father at home, I think we could hang out and talk.

Fine, fine, fine. It's really just Kim I'm having an issue with. But I think everyone in America is too, and so. Good.

Best Celebrity News: Apparently, Atlanta is quickly becoming the new Hollywood. This increases my chances of bumping into Gerard Butler at Target or Wal-Mart or Kroger or Publix  by 1,000%. Obviously, in 2012, I'm going to have to never leave the house without full make up and hair, and I'll clearly have to hire a personal stylist. Oh, and the gym. I guess I'll have to bump up my gym schedule from 0 times a week to at least 1 or 2. Man. That's going to be a lot of work. I may need to set my standards a little lower and hope to bump into one of the Real Housewives of Atlanta's ex-boyfriends.

This is not what my chicken avocado parmigiana looked like.
Worst Cooking Moment: The avocado/parmigiana chicken dish I got off It seemed like a good idea in theory. I mean, who the heck doesn't love chicken parmigiana? And avocados are just healthy for you--full of good vitamins and the type of fat your body doesn't use to make you look 6 months pregnant. But in actual practice? It did not execute well, and I apologize to all who came into contact with it (namely, C and Melissa) (C took 3 bites and Melissa declared hers "icky," dumped it in the trash can, and proceeded to demand chicken nuggets instead).

Best Cooking Moment: The fact that I cooked most nights of the week. The week right before Winter Break and the week of Knee Replacement surgery were pretty rough and full of McDonald's happy meals. But other than that, I've been a cooking fool throughout 2011. Please note: I do not enjoy cooking. Slow cookers make it a tad easier. Unless you have someone who doesn't enjoy slow cooker food, like I do, who (after 3 slow cooker meals) asks you to lighten up on the slow cooker meals. That can really throw off your whole game plan, if you have that. I also don't enjoy the following: menu planning, grocery shopping, food prep, cooking clean up, dishwasher put away, and pantry organization. But the point is, I have learned to overcome all of that, in a very Chariots of Fire kind of way. And I like looking up recipes and conducting recipe experiments. I'm a Chariots of Fire Kitchen Scientist is what I am. And C and Melissa are my lab rats.

Worst Gift of 2011: There were none. Every gift is awesome. If you give me a gift of any kind, you are permanently on my Favorite People list forever. Unless your gift is the flu or a cold. And then you're on my People to Avoid at All Costs list.

Best Gift of 2011: The Keurig. Do you know about them? Next to the Internets, these are one of humanity's most helpful and evil-at-the-same-time inventions ever. You put some water in the holder. You stick your coffee cup under the thingy. You stick a Keurig coffee cup thingy ($9 per box, more expensive at Bed Bath & Beyond) in the thingy. You press a button. Sixty seconds later? You have a coffee (in a variety of flavors, including but not limited to hazelnut, french vanilla, and fair trade decaf) or tea or hot chocolate or espresso or cappucino. It's technology magic. The evil part comes into play because the coffee maker is always right there. On your counter. And if there is water in the water compartment, in a mere 60 seconds you can have your 1,000th cup of coffee (or tea or espresso or hot chocolate or cappucino) of the day. For example, as I type this, it is 10:00 am and I'm enjoying my 6th cup of coffee (an Italian Donut Shop bold that is clearing out my sinuses in a most effective way...I predict the caffeine in this thing will keep me up well past 1:00 am).

Starbucks is also pissed at the Keurig guys. My yearly $25,000 donation to them is probably going to be reduced by about $24,990.

Worst Book of 2011: Did Kim Kardashian write a tell-all book about her 72 hour marriage yet? If not, get ready to put that on your "Worst Book" list for whatever year she writes it.

Best Book of 2011: Tina Fey's book Bossypants. I would like to be Tina Fey's friend and confidante. I would like to start a religious cult that worships all that Tina Fey says, writes, and does. (That sounds a bit stalkerish, I know. But honestly, the fastest way to become a billionaire is (a) invent the computer or facebook, or (b) start a religion and get Tom Cruise on board). I have many, many new worldviews because of Tina Fey, and many, many new awesome quotes to throw at people haphazardly when they least expect. Here's one:

But I think the first real change in women’s body image came when JLo turned it butt-style. That was the first time that having a large-scale situation in the back was part of mainstream American beauty. Girls wanted butts now. Men were free to admit that they had always enjoyed them. And then, what felt like moments later, boom—BeyoncĂ© brought the leg meat. A back porch and thick muscular legs were now widely admired. And from that day forward, women embraced their diversity and realized that all shapes and sizes are beautiful. Ah ha ha. No. I’m totally messing with you. All Beyonce and JLo have done is add to the laundry list of attributes women must have to qualify as beautiful. Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.

See? Ladies, wouldn't you like to be friends with Tina, too? Let's get together every Friday and pray to her. (Please bring $25 as a Fey Love "donation.")

And last (but not least):

Worst Overall Moment of 2011: The angry, judgmental Target employee and my emotional breakdown about her (including tears) in front of a store manager while standing in front of Target Cafe's pretzel machine. I've finally managed to successfully shop (tear-free) in this Target again. I've gone back to placing Melissa (in a really defiant way I must add) in the back of the cart (minus the seat belt AND allowing her to stand up). I've also managed to once run into that same angry, judgmental Target employee while Melissa is standing up in the back of the cart (mihnus cart seat belt) and look at that chick with pointy, dangerous daggers shooting out of my eyes in her general direction in a really passive aggressive way. I'm sure she senses when I've entered the store and becomes very nervous. Obviously, I've clearly won.

...Really, this experience has kind of turned into a it was the best of times/it was the worst of times sort of thing. But I'm still shell shocked about the initial experience, and so I'm making it my Worst Moment of 2011 (there could have been a worse worst moment of 2011, but my memory only goes back to about July of each year, and nothing worse happened to me from July-December than that).

Best Overall Moment of 2011:  We are all still alive. C and I both have satisfying jobs, a roof over our heads, nice clothes (Old Navy recently had a 70% off sale that I hit just right), good food in our bellies (as long as it doesn't involve chicken, parmigiana, and avocados), a sweet girl who only goes to time out 3 times a day, and we are cancer-free (knock on wood), surrounded by family we are on talking terms with who we actually find amusing and fun to be around. Is there any kind of a moment that would be better than that? I don't think so, and I'm positive Tina Fey (blessed be her name) will agree.

Happy 2012, everyone!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

skin cancer, disney princesses, and summer improvement projects.

I decided in May to title Summer 2011: Summer of Project. I have a whole slew of projects to complete before August 1: Day of Dreaded Return to Work arrives, and they run the gamut from home improvement to personal care to hobby building to relaxation-focused. Right now, for instance, I am doing a hobby building and relaxation-focused project. This is my version of multi-tasking, the only kind that doesn't make me a ball of intense nervous tics.

In other Summer of Project news, I've completed Melissa's bedroom. This was an important one, because way back in Summer of 2008: Summer of Pregnant and Swollen, I had this Big Nursery Vision. It was going to be HGTV fabulous. A little girl's nursery, but without all that stupid princess frilly bull$h&t because if there's one thing I can't stand, it's princess frilly bull$h&t. I think it totally sends the wrong message to little girls. That, and the color pink. Pink as a general accent in a room, here and there, or maybe paired with a strong color such as black or brown, but those full on, pink-on-pink rooms? With frilly frou frou princess poop on top of it all? I think you're just rolling out the red carpet for a future visit from Anorexia Nervosa, who's just a ridiculously inappropriate houseguest.

So back to 2007: I had an HGTV vision. The room would be soft jade green, with black and white accents. It would be soothing and inviting and feminine but none of that frou frou princess b.s. Then I hit a roadblock: I couldn't get the guest bed out of the room. We need a guest bed (doesn't everyone?) and the only area we had to accomodate it was Melissa's room.

(Later, we would buy a red sectional for our living room, and my husband--who insists he does not but I suspect he has a touch of packrat to him, just as I suspect he's voted Republican in the past--couldn't part with the brown leather sofa from that room, and so miraculously, he made room in the office for the guest bed so we could store the brown sofa in M's room).

In addition, my HGTV green jade/soothing nursery had a circular, black wood crib in it. Which only cost about $1000 (weddings, babies, weight loss, and funerals: industries that want total financial control over the world). And telling my packrat-esque husband how much we'd need to budget for a crib made him laugh and laugh (his original proposal was that Melissa sleep in a nightstand drawer in our bedroom) (I'm actually not making that up, and yes, he was serious). But then my sister in law had a neighbor who needed to unload her natural wood crib and was willing to do so for $30, and that was that. And then I got put on 4 weeks' of bed rest. And then a newborn entered my life. And once a newborn enters your life, you can just stick a fork in it and forget it.

So for the first 2 1/2 years of her life, Melissa slept in a room that was supposed to be jade green (that looked oddly leprechaun green), with cream/white/black/natural wood/a hodge podge of other rainbow colors accents that made absolutely no sense whatsoever. And one queen sized guest bed with faux suede material that was eventually replaced with a brown leather sofa. And some odd pictures I slapped on the walls in haphazard fashion.

Basically what I'm saying is: I had a poorly thought-out and barely formed plan, and I am no HGTV Design Star.

The other thing I slowly realized about 1 week into living with a newborn was: this kid doesn't give a flying flip about what this room really looks like; she just wants to feed and sleep and poop tar-like substances. She also didn't have a personality, strong likes or dislikes, and preferences.

But now I got her number--over the last 2.5 years, as Melissa develops her sense of the world, who she is, what she likes (popsicles, ice cream, lollipops, Nick Jr. 24/7, and splashing in water fountains) and what she dislikes (green beans, broccoli, bed time, our cat's "sharps"--her word for claws, hair wash nights, and not getting her way), I realized: I didn't need any stinking HGTV inspiration picture! I could create a private sanctuary for an up-and-coming, headed-into-terrible-3's small girl all's by myself.

I knew, for instance, my kid likes pink in small doses (thank god), but she's all about the purple. I know she thinks Dora the Explorer should be running this country and making all the rules (be thankful for Barack Obama, even if you're not). And so I ran with that--I mean, I'm cool with purple. Purple is the color of mystery and magic, wisdom and ambition. Purple is the color of independence and creativity, all things I feel people who like to watch a lot of Nick Jr. and other tv programming probably need lots of. And though I really hate when that Dora theme song gets stuck in my head for hours, I'm cool with Dora the Explorer as a role model for girls--she's plucky, spunky, but also really thoughtful and kind. And she has a monkey side kick and those two are always solving problems, defeating evil, thinking outside the box, and helping the environment every now and then. WAY better than those suspicious Disney princesses.

I have other home projects I'm completing, but I'm getting help with those. We're purging closets, for instance (this has occasionally been difficult for C, though it was his idea. I had a pile of stuff headed to Goodwill, for instance, and he reclaimed at least 2 things from it) (which I say is pretty good for someone who, for 6 years, held onto a most hideous monstrosity masquerading as a coffee table with storage bins, insisting it was good for "storing fishing tackle and stuff"). And we're replacing our unimaginative foyer and dining room lights. And we're adding a backsplash to our kitchen walls. (I'm actually not doing any of these things--just running the credit card through machines at stores selling us the project materials...and using the word "we" a lot).

But I also decided to visit some doctors, just to check up on myself. Make sure my 39 year old body's systems are all functioning properly, with no signs of decrepit mold and such. Because I faithfully visit the girl parts doctor every year, but I avoid the other body parts doctor like the plague (heh).

I think I've avoided for so long because I'm nervous--have been nervous for awhile--about my blood sugar. Type 2 Diabetes runs in my family, both sides but strongly on the maternal side (which has also given me the genetic potential for bad back health, female pattern balding, and clinical depression. Thanks, maternal ancestors!). So I stole my husband's doctor (because he's been seeing Dr. S for years and raves about how fabulous Dr. s is, and when I googled Dr. S., random people have felt so strongly about him as well that they've taken time to review him on the internet. And these people all go on and on about how Dr. S missed his calling as a super hero rock star, and so I stole him. Without shame or guilt, I stole my husband's doctor. And when Melissa is old enough, she will steal him too.( Dr. S really is THAT good--let me know if you'd like to steal a family practitioner, too).

So my blood work looked fabulous. My body is working well, I have absolutely nothing wrong with me internally or externally. Other than needing to lose weight, I am the poster child for what a healthy 39 year old chick is supposed to look like.

And then. Then I saw the dermatologist. I have a couple of spots--one under my right knee and one on my chest--that have worried me for awhile. And so I've been thinking: I should get a full body skin check. Because there are areas on me I can't reach, with my hands or even my eyes. Plus, I'm not a skin health professional. For example: one time I got ring worm on my right hand. And I spent about a week googling skin cancers, because I was sure that's what it was. And then I showed it to a veteran teacher, someone who's been around the block a few times with kids from the wrong side of town--she's gotten ring worm from them, colds, flu, lice, smallpox, plague, the whole petri dish gamut. She took one look at it and said, "Oh no. That's not skin cancer, dear. That's definitely ring worm." And dagnabit, wouldn't you know it: as soon as I started putting anti-fungal cream on it, that sucker cleared right up. (I'm still shuddering and grossed out, just thinking of it.)

So I went to the dermatologist to get a professional opinion on my worry spots. Ironically (or not), my worry spots were nothing to worry about. Who knows what or where the mark under my right knee came from, and dermatologist Dr. M says the red spot on my chest is totally normal. An age spot (no! no! I cannot have something called "an age spot" Dr. M! Because Dr. S says I'm the poster child of picture perfect 39 year old healthy woman! Dermatologists can be such party poopers).

But my back was a veritable plethora of worrisome spots. Three moles were removed from that area, plus one from my right thigh. Dr. M thinks that one of the worrisome back spots is probably basal cell carcinoma. Which, as far as cancer is concerned, is the type of cancer you want (if, for instance, you're the kind of person who wants cancer). It can be disfiguring, depending on how deep it's gone into the skin and how much skin they have to remove around it, but it doesn't travel into the body like Scary Melanoma does. And so this health summer project has been both: WOOO! but also: Poop.

I haven't heard back from Dr. M yet about whether I need to be worried about any of the other spots, or if that one spot definitely is basal cell, but thank goodness I found it at 39 instead of, say, 59, when the basal cell could have spread to my whole back and/or turned into Scary Melanoma.

I think what I'm going to sum up this blog post with is: Skin cancer and pink and Disney princesses=kind of the same. Best to be avoided, but good to realize their impact well ahead of time if you haven't known beforehand to avoid.

And stay out of Lowe's, Home Depot, Target, and chi chi lighting stores. You'll have zero dollars for Starbucks runs.
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