Thursday, July 31, 2008

I'll Think About It Tomorrow

I woke up this morning (actually, late afternoon) and wasn't a cancer patient...until someone called me to remind me. I had every intention of pouncing on this day off with the same vim as always except I was cordially reminded by a well-intentioned person that I'm supposed to be sick. It wasn't her fault. She didn't mean to let the cat out of the bag. But for about eight minutes when I get out of bed, when m'brain is still all woozy from dreams, it doesn't register that I'm entangled in some nasty dis-ease. I'm just normal, and wanting coffee. I'm sure that mind trickery will fade with time but for the moment I love those eight minutes.
SO, since I'm going to have to have cancer today here are the vital stats:
1) They put the pump in on Monday. They have to shoot poison in me somehow so the port to my aorta will be installed by a mechanic next week. I will main line diet coke if they're mean to me.
2) I have a consult with the good DOCTOR Wednesday. I will likely ask him questions that have no relevance whatsoever like "Did working on a painting crew and not wearing a mask give me cancer?" or "I ate corn in New Jersey once. Did that give me cancer?" He will shake his head and try to be very serious.
3) Chemo starts Thursday! Awesome. It's like the Christmas season, a giant run up and then boom, it is upon ye! I hope it is as overrated as Christmas. I hope there are sales after its over.

So that's the important part. I know how busy you are darlings so get on with your day.

NEWS FLASH*** Did you know DOCTORS OFFICES cannot communicate with each other to save their lives. I've gotten 3 phone calls in the last half hour regarding appointmets that I may or may not have next week. They better get it together quickly or I'm going after this thing with a Leatherman and a wet/dry vac myself!

If I get a bad grade at cancer I'm not sure what I'll do. Audit!
Miss A.

Monday, July 28, 2008

In Triplicate, Please

So, CAT scans aren't fun. No. Not even sort of fun. However echo cardiograms are pretty cool. I got to see an ultrasonic picture of my heart today. I made a little shriek and a few of the men in white came in to see if everything was ok. I guess they get very little shrieking in the echo cardiogram room. My descending aorta makes a sound like a wildcat, I shit you not, it makes wildcat fighting noises. I found that infinitely funnier than the poor guy doing the test. I think he thought I was nuts, but, as I said earlier, I really don't care anymore. Joy happens.
But CAT scans, well. Drink all of this nasty stuff and then hang out for three hours and then drink more nasty stuff, and more nasty stuff, and then we'll shoot you up with dye that makes you feel like you're whizzling all over yourself, but you're not so don't get up in the machine, and then we'll give you a lollipop. The barium cocktail tastes remarkably like strawberry vodka and Redbull, both of which I despise. Felt like I was in some sorority nightmare. Blech!

Just a little aside. I have had to deal with HOSPITAL for roughly a week now, so it is a thing I am learning. I understand that the greatest feats of modern medicine take place within these walls. That terrible afflictions are cured, that entire organ systems are replaced, souls healed, all of it and I'm not being snarky, I mean it. HOSPITAL saved my mother from dying of cancer, and it will save me. HOSPITAL is amazing! But how come HOSPITAL can't figure out a way to consolidate the sheer number of forms poor patient has to fill out. It is a small price to pay I guess, but sheesh. I think I'm just going to walk around like Paddington Bear with a little note taped to my jacket that has all of my important information on it. I'll just download some generic forms and let each office put their special sticker on them. Maybe I'll wear a little Blue toggle coat too! "Hippa Laws, Hippa Laws," the nurse kept saying. I must look up these laws. Not sure if Hippa ever had cancer but dude its hard enough getting to the appointments on time, ease up on the dittos in the waiting room.

*I quit smoking today. That may be why paperwork has presented itself an insurmountable obstacle.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hope Is My Middle Name

It came in the house on July 22nd at 11:45 a.m. It crashed through the door and freaked out the cats, set the dog barking, and pissed off my husband. It promptly thrashed the living room, broke all the glass, blew out the light bulbs. It changed every word in every book on every bookcase. It made the TV speak a new language. It shredded every bit of clothing I own. It emptied the contents of the refrigerator, kicked the butter and the milk and the salad mix to all corners of the kitchen. And then it sat down squarely on the couch and said I had to live with it now.

I was diagnosed with stage III inflammatory breast cancer on July 22nd. Not my favorite day. Those of you who are reading this likely know me. I was born Abigail Hope in New York City, grew up in the nasty pit of Detroit, landed in Kansas City by way of strange accident. I am 31 years old. I am a singer, a writer, a guitar player. I've spent the last five years touring on and off with a little rock n' roll outfit. I am a lover of all things small and bewhiskered. I would rather get cheese than flowers. New Orleans, Paris, and Lindenlure are my favorite places on earth.
I am confused by technology. I have always believed it a time thief. But I was encouraged to write this by friends who know me well and know I cannot experience anything without writing it down (ex-boyfriends hate that). To spare the world a barrage of cancer songs, I figured I'd write down this stupid bullshit cancer thing word for word, note for note, indignity after indignity, because I want ya'll who I love and ya'll who I don't know to know I will be OK. I want you to read this and I want it to scare you because it scares the shit out of me.
I want you to know that the minute I stop writing, I start dying, and I've got no time for that! I have a record to make and shows to play, and shifts to work, and my husband hasn't quite figured out how to clean a bathroom yet, and my mom needs me to get her coffeemate, and my overweight cat needs someone to keep her on her two mouse diet, and the lawn needs to be mowed! So basically this ugly thing that busted into my living room on Tuesday needs to shape up and start living right because I have very little patience for its bullshit. Cancer, you listening? I'm serious. You picked the wrong bitch to fuck with, buddy!
This is the first Sunday I've spent with cancer. It's usually my day off. I don't think cancer gives you a day off. No "We'll call in Rickets to cover your shift, enjoy the afternoon." No "Scabies really needs the money, she'll pick up Sunday for you". I don't think I'll have a day off until sometime in the middle of the next calender I hang on the wall. Every Sunday I usually shuffle in here around noon and start milling about on the internets (all 6 of them), drinking my coffee and smoking my beloved Winstons. I am enjoying it to the fullest, let me tell you, because I have to quit tomorrow. Yes, I know, smoking is bad for me. But that's not why I got cancer. I got cancer because I'm a liberal who has gay friends! (By the way, if we don't deal with this with humor darlings we cannot continue this conversation). Sunday is usually full of cooking elaborate meals full of butter and cream and bacon, french things, complicated dishes with fancy names. There are no fancy beautiful names for the things I will have to eat now. Broccoli Naturelle, Jus d'wheatgrass, broth au poulet, yick yick!! One more injustice of cancer, bacon fat is often frowned on. So is bourbon.
So Sunday. My sweet non-secular Sunday, my day of rest and Law & Order will now and hereafter be spent gearing up for the Chemo they'll be pumping into me for hours at a time. And somewhere in the deep cold of wretched February I will spend a Sunday weeping, almost assuredly, for the breast they'll cut off of me. All my sweet rabbit yard friends and twitchy sparrows I see out the window now will be sleeping and I'll have nothing fun to look at. We'll cross that ugly bridge later and if we have to put bunny ears on the dog and send her out into the snow to make me smile, she'll just have to cooperate. She's been given free room and board all these years, its time for her first "real job".
My darlings if you've made it this far in this inane rambling than you care so we will talk a little bit about what you can do for me. I find that with cancer, everyone wants to do something, which is awesome, except now even people who I know don't have cars are offering me rides to the doctor.
1) Don't believe the B.S about how only little old ladies need mammograms. Get your sister's/mother's/wife's/cousin's/girlfriend's boobs on that machine "stat" (cancer teaches you cool hospital lingo). For all the lady musicians, I know you don't have any money. I don't have any either, but there are free mammogram programs all over this city. With my kind of cancer a mammogram wouldn't have necessarily caught it early, but mine is rare and weird and if you're freaked out over that than I am doing my job!! Look up inflammatory breast cancer, know what it is and how it works, and don't let anyone tell you you don't have it until they've done a biopsy.
2) Dudes I love, just don't get cancer. Figure it out. Start living right. Drink five nights a week instead of seven. Ease up on the invincibility malarkey and know you are just as fragile and precious as us "little women". I know if my uncle is reading this he knows that serious running keeps you young. He's getting up there in years and still looks like superman, but for the rest of you tattooed-PBR swilling-Parliament smoking-black t-shirt wearing fools, walk to the liquor store. Do it for me.
3) Let us keep the positive affirmation business to a low roar. My grandfather had a saying "Everyone's got their own way of doing business" and since Charlie was the smartest man ever to roam this dark and pretty world I respect that. You may deal with life altering news at church. I have always preferred the bar. I respect both ways of praying. I had a dream on Friday, and mama don't dream, but it was vivid and wonderful. I saw this whole thing play out. I saw my hair fall out, I saw the dark-lit chemo rooms, I saw myself on a gurney being wheeled in for surgery, i saw the scar the knife left, i saw me smiling...and all the while there was no sound except for a weird bird in the right corner of the frame, a crested bird with a white neck and a black beak and it kept squawking, rather strangely, "The White Light Will Beat It, The White Light Will Beat it". Now I don't know anything about all of that, but it comes down to you have your bird and I have mine.
4) My friends and I have decided to deal with this with humor. I can't deal with it any other way because it's so absurd its funny. I don't mean to offend anyones sensibilities here, but please laugh with me. Please please!! I need you to do that. I don't want a casserole. This is not a wake! We need to laugh at this, laugh loudly and make this ugly thing self conscious and uncomfortable so it will shrink away and die! For example, the best one I've heard so far is "At least you're not pregnant, that's terminal!" Tee-hee. C'mon, lighten up! That was funny....
5) Understand that this will likely get dark at moments. I know nothing of blogs, but my general understanding is that they are musings, rants, the confessional entrails of anonymous people's lives. Basically all of the shit I've tried to keep out of my songwriting for the last five years. The economy of words is as sacred to me as the economy of notes. Get in, get out, and nobody really cares about your ex-boyfriend, they care about their ex-boyfriend. I'm not quite sure what this is an exercise in, I'm not even sure if it's cathartic yet, but then again I don't know when a cheeseburger is going to taste like a cheeseburger again so there you have it. But I have a problem with honesty. What little bit of a filter I still had left has evaporated at this point and a lot of this may just be me saying the quiet part out loud. I think everyone should do that more. We can spend lifetimes not saying what we mean. I think that cheapens us as people because ultimately, if we do it long enough we end up not meaning what we say. Our words become bullshit, censored renditions of our lives, scripted bar-talk, trite and hollow conversations. I will write this all down. I've got no time to filter anymore.

So yeah, I have cancer and I'm scared and I'm pissed and I'm going to be fine. My middle name is Hope. My mama gave it to me "just in case". Smart lady, that mother of mine. So today, Sunday, June 27th I will smoke every last cigarette in the damned house, make out with some bacon, have band practice, go to bed, and start kicking this thing's ass tomorrow!