Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Spanish Chemo Rats

2 centimeters is a negligible amount. It is not a large thing. In fact, if it were anything other than a piece of cancer that is no longer there it would be entirely overlooked. Except, it is a piece of cancer that is no longer there and the biggest thing I've ever known. The good DOCTOR, who I will now be referring to as CAPTAIN, said the tumor was 2 centimeters smaller...(maybe more but he is a conservative fellow and I appreciate the effort to not overstate). I had a small freak out in the exam room. I made a triumphant yalp. He raised his eyebrows at me and smiled. I am convinced he won't let me die because I may be the weirdest patient he has ever had. I brought him a record too. I stated that the record was a not so subtle reminder that when the time comes to go mining for lymph nodes in my arm that the arm still needs to do the work it used to. I'm not 50. I still have a couple good decades of songs left in me and not playing the guitar is not an option. He said he was not a big fan of rock n roll. I told him to hush and listen to it anyway. He smiled again. Small distances mean everything now.

Chemo is a weird thing. You are infused, like tea, with poison. It wasn't so bad this time except I knew what was coming and that is another game unto itself. But I have decided that the strange gnawing feeling in my left boob shall be accredited to a small legion of winged Spanish chemo rats. It just feels like little scruffy rats with bandoleers, razor teeth, and long moustaches are nibbling away at this nasty business, successfully at that! I'm not sure why this visual comes to mind, its special spiritual significance, what any of it means...but I love my Spanish chemo rats! They are badasses! They are oldish and tattered and have been to this movie before, risen up through the floorboards of the Alamo, built rafts across the Rio Grande, shot bigger meaner things than cancer dead on and lived to tell the tale. These rats know things! They also like to nap which is cool because I couldn't take their crazy nibbling all the time. It is said in many of these books folks write about cancer that is is useful for the PATIENT to visualize something fighting their cancer. Not sure if my rat army is what they meant but I'm also learning that a lot of these folks who write these books are very serious indeed! I, alas, am not so serious. But even the batshit among us need an army once in awhile....moustaches or not.

Runnish has been going well. Think I'm going to take the dog for a little spin and try desperately hard to mentally reroute Gustav from barrelling into NOLA. I'm just going to say this....Republicans shouldn't pray for rain. They have so thoroughly sullied the communication lines with the divine that there should be a moratorium called on all further exchanges. At least for the time being. Let a liberal pray, dude! Shit may go better.

There should also be a moratorium called on all ironic moustaches. Indefinitely.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Runnish and Zevon

We had a show last night and it was delightful. The funny thing about quitting smoking is I've seemed to gain back an octave. There are no octave loss warnings on the packages. Birth defects...not really applicable. Cancer, well, thought I was invincible, etc., etc., but if the packages said "Warning, WILL assuredly sound like Marianne Faithfull by the time yr 35" that might have made me quit earlier. I love how music critics call that, what is it, "cigarette stained". That's a load of crap. Ladygirl can't hit it like she used to, is what they mean! I read an article once that Emmylou Harris started smoking a little here and there to grit up her voice. I think you have to be Emmylou Harris for this to work effectively. Chipping at cigarettes rarely works.
Things are finally getting back to normal which means chemo again next week. Yeah! I can hardly wait for things to taste like battery acid again! Love it! But in an attempt to combat all the tiredness that comes along with this nonsense the dog and I have embarked on an exercise program I have decided to call "runnish". When the dog and I used to sort of run together in my old neighborhood (the gnarled heart of midtown) I found it difficult as sometimes friends would pull up next to us and ask us what we were doing. I would wheeze out a "runn...nning" and they would say "From what?" as this is my relationship with physical activity. They would slow down at the cross walks and ask if I needed help, or a ride. Then I would remind them of my policy to never wear sweatpants out of the house and how breaking that rule obviously meant I was trying to better myself through rigorous activity. And then they would ask me what time I would be at the bar later. Needless to say.....since moving out of "the Shire" I enjoy relative anonymity and can run about in sweatpants with the dog and not be questioned as to my intent. So me and my sidekick McWizzlers have begun "runnish", a self-devised program of walking rather quickly and then occasionally, when the mood strikes us, sprinting from mid-block to stop sign every once in awhile.

I have a friend who I admire to the point of sort of standing in awe of her and not quite knowing what to say. I am like this with most people who possess great amounts of discipline because I have none. She is a runner, and by runner I don't mean, yeah she gets out of bed and takes the setter for a spin around the park before she goes to work runner. I mean the lady logs miles. Many miles. $947 worth of airline miles miles. She is serious about it and I respect that to no end. She has the discipline to do a rather uncomfortable thing and her reasoning is not obvious which makes it more intriguing. She's not the sort to do it for vanity. Health perhaps, but she is all around one of the healthiest people I know. If it is for joy, as I suspect it may be, then I totally understand. I came to music late in the game and had to go through all those awkward 15-year-old-boy steps as an adult. Every step was terrifying, uncomfortable, sometimes painful (failure is never fun) but the joy I got out of it was worth every single wretched bit of it. Its not old hat now by any means. The moment that happens I'll need to stop. I am still flummoxed by it. I still fall in love with it daily. But I do have my sea legs under it. I have a handle on it. I think its time for me to do something I am entirely afraid of. Think I'm going to start figuring out running. I will begin with runnish, however, for a good long while. Unlike my lovely friend I possess little if any discipline. Obviously. I have cancer which means I overindulged in more than a few somethings along the line! (Tee-hee). And hell, you know it might be good for me.

It is a strange thing when you realize you are not invincible anymore. When you have lived hard and rough and fast and loose and come to the point where you're obviously too old to overdose and young enough to actually want to see how it all plays out. How yr friends kids will turn out; what the next record might sound like. As the strange wizard Zevon said "I'm too old to die young and too young to die now". There is a certain breed of folk, I perhaps included, who never thought they'd get to thirty. So now we're here. Shit! There is no trading up or trading in. This hoopty-ass body of mine is what I've got to work with. Parts are expensive (as I'm finding out). Time accumulates. And I am not saying I'm old, just full of time. You'd think I'd be smarter by now...but as my beloved says while watching reality television "Man is a stupid animal and slow to learn." Amen! So I'm going to learn to run because I'm here and I can.
miss a.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Does All This Worrying Make My Ass Look Big?

So I've been thinking lately. I think a lot now. I've been wondering how do you say thank you to people who have sacrificed their own hair in solidarity. I don't know how. Thank you all so much. I cannot make enough chicken in gratitude. There are not enough chickens to fry (or tofu, accordingly). I've been thinking a lot about hair, as my funny "little rabbit" haircut will soon give way to no hair at all. And I've been thinking about Royal Oak Michigan....

If my memory serves me it was the summer of 1994 but I could be wrong. There was a boy. His name was Andy and he came from a row of workingman's houses in Royal Oak. He was beautiful. Long hair dark-eyed beautiful. He worked days in a garage but fancied himself an artist. I was in love with him for a little while, I think, but what do you ever know before you're 25. The important part of all this is he was in love with me and I was so confused by that. This beautiful creature thought I was a beautiful creature and I was so worried! I was dumb-16-year-old-girl-worried about everything- my hair, my weight, my clothes, what I said, what I didn't say. Andy didn't care, he just thought I was beautiful. I wasted that joy in my insane self consciousness.

They say stress may cause cancer so technically worrying about my damned hair has ultimately led to its loss. All those things I've worried about are real now. In another week or so I'll be bald. The poison has made my skin do crazy things. I may gain weight because of hormones or lose it because I can't keep food down. My body is slowly showing signs of dis-ease. And I think back to that girl; the girl I saw, and the girl that beautiful boy saw one summer and realize I have a lot of time to make up for. Fuck a bunch of worrying anymore!

We are the masks we wear, what we perceive as ourselves. Every self assumption is a piece of armor and we build it up to get by as unassailed as possible. We don't like getting hurt. Big boobs. Big hair. These are symbols of "beauty", fall-back defenses almost. We can hide behind them. I have for years. What happens when they go away? I have no idea. But hair is just hair. And boobs, well....they really are just boobs.
I woke up with cancer one morning but I also woke up with this weird, fully aware opportunity at reinvention. Disease imposed reinvention but reinvention nonetheless. That's a mother to wrap yr head around. I can be anything now except what I was before. That's frighteningly reassuring!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wing Nite

As some of you may know I sling hash to pay the bills. I work at a bar and grill with a contingent of the baddest bitches I've ever met. I love my job...except for.....wing night.
Oh lamentable wing night! Oh wing night of foulness and filth! Oh put a hex on thee wing night! When I arrive in hell, I will be forced to consume cheap chicken wings (and likely wear a visor, but that is another story).
So the chicken wings are 35 cents each. You must order at least six (no sir you cannot have one wing). People actually insist on separate tickets! 20, 30 people will come in for wings....separately. Neighbors, co-workers, friends, married people with their separate tickets are you kidding me? Did you never like him enough to spend $2.10 on his punk ass? Can he pay you back tomorrow? It's as if the wing sauce temporarily inhibits seemingly normal people's abilities to do basic math. I could go on about this particular day of the week and likely will sometime later but if ever a heroic thing was ever done, at least in my mind, it will be walking in there tonight, my shaved head held high, my server-tron smile plastered across my face, and not smacking a bitch upside the head! Really sir, really you ordered 55 chicken wings and you say there are only 54 here? Really? If that is the worst thing to happen to you today sir, congratulations!
Miss A.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Word on the Street

So yeah, chemo! Wow. Not fun. The strangest part is the waiting. DOCTOR gave me a dozen scripts and a laundry list of side effects and said "Fare ye well" to which I replied "You're kidding!"
Abusing highly addictive and potent narcotics was a touchstone of my misspent youth. I was really good at it. Its not as much fun when you actually need them, let me tell you. So here is the rundown. Keemoz makes food taste bad, makes my bones hurt, makes the sky heavy. Keemoz makes me incapable of listening to people bitch on their cell phones...I just walk away now. Keemoz makes the pets think I've been poisoned because I smell like heavy metals. Keemoz makes me cry which just makes me mad! But I love this wretched poison too. Its killing this nasty stuff...everything else but also the nasty stuff.
We had a show last night. That was crazy. Next time I think I ought to take the drugs they give me but I figured I wouldn't be able to sing well if I did. I have done a little singing over-served before. Its likely the same thing.
I learned a little about rumors and this town last night. Word on the street gives me a 20% chance of getting through this. Wow! 20%! Have you naysayers such little respect for this old battle axe?? Let me just clear this up right now.....I AM NOT GOING TO DIE YOU FUCKING FOOLS! If you've got money on it I would suggest another horse because this little pony ain't done yet. Lawsy!
And I also learned a little more about this all look so beautiful with your shaved heads!! It makes me want to put you all in my pocket! You are all amazing.
I cannot put words right today but I figured I'd post something. I will re-read it and find it not making any sense. But nothing really makes sense anymore. XO

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Best Get A Run At It

I went to an appointment with the DOCTOR yesterday and there was a little glimmer in all this. The nastiness hasn't spread. The battery of tests came back negative. That was the first five minutes. The next forty five minutes were spent discussing the side effects of chemotherapy. Yes, chemo is medicine, more specifically, a cocktail of medicine they infuse through mass quantities of blood through a port (that I had installed) near my Vena Cava. Chemo, by its very nature, is poison. Its dispatched to kill the cancer, no holds barred, take no prisoners, spare no life. That's why my hair will fall out by August 21st. That's why I'll spend time I can't get back being shot up with white blood cell booster. My risk for infection is high. My heart could explode (I am told this doesn't happen...much). I have an armload of prescriptions, two of which I can actually pronounce. I was told to go out and get stool softener and anti-diarrheal. Ok dude, which one is it? "We can't be sure," Well, when will I get sick? "We can't be sure," Ok, will these drugs work on me to prevent throwing up all over my pets? "We can't be sure," What about these mouth sores you keep mentioning? "We can't be sure," And so on and so on. I swear I was just going to rip out my hair yesterday! Leave it in a nice little pile in the waiting room.
So I'm terrified. Yep. It's 7:30 am on a Thursday and I'm terrified again by what I don't know. And it sucks because all the well thought out questions and advance planning and research about chemo therapies and their side effects made sense on paper but today they will start happening to me. My body is getting an elephants dose of poison. My body will hurl back up everything I put in it. My strong, wolverine-like stout little self will start being fragile and I can't fucking stand that!! I wasn't sick till right NOW! And this is the part when I start getting better. As a wise man once said when I was terrified long ago of some ridiculously trivial thing "Best get a run at it if yr scared..." So there may be a little tidbit on the news tonight "Strange Girl Runs Through Door To Chemo Infusion Room, story at 11..". Every day is a series of navigational maneuvers in worlds completely foreign to me. I usually revel in this sort of thing, except in this case, some one has blindfolded me, shaved my head, cut my Achilles tendons, and said
"Go fight!". My initial reaction is "Go fuck yourself, you go fight! " To which a gravelly voice booms down from the heavens.......
"Ain't nobody here gonna go there for've got to go there by yourself..."
Cancer really pisses me off!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Hiccups, Bourbon, and Gravy

I have decided the DOCTORS can't have everything. They can take my cigarettes, my hair, my deep seated need to nibble on fried cheese, they can take away my ability to wear v-neck t-shirts without scaring children, they can even take my boob....but they cannot have my bourbon!
No. No good cannot have it! Please understand, I don't want all of the bourbon, and I don't want it all at the same time. Excessive alcohol intake is a risk factor for breast cancer. The operative word here being excessive. My level of intake before this nasty business wasn't even close to what most good MEDICAL folks call excessive (and mama can drink). But the conclusion I have come to is that late in the evening on Saturday nights I will slip on down to my favorite bar and have a drink. Just one. Maybe two. And I'll talk to my good folks, and we'll laugh and I'll be normal until just a little past last call and good DOCTORS, you're just going to have to deal with it! I understand you all are trying to save this old grrl from death (and that I totally appreciate) but if I'm far gone enough to not enjoy a cocktail now and then good Lord what are we doing? Let me smoke in Paris, Bali, Australia and be done with all this nonsense! Fuck blueberries at that point..give me brie! We ain't there yet boys n' girls.

But, last night, in a fit of normalcy, great magic happened as it is wont to do in the middle of absurdity. Nothing too fantastic, really. Just a few cocktails way past midnight and then breakfast at a tiny cafe that reminds me of summertime in New York. And there were plates of toast and gravy, eggs, ham, potatoes. And my lovely friend had the hiccups and fell flat on 18th street to get rid of them. And the world was the world, nothing short of it, unencumbered, spinning rather lazily toward dawn. And we were there having breakfast, drunk, and fear let us be. Fear just stuck its spindly fingers in its pockets and turned North toward the river and let us be. Magic. Sometimes I forget how close this line is drawn next to the people I love, how they are as involved in this bullshit as I am. If I could bring them the head of this monster any faster I would.... But last night just hiccups, bourbon, and gravy.

Monday I get to go to the HOSPITAL again. Breast MRI. I get to see this thing's face. I get to tell it its fucked. They put the chemo port in Tuesday at 6AM. We are really going to have to have a discussion about the hours these PEOPLE keep. I go to bed at 6AM! Wednesday we meet with the good DOCTOR, Thursday they start pumping me full of poison, and Saturday the band has a ROCKSHOW!! Small bits of magic....chemo is just going to have to realize I have no time for its nonsense.
Miss A