Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dear 16 year old me

There is a PSA made a while ago and it’s amazingly emotional, strong and it gets the message across in the best way possible - showing real people that have been affected.  You're not reading about them, you're SEEING and LISTENING to them.  I still see people on Facebook sharing it, as recently as this morning, and it makes me smile, all the while mentally reliving the first time I watched it.  I watched it at work during lunch one day and I had to stop it so I could go to the bathroom and cry my eyes out.  I dared not watch the rest of it….until the next day at home alone.  

Of course I stopped it the first time right smack in the middle; right in the heat of the emotional part.  The first time I watched this it was shortly after diagnosis and probably a week or two before my surgery.  I wasn't sleeping, I was literally a pasty ball of fear fueled emotions.  I still haven't shared it because I didn't want to prompt the same feelings in others.  What if they were having an awesome day and I just totally made them cry and ruined it?  Shit man, I don't want to do that.  But now I can watch this through a different light.
Hopefully this video works.  I've included the link, too, just in case :)  Please spend 5 minutes and watch.

What would you tell your 16 year old self? 

I would tell myself:
  • Do not worry about what people think. 
  • You need to open up more because people will never know the true YOU until you let go of insecurities (I used to be SUPER shy – took me waaay too long to figure this one out). 
  • That one breakup will not end you even though you think it will, and you will be thankful that you went through it so you know what you DON’T want.
  • That other breakup, you should have done it sooner…
  • Yes, you find someone - an amazing man - with all of the things you DO want.
  • You won’t get a boob job because you don’t need a boob job.  You will spend your saved money on a giant subwoofer and an annoying, loud ass muffler.  You were sooo fast and soooo furious. 
  • There still aren’t any surgeries yet that will fix your eardrums because of said loud music you listened to.
  • Don’t be afraid of doctors, they are there to help you.
  • Don't be afraid of outcomes, they will shape you into who you are.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

In a fog with a blog

This sucks.  I read to my husband what I write and I can hear myself….only writing about Melanoma.  Well, I suppose that makes sense seeing that the title of my silly blog is ‘Holy Moly, Melanomy’.  I also suppose it makes sense that I've only had surgery a short 3 ½ months ago.  Wow.  When I think of it that way, it’s only been a very short 3 ½ ago.  It's very, very fresh.  I’m a newborn in this weird fog.

I don’t like this fog.  I hate it.  I like being able to see.  To see my life.  To see my husband‘s happy face.  To see me, being happy with everything.

This is lame.  Complete lame-sauce.

How do I get out of this fog?  A super thick, fear inducing fog?  I don’t know…  I can’t see any exit signs, and that scares me.  I don’t want to be scared.  I don’t like being scared.

I remember at times when I was at home sick from school and my mom had to work - I’d play this made-up game that I called “ten things”.  This may sound strange to some of you.  When I was home alone and felt scared or I heard a noise that made me feel like someone was breaking in, I’d look around in whatever room I was in and look for 10 things that I could possibly fatally wound someone with.   Yes, I just wrote “fatally wound“.  

The way that I could 'pass a level' in my ten things game would be if I could find those 10 fatal objects, then I could move on to the next room.  This was the way that I would get my mind off that evil mailman - which would scare me by making noise outside my house and would turn my dog into a bloodthirsty crazed wolf.  That room could be the kitchen - duh, super easy.  The bathroom was especially hard; what to do with a loofa, shower gel and a shower curtain?  Believe me, I’ve figured it out.  I have several potential weapons in every room.  With this game, I found courage.

Why don’t I have a weapon to battle my thoughts?  I found courage by looking around my house - thinking of 409, candle holders, toilet plungers and records as weapons. Why don't I have that same courage by looking inside myself?  Where is that same warrior in me?  She’s in there, along with all that raw courage, why can’t I find her again?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Craptastic Sundae

Lately I’ve been feeling a little down on myself.  This stupid asshole of a cancer has affected all aspects of my life.  I've been trying to focus on trying to get back to normal, which is no easy task.  Even though I was barely touched with Melanoma, that touch was enough to mentally jack me the hell up.  I suppose it was a little more than just a touch, it was more like an aggressive shoulder check.  

It’s affected everything.  Every. Thing.  My work was affected.  I can't help but think if I didn't have this stupid shit, then I wouldn't have obsessed on it and I'd probably still have a job....even though it was technically a "lay-off".  My relationship with my husband has been affected.  I have a terrible time opening up and I've been just a little bit more koo-koo in the last week than I normally am (due to obvious reasons).  My sleep has been affected, luckily the last few days have been fine - but I normally only get a couple of good night's sleep a week.  And last but definitely not least, my emotions and thoughts have been affected.  They were already screwy to begin with so that part has been particularly super fun to deal with!  (I'm so sorry honey - things will get better, I promise!)

Throwing in a job loss on top of all the ways that Melanoma has affected my life has just been splendid.  Absolutely splendid.  I've got some sort of stress rash on my belly - at least that's what I am calling it even though it's not itchy.  Lots of little, teeny patches of angry skin.  Why, it's the perfect cherry topper to my craptastic sundae!  I've tried vitamin E, cortizone cream, super moisturizing lotion and it's not really getting any better...it's sort of getting worse.  Hey - now I have time to get to the doctor!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

This sucks.

This morning I woke up at 3:30, wide awake.  My first thought was 'Go back to sleep, you need to get up for work in a couple of hours'.  Oh yeah, wait a second, it's Friday, I can stay awake or go back to sleep and actually sleep in.  Wait a second, I lost my job...      Shit.

That's right folks, I lost my job.  Not like oh-it's-lost-and-I-can't-find-it, but I was let go.  I was laid off.  I was cut.  I am no longer working.  There is no easy way to say it...or type it.  Add that to my list of stresses.

This sucks.

I cried a little bit during my "exit interview" though I held it together while I packed 5 years of my work life into a box (which I totally forgot about an entire drawer - my oatmeal must feel so left behind).  I lost it when I got home.  The hubs hugging me while I was totally shaking and crying in his arms.

This fucking sucks.

I've been laid off before, it's never easy.  You have to come to terms with being "the one" that the company can do without.  The last two companies that I've worked at I was laid off twice from each one...they let me go, called me back and then let me go again months to years later.  You can always tell when it was coming because your boss tends to avoid you.  This time was no different.  I knew it was coming; I've been mentally preparing for it for the last several weeks.

Driving home was surreal.  This was a drive that I've done for over 5 years.  Good news - I don't have to deal with the stupid toll road increases anymore...or gas prices.  Ha!  I can't afford them anymore!  My intestines started hurting almost immediately; it's a distinct, sharp pain. I had to drive while putting pressure on my lower stomach.  My kidneys hurt, could be all the wine I had last night - yeah, that's probably it.

Now it's time to get my mind right; it hasn't been "right" for a couple months now.  I'm not really the same person since Melanoma forced itself into my life.  I can use this time to learn how to relax, maybe meditate or some shit like that.  I don't want to spend time being sad, I've already done enough of that over the last 6 months.  I'd rather spend time looking forward to a new chapter in my life...spending time getting back to ME.  Everything happens for a reason.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Coffin Beds

I’ve heard people refer to tanning beds as “coffin beds”.  Makes sense, they kind of look like one.  They open relatively the same way; they’re just one door versus the deathly double door variety.  You lie in them, silent and still.  Quite a few of us ladies tribute the use of tanning beds to our cell mutation.  Though I’m sure there are a handful of men that will admit to using them, too.  I know that about 60% of the time that I was at a tanning salon, either a man was working there or a man was there working on his tan.

Tanning beds and coffins have since taken on a whoooooole new meaning and it could never be any realer.  That stupid ‘coffin bed ’ could potentially put us in a real one…all for a tan (or a typically a burn in my case).  And a tan that we shelled money out for – how lame!  I think tanning bed manufactures should totally start making tanning beds look like real coffins.  That would make peeps think twice.  Although it may backfire and cause the goths to have a sudden urge for a glorious glow. 

I’ve read that the ultra violet light emitted by tanning beds is as carcinogenic as cigarettes, arsenic and asbestos – just to name a few.  Way creepy.  This is why legislation banning the use of tanning beds by anyone under the age 18 is sweeping the country.  The Nation is catching on.  Currently the only states that ban use by anyone under age 18 is CA (which we were the FIRST state to do this!), NV, OR (as of 01/2014), TX (as of 09/2013) and VT.  Bans for under anyone under 17 is currently only NJ & NY.  Lots of other states have bans, but those need to change for the better. 
Here is the link from the National Conference of State Legislatures that includes the above information:

If you're in a state that currently does not have a ban, or that ban could be updated to a respectable age limit, and you have an opportunity to write a letter to your legislators, I BEG that you do.  Lets try to change the future for our younger peeps so hopefully they wont have to go through what we do :)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Days off vs. Off days

As I was getting ready for work this morning after a glorious 4 days off, I realized how much I needed them.  Every single day that I’ve taken off from work, for as far back as I can remember, has been taken off because of being sick, having a terrible period day, my belly acting up, body shutting down in need of sleep, doctor’s appointments or surgeries.  Don’t get me wrong, those days are absolutely needed.  Sprawled out on the couch in a zombiefied state where you absolutely cannot go anywhere except the bathroom is a justified ‘off day’ in my book.

I haven’t had a 'fun' day off since my vacation to Cabo in May of 2011.  I had 5 beautiful days off…then guess what happened?  I got freaking bronchitis.  I started getting sick during the very end of the vacation – I even had to leave the wedding early which was the whole reason for the damn trip in the first place.  I was out sick for the entire next work week.  My body was like “Oh, you thought you were relaxed?  BOOM!  There ya go, take that, lungs!”.  Then a few weeks after that my eyes got all crazy and decided to get swollen.  BOOM!  Take that, eyes!  I’m telling you, my body has a sick sense of humor.  Get it?  Sick?   Hee hee, I’m so punny. 

The results from the biopsies taken from the colonoscopy on Monday came back on Tuesday.  One day after.  The office called me – they asked me to come in that day.  Um, no thank you!  I was expecting a little more time, much more than a mere 24 flipping hours!  I need to mentally prepare for these little things, ya know? I made the appointment for Friday since we had the day off from the holiday. I tried not to think about it.  Why couldn’t’ they just tell me over the phone?!  Don’t they know that coming in for results when nothing is told over the phone is terrifying?!  Fortunately, there are no cancer cells in my bummer and I could, again, exhale.  Everything else is still the same, I still have ulcerative colitis and new player - diverticulitis.  And the doctor highly recommended me taking medication for the colitis (like I should have been doing) and wrote me a script for it.  But there is no Melanoma or any other cancer in my colon.  Oh happy day!  After 3:00pm on Friday, I could enjoy the remaining 3 days off.    

I was able to go wherever I wanted but I was happily sprawled out on the couch.  I was not in a zombiefied state – but I was watching zombies thanks to The Walking Dead marathon, which was awesome!  I literally just told the hubs at the surgi-center on Monday morning that they need to start playing the episodes again; "they" must have listened.  It felt amazing doing nothing on a day off without a care in the world.  It was refreshing.    
I prefer days off vs. off days.  Off days just suck.

Monday, July 1, 2013

A little chat about 'bummer' exams/surgeries

Well, since I've been completely open about Melanoma, I might as well be open about everything else medical going on my life.  Here is a little about....(dun, dun, duuuuun) colonoscopies.  

Excitable tummies run in my family.  My mom and grandma also have/had excitable tummies.  I like that: “excitable tummy“, that sounds better than “bubbly guts“.  So, growing up with a mom having an excitable stomach made me think that mine is completely normal.  Until the day that I poo’d blood.  LOTS of blood.  Like ‘I-can’t-see-the-bottom-of-the-toilet’ blood.  Yeah...Let’s talk about it…  I was at work the first time it happened.  I was under a shit load of stress - pun intended

I walked back to my desk, probably white as a ghost.  Actually, I’m sure I was because two people asked me what was wrong.  “Nothing, nothing is wrong”.  I remember emailing both my boyfriend (now known as the one and only, 'the hubs') and my mom telling them that I just saw a huge amount of blood and I wasn't talking period stuff.  They both called me within seconds.  Their advice was consistent with each other: CALL THE DOCTOR!  

A few weeks before the “bloody incident” we had moved to a new apartment and I was promoted to much more stressful position at the company I was working with at the time.  Dr. Dummy basically told me that I had ‘strained’ myself and that was ‘normal‘.  Bleeding THAT much is normal?  Maybe I hadn’t relayed to him how much I bled.  Actually, I did.  I told him everything, just short of bringing him to the bathroom with me, which I totally would have done.  The visit itself was a crock of bloody poo.  No blood work, no looking at my bum, no stool sample (o-kay, fine, I was completely stoked about that part).  I knew in my gut that something was wrong.  Again, pun intended.  

I was laid off shortly after that; I was still having symptoms.  The bleeding subsided but the pain did not - something was wrong.  I drove down to Hawthorne and saw the doctor that I grew up seeing.  I didn‘t have insurance, but I wanted a doctor that knew me...I wanted a doctor I could trust.  I loved her, she was such an amazing doctor.  She confirmed that something was indeed wrong, but I needed to have a colonoscopy and advised that I should absolutely wait until I had insurance again.  I got rehired at the same place about 3 months later and soon I had insurance again.  Of course, I put it off for a few (several) months - but I built up enough courage to go to a different doctor near me and ask for a referral.  

I was referred to a cranky, little Indian gastroenterologist.  Very blunt and straight to the point with absolutely no sympathy whatsoever.  When I woke up from the colonoscopy, I was crying from the anesthesia and I see the hubs sitting there with this super sad look on his face.  A look like “I am so sorry”.  I asked the nurse what was going on and she said that she will grab the doctor.  Dr. Cranky came back in, snapped that he had already told me about the ulcerative colitis - but then quietly said that its normal for me not to remember due to the anesthesia.  I tend to like doctors that are straight to the point, but come on, if your patient is scared…show them just a little touch of compassion.  Don’t act like an inconsiderate jack hole that has no time for crying little girls.

Prior to Melanoma, I’m supposed to have a lovely colonoscopy every five years.  As of yesterday, I was 6 and a half years over due.  Anyone that has had one typically doesn’t jump for joy to have one, unless you enjoy pooping like a chicken ALL day and not eating.  That’s why I think it’s funny that they are constantly asking you who you are when you’re a center waiting for your ‘bummer examination‘.  “What’s your name?”; “Can you spell your last name?”; “What’s your date of birth?”; “What procedure are you having?”: “What’s your doctor’s name?”.  Ummm.....Whatd'ya think I did?  Took out the person in the waiting room so I could steal their colonoscopy?  Ha!!   "Bitch, had over your bracelet, I'm taking your colonoscopy!"  Whatever, I guess it’s protocal….a very strange protocol, but I suppose it's effective.  

This morning I had my second colonoscopy.  Now that Melanoma has joined the party, I need to have one every three years.  I don’t know if it’s because of the Colitis, too - or if it’s just because of the cancer, but regardless - I’ve got to get used these crappy surgeries being more frequent than than I was expecting.  They really aren’t bad at all.  It’s the prep that stinks. Hee hee, I'm so punny.  And the waiting for the results - other than that, it’s really super easy.

The last time I had to drink these two super strong saline solution type “drinks”.  They were terrible.  Only about 10 ounces each, but they packed a terrible punch.  Terrible.  Ugh!  And because I had to drink them both at the same time, there was no ‘easing into it’.  There was no testing the water with one foot to see how it is.  Some creep walks by and literally throws your ass into the deep end of the laxative pool.  By the end of that night I was in the bathroom crying.  Not only did I know that something was up with my innards, I am bawling and my husband is in the bathroom with me trying his best to console his broken down wife.  Can you say - awkward?  You can also say, without a doubt - love.  That’s love; I have the best damn husband ever.    

This time was a bit easier. Instead of jumping in, you ease into it.  I got two little ducolax laxative pills to take after my breakfast of homemade egg drop soup.  At 10am you start mixing powdered laxatives with 32oz of clear liquids and then you do the rest at 5pm to finish your 64oz concoction.  By the end of the day, I had taken 16 doses of laxatives.  Whoah.  Luckily the powdered stuff doesn’t have any flavor and you can mix it with water, apple juice, light Gatorade - really anything that is clear and isn’t red or purple.  If you get hungry, you eat some Jell-O or you can have some broth.  Really that’s all that you can have.  At certain parts of the day, I was hungry - but then you get over it.  Most of the day I was nauseous; 64oz of crappy medicated liquid can do that to you.  

When you go through this, try to make your appointment as early as you can get in.  From the lack of calories, you’ll be pretty weak with a possible headache and just downright hungry AND thirsty.  After leaving the center, the hubs and I stopped at Carl’s Jr. and I got myself a western bacon cheeseburger….mmmm…..I think it was delicious.  I hardly remember it.  The nurse said as we were leaving that they shot me up with enough sedatives to knock out a horse.  I’ve got a high tolerance for that stuff apparently.  I don’t remember waking up.  I don’t remember starting to get naked in front of the nurse while attempting to dress myself…I assume that’s when she mentioned the massive sedatives that I was given.  I don’t remember leaving.  I barely remember the doctor telling me that he took two biopsies and that I have a “touch of” diverticulitis which momma has, too.  Remember: excitable tummies apparently run in the family.  I came home and slept like a sedated horse for three and a half hours.

So, I’ve got a week before I can over the results with my GI doctor.  The hard part is over.  I’m sure all is good, I’ve just got another intestinal issue to add the list.  Whatevs!  As long as Melanoma isn't putting it's name on the list for entrance to another part of my body/innards, I'm good to go!

People - be aware of your body.  If something isn't normal, go to the doctor.  Have your annual exam...be seen by someone other than yourself.  Be proactive with yourself. 
You're the only YOU that you have