Thursday, September 18, 2014

Stilllllll waiting

The insurance adjuster came out to look at the Neon yesterday. (I know this, because he was kind enough to call and let me know that he was rolling my windows up so it wouldn't re-flood during yesterday's torrential downpour. Never mind that the first time the car flooded, the windows were all rolled up. And that the insurance company is who told me to leave all the windows rolled down in the first place. ... Oh, and that the damage has already been done.)

As per the insurance adjuster, the car is most likely totaled. (He can't make the actual decision. It's his job to assess the damage against the estimated value of the car, then he sends the numbers back to the claims dept, and THEY make the official call.) But - and there's no surprise here - to quote the man, "the cost to replace the seat cushions and floor boards would exceed the value of the car".

(Insert raucous laughter here.)

That's right... even if the flood didn't wipe out my engine, the car isn't worth the cost of replacing the FOAM (okay, and upholstery) of four seat cushions.

But the insurance company still has to rule.

It's Thursday morning and I need to hear from them by 5:00 tomorrow, otherwise I'll keep the Jeep through the weekend. (Fingers crossed, because I freaking LOVE driving that bad boy!) Given that it took over a week to get someone out to look at the Neon is helping me feel pretty confident that I'll be driving my (free) high-riding 4x4 until Monday. Wahoo!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

So, here's the latest on the Neon...

There isn't one.

True story.

When I talked to my insurance company Tuesday morning, they asked if they could leave my car where it was instead of towing it to a body shop. The reason being that, with the influx of claims in the Phoenix metropolitan area, they didn't know how soon a shop would be able to look it over... and if (just laughed out loud at having used the word "if") the car ended up being totaled, there was a good chance they'd have to pay tow fees + storage fees at a shop, and then tow it again to be destroyed.

Because I really didn't care where my soppy little car was sitting, I told them that was fine with me.

On Tuesday, I was told that everything should be resolved by Friday.

(Insert maniacal laughter here.)

On Friday, I called the insurance company to get an update on my claim and was told that the adjuster hasn't made it out yet... but they believe he'll be here either Monday or Tuesday, and everything should be resolved on Wednesday.

(My gut says it'll be the end of the week before I have anything concrete.)

The good news? I have been paying for comprehensive coverage on my 2001, and that covered a rental. So, I do have something to drive for as long as I need it. (Yay for that extra $60 a year that I've been forking out for full coverage. It's paid off, just with the savings of a rental for the last week!)

And the fact that it's taking for-freaking-ever to get a solid answer from the insurance company has afforded me time to spend time at dealerships test driving cars against each other to determine which car I really like the best.

Here's a true story: After spending HOURS at dealerships on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon/evening, I was feeling particularly sorry for my sad little self. What with my back hurting because I'd been moving around too much, and my head hurting because I'd been dealing with some pretty special sales people, I drove home thinking, "This is the worst possible timing to have to be doing this."

And then, like a lightening bolt from the sky, it hit me that this wasn't actually "the worst possible timing" to have to be doing this. That, right now, I can qualify for financing, because I'm working full time and can provide pay stubs. That, right now, I do have the strength (barely, but it IS there) to walk car lots and get in and out of multiple cars in a day. That, if I went backwards OR forwards even six weeks in my life, it's unlikely that I'd be able to do either of those things.

It turns out that this freak flooding accident that happened in my parking lot came at EXACTLY the right time.

Don't get me wrong, I am still hoping and praying that the Neon pulls through. I'd reeeeeeeeeally rather not have a car payment, especially as I don't know what next month's scan will bring. But if an act of God is what made the car die... I have full confidence that He'll also help me figure out a way to pay for a new car, if that's what I need to do. And now, thanks to many hours, spread over multiple days, on three different dealerships' lots, I know what I want. And I know I'll be able to qualify for a loan and pick up a new car in one day... if it comes to that. Isn't that lucky?

Monday, September 8, 2014

When it rains, it pours.

The Neon may well have met its watery grave today...


Only time (and the body shop's estimated cost of repairs) will tell.

We had a record-breaking rain here in Maricopa county last night.

For real.


That was the I-10 this morning.

To clarify, the pic of the Neon is in my own parking lot. Not only did I not hit the freeway in my little car... I couldn't get IN it, my own self, to move it from where I'd parked last night. This pic was taken this afternoon, when I got home from work. The water was about 1/3 up the doors this morning, and had flooded the inside of the car up to the top of the seats. (My one regret about this day is that I didn't get a good pic of the inside of my car this morning, while there was still a river running through it.)

I've called my insurance company. Filed an "Act of God" claim. Got transferred to the Catastrophe Team (seriously, that's a DEPARTMENT at State Farm!). I picked up a rental tonight on my way home from work. (God bless Joshua and his truck for... once again... coming to my rescue. He dropped me off at the bank on his way to work, and helped me get to Hertz on his way home. I seriously don't know what I would have done without him!) Tomorrow morning, my car will be towed to the shop and they will determine whether it'll cost more to fix my car than it's worth. (Honestly, my thoughts are that it would probably cost more to clean my car than it's worth. The water that dude's been sitting in all day is pretty grody. Oh, and I think he's probably worth about $300.)

I'm not sure how to feel.

On the one hand, that car's been sooooo good to me. For the last 13 years. So, I hate to see it go.

On the other, I've been driving that car FOR THE LAST 13 YEARS. (And it's been literally a pain to get into and out of since my first tumor. It's so low to the ground that I practically have to fall into it. ... And getting out is, I am not kidding you, a seven-point maneuver that usually ends in a grimace and/or an expletive.) So, I'd love to replace it with something that's higher from the ground. My sad little body's had it with the 4-door sedan.

My emotions have run the gamut today.

I've been cracking up laughing, all day long, about the river that was running through my car this morning. I actually think it's SO funny that so much damage could get done overnight, in a parking lot, by rain. IN THE DESERT.

As much as I'd love to have a reason to buy a new car... it also makes me want to throw up to think about adding another expense to my life when... frankly, it's already pretty expensive.

I've decided to pray that the Neon will make it. If only because I'm pretty sure my medical expenses are going to take another nose dive in the next couple months... and I'd really rather NOT be out another $200-$300 a month for a car payment in the foreseeable future.

As much as I'd really like one of those cute little baby-sized SUV's, I'd really rather keep my crazy old car that's been paid for for almost a decade...

Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Recommended Reading

For those of you who may not have seen this on my Facebook... I think the "My Cancer is Worse Than Your Cancer?" article is too great not to repost it. Click here to be taken to the article..

As anyone who comes here often knows, I am a sarcoma patient (liposarcoma).

For any of you who've ever wondered what causes this type of cancer and why it has such a high recurrence and mortality rate, this article explains it well. Simply put, it's such a rare cancer (1% of adult cancer diagnoses and 15% of children cancer diagnoses), that there isn't much funding to research it or find a cure.

I'm lucky, in that I have liposarcoma, which has the lowest mortality rate among sarcoma cancers. The young man in the video had osteosarcoma.

Some of you know that my doctors wanted to watch tumor #3 grow, so they could see what it would do. For many, that is a horrifying thought - to keep malignant a tumor inside a person, to monitor growth. For me, it was a chance to contribute something to the cause, to possibly help them understand what happens inside my body. Sadly, #3 didn't grow (and #4 snuck in while they weren't looking and needed immediate removal), so they couldn't learn much. But I would do it again, in a heartbeat.

I am grateful for any exposure that sarcoma can get. This article is incredibly well-written (by a survivor!), and the video is truly moving. If you have a few minutes, please take the time to sit down and read/watch this.

Life is precious.

And much like the author of the article, I am grateful that cancer has helped me learn how to truly LIVE mine.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Cousin Christie's Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

As some of you may recall, my sweet little cousins, Elly and Cami, were the brainchildren behind a bake sale fundraiser that my Utah County family threw for me this summer.

Cousin Christie (aka: The Hardest Working Woman I Know) was called in at the 11th hour and asked if she could bake bread.

And bake bread, she did. Roughly five or six dozen loaves. In one day. (I told you. She's super-human!)

And, I'm here to tell you.. I've had multiple bake sale customers talk to me about her poppy seed bread.

By all accounts, the lemon poppy seed bread was joyous to the soul and desirable above all other breads. (Yeah, so I just threw a little scriptural reference in there. Because I believe in likening the scriptures in all things. ... And also because I really have heard AMAZING things about this bread. ... Oh, right. And because I crack myself right up when I talk like a Mormon.)

Anyhoo...

Like I said, the bread was, basically, "most sweet, above all that anyone had before tasted" and "the greatest of all the gifts..."

So I thought I'd post the recipe here. You know, for the folks who've asked who made that bread - and how. And also for my own self, because I can't seem to keep track of a single piece of paper around here. (But, somehow, I can pull a recipe up on my phone in a matter of seconds. ... God bless the labels section of ye olde blog, because it gives me almost immediate access to all kinds of gems. Yea, even those gems that are precious above all.)

That said... without further ado (and before I get myself struck with lightening), I give you...

Cousin Christie's Poppy Seed Bread

1 lemon or yellow boxed cake mix
1 (3 oz) pkg instant lemon pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
2 Tab poppy seeds
3 Tab flour

Throw it all in a bowl. Beat with mixer for 3 minutes. *Bake at 350 in 2 regular loaf pans or 1 bundt pan for 40-50 minutes, until toothpick comes out cleanly.

*Foot note: I'm assuming these are greased pans, because this is basically a cake. Her instructions didn't specify the greasing of the pan... but you know me. I'm never one to shy away from extra butter. Anywhere, or on anything. I'd butter those bad boys up before I poured the batter in!

And now that the recipe has been revealed, I suggest that ye hold fast to the ingredients as they have been handed down from the house of Ball. Listen not to those jeering from the great and spacious house of "clean eating". Be ye not afraid of processed foods, for the people of Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker and Jello are a blessing in our busy lives. And thus we see that, at times, we must depart from the ways of whole foods and partake of the boxed mixes, that we might find joy.

Now, go forth. Bake. Be joyous, and share the fruits of thine labors with those whom ye love.

Monday, September 1, 2014

My new favorite thing

One of the perks of my weirdie post-operative diet is that sometimes I discover new things that I love.

Things like (drumroll, please)...



That's right. Chocolate almond milk.

Back in the days when my belly was anti-dairy, I saw the carton of Silk dark chocolate almond milk in the refrigerated dairy case in the WalMart and I thought "How bad can it be?"

Answer: Not bad. Not bad AT ALL.

I mean... I think I may love this stuff as much as I love BYU Creamery's chocolate milk. (Which is saying something. Because I'd marry BYU Creamery's chocolate milk. In the temple. Which is to say that I would commit to drinking this stuff for time and all eternity. And that's a lot of love.)

A few weeks into my recent addiction to chocolate almond milk, I saw the carton of Blue Diamond chocolate almond milk in the store and I thought I'd give that a shot. (I mean, I used to looooooove the Blue Diamond brand of roasted/smoked almonds that I would sneak out of my mom's underwear drawer when I was a kid. Blue Diamond KNOWS almonds. I know this. So, I figured it would be delish.)

Luckily, I still had a little Silk brand milk in ye olde refrigerator, so when I came home I was able to do a not-so blind taste test. (When a girl lives alone and she is the only one who can pour said milk into glasses, it's hard to be truly blind. But still, I made an effort to be exact and non-partial. ... Ya'll know how much I love science and try to be as accurate as possible in taste-test matters.)

And the survey says: While the Blue Diamond brand is not disgusting, the Silk brand kicks its trash.

So, fellow fans of chocolate milk, I've gotta say that *I fully endorse the Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk.

I am never without it these days. (Seriously. I have a half gallon in my fridge at home. I also have a half gallon in the fridge at the bank, labeled, so everyone knows it's mine.) And the carton says that this stuff has twice the calcium of regular milk. So, it's basically health food -- that tastes like chocolate. Win/win!

* That said, it is my understanding that the quality of the product in the half gallon container far exceeds the quality of the product in the single-serving containers. As in so many areas of life, the slogan "Go big or go home!" applies here.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

One month later

On July 30th, I wrote a status report. It's been a month, so I figured it was time to write one again.

So, here ya go...

I'm okay.

Seriously, I am.

I mean... I'm tireder than I'd like to be. But I still feel better than I have in recent months, so I'll take it.

I take two Tylenol PM every night between 7:00 and 8:00, and I go to bed (by which I mean: fall asleep on the couch, watching The West Wing) between and 8:00 and 9:00. Most mornings, I pound two more Tylenol as soon as I wake up (because everything inside of me shifts when I sleep on my side, and it hurts like the devil), but... that's it. I am no longer watching the clock to pop a couple pills every six hours. Really, I'm down to Tylenol twice a day most days. So, that's a win.

I can walk a whole mile now. Some days, even a mile and a half. (Depending on whether I want to walk for 30 or 45 minutes in the 100+ degree heat. ... Yes, it takes me half an hour to walk a mile. Don't judge!) This morning, was my seventh consecutive mile-or-more walk a day, and I cannot even tell you how happy it makes me that I'm able to walk - on the streets - again. I had to re-learn how to walk this time on a treadmill, and it was brutal. This has been the weirdest surgery recovery ever, in that I've struggled with nausea and other weirdie stomach issues... which made it harder to be physically active. Ten weeks later, I haven't felt like I was going to puke for a week. And I'm walking around the block again. Sans earbuds, holding only a bottle of water... I don't even take my phone with me, because I want to be able to see and hear everything out there. I love it!

I've had several people texting/calling/dropping by to ask what's new.

Uh... Nothing. "Nothing" is the answer to, "What's new?".

My guess is that people are looking for an update, because most cancer patients meet with their doctors more than every 60-90 days. (And, I'm pretty sure that my visits will increase in the semi-near future.) As of now, we're still on the wait-until-October-and-then-we'll-do-a-PET-to-see-what's-going-on-in-there plan. I don't actually have that scan scheduled yet, but I'm guessing that'll go on the books in the next week or two. Which means that I have another five or so weeks of blessed ignorance. (It's true, what they say: Ignorance IS bliss!)

So, I'll keep walking (albeit slowly) around the block, eating peanut M&M's like they're vitamins, and chain-watching TV (God bless whoever came up with the idea of Netflix streaming, for real!) as I ease myself back into working full time and living my life.

Life is good.

I may be slow - okay, let's be honest... I've been slower - but I am moving. My strength is constantly improving. I may not see it in the day to day, but I'm still seeing markers on a weekly basis of things I can do that I couldn't do the week before. I never cease to be amazed at what the human body can endure and recover from (and I think I have a sort of lame body... just imagine what some of YOUR bodies could do!). I'm tired, so I'm not blogging as much, or appearing in public as often, but I'm here. And I'm alright. I promise.

Monday, August 25, 2014

I love to laugh... long, and loud, and clear!

As anyone who's known me for, like, half a second knows... I love to laugh.

Hard.

And loud.

And often.

And one of my favorite, surefire, guaranteed, laugh-until-my-face-hurts things to do is go to Jester'Z Improv. I mean, I seriously love that place! I'm a huge fan of improv comedy, period. But I especially enjoy Jester'Z, because I know that I can take anyone with me... my mom, friends from work, my nine year-old nephew... and they'll love it as much as I do. Jester'Z does a live, original, 90 minute show. Every time. And they never disappoint.

I have always loved the people at Jester'Z, but now? ... Now, I love them even more.

The good people of Jester'Z are doing a Cancer Girl Benefit show.

That's right. You heard me... I'M HAVING A JESTER'Z FUNDRAISER! ... And I'm so excited that I can hardly stand it!

The date is September 23rd (it's a Tuesday). The time is 6:30-8:00. The location is the new Jester'Z theater at 1061 N. Dobson Rd. #114, Mesa, Az.

It will, as always, be a 90 minute, original, show. The cost is $13 per ticket (Jester'Z standard ticket cost). And 100% of the proceeds will benefit yours truly.

We're working on gathering donations for a silent auction (if you have any goods or services you'd like to put up on the block, let me know!), and are hoping to put a table up in the lobby to sell baked goods before/after the show. (Maybe some candied bacon? Go ahead and twist my arm...)

Click here to be directed to the site where you can buy tickets to the show. Please note that you can buy tickets in any quantity, from the comfort of your home or office, computer or phone. (You know me. I like to make it as easy as I can for you all to help a girl out...) All you need is an internet connection and a debit card, and you can make all of my dreams come true AND get a good hour and a half of laughs in the deal. (Oh, and a cupcake. Or some cookies. Or both.)

As always, I have nothing but love for all 13 of my original readers, as well as you fabulous people who have been drug here to my (crazy) little corner of the www from the book of faces.

Thank you for having an interest in my life, in my health... in, well... me. I appreciate, more than I can say, the sense of community that the cancer has given me. I have the very best support system in all of the world, and I'm grateful for every thing that every single one of you does for me. Please consider this particular fundraiser my gift to you. (Usually, I just ask ya'll to give me dollars. This time, you're getting a heck of a show in exchange for your donation.) There is nothing I would love more than to fill the studio with people near and dear to my heart... to have you laugh with me, as you're helping me.

Friday, August 22, 2014

In case you've ever wondered exactly how much I love the X-Men...

Here are some fun little stories about how jacked-up-crazy-town I get when I'm on pain meds.

Scene: Judy is bringing me in pain meds at 2:15 AM. I am asleep in my bed. Judy wakes me to take my pills, and I come to, saying...

"I was just dreaming about the X-Men. Like, I was one of them. My power? ... Not regeneration."

Ya like that, huh?

Well... here's another one from the day I came home from the hospital:

"Lindsay's trying to give me weight training lessons in my head. ... It's not working."

More, you say? You want more?! Okay, fine.

Talking about taking pain meds in the hospital, trying to decide whether to have drugs administered via IV or with pills:

"The IV... The ID... The IV... This is fun for you isn't it? Where's the candid camera?"

Okay, okay, okay... One more.

To Judy in the hospital, as I was waking up (from a drug-induced stupor/sleep... obviously):

"We're cellmates. Living in a paper manufacturing company. And the beeper means that an order is ready."

Isn't it great that Judy keeps a notebook of all my surgeries/dreams/hallucinations, so I can share these special moments with you?

You're welcome.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mmmmm... Bacon.

Here is a True Story From My Actual Life:

Last week, I fried up a pound of bacon like I am a woman who has both the strength and energy to cook dinner after a hard (half) day at work. (That's right. Bacon for dinner, don't judge.)

And then... once it was all fried up, I took a good, hard, look at that plate of bacon and I thought to myself...

"I should probably only eat half of that, because I don't want to make myself sick."

True story. I only ate HALF a pound of bacon. ... Because I was wanting to take it easy on the ol' gastrointestinal system.

And here's the kicker... even half a pound was too much for my sad little body to handle.

That's right. I CAN'T EVEN EAT HALF A POUND OF BACON WITHOUT GETTING SICK!

(What kind of person says something like that? ... Wait. Don't say anything. ... I know the answer: A lame one.)

...................................................................................................

Anyhoo... I made bacon again this week. You know, because I am not a quitter.

And, instead of eating half the bacon, I divided it into thirds and only ate 1/3 a lb of bacon.

Drumroll, please...

And, good news, kids! My sad little system can handle that!

Wahoo!

Bacon and Laurie = FRIENDS ON AGAIN! (In limited quantities.)