Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

Kids, it's official.

Razzzberries and I have been together for five years.

True story. Here's a link to my first post ever.

And what a glorious five years it has been!

I wasn't kidding when I said that this blog would be an outlet. (The Prophet Laur strikes again!)

I've told silly stories. I've talked about serious stuff (the cancer, anyone?). I've regaled you all with tales of me driving away with gas nozzles and peeing my pants in theaters. I've written about my family, my friends, my beliefs and all manner of other things near and dear to my heart.

This little blog has been a blessing in my life; as have you been, dear readers.

Thank you for giving me so much of your time and attention over the past five years. ... I sure hope my talking about my poop so often post-surgery didn't ruin your lives.

Here's to another five years of online craziness!

(I'd go buy me and Razzzberries an anniversary present, but Wikipedia told me that the five year anniversary is marked with gifts of wood and/or silverware. #Lame.)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Cancer Survivor PTSD

It's a real thing.

At the risk of being judged for my semi-trashy TV-watching habits, I'm going to tell you that I've been chain-watching Parenthood season 4 on Hulu for the last few days. (I know. Roll your eyes at the ridiculousness of my entertainment choices. I won't even care.)

I apologize for the serious spoiler that I'm about to drop on anyone who isn't watching this year, but... Christina has cancer. And it's killing me. (Not her. ... And I doubt that it will. Her character is pretty integral to the show.)

The episode when she went to get her mammogram about made me stop breathing. (And I'm not a breast cancer survivor. But still. I was in full panic mode. Hand over heart, unable to breathe. Hello, panic attack. ... Like I said: Cancer Survivor PTSD. It's a real thing.)

I had to stop watching the show for a couple days to recover from the emotional maelstrom that hit while I watched that episode, but then I thought about it, and I remembered how well they had handled her first visit with her surgeon - the fear, the anticipation, the nervousness, the inability to even know what questions to ask, the camaraderie amongst the women in the waiting room... and I thought to myself, "That's how it really is", so I watched another episode.

And then another.

And then another.

While I've had more than one sad, heartbroken, moment on my couch, watching this fictional character deal with some of what I have lived through, it has been cathartic to see a TV show deal - and deal well - with some of the issues that you can't possibly know unless this has been your life.

They have addressed:

* Well-meaning friends and neighbors saying things like "God only gives you what you can handle". (Which, while I do believe this... it's absolute crap to hear, and it makes you want to scream (bloody freaking murder) at people who hand you platitudes when they find out you're seriously sick.)

* The patient gets to pick their care provider and treatment plan. End of story. (It doesn't matter how much someone loves you. When it comes down to who's going to operate, what treatment option you're going to go with, what life changes you're going to make - only the patient gets a say in what goes.)

* The realization/fear that you may not be around at the same time next year, so you need to seize every milestone and celebrate everything that you can.

* The need to break the rules and eat the forbidden ice cream, just so you can feel like you have some kind of control in what's happening in your life.

* The emotional roller coaster - and odd sense of peace that somehow comes - of finding a balance between being really grateful that it was caught in time, and there's something you can do, against the need to curl up in a ball and cry that, somehow, this is your life.

I'm telling you, they've done a really good job with this subject matter. There are some thoughts and feelings that I believe you can only truly know if you've had to live with the diagnosis, but they've done a good job in giving a pretty realistic view of what it can be like to have to do such a thing.

I've had a lot of strong thoughts and emotions as I've watched this season, some of which I'll list below:

* I'm so glad that I didn't have to do chemo!

* I'm so grateful for the sure knowledge that there's nowhere my mom would rather be than on the cot in my hospital room, and then on the couch in my living room for WEEKS as I recover from surgery.

* I hate the cancer. I hate it so much.

* I have no judgement against medical marijuana anymore. (I also have no patience for people who do judge it. So far, I've been lucky that prescription narcotics have done the job, but if percocet didn't do it for me, I'd find something that did. See above statement that the patient gets to make the call. Leave it alone.)

* While I didn't have to do chemo, I did have to do radiation and it was complete and utter hell. For the most part, those six weeks of my life don't take up a lot of space and time in my head. But every once in a while, something (like watching Christina get sick all over the banister) will remind me and I'll be transported back in time to the first day that I clung to my kitchen sink for dear life as I alternately puked up everything in me and sobbed my heart out.

* I'm so grateful for the time that my family made for me, for the memories I have of my nephews and nieces trying so hard to "be soft" with Aunt Laurie. I'm so grateful for the near-constant interaction I have had with Jo's kids. For a single woman with no children of her own, there are A LOT of children in my life who have prayed for me and loved me through all manner of pain and fear.

* Speaking of fear, I've had a couple conversations in the past few weeks about fear. (There seems to be an erroneous perception out there that I am fearless. ... Clearly, the people who think this have never seen me around grasshoppers and/or spiders.) I have, indeed, known fear. On a cellular level, my body still feels it. Every time I get a call to schedule a scan, my heart starts to race and I go into full panic mode. (Again: Cancer Survivor PTSD. It's a real thing.) But I have also known hope, and joy and faith. I believe that fear can be a good motivator, a good catalyst towards doing what you need to do. You just can't let it rule your life.

That being said, I faced my fear and decided not to be afraid of TV anymore. I won't lie, I was totally afraid for a couple days there. I honestly thought it might be better for me to be friends-off with Parenthood, to save myself the panic attacks and cry-fests. But it has been good ... therapeutic, even ... for me to watch a fictional character fight a good fight. It has reminded me of what was hard, but it has also reminded me of what was awesome.

At the end of the day, I'm more grateful for what has happened than I am fearful or worried about what may be. (Note: This does NOT mean that any "God only gives you what you can handle" comments will be tolerated. Even now, I am not in love with the platitudes. ... I may have given you all the ability to comment, but I kept comment moderation in my own sticky little hands, so don't even try it.)

Cancer Survivor PTSD is a real thing, and I can't always forecast what's going to make my heart race and my chest close in. But one thing I do know - that I have always known - is that I am not alone. There are people who love me. I have a Father in Heaven who also loves me. There are millions of other survivors out there, and I am blessed to call a good dozen or so of them "friend". I may be panicky sometimes, but I am always blessed, and I'm grateful for any and every thing that reminds me of that.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Confessions of a popcorn addict

Do you see this bowl?

This is my popcorn bowl.

It is huge.

I mean... HUGE.

As in, it takes three bags of microwave popcorn to fill this bowl.

I'm telling you, it's a big bowl.

Tonight, I took popcorn to a movie night at a friend's house. I took this bowl FULL of popcorn, and an extra large bag of popcorn from Harkins. (I went and picked up the popcorn at the theater. Added the fancy theater butter and all.) I paid for my extra large bag - dumped it into a bag I'd brought with me, and then handed it back to the kid and asked for my free refill.

What I'm saying is... I took a lot of popcorn to this party.

And no one ate it. (Weird, right?)

When I left, I took the bowl with me. (I left the bag there, but I brought home the bowl. Not really to be nice... more, because I knew that if I had both the bowl AND the bag, I'd eat them both.)

This is how much I ate on my way home tonight.

Do you see that?

I ate more than half of my HUGE bowl of popcorn on my way home. ... It was a ten mile drive.

Man alive, I love popcorn. As in, I could eat my weight in popcorn. (Clearly.)

Tomorrow's gonna be a great day. ... Stale popcorn is right up there with chocolate cake, as far as breakfast food goes around here.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Story of my life...

So, back in December, I was trying to master peppermint fudge.

Which is not to say that I haven't been making peppermint fudge for years. I so have been. But I came up with this new PB fudge where I stacked Reese's cups between layers of fudge (I'm not going to lie... it was pretty fantastic) and it made me think that maybe I should play with my peppermint fudge and see if I could improve it.

I chopped Andes' mints and layered them between and on top of fudge (good... really pretty, but not minty enough). I added minty M&M's to the mix (adorable, with the holiday colors, but the fudge slid right off the candy shell... not so cute when a piece of fudge can't its shape).

And then I had what I was pretty sure the best idea of all time.

York. Peppermint. Patties. Stacked. Between. Layers. Of. Fudge.

It sounds good, right?

But it wasn't.

The peppermint patties made the fudge too... fudgey. It was kind of thick and chewy. And weird.

The flavor was good, and it was beautiful, with the dark chocolate layered against the white/peppermint. But the consistency was off, so I didn't make it again. Instead, I stashed the rest of the bag (the "family-sized bag", mind you) in my pantry and went about my business. ("My business" being that of forgetting the peppermint patties existed, and eating all the M&M's and Cadbury eggs in my house while I was on that stupid no-candy-buying binge from January through March.)

I ran across the half-empty bag the other day. It was like Christmas all over again.

And now... they're gone. Because I have, like, negative self control when it comes to candy.

Story of my life.

Friday, April 5, 2013

What I've learned in the last week.

I'm getting stronger.

You want to know how I can tell? I worked a TON of overtime last week and it didn't kill me.

It may have made me want to kill myself... but it didn't kill me.

That's good news, right?

Other things I learned last week:

Working more than 40 hours a week isn't a good idea. It makes me grumpy. While my body may be able to withstand a few extra hours at work, it takes a toll on my spirit. ... What I'm saying is, I don't like myself very much when I work too much. Which tells me, other people probably don't like me either. Note to self: Go home after 8 hours. There will always be work left to do. Go home anyway.

People matter more than paper. (Again, with the work always being there. People? They may or may not be. Make time for what/who matters.)

Hershey's chocolate isn't half bad. This, from the girl who chain-ate her way through an entire bag of mini-candy bars that were meant for customers. It turns out that I even like the Special Dark these days. (I'm either getting old, or I'm too stressed to know good chocolate from bad these days.)

That's about it:

1. Work less.

2. Spend more time with the people I love.

3. Don't pre-judge chocolate by its wrapper.

This is my new life plan.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Do you remember the movie Fly Away Home?

Yeah, neither do I.

I had to Google "duck movie true story 90's" to remember the name/find the trailer.

But what do I remember?

Going to this movie with Cousin Julie.

Ahhh... Provo's Movies Eight. Back in the day when I thought dollar movies were awesome (I have since decided that most discount theaters smell like someone - or someones, like, 17 of them - have peed their pants in the seats), and when I thought a theater with eight screens was pretty much the coolest thing ever. (Who grew up in a town so small that it didn't have a stoplight, let alone a movie theater? This girl.)

Anyway, I went to see this movie with Julie. We were (shockingly enough) the only people in the theater. (Crazy, right? With an inspiring story about a girl whose dad fashioned a flying machine so she could show her duck "children" how to fly South, I can't believe that theater wasn't packed to the gills!)

We were a few minutes early. It was a dollar movie, so there weren't previews. The theater was blasting (and I do mean blasting) muzak to keep the masses (we two) entertained until the movie started.

Enter this song...

Now, you can't tell me that you don't remember this song. (The movie? Sure. You could totally forget about that. But this video, complete with the creepy ghost motorcycle riding boyfriend?! It's unforgettable.)

As weirdie as this song is, it practically BEGS to be sung (sang?) along with. (I double dog dare you to disagree with that statement.)

I was sitting next to Julie, singing along to my heart's content, when she said the infamous words...

"I dare you."

More specifically, "I dare you to get up and stand in the front of the theater and sing this song. Out loud."

And how did I respond, you ask?

"What will you give me?"

"... A nickle."


No sooner had I gone up to stand at the front of the theater than an entire family (of, like, ten... you know how those Utah Mormons are with their big families) walked into the theater. I looked at Julie, silently asking if the bet/dare was still on... and she held up a nickel between her thumb and forefinger.

Oh, yes. It was on.

So, I sang. And when I say "I sang", I mean... I sang. I sang my little heart out. At the top of my lungs.

Picture it. Me standing at the front of the theater, belting it out as loud and proud as I could, throwing my arms out (a la Celine) at the "Babay, babay, babay" ...

I'm telling you, I put on quite a show.

For a nickle.

For my cousin.

For a memory.

And I've never regretted it. Not once. ... Not even when the family of ten just sat there in silence, staring at me. (They didn't clap, but I like to think that my musical performance was the highlight of their Saturday afternoon. I mean, come on. My competition was a movie about a girl who mothered ducklings, and you know that I totally rocked the song.)

I love my life. I love my cousin. I love to sing. Out loud. ... Some things never change.