Monday, April 16, 2012


It is now 4 plus years post treatment. I don't really keep up this blog right now because who the heck wants to hear about my dull day-to-day life?! No one wants to know that I sometimes go to sleep at 6PM, or that I love my grands? Boring.

But there are people that have followed my blog for a while or stumbled upon it while researching information related to their own struggle with the Big C.

I'm 4 plus years out. No evidence of disease. That's the closest they can get to saying, you're cured. Cancer cells can hang out and re-appear later, and if it does, I'll deal with it then. In the mean time, I've celebrated my 60th birthday. I'm living life as fast as I can, just in case. I still like travel and have used a bequest to give me the freedom to travel around the US. I have bought a little A-frame camper called an Aliner Alite. It's essentially a bed with storage. It sets up very quickly (30 seconds) and is just the right size for me and a grand to go adventuring.

I'm, hopefully, within about two years of retirement and hope to travel and have fun and be a good grammy.

I'm alive. Happy. Moderately healthy. I've experienced some wonderful changes in my job in the last year. Life is complicated, but it's GOOD. Really, really, really good. I wish you the same joy and good health. Blessings.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Complaint Department

I've heard from some that I need to keep writing. I'm not sure why as I think I live a very dull life now.

I've gotten a few weeks of rest now and that has helped me to feel a little more sane. The last few weeks of school were just nutso. I just operated out of some kind of obligation and don't have any idea where I got the energy from to manage those last weeks.

I just heard that my dear friend in Richmond, is in the hospital after a fall today. She has a "minor" hip fracture. That's an oxymoron like "Gigantic Shrimp." "Minor Hip Fracture." Nope, that's an oxymoron. I hope to hear what's up with her tomorrow. I hope it's so minor they don't have to operate. If you're a praying person, please remember Lucille and her family and physicians.

Tonight I was reflecting back on my days as a Mental Health Provider on a homicide / suicide hotline. I was remembering this guy that called in and said, "If you want to tell something to God, tell me and I'll relay the message because I'm blowing myself up at Midnight." Now, I don't know about you, but for me those words made my heart skip a beat. This was way, way back in the day when caller ID was just coming out and we didn't have it. In order to get a trace on a call, took about 15 minutes that I had to keep the person on the line.

He explained that he was a munitions worker in Vietnam and that he had all the ingredients for Napalm and was planning to blow up his house. Now, I'd grown up watching the nightly news and seen what Napalm could do. Do you know, off hand, what the ingredients are? I sure didn't. I figured worst case scenario he could have gasoline, and that wasn't a highly controlled substance. So, I had to believe him. Now blowing up a city block ... that also got my attention, and it was about two hours until Midnight.

With five incoming lines, I walked to another desk, called the hotline myself, and when the phone rang I asked Mr. Napalm if I could put him on HOLD. Being the polite homicidal maniac that he was, he allowed me to put him on HOLD. Whereupon, I immediately called the operator, asked for a supervisor, and informed her I had a homicidal person on X phone line and was requesting an emergency trace. Naaaah, that didn't take long.

Thankfully when I went back to line X, he was patiently holding. I now had two phones with two different people talking to me: one phone applied to each ear. This was going to be a LONG night.

So the phone company traced the call, and then transferred me over to the police who were using me to funnel information to them from the caller. They'd ask me questions like, "Can an officer come to the door?" I'd then turn around and ask my caller, "So look, I'm thinking this isn't the greatest plan you've ever had. So, what about surrendering to the police?" His reply back to me was, "If someone comes up to my house the whole thing will blow. I have booby traps all over the yard and house." So, then I'd repeat what he just said, "So the yard and porch are covered with booby traps." And the caller would feel affirmed that I was listening, and the police would get the information on the other line.

What made me think of this experience today was watching a hospital show where a guy was clearly nuts. You see, at the time I'm talking to this guy, I don't know he's nuts. I think he is homicidal and has the stuff to make a bomb and blow a city block to kingdom come. I've often thought of him because he and the police frightened me so much that night.

After an hour or so of phone and verbal juggling, the police asked me to get him to show where he was in the house by turning on a light. I worked a "No." into my conversation. They were incredulous, and asked me again to get him to turn on a light to show where he was. I worked another "No" into the conversation. The police officer asked me, "Are you saying 'No" you won't get him to turn on a light and show us his position?" I worked a "Yes" into the conversation.

I couldn't be directly responsible for his death, and I had visions of a sniper trying to get a "bead" on him. I couldn't be on the phone with this man and hear him get shot. I just couldn't do that.

After about another 45 minutes of wrangling with him, we'd found out more information about him. The police tracked down his parents and he'd been thrown out of the Army as unfit for service (because he was nuts) and he had no knowledge of how to make munitions. (Big sigh.) I'd also talked enough to him to find out he'd been in jail before and was scared of men. So THE only female officer on duty that night in a rather small, rural county got her to drop writing a ticket to some schmuck on the highway, and she went over to, what by then was, a BIG deal. By now the police had blocked off his whole neighborhood. The bomb squad was there, and pretty much every officer in the entire county. I'm still talking to two people on two different phone lines.

I got to listen as the female officer carefully came to the door and knocked. Loudly knocked, I might add. I encouraged him to open the door and let the female officer (I promise) in to arrest him. I got to hear as he was taken down, as the phone went klunking across the floor, and finally as an officer picked up the phone line and said they had things under control now. And he was alive. Sick. But alive.

That is probably one of the most scary times I've ever had in my life. With five incoming lines, there were calls I ignored. Were any of those calls people who were genuinely suicidal in that moment? Whatever happened to that poor guy? Was he taken to a hospital where he belonged or was he charged with something like a "false police report" and sent to jail? Or both?

I talked and trigaged lots and lots of calls over the three years I worked on that job, but this was one of two really memorable calls. I have since talked to officers that were in the field that night and remember that call, from the police side of things, and yes -- there was a sniper there. For a woman that follows the "rules" and does what the nice officer instructs, it was also scary to me to defy the instructions of the officer who was attempting me to get the caller to turn on the lights. It was frightening to me to think I might be listening on the phone when some guy got his brains blown out. It was two hours of terror. At least one of those hours, I was fearing for the lives of many. The other hour (it was about 11:45 by the time all this ended -- I didn't get my message through to God via this guy) I was terrified for one man's life. I don't think I can ever forget those two hours.

But you know, when a kid shows me a tiny dab of blood and begs to go to the nurse, "It's an EMERGENCY!!!" I can't help but think, "You have no idea how NOT an emergency this is."

It's been 18 years since that event. The mentally ill don't live as long as the rest of folks. If I was a betting person, my bet would be that he's no longer with us in this life. I hope in the next life, if there is one, that he is relieved of his illness and the chaos it brings into his life.

Yup, an EMERGENCY is definitely not defined as a drop of blood or a scratch or a blister or a bloody nose. You have to think really big to get my attention and have ME call it an emergency.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I realized when I went to the police today that this phone harassment has been going on for THREE years! What a dork I am for putting up with this for so long! A police officer likely went to see him today though, and I'm hoping that will take care of things.

Breast Cancer Survivor Support Group tonight. Almost didn't make it because I dozed off after next-to-no sleep last night.

Two more work days, and I'm outta there!

On June 13th I'm going to take a Science exam to see if I can qualify to teach Science. History teachers are a dime a dozen, but Science teachers are harder to come by. I'm also signed up to get an endorsement for teaching gifted. I'm trying to make myself as indispensable as possible. I'll surely end up with some weird sets of qualifications. The gifted endorsement is a given. The Science ... that'll be harder. If I don't pass it this time, I'm going to surrender.

A meeting tomorrow, another on Thursday and pack up my room and I'm done. I also get to meet my soon-to-be foster "child's" judge on Thursday for the first time. The judicial system keeps a close eye on foster kids these days, which I think is good! I have three more big homework assignments to turn in to DFCS and then my application will be complete. Those homeworks will get tackled next week.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Well I've been trying to rush to the end of the school year without faltering. I think I made it to the end without the kids without fainting or just not being able to get up one morning. I have three more days and a few meetings to do, and I am pretty sure I can get through them.

I recorded it, and have saved it back for a couple weeks until I felt emotionally strong enough to handle watching "Farrah's Story." I watched it tonight (Memorial Day) and I am very blessed. She was diagnosed with stage IV at her first diagnosis. I am blessed to have been diagnosed with probably stage II.

It was frightful to see how much suffering she has gone through in order to try and continue living. Clearly the time has come where treatment is no longer worth the hassle. Interestingly, my motto, was expressed similarly by her, but is summed up as "All days on this side of the dirt are good." As a movie star she said it more nicely.

It's nice to have the financial where-with-all to go anywhere in the world to get treatments. I'll have to make do with American treatments, all of which are FDA approved and therefore 10 years behind the rest of the world. With luck, I'll never have to find out what comes after what I've already had. Cancer doesn't care who you are or what kind of money you have, or how beautiful you might be/have been. It doesn't let you keep your dignity, your hair, or all your parts. Suddenly things you thought you'd take to your gave, precede you in death, and you hope you're not going to be right behind them.

I've always hoped that I'd never be able to say, "What was that?" and just wake up dead. No big transitional thing... but I think cancer probably robs you of that kind of opportunity. My grandma went a pretty awful way. It took her 10 awful, horrendous days to die. Farrah has managed to drag it out for two years and to have some nice times in-between the awful stuff. Ultimately though, her thoughts and feelings are those of lots and lots of those afflicted with cancer and those who hope they have overcome it.

I hope she can just take lots and lots of morphine and surrender. It can be a gentle slide, I think. It appears she's still struggling to stay on this side of the veil. Doesn't seem like she is likely to have many more days with us though. In one hour's time, 5 people will die of some kind of cancer, and in that same hour 30 more people will hear the words, "You have cancer." At least I think that is what Oprah quoted.

Just as I've been stuck by lightning and lived to tell about it, I hope to be able to live a long time to tell the story of being struck by cancer and surviving it. I bought a lotto ticket tonight, but I'd rather live the "life" lotto. So would Farrah.

And as I write this bit of emotional stuff, a student that has repeatedly called me and called me and called me -- before I got sick, while I was in treatment and then.....a pause and some quiet. I sat behind him at graduation on Friday night, and was surprised to feel so much bile inside me against him. I know who it is. I can't prove it. I can't do anything but change my cell number to stop it. I thought at graduation, "He's maturing and growing up and maybe isn't so bad anymore." But tonight as the phone rings and he "stalks" me with his adolescent pranks, I know that he is really, through-and-through, just a plain old asshole. I've never "encouraged" him by responding back. I've always just hung up. Tonight I told him where I thought he'd reside upon his release from this life. While I pray for compassion for myself, there is a great part of me that hopes his Karma kicks his ass!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


Well, I went through the colonoscopy and they kept me asleep and the results are all good. THAT is a good thing.

Slept most of the afternoon. Have to grade some papers and do an IEP and stay late to do two IEPs tomorrow. Just a little pressure. Back to the grind tomorrow.

Relieved to have this over with. Very relieved.

Enjoying some goofy games on Face Book.

Now it's a race to get through Tomorrow and Friday and then Saturday I'm cleaning and going to a baby shower. I'm actually looking forward to the shower. Something fun about the positive expectations. Babies make everyone smile.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Hor de Ourves

Or however you spell it. I've been putting out sunflower seeds and I've been getting birds. Thelma the co-owned cat is also getting birds. I saw her Sunday hiding in the really high pansey's, unmoving, just wating for birds to come get seed. So I took the pansey's up today so she can't hide in the foliage quite as easily. I don't like the idea of serving her up hor de ourves avian style.

Off from work for two days to get some testing done. Not really excited about it because I've had adverse issues in the past with this test.

Will try to use tomorrow to grade papers, do some other paperwork, and maybe clear off the dining room table. That presumes I can. Not sure I'll feel all that great.

More rain coming our way. You can practically watch the grass grow right now. My birdhouse gourd plants are growing while I watch them. Everything is just soaking wet.

My next door neighbor was encouraging his dog to attack Thelma the co-owned cat tonight. His dog has been a huge annoyance here at the townhomes. I have heard rumors that they are moving. I hope so because their lack of respect for living things, is really getting to me. I feel sorry for their dog, but am getting pretty fed up with it annoying me and the rest of the neighbors.

God, I hope my students are relatively decent tomorrow and Wednesday to those taking the class. I don't expect they will be, but I can hope. There are 13 more days of school, and the students already thing they are on summer break and they are being very uncooperative. Very rowdy and very uncooperative.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Spring Fever

Boy the students have it. I have it. They're cranky. I'm getting cranky from the way they're acting. 1100 vs. 100 for the next couple weeks makes a bad ratio when the 1100 seem ready to take over like Santa Anna at the Alamo. I'm feeling like I'm being run over on a daily basis. Can't wait for FRIDAY tomorrow. I bet they'll be restless as roaches on a warming fry pan.