Thursday, March 28, 2013

Happy Birthday, Boobies!

Another anniversary. Today, I'm celebrating (celebrating? commemorating?) the one year anniversary of my bilateral mastectomy with tram flap reconstruction. That translates to BOOB JOB AND TUMMY TUCK THAT IS COVERED BY INSURANCE. Okay, the drawback might be that pesky cancer, but you know I'm a look-on-the-bright-side Pollyanna. And as such, I have decided to list ten positive things about having breast cancer, and, in the interest of equal opportunity, ten negatives.


1. Obviously, the boob job and the tummy tuck. The incisions have healed nicely and the scars are fading. Boobs perky. Tummy flat.

2. No more pain from the fibrocystic disease. And I had constant pain, which varied from mildly uncomfortable to can't stand for my clothes to touch me. No more boobies, no more pain.

3. New friends (Vol. 1), from SueAnn at the infusion center to Suzanne the Tattoo Guru at the plastic surgeon's office.

4. New friends (Vol. 2). These are my bloggy friends, whom I have met because I sat down at the computer and decided to spill my guts and publish the results on-line.  All of them are brilliant and funny and unbelievably supportive of my little efforts, such as:

     Your Daily Dose of Damn!

     A Fly On Our (Chicken Coop) Wall
     My Half Assed Life
     renee a. schuls-jacobson's blog
     Don't Chew On The Dinner Table!
     Underachiever's Guide To Being A Domestic Goddess

5. Old friends. I have the BEST support system ever. EVER.

6. Several friends have come to me to say they got their long-overdue mammograms because of me. REMEMBER, IF YOU CAN'T SET A GOOD EXAMPLE, THEN SET A REALLY, REALLY BAD ONE.

7. A continuation of #6 - several friends have come to me for advice when their routine mammograms showed something "suspicious."  The first thing I tell them? Don't borrow trouble. (See? Pollyanna.) Thankfully, each time, my friends have checked out just fine. Which is why you don't borrow trouble in the first place.

8. I don't have to wear a bra. Did you hear that? I DON'T HAVE TO WEAR A BRA. A cami will do nicely, thank you.

9. Thanks to my treatments, no more visits from Aunt Flo. 

10. FLAT TUMMY AND AWESOME BOOBIES. I realize I already listed that, but it bears repeating.


1. No feeling in the boobular area. None. Nada. Just peripherally. They're all show, baby.

2. Continued pulling and pain in the tummy tuck area, mostly when lying down and trying to sit up. Or turning over in bed. Oh, and when I SNEEZE. Will I EVER feel like my innards aren't ripping apart when I sneeze?!

3. This is my daughter's legacy. I thought it was bad enough when fibrocystic disease was going to be her destiny, but now she'll most likely have that along with an increased risk for developing breast cancer. And words cannot express how much I wish I could change that for her. I'm sorry, baby girl. This is one thing Mama can't kiss and make better.

4. The calf pills (also known as calcium supplements) I have to swallow every morning, along with Vitamins D and E. Plus the Metamucil I gag down to counteract the side effects of the calcium. The wee little aromatase inhibitor tablet I take every morning as part of my treatment is nothing by comparison.

5. The side effects of being chemically thrown into menopause. Hot flashes. Weight gain. Loss of muscle tone. Hot flashes. Occasional moodiness (in a not-ordinarily moody person). Hot flashes. Did I mention hot flashes? And side effects just from the Arimidex and Zoladex treatments. Bone aches. Insomnia. Brittle fingernails. Dry skin. 

6. Okay, the occasional moodiness needs to be addressed further. Most of the time, everything is fine, and I'm my usual optimistic self. But if something upsets the status quo, I fall apart. You're not likely to see it. I don't like to cry in front of other people, because I am a hideous crier, so I've grown pretty good at holding it together until I am alone. Then one tear escapes, then another. Sometimes, it continues until there's not a drop left. And sometimes, I wouldn't even be able to tell you why I'm crying (that is, if you saw me and asked, which you wouldn't because I'm a ninja crier).

7. I haven't slept the night through since two nights before I had my surgery. That's one year plus two nights of lying awake every night, sometimes for hours at a time. Oddly enough, once I get myself out of bed in the morning, I don't feel sleep-deprived. But it's a sleep pattern that I am not happy with. I used to have vivid dreams all night that I would describe with great detail the next morning to my husband. (I know HE doesn't miss my crazy-ass dreams, but I do!)

8. My medical expenses are astronomical. That monthly shot of Zoladex alone is $1,400. 

9. I can never donate blood again. Or be an organ donor. I'm tainted.

10. Every single day, I'm at least a little bit scared that the cancer is going to come back somewhere else. It's a shadow that will always dance over my head.

And there you go. Happy birthday, boobies! 

Me, completely lit on narcotics, 3/30/12

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ta Ta Party - Revisited

Where were YOU a year ago today? Anybody who was anybody was at my Ta Ta to the Ta Ta's party, either in body or in spirit, as I bade (a not so fond) farewell to my boobies. If life gives you cancer, after all, what can be better than thumbing your nose at it with a party? ESPECIALLY one that included a boobie cake.  And gifts, both silly (boobie crown, for example) and splendidly useful (such as the amazing things my friends from my old Warner Bros. days sent).  There was considerable laughter (can anyone say "squirrel margarita"?), and tears were not allowed. Read all about it:

Originally posted March 24, 2012

I Think, Therefore, I Can. I Think

Ever see "The Music Man"? As part of his swindle, Professor Harold Hill teaches the "think system" to the boys who have ordered marching band instruments, telling the boys that if they THINK about it hard enough, they will be able to play.  I've decided to employ the Think System for myself - if I THINK hard enough that everything will be fine, then it WILL be. 

We waste a lot of time borrowing trouble, worrying about things that might never happen. I believe in self-fulfilling prophecy. I often tell my kids if they THINK they're going to do poorly on a test, performance, etc., then they surely WILL do poorly.  Think positively for a positive outcome (Jeez, I really AM a Pollyanna!). It's about time I started practicing what I preach.

The boobies have to go. They have been very, very bad. And I could cry about this loss or celebrate the beginning of a new chapter.  Enter the Ta Ta to the Ta Ta's party.

I am so grateful to Melinda for putting together a fabulous party for me! I didn't cry ONCE, which was my goal (Think System at work), although I came thisclose with the cards and gifts from my former co-workers at Warner Bros. There were a lot of little birds at work, pulling off that surprise, including my husband and Melinda. Well done, all of you! (Presents were entirely unnecessary. I truly only wanted to be surrounded by laughing friends, but I love them all and I'm not giving them back.) 

My friend Kathy made me laugh so hard I cried (the GOOD kind of tears) when she told of going to Hallmark to buy me a card and finding out that breast cancer cards are only available in October. Her reaction upon hearing this from the card store employee? "Damn you, Dyanne Dillon, for having breast cancer when it isn't October!" We took pictures of me holding the boobie cake in front of my chest, my friend Dawn fondling the nipples. Then, they made me lick the nipples on the cake and bite one of them off. How can you feel sorry for yourself with friends like that?! 

I'm still mad and sad and scared that this is happening to me. But if I can think myself better with laughter and silliness, then Professor Hill was onto something. And I will do it wearing my new boobie crown. Watch me.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Happy Blogiversary To Meeeeeee!


One year ago, I sat down at the computer, did a Google search for "best user friendly blog format" and started writing. 

My Facebook friends have been kind enough to stick with me and keep reading. Well, the loyal ones, anyway. YOU know who you are. (I, however, don't know. Blog stats are NOT that detailed, you  may be relieved to know.) Along the way, I've added new readers who DON'T EVEN KNOW ME AND STILL WANT TO READ WHAT I HAVE TO SAY. 

My most gracious thanks to you all.

Here's where it all started:

(Originally posted March 18, 2012)

Chapter 1, Page 1

Boobies, ta ta's, tits, breasts, whatever you want to call them. I remember being 11, when I couldn't WAIT to get them. They held out on me until I was about 13, but I had a bra anyway, purchased at TG&Y - a humiliating experience with my mother and a sales lady that I've mostly blocked from my memory. (I do remember hearing the words, "28AA is the smallest we have.") My boobies were never deal makers. No one would ever say they were the first thing you noticed about me when you met me. Not even in the top 10 things you might notice. Okay, or the top 50 things you might notice. I didn't notice them much, either, once I got them. 

When I was in my late 20s, I got the first hint that my boobs could actually turn on me. I found a thick place in my left breast that led me to a surgeon and my first mammogram. The surgeon eventually removed a small, benign lump and several small cysts and pronounced that my breasts had fibrocystic tendencies. I would probably always have areas of dense breast tissue, cysts, and tenderness. Just what you want to hear when you're 27!

Pregnancy and nursing in my 30s gave me "C" cups for the first (and only) time in my life. I wasn't sorry to see them go back down two cup sizes when it was all over, but did the very LIFE have to be drained from them as well? 

A few years ago, my fibrocystic tendencies became full-blown fibrocystic disease, starting a cycle of painful lumps, ultrasounds, mammograms, cyst aspirations, needle biopsies, and follow-up. The follow-up ultrasound would find yet ANOTHER large cyst (or two, or five) and the cycle would begin again. None of it fun. All of it leading to the next chapter....

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My Day As My Very Own Big-Time Star

I am now a tv star and you can all say you knew me when.

 My person heard there was an open call for unpaid extras for a taping of a scene from the ABC show, "Nashville." Now, I've never actually WATCHED an episode of "Nashville," but Terri had. And since we are nothing if not always up for an adventure (she once got stuck on the roof of my house), we signed up to be on the show.

The on-line instructions told us to show up at the sound stage at 3 p.m. and wear muted, fall colors. Nothing white, brightly patterned, or with a visible logo.  We would be acting as though we were attending a concert, which meant we would be clapping, cheering, and waving.  (This would require a great deal of acting from me, as you may recall that I am not a woo girl.) In exchange, there would be snacks, prize giveaways and a light meal. Plus, we would get to see "a concert performance by 'Juliet Barnes' (Hayden Panettiere)." 

Sign. Us. Up.

You might be a little disappointed to learn that the life of an extra isn't as glamorous as you might have thought, especially when you're an UNPAID extra.

For starters, extras parking is nowhere near the sound stage. Not even a bit. Thankfully, they had 15 passenger vans to shuttle us to the building. When we got there, we were herded into the building and directed to sit at a large group of tables. We were given a meal ticket (which I ended up losing) and a door prize ticket and invited to partake in the snacks at the craft service table.  We were also told not to cross the yellow caution tape that separated the unpaid (i.e., the unclean) from the PAID extras. NO MINGLING! NO!

There was a DJ to keep us entertained, a couple of girls to keep us all peppy and excited, and Twizzlers on the craft services table. The DJ kept thanking us for volunteering our time, as though we were joining the Peace Corps instead of working for free so the poor little ol' network could afford to tape the show. 
"These pretzels are making me thirsty."

After three hours with the Pep Squad and way too many Twizzlers, they told us we would be taken back to the sound stage within about thirty minutes. I decided I'd best avail myself of the facilities before I went, so I asked for directions to the restroom and was told to go back out through the same door where we entered the building and take a left.  

Wait, what?

That would just take me OUTSIDE.

Mmmm, yeah, we were provided with port-a-potties. That did not have lights inside them. And that did not have breathable air inside them, either.

I peed in record time, yanked my pants up and decided the hell with social norms and evacuated the johnny-on-the-spot and tucked in my shirt and zipped my jeans outside, with the smokers watching. Not that I'm disparaging the smokers. If it hadn't been for one of them, I never would have figured out how to operate the water at the handwashing station. 

We were finally herded back to the sound stage and told to surround a stage area. An Assistant Director with a microphone gave us instructions that only he could hear, as apparently, the sound was going to the monitors on the stage and not through any kind of loud speaker. The extras (UNPAID extras) who were two feet away from him were able to hear enough to figure out what to do, and the rest of us went along with it. The AD had us practice clapping and cheering. And doing it in pantomime. He told us how we would cheer and clap when "Juliet" came out. How we would back off when she started talking. He was very earnest and took himself very seriously.  He gave us little gems of feedback, like "the energy's really important to us." (I seemed to be the only one around me who thought that was hilarious.)

Soon, we were good enough for the stand-ins to leave the stage and the actors and musicians to come out.

The AD told us not to sing along or clap to the beat for editing purposes. My first thought was, how could we possibly sing along to songs we've never heard before?

"Juliet" started singing. She sang one verse and a chorus of a song. We were enthusiastic audience members. We did it again. And again. And again. 

That was the extent of the "concert" we were promised.

And now I could see how we could end up singing along with her, as we heard the same verse and chorus a bazillion times.

After about twenty takes, they herded us back out and fed us some pretty darn fine pizza. Then the little sheep were led back in to cheer another dozen times or so. And finally, around 10:00 p.m.,  we were done. 

There was never, ever, not even once, a camera anywhere NEAR me, so don't strain yourself looking for me on an upcoming episode.

Meh, who cares, though? We had a terrific time. 

And, after a series of trades, I got myself a "Nashville" beanie.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Note To My 17 Year Old Son

Dear Son:


Open packet of sugar-free Kool-aid.

Pour into pitcher.

Fill with (preferably) cold water to the pre-marked 2 quart line.

Give it a little stir, although it's not really necessary.


Please marry well.

Love, Mom

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Deep Thoughts: Road Trip Edition

Taking a little road trip to visit my person in Nashville, and the 8 hour drive gave me plenty of time for some Deep Thoughts.

No matter how well-intentioned I am, I can never seem to leave the house when I THINK I'm going to be able to leave the house, which then forces me to make up time later.

It's not a good sign when the cars you meet on the highway are snow-covered.

It's also not a good sign to meet snow plows on the road.

Most drivers are stupid. Except me.

Eating Taco Bell while driving really isn't a very good idea under the best of conditions.

It is fortunate that I have a cast iron stomach when I choose to eat Taco Bell at all, let alone when I am on a road trip.

The fact that Taco Bell only carries Pepsi products is usually a deal breaker.

The people of south central Missouri live a very sad life, if this is all they get for radio stations.  

Re-mixes are not appropriate for every song. 

Sometimes, Siri is my bitch. Other times, Siri IS a bitch and withholds information.

But she's always very, very polite.

After it was too late, I wished I had sucked it up and gotten a Diet Pepsi, because Taco Bell makes me THIRSTY.

You would think hot flashes would be welcome in really cold weather. But still, no.

I hear banjos.

The perfect trifecta for nearly messing my pants: Take a wrong exit that sends you past a correctional facility (that's PRISON WITH RAZOR WIRE AND GUARD TOWERS) just as the tornado sirens are being tested.

Caught between a rock and a hard place: Exxon on one corner, BP on the other. Do I get back on the freeway and hope that I don't run out of gas before the next exit or compromise my principles and try not think about oil-covered birdies as I fill my tank?

So happy to see a Shell station, even though the bathroom was so cold I might as well have been peeing outside and they didn't have Diet Coke at the fountain. WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMING TO?

Middle of nowhere Kentucky looks just like middle of nowhere Missouri.

If I were a throwing up kind of person (and I'm not - read about it here), crossing this bridge would certainly make me do so.

Crossing the Ohio River. Even scarier bridge
crosses the Mississippi, but I was too scared
to get a good picture.

And now, a big, big thank you to Renee at Renee A. Shuls-Jacobson's Blog for choosing my little story about another road trip I once took (with a dead body) as her winner for Tingo Tuesday. If you go visit her blog and view the post found here, you will read the nice things she said about me and see my blog in her sidebar as her Featured Blogger of the Month. She includes a link to my story as well. Check it out!