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Friday, July 29, 2016

Colon Cancer is a Pain in the Ass

It had to be said.


F-Bomb Warning.

And duh - this is a Cancer Post™.

It is also a post about video games, hospital nurses, tesseracts, timey wimey TARDISes, American politics through the eyes of an eight-year-old child, the ins and outs of epipen costs, nice mechanics and nicer baristas, complications of illness, and children's odd interpretations of just about everything. And money, of course, always money. Or at least security.

So, most of you know that Laston was admitted to hospital again yesterday (July 27) because of severe gastrointestinal issues and side pain. There was some concern that it might be appendicitis (because why the fuck not?) but the scans show nothing wrong with his abdomen (or his chest, for that matter, so pneumonia is out - yay!) that we didn't already know about, like colon cancer metastasized to his liver. 

Nope, he has C. Diff Colitis. And for those of you who'd rather not read the link, it's one of those bacterial infections one gets from too many antibiotics (or other things that affect the GI tract, like, say, colon cancer or food poisoning). Very unhappy symptoms, mostly involving the uh... lower intestinal tract, if you know what I mean. Hence the post title. This is, mind you, in addition to our friends Too Much Ammonia in the Gut (which causes severe fatigue and nausea, and can go as far as coma), and Ascites, which is what causes people with liver problems to have swollen abdomens.

Problem is that the treatment for the too-much-ammonia issue is also a laxative. This is a bad combination, so they want to have him in a place where they can keep a close eye on things, which I cannot do in my living room, until they can get the C Diff under control.

Also, Lizzy should not be in his hospital room, because she can't stop touching things, and is at risk for infection thereby. Grownups (and older kids) can usually manage it though, with rigorous handwashing, surgical gowns, gloves and so forth, so they don't want him home until he's no longer contagious.

Sounds like when I had Giardia Lamblia in the long ago (July 1992). I still have gastro issues through this day, so I have a little panic whenever I have a gastro moment. As mine are often triggered by stress, this is a problem.

Naturally on the way home from the hospital, on hold with my insurance company to see about getting the available discounted housecleaning service (did not get yet; there's a process; regularly priced cleaners are coming in tomorrow to make at least all but the kids' rooms hygienic), my mom texts me saying she's left her purse at KFC when she got Strongly-Discouraged-Lizzy from the hospital, and could I go get it? I turn around, get to KFC, and they have no idea what I'm talking about.

Shit.

Turns out that my mom, who has lived in the area since well before I was driving a car, and whose favorite Chinese restaurant is only across the parking lot from this KFC, didn't even know that the Totem Lake KFC existed, much less that it was closest to the hospital.

So I went to the Woodinville store, where they had her purse waiting for me. Silly Mom.

Then, when I stopped to pick up Abby's epipen refill, the pharmacy told me they were over $1500 for four pens (two packs).

Excuse me?

After much frantic texting with my ex-husband, who carries her insurance (bless him) and a quick visit to the website for the manufacturer's coupons for epipens, I got that down to $110.

On the other hand, with Abby at her Nana's house (my ex-husband's mom) and Leanna with her mom, we are getting quite a lot of Lizzy and Mommy time. And boy is it weird.

The conversation started this morning on the way to the hospital (before the Lizzy-ban) with her asking about a specific episode of Doctor Who (The Doctor's Wife), and went through multi-dimensional travel (with a side trip to whether she is ready to tackle A Wrinkle in Time; she is, as long as it's the same way she reads the Harry Potter books, which is that I read it to her in an effort to deal with any context she doesn't have), and then to the concept of empathy. Because, you see, in the episode in question, the Doctor can (for the first time ever) speak to the TARDIS in words, not just empathically. I asked her if she knew what empathy was and she said yes, it's 'trying to understand what the person you're talking to is feeling.'

Good.

Then she made a connection I was not comfortable with; she asked if that's why I don't like Donald Trump, because he's the one who's "not a demmy-something, the other ones, the ones who don't have the empathy."

Hold on there, kiddo; I never said that. I know lots of Republicans who have plenty of empathy (like some of our best family friends, and also some of her grandparents, and that I'm not a Democrat anyway, though I am a liberal). I also explained that although Trump is the choice of the Republican Party (I'm not getting into the reservations on the parts of many Republicans with an eight-year-old) that I don't think he's a good example of a Republican anyway.

"Because he doesn't have empathy? Oh!" (you could see the lightbulb come on) "Like Dolores Umbridge doesn't have empathy for Harry Potter, but most of the people from the Ministry of Magic are nice?"

Yeah, pretty much. 

But seriously, she's not quite nine, and she's into politics and science and unicorns, and can pretty much flit from one to another with little effort. She is definitely her parents' child. As a further example, I'm writing this while watching 2001: A Space Odyssey on Amazon Prime on my new PS3, because Laston isn't here for me to play Final Fantasy XIII with. And yes, I find 2001 soothing; call it prenatal influence; it was released the summer my mom was pregnant with me.

Outfit on Clearance
Another example is this outfit, which we came across for a grand total of six bucks, on our way through Sears to buy her new shoes, as her old ones are size two and her new ones are three-and-a-half. Note that she deliberately balanced the STEM-themed shirt with girly leggings; she said it needed "a little girling up."

All righty then.

And this was after we got the van's (typically Laston's vehicle, as he doesn't like my little compact sedan, but it's running a lot better than my car. If this keeps up we'll only need the one car anyway; currently Laston isn't up to driving much) oil changed and the body washed, gassed up and a new fuel cap.

Oh, little problem; transmission fluid was dirty, our climate means that mold often grows in the cabin air filters (ew!) and he needs new wiper blades. This gets expensive. Although in fairness, after the barista attached to the garage heard about our day (shutting Lizzy up when she's excited is an exercise in futility) she gave us the oil change discount on both drinks, not just one.

New Shoes!
So the rest of the school supplies (she really needed the socks and shoes) will have to wait until next payday.

So yeah, a pain in the ass kind of day, although bits of it were fun, intellectually stimulating, or both.

This is the Moving Target and the New Normal. 

I shall just keep swimming.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Fake it 'Til We Make it

Not a Cancer Post™

(Warning: Links to my favorite wikiwalk website. You may never emerge if you head down that path)

Because while Cancer Posts™ may be cathartic to write, they're also emotionally exhausting. So I need to take a break now and then from the gloom and write about something completely unrelated. Maybe even good or fun or funny.

For instance, Pokemon Go.

As though the two were mutually exclusive.
If you have been living under a rock for the past week, you may not have heard of this. At its most basic it is geocaching for kids and geeks and anime fans. Some of my friends (mostly geeks after all) have actually blasted their own fitbit goals out of the water in the process of playing, for instance.

Hypocrisy much?
There are concerns about privacy, as anything which uses your location services on your phone can cause, and concerns about people getting fired for playing on the clock. There are idiots creeping around the back doors of police stations in the dead of night (because that's never suspicious) and stupid people walking into traffic (or driving!) while attempting to capture an Eevee.

There are also stories of people getting out and hiking for the first time in years, and of children with autism interacting with people and even making eye contact during chats about where to find the best Clefairy nest nearby. I've made more people's cell data work in the last week, just so they can get out on the sunshine and fresh air, and that's pretty darn cool.

There are memes on facebook on both sides of the question.

But in the main, for me at least, the benefits outweigh the concerns.

In other, non-pokenews, Laston's book is selling really really well. And we realized that today he has meaning-of-life-the-universe-and-everything in positive reviews (all four and five stars, thank you). That is a Good Thing.

We're in the Grinding Chapter of Final Fantasy XIII. This is a lot more open-ended than other parts of the game, and I am enjoying it thoroughly. I have noticed a tendency to button-mash, even though this game doesn't require it, rather like punching the elevator button again in the hope that the lift will move faster.

I just noticed that both that game and most of the Ever After High show Lizzy is watching as I write have a main theme in common: It's Screw destiny; I'm doing what's right! Of course, many of the FF games have this as a trope; it's a Squeenix staple.

So, how'd I do on a lighter, softer blog post rather than the defensive, depressed, and angry ones I've done here lately?

Maybe it'll help.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Moving Target Sucks

Yes, this is a Cancer Post™.

With more than one F Bomb.

So Laston, as you all know, spent a few days in the hospital a week ago.

This was not fun.

But it's not so much the time in the hospital, or the crappy way he feels, or even the looming spectre of cancer that's pissing me off tonight.

It's the fact that it fucks with everything in life.

That I didn't even mention here in this blog that Abby got As and Bs (and one just-barely C+) on her report card, or that Lizzy got terrific grades too. I never even mentioned these things, because the Fucking Cancer distracted me from celebrating them properly.

It's that I don't have the luxury of working a few of those overtime hours offered, because I need to be home, and that Laston's entire income is at the whim of someone else (the SSA, who, although faster than expected, have still not managed to send us the paper check for three months back "child support" for Abby and Lizzy).

That every time we get a fucking treatment that works, Laston's body tells it to fuck off after a few months and we have to start over. The one that landed him in the hospital last week reoccurred (to a much lesser extent, thank Google) yesterday. It's been determined that he has developed what amounts to an allergy to a chemo drug called alaxoplatinum (I think).

I miss predictable schedules (oh, and that's changing at work too, though that has nothing to do with the cancer). I miss being able to take Abby up to her dad's at the same time on all his weekends with her. I miss the ability to plan meals ahead, rather than feeding Laston whatever he can choke down.

It's not all bad, of course.

I can still play video games while Laston watches and does strategy research for me (Final Fantasy XIII now). I can still watch our evening TV with Abby after Lizzy goes to bed (we're halfway through Stargate Atlantis and 4/5ths of the way through Stargate SG-1). I can still read Lizzy her nighttime books (we're on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and oh boy is Lizzy pissed off at Dolores Umbridge!). We can even have Family Movie night.

But I can't predict when any of this will go by the wayside because of a medical emergency.

And that drives me batshit crazy.

Possibly I'm a control freak. Although, when I was in marriage counseling with my first husband, the counselor told me I didn't need to have control; I just needed to know someone was in control.

And between our lives and the craptastic world of stupid bathroom laws and shootings of all kinds and rapists getting away with it, I'm just too damn tired to deal.

So if I'm snappish or unkind, or I seem obtuse or uninterested in what you're trying to show me, please don't take it personally.

I have more than enough on my plate.