I’m Learning Too Late That Baby Oil Does Not Have An SPF

Dr. Drapenscrape didn’t keep me waiting long in the exam room. I was sitting on a chair and he pulled the other up next to mine and sat down, my medical file in his hand. I knew going into this appointment that the mole hadn’t been benign, but to see it on the pathology report’s Final Diagnosis…well, I don’t know how to describe what I felt.

Malignant Melanoma

Zee Mole has now got himself a fancy new name and a lot more respect.

Dr. Drapenscrape went over the findings in detail, including the following important points about Zee Mole, which will now be “MM” for brevity’s sake:

  1. It has a depth of .6mm. My doctor’s policy has been anything with a depth of .75mm or greater is a ticket for an automatic CT and PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans. Mine, at .6 is right at the point Dr. Drapenscrape’s orders the scans if he’s feeling a bit of hypochondria. His words. This measurement is the Breslow Measurement.
  2. It is at Clark’s Level IV on a scale of 1 to 5. Not to be confused with the stages of cancer, this just tells how deep into the dermis the MM goes. Clark’s is not used as often as it had in the past, and according to Dr. Drapenscrape, it will become obsolete by 2012.
  3. Add in the Mitotic Index. That’s the growth of the MM cells. It also has a scale: 0 – 3. The path report indicates mine is at a 1. So there’s growth, but slow, however…there’s growth.

Take these three facts, all gray and borderline, and add them to my age (which I am considered “young” – Finally!), and we have a situation that would lead my doc to err on the side of caution. Why wait 10 years to find out that things are way more serious?

Tomorrow I meet with an oncologist in The Metro for a consult. We will then schedule a Sentinel Lymph Node biopsy that will be more definitive as far as stages, if there’s even one I’m at. He may decide that I should go ahead and have the CT and PET scans prior to the results, or we may hold off.

The words “survival rates” came up and I felt the first real moments of panic settle in my chest. Googling what I have so far has added to that fear: “most serious form of skin cancer” and “deadliest form of skin cancer”. Fuck you, Google.

It’s not just skin cancer, kids, it’s cancer. And I have it.

Zee Mole

This is Zee Mole nearly three weeks after the biopsy (today). It’s HUGE, isn’t it??

What? It’s not huge?! I think this guy begs to disagree:

See? He’s totally freaked out. It’s like a Black Hole, right in the back of my leg. His head would fit in that hole, people!

More proof:

See that? That my friends, is a giant pumpkin I picked this past weekend. It looks like one of those pathetic, undersized “pie” pumpkins, doesn’t it? But believe you, me, that’s a whopper pumpkin.

Even the screaming dude concurs. “Aaaiiiiieeee! The Black Hole! A giant pumpkin!! Girl, you need some lotion!”

Things Just Got Interesting

Last night I looked over my calendar and was happy to see that over two weeks had passed since my appointment when the doc biopsied a mole on the back of my leg. Happy because I was told that if something showed up, they would call me within two weeks. If all was clear, they would send me a letter but that probably wouldn’t get to me for almost three weeks.

In fact, I was going to post on facebook that the doc had created a divot in my leg for nothing. I should add to that by explaining that while I thought they had just scraped off a bit of the mole, I discovered after it finally started to heal up that they carved that fucker like a jack-o-latern. Yes, there is a divot in my leg. One could place a golf ball on the back of my ankle and tee off without a problem.

As you’ve probably already figured by now, the letter that should say the scribed tissue was normal will not come. Instead I got a phone call just this morning that went like this:

*annoying cell phone ring because there isn’t a normal one on my phone*

“This is Yo-yo Mama.” I answer this way in case it’s my future employer. Normally I would answer, “Whaddup, Bitch?”

“Yo-yo, this is Nurse Stoic at Dermatology’s clinic. Dr. Drapenscrape would like to see you to discuss the results of your biopsy.”

“So. I take it, it’s not good news.”

“Dr. Drapenscrape will go over the details with you. Will Thursday morning work for you?”

A decade of employment with the healthcare system combined with four years of negative beta calls from an RE clinic is enough experience to know that when a nurse calls to ask you to come in to speak to a doctor, that the news is not good. So as far as how bad things are? Well, I’ll know more Thursday.

The mole itself appears to be out, but has very small margins. Commonly, more cutting will be necessary. I might even get myself some KY jelly that’s been nuked by Chernobyl to smear on my divot. Maybe I can act really pathetic and get a script for medicinal merijewanna?

I’m sure that everything will be fine. No one ever dies of skin cancer, right?*

*The first person who tells me otherwise will be haunted by my divoted leg that is also spouting some very unsexy stubble as it’s pretty difficult to shave one side of a leg divot’s scab without running the razor into the other side.

I’d Give You The Shirt Off My Back

I have a dresser drawer that I keep “everyday” t-shirts and my pjs in. It was overflowing so I decided to go through it and throw out or give away any items that would fit the appropriate categories.

As I was sorting the shirts, I found five that were from the hospital. Employee appreciation and recognition items.

I never wanted to put them on again, even if it was to do gardening or painting or relaxing about the house. I am still so angry about how stupid I was, especially upon the heels of this last rejection letter, that I decided that the only thing they were good for were rags.

I snipped and tore them up until I was left with a pile of rags good for washing the car, wiping the windows or spot cleaning the carpet. I thought I would feel better, but really I don’t.

**************************

PostScript: Don’t feel sorry for me and my inability to land a job. I did it to myself, but sometimes I just need to wallow a bit. Just make fun of me. It’ll make me feel better.

Fuck you, Mr. Murphy, and your stupid laws.

Got to have lunch with my husband today for the first time in a week!

Sparring Partner gave me the okeydokey to head home and just chill since it’d been a long week!

Driving home and suddenly had the need to poop…as I hit every yellow-to-red light in town AND got behind every two-day-early Sunday driver!

And then noticed that the gas gauge was on EMPTY!

Made it home safely with no accidents. Of any kind. And no gas, of the petrol kind!

Was even able to get the mail!

Which included yet another rejection letter!

I think I’m going to just resign myself to become a SAHM. The job offers will surely just start pouring in then!

20 months and counting as ungainfully employed!

FML!

Snapshot

My current temp job literally gives me snapshots of school aged kids in every stage of their academic careers. In the two minutes I spend with a kid, on an average, I constantly compare them to my son and even sometimes to my daughter. Mostly though, it’s to Doodicus since he’s already a veteran when it comes to schooling.

I didn’t get to take his school picture. I told my boss I would prefer not to. Either I would be a distraction to him or I would be too critical of how he looked or acted. But now I wonder what he’s like when he sits down at a camera station. Does he require several verbal cues and tons of encouragement to get those two poses or is he a natural, easily reflecting the verbal cues of the person behind the camera and sitting tall, shoulders relaxed and smiling naturally?

Today was the first time I had been on my own shooting every age group between headstart and seniors. In the past, while I’ve been solo before, it’s always been *just* elementary, or *just* middle school, or *just* high school. Today? Was a bitch.

I took pictures of identical triplets, all dressed the same, in their gingham dresses with ladybug pockets, red mary jane shoes and hair in ponytails. They were only two years old (almost three! the teacher happily informed me). They each wore a necklace personalized with their names. Adorable and petite things with arms like a bird’s wing, thin and delicate. I knelt in front of each one as I put them into seating position and cupped their tiny heads in my hand as I adjusted their faces. As I peered into their dark eyes and asked them to smile for me, they each responded with a shy smile. Each with baby teeth ravaged by caries. I wondered how their futures would look when they were eight years old.

I easily bantered with hormonal 17 year old boys who through sheer will power, tempered with peer pressure, were able to switch off their disarming and dimpled grins to remain stoic as the shutter clicked and the lights popped. It doesn’t bother me to take a picture of a young man trying to look tough as long as I can see a spark, unknowingly channeling Tyra Banks and smiling with their eyes.

Most children are innately happy. They don’t – and shouldn’t – know anything else. But doing what I do, I see too many children who don’t know how to smile. I can take a dozen pictures and joke and make faces and tease and the teacher can do the same, but some remain somber. Detached. Usually the session comes to an end when I discreetly ask the para or teacher if the child is normally so serious. Yes, they always answer, and I know there’s nothing more I can do but give the school the picture they need for an identification badge and the parents get photographic proof of their child’s loss of naiveté and joy for reasons only they know.

This year both of my son’s pictures were very good. He looked relaxed and happy. He knows how to smile and in a small yet inexplicable way, it gives me peace of mind.

Seeing Things

We increased Doodicus’s daily medication to 15mg per day a few days ago after going steady for two years at 10mg. We (as in I, because my husband refuses to actually research anything) knew that the increase would mean several days of adjustments, many of them including negative side-affects.

Saturday night, after stalling for over an hour to get to bed, Doodicus came out yet again from his room, wringing his lovey in hands and totally stressed out. “Get back to bed!” I hissed.

“I have to tell you something!”

“Get back to bed or you’re not going to like what happens!”

This happens almost every night, and by 9:30 p.m., I’m in no mood to get in a pissing match with an 8 year old stalling to go to bed.

“I have to tell you something!” he repeated earnestly and now in tears.

“What!”

“I see things. In my room.”

My heart stops. Sparring Partner doesn’t pick up on this and starts to move threateningly off the couch.

“Wait. What do you mean?” I ask calmly while my once stopped heart begins beating again. Hard.

“I’m seeing things in my room that aren’t there.”

I am now standing in front of him and I reach out and pull him fiercely to me. “Show me,” I whisper.

Once in his room, he gets under his bed covers and I lay down next to him and ask him to describe what he saw.

“I was looking at the wall and then it looked like a man was standing there, and then he was gone. It scared me.”

“Has this happened other times?”

“Yes. Last night.”

I started rubbing his back, using the repetitive motion to help calm myself as much as it was for him. “Honey, I promise, as long as we are all here, nothing will ever happen to you. You will always be safe here.”

I stayed there, in his room, for only a few minutes but somehow I felt older and more tired than I had been in a long, long time. Was this just a new attempt at stalling at going to bed or is it possible he is experiencing one of the rarer and more serious side-affects to the increase to his meds? It sucks that I can’t contribute this to just an over-active imagination.

Teacher FAIL

Taking pictures of kids for several hours of day is incredibly monotonous. Don’t EVEN ask me how many times I said the following today:

  • Sit up straight!
  • Feet flat on the floor!
  • Hands flat on your lap!
  • Shoulder’s down!
  • Chin down!
  • Chin up!
  • Tip your head *this* way!
  • Smile!
  • Smile!
  • SMILEGODDAMMIT!!!!

ahem

Oh, by the way, I said at least something from that list 219 times today, however most of the time it was in some kind of combination of at least three if not all…and repeated twice.

At one of the schools they had a class that was made up of two kids that were autistic. There was a teacher and a para who escorted them to the cameras. One young man, about 12 was sat down in front of me. I asked him his name and unfortunately, I wasn’t able to understand him. The teacher piped up, “Ben Riesling” (obviously not his real name, but you’ll see why I used it here in just a bit). His name didn’t come up in the system.

ME: Riesling? As in R-I-E?”

TEACHER: “No. R-E-I”

Hmmmm. That’s not the way riesling is spelled…I type it in again and search. Nothing. So I type in just the R-E. Still nothing. So I try the first name. Several Bens come up, but not Ben Riesling.

ME: “R-E-I isn’t coming up with his name…”

TEACHER: “Oh, I don’t know! It could be R-I-E-S. Ben, how do you spell your name?” Ben’s blank stare is the only answer. The para just shrugs and says, “I don’t know. I’m just the para.”

ME: “I’ll have to add him manually, but I’ll definitely need to have the correct spelling of his name.”

TEACHER: *exasperated sigh* “I think it’s R-I-E-S-E -L-I-N-G”

ME: “Ooooohkayyyyy…Are you sure there that extra E in the middle?”

TEACHER: “I don’t know!”

ME: “Alright. Is it Ben or Benjamin?”

TEACHER: “Just put it in as Benjamin!”

Take a moment here and imagine this scene.

If YOU were the parent of the child and his ID card and his yearbook had his name spelled wrong, wouldn’t you be pissed? Ben is not Benjamin or vice versa. She showed absolutely no interest in the TWO students she had (and don’t try to defend this with “oh, school JUST started. she’s getting to know the kids yet” because school here has been in session for almost a month now). To me it was inexcusable and pathetic.

We’ll be meeting with that school’s psychologist again this fall. I’ll be sure to mention this to him then. Maybe by then I will have cooled down a bit.

Thank You For Being a Real Imaginary Friend

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

 A couple of weeks ago I was sent a Facebook friend request from a girl I went to high school with. She was a year younger than me. She was also pretty, athletic and popular. I was none of those. Obviously, we weren’t friends then. My sister who gave me a dressing down about not going to my 25th Class Reunion (sweet fuck, I’m old), said people change and I should be more open to reconnecting with people. It’s not like she can make fun of my buck teeth or flat chest anymore. She said that while we weren’t BFFs then, there’s no harm in just being FBFs now.

She had a point.

With that in mind I accepted this person’s request and opened the floodgates of all those school (a.k.a. purgatory) memories, not to mention the possibility I would now be on the radar of some people I hadn’t thought of, much less seen, in the past two decades.

Today I saw one of her posts on my feed. She’s a regular poster, not like some who seek out friends for the numbers and then never post, so I knew she was on FB frequently. Not as frequently as myself, but routinely. She wrote about whoknowswhat and I realized that even though I had accepted her request two weeks ago and we’re both on FB, that neither of us had written on each others’ walls.

In that moment, I went ahead and blocked her.

Facebook Friends is a misnomer. We were Facebook Stats; Facebook Quotas, but we were not Facebook Friends. We never would be. I like my tight-knit group of friends that I keep easily under 200. Most I have forgotten who their blogging identity belongs to as it doesn’t matter because I see real people with either very similar or very different thoughts than me and that’s pretty sweet. We don’t seem to let our polar views on politics or raising children or fashion take a front seat to having a connection in spirit. It’s a connection made out of a heady mix of grief and joy; one impossible to make when one is only 15, 16, or 17 years old. I’ve allowed a handful of other IRL people as FBFs, but it’s on a trial basis. If they’re lucky, I’ll keep them around and let them peek into my life once in a while and hobnobbed with the meaningful people I’ve had as FBFs.

As it was in Blogging, so shall it be on Facebook.

The Little Mole Who Went In Search of Whodunnit *

Several weeks ago I posted a picture via my phone to Facebook with the caption, “Uh oh”. It was a picture of a mole. Not the blind, bald kind that eats worms, but the kind that if on the face tend to grow that ONE hair once you reach an age that I may or may not be.

But this mole is a few inches above the heel of my foot. I’ve had it forever, which leads me to a funny sidebar.

So the nurse in the dermatology clinic is getting my history. We had the following exchange:

What are we seeing you for today?

I have a mole that should be looked at.

Have you any medication allergies?

Yes, penicillin.

How long have you had it?

All my life.

She turns to look at me funny.

Oh! The mole? I thought you meant the allergy.

Alright. So that was way funnier in my head.

How about this following exchange:

I’m going to ask you a bunch of questions that are for old people.

(WTF?? I am not “old”!)

She proceeds to ask about pacemakers and joint replacements. I repress an urge to shout BINGO! but instead say:

I didn’t realize I’ve reached that age.

Oh, we ask all our patients. I just meant that they sound like questions for older people.

That wasn’t funny either, was it. I guess you had to be there.

If  you had been there, you would have seen her hunched over my leg with two days stubble and shooting it up with numbing medicine and then the doctor come in and shave the top of this stupid mole and scrape it off into a little specimen jar. You might have seen me try to flirt my way into a cheaper office visit as well, which I think I actually did. I was originally told that since I was self-pay that I would have to pay not only the office visit, but a portion of the pathology fee. However, after asking the doctor what he “could do for an uninsured and poor woman *eyelash batting*“, I noticed a funny little asterisk on my paperwork with just the office fee noted. I’ll let you know if I get another bill.

In two weeks I’ll get a phone call telling me it’s malignant. Or in three weeks I’ll get a letter telling me it’s nothing. So here’s to hoping you don’t see an update on this issue for at least three weeks.

* If you don’t have this children’s book, go out and get it RIGHT now. Seriously. Or give it as a gift to a friend. Especially a friend who still laughs at fart jokes.

I Don’t Give A Damn About A Bad Reputation

One of the hardest things we deal with when it comes to ADHD is the stigma. I don’t share Doodicus’s diagnosis with just anyone. His pediatrician knows, and obviously the school psychologist and the family counselor we saw know as they were the ones who determined he was ADHD, but aside from that only three other people know that he has ADHD and takes medication for it. Those three are his teachers.

We don’t talk about it with family or friends because we know what will go through their heads once our backs are turned: “Yeah, yeah, sure. ADHD…that’s just a way to excuse a kid who didn’t get the right kind of discipline,” or “That’s just approval for him to act out of control…”  Why would they think that? Because quite frankly, that’s what we thought when we heard someone else’s kid “supposedly” had ADD/ADHD: over-diagnosed by doctors wanting to push drugs or parents who wanted to dope their rambunctious kid. Basically, we considered ADHD an excuse for shit parenting.

Yep. That’s what we honestly thought.

ADHD is not a behavioural problem. Let’s just put that out there right now. Doodicus is not bullying other kids, stealing lunch money. He’s not shoving them from the monkey bars. He’s not punching holes into the walls of his room just because. He received discipline as we thought as necessary and that fit the “crime”, as it were. Time outs were frequent, but consistent. Sparring Partner was more in the “spare the rod” camp, but my argument against that was if you, the adult, can’t control your anger, then how can you expect a three, four, five, six, etc. year old to do it??

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) is a neurobiological disorder. It is characterized by developmentally inappropriate impulsivity, inattention, and in some cases, hyperactivity. Although individuals with AD/HD can be very successful in life, without appropriate identification and treatment, AD/HD can have serious consequences. These consequences may include school failure, depression, conduct disorder, failed relationships, and substance abuse. Early identification and treatment are extremely important.

While the facts are out there about ADHD, I know without a doubt there is judgemental attitude about both the behaviour and treatments. To talk about it will help me come to grips with the reality of both and to dispel those misconceptions I know even you might have. I promise not to hold it against you.

Weary

I’m sitting at a the kitchen table, the house an absolute disaster area: cheese from last night’s cheese burgers is smeared into the table’s surface; dead flies I have killed with the swatter and swept to the floor lay with their legs up; a pile of last year’s school projects and papers are awaiting filing and photographing; and toys litter the house like they fell from the sky.

I am so very tired. Literally. I’ve been getting up before the crack of dawn (insert joke here for those who know me) so I can be at the office by 6:00 a.m. to put in about seven hours of work, taking pictures of kids who don’t want their pictures taken. My co-workers all happen to be hardcore Christians who always seem to say inappropriate and racial things while in the privacy of the car we travel in. Today the one was saying how she had caught a few minutes of the Miss Universe and how one contestant, Miss Mexico, didn’t even look Mexican! *gasp!* While I don’t have any preconceptions how Miss Mexico might look, I am not sure what my co-worker is thinking. Dark hair. Dark eyes. I wonder…is it because she’s….I don’t know….PRETTY or SMART?? Yeah, I don’t get it either.

Or how about this one: the other co-worker mentioned how Ann Coultier said that Obama wasn’t Muslim – he’s Atheist! *gasp!* I made the “mistake” of saying I wouldn’t give a shit if he was Wiccan; what difference does it make?? Oh you would think I had just cursed the wee baby Jesus to hell in a handbasket. *double gasp!*

Sigh.

The day gives me lots of time to think, but not to make notes or draft or even read, just think. I think about my post on Doodicus. I wonder if I am making a big deal of nothing. Maybe all eight year olds are this neurotic, which is to say maybe he’s not at all neurotic and that it’s just me expecting too much from him.

Is it normal for him to cry when his sister tears up his fundraising brochure he brought home from school? Is it normal for him to be terrified of the sound of wind blowing at night? Is it normal that he sees “then” instead of “when” and “through” instead of “thought” and not even stop to think about whether the sentence makes sense when he reads out loud the wrong word?

With all the thinking I do about it, I realize it won’t be long and he’ll be a teenager and completely influenced by anyone but his parents. If we can’t get this right now, will we all suffer the consequences?

I am tired.

of thinking

of worrying

of hoping if it’s hopeless

of fighting for what’s right and fighting to BE right

of being tired