Archives for posts with tag: Humor

This post is dated 11/4/12. I remember being really proud of the title for it. Kitty was pretty sick when I wrote this but was still acting relatively healthy. As many of you know, he died the following spring. I miss my weird handsome kitty.

 

Okay, I took a little tiny bit of creative license with the title of my post. My cat, Ollie, is actually male and he is neutered, not spayed. “Neutered” just doesn’t have the right sound. Fortunately, I am not planning to apply to veterinary school any time soon. Or any time for that matter. I’ve had enough advanced education in my life. I absolutely love my job. It’s a good thing I didn’t fully know what I was getting into with graduate school because if I’d known, I probably would have skipped getting a Ph.D.

But back to another infertile member of the family, Oliie the cat. Ollie has been seeking a LOT of attention from me lately. He climbs up on me to purr and sleep, several times a morning, and what I mean by the morning is any time followed by the letters “am.” Ollie is exacerbating my sleep problems by waking me up a lot. He is also warm, which compounds my hot flashes.

Since Ollie has treated John as his favorite for years, I have been perplexed by this change in his habits. At first, I thought it was because he is getting older and has a number of ailments. I thought that maybe he is just needing more attention from every body. This is true, to a certain extent as he has been asking for more attention from John as well. John thinks Ollie is actually feeling better from his liver medicine (he has a liver disease, pancreatitis, and hyperthyroidism) so he has been seeking more attention. The hyperthyroidism also makes him hungrier so he is bugging us for food more frequently. (And yes, there is a treatment for hyperthyroidism but we tried the cheap route, twice daily medication, and he was unable to tolerate it. The alternative treatment costs $1000. We just paid $1500 in diagnostic tests to find out about all of these ailments so we need a couple of weeks to recover.)

I have another hypothesis as to why I have become Ollie’s favorite. You know how cats love to be warm? How they lie in the sun in the summer and on the heater vents in the winter? I think the cat is seeking me out because of my hot flashes!

I do love my kitty but perhaps I will start sleeping with an ice pack on my chest to discourage him.

Another time I tried to turn Ollie into a girl. I put a tiara on him to try to submit a photo to the site, “Cute Overload.” Then I never sent it in because I was embarrassed about trying to take a funny cat picture.

Tissue expanders are very strange. They look weird and feel weird. Mine was also placed right under my skin instead of beneath my pectoralis as is usually done. That made the strangeness even more obvious. And for extra credit, my tissue expander freaked out my cat!

10/27/12: Undercover Piroshky

Or “undercover empanada.” Or “under cover calzone.” For a sweet option, “under cover apple turnover.” I opted for piroshky in the title because “under cover piroshky” reminded me of Boris and Natasha from the Bullwinkle and Friends cartoons. And Boris and Natasha were cool.

I speak of the shape of my newly expanded breast. The primary purpose of the tissue expander is to expand tissue and to encourage new skin growth. Looking like an actual breast is secondary to this goal and now that the expander is almost totally filled with saline, I realize that it looks like an upside down filled bread product. And all but the apple turnover are made with yeast so I am getting closer to a leavened breast after all. The fold part of the empanada corresponds to the top of my breast. It curves on the ends so it is not totally horizontal. The middle of the fold, however, makes a handy shelf. I could probably balance three shot glasses there. Party! If you are in more of an afternoon partying mood, I could balance a tea cup (without saucer) or for you coffee drinkers, a couple of demitasse cups.

Just thought you’d want to know about this development. You’re welcome!

11/1/12: Ravenous

My cat has hyperthyroidism and we are still trying to get it treated successfully. This gives him a large appetite and also makes him run around the house at times, in a seemingly manic state. This morning, he climbed into bed with me. He was sweet and snuggly. I gave him a lot of attention. Then he put his paw on my breast and put out his claws slightly, like he does when he wants to play. I thought, “I wonder if he could get through my nightgown, my skin, and the plastic tissue expander? I thought that he probably couldn’t but was not entirely thrilled with the idea of springing a leak in the expander. So I shifted my weight a little and remonstrated, “Kitty!”

You will not believe what he did next. He took a playful bite at my breast, not just once but twice! He’s never done that before in the 11 years he’s lived with us. I wondered why this was the first time. Maybe this is crazy, but I think when he reached out his paw, he was confused by how hard my temporary breast is. It’s a bag full of saltwater, under my skin, after all. Maybe he thought it was my elbow or something.

Now Ollie’s eating greenery from a vase of flowers on the table. Now that’s something he’s done many times before. But a fake breast? Maybe he has another illness. With humans, habitually eating items that are not food is called, “pica.” Maybe he has pica. I’d leave you on this note, but I have a funny pica story.

When I was on internship (a one year clinical position that was required to finish my Ph.D. in clinical psychology), we had a morning meeting one day to assign cases to the interns. This was a normal thing that we did every time we had clinic duty. The referral questions were written down on a phone message by the clinic secretary, along with the patient’s name and age. There was a 4 year-old coming in for an evaluation. The supervising psychologist read the secretary’s notes aloud, “Eats couch.”  I said, “I’ll take the couch eater!” No one else in the group liked preschool aged children like I do, so my preference was uncontested. Yes, it was my first and only pica case.

Chew on that.

12/1/12: I wonder if Napolean had a unilateral mastectomy?

I notice that I often unconsciously place my hand on the spot where my breast used to be. It’s sort of like a breast, at least more so than right after my mastectomy. As I’ve previously mentioned, there’s a calzone-shaped tissue expander in there right under my skin. I do it so often that I’ve begun to worry that I’ll be talking to one of my patients and suddenly find that I have put my hand under my bra without even realizing it.

I have to admit, it’s a pretty good hand warmer. Since I don’t go around topless, it’s well insulated by clothing. Plus, it’s located near the nuclear reactor part of my body, where the hot flashes seem to originate. And since the skin over the expander has no sensation, it is not unpleasant to touch it with an ice cube cold hand.

But mostly, I think my hand is just doing it’s version of, “What the Hell are you? Why are you shaped like a savory turnover? Why do you feel like a Tupperware lid?” Followed repeatedly by, “Oh my goodness, are you still there? What are doing here. Are you still shaped like a turnover? Yes, you are. Do you still feel like a Tupperware lid? Why yes, you do.”

It’s kind of like the relationship between my tongue and a crown that was put on one of my teeth about five years ago. When it was first placed, my tongue was on it constantly, like it was a foreign object that didn’t belong in my mouth. I still find that without realizing, that my tongue has a little habit of checking it out, probably at least once per day. And I think my friend, Lisa was right about my cat doing the same thing when he took a nip at my right breast some weeks back. It was his way of saying, “What the Hell is that?” My cat is about as smart as my tongue so I think this is a good hypothesis.

So now I think I’m going to do an Internet search for portraits of Napolean and see if he’s wearing a little pink ribbon in any of them.

No pink ribbon but based on the hand position, I surmise that Napolean battled sagginess in addition to Waterloo.
No pink ribbon but based on the hand position, I surmise that Napolean battled sagginess in addition to Waterloo.

Two of my surgeries, my mastectomy and TRAM, required Jackson Pratt drains. I had one for the first surgery and two for the second. As many breast cancer bloggers attest, they are an annoying inconvenience. And some people get totally grossed out by them. I am not terribly squeamish about that kind of stuff so I was okay with the idea of and care of the drain. But I was so happy to get rid of them and each time, I wrote a break up letter.

 

August 2012

Dear Surgical Drain,

By now, having sit for a few hours in the exam room waste receptacle at the True Family Women’s Cancer Center, you have realized that I’ve left you and moved on with my life. I imagine this was a shock to you as it was rather sudden on my part. To be honest, I just wasn’t that into you. I mean, I needed you for awhile for your draining function but once you’d finished the job, I was dried out and done with you. I want to wear semi-normal clothes again without having to disguise your lumpy presence with blousy tops in wild prints. Yes, you embarrassed me. Frankly, your contents were kind of gross. Don’t despair, I will need you again in a few months when I have my TRAM surgery. We can catch up on old stories. Just remember this time, that this a TEMPORARY relationship of limited scope. I am a married woman, after all. But I do thank you for coming to my aid when I needed you most.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth

(Note: I meant this post to be funny but now I am feeling ridiculously and irrationally sorry for the surgical drain. After being off work for two weeks, I have this back log of empathy and I’m applying it to plastic! No wonder my high school creative writing teacher taught us not to anthropomorphize objects. It’s not only bad writing, but it is dangerous! Don’t try this at home!)

 

March 2013

Dear Surgical Drain,

I know I broke up with you last summer after our little fling. Against my better judgment, I took you back last week when I got the TRAM surgery. Maybe I was thinking that things would be different this time. After all, there was you AND another drain. What could be spicier than co-mingling with bulbous plastic twins? However, this threesome, instead of being exciting, was just awkward and messy. Although I can’t speak from personal experience, I suspect this is oft true of other ménage à trois type situations.

But again, I do thank you for serving your purpose and keeping me from swelling up like Violet Beauregarde. (My breast cancer experience has contained far too many references to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Roald Dahl.)

Keep on keeping it real,

Elizabeth

You should be so glad that I screened out the grosser images of Jackson-Pratt drains, which came up in my Google images search. This one is unused and straight out of the package. You’re welcome.

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This post is from January 2013.

I’ve been struggling with water, the gift of life, aqua, good ol’ H2O.

There was leaky pipe in my office last Saturday, which would have created a deluge had my office mate not been there to see it so a plumber could be called to fix it.

Yesterday, as usual, I went for my three mile long walk. It was rainy, which is not unusual for this time of year. I donned my Gore-Tex armor, which has served me so well-Gore-Tex hat, Gore-Tex hiking boots, Gore-Tex parka, Gore-Tex boots, Gore-Tex pants.

If I lived a considerable distance south of these parts, I might even call myself a Gore-Texan. (Cue music.) The rain at night, lasts a fortnight (clap, clap, clap, clap). Deep in the heart of Gore-Tex!

I came home from my walk, my boots squeaky, my socks soggy, and soaked through my coat, insulated long-underwear shirt, t-shirt, and bra! Only my Gore-Tex pants managed to maintain my faith in the magical rain shedding powers of Gore-Tex.

I took my smartphone out of my ZIPPPED Gore-Tex parka pocket. Uh-oh. It was covered in water. The screen was flickering! I quickly turned it off and opened it up. It was wet on the inside! I dried it off but being fool hardy, I tried to turn it back on even though my brain was telling me, “Leave it off and call AT&T.” It turned on but was frozen on the “Samsung” boot up screen. So I turned it off and broke it down again.

“My precious! My precious phone! My extremely complicated work, medical, family, personal life calendar is on there! The names of all of the new patients I will see between now and March 5th are on there!”

“Golem, I feel your pain,” I thought to myself. “I am a psychologist. I am not addicted to technology. I am an excellent problem-solver. Get a hold of yourself, woman!” I took a deep breath and called AT&T.

A very sweet technical support rep named Shannon answered. “Oh, I just did that. I was so worried. I keep EVERYTHING on my phone. Surround your phone with rice to get it to dry out. Leave it for at least a day. I’ll call you tomorrow and see how you are.”

Shannon has felt Golem’s pain as well. I confirmed with her that if the phone didn’t dry out, it was curtains for the information on my phone. (And yes, Google is supposed to automatically back up my calendar but that stopped working and I’ve been procrastinating about figuring out a fix for that problem.)

“My precious! My precious! God, you can take my breast but not my SMARTPHONE!” I was again, I’m afraid, losing some perspective. So I then imagined the Albert Ellis section of classic 1960’s psychologist training film, “Three Approaches to Psychotherapy“, also known as “The Gloria Films”. Gloria, a real person with real life problems, agrees to be taped seeing three super famous clinical psychologists (Fritz Perls, Carl Rogers, and Albert Ellis), one at a time. Pioneers in fields can be kind of extreme. The Gloria films illustrate this quite nicely. By the time I saw the film in the 90’s, it was for historical purposes. The film served up unintentional hilarity with a side of guilt since Gloria was a real person with real problems. They were not getting addressed.

So what does this have to do with my meltdown about “My precious”, you may ask? Albert Ellis was a brilliant psychologist who developed Rational Emotive Therapy (RET), which is the foundation of modern cognitive therapy. The goal of RET is to use reason to reduce psychopathology. However, Ellis did this in the absence of stuff like, you know, demonstrating empathy and establishing rapport. He also had a rather distinctive nasal northeast accent. Combined with his lawyerly therapy style, it was pretty funny. “I can see that your situation in inconvenient, but it is not terrible and awful.” Or my favorite when Gloria puts her self down and he responds by telling her that if she makes a mistake it does not make her a “no good-nik”. The sight and sound of Dr. Ellis trying to use 60’s-era hip slang was double hilarious. Check it out for yourself here.

“Elizabeth, your anecdotes require too much exposition! What does this have to do with your phone?”

Thank you, patient readers. Basically, I tried to reason with myself as I often do, but this time I remembered Albert Ellis, and it made me laugh.

That pulled me out of my tizzy and I went about recreating my schedule, piecing it together from memory, emails, and other non smartphone dependent methods.

Today, I took my phone out of it’s rice bed and it awoke!

Thank you, Albert Ellis. Yesterday was inconvenient and more than a little stressful but it wasn’t “terrible and awful.” I hope you forgive me for laughing at you and for being able to do a dead-on impersonation of you. You were definitely not a “no good-nik.”

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This post is from 8/7/12, the day before my right-side mastectomy. I have re-posted it previously. I include it here because it is a quite bittersweet reminder of the fears I had at the time about my physical health as well as about my view of my own physical attractiveness. My breast surgeon briefly appears in this post to show what a reassuring rock star that he is. And yes, I think I used my humor well to cope with this. This was my third surgery in six weeks. I had undergone two lumpectomies with a lack of clear (cancer free) margins. The extent of the cancer in my right breast had not yet been discovered. My treatment plan was still up in the air. (And yeah, I know I repeat that a great deal but was so incredibly stressful.)

The dress in the post? I gave it away after it became too big for me. I loved it. I felt pretty, mod, and feminine when I wore it, even during the three months after the surgery, when I wore a foam prosthetic. Plus, it was comfortable, a requirement of a middle-aged fashionista.

 

Tomorrow is the day that I say goodbye to rightie, the ta to my other ta, the oonga to my baz, and the crenshaw to my honeydew. And you don’t have to tell me that it’s sad because I already know. I do need to move forward and the sooner I have this surgery, the sooner I can get over the next round of painful and yucky stuff. My outward appearance with go from Elizabeth 1.0 to Elizabeth 2.0 to Elizabeth 3.0 by the time the holiday season comes upon us. (Just pretend that I was never a baby and I started out life as a 46 year old woman. Be creative.)

Elizabeth 1.0 did have a proper send off today. As I walked into Trader Joe’s, I received not one, but two compliments from the Trader Joe’s employee who was working out front. First he said, “Have a good time shopping” followed by, “I like your dress.” He may have even been younger than me. As an extra bonus, he was not one of the drunk guys at the bus shelter in the Junction, ergo the flirting was not the least bit creepy or boundary violating. The bus guys seem to be my main fan club. (And drunk guys, I haven’t heard a lot from you lately. Middle aged ladies need a little encouragement.) So hey, Elizabeth 1.0, you still got it and with a sober guy, too!

I am not going to be bringing my computer to the hospital tomorrow so I may not post anything until I get home on Thursday. John may have his computer and if I am mentally with-it enough I may be able to get him to post on my behalf. Otherwise, please be patient. I’m not sure what I am going to be up for communication-wise for a couple of days. I am confident that surgery will go well and even though it is likely to hurt for awhile and to be very upsetting, I will be okay. During my meeting with Dr. Beatty last Thursday I said, “I’m going to thank you now because next time I see you I may have lost perspective.” His quick and calm reply was, “No, you won’t.” He’s probably right.

Goodbye, Girl; hello, long and healthy life.

The Trader Joe’s guy has an affinity for prints, apparently. I do think I looked better in this dress for the obvious reason. My whole head showed rather than being semi-headless like this model. To have an entire head is more aesthetically pleasing. I learned that in my art history classes. I do like her earrings, though. Buy your own dress at http://www.sierratradingpost.com/chetta-b-jersey-print-dress-v-neck-short-sleeve-for-women~p~4059u/?filterString=womens-dresses~d~257%2F&colorFamily=02

 

Much to my surprise, orange has become a theme in my breast cancer experience. I have written FIVE posts on the topic of orange. Here are two of those posts, the first written in August 2012, right before my mastectomy and the second in September 2012, right after my expander placement.

8/1/13: Future Job in the Chorus of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?

You remember who was in the chorus of the Gene Wilder musical classic? Yes, the Oompa Loompas. And what color were the Oompa Loompas? Yes, they were orange. And what color were my roots after using an unfortunate shade of Clairol Natural Instincts? Yes, they were a very deep shade of overripe cantalope. “Natural” Instincts, my ass!

I’ve never messed up a hair color before but I haven’t done it myself for several years and apparently, Clairol Natural Instincts uses a totally different formula than they did when I last used their products. And they are on a melon kick! Not to be seen in public (other than going to Target to get a fix for this), I used a non-permanent, normal looking reddish brown dye today. Ah, much better. Most of the melon is gone.

The Oompa Loompas would say that my parents are to blame for this mishap (“…the mother and the fa-ather”). However, the same thing happened to my mom and she warned me about it. When did I remember this? After I rinsed the color out of my hair! So, I’ve decided to blame Roald Dahl.

It will be so nice to be able to go back to the salon. It will happen.

P.S. The color was just like this except MORE orange. No lie.

The Oompa Loompas after disobeying their lax parents in the Clairol Factory and falling into a vat of Natural Instincts “Dark Auburn.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9/29/12: Wonky Wonka Boob

I forgot to mention the lovely fact that my breast looks like it is jaundiced or has carotene poisoning or something. This is because during surgery, Dr. Welk used betadine as an antiseptic, which contains iodine. Dr. Beatty, my breast cancer surgeon, never did that so I wasn’t expecting to be re-traumatized once again by having a part of my body turned Oompa Loompa color. It is a pretty wonky boob at this stage of the game and wonky is close to “Wonka” so hey, life is just having a little word play on me because it knows I’m always on the look out for good blog material. Maybe they’ve been reading my blog over at the Polyclinic and they actually used Clairol Basic Instincts, “Dark Auburn,” instead of betadine. (I’m totally kidding, wonderful people at the Polyclinic. I know you would never ever do something like that. I’m just getting my daily dose of humor about my breast cancer. Tee hee hee! Ho ho ho!!!)

I read online that hydrogen peroxide would take it off. It took off a little so now it’s slightly more yellow than orange. My skin is really sensitive so I should probably just leave it along for a few more days. But again, I blame Roald Dahl.

 

 

This post is from 7/31/12, the day of my first visit to see Dr. Welk. It was surreal. I have re-posted this previously. It is a favorite of mine. Personally, it took me awhile to feel comfortable in a plastic surgery office. I have such strong associations between plastic surgery and poor body image. But I now feel at home there and Breann and Judy who work reception are always so friendly to me when I come in. They are now requesting that I visit them from time to time as it is clear that I have very few remaining appointments with Dr. Welk. (Knock on wood.)

This afternoon I met with Drew Welk, M.D. a plastic surgeon at the Polyclinic. We had a good meeting and it was interesting to shift from a physician who focuses on disease treatment to one who focuses on aesthetics. I found out that my incision is not in the best place to which I replied, “Yeah, my cancer insists on being all kinds of inconvenient.” To his credit, he laughed at my ribbing. I did learn that I have very favorable “breast geometry” with only a little post-partum loss of muscle tone. Yay, my breasts got complimented! They’ve been a little starved for positive comments lately, especially the right one, which is currently looks like a more than a  little like a dented tin can these days.

Dr. Welk is talking to Dr. Beatty tomorrow to share his input regarding the best way to make incisions for the mastectomy so that he has something reasonable to work with later after the fat has been removed from my skin, the latter of which I get to keep. He took pictures in the clinic photography booth, which was set up like the DMV, except for the fact that I was partially disrobed and he had his choice of three different expensive looking cameras. (Or maybe the other cameras belonged to other surgeons. That makes more sense.) He took the last picture after he’d drawn a little incision map with a Sharpie.

It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and I liked him. Plus it was a surgery day for him so between his energetic demeanor and the fact that he was wearing scrubs, he looked like a surgeon action figure. (Not to be confused with 1973’s surgeon Barbie and yes, she was real; click the link. Also, not to be confused with an action figure for the character, Surgeon from Hellraiser 2. Mom don’t go to that link: That surgeon doll is heinous.)

Okay, so Michelangelo is probably not the best sculptor to reference in this post. He was criticized for the way he sculpted breasts, basically that it looked like he’d thrown a couple of softballs on top of a suspiciously manly shaped torso. A better sculptor might be the 20th century artist, Lachaise. That man knew how to sculpt realistic breasts on refreshingly substantial looking women. Hmm. “The Lachaise of La Twins”? I’ll stick with Michelangelo for the alliteration. My cousin, Beth favors Bernini breasts herself. Bernini’s sculptures are absolutely breath taking but the first thing that comes to my mind is “the Rape of Persephone”–not the image I want in my head when thinking about my breast reconstruction. Beth conceded that Bernini tended to show women on the run.  But I present exhibits A, B, and C for your consideration:

One of Lachaise’s fabulous, “Standing Woman” I think this is a clear winner. Unlike “Dawn”, Lachaise’s sculptures of women actual look like a woman modeled for them. Also, Lachaise’s women look like they could fend off a Greek god or random creep in the bushes, unlike Bernini’s stunningly beautiful but nearly defenseless damsels.

Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne. This is Beth’s submission. In this case, Daphne is so desperate to get out of Apollo’s stalkeresque clutches that she turns herself into a tree!

Michelangelo. This is a sculpture I’ve seen in person. It’s from the Tomb of the Medici’s in Florence. This figure is supposed to be “Dawn” Looks like a man named “Don” with softball boobs, am I right?

I am taking time off from writing new posts until August 26th. Now don’t fret. At this point of my life, I have an average of two life-changing epiphanies a week! So you know I will be back, with even more musings, angst, and merriment than ever before.

Speaking of silliness, I have set up my blogging schedule to deliver at least one of my favorite humorous blogs, each day. So, if you haven’t been reading long, it will be new material to you. And if you have been reading for a long time, perhaps it will be like seeing an old friend. Or if you read it but forgot it, it will be like one of those awkward encounters when you meet someone you assume is a stranger but with whom you actually went to high school. And that person recounts all of your teenaged shenanigans with, “Remember the time we…?”

I will warn you that at least a couple of the posts are ones that have already been re-posted as part of my “Best of Blog” category. Yes, I will be posting them for a third time. Although I love all of my children, there are a couple that did not get the love and attention they deserved the first or second time around. So like Mama Rose, I am pushing them back into the spot light regardless of what they want or what you want. AND YOU WILL LAUGH AND LAUGH AND LAUGH THIS TIME!!!!!!!!!!!

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