Chemo Time

I head into my partner’s place before I head off to have this poison voluntarily injected into my body to wipe out possible remaining cancer within my body. I went inside expecting some love, compassion and support. I was met by silence and reaction as to why be I there. I left so angry that it was eating away inside of me. Why am I still in this non relationship? I am not getting anything out of it. In fact partially because of it, I am living through this horror called cancer. The toll of being in a toxic relationship at home and at work. I am the victim of it twice over. I am the one that has to suffer. Granted what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. I remember that all too well from recouping from my crash injuries. As my theme song “Chasing Cars” states:

“We’ll do it all, Everything on Our Own, We Don’t need anything or anyone”

I drive down to Florida Cancer Specialists. As each mile crawls across the odometer the more and more I become anxious and nervous. I am taken back into the laboratory where some blood is taken and immediately tested. I go back and meet with Dr. Shaikh. The pet scan was clear. No more signs of any remaining cancer within my body. My bloodwork numbers look good to start my first of four double chemotherapy sessions. I go into the infusion room and take a seat in one of the recliners. A nurse comes over and gets me prepared. She sprays some numbing spray onto my port area. She sticks the infusion needle into my IV port. Man that smarts with some pressure. The port is flushed. I am handed a bag of Emend which is four pills. Inside are two more prescriptions of two different nausea medications. Nurse explains that with the Emend taken on chemo day and the three following days should take care of the majority of the nausea symptoms. She explains that if I feel nauseated to try using one of the other medications. It will be different as to which ones will work the best for me. She explained some rare cases that it takes both of the other kinds. My portion of the Emend bill after insurance was $60 bucks for four pills. Are you freaking kidding me? I pay for the medication. She explained that the first bag would be some steroids. This would be help speed up the effect of the Emend pill before the actual chemotherapy is administered. I take an Emend pill and the bag of steroids is started. I play Angry Birds on my smartphone for a little bit. The Emend makes me feel dizzy and I start to get a migraine. Both are possible side effects of the medication. I work on some word search puzzles for a little bit. After some time passes, the bag of steroids is done and a bag of a fourth kind of anti-nausea medication is started. My head is pounding. I close my eyes for a little while. I am really scared about getting sick. I am thinking to myself there are now two kinds of medication in my body now to combat that. I have prescriptions for two more kinds which I need to fill once I leave here. My mind is spinning with thoughts. A large bag of chemo is started and that takes about an hour to go through. I have already been here for two hours now. Now a large syringe with deep red liquid inside is the final chemo dose for this session. The nurse has to slowly inject that into my port line. I am to return tomorrow to receive a shot which help boost my white blood cell count. I am sent on my way for the day.

I leave still dizzy and with a pounding headache from the Emend. I head to Walmart Neighborhood Market to drop off the two prescriptions. I will return later to get them. I go home and lay down for a bit and watch some TV. The headache is never-ending. I leave to get my prescriptions and something to eat since my partner isn’t up to cooking and I certainly am not due to the migraine.

I eat real slow and afterwards feel a bit nauseous having to take a pill. I am not up to doing much with the constant migraine and dizziness. Batman and Boo stay with me. I sleep fine through the night. I get up the next day feeling a bit nauseous. I take a pill and wait before I try to have breakfast. The migraine remains with the dizziness. I do not feel like getting cleaned up to return to Florida Cancer Specialists for the booster shot but I must get going. Takes me awhile to get cleaned up to go. I just put a baseball cap on over my wet hair from the shower. I go in and get my shot. I am advised that this shot can cause joint pain but to take Claritin it will help with the joint pain. I am reminded that this week is the most dangerous time with being susceptible to infections with the white blood cell count being low. I am to return in one week to check on my white blood cells to see if I need another booster shot.

I head home and for two more days I remain with the migraine and dizziness while taking the Emend. I am really tired and sleeping a lot. I do not do much but watch TV or play video games. I spend a lot of the remaining two days on the couch watching TV staying in the dark due to the migraines. I have bouts of nausea here and there but no vomiting. The dizziness and migraine wears off once I am no longer taking Emend. I make it a week and still no vomiting. The nausea is less and less each passing day. I go back for bloodwork the next week which was all good. I do not require the second booster shot. I make my appointment for round two of the double chemotherapy for the following week. Which means I will go through that all over again just as I am feeling pretty good again.

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Next Steps

A couple days go by from being freed from the drain tubes. It is now time to meet the radiation doctor, Dr. Shah. He is pretty laid back and nice. He advises that this appointment is just to get to know me. He advises that his treatment plan will not start until after chemotherapy. He advises though that he will keep up with the progress of my chemotherapy through their weekly tumor board appointments. He advises that the comprehensive approach makes for a more individualized treatment plan. He also states that he has been following my progress through Dr. Blumencranz.

Next up, the surgery gets scheduled to have a port placed into my chest for the chemotherapy. I do not want my parents involved this time. I do not need more of my Mother’s condemning looks and derogatory comments. I advise them that it is just a quick outpatient procedure. They are fine with that.

Next up is meeting the oncologist. This chemotherapy scares the crap out of me. I am terrified beyond belief that I will be sick all the time and lose my hair. I worry that I will be a freak. My relationship with my partner is already on shaky ground. The more I had gotten independent, the less her loving nurse showed herself around me. Dr. Shaikh throws a lot of statistical information at us regarding probability of survival with surgery alone then with surgery and chemotherapy and lastly with surgery, chemotherapy and hormone therapy. My head is spinning with all these facts and such. I am wishing it was just surgery and radiation. Radiation sounds like something I can handle. This chemotherapy is poison being put into your body. I really could care less if I lived a long life. I have endured so much already. Some people never endure even a microscopic piece of misery that I have endured. Like one of my favorite songs says,

Did you ever think you’d see the day when you’d watch your life get washed away

I am also thinking to myself isn’t this kind of up to me since it is my body. My mother would vote for me to do everything. My partner, the on again off again lover, is voting for me to do it all. My second family wants me to do everything. At this moment, I do not feel in control of my treatment. I think to myself how ironic that everyone is in agreement for me to be put through this hell. The partner who changes her mind on whom she loves as much as the wind blows in different directions. My dependent, over bearing mother who lives and breathes for just me. My second family whom I only see once in a while. Then I think of Batman and Boo and decide for them, I will go along with it. Batman needs me. He had a hard start in his life and I am his forever human. My cats are the only area of the world that I really fit into. I do not fit into my family. I really do not fit into either the heterosexual or homosexual world. I really just want to be left alone because I have nowhere to belong.

The hormonal therapy is explained that I will be thrown into menopause. It is necessary due to the fact that one of the two cancers was estrogen related. Dr. Shaikh advises that he wants to be aggressive off the starting line to combat the aggressive cancer that was found. He states that I will receive four doses of two different strong chemotherapies. He advises that since I am young and resilient that I should be able to endure the treatment. He advises that I will be prescribed medications to combat any nausea that comes along with the chemotherapy. He advised that there are plenty of medications available now to help with those side effects. He then explained the second part of the chemotherapy regimen will start killing off the estrogen in my body which then the hormonal therapy afterwards will continue that desired effect.

In a couple days, the surgery to have the port placed goes forward without a hitch. Much less stressful without my parents present for this procedure I still get sick afterwards once home and resting. I have come to the conclusion must be something to do with the anesthesia. I have had the pain meds before and not had a problem.

A couple days go by and I go to get an ultrasound to check the placement of the port. I also have Chemo 101 class this day. My partner doesn’t go with me this time for anything. No real surprise but still is upsetting. A lot of information is handed to me. I think to myself that this is such a waste to give me. I am not going to read it. I am not a normal person. I do not fit into any category. Some of the handouts have to do with support groups. I laugh to myself. Seriously? I do not like people nor want to be around them. People aren’t going to help or support me. I am a lone wolf. I will get by my own way. Batman and Boo are better therapists than any human. I am walked through what the procedure will be on treatment days.

A couple more days go by and I go for a pet scan. This test will show if there is any remaining cancer left in my body before chemotherapy begins. Since the first regimens of my chemotherapy will be so strong, any signs of cancer elsewhere in my body would vanish with the first doses. Before the test begins, I am placed in a small room with a TV. I am given some liquid which I must drink all of it. Wow it is sugary and lemony. I guzzle it down just to get it over with. I try to find something to watch on TV. Then it hits me that I have to use the restroom. Time seems to not even move until the nurse finally comes to get me. I practically run into the bathroom to relieve myself. Then I go into the examining room. I lay on the table and the machine slowly reads my body from my foot to over my head. Staying still and in that position makes me stiff. I head back home and eat lightly because chemotherapy begins that afternoon. I am really anxious. Would be really nice to have someone to talk to but my partner has basically already started shutting me out.

“Silence like a cancer grows”

Surviving the Drains

A couple more weeks dealing with the drains has become a way of life. Awkward attachments to my chest which are in the way of everything that I want to do. I can barely move my right arm. I can’t really dress myself without help or I get myself tangled up in the tubes which cause great pain. Still been sleeping on the couch, which I am really tired of being on the couch day and night. I get out with my partner once in a while for small errands during the day just to get out of the house. Batman and Boo been such sweethearts dealing with the sleeping on the couch. I know they miss snuggling up to me in the queen sized bed. But me and the fur babies always manage. I would be lost without them. They are my saving grace. I may be with a so called life partner but I know in my heart that this isn’t the right partner. There is too much baggage between us. I carry a lot of my own baggage. Not being to do much gives me time to really reflect on things. I have come to the conclusion and acceptance that I just really don’t fit into life. The acceptance is a freeing enlightenment taking weight off my shoulders. However, I feel trapped. I feel trapped by work, friends, family, partner, and life. It is not really healthy to have this much time to think and reflect in the silence of your company while dealing with a deadly disease such as cancer.

Since I can’t play video games, my partner gets me a Pirates of the Caribbean Black Pearl Lego kit. Me and Batman do a little work on it each day. I am surprised how he doesn’t mess with the pieces I have laid out on the table. He truly just watches as I put pieces together. The kit has thousands of pieces and with only being able to work on it a little each day helps pass the time when I am not in the mood to watch TV or a movie. Every time I sit at the dining room table to work on the pirate ship, Batman sits right there. He head butts me and leans against me. Such a sweetheart and I would be totally lost without Boo and Batman. Such unconditional love and no drama from the fur babies.

Finally, comes to another appointment with Dr. Blumencranz. How I am praying madly inside to have these drains taking out. I feel uncomfortable in public anyway but to have these things hanging from my body and attached to my shirts make me look as if I have a growth on my side. I am also praying so that I can start to move around better and to become more independent. Too much time with the partner is not always a good thing. Dr. Blumencranz looks over the incision area and my wish is granted. He also discusses being genetically tested for BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene to see if I am at risk for ovarian cancer as well. He stated that depending on my insurance coverage that it could cost several thousand dollars to nothing depending on my family history. We decide we will look into what I am covered by Florida Blue.

The doctor leaves and the nurse comes in to remove the tubes. She removes what is left of the steri-strips. She warns me that is going to hurt. She advises that she will go as fast as possible. I mentally prepare myself. The nurse takes off both drain cups and sets them aside. She grabs the first tube and tells me to take a deep breath and blow out hard. I grasp the edges of the examining table. She yanks the tube and I scream and cusses like a sailor. My partner winces watching this long tube coming out of my chest cavity. Holy pain Batman! I didn’t realize that was so long. She advised it was so long because of the lymph nodes being removed the tube went into my arm pit area. She said you will be able to move much better with these both out. Gently keep stretching and slowly start using the right arm more since it has been so long. She asked if I was ready for round two. I gather myself again and grasp the edges of the table again. She yanks the last one out. Man does that hurt. But hallelujah I am free of those bastard drains. I almost want to dance around but refrain from doing so.

I actually got to sleep in bed that night. I have to gingerly get into bed and be aware of how I am laying of the healing incision across my chest. Any extra stress causes pain and discomfort. Boo and Batman happily curl up with me that night. That was the first night of good sleep in almost a month. We all sleep snuggled up together.

Making it to first post op appointment

I find it very hard to move my right arm. It feels as if it is being stopped and is painful to move. I try to do my best to not be such a burden. The tubes are stitched into my chest. They have to be milked to keep clots from forming. It is a weird and disgusting thing to do milking the clots down into the tubes. The tubes then are drained. With the stitches each day the opening is wider and wider. I leak not only into the tubes but all over my shirts. I just wearing my old t-shirts that I normally sleep in. We keep me cleaned and bandaged as much as possible due to my never ending leaking.

Due to me not being able to completely lay down flat due to pain, I just been living on the couch day and night all propped up. Boo has been sleeping on the stool next to the couch. There isn’t room for both Batman and Boo on the couch with me. Since she is older, she settles for the stool. I always scoot her close to me at night. Batman sits up on the arm of the couch or on top of the pillows. Both have constantly been my side. They know that Mommy is hurting. Poor Batman misses laying on my chest but I cannot have him stepping all over that area. Just way too painful even being bandaged up. Batman just doesn’t understand. Poor guy seems depressed but he does follow me everywhere supervising my every move.

Every day I just keep watching TV or movies. I wish I could play video games but I am not able to move that right arm enough to hold the controller. It is a struggle just to change clothes even with help due to the drains. Bumping them is so painful.

Well it comes to the first appointment with Dr. Blumencranz to see how I am fairing after the surgery. My partner actually has to step into the shower with me to help me wash my hair and help bathe me. It is just enough for me to hold the two drains so they don’t pull out of my chest. We both laugh because she is fully clothed. She says I guess until you are able to wash your hair on your own I will have to shower with you. She advises me that she will let me know in advance when she will be up to do that. She is doing her best to work, keep me fed, take care of her son, and keep up with two households. I know it is daunting. I watched my mother take care of me after my crash. I am at least able to walk which is more than I could after the crash. It took a toll on my mother both physically and mentally. I think that is why she is really not up to helping now. Plus the friction between my partner and her is just not what I need at this time.

We head to the post operation appointment. All looks good. Everything is healing good according to Dr. Blumencranz. He advises that he wants to see me in a couple weeks. He explains that the drains will more than likely be ready to come out by then. The goal is in the amount of drainage. The color had gone from bloody to more a orange. He advised that over time the drainage will be clearer and less clots.  He also advised that every day I should see more and more improvement in my movement.

4th and Final Susan G Komen Race for the Cure

Originally this was to take place on October 7, 2017 but due to Hurricane Irma effecting basically the entire peninsula of Florida was postponed until February 17, 2018. The venue went from Albert Whitted Airport to Vinoy Park due to the Indy Car series which utilizes Albert Whitted Airport for their upcoming season opener race. The crews would be working on setting up the course in the area at that time. This meant that there would be no close parking area which we already faced and dealt with in 2015. There are no good parking garages close to either venue, Albert Whitted Airport or Vinoy Park.

On the papers handed out during the package pickup in 2015 handicap parking areas were shown. But when I tried to pull into those areas, I was turned away. We found a parking garage but had to walk almost 2 miles from parking garage to start of the race, then what I walked during the race, then that 2 miles back to the parking garage. That next day I was in so much pain due to my injuries from my crash in 2007. I cannot walk great distances without repercussions.

In 2016 in response to all the complaints of the parking situation, they came up with an idea of parking at Albert Whitted Airport for a $10 parking fee paid in advance upon registration for the event. I was one of the people who made a complainant about the parking situation being that I am handicapped and so is my mother. So we registered early and got a parking pass. That year I was able to park right near the event area and start of the race. That was such a convenient thing to have and made the event much more enjoyable as it was for my first one back in 2014 which was held in the Carillon area which there were parking garages near the start/finish.

With the date change of the event, package pickup locations were changed from what we normally had in the past. Now the locations were not as convenient for me to leave work, head to my parents and drive them to the location which we normally chose to be in front of the New Balance store at Westshore Plaza Mall. We had always made an evening of it by getting our race packets then going out to dinner. Westshore Plaza Mall is just across the Bay from us and not a bad drive for me during the evening rush hour once I picked them up. I had to take off of work early to travel way into Tampa by Hillsborough Ave and Lois Ave. The location was at Crunch. Here I am handicapped and overweight walking into a gym full of young and skinny people. That just made we feel so out of place. My parents felt funny walking into that location as well. At least the location in the mall was in the area outside of the New Balance Store. The area was not in the way of anything. Here at Crunch the pickup was right by the doors and we were in the way of people coming and going.  I should have known this was a sign that this was not going to be a good event. But the volunteers there did mention “Survivors Dinner” which I never knew about before. I knew they had a VIP dinner for a donation. I thought since this was my sixth year as a survivor that we should participate. Boy was I wrong.

Prior to the event, I had left my house late to pick up my parents which was my fault. I arrived and my mother wasn’t ready. We had to wait a few minutes before we were ready and loaded in my car to travel. We start on our trek towards downtown St Petersburg, my Mother had forgotten her glasses. So I had to make a quick U-turn to head back to their house to get her glasses. My father was instructed by me to research the parking. Come to find out he did not. He is retired as well as my Mother. I work 40 plus hours a week. Now I can’t drive and look at Google Maps. Suzanne had already arrived down there and parked in the Sun Dial parking lot. I just decided to head there that way we would not be too far from each other once the event was over. This was another sign that this was not going to be a good event. Found parking in the Plaza garage right next to the stairs on the second floor right by an intersection. This would make it easy to remember where we parked. This was across from the Sun Dial Mall itself which was near where Suzanne had parked. I followed my father after I helped my mother down the stairs thinking he knew where we were heading. We walked two blocks to the south before I caught the fact that we needed to head East towards Tampa Bay. I made a mental note that no more will I allow him to just take off walking. I will have to do my own research on things that we plan to do.

We start our trek to Vinoy Park which was almost a mile. We found a bench and I kept Suzanne updated as to where to find us via text. This allowed my Mother to rest. Once we were all together we walked around the vendors tent. We walked near the Survivor Tent. I only saw cookies on trays out. That is not dinner plus sugar feeds cancer. There were not as many vendors. There also weren’t as many water stations in the area which meant water was hard to come by. We headed towards the VIP tent. We got up to the donation station only to have one of the volunteers tell me “This isn’t for you. You need to be over at the survivor’s tent.” I replied, “I am with my family and I only saw cookies over there. I don’t want cookies.” My Father was standing there holding $40 to pay for our entry into the area. Another volunteer said, “No the food should be out there. Wraps and salads.” My Dad put his money back in his wallet where both volunteers could see and said “I guess you don’t want my money then. You just lost $40.” I turned and walked away saying, “This is my last race. I am done.”

I now felt like I was being discriminated against by being a survivor. Again, I was treated as if I do not belong or worthy enough. I get that every day of my life because I am a square box in a circle world. It takes a lot for me to be out amongst crowds due to my social anxiety and PTSD. It truly is huge effort on my part. I used to feel a part of something bigger than myself because there are so many breast cancer fighters and survivors. We sat down on a bench so that my Mother could rest. I was fuming inside. My father was also fuming. Suzanne and myself started making jokes to try and lighten the mood. I knew I had to calm down so that the stress would not consume me. Stress is a trigger for cancer as well as sugar feeds cancer. My mother said, “When something becomes more of a hassle then it is worth, time to ditch it.” My philosophy exactly Mom. From dealing with my crash injuries then cancer, I came to feed off that philosophy quite a bit. Many found themselves on the ditch side.

Eventually as it neared time for the survivor parade, we wondered towards the survivor’s tent. I looked for the signs which are usually held up to designate survivors by the number of years being a cancer survivor. They were handing out stickers instead. I thought to myself, “Hell I can’t even get to stand amongst those that are 5 years plus.” I was looking forward to that since the walk in 2016. Third and finally strike just solidified my decision that this was the fourth and final event. Besides I thought to myself as I stood in line for the sticker, “I have no more room for any more medals. This will fill up my stand where I hold my collection of race cars.” I did spot some mini finger food on a tray next to the mounds of cookies. I shook my head and laughed to myself. I did the survivor walk and looked around feeling totally out of place. We stood for a photo making a ribbon for the aerial photographs. I made sure that I was in the back and out of the way. I really didn’t feel like being there. I was starting to get a migraine.

Dad made his way to the front of the start so he could work on his pace. He always walks the entire 5K. He wanted to best his time from last year. Me, Mom and Suzanne headed to the very back. We just meander along for a bit and then find a spot to sit and wait for him to return. Neither myself or my mother need to be overdoing the walking since we still had the trek back to the parking garage. Once we stop, me, Mom and Suzanne have a blast just chatting about anything and everything. Normally on the old course we would sit at the corner by the Vinoy on a bench facing the marina. On this course, we sat at a picnic table near the dog park. We talked about the “haves” and the “have nots” along with our people watching. I also filled in my Twitter besties about the situation so that they could add their comments to my rant via Twitter. I am so thankful for them. Suffering from social anxiety, they allow me to be social in a way which keeps me comfortable. My besties are the best support anyway can ask for. We chat about anything and everything. Without social media, we would have never met.

Due to social media, I can share my story in hopes of inspiring others by my courage, resolve, and journey. I also can share my experience to possibly save someone else from experiencing what I have experienced. I wish the organization of Susan G Komen Race for the Cure well but I can no longer be a part of it. There are other organizations out there for breast cancer survivors and I can throw my support in that direction along with those that will follow my lead. Cancer sucks for those that are fighting it, have fought it, and those that support the fighters. When one of us gets cancer, the family and friends feel like they have it as well. Cancer has the snowball effect. So me, the lone wolf, will take pinkwarriorbatman elsewhere. I thrive as a lone wolf and I am more than pink.

My Experience with Hurricane Irma

I am writing about my experience with Hurricane Irma. I live in the Tampa Bay Area. I have dealt with many storms before. I experienced Hurricane Elena back in 1985. I was only 15 at the time. I just remember that storm kept doing a dance up and down the Gulf of Mexico till it finally made landfall Biloxi, Mississippi. During breaks in the feeder bands, we kids would go outside to get away from being shut into homes all boarded up. The kids tied a bedsheet to two poles then hop on skateboards and surfed the wind through the puddles. I just watched them glad to be outside. Another Tropical System came through our area drenching our area sometime before 1992. I can’t recall the name or the time. I just remember coming home from work to find most of my normal routes was flooded. I eventually had to come into the neighborhood from a different direction and drive across some people’s yards to get to my parent’s home. I remember the no name storm of 1993 which occurred in March caused a lot of flooding in our area.

Once I became a Florida State Trooper, I was sent up to Pensacola in October of 1995 for Hurricane Opal. The detail of Troopers from all over the state stayed in Tallahassee at the academy the night the storm came in. We left as a group in the middle of the night heading across Interstate 10 towards Pensacola on the backside of the storm which had weakened from a Category 4 prior to landfall. We traveled convoy style dodging downed trees along our path. We made it to Pensacola and stayed there a total of 9 days. I saw the devastation to the barrier islands there first hand. The intercostal waterway was filled with debris swept off the barrier islands from the storm surge. I got to be observer in a helicopter one of those 9 days. The intercostal waterway was filled with debris swept off the barrier islands from the storm surge. We saw washers, dryers, fridges, cars, boats, and such in the water. The bridge appeared to just end at the barrier island due to the sand that had been washed all over it. We landed in a safe area and went looking in some homes that were still standing searching for those that stayed behind. It was such an eerie sight. That last day before our detail left, bulldozers had opened some of the roadways on the barrier island. The mounds of sand reminded me of snow drifts in the Midwest after a blizzard.

I will always remember the Hurricane season of 2004 which Florida which seem the constant crossing route for Hurricanes that year. That season was very taxing with the many twelve hour shifts and cancelled days off. It started with Hurricane Charley which was aiming right for Tampa Bay. It was a Cat 4. I remember helping Pinellas County evacuees on Interstate 275. Some were heading to friend’s homes in Orlando. One young family was heading to their father’s house in Punta Gorda. Then Hurricane Charley pulled a fast one and veered right off the projected path and made landfall in Punta Gorda. Hurricane Charley rode right across the state emerging back into the Atlantic Ocean off New Smyrna Beach. Barely a month later, Hurricane Frances hit the east coast of Florida coming in between Fort Pierce and West Palm Beach. Hurricane Frances crossed the state coming off into the Gulf of Mexico near Tampa Bay. Hurricane Frances then went up into the panhandle and northeasterly back out into the Atlantic Ocean as remnants. Barely a week later, had Hurricane Ivan come through the Caribbean Sea and into the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Ivan made landfall near Alabama but Florida felt some minor effects from the rain bands. Next came Hurricane Jeanne about a week after Ivan. Hurricane Jeanne hit near Port St Lucie and went through Pasco County almost emerging into the Gulf of Mexico before it tracked northward into Georgia. Three major hurricanes hitting central Florida in six weeks and those three Hurricanes crossed the same area of Polk County all three times.

There were other storms here and there that we had to respond for in Central Florida. Then after my crash in 2007, I became non-essential personnel. The offices have been closed a few times in the past 10 years. Nothing more than a day of the office being closed. This monster of a Cat 5 Hurricane was bearing down on the entire state of Florida. The storm was twice as wide as the state. We were going to get more than a small percentage of winds and effects with this one. Before the storm, I was checking in with each update. I would look at the models. I had a feeling it was going to go right up the middle of the state. The two most dependable models were showing that. I checked in with the geezers as Florida started being more in the cone of uncertainty. I was checking to see if we were going to hunker down or evacuate. The choice was to hunker down. I knew the roads were going to be clogged and with the track of the storm it was going to be hard to find somewhere to go. We couldn’t go north then west due Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath. Going north was not going to be a good option because that was going to be everywhere that those fleeing the state were going to go. I remember when Hurricane Floyd was bearing down on the whole east coast of Florida. All those Floridians evacuated to the west side of the state and caused major gridlock. I went and got extra pet food for Batman. My parents insured me that they were going to get the generator gassed up and prepared. They were going to get water and supplies. It wasn’t discussed any further.

Hurricane Irma devastated islands in the Caribbean to the point that they are inhabitable due to the infrastructure being destroyed. We received word on Thursday that the office was going to be closed Friday and Monday due to the storm. I worked diligently to get work done and to stay busy. I worked on getting my bag packed for going to my parent’s house on Sunday. They actually expected me to go sooner. The storm wasn’t due in our area until Late Sunday night. I advised them I would be over with Batman on Sunday afternoon. I packed Batman’s bag. I then worked on securing my home office and my TARDIS. It is hard to decide what you will actually take and what will stay behind. I only had one tarp and I used that on the TARDIS which covered that and half of my entertainment center. I live on the second floor in a no evacuation zone so flooding was not a concern but losing the roof was a worry. I packed Boo’s ashes, her paw print, and a sample of fur. That cannot be replaced. I felt if me and Batman were going to evacuate then she would come along. I filled my freezer with extra bags of ice from my ice maker. I also placed extra glasses of water in the fridge. I was going to take all my leftovers which were going to leave the fridge pretty much emptied. I lowered the temperature on both the freezer and the fridgerator. I had frozen a glass of water then placed a quarter on top. This way I could know how much the freezer defrosted if power was lost. I did all the laundry just in case the power would be off for a long period of time. I felt I had prepared my place as best as I could.

With my Twitter friends being from all over the world, we had just prayed for those in Texas. Now those in Texas were praying for us joined by those from the rest of the world. Several close Twitter friends are in Florida. We all promised to keep in touch as a group. I left home around 2pm on Sunday and headed to my parent’s house. There was no one on the road. It was a ghost town. Batman was not happy with the wind. Normally he enjoys riding in the car. We got to their home. My parent’s helped me unpack the car. Batman walked into the house and looked around. He explored a bit. Zoey was not happy at all. Batman approached her to make friends. She was so mean. My Mom put Zoey into the master bedroom with their Quaker parrot. This way Batman had the rest of the house. He settled down pretty fast. We all stayed glued to the TV. I spent a lot of that time talking with my friends on Twitter. Everyone was concerned how Batman was doing. It kept my mind off the impending storms approach. My Mom was pretty wound up. She was constantly changing channels taking in every livestream and report. As the night wore on, the wind and rain got worse. Batman stayed close by me. He was safe with me. We tried to sleep but the wind howling woke us a couple times. I was on the couch bed while Mom was in her recliner. We kept hearing loud bangs on the roof followed by scraping. The power flickered on/off a few times. The power finally stayed off around 2am Monday morning. The TV had drowned out some of the wind noise. Now the house was dark. We had our flashlights. Mom had lit all her battered operated candles. I had brought over some extra. This way we could have some light as we needed to go to the bathroom. It was a restless sleep that night. We awoke to a breezy, partly cloudy day. We went outside to survey the damage. We found lots of broken limbs and leaves from the trees. Some of Mom’s plants in the backyard were blown over. We made breakfast on the grill. We discovered that Kcups were not going to work for coffee. Luckily the neighbor that shares the generator with my father had some ground coffee. Lesson 1, make sure you have ground coffee and either a French press or camping coffee pot to make coffee with. The breeze kept the humidity at bay as we all went out front to rake up the storm debris. My father and neighbor started the generator only to discover that it was running but eventually stopped generating electricity. Mom and I ran over to my place to find there was no power at my place. My condo was safe with no damage. The carports sustained damage. Also the storm had broken a pipe in front of our building so no water as well. Mom and I grabbed my bacon and eggs to take back to the house. With no Wi-Fi, the cell signal at my parent’s house is not enough to fully get onto Twitter or Facebook.  I was anxious to check in. The entire Florida group was accounted for and safe. That eased my mind. I was able to answer many text messages inquiring about my safety.

Tuesday was more humid. We fixed breakfast again. Dad said this was camping without the fun. Dad sent Mom and I out on ice run to try and keep the freezer okay. Dad and the neighbor were working on getting the generator fixed. Another neighbor helped them as we were gone. We drove all over seeing lots of damage. Mom and I found a Village Inn open and had lunch. We had to wait on a table. There were some college girls next to us that found out that there was no school for the rest of the week. Many people looked weary and tired. We overheard many conversations about the power being out and damage sustained. We get seated and order. I was able to get good signal at the restaurant so spent a lot of that time getting caught up. I was able to learn from Facebook that Town and Country area never lost power. So I told Mom that was where we were going to head to in order to find ice and something to bring home to the boys. Most of the people in the restaurant were nice and understanding of the limited menu items, the extra time that it was taking to get orders filled. They had limited staff and only had gotten power back on that very morning. Then came in some entitled persons who feel as if the world owes them. All they did was bitch and moan. Seriously? We all just went through the hurricane. They skipped out without paying. People frustrate me that act like that. Unfortunately, the world is beginning to fill up with them. We finished eating and found a Publix opened which had ice. Their deli was operational so we decided to get some chicken for the boys. That Publix had a 20 minute wait on chicken. We stopped at another one on the way home to find some hot wings for the boys. The boys were happy with the hot wings. The other neighbor allowed the boys to borrow one of his generators which they shared to get the fridge and freezers back to temps before switching back to the other house.

With the heat and all, it was getting old pretty fast. We had plenty of water. I had breakfast food covered. We didn’t have enough other food once the leftovers were gone to sustain other meals. We were praying that the power would come back on soon or at least some of the local restaurants to get their power back. The two Publix locations that we had went in there was no bread, snacks were gone, no water, canned goods were scarce. We awoke Wednesday morning after hearing a generator going on all night until it ran out of gas around 430am made sleep very interrupted. We planned on clearing out the backyard. Dad used my diced ham to make omelet with the last of the eggs. To out delight, we saw the lights come on. We closed up the house so the AC would cool it down. We all worked hard on the back yard. Mom started to not feel good. Dad and I cleaned up after finishing our yard work. We went to local Publix and got some food and chicken soup for Mom. Dad and I also stopped by my place to find out the power and water was back on. I was overjoyed because I had enough. Batman was such a good boy and all. Work still was without power until Wednesday evening. I got us all packed up and back home after having lunch with my parents. I only got unpacked enough to be ready for work in the morning. I was exhausted. Still others were without power through until that weekend. The damage to the keys is horrific.

Pet Safety

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Yesterday was a wakeup call. I received a text from one of my Troopers. He recognized my street name on the active EMS calls website. There was a three alarm fire in my condo complex. I was at work. I opened up the EMS website to find the structure fire call had a total of 35 units on scene. It was the building next to mine. At first, I was relieved because that meant nothing was wrong with my building. However, from my experience, that many fire engines and trucks was not a good thing. I began to panic a little. I checked my pet camera. There was power in my place. I couldn’t see Batman on camera. I turned the sound on and didn’t hear any commotion.  It is July in Florida which means the air conditioning was one.  I had received a weather alert for my home and work area a few minutes before I received the text. I checked the weather radar. I did see a storm moving away from my area. It had just rained heavily at work.

I called my parents whom are both retired. I advised them of the situation. They tried to contact my neighbors but both were at work. The others neighbors are all new to our building. I felt hopeless. Anyone that knows me or have read my blog, you know how important to me Batman is in my life. He is one special guy. They were worried about being able to get to him and really didn’t seem like they wanted to go over there to check on him. Mom did ask where his bag, leash and cat jacket was. I immediately knew his leash and cat jacket were by the door. But the bag, I hesitated not really remembering where it was. I really only used that to carry him into the vet. He hated the bag and liked riding in the car. So that is why I have been leash training him, his cat jacket Velcro on and secures him.  I asked my Twitter friends for prayers that he would be safe. I kept an eye on the radar and the EMS website.

My ex then texted me about the fire and asked if Batman was okay. She had seen it on an independent news post on Facebook. I found that post and learned more about the fire. It was a lightning strike. It had spread through the 3rd floor attic of that building. Firefighters had to cut a hole in the roof to locate and extinguish the fire. As everything was beginning to wind down, my parents decided to go over to check on Batman to ease my mind. She called as they walked towards my building. Firetrucks were still parked everywhere so they had to walk to my building from two buildings down. When they opened, the door and I heard my little guy talking to them. I was at ease.

I am now moving his soft carrier near the door so it is near his leash and cat jacket. I am also ordering a sign that goes in the window which alerts fireman that there is a pet inside. There is also a wallet card that you can have in your wallet in case of an emergency. This way my parents can be alerted. I also already have in place someone to take Batman in case of my death. Everyone needs to have an emergency plan in place. Anything can happen in a minute.  So think about your fur babies emergency plans. Make sure it is implementable. My parents are also going to get me an escape ladder to get off the second floor in case my one and only stairwell is compromised. I know where to go in my place in case of a tornado to keep me and Batman safe.  Now that it is hurricane season, I will get a go bag ready for me and Batman will also have a go bag in case of our needing to evacuate.

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Reflections on Cecil & Rascal


Today isn’t a start to a normal Thursday. Today I feel numb and empty. Today even Batman feels the sadness. I had to put his doggie shirt back on because he was pulling his hair again due to stress. Today Shannon is on my mind. Today Kobe is on my mind. They lost Rascal yesterday. They lost Cecil back in February. Heartbreak and devastation has reared it’s ugly head. Rascal passed away peacefully in his sleep after 16 years. I had the privilege of meeting Shannon and the boys back in October. They are a part of my ohana.

Sure some say oh he was just a cat. To those people, this is why you are not close to me. You don’t get me at all. If you did, then you would know that Batman and my ohana’s furbabies mean more to me than any human relationship. Rascal was Shannon’s furson. Her eldest of her three cool cats. I know the heartache and emptiness Shannon feels. I feel it right alongside her. The Sunday I found about Cecil’s passing, I died a little. Yesterday, I died a little more after hearing about sweet Rascal. I am grateful that I have met Shannon and the boys through Twitter. We been ohana for overn3 years now.

I joined Twitter February 2014. I had lost Boo in January 2014. The relationships built over that span have helped me through my grief of loosing Boo. They were all very supportive when Batman was sick and needed surgery in December 2014. They have helped me become a better, stronger person. Sharing my story with them has helped them all as well. I truly have found my niche.

Joining Zombiesquad in January 2015, my ohana has grown. It really blossomed as if late as more kitties joined the ranks. We have all shared in each others ups and downs. We all support each other. We all love each other. Yes we have had many sad losses. We share those losses together. We keep each other going on.

I truly believe we will see our furry ones again when we meet on the rainbow bridge. I know in my heart that they are our angels watching over us. I have sensed Boo’s presence a few times since her passing.

I have cried more for the deaths of Shannon’s boys, Peaches’ Dreamer, Charlee’s Clarence, Amy’s Gumdrop, Robyn’s Pepper, Ollie and Blue than I ever have for any human. The one exception was William Dyer who was like a brother to me.

Furbabies give unconditional love. That love is forever. That love never dies. We will meet them again. They will be waiting to greet us when we pass. That love is complete, whole, never waining.

Homecoming

March 1, 2012

Morning comes and I am anxious to get home to my fur babies. My partner has to go pick up her son. Amy arrives to take me home. I wasn’t allowed to be discharged until I was able to hold down some solid food. The anesthesia and pain meds had made me very nauseous the day prior. I had gotten sick a couple times. I get a ham and cheese omelet. Amy gets me all situated before the food arrives. I begin to eat gingerly and everything goes well. Amy and I are given discharge instructions.

Amy gets me home. She turns the air conditioning down for me since I had to have it so cold to feel comfortable. All the extra bandages and my body beginning to heal itself had me a bit overheated. There is no way that I am going to be able to sleep in bed. Just too painful so Amy gets me my pillows and gets me set up on the couch. I am so happy to see my fur babies. They both greet me. Just being home and around them has me feeling so much better.

Amy checks on my drainage tubes and it appears to be time to empty them as well milk them. I was kind of shocked how involved in this process Amy wanted to be in. She listened intently and watched the nurse demonstrate this at the hospital. My partner comes up to relieve Amy. Amy had just finished with cleaning up. I had just got back down onto the couch and was settling in get comfortable. I could sense the jealousy in the room with my partner. I rolled my eyes when she wasn’t looking. Batman jumped up onto the couch and wanted to lie on my chest as he always had done. Unfortunately, there was no way I could let him. Poor little guy didn’t understand. I had to keep pushing him down to my lap. He finally settled down on my lap. He wanted to be near me so bad. Boo comes and lies in the pet bed on the floor in front of the couch.

I spend most of the time napping on and off and watching The Big Bang Theory on DVD. I was catching up on the series. There were eight episodes per disc so it was easy to watch and not have to move much. I knew from the accident and how the body needs to heal I just needed to relax and take it easy. Batman and Boo stay constantly by my side or at the least have me in sight. My partner makes sure that I keep hydrated and fed.

The next day keep in mind that my partner still has to work and has her son to take care of. I mainly needed to rest and take it easy. The house hadn’t been cleaned yet and I hadn’t felt like really trying to tackle washing my hair. My partner did a sponge bath because I wasn’t to mess with the bandages as of yet. My parents stop by. My partner jumps at the opportunity to run to the grocery. My mother has a fit about the house and my hair. Seriously, who the fuck cares Mom? Everyone knows I just had surgery. No one is going to care really. Suzanne and Rodney were going to stop in after their shift to visit with me. They would not care. The stuff this woman worries about causes me more stress than is necessary.  My partner returns from the grocery then my parents leave.

While Suzanne and Rodney visited, my partner was able to get some things done between both my place and her place. I wasn’t quite fully able to do much other than to get up and go to the bathroom and fetch myself something to drink. My partner had bought me some flexible straws to help me not to have to lean up so much.

Surgery Day

(getting back to the main subject of my blog being my journey through breast cancer)

FEBRUARY 29, 2012

It is surgery day. I am extremely nervous, anxious and sad. I took a shower and just cried. My body would never look the same way again. I had a large scar on my leg which was no big deal to me. It was like a badge of honor for surviving that accident in 2007. This was a part of my womanhood which was going to be removed. I felt as if I would no longer be a viable partner. How would anyone want to be to be with me? I am going to only have one breast. I kept thinking we had just gotten close again. We had to be at the hospital really early. My parents hadn’t arrived yet and I was working on the paperwork for admission. I was going to have to spend the night in the hospital after the surgery. I ended up being called back early before I had even gotten through a quarter of the paperwork. My partner had to finish which also meant she would have to deal with my parents alone once they arrived.

I go to pre-op and get changed. I am hooked up to all the machines and given an IV. Then my partner and parents were called up to join with me until time for surgery. My head was spinning with thoughts and feelings none of which I could discuss with my partner or my parents. What a place to be looking back now as I write this, no one really to completely confide in wholeheartedly without regard. Dr. B comes by and marks up my right breast and places some numbing lotion on the nipple. That was quite a weird sensation as the numbness took over my right breast.

I am then taken down to nuclear medication for radioactive injections to my right breast. This was to see which lymph nodes in my right armpit the right breast mainly drained to. The injections were not pleasant and were about a score of them. I am then taken back up to pre-op. You could cut the tension between my partner and my mother. They have always been at odds. I was the pawn in the middle of their power struggle. I tone out the small talk between everyone. My head is splitting. I am given some medications to calm me down and prepare me for the surgery. Those were a blessing. One good thing was the peace that comes from being under anesthesia.

I wasn’t afraid of the surgery itself or the pain that would come from having my right breast removed from my body. The worst pain I had ever felt was the night of the crash when I felt my own bones snap after the car collided with me. I was afraid of the cancer. Was it coursing thru my veins eating me silently away? Was I going to completely recover from all of this and have somewhat of a life? Was all this really necessary if it turns out to be more? Do I really want to put myself through all that? I go to sleep and wake up in recovery. They did have to take all my lymph nodes from my right armpit. Two of them had tested positive for cancer. So to be on the safe side, they were all removed. Pathology on my right breast had come back with two different types of cancer. Dr. B described it as if a bomb had gone off inside my right breast and the cancer was shrapnel. He advised that he was confident that he removed all the cancerous tissue.

After a while, here come my parents and my partner. I could hear my Mom chattering away. Even groggy from all the medications I could see the look on the faces of my father and my partner that Mom had been marathon chatting. I am still trying to process everything. My parents and my partner were also trying to make sense of everything. They all were dissecting every aspect.

Once I am taken to my room for the night my second family comes to visit which helps occupy my Mom. I was glad to see everyone but was in a bit of pain. I felt as if the bandages were strangling my chest. I wanted to just sleep. The only bad thing about trying to sleep in the hospital was the checking of vitals every couple of hours. I just kept saying to myself, only one night. The stay at Bayfront reference the crash was eleven long nights.