Social Media & Customer Service

I have a bone to pick with some brands & companies. I am one whom does not like to speak on the phone. I do it all day at work. The last thing I want to do when I have a need or an issue with a brand or company is get on a phone. I like to utilize where available email, chat, direct messages on social media or contact us on the website. However, there have been many times that it has fallen into the black hole of cyberspace. Either there is no response at all, or I have been advised to call in. This is my point. I do not want to call and speak with someone. I want to be heard loud and clear and not spoken over. I want to be heard with competence from someone who is within the country in which the company is based and not a foreign call center where the person on the other end just reads script from the screen. I want to be heard with comprehension and through typed conversations there is proof of said conversation and it is typed out. Most call centers are so redundant with automated responses that you must scream into the phone to be heard only to have the computer route you to wrong responses. Then you must start over again. This all infuriates me and anyone else whomever has had to deal with this issue. This causes the person who eventually ends up receiving the call to be lashed out at undeservedly so because the complainant is beyond stressed. I know because I get lashed out lots of times at work because I am not the area that they need.

There are some companies that just use social media for advertising and do not really interact with their customers and followers. However, some companies totally engage with their followers. I can report problems with my cellular service directly to Sprint on Twitter using DM (direct messaging). I am able to interact with Chewy and in fact have enticed more customers during the COVID-19 pandemic because of their great customer service, quality communication of constant updates due to the pandemic, and Batman and I have received an unexpected small, hand painted portrait. I use the hashtag #unpaidspokescat when I post to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram because Batman is in no way endorsed financially by any product or company. Some people use YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to be recruited and paid to post for products for financial gain and make a living out of it. Amazon is another great example of getting things done via chat thru the website or app. I have taken care of several issues that way. It doesn’t raise my blood pressure or cause me undo stress because I am introvert.

I have issues with Aldi in the past and now boycott because of their poor customer service. I was charged for seven cans of beans and only in reality purchased one. They move you through like cattle so fast that I am sure this occurs a lot. In fact, they show on their commercials how wonderful and caring the checkout personnel are that they have time ask questions or make comments to the customer. I laugh out loud because they do not in reality. They toss your stuff into the cart and you barely have time to pay and grab your cart before the next customer’s items are scanned. I am sure this social distancing is holding up the process because people need to be six feet apart. I had that overcharge issue and another issue where I was cursed at and basically accosted by a cart because I did not have a cart for few items and needed to pack my items. The gentleman, term used loosely, started tossing the next person’s items in the cart as I was retrieving mine. He said, “Fucking hurry up”. I replied, “Good God. I cannot even pack my items before you rush thru the next person. This is the last time I shop here.” I brought both instances up using Aldi’s website. I did receive responses. However, my concerns were ignored. I typed in all capitals at the bottom. “DO NOT CALL CONTACT ME VIA EMAIL ONLY”. Their response was the same each time. “We thoroughly investigate these matters and our customer service team from that location will contact you.” Never any calls nor emails from the actual store. I have not set foot in Aldi since. I even took to social media using #boycottAldi hashtag and tweeting to their corporate Twitter account. Cue the crickets chirping because there was no response from Aldi. However, I did receive replies from Batman’s followers about similar experiences or asking if I had a similar store in my area because they had excellent customer service.

Another case is Popeye’s and I had a complaint about one location and a compliment for a different location. Both instances occurred on the same day. I walked into one location and stood at the counter for ten minutes. The drive thru employee was busy completing drive thru orders. The counter person was busy filling Uber Eats or one of those other type company’s orders. There was no one taking orders at the counter. I left and went to another location and that location was busy as well. However, there were many employees filling orders at the counter, drive thru and for the app deliveries. The manager was more than friendly and apologized to each and everyone for their having to wait. Popeye’s never responded to online inquiry nor Twitter.

Final example that I will share. There are more; however, but I am only highlighting the most rampid ones in my eyes. An independent contractor for Tampa Bay Times got into a confrontation with my neighbor and balled up his fist to hit him. My neighbor had legitimate beef with this sad excuse of a man. He was blocking vehicles and illegal dumping newspapers into the condominium complex’s dumpster. This poor excuse of masculinity does not reside in the complex. He throws the papers with no regard to personal property nor condominium property. He has thrown the newspaper bouncing it off my screen door or kitchen window multiple times. I interjected due to the assault. I advised my neighbor that I had a run in with this guy before because he blocked me while doing the same illegal dumping into the dumpster. The guy started to threaten me about my weight. I laughed because I would have to care about this guy’s opinion of me. Any of my blog readers know that I am above that. My neighbor threatened to cancel his subscription to Tampa Bay Times. I encouraged it because the Tampa Bay Times is skewed liberally and has an agenda. The guy laughed and balled up his fist again. I advised this guy to leave. My neighbor followed thru and cancelled his subscription and complained about the independent contractor.  I also launched a Twitter campaign about the fact that Tampa Bay Times does not investigate their hiring of contractors allowing this type of individual to represent their paper. It fell of crickets chirping. I tried to complain about it thru their website. However, I would have to be a subscriber to even lodge a complaint.

It is time do use the social media as platforms for customer service. Especially now with the new normal during this pandemic. People should be refraining from going into places to lodge complaints or even do appointments unless your physical appearance is required. The technology is there. Most government agencies have online renewals in place to help ease the waiting times. With the ever-growing population and the places of employment downsizing and asking the remaining employees to take on more tasks these lines will increase. During the pandemic when places are closed or only allowing a smaller percentage of people into their places, the wait times have dramatically increased to get an appointment to take care of renewal needs.

Companies can hire people to work from home to take direct messages, chat conversations via the website as well as answer emails thus taking the time to read and take care of an issue. There is not a large need for call centers except for those that really have the need to talk with someone over the phone. Most websites already have FAQs where some questions are already there to be read. Websites have a lot of information available. I use that for my getting the information that I need. I know that people who are working like me usually are tasked with multiple jobs to cut down on the personnel for budgeting reasons. Why would I waste their valuable time if I can find that answer out myself? Social media can be more than a place of advertising. Mob mentality has been working. How about getting this worked out for the silent mob, the introverts, and the social anxious people of the world.

Chemo Round Four

This is the last of the double dose of death. I am so ready for this to be done. I feel so tired and weak. I endure the normal three hours of infusion. I just want it to be over with. It can be so depressing being there while others are getting their infusions. Other patients are in other stages. Some are just starting while others are celebrating their end of this part of the journey. I feel so stuck between a relationship that I want out of and nowhere to go. I feel stuck with the hatred that mother is feeling towards me and this relationship. That has not made things any easier. It is so depressing to be stuck. It is enough to have endured the crash and all the ups and downs of that process. But cancer, man, that is a lifetime journey whirlwind full of emotions, regrets, depression, self-reflection, heightened awareness of your own body and mind; packed into a mass of procedures and appointments. It is an effort just to get out of bed and do anything at all. The infusion time is when my mind just becomes chaos of thoughts and fears and anxiousness where I just to run screaming down the hallway away from myself. Back then, I just always over-analyzed and worried about stuff that I really had not control over. Things like this have changed my perspective on life and what really is important. Because of all my experiences as a whole, I have made changes which has made others question me or look down upon me; but at the end of the day, what makes me happy and healthy is uttermost important. Many people never realize that and chase after others as if they are leaders and they will always be just followers. This last round took the most out of me and left me pretty much exhausted. When I went back the following week for white blood cell booster shot, I was scheduled for the new chemotherapy. This would be a different type and would place me chemically into menopause thus killing off the estrogen in my body. I had two types of cancer in my right breast. One cancer was estrogen related and thus this chemotherapy would lock off my estrogen cells from being turned into cancerous cells. The new chemotherapy would be a weekly infusion treatment along with steroids and Benadryl because it was plant based. There were still possibly of side effects but those would be different than the double doses of death. I was advised that with this type of chemotherapy that I possibly could return to work part time as I would not be in as much danger. I had mixed feelings about that because I know there would be tons of work to do and catch up on. Plus, I would have to undo any mistakes that my co-worker did. But since the relationship was not going that great, would get me away from that situation at least for a few hours a few days a week. I was still on a leave of absence through till the end of May.

Social Distancing

Social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic has proven to be hard for some people. They find themselves extremely lonely and depressed cut off from family and friends. There have been reports of animal shelters being empty due to large increase in adoptions. That warmed my heart because those people will discover what I already know about how much companionship an animal can be. They are loyal and love you unconditionally. You are their entire world. They are so much company. I am never alone. We saw some dog parents social distancing while allowing their dogs to have fun in the dog park.

I find that my being an introvert and having endured a lot of time alone during my childhood and adulthood has prepared me for something like this. It is basically business as usual with me and Batman. We are limited on where our adventures can take us because of places closed. But we still get out and enjoy nature. We don’t travel far. We just go to local parks with walking trails to get outside and walk around for a little bit. No need to be with anyone or talk with anyone. Just walking, listening, breathing in the fresh air can do wonders for those who have been stuck inside. This can even be achieved in your own neighborhood. Get out and take a walk. Give space to others. Get lost in your own mind.

I find such peace being out and hearing nature. I grew up in Ohio in the suburbs. There was large acreage of woods behind my childhood home. I spent many hours in those woods alone but totally entertained. As an adult now, I cherish those memories and experiences because I am totally at peace with myself and my not fitting into society. I am above the need for constant human contact. In fact, most instances of human contact with people not in my inner circle actually aggravate me. The groups of people who are loud and obnoxious trying to get noticed. The people who have to talk on their smartphones the entire time on speaker. Take a break from people. You might find some peace.  You actually might find out who actually are if you take some time for yourself.

People who have been failing to follow the CDC guidelines of social distancing are hurting themselves, their family and innocent others they may come into contact with. Some buy into the theory this is all a bullshit excuse to screw with their rights and civil liberties. Some don’t believe the cause for alarm is warranted and thus are doing their usual activities with crowds and others.

Today Batman and I saw examples of proper social distancing and the wrong kind as well. With being outside at a park, you are supposed to maintain at least 6 feet between others not within your immediate group. So when you are on a walking path, go single file on one side and the other person or persons do the same on the other side passing with space between. A few times today, I had to push Batman in his stroller well off the beaten path for groups failing to give space to us. Some people who are in the vulnerable group were wearing face masks which is perfectly acceptable because it protects them.

I saw two different parents with young children. One was a father with his two kids; they were walking and enjoying nature. I then later saw a young mother with her toddler walking down the middle of the parking area. The mother was several steps ahead and spaced away from the toddler. The mother was talking to someone on the phone whining and complaining about the safer at home orders. She wanted to go to the gym and wanted to have her boob job done. I just shook my head because here she was with the perfect opportunity to show her toddler some of the birds and animals in the park. That mother is the type that probably shouldn’t have had a child because she was more interested in her social life woes. That toddler could have wandered off and that woman had no clue.

Believe me; I get some weird looks as I am wheeling Batman in his stroller along the paths. I do not care what they think. I am out to get some fresh air, exercise and for Batman to enjoy the adventure. Those are the types of people I need nothing to do with. Batman and I also get to meet some very nice people on our outings who take an interest in him. Today was no exception. We had a chat with an older couple. They maintained their social distance as we talked. They heard about his story. They also told us about how they agree that some people aren’t following the rules. It was a gorgeous morning in Florida as the humidity was down and the temperatures weren’t too high.

To those on the frontlines: stay safe, stay vigilant, know that I am the one who always tells you to stay safe if you were my cashier, took care me at a drive thru, delivered food, interact with me at work. To the healthcare workers: I pray for you every day to be safe, have what you need, send you strength and prayers.

For those that aren’t following rules: “HAVE THE DAY YOU DESERVE”

Reflections of a decade

Well here we head on full blast into another decade. Most thought we would be over in 2000 by certain end of day’s theories. But, tomorrow it will be 2020. I am going to take the time today, the last day of 2019, to reflect on my decade. A lot has happened through this decade. One would think the 2000s would have done me in with my crash and career ending injuries. However, that all prepared me for the 2010s. I had no idea what was in store for me. I am still standing. I preserved as always.

Looking back at 2010 that seemed to be a year of unraveling, my relationship was beginning to be in the toilet. My fears of a repeat of what happened the first time around came to fruition. I should have gone with my gut feeling when she had come snooping back around in 2007 getting her claws into me at my lowest time. Hey the saying went, “If love comes back to you then it is yours forever”. I call bullshit. It isn’t love when both sides aren’t winning and everyone is losing.  Relationships take compromise, but it seems that someone always bends more than the other. I was beginning to be loose myself and having to bend past a breaking point. The pending nightmare happened and the cycle of my ex leaving me for the same person happened again. It didn’t last for long and my ex got a taste of her own medicine. As quickly as her true love as she called it whisked back in, that person fled. I should have let sleeping dogs lie on that one. But I thought I will give this one last chance. Stupid me and I paid the price for it. It was breaking me more and more. I just had just reconciled with my parents after a falling out due to this person. I did have a blessing in finding Batman.

Going into 2011, the pressure and stress kept boiling. My co-worker went out sick in December of 2010 and wouldn’t return until July of 2011. I was left to do everything. Stress mounted as high as demands on me to keep performing. The more I got done without any help, the more that was expected of me. Nothing was ever good enough. That spilled through into my relationship with my parents and that with my ex. A Trooper, whom was like my brother, had a crash in October and was never the same. He suffered from possibly a stroke or brain aneurism. I started not feeling well towards the end of the year. I went to the gynecologist. A lump was found in my right breast. Trooper Dyer passed away on December 28th. This was a loss that cut into my soul. Yes I had lost three of my four grandparents but their loss wasn’t as great as losing him. I wasn’t really close to my grandparents for various complicated reasons. My lump in my breast had been a catalyst to spark something in my relationship with my ex. I think the possibility of my having cancer and seeing me break with the loss of Bill showed her something about me.

No partying or celebrating for me on New Year’s Eve. On the first day of 2012, I was heading to a funeral. We celebrated Trooper Dyer’s life. Later that month came mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy and the eventual diagnosis of breast cancer. That term will cut through your soul like a knife through fresh baked bread. Telling my mother that I had cancer was the hardest thing I ever had to do. It broke her. She still hadn’t gotten over my crash. I faced more surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. That year took a toll on my soul and health. My relationship ended the further into the treatment I went. The cycle came around again. That her and her so called true love found each other again. My ex had and probably still has no clue whom she is as a person. She looked to me and her so called true love as a guide to whom to be. Both versions of her herself were different.

Beginning 2013, I started to work hard at getting better and to eat healthier.  I at times reflected back on I should have just said no and not had all that stress with my ex. However, the good times and experiences prepared me to be the strong, independent woman I am today. I focused on myself and doing what made me happy. Going thru both the crash and cancer, I knew I needed to focus on me. I started saying no to invites if I really didn’t want to do something. I learned more about myself and my personality. I became enlightened. I didn’t let the so called what was popular at the time or what society expected of me to control my actions. I stepped outside of that and focused on the real truth.

2014 began sad and depressing for me; Boo had become sicker and sicker. I ended up making the hardest decision to let her go peacefully and not to suffer anymore. She had cancer of the mouth. My Mom was present with me as I said my goodbye to my sweet darling. I held her as she passed. I buried my face into minky fur and said my goodbyes. I went home and my sweet boy greeted me. He didn’t understand that his sister didn’t come back home with me. He and I bonded even more as we both grieved our great loss. I joined Twitter and started meeting some great people. The further that him and I ventured into the social media life, the more I knew I had found my place. I no longer felt alone. I found others like me that didn’t want children. I found others that loved their furbabies as much as I do.

2015, Batman joined #ZSHQ, which is a Twitter club made up of all types of animals and stuffies that protect the world from zombies. Batman’s social media fandom grew. Every year since, he has received gifts and cards from all over the world for his birthday and for Christmas. Batman rose thru the ranks and now holds the rank of Commodore. I am now part of the HQ admin team as well the costume closet team. We are a close knit bunch. Thru these past few years, the Twitter family groups have grown. I have met a few of them in person. My close friendships thru social media have been some of the most rewarding friendships that I ever had in my 49 years on this earth. We have suffered losses together. We have supported each other thru hardships. We celebrate each other’s successes.

This past year, my parent’s took me to Epcot for my 49th birthday. We had a blast. They really enjoyed it as much as I did. I turned 18 at Walt Disney World. I will turn 50 at Walt Disney World in 2020. I deal with my health limits daily. I continue to push through the pain and muddle through. I am nowhere near where I want to be according to the scale. But I continue to eat healthier and do what makes me happy. I learn from my mistakes. I continue to try to be a role model. I have seen ups and downs over the past five years. But shedding the toxicity for me in the past decade has done wonders. My wish for the next decade is that others break free from the agenda of the current state of the world and find a way to be more humane. I will continue my efforts to be a voice for the voiceless, the animals of the world.

Chemo – Round Three

I am halfway through the double doses of chemotherapy. I am halfway through the shadow of hell. I can see the light rising from the mountain ahead but still have a lot of climbing to do. I must muster strength to carry on as the date arrives for my third round. My 42nd birthday is around the bend. The timing hopefully will work out that I will be on the upswing for my birthday. I really could use a little celebration. My relationship with my partner is pretty much a downer. I am not sure that there will be any kind of celebration so I do make back up plans with Amy in case that I am pushed aside for something more important in her eyes. Being stuck in this situation really sucks.

I am hoping that since my menstrual cycle was during round two that hopefully this round won’t be as bad. I endure the usual almost three hour routine. I deal with the three days of migraines and pain by remaining in the dark and cuddling up with Batman and Boo. Then danger strikes as my partner’s son becomes ill. Now I can’t be anywhere near them both or it could very well kill me. When I go to get my white blood cell count checked, it is borderline low. I am warned that I am really in a dangerous predicament because some kind of stomach virus was going around.

Three days before my birthday, I am supposed to go to Amy’s and celebrate with my second family. Kim has the stomach virus which got both Amy and Marilyn sick. It is too dangerous for me to go and be in contact with them. Well this is becoming a trend. Next comes Mother’s Day and when I am supposed to celebrate my birthday with my parents as well. Early in the week, I had set up a time to be picked up by so that I could get much needed rest and be up long enough that any possible nausea could be medicated in time before the big, rich seafood meal. As usual, My mother forgets that conversation and I am phoned which woke me up. She was giving me a heads up that they were on the way to pick me up which was a couple hours before I had said. She argues with me and hangs up calling me an ungrateful bitch. Really? I start to get up and moving around to take some medication. She phones back that I have ten minutes to be ready and slams the phone down. Well one good thing about having no hair is that I can be showered and ready in less than ten minutes.

When I head downstairs to be picked up, I see that my parents are already there. They are speaking to my neighbors Steve and Dory. She is bawling to them. I am thinking as I grab my sunglasses and slowly descend the steps that this is going to be a horrible day. I don my sunglasses as to not really have to make eye contact with anyone. I get into the passenger’s seat. We head on the long drive to North Redington Beach to the Conch Republic Grill which is one of our favorite seafood places. The entire drive my mother spouts venom out of her mouth as fast as she can speak it. I totally ignore her tuning her out staring out the window. I swallow any tears that try to fall. I will not let her see that she is getting to me. I will remain a rock and be strong and cold.

When we arrive, the place is packed. We have to wait almost a half hour to be seated which of course was blamed on me. The time that I had planned to be down there would have been between lunch and dinner crowds which would more than likely not been as crowded. But hey, I am stupid according to Mom. We are finally seated and it takes a while to receive our appetizer. I am thankful for the extra wait because it gave the medicine time to work so that I was actually hungry. I eat slowly, pacing the food intake. The meals also take quite a while to come to the table which helped me digest with no complications. My father drank quite a few beers during the meal which meant that I got to drive back to my house. I wish that they had just dropped me off and left. But nope, I couldn’t be so lucky. Mom wanted to watch “Dolphin Tale”. She talked almost the entire movie  until she dozed off for a nap. Talk about a toxic afternoon. Having to endure the venom is not the first time I have dealt with that. Having to swallow all my emotions to keep my mouth shut does not help my stress levels. It almost is like poison being swallowed and remains in the pit of my soul building up every time that this happens.

The next day comes which is my birthday. I wake up to find out that my partner’s son is still sick. She decides to drop my birthday cake off at my screen door and walk away. I find out that it is there via text message. I check in with Amy and she still isn’t feeling well. I am not going to even call my parents to endure that hot mess all over again. I venture out and grab a movie from Blockbuster some takeout. I spent my birthday alone with Boo and Batman.

Chemo – Round Two

I was right about feeling pretty good the day that round two is supposed to start. I am not looking forward to the over two hour sitting in the recliner. I am also dreading the four day migraine from hell. I had some bouts with pain during the two weeks before this round. I managed my pain the best that I could with my prescription Aleve or prescription Vicodin in severe cases. I did get more and more tired over the duration between the rounds. That was to be expected. I go in and start the routine. I keep myself occupied with either Angry Birds or word search puzzles. When the migraine becomes too much, I close my eyes for a little bit.

I go home and as the day progresses I am more tired than I was the first round. The next day I was in so much pain that I could only manage with Vicodin. It took everything that I had to get up to get the booster shot. Everything was such an effort. I was dragging ass through the migraine days. I basically could not do anything but watch TV in between naps. I am eating but not a lot. More like snacks multiple times a day.

On the third day post infusion, I am in the shower washing my hair. I am horrified that as I am rinsing the shampoo out clumps of hair start to come out. I am sick to my stomach. I finish my shower and I carefully pat towel my hair. I comb through my wet hair easily but hair comes out with each brush stroke. My scalp is on fire and burns. I just break down bawling. I am completely horrified. I am just exhausted physically, mentally, and now emotionally. To make things worse, I start my period. I am usually pretty anemic during my periods so this exacerbates my exhaustion.

Each passing day, I hate to take a shower because of the hair loss. I begin to feel like a monster. One day, I slept for almost 15 hours and when my partner finally realized that she hadn’t heard from me she ventured upstairs to check on me. She woke me up and asked if I had eaten which I hadn’t. She advised that I need to eat to keep up my strength. She looks at me differently now. I ask her just to cut the rest of my remaining strands of hair off. She obliges and takes me for a drive to get me something to eat. I start wearing a bandana now anytime I go out of the house.

A few more days go by and I get a little stronger with each passing day. I go for post port surgery checkup. Everything looks good there. I am also advised that I did have the BRCA genes at all which is good to know. I then go to get my white blood cell checked on which is fine so no booster shot is needed. I am depressed and more of a recluse than normal due to being so tired. I am also somewhat self-conscious of being out in public. This is when others look at you with pity in their eyes.  It is hard to remain positive when all you receive is pity and not the real support that you need. The bald head and bandanas, baseball caps, and head scarves are the poster image of what everyone sees with cancer. It is the poster of chemotherapy. When I see someone now in that situation, I do not give them a pity look. I smile and give them a positive nod. To me that signifies, I know what you are going through because I have been there and done. So please do not give pity. Give a smile and positive strength to those you see.

Animals and Their Humans – Time to Dispel Stereotypes

I read an article recently from scientificeamerican.com regarding why pet loss should be taken more seriously. I totally agreed with everything that was written in the article. I am in the “furbaby” club. I did not bear a child. I did not ever wish to. I consider Batman as my “furbaby” and he is referred to as my “furson”. Link to the article below:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-we-need-to-take-pet-loss-seriously/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=sa-editorial-social&utm_content&utm_term=mind_news_text_free

I ran into an issue this past week when Batman was ill. I had taken him to the Animal Emergency on Saturday. He was treated and sent home with medications for me to administer twice a day. The findings were faxed to my regular veterinarian. On Monday, my regular vet called me to check in on Batman’s health. Batman was a little better but still needed to eliminate. When I returned to work on Tuesday, Batman still had not eliminated. I found out that my co-worker had called out sick. I had spoken with my Captain in regards to possibly leaving early to have my regular vet treat him for his health issue. My Captain, however, hates cats. He laughed at me that I had taken him to the emergency vet. He stated, “No. You should just take him out back and just shoot him.” I was taken back by this. Hopefully, the Captain was just joking but still I was quite upset.  The vet tech and I played phone tag most of Tuesday. The vet tech only called my home phone and not my cell phone. When I had returned the phone call after retrieving the voice mail remotely, the vet tech was gone for lunch. I spoke with the receptionist. I never received another message on my home phone nor a call back that day. I wasn’t able to log into my home phone remotely to have it forwarded to my cell phone. My co-worker never came into work this week so I was never able to take Batman to the vet. Luckily, the medications worked on Batman and the vet trip became unnecessary. I had my home phone forwarded to my cell phone for the rest of that week.

I should have been taken more seriously and allowed to make some kind of arrangements for the time off to have Batman’s medical issues taken care of. It is hard because only two of us are on staff for the station that I work for. Any of my prior Captains would have had no problems closing the station done for one afternoon. My prior Captain would have even allowed me to bring Batman to work with me. He allowed my co-worker to bring her dog to work several days when Bambi was seriously ill. My co-worker eventually had to make the difficult decision to end Bambi’s suffering. There needs to be a change in how workplaces treat those that have “furbabies” over human babies. It is no different in our eyes as pet parents. We worry about our “furbaby” just as parents worry over their child being ill. When a parent loses a child, they grieve. The same applies for pet parents as well.

As I have spelled out in other posts on my blog, I am not a people person. I suffer from social anxiety. I also do not fit into sort of society cliques. I am an outsider all the way around. I had lost cats before in my life. They have always been a part of my family even before I was born. But when I lost Boo in 2014, that was a true loss of a family member. Cuddles was special to me as well and losing her 1997 was heavy loss as well. Boo and I had many wonderful adult years in our own place. She was truly my cat and not the family cat that we all shared time with. We also had a few years with Batman added into the mix as well. The day that I was going to have her put down, the Captain that I had at the time had never seen me so depressed. I had to go into work because my co-worker didn’t know how to do the deposit and some of the other pressing paperwork. I quickly got that work done then left for the day. I was glad that she was at least somewhat accommodating for what was one of the worst days of my life.

I found solace and support later that year after I had joined Twitter. Twitter has a wonderful animal community which all support each other through everything. I was able to talk with other pet parents that had lost a beloved pet. Later on, I took on the persona of Batman as my main Twitter presence. Batman became involved in some Twitter clubs with other animals.  Once a month, there is a virtual tribute ride where animals lost can be honored and acknowledged. Batman is a member of this “club” and it is an emotional ride each month. This allows a support outlet amongst others that feel as I do about my “furbaby”. There also is honor flights done by “The Aviators” which is a virtual flight where a flight leader leads a flight to the rainbow bridge to send a lost pet off with love and support focused on the lost pet and their grieving pet parents. Those flying or riding can offer their final goodbyes as the lost pet crosses the rainbow bridge. The most emotional flights and rides have been for those animals that have become my best furiends on Twitter. That person’s furbabies become an online family and their loss is also my loss. Each one that we have lost have taken a piece of my heart with them.

Workplaces and society need to accept the fact that some people may have furry children rather than actual children. I heard so many times after Boo had passed “Oh it is just a cat” and how I would want to punch them in the throat. Those people were subsequently cut out of my life. I have no room for those type of people. There are too many other people that I have met over the past few years that think like me. They offer me support, guidance and love. They are more a family to me than my own relatives.

It makes me sick when I hear the news of puppy and kitten mills where the breeding animals were rescued from deplorable conditions. Those useless, greedy excuses for human beings should be treated in the same manner as those animals were made to live in. However society believes that is cruel and unusual punishment.  I applaud that society is starting to wake up and increasing penalties for animal cruelty charges. I want to see more done. There still is trophy hunting and poaching going on.

I know there are still some cultures that actually celebrate the killing of animals. I am with the rest of the world that wants these practices stopped. I applaud celebrities such as Ally Walker, Ricky Gervais, Pauley Perrette, Katee Sackhoff, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Ellen DeGeneres who are the most outspoken for animal rights. With their star power, I am hopeful that we shall be successful in ending the barbaric practices such as Yulin Meat Festival, trophy hunting and poaching.

If you feel as I do, join Twitter or even Instagram to feel and be a part of this wonderful animal community. Some people may think it is weird but they are part of society that feels that animals are just animals. We in the animal community find them weird for not loving animals the way that we do. I wholeheartedly disagree with that part of society. To know true unconditional love is to love an animal with all of your heart. You grow a bond with that animal and cherish every moment because your time with them is fleeting because they do not live long lifespans. We are their whole entire world and it truly is a treasure to feel that kind of love.

With this time where everyone is whining about something and calling everyone a racist for one reason or another, I am speaking up for those of us in the animal community. I am not going to continue to stand for it. I will speak my mind and spell out why. Hopefully that makes some people look at this view in a different light. This post may help others that have lost a pet and felt ridiculed because they were told that it was just an animal. Join me and start thinking outside the box. Look at things from both sides with an open mind.

 

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.

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.