Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Are You Kidney-ing Me?

           Just before my surgery for breast cancer we learned that a dear friend back East is facing final stage kidney disease. This means he needs a new kidney, or he will have to do dialysis day and night, at home. I was teaching a writing class when I got the sudden impression that I should offer him my kidney.
          So, after class, I left a voice message for his wife, then drove home and told Bob.  “I figure if I’m already under anesthetic, then it’s one hospital stay and one recovery.”
Bob just stared at me.  “They can’t do that—they can’t do a mastectomy and a kidney operation at the same time!”
“Oh, please,” I said. “People  come in all the time after a traffic  accident and they need five things done at once.  What are they going to say—‘We’ll fix your punctured lung, but those broken legs are going to have to wait’?  Of course they can do it.”
He asked if I had considered the risks and that maybe this should be a couples decision, not one I make by myself in an impulsive moment.  Ah. Okay, I forgot about that part.
          “What are they going to do,” Bob went on, “tape it up in a Styrofoam cooler and then if it doesn’t make it, come back for the other one?”
          I’m pretty good at smirking. “I’m sure they can deliver it.”
          “We don’t even know if you’re a match,” he said. “And you’ve had kidney stones twice!”
          True, this might become a deep discount kidney sale, given that my kidneys like to churn out stones.
          “And you’re a cancer patient!”  he continued.
          Okay, maybe I am not the optimal donor. But my “as is” kidney is still on the clearance rack if he wants it. 
          The next morning we had another biopsy, and the women who mails off the tissue samples met us with a rolling refrigerated case.  I nudged Bob. “I’ll bet a kidney would fit in there,” I said.  He explained my “hare-brained idea” to her and she laughed until she cried.
          And that’s when I know my work here is done.
Aren’t you curious about the kinds of books I write? Most are humor but some are straight-up whatever.  Check ‘em out here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Fanning the Flames

          You guys know that I do a bit of public speaking, right?  And I think I mentioned that in October I went to Nauvoo, Illinois with St. Bob, to speak to a big Singles’ Mega-Conference, right? (My topic: How to find humor in adversity—I have been preparing for this speech MY ENTIRE LIFE.)
          And I love Nauvoo. It literally glows with the Spirit of its history—an early Latter-day Saint settlement that became the jewel of the Midwest. Today it’s much like Williamsburg, a great place for families to visit where they can see yesteryear’s artisans at work.  And you get little freebies at every shop—the bakery, the printing press, the blacksmith, the brick maker, etc. Plus we have a gorgeous temple there. If you look closely, you can see us standing beside it.
          But of course this wonderful experience cannot go without a snag or two, since I take Joniopolis with me wherever I go. And during my second talk I suddenly got a hot flash.  A major downpour hot flash. An I-think-I-could-take-my-pulse-in-my-eyeballs hot flash. I’m instantly drenched and I’m sure my face is the color of a stoplight. 
          (I might add that these hot flashes are because I’ve been in a six-month clinical trial to reduce my breast cancer tumor, and though the injections have worked magnificently, the side effect is hot flashes.)
          Luckily I was wearing a jacket. So in the middle of my talk I said, “Okay, I’m having a killer hot flash. Sorry, but the jacket goes.” Thank goodness I wasn’t wearing just one thick sweater or something. Good grief—the things we do for the cause of science, right?
          I continued my speech, and then afterwards a wonderful thing happened: One of the women in attendance gave me her fan!  Her own, personal fan!  
          We laughed, we fanned, and I felt loved. It was such a generous, sweet thing for her to do. Believe me, I will never go on the road without it!
          You, too, can give a great gift to someone—I have books for everyone at wonderful prices, perfect for Christmas!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Superman Never Said This

          I think this may be the ultimate example of adding insult to injury. Here’s the latest in my medical adventure. First, a bit of background. The pathology report of my lymph nodes came back with cancer in four out of the five they tested.  Naturally this means it’s probably in many more of them, and possibly racing through my body to attack some new, far more exciting venue than my armpit.
          So… we did a PET scan. No, they will not let you bring in your Chihuahua to substitute for you.
They will, however, share the radiologist’s long analysis of the even longer body x-ray. 
          The good news is that they didn’t find cancer anywhere else—yay!  On and on I read, seeing that my neck, my liver, my lungs were all clear.  And then I got to this line:
          Brain is grossly unremarkable.
          SERIOUSLY?  That’s how you choose to put it?  If you’re such a smarty-pants, why can’t you just say, “Brain is fine” which would only require four letters as opposed to 19?  Or better yet, “Brain is OK”? 
          I was telling our son, Brandon, that my brain was pronounced grossly unremarkable and he laughed, “Says you!” Right?
          How rude. Maybe someone has grossly unremarkable tact. Hey, Superman had x-ray vision, but he never disparaged people's brains. 
          Yes, I get it that this is medical terminology, but just like sports that need to be revised, maybe that language needs revision as well. AND DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MANY TIMES I’VE HAD TO POST ABOUT MY BRAIN IN THIS BLOG? I think it’s getting ridiculous.
          And then there’s St. Bob’s input, which was surprise and delight that there was even a brain in there to find. So there’s that.
On the other hand, Christmas is coming and you need to buy my books as gifts for people whose brains you would never insult.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Just a Little Kissy Poo

          SERIOUSLY?  Okay, here’s what has happened now.  I stopped in to visit an old friend who’s in an Alzheimer’s care facility. In the LDS Church we are assigned people to minister to every month, and even though this friend moved away years ago, I’ve stayed in touch.
          You would think such a visit would be pretty predictable, right? Aha. That is your first mistake.  I find my friend’s room and there she is, sitting in a wheelchair.  So I sit in the chair facing her, but no sooner do we begin to visit than she says in a halting voice, “Can I, can I kiss you?”
          Well, how sweet is that, right? What a doll. “Of course you can,” I say. And I stand up and bend over her so she can peck me on the cheek. 
          Then, just as I’m leaning over, closer and closer, and cupping her head in my hand, I realize she looks puzzled.  So I say, "Wait. What?" Turns out I heard her wrong.  What she really said was, “Can I have a tissue?”  And now I am two inches from her face, and she's probably wondering what on earth is about to happen. Is Joni going to kiss me? Good grief-- She's the one who should be in a care facility!

          Quickly I sit down again, rummage through my purse, and pull out one tissue for now, and one for her nightstand lest we go through this all over again. We visit, we reminisce, we catch up.  And for the first time in my life, I find I am grateful for short-term memory loss and I’m hoping she forgets my waay-too-close encounter and that her family members don’t file some kind of restraining order.
          This is what happens when your brain has an auto-correct feature that you didn’t even sign up for.  And my oncologist wants me to have chemo!  That creates chemo brain, you know.  And I’ve obviously already got it, and haven’t even had chemo yet!  I seriously cannot afford brain fog on any level. 
          So I’m off to MD Anderson in Texas for a second opinion.  I hope it goes, “Oh, y’all are too uptight on the coast. Just have some dumplin’s, honey, and everything’ll be fine.”  And hopefully they won’t ask me for a tissue sample.
While we’re waiting for the results of that adventure, you may as well curl up with one of my books.  Oh—and don’t forget you can do all your Christmas shopping there, too.