Monday, March 30, 2009

Teaching blog wars.

I am curious to know if any of you who are teachers have taught about what happened with Seal Press, Jessica Valenti's books, and/or Amanda Marcotte's book. I'm going to be teaching a class that will look at conflicts in feminism/Women's Studies and where the movement/field is headed, and I'm thinking about looking at one or two of these moments. If anyone else has done this, I'd love to hear how you did it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Facebook Fun.

You know how Facebook will suggest friends for you? Lately, it's been looking like this on my Facebook page:

Ginormous Asshole
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You and Ginormous Asshole both went to Random High School.

Friday, March 27, 2009

You know what I just realized?

My surgery was eight years to the day from my miscarriage. There has got to be some meaning in that. I don't know what it is, but it seems meaningful to me, and not in a bad way.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The "f-word."

7-year-old Bean has been hounding me for days to tell him what "the f-word" is. Apparently, the issue came up at his afterschool program, where the kids were working on a list of rules. Some of the older kids suggested that not using "the f-word" or "the bad finger" would be good rules; for the littler kids, however, this raised more questions than it answered: a bad finger? What could that mean? And what, on earth, is "the f-word"? (Some guesses: "fart" and "fool.")

So, finally, when he started asking me about it yet again and pleading with me to tell him what it meant, I sat him down.

"Bean," I said, "I'm going to tell you. But this means that I'm treating you like a grown-up, and you need to understand that you can never say this word at school or at afterschool program. If you feel like you want to say this word, you can go in your room by yourself and say it quietly. That's it. Because it is not a nice word."

"Okay," he said, seriously and expectantly.

"The 'f-word' is 'fuck'. Remember how I told you about the man putting his penis in the woman's vagina? That's called 'intercourse,' or sometimes, 'sex'. The word 'fuck' is a very rude way to say that. You might hear me and Daddy saying it sometimes, but it isn't nice and we shouldn't do it. Putting up your middle finger at someone - no, not that way, like this - means 'fuck you.' It is very rude and not nice and we don't ever do that. Okay?"

"Okay," he said, still serious. Then, thoughtfully, "You know, I bet I would've ended up saying it by accident, if I were just fooling around and saying silly words." (In fact, he has.)

So that's where we are. So far, so good.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lost and Found.

Tenured Radical writes about a stranger returning her lost iPhone; her story reminded me of the time I accidentally left my wallet in a rest stop women's room in South Dakota and got it back - in Omaha, Nebraska - by the end of the day. Here's what happened: I was taking Bean and my parents to the zoo in Omaha, and we were driving from Sioux Falls. When we got to the zoo, I realized that I didn't have my wallet (nor did I have any way to pay for us all to go to the zoo, which became a problem at first because my parents couldn't find their credit cards). I remembered putting the wallet on the window ledge in the large restroom stall where we had stopped on our trip down and called everyone I could think of to try to alert the rest stop staff to check the bathroom. I actually did get through to someone who searched the bathroom twice for me (it turned out to be the wrong rest stop, but anyway), but he couldn't find it. So, I called Mr. P., who had stayed home to work, gave him the task of cancelling all of our credit cards, and resigned myself to having lost the wallet.

About an hour later, I got a call from a good friend, who had gotten a call from a woman who had found my wallet on *her* drive from South Dakota to Nebraska. My friend had recently written me a check, so the woman who found my wallet called the phone number on the check. Fortunately, my friend had my cell phone number and was able to reach me; the woman had told her she would leave the wallet with a ticketing agent at the airport (she was in Omaha to catch a flight). So, when we were done at the zoo, we swung by the airport and picked up my wallet (with everything still inside).

An odd epilogue to this story:
My friend had gotten the name and number of the kind woman, and I called her a week or two later (after she had gotten back from her trip). Unfortunately, the gentleman who answered the phone was somewhat rude - I asked for the woman and he wanted to know who I was and what I wanted, and after I explained, he told me she wasn't home. I asked if I could leave a message, but he seemed confused and surprised that I was calling for this woman. In fact, he sounded a bit like he was trying to be funny, but he ended up exasperating me. I got off the phone and called her again some time later and left a message on her voice mail, thanking her and offering to take her to lunch if she were ever in the area, but I never heard from her.

ANYway. What are *your* unlikely lost and found stories?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Reconstruction thoughts.

First - I don't miss my breasts. I'm not thrilled with the scars, mostly because right now they aren't scars but healing wounds, but I don't miss the breasts themselves. I'm considering not bothering with prosthetics, but I think what will most likely happen is that I'll buy a pair and wear them for special occasions, like dressing up. (This is less because I want to make any kind of political statement about breasts as accessories and more because I am extremely low-maintenance when it comes to my appearance.)

But second - it occurs to me that the only reconstruction options that were discussed with me were for female breasts. I wonder what my options would have been had I asked simply for a flat chest. Would there have been any additional options? Do men with breast cancer have any reconstruction done following surgery? I'm not sure that I would have wanted anything different than what I have now, or that I would have been a candidate for anything else, but it's interesting to think about how breast reconstruction options may or may not be limited due to assumptions about gender.

So, here's the deal.

The chemo didn't kill all of the cancer cells. Specifically, they found cancer cells alive in all of the nodes and the tumors they removed. I don't know exactly what that means, but Beloved Oncologist has been reassuring. Apparently, when you have estrogen-receptive cancer, which I do, the hormone treatments can sometimes work better than the chemo. So we'll hope that that happens in my case. Apparently, we are still talking about curing my cancer, so that's a good thing. And Beloved Doctor Who Diagnosed Me was, as always, very sweet and upbeat and assured me that I was going to be ok.

But I was not really thinking of this (incomplete cancer kill) as a possibility, and now I'm finding it difficult to process. Fortunately, I meet with both Beloved Oncologist and Beloved Healing Coach tomorrow, and I will set up an appointment for next week with Beloved Therapist.

In other news, the drains are out (the second one was removed today), my arm is still quite sore, and my hair is growing back. Oh, and now that they've removed the surgical tape, I can see that I actually have two enormous scars and not just one humongous one.

After seeing Bint's scar pics (see comments on my last post), it's occurred to me that my left scar will probably permanently change color from the radiation. Which is ok - not what I was necessarily hoping for, but something I can get used to. It helped to see hers and to have an idea from that of what mine might look like (which is reason #15 why showing scars is a good thing).

Monday, March 02, 2009

I am home...

...and looking a bit like I've wrestled with a shark, but I'm getting used to my new self. I found that the narcotic pain meds they gave me were more trouble than they were worth (whatever happened to Tylenol #3?), making me nauseated, so I stopped taking them soon after the surgery, which was fine, as everything was numb enough from the surgery that I wasn't in much pain. Now, as the nerves are waking up a bit, I'm taking tylenol and ibuprofen. But mostly, I'm not in real pain, just some discomfort that is more annoying and distracting than anything else. The pain from the Taxol was worse - more intense and more constant. What I have now can mostly be alleviated by lying down.

You all may get to see some scar pictures in a few weeks. I'm not sure about that yet. I have this intense desire to show people, though, and I'm pretty sure flipping up my shirt at social gatherings or in public wouldn't be appropriate. I don't know if this need to share is about sharing trauma or simply thinking the scar is cool or what, but in my case, I think it's partly about normalizing not only my body but the whole experience.

I also wanted to see scar pictures before my surgery, and I had trouble finding them. Mine is, I think, more extreme than the ones I did find.

TMI follows here - turn back now:
I confess that I actually find the drains kind of cool at this point. There are long tubes that drain fluid beneath the outside of the scar (I think it's a uniscar, but can't tell for sure) into little rubber grenades that hang from a rubber ring around my neck. What comes through the drain tubes initially freaked me out, but now it fascinates me. It is like watching those images of a fetus developing in the womb, where there are all kinds of fluids and things floating around it, or like watching the bits and pieces of life under the sea.

(If you've just now lost your lunch, I apologize, but I did warn you.)