The Good in People

Two days ago, I was walking with a manager from one building to another for a 12:30 meeting. We were only a block or so away from Firstside, and well, I tripped over a crappy piece of sidewalk and face planted. I was carrying my laptop bag and purse, and just tripped and my face met the sidewalk.

It was surreal. I started gushing blood from my face immediately, and I am pretty sure I went into shock. I mean, that’s what happens when you bloody your face, right? I just lied there for a second, marveling at the blood coming out of my face.  I was trying to keep the blood from spilling onto my pants and feet, but came up unsuccessful. (RIP navy blue dress pants.)

My manager came to my aid and you know who else did? A bunch of complete strangers also came to my assistance as I laid bleeding on the Boulevard of the Allies.  Someone handed me a couple of napkins, which did absolutely nothing but I appreciated the sentiment.

A man and a woman came up to my manager and me and told me to hold my nose together in an effort to stop the bleeding. Another woman, a middle aged woman, actually went running to a firehouse a couple of blocks away to get help for me. A complete stranger ran to get help for me, and she came back minutes later with towels.

These strangers stayed with me and my manager as my mouth kept bleeding. They kept me absolutely calm (or maybe, that was the shock). Honest to dog, it warmed my icy cold heart that these strangers stopped to help a thirty-something woman who face-planted onto a sidewalk.

Pittsburgh is definitely a small big city, and the day of my accident showed me just how much.  I am forever grateful to these strangers for helping me, and for my coworkers keeping calm as my upper lip would not stop bleeding.

Also, for the record, I wanted to share that I DID NOT CRY. Once. Not after I fell or when the adrenaline wore off.  I ended up with a broken nose and busted chin and lip. I’m bruised and cut up on my right knee and elbow. The bright side – my glasses didn’t shatter (although one lens got scratched up) , and I still have all of my teeth. I’m pretty sure my guardian angel (what up mom) did her job on Thursday.

Now I know what it feels like to be beat up, and frankly, not a fan. I hope I never have to experience that again. Fingers crossed!

 

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Do as I say, not as I do…?

Three years ago, I wrote a blog imploring parents to not fade away from the pictures. I had a strong emotional reaction to the realization that there are only four pictures of me and my mom. Four. She hated having her picture taken, and most pictures taken of her, well, she’s not smiling.  If my mom is smiling in the picture, then there’s a good chance alcohol was involved.

My blog resonated with a lot of folks who saw themselves in my mom. I have had friends tell me that my blog woke something up in them, and now, they get in the pictures with their kids. I am so proud of that, really and truly.  I am glad I was able to reach out to parents and convince them that years from now, their children will only see them, not any of their so-called flaws.

I have a confession to make: I am just like my mother, really and truly.  I look like her, walk like her, and have the absolute same disdain for being photographed… like her.

I made a gallows humor joke to my friends that if I die, my loved ones will find it hard to find decent photographs of me. Instead, they’ll have to make due with all the fantastic photographs I have taken of others. To be honest, it was a joke, but after I said it, I might be okay with this idea anyway.

I hate having my picture taken, and I honestly believe it’s why I started taking pictures in the first place. I didn’t want to be in them. It is definitely why, whenever I’m photographing an event, I am sympathetic toward people like me who hate having their picture taken.  If it’s unflattering, I’ll delete it or take a new photograph.

When I see pictures of myself, I cringe at my uneven skin or never perfect hair. I just see flaws. I view these pictures as a photographer and someone who doesn’t necessarily always like what she sees.

In recent years, I have tried to be better about being in the pictures, especially when my nieces and nephews are around. I take silly selfies with them. I act weird in photos with my dad. I think the last photograph I took with my dad really sums up our relationship:

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There are very few pictures of me and my ex, which used to bother me but now, hell that isn’t a bad thing, LOL. I’m a-okay with how that turned out.  I don’t want the same thing to happen with my boyfriend.  He makes me so happy I feel like I radiate smiley faces and heart emojis from my very core.

I don’t want to disappear from the pictures, just like my mom did. I’m a damned good photographer but I’m not photogenic. Maybe one day, I’ll come to the same revelation others did reading my blog from 2014.

 

 

 

30 years

This month, it’ll be 30 years since my mother died. Gotta say, it feels surreal that she’s been gone for this long. My mom, she missed pretty much everything in my life, minus my birth. She was definitely there for that one. After that, my mother missed my First Communion, Confirmation, high school graduation, college graduation, first job, first heartbreak, buying my first house, so on and so on.

She wasn’t there when I had breast cancer. More than anything, I missed her while I was going through treatment. I wanted my parent there so badly. Just because I don’t remember doesn’t mean I don’t miss her and have a mom-shaped hole in my heart, which will never go away.

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This is what she just missed in my life. My two brothers, each of whom have kids, also missed out having our mother in their lives.

Metastatic breast cancer is a thief. It’s a dirty dirty thief. It stole my mother, and I’m doing something about it. Once again, I’m raising money for Metavivor. Every dollar you donate will go toward researching metastatic breast cancer. This year, I decided to run 30 miles this year – one mile for every year she has been gone.

That’s right – 30 freaking miles. I’m doing a marathon and then 3.8 miles before.  The date will be November 18 – be there or be square, and watch me hobble toward this bonkers goal of mine.

If you can donate, then you can do so here:

https://secure.metavivor.org/page/contribute/larahuffman30

If you cannot, I understand and would be very appreciative of anyone who can share my story and my link.

My Version of the “Breast Cancer Awareness Game”

I have heard that this year’s “Breast Cancer Awareness” game is already rearing its head, and I have a couple initial thoughts.

First one being, come the fuck on. It’s not even October. It’s not even SEPTEMBER. Why why why?

My second thought is this, and will always be this, WHO IS NOT AWARE OF BREAST CANCER? Seriously, find me that person who isn’t aware of breast cancer because they need to have a talk with me. I want to know where they have been hiding for the previous 20 years and see if they need joining the 21st century.

Here’s the game: you receive this message.

“Hi beautiful ladies so here it is the time of year again when we try to raise awareness of breast cancer through a game. Its very easy and i would like all of you to participate. Last year we had to write the colour of our bra’s on our status. Men wondered for days what was going on with random colors on status’s. This year we make reference to our love life status as a flavor. Do not answer to this message just post corresponding word on your status and send this message privately to all the girls on your friends list. Blueberry is single, pineapple is its complicated, raspberry is I dont want to commit, apple is engaged, cherry is in a relationship, banana is married, avacado is I’m the better half, strawberry is can’t find mr right, lemon is I want to be single and raisin is I want to get married to my partner. Last time the bra game was mentioned on t.v let’s see if we can get there with this one. Please resend this to all your girly friends then update your status with your answer ONLY! DONT TELL ANY GUYS!
I hope to see lots of fruit 💝

 

FRUIT, BECAUSE WE’RE TALKING ABOUT OUR MELONS, LADEEZ! AMIRITE OR AMIRITE.

Okay, here is what I want you to do if you find this word excrement salad dressed up as awareness in your message box, hit a reply all and send them this:

Hi beautiful ladies!  It is the time of year again when we try to raise awareness of breast cancer , but not through a game. Games are so 2016. Let’s raise awareness by education and outreach – what do you say, gals? This year, how about we make reference to the reality of breast cancer, and send this message privately to all the girls on your friends list. Post the following: 113 for the amount of women and men who died of metastatic breast cancer in the U.S. every day;  33 months for the average lifespan following a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis; men for the fact that MEN actually get breast cancer too; Metavivor for the name of a non-profit organization dedicated SOLELY to researching metastatic breast cancer; October 13 for the one day out of the month of October dedicated to metastatic breast cancer, the only breast cancer that kills; 6% for the percentage of women and men diagnosed with stage 4 initially; and 20 to 30% which is the estimated amount of those with early stage breast cancer who become metastatic later on. Let’s see if we can get real breast cancer awareness out there! Please resend this to all your friends and then update YOUR status with your answer only! Okay, if you want to add more, by all means. This is serious business, and it’s not a fucking game. 

I hope to finally see this being taken seriously! 

What do you think, friends? Are you in? Let’s drown out the pink noise with real action.

Oops… I Did it Again

What did I do, you might be asking? Well, I signed up for my second marathon.  I signed for the Indianapolis full marathon in early November, and training for this race begins soon.

I swore up and down that my first marathon would be a one and done for me, but yeah. I decided to give it another go now that I got over the whole, “Can I even do this?” I know that I can, so the new question will be, “Can I learn from my mistakes?”

When I signed up for Columbus, my primary goal was just to finish and the secondary goal was to finish in five hours. Well, I finished the marathon in five hours and 55 seconds (give or take a second or five). I came super duper close to coming in less than five hours and that has been haunting me.

For weeks afterward, I would think about my time and think, “Oh man, if I had trained just a little bit harder, I could have persevered and ran a sub-5.” 

I barely cross trained. I didn’t do any toolbox runs (ie tempo runs or speedwork). I swear on my pretty bonnet that I am going to do these and work my approaching middle-age tush off.

Once again, I have enlisted the help of a coach to help me reach the finish line. It’s a different coach this time around. The coach I previously worked with was booked, and I wasn’t going to be a burden to a busy man. I’ll be working with Sara, and I’m very excited about this.

So despite being busy with work and finding time to spend with my favorite fella who makes me grin from ear to ear, I decided to give marathon number two a real honest go. This is important to me, so I’m going to make time and shuffle my prioritites. Less TV, more running.  I’m so glad my fella understands how much running is important to me. He has even offered to go with me to these races in different cities. How lucky am I?

I plan on writing more about my quest for sub-5. It’s going to happen, my friends.

 

Lara Bradshaw

Recently, Facebook reminded me that it has been a year since my relationship with He Who Shall Not be Named ended.  Between this and hearing about the death of my first boyfriend, I have been thinking about my past relationships in a Carrie Bradshaw sort of way.  Step in because we are about to go down memory lane.

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My first boyfriend died a couple of weeks ago after suffering a heart attack in his sleep. When I heard about his death, I wasn’t surprised at all. He was an alcoholic, and he battled alcoholism for a very long time. When he died, I wasn’t surprised and that made me feel guilty.

Aren’t you supposed to feel shocked when someone dies unexpectedly? I mean, even when a friend of mine who has had stage four breast cancer has taken a turn and died from the disease, I have felt shocked. I guess hearing that a middle-aged man who has had a horrible disease for probably two decades dies of a heart attack isn’t a shocking end to that particular story.

He was the first man I ever had the relationship talk with, and he was my first breakup. Boy, I did not take that breakup well. I pretty much reacted like a textbook jilted ex girlfriend, and the things I said and did are not anything I am proud of. One of the many lessons I learned from my relationship with him and the subsequent breakup was pretty much a list of what not to do the next go around.

I don’t want to paint him as an alcoholic and nothing else, because he was more than his disease. He had a good heart, and he loved his friends and family fiercely.  He had a pitbull for a long time, and she was his constant companion. If funds were low on his end, and he had to choose between him eating and her eating, he’d feed his dog first. I credit him and his precious pittie for why I love that breed.

I hope his family and any of his loved ones find peace during this time of mourning. I also hope if there’s an afterlife, he is there and he’s reunited with his favorite creature – Harpooa.

Then a week or so ago, my Ex told me he bought a house in an affluent neighborhood for himself, his girlfriend and her daughter.  I have no doubt that the man is going to beat me down the aisle, and that’s a-okay. I’m not in a Moving On competition with him.

After telling me his good news, he asked me how I was doing, like this would affect me negatively. I might have said too bluntly, “Why would I care? Our relationship has been over for years.”

Keep in mind, our relationship officially ended a year go.

I meant every word of it, including the emphasis on the years part. Him telling me that he and his new lady love were starting their new life together had absolutely no affect on me.

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, but indifference between life and death.

Elie Wiesel

It’s absolutely true that the opposite of love is truly indifference. When our relationship ended, feelings may have lingered for a couple of weeks, and looking back, I’m not even sure if that was because I missed him or change was just scary.

I did care for my Ex but well before our relationship ended, I stopped loving him the way you’re supposed to love someone you’re supposedly in a relationship with. When one or both parties aren’t committed to being in a relationship with each other, that type of love just fades away. Somewhere along the way, he stopped being my boyfriend and became a safety net, but I just didn’t want to admit that.

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I learned the hard way that he wasn’t who I was looking for, and given his behavior, I certainly was not who he was looking for. He’s going to get the family he’s always wanted, and he just didn’t want that with me. I never came with a guarantee that I’d always be around.

When we were together, I thought I wanted a family, and I resented him terribly for never wanting that with me. I thought I wanted to have a family and be a mother, but months after he and I broke up, I realized that part of my desire to have a family with him was to have some sort of a connection with someone supposed to be in a relationship with me.

While I know I would have been a great mother, I honestly don’t feel like my life is missing anything like I did when I was with him. I realized that the empty feeling I felt with him was just… well, how I felt about him.

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Don’t get me wrong – I wish him well, and I don’t hate him.  Once again, the opposite of love is indifference. Hell, he and I still share custody of Boomer and Mal. I want him to be happy, and he and I took way too long in realizing that involved finding other people. The ex and I have a history and not all of it was great or fantastic, but it certainly wasn’t all bad.

Right now, I am a 37 year old woman with a condition that affects my adrenal glands and one ovary. That pretty much cements the fact that I am not having kids, which is perfectly fine. I love what I do for a living and want to keep exploring different aspects of that and growing.

Again, nothing feels missing from my life. I get to be an aunt and go home to a quiet house. Wait, who am I kidding. With my two dogs, my house is never quiet, haha.

While painful, the mistakes and bad choices I have made allowed me to truly understand what it is I want in a significant other (a nerd for books or pop culture, a partner who wants to go out and be active with me, and someone who wants to go out and have adventures – big or small) and what I did not want in someone (i.e., smoker, drinker, or exhibited any obsessive qualities).

Right now, I couldn’t be happier with the man in my life who I have told everything. I’m not kidding – I have told this man allll my deep, dark secrets. All of them. He even sent a cease and desist email to my stalker (a married man with a kid), who I have asked repeatedly to stop contacting me who felt like ruining my birthday by sending me a  message from a spoofed number. Yeah, asshole. I know it was you.

My boyfriend has my back and I have his. He and I have something really great going on, and I look forward to spending as much time as I possibly can with him whenever possible.

The Cost of Cancer

Given my own medical history—surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, lions, tigers and bears—I am beyond biased when it comes to talk about healthcare and its costs. My bias is so strong that I am pretty sure I’m physically incapable of listening to Speaker Paul Ryan talk about healthcare without having a rage stroke.

RYAN: I’m not. Number one, health care is a complicated and very emotional personal issue. And we completely understand that. The system is failing. We’re stepping in front of it and rescuing people from a collapsing system.

And more importantly, we’re keeping our word. That’s really important here, George. People expect their elected leaders, if they run and campaign on doing something, they expect them to do that. And that’s what we’re doing. We’re keeping our word.

And I would argue that we would spell disaster for ourselves, politically, if that’s your question, if we go back on our word. This is us keeping our word. But most importantly, it’s us trying to fix a real problem that real people are experiencing in this country.

Gosh, I loathe this guy.

Sure, Speaker Ryan, a great way to fix a “real problem” in this country is to cost 24 million people access to healthcare. Next up, y’all should fix the real problem of animal abuse by legalizing dog fighting, or fixing the real problem of the opioid crisis by shutting down drug rehab centers.

Meanwhile, having health insurance alone is not a guarantee that one will emerge from a health crisis financially unscathed. Cancer, specifically, will cost you. No matter where you are in life, it will cost you, especially if you are single and younger.

I often wonder if most (and by most, I mean politicians) understand the different costs that come with being diagnosed cancer and all that treatment entails: co-pays, deductibles, medication, transportation, parking fees, as well as loss of income whenever you have to take time off work for appointments or treatments.

When insurance companies work their absolute darndest to make paying out your claims an Olympic-level feat or the drugs you need become so expensive that you cannot afford it, then those other costs add up quickly.

Cancer drug costs themselves are astounding. The drugs keep going up and up and up, all the while your pay remains the same or lessens because of all the time you need to take off. A July 1, 2015 US News report stated that “Out of the nearly $374 billion Americans spent on prescriptions in 2014, $32.6 billion – about 9 percent – was spent on oncology drugs, according to the annual report by IMS Health Informatics,” and “Patients typically pay 20 to 30 percent out of pocket for drugs, so an average year’s worth of new drugs would cost $24,000 to $36,000 in addition to health insurance premiums.”

When someone is sick and cannot afford their medication, it’s not like the medication fairy comes down and gives them the medication regardless. If a cancer patient needs a treatment that may save their life but they cannot afford it because it’s not covered under their insurance, then it’s not like they are going to get that medication anyway. That’s not how the system works.

Most of us experience what is called financial toxicity, defined by StatNews.com as “the problem of paying for cancer.”  The article stated further:

According to the [National Cancer] Institute, when a loved one develops cancer, the family’s risk of significant financial hardship becomes startlingly high:

• Between 33 percent and 80 percent of cancer survivors exhaust their savings to finance medical expenses.
• Up to 34 percent borrow money from friends or family to pay for care.
• For those who fall into debt, the level of debt is substantial. In a study of colon cancer survivors in Washington state, the mean debt was $26,860.
• Bankruptcy rates among cancer survivors are 260 percent higher than among similar households without cancer.

A November 20, 2012 study published in The Oncologist examined the financial toxicity of treatment, and what it found, should make anyone who thinks the current healthcare system is fine just the way it is be completely ashamed of themselves:

Insured patients undergoing cancer treatment and seeking copayment assistance experience considerable subjective financial burden, and they may alter their care to defray out-of-pocket expenses. Health insurance does not eliminate financial distress or health disparities among cancer patients.

Let’s say that one again for anyone who may not be listening: Health insurance does not eliminate financial distress or health disparities among cancer patients.

Discussing the price of cancer drug costs further, A December 13, 2016 Forbes article stated, “Many can’t afford out-of-pocket cancer drug costs until they meet their insurance deductibles, so they don’t take their meds, skimp on doses or wait before filling prescriptions.”

Recently, a March 15, 2017 NPR article reported: “One-quarter of all cancer patients chose not to fill a prescription due to cost, according to a 2013 study in The Oncologist. And about 20 percent filled only part of a prescription or took less than the prescribed amount. Given that more than 1.6 million Americans are likely to be diagnosed with cancer this year, that suggests 168,000 to 405,000 ration their own prescription use.”

I would have been completely and utterly decimated by cancer treatment if it wasn’t for my ex-boyfriend who supported me. The bills would have swallowed me whole, and he is the reason I kept afloat and didn’t have to move back home with my parents. I missed a lot of work. Copays and parking fees added up quickly.

A May 16, 2013 article published by CBSNews.com stated that “people with cancer were more than 2.5 times more likely to declare bankruptcy than people without cancer, with the likelihood even greater in younger patients.” The article further stated that “cancer patients who filed for bankruptcy were more likely to be younger, women and not white, the researchers found.” This is the part of the article that made go, well of course.

The authors point out that since a cancer diagnosis is often a sudden life event, younger patients’ bankruptcies may be influenced by preexisting debt, not having as many assets, having more dependent children and not having supplemental income of others in the household at the time of diagnosis.

When a young person is diagnosed with cancer, they are still waist deep in student loans. They haven’t been in the work force that long so their savings are slim to none and their salary can barely cover standard living expenses. When a catastrophic event like cancer occurs, how are they going to fully cover all the costs that come with a diagnosis?

A January 5, 2016 Reuters article reported that “one third of working-age cancer survivors go into debt, and 3 percent file for bankruptcy.” The article cited a 2012 survey using data from 4,719 cancer survivors between 18 and 64, and one-third had gone into debt and in more than half of those cases, the debt was above $10,000. The article indicated that three percent had filed for bankruptcy.

For all of those who believe that everything is fine and the system doesn’t need any intervention, I have a question to ask: have you ever been sick? Do you know anyone who has ever been sick or cared about anyone who has ever gone through a major illness?

Cancer is not a punishment. Cancer certainly does not mean you have some moral failing. Both good and bad people become diagnosed with cancer every day. Every day folks who were going about their days had their lives completely upended by this disease: infants, kids, teens, adults or the elderly. Anyone. Cancer does not discriminate.

This country has some pretty messed up priorities where we can people that they should lose everything they have and/or choose between medication or food (the modern day’s Sophie’s Choice, I guess?). Politicians and those right-leaning folks screaming how they don’t want the government involved in healthcare don’t seem to care or mind when their fellow citizens lose everything while insurance companies and drug companies make profits left and right.

Profits over people, huh?

How is this right? Please, someone tell me how any of this is right because I honestly do not understand.

Need Inspiration

I haven’t blogged in awhile, and there are so many reasons as to why. First one, I’ve been ridiculously busy with work and recovering from having a giant cyst removed from my lady area.  Plus, I have been spending as much time as I can with the new boyfriend because he is awesome and wonderful. Seriously, I am smitten with this guy. My personal life has been nothing but aces lately.

I feel like something is missing, though. I miss writing. I mean, I write every day at work. I miss writing and advocating. That’s what Get Up Swinging was supposed to be about, right?

If I had a nickel for every time I have heard someone say that government shouldn’t be in healthcare. then I’d be able to pay off my house. I know I’m completely biased when it comes to healthcare talk because of the whole having cancer thing.  I wish people would understand that healthcare is political, from the mundane to the major.

Get Up Swinging will start taking a deeper look into the politics of healthcare. I ask anyone who reads this on the regular to give me a chance and might be going, “Girl, I am here for your rants.” I’m a writer, a researcher, a patient, and biased as hell. I’m not even going to pretend that I”m not as I examine these topics further.

This. Is. A. Blog.

I am tired of feeling helpless whenever I read the news or scroll through any of my feeds.  It’s time for action.

The Affordable Care Act

When I was six months old, I had three benign tumors removed from my body. According to my dad, I had one on the top of my head, on my back and in my groin.  Before I could even crawl or walk, I became someone with a pre-existing condition.   During my senior year of college, I had a benign tumor removed from my right breast. Before I even graduated college, I had established a pre-existing condition for tumors in my breast.

When I graduated college, I didn’t have a job lined up and worked part-time jobs in retail. My dad kept me on his insurance for as long as he could, and when I had to get off his insurance, I had catastrophe only coverage until I got a job in my field.

For as long as I could remember, my dad stressed to me that I always needed insurance because if I had a gap, I would have an impossible time getting coverage again because of pre-existing conditions.  Since my body had the tendency to form tumors for some unknown reason. I had a pre-existing condition since I was six months old.

I have wanted to go back to school for my master’s degree, but could never figure out a way to do so while maintaining health insurance.  I could not risk having a gap in my coverage. While I did not quite understanding the intricacies in health care insurance in my early- and mid-twenties, all I knew was that I could not have a gap.  I stayed at jobs that I didn’t want to because I needed healthcare insurance coverage.

Since 2010, I have undergone more medical tests and surgeries than most have in their entire lives. I have had the following: a lumpectomy, seven rounds of chemotherapy, full thyroidectomy, 35 rounds of radiation, a laparoscopic procedure to drain an ovarian cyst, a double mastectomy, four months of reconstruction, a tissue expander exchange surgery, a superficial cyst removed from my right fake boob, and a major surgery to remove my right ovary and the aforementioned cyst that grew back and doubled in size.  In addition to all of these procedures and surgeries, I have had countless doctor’s office visits and blood draws, as well as a handful of CT scans and MRIs.

My first chemotherapy – the least expensive option and the one all insurance companies insist that doctors try first – ended with me going into anaphylaxis. The remaining six chemotherapy treatments were the most expensive ones – Abraxane

I. Am. Expensive. To. Keep. Alive.

I never asked for this. I don’t revel in this, and I would trade this body of mine for one that does not do this. Seriously, I would trade in a heartbeat. My body forms cysts and tumors – sometimes malignant but the majority have been benign – without warning or explanation. Maybe there’s a reason or condition that I have, but as of right now, I don’t know.

A refresher on the ACA and the protections it was designed to provide:

This protection gave me the most peace of mind:

“Insurance companies can’t set a dollar limit on what they spend on essential health benefits for your care during the entire time you’re enrolled in that plan.”

My insurance company cannot drop me for being too expensive. I can focus on being healthy first and foremost, not worried that the next surgery will cost me my health insurance.

This protection gave me comfort and relief:

“Under current law, health insurance companies can’t refuse to cover you or charge you more just because you have a ‘pre-existing condition’ — that is, a health problem you had before the date that new health coverage starts.”

I am not married, and I own a home. Heaven forbid I lose my job (please God, do not let this happen), I am on my own. Sometimes events happen which are out of our control. Illness and chronic conditions are not punishments for misdeeds or moral failures. Sometimes bad things happen for no reason, and that is terrifying to admit and understand. I don’t know when the next cyst or tumor is going to come. I would like to think I am done with them but history has demonstrated that won’t be the case.

If I lose my insurance but still need a surgery or treatment to get myself back to good health, I either have two options: bankruptcy caused by medical bills or just not having the surgery or treatment because I don’t have a literal money tree in my backyard.  Men and women in the U.S. are forced into bankruptcy at an alarmingly frequent rate because of medical bills.

With or without insurance, being sick is costly. Co-pays, missed time from work, gas to doctor’s appointments, parking fees, deductibles, medication, so on.

When I come across comments online from other Americans who don’t know that “Obamacare” is also the same as the ACA, or believe that people without healthcare are just lazy folks who don’t work hard enough, part of my soul dies a little. Good health is a gift, not a guarantee.  I have yet to come across someone bitching about “Obamacare” who is lower- and middle-class and have gone through extreme medical trauma and hardship.

Despite having scars from literally the top of my head to my knees, I became a marathoner. I have finished 10 half marathons, one marathon, two 10-mile races, and numerous 10K and 5K races, well as other distances.

You know what made all of those races possible?  Answer: access to healthcare, which includes surgeries, medication, chemotherapy, radiation, scans, whatever.  If I have the ability, then I am always going to strive to be a runner first.  I know I’m always going to be the one who has “the problems,” or who seen as “sick all the time.” I don’t want to be that person. I want to be a runner who kicks ass and takes name.

If the politicians allow lifetime caps and pre-existing conditions to come back, then my dreams of running marathons in cities all over the country or world will disappear.  I want to live a life full of purpose, goals and accomplishments. If my insurance company is free to impose lifetime bans or drop coverage for me for whatever reason they want, then I will be the person that “Obamacare” opponents hate: someone on Medicaid.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Another Surgery, Another Scar

My right ovary: 1980 to 2017. Rest in peace.

The surgery has come and gone, and now I am walking around with one less cyst and one less ovary. They have been expertly removed from my lady parts, and I am the proud owner of a 5.5-inch incision. 

This incision extends from my belly button and an inch into my… special area. The doctor stapled the incision together, and my metal buddies will be evicted tomorrow. My scars tend to fade after two years so my vertical reminder of January 10 should be nifty.

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Not pictured: the entire incision because this is not that kind of blog.

For this surgery, I had my first experience with a nerve block. The hospital’s pain team sold me  on this by telling me the block helps minimize the use of opiods and speeds up recovery. 

Sold! 

I vividly remember tripping hardcore on morphine after my mastectomy. I remember that I had a conversation with someone who wasn’t in the room. After that happened, I asked the nurses to please get me off morphine asap.

My wish coming into this surgery was to not recreate that experience. Of course I didn’t want to be in pain but I’d rather not be tripping. It’s not fun. I wanted to find a less mind-altering pain relief than morphine.

Unfortunately for the nerve block to work, I still experienced stabbing pains in each side as they jabbed giant needles into me. I screamed and proceeded to cry. Learned later they didn’t wait long enough to let the meds make me all loopy and not care about the giant side stabbing.

Oh well.

I woke up in recovery and learned I was on a morphine PCA.  At least it wasn’t a drip but it was still the dreaded morphine. I vowed to refrain hitting the green button as long as the pain allowed. Because of the nerve block, I got my wish.

I stayed in the hospital for two days. My lady doctor told me she was impressed at my progress and eager to get out of bed. Thanks to the nerve block and a nurse who understood how much I wanted to get off morphine, I made a handful of trips down the hallway, shuffling with my two IV poles and then with  my consolidated and heavy IV pole.

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Seriously. It was a heavy pole.

She had no problem sending me home on Thursday. 

It’s been a week since the surgery, and I am doing better than I was led to believe after this surgery. I take Advil during the day and the pain meds at night. I don’t move much, and every time I sneeze, I feel like someone slapped my incision. When I get up from a sitting position, I groan like an old lady and have to take a second to straighten myself out.

My ex was kind enough to watch the dogs for me as I recover, and I am beyond grateful. I do not think I would be in as decent shape as I am now if my 50- and 100-lb dogs were around me. I get them back on Friday. I do miss their company.

I don’t know if I am going to be off the full four weeks and then part time the next two weeks. That all depends on my doctor and how she thinks I am doing. I imagine the insurance company wants me back sooner than she does. 

Part of me agrees with them because time off means my finances take a hit, while the other part of me is screaming, “conquer that ever-growing to read pile you created, you damn fool!”  

I guess I am not used to resting. What a “weird” problem to have. My job and running take up so much of my time that resting is so foreign to me. I always feel compelled to be doing something. I like being challenged.

Until I am told otherwise, I am going to chill out.

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What is this rest thing of which you speak?