Rebuilding a Mazda 3: Part One

Hm, let’s start with my title.

My little stop-me-I’m-speeding-red daily driver Mazda 3 wasn’t hit (since last June, but that damage was fixed by the other guy’s insurance company) and didn’t strand me on the road (today anyway – last time it did was early December of 2012, when I was still in radiation therapy), but needed quite a bit of work:

– air conditioning compressor (that’s what crapped out on me and stranded me on the side of the road last December, thereby creating a 5-hour detour for me between my house and radiation therapy – never mind the fact that I was supposed to work that day.  Yep, never did make it to work that day)
– motor mount(s) (knew one was broken, decided to change all three since this is a known weakness on this car – turns out when they were all replaced that all 3 of the existing ones were busted – facepalm!) – Oh, and the new ones are black and red and grey and on my, so sexy!  I know, I’m weird, but I’ve found a few people who appreciate my weirdness, so it’s ok)
– shocks (one was leaking – I have 150,000 miles on the car, so that’s not the biggest surprise in the world)

Since some serious work was being done: all four tires coming off to do the shocks, the air conditioning compressor is on the passenger Bottom side (not a typo) of the engine and the motor mounts are two on top, one on the bottom of the engine, and because I can’t emotionally deal with flipping a car right now, not to mention the financials don’t support it (so we’re hedging against another 5 years with my little baby), the “while we” list got kinda long:

– struts, shock boots (to go with the new shocks)
– brake pads (we new at least one end needed to be done – let’s do ’em both)
– brake rotors (turns out this was a good decision, as Hubby said he didn’t think my old ones had another turn in them)
– rear adjustable camber arms (another Mazda 3 weakness – for some odd reason the OEM camber arms set such an angle that this car eats tires faster than it should – aftermarket adjustable units should let us adjust the rear suspension to stop doing that)
– radiator and new coolant
– transmission filter and new tranny fluid
– thermostat
– cooling system flush
– spark plugs
– oil filter and new oil
– air filter
– all light bulbs, both fore and aft
– water pump (this has failed at some point in every car Hubby or I have ever owned and I was starting to hear that tell-tale squeak which often presages a water pump failure)

I’m sure I’m forgetting something which, when I remember it, I’ll let you know about in a new post!

The photos below are what my baby looked like this past Saturday afternoon at 4:00 pm.  This morning when I went to work (leaving Hubby at home to continue working on it after calling in “I have no idea what” to work), it looked pretty much the same, but had lots more new parts on it than when these photos were taken.

Last night when the work was over and it was dinner time, Hubby said most of the “big-tool” jobs were done.  You know, the ones where power tools are used and/or something needs to be bashed on (which feel a bit risky with nothing but 4 little jacks holding up my baby – but those jacks ROCK!  Seriously, they’re Extremely Stable and took all the bashing Hubby had to do with brake work and shock work and all.  I’m just more comfortable being there overseeing the jobs that could get Hubby or the car hurt).  The only other “big-tool” job is reconnecting a belt after installation of the air conditioning compressor.  Everything else is what he calls detail work – tedious, but no big forces required.

He said if he worked on it another day, he thought it would be “drivable.”  Well, not so I can drive it to work since some of my lights won’t be here ’til Wednesday and we’re not putting the whole front end back together just to take part of it off again to replace light bulbs – but drivable enough so he could wander out to test drive the suspension and engine component repairs for safety and bedding in.

So I have no idea what it’ll look like when I come home tonight, but this was from Saturday afternoon (and still substantially looked the same this morning):

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(Near – Hopefully)-Future Radiation Therapy

New Form of Radiation Therapy Has No Side Effects

March 21, 2013: Mammogram/Ultrasound

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Nope, Those Aren't Mine.

Nope, Those Aren’t Mine.

Well, things have been pretty quiet here since missing my Grandmother’s unveiling.  That one hit me hard – the repercussions of which are still setting my head spinning . . . but that is a subject for another post on another day (that is Still processing).

On to today’s topic.  My post-active-treatment (except for my second and hopefully last reconstructive surgery) life Does in fact go on, one day at a time.

Since my last post, we’ve had The Great Anti-Hormonal Experiment of 2013 – which was an unqualified failure, and is now over!  (Ten days on Tamoxifen before I became near completely non-functional, then [after a detox period] Six days on Raloxifene [Pre-menopausal use is apparently a new off-label use of what was only a post-menopausal drug] to start going down the same road as Tamoxifen).

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My medical oncologist doesn’t know I stopped taking the second one.  Why not?  Well, making that phone call, then being basically “on call” during my working hours for his call-back to tell him that was not going to change the fact that I’m not taking it anymore.  I need to not be “on call” for a doctor calling me back every goddamn workday of my life.  And I’m seeing him again in two weeks (geez, has it really been almost three months since my last in-person visit with him Already?!) anyway, so I’ll tell him then.

Which basically skims over some shit I’ve been dealing with, the details of which may or may not ever “grace” the pages of this, my blog, to turn a phrase (:)), and catches us up to last week.

I made yesterday’s appointment six months ago – in August of last year – at my last cancer surgery follow up appointment.

First, they call me the week before the appointment to tell me that I have to come in an hour earlier than it was scheduled (thereby taking Another hour off work – which I have to make up) because there won’t be a radiologist there to read the films.  I’m sorry, what?

So, I deal with this, then try to make sure I’m getting Both a mammogram And an ultrasound.

You see, I have dense breasts, so having a mammogram alone actually isn’t even going to tell us what we want to know.  Therefore, I’m not going to go in and get my tender girls mauled for basically no good reason (and to Not get the information we’re trying to get).

Then I show up to see the work Unilat on my paperwork?  Is that, um, “Unilateral?”  As in they’re just going to test one side?  Um, no.

They’re both here, check them both.

I’m told that insurance won’t pay for checking the right boob (i.e., the one on the right side of my body, and the one that did not have cancer in it last year) because it has been less than a year since it was checked and I can come back in June (in three months from now) to check that one.

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So, you’re saying my two breasts are going to be on separate mammogram schedules?  Um, please refer to my comment above – NO!  That’s just stupid, and although I didn’t do stupid well before cancer – let me tell you I do it even less well now.  They’re both here now and I’m not going anywhere until they’re both checked out – thanks for playing!

I went half-postal on almost half a dozen people in that place getting them to understand that we were checking Both of my breasts, and if necessary I would have the “that’s just Stupid!” conversation with my insurance company.

But it turns out it won’t be necessary.  You see, they found something in my right breast on the ultrasound.  They tell me it looks like a cyst and my cancer surgeon gave me a choice of “wait and watch” or biopsy.

Hm, let me think – I’ve had breast cancer WITHIN THE LAST CALENDAR YEAR!  So, I’m NOT so much in a ‘wait and watch’ frame of mind – let’s stick that bitch and know for sure!

So, tomorrow morning at 8:00 am I’m having my second breast biopsy in less than a year.

100th Post: I Wore a Bra Today…

…all day, without padding my nipple with a nursing pad, and not once did my nipple harden and hurt for no discernible reason!

Well, not until I thought that it hadn’t and then, of course, it gave me a Zotz just to remind me it was still there.

I was composing this post in my head on my commute home, and let me tell you it was clever!

But, of course, after getting home, putting food stuff in the kitchen, realizing I left my iPad at work (confirmed by Find iPhone on my phone), getting out of work clothes and into snugglies…

…all that cleverness has evaporated.

Add to that evaporation the tiredness from the Tamoxifen (less than a week in and on only 5mg a day, for those in the know – does not bode too well going forward, eh?) and articulate speech goes nigh out the window.

That bra Also did Not hurt in either axilla – a definite problem the last time I wore one, so…

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Happy Dance!

Okay, theoretical Happy Dance (no Actual dance cuz of Tamoxifen fatigue, among other side effects already, to be shared in upcoming “Tamoxifen Journal” posts).

Or at least (hopefully) for another month or so until I have more surgery – possibly going in through the nipple(s), sending me back to step one with it(them)…

…but still!  I had today!

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012-2013 All Rights Reserved.

What Looked Like “Better” Turned Out to be PMS and a Full Moon


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In the days following this blog post, I started to feel better – almost as if acknowledging the Bad allowed me to release it and move on.

Or so I thought.

It was a weird few days –

It was a short work week, with Monday and Tuesday off to celebrate Christmas (and that previous weekend effectively being 4 days long – nice).

The full moon was Friday night (which always affects me, amps me up just a bit with that increased pull on the liquid in my body).

Then Saturday, I had already planned to go see my Dad’s house – for the last time it would look anything like it did when I lived there in my teens.  Dad is moving from the apartment he’s lived in for 35 years.  The apartment I lived in several different times during my teens when I was bouncing between parents, trying to find my way.  Dad’s apartment building was sold and he’s being thrown out.  We figured this would be the best time for me to go say my goodbyes to the house before it didn’t look like Dad’s anymore (we were able to wait until I was out of radiation for a bit).  It also turns out to be almost a year to the day that we lost Grandma (Dad’s mother) (see “I Missed You Last Night Grandma – Single Malt Scotch and Election Returns“).

Add to that, we have Grandma’s unveiling coming up in about a month.  Just thinking about her and saying goodbye to Dad’s place reminded me that I had to do the same to Grandma’s house already last year in May (the Only house she and Grandpa had had during my entire life and so where our whole relationship took place), a mere two months before being diagnosed with breast cancer.

It was an emotionally-charged day, to say the least.

I had also not seen Mom since my last week of radiation, and had managed to procure and wrap gifts for Mom and Dad, so, as long as I was heading out to the Westside, I might as well deliver the last of the gifts.

Had lunch @ Mom’s – gave her her Holiday Gift.

Went over to Dad’s place – took pictures.

Went over to Dad’s new place – it’s really beautiful actually and I think he’ll be really happy there.

Headed home by way of a couple of knitting shops – acquired what I was looking for and fell in love with a new yarn (look for upcoming knitting posts – yep, I’m a multi-talented, or just maybe undecided, blogger).

Got home just about when Hubby did (he’d gone out doing his own errands) – we shared our various purchases and decided to head back out together to make an adjustment to something.

Had dinner and went to sleep.

Woke up Sunday morning, coffee in bed, hanging out – waking up, had No motivation.

The energy of the last few days was gone.  Did my morning cleaning up and realized the hormones had crested.  Hm, didn’t even pay attention to that one coming.  But all the energy of the last few days was gone.

Turns out those few days of energy were just PMS and a full moon (plus emotionality about Dad’s move).  Now we’re back to desperately seeking naps.

I am seeing small improvements I think I can rely on – I’m feeling like doing more at home, and I’m more okay with doing an errand on the way home from time to time now.  I think the last time I cried from sheer exhaustion was actually my last week of radiation therapy – a whole 3 weeks ago!

I figure at this rate, I’ll start to really reliably feel like myself about the time my Reconstructive Surgeon runs me over again.  Let me explain – she is beautiful, sexy, extremely talented, experienced, has a great eye and great hands, is amazingly good at what she does . . . and that bitch is a Mack Truck in surgery!

She’s also my way of making lemonade (with vodka, thank you very much!) out of this bushel of lemons raining down on my head.

And as Scarlett said “Tomorrow Is Another Day.”

This Must Be The Worse Before The Better

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December 11, 2012: Breast Cancer Support Group Holiday Potluck Party – otherwise known as the once-a-year gathering where those who no longer need the group on an ongoing basis bring something to eat and join the rest of us for a quick munch & gab & catch-up.

This event lands in my last week of Radiation Therapy.  To say I’m struggling is an understatement of epic proportions.

When I’m asked how I’m doing, I can barely (and sometimes not quite) keep from losing it, both with people I know from group, and those I don’t who are coming for their once-a-year appearance.

Maria is one of those people I meet who doesn’t come regularly, but comes to the party, and to whom I confess how hard things are for me just then.  It’s been years since she was in active treatment, yet she remembers seemingly like it was yesterday – I think we all do/will.

She tells me when radiation ends it gets worse, then it gets better.

I was told that the radiation is still active in my body for about 2 weeks after the last treatment.  I assumed when Maria said there’s a further dip and then things start to look up (I’m paraphrasing), that the worse would be about two weeks long and then end.

My last treatment was Friday, December 14th – 12 days ago.  I don’t feel like better is going to show up in two days.  I think I made an assumption and just realized it’s probably not a valid one.

Last weekend, Hubby had to work all weekend moving his company.  My office was closed Monday/Tuesday, as was his (providing the moving was completed enough).  When he told me he was working Saturday and Sunday (and that they would be long days), I was thrilled.

I don’t get really any meaningful time alone in my house these (general) days – with the way our schedules interact.  Being an only child (and Hubby a first-born), we both need alone time – maybe more than folks with more siblings.

Now that the absolutely overwhelming schedule of Radiation Therapy has backed off quite a bit, lots of things are flooding in, the chatter seems to have intensified:

Work: revise this, draft this, file this, fax this, answer this phone, schedule this meeting, cover for this person on vacation, etc.

Personal: check in with Mom, check in with Dad, listen to Hubby, (and with Christmas yesterday: buy this, wrap this, send this – do it all On Time), etc.

Household: dishes, laundry, pay this, stop for this, buy this online, descale the coffeemaker, clean out the fridge, manage the grocery list, etc.

And of course, everybody’s happy right now – taking vacations, giving and getting just the right gifts, opening their hearts to family and friends – and looking forward to the “fresh start” the New Year provides.

I’m not happy right now and the new year is Not a fresh start for me (as I’m only mid-way through my active treatment)  – I’m still fucking tired, on So Many Levels – physically, emotionally, FYI in case you were wondering my last pain-free day was August 12, 2012 – the day before my first surgery.  So I either feel guilty about not sharing everyone else’s joy for/with them, or am further exhausted by faking it for/with them.

I was thrilled with Hubby having to work because right now I just want to be alone.  I feel like the last six months have been a blur of overwhelming input and I just need quiet.  To get that quiet, I need to be alone and let the rest of the world’s demands go away.  I had two days of that.  I need more.

I imagine this crawling into a hole period will have some people upset – I’m going to have to try to not care.  I need to walk my talk of being selfish.

I need that quiet to process – to transform another part of the journey toward “after the first year.”

I imagine some people in my life are going to notice this difference and not like it.  Because what they think about what I’m doing is not actually about me, I’m going to have to try to not care.

I don’t know what that means for this blog in the near future, I actually don’t know what that means for a lot of aspects of my life in any (insert short-, mid-, long-term word here) future.

I guess I’ll be sitting with quiet as much as I can create it while waiting for…

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