I’m lucky enough to have found a man who was taught and lives this.

I’m reblogging for those women who have not yet found the man who will love them like this, and for those women who have never had a man like this in their lives, so they don’t know what to look for in their mate – use this as at least one of your decision points about who to give your time, energy and attention to – about who to keep or not keep in your life.

I wish for every woman to find a mate (of whatever gender works for her) who will love her like this – as is mentioned in the post, Not because she can’t take care of herself, but because we all deserve to be loved like this.

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012 All rights Reserved.

The Better Man Project ™

When I was a very young man, my grandfather, one of the men I still revere most in my life…even though he is gone now, sat me down and taught me something I would never forget. He said to me, “Evan, always treat the women in your life with the utmost care. Because they will always take care of you. If someone hurts a woman in your life, you make sure they never do that again.”

My grandfather was a great man. He had good southern blood in him and taught me, even though I was very young at the time, things I would never forget. He was a man of discipline but great love. While he may not have said I love you, you could feel it. I will always remember how he used to kiss me goodnight. He would hold the side of my head and kiss my…

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Daily Prompt – “When was the last time you felt really, truly lonely?”

Okay, I’ll ‘fess up right away – some might think this is cheating.

And I will apologize and ask forgiveness (as I’m very new to this blogging thing and don’t yet know all the ‘rules’) if I am Completely breaking a Cardinal Rule in the name of recycling for the sake of sharing with more people.

The answer to this challenge can be found in my recent post “Dr. Rex Hoffman – Office Visit – October 22, 2012.”

I’m (re-)posting because, although I would not have described the word “lonely” when characterizing my feelings from this experience – that occurrence flashed visually through my mind the minute I read today’s Daily Prompt.  Funny how one thing doesn’t always lead to another, but the second can lead directly back to the first, eh?

Copyright Ridingthebcrollercoaster.com 2012 All rights Reserved.

My New Ink – The Tattoo I Never Wanted

Tomorrow I’m getting at least six tattoos.  I’ve never wanted even one.

This has been all I could think about since Friday night when I got home from work and my mind shifted gears from workweek to weekend.

I have numerous piercings – multiples on each ear, and one in my navel.  I’ve always been okay with piercings because I figured if I ever got tired of them, I could take them out and they’d close up and disappear.  Realistically, I’ve had some of mine for so long now, I could take my jewelry out today and they’d never close up as long as I live.

Still, I could see where a small hole (or even more than one) could easily be overlooked by a casual glance.

Tattoos are something else entirely.  For all intents and purposes, permanent – forever – no changing your mind down the road.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am not globally anti-tattoo.  In fact, I find some tattoos, in some places on the body, on some people, very sexy.  I’m talking drop trou in the middle of a busy street at high noon sexy.

So if you’re getting an anti-tattoo vibe here, it is solely about Tattoos and Me, nobody else.  My generally applicable and very strong pro-choice stance extends to tattoos as well.

But I got breast cancer.  And the size and type of my cancer allowed me to choose lumpectomy with radiation therapy instead of forcing me into losing my entire breast (or both of them) by mastectomy.  So next up in my treatment program is radiation therapy, which requires tattoos.

The tattoos are there for a couple of very important reasons.

During therapy, mainly to make sure the therapy is delivered as close to identically each day (five days a week for 6-1/2 weeks, mind you), to simultaneously kill any remaining cancer cells in the area of the former tumor, and to spare as much healthy tissue as possible.

After therapy, they serve both as a roadmap to your prior treatment (should recurrence occur, or you change doctors, for example), and to mark off what I’m calling a future “no-fly zone.”  After some casual internet surfing it seems to me that tissue is really only supposed to undergo radiation therapy once, so even if recurrence happens in the same area, the tattoos mark out the ‘no more radiation here please’ territory.

I have been repeatedly assured that these tattoos will be small –  more (if applied by a women) or less (if applied by a man) the size of the head of a pin, or about 1mm (or so I’ve heard from a casual survey of the unbelievable number of women in my extended sphere of friends and acquaintances who have already fought the fight I’m in now – I Never knew how many people in my life had been through this deal until I entered it myself).

Still – permanent, never wanted one.  Fucking Cancer!

Since they are (theoretically and ideally) very small, I suppose I could actually have them removed, or skin-color tattooed over when my radiation therapy is done.  But anytime I’ve seen this on the net (on reliable websites), it comes with a clear warning to carefully discuss this your MOnc before having them disappeared, for the “after therapy” reasons spelled out above, of course.

So, as of today (Please See Rule # -1), I plan to keep my radiation therapy tattoos.  Goddamn Big Girl Panties!

Having resigned myself to getting and keeping tattoos I’ve never wanted wasn’t doing the trick.  I was still feeling pissed off and unable to wipe this tattoo thing from front and center in my mind.

So, what is a girl to do?  Go get a tattoo.

Wait, what?  Sounds crazy, right?

Well, not in the world according to me.  Here’s how things stand from my POV.  Never wanted a tattoo.  Got cancer.  Cancer treatments require tattoos.  Technically, I have a choice about doing treatment (getting tattoos) or not, I suppose.  Realistically, I don’t have a choice (See “I’ll Take Red Please“).

I do, however, have an actual choice about whether to get a non-cancer-related tattoo or not.  For all intents and purposes, there are really no consequences if I do or don’t (as long as I choose type, size and location wisely).

I could not let go of being pissed fucking off about cancer forcing me to get my first tattoo.  When I “acted as if” the cancer tattoos were Not actually my first one, my mind and heart calmed.

So today I went and got my first tattoo.  Here’s my new ink:

Um, yeah, that’s right.  There’s no picture to show.  I went to a tattoo shop in town that was recommended to me by someone I trust.  I was told to see the owner – Dave.  Unfortunately it appears Dave is on a tattoo hiatus.  I asked my friend if he would trust my body to Molly and he said yes.

It just so happens that on this particular day, there was a once-a-year festival being held on the street directly in front of the tattoo shop.  We made it in there, but the festival crowd was generally not the same demographic as the folks who get tattoos.

Maybe that’s why Molly seemed entirely uninterested in getting me what I wanted, or in the reasons I was doing this.  Maybe she just didn’t care, period.  In any case, I Do realize this is a permanent deal and chose not to do it somewhere and with someone I am not comfortable.

My first thought about this not working out as I had planned was – well, please see Rule # 0.  So I just figured when I got the “on purpose” tattoo (vs. the “they’re required for treatment” tattoos), I’d just warp time and Decide it was my first tattoo.  Hubby said, yeah, I could do that.  I can construct this blog/site world anyway I want to.  It’s all mine.  He also said I could just have the “on purpose” one be the one I wanted, as opposed to the ones I don’t.

We’ll see what I decide to do (or not do).  As of this moment, I have five new tattoos (it just so happens I have a freckle/mole just where one of my tattoos was going to be, so I didn’t have to get that one – who knew?), and this morning was just as hard as I was afraid it was going to be.  Since then, I’ve cycled back to crying about every 20 minutes or so.  And even finding a private corner to let the bawl out isn’t materially helping.

Remember that roller coaster analogy?  Seems to me like today is one of those down days.

What Part of “I Work For a Living – Because I Have To” is Unclear?

Rule #1 – I work for a living.

So, I was out of the house at 7:30am this morning and got to work at 12 noon.  What took so long?  Traffic?  Well, in this part of the world there could be an accident bad enough to cause the drive to work to take that long, but no.  What else but a doctor’s appointment to interview (yes, I’m using that word consciously and deliberately) a radiation oncologist at NR Hospital.

Now, I knew this appointment was happening – I made the appointment myself, personally.  When I made the appointment I deliberately asked them how long I should plan on being there.  I was told an hour and a half.  Because I am trying to reduce the effect this craziness has on my supportive employer unless I absolutely can’t work (like directly after having surgery), I’ve busted my ass to bank extra time this week to cover the time I would be late today, thinking I was being generous when I budgeted two hours (half an hour more than I was told today’s consulation would take) plus time for a reasonable drive to work.

This means between the other two medical events I’ve had this week and working longer days than usual to bank some time [and a family event last night I refused to miss and thereby add to the list of events this cancer is forcing me to miss this year because it may be the only time in the next few years I get to meet my beautiful new baby cousin – or you know, have a real/social life], I’ve had two 14-hour days this week (out at 7am and not home until 9pm).  Keep in mind, this is a time when I need More sleep than usual and am getting Less (still recovering from two surgeries – not yet 8 and 6 weeks out from them respectively – and doing physical therapy for surgical side effects, plus follow-up visits for previous treatments, and meeting new doctors for upcoming treatments, yeah and working full time).

Oh, and because today’s appointment took almost two and a half hours instead of one and a half hours, I’m still going to end up short of work time this week.  Now, I will do a lot to try to manage this intrusion into my life, but I do have a limit – and staying after my usual quitting time on a Friday is something that is not going to happen.

Then there’s the appointment itself.

I do realize and acknowledge that every one of the people I met today is caring and supportive and genuinely wants to take the best care of me (and their other patients) that they possibly can – many have chosen this specialty of healthcare after being a patient themselves or knowing a close loved one who has.

And yet…

How many times during one appointment do you think I should have to mention or remind people that I work for a living – not for the fun of it, but to put food in my mouth and keep a roof over my head.  I figure once is fair when I meet a new provider – I mean, they’re supposed to be listening and paying attention, right?  They will blithely reply that they do too and/or that lots of their patients work.

Then they set out a plan like I heard this morning:

– I’ll have a second visit in which they’ll do a CT simulation: they’ll take pictures and measurements of me personally to formulate a plan unique to me to treat my cancer according to how my anatomy is built.

– Then I’ll have a third visit where they’ll do a dry run on the actual machine to make sure the plan is appropriate and correct, then do my tattoos, then have my first treatment.

– THEN, at the end of that visit they’ll schedule the rest of the treatments.

Um, I don’t think so.  Part of my decision of where and with whom I will get my radiation therapy has to do with scheduling the treatments to allow me to work because Please Refer to Rule # 1 – I work for a living.

So, they’ve indicated in some way they’ve heard me say that and then propose a plan that has me taking time off work for two hour-plus-long appointments and getting permanent marks on my body before scheduling the balance of treatment – thereby risking that their availability will not coordinate with my work schedule because Please Refer to Rule # 1.  Can anybody say “ludicrous?”  I knew you could.

Facepalm!

And then, because no matter what they say, the way they present the plan assumes that my entire day is at Their beck and call, I end up feeling like an asshole because I have to tell them “No, that’s not how you’re going to do this with me because it doesn’t work for My life, no matter what your usual procedure is.”  When I’ve stood up for myself, I’ve had people repeatedly tell me they admire and/or respect me for making sure My needs are getting met and being my own advocate, and I appreciate that.  At the same time, I get so frustrated because I really should not have to expend that energy to begin with – I don’t have it to spare, and I should not have to keep reminding all the various providers that the interaction they’re having with me is not about their convenience and/or usual procedures.

So I’m spending the balance of my day – at work and after – crying intermittently from the combined physical/mental/emotional exhaustion and frustration for having to waste energy I don’t have to spare and having to repeatedly remind people of things that are so obvious and still seem to vanish from this process time and time again (sorry, belated run-on sentence alert).

Well, that’s been my Friday – hope yours is better…

BCRCRider