ends & oddhealth & medical

Three weeks out

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Three weeks ago today my right breast and 25 of my lymph nodes were removed. Man, did it hurt. It’s getting easier, as far as the pain goes. The strangest part, physically, is that when it doesn’t hurt there is an emptiness. Having air where there used to be this part of me is a strange and sad adjustment to make. It feels ghostly, is that a word? The strangest part, emotionally, is coming to terms with that surgery being just the start.

People talk a lot about fighting. All these war references seem misplaced after a bit. You see it especially with breast cancer. We are all referred to as “warriors” pretty regularly, and we are doing battle with boobs. They make tee shirts that say: “Yes, these are fake. My real ones tried to kill me.” Some women begin to resent and hate their breasts and their bodies when they get breast cancer. I can’t relate.

I have certainly had a love/hate relationship with my body (when I was skinny I wished for curves and then when I wasn’t skinny I wasn’t happy with that either. It wasn’t until my late thirties that I realized I usually looked pretty great and needed to stop caring). It took having cancer to make me feel genuine love for my body. I didn’t get mad at my body. I didn’t feel like an angry warrior. I felt sorry. I have apologized to my self so many times since my diagnosis. I’m so sorry that I didn’t do better and know better. I’m most sorry that I didn’t love my body. I didn’t appreciate it, I insulted it, I didn’t take care of it. I’m not angry with it now. I love it now. I see it now as such a gift. Every day in this body is a gift. Some crap life lesson that we all know is true and never spend two seconds to think about until we are knee deep in the quicksand.

Apologies aren’t getting me anywhere with this body of mine, though. Not so far. And there are so many miles left to go before I rest easy. I’m maybe 20-25% there. I just did this hard thing, and all of these people showed up and fed us and cared and asked and helped. I was so grateful, and then at the same time I wanted them to stop. I wanted to remind everyone that they should maybe come next time instead, when maybe it will be worse. There is so much more to come. I now have two kinds of cancer. About 3% of women get thyroid cancer after they get breast cancer. Most of those 3% get it way after, but I couldn’t wait. I’ve never had any patience. So, this thyroid will probably be removed as well. Those appointments start soon. They want to focus on the breast first, and I have been doing the same (mentally, I mean). I am up to like 6 or 7 doctors now (including naturopath types). Last week I had four appointments in three days and afterward I just crumbled. I had started to feel a little better physically, feel like I was accomplishing something by healing from surgery, and then I realized that my sprint turned into a marathon turned into a triathlon. Is there a kind of race that you run for life?

Life is now the strangest mix of desperately trying to let myself feel joy in every possible moment, being ever diligent about my food and supplements, my doctor’s appointments, treatments, meditation and exercise, and trying to provide my family with the care and love that they need and deserve. I just keep thinking that I want more more more. More of everything. More of this exact life. I don’t think anymore about what I might have done differently. I would take more of exactly this forever.

 

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingmusic

Donald Trump’s top ten favorite songs

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10. Crazy (by Patsy Cline)

9. Back in the U.S.S.R. (by The Beatles)

8. You’re So Vain (by Carly Simon)

7. Crazy (by Seal)

6. What’s New Pussy Cat? (by Tom Jones)

5. Electra Avenue (by Eddy Grant)

4. Catch a Falling Czar (by Perry Como)

3. Crazy (by Gnarls Barkley)

2. Urine My Heart (by Rod Stewart)

1. Putin on the Ritz (by Taco)
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

virtual children by Scott Warnock

The silence of the Warnocks

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So I come home from work early and my little guy is playing video games again. Again. I go right into the usual bawling about how he plays video games too much and my wife although she states her agreement with me again — again! — comes up with the excuse this time that I only saw the video game-playing because I came home early. That line of logic – if I came home later that would have meant he’d been on it longer! — drives me to rage. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingends & odd

Top ten United Airline excuses

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10. “We had no idea he was a doctor, because he wasn’t wearing scrubs and a stethoscope.”

9. “Our slogan is ‘Fly the Friendly Skies,’ but we were still on the ground.”

8. “All publicity is good publicity, as long as they spell your name right – and that’s ‘Airlines, with an ‘s’.”

7. “Our in-flight entertainment system was on the fritz, and we wanted to provide our passengers something with a bit of drama to it.”

6. “Of course we think United employees should get preference; after all, they’re United employees!

5. “He refused to return his tray table to its full upright and locked position.”

4. “We had no idea other passengers would use their cell phones to take footage of the incident – that’s on them!

3. “We offered him accommodations in an overhead compartment, but he refused.”

2. “The day before I gave the order, I massively shorted United Airlines stock.”

1. “Why do I get the feeling any excuse I give just won’t fly?”
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingreligion & philosophy

Top ten lines from a joke you should tell at Easter Dinner today — or on Monday a day late (since this post is a day early)

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10. Tom, Dick, and Harry are in a VW when they have a head-on collision with a Mack truck.

9. Suddenly, they find themselves walking across these white billowy clouds towards these pearly gates.

8. As they start running towards the gates, St. Peter swoops in and says, “Wait a second, you can’t just come buzzing in here like you own the place!…”

7. “…You have to prove you learned something on Earth, and we have it boiled down to one question: What is Easter?”

6. Tom thinks about it for a while, then says, “My aunt and uncle come over, and we have turkey and cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie,….Pilgrims!”

5. Saint Peter pushes a button and Tom disappears down this fiery chute.

4. Dick’s sweating now because he’s next and there’s that fire there, and he thinks for a second, then sings, “Jingle Bells! Jingle Bells!” – Saint Peter pushes the button and he’s gone.

3. Harry, also sweating, says hopefully, “Well, it has something to do with Christ’s death.”

2. St. Peter considers this, smiles, and says, “Well, so does Good Friday; let’s be a little bit more specific.”

1. And Harry says, “There’s this massive rock, Jesus rises from the dead, He rolls back the rock, steps outside,…[pause]…and if He sees His shadow…”

art & entertainmentbooks & writing

An Interview With Rebecca Schuman

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Rebecca Schuman’s new memoir is a fast read with a long title: Schadenfreude, A Love Story. Me, the Germans, and 20 Years of Attempted Transformations, Unfortunate Miscommunications, and Humiliating Situations That Only They Have Words For. The book offers an engrossing look at the author’s adventures in the liberal arts, graduate training, and much more. Schuman’s memoir takes us from the Pacific Northwest to college back East, and then on multiple excursions to Germany where she has a chance to be reminded that her literary love, Franz Kafka, wasn’t German even as she immerses herself in a language that bamboozles her in comic, yet thought-provoking, ways. The book grabbed this reader, and I was eager to return to it every chance I got. Toward the end the narrative moves to graduate school and the anguish of an extremely competitive academic job market where we know that well over a hundred applications can greet each new tenured slot, particularly in the humanities. Since completing her PhD and failing to land such a dream job, Rebecca Schuman has built a substantial online readership writing about academia for Slate. More recently, she has returned to Germany as a subject “in the accusative case” in spunky columns at The Awl. In the middle of Schadenfreude, it occurred to me that it would be fun to interview Rebecca Schuman, and the author was kind enough to respond to these questions. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingreligion & philosophy

In honor of Easter, top ten favorite Bible quotes

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10. “And God created light, and saw that it was good. Then God created man, and saw that it was hilarious.” – Genesis 12:5

9. “As ye sew, so shall ye rip.” – Galatians 6:7

8. “And the Lord said unto John, ‘Come forth, and receive eternal life.’ But John came fifth, and only won a toaster.” – Leviticus 12:18

7. “Then the three disciples went to Mount Olive, but before they could, Popeye swooped in and beat the crap out of them.” – John 3:18

6. “Many are cold, but few are frozen.” – Matthew 22:14

5. “Then Doubting Thomas asked, ‘If we’re all God’s children, what’s so special about Jesus?’” – Mark 11:16

4. “And God said unto Abraham, ‘Be not mistaken, and doubt not that widescreen is the best.’” – Sony 16:9

3. “Thou shalt not raise thy hand to thy child. It leaves thy groin unprotected.” – Corinthians 9:7

2. “The lion and the lamb shall lie down together, but the lamb won’t get much sleep.” – Deuteronomy 13:3

1. “In the beginning, there was nothing, and God said, ‘Let there be light.’ Then there was still nothing, but now you could see it.” – Genesis 12:5
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

virtual children by Scott Warnock

Phones and drugs and rock & roll

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With three teenagers, I’m getting on the other side of it – could it be this column may have run its course?! – and now I feel I have some hard-earned perspective to provide to people just starting this kid-raising bit. One of my starters: Keep them off the phones as long as you can. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingends & odd

Top ten unanswered questions

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10. Where does it say Humpty Dumpty was an egg?

9. Do gun manuals have a “Trouble Shooting” section?

8. If a man is talking in the forest and there is no woman there to hear him, is he still wrong?

7. If someone with multiple personality disorder threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?

6. Why does mineral water that has “trickled through mountains for centuries” go out of date next month?

5. If a firefighter’s business can go up in smoke, and a plumber’s business can go down the drain, can a hooker be laid off?

4. Doesn’t expecting the unexpected make the unexpected become the expected?

3. Why don’t autobiographies ever end with the author writing a book?

2. If an indoor shooting range is burning, what do you yell to raise the alarm?

1. On a scale of 6 to 2.3, how much do you hate not being confused?
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingenvironment & nature

Now that Spring is here, top ten signs your house could use a good spring cleaning

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10. Your “lace curtains” seem to be catching an unusually large number of flies

9. After a mudslide swept through your house, it actually looked better

8. Your “bean bag chair” is made of accumulated lint

7. Even Jehovah’s Witnesses won’t come inside

6. Your “dust bunnies” have all been devoured by “dust bobcats”

5. You’ve lost three pets and a nephew to indoor avalanches

4. Something keeps slamming your refrigerator door shut…from the inside!

3. When somebody asks, “What died in here?” you give them a list

2. You wipe your feet on the mat before stepping outside

1. Now that Trump is gutting the EPA, you’re hoping they’ll finally stop sending you warning letters
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

health & medical

Grimly plausible question of the day: is the President showing early signs of dementia?

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May I be wrong.

May I be so wrong.

Having been through this with many beloved relatives including multiple grandparents, it’s not something I wish on anybody, no matter what I may think of them personally. No one deserves to lose their identity—no one’s loved ones should be forced to witness them going through this loss.

That noted, reading Donald Trump’s interview in TIME, it’s hard not to think that something’s… off.

Understand: Trump is at risk. An estimated one in ten Americans over 65 has Alzheimer’s dementia. Trump is the oldest person ever to reach the presidency—he turns 71 on June 14. Beyond this, Trump’s own father had Alzheimer’s.

The Mayo Clinic has listed the signs of dementia. They include:
• Difficulty communicating or finding words
• Difficulty reasoning or problem-solving
• Confusion and disorientation
• Anxiety
• Inappropriate behavior
• Paranoia
• Agitation

At the risk of being blunt: does this sound like anyone we know?

[Read more →]

sportsvirtual children by Scott Warnock

Penn State’s Cael Sanderson shows what a coach should be

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I watched the NCAA wrestling championships the other night and saw the stunning dominance of Penn State. The Nittany Lions won five (of 10, for you non-wrestling folks) individual national titles. Two of those guys beat two-time defending champs. Another was a redshirt freshman who took off the redshirt midway through the year. The other two are buzzsaws. The team won the national team title for the sixth time in seven years. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingends & odd

Top ten pun-liners

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10. I bet the butcher fifty bucks he couldn’t reach the meat on the top shelf, but he said the steaks were too high.

9. When my wife kicked me out, I started living in a telephone booth, because I just wanted somewhere I could call home.

8. I made a chicken salad last night, but apparently they prefer to eat grain.

7. Standing in the park, I was wondering why a Frisbee looks larger and larger the closer it gets, and then it hit me!

6. I was hanging from the bridge when a rescue worker shouted, “Whatever you do, don’t look down!” – so I started smiling.

5. When people ask me why I wanted to be a film editor, I answer, “Well, to cut a long story short…”

4. I’ve just invented a working catapult, but it’s disguised as a sofa, so it tends to throw a lot of people.

3. While I was using the ATM, this little old gray-haired lady asked me if I’d help her check her balance, so I pushed her over.

2. I sent ten different puns into a local newspaper’s pun contest, hoping that one of them would win but, unfortunately, no pun in ten did.

1. Yesterday, on its last day, my best friend, who’s a dyslexic plumber, told me just how disappointed he was in this year’s Philadelphia Shower Flow.
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

ends & oddhealth & medical

It almost feels like a plan…

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So, where did we leave off? I think I was in Atlanta (sort of). Two good things came out of that trip to Atlanta. Well, one for sure good thing and one possible good thing. The absolutely good thing was that I got to spend three days with a great friend. We caught up on about 10 years worth of news. In the past ten years I think we had seen each other 5 or 6 times, tops. It was pretty great. I’m bad at letting people help me, but she was extraordinarily helpful. Everyone should have someone just like her to accompany them to important third opinions with doctors. Sometimes she heard them say things that I missed, sometimes she reassured me that I heard what I thought I heard, and she took amazing notes that I have already gone back to many times. Thanks JJW, you’re the best.

The other potentially good thing? A lead on a Naturopath MD Oncologist. We’ll see how that turns out in a couple of weeks. The doc is super far away, but does phone consults (for a bajillion dollars, of course). Hopefully it will be worth it.

Other than those two things, that cancer center was not what I hoped. They do have a great Naturopath MD on staff, I liked her a lot. The surgeon that I met with, however, was the least pleasant consultation that I have had yet. By far. Real far. The biggest red flag for me was that the schedulers set me up with an appointment to have a chemo port put in before I ever even met with a doctor. Um, hello, what? And they kept ordering tests for me. The trouble I had with that was that I just wanted to speak with the doctors first. Also, everything there was out of network for my insurance. It was not going to be cheap. Had I done everything they asked, I would have had a port, an EKG, a bone density scan and a CT scan. I’m sure that if I were headed there after having a really bad experience somewhere else, or feeling like I was ready to just jump into treatment, that would have been fine. That’s not where I was, though, mentally. So, the twenty people who worked there and told me that I had “made the right choice” by seeking treatment there, just sounded creepy to me.

Meanwhile, I started to feel not as great as I was feeling the last few months. I came home and started trying to catch up after being gone for four days, and I still haven’t caught up. How many days has it been now? Ha! I haven’t had any energy. It doesn’t help that I’m still coughing from that flu we had. I think the cough made me think I was just still getting over something. Then on this past Tuesday I had a PET scan (ordered by Moffitt oncologist who speaks very quickly but is still my favorite of the three that I auditioned). The good news is that I am not riddled with cancer or anything crazy like that. It is still contained in the one boob and one lymph node. The bad news is the scan showed that there is something wrong with my thyroid. (So, I’m anemic, and my thyroid is out of wack. If you see me at the kid’s school, sleeping on the sidewalk, maybe just scoot me into a spot where I won’t get stepped on.) Endocrinologist, here I come!

The other bad news (at least I’m taking it that way at this point) is that “standard of care” requires that 2/3 of my surrounding lymph nodes have to be removed. All because of that one lymph that went astray. It seems excessive to me, and there are clinical trials going on to determine if that is really necessary, but that doesn’t help me now. Add to that the fact that they won’t build my bionic boob yet because they want to make sure I don’t need radiation first, and I’m a little annoyed with the process at the moment.

I do like to bright side things, though, and I finally have a date for surgery. April 10th. Mark your calendars, cause’ we’re having a raging kegger on the 9th and I will be topless! Gotta get the most use out of these before one is gone! Obviously, all but the surgery date is a joke. As long as my thyroid isn’t holding anything up, that’s the day.

I keep moving the goal line of my expectations, but it hasn’t reached the edge of the cliff yet, so there’s that! Actually, I still feel pretty stinking positive, maybe more than I did a month ago, maybe more than I should. Ha!

virtual children by Scott Warnock

Getting them there boys to read

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As a little boy, I had a literate environment in my house, and I myself was a big reader. I remember material literacy moments, such as when I kept sneak-reading my mom’s thrillers, like By Reason of Insanity and The Omen. I recall scaring myself stupid with those books and then coming back for more. I remember how The Lord of Rings trilogy smelled. I remember hiding the Alien “graphic novel” (I mean, that’s what it was) because of the language. [Read more →]

musicreligion & philosophy

Suggestion for Church … Music for “Marching As to War”

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The most recent national election has provided a new President of the United States – one with an attitude and goals that some within the Presbyterian Church USA find alarming … to say the least!

Through the world wide web and with the assistance of internet applications, a number of my ‘virtual’ acquaintances within the denomination have shared their concerns – their dread, even – over the developing situation … and a call-to-arms, of sorts, to alleviate that situation. And let me say, their concerns are not unfounded. In just a few weeks, President of the United States Donald Trump and the conservatives in Congress have already set back victories achieved by liberal-to-moderate factions within our society during the term of Trump’s predecessor, Barrack Obama.

And more may be on the way …
[Read more →]

animalsBob Sullivan's top ten everything

Top ten dog songs

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10. Fly Like a Beagle

9. Canine to Five

8. Hello, Collie!

7. MacArthur Bark

6. What If Dog Was One of Us

5. Hit Me With Your Vet Shot

4. When I Think About You I Lick Myself

3. I Like Big Mutts and I Cannot Lie

2. I Got 99 Problems but a Bitch Is One

1. Blinded by the Light (Wrapped Up Like a Pooch)
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingends & odd

Top ten riddles

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10. What has four legs and an arm?
A happy pit bull.

9. What are the three most terrifying words a woman can say?
“Notice anything different?”

8. How do you find Will Smith in the snow?
You look for fresh prints.

7. Why did the chicken commit suicide?
To get to the other side.

6. What does a man with two right feet wear to the beach?
Flop-flops.

5. Why can’t you hear a psychiatrist using the bathroom?
Because the ‘p’ is silent.

4. How does a pessimist count his blessings?
“Ten…Nine…Eight…Seven…Six…”

3. What is ET short for?
Because he’s got them tiny little legs.

2. What do the films Titanic and The Sixth Sense have in common?
“Icy dead people.”

1. Why does Donald Trump sleep with a tub of hummus?
Because there’s nothing he LOVES MORE than when he has a chickpea in his bed.
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

ends & oddhealth & medical

There has to be a better way

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Catching up. I’ve fallen behind on my information dissemination. I don’t like to post that I have questions but not answers. I don’t like to call friends and say that I have taken tests without being able to give them results. I’m trying to keep up, though, and there are still some missing results.

When I had that infection and the doctor freaked out and biopsied my lymph node, I literally had three thoughts about it at once. My first thought was that my lymph nodes have felt electric (best way I can describe) for quite a while, so the cancer was probably there already. My second thought was that the node was just swollen because of the infection and this was just an overreaction biopsy that would prove everything is fine. My third thought was that the infection had somehow shoved the cancer up in that node like a bulldozer, but maybe it would ease back down when the infection was gone. All these opposing views are just constantly bouncing around in my head about everything that is going on with me. If you imagined that I overthought things before, well, old me’s got nothin’ on cancer me.

I went on with my life, as I do. I took my antibiotics, started feeling better, met with the plastic surgeon at Moffitt, left feeling confident that he could build me a bionic boob with my (just so tiny) leftover baby belly fat (for the record, he called me skinny), and went home to wait for the scheduler to call. That was on Wednesday the 15th. On Thursday the 16th I felt well for the first time in a week, like truly up an at ’em well. I felt like I had the first part of a plan and it was kind of coming together. (The missing piece was/is still finding a more integrative oncologist who will work with me on alternative or natural therapies in place of or in conjunction with the most targeting chemo for my type of cancer.) I’m not a “let’s throw all the poisons into my system and hope for the best” kind of girl. On Friday the 17th I started to feel like I had caught the house cold (care of daughter and husband), and that night I got a call from the doc that my lymph node came back positive for cancer. He said his team would call me on Monday to schedule a PET scan, and we would go from there. He mentioned starting chemo and postponing surgery. On Monday I called Moffitt and the nurse also said this would postpone surgery. She scheduled me an appointment with their oncologist on March 7th. The freaking wheels at Moffitt turn ever so slooooowly.

Well, the PET scan machine at the radiology lab broke down. I have been so sick this last week and a half. It was like I had the cold that froze time, because I can’t seem to get things going. I have now been scheduled for a scan with that radiologist every day for a week. Every day they call and reschedule for the next day. Yesterday was the last time they did that. Today the folks at CTCA said that when they called to inquire about the results of my PET scan, this broken down place actually told them that I canceled my appointment there myself. I’ve given up on them entirely. Moving on.

As I write this now I am in a lobby called the Peach Outpatient Center at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. It’s in Newnan, Ga. (Big sign in town reads: “Newnan, Ga, City of Homes.” No homes anywhere else, ya’ll! We’ve got all the homes!) I’m about forty-five minutes SW of Atlanta for a third opinion and to see what the oncologists here are like.  I thought it was closer to Atlanta, so that’s a bummer. You have probably seen the commercials for this place. It is definitely a for profit company, but they sell themselves as the more integrative and natural place to cure your cancer. I will be judging them on that, for sure. It’s the whole reason that I came all this way.

First impression is that everyone here is going out of their way to prove to me that they are nice. They keep telling me that I have made the right choice by coming here. People at Moffitt are nice too. My first doctor in St. Pete was also super nice. It’s not like I’m shopping around for the nicest people to treat me. If you are a total bitch with with least invasive, most effective, not so poisonous cancer treatment, one that you know will work on my cancer because you have done the genome test, then you’re my bitch. It is a little sad here, as it is at Moffitt. Big buildings full of sick people are sad, it doesn’t matter how good the buildings smell, or how nice the garden is. Luckily, a very good friend is getting on a plane right now to hang out with me here for three days. Leave it to us to figure out how to turn this into a slumber party. Love that woman.

I know that people are wondering why I haven’t started any surgery yet, or started some kind of chemo yet. I’m not doing nothing. I’m getting healthy in every other possible way. I’m studying my butt off (wishing I’d had an interest in this before, because I’ve learned so much). I’m approaching this in the most thoughtful and measured way possible. I want to live. I mean really live, like get past this and be healthier than before. It might feel to others like I’m dragging my feet or not moving fast enough, but I’m getting it done, I swear.

 

 

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingmovies

Top ten things overheard at last night’s Academy Awards

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10. “I understand that the Oscar was actually named after a guy named ‘Oscar’.”

9. “The montage of dead actors at the Golden Globes is a good indication of who’ll still be dead tonight.”

8. “I hear new U.S. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is hoping that Ruth Negga wins for Loving just so he can say, ‘Well, mercy me! I do declare, a Negga just won Best Actress!’ and not get in trouble for it.”

7. “I’d like to thank the Academy. And for those of you who think it’s an honor just to be nominated: What a bunch of losers!!”

6. “I was considered ‘ineligible for a 2016 Academy Award,’ I think probably because I didn’t actually do anything this year.”

5. “I love that new ‘anatomically correct’ Oscar; it’s so much easier to carry!.”

4. “I’m so glad the Academy has finally recognized O.J. Simpson. They totally overlooked him for those Naked Gun movies.”

3. “I only hope I live long enough to be included in that In Memoriam segment.”

2. “I thought La La Land was about a Magical Kingdom ruled over by that yellow Teletubby with the curly antenna!”

1. “When I was backstage, I accidentally knocked over a couple of envelopes, but I can’t see how that can be a problem. I mean, they’ve only got one award left to present.”
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.