Thursday, April 23, 2009

Doodling along

The other day my twitter-friend, Ben Folds, was like "buy the new She & Him album" and I was like, "OK." Right on, Ben. I'm almost ready to forgive you for the whole Landed album. Almost.

Tomorrow is CHEMO DAY. I know from last month that the key is to drink 5 liters of water in the morning before my 5pm IV-start. I may also lift some weights. Anything to make my tiny, deep veins bulge for my favorite oncology nurses. As for the side effects, I've got an almost new bottle of Maalox and a refill on my Ambien. You know what's classy? Swigging directly from a Maalox bottle in social situations... Seth is having a cocktail party with an award for the best drink. What do you think of peppermint schnapps and Maalox? Also, I told Nich I'd finally come down to Oly to hang out with him. I'm excited.

I had a good talk with my mom the other day about insurance and loans and the state of the world. She's good at listening to me, talking me down, and making me feel secure. Isn't that like the perfect mom? She still makes me feel safe even though I'm 26. I'm going to COBRA the work insurance for 18 months. It's going to be cool. Good insurance is a good thing.

It's been kind of a stressful month: work, life in Community (namely my landlord), loans, insurance, Change... I don't always react with grace to every situation, but it seems that even though my initial reaction is still (and may always be) panic, mania, and bitchiness, I get better at finding my way back to chill. Like, I've hit Zen at work. I'm one woman. I'm one hardworking woman doing her best. And that's good enough for my boss, so that should be good enough for me. And life. I articulated a series of important things to myself and those things helped me set internal boundaries that I feel really confident about. I know this sounds vague and weird, but it's just house-related drama that I don't want to bore you with.

Socially, things have been exciting. New friends, old friends, all good friends. Lots of good food. Lots of joy surrounding the return of the sun. Spring is here. Life is thawing and the hibernating Seattle-ites are poking their pasty faces out of our caves. It's time for iced coffee.

On Monday I have a closure appointment with my therapist. She has been amazing at helping me deal with having cancer, living with chemo, and working through the journey back. It's not that I'm done, but I'm ready to fly on my own for a while. We'll check in during Emotional August, but for now I'm going to liberate my Mondays. After that I'll be getting my first haircut in over a year! It's time. My post-chemo fro needs some guidance. Some trimming. I want a person who knows something about hair, short hair, and general trendiness to give me advice... I'm going to Vain on the recommendation of one of my fave chemo friends.

Well, that's it. Wild, huh?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I got this

Whew. Life has been really busy lately and I've been lacking the time for thoughtful updates. This could be due the lack of diet coke (it has inspirational powers) in my diet or it could be the insane 50-60 hour weeks I've been putting in consistently.

But here's an update: I can work 60 hours a week! I can do it, rage on the weekend, and still get up on Monday morning. My life-endurance is getting stronger every week. This is exciting. Can you imagine what life will be life when I get to STOP taking chemotherapy drugs every week? Can you imagine?

My health is generally good.

What has me down lately is health insurance. I got my financial aid summary from Berkeley and I'll be taking out a shit ton of unsubsidized loans. I can live with this. My conundrum right now is what to do about my health insurance.

To break it down:
-I have BCBS PPO coverage through work with a 2 million dollar cap. Through COBRA I can keep this sweet coverage for 18 months after I leave my job at the bargin price of $600/month

-I can purchase graduate student health insurance from the school which is also BCBS PPO (with approval from their health center), but its lifetime cap is only 400K.

-400K is more that enough to get me through the end of my treatment, but not sufficient to cover a bone marrow transplant should I relapse.

-I am not/will not be eligible for Medi-Cal which is California's medicaid

So the question is: do I risk it? Do I sink $11,000 into health insurance premiums so that I will be covered to 2 million for the 18 months after I leave my job? Or do I just say, "fuck it," and go with my gut instinct which is that I am not going to relapse?

Thinking about relapse and contingency plans is a fucking downer.

This is the only thing about cancer that makes me cry. Not my stupid new curly hair that I'm beginning to hate, not having to get spinal taps, not my current insurance, but Insurance as a paradigm. In attempting to deal with practical questions about how I'm going to deal with the next few years, I get caught up in bigger questions that make me feel depressed:

Like, I still don't know if I even believe in treatment for cancer. Objectively, I don't think the bajillions of dollars of research and energy we sink into treating people who are going to die is really the greatest idea. All the toxic chemicals we're synthesizing to put in to people... all the waste, waste, waste that is a byproduct of treatment and research (billions and billions of individually wrapped sterile widgets in 6 layers of plastic)... all because we can't gracefully accept that we have poisoned our water, soil, and air and that our cells are continuing to evolve without out permission. We live in a society obsessed with controlling nature, our bodies, and the future... to the point that we've sealed our fate and we're going to kill off our own species. What's the effing point? I'm a cheerful fatalist. I'm disturbed by the way our species has chosen to interact with its envrionment and the level of cruelty and selfishness that pervades. The ultimate retribuition of nature is one of the only truths that makes sense to me.

You'll be happy to know that subjectively I'm thrilled to be alive and thrilled that so many people I love are alive and living productive lives post-cancer. I drank the Koolaid. Or in this case, I took the conventional chemo (the result of 50+ years of Leukemia research). Despite my belief that we're hurtling towards the end times, I enjoy my life. I'm happy. I cook food. I go to yoga. I love my friends. I flirt with cute men. I drive in my fossil fueled car down the I-5 pavement wasteland to see my family in Oregon. It's a pleasant existence.

I don't pressure myself to reconcile these two opposing viewpoints and I don't enjoy harping on them too much, but the point is that I can't just think about insurance without getting into all this extential crap and it makes me very stressed out.

Fuck insurance.