My Dog is Dumb

This morning, as I was walking the dog, I was thinking to myself, “Wow, he’s being incredibly well-behaved and pleasant to walk with. Who would have believed that even six months ago?” And then many more cars than usual started passing us. So, the dog kept trying to put himself between me and the vehicles. Sometimes lunging at the vehicles to keep them back.

So, I had to put him on a very short leash and hip-check him to keep him between me and the curb.

This week has just been unsettled. I had to take the Butcher in to work at a bunch of odd times and… Okay, let’s discuss this bullshit.

I went to Walgreens to pick up my usual prescriptions. They didn’t have them. Because the website decided that the last Walgreens I went to–even though I didn’t order anything from that Walgreens via website; my mom just ran in and filled my prescription after my surgery–must now be the Walgreens I want to do business at. So, now I have to somehow get over to Belle Meade today. Thanks for nothing, Walgreens.

But at least that’s still in town. What if I’d had to fill a prescription on vacation (not that I take vacations lately, but humor me)? Would they just automatically start sending shit to Sarasota?

I HATE when companies, in their efforts to make things easy, try to be helpful in stupid ways.

It’s my second least favorite thing about the digital age. It’s like fucking Clippy writ large.

My first least favorite thing is how I’m asked to write a report after every fucking thing I do. “Please tell us how you liked getting your oil changed.” “Please tell us how your meal was.” “Please tell us how you liked the smell of farts lingering in the back hall of our club.” Just god damn. Let me give you my money, get my service or item, and get on with my day. My feedback is that I don’t want to have the kind of experience where I feel compelled to give feedback.

At Full Frazzle

So, they’re going to stick a guide wire in my breast first. And then I’ll go to surgery.

I am low about it. I’m not sure why, but I both can’t talk about anything else and am so tired of talking about it. Everyone has the same questions and I only have the same answers, which means that I feel like my day is just me repeating things that I know are going to alarm people who care about me. And then I feel like I have to manage their alarm. But I also am alarmed.

And I feel kind of guilty because it’s not the worst news, right? It’s just a fast-growing, relentless tumor that’s going to require them to take a big halo of perfectly good tissue with it so that it doesn’t come back. But it could be worse. So, who am I to feel scared and uncertain?

I get so angry when people say they’re going to pray for me. I have to extricate myself from the conversation as quickly as I can, because I just want to yell “Fuck you, for knowing the right thing to do and say.” And then I feel like an asshole for even thinking it. But I’m jealous of and offended by the certainty.

When I texted my uncle to tell him that the biopsy was that it wasn’t cancer, he texted me back, “God is good.” And so I feel a little like I’m inconveniencing people by not being fine since I had good news.

And I feel like there’s something wrong with me because I can recognize a whole mountain of support from good people who love me and who I love, but today I experience it as overwhelming and it’s making me more scared. I want to turn off my phone and hide from everyone.

Though admitting it makes me feel better.

Oh, Monday

The dog peed in my shoe. That self-same shoe broke. So… I don’t know if the pee was a warning about the shoe or the shoe was like “Fuck this shit, Phillips. I give up.”

I have a blister on my boob, near where the Band-aid was. And when I pulled the Band-aid off, my boob started bleeding. Like I’ve become one of these people with tissue paper skin or something. Last night, when I was attempting to examine the blister, I started to feel woozy and sick to my stomach. I had to sit down on the edge of the tub and let it pass. I think it’s just that this doesn’t look like or feel like my boob. The bandages that are left have ugly black bruises leaking out from them. I don’t normally have blisters. So, it’s uncanny to the point of making me feel like throwing up.

I have to write this Nashville book. No matter what the news is.

On a Scale of 0 to 10

Sorry. I should have updated here yesterday, but I was just feeling scattered and overwhelmed. I had to alternate all day 15 minutes on the ice pack 15 minutes off. And today I still feel like my boob is the wrong shape and in my way.

So, anyway, it was cool in that I got to watch it happening on the ultrasound and it’s basically like this–imagine that my boob is a large Jello salad, shot through with thin ribbons of Cool Whip. They basically press on the side of the salad trying to see if they can get a glimpse of a pea that wasn’t supposed to be in the salad, but, hey, you’re making Jello salad and tuna salad on the same counter, shit happen. So, they press and a pea shows itself and they stick a long needle in and click click click grab samples of the pea. So, that’s how the first one went. Took a while to even find said pea.

But then they move on to the second one, which is over closer to my arm, and they press a little and what comes to the surface of the salad is not a little pea, but a great marble. Not a regular marble but an old fashioned shooter. A sun around which other marbles rotate. Oh, god, this is like the Inception of metaphors here. But it was huge. Is huge. And I realize that the ultrasound is magnified, but I mean, even just comparing it to the other thing. I didn’t really think anything of it at the time, except “Wow, that’s really easy to see.” But all afternoon, I was like, there’s a huge thing in my boob. And I’m putting ice on it.

All of this implies that it has more color than it does. Maybe it’s more like you’re looking at a piece of dark gray marble with light gray lines running through it and you come across these great holes. That’s more the impression that you get, that you’re looking into a black hole. It’s just this spot where there’s nothing that looks anything like the surrounding tissue.

Anyway, they leave a little titanium marker in the black spots so they can find them again. Then they tell you they’re going to do another mammogram and you think “I can’t live through another mammogram, especially not after you just shot needles into my boobs all morning, because that sucker is going to hurt, I don’t care how gentle you are.” But it doesn’t really hurt.

Not even now. Fingers crossed. On a scale of 0 to 10 of pain, I’ve been at a 0 or a .5 since the procedure and extra strength Tylenol has dealt with that just fine.

But on a discomfort scale, I would say that I’m at a 3 or 4. It’s tender. The bottom side, where they did nothing, itches, I assume just because my body finds it funny to see me attempt to gently itch my boob. I feel kind of like throwing up any time I think about the fact that I’m not going to know until Tuesday what this is. And I’m terrified of it getting infected or opening back up, even though rationally, I know none of those things are going to happen. I want to carry my boob around like a small kitten, just tucked in my elbow, for safe keeping.

Anyway, I am glad there’s the term “cancer scare” just because this time period feels like a big, traumatic thing and I’m glad to have some phrase, even if everything turns out to be benign, that acknowledges that this part fucking sucks, too.

Laugh With Me

My dad believes my dirty bathroom is the cause of all this. He wants me to recaulk immediately. Because, yes, aside from working and going through the medical ringer, I totally have time to recaulk my evil, time-traveling bathroom.

My uncle B. is going to pray for me, even though I’m a Democrat. At least he updated me on all the family cancers.

My aunt isn’t sure whether to tell my cousins, so she asked my mom for permission. Because my mom controls the spigots of information. Perhaps if we also put my mom in control of the spigots of evil, my bathroom wouldn’t be time traveling to try to kill me.

Also, my body is a total dick. I can’t have any pain killers except Tylenol, which doesn’t always work super-great for me, and I just had my last period two weeks ago, but my body was like “Oh, are you under a lot of stress? Can’t take the usual pain killers? How about some cramps?!” And then I assume my body gleefully danced around my evil bathroom while they both laughed like evil villains. Evilly.

My Preferences

My preference is that this be some kind of severe infection along the lines of the last one, which yes, may lead us down a strange path of “Why does Betsy get weird lymph node infections?” But at least it’s something that resolves itself.

But I have to say that, I kind of thing that my second preference is that this is what it looks like, a very small, well-defined, easily removable cancer. Because that would be terrifying and awful, but it would also be a clear path with a resolution.

I think it being something that is not yet cancerous but could be, meaning that I have to just sit here and worry, and go through this again and again, knowing that it could, at any time become cancerous and we have to catch it? That would be very, very difficult.

Cats are Weird as Hell

So, here’s where things stand on the Kool-aid afghan: I have three seams and a border left. I have the skein of yarn I need to finish it, but I need to pre-shrink the skein like I did all the others or it bodes trouble in the future, which means the Butcher needs to do the dishes so that I have a clean sink in which to soak my yarn. So, I thought I’d whoop some of the last bits of yarn together into a square which could, with what was left of the white yarn when I’m done with it, become a baby blanket for my cousin A. and her pending son.

The orange cat has adopted that afghan. He is, right now, squeezed down as small as he can get so that all his paws and tail fit onto that tiny half-done project and he’s sleeping on it. You’ll remember that the dog tried to adopt three red squares from the big afghan, so apparently, Kool-aid and wool is just irresistible to my pets. And that baby blanket is… probably not going to be sent to an actual baby.

But the other baby blanket! So, you know how I talked about doing the Kool-aid afghan with different amounts of color? Maybe not. But anyway, I’ve decided to try it with the baby blanket. I got two different purples and each square has a different amount of each purple. I’ll show you pictures when I get more squares done. But I think it’s going to be super neat.

Also, I got flowers yesterday from “Mina.” I had thought maybe it was just nm, misunderstood, but then I got to thinking, perhaps Mina Harker? Or someone here who needs to be thanked. I don’t know that I know any Minas but, if I do, thank you.

Also, my dad is convinced that all of my health problems are caused by my dirty bathroom. Which I find hilarious, considering that my health problems include–PCOS, sleep apnea, that fungus shit in my eyeball, that infected lymph node, and now this. Four out of which started before we moved here. Which I suppose goes to show you just how powerful and dangerous my dirty bathroom is–it can go back in time and bite me in the ass.

Raise your hand if you’ll be surprised that my Phillipses and H.P. Lovecraft’s Phillipses turn out to be the same. Me, neither.

And yes, I somehow ended up apologizing to my mother so that she would stop being upset that she upset me. And yes, I know that this is ridiculous. And yes, I am going to outsource most of my talking to them to the Butcher for the next little bit. But I also want to say that a hard, weird part of this has been just how traumatic it is on them. I just feel like I’m letting everyone down. Not just them, which I know is bullshit, but I feel so bad about putting this on the other people in my department, making them pick up my slack when one of them, especially, is so new.  I just hate that I can’t be more definitive–that I need her to do x on these dates and y on these other dates. I don’t know what will come up because I don’t yet know when I’ll be gone.

Which is the other thing that’s kind of stressful–they talked to my doctor on Monday and she was like “Yes, do the biopsy!” and then they faxed her all the paperwork she needed to fill out and she hasn’t gotten it back to them. So, no biopsy scheduled yet. I just want to have a plan and institute it. The waiting around for everything to fall into place is really stressful. But in that regard, it was good to talk to my dad because he’s really familiar with hospitals and he was all “Well, if they sent the fax to her office Tuesday morning, but this is her hospital day, then she’s not going to get to the office to fill it all out until late today, if not until Wednesday morning. I don’t think she’s dropping the ball at this point. It’s more likely that it’s just bad timing.”

A Decided Lack of Ghosts

I think the thing I find most confusing about this is that I feel fine. Even the other times that they were like “Oh, it could be cancer,” in one case, I was randomly and spontaneously bleeding from every orifice and so clearly something was wrong, and in the other case, I was having trouble breathing and thought I might have pneumonia again.

But this time? I feel fine. I can’t even feel the inch-diameter thing in there they want to biopsy. If I just check in with myself, I feel fine.

And it’s such bullshit. If my body is my house, it is haunted. It has a spirit in it that wanders around crocheting afghans, writing ghost stories, and watching TV. This spirit feels like she fully inhabits the house, like there’s no closet or toe or basement or rib that is off-limits to her. So, how can there be anything potentially bad in the house without the spirit knowing it? How did I somehow not notice the marble of shit in my boob? How, even now, can I not sense it?

I have a better sense, when I step into my kitchen, whether the Butcher is somewhere in the house even if I can’t see or hear him, than I do about this thing.

Which, I guess, is the other hard part. My parents want to come down and… do what? As of yet, I don’t need people to do my dishes or bring us food. In fact, last night, I made this fantastic thing that was pretending to be a pilaf. I mean, I guess it was a pilaf, just at the general level of being rice cooked in stock with spices, but I highly doubt that there’s any real pilaf recipe that calls for asparagus and cashews, and yet, dear readers, I tell you, it was pretty damn good.

I don’t really need anything yet. I don’t feel bad. I’m just frightened and upset, but that’s not really something I need help with. So, I don’t know. It’s just weird.

Eyes Like Planets, Boobs Like Oceans

One interesting thing is the ways in which all these medical procedures reveal your body to be a collection of landscapes. They shoot pictures of the interiors of your eyeballs and you experience yourself as having these vase hollow yellow and red worlds in your face. They ultrasound your boobs and the pictures you see on the screen look like small seas, waves of fat and ductwork (I assume) rolling toward you and disappearing from view. It’s very beautiful.

My phone call to my parents went disastrously and so, even though everybody who texted me was like “Call if you need to talk” I just didn’t want to talk to anyone else. It’s mostly just that my mom started the phone conversation with “How was your day?” and then, after I was like “Did you not get my text? Not great.” launched into all the reasons I was grateful that they were able to do these tests that would all show that this was nothing. Which, yes, I suppose I am grateful for, but we don’t know yet that it’s nothing and I needed a minute to just be terrified and to talk through a plan of action. But it hit me like bricks that she needed me to comfort her and I just started crying hysterically, begging her to stop talking.

And I feel bad about that, because she just handed the phone over to my dad and I didn’t mean to upset her and really, really didn’t want to upset her. But I can’t tell you how upsetting it is to get terrible news and to have to deliver terrible news and have the person you’re telling respond as if you’ve just told them not terrible news.

So, that was something of a disaster.

And it also meant that I just couldn’t hear more about how it was going to be all right, because it was too close to my mom acting like everything was all right.

Anyway, I have to say something to the folks at work today so that my pending erratic schedule makes sense. And I have to fill out a bunch of paperwork.

I’m always amazed when people handle this shit with grace. Just assume from here on out until there’s some resolution that I’m either crying or about to cry. I’m not even going to fucking try to have my shit together. My shit is going to be thrown all over the sidewalk like the aftermath of an ugly breakup. Some of my shit is going to be three blocks away. You’ll see my shit in messy piles, people tripping all in it, it sticking to strangers’ shoes.

My dad said, “You know I’ve seen a lot of this with my parishioners and I can tell you that the one thing that makes a difference is a positive attitude.”

And I laughed and said, “Well, then, we’re in trouble.”

Cancer Scare

So, yeah, today didn’t go how I’d hoped. I had errands to run afterward, because I just didn’t really imagine that the news would be bad. So, I had to run errands looking like end of the world.

I don’t know what to say. This is the third time a doctor has looked at me and said, “It could be cancer,” the second time they’ve wanted to cut me open to see. Eventually, one of these days, they’re going to be right.

Anyway, I suspected the news was going to be bad when the ultrasound tech got flustered. I grew more suspicious when the doctor came in and ultrasounded me again and she turned the wand from my boob to my arm pit.

So, they want to biopsy two spots on my breast and maybe the lymph node. This will happen as soon as they can make arrangements. If it turns out that it is cancerous, they’ll make quick arrangements to cut it out.

So, well, fuck.

Nefarious Presbyterian Churches: Zion, Bear Creek, and Bethesda

I have wanted to find the Bear Creek Church since I moved down here, since it is the source of some of Middle Tennessee’s greatest urban legends (or rural legends, as the case may be). It’s supposed to be haunted or used for devil worship and it contains a cursed Bible, supposedly. My hunt for Bear Creek Church has been thwarted by the fact that there are a number of Bear Creek Roads near Columbia. But today, I found it.

More importantly, though, I went out to Zion Presbyterian Church outside of Columbia, where Jack Macon’s first owner and the father of his longest owner is buried. It was really moving. They’ve kept the place up beautifully, but it made me cry to realize I was looking at a building that, in all likelihood, Jack, among others, was forced to build and then wasn’t even allowed to attend. I stood in a graveyard where I know Jack’s friends and possibly family were buried, but who can know, since they were denied last names?

The most remarkable thing about the Bear Creek Church is that anyone can get a good look inside it thanks to Alan Jackson:

Ugh

I’m so ready to not be sick. There’s yard work to be done and I’m bored of having nothing to talk about here. I want adventures! Creepy graveyards. Baffling historical facts. At least to get my oil changed.

A Life of Reports

I keep having this experience where I’m doing something that is normal consumerish doing something–buying a book, paying for lunch, visiting an exhibit–where, when I’m just about to complete my transaction, I’m encouraged to go review it on Amazon or Yelp or whatever. Like now, getting a product from you obligates me to not just give you money, but to turn in a report on my experience.

And I know I’m not the first person to make this observation. But it was like every interaction I had this week.

Yes, I am a blogger, but Christ, maybe I don’t want to be constantly telling the world about every instance of handing over money and whether it was worth it.

Falling Short

Yesterday was not a good day. I’m completely freaked out about my ability to get through April in one piece and yesterday just made it seem like I was in over my head and destined to fail.

I don’t really feel any more confident in my ability to get my head above water today. But at least today I feel like I at least have a better sense of what needs to happen in April and what things I can get started now.

I don’t know. Who knows? Maybe it will go easier than I think. But here’s the thing. We have two seasons. Each season has ten to twelve books on it. In April, we’re getting seven books in from the printer. A fully staffed department that knew what it was doing would have trouble getting those all in and then back out the door.

So… yeah.

We’ll see how this goes.

Blerg

I’m so grouchy. Like even just sitting here I’m getting annoyed with myself about how much work I have to do on the afghan but I’m not doing it. And I’m tired. And I’m waiting on the photographer so I’m nervous and just feel fat and ugly and stupid. And I’m too tired to stop myself from going down that path.

Life requires, sometimes, a kind of steadiness I just don’t feel capable of generating.

Bah, This Year

I was thinking of thinking of this year as the year of big changes. But between the car repair bill and the plumbing bill and the heating bill in January and the heating bill and the tax bill here in February, I think this may be the year that takes all my fucking money.

I’m depressed. I know I should be relieved that I had a plan to have a little extra money set aside in order to take care of a couple of non-essential things and thus have the money to cover this essential shit. But I’m bummed.

And there’s some fucked up in my student loan, them saying I’m overdue, when they pull my loan payment straight from my account. So, I have to call on Monday and see what that’s about.

I know, I know, I know this is a better feeling than the one where they send you overdue notices and you know it’s because you haven’t paid them.

I know all this shit is supposed to make me feel like a responsible person–my financial issues are all manageable these days. But I still hate it.

Reasons I Think This is a Sinus Infection

1. Snot

2. Dizziness

3. A headache that is alleviated by pressing on my forehead or rubbing behind my ears.

4. My ability to sleep for 11 hour stretches.

So, I’m feeling better, but still terrible. The headache is killing me. I don’t how to explain it, but even when it doesn’t hurt, it still feels terrible.

But it’s not as bad as yesterday, so I’ll take what I can get.

The Fun Part

I am somehow both too cold and too hot. My head is too hot. My one thigh is too hot. The other thigh is too cold. My hands are too cold. My back is cold and sweaty. My one eye is just watering like I’m at half a funeral.

And this is better than this morning.

I wish I were in bed.

I am 85% sure everyone else does to.

I’ll Just Be Over Here, Throwing Up

The car is in the shop today. The problem is expensive.

And the plumber came by the house this afternoon and the two-year-old bullshit thing on top of my water heater is fucked. As is the 60 year old bullshit thing in the crawlspace. And my crawlspace has a glacier. A glacier, people! You want to see a river of ice? Fuck going clear to Canada. Just go stare in my crawlspace.

To get that shit fixed? More than the car.

You know that feeling when you’re just cresting the hill on the roller coaster and your stomach goes up to your throat and your head goaes all woozy and you just have to wait to hit bottom, because there’s no getting out of it?

That’s how I feel.

A Litany of My Woes

The plumber still hasn’t called me back.

My car’s real check engine light came on this evening. And my car smelled like wet paint all the way home. So, that’s probably not good.

And I have a million meetings this week.

And I need to get over to the Metro Archives but time and car are conspiring against me.

And the stressful thing that threatens to consume my whole winter is actually forcing me to respond to things more quickly than I had anticipated.

I have feelings. Many stressful feelings.