Monday, May 20, 2019

Literally Losing It

Here’s an interesting grammar tidbit I learned today:

The definition of the word literally has changed. Historically, literally meant “actually; without exaggeration or inaccuracy:” or “used to emphasize the truth and accuracy of a statement or description.”

But now, because so many people have used it incorrectly for so long, the dictionary has added a new definition: “used for emphasis or to express strong feeling while not being actually true.

Which means when I say it literally never rains it pours, it’s now unclear if I’m actually being literal or figurative. Which is actually kind of lucky because, in this narrow instance, I'm being both.

Figuratively speaking, I have a lot of rain in my life right now. Skin cancer, moving to a new house, getting the old house ready to put on the market…call me a drama queen but it’s a lot to deal with! Adding kidney stones to that mix is, in my humble opinion, a metaphorical “pouring” of epic proportions.

Particularly since the latest attack came as we were LITERALLY moving. After I got off work Saturday, Opie and I loaded up the car with  boxes and headed over to the new house. Then, when we were about a mile away, I got hit with a pain that was FIGURATIVELY like a small animal had somehow materialized in my guts and was earnestly attempting to eat its way out.

Good times.

Especially for Opie because as soon as we got to the house, I LITERALLY stumbled to the bedroom, shoved a couple pillows together (we hadn't moved the bed yet) and collapsed on the floor...though not before carefully positioning myself near enough the door that I could see what he was carrying in in order to yell encouraging suggestions to him.

This situation was not noticeably enhanced by the fact that the boxes I’d packed and intended to carry were not organized in an Opie-approved fashion. By which I mean, my boxes not only didn’t clearly identify contents but generally also only had things like “upstairs” or “downstairs” written on them

“Where does this go?” Opie would demand.

“It says upstairs,” I’d snap back.

And he’d be all “Where upstairs? Guest room? Office? Exercise room?”

“JUST TAKE IT UPSTAIRS!” I’d shout then. “I’ll figure it out later—UNLESS I FREAKING DIE RIGHT HERE ON THE FLOOR!”

It’s somewhat miraculous his head didn’t pop right off. (Figuratively sneaking of course).

But, speaking literally again, this is when the whole it never rains it pours thing came back into play. Because this was when the gentle rain turned into a torrential downpour. A “The Heavens Opened And We Should Think About Building An Ark” kind of downpour.  Which in its own right would have made moving difficult but was made significantly worse when the tornado sirens went off.

Take a moment and try to picture this moment of marital bliss…I’m lying on the floor, contemplating death, checking weather updates on my phone because we didn’t have television or computers set up yet, screaming at Opie to take shelter, and he is resolutely marching in and out of the house with boxes in his arms, muttering under his breath…no doubt speculating on how boring his life was before I popped into it.

“Twitter says they’re evacuating hospital rooms!” I yelled as he stomped back into the garage. “The weather channel says we need to get to a safe room or a basement!”

(Except, of course, we don’t have a basement. Our storm readiness plan is prayer.)

“Do not go back in that garage!” I yelled as he stomped back by. “I am not emotionally equipped to see you buried in tornado rubble!”

“You’re the one who keeps saying buying this house was fate, that it was meant to be,” he retorted. “If it’s meant to be, it’s not going to be hit by a tornado.”

And even though I really hate it when he uses my own words against me, I guess he was right because both houses survived the storm with no trouble.

So, even though it literally and figuratively is pouring all over us again right now, things are going pretty well. I had the last of my stitches out this morning and the doc thinks the scars are “coming along nicely.” And the kidney stones suck but they could be worse…like when my brother got them ON HIS HONEYMOON while he and his wife were CAMPING ON A VOLCANO.

Fair warning, though, the news is predicting earth-shattering storms tonight with the high possibility of tornadoes so there's a pretty good chance that I will spend hours and hours sharing hysterical weather alerts and screaming at Opie to take shelter.

And I mean that literally!

Friday, May 3, 2019

World Naked Gardening Day

May 4th is World Naked Gardening Day.

To answer the questions that I’m sure are in everyone’s minds:
1. Yes, that’s WORLD not National. It’s clearly a big deal.

2. Yes, it’s a real thing. It was started in 2005 by the same naturalists who created the World Naked Bike Ride…which sounds painful in ways I don’t even want to contemplate.

3. No, while I can’t speak definitively for Opie, I really do not think anyone will be cavorting around the gardens here at the Yates Estates in the raw. First of all, we’re moving and don’t have much of a garden this year. Second, I have to go to see my surgeon on Monday for a follow up procedure and if 
I show up with any sign that I’ve been out in the sun, I’m pretty sure his head will pop right off. So, the only way I’m participating in World Naked Gardening Day is if first I slather myself from head to toe with Zinc like an overzealous lifeguard from 1985.

And even then, I’d still have to wear a hat…and not just any hat, one of these over-sized, not at all fashionable of flattering, shades your entire face, kind of hats.

Don’t get me wrong, I love hats.  I wear hats all time, I always have – as evidenced by this photo montage of some of my favorite hats through the years:

 The thing is, these hats don’t give my face the kind of coverage I need – my doctor has told me over and over that if I want my scars to fade, I absolutely can not allow them in direct sunlight. So the other day I ordered THIS hat:

Which may not seem completely horrible – even if it does have a brim that is roughly the size of a small country.  But check out the other features:

So your neck—another prime skin cancer danger zone—is fully covered.

And don’t even get me started on the veil-like face covering…

It is interesting to note that, if your significant other is screaming about how the new hat she has to wear is ridiculous, you should NOT try to cheer her up by saying “It looks good…it looks like you’re on safari.” Trust me, she will NOT find this flattering, will definitely respond with offensive profanity and might even cry.

And let me share the other weird thin about this hat – I heard about it from some other ladies who have had this procedure. They said it’s one of the few hats that really makes them feel comfortable being outside and they even sent me a link. Where I learned that this fabulous hat is recommended for shopping, tourism, running – you name the activity, this hat will keep you protected from the sun during it…except, do you notice anything strange about these ads?

Anything?  Anything that seems a bit off??

Like the fact that NO ONE in the ads is actually wearing the hat???  The hat is so freaking ridiculous, they couldn’t get a paid model to slap it on FOR THE AD IN WHICH THEY WERE TRYING TO GET YOU TO BUY IT.

This is what I’ve been reduced to – fashion accessories so objectionable the best advertisement for them is NOT wearing them.

But, as usual, I digress. I was going to talk about World Naked Gardening Day…as I said, it was started in 2005. Why? Because, according to surveys done by a bevy of believers of being in the buff, gardening was second only to swimming as an activity people most enjoyed doing naked.

Which I find mildly horrifying…do these people not have roses and other thorny plants? Are they unaware that the garden can often be filled with insects that sting and bite?

And the original concept of the day was NOT to frolic amongst your own foliage with your fanny free of festive fashion. The original concept was described as kind of “guerilla prankster.” In which you were actually supposed to drive around different neighborhoods, then jump out of the car at random locations and weed, water, or otherwise tend someone else’s garden—NAKED.

Why this never caught on is a mystery for the ages.

In any case, as I said, we have no current plans to participate in this particular holiday. But if you hear a news story in which a slightly chubby middle-aged woman. naked except for a comically large hat and a painted on layer of white zinc, is arrested for drive by gardening, you can be assured that I have, in fact, finally snapped.

Enjoy the holiday everyone but feel free NOT to share pics.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Homes, Humor and Hibiscus Rescue

As I've mentioned in earlier posts (but never really explained), Opie and I are getting ready to move.

You might think that buying a new house, moving, and getting our current house ready to sell while in the midst of skin cancer treatment & recovery is a little bit completely insane.

You would, in fact, be right.  It's nutty cakes...but it was one of those deals we just couldn't pass up.

It was Opie's cousin's house that I've been obsessed with for years...In fact, after the first time we went over there for dinner, when we were driving home, I told Opie "If they ever sell that house, we're buying it."

He laughed, like I was kidding.

I wasn't kidding.

So when the cousin and his wife decided to downsize and offered us a great deal on it, we knew we couldn't let a little thing like horrible facial scarring stand in out way.  I mean, if you're going to hide yourself away like a hermit, you might as well do it in a house you love!

In any case, the beauty of buying a house from family is that, even though we don't officially close until the end of May, we've been able to slowly start moving our stuff to the new house.

The only problem with this is that Opie and I have VERY different strategies when it comes to familial relocation.  He us under the impression that it is best to go through our closets and storage areas, take over the things we aren't currently using, and get them put away in a organized fashion. I am of the firm opinion that I love my freaking kitchen with a love that is more than love and I've had all my cool Mickey Mouse gadgets in storage for years, and I should spend a few hours every day arranging them in an aesthetically pleasing fashion.

Poor, deluded Opie also doesn't understand that some of the things we need to take with us are the plants and flowers that I have spent 8 years the hibiscus.

Which was the subject of the following blog back in 2015:

Well, after the unfortunate “NeighborsGet A Monster-Sized Dog” issue, we're biting the bullet and having a new fence installed.

And if you think this process has occurred without drama and brouhaha then you've never read this blog before.

It all started with the hibiscus. This beautiful, big hibiscus that is growing through the old chain link fence and dwarfing the plants around it. It flowers for months and months every summer and is absolutely gorgeous.

And kind of huge.
The original Hibiscus

“We can't really build around that.” The fence guys said. "And if you leave it there, it could warp the new fence."

“We'll have to rip it out," Opie said.

And I stared at him in abject horror. "We are not MURDERING that hibiscus!"

"I don't think it's really murder when it's a plant," he said.

But I wasn’t about to listen to that kind of nonsense. So I flat out refused to participate in his horrifying bushicide plot and began looking up ways to transplant it to the front yard.

"This is going to be a disaster," Opie predicted.

"Not for YOU," I assured him. "I'll take care of everything."

Everything except pruning the bush down to 1/3 of its original size (per Internet instructions) and cleaning up the subsequent debris.  He did that…convinced, I suspect, that I wouldn’t completely clean up the hibiscus detritus (even though I love the word detritus) and instead scatter it around the yard in hopes the lawn guy would be able to mulch it with the mower.

After that, though, the bush’s fate was in my hands. And one morning last week, after Opie left for work, I went out to save the poor hibiscus. 

“Easy-peasy,” I told the dogs. “Just dig around the bush in a circle, loosen the roots, and bam! Hibiscus saved!”

2 hours later, it was pretty clear the root-loosening wasn’t really working for us.

“Never fear,” I told the dogs.  “We just need to add a little water to the soil, saturate the roots so they slide right out of the ground.”

Which led to 3 more hours of digging in soggy mud.

Though, to be fair, part of that time frame was based on the fact that the ridciulousPrincess Snowflake Sassypants kept scampering through the mud in a very un-Princess like fashion.

In any case, I worked on that hibiscus for a shocking amount of time and it showed no signs of loosening by the time I had to get ready for work.

Which is when I came up with my brilliant plan:

Completely flood the roots and hibiscus hole, let it all soak in while I worked my shift online, then come back out and pop it out like a cork from champagne.

And still I think this might have actually worked…except it started to rain.

And when I say “rain” I don’t mean a gentle shower with rainbows peeking through. I mean the kind of torrential downpour that makes you start looking for the proper materials to build an ark.

The hole flooded, the area around the hole flooded, the fence-line flooded…

“This doesn’t look good.” I told the dogs. And they concurred but had no helpful suggestions other than to hint that a few treats and belly-rubs would make everyone feel better.

Seriously, these dogs are very self-involved.

Anyway, I don’t have any pictures of that because I couldn’t take my awesome new camera out in the rain.

I had no trouble taking myself out in the rain, though, because after I finally finished my online shift, I ran out into the storm, and started digging and wading through calf-deep mud, pulling that hibiscus as hard as I could.

To no avail.

It was around this point that I lost whatever tiny grip I had on my sanity and began screaming at the hibiscus in frustration.

"I am the only thing standing between you and CERTAIN DEATH!" I shouted at it. "Don't you understand that? You need to move or DIE."

I'm a little disturbed to report that none of the neighbors came out to investigate the screaming and death threats. Which means they are either completely callous and uncaring OR they have become completely inured to this type of behavior after nearly 4 years of living next to me.

Honestly, I don't know which is worse.

Anyway, there I was in the backyard in a torrential downpour, cursing the hibiscus, threatening the hibiscus, and trying to shake the hibiscus free when Opie got home from work.

"What did you do?" He demanded, looking at the swampland that had once been our backyard.


And he went inside.

Which makes him sound like the biggest jerk in the world until you realize that he was just going in to change out of of his work clothes. He was back in a few minutes, in old clothes and shoes, with a shovel of his own.

And a mere hour and a half later, we got the damn bush out of its earthen prison!

Which left an unfortunate puddle large enough to drown a dog.

“I’ll drag the hibiscus around front,” Opie said.  “And then you can dig a new hole and plant it in the morning.”

“I have to plant it tonight,” I said. “All the guides said you have to get it re-planted as soon as possible or it won’t survive.  And,” I finished before he could even ask “I couldn’t dig the hole before-hand because I didn’t know how big the rootball was going to be and what size hole I would need.”

Opie stared at me for a really long time (especially considering we were standing outside in the rain) then began dragging the bush and muttering under his breath…muttering, I’m pretty sure, sweet nothings about how I am the light of his life.

“Go on inside!” I shouted after him. “I’ll dig the new hole!  I’LL TAKE CARE OF EVERYTHING!”

But he wasn’t falling for THAT again. He dug the hole, we pushed the hibiscus in, and bam! Opie was saved from the karmic consequences of hibiscus murder.

The 2019 problem, though, is that I love that stupid hibiscus...after the transplant trauma of 2015, it actually now blooms in two different colors and I think it's gorgeous but after my own transplant trauma I'm pretty sure I'm nt going to be able to move it without Opie's help. And every time I mention it to Opie he says "You already made that joke." like I'm kidding. 

So, friends help a flower lover out -- how do I convince Opie that we need to to start planning Operation Hibiscus Rescue 2.0?

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Bad, Mad, and Sad - Next Step in Skin Cancer Recovery!

Here’s the thing about English teachers, even former English teachers, we all have our personal grammar pet peeves. And some of us have A LOT of grammar pet peeves. I, for instance, hate it when people use apostrophes to make a plural, or use the word “myself” when “me” is appropriate or confuse it's and its...

There are more (don't even get me started on there, they're and their) but you probably get the picture.

I’m not saying I always speak perfectly because I don’t. I mix metaphors, I end sentences with prepositions…In fact, I’m frequently guilty of NPR Grammar Hall of Shame’s #1 error (in related news, how dorky is it that I actually know the NPR Grammar Hall of Shame?!) misuse of the words “me” and “I.”  I say things like “This is a picture of Opie and I” instead of “Opie and me” because it somehow sounds better even though it’s wrong. I have to correct myself on this all the time.

And if you think it’s annoying when someone else corrects your grammar, you should think how poor Opie feels when I shout out corrections for both of us.

Friends of ours got me
this bag a few years
 ago and it's so true!
But I digress…

I was going to talk about my personal #1 Grammar Pet Peeve – the misuse of the word “badly.”  Even more specifically, when people say “I feel badly.”

If you say this, please note that “I feel badly” does not describe your emotional state. It actually means there is something wrong with your ability to feel. Like you have nerve damage.

It is interesting to note that I have actually complained about this so much with this exact explanation to Opie that when someone on television says “I feel badly” we now both say “Nerve damage?” at the same time.

Anyway, there’s a whole long grammatical explanation for the “I feel badly” issue that has to do with linking verbs versus action verbs and how adverbs and adjectives work...but if you didn’t pay attention to your English teacher back in high school, you’re probably not that interested in a grammar lesson now.

So, just trust me, “I feel badly” is wrong.

And if you don’t want to take my word for it, think about this: you don’t feel madly, sadly, or gladly do you?!

Of course not, that would be ridiculous.

Anyway, you might be wondering what in the holy heck this has to do with skin cancer recovery. Well, to be fair, I do feel bad, mad, sad and not at all glad that I got skin cancer. But, the thing is....

....Wait for it....

Because of the skin cancer, I also DO feel badly! In the sense that my ability to feel has been compromised! My scalp is still numb where I had a bunch of staples and my nose is numb because it’s new at being a nose and is still getting used to it. But—worst of all—when I touch the flap to clean it or whatever, I don’t feel it on my nose, I FEEL IT ON MY FOREHEAD!


Because after sustaining all the surgically induced NERVE DAMAGE, the flap feels badly!!!

I’m not going to lie, I tell Opie that with alarming frequency.

But my next surgery is Tuesday. During this one, the doctor is going to cut off the flap to make my forehead and nose separate entities again and all the nerves should start recovering and waking up and I should be on the road to feeling good again (yes, good although well also works when you’re referencing health…but that’s a whole predicate adjective grammar lesson for a different day).

I still won’t be posting pictures of my face for awhile, and I have to have another (more minor) procedure for another spot of cancer on my chin in May which does make me feel bad, mad and sad all over again but I will be able to stop screaming “I FEEL BADLY!” every time I wash my face.

Which will probably be a big relief to Opie.

So, once again, I’d appreciate your thoughts, prayers, positive energy, and cookie donations in lieu of blood sacrifices (I like macarons) while I go under the knife again.

But, whatever you do, don’t feel badly for me because there’s really no need to give yourself nerve damage on my account.

If you want to read more about my skin cancer journey, you can find that info below:

Sunscreen, Skin Cancer and Spiritual Support

Happy Birthday to Me

National Doctors Day

Dogs & Daffodils

And if you want more information on skin cancer in general, check out these articles at the CDC:

CDC - Skin Cancer Information

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Dogs and Daffodils

Well, we just hit the two week mark and do you know who is actually excited by the skin cancer and horrifying forehead flap?

The ridiculous dogs.

Well, to be fair, I don't know if they're excited about the skin cancer itself but they have found the recuperation process downright blissful.

See, while the "flap" is still attached like a horrible bridge across my face, there's a danger of infection and rejection. So, I'm not supposed to do anything. Not really walk around, go up and down the steps as seldom as possible, not even walk out into the kitchen and get myself something to drink because I'm not supposed to lift anything heavier than a jug of milk.

Which means I spend A LOT of time either lying on the couch or lying in bed.

This might sound like a great gig but the first week I felt too sore and tired to really enjoy it and this week, now that I'm feeling worlds better, I'm bored out of my mind.

You know who ISN'T bored and thinks spending the day snuggled on the couch is a mini-version of heaven?

The ridiculous dogs.

In fact, I often wake up to this:

This might seem cute and loving but has caused a situation in which my belly has become the disputed holy grail of canine cuddling. See, Bubba thinks that he, too, is a lap dog. So I also often wake up to this:

at which time Bubba suggests that Sassy needs to take her turn at the end of the couch so he can be the one to perch lovingly on my stomach. I have tried to explain to him that this will result in my slow death by suffocation but he's really committed to his idea of fairness.

The other person who is NOT thrilled with the recuperation process is Opie. Not that he minds helping me--he's been great about that! It was easier when my mom was here but after she left, he worked out a whole system so that before he has to leave for work, I have everything I want/need for the day beside me and anything I might want to eat for lunch or snack on is just a few steps away. He's awesome.

But since I can't do anything around the house, he has to do EVERYTHING while I lie on the couch and call out helpful suggestions on the cooking, cleaning, animal care and, of course, the cutting of daffodils for a festive bouquet.

I'm not going to lie, that last one wasn't on his list of important tasks but I, in my sweet and docile way, explained how it was supposed to freeze and the daffodils were going to be ruined before I could even go outside and enjoy them and would it really kill him to go to the front yard, for the love of heaven, and snip a few stupid daffodils?

He was a pretty good sport about it but considering this was one of the flowers that made it into the vase:

I suspect his heart wasn't really in it.

Luckily, though, we only have to survive one more week. I went to the doctor yesterday and the horrible flap is healing nicely, looks like it's going to be a "100% take", and we're on schedule to have the separation surgery one week from today. After that, I  still won't be able to lift anything heavy for awhile and I'll need to rest for a couple of days but it won't be like this week in which I have to wait for Opie if I so much as drop a Q-Tip on the floor.

And, though he hasn't actually complained at all, I think Opie will be glad to give up his nursing duties...but I don't think he should give up his other day job because he definitely does NOT have a future in flower arrangement:

Thanks again for everyone's thoughts, prayers, and positive energy!

If you want to read more about my skin cancer journey, you can find that info below:

Sunscreen, Skin Cancer and Spiritual Support

Happy Birthday to Me

National Doctors Day

And if you want more information on skin cancer in general, check out these articles at the CDC:

Friday, March 29, 2019

National Doctors Day

March 30 is National Doctors Day which, for obvious reasons, has been a topic at the top of my consciousness.

Let me say this first: I have a great plastic surgeon. All the nurses, referring docs, and hospital staff have told me he's "amazing" and "an artist" and "a miracle worker."  Which are the exact kind of words you want to hear when you've just had half your nose chopped off and are needing someone to build something to fill the hole in the middle of your face.

Plus, he embraces my paranoid crazy and actually ENCOURAGES me to send him texts with pictures and questions in between appointments so I won't get upset and overwrought and worried that some slight change in the flap means what's left of my nose is going to slide off my face.

Which is not to say that I DON'T get upset and overwrought and worried that some slight change in the graft area means what's left of my nose is going to slide off my just means that when I do start freaking out and referring to myself as "Kimbo No Nose" Opie can say things like "Text the doctor, ask HIM, he's the expert."

And, to date, the doctor has always answered within the hour, usually within 10-15 minutes.

Seriously, he's a rock star.

But at the same time, I occasionally feel like he's a little out of touch with the mysterious ball of emotions that is Kimberly.

Like when he decides that it is somehow critically important for me to understand "the nature of the defect we're correcting." and forces me to not only look at the mangled nose but spends horrifying minutes pointing out what's missing and explaining what we're going to add -- completely ignoring the way I was studying the ceiling and wondering aloud if it was going to hurt to vomit or if the leftover anesthesia from the cancer surgery would dull that pain too.

Ok, this is BEFORE the plastic surgery but
even then I'm not exactly a sexy beast! 
But my favorite doctor/patient moment came the day after the surgery when I was sitting in my hospital room, hoping to go home.  My entire face hurt, I had two black eyes, stitch marks the entire width of my forehead and down the side of my face reminiscent of Frankenstein's monster, what looked like a giant finger sewn onto the mess that used to be a nose and I was constantly wiping up uncontrollable globs of bloody snot...and the doctor, very seriously, told me I SHOULDN'T BE HAVING SEX. This was repeated in the written after-care instructions, basically shouted in bold all caps.

I mean, maybe I should be flattered that my raw animal magnetism is so primal and powerful that it transcends physical appearance...or maybe I should be worried that he thinks Opie is some strange, snot-obsessed, zombie-loving pervert.

Or maybe this was just a ploy to distract me from my own troubles...which was actually fairly effective because I have spent a disturbing amount of time wondering if he's issuing this warning based on some prior patient's post-operative problems and imagining all the horrifying things that could have happened.

But the fact is, none of that really matters. What matters is, as I said above, he's supposed to be a genius and he's eventually going to give me my face back.  So I hope he's having a great National Doctors Day and, to help facilitate that, I'm going to hold in all my questions and texts and pictures and let him enjoy the day in peace.

Which could make it a loooonnnngggg day for Opie!