Thursday, June 28, 2012

Talk Radio Star

So, now that I am officially unemployed and have TMTOMH, "Too Much Time on My Hands" (TM)  I have been looking for something to do. I've come up with a lot of ideas, none of which I'll probably end up implementing, but at least my brain has been busy and buzzing with plans and purpose.  I have created organizational systems involving sticky notes and whiteboards and manila folders for all these things I hope to accomplish, items, I might add, I bought myself from Amazon and did not steal from work.  My brain has been busier than grandpa with a new Sudoku puzzle, and should I live long enough, I probably won't get Alzheimer's because I've been using it extensively.

(Except yesterday I forgot to go to chemo.  Really.   Flat out forgot.   We won't go there)

One thing I know I am going to miss is the social aspect of working in a school. There is always a kid to yell at, a parent to make fun of, a teacher to deny paper to, or a principal to boss around.

Okay, just kidding.

A little.

Truly, there is a lot of talking in a school.  You don't really need an extra social life because you get plenty of interaction all day long at work.   Transferring from such a busy and convivial atmosphere to being at home alone all day in my silent little house with a timid dog who is afraid of the ceiling and a cat whose sole purpose in life is to destroy my furniture and ignore me until bedtime, when she insists I sleep in a position that makes HER comfortable - well, that is just going to be a huge culture shock.

But, you are asking, don't you live with people?  Yes, I do.   A husband and a 15 year old son.  'Nuff said.

In truth, I'm a solitary woman who could actually be really happy just reading all day,  and never talking to anybody again, but is that good for me?  Will it make for a full seating at my funeral?  I think not.  So, I want to keep in communication with others.

How do you do that without a job?

I'm at the age where everybody I know has a job. We, in our early 50s,  aren't old enough to retire, and we are not young enough to be home with children. My neighbors are either 80 year old women who take their daily walks pushing decorated walkers in front of them, or they are 30 year old mothers pushing strollers decorated with toddlers.   In either case, the only thing I could do for these people is babysit and change diapers.  It would be hard to relate on the same level to either group.

So, who am I going to talk to? Am I going to end up calling my 25 son every day, asking him how his day is going? Will he sigh and say, "fine mom" and look at ways to get off the phone?  I already know not to try it with my 15 year old.   Will I talk so much to my dog that she'll become afraid at the sound of my voice?

What if I turn on the TV during the day, and get hooked?  What if....what if... I start watching The View?

That cannot happen.

One plan that has been percolating in my brain has been to do a talk radio show on the topic of guessed it.....cancer.  I had found a site called Blog Talk Radio and there are some young people who do a show called the Stupid Cancer Show who are excellent.  They once interviewed my friend, the Carcinista.  They fill a different niche than I would fill - they market their show towards the younger cancer crowd and both the hosts have not had cancer for decades, and neither had breast cancer.  I thought there might be room for me too, to talk to others going through cancer, who are living with active cancer and going through treatment,  and also to help the newly diagnosed know what to expect.

And, most especially, to give a voice to those of us with metastatic disease, who are overlooked and underrepresented in the breast cancer community.    Because, of course, we are the ONLY ones with breast cancer who die, yet the breast cancer community leaders, starting with Komen, are all focused on "awareness" and not research.  And, awareness never saved a life, I might add.

So, I signed up.  My internet radio show starts in four days, on July 2nd.  It is on the Blog Talk Radio network. Here is the page for the show:

Those of us with free accounts are only allowed three shows a month, so mine are:

July 2nd at 2:00 pm.  The topic is General Breast Cancer Discussion with an emphasis on discussing when we were newly diagnosed and those first, tumultuous days.  If you are a cancer newbie, this is a good show for you to call in and ask questions of others.

July 9th at 2:00.  The topic is Chemotherapy.  We will discuss types, and tips for managing side effects, and other topics such as hair loss.

July 16th at 2:00.  The topic will be metastatic disease.  How do we live with a terminal illness, how do we learn to mourn the loss of our healthy lives, and how does one get diagnosed as being metastatic, anyway?

You can only schedule a month at a time, but if people call me and it's fun, future topics will include caregivers, emotional aspects of living breast cancer, and even something amusing, like clothes to hide mastectomies and putting on fake eyelashes.

Please call me next Monday at 2:00.  I would love to talk to you and hear your story about cancer.  More than that, I don't think I'm capable of talking by myself for 30 minutes so unless you want to hear a show where I just go "la la la la la la la" you have to call.  You may need to register an account at the blog talk radio site, I am not sure.  But please do, you can register an account, :follow me,  and have them send you a reminder about the show.  They do not spam you.

The number is (347) 215-7838. Yes, you will have to pay toll charges.  You may be able to Skype or use Google Voice, but  I know I can't unless I pay to upgrade.  So, I am paying to talk to you fine people.  That means you should call me!

I can't wait to hear from you.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Free Breast Cancer Cartoons!

Don't say I never gave you anything!

The Little Pink eBook of (mostly) Cancer Cartoons" is now free on Amazon, from June 21 to the 23rd. It's a droll and ironic look at breast cancer that patients and survivors can really identify with.

Okay, actually, Kate is giving it to you, but I get to tell you. Get over to Amazon and get yourself a laugh!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Amazon Affiliate Program - back again, even for breast cancer patients

A while back, Amazon fired all their California affiliates over a tax situation. That was the first time I'd ever been fired, and needless to say, I was devastated and wondered for months what I'd done wrong.

Well, they let us back again. I'm rehired. I have put the search bar back to the right. ---->

If you want to buy something from Amazon, search here to find the item. Once you go to Amazon anything you put in your cart will give me a very teensy tiny affiliate fee. It is not much but it was nice to have that in my account for a book or birthday gift. And, you'll notice my impeccable timing, starting this right after Father's Day.

Here is what else I'm worrying about thinking. My last day at work is June 28 and then I'll have to ask my husband for money. He'll hand it over too but being that he's a tightwad conservative and I'm a spendthrift shoeaholic fun-loving grocery shopper, I hate to ask him all the time.

All I have left (sob) is this blog. Because you are my beloved readers, I have some ideas and want your option.

1. Blog Talk Radio. Want to talk to me about cancer? About chemo, or treatment? I am registering an account and thought I'd have a little talk radio show about pink culture, cancer, problems and solutions...what do you think? Would you participate? Since it's free I think it might be at 2:00 a.m. but who knows? This won't make me any money but might be fun. Unless I stutter through it. Which, is quite likely. But, if nobody will talk to me than there is no point.

2. eBook. I thought I would write and sell (for a nominal fee) an ebook with tips and tricks I've learned in my almost four years of dealing with cancer. Considering I started Stage II and ended up Stage IV, I have a lot of information that could be condensed that might help somebody. Would you buy it? Would you give it as a gift? What would you want to see in it? What format would you read it in?

3. Swag. If I sold some "But Doctor, I hate pink" items, would you buy any? I know what I have used since getting cancer and thought it might help the newly diagnosed cut some corners if I sold some of the things I found helpful. And, for some of the items I am considering, you don't need to be newly diagnosed either.

My goal for the future is to keep me busy, make some money and, most importantly, not annoy my readership too much. I promise not to get so bored I post every hour, about what I ate and what my cat is doing. But, maybe it is time I turned this into a way to make some money, yeah? Can people really do that? I kind of don't think so but maybe I should try, since, I have nothing else to do.

This blog is still the story of my life, which sadly, has never been about money.

All opinions and ideas are welcome.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Why I Liked my Job, Part 1

Notice how the title is in the past tense, even though I am still working? It's because I'm mentally preparing. My last day will be June 28, and then I will be unemployed. Having a good scan recently should be cause for celebration, but all I can think of is maybe I could have hung on at work for a few more months.

But, we all know that metastatic cancer takes no prisoners so it would just be delaying the inevitable. The Principal's Secretary is vital to the school and she can't be in and out with illnesses and tests and, you know...death. It is, heartbreakingly, time to go.

Especially since they hired my replacement.

And, my replacement's replacement.

I have been mourning my loss though. How many people enjoy going to work every single day, where they know they are doing good work, where they like all of their coworkers, where they feel they matter (even if only by helping the people who really do matter) and who, even indirectly, are helping society?

From what I hear, not many.

I like everything about my job. High School Secretary is not a job that you may respect, and it's not highly paid, but there are a lot of challenges. I like dealing with angry parents, who I have a talent for calming down. I like managing the calendar and supplies and being interrupted all day but still managing to do what needs to be done. The subs who don't show up? Annoying, but they give me a problem to solve - I have to figure out how to cover classes, and quickly. The copy machine breakdowns, the kid who needs the band-aid, or something signed right now - the small emergencies that fill my days - every minute is something new. I liked my job when I was in the computer world for the constant problem-solving I did, and I like this one for the same reason.

But, there is one truly special thing that makes me love my job. One I've never admitted before.

One that might surprise you.

I get to talk on a Walkie Talkie every day.

I ask you, is there anything more fun than talking on a walkie talkie, which, by the way, we call "radios?"

I think not.

You know you'd love it too. You get to be a kid again.

There are thousands of things to coordinate on a school campus, and the main players, who work all over, need to be reachable. The Admin team (Principal, Vice Principals) have them, the Secretary (me), the VP Secretary, Attendance Clerks, the Campus Monitors, the PE teachers, and the Custodial staff all have them. They are used for safety and to manage events, to herd cats, to notify of impending doom or to crack a joke.

They are fun.

If you are anything like me, as a kid you had a cheap little walkie talkie that mostly broadcast static but still had the miraculous ability to allow you to talk to your friends from long distances away, like two houses down and from behind the big tree. Since they came in two packs, I'd give one to my friend who lived next door, and after lights out and we all went to bed, she and I would whisper our secrets to each other. It was like magic. And, of course, we'd use proper terminology, because we were just that professional.

Me, "Ann to Lynn, come in"
Friend, "This is Lynn, over."
Me, "I am getting a new pink dress for my Barbie, over."
Friend, "Roger that. I am going to marry Davy Jones, over."
Me, "Negatory, you get Peter Tork. I get Davy. Over."

It's kind of like what kids do now on Facebook. Only not.

In a school you use them to reach people who are on campus but not near phones. That mostly means the Plant Manager (aka Custodian) to let him know of the emergencies that happen every hour on campus. Here is an example of what I say:

"Phil, somebody spilled water in A Hallway, and we don't want anybody tripping." "Phil, we are out of toilet paper in the staff restroom." "Phil, the pest control folks are on campus and need you." "Phil, the election people are here to set up."

We also talk to admin; or, at least, try to. In my experience, lots of admin officials forget to carry radios. I guess they don't match their suits. So, a conversation might be, "Mike, are you on radio? Mike? Mike? This is Ann, Mike, you have a call from the superintendent. Mike? Is there anybody on radio who can go find Mike?"

Fortunately, we have campus monitors who are the eyes and ears of the school. They are the ones who will go get Mike. They are also security: "Nikki, a teacher is requesting you remove a student from room D-2." "Nikki, there are reports of a stray dog running around in the Quad." "Nikki, a student left a book in a classroom, can you let her in to get it?" "Nikki, we have a strange car on campus, can you check it out?"

I know you are wondering, what do people say to me? Well, it's fascinating questions like, "Ann, why are there people in the Large Gym, is there something going on?" "Ann, can you call safe schools and let them know we have kids who jumped in the pool and won't leave campus? "Ann, there is a bird dying on the lawn outside my classroom and the kids are freaking out. Can you do something about it?" "Ann, there doesn't seem to be a teacher in Room A209 and there are kids standing outside the door." "Ann, you have amazing eyes and look ten years younger than your age." "Ann, you are the best school secretary in the entire district, I just wanted to tell you that."

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating.

And, of course, every once in a while a kid will get their hands on a radio and while there are wonderful tricks that could be played - which I won't mention here - none of the ones who find a walkie ever think of doing anything beyond yelling "AHHHHHHhhhhh!!!!" and then laughing. We have some smart kids on campus too, but they clearly are not the radio stealing types.

I guess I like the walkie because being ADD, I find talking on a radio as instant gratification. It's like texting - you get an answer right away. If you don't, you start to worry. And then you get frustrated, because you need them right now. That toilet paper isn't going to refill itself! Then you get worried again; if they aren't answering, something might be wrong (unless it's an administrator who probably just left it on their desk) and you forget that the person you are trying to reach also has a phone they could be on, that they get lunch breaks and, ahem, they might need to use the restroom and didn't take their radio in with them, which means they are not as dedicated as me.

It's so nice to just be able to ask for something without having to hunt somebody down. A PTA person will have arranged for a table on the Quad to sell something during lunch, and if the table isn't there, I know I can just get on radio and Phil will take care of it. Problem solved in 30 seconds. After a fire drill, it's how I know to give the all clear signal. It's just super handy, which I find fun and honestly - sorta magical. Much like I did as a kid talking to my friend from behind a tree two houses over.

We don't use much walkie lingo. We pretty much just call people by name (or job title if necessary) and then ask questions like normal people. The exception is "copy" or "10-4" for I understood. It's so natural to say 10-4 when you are holding a radio, that you don't even think about it.

Yes, silly as it sounds, talking on the walkie talkie is part of my job I will miss. What other kind of careers require two-way radios? Police officers and rock stars, that's who.

I only have a couple of weeks until I pull the sticker with my name off the walkie and say good-bye for good.

I'm not looking forward to it.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

I'm fine

I lied when I said I wouldn't post that I was fine.

I'm fine.

I don't know what happened. I am going to see my doctor tomorrow. My teeth hurt, all of them, so maybe it's some weird chemo side effect? But, I am up and about like nothing happened. I even went shopping today. So odd.

Anyway, I'm bored with me. Want to see something cute?

This is my oldest son's girlfriend. They have been together for 7 years so I think it's safe to say that she could end up producing a grandchild for me. Which would be an unbelievably cute child, and which I would totally love and am looking forward to. And, I would babysit every day if necessary. Of course, I'd buy lots and lots of adorable clothes for the child. And, practical stuff, like diapers, too. But mostly toys, many, many toys. And those teeny little shoes that are really socks. And hats, me and the baby could be twins in wearing hats. And, of course, there would be zoo trips, and park trips, and we would often go get ice cream and go to the river and even Disneyland. I totally love my grandchild, and the baby is going to be super cute, and I am going to have so much fun with that child and spoil him or her - but in a good way, the way a grandmother is supposed to. With clothes and toys and lots of babysitting and little trips everywhere, like to pick blueberries, and the toy store, and to fairs, and then just do quiet things like read books.

But, no pressure.

You know how you try to raise your children to do things in the right order? Finish school, get a good job, then get married, then produce children?

That has backfired on me. My son took it seriously, and is doing it in that order.

Fortunately, he is now nearly done with school and has already begun his career in HVAC repair. He was always a mechanical child. I couldn't be prouder.

Well, unless I had a grandchild, of course.

But, no pressure.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tooth and Sinus Infection and Metastatic Breast Cancer

I would be ironic, given my love for dentistry, and after all I've been through, if a bad tooth took me down.

For about three days, I've had a sore tooth. I did what I have always done - ignored it. I figured it would go away or I'd have to see a dentist but the pain wasn't that bad and it's a busy time at work. Graduation is tomorrow and after that, although I am working until the 30th, I am free and clear to make an appointment, since no kids and teachers are depending on me for immediacy. It's not that there is nothing to do but that it can wait a few hours, unlike during a school day.

Truthfully, I'd almost rather have more of my liver removed than see a dentist. So, I rinsed my mouth with salt water and flossed extra and just made sure the area was clean and went about my life, hoping the toothache would disappear.

I forgot.

Yes, I'm a normal person. A normal person with metastatic cancer and no immune system.

Yesterday, my alarm went off and I was unable to get out of bed. I was completely wiped. I couldn't eat, drink or move. Too weak. Last time I'd been like that - that weak and sick, I'd had c-diff. On day two I'd gone septic and went to ICU. Last time, I didn't get a fever until about 7:30 on day two either. I had no fever yesterday either but was weak as a ragdoll.

I figured my tooth was infecting me. I took a leftover vancoymin (shouldn't have, don't do this at home, kids) and called the doctor's office, both to cancel my chemo and talk to a nurse.

They said not to take anything and to go to the ER if I got worse. I didn't talk to a nurse I knew. My own personal chemo nurses know that if I'm calling - if I skip a chemo - it's dire. In three years, the only chemo I skipped was when I was hospitalized. I don't call for just anything, in fact, the only other time I called them I was already septic. So, I was not happy with that answer.

I kept taking the vanco every 6 hours and called this morning to confess my sins and ask what to do. I was, admittedly, quite afraid of going back to the hospital again and the vanco seemed like a lifeline. But now, I needed to 'fess up and know, do I keep taking it or not?

It seems to be helping. I am still feeling bad but am up and about. It's clear I have a sinus infection; my left eye is also infected and my tooth still hurts and of course, I have a headache, but I am able to get out of bed, and I took a bath, an impossible-seeming task yesterday. (I hate to go to the hospital sweaty.) I got to talk to a chemo nurse I knew today, who was a lot more sympathetic. The doctor said to keep taking the vanco since I do feel slightly better. The vanco is likely not going to work on the infection; it's not designed for that, and I'm in a precarious place, according to the doctor. I might go down again.

Remember, I am not able to take any other antibiotics, ever again, because of c-diff. I am a cancer patient who can't take antibiotics, which is not a good thing to be.

I will see the doctor Monday, assuming I survive the weekend without hospitalization. Then I have to figure out how to be treated for this infection. My hope is that the vanco takes care of it, even if it isn't used for that typically.

Graduation is Friday, which I guess I'm going to miss. My last graduation as a school employee - how sad. I really wanted to see those kids off.

Wednesday I am supposed to drive to San Francisco (100 miles) to have a PET scan that is the tie-breaker that will tell me if cancer is growing back in my liver. If I can make it, and it is not growing back, then maybe I can stop chemo for a bit and let my immune system recover to help fight off this infection.

I might have to stop chemo anyway.

The 23rd is my stepdaughter's wedding. How can I miss that?

I know there is no convenient time to get sick and maybe die but this is definitely not it.

When my son came into my bedroom yesterday, scared as crap at my health, I felt so sad. I'm ruining his childhood, and he has everything going on but me. He's a straight A student in one of the hardest programs in the country, plus he's a wonderful kid, lots of smart and funny friends, hopes and dreams that are difficult but achievable and he's doing all that with fear and knowledge that any day, he could wake up and won't have a mother.

People tell me I'm strong. He's the strong one.

I have promised to blog as long as I can, to share my story and so today, while I am up and about, I figured I'd tell you what is going on with me. I will try to continue to update with twitter. If I stay steady, if nothing changes, if I get better in the next few days, don't expect tweets that say, "I'm fine!" but if I take a turn for the worse and have to go to the hospital, and I am able (which I should be), I'll let you know. In this case, no news will be good news.

My twitter feed is @butdocihatepink and it is over to the right, embedded in this blog so those not on twitter can see it. I don't really know how to use it so if you say something to me and I don't respond, that's why, I'm not being rude. One of my plans for when I finished work on June 30th was to become expert in tweeting and maybe actually say something interesting and figure out what the heck all those # signs mean.

Just when you think you are doing good, that you might have a little time, when you plan things a few months out, that all is well, cancer laughs and smites you down into reality. "You?" it says. "You are not in charge, I am. I can take you any time I want, through any means."

Even a little toothache.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Normal Day

I was chatting with a writer friend and bitching complaining that I couldn't think of anything to blog about, and off-handedly mentioned that people were starting to nag ask me about my next post. I'm happy to accommodate, and glad people want to hear from me, don't get me wrong. It's just that I am a bit cancered-out. Oh, I have my usual constellation of symptoms, medical tests and doctor's appointments, but I get bored writing about cancer all the time, even when it's about me. My brilliant friend, in a moment of clarity, said, "you could always write about the shit normal people do. Cancer or no, we still deal with everyday stuff, eh?"

Oh my God, I'd forgotten.

I am a normal person. With a normal life. One that isn't all about cancer.

So let me introduce you to my dog, Cherry.

Cherry is a greyhound. She is beloved in our family, spoiled and catered to. If she was small enough, I'd put her in my purse and carry her around, and whisper baby talk to her and maybe dress her in darling little designer clothes.

That secret desire is why I prefer dogs in the 100 pound range, so I can never give in to it.

Like all greyhounds, she is a rescue. She came off a race track in Kansas, but unlike my previous greyhound, she never actually raced. She doesn't have the go-getter personality type necessary to be successful in the competitive, dog-eat-dog world of dog racing.

Cherry is a bit, shall we say, timid. So timid, in fact, that I'm pretty sure that when she was told to race other dogs, she ran backwards to avoid them.

Greyhounds are raised as working farm animals and not as family pets, so they are all a bit freaked out when suddenly expected to be domesticated animals. When we first got her, Cherry was frightened of many things. We have hardwood floors in half the house and cheap vinyl tile in the other half. The vinyl was, of course, terrifying. She was unable to walk on it without encouragement for several weeks. Unfortunately, the door to the back yard, and her dinner bowl, are kept on the vinyl side, so this was a fear she had to overcome to use the facilities or eat. When she got too hungry or couldn't hold it any longer, she would bravely take a step across the threshold, from wood to tile, just like a kid on a hot day sticking a toe in a too-cold pool. Tail between her legs, she'd take another shaky step, certain the floor was going to swallow her and she'd fall straight into the fiery pits of hell. Once she made it to the back door, she would stand there like it was a racing gate - nose down, body tensed, unmoving. The second I opened the door, she'd sprint out to the safety of the grass.

She was also terrified of the TV. Despite what you've heard, greyhounds are not allowed to watch The Daily Show in between races, so the noise of the TV was mystifying. My God, there are people talking, but not her people! And there are no people smells! You could tell by the expression on her face and her pointed ears as she stared at the TV that she believed she'd been brought into a house driven by black magic.

We've had her for a year, and she has settled down into a calming routine. Her tail is not kept between her legs anymore and she has turned into a happy dog, one who leaves toys all over the house, like my children used to do. She'll grab a toy and then play bow, asking me to join her. Of course, she has no game in mind so anything I do with the toy confuses her terribly, but she still seems to enjoy my attempts.

She no longer believes the tile floor is going to disappear, leaving her falling into space. She ignores the TV, unless on it a doorbell rings or she hears a dog barking, at which time she barks back and runs to the front door like a normal dog. She gets excited for her walks. Yes, she crosses the street to avoid other dogs and big scary strange people, and oddly, she refuses to pee, not wanting to mark her scent in case other dogs find out she exists, but she still begs to go. She eats well. She lies next to us at our dinnertime, nonchalantly pretending what is happening up on that table is not interesting at all, until the first plate is pushed back. Then she is up, nose approaching the table, chattering her teeth. (Some greyhounds chatter their teeth like they are cold when they get excited.) She knows she gets to lick a plate, which is the best part of her day.

Her world is solid, predictable. Safe.

Then, the top came off. Literally. We are installing a new roof. One day the animal is happily sleeping in various rooms, getting up to have a bite to eat here and there and sleeping again (kind of like me). The next, her dependable and comfortable life is shattered by unGodly sounds from above. I think it's safe to say that she heard about that face-eating guy in Florida, and she's now certain those mysterious noises above her head mean the Zombie Apocalypse is nigh and that dog brain is on the menu.

I've never seen a dog shake as much as ours did the day the roofers did the tear-off. There were twenty guys swarming the roof and the scraping and banging sounds were straight from doggie hell. Despite the fact that the cat had previously taken out a restraining order keeping the dog ten feet from her at all times, the dog decided to brave sharp teeth and claws and join the cat in sitting on my lap, while at the same time vibrating like a motel-room bed. There I am, all 95 pounds of me, trying to drink a cup of coffee, with a 75 pound dog and an 8 pound cat sharing space in my lap, both animals shivering in a sea of confusion and terror.

It was a work day so despite their obvious discomfort, I managed to dislodge the animals. I placed the dog in the quietest part of our house - my bedroom - with a hollowed out bone full of peanut butter. Then I ran a bath for work, and let the pervert cat watch me.

I have to say, I was slightly concerned about taking a bath with workmen only a few feet above me trying to tear off the roof. Knowing the shape the roof had been in, I expected I could end up with a) a big hole with a bunch of faces peering down at me b) a tub full of ceiling fluff, c) a pair of legs dangling through at me, or d) all of the above.

I was also afraid the the dog might decide she still wanted to get in my lap.

But, night sweats mean you don't skip your morning bathing ritual, and body aches means a bath, not a shower, so I went through my routine, modifying it by adding bubbles for protection. As I do each morning, I turned on the funniest radio show in America podcast on my iPhone, set it on a wide shelf by my tub, and soaked in the tub while my painkillers kicked in.

Not finding this too relaxing with hammering and the sounds of swearing in Spanish directly above me, I kept it short. I washed, got out of the bath, dried off, picked up my iPhone - and promptly dropped it in the tub. The sound immediately shut off, and the phone went dark.

Panicked, I grabbed my phone out of the tub in two seconds flat. Finding my towel too wet to dry it off, I ran, nude, to the kitchen, right by a bank of windows with a large ladder placed in front of them. I grabbed some paper towels and wrapped the phone, suddenly realizing that there were 20 men able to look in and see me merely by climbing down the ladder. Considering how scarred I am, with missing and reconfigured body parts, I was afraid they, like the dog, might assume that the Zombie Apocalypse had begun. I ran back to the bathroom, got dressed quickly, and came back to attend to my phone.

Everybody says their "life is in their phone" but what if mine really was? What if, now that my phone stopped working, I wouldn't know what appointment to go to next? Would I be able to recreate my myriad chemo and doctor appointments, and the many tests and scans? Would cancer take over because I killed my phone and didn't know where to go?

I had to fix it, my life depends on it. I know you are supposed to put wet electronic equipment into rice to absorb the water. I looked in my cabinets but didn't find any. I remembered a bag of brown rice I had in the freezer, so I grabbed that, snipped the bag with scissors, poured the rice into a ziplock bag, and then dropped my iPhone in it. I shook the bag so that the phone would be surrounded by rice, and finished my morning routine.

I came back and realized that frozen rice probably wasn't what they meant when they said to use rice to draw out water. Moisture was condensing on the outside of the bag, and my phone was even wetter than it had been before, and was now ice cold. I could only hope that, like in humans, the cold would slow down my phone's heartbeat and maybe it could recover. Anyway, I was about to be late, so I picked up the bag of rice and and went to work.

The temperature was going to be 90, so I came up with the brilliant idea to leave the phone in my car all day and let it dry out that way. I took it out of the bag and left it on the seat, hoping nobody would steal it. As I shook the grains off, I noticed a piece stuck in the headphone jack and tried to get it out but that wet, cold, sticky rice wasn't budging, so I just left it there.

I went the entire day without my phone. Just sayin', for those of you who thought it was impossible.

After work, when I got back in the car, the miraculous happened. The phone turned on. There was no sound, but once I got home I cleaned that grain of rice out of the headphone jack and swabbed it with alcohol, and thankfully, all was back to normal. My appointments, my treatments, my texts - all there.

My world was restored.

Sad to say, not so for the dog. Her world has shrunk to a very small place - about the size of an iPhone, now that I think about it. She dwells in a tiny corner of the bedroom, having now a very specific fear of the roof over her head.

I'm an evil owner master fur-mommy, because when I come home, and the roofers are gone, I make her leave her safe spot, and I close the door so she can't get back in, and she is forced to join us in the dangerous part of the house. I've no doubt that if I allowed it, my timid little Cherry would spend the rest of her life curled up on the 4x3 dog bed in the corner of my bedroom, occasionally peering up, wondering when the Zombies will return.

Now I have to spend my time after work teaching my dog not to be afraid of the ceiling.

So there you go. The shit normal people do.

Thanks Charles.

The dog and cat, in a rare moment of warm togetherness