Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lucky Number 7

I am standing at the doorway waiting for the cat to come in. It is almost midnight. I am dressed in a long flowing gown. It is not a formal gown, it is a night gown. It is spring but it is early spring and the temperature tips towards frigid.

I am standing at the doorway, in my flowing night gown, with bare feet, make-up smudged and hair askew. I am gripping a half empty glass of wine as I call for the cat...

Phoebe Fong (cat has a last name), you know it's dark. Nothing good happens in the dark. Come inside NOW or I'll..."

The cat is bold and defiant. I have no sure-fire way of luring her in and she knows this. If I cut out her treats she'll punish me by meowing relentlessly. She'll never be more than two feet from my side and she'll wake me before dawn by sitting on my chest and terrorizing me with her eyes.

I am 53. I have no idea how or when I became a slave to the cat.

I am standing at the doorway, in my flowing night gown, waiting for the cat and aching for New Orleans. It has been one week since I danced their dilapidated streets. New Orleans haunts me. I imagine myself poised at the entrance of a funky town house in the Warehouse District accompanied by  tall, exposed brick walls, towering windows and wood rafter ceilings - all buttered in beams of sunlight.

Two weeks before I left for my road trip to New Orleans, my oncologist sat me down and told me that I needed to learn to live my life without fearing or focusing on cancer. Two days later a routine skin exam warranted five biopsies. All five biopsies showed cancer.

I hate the C word.

Depending on how you look at it, you might say I'm lucky. They caught the cancer early just as they caught my breast cancer early.

Even so, the C word is stuck in my head. It swirls around my New Orleans pipe dream and ambushes my reality.

Two of the cancers are melanoma's. Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. If it is limited to the epidermis, the outer most layer of the skin, and if it doesn't come back and spread, I have a high chance of survival. Survival rate is one of the things cancer survivors store in their mental file box, along with biopsy results and treatment options.

Today, I am on the other side of surgery. I am standing at my doorway, rocking my surgical gown. The sun is shining. The trees are bursting with blooms and the sky is a crisp, stone-washed denim blue. The barn swallows are back and I laugh as I watch them swoop the cat.

I am high on vicodin. I am in minimal pain. After surgery number 7, I am once again, cancer free. I am reminded that all we have is now.

xxxxxxx Monkey Me xxxxxxx

For more information on skin cancer visit: American Cancer Society/skin cancer

Monday, April 8, 2013

Road Trip

Remember when I told you I was headed to New Orleans in April and I was worried about who would watch Sasha, our newly adopted Bernese Mountain dog, while we were away?

Maybe you don't remember this, but I told you. I told you I worried she'd develop bloat from the stress of us being gone. I worried she'd think we abandoned her. I worried she'd think we didn't love her enough to take her with us.

I went as far as making her a video so that she could hear our voices and see us every day. I also found an excellent companion that would live in our house and spend all day with her.

And then I cancelled our plane reservations.  I swallowed the $300.00 penalty fee and cancelled the tickets.

So where am I? 

Yesterday, we were in Lexington, Virgina. It's beautiful there. The Holiday Inn gave us a little Rubber Ducky and asked us to take it with us on our journey. Isn't that sweet.

Sadly, only one Ducky per room. And one shower cap. And one bathtub. And two dogs. One dog goes in, the other stays out.

Sasha goes in! 

Yesterday, we stopped at a Cracker Barrel. We saw a table full of Amish people. I gasped. I've never seen Amish people before. There was no horse and buggy outside. I don't know how they got there. Maybe they walked.

Today, we are in Fort Payne, Alabama. Promise me if you are ever in Alabama that you will NOT STOP HERE. You will continue driving until you reach Birmingham, or Tuscaloosa, or Mobile.

We are at the Days Inn. Our AAA Pet Guide book gave it two diamonds. I give it one bucket of coal. One, combustible, metamorphic bucket of black-ass coal.

The WiFi connection code at the Days Inn in Fort Payne, Alabama is "daysinnfpal"- all lower case. Now you have it should you ever break down on the side of the road in Fort Payne, Alabama. 

Next to our hotel is a Burger King. It is the only "restaurant" in town. Next to that is the Cancer Center. The Burger King is larger than the Cancer Center.

More than half of our hotel is completely gutted. There is a pile of toilets in the parking lot. They're used but they don't look as bad as the one that is in our room.

Our room has a view of the pool, which is closed for the season.

Our room has a popcorn ceiling. No surprise there, but what does surprise me is the walls. They are a micro-mini popcorn texture - what I imagine fossilized asbestos looks like.

Our room has no carpeting. It is a smoke free room and yet the bedspread and acrylic blanket is sprinkled with burn holes. And there is something about the lighting that makes my hair look green. Every fifteen minutes or so I have to ask my husband if he thinks my hair looks green.

He says, "NO." Normally, I wouldn't mind if my hair looked green. Green is, after all, my favorite color. But this is not a good green. This is a, I stayed too long in the chlorine pool, green. But the pool's not open and even my skin looks green.

There is an empty vending machine and a broken ice machine and a line of free, giant TV's just outside our door. All of them are broken. Nothing in Fort Payne, Alabama works.

I didn't sleep well last night. I was worried about our car. The dogs wanted to sleep in the car but we didn't think they'd be safe. We parked the car under a light and later discovered that none of the lights in the parking lot work. Why did I think they would work, I've already proven that nothing in Fort Payne, Alabama works. Except for the women at the front desk at the Days Inn. And the people at the Burger King. And the construction men that are banging and drilling and hammering and gutting 100 of the 125 room at the Days Inn in Fort Payne, Alabama. 

the view from our room

what TV's used to look like

before I pushed the furniture against the door

xo, MNKY. ME

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


Photo by Joan Harrison