Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Best Line of the Night

We've been having some trouble with our sheets lately. We get one size of sheet, but have three sizes of bed. In the past, the sheets fit the largest beds but were a little loose on the other two types. Recently, Manglement decided that knit sheets were better than woven, and so dumped sheets on us that, until they're washed the second or third time, fit every bed beautifully. After the second or third washing, though, you'll hurt yourself trying to get them on to the bed. (I wish I were exaggerating, but one of my coworkers is out with a torn rotator cuff right now. It went when she was trying to change a bed.)

Anyway, Deepa and I were changing a bed under one of our patients, a guy whose stroke had left him both paralyzed on one side and unable to speak easily. Deepa, struggling with the corner of the sheet and unwilling to lift the mattress to force the sheet on to it, exclaimed, "It is so small that we can't get it on!"

Our hemiparetic, expressively-aphasic patient said, clear as a bell:

"That's what *she* said."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Y'all, I am blessed in friends.

Tashi just emailed me. She's starting her own fundraising efforts for Mary.


Who, by all rights, should be allowed to recover and rest and be quiet for a year or more, is fundraising for Mary.

Which proves again what I already knew: I have the best friends ever, and Tashi is the most amazing one of the bunch.

Peeps, we got a job to do here.

Some of you know Mary Osheskie, or read her blog The Bright Optimist.

Mary was one of the first people to contact me privately after I got my cancer diagnosis. She was also the only other oral cancer patient who was a woman and about my age. Her story makes mine look like a walk in the proverbial park:

Mary's a lifelong nonsmoker and nondrinker, so when she was diagnosed with stage III squamous cell carcinoma of her tongue (at an age about forty years younger than is typical, no less) it was a huge shock. She had a partial glossectomy--in other words, the docs took out half her tongue and replaced it with muscle from her arm.

Then she had head-and-neck radiation. Y'all remember how scared I was of radiation. Everything that terrified me, from a tracheostomy to losing every tooth and a bunch of bone, happened to Mary. All of her teeth are gone, her jawbone is jacked beyond recognition in several places, and--as if all that weren't enough--she had a recurrance of the cancer recently and had to have *more* tongue cut out. Luckily, she's fine now, but she still ain't got no teeth.

Now, for your average toothless person, that isn't a problem. You go to the dentist or prosthodontist, you get some implants or some dentures, and you're back to eating apples in a couple of weeks.

Mary's got a different set of troubles. She's got to have posts put into her jaw to hold specially-made dentures in place, because her jawbone alone won't take the stress of the dentures. Plus, most of the bone that's left (after surgeries to remove the dead stuff) is really, really freaking fragile. And of course, after radiation, she's not capable of healing as well as somebody who hasn't been fried.

In short, she has to have an oral surgeon do both the preliminary post-setting and the molding of the dentures, as well as follow her afterwards to make sure there's not further tissue death or infection. It's a big fucking deal.

It's such a big fucking deal that the surgery alone was going to cost $45,000 (US) and not be covered by Medicaid. Mary's on Medicaid because, after having a feeding tube and a trach and a zillion rounds of radiation and hyperbaric dives, she was indigent and disabled.

BUT!! Mary got the news today that her state Medicaid board is going to cover her surgery. She's going to be able to get the posts put in and things ready for a set of dentures. They're even going to cover anesthetic--which, if you read her blog, was not the case for having ALL OF HER TEETH EXTRACTED HOLY SHIT.

So Mary's getting her bone spicules filed down and her posts put in. But she still needs dentures.

She's a thirty-something woman with no teeth right now, and I'd like to help her make that not be the case.

Let me remind you of what you've done in the past: You gave more than eight hundred dollars to the Oral Cancer Foundation, which is run out of the founder's living room, for research and awareness. You gave Tashi Pratt-King a thousand bucks when it looked like she and Kevin (Wash) would lose their home--you guys got her over the hump, and allowed her to keep taking care of Wash until his death this past September. You also bought two Therabites for people with oral cancer who couldn't have afforded them on their own--devices that allowed people to regain the ability to open their mouths more than a few millimeters. Those Therabites, by the way, are still being sanitized and passed around.

And you made me very, very proud and grateful in the process.

Mary needs twenty thousand dollars for dentures. Medicaid won't cover them. Let's do this thing.

Let's commence Operation: Choppers.

Give Forward Fundraiser

Indiegogo Fundraiser

There is also a PayPal link on Mary's blog, linked above.

Thank you, guys.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Happy Coming-Out Day!

I had this whole long post about little old men going septic in my head, but then I just lost the will to type it all out. Instead, let me leave you with a Wayback Machine comparison of what things were like when I was sixteen, versus now, twenty-five years later (as a starting point). . . .

*woo-woo sounds of a time machine ramping up*

Twenty-five years ago, WHAM! put out a video that implied that George Michael was straight. Come to think of it, they also released a single ("Work") that pretty much declared right out that he was straight. (George, George, how little we teenaged girls knew ye.)

This year, a tweener pop star with a devastating hook ("Call Me Maybe") produced a video in which it became apparent that the boy she liked was gay, and the joke was on her.

Twenty-five years ago, I was two years away from making about a dozen friends in Chicago, all of them gay men.

This year, I have one close gay male friend who survived the AIDS epidemic. One.

Twenty-five years ago, as a matter of fact, "AIDS" came into being as a name. The other candidates were LAV and HTLV-III. The name(s) replaced what it had been called, either GRID (gay-related immune disorder) or "gay cancer."

This year, the majority of HIV positive people will be straight women of color, although the rate of HIV infection is again increasing in young gay men, who now see the disease as a manageable chronic condition, rather than the nine-month diagnosis-to-death thing it was in 1986.

Twenty-five years ago, my oldest friend was raped by some guys in our high school. He was targeted because he was gay.

This year, there was a special flag team composed of GLTBQ high-school students in a gay-pride parade in Bigton.

Twenty-three years ago, I saw posters in the windows of restaurants and bars in Chicago that showed the photographs of men suspected of having AIDS. They were put up as a public service to other gay men, so they knew who to avoid. The practice started in San Francisco in the early 1980's, when there was no test for HIV, and people's first symptoms were either Kaposi's sarcoma or PCP pneumonia.

Last week I had to explain Kaposi's sarcoma to a much-younger nurse who'd never heard of it, and who'd never realized that the AIDS epidemic was a big thing.

Fifteen years ago, Ellen DeGeneres came out on television, on the Oprah Winfrey show. That led some obnoxious so-called Christian minister to refer to her as "Ellen Degenerate." (Her response? "I heard that one in the fourth grade.")

Six years ago, Neil Patrick Harris coming out prompted a collective yawn from the public and, as far as I can tell, failed to incense any obnoxious so-called Christians.

Twenty-five years ago, I knew no gay people who were married. This year my friends Joe and George will get married. Deena and Deb have been married for five years and have a second baby on the way, and Sid and Sam are celebrating their tenth anniversary.

Happy CODay to all my gay and genderqueer buddies. Even though all of you are so far out that the closet's now lost beyond the curve of the earth, you all had tough times. Here's to real equality, the valuation of all people on the strength of their character, and the freedom to love whomever you love. Let's work to make it happen in a fraction of the time it took us to get this far.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

I need laundry advice.

I can get anything except benzoin stains out of scrubs, but I need help on a non-stain-related issue.

Recently, I got four sets of Wink scrubs. They fit better than Urbane, though they're cut along the same lines: Wink seems to be made with women with hips in mind, while Urbane assumes you're young and athletic and built like The Mankiller, who looks like a boy with boobs.

Anyway, these scrubs. 65% polyester, 35% cotton, tons of pockets. Love 'em.

But even after two wash/dry cycles on Boil and Broil, they are stiff and rustly, and they still have the creases from packaging. How do I get those out?

Do not say "fabric softener." That shit is of the devil and gives me rashes.