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Sara...

  • ...is a happy, ordinary, middle-aged, suburban woman who paints odd pictures, gardens in a straw hat, lives with the love of her life, is owned by one cat and the ghosts of several others, and walks a little funny 'cause she has a fake leg. She started this website because there's more to life than what we lose, and we need to let each other know what's possible, even if it's only a happy, ordinary life.

November 2011

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    sara at saraarts dot com

    Make sure the subject line of your correspondence is clear and specific. I do not open e-mails from strangers unless I can tell in advance that I want to read them.

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Comments

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Ursula Z

Congratulations...this is also the reason I'm pushing my husband to move back to MA after being away for 6 years.

I'm so glad that you are able to show and feel the love today!

TheQueen

I wished I lived in Massachusetts so I could have helped with your brain.

And, speaking of scars, this woman:
http://overflowingbrain.blogspot.com/
refuses to tattoo a zipper at the bottom of her scar. Step up!

PG

SO glad you got it treated, and so quickly and reasonably - Heaven knows we Brits moan about our (free) National Health Service, but, (no offence intended) I have never worked out why a civilised country like the US has not got a similar system. I find the alternative scary...

leslie

Glad you're ok - I'd been worrying when you didn't post for so long! I hope this wasn't a met from your previous adventures and that you recover well and stay healthy!

And I agree with you entirely about health insurance!

Krishanna

First, what a lovely, thought-provoking post! Second-Holy Sh*T! I have missed your posts and had secretly been tossing good, positive thoughts your way since I hadn't *seen* you! I am SO glad you got the treatment you needed and that you're doing better!

laurie

Sara, this is completely moving and the best defense of socialized medicine that I have ever read. I have tears in my eyes.

Sara

Thank you all for your kind sentiments.

UrsulaZ -- The terrible part of all this is that people who live in Massachusetts, have jobs both good and rotten, high paying and not, and spend 10-40% of their income on health insurance -- and I do think that range describes most residents, actually -- cannot expect nearly as painless an experience when they show up in the emergency room. For people who make some money but not a lot, we now have an array of plans provided by the Commonwealth but also by Commonwealth-approved private insurance companies (not your friends, not employed by you, not really in business to help you but rather to make profit), but they do not have as complete coverage as the abject-poverty/can't-pay-a-cent plan I'm on and require subscribers to cough up premiums anyway. Things are better than they were last year, before we had any of these plans and before every employer was required to kick a few hundred bucks a year minimum into the state pool to help pay for them OR provide its own insurance options for its own employees (many of which options are also inferior in coverage and service to what I just experienced), and we are doing far, far better than states who refuse to even think about this stuff, but there is still a long way to go. Still, yes, I feel the love, I really really do, look forward to reciprocating, and I also look forward to the day when everyone else has the same resources.

Your Majesty -- Thank you. My brain appreciates the sentiment. Hélas, I do not think I will be getting a tattoo; I have a kick-ass therapist just for my needlephobia. Besides, once the staples come out, this scar is going to pretty much disappear into my female pattern baldness, unlike Ms. Overflow's very gorgeous, graphic one.

I have to confess I'm kind of enjoying the staples. They do make a statement -- as in, Suicide Girls eat your hearts out! Survival Woman has it all over you stylistically. "She had a freshly stapled craniotomy incision tucked behind one ear like the stem of a flower training to a trellis..." -- and they do not hurt or itch. There's just a little gentle pressure, kind of massage-y, very soothing. This must be some kind of acupressure or acupuncture area. Or maybe it's just an "Aaaah, no golf ball! Delicious!" thing that I'm feeling and has nothing to do with the staples at all.

Of course, if it turns out this thing was something that is expected to grow back, I may just ask them to install a real zipper permanently.

PG -- Thank you. Yes, I agree that it is completely insane that we do not have what you, Canada, and so many other countries have. But we have war. Go figure.

Leslie -- Thank you. Yes, I haven't been able to read easily for quite some time. I thought I just needed new glasses; I did wait eight years to update my prescription, but then I got new glasses and still couldn't read. Kind of put a crimp in my blogging.

We still don't know what the heck the thing -- which I have nicknamed Athena -- was. We are going to find out late this afternoon. I am hoping there was no melanoma in there, too.

Krishanna -- No kidding! I am still very much stuck in the "What the f*ck just happened here?" part of my emotional recovery. This was all a very, very big surprise. "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!" has kind of been our theme quote for this experience. Because who in heck ever thinks they have a brain tumor? I thought I had a sinus infection and needed new glasses. Oh, and that I was middle-aged.

It is astonishing to me that I can have brain surgery one week and be blogging about it the next. I am not smarter, though, and I am still middle-aged. (And I'll take it; totally beats the alternative!)

Thank you for the positive vibes. I've actually had a ton of support on a personal level through this, which is a whole other set of love stories to come.

I am the luckiest woman alive.

Laurie -- Thank you. And thank you for being with me through this. Your support has meant so much. Another gift.

Now that I'm off the freakin' decadron, I find myself in tears a few times a day, too. This was not nothing. This was big.

So grateful. So appalled that everyone doesn't get this or understand why everyone should.

TheAmpuT

I always wanted to make jewelry out of my staples :-)

Dude, I am so glad you have your words back. I hope we get to see you in April!!

Sara

hee hee -- If they give them back to me and I am able to sterilize them, I might make myself some earrings. There's not enough for a ring, I don't think.

You should definitely expect to seem me in April. Barring further complication or other catastrophe, I'll be here, I'll be talking, and I'll even remember who you are. Very happy about that. Can't wait. :)

Jennic

Got here via "not just about cancer"

So happy you're up and about. YAY for you! I wish we lived in MA! I'm a cancer survivor (6+ yrs remission, easiest cancer ever - Hodgkin's) and NO ONE WILL SELL ME REASONABLE HEALTH INSURANCE. They want $500+ per month, *just to cover me*... I can't afford it. Our company is just me and hubby, so small that Group insurance is not even worth it. I'm stuck. COBRA will run out soon.. Sigh.

Do you think it's possible to have the other 49 states convert? Soon?

Kay Olson

So, so happy to read something more from you. So, so happy.

:D

leslee

My first thought, that is so-o punk!! Glad you're feeling better and reading and writing and geez even presenting a cogent argument, which is more than I seem to be able to do on a good day. (Were it not always like this, I'd be getting my own head examined.) So glad the system worked for you, as it should for everyone. So glad you're back online, and thanks for spreading the love. Back at ya.

Amorette

I knew I loved Massachusetts anyway because I heard they have laws barring insurance companies from discriminating against childhood cancer patients, but now I have one more reason to give them big huggles.

Very glad that you're doing so well (and flipping out words like "impecunious", no less).

Also, welcome to the fun-filled world of Decadron! It's a trip and a half, that's for sure.

Sara

Jennic -- Thank you for your comment. I do think it's possible, but the people are going to have to demand it, and we are going to have to work together as a nation very carefully, lovingly and intelligently to design a system that will work for everyone. Just like in Massachusetts, it's not going to be perfect the first year; the process of getting care to everyone is going to take quite some time. But there's no time like the present to get it started.

And there's no time to lose. Besides love and economics, this is a national security issue. Americans are actually dying and being crippled because of inadequate health care coverage. It's such a widespread problem that while I don't know for sure, I have this gnawing sense that we are suffering and inflicting upon each other more casualties from this than are being incurred via the wars.

Your story is not at all unusual, and that's a crying shame. It is totally unfair that working people struggling to pay insurance premiums should have fewer benefits than I do, but the answer is not, as many people seem to think until stuff like this happens to them or someone they care about, to reduce benefits for the poor. The answer is to demand benefits this good for everyone. Everyone deserves them.

The insurance industry, of course, has no motivation whatsoever to accede to any such demand. This is going to have to come from government -- which is also made of us (theoretically, anyway), and certain is still able to be driven by us, though not very quickly.

Mazeltov on the remission, and best wishes for the future.

Kay -- Thank you. It's thrilling for me to be able to read your words again, too. My life was less without them.

Leslee -- Thank you very much. And yes! Totally punk! My art school self from 1982-3 would so approve, even though my needle-phobia was never going to allow me to get any extra piercings any other way.

My siblings have even suggested that I design a line of jewelry just for craniotomy scars. Alas, but this is expected to heal seamlessly before I have the chance to experiment much. (sigh) Another business opportunity lost! ;)

Amorette -- Yes, longer than I've lived here we've had laws prohibiting denying people coverage on the basis of preexisting conditions. I think the main one says that you cannot be denied coverage of a condition for which you have received no treatment within the last two years. So if Jennic (Ceiling Cat forbid!), for example, in remission for six years lived here and suddenly came up with a recurrence, her insurance would have to pay for the treatment. She would probably still have to fight them over it, and she would probably still be paying $600 a month premiums. But at least she'd be "covered."

And yes, it is fantastic to have all my words back. You know how scared I was when I thought they might be leaving me forever! There were a couple of days where I was missing about 40% of them, and communication was challenging. Of course, being on decadron, I just kept talking and talking and talking anyway. Most of what I had to say, though, was "Aw, shoot, what's the word I'm looking for?"

Decadron saved my intellect, but it is poison and I am very happy to be off it and into an herbal cleanse prescribed by Kenyon (sp?) over at Debra's, my local mom 'n' pop vitamin and natural foods store. That sh*t messed with my liver, pancreas, hormones, and heart, didn't let me sleep more than four out of every 24 hours even after surgery when I most needed to, made me completely manic, and probably fed my other cancer that I still have. When a strange bruise appeared out of nowhere on one of my wrists, my true love, who was managing my medication since I couldn't, agreed that I should go off it.

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso

Can't imagine a better Love Thursday post. Welcome back :)

bleeding espresso

Oh also your email provider hates me. I keep getting messages that my message is "delayed" but there's no need to resend, they assure me. Yeah well, just know I'm thinking of you ;)

Amorette

Well-done on getting off the Decadron...my second and third birthday photos (both in the hospital) had me presiding in my wheelchair looking like Marlon Brando. That stuff puffs you up bigtime, not to mention all of the other damage you've already experienced.

That being said, I was on low-dose decadron for an adrenal problem and that wasn't bad at all.

Sara

Michelle -- Thank you, and I am so sorry about the e-mail server nonsense! I have no idea what is causing that, so I have no idea how to fix it. We did get one very lovely e-mail from you and the puppy girls to which I replied; I hope you got my reply. But bottom line, I know you've been here with me through this, and thank you. :)

Amorette -- Oh, yeah, the bloating. And the amazing, teenage-wrestler-quality zits, so many and so big they actually changed the shape of my nose for awhile. And the eating. I would be up for 20 hours straight talking and eating. I ate 12 pounds of apples all by myself in less than a week, and that was far from my only food. And I was down to only 2mg doses twice a day and still had all those symptoms by the time that bruise showed up.

I remember a picture on your blog of you as a little girl in the hospital on steroids. Not a happy camper at all. Poor little thing.

Terri Osborne

I am so glad to see you back up and around, sweetie. So many people around here are glad to see you back up and kicking this thing's ass.

Much much love from more people than you can imagine. *hugs*

Ron Sullivan

Ogods. I've been working up to a letter or a reply on the complications of my own reaction to this post and then I saw the link to Toad and now I'm crying like a fool.

Good crying.

You know it. You get it. There's you, and there's Twisty, and there's Jeannie. And, you know.

And I am uncomplicatedly wholly enthusiastically glad that you got what you needed and that you're in such good shape and yeah: feel the love, kid. From me too, even though I don't pay taxes in Massachusetts.

In some really weird sense, we're in this together.

Thank you.

Sara

Jennic and Amorette -- I edited my initial comments back to you. I'm not trying to gaslight anyone; I'm just a completeness freak and thought of some additional stuff that needed to be included for clarity. One of the edits was linking to Ron's story about what happened to her sister Jeanne.

Terri -- Thank you, dear. It has really been a very strange ride, but there have been lots of gifts, and one of them is the amount of support I've been receiving. Besides the Commonwealth at large, I really do feel an enormous amount of love coming to me from a lot of sources, and am just so grateful.

Ron -- You know, I added that link because it occurred to me that people would read "Americans are actually dying," etc., and just gloss over it as so much inflammatory rhetoric. But as you know, it's not.

We are not arguments. We are not numbers. We are people, people other people hold dear, people who comprise this country, people who make it what it is and make it worth living in, one at a time and together. If we aren't going to take care of each other, what is the point of all the rest of it?

Even my brother, the staunch Republican former Air Force guy who lives in Nebraska and supports the death penalty, has changed his mind about socialized medicine now that it has saved his sister's life. He told me on his Air Force retiree benefits plan he pays less than $200 a year for health care insurance that fully covers himself and his wife. I seem to be the first person to explain to him that this is not how most Americans have it. He was shocked, but to his credit listened even though I was screaming.

I should probably have linked to the part about the money, too. People need to hear this story. As someone who was a registered organ donor until people who'd received organs from melanoma patients started dying of brand new melanomas, I can tell you that this is not a scenario one envisions while filling out the form.

It has not escaped my notice that what happened to me this month hit around the one year anniversary of what happened to Jeanne. It's been a whole year, and nothing seems to have changed -- except in Massachusetts, and even then not for everyone.

Big hugs to you, my friend. You and your family were very, very brave last year, really there for your sister. You did everything possible in the face of all that bureaucratic and financial insanity. I'm just still so sorry (and angry) that the rest of us weren't there for her, too.

Cilla

I found your post thru The Gimp Parade; and so glad I did. What a wonderful post.

You're scar looks beautiful to me! Glad you're still around so I can get to know you, now that I know you're around! :)
Cilla
AKA Big Noise

Sara

Thank you, Cilla! I'm glad you can see the fantastic beauty of my gift, too.

I know I said so already, but really I am simply the luckiest woman alive.

Deaf Mom

I'm with you on the thoughts that we all need to solve this health stuff together.

Wishing you a speedy recovery!

Lene

So happy you're OK! And so quickly able to write one of the best arguments I've heard in a long time for taxes and universal healthcare.

Four years ago, the tax payers of Ontario gave me back my life. They still do. And I'm grateful, every day. I'm glad you're "in the club", too.

Sara

Thank you, ladies.

And thank you, Ontario, for saving Lene. How sad a place the world would have become if prematurely deprived of her lovely presence!

Casey

Dropping in late to say wow. I'm so glad you're recuperating well and so relieved that you were able to get the help you needed.

I'm all verklempt over this. One of my brothers had a nice, big brain tumor as a teenager so it brings up all kinds of emotions for me, and I remember how, even twenty years ago, the surgery was insanely expensive.

It feels odd to say you're lucky, but you really are. I wish everyone who needed health care had the kind of treatment you got.

Sara

Oh, Casey, it's not odd at all. I have been extremely lucky, on many, many counts, having it all paid for by the state only being one of them. (Really big one, though. As in, the best birthday present ever. And as my friend D., a hardworking Massachusetts taxpayer, said, "And you're not getting anything else [for your birthday], so don't ask!" But then she bought me a chocolate bunny.)

You yourself have been very eloquent on why we need universal health care coverage in this country. Everyone should go read what you've said here (and anywhere else you'd care to guide us).

But seriously, it completely freaks me out that every other American cannot necessarily expect care this good, even or especially people with private insurance that they and their employers pay for together. I've known people here in Massachusetts who as recently as last year were working three and four crappy little jobs apiece just so their children could be covered under the health insurance provided by one of them, and they didn't have coverage this good. (I do not know if they have better options now.) I had to be jobless and impoverished before I myself even got care this good, and it was just the luck of what year my tumor was discovered. If this had happened last year, before the new law and systems were in place, goodness knows what story I'd be telling you.

I feel nothing but gratitude for what I got. However, it is very wrong that everyone doesn't have this, and we need to change that, with no time to lose.

A Very Pleased Net Acquaintance

I say, what a good story and what a bad society that doesn't yet have a universal health scheme of any kind. One that has a set o' rules and an audit process, at least.
Yet.

Your blood's worth bottling, equally with everyone else's.
As Ron says - perhaps not with as wide a meaning as I do - we're all in this together.
You can thank Ron for sending me across, else I'd have finished this flying visit thinking that nothing had changed.
Which it really hasn't, as far as I can work out.
Which is good.

I used to read and comment as darkymac over here in some of your yank left-liberal blogs until I found out that some people take the wide wacky web a tad too seriously.

I regret that I don't anticipate logging on again for the forseeable future - so I leave now all my best wishes to you and Auntie Ron, if she sees this.

You are welcome not to publish this; it's more a personal greeting, isn't it. Good luck lass.

Sara

Hey, DarkyMac, of course I remember you from Twisty's place. I also remember wishing you had a blog of your own, but instead you have a life. ;) I can respect that.

I hope you don't mind that I went ahead and published your comments. It's just so damn nice to "see" you.

Cheers!

erin

I was sent here at the hand of someone else's happiness due to your healing journey. Although a stranger, I sure am glad it all worked out for you! In Canada it's not ALL peaches n cream, but atleast they're there to help us when we need it. Beautifully written. Beautiful head! It's a wound of victory!

Sara

Hey, thanks, Erin!

Claire

Sarah - just thought I'd check in on you - hang in there and consider this: ( ) a huge hug from me. Unfortunately, I don't know how to make it bigger! Claire

Christopher Bell

Here we go again, Sara - it seems incredible that the momentum that was building for change appears to have stalled.

Particle-Man

I live in Massachusetts. I know that the law to forcing all in Massachusetts to get health Insurance has worked out well for many people. I am happy for those folks. For me, I don't like being forced to pay for health insurance.

Last year I didn't have health insurance and it saved me over $5000. For me this is a lot of money. I almost never go to doctors. In the last 10 years I'm gone to doctor maybe twice. What I'm paying for and what I'm getting back don't jive in my mind.

Since Mass and good old Mitt Romney, Passed the mandatory health insurance law, I now pay over $100 every week out of my paycheck. I had to get a second job to help me pay for this.

I know it's nice to have health insurance and when I didn't have it I was sort of gambling. I do have a little more peace of mind now that I know that if some medical disaster comes my way I'm not slapped with a bill that would cost more than my house. (I think it's totally insane and morally wrong that any medical bill could be so high)

Now I feel I'm being extorted and force to buy something I don't believe in. Massachusetts = Tax.

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