Wednesday, March 30, 2016

HB2

HB2 -  Those that know me well, know that I am incensed by this new law that was passed last week by the legislature & signed by the governor.  With that said, if you are a supporter of HB2, you might as well stop reading, hide posts from me or even unfriend me because I am so angry, I am not going to let this go.  Also, because I am so annoyed by McScary & his legislature cronies, at the onset I know this will probably be a very long RANT on my part.  So you are forewarned.
The “bathroom bill” as it is being referred to, on the very surface without giving it much thought, can seem to be harmless enough.  But if you read it, and think about it, you will see that it is such a discriminatory piece of bullsh*t.  It has been billed as legislation to protect “family values” with regard to bathrooms & locker rooms. However it also includes other broad discriminatory language and that assh*le in the governors mansion continues to describe it as “common sense legislation”.
Point 1: Protection for individual citizens of North Carolina -  Question: Does this take existing protections away?  Gov. McScary says it doesn’t but rather establishes a statewide anti-discrimination policy in NC which is tougher than the federal government’s.  However, that claim is problematic at best.  The law wipes away protections for people against being fired on the basis of “race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex or disability”.  In particular, the bill says NC law does not create, and shall not be construed to create or support a statutory or common law private right of action and no person may bring any civil action based upon this new public policy.  Therefore if an individual feels they have been wrongfully fired, they cannot sue, but have to head to FEDERAL COURT.   Also, in at least 3 cities in NC, there were previously held nondiscrimination ordinances that are affected.  The one in Charlotte that was the so called basis for HB2; also Greensboro has a nondiscrimination policy that covers many things including housing; and Raleigh has a policy that prohibits discrimination by city contractors on the basis of age, handicap, sex, race, color, creed, sexual orientation and national origin.  HB2 says that the policy of the state is to prohibit discrimination based on “Race, Religion, Color, National origin, Age, Biological sex or Handicap”.  Conspicuously absent from the list is sexual orientation.  (Sexual orientation was discussed during the legislative session drawing up the bill but was determined to not be necessary and therefore omitted)
Point 2: Will this affect the business environment in NC?  McScary says no.  He says that it doesn’t affect companies in NC and will not change any corporate policies.  The governor doesn’t seem to understand that employees do not live their lives at their place of employment and that outside of work, they too are subject to the laws of NC.  Since the bill was signed, more than 120 corporate execs along with Mayors of major municipalities around the country and Governors of several states have restricted government travel to NC.  The NCAA is looking at whether to continue to have sanctioned sporting events here; the NBA is looking at problems with having the NBA All Star game in Charlotte in 2017 (Atlanta has already asked to have it moved to Georgia); the High Point Furniture Market continues to have cancellations from those previously scheduled to attend. Television & movie studios have halted filming or moved upcoming filming in NC.  Multiple conferences have moved to other states meaning the loss of 100's of rooms and rentals. The point being, this will have an effect on how businesses view NC and the environment here.
Point 3: The bathroom part (only 1 part of a 5 part Bill).  The governor says that anyone who has had sex reassignment surgery can have their birth certificate changed so that they will legally be able to use the public restroom/shower facility of the sex they are.  1- not all states will allow the birth certificate to be changed even after the surgery.  2- not all transgender people have the surgery due to a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the cost of the surgery or possible complications/risks from the surgery.  What do they do?  Live as one sex, but use the opposite sex bathroom when in public?  Seriously a bad idea.  The right wing contingent says it is for safety so “our mothers, sisters and daughters don’t have to worry about a man dressing up as a woman just to gain access to public restrooms and showers to ogle at or assault them”.  In what universe are they living?  Transgender people are not out ogling and assaulting people in restrooms.  We don’t have a single case of this happening.  It’s actually more apt for a transgender person to be assaulted in the bathroom when they are forced to use the inappropriate facility.  Will the transgender male living as a woman run the risk of assault in the men’s room when forced to go in there?  You bet your ass they will.  Will ladies in the women’s room freak out when the transgender female living as a man is forced to go to the women’s restroom?  Of course they would and they would probably call the police and then another can of worms is opened when the police arrive.  The essence of the bill is that we have to use the gender specific bathroom that corresponds to the gender that is on our birth certificate.  How is this going to be monitored?  Will the jobs that we lose in NC due to corporations pulling out or not even considering NC in the first place be replaced by restroom monitors?  Do we need to carry business card size replicas of our birth certificates?  It’s all ridiculous!
Point 4: The lawsuits.  They have already started.  NC is going to have to come up with untold numbers of dollars to fight the myriad of lawsuits that are going to stem from this.  Besides losing jobs, the citizens of NC will also have to deal with the costs of fighting this discriminatory law in federal court.  
Other issues up for discussion stemming from HB2 are also disability rights, Title IX funding and the list continues to grow as more and more segments of the populace realize they are affected by this piece of crap legislation.
Bottom line: Don’t be passive in your opinions to this.  Your state representatives as well as national representatives need to know how unhappy we are.  The state of NC is a laughing stock in the eyes of the nation right now.  We are last in education but first in discrimination.  We in NC deserve better than this and we are a better people than what this law represents.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Hello 2016....it's me

Hello 2016!  Yep, borrowed a little something from Adele.  But I don't think she will mind.  The holidays were wonderful.  First time in so many years that there wasn't some kind of cloud.  Although the absence of Aimee was indeed evident, the presence of Wayne home for the first time in 20 years helped tremendously. That coupled with my personal good news was enough to put smiles on faces all around.

Post Thanksgiving at my sisters; a pre-Christmas trip to Williamsburg; the normal Christmas Eve trip to my sisters and then a relaxing New Years Eve and following weekend for us was just what the doctor ordered. I couldn't have scripted it better had I had the power to do so.

We laughed, we cried, we relaxed, we slept, we shopped (oh, how well did we shop), and then we laughed some more.  Laughter really is an excellent medicine.  Regardless of what else is going on, a few belly laughs and the smiles of those you love can help in ways that drugs can't!

Hello 2016.  Please be a good one.  I'm counting on it and so looking forward to everything positive that you can bring to our lives and all the new beginnings that are possible.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Holidays

There are so many things that I would like to openly write about on here and then there are so many things that I probably should have kept to myself and I wrote waaaayyyy to openly about in the past.

So in an effort to be transparent about the things I should write about and mum about the things I shouldn't, here goes.  There have been biopsies, CT scans, ultrasounds, a prostatic MRI, a complete body bone scan, multiple DRE's, and more blood tests than I can remember over the last few months. I have had PSA tests run with different labs, each with "unique" results.  I have been examined by I think 6 different doctors.  Bottom line, my numbers are good right now and I am foregoing active treatment for the time being.  I already have several follow up doctor appointments for more blood tests & DRE's in the coming months.  Should any test result show a shift, we are ready to pull the trigger on radiation.  I've been given all the information my meager little brain can absorb and at the point in time, when radiation is necessary, I will most likely go with the brachytherapy option instead of the EBRT.  I feel good about the decision and at the very least, during the holiday season (yes, I said HOLIDAY and I'm NOT waging a war on Christmas), I can just try to relax and enjoy without trips back and forth to the Duke Cancer Center.

Though some may think I'm being fool hardy and should just go ahead and have the surgery (yes, I've heard that from more than one person...some people seem more than ready to tell me I'm wrong), I'm just not ready at this point to alter my anatomy and accept the repercussions.  If it becomes absolutely warranted, then of course I would.  But right now, it is not warranted.

But here we are just before Thanksgiving and just around the corner is Christmas.  This year I am going to take a few days vacation just before Christmas like I did in days of old.  This year it will be a return trip to Williamsburg.  I'm sure I'll come back with plenty of pictures of doors.  (If anyone has ever been, the doors and more specifically the wreaths on the doors at Christmas traditionally have been quite beautiful)  But door photos are not the reason for the trip.  The reason, I need a BREAK!

Unless something really unexpected or maybe something wonderful happens, I will probably forego any posts until such time as there is real news.  So, if you don't see anything on here, don't worry, that is a good sign that things are going well....or I can post photos of doors??????

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and Advent season.  Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bone Scan

Bone scan results: CLEAN as a whistle!!!!  So only the prostate cancer to deal with. Next up, radiation oncologist.   Whew!!!!!!!!  Short post.  Left laptop at home by accident.   More tomorrow.
It's time to celebrate right now.

7:00a.m. Friday:  Ok...so now I have my laptop.  Anatomy of a Bone Scan.  Now that was an interesting experience.  Imagine this -  Adult swaddling : You lay on your back with a blanket, folded in half, wrapped around your upper torso binding and holding your arms against your sides.  Then rubber bands (yes, large rubber bands) are put around your legs and feet.  All of this is designed to hold you perfectly still.  Very mummy like.  Then the moving drawer that you are laying on slides into a tube and for the next 23 minutes you breath very slowly holding perfectly still, like you have any other choice, until the machine has scanned every bone in your body.  But lest I forget, 2 hours before the scan you are injected with a vial of something that comes in a metal box.  It all looked very top secret and radioactive.  After the injection, then I had to drink volumes of liquid to make myself urinate.  It all seemed rather counter productive to inject me with something and then attempt to flush it out.  Just kidding.  I know the purpose of the injection.  The dye was to go to the places where the possible cancer was hiding out!

All in all, while a long, long day, it went rather quickly with all the appointments on time and everyone as usual was pleasant and caring.  I saw familiar faces, had familiar conversations.

Next up, my appointment with my radiation oncologist, Dr. Koontz.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Times up...and then I wait for 2 more weeks.

It seems like the last few months I am doing nothing but hurrying up and waiting.  I saw Dr. Zhang again today at the Duke Cancer Center to get the results of the MRI to see where we stand on the prostate cancer.  Good news is that there is no evidence of any tumor(s) other than the area that we were already aware of.  We did the MRI because there was a discrepancy between the physical exam and the biopsy results.  Bottom line, the biopsy results were accurate.  No surprise there.   YAY.

On the flip side, the MRI did show a lesion on the L5 vertebrae...oh boy.  So, in 2 weeks I have a bone scan on my back followed by another visit with Dr. Zhang.  Unless something really weird happens, at that visit we will make plans as to where we go from here.  It's mostly dependent on what the bone scan shows.  If there is cancer there, that will change everything.  No cancer there, then my decision for now will most likely be what type of radiation (EBRT vs Brachytherapy) to proceed with for the prostate.

The journey continues but I'm not alone in it so that helps tremendously.  Thank you to everyone for your prayers and words of support.  They are invaluable.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

48 hours

So by noon tomorrow I should have had one of the most interesting 48 hours of my life.  It started on Tuesday morning when I had my MRI at the Duke Cancer Center.  An MRI by itself is not that "interesting".  I've had one before, in 2011 when I fractured my left foot in 2 places and tore a tendon.  However, an MRI for a man's prostate is not quite so simple.  Yes, the time frame of 45 minutes is about the same.  Yes, you get in the same type of MRI machine.  Yes, you listen to music while the machine buzzes and thumps and shakes.  And yes, you have to lie completely still during the various scans.  But there is one big difference.  If you are interested in details, just Google "prostate MRI coil" and read the description.  Imagine an inflatable portion filled with Barium as well.

So after that humiliating and extremely uncomfortable 45 minutes, I was done for that day.

Tomorrow I go back to the Duke Cancer Center for my followup appointment with Dr. Zhang.  After that I am very hopeful that I will know where I stand, for better or for worse.  Hopefully I will have treatment recommendations.  I am hopeful that the MRI did not show anymore cancer that we already knew was there, but that is a distinct possibility.  If it does, I know that another set up biopsies will be in order.  If that does have to happen, I pray it is no worse than the first procedure.  But I will have some type of pain medication for afterwards.  No more brave crap for me.  Give me drugs!!!!!

Regardless of what the news is, I will share.  Steve will be with me tomorrow for the appointment so I am not facing it alone and I am extremely grateful for that.  Say a little prayer.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September 2015

The month of September is coming to a close and what a month it turned out to be.  On the positive side, my outlook on life was re-energized due to someone special.  I got a new pair of glasses, look to the left.  <---  Also, all in all I have felt pretty good most of the month.  On the negative side, I've had the MRI that is next week hanging over my head the entire month.  As hard as I have tried, I haven't been able to completely block that from my mind.  The MRI is Tuesday of next week at the Duke Cancer Center and then the follow up appointment with my oncologist is Thursday.  So a week from now I should pretty much know what the whole plan is, or at the very least have all the information to make a final decision.  Nervous, a little.  Anxious, a lot.

September also brought one of the worst colds I've had in a long time.  I was completely without my voice for 2 days and very raspy (as the cold came and went) for another 10 days.  It's only been the last 3 days or so that I've sounded like myself.  I'll let you decide whether sounding like myself is a good thing or a bad thing.  The tinnitus has remained a problem.  Once I have a decision made with regard to the cancer, then I can move my focus to the ringing.  Getting old and being sick sucks!

A positive note on September has also been the fact that I have gotten back to the gym.  I tried my old schedule but it just doesn't seem to fit me as well so I've been "playing" with alternative ones.  The last couple of weeks it has been a combination of lunchtime workouts and evening workouts.  That has worked, but isn't ideal.  Therefore I'm going to try a morning schedule.  If I can get up 15 minutes earlier just 3 days a week, I can get to the Y, have a full hour workout, and still have time to shower, change and be at the office on time.  That way I actually get a lunch AND I can have FREE time of an evening after work.  The only thing I would really be giving up is sitting and watching TV for an hour before work.  I can live with that....or I think I can.  So, tomorrow I will start my "new"est routine and see how it works.  Then next week I should be able to put it into complete practice.  Monday: YMCA  Tuesday: MRI  Wednesday: YMCA  Thursday: Oncologist  Friday: YMCA.  The following week, no doctors and extra sleep!  This is all in an effort to get rid of the poundage I have put on this summer and to get the waistline back to 2014 size!

To all the well wishers, thank you.  I'm in a good place and doing well.