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  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    This year I’m
    doing something
    different than my
    usual tradition of
    pithy punch list of
    lessons learned to
    wrap this series of
    entries up.
    I’m writing
    this last entry
    exactly two weeks
    after we got home
    from the burn, b ...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Monday morning I
    woke up early and
    decided that I
    wanted to do one
    more personal ritual
    before we had to
    break down and pack
    up our yurt and load
    the truck and leave.
    So I took my handpan
    and one of our
    little chairs and
    walked ou ...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Sunday is always a
    tough day at the
    burn because we have
    to strike
    tough physically of
    course but
    it’s also
    tough emotionally
    because it feels
    like the setting and
    the vibe we worked
    so hard to put toge ...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Saturday was my only
    day with nothing
    pre-planned and
    nothing I had
    committed to do. The
    burn was almost over
    and I was starting
    to feel nibbles of
    FOMO (Fear Of
    Missing Out) so I
    was determined to go
    see some more art
    (especially ...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Because I had
    actually gotten
    enough sleep, I woke
    up reasonably early
    on Friday morning.
    Josh was still
    asleep, but I wanted
    to take advantage of
    the relative
    coolness of the
    morning and go do
    something. So I
    decided to take my h ...


A blog in which Our Heroine records, reflects and wrestles with meaning. With lots of asides.
Tags >> wrestle

Waiting Sucks

Posted by: julia

Tagged in: wrestle , solipsistic , reflect , record , memory , life , lessons , identity work , cancer

This waiting bullshit sucks. I’m living 24/7 (yes, even in my dreams) in a weird, cognitively dissonant, limbo space of non-specific threat, and it is exhausting and I hate it. I realize I just have to accept that this is a time to “be” and not to “do”, but the “being” is uncomfortable (not that surgery is going to be any more comfortable).

Speaking of which, I still don’t have a first surgery date nailed down. I spoke yesterday with Grissel, the new practice coordinator for Dr. Ewing the breast surgeon, and she said she’s still waiting to get an official order for surgery in the system from the doctor. I have no idea why it is taking so long to get that order in (*grumble grumble bureaucracy grumble*). Meanwhile time is ticking away and I’m getting more and more anxious. I pushed Grissel to give me some possible dates, and she said how about 11/9, and I said “really, can’t it be any earlier?” and she said she’d try to find out about the possibility of 11/4, but that she’d have to email Dr. Ewing and Miriam (Dr. Foster’s assistant, who has to coordinate with her) and get back to me. I had to just say okay, let me know as soon as you know, even though I just wanted to scream and yell at her "don't you know how this FEELS?"

I so want to get this treatment journey started and this first surgery over with. I’ve spent almost 6 weeks living with this cancer diagnosis and 3 weeks constantly contemplating the difficult physical and emotional challenge of losing vital, identity-central pieces of my body. I’m a fighter and I’m ready to get in there and overcome this challenge with optimistic Supernova style and grace and with my super sharpened weapons of mental/emotional/physical preparation, but this fatiguing waiting is going to make me drop my weapons if it doesn’t end soon. Yet I’m afraid to put all my carefully prepped weaponry down and rest, because I could be called to the fight at any moment. Can’t fight, can’t rest, can’t do anything but distract myself and hope things start moving again soon...this sucks. I feel stalled out and stuck and unable to grow or heal from this trauma. I hate how everything else in my life has to be put on hold while this uncertainty resolves itself.

Reconstruction and Discombobulation

Posted by: julia

Tagged in: wrestle , solipsistic , reflect , record , metaphorical , memory , life , cancer

So on Wednesday I met with the plastic surgeon at UCSF, Dr. Foster (and his resident, a nice young woman whose name I’ve already totally spaced). My ultimate takeaway from the meeting was positive, though yes, there were more details that rocked me and which I am currently trying to absorb (more on that in a minute). I liked Dr. Foster, he seemed steady and warm and explained things really well and respectfully. I have accepted that my cancer care is pretty much going to all be through UCSF and I am generally happy about that, despite the commuting hassles that will invariably ensue. I do feel good about the high quality of the institution, and the qualifications of the team are nothing but stellar. My interactions with staff and all my experiences at UCSF have all been about as positive as they can be, considering.

Anyway, we agreed to and reiterated the “save the nipples” plan of 3 separate surgeries that Dr. Ewing had proposed to me before. They drew me pictures and explained the anatomical and procedural details of where and why and how they cut and sewed where they do and what I might expect in terms of scarring, and showed me photos of what other people have looked like afterwards. (The photos were actually more reassuring than I thought they might be.) We talked about recovery from each surgery and about the timeline as a whole, which turns out might be shorter than I originally thought (Dr. Foster seemed to think that it would only be about 3 months between the first two surgeries rather than 6 months, which makes the whole timeline shorter—and I’m glad about that.)

Now, let me back up and go more into the details, because writing them down helps me absorb and process. And I have to keep absorbing and processing, keep moving these things through to make room for the next batch which I’m sure will be coming soon. Gotta pace myself...

Next Stop On the Serendipity Train: UCSF

Posted by: julia

Tagged in: wrestle , solipsistic , reflect , record , memory , life , cancer

Today was another one of those bad news/good news days. Bad news: the request I made to Anthem Blue Cross to consider the plastic surgeon I was referred to here in Marin as "in-network" was denied. Why? Because even though they didn't originally show up on the Anthem website, there apparently are two plastic surgeons that *are* covered...but they're in San Francisco. Once I got over being scared and then pissed that Anthem feels it's perfectly okay to have zero in-network plastic surgeons in a county that has one of the highest breast cancer rates in the state if not the country, and filed both an appeal--which I was then told would take 30 (!) days to resolve--and a complaint about both those things, I took a deep breath and looked for the good news.

The good news is, once I looked up the two in-network San Franciscan plastic surgeons, I found they were both impressively qualified UCSF surgeons. In fact one of them, Dr. Foster, is both the chief of plastic surgery and breast reconstruction at UCSF and a respected and familiar colleague of my breast surgeon Dr. Ewing. (Yes, I checked with her.) So I called his office up and got an appointment for a consult with him tomorrow.

I'm trying to go with the mindset that things are happening like this not to frustrate and scare me (though it sure felt like that earlier today), but rather in order to get me to exactly the right person and place at the right time. The serendipity train has already brought me to the UCSF station, so I'm going to stay steady and hope adding this additional UCSF team member will work out just as well if not better than going with the Marin doctor. I'll find out more tomorrow, though. Cross your fingers for me that this is going to work out just as it should.

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