Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Two Nations Separated By A Common Language

My sister and niece came for supper yesterday evening. We can always count on my niece to lift our spirits by saying something funny, and as usual she did not fail us. She recalled a story over three decades old, about a visit my sister's best friend made to England.

It was back in the seventies, and at the time there was a very popular unisex hair style, worn by many of the popular rock stars of the day. It was a layered cut that was known here in the US, as a shag. Now as I'm sure most of you know, in England the word shag has a totally different meaning.

While there, my sister's friend decided she needed a haircut, so she went to a local salon. While seated in the stylist's chair, the stylist asked her what she wanted. Without thinking she replied, "I'd like a long shag, with bangs." You can imagine the laughter that ensued!

Melissa XX

Sunday, June 26, 2011


My road to fitness seems to be a hilly one. I spent three successful days on the recumbent cycle in the exercise room on the first floor. I was able to increase my time by five minutes each day, so I thought if I can do that, then surely I can walk across the parking lot to Krogers next door, and do some grocery shopping. My mother has been doing all the grocery shopping since I arrived here, and I felt a little guilty about it, so I asked her to make a list of what she wanted, and I would add that to my list and go over and get it.

They allow you to bring your shopping cart back to the apartment building, so you can take it up on the elevator to your floor. You then leave the cart in the laundry room, and one of the building's porters takes them back down the utility elevator and back to the store. So Thursday afternoon, I set out to get some groceries. My back was hurting, but I thought I could handle it. When I got outside, the temperature was in the low 90's and the sun was blazing, so I went to my truck first to retrieve my sunglasses, then I made my way across the burning hot asphalt to Krogers. By the time I got there, my legs felt like concrete, and I wondered if I could go on. It was an effort just to step up onto the curb at the store's entrance.

Once inside, I got a small cart and thought I would just lean on it a bit for support, while I attended to my shopping list. I manage to get just two boxes of pasta, a bottle of olive oil, and a can of salmon, before I realized that I just couldn't do it. I had to get my sleeping pill prescription refilled while I was there, so I hobbled over to the pharmacy section. The pharmacist said it would take about twenty minutes. Thank goodness they had a small lobby with some chairs, so I sat down and thumbed through a trashy tabloid, filled with stories of the infidelities of various stars, and their fashion faux pas. Not my usual reading material, I assure you, but it was all they had. As I sat there, I fet hot and faint. I noticed a cooler nearby filled with bottled water, so I got up and grabbed a 20 oz bottle of water and returned to my chair.

The way I was feeling, I knew I wouldn't be able to finish my shopping, let alone walk back across the hot parking lot pushing a cart, so I got on my cell phone and called my mother to come and rescue me in her air conditioned Mercury Grand Marque. I know...........I don't like to ride with her, but it was just a two minute drive back her building, so I figured what could possibly go wrong? I paid for my prescription, and the few other items I had, and waited in another chair at the door for her to pull her car up.

When she pulled up to the entrance of the store, I went out and got into her car. We hadn't even gotten out of the parking lot yet, when she nearly t-boned a car coming up the entrance road! She was trying to make a left turn, and didn't even bother to look right before pulling out into traffic. I saw the car coming, and yelled LOOK OUT! She slammed on the brakes, just narrowly missing the oncoming car! I gripped the leather seat as firmly as I could with my buttocks, and held my tongue as she cut corners, gunned the engine to take off, and slammed on brakes to slow down at every stop, until we finally made it back to her building. She let me off at the entrance where I breathed a sigh of relief, then she put the car in one of the empty diagonal parking spaces. While doing so, she stepped on the accelerator pedal too hard, and slammed into the car parked in front of her, putting a pie pan size dent in it's fender! I swear, the woman is going to either kill herself, or someone else before long. I would like to find a way to convince her to stop driving before she becomes a statistic, but she really thinks she is a good driver, and you can't argue with her, because she is as stubborn as a mule. Even when proven wrong, she remains convinced of her certitude.

Other than that bit of excitement, life has been pretty dull here in the condo. TV is such a wasteland of obnoxious commercials that I have decided to dip into my mother's stash of books. I was never a prolific book reader. When I was working, by the time I got home I was always too tired to read. A few pages and I would nod out. But now, with so much time on my hands and nothing to do, it's a different story. I'm currently reading The WInd In The Willows. I'm sure that some teacher read it to us long ago in early grade school, but if they did, it's a long forgotten memory. It's such a lovely story told from the animal's perspective, and I soon found myself longing to live in a tidy, cozy burrow, sharing good cheer by a crackling fire, with mice, moles, rats and badgers!

Melissa XX

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I Have To Admit It's Getting Better

I'm feeling good today. I went for a checkup yesterday. They drew blood, weighed me, checked my BP and temperature, gave me an EKG and then the Doctor looked me over. Everything checked out good. The Nurse Practitioner that is involved with their drug research program said she was amazed at how good I looked. The last time she saw me, I was in a wheel chair and white as a ghost. Since then, I had lost 30 lbs of fluid that I was retaining (yes, 30 lbs!), the color had returned to my face and I walked in on my own with no walker. I asked the Doctor if it was OK to get some exercise and he gave me the green light, so I'm going to start out on some of the exercise equipment down on the first floor. Once I get some stamina built up, he said it would be OK to go for walks outside early or late in the day, as long as I put on sun screen and wear a hat.

I also found out just how lucky I am to live here, when the Nurse Practitioner told me that the Virginia Cancer Institute is the only place on the east coast participating in the study of the experimental drug I am on. She said they have one patient who comes down from New York for treatment, and they had an inquiry from a patient as far west as Colorado. It's really a shame that Roche hasn't made this drug available to more cancer treatment centers around the country. The NP said that once the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) approves it, the pills will cost $3500.00 a week! Fortunately for me right now they are free, because until they get FDA approval, I'm still technically part of their research program.

Speaking of getting better, does anyone remember this one by the Fab Four?

Melissa XX

Friday, June 17, 2011

Too Much Time On My Hands

What day is it? Is it Thursday? Is it Friday? Is it Saturday? Who knows? One day is a just like the next. I get up, I take my meds, I eat breakfast, spend some time on the laptop, watch some boring TV, eat lunch, watch some more boring TV, get back on the lap top, eat supper, watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, then a couple of old movies, take my meds again, then go to bed. I'm going stir-crazy!

Melissa XX

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Contemplating Hirsuteness

I've always thought it should be called hairsuitness. The word comes from the Latin hirsutus, but having absolutely no understanding of Latin, I can't say for sure that that isn't the original meaning. After all, isn't it a natural suit of hair worn by it's victims? I say victims, because from my point of view, hairiness is a curse, but I'm sure there are many, mostly males I would think, who take pride in their woolliness.

Since I became ill, I've been living with my mother in Richmond, because it's closer to my doctors and because I really couldn't expect people to make an 80 mile round trip just to give me a ride to my appointments. Mom knows I'm trans, but at 90 years old, she just doesn't understand the depth of the condition, and thinks it's just some kind of occasional quirk that needs to be satisfied. She has never accepted that I have a female brain, and will always think of me as her son. Consequently, she has never met, let alone known the real me, and likely never will. She doesn't even know of the existence of this blog. So for the last month and a half I have been living completely in male mode. It doesn't bother me all that much, because my mind is concentrated on doing all that I can to survive the cancer that has invaded my body. I'm sure the anti-depressant medication I'm taking helps too.

The one thing that does bother me though, is the return of my body hair. It's been nearly two months since I last epliated, and and I'm becoming increasingly wooly. I thought of having my sister drive me out to my house to retrieve my epilator, but I know it would create a stir with my mother. For one thing, her bathroom is tiny, and when I say tiny, I mean I bumped my head on the door knob, while bending over to pull my pants back up after getting off the toilet! It also does not have an electrical outlet. Epilators are messy too, in that they propel yanked out hairs in every direction. Even if I did have a place to plug it in, I would have to take up the rugs, and thoroughly sweep or vacuum the floor each time I epilated, and I'm just not up for that kind of effort right now. Then too, I have my cancer medication to think about. Side effects of the medication, which ironically do not include loss of body hair, do include dry flakey skin, rashes, and even the possible occurrence of other forms of skin cancer. I'm not sure that epilation would be a very wise thing to do while undergoing treatment, given the possibility of ingrown hairs becoming infected.

So, as High Priestess of the Order of the Immaculate Epilation, you can imagine my shame. I have confessed to dear Sister Caroline, that I have become a disgrace to our order, and am now contemplating self flagellation as a penance for my sin. She is praying for my lost soul. I beg you to do the same.

Your hirsute sister,
Melissa XX

Friday, June 3, 2011

Terminal Boredom

Now that the excitement of x-rays, CAT scans, surgery and hospital stays are over, terminal boredom has set in. I am now at my mother's recovering and taking my meds, and each day seems like a carbon copy of the day before. If it weren't for occasional doctor's appointments, my sister's visits, and the one day a week that mom has a lady come in to help clean the apartment, I wouldn't know one day from the next. Even weekends seem the same, except for the fact that the TV schedule is slightly different.

And speaking of TV, how can there be so many channels and so little programing that's worth watching? Turner Classic Movies has been the one bright spot in my otherwise dull days. I love good old classic movies, and they show lots of them. I often wonder how anyone can even think of remaking some of them, or even making a modern day sequel. They usually pale in comparison to the original. A good example is National Velvet, with a pre-teen Elizabeth Taylor and a young Mickey Rooney. What a wonderful movie that was! Then in the late 70's, someone decided to make a modern day sequel, with Tatum O'Neil. TCM showed it right after the original. What a waste of film! It had none of the charm of the original. No wonder Elizabeth Taylor turned down the role as Tatum's mother.

After several horrendously scary trips to the doctor as a passenger in my 90 year old mother's car, I have arranged for for transportation with some more youthful drivers. My sister, brother-in-law and my sister's choir director have all volunteered their services, to which I am eternally grateful! I honestly don't know how mom has avoided an accident. She has no mechanical sense at all, and didn't even know how to operate the master door lock control on her armrest. To let me in, she was tuning off the ignition, pulling out the key and pressing the unlock button on the key! I had to show her the little toggle with the L/U symbol on it and show her how switching it to U unlocked all of the doors. By the way, she has had this car since 1996! Bless her heart though, she is doing all she can for me, and I truly do appreciate it. I just won't ever ride with her at the wheel again. She only has two modes of driving, mash on the gas, and when she's about to run into the back of someone, slam on the brakes! By the way, did I tell you she thinks she's an excellent driver?

Melissa XX