Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bahston, continued.....

By that evening, Jenn’s parents have changed their tactics. Oh sure, the attempts to kill me via excellently disguised wonderful hospitality continue, but they’ve added to their repertoire as well. Now, we all recall that my finely honed athletic self has the metabolism of a gazelle, what with my RMR of 1,206 and all. Yep, it’s okay to be jealous. Who else among us can eat a whole 6 small cartons of yogurt a day without gaining weight? Well, though, that was from last summer, i.e. before radiation treatment and the effects of FatSurlyBlind*, so I believe I’m down to an allotment of 600 calories or so a day – which sounds about right.

Anyway, my point being that Jenn’s parents clearly sense this chink in my armor, so to speak, and so they’re attempting to test my internal fortitude by keeping the house temperature at a rather chilly 65 degrees. I refuse to crack, however, and simply keep putting on more clothing: a base layer, a sweatshirt, extra socks, a hoodie, etc. With the hoodie, I feel compelled to actually put the hood up, so I wind up looking like the Staypuff Marshmallow version of the Unabomber. Which is always a good look around the holidays.

Now, it’s rather telling that everyone else feels fine at this temperature, yet I’m still cold even when they crank up the temp to 68. No, wait, myself and Grandmother Mimi are the only ones who are cold. Mimi who is 94. The way I look at it, this is just something else for me to blame on FatSurlyBlind – because really, what other explanation can there be for the fact that apparently I have the robust constitution of a 94-year-old woman??

Sleep deprivation is also a tactic being used, as we stay up until 2AM playing dominoes. Then the next morning, again with the food: waffles with real maple syrup, bacon, etc. As before, I play along and defiantly yet cheerfully eat a stack of waffles and copious amounts of bacon, just to throw them off. I know, the lengths I’ll go to in order to maintain my mien of goddessness are truly astonishing.

One thing I am truly grateful for is the fact that unlike at home, no one here tries to usurp my claim on the Sad Cancer Face. Okay, they don’t really buy it either – when I make the SCF or use my favorite “But I have cancer, you know” line in an attempt to get better playing cards, for example, Jenn just laughs at me and I get nowhere. But that’s better than the typical holiday at my mom’s, where my jokes about The Cancer go over like a lead balloon, my idiot brother George blathers on and on about himself and all HIS difficulties and trials and tribulations, and our family friends Ann and Bob just give me the SCF. Not the one that I’ve honed to perfection as a ploy to get schwag or favors, of course, but rather the pitying one that says “Oh, you have cancer, we better not bring it up because that’ll just remind us all that you’re dying, because that’s what cancer is all about.” Yeah, THAT look.

So at least here in Boston, I get to have my Sad Cancer Face all to myself. And if that isn’t something to be thankful for, well, I don’t know what is.

*Yes, right eye is still blurry, though today, left eye joined the party as well. Whee, just call me Mr. Magoo!

Scenes from Bah-ston II

Wednesday night we continue with the raucous festivities that I for one am known for: a movie (The Blind Side = excellent), pizza for dinner (=good reason to move here, as if the post office women weren’t enough), and a highly competitive card game. Whew, total madness! Don’t try this at home, kids, please.

The next morning, we pick up Jenn’s Aunt Kate and head over wood and dale to Jenn’s parents’ house. Once there, almost as soon as I walk in the door, it begins: “Tasha, would you like some chocolate? Some nuts? Here, have some cookies. How about trying this whipped cream sauce? Why don’t you sit down and relax?” Now, most people would be unaware of what’s really going on here, but I recognize the pattern right away. Yes, it’s clear that these folks are trying to kill me. It’s exactly like what I see with my brother Andrew in California when I go out there to visit him – as soon as he knows I’m coming, he starts laboring over these complicated menus replete with rich desserts and coffees and béarnaise sauces and duck fat, etc., all while devising running routes for me that invariably get me hopelessly lost, through no fault of my own, of course. Clearly he has a vision of my fat-clogged arteries giving out on me as I’m off on some mountain trail communing with the turkey vultures, but so far I’ve refused to succumb. As will be the case here in Boston, despite attempts to the contrary. It’s sad, really, when people don’t know how to deal with the obvious prowess and perfection of a triathlon goddess such as myself, and so just try to bring me down. Sigh – but at least I’m used to it by now.

Here, I dodge these attempts on my life for the next several hours – throwing them off by accepting their offers of chocolate, cookies, nuts, etc. – until it’s time to sit down for Thanksgiving dinner. Then the fun truly begins.

Carolyn, Jenn’s mom: Let’s all go around the table and say what we’re grateful for! Jenn, you start.
J: Friends and family. Tasha?
Me, feeling like a deer caught in headlights: Umm. Umm…….well, for some reason, the only things coming to mind are really sarcastic.
Susan, Jenn’s sister: Oh, that’s fine, we like sarcasm….
Me, debating: Umm…..
Everyone else: Go ahead! Sarcastic is great!
Me: Okay then. I’m grateful that it was only Stage II cancer?

(a brief moment of silence)

Me, rushing to add something:…..and I’m grateful for my awesome dog Kona? He’s the best dog ever….
Everyone, rallying: Perfect! Next!

We then pass the food around – enough to feed an army – and I randomly barge into the chaotic conversation going around the table, just to share the nuggets of wisdom I’ve accumulated over the years. I know from experience how much people appreciate this.

Me, modestly: … all my friends consider me the wise one in their midst, and….
Jenn’s twerpy 13-year-old nephew, interrupting: You have friends??
Me, coldly: Yes, and if you don’t watch out, I’ll write about your churlish nature on my blog. I have tens of readers, you know….
Twerp, snickering: Oh wow, me too, I have 3,000 “friends” on MySpace, we’re all really really close!
Me, voice dripping with sarcasm: I’m sure you fit right in with all the other juvenile delinquents on MySpace then….

The Family gives me the point in THAT conversation. Ah, it’s nice to be treated like one of the family……

Friday, November 27, 2009

Scenes from Boston

I need to go to the post office to send something as registered mail to my former tenants - who put a huge hole in the hardwood floor, did a sloppy job painting everything in garish colors, ruined a custom-sized window screen, left the place a mess, etc. – yet who want to know why they’re not getting their whole security deposit back. Hmm, I wonder. That’s what happens when you rent to irresponsible 23-year-olds who work for the Springer show; they have a warped sense of entitlement and complete lack of responsibility. Anyway, as we head out on Wednesday, my friend Jenn pulls up to the curb by the post office so that I can go in and she’ll wait for me. I find this puzzling.

Me: So you'll just circle around the block endlessly until I come out looking all frazzled and flag you down, right?
Jenn: Umm, no, I thought I’d just wait here.
Me: But won’t the rabid metermaids or cops come by to give you a ticket?
Jenn: Uhh, no, it’s not like we’ll be here that long.
Me: What do you mean? My trips to the post office generally take at least an hour, and that’s if……oh, never mind. I’ll just go on in. You have something to read, right? Becau….okay, never mind.

As Jenn is giving me increasingly strange looks for some reason, I decide I might as well head on in, get this over with. But lo, what’s this? Instead of the customary line of 20-30 people and one sullen postal worker ever-so-slowly stamping things in between sips of tea, we have 2 jovial women and…no line. At all.

Woman 1: Hi! What can we do for you?
Me: Excuse me a moment.

I go back to the door and step out, to see if it says “Bedford Falls” on the front. Nope. Hmm, odd.

Me: Okay, I need to send this registered mail somehow.
Woman 1: Here ya go, fill out this form, here’s a pen. Ya know, doncha hate stupid people? We were just talking about how we hate stupid people. And most people are idiots.

I’m in love. Woman 2 apparently has laryngitis and can’t really speak, but she manages to croak out a weak “Yep, hate stupid people.”

I’m formulating plans in my head to move to Lowell, MA, just so that I can hang out at this post office with these two really cool women, when 2 more people come in.

Woman 1: Hey, look who’s here! Good to see you guys – happy Thanksgiving!

The joviality has just been turned up a notch, as a lawyer and his dad come in and start exchanging holiday greetings with the women. As we’re chit-chatting, looking at pictures, having some flaming rum punch, etc., I suddenly remember that I’ve left Jenn sitting in the car. Oops. She’s probably out there arguing with a tow-truck driver by now.

After waving goodbye to my new BFFs at the post office, I head out and….what’s this? Jenn is still sitting there in the same spot. Hmm. I guess it truly IS a season of miracles…..

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Smooth sailing

So I lost my driver’s license about a month and a half ago, when I got a speeding ticket coming home from a Hawks’ game and was going the shocking speed of about 45mph on Western. I know, the horror. Good thing I don’t drink that much, because every time I’ve had to buy alcohol since then, I’ve had to pull out this scrap of paper that I was given as a driver’s license substitute and proffer it rather sheepishly. I of course sent in my money right away, but alas, the wheels of Chicago justice turn slowly. Very slowly, apparently. Because I’m still without my license, and I needed to catch a plane to Boston early this morning. Oops.

I didn’t worry about it, however, as I knew I had my passport to fall back on. Whew! It was only this morning at 5AM that I suddenly remembered….my passport expired in September. Shit! First I started thinking about what other forms of ID I could use, because according to the Googles, I could use any form of government-issued ID. Hmm. Tax bill? Voter registration card? Not that I knew where those were anyway. I did learn though that apparently one does NOT need an ID to check in. It’s true. If you don’t have an ID, you’re marked for “special” handling with a code on your boarding pass and are searched more thoroughly. Yes, as always, useful information from Miss Tasha.

The cab arrives, and I get to the airport and go to wait in line. Now, to recap: I have a titanium collarbone, I’m wearing the Fuck Cancer hat, I spent a decent amount of time in the wee hours googling “how to sneak onto a plane without ID,” I have an expired passport, a crumpled piece of paper instead of a driver’s license, and oh yeah, I’m wearing sunglasses because the bright lights are bothering Blurry Eye. What could possibly go wrong?

And, the verdict? Well, the United ticket counter woman doesn’t even notice the expiration issue until I point it out to her: “But wait, lookie here, it’s expired! How will they let me board with an expired ID? Did I mention that it’s EXPIRED?”

UTCW couldn’t have cared less, and told me to let the TSA person handle it. Okay then. I’m waiting in line, eyeing the TSA woman, trying to assess my chances of getting by her using my winsome charm and eloquence. My chances look slim to none, quite frankly. But I get to her, hand over my passport, she looks at it….and hands it back, wishing me a happy Thanksgiving. What ho? I feel a little cheated, and debate pointing out the expired passport thing to her as well, but realize how asinine that would be – so I just walk off, holding up my hands in the “V” for victory sign - but completely nonchalant otherwise.

To celebrate, as I transfer planes in Philadelphia, I decide to take advantage of the well-known maxim that food eaten in transit is calorie-free. I mean, your weight in one location certainly can’t be held hostage to foodstuffs eaten in an entirely different location, now can it? That just wouldn’t make any sense at all. Those cheesesteaks were certainly yummy, all the more so for being eaten with a clear conscience.

To cap things off, there’s almost an altercation at my next gate. Translated, I almost had to beat the crap out of yet another asshat populating this earth. You see, as usual people were hovering near the gate so that they could get on early and stuff all their worldly possessions into the overhead bins. Me, I only had my purse, since I had checked a bag, so I didn’t really care. But when they were about to call my gate, I got up to stand near the line, and because of where I had been sitting, I wound up closer to the gate than a guy who had planted himself there early on. So they call our group, and I’m about to graciously tell this guy to go ahead, since I’m in no particular hurry, when he barrels past me, elbows akimbo, practically shoving me into the gate barriers. Well. I never! I fully intend to exact retribution, but am distracted by a shiny glint of light, and when I return my attention to the boarding process, the asshat is no longer in sight. Wily bastard. But is this really what we’re coming to? Ready to knock people down to get some overhead bin space on a plane? Seriously??

Luckily the huge-ass margarita I had tonight made all of that just a fuzzy, distant memory. Or maybe that’s the head injury talking. Or Blurry Eye. Whatever. All I know is that I am SO going to start drinking more…..

Monday, November 23, 2009

No no NO, people.....

Okay, so I know how my fans try to emulate me in all things, striving to Be Like Tasha, to achieve my very own pinnacle of success, or what passes for success around here. For example, today there was no bathroom ceiling collapsing on my head, no brain injuries, no car crashes, no bills from collection agencies. So basically an up.

And yet, sometimes there IS such a thing as taking things too literally. I point to this comic, and my penchant for going around beating the deserving with a frozen ham.

Note I said DESERVING. Paula Deen, she of gooey butter cake fame, is not deserving. Yet today I received shocking news of what is being referred to as "the ham incident." Now, if this type of thing were happening to, say, Joe Lieberman, I’d be all for it. If he doesn’t need a frozen ham to the head, who does? Or as per the Ukrainian saying that my dad would often use, particularly when referring to Barbra Streisand for some reason: “there’s a face asking for a brick.”

But Paula Deen? No. That’s just asking for trouble there, folks.

Also, it’s been a while since I’ve tackled a question from a faithful reader – though one astute fan did point out that I now seem to be up to elevens of readers. Huzzah! Billionare-dom awaits! But first, a question:

Is there an "army of women" doing research on "blurry eye"? Is there some food item we could start buying "for the cure" for this affliction? What color ribbon should we be wearing next to our pink ribbons? Please advise.

Now you see, THESE are the kinds of hard-hitting questions our government Task Forces made up of no oncologists yet including several people from the health insurance industry should be focusing on, instead of all that mammogram/breast cancer stuff. Yawn. BC is SO yesterday, no? I do think blurry eye is the next big thing, the new black, and yet right now, it could be considered the bastard stepchild of the medical establishment. Sad, really. But, far be it from me to shirk from my duties, as I will step in to fill the void. Please be on the lookout for announcements for my first big fundraiser, coming soon, just as soon as we can procure enough walking canes: “Blurry Eye for the Cure 5K: because everyone deserves to see non-blurrily.” Damn, I’m good. Read it and weep, Komen.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Life's little puzzles

Now, as we all know, I tend to shy away from ever getting involved in anything political, or pretty much anything controversial entirely. Who needs that kind of stress? Not me, no sirree.

But sometimes, something comes along that, well, is just a little bit too hard to ignore. I’m talking, of course, about the flyer I received in the mail the other day for one Dan Farley, politician, running for State Representative of my district, apparently. The flyer has the usual mumbo-jumbo about all the committees he’s on and what he does for the community, and includes the requisite family picture.
Which I snickered at, a bit, since the dog is clearly staring at a biscuit being held just out of the frame. And then there’s the cute blonde child, and the typical wife....wait. The typical wife is wearing black, knee-high pleather dominatrix-style boots?? Umm, what? Shades of Jack Ryan and he and his wife’s sex club escapades perhaps?

Then on the other side of the flyer we have a picture of Dan with Forrest Claypool, a well-liked and respected Cook County Commissioner. But here Forrest is wearing a shiny, puffy blue shirt, looking for all the world like Brian Boitano. And below there’s one final picture of Dan talking to local police officers....who seem to be attired in full combat gear, flak jackets and all. Is there something going on in my neighborhood that I don’t know about, but should? Just wondering.

In other news, I regret having to report that ObamaCare is already taking its toll. Yes, it’s true. I tried calling the ophthalmologists I was referred to last week to see if I can figure out what’s going on with this blurry eye thing, and alas, just as the Canadians have to wait 6+ months for any type of health care, so too was I told that there were no appointments available before Tuesday, which is when I go out of town. That I’d have to wait until the end of December. That my brain tumor would grow unabated while I languish untreated in the world of government-run healthcare. Oh wait, that hasn’t started yet, has it? Never mind then.

So as my brain tumor and I settle in for the long haul, I did discover this gem of information, namely that FatSurly (Tamoxifen) can also cause......yes.......eye damage! Yep, all sorts of bad stuff, like retinal toxicity and macular degeneration and so on. This means that henceforth, FatSurly will be known as FatSurlyBlind. Talk about a catch, me and my bad self. When will the adulation ever end?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's always something

I tried. I really did try. God forbid I should be one of those paranoid, hypochondriac people running off to the doctor for every little thing – you know, taxing our health care system and all. I mean, my immediate reaction to things might be “oh no, I have the dreaded forehead cancer!” But I certainly don’t go to the doctor for that – sometimes these things just clear up on their own.

But this. The blurry eye. I figured it would work itself out somehow, but given that it’s been 2 weeks and seems to be getting worse, I figured I should get it checked out, so as to not be one of those dumbasses who then gets told “But why didn’t you go sooner?? Why’d you wait so long?” Umm, dunno, tired of being Calamity Tasha? Maybe?

So I have my appointment this afternoon, and I figure I’ll go in there, the doctor will roll his eyes and proclaim my eye beschmutzified or something like that, and he’ll give me eye drops as a placebo to shut me up. No harm, no foul.

Dr. B.: This just happened one day? No trauma to the eye? No change in diet or any other changes?
Me: Nope, nothing. It just started one day out of the blue.
Dr. B: Okay, just look straight ahead. Hmm. Hmm. Okay, now read this eye chart.
Me: 3, 5, 6, 4, 2, 3.......4, 7, something, a blur, 5?
Dr. B.: That’s fine.

(I’m waiting patiently to hear about the dreaded schmutz-in-the-eye, or perhaps an infection)

Dr. B.: Okay, I’m going to send you to see a specialist.
Me: What? You mean you didn’t see what was wrong?
Dr. B.: No, I didn’t. But it could be anything. A nerve, some kind of degeneration...
Me: A brain tumor?
Dr. B.: Well.......probably not...
Me: Because I get a lot of headaches too, and I seem to be rather stumbly.
Dr. B.: Probably not...brain tumors usually cause much worse vision problems.
Me: Oh. I guess that’s comforting then. Kind of.

Now, before anyone gets all up in my kitchen (this is my new “go to” phrase) about being melodramatic and shit, let me just say that I do NOT truly believe that I have a brain tumor. I mean really. At that point even I’d think I’m making all this up, that I don't actually exist as Miss Tasha but rather that I’m really some schlumpy 58-year-old guy living in his parents’ basement, pecking away at a computer all day.

No, this is just another What The Fuck moment brought to you by Miss Tasha, aka Job. You know, a small part of me almost has to feel sorry for BCBS. Here they’re thinking I’m a sure money-making bet for them, and instead, I turn out to be like that woman in France who lived to be 110, after some guy had bought the rights to her apartment after she croaked. You see, they have this practice there called “viager”, whereby you can buy an elderly person’s abode based on the age of the seller, but they get to live there the rest of their lives and you pay them a monthly sum. But if the elderly person happens to defy the odds, well, you lose. I am that elderly woman. Sucks to be you, BCBS.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Suck it, Dr. Love

I was trying my damndest to keep the ranting to a minimum, really. To write about things like boobs, and my recent trip to the alternate universe that is Moline, and all of the training I’ve been doing lately (in the form of visualization, of course). But this is too much to bear. Because yesterday the U.S. Task Force on Medical Asshattery came up with their new recommendations regarding women and mammograms, stating that there’s no point in doing them until you hit 50, and then only every 2 years. Apparently if you do routine screening starting at 40, that causes all sorts of anxiety for us poor dears, and stress that often turns out to be needless. Why, that’s time that could be better spent baking! Or cleaning the house until the man of the house gets home! Why worry your silly little heads about the fact that you could have cancer growing inside of you?

Especially since – according to the experts – they don’t know much about breast cancer tumors and how they grow, but most are slow-growing (except in young women) and they might go away by themselves (except in young women) and require minimal treatment if any (except in young women). Oh, and you young women? Well, those of you whose lives are saved by early detection, it’s really not worth the hassle that all these other poor womenfolk have to go through. Again, the worry! The inconvenience! Sure, maybe not as inconvenient as the ravages of Stage 4 cancer, which is what happens when it’s not caught in time, but still pretty gosh darn bad.

Let me repeat this point that they made: our lives are not worth saving. Period.

And the fact that this Task Force also recommends against breast self exams is where we start edging into conspiracy land theories. Because then they’re basically saying well, we won’t screen for breast cancer, and those pesky exams that might find a lump, they’ll cause anxiety too so don’t do those, so why don’t you just wait until you have a tumor that’s growing through your skin? You don’t mind, do you?

Yes, we fucking mind. I know many many women whose tumors were found via their first mammograms, or through BSEs, and they would not be here today if that weren’t the case. And the world would be a worse place for it. Just as we’re worse off because of all the women we have lost already, because their BC wasn’t found early enough. And covering your ass by saying oh, but of course women at high-risk should still get mammos? Hmm, no. 80% of BC is NOT hereditary.

One also has to wonder about the timing on this, if the government is actively trying to sabotage health care reform. Because you fucktards are doing a pretty good job of it even if that’s not your intent. Let’s see, we’re in the midst of debates over health care reform, and a government panel comes up with a recommendation that will, hmm, SAVE TONS OF MONEY. Not just the money from not doing all those mammograms, but also the money from not having to treat young BC survivors. Let’s face it, end-stage cancer isn’t cheap, but in most cases it’s relatively quick, so that’s certainly less expensive than treating women – especially young women – for years. And hey, if we’re all going to wind up at Stage 4 eventually, which is also the implication by their saying that when you find the cancer doesn’t really matter, then why not cut out all those oh-so-expensive middle years and just cut right to the chase? Live in ignorance, get diagnosed when it’s too late, and boom, go out in a blaze of Stage 4 glory. Sign me up!

And then there’s Dr. Susan Love, who was on GMA this morning yapping away, cutting off the doctor from the group, who like most of us does NOT agree with this bullshit. Dr. Love’s point seems to be “well, mammograms aren’t a great tool, so ech, let’s just forget the whole thing until we find something better. Like, say, the lavage method that I’ve patented but that isn’t quite ready yet – so you all just hang on until we get it right.” Oh, and it’s great that you’re talking about prevention too, but at the same time it’s too bad that you don’t know fuck-all about what actually causes breast cancer. Nothing about pesticides or carcinogens or any of the other things that might be causing so many young, otherwise healthy women to be getting BC. Beating the ol’ “exercise & nutrition” drum is getting a bit tiresome. But you know what, we’ll just sit over here and die quietly while you figure all that out.

I again turn to my dear friend and sister Jen Ernest for a summation on how most of us feel about this:

“Dr. Love can kiss my ass. I quit her fucking army and she can shove her pendant up her own ass.”

I’ve un-enlisted as well. Go find your cannon fodder elsewhere.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Foob and I

Foob – aka Sack-o’-Flour – and I decided the other day that it was time to do some shopping. Bra shopping, that is. Foob isn’t that into, say, shoes. Off we go to (where else?) Nordstrom’s Rack.

Now, one thing I’ve discovered through my painstaking research is this: bra sizing is kind of a joke. Really. As in, the cup sizes don’t vary all that much, in that a 36B is the same as a 34C or 32D. And the bands are adjustable, so essentially it’s a matter of which bra looks/fits best. With that in mind, I still figure I’ll look at the C-cup bras. Since I think of this future bra as a “temp”, one that I’ll use just for sizing purposes, I don’t really care about how it looks but rather what’s cheapest. The Foob, of course, has other ideas. As soon as I start pondering my choices, looking at one cheap-o bra in black & white, I sense the shriekings of impotent rage coming from the bottom of my purse: “Don’t you go thinking you’ll put ME in that piece of ugliness, girlfriend. Uh UH!” Apparently, the Foob is a bit of a Diva – who knew? A Diva in the way of my gay hairdresser Stephen, all finger-wagging and in my face about what’s best for both of us and whatnot. Sigh.

I finally pick one out that keeps the Foob mutterings down to a minimum, and go off to the dressing room try it on. Where I seriously hope they do NOT have security cameras with someone trying to figure out what the hell I’m up to with a suspicious white powder. Heck, add in my detector-proof titanium collarbone, and I’m a one-woman terrorist operation here. In any case, I soon discover that it’s slightly impossible to tell how a square-shaped plastic Sack-o’-Flour is going to translate into implants and reconstruction to take care of the whole Appalachian Mountain Boob issue. And this certainly won’t answer the most important question, i.e. how will the new foobs look in my Agent Provocateur bras? ‘Cause those ain’t cheap, kids, and it would suck to have to start my collection all over again.

The Foob and I leave with one C-cup bra just for yucks, and I figure we’ll make something work....somehow. And by the way, in case it wasn’t obvious, getting a boob job out of this does NOT make up for the fact that I have to deal with this shit and, oh yeah, have MAJOR SURGERY. I mean, it’s something, but is there anyone out there wanting a boob job who wants to trade places with me? Anyone? I didn’t think so.

And I would sing my own praises for making it another day without ranting about health care reform.....but the day is still young...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

On a roll

Yes folks, this is now the SECOND post in a row where I have not ranted about health care reform! I know, the mind reels. Let’s see just how long I can go without contemplating a horrible death thanks to BCBS’s dartboard method of denying claims, shall we?

So I went last night to see my erstwhile hockey team the Chiefs play, and I will say this about their hockey skills: wow, they are a REALLY nice bunch of guys. Really. Actually, their hockey playing was fine (and who am I to talk, right?), though we had to go with the moral victory over the Hellfish rather than the victory victory. Puh, minor details.

I do, however, think there was some mild disappointment that I’m not yet sporting the new Rack. Not sure why I think this, but it might have to do with my spotting Doug handing out a little marketing brochure for the Chiefs with something about “ featuring the best Rack at Johnny’s!” printed on it. I certainly hope that’s going to be true – especially since everyone else who plays as Johnny’s is, well, a GUY. And with the schedule screwed up since the new rink is still being built, it’s unclear when our next game is – though at this rate we’ll be having a 4-games-per-week schedule in January, just as the Foobage is in process. Looks like I’ll be going to spectate a lot, bringing brownies to keep my place on the team secure and showing off the Girls. I just hope the team’s okay with that.

In other news, I managed to fight off a bout with the dreaded forehead cancer last week. Because of course, once you have The Cancer, every little ache and pain is suspect. And that’s not completely illogical – many of us have a tiny backache, for example, and oops, next thing you know, bone mets! So there I was, running my hand over this area on my forehead that was really painful to the touch. What the hell? Unexplained pain? That can’t be good. Until I remembered that oh yeah, Kona and I had bonked heads a few days before when he jumped up to give me a kiss. Whew! Dodged a bullet there with the whole forehead cancer thing. Though now the vision in my right eye has been blurry off and on for the past week or so. Hmm. Brain mets? I don’t even know what doctor I should see about it. Oncologist? Primary care? Or maybe, say, an ophthalmologist?? Decisions, decisions. No wonder people take the whole “Oh, I’ll give it some time, see what happens” attitude, even when they’ve just accidentally chopped off a limb. It’s all too damn confusing, and tiresome. I grow weary.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Come one, come all!

Whew! Okay then. I’m going to take a slight break from the whole health care/insurance topic, because it just works me up into more of a rage than I’m normally in on any given day. And I know it’s a topic most people don’t care about, because hey, they got theirs. It IS silly that I get so worked up about it though. I guess it’s just the knowledge that if I have a recurrence and/or mets at some point, I’ll die a horrid painful death, and probably pretty quickly. Not because they don’t have treatments that keep people living a decent length of time, but because BCBS won’t pay for that treatment. Like they didn’t with JenE.

But enough of that gloom and doom! Today I’m here to talk about the upcoming FuCHTYP festivities. What is FuCHTYP (pronounced “fuch-tip”), you ask? Well, it was about a year ago last November when I was being radiated in a cold, dark tube every day, being forced to listen to Huey Lewis and the News in an endless loop. Yes, this is what it takes to get cancer cells running these days. And before that, let’s recall my bike crash and brain injury in August, when I had no clue what was going on around me and was in no shape to take Kona running anymore or pretty much anywhere else. And so for about a month I had Tri Club folks coming by twice a day to take him running, doing a wonderful job of tiring him out while I was sitting on the couch completely out of it, making pretty shapes with string. Of course, they created the IronDog in the process, one who can run for hours and not get tired, not that I’m complaining about that.

And then there were the Team in Bacon events that Kristin, Annette, and Deanna organized, and all the support from a lot of other people, like Susan who helped me find my awesome NW doctors, and Carolyn who helped me sort through all the medical stuff, and, well, too many other people to mention by name.

So my knee-jerk reaction as to how in the world to do something nice for all these friends in return is this: I’ll have a big-ass party! Yeah, that’s it. I haven’t had one in years, but I think I still remember how – with the only key thing being that I remember how to make my dad’s smoked fish. And serve lots of booze.

Hence, we arrive at the FuCHTYP, or Fuck Cancer Holiday Thank You Party. The festivities will include:

- the serving and ingesting of every sort of carcinogenic or cancer-causing food and drink, including charred meats, alcohol, and of course, Tab
- needless yet ironic decorating of cupcakes and everything else with pink or pink ribbons
- lots of soy products – now, me eating that stuff is like putting a loaded gun in my hands, but hey, you all have at it!
- feats of strength
- a group workout, which will include my patented brisk striding, the key to my triathlon success
- lots of bacon-themed food
- my attempt to recreate the insanity of last year by walking around with my arm in a sling, babbling about this or that, gesticulating wildly, making no sense whatsoever
- Ann of the Tomatoettes showing up with bezel nuts for everyone to chew on, as those apparently are highly carcinogenic. Hnuh, who would have thought, that something that turns one’s mouth blood red would have any such adverse effects?
- and finally, the highlight of the evening: the burning of a BCBS executive in effigy. Huzzah!

Yes, I’m inviting all of blogdom. I believe I’m now down to ten of readers, what with my insurance rantings boring everyone else silly, and besides, I figure that those who actually care about me and what’s going on in my life are those who read this blog. Now, just a warning, we might have to work around the swarms of Canadians who I’m sure will be showing up on my doorstep any day now, in order to finally get some adequate health care.

I’m only sad that my Rackotomy isn’t until January, so I won’t be able to show off the new foobage. But I’ll try to make up for that by wearing something appropriately uplifting and pushup-y. Pictures will be taken.

Monday, November 9, 2009

My people

Ever since joining the Billionaires for Wealthcare group, I have of course been on alert for others of my kind, i.e. those who also understand the unique burdens of the wealthy. The weighty decisions that we have to ponder every day – mahogany or oak for the new yacht? platinum or rhodium sink fixtures? – can make a person feel overwhelmed with the hardship of it all. Sometimes, it’s even tough to press on, but what choice do we have?

So I was delighted today to discover a fellow Billionaire, though at the moment she’s struggling to cope under the weight of her struggles, i.e. juggling the nanny’s schedule with the groundskeeper’s and the pool man’s, all in between trips to the Cape. Oh, the burdens some of us must cope with – it’s almost too much.

Ms. Steins, I say this to you: courage. Find that well of strength deep within you, pour into one of your silver chalices, and drink deeply. Your fellow Billionaires feel your plight. A nation weeps.

I see stupid people

Kona and I were at the dog park this morning, as always, and in addition to the usual gang, there were a lot of other random people there because of the nice weather. So sitting there enjoying the sunny day, I explain to Craig why the CBS people were there with me on Thursday, the last time I saw him, and this segued into a discussion on health care reform. Now, in spite of the fact that in general I am a shy, retiring flower who doesn’t like to make her opinions known (*cough*), I did mention to him how amazingly kick-ass it was that the House passed the reform bill the night before, and that it was about time. Which led to the following discussion:

Craig: Yeah, but, I don’t know about all of that.
Me: About what?
Craig: I mean, my dad when he was sick he got the best doctors, the best treatment, most sophisticated medicine and it worked out great. What would happen to him?
Me: What do you mean? He’s on Medicare, right?
Craig: Yes, but that’s not the point. He’s 72, so is he less important than the 30 year old with 2 young kids?
Me: You’re talking about rationing??
Craig: I guess. I just wouldn’t want him to not be treated because he’s too old, you know? How’s all that going to work?
Me, after a moment of dumbfounded silence: Oh, hadn’t you heard? They have a formula to figure all that out. It’s called the Death Panel Coefficient Corollary. They take your age as a factor of your family’s average life span, factor in your productivity, current and projected, multiply all that by the power of U.S. GDP squared, do a few back-of-the-envelope NPV calculations, assign values to all your bad habits to estimate how much of a drain on society your poor health will eventually be, and voila! Piece of cake!
Craig: But I....
Me, whipping out a pen and paper: Here, let me just do some quick calculations for you. So...(scribble scribble)......let’s take ourselves as an example. You, Craig, who works at Whole Foods and goes out drinking a lot, you’d wind up with a Coefficient of 3.7. Me, with the Wharton MBA, which obviously means higher productivity and thus more benefit to society, I get a 12.3. Higher is better, so, well, in a world of scarce resources.....
Gabe: Ha, I’m just not gonna get sick!
Me: Right, I would have liked that too. (scribble scribble) I hope you don’t, Gabe, because since you’re a jobless slacker and only do occasional pet-sitting, you’d get a 0.4.
Craig: Seriously, that’s how they’re doing it?
Me: NO, you idiot, of course not! There’s NO rationing in the health care bill, okay? Sheesh.
Some random idiot woman who’s been standing there listening in: But they’ll have to ration. They’ll just have to. Guaranteed.
Me: What are you talking about?
Idiot woman: That’s the only way they’ll be able to afford giving all these people health insurance. Rationing. Dooming us all.
Me: In the first place, it’s not a giveaway. Yes, it’s making sure almost everyone has insurance, but most of them will have to pay something. Plus do you really think there’s no rationing NOW? Like insurance companies don’t deny treatments already? If that’s not rationing, what is it?
IW: Well, the health care will be terrible then. Do you know what the VA is?
Me: Umm, excuse me, do I look retarded? Of course I know what it is.
IW: Their health care is shoddy and rundown and horrible. And so is Medicare. And so is Canada’s. We already have the best healthcare syst.....
Me: Hello, Ron, who comes here all the time, he gets his health care through the VA, and he’s always saying how great his doctors are and his care in general is. Medicare? All the old folks seem to looove their Medicare – ask Craig’s dad how great it is. And Canada? Don’t make me laugh. I have friends who live in Canada, and they have NO problems with their health care system. Well, other than an egregious lack of Timbit emporiums in their local health clinics.
IW, blathering on: Then why do all the Canadians come to the U.S. for health care?
Me: Umm, they DON’T. Again, MY FRIENDS in Canada have never even thought of coming here for health care.
IW: But I read about it blahblahblah blahblahblah....

At this point I look desperately over to the Kone, to see if he looks like he’ll morph into Vicious Doberman mode and go for this stupid woman’s throat, but alas, he’s just hanging out and chewing on a tennis ball as usual. Damn. So I just tune her out and go to my happy place, the one that involves cute hockey boys and lots of mai tais. Think zen, zen......dirty sock and zen....

I will just say this, if anyone wants to argue with me about health care or anything else, fine. But don’t give me this malarkey about Canada, for example, when actual statistics show this to not be the least bit true. Stop embarrassing yourselves already, by being so uninformed and just parroting what the insurance companies and rich politicians want you to know. You realize they’re not on your side......don’t you?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Let them eat cake

Even though I’m not a billionaire – yet – I have aspirations, of course. Why else would I be so diligent about pursuing my triathlon career and all the other things I do, if it weren’t for the express goal of making TONS of money? And I do mean tons, like Scrooge McDuck amounts, where I could be swimming in it. Like, for example, the health insurance company CEOs. Oh sure, there are the pikers among them: Stephen Hemsley of UnitedHealth Group, $5M; Angela Braly of WellPoint, $9.1M; Edward Hanway of Cigna, $10.3M.

But then we have the true maverick, or Master of the Universe, if you will: Ronald Williams of Aetna, $38.5M. A year. To this I can only say: bravo! Undoubtedly this had something to do with the decision to basically make everything a pre-existing condition, including acne. This is astoundingly brilliant. As is considering domestic violence a pre-existing condition. Clearly I’m with the wrong political party, as it was all Republicans who voted against an amendment that would have ended that sort of discrimination, I mean cherry-picking, I mean sharp strategic planning and profit optimization. For all you whiners out there running to the doctor over every little sniffle, ache, blinding migraine, open wound, jutting bone: buck up there! Shake it off! This country wasn’t built on that kind of namby-pamby attitude. And for you complainers saying you can’t afford health insurance, some mumbling about “having to put food on the table” (hello, obesity crisis in America much??), I say this: are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?

The people I personally seek to emulate most, i.e. the head honchos of BCBS of Illinois, still have some work to do to reach the vaunted Williams of Aetna status. After all, Ronald McCaskey, the current CEO, only made $10.3M last year, a pittance compared to, say, the $15.3M Gail Boudreaux, Executive VP, received as she was heading out the door to greener pastures. Ronald, we are so behind you as you strive to make what you’re truly worth. Those who would ever even think of the notion that one could have “enough” money are clearly the “little people”, who just don’t understand these things at all.

I am a little late to the party here, admittedly, but I finally recognize these essential truths: money is king. Greed is good. Thus, I really don’t understand all the fuss over the fact that Goldman Sachs and other i-banks got doses of H1N1 before hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, etc. Don’t people realize how very very important the work they do is and what a catastrophe it would be if some of those i-bankers got sick? After all, if we don’t have them bundling up things like life insurance into sets of useless derivatives to trade and make themselves shitloads of money before the whole thing comes crashing down so that they can be bailed out by the government......then who will?

Luckily, I have found an organized group of people who think exactly as I do on this topic, who truly understand the pressure that the wealthy and the insurance companies (but I repeat myself) are under. Unfairly under, I might add. This group – my people - is Billionaires for Wealthcare, whose slogan is “If we ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I don’t think it would be an understatement to say – these people are my heroes. God bless.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Normally I don’t bother checking my blog stats – after all, after that one gentle reader found my site by googling “I have completely lost my mind and I need help,” well, what more is there that one needs to know? I’d say that sums it up right there.

But today I was bored....okay, procrastinating.....okay, dreaming of the fame and fortune that will ensue any day now thanks to my little blog I decided to see where people were coming from. Is my faithful reading populace from the triathlon community? The cancer one? Hockey? Gardening? Dobe rescue? Other people who are practically-perfect-in-every-way?

So having done some perusing, now I wonder. Should I be at all concerned about the people from Iran who landed on the page of my website where I talk about my titanium collarbone, airport security, and the bomb potential involved in all of that? And who seemed to spend an awful lot of time there? Just curious. Note to the Department of Homeland Security: last spring, when I went to visit my friend Stacey in London, and mused on how I hoped airport security wouldn’t find and confiscate the GU I had packed......I really was talking about GU. Really. That wasn’t code for yellow cake uranium, or anything like that. Just so you know.

By the way, if you’re ever looking for motivation to clean your house, I recommend checking out the show Hoarders. Last night they had an older woman who had her 4 refrigerators and 2 freezers and the entire damn kitchen packed to the gills with leaking, expired food. Some of it rotting. Her comment: “I figure, if I keep it cold enough and it’s not puffy, then it’s fine.”

Ohhhhhh-kay then. So did some of us randomly decide to take the time today to clean out our relatively pristine freezers? I think....that would be a yes. "PUFFY"????!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tasha Huebner, Upset Again

When I was getting my MBA at Wharton, that was the suggestion of my dear friend Bob Albert, that I have a weekly editorial entitled “Tasha Huebner, Upset Again”. It’s true that when I met new people at school, they’d hear my name and immediately say “Oh, I know you, you write half the paper!” And yes, I was continually trotting into the Dean’s office to chat with Anjani Jain and rail against the latest injustice I saw being foisted upon us. So I guess you could say my reputation precedes me. Because you know what? I still get pissed off about things. A lot of things, not just those that directly concern me. And people ask me why I get upset about this stuff – “Tasha, why do you care? What does it matter? What’s the point?”

Yes, I could get along without giving a rat’s ass about a lot of these things and my life would go by unchanged – and yes, a lot of times it’s an exercise in futility, as no one seems to care or take notice. I recently wrote letters to both local papers here, the Sun-Times and the Tribune, papers that are always wondering where the citizen outrage is at all the corruption in this city. Did either paper print my letter? No. Instead we got yet another meandering nonsensical missive from that Spatafora guy, who always writes about the same themes: the capricious nature of youth, as adults we must seize the day, life is fleeting and then you die, kids these days! All in the same letter. Yeah, I don’t get them either. Meanwhile, my letter goes ignored, the one asking this simple question of WHAT is wrong with this city, in that the assessed value of MY home went up drastically since last year, yet the value of my neighbors’ home, the gut rehabbed single-family home worth at least twice as much as mine, went DOWN drastically such that it’s now assessed lower than mine. Could someone please answer that for me?

But at least I put my money where my mouth is. I read the paper, I watch the news, I vote in every single election no matter how primary it is. I volunteer, I donate to the NRDC , I’ve adopted a manatee for god’s sake. I write to my Congressman, and to the papers. And sometimes, they listen, or at least give us a chance to be heard:

Health insurance stories in the New York Times

I don’t kid myself that anyone really cares about what I think on all these issues out there, which is why I don’t normally write about them, but sometimes, we have to try to make a point, because these things DO matter. And at least we can say, in the end, that we tried to make a difference. And if the sane voices keep quiet, pretty soon the only thing we’ll hear will be the tinny caterwauling of the crazy people who think global warming is a hoax, and that the healthcare system in this country is just fine and dandy, and that we should let the free market sort out our economic woes without any of that government meddling. Well, except when all those investment banks need a bailout of billions of dollars. That’s okay, of course. According to the crazy people.

Finally, I’d like to say this: boobs. Yes, boobs. My blog readership goes up drastically when I mention the boobage, so there you go. Though maybe that’s just T-odd hitting the refresh button over and over again, hoping against hope that new boob pictures will have been posted. Patience, grasshopper, patience.