A Valley, A Rally, A Rockstar Weekend, and Chemo

It’s been awhile, kids. Some things have gone down, and my moods have been swinging harder than a bi couple at Studio 54. One day I’m up, the next morose. Or irritated. Or giggly. Would you believe I’ve written several posts only to discard them halfway through? It isn’t that there isn’t a veritable shit ton of things that have been going on, it’s that I don’t always want to discuss it. I wasn’t ready. I’m much more amenable to it today, oddly enough, so get comfy, I’m going to unload a bit. What, I’m verbose!

School started a few weeks ago and it has been a madhouse around here. I have never not dealt with the majority of supply buying, clothes, shoes, and all of the utter insanity that back to school these days encompasses. That is 5 little, medium, and big monkeys out the door each morning with all of their assorted shit, and all of the germy shit they bring home. It’s so much better, but so much harder at the same time. To send #5 to Pre-K and not be able to hug and love on her like I want to is excruciating. Knowing that #1 is at a crucial place in time, and to try to guide her through it while sick, tired, and cranky is nearly impossible. 2, 3, & 4, bless their sweet hearts. They are all so much more aware than they were 4 months ago, though. Aware of me, of my humanity, of our relationships. That’s something that amazes me while also breaking my heart. But overall, it’s the usual clusterf**k that it is every year. I have great-no, fantastic-kids, but they are kids, so there is always clutter, mess, noise, and all of the other stuff expected of a large household.

I really had a tough time recovering from the port procedure & the biopsy. I spent most of the time in bed, just trying to rest. But I pulled off the most amazing, epic, fanfreakingtastic weekend getaway of all time! I flew halfway across the country with my friend, KV (remember her? We went to Tampa to see the Imagine Dragons), to see one of my all-time favorite bands, O.A.R. play at Red Rocks Amphitheater. It was truly, the most unexpectedly amazing trip I think I’ve ever taken! We knew it would be fantastic, but reality definitely far exceeded expectations, and for that I am exceedingly grateful. We partied like rockstars, met absolutely wonderful new friends, like the lovely LR, another beauty touched by all this bullshit. She is a friend of a friend who put us in touch with each other about an hour before our flight so that I could sell my suddenly available ticket after another friend pulled out. I’d spent a few days having a nervous breakdown in between dealing with feeling like junk and assorted nonsense, and hadn’t been able to sell them. Thank goodness for that! LR is exactly the kind of woman who made this an experience to remember for a lifetime! She traded me a gorgeous, way out of my current pay grade, real hair wig that was handmade for her and styled by a man in Japan to match the way her hair looked at the time. It’s a bit darker than my hair, but it fits like it was made for me and is stunning! She also introduced us to Fried Chicken and Champagne brunch at the Denver Max’s Wine Dive Bar. Holy hell, y’all! It was the best fried chicken of my like, the collard green could make a grown man weep, the beignets, dear sweet six pound baby Jesus, the beignets and dipping sauces! Washed down with Moet (at a discount because, brunch is brunch, of course), in the afternoon people watching with lots of laughter and stories. It was like we’d known her for years. Love, love, love! All this after we’d popped into another fun looking place called Lala’s up the street a block or so, and discovered that there is such a thing as wine on tap. Did you catch that?! Wine! On! TAP!!! Btw, they had the best spicy bloody mary I can remember. Get it with the pickled veggies. Trust me on this.

Lala’s, where the chilled water is served in a wine bottle, the wine is on tap, and the bloody marys will make your tongue sing
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Max’s Wine Dive, Denver Run there immediately and stuff yourself.
Beignets, champagne, locally brewed beer, friends. This is life.
The shirt says it all! Max’s Wine Dive, Denver, where we were treated like VIPs just because we are who we are. Loved it!

Next came Union Station, and roaming around a bit of downtown, just soaking it in, no real agenda, which is sometimes the best way to rockstar your way through life. That way, the fun finds you. Which it did. We stopped at a nearby brewery (I keep forgetting the name, I’ll have to double check my receipt), and while KV enjoyed the local stuff, I (not being a beer drinker. Oh, woe is my liver) tried… not beer. First it was handmade, non-alcoholic root beer, then a mule in a fun mug, then a cocktail made with absinthe, lemon juice, bitters, and vodka. It was really good, but I was getting restless. So after watching some football, we headed down the block to a funky looking Mexican bar and grill we’d passed earlier called Machete. Look, I’ll be straight with you. The name alone was worth it. So we went in, got a couple of seats, changed seats, ordered drinks and chips (the green salsa is *not* guac, kids) and started admiring the surroundings, watching more college football, and enjoying the crowd. A couple of guys sat down, and we did what we do. The one closest to us, R, was into the game, so to us, it was fun. D was more in chill mode, but we’re a lively pair and pretty soon we were all having a great time. I discovered that Denver nightlife closes early, bottle service at a posh little place is fun, and somehow an address was written on my hand by this tall, beautiful woman telling us to go meet her & her friends there, & off we went! I also discovered that Uber automatically chooses Black and you now have to tell it to reign it in and send something not crazy expensive. I didn’t, however, realize this till the next morning. Yikes! I’ve not been to an underground club in 20 years! It was fun and worth the hangover the next day, for sure.

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At Machete. That green hot sauce is no joke! Great bartenders, and I’m told the tacos are yummy and cheap
R, my new buddy from ARK in the DEN
Me & D

The next morning was a good talk with my uncle, who is very philosophical and wants to get to the root of the matter. He likes that I’m more of a straight shooter and I like his insight. A great little Greek place on Colfax (Pete’s), where the gyros were delicious, and the crowd as eclectic and interesting as the rest of the city. Then it was time to go back to the hotel for the whole reason I was in a place I’d never had a strong desire to visit (I’m not a hiker, biker, skier, and hate the snow, c’mon, what’s left?!):

O.A.R. at Red Rocks Amphitheater, VIP experience!!!!!

I had to get my hungover ass in gear! It was worth every bit of stress, struggle, second, third, ten thousandth reconsideration, worth putting off chemo, worth all of it. It was truly an amazing experience, the theater is acoustically perfect and natural and gorgeous once you haul your (my) fat, out of shape, been cancering and having surgery and procedures and not moving all damn summer ass up the steep ascent to the gate! YES! The opening acts were really great and O.A.R. ALWAYS brings it. This is a band whose studio work is fantastic, but the live shows are so incredible. There were toddlers, kids, teens, college kids, millennials  Gen-Xers, Boomers, and great grandparents all jamming to the same beat, all having a blast, and there were were-me, KV, & LR-in the third row to the left of the stage! And best of all, they got to extend the show and RICHIE SAMBORA came out and jammed for several songs! HOLY SHIT! The finale was everyone in all three bands performing Living On A Prayer and I could’ve died then and there and been at peace. It was perfection.

This place is surreal in it’s beauty.
Me, LR, & KV awaiting the VIP experience
One of my terrible pics, but you get the idea

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The show went on till 11:30, and I drank it up. This was what I wanted: to LIVE my life, not waste it in front of the stupid tv, or arguing over dumb stuff or always obsessing over things. I wanted to live. I bought these tickets about a month before I found out I had cancer, and I knew, knew, that I had to find a way to go. This is the kind of experience that makes life worthwhile, along with the amazing tiny things that happen every day. It isn’t gross toilets, mountains of laundry, bills, or dishes. It isn’t the mind-numbing monotony and stress of work. It is the things we experience and allow for ourselves. It took me knowing that my days are numbered to be able to just enjoy it all the way I used to. I once drank life up, licked my lips and demanded more, but that got lost along the way. Whatever you do, don’t lose that joie de vivre. Drink life up from the overflowing cup that it is, however you can. All of our days are numbered, we just aren’t all aware of it.

We got home safely, barely, after a bit of a scary ride through a storm (And a drunk old lady next to me who was irritating me to no end) back to sea level, palm trees, and our lives.

So long, CO! Time to trade out pines for palms and mountains for beaches

Back to reality.

This morning, I got up, got the kids out the door, and my sweet dad and his girlfriend chauffeured me to my first chemotherapy session in her new convertible. That is the way to do it! I went there a little nervous, but a lot happy, ready, and generally being my sassy badassy self wearing a concert tee and taking enough stuff to occupy my thoughts as I could physically carry.

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Best way to start this phase EVER!
I don’t know about you, but putting a super special, deluxe anti-nausea med in the world’s toughest blister pack is a terrible idea. Oops! Sorry.
Fluids going in, ready to get the “Official Prognosis” and discuss a few things with Dr. R, the oncologist before they shoot me all full of shit
The red poison is “pushed” by hand by a nurse, meaning no iv. The iv is the second poison, and it takes a bit longer
This is what it looks like to start your first round of chemo.
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This is a closeup of the port with the special safety needle inserted
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This is the needle for the port. It’s huge as….
Neulasta, which is auto-injected into my arm for 27 hours.
Filling the applicator
Temporary hardware. Yeah, just what I wanted. Oy!

I came home and was tired, slightly queasy off and on, but not too bad, not hungry, peed the craziest pink pee, and (mostly) enjoyed my kids, talked to my husband, got a little cranky, and that’s my first day as a chemo patient. It’s is uncomfortable to painful off and on, I’ve had some cramps and hot flashes, and now I’m wide awake but tired.

I win. I am winning at dealing with the gravity of the situation and trying to move on, I am winning at having memories that help make the bad stuff not so bad, I’m winning at being able to make fun new friends and have a randomly wonderful time wherever I go, and now I’m winning at how to start chemo. I am bright siding the ever-loving-hell out of this.

Tomorrow I may feel like death on a stick, but today is simply because I’m awesome.

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