photo by Sheri Dixon

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving is Sharing- Eat Off of Your Neighbor's Plate

So I went shopping at Ross yesterday.

I love Ross.

I got 2 bed pillows, 2 sets of sheets (1 sateen and 1 FLEECE. Yes. Fleece sheets. I'm officially in love), 1 thermal blanket, 2 autumn dish towels, 3 purple porcelain salad bowls, 4 assorted ceramic Portugese baking dishes (1 green small, 1 orange medium, 1 gold medium and 1 black extra humongous), 1 fabulous multi-color Mexican serving bowl, and 1 each shampoo, body lotion and shower gel.


I love Ross.

But that's not all that was in my cart. I also had 3 dinner plates that sort of matched the fall ones I have, since there will be 7 of us for dinner and I only have 4 pretty leaf pattern plates.

*Nothing in our house matches...on purpose. Dishes, glasses, even our dining table chairs- all different. Mainly because I love the way that looks, but also because when (not if) something breaks, it's easy peasy to get a replacement. Because nothing in our house matches.

The dinner plates didn't have a price on them, but I thought, "Huh. Guess they'll have to figure it out at the checkout".

At the checkout they called the supervisor, who announced to me, the cashier and the closest 100 people that those plates were part of a SET and not to be sold by themselves. I explained that they were, in fact, in the rack with all the other "buy by the each" plates and assured her I didn't rip open a box to get three dinner plates.

She said there's no way they could sell me those plates unless I wanted to buy the entire set. So I set them aside.

The supervisor left.

The cashier (and the cashier next to her) said, "I don't think that's right- I'm so sorry you can't get the plates. *I* would've let you buy the plates- it wasn't YOUR fault". She apologized to me THREE times and finally I said

"Honey? It's OK. Really. If not being able to buy those plates is the worst thing that happens to me today, it'll be a pretty good day".

And we all smiled.

I am thankful for family and friends, home and employment. And that yesterday, the worst thing that happened to me is that I was denied the dinner plates.

I haven't shared a recipe for a while, and since tomorrow is turkey day, here's how I make my turkey. In 34 years I've never had a dry one, either.

Thanksgiving Guest of Honor

Thaw out the turkey.
Make your dressing and put it in the crock pot, not the turkey. It'll be fine.
Trust me.

Preheat the oven to 325.

Wash out the turkey after taking out the little wax paper bag of innards and taking off the S&M looking metal thing holding its legs together.

Do what you want to with the neck and innards. We're talking just the turkey right now.

Place the turkey upside down in a foil lined roasting pan- mine is one of those speckled blue ones and I LOVE it.

Yes. I said upside down- breast down. It won't sit quite straight and it's not going to come out of the oven Hallmark card presentation-ready, but it'll be delicious and that's what we're going for, right? If you just want a pretty turkey to set on the table, the hobby store has some realistic looking plastic ones...

Why upside down?

Because Gravity, that's why.

While the turkey is roasting, it gets all juicy and squishy inside. If the turkey is 'right' side up (breast side up) all that lovely juice sinks down into the thighs, which, like most of us, are already plenty squishy enough. Turning the turkey upside down will assure that the juices settle in the breast meat. See? Tender and juicy.

To further hydrate your bird, after washing and drying and setting it in the roaster upside down, quarter an apple and an onion. Stuff 'em into the big hole where the stuffing would be going if you wanted to give your entire family salmonella.

Rub the bird with olive oil and cover with either the roasting pan lid or tin foil.

Place into the pre-heated oven and baste with additional olive oil every 30 minutes.

Cook the turkey till it's done. Since it's upside down, you won't be able to see the little popper outer thingie, but do not panic- it's easy enough to tell when the bird is finished- a fork inserted into it will produce clear juices and the legs/wings will start looking like they want to disengage from the rest of the body.

Once the turkey is finished, take it out and let it rest for about 20 minutes before carving it up and serving it sliced on a lovely platter to your family, who will not care one tiny bit that no one precariously carried a 325 degree, 15 pound dead headless featherless bird to the table for dissection.

I promise.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fine. I'll Give It a Shot

The other day I was lamenting how my book sales were going in spite of all the marketing, advertising, social networking steps I've been taking within the confines of my non-existent budget for anything not food or rent related.

And I said at one point

"I almost feel like if I want to actually make money writing I'm gonna have to do a series of vampire Christian romance mystery porn survivalist books."

So guess what?

I've started. I can't think of it being a series, because that scares the crap out of me. Actually, the whole 'book' thing scares the crap out of me.

How can that be? There are FOUR books advertised with my name as the author

<----------- right over here

How can I possibly be askeerd of writing a book?


CancerDance- a love story is a journal. I wrote it while the events were happening day by day, month by month, and lord have mercy year by year. There are a few chapters at the beginning that sort of set up the book by introducing the main characters and giving an idea of what makes us "us" and what makes us tick.

Easterchicks Gone Bad is a compilation of the first 31 articles I wrote one by one for Neil on

Almost Invisible- a different kind of survival story was my first attempt at anything book-like from the ground up and the only way I could do it was to imagine each chapter as a stand-alone story on its own, then lace 'em together. Even then, it's definitely a 'can be read in one sitting if you sit long enough' sort of thing.

And A Reincarnationist's Guide to Graceful Living- over and over and over again was frankly something I did to see what all I could do with the Blurb software since the rest are text only and Blurb sort of prides itself on its quality photo books. While I was there I inserted the spiritual stuff that makes sense to me so it would all be in one place.

I'm not afraid of words, or even of being wordy. But here's my training (both formal and self-imposed).

High school newspaper and yearbook.

Actual city newspaper.

Writing for


All venues that REQUIRE the writer to see the Big Picture, walk around all sides of it and examine it top to bottom, then rip the meat out of it and convey it to the reader using a limited amount of very precisely chosen and placed words.

So I'll admit and confess right here that yesterday I started a writing project very different from what I'm used to on several different levels.

Will I finish it?

Hell, I have no idea.

Will it be good?

Beats the shit outta me.

But I figured I'd announce it out loud so I have to go forward with it and not just hit 'delete' and pretend it never happened.

I know ya'll are waiting with bated breath.

In the meantime, Christmas is coming and books are always a good present.
See my website for an idea or three.

They're also

<--------- right over here

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What If?

So Ward needs surgery. Again. "Just" oral surgery, but it'll be done at MD Anderson with their oral surgeons under general anesthesia and with our plastic surgeon on stand-by just in case something weird and unforeseen happens and yanking out all the roots that belonged to the teeth that broke out due to the aftereffects of radiation makes the graft that's sitting RIGHT THERE unhappy.

Now, we also need a good 5 days lead-time before surgery because he's on coumadin and has to be offa that because blood-thinner + yanking out tooth roots = "we're out of gauze- bring in the transfusion kit".

Last Friday we thought maybe by this Friday (as in tomorrow) he would be on the other side of that surgery.

But he's not. They haven't even scheduled it yet. Because everyone waits on everyone else for parts of the pre-surgical puzzle to be assembled and everyone passes the blame for how damn long it's taking to schedule an EMERGENCY surgery to everyone else.


Last Friday I had an Intensified Awareness Day.

These happen every so often in life.

It happens the first time your baby gets sick and the thought goes through your head over and over again in the dark bleakness of night while you're walking your infant around the silent house- "People die every day- and a lot of them are babies". Clutching your child just that much closer, you imprint everything about him into your soul- heft of his little body, aroma of the top of his head, the very sound of his breath.

It happens when you're assaulted with the incomprehensible beauty of something- be it an endless vista, a piece of artwork, a haunting melody or the flawless arrangement of letters forming an exquisite perfection of words. Whatever it is,you consciously press it into your memory as though flowers in a book, tiny palms into clay.

Last Friday I looked at Ward. Looked. At. Ward. While Alec was in co-op classes, we had lunch, and took a walk. We talked and held hands. Just like any other Friday.

And I realized how precious he is. How precious every minute and second with him is.

A lot of people's "what ifs" seem to revolve around daydreaming of things we think of as better than what we've got now-

"What if we won the lottery?"

"What if my book sells a million copies?"

"What if?"

Because of our actual history and my basic temperament, my "What ifs" are a little different.

Specifically, last Friday when I thought THIS Friday we'd be on the other side of yet another surgery.

"What if this is my last Friday with Ward?"

I was simultaneously terrified to abstraction and insane with the remembering of every detail. It was exhausting.

Since then we've talked about it, and as always he's reassured me that he's not going anywhere.

Because we've got so much to do yet and a boy to raise up yet and he promised me he's not going anywhere.

And I believe him.

Because no matter what it looks like from the outside, the one with endless massive strength and courage in the couple who is Us is not me.

Thanks for sticking around, Gomez. I love you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

If You Don't Play by My Rules, I'm Setting Fire to the Game Board

Alright. I've just about had it.

I get that when you believe in and vote for someone for President and they don't win, it's disappointing. Upsetting. Perhaps even a little bit crazy-making for a day or three. But when on earth did it become acceptable adult behavior to pull a Cartman (Southpark reference) and announce to the world, "Screw you guys....I'm going home" and leave the entire country?

Citizens in 15 states have filed petitions to secede (peacefully, how horribly magnanimous of them)from the rest of the nation since last Tuesday's election.

Now, not politicians, or huge contingents- Louisiana has the most signatures- over 7,000 and Texas follows with over 3,000 and all the way down to NEW YORK with a whopping 169 signatures. All in all just under 20,000 total Americans want to take their whole state (what a surprise to the millions of OTHER PEOPLE in those states) flat dab out of the Union.

On accounta they're pissed off because Obama is still THEIR president.

Yanno what this liberal squishy treehugging ol' hippiechick has to say about that?

Boo fucking hoo.

When a Democrat gets defeated, we pull ourselves together and still fight for what we think is right WITHIN the system and WITH the elected officials in office, and look ahead to the next election because that's kinda sorta how this country (and life in general) work.

You win some, you lose some. You're not going to get your way all the time, and just because people who look differently from you and go to a different church than you (or no church at all) are elected into office it does not mean they're coming to round up all the white people and all the Christians will have to go underground.

It does not mean the end of the world that we now have a bigger diversity in DC than ever before- far as a lot of people are concerned, this is the beginning. Finally.

I read a piece by Dr. Rima Abunasser that stated it so very clearly and calmly-
" Whiteness, conservatism, and Christianity are not under attack. They are, however, being forced to scooch over and make room for the rest of us. That's how this here Republic should work, no?"

See? Nothing scary here. Peel yerselves offa the ceiling, pick yerselves up offa the ash heap and dry your little tears of Limbaugh/Hannity/Beck/O'Reilly/Robertson-induced insanity and grow the hell up.

How by any stretch of the imagination is it patriotic and what kind of love does it show for Country when your reaction to, "Sorry- the other guy won with a LANDSLIDE of the electoral votes and a solid percentage of the popular vote", is a resounding bellow of hatred and disbelief and much wailing and gnashing of teeth (biblical reference), followed by a petulant announcement that you're going to SECEDE FROM THE UNITED STATES.

Because nothing shows how much you love your country and will fight to keep it from falling into the hands of those who you swear want to ruin it and tear it apart using commie socialist divisive tactics like BREAKING UP THE UNION. ON PURPOSE. YOUR OWN SELVES.

Scooch. Over.

That's it. No one anywhere is pulling the bench out from under you and beating you to death with it.

Yes, the American people have been represented in DC by mainly old white guys for over 200 years. But that's not a fair representation of how America looks now, or has looked for a long time. Like ever.

But there was that whole Women's Sufferage thing and that whole Civil Rights thing that had to be fought for before women and minorities could even VOTE much less think about holding office.

That was then. This is now.

Now the representation is looking more like America. That's a good thing for EVERYONE- old white guys included.

We don't hate old white guys.

Just scooch the hell over.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Have a Cookie and Settle the Hell Down

To all my conservative friends and family-

Yes. Romney lost and Obama is OUR president for another term. And yanno what?

The sun came up this morning.

As it would've come up if Romney had won.

Last night I went to bed at 1:30. AM. As of that time, there wasn't a peep on either the Romney page or from any of my right-wing Facebook friends (other than admonishing each other to "PRAY HARDER")

Now, of course, the horrible news is settling in and it's everywhere- "Today we are still free to worship Jesus and buy guns and ammo, but not for long". (That's the RATIONAL one- it goes downhill from there).

I'm sorry. I am not religious and do not attend church, but I will fight for your right to worship freely and express your Faith- just as I fight for that right for everyone, because that's what it says in the First Amendment. This administration has passed ZERO laws limiting the expression of Faith. What you refer to as 'persecution' has to do with the expression of YOUR Faith in venues that are not exclusively attended (or funded) by people of that same Faith. Also trying to make YOUR Faith's morals the laws of our land, which is expressly FORBIDDEN by the same Founding Fathers who wrote all those amendment thingies.

If your main reason to oppose Obama was "He's a Muslim"- you are yourself persecuting someone of another Faith (Even though he's not. He's a Christian. But if he WERE). Think about it. But have some coffee first.

Speaking of amendments, this administration has also passed ZERO laws limiting our freedom to own, buy and sell guns and ammo. I said "our" because I'm a gun owner. Not a gun ENTHUSIAST or a gun NUT, I own 2 guns that are tools.

If your main reason to oppose Obama was "He's fixin' to make a gun grab right after the election- the NRA says the fact that he's passed NO GUN CONTROL LAWS is proof", you need more coffee. Seriously. Maybe a little Zoloft as well.

To my progressive friends and family-

I know you think we caved to the anesthetizing cauldron of corporate propaganda and fascist machine of never-ending slavery by walking into the voting booth. I know you feel strongly that we should've opted out- that voting for the lesser of 2 evils is still voting for evil.

I'm sorry. Women before me were beaten and jailed, ridiculed and spat on for fighting for the right to vote and I refuse to disrespect them.

Also- the fact that there were many races won by liberal progressives- REAL liberal progressives like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Alan Grayson and Sherrod Brown means it DID matter- A LOT, to step into the voting booth. Just as the Tea Party wins of '10 caused a (horrific and embarrassing) shift in Washington, so too will the election of these people- but in a good way.

Because here's the thing-

Just because the election is over does not mean I and people like me will sit back and wait on our government checks and free cell phones (that's a joke, conservatives- have another cookie).

I and people like me will remain vigilant, will consider this a BEGINNING that needs to be tended and watched and will apply non-violent pressure when things seem to be going off-course. Things like Social Security, the ACA, women's rights, LGBT rights, veteran's rights- all must be preserved while at the same time getting OUT of wars we don't need to be in, doing a better job of getting away from fossil fuels and into not only clean and renewable energy sources but educating a nation in changing how we live so we don't USE so much- we are a very wasteful nation and that's not something to be proud of.

Because here's where the Tea Party Congressmen went wrong. They swept into DC and instead of pushing their stated agendas of fiscal responsibility and small, accountable government they got swept up in Mitch McConnell's "Our number one priority is to make Barack Obama a one term president" and knee-jerk voted against anything that could've helped themselves and their constituents just because it had his signature on it. Everything. Jobs. Economy. Everything. For two damn years.

They instead glommed onto anything Fundamentally Christian- limiting women's freedom by restricting access to health care- not just abortion (which isn't funded by taxpayers or the government- just reminding ya'll) but also access to ANY birth control. By trying to re-define rape- what the fuck is THAT about??? By making sure that In God We Trust is still our national motto (ya- since the '50's and McCarthy, not George Washington, but whatever) and that "Sharia Law will not become the law of the Land" (of course BIBLICAL Law is fine. Think. About. It.)

They did nothing to fix the economy or produce jobs and everything to make government BIGGER, MORE intrusive and MORE restrictive. Well, not for the guys who crashed the economy in '08, just for the rest of us. Especially if we're female, brown, young, old or disabled.

I believe the people I named above- who are now headed into office, WILL stay focused on the tasks at hand, not because they're liberals or progressives or college professors, but because they're not riding a tide of anger born of fear and mis-information, they're continuing to fight for what they believe in and doing what they've been doing for years- mostly out of sight and under the radar of the corporate-owned media. This will not be a sparkly new adventure to "storm the castle"- it's a new and important venue for their already-instilled personal goals for America.

I said before the election that voting 3rd party right now for president would not be a good idea, that what we needed is to fill some seats in Congress and the Senate with progressives who will then show America that they are NOT scary communists who want to take everyone's money and give it to those who don't deserve it. Only when America is shown that this will NOT cause the End of Ages and the coming of the Zombie Apocalypse will enough people seriously consider a 3rd party for the highest office of the land...and that there will be enough support in the other branches of the government to allow that person to function without constant and crippling opposition of the punitive kind (cough *Tea Party* cough).


I understand that if Romney had won, it would've been very difficult for him to do all the bullshit things he promised "On Day One". Things that would've caused my own family irreparable harm and the nation to go into absolute bankruptcy and chaos (not my opinion, that of many economists of all stripes- NO ONE could get his tax plan to add up, NO ONE).

And in two years you would've been very unhappy with how little of his grand promises he would've accomplished and been just as disillusioned and dis-satisfied with him and his WonderKid Paul Ryan as you are with Obama. Really. Trust me.

Because that's the way our government is set up- to sort of ensure that we don't have a dictatorship takeover. The way around that, of course, is to own all the media and skew the information to allow it to happen.

Yesterday, all around the country Americans stood in long lines, some in the freezing cold, for hours. I was so proud of them. They did not give up, they did not say, "Geez, this is gonna take FOREVER- screw this, I'm going home". They stood in line. They made sure their ballot recorded correctly and they made damn sure they voted.

I don't even care who they voted for.

They voted.

Today I have hope that there will be change. And it ain't anyone's motto I'm quoting.

Now. Lets all get to work, PULL TOGETHER- acknowledge OUR president and OUR government and lets fix this shit.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dear Romney Voter,

If your argument against Obama starts with "He's a Muslim" you need to grow a pair and just say "I'm not voting for the nigger"."

Your ignorance of the Constitution (which states that religion DOESN'T MATTER, is to have NO bearing on writing the laws of our land and that even if he IS Muslim- it's not against any freaking law- NONE) and your cowardice in stating your real reasons are equally unappealing.

Give me real, accurate reasons you prefer Romney over Obama to be the leader of our nation based on real, accurate facts or shut the fuck up.

To say, "He promised to fix the economy in 3 years and hasn't" is to completely disavow Romney stating, "No one can fix the economy in 4 years, but I can do it in 8 to 10 years".

To say, "He's all about class warfare" is to completely ignore Romney's "47% of America will never take responsibility for their own lives" comment.

Continuing to use the Muslim/Kenyan/Socialist/Marxist line is infantile and you're just really embarrassing yourselves.

So, yes. Please stop saying, "I'm not racist- this has nothing to do with him being black- some of my best friends are black", and just get your "Don't Re-Nig in 2012" bumper sticker and your "Put the White back into the White House" t-shirt and be done with it. Own your ignorance and your intolerance and your irrational fear-based hatred of anything different than yourselves and wear it proud so the rest of us can see you for what you are.

I'm not going to tell you to "GET OUT OF MY COUNTRY" if you don't believe the way I do- like most of your posts tell me when I calmly point out the inaccuracies of your statements, because it's your right to be infantile and embarrassing, and this is MY country, too- I know you hate being reminded of that.

Just as you hate being reminded that "Obamacare" is really just "Romneycare" and that's the real reason Republicans had nothing they'd replace it with- it's their own damn plan.

Just as you hate being reminded that the there are 2 main candidates running, only one is Christian, and it ain't Romney.

Just as you hate being reminded (and I hate acknowledging) that Obama's more of a warhawk than Bush was...oh. And that whole binLaden thing.

I DO have conservative friends and family who have thought things through and believe that Romney is the best choice based on what they think is important, and I respect that.

I respect without agreeing when faced with a thoughtful and intelligent argument for Romney. Oddly enough, not ONE of these people has ever once hollered "SHOW US THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE". They all believe that our current president is an American, and a Christian, and loves his country- and he's not in any way Hitler or Stalin. They don't think he's turning America into a 3rd world country or a communist hellhole. They just like their guy's ideas of what we need to do next better. Period.

Come Wednesday, if Romney is the winner I will NEVER EVER say "He's not MY president" because he will be.

The most I'll do if things take a turn for the worse due to Romney-nomics and you lament how badly your life is going, will be to remind you that you should not blame ME- I didn't vote for Romney.

I will continue to fight hard for the things I hold dear- healthcare, women's rights, gay rights, rights of veterans, senior citizens and children. No matter who sits in the White House I will continue to fight for all of these, because only by raising our voices will those in power even know we're here...and that we care...and are, in fact paying very close attention.

No matter who MY president is, this is MY country- as it is your country.

Our country is more divided now than it's been in my memory- will we be able to come together after this election to work towards something that even remotely resembles a country of the people, by the people and for the people? ALL the people? Even American citizens who worship, look and live differently than you do? Really?

I think 2 things will have to happen for this to become a reality.

Please, turn off FOX News. It's not news. It's propaganda meant for the express purpose of scaring you and diverting you with bullshit conspiracy theories.
I'm sorry.

Rush Limbaugh? Hannity? Beck? Need to be medicated heavily. They're all stark raving insane power-hungry pieces of pathetic humanity who are paid royally by their keepers to get you all worked up and voting exactly opposite of your best interests.
I'm sorry.

You see, Romney Voter- I have faith in you. I know you love America. I know you're not stupid. I know you work hard and are afraid that everything and everyone you're working to support and sustain will be snatched away from you.

I know you think I'm a soft squishy treehugging socialist patchouli-smelling hippie. You're right.

But I'm also angry. I'm angry at the corporations who own FOX News and those talk-show hosts who have so successfully mislead you into fearing our current president not because of anything real, but because of bullshit things like birth certificates and the proof that he's coming for all your guns being that he has enacted exactly ZERO gun control laws.

When you walk into the voting booth, think of the actual things you like about Mitt Romney- in detail. If the only reason you're voting for Mitt Romney is "because he's not Obama", I never want to hear you say it's not about race again.

24 hours. See you on the other side.


liberal, progressive, non-church-going AMERICAN

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Spoiler Alert- The Real Winner Will Be...

Two days.

We're down to two days before the elections and the only thing I know for sure is who will be the real winners.

I know it because of what I hear people around me saying. Because of what I read, and what I see.

I know it because this country is so fragmented, so divided, so absolutely and completely exhausted from working so hard, for so little, for so long while being pummeled from all sides with the frenetic activity of an election season- a thing that may start out in fairness and nobility but that ends up inevitably like a street fight-

both combatants weary from an interminable slog of following the rules of civil engagement and finally ending up down on the ground, jabbing thumbs into eyes and biting each other in an effort to just be the last one conscious- all illusions of a fair conflict followed by an honorable victory ground into the dust they're rolling in at the end, spitting curses at each other.

I cannot remember a time when fear and Faith have played such a big role in elections- and it's the Faith that's fanning the fear- bringing God into the political process when the Founding Fathers made it very clear that God is cool if that's what you want to believe...but not to determine the laws of OUR land- because not everyone believes in the same god you do, or has the same moral codes.

But that does not make those different from you second-rate Americans who don't love this country as passionately as you do. And it for damn sure doesn't mean that those who have a different Faith than yours (or no Faith at all) do not deserve the exact same representation in the government as you do.

And it's that very vocal, very opinionated, very suspicious-of-all-things-secular-governmental group of people who will pick the REAL winners come Tuesday night.

"If Romney wins, there will be rioting in the streets- every black neighborhood in the country is going to explode into a firestorm of rage. Make sure you're prepared- with FOOD and WATER in case of power outages and with GUNS and AMMO, of course."

"If Obama wins, he will immediately enforce martial law- rounding up Christians and putting them into concentration camps. Make sure you're prepared- with FOOD and WATER to bring with you into your secret hideout where you can avoid persecution and with GUNS and AMMO, of course".

It's a fact that the sale of all survival supplies, but most of all GUNS and AMMO went through the roof after Obama was elected in '08.

See where this is going?

Come Tuesday night, we'll either have a President Romney or a President Obama.

But the REAL winners will be the sellers of survivalist crap and GUNS and AMMO- those bottom feeders who make their livings off of encouraging and exploiting the fear of people.

The NRA never had a better friend than Barack Obama.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Just Wanted to Pass Along...

*We made it. And it didn't rain*

Even though the traffic was the worst we've ever encountered going to Galveston- BOTH WAYS

Even though this is the weekend of the Lone Star Biker's Rally and we shared the island with 400,000 bikers

-the state park was almost abandoned and marvelously peaceful

-Ward found a partial sand dollar (very special and unusual)

-I spent the day with 2 of the funniest, brilliantest, darlingest people on the planet walking my favorite stretch of beach in the world

And yanno what?

It was perfect.

*The Queen is pleased*

Friday, November 2, 2012

Because Having to Go to the Cancer Hospital Isn't Stressful Enough

I'm going to step out of character for just a bit here, and take a moment to rant.

*stop laughing*

Ward needs some pretty extensive dental work done and because of his many issues and the graft that we do NOT want to endanger by poking around and yanking shit out right there, his reconstructive surgeon and ourselves decided that the best place to have the surgery done was back at MD Anderson.

On accounta those guys in the dental department deal with nothing but "cancer teeth" all day long- and Ward's teeth are literally breaking off from the radiation they did 6 years ago. The radiation that did nothing to stop his cancer from growing back.

So our surgeon in the reconstructive surgery department called in a referral to dental for a consultation right away, and we waited.

Over a week later, I called to see what was up.

After the scheduler in reconstructive didn't get an answer from dental, she bounced the request back to the doctor, and he personally walked into the office of the head of the dental department and explained why Ward needed to be

So we went in for our consultation and they gave Ward "homework" of a prescription mouthwash and toothpaste for 3 weeks then return to see what his mouth looks like in its healthiest state.

He still needs 6 extractions in the regular operating room under general anesthesia.

The head of the dental department (who will be doing the surgery) said he'd have them schedule the IMPAC (pre-surgical appointment with the internist) for later that week or the next week at the latest. Later that week was last week and this week we're ending now is next week- the 'at the latest' part. They can't reserve the OR till after IMPAC. And he needs this done ASAP because
a) He's in constant pain
b) His teeth continue to break off
c) He can't eat well, nor does he want to because of his teeth

I thought it odd when the doctor said, "If you don't hear back with an appointment date in like 3 days, call and start bugging them".

I waited the 3 days.

Then I called and started bugging them.

I was told that "the order hasn't been placed for an IMPAC appointment".

I was told that "we haven't heard back from IMPAC".

I was told that "IMPAC can't schedule because there's an insurance issue".

See how that works? Everyone passes it along to someone else after the patient sits on hold and gets transferred over and over and over again while listening to the 'on hold' nauseatingly endless loop of

"Here at MD Anderson, we've put patient care as our first priority for over 60 years"

After 3 days, I made it to the final person in the Line of Blame- the lady in the business office in charge of insurance. I asked her what the problem was since he's had the same insurance for his last 2 surgeries and she sounded mildly surprised.

"There's no problem- they have it marked 'medical necessity' and insurance will take it automatically- all they need to do is get it scheduled".

So I worked my way back to the physician's assistant who told me she'd get right on it.

Several DAYS later, I called her again and was told that all the appointments would be made for this upcoming Friday and I said FABULOUS! There's a speaker Ward wants to see in Houston Friday night- we can drive down Thursday, do the hospital thing Friday, see AMY GOODMAN Friday night and drive home Saturday. Easy.

I asked her again- was she SURE about when the appointments would be? Because I had to make hotel reservations and work arrangements and all, plus order our non-refundable tickets.

She said, "Absolutely".

So I did.

I started watching for those appointments to show up on the handy MyMDAnderson website.


I waited a day.


I called again.

I was told, "Mr. Dixon doesn't have any appointments till February for his regularly scheduled cancer scans".

I made my way through the transfer/on hold gauntlet to be told, "They just haven't made it into the computer yet- should be today".

Yesterday (Wednesday) I started checking the website every 30 minutes or so.

FINALLY an appointment with the internist (but no lab-work) showed up...

...For Monday.

Troubled, I called again.

And was only able to make it through to voice mail.

I called the hotel and explained that we might NOT need to check in on Thursday after all, but that I would call for sure by the 24 hour in advance time limit to cancel. We love our hotel. We love the owners. Unfortunately, English is NOT their first language and he had a dickens of a time understanding what I was trying to say. When we completed the conversation I knew only that he had us down to check in Thursday, Friday, or not at all.

I waited.

Finally, the appointment with the oral surgeon showed up...

...For Tuesday.

VERY troubled now, I called again.

I left a message on voice mail stating my displeasure on now having to either choose NOT to attend our non-refundable event Friday night or to spend double the nights we'd been planning on in Houston, and missing double the time at work I'd been planning on.

Finally at 5:30 I called the hotel back to firm up our reservation- we're checking in tomorrow (Friday) and out on Tuesday.

When I got home, I told Ward the absolute clusterfuck of events and said, "There's no way they could've screwed this up more than they did- lookit this" and I pulled up the schedule on my computer.

Wait. I was wrong.

They COULD fuck it up worse.

There, brand new since 5:30pm, was a new appointment, not for lab-work, but with the oral surgeon AGAIN...


No shit.

12 hour notice. For a patient they know is 5 hours away.

At that point my head completely exploded.

I pressed the little "reschedule" button next to this morning's appointment and typed in-

What the hell?
Kimberly assured me yesterday that all Ward's appointments were being made for Friday- so I made hotel reservations accordingly and we paid for non-refundable tickets for something in Houston Friday night.
When I checked the schedule AFTER 5PM today there were only the Monday and Tuesday appointments (?), so I called the hotel and told them we'd be in Friday, not tomorrow, and we'd have to check out Tuesday, not Monday.
Now there's one for 8:30 TOMORROW MORNING???
We live 5 hours away and I HAVE to do payroll at work tomorrow. Even if I didn't, there's NO WAY you can schedule an appointment for someone who lives out of town with TWELVE HOURS NOTICE.
You are the 8th department we've had dealings with at MDA over the last 5 years, Ward hasn't even had surgery yet with ya'll, and this is by far the most messed up anything's ever been.
AND there's no lab work scheduled at all, which I'm assuming the internist will need BEFORE seeing Ward.
Here's what I need- I need ALL internist appointments on Monday. Leave Dr. Chambers on Tuesday.
Someone CALL ME tomorrow with our FIXED schedule- Ward's already stressed about this, we do NOT have money growing on a dang tree for extra nights away from home, I now need to tell my JOB that I'll be gone almost a week.
Seriously. I've never encountered quite this level of unprofessionalism. Ever.
The internist appointment was supposed to be scheduled for LAST week per Dr. Chamber's instructions and I called multiple times since I need to arrange so much here at home to be out of town and need LEAD TIME, was transferred innumerable times being told that it was "pending insurance" and when I finally got to Ms. Glover in the business office she told me that everything was fine- there were no insurance issues.
So this has been a frustration from day one.
It's very discouraging to have to deal with this sort of incompetency when my husband is in constant daily pain.
To be told over and over again how important my call and my husband are to MD Anderson while on hold really does nothing to help when being given the run-around.
Sheri Dixon

This morning *I* called THEM.

The scheduler had no idea how the 2nd appointment with the surgeon got there- claims she didn't do it since she'd been at home for several hours when that popped up.

She said she was very sorry about the whole Friday thing, but she had to work around the internist's schedule. I told her I understand that, but then the physician's assistant never should've told me EVERYTHING'S FINE FOR FRIDAY since now we're going to be out about $150 in extra hotel nights plus food.

I mentioned that I'd think the internist would want little things like BLOOD WORK and X RAYS before seeing Ward and she said, "Wow- you're right- good catch".

Here's what's so damn frustrating. This is not some little clinic- it's goddamn MD Anderson- one of the top 2 cancer hospitals in the WORLD. People come there from everywhere- most everyone there is NOT local- why the hell do they think they can give NO notice for appointments or change shit up without consideration of what that does to people's lives, work schedules, hotel reservations?

They've got an entire department of translators for every language from Spanish to Croatian for cryin' out loud- EVERYONE'S from out of town.

And it's not like this chick's got a million things to do- she's a scheduler. That's all she does. For like 2 doctors. Gimme a break.

When I'd finally picked up the pieces of my exploded head, I thought, "Fine. We haven't been to Galveston since before the last hurricane- we'll go there either Saturday or Sunday and there's always festivals and shit going on in Houston- we'll find stuff that's outside and free or mostly free to do on Saturday and Sunday.

I felt better.

Then I checked the weather forecast.

The only days there's a chance of rain in the next 14 days are...Saturday and Sunday.