Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!
At the risk of becoming a “woe is me” blog, I am sharing today’s latest cancer concern.
I made it through my 16th day of radiation with no bad side effects, but a slight amount of redness. Some nurse assistant (whom I had never seen, although she seemed to know my name) handed me a green printed handout that said I should add 1/4 cup of vinegar to 2 quarts of water and then soak a cloth in this and put it on my slightly red upper right quadrant. I am sorry that she handed me that really antiquated advice at that moment in time, because I was feeling fine until then and the redness was quite slight.
I thought when she told me this that it sounded like advice from the 1920’s. Why do I say that? My mother had a favorite story about her bad sunburn when she was 20 in 1927. She was supposed to be in a girlfriend’s wedding as a bridesmaid and they had to sew her into her dress. After that, she described exactly this therapy for her bad sunburn: vinegar in water. Surely there is something more up-to-date and modern in 2022, nearly 100 years later?
So, my husband and I (who had been actually out CELEBRATING how well I had been doing, dining at the TreeHouse in Davenport) secured a vat of vinegar roughly the size of my head (K & K Hardware) and carefully measured out this concoction and I spent most of the evening of 6/3 applying carefully wrung out cloths to my right breast.
This turned out to be a very bad idea.
In the night, I woke up in pain and realized that the skin under my right breast had totally sloughed off. This, despite having NO problems up to the point of the vinegar soaking. The difficulty is keeping the area under a 44D breast dry to heal, which I well know, so I was actually sleeping with a wash cloth tucked in strategically, but it didn’t help.
I now am very, very red and in a fair amount of distress and some pain, but I showed up for my radiation on time and, when I did, ran into Daniel, the male nurse, who asked how I was doing.
Me: “Not that great, Daniel. All of the skin under my right breast has left the building and it hurts like a son-of-a-bitch.” (At the time, I was waiting to be shepherded back to the radiation table, where I have spent the past 16 week days. This day would mark the halfway point of my 33 day ordeal. I was in “the pond,” pictured below.)
Daniel spirited me away to an examining room and secured a radiologist (not my normal one), who nixed radiation for the day and prescribed the ointment I had asked for much earlier in the festivities. (I wanted to have it on hand when/if things got bad). With a name like Silvathiazole, it immediately conjured up memories of the sulfathiazole ointment my parents always applied to injuries during all my growing up years.
Now I am applying this white salve (a prescription with sulfa in it) for 3 days (Friday/Saturday/Sunday), putting it on four times a day, [but not 3 hours before radiation]. I am scheduled to meet with my oncologist at 2 p.m. on Monday, and I have been told to show up a half hour early on Monday, to make sure that it is okay to radiate at all on Monday.
Known as “The Pond,” one waits for pick-up to the radiation room here.
The problem with all this is that I have a very narrow window of opportunity to get all this done before boarding a plane for Texas on June 30 to fly to Austin for the Family Fest. I was supposed to have been “done” on June 27. That has now become June 28th. Then, of course, we have to drive to Chicago, which will probably occur on the 28th or 29th—unless this doesn’t heal up. And we fly on the 30th.
Do I really expect this to heal up? It is impossible to keep this area dry. I learned this the hard way when all of my stitches from my low faneuil incision tore out after my second C-section in 1987. That was an emergency room visit with my then-19-year-old son doing the honors, as his father was busy being plant manager at a Deere plant.
So, whoever made the 1920-era suggestion of vinegar in water for ME, in particular: VERY BAD IDEA. I realize that the cumulative effect of the radiation is just now evidencing itself, but someone should have given some thought to the concept of trying to keep the midriff and under-the-breast area of someone with 44D breasts DRY during this sensitive period. Now, I’m paying the price and the jury is out on whether I will make it through 33 days of this or not by June 30th, when I leave.
Keep in mind that no less an authority than Iowa City, Iowa, told me that they would not have radiated me at all had I had surgery there. While I felt that some of that was ageism, some of that was sexism, and some of that was probably just the insurance company not wanting to pay for anything they could avoid, I am still in agreement that helping reduce the risk of recurrence was worth trying to go through radiation. Not sure if cutting off “the boost” part of the process (i.e., the last 5 days of the 33, when they aim the beams directly at the hole left by the incision, rather than simply radiating the entire upper right half of your body, as it seems we are now doing) will be enough. Not very happy that I was handed the green sheet with the 1920-era advice on it, which I blindly followed.
I remember asking how much of this 33 days would be necessary to do me any good after my May 6th Iowa City visit, on upping the odds of no recurrence and being told nothing very firm. It sounded, to me, as though the final 5 days might be omitted without that much loss of the % benefit, but what do I know?
This has really shot down our premature celebration of making it through the first half uneventfully. I can’t help but feel that the introduction of vinegar and water to treatment—which is about as old-fashioned as you can get—was a very bad idea. And I am crossing my fingers that this salve—which I asked for right out of the box for the time when this started to happen, which could have been predicted from the get-go given my uber-sensitive skin—works.
My best friend in Austin, Jennifer Berliner, died today (May 23, 2022). She was a heart transplant survivor and 44 years old. She and Adam, her husband, had just celebrated their twentieth wedding anniversary.We met playing euchre and hand-and-foot canasta and I encouraged her to start her blog, www.anewheartrocks.com. The post below is from Jenny’s blog and written some time ago. At one point, Jennifer wrote: “Honestly even if the end game is death, at some point that is okay too. Death is not a personal failure, it’s a biological ending. If I die, I won’t take it personally.”
Rest in peace, Jennifer. You fought the good fight. I will miss you, and so will the rest of your tribe.
“Maybe if I can shed light on how I endured a heart transplant, cancer and the death of my mother all at the same time, then maybe it could bring comfort to others facing their own adversity.
I’ve danced with death for so damn long that sometimes it’s work to remain optimistic, but I try. So many things are out of my control, and this infuriates me. In the face of these challenges, how do I instill hope in myself and others?
God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference. ~The Serenity Prayer
I wish I could share some recipe with how I overcame my adversities, unfortunately my recipe is complicated and unique to only me, the chef. No one wants to hear that it takes time and persistence. People want a quick fix, a panacea, and I don’t blame them. When you’re in pain, you need it to end quickly. Maybe from my list you will walk away with one or two strategies that I know helped me to go from surviving to thriving.
How I Avoided Death in 10 steps:
My top 10 survival guide is listed in random order, except number 1, because it’s the most important and that is: Do not attempt this on your own. Humans need other humans. If we are left alone we will die. When you are faced with insurmountable adversity, you need one person who will walk with you on this bumpy road.
Admittedly that one person can get exhausted, so ideally you need several people to
support you and walk at different times. A support system or what I call “my Tribe” includes my family, friends, fellow congregants at my synagogue, and friends from my card clubs. (I love playing cards. I’m 43 years old, but I’m really an old lady on the inside).
There was a time I begged for death. For months on end, during my Chemo to treat bone cancer, I contemplated dying. I only survived that experience because of the love of my family and friends. Then when I was faced with a heart transplant, my family was still at my side, and now I also had a husband who became an amazing caregiver. Adam spent months in the hospital with me. He was exhausted and yet his commitment never wavered. My sister also helped me out significantly during this time when I lived in her home for two years. And my friends, were incredible.
After my first battle with chemo, I made a pledge to myself that I was going to have good friends by being a good friend. Twenty five years later, these same friends were at my side. Taking time away from their jobs and children to put on gloves and stay days and nights with me in the transplant hospital. Incredible.
I have many people I love, so I will endure any pain to remain on this planet to be with them; likewise, their love keeps me afloat. A good support system is vital to my existence and well being. If you don’t have a support system, a good place to start is to get yourself to a place of worship. The community will surround you and it will lift you up in ways you can’t imagine.
I’ve been in counseling on/off for most of my life. I need guided relaxation and hypnotherapy to get me through painful procedures. Then I need the talk therapy to get past the trauma.
I’ve also had to learn (and still relearn) coping skills to get me through the traumas I’ve experienced. We are not born with inherent knowledge of coping skills, they are all learned, so I go to counseling at different times in my life. I’ll keep this one short and sweet, you get the idea.
Ok, medication is really how I should title this section, but you get my point.
I don’t take anything that isn’t prescribed because I am a transplant recipient and even a herbal mouthwash can prevent my anti-rejection medication from working. With that said if I’m in pain or facing an uncomfortable procedure, I will not let a doctor or nurse shame me into thinking I’m not brave (I’ve already proven I’m crazy brave).
I am no longer willing to soberly submit myself to a drill in my back (bone marrow aspiration) or a 2 hour MRI (in a casket). My mind and body have their limits and if medication can help, then I’m taking it.
My Mum was always at my side cheerleading me on while she received more than her share of mistreatment and suffering. My Dad also spent countless nights at the hospital. The scales were terribly unfair towards both of them, but particularly towards my Mum because I lashed out at her the most. I was rotten and had terrible coping skills, but somehow she persisted too. I think like a cub I just followed my mama bear. The biggest gift my Mum gave me during this time was being with me, so that I wasn’t alone. This empowered me, fueled my grit and gave me the ability to keep the course. Misery loves company.
I also focused on the idea that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, that someday this Chemo will be over or that I will heal from my heart transplant. Honestly even if the end game is death, at some point that is okay too. Death is not a personal failure, it’s a biological ending. If I die, I won’t take it personally.
5, Goal Setting & Rewarding Myself:
My idea of setting goals happened organically. I was refusing Chemotherapy at age 15 and I bribed my parents for money over the course of many months to help me buy a car. I’m not proud of this manipulation, but we both got something we wanted out of the deal. They got a more compliant, less hostile patient who did her Chemo and I got to dream about my car and freedom. (My car was an old beater and I loved it).
Since then I’ve kept my eye on the apple. I have set many goals in my life and achieved every single one of them. It takes time, patience and mindfulness to set and achieve your goals. These steps can be slow with setbacks at times. However, the reward is sweet.
I’m still setting goals, most of which include traveling somewhere. On my bucket list after my heart transplant is going to Paris. This is a big one and I’m hoping to go next year. I’m planning now for it.
6, “It Could Be Worse” & “Not Sweating the Small Stuff”:
I’ll use bumper sticker mantras any day if will help.
Not sweating the small stuff is easier said than done. The more I’m faced with challenges, the more I have to let some things or even relationships go, so that I have the energy to battle with the life and death issues in my life. Some might say, that I have developed a fuck-it attitude or that I don’t care. This is actually not true, I care so much that I have to walk away sometimes or I will make myself physically sick from worry. I have to set boundaries sometimes, and these lines can be tough to draw.
“It Could Be Worse” is a mantra I’ve used many times to get me through painful procedures. Like an athlete before the big game, I have to use self-talk to get ready to do a procedure, like when I talked myself into staying strong right before going in the OR for my heart transplant. I was tearful at the idea that my unknown donor died leaving me such a profound gift. I was so grateful that I had a heart. I spent months exploring this issue in therapy. And when it came down to it, I thought it could be worse: my donor could’ve died with viable organs and not be an organ donor and I wouldn’t have a heart. It really could’ve been worse.
In the meantime, I encourage you to consider what mantra helps you and is uniquely you?
I was born at the right time, in the right country with the right resources.
I was born in time when Chemotherapy was available and had been honed over 25 years to become more effective at curing childhood cancer. Then when I needed a heart transplant many years later, Cyclosporine (an anti-rejection drug) revolutionized the body’s ability to keep the transplanted organ, increasing my chances of survival.
Finally, not many want to hear this but this, but it’s the brutal truth–I was born with access to the right financial resources. I could afford health insurance and I was born in the United States, which performs 66% of the all the transplants in the world.
In many ways, I won a lottery. The odds that I slipped through the time-space continuum to make all these things happen, which have contributed to my ability to cheat death, not once or twice but three or four times is incredible.
I can’t not explain my luck other than the circumstances of my birth. I have deep gratitude for my position and realize that many others at home and around the world do not have my opportunities.
I know that time also makes a difference and I’m mindful to honor those they went before me. My paternal grandfather died at age 36 in the 1960s with his “body riddled with cancer,” per his autopsy. I suspect he had the same heredity cancer than I had (something I only discovered in the early 2000s, thanks to the Genome project and the advent of the internet). My grandfather and others like him, endured great suffering to help our medical advances.
American values teach us that if you work hard enough, your merit will be rewarded. However, I believe that luck also plays a part in making someone’s dreams come true. Well how do I get Lucky? I don’t know, and for that reason I apologize that Luck is even on my list of how I cheated death, because you can’t recreate luck. It’s unfair.
For years, I avoided internet searches and I didn’t watch any videos about Heart Transplant prior to having the surgery. That’s pretty unbelievable when you consider I read reviews just to buy new bed linens. When it came to transplant, I was too scared. This surgery is not optional and I just had to plow through it, so why get bogged down in the gory details. Ignorance is bliss.
Instead I met face-to-face with a few heart transplants recipients that I met through friends (we’re a small community). Interestingly they all approached me the same way. They told me briefly about the what’s, why’s and where’s but when it came time to really get down to the details, they said “ask me questions. Every person’s experience is different, so rather than me just go on and on, ask me your questions and I’ll tell you my experience.” Wow, this blew my mind. Especially, now that I’m on other side, I understand why they approached our talks with opened ended questions and avoided advice giving.
Everyone has their own journey. When I mentor a pre-transplant recipient, I don’t offer advice, instead I listen, I validate, I empathize and I share my feelings. Ok I will offer this advice, when in the hospital always pack an extension cord, so that your cell phone can be in the bed with you and you can reach it. Jokes asides, no one can predict how well they will do during the transplant, so all I can do is sit beside them on their journey, and perhaps my presence encourages hope that they will survive and thrive too.
Laughter really is the best medicine. During my darkest days, I find that I watch the most vapid, silliest TV shows or read trash novels. I don’t have the heart for violent movies (pun intended). But give me back-to-back episodes of “Schitt’s Creek” or “The Derry Girls” and I’m a happy woman. I need light hearted humor and laughter to offset my tears.
Prior to my transplant, I was crying a lot. I was depressed and grieving my Mum’s terminal cancer diagnosis. My brother-in-law, a funny guy, set his ring tone to a woman sobbing, so that when I called he heard tears. He said he wanted to be prepared to take my calls. I quickly stopped sobbing myself and laughed until I was out of breath. The Greeks taught us that Humor is a powerful antidote to Tragedy.
The secret to Humor in the face of adversity is that you have to actively seek it out. Be mindful to block media that takes you down and instead focus on the stuff that lifts you up. Yes, I am telling you to binge watch your favorite TV shows.
Asking for Help & Self-Care
The first time, I reached out to ask if friends could make meals felt awkward and embarrassing. I couldn’t eat restaurant food because it was too salty, so food had to be prepared at home during my quarantine. I was physically incapable of cooking, my sister & her husband both had full time jobs and a baby, my Mum had cancer and my Dad was her Caregiver. My husband worked in Austin three hours away and when he was in town over the weekend, he would make low sodium casseroles to last for the week. But if he couldn’t cook them, we had a challenging week.
When a friend said to me, “let me know how I can help you,” I wasn’t prepared. Don’t let the moment just flitter away in fear and awkwardness like me. Be prepared for a real conversation the next time this question is asked. Consider replying with, “Well, how or what do you think you’re up for?” Then be ready with a small list they can choose from: meals, babysitting, yard work, driving or attending doctor’s appointments.
Most of your loved ones may be unsure of how to help you. Each person has a desire to help, combined with some sort of skill that can be brought to the table, so take a moment to consider their best role. My neighbor adores dogs and she was invaluable to us with last minute pet sitting that turned into weeks at a time.
Asking for help is a form of self-care, but more specifically the act of “self-care” is doing things that make you feel better. Maybe it’s taking a walk in the park. Ok, well with Congestive Heart Failure it might not be a walk, so take a beautiful Sunday drive.
Me, I love to go to the movies. For those two hours, I get to escape and enter another world. My dad and I would go to the Dollar Theater once a week when I was in chemo. We snuck in candy from the nearby Walgreens. The whole ritual was fun and a diversion from my grim reality. Caregivers, just as much as the patients, must engage in self-care to combat Caregiver Fatigue or Exhaustion. The point of self-care is to actively pursue JOY. So it is my hope for you, especially during times of adversity, that you are mindful of experiencing JOY every day.
Bonus 11) Try to be “OK” with not knowing….
I’ve talked to many people facing a heart transplant and the answer they really want, that they need to hear is: Am I going to live? Am I going to be ok?
No one, not even the doctors can give a straightforward answer on your mortality. Sitting with the anxiety that your dying (that’s the only way to qualify for an organ transplant), compounded by the lack of knowledge of when you’ll get The Call for the transplant surgery, only to then consider if you’ll live through the surgery…well, this will make you lose a lot of sleep. You may experience restlessness, anxiety, bouts of crying and maybe even agitation at times. This is normal considering the extraordinary circumstances you are under as you wait for an organ transplant.
Connect with someone who’s had a transplant or is in the chemo chair next to you. If you’re on the other side then consider mentoring someone on the wait list. Your hospital social worker or nurse coordinator can make introductions. Or join a Facebook group in your area for your specific issue. When you’re facing a medical crisis, you realize that the community attending your hospital is relatively small.
You do not have to do this alone. And there will be moments when you will be in the dark and it’s feels vulnerable, annoying like info is being purposely withheld (it isn’t) and ultimately, thoughts wander to those of death and dying, another thing out of your control. Take deep breaths, cry when you need to cry, and consider what coping strategies you can use to get you through moments of anxiety. Me, I would call or text a loved one or a friend.
In closing, find comfort in both prayer and the science behind the medicine. Transplant recipients are chosen for the likeliness that will do well in the surgery. Check your transplant program’s surgical outcome rates, they should be posted everywhere. Finally, remember you are surrounded by your medical team, family, friends and supporters from all over the world rooting for you.
If you need to chat or you have questions, send me a message or email. I read every comment and reply.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. I hope that in some small way it helped lessen your burden for whatever troubles you are facing.”
I clicked on a “Daily Mail” article on my Facebook page, which took me to a page where a picture of Dick Van Dyke appeared. This was a picture of the 96-year-old actor and his 50-year-old wife. The ones I have seen of Dick and his wife all dressed up for things like the Kennedy Center Honors have been quite flattering, but this photo was a candid shot of the former song-and-dance man dressed casually and apparently about to enter a car with his young wife. He was bent over, his concave chest exposed, and he had a gigantic full beard that resembled David Letterman’s. In other words, it was not a flattering picture, when compared to many others.
Someone had posted this unflattering photo and said, “Dick Van Dyke is 96. Doesn’t he look great?”
My entire remark/comment was, “Define ‘great.’” And so it begins.
I was being entirely serious about wanting to hear why the poster would find this photo so “great.”
Soon, a woman who claimed to be a nurse at the National Health Service in the United Kingdom wrote, “Be kind.”
I was legitimately confused as to how asking the simple question “Define ‘great’” was not being “kind.” The kind thing to have done would have been to select a more flattering photo of the duo—probably one where they were dressed up for an evening event and knew their photo was going to be taken. Of course, the full beard was a bad look for Dick, just as it is for David Letterman. [Some other comments below my own noted this.]
I sent the woman who had done the “Be Kind” posting this remark: “Wow! Such snark! I would have liked the person originally making the comment to specifically say what they felt was ‘great’ about the Dick Van Dyke photo. He looks much more bent over than in the photos I have seen of him in the recent past, and the beard is not a good look. He does not look ‘great,’ nor do most people at age 96, which I think was your snarky message to me, a person you don’t even know in the midst of cancer treatments. YOU ‘be kind.’ Geez.
I added, “I’d unfriend you but you’re not my friend in the first place.”’
The “Kind” lady responded: “Don’t pull the I’m going through cancer treatment as a reason to be a cow, Sweetie. Get a grip and get on with your life.”
Me: “I asked a legitimate question. YOU are the one being ‘unkind.” I think the photo was a poor one for Dick Van Dyke.” I added, “Why don’t you go have a stiff drink instead of behaving like a name-calling low life.”
Ms. Poole reacted with 4 smiley face emojis and the words, “You need help, Love.”
I responded, “Yes, trolls like you are out there trying to pick fights with others whom they do not even know.”
Our “kind” nurse then said: “Don’t make comments if you can’t take the criticism. Brave over a message, aren’t you?”
Me: “It was a simple inquiry into why that particular photo, which is very bad of Dick Van Dyke, was termed ‘great’ by the poster.”
Our kind nurse responded: “Go away, you ridiculous woman.” (UPDATE: On a different blog, tonight, 5/20/2022), the “Be kind” woman denies being a nurse or saying that she worked for the National Health Service. I do realize that the NHS probably has office workers, as well, so take your pick, but I quoted her back to her from my own copy of the exchange, which was mostly her being horrific to me. I purposely avoided using any profanity and—aside from the remark about her foot in the blocking door—chose to ignore commenting on some truly comment-worthy photos that make my pose on the steps of the AMC in Chicago at the Film Festival look like Cannes this week.)
Me: “YOU are the ‘unkind’ one who inferred otherwise. I asked for clarification. That photo was NOT a good pic of Dick Van Dyke. If you think it was, I would hate to see your wedding photos.” (Actually, only engagement photos and only from 2021, but verry comment worthy, had I chosen to go there.)
The “kind” nurse then called me “an absolute tool,” but typed it as “toof.” I responded, “ Toof. Define ‘toof.’ (lol)” Kind Nurse: “TOOL. Learn to read.” Me: “Yeah. Right. I’ve written 50 books, Sweetheart. And I taught reading. So, wrong insult.” Kind Nurse: “And yet you are unable to read.” (*Owned and operated a Sylvan Learning Center for Reading and other improvement for close to 20 years and taught reading at the junior high school level for 18 years before that. In other words, like Trumpists, an insult with no basis in fact whatsoever.) Me: “You are a strange person who goes around telling complete strangers to be a ‘kind’ person because they ask for clarification. I am very able to read and to block, both of which I have done. Not sure how long it takes to kick in but hopefully sooner rather than later. My remark was very benign. Look it up. Yours was very snotty and snarky. And, yes, you are attacking a person with stress from recent cancer diagnosis, so give yourself a medal for what a huge bitch one would have to be to do that.” Kind Nurse:“Clearly I’m living rent-free in your head as you keep trying to justify yourself. For someone who teaches reading and writes books your punctuation is shocking. Guess you have to have someone proofread for you.” (*Everyone who writes has proofreaders. I am often that proofreader for others. After stints at 5 colleges, my proofreading is not in question, but my typing in a white heat probably was.) Me: “Glad to see you’re engaged, at least. Close in age to Dick Van Dyke, are you? That last remark was so amusing I almost laughed. You and Dick would make a handsome pair.” Kind Nurse: “You need to get back on your medication, dear. Clearly off your trolley.” (*As a cancer survivor, I take 8 pills a night, none of them having to do with mental health,all of them having to do with staying alive and getting well.) Me: “All I asked for was clarification about what the person meant by the term ‘great.’ That was a horrible picture of Dick Van Dyke. Your calling me a “cow” simply seems to mean “takes one to know one” judging from your photo.” (*OK…I couldn’t stop myself after seeing this person’s photos, which were underwhelming. My bad. Apologies all around, but I definitely was the restrained one.) Kind Nurse: “There are horrible photos of you in your leopard print, but we didn’t comment on that, did we?” She added that my outfit was “monstrous.” [Outfit is brown fabric with gold overlay and not a leopard in sight. It’s one of my favorite jackets, very expensive, and never fails to elicit compliments when I wear it in person—one of them from Vanessa Redgrave.] Me: “Leopard print? Lol. That was Cher. Well, at least I wasn’t hung up on somebody 96, as you seem to be. That is not a leopard print. Get some glasses.” Kind Nurse: “It’s a bit blurry, which is probably best, considering.” (Definitely agree that it is blurry; that’s what happens when you count on your spouse for photos. Maybe, if you ever get one, you will also experience this.) Me: “Don’t forget your advice; Be kind. You are SO kind, aren’t you?” At this point, typing rapid-fire, I typoed some spelling errors, causing the kind nurse to say, “For fuck’s sake, woman, learn to spell.” (punctuation mine; nurse had none.When your Big Comeback is because a person typing at the speed of sound misses a letter, you are desperate.) Me: “I think you meant “chuck” but then, spelling is not your forte. Ooooo. Here comes the profanity. Good for you. The last refuge of the brain damaged. You do this after telling others to ‘be kind?’”
The kind UK nurse then typed, in all caps: CAN YOU ACTUALLY READ (Question mark missing).
Me: “You set such a great example of kindness. I can read, but the vote is out on you.”
She then typed YOU in all caps, as I had typed so quickly that the “y” did not make it to the page. Again, a simple typo, which is quite obvious—unless you are blind or really reaching.)
Me: “No need for ALL CAPITALS OR profanity. Not from the “be kind” lady. Wow. I love to see your “kindness” in action. What a gal.” The “kind nurse” then said: “So far the only person who can’t spell or read is you.” (No comma after “so far.”) Me: “I disagree, and so do others. Kind nurse: “Thought you had me blocked.” (Definitely.) Me: “I have. Not sure how long it takes to work. You probably stuck your ugly foot in the block door before it closed.” (Been so long since I’ve blocked someone that I’ve forgotten the basics.) Kind Nurse: “It’s instant if you do it right.” (I probably did not do it “right.”) Me: “And I do mean ugly.” (I had just gotten a gander at the engagement photo of the middle-aged couple.) Kind Nurse: (with emojis) “Says you?” Me: “Go harass someone else, OK? Go demonstrate how “kind” you are to them. I just think it is quiteironic that a person tells ME to “be kind” and then insults me for 20 minutes. Don’t you find that a bit ironic? Or don’t you know what the word means? And all I said was that I wanted a better definition of “great” for a bad photo. Next time, consider whether YOU are “being kind.” Kind nurse: “YOU messaged me first, you (sic) strand woman.” [Please note: the word ‘strand’ was obviously a typo, which I did not point out, as Ms. NHS had been doing repeatedly, because it is not difficult to figure out that the person, if not typing “live,” would probably have done fine with the word. Take note, Tracey.] Me: “Yes, I messaged you because of your stupid remark and then I wrote it up on MY page, which may cause some discussion. We have voted that YOU are the “unkind” one. I was simply asking for some clarification of the term ‘great.” How is that “unkind?” I recently saw a cool photo of Dick Van Dyke in a traffic accident situation, and it was “great.” He was driving a sports car and there had been a minor accident. The photo you thought was so great was unflattering. Perhaps that photo of me is, as well, but that is NOT—repeat NOT—a leopard print. Geez. You really do need to have your glasses checked if you think that is a leopard print. You can check out the post I’m going to put up on my blog. It will, no doubt, get a big laugh from readers. (At least it’s some new material.)” Kind Nurse: “Yeah. I have seen the self-centered woe-is me blog.” (Kindness personified! I had only a couple short articles re health; neither was “woe is me.” I’m well on my way to 100% survival and grateful for it, but the lack of sensitivity of this NHS employee–now claiming to NOT be a nurse—is astonishing. And, in my case, there is proof, while we are simply going to have to take Tracey’s word for her own statements. I hope the kidney donation thing is true, but she’s already back-tracked on the nurse/NHS and next contention will be that the NHS was just something convenient to say, as she insulted me about my lack of a “carer” (misspelling hers) last night. After 40 years of working—18 as a teacher and the rest as CEO of 2 businesses and teaching writing at 6 colleges, I have had a “career” and am now self-employed as a writer, blogger, and film critic. All of which is supported by plenty of proof.) Me:“Actually, my last post was all about famous women I have photographed. You must be behind, as usual. Catch up.” Kind Nurse: “You are psycho.” (Ah, the good old insults, again. I’m the least “psycho” person you know, but, like all people just minding their own business and trying to be a good person, I did not appreciate being insulted for half an hour by some wacko in England who seems to think that mistyping in the wee hours of the morning indicates an inability to write or spell. Guess again; once again, you picked the WRONG insult and aimed it at the WRONG person. At this point, Ms. NHS made some remark about me “thinking I was the only person in the world with cancer,” (also nice, like the rest of her remarks). My response: Me: “Did I say I was ‘the only person in the world’ with cancer? You must live a sheltered life if you think that. One in every 8 women in America will get what I have, they say, and the advice to “be kind” might be followed by someone with a conscience who is a nurse (or an NHS employee). Instead, you enjoy insulting me, making fun of my outfit, calling me names, and being a truly unpleasant person. I think you are in the wrong line of work.” (*This person either lied about working for the NHS, denying her nurse status, or is now nervous about how insensitive and truly crass her remarks were. Good. I hope that the many fans of my “The Color of Evil” series in England report her to their NHS. Nobody working with sick people should be this mean-spirited and vicious without cause. I shall continue to refer to this person as “the kind nurse” as an ironic appellation that is just as good as “the kind NHS employee.” Of course, it is entirely possible that she lied, since none of the accusations leveled at me held the slightest water. Again, its like revisiting the Trump years.)
At this point, I typoed (again) causing the kind nurse to retype the word “names” ( left out the “m”). My response? “Yeah. I’m typing 250 wpm, so deal with it.” (another typo on “with” as “with”)
Me: “I did exactly 2 blog posts on my treatment, to let my readers know. Next, I will tell how “kind” Tracy Poole has been to a stranger. I believe it will start with the “cow” remark and go on to the “leopard” print incorrect observation.”
At this point, the “kind nurse” comes out with: “Maybe tell them how I donated a kidney to a stranger, as well.” (*True or not true? Just tonight, there was a denial of her own contention about the NHS, unless she is splitting hairs and does something other than nursing, which I sincerely hope is the case! If it’s true, then perhaps search your conscience and fire off an apology for your “unkind” behavior and we’ll call it even, although it is not. I need people like you in my life right now like I need another surgery.)
Me: “Did they take part of your frontal lobe, as well? Maybe the cortex? You don’t seem to “get” the “be kind” advice you dish out. If you’re going to dish that out, then follow it yourself. I think you can get along without one kidney, but you are really in need of some additional brain cells. Most of us would NOT say “be kind” to a total stranger and then do their best to be shitty to them for a good long time. By the way, the little laughing emojis aren’t working. The emoji for you is MIA. So, remember: BE KIND. And if someone wants clarification of why the worst picture in the world of old Dick is called “great,” don’t start insulting them, okay? Dick definitely ought to lose the full beard was the point. He looks terrible in that photo, while I agree that he has aged well, otherwise (until thatphoto was taken, anyway). You, on the other hand, are a whole different kettle of fish and you are NOT ‘kind.’ I also don’t believe that you ever donated a kidney to a stranger. You do not seem to have the right mental make-up to BE KIND.”
There was more, but that is enough to raise my blood pressure a few points. It was mostly just insults aimed at me, anyway, which gets repetitious fast.
UPDATE of 5/20/2022: So, now the NHS employee (possibly NOT a nurse, but NHS employee) is sending me messages on my seldom-used phone at what is 1 a.m. CDT (more insults). She is maintaining her “kidney donation” story is true, but denying she is an NHS nurse. I have no personal knowledge of either, so take your pick. If she donated a kidney, I hope she can get back some of that compassion for others, because she has shown me none, and I’m not going gently into that good night.
But—and here’s the thing—last night, amongst her gloating, vicious, often profane and always insulting remarks—Tracy said: I’m living rent-free in your head.” Ha! It seems that she blocked but then UNblocked me and on and on. Just to be clear, this is NOT Facebook,Tracey. It’s my blog, in existence since 2007, and my most active fan base is probably in the U.K. (I once did a book signing in Australia, but England, where I was an exchange student in my college days, has quite a few fans of my books, so good on me.)
I already blocked “the kind nurse”, as much as I remember the procedure, so I have no idea why she is continuing to insult and bug me late at night, our U.S. time. My phone will be off soon, so have fun with that, then.
If she really DOES work for a health organization, she might (if she were really compassionate enough to donate a kidney) think about things anyone in my shoes is going through and realize just how crappy her remarks were and continue to be.
I’m not attempting to contact her in any way, so I have no idea why she keeps blowing up my phone with HER remarks, which should, if the world were just, be an apology. Her mean comments were really low. I hope she feels a certain degree of shame/regret. I don’t think it is likely, but that is one good reason to update.
However, as for me, I have “blocked” her but she, herself, says she UNblocked to send me more insults.
“Great,” she said grimly. I, too, have a copy of her remarks to me and–aside from the foot-in-the-block door remark (with apologies all around for a fleeting lapse in judgment)–I was pretty chill. So, Tracey, what I would say back at you (one of your “taunts” last night) is: “Gee. I seem to be living rent-free in your head.” There will be no photos of this woman. It’s late, but it’s not THAT late.
Craig, Stacey, Connie, Wrigley the dog, Elise and Ava
My apologies to those of you who have checked my blog routinely and have found nothing new.
I learned I have cancer (via biopsy) on December 10th. Quite frankly, it has thrown me for a loop. I was advised to cancel my hostessing of close to 20 people at my house, but I went ahead, anyway, and surgery is imminent.
My sister-in-law thanked my husband for his efforts in hosting the Dec. 24th and Dec. 25th event, which went on until 3 a.m. one night and 2 a.m. the other.
News flash: I did all the planning, purchasing, and cooking. The health risks, for me, were considerable because of Covid. My surgeon suggested that I not do it. [Next time, maybe mention me, as well?]
I have seen quite a few of the movies out now and will return tomorrow with comments about: “West Side Story;” “Licorice Pizza;” “C’mon, C’mon;” and others.
Again, my apologies to faithful readers. Oh! And good wishes in the health category are always appreciated. Those were also in short supply.