Category Archives: Idaho

Quick Update on all things ever.


So much has happened. Sorry I have not posted. My treatment has been strangely uneventful, and not nearly the horror show Hollywood portrayals of chemo would lead one to expect. Mostly I am fine. Pol has been there at my side for every single treatment and all the fun in between. (Hey Pol…I love you. Thank you for being by my side through this. You make it all so much easier.) In general,  have much to be thankful for and I am thinking that 2013 will be my best year yet. So here is the quick update.

Hair: mostly gone but comes back as peach fuzz between treatments a bit, then falls out a bit. I still have eyebrows and eyelashes, so mostly, with a little creative scarf tying, I pass for devoutly Muslim rather than seriously ill. This is ok and I am actually more comfortable with this. The cancer stories I was collecting from strangers were sort of bringing me down. Not because I don’t care about their experiences — but because I have a bit too much empathy sometimes. But just to contrast,  I met a very nice Muslimah lady the other day and chatted about modest fashion (something I am rapidly falling in love with) and gave and exchanged compliments and felt PRETTY for the first time in a while, and got some cultural insight as well. Did you know that followers of Islam are required to greet anyone who appears to be a fellow Muslim, and required to return the greetings of fellow Muslims with an even more generous blessing in return? What a lovely and practical commandment. I have learned the appropriate response, now, for the next time it happens to me. Although the easiest thing to do is simply to say hello first in a way that is polite but identifies me as a non-Muslim and saves confusion. (Or maybe creates confusion? Certainly engenders discussion, which I enjoy.) Still, it’s nice to know the response in case I need it, and it certainly is lovely.

And the holidays. Thanksgiving: took Pol to meet my family. They loved him and it was awesome. Saw some old friends and that was also awesome! Christmas: got to meet Pol’s extended family. I loved them and it was awesome. New Years: Spent with much-loved Bozeman friends, and it was awesome.

Chemo: progressively less awesome, but beats the alternative. No really seriously debilitating side effects, but work is a struggle the week after treatment and I am very tired. Fortunately I have an amazing boss who is a good friend and takes it as easy on me as she possibly can. Thanks, Sadie!

One funny anecdote: during the very first chemo treatment, they were very concerned about the possibility of horrible side effects. My “horrible side effect” was…drumroll please…my right index finger began twitching and spasming in the oddest fashion. HORRIFIC!!! This was enough to bring the whole treatment grinding to a halt while they paged the doctor, who quirked a brow and sort of bit his lip and said, “I have never observed that particular reaction before.” And then we carried on. I still laugh when I remember the look on his face. Solid gold.

And speaking of thanks, huge thanks go out to Keith Suta, Ryan Cassavaugh, and the Don’t Close Your Eyes Live Radio Theatre crew, who held a tremendously successful benefit performance for me in mid-December and greatly helped to defray my health insurance costs and other expenses. I love you guys!!! Dear readers, please visit their website, go to the vault, and download some episodes for free…share them with all and sundry…they deserve to be noticed in a big way for their talent and for their kindness.

Thanks, also, to the others who brightened up my Christmas season…Keith and Sarah, Ryan and Sadie, Sherry & Rudi, Marcie, Linnea, Melanie, and the amazingly talented author, Ms. Cynthia Hand, who has a new book coming out very, very soon. I would claim to be on pins and needles…except I GOT TO READ IT ALREADY, thanks to her thoughtfulness. Squee!!! No other response is really appropriate, except….THANK YOU, CYNDI!!! Oh, and here are links to her books. They are fabulous, fabulous young adult fiction featuring a really tough and really relatable teenage female heroine who actually takes charge of her own life and destiny in the most empowering way. I cannot recommend them enough for anyone who has teenagers in the house. Or adults, for that matter. I have quite a few adult friends reading and loving these novels as well.  The books in order: Unearthly, Hallowed, Radiant, and Boundless. Do not delay. Get these books. Read them. Cry a lot, and then feel strangely happy about it all. I did!!

I think that’s about it. I am over 1/3 through chemo, and after my next treatment, they will PET scan me again to see how much progress has been made. I am looking forward to it, and I will let you know how it all goes.


Anne Rice, babies in boxes, and compassion.


Might as well start off by offending absolutely everyone.

Anne Rice posted a link to this article on her Facebook page today. It got a lot of comments, as you might imagine. What surprised me, as a long-time Anne Rice reader, was that the general tone of the comments was strongly anti-abortion, and beyond that, frankly rather judgemental. Nobody seemed to want to know why this happened or what would’ve allowed this woman to make a better choice. They just wanted to condemn.  There wasn’t even interest in the lawsuit, per se. It was all about what a horrible person this woman was.

And they were, a lot of them, confused about why Anne Rice was posting “controversial” discussion topics. Anne Rice has always been controversial. She’s gone from being the atheist author of some rather purple prose, to a redeemed Catholic, and back again, and she’s still trying to find herself.  Which is the main reason I still like her! She’s still fluid. Good for her!

So Anne Rice fans = not who I expected. Not at all.  But who is? Anyway, the more I read, the angrier I got. And finally I had to post a response, because growing up in Idaho, it made horrible, awful, sick, absolutely logical sense to me, what this woman had done. And I cannot believe nobody else gets it. I’m not saying it was the best choice, or even a good choice, but oh yes, I see how she got there. So how about it, can we have some compassion, people?

Verbatim from the discussion thread on Anne Rice’s page:

“I’m from Idaho and I have some things to say. First of all, why does everyone assume that this woman had drunken unprotected sex and then blithely decided to terminate her pregnancy because it was inconvenient? The facts suggest otherwise. She’d have done it earlier, for one thing. 5-6 months? That suggests a powerful internal struggle to make this decision. Why did she have it in a box? This is a no-brainer if you put yourself in her shoes. She grieved. She wanted to bury it, even if only in her backyard or the woods somewhere. Does it not seem self-evident, just from the fact that she kept the fetus, that this was NOT an easy decision? Anyone with a shred of compassion would see that. The fact that the charges were dismissed, in such a conservative area, also suggests that there were circumstances we are unaware of, meriting our compassion. Unfortunately I have seen little compassion or christian forgiveness on this thread..only assumptions and judgementalism.

All BC has a failure rate. My mother had seven children. She got pregnant again and again and AGAIN, through multiple forms of birth control. As a devout Mormon, her only choice was to carry those pregnancies to term, regardless of her health, and raise the children, no matter the hardship to the exisiting children. If she’d even tried to adopt them out, she would have been met with a world of judgement and opposition. She’d have been told that she needed to have more faith that the Lord would provide. Now, the LDS church is HUGELY dominant in this woman’s area, including in the medical profession…so that’s the climate in which she made this decision.

I grew up in that climate too. Personally, I am uninsurable due to several chronic health conditions, which also mean I probably shouldn’t have kids. Among my problems, I suffer from migraines, which means I can’t take hormonal BC because it creates a stroke risk. So my choices are: abstinence, condoms, complete sterilization, or an IUD. I tried to get an IUD at the government clinic in Idaho, and I was dismissed out-of-hand. I was told there was no funding, that I was not “high risk” enough to merit receiving the procedure because they had so few devices, and that an IUD was not an option for someone who had not had children. (That last is incorrect information, by the way.)

I shouldn’t have been surprised, because Idaho legislators are pretty stone-age. Some of them are on record as stating that daycares should not be licensed or subsidised, because it is MORALLY WRONG for women to work outside the home. So why would anyone hope that they would fund rational reproductive health or birth control options for those in need? Keep dreaming! The odds that this woman even has access to low-cost condoms at a local community clinic are negligible in that area of the state.

Fortunately for me, because of a job opportunity I was able to move to Montana, which has a slightly more enlightened attitude. Through a combination of federal, state, and local funding, we have an excellent clinic in my town, staffed with informed and compassionate physicians. I was able to purchase an IUD through a canadian pharmacy and have it inserted for a total cost to me of less than $150. (In Idaho, out-of-pocket cost would have been almost $1000, IF I could have found someone to do the procedure.) So now I’m safe and I won’t have to make the decision she did. And I am incredibly grateful to my fellow taxpayers for helping subsidise my safety. I imagine they are just as grateful not to be paying welfare costs for a child of mine for 18 years! It seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Let me re-iterate. NOT IN IDAHO.

Interestingly enough, the drug used to facilitate IUD insertion in someone who hasn’t given birth is the SAME used to induce abortion. So I can speak to its effects. It is excruciatingly painful. And it’s dangerous to use it after 8 weeks of pregnancy. So this woman went through agonizing pain, and it’s actually suprising that she did not hemorrage and die. All abortions are physically painful, and this was probably one of the more painful methods. So if you think she did this lightly, think again….

It truly, truly bothers me to see this astounding amount of righteous indignation and ire being expended on a stranger, in difficult circumstances which are not fully known to any of us, based on the few facts reported in an online news clip. None of us have lived this woman’s life, and none of us have the right to judge her decision. It bothers me even more to see so much judgement coming from devout Christians. Anyone who calls themself a Christian should be the FIRST to say, let God judge what she has done. Let US discover why she did it, rather than assuming we already know, and then let us discover what we can do to alleviate her misery here on earth, so that she can go her way and “sin” no more. Isn’t that what Christ would have done? I rather think so. We’re so busy these days trying to impose our views of what is “right” on each other, and judging those who fail to live up to our standards, that we’ve forgotten to take a deep breath, look around us and see what we can do to HELP each other live healthy lives and make good choices.”

Oh, and in case you’re curious…over 600 comments, mine had 10 ‘likes’.