Friday, October 28, 2011

It's Happening

Last night, I was reading in bed from a book given to me about Hope. It's a compilation of stories from cancer survivors. I was reading about a woman going through chemotherapy who lost her hair at exactly the 2-week mark. While reading, I realized that it was exactly MY 2-week mark that night and I ran my fingers through my hair. And, wouldn't you know it, threads of my hair came out with each run-through. "It's happening", I thought. I considered waking up my husband to share my despair, but instead I laid there...for maybe an hour or so...repeating to myself..."It's happening."

This morning...I was fine. I went about my day. Then I thought of my hair again this afternoon. I ran my fingers through it. Shedding. I tugged at individual hairs....and out they popped. It's happening.

I thought I was prepared for this. I have the scarves. I have a wig. I cut my hair short in anticipation. And yet, I find myself crying like a little baby. I am not even remotely mentally or emotionally prepared for this. I feel so vulnerable. It's not even noticeable yet, but it's happening and I am not handling it well at all. How fast will it fall out? Will I make it through the weekend with hair? At what point do I break out the clippers? This is all feeling WAY TOO REAL right now.

I know I will ultimately be ok. But, today...I am a hot mess. I am feeling sorry for myself and my hair. I am trying to remind myself that the fact that my hair is falling out means that the drugs are circulating in my body and killing things off. That my hair will grow back, obviously. And that I will get used to being temporarily bald. But man...this really sucks. I am going to go have a pity party for myself now and try not to tug at any more hair. I might stop brushing it even. Maybe if I just shellac it with hairspray and stop touching it, it will just stay there. As is. Yeah.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Insanity and Profanity

Last night, while watching Jeopardy with my husband, I found myself struggling to formulate any answers even though I could feel my brain trying to grasp for them. I asked my husband "Do you think that the chemo is killing my brain cells too"? To which, he responded something along the lines of..."No, it is not killing your brain cells. You are just intimidated by my genius and are getting flustered". Phew. Cause I need all the healthy brain cells I can get.

But, then today, I started to question my sanity. Maybe my brain cells are intact, but are they sane? The reason I say this is because I just took a walk. In the rain. In my pajamas. And I had a conversation the entire time, not with myself, but with cancer. And I was very pissed off. Me and cancer.

I walked at such a feverish pace that I am pretty sure I tore both my groin muscles and dislocated a hip or a vertebrae or something. But, that's ok. Because mentally I feel great! These are physical pains that can be relieved with vicodin and motrin and heating pads. But, the spirit...there are no pills for that. It can only be self-treated.

My conversation with cancer went something like this:

Cancer, you suck. I hate you. Cancer, you picked the wrong person to mess with, so why don't you just get outta here and mess with someone else (of course...don't even think about messing with any of my loved ones or my loved ones loved ones or any really great awesome people or well....anyone, for that matter). Why don't you just disappear. Why don't you go *bleep* yourself. Cause there ain't no way you are taking this chick down, *bleeper* *bleeper*. This sistah don't mess around and you will not win against me. I am a warrior. I do not want you here. I exile you from my body. Go away. Stay away. Don't f%&* with me!
At one point during my walk, I noticed that the doggy waste bags actually state in large letters "Here today, gone by next year". WTF, cancer?? Are you trying to f%&* with me?? Are you mocking me?? There was a small part of me that really did not like the sight of this. A part of me that thought "oh no, it's a sign"? But the bigger part of me...the winning part of me says "Its JUST a plastic bag. F you, plastic bag"!! It just fueled my fire, as I lifted two hands and presented the bag with 2 middle fingers. (Though it is pretty cool that my park supplies biodegradable waste disposal bags for our doggies). If this is what Dr. Bernie Seigel calls a fighting spirit...I am pretty sure I have it.

Granted, I think it is easy for me to have this fighting spirit because I feel so good. I feel better now than I did before I started treatment. My doctor says "That's because IT'S WORKING"! And again, that small part of me thinks "he is just saying that to be nice". But the bigger part of me knows....what else could it mean? It's definitely working. It HAS to be. Still, I wonder if I would have this same energy and attitude if I wasn't feeling well. Whatever. Let's just not find out. LOL.

Anyway...cancer is just one type of "problem". It just happens to be one of those problems that puts the spotlight on your fears and forces you to change your focus and perspective on life. But, I know plenty of my friends and loved ones who have been down their own dark roads of despair. Who have dealt with problems far more intense and difficult and scary than I am dealing with. Do me a favor...whatever problems you are facing today...take a moment today to say "F%&* you" to your problem. Do not let it own you. Yes...there are some really crappy circumstances that we cannot control and it sucks major balls, but do not let it take your spirit. You are in control. No matter how deep your despair....there is always hope.

*I tried to keep this clean because I am pretty sure that at least half of my 6 readers do not appreciate offensive and profane language. So I apologize if you did not care for my language and I hope you will still come back to read again when I am feeling less enraged. But,  let's face it...cancer deserves to be offended. I didn't invite cancer into my home. Cancer is not welcome here. Cancer can just get its sorry ass off my couch and take a hike. Adios. Sayonara. Too da loo.

Friday, October 21, 2011

"Can we PLEASE talk about something else?"

I have spent a lot of time obsessing about my hair. Probably more than I have obsessed about any other part of this journey. A bit odd, I know. But, I figure it's the one thing that will make my dis-ease visible to the general public...and it's also a bit of a "lighter" thing to obsess about compared to some of the places I am refusing to let my mind go to. If ya catch my drift.

When the doctors told me that, with the cocktail I am on, I will definitely be losing my hair (wouldn't it be a riot if I am the exception to this and all this obsessing is for naught?), I realized that I would probably need to somehow gently explain this to my stepdaughter. It was decided amongst us co-parenting adults that it would be best to talk to her in person, so we decided that the weekend of her 8th birthday party would be an appropriate time. Exactly WHEN on this weekend of the 8th birthday party ending up resting on my shoulders. And...a new obsession was born...when and how to tell my stepdaughter that perhaps the next time she sees me, I will be bald.

I didn't really want to explain what cancer was or what cancer might do to me. I don't think that this is something her young spirit needs to bear at this point. I have zero idea if that was the right approach or not. Regardless, by Saturday night, I couldn't bear it any longer. I had to tell her something. I didn't want to tell her Sunday and then drop her off with her mom (though the idea was tempting. Ha ha.) So, I told her I had to tell her something and that part of it was kind of "weird". I explained to her that all the doctors I have been seeing (she knows I have been through the medical ringer since April 2010) finally figured out what was wrong with me and now they are giving me some really really strong medicine to make me better. And that the "weird" part is that the medicine is so strong that it is going to make my hair fall out.

At this point....I felt relief to have gotten it out. UNTIL. Until, my stepdaughter looked at me, eyes as wide as I have ever seen them, and said "I really wish you hadn't told me that"!! She then laid down on the couch and pulled her blanket over her head. I tried to explain that I would probably be covering my head with hats and scarves and a wig. She peeked out and said "Will it grow back?" To which, I said "Oh yes!!" Then I said..."what do you think about your daddy shaving his head too?" Her response: "NOOOO"!!! She then covered her head under the blanket again and said "Can we PLEASE talk about something else"?
Sigh. I felt terrible. I felt as if this was a big FAIL. Huge. But, I know she will process it and be ok. In the end, she will probably handle it better than I. The next day...out of the blue, she told me that there is a girl at her school who has no hair. She didn't want to discuss it further, but that is how I know she is processing it. 

Anyway...I can't believe I forget to share this. Not the easiest thing I ever had to do and looking back almost a week later, the whole conversation makes me laugh. I am not sure how I expected it to unfold...but certainly not so dramatically and horror-like. Ha ha. Thank God she didn't ask anymore questions!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Life as a Pool and "Get Heeled"

I am a week out from my first chemo treatment and I had a check-up today. My blood counts are all excellent. I still have my hair. And I am still feeling relatively good. Yay! 

So, I went to the pool today, but because I am having some lower back pain (probably from my first visit to the pool on Tuesday) I decided to strap on (heh) a flotation belt and try some deep-water running. I probably should have done a little research on this beforehand because I have no idea if I was even doing it correctly. But, I many ways can you run in the water? Still...I really wanted to shout out and ask someone " I doing this right"!?

Anyway...while running back and forth in the pool, I got to thinking cause...hey...there ain't much else to do when you are spinning your legs and moving like a snail. I was thinking about how this running through water thing was kind of like every running dream I have ever had. In my running dreams, I feel like I am struggling and pulling and dragging myself along...not making much headway but REALLY making an effort.  Pulling myself along with my arms grabbing at imaginary air balls or something. And then THAT got me thinking about how this struggle is a lot like life sometimes. A lot like MY life right now.

Right now, life is no jog in the park. Life is an uphill struggle. One day at a time. One hour, one minute, one second, one millisecond at a time. Sweet Jesus. But, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. The whole point of deep-water running is to build resistance and strength while still protecting your precious joints and bones. So that when you are well CAN easily run through the park. 

This is me now. Slowly...oh so slowly...building strength and stamina, so that when life isn't so hard I will be a bull out of the cage. I will be busting out in a full-on sprint. I will be unstoppable. Heck...I AM unstoppable...its just easier to catch me right now. Ha ha. This struggle in the water and in life will make me stronger. Because life is a mixed bag. Life is sometimes "easy like a Sunday morning" and life is sometimes like trying to run through water. A struggle, but if you keep at it, you will make it through. 

While I was thinking deep thoughts in the deep end of the pool, I also noticed there were a lot of signs hanging around that said "No holding breath" and "Prolonged and competitive breath-holding can be life-threatening", which got me thinking (here I go again with the life metaphors)...this is also SO TRUE of life. You have to remember to breathe. When things feel so out of control and crazy in your life...when nothing is going like you planned and there is nothing you can do to stop the world from spinning off its axis...sometimes...sometimes that is the ONLY thing you can do. Just breathe. If you don' could be life-threatening.

On a somewhat-related note (and I really hope you made it this far down the blog), a good friend of mine from The Job back in NC shaved her head for charity today. (For more info or to donate to Janice's team see: Get Heeled 5K (and Shave2Heal) ). I haven't cried a whole lot since this whole rhymeswithschmancer thing entered (or re-entered) my life. But, certain things really make me boo hoo. This is one of those things. Janice (I usually refrain from using names in my blog, but if you click on the link you will see her name anyway) tells me that I am her inspiration for doing this. That if it weren't for me and my struggle, her vanity would have stopped her from following through with the head shave. (By the way, I haven't seen it yet, but I hear that she looks really good!) the grand scheme of things and if I had a choice...I would really prefer to just be normal and not inspiring. LOL.'s the thing. Janice inspires ME. Seriously...if the tables were turned, I do not know that I would ever CHOOSE to give up my precious hair. A woman's hair, her vanity...these things are HUGE (to me anyway). This gesture is HUGE. Janice shaving her head somehow makes it easier for me to deal with my own impending baldness. If she can up and do this by choice...I can certainly handle nature's shave job. It is what it is. It will grow back. And it's for a good cause. It's for my life. It's for my family. It's for my friends and loved ones. It's for all the people who don't even know me, but pray for me anyway. It's for beautiful bald Janice. 

Dagnabbit, you guys! I am boohooing again. My blog is supposed to be funny!! I need to find some funny blog-fodder because I can't be drowning myself in tears and tissues. (For the record...these are happy tears, but COME ON...y'all stop being so great!!)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The 8th Birthday Party that Rocked the Hill

Several of you have either a) flat out asked me to tell you more about my stepdaughter's natural disaster-themed birthday party or b) have appeared so perplexed by the concept that I thought I would share with you all the gloriously chaotic details of the 8th Birthday Party that Rocked the Hill. the blog title I provided probably TOTALLY oversells the party that was, but it seemed a fitting and fun way to get your attention.

For the record, it was discussed several times over the past weekend by the adults of the party as to whether or not WE had theme parties as kids. I cannot remember my 8th birthday party, much less if it had an actual theme tied to it. I think that as long as I got my beloved Carvel ice cream cake, I was pretty happy with whatever else transpired. So, when did kids' birthday parties start to take on such a high level of experiential expectation?

Anyway...I digress. As I have mentioned in the past, my stepdaughter is not your average Beiber-loving, Barbie-playing, run-of-the-mill kid. Yes...she does love Beiber and she does have a Barbie, but she has got some unique ideas that she pulls out of who-knows-where. God love her...I wish I had half the imagination she has (which gets me thinking...did I once have that imagination...and it got lost in the world of grown-up-hood? Hmph.)

So...when asked what she wanted the theme of her party to be...naturally...NATURALLY...she says "Natural Disasters". Of course. And, to give credit where credit is due...her mom and grandma came up with all the amazingly disastrous ideas. Here they are:

  • Volcano cake (YUM and pretty filled with dry ice and marshmallow cream for smoke and bubble effects)
  • "Mudslide" aka chocolate fountain (which was a COMPLETE MESS)
  • Tsunami relay, which consisted of a large bucket of water with miniature policeman and firefighters floating around. Teams had to run to the bucket and use a makeshift fishing rod to fish the little peeps out.
  • Earthquake board. This was a slab of wood placed on top of a 2x4 (it was probably more complicated than that, but that is as far as my non-engineering brain can comprehend) that the kids had to balance on. The idea was for them to work together to get the board balanced. Fun stuff.
  • "River crossing". This was actually an adult team-building activity. The kids were supposed to use makeshift rafts to get all of them across the river without falling in or losing a raft. DISASTROUS. I still can't figure out what the appropriate strategy is. I guess my team would be SOL or "up the creek" if they had me to depend on here!
  • Hurricane kits. In lieu of gifts (something else I never imagined as an 8 year-old), the kids donated towels, soap, toothbrushes, nail clippers, combs and band-aids and as a final activity put together hurricane kits for charity. Pretty dern cool.
When all was said and done....the adults were exhausted and the kids had a blast. The well-planned out games mostly fell flat and the kids managed to create their own fun games instead. Moral of the story...give the kids the tools to create their own natural disasters and they will have the time of their life. Sit back, relax and watch the hurricane unfold. Perhaps sip on your own vodka-fied mudslide beverage while you watch. Oh and don't eat from the kids' "mudslide"...I can only imagine the recycled double-dipping, finger-licking germs that developed in that mess.

Thanks be to God...we survived.

Monday, October 17, 2011

New Blog Post--take 14 Hundred....

I have started and stopped about a gadzillion blog posts in the past week. My brain has been so overwhelmed with so many thoughts that, I suppose, writing an actual sentence seemed a bit daunting...much less a string of sentences! I go again...with another attempt.

Things that transpired in the past week:

So, I started making a special green juice to start each morning in the hopes of bamblasting these cancer cells outta dodge. I was pleasantly surprised that the green juice a) tastes notsobad and b) is easy to injest/digest and easy to clean up. It really does give me a little boost and I feel good about doing something extra-specially good for my body. 

Wig shopping: 
My bestie drove down on Wednesday and we went to a wig shop near DC to see what the wonderful world of wig wearing is all about. Beforehand, I had envisioned this adventure to be glamorous and fun and all 80's Hollywood movie shopping musical montage. In reality...notsomuch. I do believe at some point during the "adventure" I may have screamed in desparation "OK...get this thing off of me!" I did not feel glamorous. I felt...well...whatever the opposite of glamorous is. And stifled. The thick hair that we all dream of that is sewn into these really hot and uncomfortable. Granted...I have hair still, so I assume this makes a difference. But, let's just say...I did not leave with a new flashy head of hair in tow. And I am feeling a bit daunted about the wig wearing. Fo sho.

Afterward, we decided perhaps hat and scarf shopping was a little more up my alley. I purchased one hat and one scarf (and a purse cause well...a new purse helps ease the pain of wig shopping). Later, at home,  my bestie and I practiced scarf fashion and let's just say that my bestie would make a better-looking cancer patient than me. But, we both can equally pull off a nice Muslim look. And, if nothing else...we had a delightful time laughing at each other.

Chemo Day #1:
Not so bad. My bestie was there with me the whole time. I got a nice lazyboy recliner and about 14  pillows. An ancient TV that provided me with pretty much zero entertainment and a nice cocktail of drugs to make my first time even more of a piece of cake than it actually was. The whole thing was supposed to take a little over 4 hours. When I was told it was going to be more like 7 biggest concern was..."but what about lunch??" Some things still hold priority to me. I was definitely there the longest of anyone as we watched several other women come and go. All in wasn't so bad. Oddly, looking back now...the 7.5 hours seems to be a blur. What was IN that cocktail!?!

The coolest thing BY FAR since my first chemo treatment is that the excruciating lower back and pelvic pain that I have been experiencing for a few months GONE. I am a bit "not right" all around, but overall I feel SO MUCH BETTER. Not sure if feeling better was supposed to be an instant side effect...but hello...I'll take it!

Neulasta shot:
The day after chemo, I will always go back in for a shot of white blood cell-boosting something. This is supposed to boost my immunity and make it so I don't have to avoid people and shopping malls while on the chemo treatment. Ironically, this boost makes me a bit achy, headache-y and feverish...all completely tolerable...thank God.

All in all...things have been completely tolerable physically. Emotionally...I feel pretty good too though I have my "moments". The support I have received from friends and family has a word...humbling. And is probably the biggest boost I have received through all of this thus far. Thanks to everyone for being so awesome and making me feel like this is a group effort and not a solitary journey!

Love! Vashni

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ooh Boy...Whatta Week!

I've been contemplating for a few hours how to go about writing this post. What to say. How to say it. If I should post at all. Really. Wow. It's just A LOT.

It's been a big day. A big week really.

Monday: Lymph Node Biopsy.
Tuesday: Sore, but good. Trip to acupuncturist.
Wednesday: Lost my fluffy best friend of 15 years, Smokey. UGH.
Today: Phew boy...

Today, I got the results of Monday's biopsy. My parents came down for the "big reveal" and even though I went through all the possibilities in my head before this appointment...nothing really prepared me for the news I received. Cancer. It's back. It's in the lymph nodes and we really won't know for sure if it's also in my pelvis and my liver until we see how these "spots" respond to treatment.

Treatment. I will learn more tomorrow in my "new patient orientation". Heh. I feel like I should dress well and get a new trapper keeper and backpack for this. The hubs will be with me and together we will take notes and try to ask all the right questions. Inevitably, we will come home and have a gadzillion more...this seems to be the trend.

What I do know as of now is that I will start chemotherapy next week (Thursday to be exact). It will be a lovely cocktail of Paclitaxel and Carboplatin or, I guess, sometimes called "TaxolCarbo". This takes 4 hours and it will happen every 3 weeks. According to the doc, most people continue working their full-time jobs while on this treatment, so I am thinking that my unemployed tookus should be able to handle it. After 3 rounds (or what...6 weeks?), I will have a PET scan to verify that it's working...cause it's gonna. And then, continue the treatment or play around with it, if need be. Apparently, I will be losing the hair about 2 weeks in. I am still grappling with this. I do not think I will make a very pretty bald gal, so I am gonna have to find a good wig to rock. me vain...but I think this may be the hardest part for me. <rolling eyes at myself>

For some bizarre reason, I am mostly able to remove myself emotionally from this. I was like this with the first cancer "journey". I do not know if this is a good way to handle it or not and I am sure I will have plenty of moments when I will cry my eyes dry, but today. No tears. All business. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. But, we are doing this one day at a time, right? is in my nature....I am working out a plan....lots of healthy healthy food, good consistent exercise, relaxation, acupuncture, the chemo, the support system, the whoopie pies, the prayers. I do very much wish I had my furry fluffball to snuggle with. I will have to settle for the Coby, El Sid and the husband. Maybe I can get him a nice fluffy coat to wear at cuddlin' time. Heh.

Dude...this was supposed to be a step-parenting blog...not a cancer blog!! Boy, I tell ya. Life throws some curveballs, no? Anyway...I am all outta words for now, but I'll be back! And I'll keep coming back again and again and again...cause that's just how I roll.

I am here to kick cancer's ass!! Take that cancer!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Citizen's Arrest

On the way home from church today, we got stuck behind a man driving quite slowly on the highway. My husband, not one to be patient with other drivers, yelled a few un-nice things to the interior of our car and then said "I should make a citizen's arrest. It is dangerous to drive that slow on the highway."

To which I began thinking...has anyone ever really MADE a citizen's arrest? And, if so, did this go? I cannot imagine a citizen's arrest going well. I mean...what would you do? Slap on some fake handcuffs? Push the "criminal" into the back of your car? Expect this person to just go along with it because your were "officially" making a citizen's arrest? 

What would I do if someone, an average citizen, tried to arrest me? Not that I would ever do anything arrest-worthy. Not now anyway. Would I laugh? Would I be scared? Would I fight back? Would I go along with it? I'm not really sure. Ha ha. I suppose it would depend on the size and fierceness of the said arresting citizen. 

I am pretty sure if I tried to arrest someone, they would laugh. Then they would probably pull out a knife or some other weapon and slice me and I would be all "I'm so arresting you!" as I bleed and fall into unconsciousness on the sidewalk. Yeah...I don't envision a citizen's arrest having much of a happy ending. I am sort of dramatic that way. But, come one....really??

"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

A couple of friends have asked for an update since my last health-related post.

While I don't have all that much new to report, I thought I would still send out an update and an extra plea for prayers and positive thoughts.

Tomorrow (Monday, October 3rd), I will have another biopsy done. According to the doctor's orders, I am to have 1) a CT-guided needle biopsy of a retro-peritoneal lymph node and 2) a CT-guided needle biopsy of the presacral mass. I was told over the phone that the radiologist doing the procedure isn't sure if she will be able to biopsy the presacral mass as it is a difficult region of the body to get to. According to The Google, this space is inside the pelvis, behind the rectum and in front of the coccyx and sacrum. So, yeah...a needle near my colon, bladder, uterus, rectum, etc. is a teeny bit disconcerting. Alas, I would really like to know what this sucker is that is causing me so much pain and misery. I am tired of going through these tests and getting no new answers...good or bad. 

After the biopsies, I will have to wait a few days for the pathologist to examine the tissue and send the results to the doctor. I currently have a follow-up scheduled for Thursday morning with the oncologist.

Before I write the next part of this blog, I feel the need to say a few things about my relationship to church and God and religion because I don't want to be judged or offend anyone and well...I just feel like writing about it, I guess. While I was raised in the Methodist church, I stopped practicing and attending in my 20s. I formed the belief at that time that there is "more than one path to God" and I still wholeheartedly believe that. To me, no way is better than another and truly, if you look deeply enough into any religion, you will find that most (certainly not all, but quite a few) are pretty much the same. You will never find me judging another's beliefs. We all want peace and love and an understanding of "all that is". 

That being said, my husband and I started attending a Methodist church prior to our wedding and I found that the sermons and scriptures were more easily identifiable to me than they were in my younger years. I do not know if this is because I have matured or if the church has evolved to meet the needs of a more contemporary world view.  Regardless, I enjoy attending now, find meaning and peace in the practices and am trying to find a way to incorporate this spirituality into my everyday life and my search for both peace and for physical, emotional and mental healing. To further explain why I am trying to explain this...I would never try to push my beliefs on others (especially because my beliefs are always in flux, always expanding and changing) and it is completely out of my character to recite bible verses...but today. Today was much too serendipitous to stop myself from sharing. 

Today in church, two of the verses that were read to us were Matthew 6:27: "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" and Matthew 6:34: "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

After the first verse was read, my husband and I looked at each other. Knowing glances. I am a worrier. Big time. My husband, in his own way, sites this phrase all the time. I try to listen. I "get" it. It's just not so easy to apply to life.  And the second verse....well, that just hit home for me with what is happening to my body tomorrow. While it is totally in my nature to spend today worrying and thinking about what will happen...will it hurt? Will they find anything?  Will they get the tissue they need to make a diagnosis? Will there be complications? Etc. Etc. Etc. You know the drill. So. Totally. In. My. Nature. But, why? What will this solve? What will this change about tomorrow? Or Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday? Nada. Will I probably still worry? Yes. Will I spend much of my night tossing and turning? Yes. But, I am really gonna do my best to focus just on today. What can I do right in this moment to be happy. Hug my husband? Eat some ice cream? Ha. Snuggle with this cute pup that hasn't left my side since we moved to Maryland? 

Like sweet Wendy pointed out in response to my last health-related blog: "[Steph]'d tell you to just focus on the next appointment, and to not look too far down a road you could never predict anyway. If you do, just try to imagine the BEST outcome and not the worst". Faith, hope and inspiration always come in unexpected, yet meaningful ways. Instead of worrying today...I am going to focus on these things. I am gonna try anyway!