Now with 100% More Curb Appeal: Before and After

Now with 100% More Curb Appeal: Before and After

I’ll be starting another round of chemo tonight, which I’m not looking forward to. But it needs to be done, so…

Because of that, I don’t have a lot of time or energy to do a major blog post, but I do want to show you all what my mom and a family friend did this weekend, because it is amazing. They installed new shutters on the house, freshened up our landscaping, and painted our garage door.

It looks so good, and it’s really nice that we get to enjoy it for a bit before we sell.

It’s always wonderful to be reminded that there are good, caring people left in the world.

Oncologist Appointment Rescheduled

Oncologist Appointment Rescheduled

I was supposed to have an oncologist appointment at Carle yesterday, but I woke up about 6:30 am feeling absolutely miserable. 

I didn’t have a fever and chalked it up to allergies. But I’m not ruling out that I caught something wheeling past the urgent care waiting area with my Rollator on my way to phlebotomy Tuesday morning. 

Children's Band-Aid on the back of white woman's hand. The bandage has a sky blue background with cartoon images of lions, giraffes, and hippos.

I should have worn an N95, but went surgical because I scheduled labs as early as possible to avoid the cootie-havers. (My appointment was at 7:45 and urgent care doesn’t open until 8:00.)

But there were people waiting for the walk-in clinic to open. Lesson learned.

It took two sticks before my veins gave up the goods. After the phlebotomist rooted around in the crook of my right elbow for a bit, I said the magic word: “Ouch.”

Even if it doesn’t hurt all that much, phlebotomists have a Pavlovian response to signs of discomfort or pain.* It was clear to me that nothing was going to happen, so I put an end to the expedition. She snaped off the tourniquet apologetically and started tapping the left arm with her index finger.

When she couldn’t get a vein to even pop up there, she asked me if she could look at my hands. Luckily one on the back of my left hand looked eager, and she struck crimson right away. (Bonus!  My  messed up nerves don’t feel much in my left arm.) 

The downside is they use a smaller gauge needle for drawing from the hand, and it felt an awkward eternity to get those vials filled. In addition to just generally having my fill of medical procedures, I’m terrible at small talk.

Finally she got what she needed and bandaged me up. “Aww,” I said, “at least I get a cute Band-Aid out of the deal!”

Lab results just posted this morning. Everything looks fine. My appointment with oncology is rescheduled for June 13.

I have updates on the remodeling at Mom’s but I’ll have to write about that later. I’ve been sitting upright too long.

*In stark contrast to doctors and nurses who feel it’s their professional duty to not give a flying rip when you say 7 out of 10.

ADA Bathroom Plans!

ADA Bathroom Plans!

After spending last week with Mom, daydreaming about these ADA bathroom plans, and waiting out more tornadoes in her basement, she drove me back to Urbana and helped us remove the wood shutters from the exterior of our house.

We have new ones to install to spruce up the place in preparation to sell, and I’ll share the AFTER pictures in a couple of weeks when that exterior work on the house is done. But the picture above is how things looked while removal was in-progress this weekend.

By the way, if you’re local and want free wood shutters, they’re sitting at the end of our driveway. I put a notice up on NextDoor though, so I can’t promise how long they’ll be sitting there. (We just watched Karen from the Indianapolis-based HGTV show Good Bones make head- and footboards out of some she had stashed away. Did I mention they’re free? Just saying.)

Anyway, as promised I created a GoFundMe for the remodel at Mom’s place, and I also tried setting up an integrated donation option here on the website for those who prefer giving through PayPal instead. I think the minimum donation for GoFundMe is $5 and the minimum donation through my website form is $3.

Full disclosure: I’ve never used the WordPress widget linked below, so if you’ve got $3 and want to help me test it out AND get closer to having that ADA-compliant shower installed, get clicking (or tapping or whatever).

UPDATE 1:41pm: I’m having issues getting this out of test mode and connecting it to my PayPal account. It’s broken. Sigh.

UPDATE: 2:13 pm: It wants me to set up a business PayPal account, and I am not a business. So, I’m scrapping the original link and putting in a plain PayPal link. (Continue reading for more options.)

Here are the plans for the bathroom that my brother Ryan put together. Words cannot express how excited I am to take a shower without risking my life. Walking around with a brain tumor in my head is quite enough thrill-seeking adventure for me, thank you very much. I’d like to move on from our current 1963-built nightmare of a tub/shower and step (or roll, when necessary) into a zero-entry shower if it’s all the same to everyone else.

ADA bathroom plans printed out.

Anyway, happy Monday to you. Here’s a list of all the ways you can help out if you are so inclined. Some of them are totally free!

Watch a video on my YouTube channel.

Place your next Amazon order using this referral link.

Give to my GoFundMe campaign.

Give through Paypal.

Make a donation to @EmilySuess on Venmo.

Make a donation to $EmilySuess on CashApp.

Share this (or any of my links) with your friends on social media.

Packing and Decluttering for the Move

Packing and Decluttering for the Move

Last week Mom came up to Urbana to help us start packing and decluttering. The week before that, my brother and sister-in-law helped us make some repairs in our main bathroom. (That was after my SIL ran 13.1 miles. She is unstoppable.) We don’t have a move date yet, but we don’t want to feel pressured when the time comes either. We are hopeful to get it done sometime this year.

Mom and I started with the room that seemed the most overwhelming to me: the office slash studio slash just-put-it-there-for-now-and-we’ll-deal-with-it-later room.

This means we packed away the majority of my art supplies. It was the right decision to make. Because, yes, I always feel like I should be drawing or coloring or painting or recording or editing a new video, but, no, I should not be prioritizing any of those things right now. It’s been so long since I’ve posted anything new to my channel, but it’s just going to have to be a little bit longer.

Having things (at least in this room) packed away neatly reminds me that I am doing exactly what I should be doing in this moment: preparing for a life change. There will be time to do more art when the move is done.

Here’s what the office looks like now. Mom brought her shredder for me to borrow so I can sort through the papers that have accumulated since we moved here in 2015.

Everything else is stacked in the closet and the boxes are labeled. Having just this much done makes me think what we are about to do is actually possible. Before, when all I could do was think about how impossible everything felt, all I did was worry. And, frankly, without help it would be impossible. I’m so grateful for everyone who has chipped in since my brain tumor diagnosis in 2017! This is just the latest in a long line of things I have to be thankful for.

Mom also helped us get the Wedgewood that belonged to Dan’s mom safely packed away for moving, and she made the first (of likely many) donations to Salt & Light, our neighborhood grocery and thrift store. We even got a small desk out to the curb that was picked up by someone too. Now the office can just be the place where all the packed stuff goes until IT’S TIME.

At mom’s, the basement remodel is moving ahead. Ryan’s plans are amazing and they’ve already chalked in lines where the rooms will be. Because costs are pretty high, and no construction project is complete without a few unanticipated challenges, I will be setting up a GoFundMe shortly for this project, separate from my medical fundraiser. As always, no one is pressured to give anything, but just be prepared for me to promote it. I’ll share more about it later once I have time to get everything set up.

Anyway, that’s where things are at the moment. Happy Monday.

My Cancer Diet

My Cancer Diet

My cancer diet caveat:
I’m not telling you what to eat. I’m talking about what I eat. If you feel like you need to tell me what I eat is wrong, knock yourself out. But know that I don’t care, particularly if you’re not my doctor.

Before I knew I had brain cancer, I spent A LOT of time with my local gastroenterologist. I was medically tested for ALL the food sensitivities, intolerances, and allergies. I have none.

For years, I tried elimination diets hoping to find out what I was doing to cause so much harm to my GI tract. And all the answers were always, “Girl, nothing. It’s not your diet.”

In hindsight, having my brain cancer diagnosis, I’m like, if my diet gave me this rare brain tumor? Well, it wouldn’t be a rare tumor would it? And people all over the Midwest would be breaking out in tumors in their mid-thirties.

Despite what the world would have me believe, my dietary choices were not the cause of my problems.

I mean, the GI distress was very real. But I was not lacking self control. I would have gladly given up anything to feel better–sugar, gluten, dairy, meat. And for different phases of my great dietary experiment, I did.

The problem was that the problem wasn’t food. In all the giving up* though, I accepted that whatever illness I had was not going away simply because I swore off eating food I liked.

That’s not to say I didn’t learn something in all that time. In fact I learned to listen to my gut, literally and figuratively.
Some foods are harder for me to digest and require more energy to process, so I avoid them. I don’t cut them out 100% because 1.) I’m both too laid back and too tired for that, 2.) chemo means craving foods that you only see once (if you know, you know), and 3.) disability and socioeconomic status mean not being hungry gets top priority.

And when I’m taking chemo, I am all about getting through the day without an emesis bag.

Anyway, this post is for two audiences. First, my fellow cancer patients and poors. Your diet doesn’t define you, and it’s healthy to eat what you like. Diet culture is the poison.

Second, internet randos with all the answers. It’s okay for other people to eat differently than you. Let it go. And if you just have to give unsolicited advice, don’t be surprised when we get pissed off.

*The freaking irony of not giving up on giving up. It burns!

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