Living With Cancer

One year ago in July, I was in New Jersey visiting family and friends, some of which I hadn’t seen in thirty years. In June of last year, I visited friends, a high school reunion of sorts, that I had also not seen in thirty years. For a long time, I had imagined these family and friends as within reach and easy to see whenever I wanted. What a difference a year makes…

Continue reading “Living With Cancer”

the end of something

I’m so alone and I feel just like somebody else
Man I ain’t changed, but I know I ain’t the same

One Headlight, The Wallflowers

One weekend in late October, my sister, Kelli, stayed with me during a chemotherapy weekend. The treatments were fairly routine by this time. As routine as a chemotherapy treatment can be when each is its own odyssey. Still, I was over the initial anxiety, and I thought that I had leveled out. I was wrong. I had a blood pressure spike, and I was out of my mind.

Continue reading “the end of something”

death, dying, politics and fuck you

Your ship may be coming in.
You’re weak, but not giving in.
And you’ll fight it, you’ll go out fighting all of them.

Rilo Kiley, A Better Son/Daughter

At the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019, I was driving ride share – killing time and making some extra money while waiting for my friend/colleague Ramon to close a contract that never came through. The contract was four weeks on and four weeks off in the mountains of Argentina doing real time drilling data management and analysis. It seemed like it might be the change I needed right then, but it was one of those contracts that my friend just couldn’t close. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have waited. I should have just found something else, but while I waited, I entertained myself with ride share.

Continue reading “death, dying, politics and fuck you”

it is without end

I have always preferred harder surfaces for sleeping, so I have a tatami bed. I would just sleep on the floor as it’s cheaper, but people have a pretty strong reaction to adults sleeping on the floor. Also, sleeping on the floor is not exactly conducive to a harmonious relationship if you happen to be in one. I’m guessing there are not many American couples that choose the floor, or a tatami bed, as a sleeping surface.

Continue reading “it is without end”

what is left of us

And your wise men don’t know how it feels
To be thick as a brick

Jethro Tull, Thick as a Brick

I have always been restless. I could always feel something coming. Something outside the door. Something in the hallway. Something breathing life into another dark path only illuminated by the next step. I’ve always wanted to leave. To just get up and go…

Continue reading “what is left of us”

plus one or something like it

Chloe: Well, I’m still here, but I don’t know for how long. That’s as much certainty as anyone can give me. But I’ve got some good news: I no longer have any fear of death. But I am in a pretty lonely place. No one will have sex with me. I’m so close to the end, and all I want is to get laid for the last time. I have pornographic movies in my apartment, and lubricants and amyl nitrate …

Fight Club

A pervasive condition that accompanies chronic illness is feeling left behind. The first time I noticed this feeling was when I was in the hospital in August. Eleven days is a long time. Each day was a lesson in acceptance. Each day seemed to illuminate more of what was in front of me in the months to come. With that illumination was the unavoidable list of things that I would be missing.

Continue reading “plus one or something like it”

the lost voice

A detail (among many) that has been lost in the telling of this story is my voice. When I had surgery in August, one of the many symptoms I had afterward was an irritated vocal cord. I only noticed the irritation when I raised my voice and while singing. I did little of either of those things while still in the hospital.

I didn’t realize how much singing I actually do. In the car. In the shower. I write songs and sing them. I hum along with melodies. No longer. I couldn’t sing at all. My voice isn’t that great. The world isn’t missing much, but this has been a source of worry.

Continue reading “the lost voice”

my life is hit by a truck part 5

Ineffability is the concept that some things cannot or should not be expressed in words. Those things can be as high minded as God, the soul, or a mystical experience. It can be as simple as vulgar language. I am certain that the essence of my experience after the surgery is ineffable of the “can’t be done” variety. I’m going to write about it anyway.

From wikipedia: Paralytic ileus: Obstruction of the intestine due to paralysis of the intestinal muscles. The paralysis does not need to be complete to cause ileus, but the intestinal muscles must be so inactive that it prevents the passage of food and leads to a functional blockage of the intestine.

Continue reading “my life is hit by a truck part 5”

my life is hit by a truck part 4

I have a paradoxical reaction to opioids. From wikipedia: A paradoxical reaction or paradoxical effect is an effect of a chemical substance, mostly a medical drug, opposite to the effect which would normally be expected. An example of a paradoxical reaction is pain caused by a pain relief medication.

Opioids don’t cause me pain as described in the example. They wake me up like speed. I sweat and shake a lot. I become very anxious. This also happens with all benzodiazepines like Valium

I don’t have much experience with opioids or benzodiazepines, because I’ve never enjoyed them. I even avoid them. Doctors always seem to be trying to give me one or the other. There’s no use trying to tell a doctor or a nurse that you have a paradoxical reaction to these drugs. They aren’t listening. Or maybe that’s another part of that thing I do where I don’t show any emotion. People are just going to miss it.

Continue reading “my life is hit by a truck part 4”

my life is hit by a truck part 2

With the news from the CT scan behind me, the logistics of confirmation and testing and the minutia involved in all of that began. I remained in ICU as they really had no idea whether I was still bleeding internally. They wanted to keep an eye on me and continue to monitor periodic lab results like hemoglobin.

Also, a colonoscopy needed to be done. If you know anything about colonoscopies, you know there is prep work involved in this. That means cleaning you out. There can be nothing in your colon when they shove that camera up your butt. The gastroenterologist that was to perform the colonoscopy came to visit.

Continue reading “my life is hit by a truck part 2”

my life is hit by a truck part 1

After a summer of travel, I was a little done with social activities. It was wonderful reconnecting with friends and family. It was just a lot. I was looking forward for some time to process everything that had happened.

I went back to work. Around this time, I realized I wasn’t going to be working for Chevron after the contract ended in August, so I started looking for a job. Then I started on the business of getting the kids back to school – clothes, uniforms, school supplies, registrations – Justine did most of this. I also started looking for a new place to live, because it was apparent that I wasn’t going to have a roommate anymore and I hated the place we were living. It was too dirty. One of those places that will never be clean.

Continue reading “my life is hit by a truck part 1”

what is what

On the subject of 20/20 hindsight. There are many things I could point to now that were out of alignment leading up to the emergency on August 22, 2019. At the time, I wasn’t thinking of them as symptoms of anything but age, stress, depression, newly single over indulgence, and maybe some laziness.

I was depressed for sure. Justine’s illness beginning in 2016 was the start of a snowball that I never recovered from. I won’t detail everything that happened in the 3 years that span August, 2016 to August, 2019, but it was a lot. Anytime I thought I had some air, the downhill roll would start again. I kept telling myself that all I had to do was keep putting one foot in front of the other. Do the next right thing. These are cliches I would have told me if I had come to me for advice.

Continue reading “what is what”

Airplane Glue and Burning Tires

It’s hard to have a sense of humor about kemo (my daughter’s spelling – I’m going to stick with it). Once it’s happening, there’s no turning back. A path to wellness through more sickness. Maybe…

I have had problems with anxiety for as long I can remember. Racing heartbeats, stage fright, social anxiety, whatever… It’s always there. I have landed in the emergency room more than once. I’ve been through long periods of chronic episodes and single episodes that blindside me. Over time, I’ve gotten better at dealing with it. I’ve developed little tricks for dealing with anxiety.

Continue reading “Airplane Glue and Burning Tires”

Surgery, Interviews, Guns…

For the last four weeks, I have been engaged in a job search. My contract with Chevron ended when I was in the hospital (it was a six month contract). We don’t live in a socialist utopia, and I am not rich. So I have to keep working.

For reasons outside of the scope of this writing, I have had a lot of jobs in my life. Which means I have often had to look for work. In the 90’s, I developed some philosophy and methods around looking for work. Spend as much time looking for a job as you plan on working at that job. So if you plan on working 40 hours a week, spend 40 hours a week looking for a job. Go to every interview. Even for jobs you know you don’t want. You can’t turn down a job you don’t have, and you just might be surprised at how different the job sounds when you are actually talking to someone you might be working with. Also, going to a lot of interviews gets you out of yourself. People can feel when you are there just trying to impress them. I generally go for the laughs and try to talk people out of hiring me. It works.

Continue reading “Surgery, Interviews, Guns…”

Chemo

I wanted to write about chemo before I actually take it. There is always the anticipation of something and the reality. The reality often obscures the anticipation fantasy.

I am terrified of chemo. Our culture builds up chemo to 90’s apocalyptic horror film status. It’s hard to be alive right now and not have some emotional response to the word.

Continue reading “Chemo”

Chemo and Food

Food is weird. There are a whole lot of experts out there that will tell you what you should be eating even when you don’t have cancer. But then you get sick, and you get a whole lot of advice. It isn’t just cancer. It’s every illness.

I’ll tell you this. There isn’t a whole lot that’s surprising where diet is concerned. And having already attended a GI Cancer Dietician seminar, there isn’t a whole lot that’s agreed upon about diet. There’s the obvious – cut out sugar, fried foods, processed foods, and red meat. Don’t char the lean meats you do eat. Eat whole foods. Yes that’s all pretty obvious. It’s basically what a dietician or nutritionist that didn’t specialize in GI Cancer would tell a perfectly healthy person.

Continue reading “Chemo and Food”

Audible Dissent

So I have colon cancer, and I’m going to write about it. I have been holding off on writing about it or giving a real update until I had all of the information. I have learned that it’s not a good idea to give any information when there are still outstanding questions because it leads to a lot of questions that don’t have answers. That’s the reason I have been holding off. Having the information is not why I’m writing about it. I want to write about it.

I want to talk about cancer in a way I haven’t seen. I want to joke about cancer. I want to joke about my death. I am not dying. I suppose I could die. I could die in a car crash tomorrow. It’s not all jokes. I am terrified, but I also have general anxiety disorder. I was going to be terrified of something anyway. Might as well be something real.

Continue reading “Audible Dissent”