Shout-out, Shut-in & Sh*t I Don’t Understand

Unless you’re Laura Ingalls — why would anyone do this? File under Sh*t I Don’t Understand.

Shout out!

Geez. Two months since my last post?  I know, hard to believe, and me such a prolific poster.

No health-related reason for my absence other than, apparently, my mind has descended to the point where I am no longer able to multi-task, or even find the words to complete a coherent sentence. Hey! Who does that remind you of?

Other reasons could be . . .

— Ennui, perhaps?  In medical record notes they sometimes call this “anhedonia,” though the two aren’t really the same.  Smartasses.  Always gotta have some word they think nobody else knows. Well, I took Latin, bub.  I know what anhedonia means.

— Summer and grandkids make for stuff to do besides blogging, or even reading other blogs.  You don’t dare try to sneak a little blog reading time on your computer.  When you sit down they descend on you like locusts wanting to play some game.

— Whatever I might have thought to blog about couldn’t have been too important, or somebody else blogged about it better and I didn’t see a need to repeat it.

— Kidding aside, it’s been a time of struggle and sadness for a few family and friends.  My heart just hasn’t been into blogging lately.

So, in case you were wondering, no health scares. Still NED. Just the minor lifelong litany of ills chemo and radiation bestow on various body parts that can result in a periodic good day-bad day thing.

In September, I’ll be two years out from treatment. That’s when my chances for survival are supposed to increase “markedly!” “dramatically!” “exponentially!” Though I’m not sure about that last one, at least in a true mathematical sense.

Then again, I heard an oncologist say the other day that 28 months is the window for recurrence, so who knows.  I’m just glad for every extra day I get so that I can claw my way out of . . .

The Department of Sh*t I Don’t Understand . . .

Like everyone else I suppose, I’m just trying to survive whatever sick game your president* is playing with North Korea, though my gut feeling is it’s just his way of distracting us from Mueller’s investigation. Also, enduring the stench of raw sewage he calls his Administration.

If I had to bet on what would kill me first, today I’d say it won’t be my cancer.

It is beyond my comprehension that this overbooked ship of fools is still docked. Rather than evoke the 25th Amendment, Republicans in Congress are willing to risk the lives of millions of people — Republican people, I might add — to keep this psycho teed up.

For what end?

And back to first world . . .

Our AC went out at 5am.

High today here in Hell: 100 degrees.

Pulled out the floor fans, closed the shutters and drapes and blinds, cranked up the ceiling fans to High, turned off any device that emits even a joule of unnecessary heat and now trying to convince my dogs to breathe through their noses and not their mouths. Do you realize how much heat two big, hairy dogs and one medium-sized dog panting produces? Why aren’t they following my instructions?

I forbid all doors in my house to the outside to be opened and even a microgram of diminishing cool air to escape.  “In or out, we’re not air-conditioning the neighborhood!”

Yes, I suppose I could leave and go to an air-conditioned movie or bookstore or the library, but then my animals would be left to suffer while I’m enjoying myself in icy cold comfort.  What kind of person would do that?  Hey! I bet I know someone who would.

So, I’ll stay here with them l until the AC guy comes this afternoon; hence, the term shut-in.

Also, anhedonia.

Shouldn’ta left your keys out, Pops

A golf cart. Photo courtesy of a Google search and Allstate.com

One summer, when I was 10 or 11, my older brother and I “borrowed” our father’s golf cart from the cart shed at the country club1.  It was my brother’s idea.  I was just along for the ride.  Or not, as it turned out.  (My father was playing golf at the time.  He played golf so much I thought that’s what he did for a living.)

I wanted to drive the cart so I kept trying to grab the steering wheel away from my brother.  We fought, the cart swerved, —  lookout! lookout! — my brother lost control and I went flying off the side, hit my head on the concrete in the parking lot and blacked out.  I don’t remember anything after that.  I’m sure I got in trouble, but I’m also pretty sure I milked it the whole way.

Aside from the dementia I will surely suffer as a result of this wholly avoidable accident and ensuing brain damage, it might also explain my overall quirkiness, which includes a fun talent for making shit up — book titles, colors, songs, character names — that I’m sure will come in handy later on when the dementia hits and my mind is cooked cabbage.  (If cancer doesn’t get me first.  What a fun future:  dementia or cancer.)

As an example, these are book titles I wrote down on the notebook beside my bed.  Tell me you wouldn’t be dying to read these:

Any Number Less Than One

Paltroi

Twilight’s Blessing of Carnage

Vuk Proleo:  The March Backward for Hungary

Zan Coco Sayer:  My Years as a Feather Girl

Don’t ask me what any of them mean.  Have no idea, I just make them up.

I’m guessing they are trapped in that space that was damaged when I blacked out, and they seep into my consciousness periodically, in a pathetic attempt to escape the curcoil of my mind. Maybe. Curcoil, another word I just made up.

Also.  Don’t even challenge me to a game of Balderdash because you’ll end up on the pavement.  I mean it.  Champeen.

Yeah, I spent my childhood as a country club brat.  Until my father left us.  With nothing.  Thankfully, I had a resilient mother and some straight up kick-ass grandparents who together saw to it that we had fine childhood.

Cat scans

Adorable Dora, who never grew past pixie size.

I was working on a post about the persistent, underlying, aggravating, self-absorbing fear that takes over your life when you have cancer, but I’ll save it for another day.

I have quarterly CT/PET scans coming up in a couple of weeks, and I’m in the midst of fending off a little bout of “scanxiety.”  It gets easier as time goes on, but it’s still very tiring and very annoying and there’s just so much you can stand of thinking about yourself, you know?

So… let’s talk about something else.

I know. How about cats!

My sweet neighbor sent me an email with the subject “To a great cat-saver.”  (Hmm, wonder if she meant “cat-saver” as in cat rescuer or if she meant “cat-saver” as in hoarder? Could be both, I guess.)

Anyway, it’s cute and it made me smile in between the aches and pains I just know are signs of explosive metastases.

My great aunt was a writer and a cat lover (also a Christian Scientist married to a doctor, but that’s another story).  She often wrote poems like this one, so it made me smile to think of her, too.

Stray Cat

Oh, what unhappy twist of fate
Has brought you, homeless to my gate?
The gate where once another stood
To beg for shelter, warmth and food.

For from that day I ceased to be
The master of my destiny.
While he, with purr and velvet paw
Became within my house, The Law.

He scratched the furniture and shed
And claimed the middle of my bed.
He ruled in arrogance and pride
And broke my heart the day he died.

So if you really think, oh cat,
I’d willingly relive all that
Because you come, forlorn and thin
Well . . . don’t just stand there . . . come on in!

Franic Witham

We could use a little music, hm?

This morning I was dusting my computer keyboard with a cloth, pressing pretty hard on the keys, which opened up several apps at the same time.  (“Apps.”  They’re those things we used to call programs.)  One of them was iTunes.  My whole library of music started playing.  I hadn’t listened to some of the songs in a while, so I let the whole library play alphabetically all the way through to the U’s.

I have many favorite songs, but I have to say I can’t think of a more beautiful one than “Unchained Melody.”   I have about 5 versions of it.

I grew up in the 50’s so I’m partial to the first version I heard, by Les Baxter.  But I also grew up in the 60’s, so the Righteous Brothers version (linked below also) is a favorite too.  The prettiest is the orchestral version scored by Maurice Jarre, which is the one they used in the movie “Ghost.”

The great Sam Cooke had a voice like a bell.  I don’t particularly like this arrangement of the song, but I do love his voice. Here’s his version.

“Unchained Melody” was composed in 1954 by Alex North with lyrics by Hy Zaret.  Did you know it was written by North and Zaret for a prison movie?  Interesting.

Don’t say you didn’t learn anything today.

I miss Patrick Swayze.  He was a nice man.

Stop what you’re doing and take a listen to one of the versions above.  Here. I’ll make it easy for you.  Dancing is allowed.

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I bet James Comey could use a little music today.

Holy freaking hell.

Shades of 1973’s “Saturday Night Massacre.”  It took them 10 months after that to get rid of Nixon.  Let’s hope it doesn’t take that long to get these rats out of the pool house.

In honor of 1973, here’s one of the Top 100 songs of 1973.

Juxtaposition

Yesterday when I was goofing around with changing the theme on this blog,  I took a break from my silliness and visited a few of the blogs I frequent.

While reading, I found out another lung cancer blogger died.

You get introduced to them through a shared condition. You get to know them and their families through their stories. You rejoice in their victories and commiserate in their setbacks, feel their pain and admire their fortitude, even if quietly to yourself and from afar.  They become part of your consciousness.

And then they’re gone.

I will never get used to this.

When you don’t have enough to do

Some asters I planted a couple of years ago. Nothing to do with this post, just pretty.

Or, actually, you do, but you’re not doing it.

I’m trying to decide if I want to keep this blog, but that’s a post for another day.  For now I’m playing with how the site looks.  It’s called the theme in Web parlance.  I used to be a Web developer when I was a real person with a job and a life, so I know these very complicated things.

This is WordPress’s Twenty Seventeen theme.  I like it because it’s simple and clean.  Also versatile.  And FREE.

I can change the font (typeface) without having to revise the stylesheet code manually.  I like that.  That used to be part of my job as a Web developer.  Now everything is so automated.  No wonder we have so much free time!

I’m not crazy about the size of the header image (see, again, technical Web talk you wouldn’t understand) and having to scroll down to actually read something, but I like the picture of that plant on a coffee table so I’ll leave it for now.

The picture looks inviting.  Homey, clean, like you’d want to sit down, relax and have coffee with whomever lived there. (Or is it whoever? I don’t think so because it’s the object of a preposition, isn’t it?)

If I put that plant on my coffee table it would be on the floor, dragged and spread throughout the house, eaten and vomited up before I  could get the vacuum cleaner.  Animals. Filthy buggers.

So, what do you think of the theme?  Don’t everybody answer at once because, you know, there are so many of you and it would take me days to  read all the comments.

Positively something

Before we get into the weeds, it occurs to me that I don’t usually post updates on my health status like most other cancer bloggers do.

It feels a little like boasting to announce “Look at me! I’m NED!” (See Introvert below.) As if something I did is the reason for my good fortune. Especially when there are people who aren’t doing so well. When I read so-and-so’s blog about how superb her care is (best oncologist in the country) and what a fighter she is and how her oncologist is simply amazed at her progress (never seen anything like it), I always think about the person who might be reading who isn’t doing so well and who doesn’t have access to superb care, but who is desperately looking for answers or comfort.  I don’t know.  Just me, I guess.

I read a lot of cancer blogs.  Once I decide I like the blog and will keep reading — trust me, there have been some that don’t make it past the first sentence — I always look for a timeline of the author’s cancer.  And, naturally, I compare it to my experience. I don’t know if other people with cancer do this. Probably. We’re all looking for answers. For comfort.

Anyway, I’ve opened my big mouth so I guess I have to report that my last scans in March, 18 months out from treatment, showed continued NED (no evidence of disease).  According to my oncologist, the median survival for my kind of cancer with treatment is 15 months.  So, I’m lucky. I’m still here. And I’m  doing fine.  This moment, this hour, this day.

Now, let’s carry on with some of my curmudgeonly insight…

*******

One of the features of being an introvert is that you’re not inclined to share every little thing that happens in your life — or even every big thing that happens in your life.

Like cancer.

As a result, relatively few people who know me outside of this blog or who know me but don’t know about the blog are aware I have cancer.  The few times I told people was when I was bald to answer questioning looks at my head, or on a need-to-know basis.

By so few people knowing I have lung cancer, I’ve been able to avoid the two utterances That Might Make Me Hit Somebody One of These Days:

 1. “Did you smoke?”
 2. various forms of the Positive Attitude TM admonition, which, IMO, is quickly gaining steam as the most annoying of the two utterances and may dictate greater injury.

I’ve never had anyone ask me the first to my face — but you know they’re thinking it — which I can attribute to knowing people with common sense and good manners. Or it could be that I’m just not around that many people and it’s the law of averages.

The second one I have though. It came from an acquaintance scolding, “Well, I can see someone needs an attitude adjustment!” after I mentioned that the prognosis for someone with lung cancer was grim.  If she hadn’t been on the other end of a phone line, I might have punched her.

To be realistic about your cancer is not the antithesis of being positive.  You can be positive and realistic at the same time.

See, here’s the thing.  Cancer makes people afraid.  Afraid of getting it, afraid of the grief, afraid of their own mortality.  So they throw up that screen to warn you that they’re afraid by deflecting their fear back onto you either by blaming (“Did you smoke?”) or by meaningless counsel (You’ll beat this!  Just be positive!).

Which brings me to the point of this post:  This article about things not to say to someone with cancer and some recommendations for things you can do.

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I’ve never seriously wished cancer on anyone.  But this guy might make me reconsider.  “Mo.”  Must be short for Moron.

Stay positive!