“Ten reasons to live your next life backwards: 1. You start out dead and get that out of the way first. 2. Then you wake up in a nursing home feeling better every day. 3. After that you get kicked out for being too healthy. 4. Next, you spend 10 to 20 years enjoying your retirement and collecting your pension. 5. When you start work, you get a gold watch on your first day and you already know how to do everything. 6. You work 40 years until you're too young to work anymore. 7. In high school, knowing what you know, you drink alcohol, party and are generally promiscuous. 8. When you go to primary school, you become a kid, you play and you have no responsibilities. 9. Then, you become a baby, and you spend your last nine months floating peacefully in luxury, in spa-like conditions, with central heating and room service online, And, then ... best of all... 10. You finish off as an orgasm.”
Friday, Feb. 20 – 9:32 p.m.
Five and a wakeup.
Slight improvement. Tired as hell, but having difficulty sleeping at night. Keep telling my body, “Go, body! Go! Get those blood levels and immune system up there!”
Saturday, Feb. 21 – 7:25 a.m.
Four and a wakeup.
Feeling a little better. Food staying with me. Cheering up.
Sunday, Feb. 22 – 9:55 p.m.
Three and a wakeup. Good day, sleepless night. The good news: a short story I’ve been pondering started taking shape – whole scenes complete with dialogue.
Took a shower, with Kathryn hovering by in case I become dizzy. It’s sunny outside and comfortably warm. My natural melatonin levels are definitely benefitting from the sunlight. Feeling downright cheery.
Ready to face tomorrow when – I’m hope, hope, hoping – the countdown becomes an actual race to the finish line.
Monday, Feb. 23 – 10:15 a.m.
Heading for the lab for port installation and blood tests. Will everything okay? Or, will the levels once again be shot and the session delayed.
A real nail biter. Like waiting for the other chemo bag to drip
Hallelujah! All blood levels – and my immune system - declared right on the money at this morning’s testing. So we are good to go and to officially declare this day:
… Two and a wake up.
Tuesday, Feb. 24 – 8:15 a.m.
One and a wake up. Heading out for Chemoland.
Feeling pretty good after the poisoning session. That’s a surprise. Better be wary. I know THEY are going to get me one way or another.
Wednesday, Feb. 25 – 11:03 a.m.
And a wakeup…
Second session completed. Feeling absolutely horrid. Going to dose myself and crash. Even feeling lousy there is a tingle of anticipation. One more day to go.
Thursday, Feb. 26 – 10:21 a.m.
It’s Wakeup Day!
Getting unplugged at 1:30. Then across the street to see Dr. Tomeski. Damn, I can hardly wait.
The deed is done. I’m free, free, free!
Too sick to give a damn.
Friday, Feb. 27 – 7:30 p.m.
One day out of Chemo, or… C -1.
Horrid day. Gotta remember to keep doing this one baby step at a time. Each and every day that separates me from the poisoning sessions will be just a little bit better.
Yeah, yeah. Tell it to the Marines.
Saturday, Feb. 28 – 10:05 a.m.
Two days out of Chemo, or… C -2.
Feeling a little bit better. Shhh. Don’t let the chemo gods hear us talking.
As I feared, the expected celestial kick in the belly came in the late afternoon and continued through the night. Felt like I was the reluctant guest of honor at a banquet hosted by Vlad The Impaler.
Sunday, March 1 – 7:30 p.m.
C –3: Another bad day.
TIME TO CLICK THE ‘PAUSE’ BUTTON
As I start on this it is Monday morning (C -4). The day promises to be a repeat of the others. The fact, is with chemo over, the only thing I can do now is grin and bear it as the poison slowly loosens its grip. With all my levels – red and white blood cells, immune system, etc. – well below normal, it’s going to take time to return to normal – whatever that is.
My doctor says it’ll take about a month before my immune system is built up enough to return to the gym – or any other public place. She says it will take at least a year for the poison to work its way out of my system.
Meanwhile, there will be many blood tests, lab tests, PET scans, Pulmonary scans, heart monitoring and so on and so forth ad infin-nausea. Speaking of nausea, side effects will probably continue unabated for many months, sloughing off gradually like melting icebergs.
When I asked if this meant I would then be cancer-free, my doctor gave me a sad look and shook her head. She said the cancer might be in remission, but I cannot depend in any way that it will not come back.
Okay, I can take that. I’ve had a dicky ticker (congestive heart failure) for some years now and know very well that I could do a Tim Russert and keel over at any moment. So what? We’re all basically blind and have no guarantee that the next step might be off the edge of a cliff.
Anyway, with tests and other developments spread out over several months, I’m going to put this blog on “pause” for a time, reporting in when there is something to report.
What I’m basically waiting for is the day in the (hopefully) not too far future when Kathryn and I board the train and ride the Sunset Ltd. from New Orleans to Los Angeles.
In my mind, I can see our families and friends waiting for us at Union Station.
At long last I can gather my children and grandchildren into my arms and be smothered by their hugs and kisses.
And that will be the final episode of “Notes From A Chemo Brain.”
A THOUSAND AND ONE THANKS TO:
Kathryn - My darling, my sweetheart, my confecta – my bulwark against the storms of life; My wonderful doctor, Aurea Tomeski – one of the gentlest, most caring and wisest people one could ever hope to meet – and her marvelous right-hand woman, Carmelita. My brother, Drew, and sister-in-law, Vicky, who were my sword and shield against some of the worst side effects; my generous and always loving Aunt Rita; My son, Jason, and daughter-in-law, Hiroko’; my daughter, Susan, and her wonderful partner, Sigrid; My grandsons, Ryan, Layne and Asher, who kept our refrigerator bright and smiley with their art work and pictures; our dear friends, Linda and Jonathan Beaty, for their timely health treatments. Additionally, I’d like to thank the marvelous staff at Boca Raton hospital’s IV Center, especially Sue, Laura, Marilyn, Michelle, Nancy, Sandy and Lyrae.
Finally, I must credit, as well as thank, Mary Hollihan, who inspired the whole idea of “Notes From A Chemo Brain.” She was my at-home nurse while I was recovering from colon cancer surgery. When I learned that I had to undergo six months of chemo therapy – SIX MONTHS!!!! – I immediately looked up the side effects. Almost all of which I have suffered, and continue to suffer. The list was horrendous. Bleeding, nausea, pain, fever and chills, fingers so numb as to be almost useless, and on and on.
But as I looked them over I thought, well, suck it up Cole. You can handle that. The only thing that really got me was the side effect they listed as “Chemo Brain.” Basically your brains cells wither and sometimes die from the poison and you are in danger of losing your full mental powers.
Now, that bothered me to no end. After all – I am my brain. It has been both my sword and shield in life’s battle. Something I pride myself on. I was especially worried about losing my writing chops. All those words and images and experiences that I keep in huge, overflowing memory treasury chests that I just have to reach into to draw out the precise word, phrase, character or scene required to make a story.
When I confessed my fears to her, Mary thought a moment, then said, “Why don’t you start a blog? It seems to me that if you write about your experiences it will not only exercise your mind, but your word power as well.”
To be truthful, I was doubtful at first. “I don’t want to be a whiner,” I said.
“Then don’t whine,” she said. “Stress the positive. Look for the humor.”
And at that moment the title of this little opus jumped into my head. And I said, “Notes From A Chemo Brain.”
Kathryn laughed. “By Jove,” she said, “I think you’ve got it.”
See You Next
When The Conductor Calls:
“All Aboard The Sunset Limited!”
With warm affection and thanks to my many online friends and readers who have stuck with me all these months.
LUCKY IN CYPRUS: IT'S A BOOK!
Here's where to get the paperback & Kindle editions worldwide:
Here's what readers say about Lucky In Cyprus:
- "Bravo, Allan! When I finished Lucky In Cyprus I wept." - Julie Mitchell, Hot Springs, Texas
- "Lucky In Cyprus brought back many memories... A wonderful book. So many shadows blown away!" - Freddy & Maureen Smart, Episkopi,Cyprus.
- "... (Reading) Lucky In Cyprus has been a humbling, haunting, sobering and enlightening experience..." - J.A. Locke, Bookloons.com
NEW: THE AUDIOBOOK VERSION OF
THE HATE PARALLAX
THE HATE PARALLAX: What if the Cold War never ended -- but continued for a thousand years? Best-selling authors Allan Cole (an American) and Nick Perumov (a Russian) spin a mesmerizing "what if?" tale set a thousand years in the future, as an American and a Russian super-soldier -- together with a beautiful American detective working for the United Worlds Police -- must combine forces to defeat a secret cabal ... and prevent a galactic disaster! This is the first - and only - collaboration between American and Russian novelists. Narrated by John Hough. Click the title links below for the trade paperback and kindle editions. (Also available at iTunes.)
THE SPYMASTER'S DAUGHTER:
A new novel by Allan and his daughter, Susan
After laboring as a Doctors Without Borders physician in the teaming refugee camps and minefields of South Asia, Dr. Ann Donovan thought she'd seen Hell as close up as you can get. And as a fifth generation CIA brat, she thought she knew all there was to know about corruption and betrayal. But then her father - a legendary spymaster - shows up, with a ten-year-old boy in tow. A brother she never knew existed. Then in a few violent hours, her whole world is shattered, her father killed and she and her kid brother are one the run with hell hounds on their heels. They finally corner her in a clinic in Hawaii and then all the lies and treachery are revealed on one terrible, bloody storm ravaged night.
BASED ON THE CLASSIC STEN SERIES by Allan Cole & Chris Bunch: Fresh from their mission to pacify the Wolf Worlds, Sten and his Mantis Team encounter a mysterious ship that has been lost among the stars for thousands of years. At first, everyone aboard appears to be long dead. Then a strange Being beckons, pleading for help. More disturbing: the presence of AM2, a strategically vital fuel tightly controlled by their boss - The Eternal Emperor. They are ordered to retrieve the remaining AM2 "at all costs." But once Sten and his heavy worlder sidekick, Alex Kilgour, board the ship they must dare an out of control defense system that attacks without warning as they move through dark warrens filled with unimaginable horrors. When they reach their goal they find that in the midst of all that death are the "seeds" of a lost civilization.
Here's where you can buy it worldwide in both paperback and Kindle editions:
Venice Boardwalk Circa 1969
In the depths of the Sixties and The Days Of Rage, a young newsman, accompanied by his pregnant wife and orphaned teenage brother, creates a Paradise of sorts in a sprawling Venice Beach community of apartments, populated by students, artists, budding scientists and engineers lifeguards, poets, bikers with a few junkies thrown in for good measure. The inhabitants come to call the place “Pepperland,” after the Beatles movie, “Yellow Submarine.” Threatening this paradise is "The Blue Meanie," a crazy giant of a man so frightening that he eventually even scares himself.