Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Writer As A Bozo Bop Toy

A woman suffering from abdominal pains thinks she might be pregnant. Her doctor believes otherwise and puts her through a battery of tests. After a final examination the doctor says,” Well, I hope you like changing diapers.” Excitedly, the woman says, “So, I’m pregnant after all!” The doctor shakes his head. “No,” he says,” you’ve got colon cancer.

Monday, Sept. 15 – 5:13 p.m.

I’m pretty whipped as I approach my fourth chemo session for colon cancer. The last treatment was two weeks ago and this time it has taken longer to recover. You know how it goes: nausea, zip appetite (surprise!), tiredness, dizziness, constant diarrhea  – among other side effects - and this time around occasional bouts of fairly severe pain in my belly. I feel a like that kid’s Bozo Bop blow-up toy that rights itself when you punch it. Except, there is an air leakage and I’m not quite coming back up all the way.

Wednesday, we start the whole two-and-a-half days of self-poisoning again. It’s voluntary, of course, and reminds me of the Florida cancer-survivor friend who said of the experience, “It was like I was fetchin’ a stick for my own whippin’.”

I’m still of good cheer, however. Especially after I read this morning that the ancient Egyptians had their favorite methods for treating cancer way back in 1500 B.C.

They used what they called a “fire drill,” which was a red-hot tool that they plunged into the tumor to cauterize it.  

When you imagine that – up to and including wriggling the hot iron poker about inside you to get it all - a little roach poison on a slow drip doesn’t sound half so bad, you know.


Tuesday, Sept. 16 – 9:37 a.m.

The Bozo Bop toy business reared its air-filled head last night. 

In other words, I fell.

I was negotiating a trip to the bathroom when I was overcome by dizziness and toppled over. This is not a good thing. If I broke a hip or something during this period I’d really be up the creek.

Fortunately, another side effect may have saved me from injury. I’ve been losing weight like crazy. I’ve gone from 177 lbs before all this started to 149. If you are into weight loss, chemo therapy definitely works. However, unless you are a masochist, I cannot in recommend it as a diet.

This morning I would normally drive myself to the IV Clinic for my 11:30 appointment to get my port implant setup for tomorrow and Thursday, plus get a blood test. Kathryn says no way Jose – she’s driving.

Last night’s misadventure had her up and out of bed and by my side in an instant. When I told her this morning that I’d probably be okay to drive she fixed me with her special Kathryn glare.

I folded.


Tuesday, Sept. 16 – 4:10 p.m.

Got an urgent call from the IV clinic to immediately get myself back there. This morning’s workup showed that my blood count was way off – which was the reason for the dizziness and last night’s tumble. They took more blood for further tests and told me that the whole chemo thing is being kicked forward another day.

Tomorrow morning, instead of the prescribed poisons, I’m to get a bucket of blood and a pail of platelets. They said it would take about three hours. The chemo treatments will commence Thursday, assuming all goes well with the blood infusions.

The good news is that I can have a decent dinner tonight, instead of my usual pre-chemo chicken broth and toasted soy cheese. Plus, I get another day to recover from the last treatment.

Life is good, is it not?

Wednesday, Sept. 17 – 2:42 p.m.

They pumped me full of blood and platelets and sent me home. The reason for the low count? Seems that the chemo chemicals kill red blood cells as effectively as they do cancer. The dizziness is a lot less, but still persists so I have to be careful.

Hmm. Guess I’d better cancel this afternoon’s Tango lessons and get in a nap.

Note to self for tomorrow: Don’t forget the special cookies.

Thursday, Sept. 18 – 8.08 a.m.

Scoffed the cookies. Heading out to face the chemo firing squad.

No blindfold,  please.

Added note: My audiobook entertainment for today’s chemo treatment is about a bad ass European contract killer. Seemed to fit today’s theme of hunting cancer cells and killing them. In the first chapter he wastes seven pros who are hunting him. I’m heavily identifying with this guy. “Kill those cancer cells, buddy!” I yell. “Kill! Kill!”

Thursday, Sept. 18 – 12.46 p.m.

Back home. So far no terrible effects – except the usual: even water tastes lousy. Especially cold water. How do you figure that?

Nap time.


Friday, Sept. 19 – 2.24 p.m.

Nap time blended into a long period of in and out dozing and listening to audiobooks. Went in for the second session this morning, remembering the “special cookies” ploy. It works.

Now I have my Cadd pump recharged and it is gleefully going about its poisoning duties until it runs out at 11 a.m. tomorrow. Then I’ll be disconnected and will be free wander around in chemo unreality for another two weeks.

I feel oddly disconnected from the immediate world. In a way, it’s like when I hit the midpoint of a book and I vanish into a world of my own creation. Except, if I had created this world – this chemo world – I’d eliminate the feeling like shit part.

Saturday, Sept. 20 – 2.28 p.m.

Woke up feeling pretty good. The CADD pump was empty of poisons by 11 a.m. and the IV clinic nurses removed it and sent me on my way – to return in eleven days for the next session.

The good feeling persisted all morning. My brother stopped by, which really cheered me up and I started thinking, hey, this ain’t too bad this time around.

Then came the old kick in the head. Followed by a blow to the belly. Good feelings plummeted to the usual post chemo low.

But then I thought, well at least I’ve finished four of these sessions, which means I have eight more to go. Or, in my Short Timer’s  Calendar figuring – seven and a wake up.

Hush, Cole. The Chemo Gods might hear you.

Slinking back to bed now, head low, thoughts carefully neutral so as not to draw attention to myself.

Even so – seven and a wake up! That ain’t too…


Sunday, Sept. 21 – 9:15 p.m.

It was an unpleasant night. Spent the hours from 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. as a supplicant to the porcelain throne of American Standard. The dizziness returned in spades.

Each journey from bedroom to bathroom was perilous. I have a walker from when I first returned home from surgery a few months ago. I never used it – I’d rather start the road to physical recovery staggering around on my own pins. Now, however, Kathryn is insisting that I use it at night. It’s not foolproof. I fell earlier in the week while using the walker. It was like my head had suddenly jumped into a blender, went whirr, whirr, and I toppled over backward, taking the walker with me. 

I’m going to stop now to eat a little of Kathryn’s hot blueberry soup. It’s an old  Swedish family recipe that is recommended by doctors in Sweden for diarrhea and other lower abdominal maladies. 


Monday, Sept. 22 – 1:40 p.m.

Another bad night. Almost no sleep. I’m going to do my best to engage with the rest of the world in bits and pieces. Read the news. See what my friends are up to on Facebook. Maybe even try to get in some exercise.

We’ll see.

Tuesday, Sept 23 – 12:11 p.m.

It was not a good day or night. Fortunately, I have a plentiful supply of audibooks on hand. It’s easy to listen, but hard to read things on actual pages made from the corpses of murdered trees. My eyes keep sliding off and the words get blurry. 

However, I am feeling better this morning. Hopefully it will last long enough for me to wrap this up.

I’ve been wanting to tell you about my oncologist – my doctor. I’ve met a few truly inspirational people in my life and I’m fortunate that at this moment in time to have encountered another just when I needed them the most.

Her name is Dr. Aurea Tomeski and she is truly a remarkable woman. Born in the Philippines, she comes from a very poor family of six sisters and two brothers.  An exceptionally bright student, she won scholarships to the University Of Santo Tomas in Manila.

Dr. Tomeski told me that even with the scholarships, money was tight. Her father cut blocks of salt from the salt fields outside Manila and sold it to customers in town. Her mother – an exceptional woman in her own right – started a small business across the street from the university that catered to the students. This way she could not only earn a living – but her daughter could walk to school, come home for lunch, and help out at the store run by her mom and dad and the rest of the family. Her mom expanded the business to include rooms for other students and in this manner her daughter eventually won her degree, then went on to gain entrance to the medical school and become a doctor. Dr. Tomeski did her internship in the U.S., then there were residencies in the Philippines, New Jersey and Albany.

Now, here is where it gets really interesting. During this time, Dr. Tomeski became a nun. A Franciscan nun, to be exact. And she traveled to Africa to work in the clinics there for several years fighting malaria, cholera, yellow fever – and all the many tropical diseases that afflict people there.

I asked her if there wasn’t a lot of hardship living in these war-torn and disease riddled regions, and she just smiled, then shrugged and said, “Not as hard as it was for our patients.”

Dr. Tomeski said she didn’t take her final vows, but returned to the U.S. where she eventually married a professor of computer engineering. She has a daughter – a beautiful young actress who does off Broadway plays in New York.

Even so, she remained close to the church and to this day is a lay Carmelite nun. She goes to Mass every morning and prays for her patients.

All that is an interesting background, you say, but what of it? Especially to a guy like you, Allan, whom we all know is not only not a religious man, but is suspicious of religious organizations. You’re no doubt thinking, why the hell is Cole telling us all this?

It’s because Dr. Tomeski is the most gentle and caring doctor I have ever met in my life. Her religion infuses her every waking hour. I’m not speaking of dogma, but of something that many self-professed religious people claim to be, but never display in practice.

She sees the human in you. The pain. The fear. And when she examines you each movement is warm and gentle. She takes your head in both hands and you feel like you are being blessed as she probes the glands for signs of weakness. When she says, “Show me your tongue, Allan,” or listens to your breathing with her stethoscope – directing you to “breathe deeply, Allan,” her voice and manner are so tender you feel like a small child who has found a loving place to hide from the fear.

I wanted to close telling you about her because just to meet such an individual almost makes the ordeal worthwhile.

When I saw her last and was leaving her office she said, “I pray for you, Allan. I really do. Every single morning.”

And although I do not believe in the power of prayer, my heart was glad, my spirits bright, when I heard her speak those words.


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  • "Bravo, Allan! When I finished Lucky In Cyprus I wept." - Julie Mitchell, Hot Springs, Texas
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  • "... (Reading) Lucky In Cyprus has been a humbling, haunting, sobering and enlightening experience..." - J.A. Locke,


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.)


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. 

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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. 

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