Friday, October 3, 2014

Of Ebola And Anne Of Green Gables

A man hasn't been feeling well, so he goes to his doctor for a complete checkup. Afterward the doctor comes out with the results. "I'm afraid I have some very bad news," the doctor says. "You have pancreatic cancer. You're dying, and you don't have much time left."

"Oh, that's terrible!" says the man. "How long have I got?"

"Ten," the doctor says sadly.

"Ten?" the man asks. "Ten what? Months? Weeks? What?"



Sunday, Sept. 28 – 5:04 p.m.

Earlier today I had an Ebola moment.

You know the bit – it’s right out of a Robin Cook novel or a scene from The Last Ship. Typically, it goes like this: Our hero’s best buddy has been languishing from some dreaded virus. Suddenly the crisis seems to pass. The beloved victim comes fully awake. Cheery, even. And then they start talking about their future. Finally realizing long-cherished dreams. Saving tree frogs in Costa Rica. Conjuring solar farms in the desert. Creating ocean-going factories that will turn plastic trash bags into Arugula fertilizer.

Suddenly the cheery smile turns to a look of alarm. Cough. Cough. Then blood streams from their nose and they collapse back on the bed, herking and jerking and scaring hell out of one and all just before we cut to the commercial.  

In my case, it wasn’t quite so dramatic or Nielsen grabbing. I was reading the paper, eating a new kind of breakfast gruel that doesn’t seem to alarm my chemo-sensitive stomach. My nose felt a little drippy and I dabbed it with a tissue.

And, boom! the tissue filled with blood and the blood was dripping all over my newspaper.

I’ve never suffered from nosebleeds, but I remembered what to do from my parenting days. Soon, I got it stopped. Apply pressure and ice and all that.

But, I’m worried, you know. Check it out on Google and sure enough nose bleeds, etc., are common side effects of chemo therapy.

After awhile, the other side effects return and I forget the nose bleeds and trundle back to bed, where I lie very still, waiting for the sickness and the dizziness to pass, which it eventually does, thanks to a dose of my “special cookies.”

While I’m lying there, it comes to me that the biggest problem with long-term sickness is that it can easily turn you into a thumb-sucking hypochondriac. Especially these days, when a quick Google search can confirm any and all nightmares with a tap on your I-pad screen.    

For the Nth(squared) time I swear I won’t become one of those guys. For a minute I think about donning the new T-shirt Kathryn had made for me. It reads:

Quit Whining


Plot Revenge

But then I think: What if get blood on it? And drift off to sleep.


Monday, Sept. 29 – 11:26 a.m.

As you might have gathered from the previous entry, I’ve been on a chemo side effects roller coaster since the last session. I’ll feel okay for a few hours – sometimes even really good then – Wham! Back in the sick box again.

The worst thing, of course, is the The Curse Of Colon Cancer: diarrhea. It’s been unrelenting – and sometimes painful.

But then – Ta-Da! - Kathryn to the rescue.

My own personal Professor Of Nearly Everything finally said, @#$#@ it. There’s gotta be a way. After researching the blazes out of the subject, Kathryn came across an old fashioned remedy that is gradually reappearing in modern times to treat people suffering from the after effects of radical colon surgery, Chron’s Disease and other maladies of the digestive system.

The RX: Paragoric. You know the stuff. It’s what young Ms Shirley used to keep the little kiddies quiet in Anne Of Green Gables. It was discontinued for a few years, but now it is back and if you Google comments of people like me you’ll find that when all else failed – like double doses of Imodium – Paregoric did the trick.

My doctor said, let’s experiment for a week. The result: at this point (10/2 at 11:16 a.m.) I’ve had five nights of sleeping all the way through without mad walker-assisted scrambles to the John.

Do I have a genius Sweetie, or what?

But, meanwhile, back to:

Tuesday, Sept. 30 – 12:54 p.m.

Got the port set up for the chemo and had blood drawn. Feeling dizzy again – just like last time when the chemo chemicals overwhelmed my platelets and red blood cells. Had to rely on a wheelchair to get me out of the center and into the car. Feeling steadier when I arrived home so it was no trouble getting upstairs.

Tuesday, Sept. 30 – 3:08 p.m.

Got the call from my doctor’s office. Yep, the chemo has been playing Pacman with my arterial system once again. I’m told to report back to the IV Clinic tomorrow morning for transfusions.

But that’s what I expected when I staggered out of the clinic this morning. What was unexpected is that my doctor is going to put the next chemo treatment off a week. She wants to build me up.

Mixed feelings. (1) I’m relieved that I can skip some of the nastier after effects for a week. (2)But I’m also disappointed – although that may be too strong of a word. The thing is I’d just as soon get this whole business over with and skipping a week just adds to my time in chemo Purgatory.

But things are looking up. Kathryn says if I’m a good boy and take my paregoric like I’m supposed to and my paregoric-aided digestive system settles out that some Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia Yogurt might magically appear in the freezer.

Now who could ask for more?

Thursday, Oct. 2 – 11:22 a.m.

Here I am, feet up, secure in the comfort of my Super Duper Professional Writer’s Chair. No chemo. No slow drip of poisons from a Cadd Pump strapped to my waist.

Life is good.

Besides Kathryn’s Anne of Green Gables Miracle Cure, several other things have appeared to brighten my days.

First off, my daughter, Susan, sent me a big box full of various vitamins and traditional supplements for cancer victims. You remember Susan – she’s a doctor in Santa Cruz and we published a book together several months ago: The Spymaster’s Daughter. Here’s the link (hint, hint)

Susan and her partner, Sigrid, have blessed us with our eighth grandchild – Asher, age two. Here’s a picture Susan sent along with the box of RX supplies.

Then, my son, Jason sent a envelope stuffed with original Get Well Card drawings from my grandsons, Ryan (age 9) and Layne (age 2). Jason, if you recall, has also been seduced by the Siren call of the Writer’s Muse. Here’s a link to his book of short stories – Fifty Rooms.

Okay – first, here are a couple of pictures of Ryan and Layne:


Next, to finish off this episode of Chemo Brain, here are the cards they created for me.

First Ryan's:

Now Layne's

I know – cute kids’ stuff. Not my normal cuppa. But when they are from my own grandchildren it’s a whole different story, you know? It’s not actually cute kid stuff, but budding Picassos – one cuddling a kitty, the other in swimming togs.

Eat your heart out, Pablo. 


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,


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. 

Here's where you can buy it worldwide in both paperback and Kindle editions:

U.S. .............................................France
United Kingdom ...........................Spain
Canada ........................................ Italy
Germany ..................................... Japan
Brazil .......................................... India


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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