Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Chemo Thanksgiving

“… Whenever I tried to eat, or drink I started gagging and it was hard to swallow. I tried various things to remedy or help ease the effect, but none of them worked. Believe it our not, I finally borrowed a little you know what (MJ) from a friend at the local Starbucks. After giving up all hope of figuring out a way to soothe this side effect I did the following last night:

Around 12 a.m. took a shot of vodka and because of slight abdominal pain took a Tylenol. Waited for the Tylenol to take effect and noticed that my tummy pain did subside. But the constricted throat/gag thing remained ever present. Tried drinking water slowly with no effect. Felt like puking every so often, yet did not really puke ... just felt like I wanted to.

Then I decided to take a few puffs of the MJ. Within about 5 minutes the following happened:Television program became a little more interesting. Think I was watching Bill Maher…  Felt sort of thirsty and did not feel that little lump or constriction in my throat...
 Drank some water and it went down without the normal uncomfortable effect of having a gag reflex… A few minutes later the side effect completely disappeared. I tried to sense my throat as to what was going on and it just felt normal, non constricted in any way ... in fact ... everything felt great. 

I am not sure what MJ does or how it relaxes the throat muscles but it definitely appears to work. I studied the effect very carefully until I decided that I felt so sleepy that had to go to sleep. Another thing to note here is, I actually wanted to sleep finally. In addition, I got hungry before sleepy and ate some cinnamon bread with peanut butter .... NO GAGGING AT ALL …

I did notice one negative aspect of the MJ ... Though It make the throat thing go away and also made me want to go to sleep, it also made me want to stay awake to a certain extent because the Television and other sounds started to (stimulate) my interest  in various ways. However, I ignored that and FELL DEEPLY ASLEEP. (Posted online by “Miss Muffin.”)

Wednesday, Nov. 19 – 11:42 a.m.

Woke up this morning feeling good for the first time since my last chemo session four days ago. Today is my birthday, so I’m taking it as a sign that good things await me in the future.

Double proof: Kathryn greeted me with a kiss, a warbled happy birthday song, and a fabulous present. Once again she conspired with an artist to surprise me. This time it was with Tom Kidd, easily one of the best book cover artists in the world. (Click here to check out his homepage)

Tom did all four of the covers for the Far Kingdoms series – and each one garnered best cover of the year awards at successive World Fantasy Conventions.

Unfortunately, he sold the original paintings long ago, but Tom – one of the kindest men you could ever hope to meet – made beautiful prints of two of the books: The Far Kingdoms and The Warrior Returns. He signed them, plus added little remarques (drawings)at the bottom to underscore that these were original prints – one out of a series of – well, one.

We’re going to head to the framing shop later in the week to get the pictures framed. We’ll preserve them with UV glass so the sun can’t harm them.

Kathryn, dearest one, you are a marvel. And Tom, you are an amazing artist whose work continues to astound and delight me.

Thursday, Nov. 20 – 8:30 a.m

Feeling better still – and it is a good thing. I have a busy medical day ahead of me. First, a PET Scan at the local cancer lab. It’s set for 45 minutes from now. This afternoon I’ll see my oncologist – Dr. Tomeski – to get the results. Hopefully I won’t get too wiped out to complete the day in good cheer.

Friday, Nov. 21 – 11:03 a.m.

All went well Thursday. First the PET Scan. The acronym stands for Positron Emission Tomography – which makes everything as clear as mud from a gator hole.

It’s two-hour process where they inject you with a small amount of a radioactive tracer. It comes in a strange container that looks like two pipes (probably lined with lead) screwed together. It’s about two-and-a-half fists high and thicker than a large man’s hand. When they unscrew it a long needle is revealed protruding from of one of the “pipes.” The needle is inserted in the IV and a few seconds later the deed is done.

Then they put you in a large bare room for an hour to give the tracer material time to work through your system. The room they put me in was dark, so I asked if they could turn on a light so I could read one of the books I have loaded on my Kindle. They tech said, no, that was not their practice. I was to sit in the darkness for an hour so I could “relax.”

I said, “Are you telling me I can’t read?” 

Once again, he said reading was against policy.

At that point my chemo-fueled temper flared. I said, “Are you people barbarians or something?”

The attendant got his back up. “What did you say?”

“I said, ‘are you people barbarians?’ You have some kind of Taliban rule where people aren’t allowed to read? I’m supposed to sit here in the dark and stare at a sign with an hour pointing the way to the restroom? And that’s supposed to relax me?” I snorted. “Give me a break and just turn on the light.”

The attendant was visibly deflated. First off, he realized I hadn’t used an obscenity – but only the innocent word “barbarian.” Secondly, he was embarrassed because the other people in the room laughed and one guy went so far as to mutter, “Right on!”

He relented and turned on the light. About fifteen minutes in, while I was happily enjoying my book, another attendant came in and said he had to turn out the light. Once again I got the “standard practices” excuse. And once again I used the barbarian ploy. It worked a charm and the lights stayed on – to the delight of my companions in the room, who had all pulled out the magazines and paperbacks they had brought along.

(After reading about this incident, a friend with a particularly evil sense of humor wrote, "You realize, don't you, that you just vanquished Colon The Barbarian. I won't reveal his name, but his initials are Charlie Cockey.) 

The PET scan itself was simple. They stick you in a machine that looks like an MRI and slowly move you back and forth for 45 minutes. (Alas, I can’t use an MRI, which would make many tests easier and more accurate. I have an implanted defibrillator/pacemaker and the powerful MRI magnets would rip them right out of my chest.)

Anyway, the time passed without incident and I was released to join Kathryn in the waiting area to be whisked away home. As he was helping me out of the machine the tech laughed and asked if I really did call the attendant a barbarian. To his delight I pleaded guilty and his laughter followed me out the door.


That afternoon the doctor gave me the result and it was all good news. There was no sign that the cancer had spread to any other organs, including the liver. Plus there was no sign of the cancer in my lymph nodes.

This means that if I continue to bear up under the six remaining chemo treatments that three months from now I have a good chance to be cancer free.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, Nov. 25 – 10:34 a.m.

It’s been a real roller coaster ride. Haven’t had a single day since the PET scan where I felt good the entire 24 hours. Wake up in the morning, feeling – Oh, yeah! This is what life used to be like! Then I start feeling lousy. An hour later I’ll be back to normal (whatever that is) and start thinking of things I’ve been wanting to do. Chores, sure, but fun chores. Like taking the Tom Kidd paintings to the local hippy-dippy framer. (He vapes MJ oil while talking over the framing choices – but he never offers me any.)

Anyway, that feeling doesn’t last long and the sickies start creeping back. Than it gets pretty bad and I skip lunch, take some nausea pills, eat a couple of special cookies, then crash – usually until about 5 p.m.

From there, I never know whether I’ll be able to eat regular food for dinner, or stick to soup and open-face grilled cheese. Example: my birthday was a soup and grilled cheese night. Then I either watch a TV show (mostly Netflix foreign series) talk to Kathryn, or beg off and go back to bed.

The nights are similar. Last night was good. Slept most of the way through. The night before – and the night before that – I was up and down to hit the John until 3 a.m. Then, finally fell into an exhausted asleep.

So far, this has been a good morning. So good, in fact, that I’m seriously considering hitting up Kathryn to visit the art framer. Maybe he’ll offer me a hit this time.

Hope I make it.

Wednesday, Nov. 26 – 11:10 a.m.

Mission accomplished. Tom Kidd paintings dropped off for framing (and no, my aged hippy-dippy framing guy didn’t offer me a hit off his ever present vape.) Plus I kept Kathryn company for a bank deposit stop and a drugstore pickup. That was my big outing for Tuesday and I returned home exhausted. Had a cup of yogurt and crashed for the rest of the afternoon. Physically I felt lousy, but mentally I felt recharged. Damn, I actually did something semi-useful.

Plus I got to see something of the regular world. Looking out the car window I felt a little like a dog. I wanted to crank down the window and hang my head out, tongue lolling, sniffing the wind for exotic smells.

Full disclosure: toward the end I was afflicted with the chemo cranks and complained about ridiculous things poor Kathryn had no control over. Later that night I groveled and apologized profusely. Kathryn took it in good cheer. She said from now when the cranks came on, she was going to lean in and whisper: “Chemo brain, chemo brain.” And that will be the signal for me to shut the fuck up and be a good boy.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I don’t know what kind of a day I’ll have. Will I feel great? Or will I end the day by eating hot blueberry soup for my Thanksgiving dinner?

Frankly, I have so many things to be thankful for I don’t much give a gobble-gobble. There are at least a hundred reasons to be thankful and one through ninety nine are Kathryn.

A few years ago I got a hot idea for a special anniversary present for Kathryn. I Googled around until I found the company that supplies high school memorabilia for American kids whose parents work for our government and so go to school abroad.

I got them to make me a copy of my old class ring at Kubasaki High School. It’s exactly the same as the one I proudly wore in Okinawa fifty five years ago -  including the insignia showing that I had lettered in Judo on the school team. The only difference was that I had it inscribed to Kathryn, my true love, who I wasn’t destined to meet for a few more years.

I had it all planned out. It was going to be like the old days when a guy offered his school ring to a girl and beseeched her to become his “steady.”

Then I asked her out for a date on the day of our anniversary. I took her to a restaurant where we could get a burger and fries and a shake, just like the old days. My only regret was I couldn’t find a drive-in restaurant, with waitresses on skates carrying trays that they’d hook to your car window.

Finally, it came time to make the presentation. I was going to ask her if she’d “go steady” with me and offer her the ring. I’d put it on a silver chain and planned to sing a verse from one of Elvis’ songs. “… I just wanna be your Teddy Bear...”

Suddenly, inexplicably, I was hurled back in time and became stricken with a case of teenage boy nerves. My palms sweated and I felt a little shaky, thinking, what if she says “no.” Or, “I’m not ready” for that kind of commitment just yet.

Stupid? Well, to be sure. After all, it was our thirty-something or other anniversary.

Even so my voice cracked and hand shook as I said the words and offered her the ring.

To my immense relief she got totally into the spirit of the occasion, and said she’d “love to be your steady.” She even made with an un-Kathryn like girlish giggle.

I put the chain around her neck, the ring dangling from it, followed by all kinds of mushy stuff.

The reason I’m telling you this story is that the day after the doctor informed us both that I had two malignant tumors in my colon he'd have to remove (along with most of my colon), followed by six months of chemo therapy, Kathryn showed up at the hospital wearing the ring about her neck. Nothing unusual about that – she wears it often.

However, from that day forward, she’s never taken it off, or traded it in for one of her many other necklaces.

A few weeks ago it finally sank in what she was doing. (Hey, what can I say except it’s a guy thing. We’re slow on the uptake.)

When I asked about it, she just smiled, gripped the ring in her hand and said:

“Well, you’re my steady, aren’t you?’


Happy Thanksgiving one and all…

Allan (11/26/2014)

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Here's what readers say about Lucky In Cyprus:
  • "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. 

1 comment:

  1. Allan, congratulations on the scan results! And on having such an awesome wife. Happy Thanksgiving to both of you, from both of us.