Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cosmic Injustice And Other Thumb-Sucking Fantasies


 Nurse: What’s the difference between a doctor and God?

Me: I give up.

Nurse: God doesn’t think he’s a doctor…

A nurse dies and goes to hell.  She was there two weeks before she real­ized she wasn’t at work anymore…

Another nurse dies and winds up at the Pearly Gates.  St. Peter tells her that she can choose whether she wanted to stay in heaven or hell.  So she spent the first day hang­ing around heaven, clouds, angels, harps, golden streets, the usual stuff she had always thought of when she thought of heaven. The sec­ond day she went to hell and was amazed to see that it was all beau­ti­ful sandy beaches, with beau­ti­ful peo­ple frol­ick­ing in the surf.  Every­one had per­fect bod­ies, there were places all along the beach where she could get what­ever she wanted to eat or drink at no cost.   It was just a wonderful place — and much more excit­ing than heaven had been.   So she went back and talked to St. Peter and told him that sur­pris­ing as it seemed, she thought she would like to go to hell.  So she goes back to hell and sure enough, it’s fire and brim­stone, eter­nal suf­fer­ing and the depths of mis­ery. Just when she thinks she can’t take it any more, Satan walks by. She stops him and asks what hap­pened to the beau­ti­ful beach and all the won­der­ful peo­ple she met there. “Oh , that,” says Satan.  “That was just recruit­ment.  Now you’re on staff.”

Monday, Nov. 10 – 11:34 a.m.

Pobracito. Que lastima. Rough translation: Moan.Whimper. It all starts up again tomorrow. But this time, prior to the blood tests that always precede chemo, I’m going in for early morning heart tests at my cardiologist’s. Make sure the old ticker is holding up. Then over to the IV Clinic. Fingers crossed that my blood levels don’t need topping up – I want to get this whole blamed thing back on track. Six more to go, is my mantra. Or, in short timer calendar speak: five and a wakeup.

Oh, yeah.
Tuesday, Nov. 11 – 12:16 a.m.

Happy birthday, Layne. That’s my youngest grandson who joins the Terrible Threes Gang today.

Had the port readied for this week’s poisoning sessions. Blood drawn for tests. Hopefully they won’t call later today to bring me back in for transfusions. 

Wednesday, Nov. 12 – 4:20 p.m.

No call backs – blood levels were fine. Sat in the IV chair from 9:30 to 1:30 while they pumped poison into me. Then they refilled my Cadd Pump with 22 hours worth of a really bad ass poison that feeds into the port installed in my chest. Didn’t feel too terrible when I left the clinic – just really, really tired.

Thursday, Nov. 13 - 9:29 a.m.

Not a good night. As Wednesday afternoon and evening progressed the side effects started elbowing their way in – pushing all else aside. A good dose of paregoric finally settled things out so I could sleep. Even so, I was up and down most of the night – listening to an audiobook to take my mind off things. Then the chills came and I just huddled under a stack of blankets until I finally fell asleep. Woke up this morning feeling at little rocky, but not too bad. Tried to eat some yogurt for breakfast, but couldn’t get it down. Even so, I’m ready for my next chemo session, which begins at 11:30 a.m.

Wish me luck.

Friday, Nov. 14 – 11:13 a.m.

Everything was off by an hour Thursday. The hospital pharmacy was late getting the various poisons prepared and so I dozed in the IV chair, catching up on some of the sleep I lost the night before. Didn’t get out of there until after 3 p.m, with 22 hours worth of chemicals in my Cadd pump to drip into my system. My chemo chains will be struck around 2 p.m. today and I won’t have to report back until Nov. 26, a week after my birthday. (That way I can upchuck the Thanksgiving turkey instead of my birthday cake.)

Felt pretty lousy by the time I got home Thursday. Things did not improve after that, although hot blueberry soup prepared by Kathryn settled me down enough so I could fall asleep. Even so, it was not a pleasant night. Sick on and off until about 4 a.m., then fell into a semi-peaceful sleep until 9 a.m.

Despite the stubbornness of the after effects, I’m of good cheer. Learned that one of the chemicals I’m being poisoned with is one of the strongest available. A good number of people can’t weather the side effects for the full six months and have to switch to weaker chemicals. Obviously, weaker chemicals equals less of a chance of killing all the cancer. The fact that I’m halfway through and still holding up is a good sign. Fingers crossed I can make it the rest of the way.

 Meanwhile, the week off I enjoyed (more or less, sometimes much less) between chemo sessions gave me a little space for reflection. I mentioned in the last episode that my blood pressure climbs as each chemo day approaches. Stress, obviously. Fear? Possibly. Cancer is scary, that’s for sure. Plus, you are definitely facing questions about your own mortality. Will I be here next week? Month? Year?

I reflected on those and other issues of cosmic importance. In my head I could hear Sam Jaffe intoning the opening lines of the old Ben Casey TV series:  “Man  - Woman – Birth – Death – Infinity.” (Here’s the footage link for nostalgia buffs -

In the end I came to the conclusion that for chemo therapy patients cosmic reflections are not only worthless, but a waste of rare moments of wellness. Let’s face it, chemo makes you retreat into yourself. You can easily devolve into a thumb-sucking infant who thinks that the entire world revolves around his bum. (Which, in the case of colon cancer surgery, is pretty much true.)

Some people become vengeful – bitterly envious of their more fortunate neighbors who are in perfect Florida sun tanned health, with marvelous appetites that they can satisfy without fear of fleeing into the Throne Room for a forced upchuck break.

 It’s like the story of the two farmers – Ivan and Igor. They are both very poor and their only true possessions are two incredibly skinny unproductive cows. Companions in shared misery, Ivan and Igor are fast friends.

Then one day Ivan’s cow suddenly starts putting on weight. In no time she become a healthy animal capable of producing many gallons of milk. Ivan is flush with cash and can buy things to improve his farm, which leads to even greater wealth.

Igor, meanwhile, continues to suffer. If anything his cow becomes skinnier and produces only a little dribble of milk every morning. Igor bemoans his fate, gnashing his teeth with envy whenever he sees his neighbor leading his healthy cow out into the field to graze.

He becomes so miserable that his Guardian Angel takes pity. She appears before Igor and tells him that all of heaven has witnessed his misery and it has been decided that she should intervene.

She tells Igor that he has been granted one wish for anything he wants.

Igor thinks for a minute, then nods and says, “Kill my neighbor’s cow.”


Okay, so that’s Igor’s solution. For others, there is a simpler answer. They firmly believe that anything that happens – for good or ill – has a purpose. That it is part of some benign deity’s Master Plan.

Catch dengue fever from a mosquito bite? Not to worry, it is part of the plan. Your grandma gets run over by a school bus? Yep. No worries. It’s a crucial part of the Plan.  Your plane suddenly falls out of the sky and you and a hundred others – including your whole family – are about to crash into the most remote area of the sea? You can shrug it off. And your last thoughts are a satisfying, “Thanks for making me part of the plan, Mr. Deity.”

Personally, if I believed that, I’d borrow the biggest effing gun I could find and hunt Mr. Master Plan Man down and blow him away.

Then he could be a crucial part of MY plan.


Thirdly, there’s the “Why me, God?” dilemma.

It’s like the story where some poor sap, through no fault or sin of his own, has whole buckets of shit dumped on him. We’ll call him Joe Btfsplk, after Al Capp’s hard luck character. In a very short period of time Mr. Btfsplk loses his job, his wife and family, his home, his car, and then that very morning the doctor told him that he has colon cancer and is going to have to have his guts ripped out.

Joe is bewildered at his misfortune. He wanders about in misery, and then finds himself standing at the top of a high hill. There is nothing buy blue skies all around.

He lifts his head and addresses the heavens: “I’ve lost everything, Lord, and now I’m about to even lose my insides. I can’t understand it. I’ve been a good person. A charitable person. A loving husband and father. Please, Lord… Just answer one question, please.

“Why me, Lord? Why me?”

The blue sky suddenly darkens. Clouds swirl about. Lightning splits the sky. Joe cowers in fear as a gigantic bearded face appears in the sky.

And then a huge voice booms: “Because you piss me off.”


And so, after several hours of thumb-sucking reflection, I finally came to the conclusion that there is only one way for me to go. Thanks to a t-shirt Kathryn had made to cheer me up I have a new motto:

Quit Whining And

Plot Revenge


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. 

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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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