Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dancing On Calvary And Other Setbacks

The Evolution of Medicine
I have an ear ache...
2100 BC - Here, eat this root.
100 AD - That root is heathen. Here, say this prayer.
1850 AD - That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.
1940 AD - That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.
1985 AD - That pill is ineffective.
Here, take this antibiotic.
2100 AD - That antibiotic is artificial. Here, eat this root.


Tuesday, Jan. 20 – 11:37 a.m.

Much better morning. Slept well. Had a protein shake for breakfast which is sitting easily on my belly. Hoping for a “normal” day – whatever normal is for a chemo head.


If chemo wishes had wings they’d still crash to the ground like kiln-fired bricks. In short: Unpleasant afternoon. Evening less so.

Caught this little bit of wisdom while perusing the internet: “If something in your life goes wrong, just yell “plot twist” and move on.”

I tried it, shouting: “Plot Twist! Plot Twist! Plot Twist!” A couple of minutes later I was running for the sick up pills.

So much for wisdom.

Wednesday, Jan. 21 – 7:30 p.m.

My body is getting like the typical Southern California weather forecast, but in reverse. Sunny morning and overcast afternoons. In other words, feeling good in the morning and sick in the afternoon. Today has been like that.

I’ll try it again: “Plot Twist! Plot Twist!”

Waiting... Waiting...

Nope. Still didn’t work.

Thursday, Jan. 22 – 7:33 p.m.

Not good. ‘Nough said.

Friday, Jan. 23 – 6:01 p.m.

Sickness kept me awake until 5 a.m. this morning.

Had my regular pre-chemo visit with Dr. Tomeski. They are going to do the blood tests early this time – Monday, instead of Tuesday. The reason: to see if a transfusion is called for. This way if the levels are fucked up they won't have to delay chemo for an entire week. They’ll be able to start in as scheduled on Wednesday.

The good doctor is getting into the countdown spirit.

Three more weeks, Cole.

Three more weeks.

Painful afternoon. Eased up a little bit ago so I thought I’d sneak a few words in before I got jumped again.

Sneaky devil, ain’t I?

Saturday, Jan. 24 – 9:22 p.m.

Okay, now we’re talking. Decent day. Delicate, to be sure, but decent. Read the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal over a cup of blueberry tea, followed by a protein drink. Continued reading “Unbroken” while eating chicken soup and toasted soy cheese for lunch. The Angelina Jolie movie was great, but Laura Hillenbrad’s book is hands down brilliant. Very light dinner while watching the second season of the Belgium political series, “Borgen.”

Looking forward to a peaceful night and a sunny tomorrow. Monday the chemo begins again.

Sunday, Jan. 25 – 9:39 p.m.

Good day. Nothing to bitch about. Perused the Sunday NY Times in the morning, watched an episode of “The Transporter” TV series (cool stuff) and Downton Abbey in the p.m.

Monday, Jan. 26 – 11:42 a.m.

Woke up with a bloody nose this morning. Lasted about three hours. Went into the IV clinic a day early for blood tests and getting the port set up. With only two treatments left (18 days and a wakeup), Dr. Tomeski wants to avoid any delays. If I need blood or an infusion of platelets they’ll call me in for a transfusion tomorrow. Whatever the case, the next chemo session is scheduled to begin Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.


Ah, damn! Gotta go in for a transfusion tomorrow after all. At 8 effing a.m. for crying out loud! The nose bleed should have tipped me off. It’s probably coincidental – I didn’t bleed gallons, for crying out loud. But the last two times that it happened I needed a transfusion. Wonder what the connection – if any – might be? The good news is that the Wednesday chemo session won’t be delayed. So, it’s still 18 days and a wakeup.

LATER – 3:37 p.m.

I suddenly feel like warmed over… you know.

TUESDAY – 10:00 p.m.

Quick addition before I go to bed. Ended up getting two pints of blood, plus, a bag of platelets. Apparently the count was down for that as well. Took six hours, so watched Breaking Bad on my iPad. Took another blood test before I left. Chemo to go on as scheduled tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.

Eighteen and a wakeup, boys and girls.

Wednesday – 11:32 a.m.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

At the IV clinic I was told I had to get another bag of platelets before they started, then they’d do the dip stick number in the lab and if all was well, the chemo would commence. No biggie. Just add another hour or so to the schedule and another episode of Breaking Bad. (Just starting Season 4)

But then…

But then…

The lab reported my platelet level was still down – dangerously so. It seems the chemicals not only kill cancer cells, but blood and platelet cells as well.

In short, if the chemo treatments started today as scheduled, the chemicals would continue knocking off Kaiser Cancer and his Hunnish hordes while I huddled in the trenches. Guaranteed. But more than likely they’d overrun my body’s defenses and carry me off as well.

I go in tomorrow to get another bag of platelets to bring my levels up. If necessary, they’ll repeat the process Friday. And, the Chemo Gods willing, treatment would continue on Monday.

So, in one swell foop I went from 19 days of treatment left, to 22. Or, forcing myself to be cheery – 21 and a wakeup.


Thursday, Jan. 29 – 12:55 p.m.

They pumped more platelets into me this morning. Drew blood. At home now waiting to see if I have to go in again tomorrow for another infusion of white blood cells. If not, I’m scheduled to begin the penultimate chemo treatment on Monday.

“Be of good cheer, Allan,” I advise myself. And I think of the last scene in Monty Python’s “Life Of Brian,” with all the guys hanging from their crosses on Calvary, while singing and whistling this song:

“Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble, give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best...

And...always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the light side of life...

If life seems jolly rotten
There's something you've forgotten
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you're feeling in the dumps
Don't be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle - that's the thing.

And...always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the light side of life...

For life is quite absurd
And death's the final word
You must always face the curtain with a bow.
Forget about your sin - give the audience a grin
Enjoy it - it's your last chance anyhow.

So always look on the bright side of death
Just before you draw your terminal breath

Life's a piece of shit
When you look at it
Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true.
You'll see it's all a show
Keep 'em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you.

And always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the right side of life...

(Come on guys, cheer up!)

Always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the bright side of life...

(Worse things happen at sea, you know.)
Always look on the bright side of life...
(I mean - what have you got to lose?)
(You know, you come from nothing - you're going back to nothing.
What have you lost? Nothing!)
Always look on the right side of life...” 

(Words and music by Eric Idle and Dedicated To Lucy Jordan, wherever you are)


Will Allan require another transfusion on Friday?

Will the next chemo session start on Monday?

Will there be more spirit wrenching delays?

More blood transfusions?

More platelet transfusions?

And, the most important thing of all: will the supply of blueberry soup hold out?

For answers to these vital questions and more, tune in for the next thrilling episode of “Notes From A Chemo Brain.”


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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