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Archive for July, 2011|Monthly archive page

Aimless Blather

In Uncategorized on July 27, 2011 at 12:58 am

 

What’s happening, boys, girls, tea-baggers, dirt-baggers, Rotarians, sons of guns, mothers of muscle, masters of the universe, lords and ladies of the domain and other assorted minions of the twilight realms of living? There is not much happening in this precinct of the planet. I survived the PET scan last week, though must confess I am acquiring a taste for radioactive dye. If it keeps developing, I foresee a miserable future preying on hapless victims leaving jobs at nuclear power facilities and hospital radiology departments. The addiction might leave me homeless, lying in the gutter, licking the luminescent dials of cheap watches. Might there be an HBO series in the offing?

 

As for the results of the scan, the doc says things actually look a little better than they did two months ago. In my case, unlike on Seinfeld, “shrinkage’ is a good thing. It’s all very mysterious. The doc speculates that maybe I “do better” when the medicos aren’t messing with me. Consequently, further treatments are still under discussion. Damned if I don’t feel like the economy, with Boehner and Obama as my physicians.

 

If anyone is trying to email us, let me warn that we are under siege. We received an email from Chapel Hill this morning inviting parents of the Carolina class of 2015 (keep your fingers crossed) to register on-line for parents’ weekend in October. The problem is that replies to the mailing are automatically sent to everybody on the mailing list, meaning we have been socked with the digital equivalent of a blizzard. I’ve gotten over 150 emails of complaint so far. Frankly, the crack-brain responsible for this snarly mess should stand up, assume responsibility, announce party affiliation and run for congress. If elected, he or she could help us get back to first principles and the type of governance we fondly remember from the good old days back when efficiency and competence was the last thing we expected from our leaders.

 

I have been trying, per advice from the Smiler, to come up with a song to go along with “Tequila Mockingbird.” For some reason, I’ve hit singer-song-writer’s block in a big way. The best I have managed so far is:

 

Tequila Mockingbird –

It’s not a sin, it’s just a bar….

 

Even I recognize that this is godawful, as bad as anything that has ever seeped from my healthy or diseased brain. My fourth grade poetry book contains stuff (“a tree is a ladder to heaven”) that reads like “Paradise Lost” or “The Shooting of Dan Magrew” compared to this drivel. If anybody wants to take a stab at it, please feel free.

 

Motivation U

In Uncategorized on July 7, 2011 at 3:28 pm

It dawns on me (for Lord knows what reason) that you see and hear a lot of pitch words and catchphrases around these days – such as “Breathe” and “Life Is Good” and “Floss Daily” – but you don’t see much inspirational and motivational poetry. I’m talking about the sort of chicken-fried, uplifting stuff that mom used to clip and scotch tape to the refrigerator or that dad and a hundred other salesmen would swoon in unison over hearing read at a national convention. I am sure retired librarians and church secretaries still “publish” such twaddle in chapbooks regularly printed by the Kumquat County Literary Society and Tea. And it may be that I don’t subscribe to the magazines such as Reader’s Digest that used to be chock full of the stuff. Still, I think there is a niche that may be calling my name.

 Before I go any further, let me warn you that my poetic career is checkered, spotted and probably could stand some Clorox. I dabbled in the treacly “love is a bird that flies to God” type stuff that everybody wrote when they had to compile a poetry book in the 4th grade. I later penned a few odes in the “let me wander the great West on a motorcycle” mode. For a while, I fell under the influence of the great poets and philosophers Kahlil Gibran and Rod McKuen, but this is a time of my life best brushed under the rug with Cheeto crumbs and beer bottle caps. During my 38 minutes of visiting the dark side of life, I managed to write a single line in a morbid poem that, I think, stands the test of time and deserves to be ranked in the literary hall of fame with “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree” and other acclaimed renderings. Mine is: 

           “I do not think that death wears corduroy.”

 In any event, here comes my first effort, which I wanted to test drive before submitting it for William Bennett’s next compilation of drool intended to improve the behavior of all Americans not card-carrying members of the ruling class.

                                             If You Think

If you think you’re a loser, you’re lost.                                                                        If you think you are fast, hit the gas.                                                                             If you think you can fly, then try to soar high –                                                        You’ll most certainly fall on your ass.

 If you think you must hurl, grab the bowl.                                                                If you think you must crap, climb the throne.                                                           If you think there’s a chance you must do both at once,                                Then I reckon that you’re on your own.

If you think you’re a junkie, score horse.                                                                     If you think you’re a doper, smoke dope.                                                                   If you’re young, blond and pretty with really big titties,                                 You never should give up hope.

If you think you are gay, then you are.                                                                        If you have some persistence, élan                                                                           And think you could dance in the Folies Bergere                                             Then you can if you can can-can.

Please let me know what you think of this first effort. Is this a path I should walk or run away from? Meanwhile, I am also starting to collect quotes and aphorisms for FunkyBeno’s Shit You Should Know. The first entry will be:

 I never knew a preacher that never drank who understands the first goddamned thing about the hearth fire and childbirth richness of life.

 Funky

Alternate Therapies

In Uncategorized on July 5, 2011 at 4:51 pm

 As a result of my recent experience with shortcomings of the traditional medical establishment, I have begun surfing the web, exploring alternate therapies. Some can be quickly dismissed, such as slathering myself with ketchup, mustard, onions, chili and sour kraut and parading about in a bun asking New Yorkers to elect me as their congressman.  Others are outright crackpot. Some hold genuine promise. Following is a sample of a typical browsing session.

With the tag line, “It ain’t how you gas, it’s how you pass” comes the website for Colon Health Cures, with offices in both Cologne, Germany, and Köln, Germany. Among the treatments advertised is a “Periscoposcopy.” The problem with a traditional colonoscopy, it seems, is that that it aims too small. To correct this lack of ambition, the good folks at Colon Health take a periscope rescued from a mothballed U-boat and enough lube to lube an entire U-boat and then they………….

 Next Web Page!

 The Holistic Wholeness website prescribes an immersion in “what’s good for you” as outlined by  Adele Rabinowitz, a Jewish mother, and Ida May Jessup, a professional southern grandmother. The program stresses good manners at all times. On TV, you watch nothing but “Little House on the Prairie” and “The Waltons,” and showings of Shirley Temple in “Heidi” and Hayley Mills in “Pollyanna.” You listen to Kate Smith, George Beverly Shea and Cantor Irv Kitsch of the Temple Beth Abram of Yonkers, NY. You are fed a steady diet of chicken soup, beets, Brussels sprouts…..

 Next Web Page!

 Herb Biesecker and Al Nance have put together the HerbAl therapy site…..

 Next Web Page!

 The desperate and daring can enroll in the Inhospitality Suite Treatment, where the therapy is designed to transform your body into an environment where even the most pernicious cancer cells would be reluctant to reside – in other words, you become a Super 8 motel on the bad side of Newark, NJ. The program daily subjects you to:

– the breathing equivalent of running behind the DDT blower truck you remember from your youth;

– a pitcher of Mad Dog (MD 20/20) Margueritas;

– a luncheon platter of chitterlings and a fried country ham fat sandwich;

– a two and a half hour sermon of hellfire, brimstone and by-gone American values by Junior Ed Joe Bob Stanchley of Agape Tar Pit Pentecostal Blood of the Lamb Assembly of the Holy Ghost and General Jesus;

– two hours of barstool chit-chat with Sol Evangelista, an unemployed auto worker from Dearborn, MI, and Arnold Petit, owner of the Holiday Life Insurance Agency and president of the Jaycees in Fort Tecumquat, IA,………

 Next Web Page!

 The Comprehensive Radio Therapy (Not Radiation Therapy) website, located in the Silicon Swale of the Tenderloin district of San Francisco is an offshoot of Apple. These folks have developed the iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiipod, a player so infinitesimally small that it can be injected into the body by the hundreds of thousands. Encased in a special glucose shell, these devices attach themselves to bad cells and bombard them with sounds that kill the cancers. Among the most popular standard packages are pods that play clips of public statements by Tea Baggers and Conservative zanies such as Palin, Bachman and Glen Beck, but I am afraid that even a small dose taken internally would either make me so mad my heart would explode, or so depressed that I would think I have nothing left to live for. Equally risky would be the Standard Awful Music Package. Odds are those years of exposure to Mitch Miller, Neil Diamond, Garth Brooks and Shania Twain (the AntiHank and the AntiPatsy), “Hotel California” and rap and hip-hop (excepting Sunny Ledford’s “Myrtle Beach”) have left me immune.

 A person can apply for personalized packages, and I have a few ideas about what might work:

– a lengthy sampling of broadcast and print reportage in which the reporting is deemed of equal interest to what is being reported (“…..thank you, Brian, but I have just spent thirty minutes in an air-conditioned trailer and had to eat seafood flown in from Scotland to be able to stand here on this hot beach for two minutes and report that after 17 days, clean-up of the gulf oil spill has barely begun…..”);

– a sampling of sports reportage demonstrating that sportscasters are incapable of using comparatives instead of superlatives……every shot or block is a “great” shot of block, never merely a “good” one;

– misuse of the word “clinch,” which used to refer to securing a title or crown when there were a few meaningless games to be played before it became official (“the Sox have clinched the American League East with a week left in the season”) as opposed to actually winning the title or crown (“Dallas can clinch the NBA title with a win in game six tonight”):

– the utter disregard by everybody speaking and writing these days (even on NPR, for heaven’s sake) of the most rudimentary rules of grammar (“50,000 people has gathered to see the pope”):

– a now ubiquitous mistake in English usage (there is a name for it, but I am too lazy to spend any time in my ivory tower tomes looking it up………Anna Iones or Buddy Nance, Please Help!!!!) which I shall describe as the use of an inclusive positive to state something that could be more succinctly and cogently stated as a simple, direct negative, to wit, saying “All passengers in the crashed plane failed to survive” as opposed to “All passenger died” or “No passengers survived.”

 The problem with getting a personalized package is that you have to undergo six weeks of intensive testing at a cost of……..

 Next Web Page!

 Well, that’s more than enough surfing for the moment. I’m tired, hungry and could use a drink. If any of ya’ll have any suggestions of other sites or treatments you’ve heard about, please pass them along. Not only would I love to hear about them, but also I am always happy for something to add a little weight to my inertia.

Anecdote of the Vole

In Uncategorized on July 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm

 I went downstairs to feed the cat. This statement reveals three good things about me and one bad thing. The good things are: I am alive, I am at home and I am mobile. The bad thing is, we have a cat.

 While I poured food into Dusty’s bowl, a movement in the sink caught my eye. A vole was trapped in the sink. How it got into the sink, I do not know. So far as I know, voles are not famed as climbers. Normally, they are burrowing creatures, to which any height is a great height. The vole might have been prey, dropped in the sink by Dusty when I distracted her by coming downstairs. Rather than waste time puzzling about how the vole got into the sink, I chose to live with the mystery.

 Cats have a perfect ability to focus on what they want when they want it. Dusty purred and ate cat food from her bowl. The scurrying of the vole in the sink did not catch her eye, nor did the sound catch her ear. She was serenely oblivious to my rescue of the vole.

 With a work glove and garden trowel, I eventually tossed, flipped and scraped the vole out of the sink and onto the floor, out the door and across the car port. At the edge of the garden, the vole lay briefly catatonic on its back, and then rolled over, quickly burrowing out of sight under fallen leaves. Meanwhile, Dusty purred and munched. During the rescue mission, I learned only that a man starts to feel undignified when he finds himself in a bathrobe at 7:00 in the morning, on his hands and knees, using a garden trowel to plow a vole across a concrete carport to safety. Any satisfaction I took from the rescue was salted by the vole’s ingratitude.

 When I returned to the old laundry room, Dusty had finished her breakfast and was cleaning her paws and whiskers. She hopped down and sidled over, purring, wanting to be petted. I declined.

 I relate this tedious anecdote of the vole not to claim that I am a sympathetic guy or that I share common cause with loopy, animal-rights, anti-fur-wearer activists (though the thought of the carnage that would be needed to stitch a vole coat or vole stole is enough to make even Michelle Bachman gag). Instead, I ask you to imagine the situation from the point of view of the vole – stranded in a porcelain bowl with nowhere to go but up and no way to get there. This is what I have felt like this week.

 Those who have read my latest posts know that I went to the hospital Monday for an ablation procedure. A CT scan in early May indicated that a new tumor was growing in my right lung next to an old tumor that had been rendered inert by chemo and radiation therapies. A PET scan confirmed the results. The combined docs determined the best way to treat it was to insert a needle into my lung and freeze the tumor with radiation – the ablation. Questions about Blue Cross willingness to pay for the procedure had been resolved to a point we thought we could live with. I checked into the outpatient clinic at 9:30 AM, expecting to get needled around 11:30. I expected to be discharged to go home Monday evening. Still, I packed a bag just in case I had to stay in the hospital overnight. Nothing……..I repeat, NOTHING went as expected.

 We sat around for awhile before a scrubs wearing assistant of some type took us back to a closet at told us there was a hold-up and we’d probably have a long wait before the doc could get me. He spoke to  us a time or two more before he said we could leave if we wanted – just be back in the waiting room by 1:00. So Deirdre and I visited Borders and I got to enjoy the snug scents of Seattle’s Best from the coffee shop for awhile. Need I say that I had not had anything to eat or drink since midnight in prep for anesthesia? We were back in the waiting room at 12:30. At 2:00, the assistant re-emerged and took me back into the closet to insert my IV needle. He spent about 3 minutes stabbing around at a vein in my left arm before I started to go Mike Tyson on him, at which time he undid the tourniquet on my arm and walked out of the room without a word. I seethed for about 5 minutes before an attractive, smiling, young woman, accompanied by a younger, more attractive woman, arrived to take about 30 seconds to neatly and relatively painlessly insert the needle into a vein in my right arm. I returned to the waiting room.

 Around 3:00, Deirdre and I were called to visit with the doc, who apologized for the delay. It turns out the first patient on the dessert cart had needed 6 hours, rather than the expected 2 hours the procedure normally took because…….let’s see, how do I put this politely…….? Let’s just say that had the first patient been flying Delta, the cost of the extra baggage she was hauling would have been more than the price of her original ticket. Also, the doc wanted to make sure we understood what the procedure would involve and that the insurance questions had actually not been resolved. At this point, Deirdre and I, a.k.a. Mr and Mrs Larry the Cable Guy shook our heads and said, “Get ‘er done!” So in short order, Deirdre got to watch over me on a bed in pre-op for who knows how long before they, almost as an afterthought, actually hooked up an IV to my IV needle and administered some sedative and rolled me away.

 ********************************************************************

ATTENTION!

Do not adjust your set. We control the horizontal. We control the vertical. You are about to enter

The Outer Limits of the Twilight Zone!

Do not believe what you see! Do not trust what you are told. Nothing is as it appears!! Nothing appears to be what it is!!!

*******************************************************************

I emerged from the la-la-land of anesthesia in time to enjoy being rolled around the catacombs of the hospital to a room on the fourth floor room in the Janeway Tower. The doc had said I would be moved to a specialized unit on the fifth floor of the Reynolds Tower, where they were rigged out with special whatchamacallits to address possible cardio-lung-vascular-vehicular complications from the procedure. By contrast, the room I occupied was Spartan and gadget-free. A tech soon arrived and appliquéd my chest with diode hickeys that had the adhesive strength of Linda Lovelace’s mouth and hooked me up to a device the size of a portable CD player. The room had no wall plug-ins for EKG monitoring, so I was wired to a radio transmitter (for a few hours, radio listeners in Winston could tune in to WBNO, 104.3 on the dial and listen to oldies “Straight from the Heart!”). Nor was my IV run through a pump. Nor did I have a finger clip and hydraulic cuff to constantly monitor my blood pressure, pulse rate and blood oxygen levels.

What gives? I asked, and during the hour or so it took me to reach semi-consciousness, I learned:

1. That a PET scan, in conjunction with a CT scan, indicates “suspicious activity” that an adequately trained specialist can interpret to be cancer with only 97.43% certainty.

2. Partly to confirm that “suspicious activity” is genuinely attributeable to cancer, and partly to insure the needle is touching what Tom Wolfe would term “the right stuff”, the ablationist usually biopsies a few tissue samples, which a pathologist analyses on the spot. My first three samples came up negative, whereby my ablationist reacted like a Texas wildcatter and bored out 17 additional samples. Jett Rink failed to strike oil. All were negative. My regular radiologist visited, looked over things and also shook his head. All involved said, how curious, threw up their hands, and then terminated the procedure.

3. In this incredibly sophisticated, technological age, the spot testing done by the pathologist is not completely reliable. The doc assured us that the pathology report, based on analysis of a “core sample” of tissue, would almost certainly confirm the on-site results. We could expect the pathology report in a couple of days.

So, I was admitted to the hospital overnight solely to make sure I suffered no ill-effects from anesthesia. A kindly medico visited and confirmed this fact, and also said she would issue orders canceling the other set of orders that would have applied had I been ablated and admitted to 5th floor Reynolds as originally anticipated. The sole mission of Janeway would be to give me a pain-free, good night’s sleep.

I soon got to enjoy a Coke and my only hearty meal of the day – a Styrofoam bowl of treacly, luke-warm tomato soup and 3 packs of crackers. Deirdre headed home around 9:00. With the help of a couple of pills, I got to sleep around midnight and, except for a blood-letting at 4:00, I dozed until after 7:00. Between admission to the room and midnight, however, I got to fight off waves of busy-body medicos who arrived bearing machines, bags of tubes and I don’t know what-all, who had not got the Janeway order canceling the Reynolds orders, and needless to say, were puzzled by having to come to Janeway. The conversations followed a pattern:

Me: “What’s that for.”

Medico: “Your collapsed lung.”

Me: “What collapsed lung?”

Medico: “You don’t have a collapsed Lung?”

Me: “Not that I know of.”

Medico: “What the hell….?” At this point the medico would stomp out of the room never to return.

I will spare you the zany, Kafka-like details of the rest of my stay, which left the quintessentially existential question – Why am I here? – unanswered. Highlights of the next few days included: sitting around for most of a day for no reason with precautionary IV needles in both arms that were hooked up to nothing; a luncheon pork chop of a material that had been tested and rejected by the NHL as too hard and too dangerous for use even as a hockey puck; a Tuesday night phone call from a CVS in Statesville inquiring if we were ready to pick up my prescription for pain killers; showing up for a post chest X-ray visit with the doc in Winston and being asked by the assistant who had scheduled the X-ray and the appointment, “Why are you here?”

The whole wacky show, reminiscent of Spider Man on Broadway, culminated with my regularly scheduled with my Hematologist/Oncologist Thursday afternoon who advised that the final, more thorough pathology reports on the “core samples” of tissue indicated that, contrary to the preliminary reports, I do indeed have an active tumor in my lung.

So, I have done the Audie Murphy thing, going “to hell and back,” except I have returned to square one, back where I started, without the reward of a Congressional Medal of Honor or a contract to appear in B westerns despite having so little ability that I could not out-act Victor Mature or Matt Damon. The various and sundry docs are putting their heads together to puzzle over things. I may or may not be rescheduled for ablation, chemo or other therapies or non-therapies. I get to sit around and wait for awhile.

Still, life is good. I got Deirdre, Harry, air to breathe and clean sheets to sleep on. Wednesday afternoon, Deirds and I spun by Harris-Teeter in Winston, where they had Flying Dog beer on special. I bought a six pack of Pale Ale, not only for the Ralph Steadman art on the labels, but also for the particularly fine beer the bottles hold. And, I’ve got a few more bottles to look forward to.

Later, ya’ll. Have a happy Fourth of July! I will.