Monday, June 14, 2010

More What's Happening With Me


The doctor recommends I not leave on a plane. Can't believe I made it out here on a plane, but that's beside the point. I was stuck, without having the chance even to say goodbye to my friends in the Chicago area or even my job.

I was, to put it mildly, pissed.

I was convinced that this had been the plan all along, to get me out to my mother's so she could take care of me, to transfer my care to Stanford.

When I had calmed down a little bit, a cooler head told me that yes, I was in a far better place than I had been so far as recovery went, and no one had planned this, but by heaven I should just go with the flow and enjoy the time spent with the family.

I'm out in the pool house, along with my caregiver (I need someone with me 24 hours a day). It's pretty nice, especialy on those days that coincide a good day out and a day where I feel good (which doesn't happen too often).

My stuff has been put into storage by my sister and her sons, who drove up from Atlanta, bless them. My apartment had been surrendered, my car sold... I'm basically living out of the pool house.

I have had good days and bad days - mostly having to do with extreme nausea in my stomach. Some days I think I've never felt such pain. And when I, pardon the expression, throw up, somehow a lot more comes out than went in.

I have been getting chemo once every two weeks, having to wear the darn pump for 72 hours each time. I have a port, sort of a reclosable entrance into my heart, which reduces the number of pin-sticks I have to get.

I have another medicine injected, sub Q, into my stomach morning and night, and seven or eight others morning noon and night, but at least it's not as much as I've seen my father has to take.

So, in summary, I think I'm doing OK.

At least, OK as can be given the circumstances.

Where I've Been, Recently

Hi everyone. Just got my computer this past weekend and boy, did I miss having online access!

So you know what's been going on here...

I have cancer. The big C. Fourth stage. In my rectum, my liver, and my stomach - it's spread too far to operate on, according to doctors.

I found this out in Chicago. Went to Northwestern Hospital's Cancer Center and was the only one without gray hair. Had a couple of MRIs that confirmed the cancer, then they found I had a "mild" stroke and kept me aound until Easter night.

Then my grandmother passed away - 97 years old. Or was it 98? Anyway, she was out in California and the rest of my family was going and Sean had an airline ticket for me (which he announced at one in the morning of the day we'd have to leave - thanks Sean). I decided I'd have to go, to say goodbye to Clair (my grandmother) and perhaps see the family over a quick two day visit.

It was only when we were on the plane that Sean revealed the return ticket wasn't until Sunday night - and it was only Tuesday.


I had only brought clothes and such for two days.

It was a nice service, though, with a lot of our priest-friends in attendance, including the Bishop of San Jose and Father Ken, who came from retirement in Florida. I could barely stand the pain, though, and went home to sleep it off.

See, the stroke had left me unable to use the right side of my body - thank heavens that's over! And I had grown weaker with the chemotherapy I had been given. Actually, I felt just plain lousy - but happy knowing I'd be heading home to Chicago.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

This is what's been happening!


i've moved into my brother's house for now, and at Maggie's in a few days.

I'm taking 13 different medicines at all times of the day or night.

Mom and sister Shannon flew out on the weekend to see me, which was immensely fun.

Well, as fun as you can get, I guess.

I have recently been able to move, going on two walks in my Chicago Cubs sweats.

Sean has been taking very good care of me.

So many friends have phoned and written, I'm sorry for the lack of personal reply.

But writing this much has been exhausting.

So. Just thought I;d play catch up.

Anyone wants to write me,

444 S Lincoln
Arlington Heights IL 60004

And thanks for your prayers! Much appreciated, not to say needed.


so! What's been going on?

Very simply, I have evidently missed it while my body developed cancer.
Some weeks ago, I went to the doctor for some stomach pain. He felt around and said my liver was inflamed and sent me for an MRI. I went and he had me come back in the next Wednesday to tell me I likely had cancer and needed additionalMRIs to comfirm.

I then went downtown to the cancer center at Northwestern Hospital, mainly because they are the best in the business but also because my brother sean was already familiar with the Center, his wife having had her colon cancer cured there last year.

Well, they put me in the hospital that night, with nary a chance to go home for clothes or anything, and started dripping chemo into me immediately. This was the first clue as to how bad it was.

Then, the MRIs (I had four) came back and confirmed the first doctor'ss diagnosis, cancer. It had spread from my rectum to my liver to my lymph nodes. There would be no cure, only containment.

Then I was supposed to return home after 4 days of chemo... but each day they found another reason to keep me. A stroke I had recently. A possible blood clot. And on and on.

I have no call to complain. They treated me very well in the hospital, which was only 2 years old (that section) and had a very nice room. Even the foo was good - you could order off a menu up to 4 grams of carbs.

Next post

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Let it...


Finally, the first snowfall of the season.

Coating trees and bushes and lampposts as well as the ground, sidewalks and streets the same as automobiles.

Everything is beautiful, at least for a while.

And best of all, Christmas is coming!

Not for the presents and all the packages, boxes and bags - but for the gathering together of friends and families in joviality. That's what I look forward to.

Just saying.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Things are Different in Wisconsin

This past weekend I spent the weekend in the Milwaukee area, first at Irish Fest and then at the Wisconsin State Fair.

Irish Fest, I have been to several times. It's held at this HUGE waterfront park that has something like eleven stages from one end to the other, a large number of permanent souvenir and tchotke stands, and beer.

LOTS of beer.

Beer sponsors three of the largest stages, with big signs and bigger bars. I suppose it's no more than one would expect at a festival grounds, where there is one Fest after the other... oh, and the fourth huge stage? Sponsored by Harley Davidson. Motorcycles suspended from the ceiling, that sort of thing. Harleys and beer.

And music, of course. Lots and lots of music. I saw several good bands - Whiskey of the Damned, Reilly, Red Hot Chili Pipers and even Tommy Sands. All in all, a great day.

Stayed overnight in a HECK of a deal via Hotwire. Man, what a nice room and a nice hotel and free breakfast and - OK, so it was seven miles away. You can't have everything. :)

Next day I went to the Wisconsin State Fair.

This... was different.

I've been to the California (not so good) and New York (great!) State Fairs several times. I have been to the Erie County fair a few times, too, and several others. I htought I had pretty much seen anything in fairs.

Not. Close.

The Wisconsin Fair has a TON of restaurant/pubs, pretty much all at one end of the fair, serving virtually anything you can think of for fair food and plenty of stuff you probably never considered. Some of these operations are huge - Cousins Subs has an entire section, as do Budweiser and Miller Lite and Leinenkugel (great, more beer).

I mean, HUGE sections. Seating perhaps a thousand or more? At pretty nice wooden bars and tables?

Oh, yeah, besides the beer - which was being offered EVERYWHERE (hey, look at this stand - Popcorn, Corn Dogs, beer!) ...

An aside, here - I LIKE beer. Really. And they had some of my favorites - Red Hook, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale - that you really don't find too often in the Chicago area. nothing like a cold frosty beer on a really hot day at the ballpark.

But good grief - there were bars that were blocks long - several of them! Beer signs everywhere. It was just a bit much.

OK, so we've established that Wisconsinites really like their beer. What's the second thing?


Each of these bars/restaurants seemed to have its own band playing songs ranging from a smaller joint's 70s disco songs to the huge Budweiser place's rock-ola. I mean, you couldn't sit down or walk around without hearing a band. I counted thirteen bands before I just gave up and said the hell with it.

Music and beer. There are a lot of worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon, let me tell you.

Oh, they had the usual stuff as well... pig races and sham-wow demos and roast corn (yumm, I had three ears during the course of the day!). They had animals galore (okay, I admit it, I am one of those guys who goes and looks at the ducks and chickens and bunnies and cows and horses and goats and... enjoys it). They had mini-donuts and camel rides and these barrel-shaped rootbeer stands.

And they had rides, of course. I didn't go on anything, but I wandered around to see what was new. They had things there that I had never seen and would never go up in if I was paid to. Besides the usual Kamikaze and Tornado and all, they had a ride which you started standing up, then rotate around. Pretty standard. But then the arm to which this wheel is attached starts to move around in a circle! Wild! THEN the ARM ITSELF rotates and turns the whole contraption UPSIDE DOWN. Picture it - you're standing with your feet pointing toward the sky, rotating around sideways, while the whole contraption moves around in a circle and the arm moves in its own rotation! In-freaking-credible.

Anyway, the state fair has been in the same grounds since something like 1870 or so, but a few of the buildings have been rebuilt since then. It's nice, a big comfortable fair with milk for 25c a glass, and I'm glad I went.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Doctor is In

Last night, I didn't get to sleep on time because I was up watching "Doctor Who".

For those uninitiated and those who are currently looking down their nose and sniffing, allow me to elucidate. Doctor Who is the longest running (starting the weekend Kennedy got shot), perhaps the most successful, science-fiction television program.

It has accomplished this by readily changing with the times. When it began, it was seen as a children's TV program, sort of "You are there" with some fantasy elements (it could hardly be called science fiction). Then when the actor either died or left, I'm not sure which, some genius decided to continue with a different actor - a WAY different actor.

With the explanation that a Time Lord regenerates, this unleashed a terrific wave of Doctors. From Jon Pertwee's elegant Earth-bound Doctor to Tom Baker - yes, "the guy with scarf", to the cricket-jacketed Peter Davison, all the Doctors brought their own very different takes and attitudes to the series.

For awhile, the Doctor went away. He had been cancelled, because, even though the special effects on the show were pretty laughable, it was too expensive to produce.

The show returned a few years ago, and has really taken off, with David Tennant the umpteenth Doctor providing the right blend of heroics, flappability and humor.

Last night's episode was the beginning of his third season (he did four), and I thought I'd tune in just to hear the theme music again - oh, the memories that brought back! Memories of myself, alone in my room with a tiny black and white tv, watching Dave Allen At Large and then Doctor Who for who knew how long. See, the Doctor back then starred in as many half-hour episodes as needed to tell a particular story - some were l-o-n-g. Of course, then they strted showing the edited episodes, to make them movie-lenghth - but again, they could run just an hour, or three or four, you never knew.

Oh. Edited.

More than once did I watch Doctor Who, saw the end credits, and went to bed. When I came back the next week, however, they had on an entirely different show! It seemed they ran the programs one after the other, end-credit-PBS blurb-startng credit. All night.

This trick was pointed out to me by one of my friends down at the station. You see, during pledge breaks a BIG contingent of Dr. Who fans would make our way out on the levee to the PBS station, and do pledge breaks. We had a full-sized TARDIS replica that we would all walk out from (the gag being it's bigger inside than outside) to take our seats, a real working robotic K-9 (Tom Baker's Doctor's robotic dog), great costumes for virtually everyone, and most importantly a whole helluva lot of fun.

We'd have Doctor Who quizzes on the air, see upcoming episodes, raise reading awareness, and just have a wonderful time! Ahh, good times.

Anyway, last night.

The Doctor is surprised when a bride teleports aboard the TARDIS in midflight - and she doesn't know how. Add to that robotic Santa Clauses (a vaguely Christmas-themed episodes) with weapons disguised as trumpets and trombones, a wicked spider-lady (body of a huge frickin' spider with a devilish woman's torso stuck on) villain, her husband to be in cahoots with said villain, the resurrection of spider-lady's brood, the destruction of spider-lady's brood by the Doctor, the destruction of spider-lady by the British Army (who evidently is a good deal mroe reliable than the Japanese army fighting Rodan), the Doctor chasing down the kidnapped bride's cab by FLYING the TARDIS down the highway, finding Torchwood's HQ, using the Sonic Screwdriver in several interesting ways, the Doctor ducking out on Christmas dinner...

And everything gets resolved, in an hour!

What a GREAT ride! MAG-nificent.

And boy, did that bring back great memories!

Er, of the show, not of giant spider-ladies in British secret agency HQ armed with Robots disquised as Santa.

I don't think.