10 January 2012

grease the pistols

Not all good intentions pave the way to hell. In fact, some may really get you along quite felicitously, coming upon air-conditioned way-stations of hard-earned respite and discovering undreamed-of wildflowers possessed of (and forthwith illegalized) palliative properties.

More often than not, intentions just go awry. Not so much damnable as delay-ful. More like this poetized anecdote from the rural duties of Robert Burns in which, plowing a field, he disrupted the home of an unlucky mouse:

But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

[Visit here for the rest of the poem and a translation from English to English—it’s lovely and sad, do yourself a favor and chalk-up the time spent to a literary field trip. I’ll sign any slips your teachers or employers may require.]

Ado is done. I had intended to start this blog at the very turn of the new year, to undertake a project worthy of an auspicious occasion regarding an inauspicious calendar of events. That is, the commencement of my chemotherapy and a periodic journal of its consequences.

I was made aware of my need for chemo in late December of 2011. (It occurs to me that not everyone is apprised of my chronic health condition. Loooooong story short: Doctors discovered a brain tumor over 14 years ago. Since, I have kept tabs on the thing by innumerable MRIs. Seizures and minor motor debilitation were the main botherations. Five-ish years ago, the growth grew, a biopsy was performed, and radiation was dialed up. In as much as it stopped the growth and shrunk the tumor a skosh, the therapy was a success. Back to chill-pills, MRIs and biannual, brief visits with my splendid team of doctors and nurse-practitioners. Fast forward to December 2011. Because time flies when your tumor is dormant.) The wascawy gwioma was in season again and it was time for Yosemite Sam to grease his pistols.

Chemotherapy*. I had been hoping for wildflowers. Something organic, free range. But poison it was and poison it is. I was to begin January 1st. I was thrilled at the coincidence. This very blog began to form in my mind. The chemo was to last a year. And not just any year. The Mayan/ Nostradamus year. I would defy my own slow decomposition in real time with the steady yearning of earth towards its December-ish decimation.

I started chemo on January 2nd. Mousie, thou are no thy-lane.

Here’s my excuse. On December 29, 2011, finishing a meal with my brother, his wife, and three awesome kiddos, I collapsed rather gracelessly into what would become a 9 hour seizure event. Efforts to stabilize my convulsions were pain-shakingly slow. I was transported to a hospital in Mobile and from there, still via ambulance, to Birmingham. At some point during that ride, I lost track of things--a day, it seems, evades my remembrance (drugs and exhaustion) though I am told I was conscious enough to flirt with nurses and to shower obscenities on my dear, undeserving family.

Eventually, the worst was over. (All hail Ativan!) But I continued to seize every hour or so in the hospital, even when I got home for another couple of days. The trauma laid me up for a while but now, with walking accoutrements [pronounced uh-cooter-mints, trust me, I have English degrees] and Herculean upper-body strength (you heard me, ladies), I am mildly mobile again and done with my first week of chemo. To which bulky pills, I say, “Psht, is that all you got?”

To which the bulky pills are undoubtedly wringing their little chemical mitts and twittering (not tweeting, don’t embarrass yourselves), “You just wait, Hulkamaniac, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t rent that tank top of yours.” *gleeful giggles*

So there you have it. I hope you’ll follow along. I promise on Robert Burns’ sideburns that I will be much less glum than jocose and complain much less than entertain.


  1. I think I need that permission slip please. My field trip into Jonathan Scott, Socrates, Robert Burns, gliomas, and temodar has definitely left me only occasionally glancing at the pile of books and notebooks in front of me, The Status Syndrome will have to wait until my bus ride later and my re-reading of the chapter on the general concepts of chemical bonding has been re-ordered to be done in class tonight. I'd rather be browsing and cuddling with a sick and drugged Immy anways. I've been wishing for wildflowers for him too but the vitamins and omega-3 supplements are just not cutting it anymore.
    Entertain you do, especially in respect to the oh so glorious sideburns of Sir Robert Burns, despite the dire and dour turn of events.

    Here's to shrinking those cells and perhaps that tumor will be Burns' mouse, "And cozy here, beneath the blast,/ You thought to dwell,/ Till crash! the cruel plough past/ Out through your cell."

    Anyways, hope your power shakes are going well, Hercules. After a dreadful oncologist/specialist visit for the dog yesterday, I drove by a local gym on my way home that had a big, fluorescent pink sign promoting "power shakes" and it made me smile after remembering your questionnaire.

  2. Well, I think I have navigated the system and am subscribed through Google. This is my second attempt at a comment (idiot me).

    I am sad to hear what you are going through, but I am glad to know about it. I am wishing you well - in the usual sense and in the way that really matters.

    Keep the poetry and updates coming. Wildflowers will still heal a part of you - a part of everyone. In Alabama, we have them year round. When you see one, let it warm you inside and remind you that people are thinking about you and wishing you well, really well.

    with love,

  3. Rachel, I am sorry your animal friend is suffering. May he find comfort in your arms. Thanks as always for following and for your timely input. I look forward to more interaction in this venue and Elsewhere . . .

  4. Mary, you are kind to trouble yourself with the testy "following" process. Best I can tell, you are still missing from the "to whom it concerns" list. If you have a google account, clicking "join this site" and proceeding accordingly should get you set up. Don't sweat it too much though. You can enter your email for "speedy delivery" of my posts or simply stay tuned, as usual, on my facebook page for updates.

    More importantly, thanks for for wishing me well. Do drop a line now and then to remind me of the wildflowers. You are right--i believe they are a special ingredient in the remedy.

  5. Somehow, I always feel a little smarter than my *average* friends after reading something you have written. Once the smugness subsides, I also feel a little closer to you despite the years (and good-sized chunk of country side) that have passed since I knew you. Be well, old friend.

  6. Oh Jonathan, you are in my heart.

  7. Amy, years are more easily traversed than chunks of country--especially clear to Wisconsin. Then again, the pesky thing about bygone years is the tendency of memory to muddle. Thankfully, I remember our brief proximity well. By the by, I found a poem you wrote for me all those many years ago. It was in a book I had been reading at the time. Thanks again for that.

  8. Arna, that's a wonderful place to be. Thanks for squeezing me in!