28 August 2012

nat geo wild!

August 27, 2012

Once in a blue moon, and there’s one in a few days so let’s pretend a serendipity, I can be spotted in the wild. 

For the most part, let’s call it 90% of the time, I am homebound.  There are factors: I’m sick a lot, I’m tired a lot, I’m grumpy a lot, I’m uninspired a lot—there’s a lot of things I am a lot that are not conducive to being socially interactive a lot.

At play in all of those factors is the fact that I cannot drive.  I haven’t driven an automobile since December of last year and even then I was pushing my luck.  After the event of late December/ early January*, it was made clear that I was not to drive until July—that is, six months distant from the rash of seizures I had at that time.  July it is, then.  Six months, no bigs.  A few years back, I spent nearly as much time in bed with a pee-bottle and Garrison Keillor CDs.

Yes, July it was.  As of right now, it’s February, 2013.  And if you believe that date is set in anything more than mud then I’ve got some property in mud I’d like to sell you.  I am stuck in this seemingly limitless Pez-dispenser of future dates because I continue to have seizures.  Roughly once a month, some piddling to middling jolt will trigger that most obnoxious symptom of the betumored brain.  (Think: charley-horse combined with a tongue in the power-outlet accompanied by a fearful disembodiment and an abjection in relation to your own will.)

Back to society, my sightings in the wild.

Jonathan-watchers have spotted me in libraries.  These reports can be invalidated if the reporter claims to have seen me borrowing books.  I borrow DVDs—movies to watch in my shameful surfeit of downtime.  I buy books.  Because I must have them.  I must.  I must hoard them and stack them and sit atop them like Scrooge McDuck sits atop his constantly avalanching mountain of gold coins.

[Sidebar:  There is a used-book store in Birmingham, 2nd and Charles, that facilitates the ungodly Babel-tower of words now being erected beside my bed.  They frequently run devil-in-the-desert sales like: buy five fiction books (fiction’s my addiction) and get five free.  When you figure the books are already going for halfsies that’s quite a bargain for the unemployed gimp with a book fetish.]

Jonathan-watchers have spotted me in 2nd and Charles.

Jonathan-watchers have spotted me in grocery stores.  These are my most frequent haunts.  Short-distance trips.  Carts that double as walkers for hop-a-longs and woozy-listers.  An array of peoples who, with any luck, have babies I can make faces at.

Most recently, I was seen at a church function.  Rarest sighting of all!  A verifiable photo of which goes for thousands at auction. 

In a way, all of this isolation suits me.  My temperament is headquartered in melancholy.  This may come as surprise to those who know me only in instances of hospitality or may be met with incredulity by those who have witnessed the conviviality of my bacchanal days; nonetheless, the essential aspect of my character is introversion.  I have overcome my shyness by practice.  Practicing conversation.  Practicing argument.  Practicing party-going.  Practicing hugs.

For now, though, my predisposition is paying off.  All of those times intentionally getting lost in the woods and making no haste to find my bearings, all of those times in a lamp-lit nook reading Dickens, all of these times in front of a white screen—just me and a pulsing cursor.

So, as it turns out, solitude is me in the wild, in my natural state; sadly for Jonathan-watchers, this state precludes many-a-fine sightings.  They have to sneak up on me.  Approach downwind.  Build tree-stands and scatter books of fiction on the ground.

17 August 2012

wait and weight

[Lookie here]

August 9, 2012

An interesting development over the months:  When I began taking my chemo back in January, I was under the impression (as a novice why wouldn’t I be under impressions?) that my schedule of rounds was set, if not in stone, in fast-drying cement.  And so, I followed the schedule with all ostensibly-due rigor. 

As with all rigor, from hydrogen fusion to the best laid schemes o’ mice, mine has begun to peter.  Unlike the sun, whose progeny of elements will eventually be the death of it, and the wee beastie, whose efforts are largely stymied by more massive creatures, my rigor has not so much gone awry as follow a predictable progression from stringent to relaxed.

A couple of months back, one of my nurse practitioners informed me that it wasn’t the farness of my previous round of chemo that concerned us, it was the nearness.  That is to say, the rule of schedule is that I cannot begin a round of chemo any sooner than 28 days after the start of the previous round.  This is to allow my body and blood counts to recover sufficiently before their next affront.  (A sufficiency I aft beg to differ with.)  On the other hand, there is no set date by which I must begin my round—within reason, of course.

I’ve got to say, the leeway afforded by this laxity was mighty alluring this month.  I didn’t get my pills until yesterday (8th) and last night it was all I could do to pull the trigger on taking my first dose.  I began to run through a variety of equations that would be optimal for minimal misery.  Athletic events made their usual case:  I’d want to be feeling well for the first round of the PGA Championship, the first preseason game of the Redskins, and the gold medal match for women’s soccer wouldn’t I?  There was an unusual occasion to consider: the wife and child will be gone all day Saturday on a jaunt to Six Flags Over Jawja which is a long time for me to groan and moan to aught but the earless walls.  (Moaning and groaning remains a rigorously attended-to feature of my monthly rounds.  I like to think of this as keeping it real.)

At the end of the day, quite literally, I decided to start the inevitable.  Sooner started, sooner ended.  And since leaving my pills in the garbage bucket where they were immediately consigned after arrival to my doorstep is frowned upon by my support-team, the inevitable was met reluctantly.  (Reluctantly—because once in a while I like to put things mildly.)

Moral-esque-ness of the story?  No matter how dearly you’d love to, you cannot go to Seven Flags Over Jawja. Nor to as many over Georgia, for that matter.

August 17, 2012

In the beginning (of my journal, not the universe—though an argument can be made for the formlessness and vacuity of these proceedings), I anticipated a sharp decline of appetite that would result in weight-loss.  Which weight, by the way, would not be missed upon its disappearance.  

As it turns out, the yarkiness doesn’t really suppress my appetite.  Not in general.  Despite a net-diminishment since the outset of therapy, my weight has been making a steady resurgence in the last few months.  (At the outset, I clocked in at over two bills.  After two or three months, I was oscillating in the lower buck-nineties.  Today, the old digital read-out claims 198—though in all fairness to me, I had to have my glasses on to see the scale.  So let’s say somewhere in the upper thousandths of a bill-ninety-seven.)

First, let me confess.  I have recently become addicted to soda-pop.  Mostly Cola-d but sometimes Peppered—always empty-caloried.  Add this intake to chemo-week, smoothie consumption and we’re scarcely surprised by the re-piling of pounds.

But there’s more to it.  A phenomenon less damning of my will.  Back to the suppression of appetite.  I expected food, up and down its pyramid diagram, to be of equal repugnance.  To revolt my gullet summarily.  This has not been so.  So has been this: certain foods (and for some reason green salads top the list) make me gag a bit to even think of during chemo-week much less partake of.  Others (and for some reason grease-sopped cheese-burgers top this list) are wildly delicious—craved and consumed with relish. And mustard.

As any weight-watching points-counter could tell me, the numbers are against me.  Compound the problem with a largely sedentary lifestyle and I must either take charge of my wayward appetite or face my amassment of flesh with abandon.  And French-fries.

02 August 2012

not anymore

August 2, 2012

I have my very own core-strengthening/ balance-training outsized bouncy ball.  I have my very own stretchy, flat-snaky resistance bands.  I have my very own tailor-made exercise program printed-out on stapled paper.  What I do not have is a physical therapist.  Not anymore.

Yesterday was my last day of physical therapy.  I didn’t so much graduate as I did hop from a plane with the above-mentioned tools for a parachute.

For seven months, three weeks out of four, twice a week, I readied myself for what often would be my only outing for the week.  It was as if I was a member of society, of a social club, if nothing else.  I had to do things like tame my beard on occasion and take care not to be wearing on Wednesday what I had been wearing on Monday.  Not anymore.

Granted, because of the relative success of my PT over the past 7 months, I am capable of getting out more often than I was, say, in January or February or March and so on due my steadily increasing mobility.  When I started therapy, I could not operate my ankle to move my foot up and down—muscular weakness and a disconnected neurology to blame.  I could not flex my left calf; it just flubbed about at the behest of gravity all volitional efforts be damned.  My general gait so exactly matched the disinterred zombies in Michael Jackson’s Thriller video (before, of course, they break into that death-defying, much imitated, never duplicated dance) that children watched in horror if ever they saw me in the light of day.

Now I can move my foot.  I can think of doing so and do it—piercing the brain-fog long enough to make demands of my pathetic physiology.  Now my left calf resembles more a left calf than a distended rooster wattle.  Now my hip and knee flexion is more Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle in the Marine Corps and less Peter Boyle as young Frankenstein’s lumbering fiend.

I will miss the encouragement and admonishment of my therapist, Heather.  She is among that rare class of people who genuinely care for the well-being of others.  She cared enough to keep me on after my insurance decided I was done.  She cared enough to call if I missed a session to make sure I was okay.  She cared enough to make me wonder if I care enough.  Am I as concerned with my health as I should be?  Am I as concerned with the health of others as I should be?  Is life good enough to be well for it?  Beyond keeping up with my at-home exercise program, I hope I can keep up with my at-therapy, self-evaluation program.

I will also miss that angled trampoline against which one gets to throw weighted balls.  Of those, I do not have my very own.