Tuesday, September 29, 2015

More Outage and Aboutage

Well, I have a confession to make.   Now that book #4 is out, My Lifetime of Strange Coincidences and Weird Happenings, my life is taking on an anticlimactic air.   I guess I was more apprehensive about the book’s release than I realized would be the case.  This is not surprising, I suppose, given that I reveal secrets in that book of which maybe three people in my entire life had been aware, and even those folks did not know the dark, painful details.  I tossed and turned over this one.  But it seemed to me that authenticity is the key.  If I’m going to try to convince someone that a series of miracles revolving around attempted suicide changed my life, for the purpose of perhaps inspiring others to value their own lives more, then the details must be authentic or the whole project will be for naught.  And that goes for all the other revelations in the book.  Still, when it comes to giving away privacy rights, you don’t get much more naked than this.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Final Word

Okay, this is not really my last blog entry.  At least I hope that’s not the case.  Given my health condition anything seems possible but it does not appear that death is imminent at the moment.  Still, if you look back at the slow but steady deterioration we’ve seen over the past several weeks, as outlined in my most recent blog posts, it does not seem wise to take anything for granted or to assume that I have even one more second of time coming to me. 

I have no interest in abandoning the blog.  Far from  it.  What does interest me is to make sure that I, not my cancer, get the last word.  The only way to do that is to write the final chapter before the cancer has a chance to cut me off.  I can then go back and fill in any blanks (as they come along) at my leisure as life unfolds in real time, as long as I have the breath of life in me and something interesting to say.

What am I babbling about, you ask?

Simply this:  I am faced with a tough reality, and here it is:  the only way to beat cancer is to make sure it does not have the final word.  But of course there will be a day when cancer will have silenced me.  Victory lies in making sure I have said what I needed to say before that point.  And in doing so, this isn’t going to be about cancer pulling the life out of me but rather about me pulling life from the cancer.  I’m going to continue that fight even after I’m gone, and I’m going to do it with the book I’m announcing today.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Changing Signs for Changing Times

As if I had not had enough change to deal with in my life, this week, there's a big one.  Well, it's big to me.

To recap, I’ve had a lot to deal with over the last two years—getting a diagnosis of kidney and bladder cancer, undergoing surgery to address both, finding out the surgery was not successful and that the cancer is spreading and will be terminal sooner or later.  This week, more signs of changing times.  Here’s a status check in descending chronological order.

-- Ongoing primary complication:   I’m fighting pain from one or more tumors in my side primarily at night and my overall stamina is slowly failing me.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

My Stay in Hospice - Updated

Well, one thing I have figured out is that when you tell people you are going to be spending a little time in a hospice facility, it gets their attention.  Most people associate that with dying.  The end of life association is not always unwarranted in a general sense, just not in my specific case at the present time.  No dying is contemplated for some time.  Some people do wind up spending their final days here but I’m told that is very unusual.  Most of those who come here to the inpatient unit are doing what I’m doing:  the case nurses are working with the doctors to try to come up with the proper doses and timings for the various drugs that we hospice patients need to be comfortable and have our symptoms managed.  Such symptom management is one of the key promises of hospice, which focuses on your personal comfort in a way that traditional medicine does not.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

To Blog or Not to Blog

Well, to blog or not to blog is not really the question.  I’m not going to abandon you now.  But as I celebrate (and I do mean celebrate, with all the gusto I can muster) the arrival of my 58th birthday tomorrow (Friday, September 18) one thing seems pretty clear:  it’s very unlikely there’ll be a 59th.

It’s kind of slap in the face to hear those words from a friend, isn’t it?  It’s one big bucket of cold water.  But it’s also nothing but the truth.

I am struck by my late colleague Warren Elly’s blog, The Way Forward.  When he started his blog after receiving his cancer diagnosis in December, I wonder if he realized what he would be putting himself through.  He shared with us the trauma of learning to cope with one’s own impending mortality—and then one day his voice was simply gone.  No goodbyes, no warnings, no heads up of any kind that this entry might be the last.  But then suddenly it was. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Taking Stock

You may be wondering why I would lead off a blog post with a photograph showing a pair of empty boots.  The theme of today’s blog will be “taking stock.”   Basically, I’m looking at where I stand so far in terms of my current abilities—what cancer has cost me, and what capabilities I have left, how much time I might have remaining, and what I should do about it all.

The fact is that cancer is slowly whittling away at the list of things that I find pleasurable.  Those two boots in the photo are one example.  I am not an extravagant person.  But for years I had fantasized about the idea of owning a pair of hand-crafted Lucchesi burgundy ostrich skin boots.  Folks, these are not cheap.  Lucchesi arguably makes the best boot in existence.  I found myself coveting—for years—a $1,500 pair of boots.  Then I met a newscast producer in Tampa who confessed to having plopped down $2,000 for a designer purse—and I knew she wasn’t kidding because a short time later I happened to be in Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City and was able to find the exact purse for the price mentioned featured in a locked glass display case beneath a spotlight, lacking only an angelic choir to call attention to and celebrate its existence.  This producer had no other extravagances that I knew of; just that one.  Sometimes you just gotta have what  you just gotta have.  And after all, doesn’t spending money—yes, even if it is a bit over the top—help the economy whether you’re buying clothes or a can of Spaghetti-O’s (which I also do)?  So about six years ago I took part of the royalty check that I earn through being co-author of a college text book on broadcast news writing, and I ordered those boots.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Critical Praise

They say that for an artist, there’s nothing more difficult than the task of getting respect in one’s own home town.  No less than the great Elvis Presley was so afraid of this phenom that he delayed for years the challenge of putting on a concert in Memphis.  So try to imagine my surprise and delight this weekend to see my home town newspaper, the Arizona Daily Star, review not one but two of my novels, and give both stellar reviews!  This was fabulous news, especially as it comes on the heels of some amazing reader comments as posted on Amazon.com for my latest novel, The Dark.

Let’s get right to it.  Messages, my first novel, is a thriller and crime story laced with strong humor that attempts to blow the doors of the TV news industry while also weaving a compelling reality-inspired tale.  Reviewer Mary Kim Dodson, writing in the Home + Life section of the Sunday paper, says,  “Dialogue in this book is amazingly clever, fast paced, sophisticated and at times extremely raunchy, but always thoroughly entertaining. . . .  Carr writes very compelling fiction.”

Monday, September 7, 2015

A Severe Fright

Because so many people have expressed interest, and have give me such an outpouring of heartfelt, warm feedback over the last few months, I’ve committed to keeping everyone fully abreast of my battle with metastatic cancer.  I had an episode today that I was not prepared for, and which has left me truly shaken.

As I’ve been telling you, there are three potential cancers in a race to do me in—one where my kidney used to be that’s also setting up shop behind my spleen, one in my sigmoid colon which somehow managed to spread there from the kidney, and then there’s the bladder itself which is likely to get a third recurrence of cancer eventually but which is clean at the moment.  Treatment for the colon cancer via radiation and chemo appears to have accomplished at least part of its mission in that my intestines are not blocked, although there’s no word on how long I can hope for that to remain the case.  Chemo and radiation on the other cancerous mass were deemed not successful.  Chemo and radiation are what gave me that massive sepsis in June, which damned near killed me, and they contributed to the deep vein thrombosis of my right leg that has left me challenged in getting around.  Because the doctors could not promise me that more chemo would not just leave me sicker and perhaps even take away time I might otherwise have coming to me, I made the decision to come off chemo and radiation and go with hospice.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Out and About. . .

I want to tell you about this weekend's junket, but lest I be accused of “burying the lead”—an old and very common sin among journalists—let me give you the medical news right off the top, boom:  My bladder cancer remains in remission.  A cystoscopy procedure on Monday confirms that my bladder is cancer free, one year after the last surgery.

So what does this mean?  It means that of the three cancers that are competing to do me in, bladder cancer now is pretty much out of the race.  Given enough time, it would almost certainly recur, but it's not likely to grow to become a real threat again within the time frame I have left.  Bladder cancer is the most treatable of the three sites.  Since it did come back a year ago had to be removed for a second time at that time, I fully expected it to be back by now.  The fact that it’s not is welcome news indeed.  Under  the terms of my hospice care, which focuses on palliative treatment, not curative, it’s not clear whether my insurance company would have agreed to pick up the tab for a third bladder surgery even had one been needed.  Indeed, it’s not clear whether it’ll pay for my Monday’s doctor’s visit.   But bladder cancer is a very unpleasant business and it is good not to have that sword dangling over my head.