Sunday, November 1, 2015
Medical Travails Sunday November 1
As those who’ve taken time to read my latest book, My Lifetime of Weird Coincidences, know, weeks, months, sometimes years can pass by without anything noteworthy or “reportable” springing up in the way of strange or possibly “paranormal” happenings. But now, several weeks after publication of the book, I finally do have something interesting and new to point out and report.
A few days ago snippets of the musical Oklahoma began playing themselves out in my head. There was no discernible reason for it, really. I simply found musical quotes from the production or related to it occasionally playing out in my mind. The snippets would always be brief, and then my mind would go on to other things, by which I mean that other seemingly useless snippets of random thoughts about this, that or the other would start up and take the place of the musical. Two things are noteworthy here. One, I realize this is considered to be one of the great musicals of all time, but as a general rule I am not a huge fan of musicals, so there is no obvious reason why my mind would come to or dwell on this subject or this particular production. Second, not all the Oklahoma related material playing out in my mind was directly from the movie. In fact, many of the scenes had nothing directly to do with the movie at all, which I’ve seen but not in many years. For instance, one of the “snippets” was an incident recalled from many years ago when a friend of mine thought it would be the height of hilarity to wake me one morning during a visit to his family’s lake lodge by putting the track “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” on the stereo at full volume. I’ve never forgotten that, and now here I was, replaying that scene over in my mind several mornings in a row. Then there’s the scene in the movie When Harry Met Sally where the two of them sing one of the numbers (“The Surry with the Fringe on Top”) via an electronics store karaoke machine, and then get busted when Harry’s ex-wife walks in with her new husband. Earlier this week that scene, too, began playing out on my mental movie screen for no obvious reason.
But then just recently the reason became apparent. It turns out, the movie is marking a major anniversary milestone (it’s 60th). It also turns out that significant parts of the movie were shot here in Southern Arizona, for which the University of Arizona built what amounts to a mobile corn field. And how do I know all this? Because the Arizona Daily Star just ran a major feature about the anniversary, touting the fact that the parks and rec department is running a screening of the movie today at its Green Valley facility. Now, keep in mind I have seen no other publicity items related to this movie anywhere until the Star piece came out. There was nothing external to place it on my mental agenda. It simply popped up in my mind completely on its own.
That said, I’m sure skeptics would say that I must have seen something somewhere about the movie, and had filed the information away in my subconscious, waiting to be acted on by conscious processes. Is that what happened? You can buy that “rational” explanation if you want, but there are other possibilities, such as the one that might have been offered by early 20th Century scientist Carl Jung, as discussed in my book. Jung gave these phenomena a name (“synchronicity”) but did not try to explain how these strange coincidences happened. He did, however, declare that they do happen and that they have human significance. What that significance might be in this case, I have not a clue, except that it is making me think about this blog again, and caused me to take action on it, resulting in today’s entry.
I spent several hours yesterday and the day before re-reading the blog of my late colleague Warren Elly, who, like me, had metastatic abdominal cancer and decided to write about it. One of the questions that’s arising and keeps on nagging me is the question of how often I should contribute to mine. Warren wrote on his almost every day except toward the end, when he suddenly tapered off. There was no explanation, really, for the decrease, but it was clear that fatigue was setting in and making life more difficult for him. But people did seem to hang on every word. And then his voice suddenly ceased.
By contrast I have not been contributing every day, and when I do write, I often touch on topics other than my terminal cancer. I think I've come to the conclusion that I should write about the medical aspects more often because people do seem interested in that. I'll make sure to make some medical reference in the blog title when I do. But even a medically-oriented entry may touch on other subjects from time to time, as this one does.
I’ve been doing pretty well with pain and fatigue but last night was not a good night. Sometimes pain will set up across my lower back and when that happens it’s hard to shake. Like Warren, I have two “brands” or styles of painkillers. One is a time-released Oxycontin, which is supposed to make sure some pain fighting meds are in my system at all times on the theory that once a given pain set fires up, it’s if not dealt with immediately then it’s going to be much harder to knock down later, which I believe is totally true. The other pain meds are shorter lasting but quicker acting Dilaudid tabs, which I am supposed to take on a certain schedule, and I do. But what happens if I’ve had both the long-acting and the short acting doses and the pain has not gone away? That happened last night, and it led to a long night. There is no obvious reason why the pain would gang up on me in this manner but it did.
You may recall, the last time this happened, my nurse decided to arrange for an in-house visit to adjust my meds—“titrate” them is one word they used. I suppose that is something we could do again. Most of the additional relief I’m needing is coming at night and I am allowed to increase my dose on my own, which I did last night. Additional medication of this type is called a “prn” dose—“pain relief as needed.” And it does help. But I’d be lying if I were to say that I didn’t find the need to increase my dose in this manner troubling.
Fatigue is also getting the better of me lately. I’ll wake up just purely without the energy or drive to be able to do what it was I wanted to do. The most recent project along those lines was incredibly simple—just have Deborah drive me down to the barber for a quick cut (scraggly hair lost to chemo has begun to come back in) and then a quick grocery run. Both about did me in from pain, fatigue and being winded. I had to go sit down in Starbucks and wait for her to finish the grocery run. If you follow the logic here I’ll be needing a wheelchair sooner or later—and believe me, that is not something I’ll welcome.
At present I still do have sufficient energy to hit the keyboard and type this blog. As long as I can do that, I’ll continue to contribute. Don’t necessarily panic if you don’t see something every day, though. To save up the energy needed to write this blog today I wound up sleeping until 2:00 PM in the afternoon—scandalous. This is the “little old lady” scenario that’s been planted in my mind by hospice advertisements—not by mine, I’m happy to say (Casa de la Luz does not advertise as far as I can tell). But the last hospice commercial I saw featured a hospice nurse hanging out beside a little old lady dressed all in white linen looking dreamily out a window framed with white lace curtains—the implication being that she was waiting for a peaceful passing that the hospice nurse was going to help expedite somehow. Well, I don’t know if sleeping until 2:00 PM in the afternoon advances me in that direction or not, but it’s certainly something I have not done in ages, and I did wake up pain free and with better energy. I remain troubled by the fact that it certainly is not normal, and I worry about what lies ahead.
Last thing before I wrap up today’s entry—I got a visitor on Friday who was very welcome. She brought me a couple of donuts from Dunkin’s—which I had been craving. We had a very nice chat and it was great to get up on the news and find out what is happening with her and our mutual friends. I brought her up to date on everything I just wrote you, and if she thought I’m a nut she was kind enough not to say so. Friends like that are always welcome, especially bearing food gifts!
May God bless you and may you always be reminded of the wonderful things in your life to be cherished and held close to your heart, as I now am. Every day is a gift.
at 7:38 PM