Sunday, February 22, 2015

Meds again

I feel like Hunter Thompson in the opening pages of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas –waiting for the drugs to kick in. I look at the pill bottles collecting on the dining room table and wonder at the mix of pharmaceuticals circling in my bloodstream. Thursday of this week I was at the UCLA Medical Center getting another infusion of Avastin and an adjustment to my intake of drugs and supplements – this time, more steroids and more antidepressants. All to deal with an undertow of counter-productive moods, lethargy, and general grumpiness. 

Lately, I’ve also been made aware of a lot of anger that comes out as I struggle with losses of strength, coordination, and equilibrium, (I am covered in scratches and Band-Aids from the last spill I took while out on a morning stroll in the desert a few days ago. Because I bruise easily now I also bear a striking display of purple blotches from wrist to elbow.)

 Also discouraging has been a hoarseness that is a side effect of the infusions. By the afternoon, my voice is not much more than a loud whisper, which seems to confuse the dictation software I use for blog and e-mail writing. The results I get after carefully enunciated sentences are often unintelligible, with weird homonyms and fractured spelling. An up-dosage of Zoloft is supposed to help me regain my sense of humor about a lot of this. Meanwhile, instead of weaning me off steroids an up dosage of them is supposed to help me recover the energy level needed to do more than drag through the day in a confused state of mind.

Scene of the spill
Cancer has given me a new appreciation for the subtlety of how the brain works while I fumble with water faucets or step into underwear, as I explained last week. I realize, for instance, how much I have relied on autopilot to do familiar tasks, like closing a door after I have walked through it and not before; To perform an act, I have only needed to intend to do it, and muscles would spring into action. 

Likewise, I have used the sense of touch in my fingers to “see” what I’m doing while, say, transferring dishes from the dishwasher to the cupboard. I rarely needed to watch to get it right. A nurse recently confirmed this while putting an IV into my arm and explaining that she finds the right spot on a vein by “feel” rather than trusting her eye, Having lost the ability to see with my benumbed fingers, I knew exactly what she meant.

Another issue: the painstaking process of dictating a draft for a blog post and finding and correcting all the typos has made me wonder whether I can expect to continue blogging, I don’t relish the prospect of having to give it up. Reading, writing, and blogging have pretty much kept me going over the past months, and being able to blog about this damn cancer has also been a release and an outlet. 

A blogger friend recently posted a tribute to my “tenacity” as I deal with all this, and I can only wish it were true. My outbursts of anger and infantile impatience (best expressed as “I want what I want when I want it”) say otherwise. But I will say this much: Cleaning up one’s act should not wait until this late in life. It takes more than meds and meditation to do the job.

I-10 homebound
Meanwhile, we are talking of dropping out of the UCLA drug trial because the four hours each way of stop-and-go traffic on the freeway makes for a hellish day on the road and staying in a hotel overnight to avoid it is an extra expense with no guarantee that appointments will occur as scheduled so we can successfully miss the worst traffic. (LA traffic is so bad it’s criminal; I await the day it comes to a complete stop, and people will be forced to abandon their cars and walk.) 

As it turns out, the drug trial group I’m in receives treatment already FDA approved and can be administered at the Cancer Center in Palm Springs which is only 20 minutes away from home and doesn’t require hiring a dogsitter while we are gone. Making the switch back to my former oncologist there, if possible, is beginning to look like a no-brainer (an unfortunate phrase in my case, but apt, given how little I have made use of common sense in my short life.)

So it goes.

I’m closing again with a jazz video, this time by Brazilian artists João Bosco, Ivan Lins and Gonzalo Rubalcaba performing a joyous version of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s classic ”Águas de Março (“Waters of March”) from a concert in 2000. Listen, as usual, for the music of the spheres.



Previously: Knickers and twists

11 comments:

  1. Hang in there and keep blogging and we'll keep reading. Anger is expected and a little of it is probably healthy.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your Sunday posts are vigorous and artful, spiritual and genuine, like the jazz pieces you share. Just can't do without a dose each week, my friend. It's my Zoloft.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ron, I'm with Sage and William and couldn't agree more with your blogger friend's tribute to your "tenacity." Your Sunday posts continue to inspire me in many ways, nowhere more so than in my measured response to situations and the ability to flow with the tide.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It would be wonderful if you could get the same medication nearby. I love this jazz piece. I have it by a woman with English lyrics, but can't recall who my artist is. Jay put all of our music on our computers and then copied them all into our iPods. I used to use visual sight of the CD I wanted to listen to, but now it's rather confusing. I find myself just playing my long lists of Willy Nelson, Ian Tyson, Nanci Griffith, Madeleine Peroux or Jim Hall for the most part. Too lazy to get up to check out other artists.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rosemary Clooney has a nice version of the song. in English.

      Delete
  5. I wish there was some way I could make things easier, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I sometimes think about being blind and how it would change my egotistical world and every time I reach the same conclusion: if blind people can keep at it, so can I. My aunt was blind from birth, but she could almost see as good as anyone else. At least that's what I thought, cause she always knew when my brother and I were around. Your use of "feel" made me think about her again. A sixth sense is amazing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My grandmother somehowmade quilts until she was in her 90s.

      Delete
  7. Hang in there Ron and keep blogging; for all of us.

    ReplyDelete
  8. My comments are infrequent but my thoughts are constant. Keep blogging.

    ReplyDelete
  9. My thoughts are often similar to our friend Charles Gramlich's. This is another example.

    ReplyDelete