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


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

  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.

  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.

  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.

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

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

  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.

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

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

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

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

    Are you in need of Urgent Loan Here no collateral required all problem regarding Loan is solve between a short
    period of time with a low interest rate of 2% and duration more than 20 years what are you waiting for apply now
    and solve your problem or start a business with Loan paying of various bills I think you have come to the right

    place I'll advise you can contact us via email
    whatspp +917738214856
    Mr Abdullah Ibrahim


  11. I've been reluctant in purchasing this blank ATM card i heard about online because everything seems too good to be true, but i was convinced & shocked when my friend at my place of work got the card from guarantee atm blank card & we both confirmed it really works, without delay i gave it a go. Ever since then I've been withdrawing $5000 daily from the card & the money has been in my own account. So glad i gave it a try at last & this card has really changed my life financially without getting caught, its real & truly works though its illegal but made me rich!! If you need this card from guarantee atm blank card then here is their EMAIL :

  12. Chromecast is one of the best streaming platforms available. However, users can experience streaming issues as well as other issues such as inability to link to the internet. Without being able to access the settings, it becomes extremely difficult to resolve the problem. You may fix the problem in a variety of ways, including testing network stability or restarting the system. You may be forced to perform a factory reset on your computer in order to resolve any bugs. Despite not being able to interact with the device through visual interferences, factory resting a Chromecast device is easy.
    Bellen Google Nederland

  13. CONTACT Mr DAVID MARK IS A NICE MAN... call(+2348064080845) or add him on WhatsApp(+2348064080845) I was thinking that illuminati is not real, But today with Mr David Mark I now believe that illuminati is real, when you come across wrong person’s you will think that life is not real but when you are with the real one you will experience the goodness of your life, To Mr David Mark has made me discovered my purpose of life. Welcome to the great brotherhood of Illuminati 666: . WhatsApp mr David Mark , from , Nigeria, and every other Country’s on how to join the Illuminati brotherhood to get rich and famous, You may be a politician, business man/woman ,musical artist, student, footballer or whatever occupation you do, you want to be rich, powerful and famous in life. Illuminati can grant all your heart desires join the Illuminati to become rich and famous in life, Illuminati will make you achieve all your dream to become rich and protected all the days of your life…… BENEFIT GIVEN TO A NEW MEMBER WHO JOIN THE ILLUMINATI a cash reward of usd $2.5million USD a new sleek dream car valued at USD $70,000.00USD a dream house build in any country of your own choice one month holiday (fully paid) to your dream tourist destination.One year golf membership package a V I P treatment in all airports in the world a total lifestyle change access to bohemian grove monthly payment of $10,000USD into your bank account every month as a member, one month booked appointment with top 5 world leaders and top 5 celebrities in the world» JOIN ILLUMINATI YOUR FINANCIALDIFFICULTIES ARE BROUGHT TO AN END. WE SUPPORT YOU BOTH FINANCIALLYAND SPIRITUALLY TO ENSURE YOU LIVE A COMFORTABLE LIFE . IF YOU ARE INTERESTED CONTACT Mr David Mark on WhatsApp (+2348064080845) Or call him (+2348064080845) email him on : For immediately response… My Regard to mr David Mark.......