What To Do!

1 October 2016

I know a fellow I’ll call Wayne.  He lives in a wheelchair.  Well, more than a wheelchair; it’s like an Astronaut’s seat in the old Apollo moon ship – a recumbent couch that is molded to the occupant’s body, i.e., rib cage, shoulders, spine, pelvis and thighs.  That’s everything but his arms and head.  I’m told the reason for his form-fitted couch/seat is so Wayne won’t get pressure sores.  This couch-like seat is secured to the wheelchair’s frame so when Wayne is installed, he’s: 1). Sitting more-or-less upright, 2). Comfortable and 3). Constrained.   After all, he’s in his chair from dawn to dusk, except for the times they remove him to change shitty diapers.  An enormous web belt runs across his lap to make sure he stays in the chair.  This is because Wayne sometimes bursts into a paroxysm of what we take to be laughter.  When they come on him he guffaws, hoots, bellows and thrashes like a live salmon tossed on the shore.  Bystanders must stand clear as his right leg wildly flails about (the Jets place kicker should have leg like Wayne’s).  If it weren’t for that belt, Wayne would be on the floor.

Wayne is way fucked up.  He’s blind, mute and deaf.  Some ghastly misfortune happened while he was in the womb.  Wayne has Cerebral Palsy so he never sits still.  His right leg moves but his left one sits lifeless, hanging onto the footrest.  His head has a slow rhythmic nod that only stops when Wayne falls asleep.

Wayne’s hands are in his lap and from his left hand, the middle finger sticks up and is plucked backwards non-stop by his right.  The plucking has gone on for so long the middle finger goes back past the vertical so it looks broken.  Of course Wayne’s body is atrophied and wasted.  There is no muscle tone, everything is flaccid.

Then there is the matter of Wayne’s head.  It’s way small but of normal appearance.  His open mouth reveals a clutter of dark, carious pegs.  Something like Brownian Movement keeps his head constantly going, except when he naps.  Wayne’s large, blue eyes move independently, much like a chameleon’s — and this is most disconcerting, believe thou me.

I’m Wayne’s minder, I tend him when he goes out from his residential facility.  We go to dim and dark places where we will cause no trouble and where I can observe him, and I have observed:

  1. Wayne cannot eat normal food so he’s feed some sort of nutritious gruel.  Wayne has a good swallow reflex for when I hold up a paper cup full of juice, he leans into it and opens his lips but more like an infant sucking than in a man drinking.
  2. Some of the sounds Wayne makes are grunts.  They mean Wayne is shitting in his diaper, and he will sit in it until the little bus takes him home in a couple of hours.
  3. He doesn’t respond to touch and I don’t believe he feels pain.
  4. The paroxysms are not laughter as I originally assumed.  I think these paroxysms are actually seizures.
  5. There is no one home.  The form sitting before me in the wheelchair is an empty vessel.  The physical Wayne probably died as the result of a botched delivery and while the body was resuscitated, Wayne’s spirit fled.  What sits before me now is nothing but a reanimated corpse — a zombie.

Does Wayne have any sense of life or is he nothing but a bunch of fucked up reflexes?  I vote for the latter.  I think anyone who is around Wayne for very long will come to the same conclusion.

So what to do?  What to do?

In ancient times, a baby with Wayne’s problems would have been placed on the ground and a 4-man rock dropped on his head.  With today’s medicine we can keep zombies like Wayne alive until Hell freezes over.  Wayne is old enough to have salt-&-pepper hair, so he’s been kept alive for quite some time already.  The big question is: Are we doing the Wayne’s of the world a favor by keeping them alive with our heroic measures?   I don’t think so.  I think zombies like Wayne deserve top-notch palliative care but no life-extending measures should be applied.

Many of the Abrahamic faiths would turn to the holy texts for guidance on this.  And so we shall, but pay close attention to Ecclesiastes 3:1–8.  Read it carefully.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.


Clinton vs. Trump

9 September 2016

It’s blame Hillary for everything. If it rains, it’s Hillary’s doing. You catch a cold, it’s all Hillary’s fault. Ad hominem arguments usually work in political activities, and they are working splendidly in this campaign.

The only — only — chance Hillary Clinton has of beating Donald Trump is to set loose the dogs.  Mock his orange face (the Great Pumpkin) and his rug. Harp endlessly on his bankruptcies and business difficulties.  Find people whom he’s hurt and get them out in the spotlight. Drag the Trump U lawsuits down the road for everyone to see. Get the women(s) he violated to go on the stump. Dig up every atom of dirt there is and make each a cause célèbre.  Start up a few websites to spread every rumor you can find.  Trump has a notoriously thin skin and rattles easily so catch him out in his lies and hang a vicious sobriquet on him, like “Disingenuous Don”.

Electing Donald Trump will be like drinking syrup of ipecac: It’s nice and sweet going down, but a bit later you’ll be sorry as hell as you puke up everything in your guts. Problem is, once he’s elected, there’s no throwing him up. Trump will be in our guts for four years.


The Olympics

10 August 2016

Well, it’s that time again: the Olympics.

Jo and I, accompanied by our friends and neighbors, sat down to watch them Monday night.  What did we see?  Swimming.  OK, so we watched the Olympics Tuesday night and, again, what did we see?  Swimming.  Nothing but goddamned swimming.  Swimming, swimming, swimming and more goddamned swimming.

Oh, we also saw a bunch of pixi-like children jumping and rolling around on the floor and swinging like monkeys from the parallel bars. Meh.  But I did get a glimpse of Volleyball, beach style, with all the hotties in their little 2-piece swim (gaaack, there’s that word again) suits. Yum.

What I want to know is where’s the Greco-Roman wrestling?  The hammer and discus throw? Archery? All the good stuff? I’ll tell you where; in the daylight hours so no one can watch them. All we get is a force-fed diet of swimming.

I hate swimming, and if you read my post of long ago, you’ll know why.  But in that post, I was talking about a pool, like in the Olympics but the really hateful version of swimming is in a lake. The water is like pea soup – green and opaque – and foul things float in it.  You get swimmer’s ear, pink eye, itchy skin, athlete’s foot from the changing room and you stink like dead and dying fish. To ice the cake, there’s always some debris on the bottom, lurking just beneath the sand and scum, and you invariably cut you foot on this stuff and end up with a raging infection. The beach is no better.

Of course, in the lake, just as in the pool, there is the sacrament of pissing in the water.

To close out this observation on the Swimlympics, did you see the male swimmers?  To a man, they looked to have been manhandled by a squid. Red sucker marks all over the place. What’s with that?

Just before they go in the water, the male swimmers slap themselves silly like flagellant monks and begin to quiver as if hit by a Taser.

Finally, the big moment arrives and they jump in the water.  Once in, they kick and thrash their ways across the pool, back and forth and back and forth until one of them touches the pool’s wall ahead of the others and the officials measure this timing down to a gnat’s ass. I saw one fellow beat another to the wall by 0.01 seconds – one one-hundredth of a second – and on the basis of that infinitesimal difference, one man goes home a hero with innumerable offers to endorse everything from jetliners to prophylactics. The other guy, the one who touched the wall just one one-hundredth of a second later, goes home a nere-do-well hump with his tail between his legs. The one man gets the gold and the glory (and all the women and all the money) while the other gets the silver, which means nothing.  Its like the difference between a rib-eye steak done to perfection over an open flame, and a hamburger patty desiccated to a crisp on a McDonald’s griddle.



The Sexiest Man in the World

2 August 2016

Weight check:

A Morning at the Cancer Center

17 July 2016

As I may have mentioned earlier, I have a case of advanced prostate cancer.  I’ve two of my three bites at the apple and now it’s time for the third — my urologist dispatched me to an oncologist for further treatment.

The cancer center is on the third floor in a shiny new building, built for this purpose.  It’s a nice place.

In visiting my urology guy these past sixteen years, I could sit in the waiting room, check out all the other waiting patients and imagine what brought them to this place.  Ah, the woman in pink, bet she has a bladder infection.  Over there, that man with the pained expression has stone.  The young man next to me might have gonorrhea or possibly syphilis.  Ah, the old dude; bet he has cancer too.  It was a nice little game to play while awaiting my turn.

But the Cancer Center is different, and I knew it the moment I walked in the door.  It was in the air: An earnest and somewhat anxious solicitude on everyone’s part.  They gushed kindness.  Peace be upon you, my son.

When we got on the elevator, we encountered an emaciated woman in a wheelchair accompanied by a man her age and a younger woman.  Probably her husband and daughter.  She looked like hell: Veins showing through a darkened, blotchy thin skin and a face ravaged by wrinkles.  When the door opened Jo and I stood aside; Oh, please – after you madam. Was she here for chemo? X-rays? Maybe some of the new medicines that seem to actually stymie, if not cure, cancer.

The registration desk was set in a quiet area (everything there was quiet) with a room full of large comfortable looking chairs.  Most of the chairs were already occupied.  It was a somber tableau, for everyone I saw had failed the standard treatments and now here they were, ready to take the last and final stab at averting death.  Me included.  No bladder stones or syphilis here, everyone within eye-shot had terminal cancer.  Everyone.  It was a strange feeling, and not a good one, let me tell you.  This was the City of the Walking Dead.

My oncologist is a nice young fellow from Ceylon or India or someplace in that part of the world.  I’d checked him out on the internet and the clinic’s website and he looked to be an OK doc.  Of course I brought Jo with me.  She’s good at remembering details and would absorb far more of them than would I, for I was primarily busy asking question after question after question.

I’m seventy-four so I know I’ll kick the bucket in the next 10-12 years.  Now Jo, and buddy Dale and friend Debbie, all know they are going to die too, but they don’t know where, when or, most importantly, from what.  Not me, I know that absent an intervening heart attack, stroke, pneumonia, maybe even a car wreck, I will definitely die of cancer and, as everyone in the doleful group sitting around me knows, it ain’t gonna be pretty.

After a forty-five-minute consultation, Jo, the doctor and I arrived at a plan of action — a plan that should keep me going until one of the aforesaid maladies takes me out.  The plan is this:

In November, I get another PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test to gauge how fast the tumor is growing.

Based on its growth rate, I can opt for a treatment called Provenge TM, which goes for about $100,000 and if not that, then a different, less costly treatment that gives equivalent results.  I also insisted on an experimental treatment, should one come in over the transom between now and November.  Doc said he’d keep his eyes open and call if one comes in. Doc said the labs are hot with new medicines and that new treatments are coming in almost daily.

Doc says he believes in the cutting edge.  So do I.

My tumor, or tumors, are small.  Maybe 3-4 cubic millimeters altogether. and Doc says the earlier I start on some new protocol, the better my chances for a long-term remission.  My timing, Doc said, is propitious.  Outside of insurance coverage, the determination of which to use first will depend on the PSA test.

I also told Doc I won’t go for any of that chemotherapy stuff. I don’t want to be shot full of a sub-lethal doses of various poisons. I don’t want to spending a week puking out my guts, shitting blood, losing all my hair, bloating like a dead fish and getting messed up by chemo brain.  This last is when the poisons will have damaged my brain such that I’ll spend the rest of my life sitting in a corner, twiddling my hair, not knowing whither to shit or blind.

Well, patient reader,that’s about it I just wanted to share.


Death of a Child

10 July 2016

There’s a website named Quora on which people post questions and the readers and members are invited to comment.  A few days ago, a member posted a question dealing with a child’s death.  The author wanted to know what to do to rebuild her shattered life.

The author’s teen-aged son had died suddenly of a hemorrhagic stroke. Now, three years later, the parents were as bereft and devastated as on the day he died.  The author want to know when — if ever — the pain might go away.

These parent are locked in a stasis.  They are in profound pain without comfort nor surcease.  They are deeply depressed and stricken by grief.

I believe they’d like to move forward, but move forward to  . . . where?  I can say, from personal experience, the quickest, surest cure for this kind of depression is action.

If you too have lost a child, here are some things to consider.

Step One: I strongly recommend you both call Big Brothers/Big Sisters and volunteer your time.  The children for whom you would serve as elder siblings are not young toughs that might murder you in your sleep.  No.  They are oftentimes kids who’ve lost a parent of the same sex and are suffering from the loss of that parent’s influence.

Back in the mid-1980s, I volunteered for Big Brothers but the shrink who evaluated my suitability found I didn’t have sufficient respect for authority so I was rejected.  She suggested I volunteer for the county’s Guardian ad Litem program (a.k.a. CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocate), acting on behalf of abused and neglected children — an activity from which I gained the knowledge to give this advice.  I say this because the pecksniffs and Big Siblings can be excessively picky.  Which means you might want your first contact with Big Siblings to be made through the filter of an officiant at your temple, church or mosque.

If you try the program and find you aren’t ready for this kind of involvement, you can easily drop out.  If you like it and do well at it but still miss your kid like crazy, there’s Step Two.  Call the offices of your county and tell the person answering the phone you want to find out about becoming foster parents.  Yes, foster parents.  They will be weepingly glad to accept you and will welcome you with open arms.  Again, there’ll be various evaluations to make sure you have the moxie, stamina, right motives, right thinking and basic decency to do the job.

The county will go to great lengths to make sure you and your foster kid are a good fit.  During this process, you’ll be presented with several candidates.  You, the kid and the county will come to an agreement the fit is right, then you take the kid into your home and you and the kid are off and running. Also, there is usually a monthly stipend from the county.  And services.  Yes, services; like psychological counselling for both you and the kid — you aren’t left to sink or swim all on your own.

And I must now say this: By being foster parents YOU ARE NOT BEING DISLOYAL TO YOUR DEAD CHILD! After all, if you had, say, three kids and one died, would you not still love, care for and nurture the remaining two?  Of course you would.  No one would think you disloyal.

And this brings us to Step Three: Adoption.  If you’ve fallen in love with your foster kid, and the kid’s fallen in love with you, adoption is clearly the right and logical thing to do.

In healing a child’s broken heart, you’ll be healing your’s too.

The pain you feel now will mellow into fond remembrances.  Not only that, but you’ll have performed a true mitzvah and be eligible for induction to The Order of the Mensch.

And your dead child will be very, very proud of you.



Getting to the Top in a Large Organization

21 June 2016

Sometime ago, a young fellow wanted to know what it would take — what he’d have to do — to get to the top in a large organization.  Were he in a small organization, I would recommend marrying the boss’ daughter, but he wanted to know what to do in a large one so, OK, here goes.

  1. Become an obsequious lick-spittle, an abject toady and a back-stabber.
  2. Attach yourself, like a sea lamprey, to one of the more unbalanced people in upper management who can be your patron, mentor and booster.
  3. Buy a copy of The Prince and follow its council to the letter.

Do these things and you will float to the top.