It will be twenty years next month (April 2020) since I received my cancer diagnosis and after three operations, some maiming and an experimental procedure, b’god, I’m still here.
Three years ago, my PSA (prostate specific antigen) started going back up so It was time for action. I made an appointment with an oncologist at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. After our first meeting and a couple of scans, he told sent me to California for a still-experimental test called a Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen (PSMA) scan. This ) scan [shown below] can find metasticies x-rays, CAT scans and MRI scans will often miss. If you want to know more about this PSMA thing, Google it.
Well, dear reader, the scan discloses seven small metastasis crawling up the left iliac chain of the lymph nodes. One within kissing distance of the spine. Not a good sign. The doc said x-rays are out as is the proton beam. He said he has to treat this cancer systemically. In May of 2017, he put me on a medicine named abiraterone acetate along with prednisone. By October 2017, my PSA had become undetectable and the discomfort from the re-grown tumor was gone – the metasticies never hurt, they were too small.
Of course such a thing needs constant monitoring as a beaten-down cancer has a way of getting up off the mat and resuming its mission of killing you so I’ve been going in for a blood draw every month since then. Doc promised me he’d look at the test results as soon as they came in and would call if things weren’t kosker. After almost three years, I got the dreaded call last Monday.
Turns out the PSA was still undetectable; he just wanted to do a timely consult and to tell me this was highly, highly unusual. Normally, the abiraterone stops working within a year, eighteen months tops, and here I was thirty-three months later and the PSA is still zip. “Remarkable”, was the word he used. He also told me that monthly blood tests were no longer necessary and need only be done quarterly. He also told me I don’t have to worry about dying of prostate cancer.
Well Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
I promptly called Jo, gave her the news then went home and poured a double bucket of Scotch, bowled-up and got righteous.
I have had the recent experience of driving some modern vehicles, i.e., Cadillac, Jeep, Toyota, Nissan, F250, Chevy, Mini, Challenger and some others, and I am disappointed. Oh, they’ve got lots of guts, handle well, comfortable and all that. What grinds my gears are the instrument panels. The designs are ghastly.
In all these cars:
The speedometer and tachometer are tiny – about the size of a small coffee cup. The pointer and numerals are a light gray on a black background and difficult to see, especially in the day time.
The speed is displayed on the dial as well as a number displayed in the middle of all manner of obscure things you have to study to make out what they are. We don’t need both – it’s a wast of space in instrument panels that are way, way too small to begin with.
Fuel and Temp gauges are well hidden and tiny. On some cars, they are built into the rims of the speedo and tach and unless someone points them out, you can’t spot them. On others, they are wee bars that are hard to locate and have very poor contrast so are very hard to see.
As for messages, they use a squint-print type face like that used for the footer on a web page. Cannot be read while underway without distracting yourself from what’s taking place on the road. Bad. Way bad.
The radio (called “entertainment centers”) are especial horrors. They were designed at The Lighthouse For The Blind. Flat, glossy touch screens that washout in the most feeble of ambient lighting. What they display are travisties: little thin lines, odd incomprehensible icons and numbers too faint to read. Oh, and you can’t easily find bass and treble; you have to drill down at least three levels in a menu you have to search for on that flat, shiney glass panel.
The climate control is no better. It often shares the ugly glass panel with the radio (Entertainment Center). It uses teensey chrome butons with pressed-in icons to announce their functions (not). One car had seat heaters and, on entering and assuming my position behind the wheel, I bumped the hidden switch turning them on and when my rump was almost burning, could not find that switch so as to turn them off. A most uncomfortable ride.
Someone somewhere decided to vex and annoy the customers with this nonsense but the car sell, so … Well, here’s the one out of a new Caddie.
Jeffery Epstien was a procurer. A procurer of underage and pubescent women and girls. Scum of the earth. A debaucher of the worst sort. Now he’s dead. But did he die by his own hand? Well, I think not. He knew too much.
So who had him knocked-off? My guess: Donald Trump. Let’s look at the facts.
MEANS & OPPORTUNITY Epstien was like an unwanted, pestiferous animal; held captive in a cage, waiting until the executioner comes by. And who might that executioner be? The one man who held the keys to all the cages, Donald J. Trump, POTUS. Does Trump have dedicated acolytes sufficiently dedicated to his mephistophelian person to willingly do murder? Ya sure ya betcha. All POTUS’s do. All POTUS’s have a praetorian guard of some sort.
MOTIVE Epstien and Trump were buddies. Photos show the two as thick as thieves. Birds of a feather, no? Trump has boasted of his unwholesome appetite for his then-underage daughter, saying that if he weren’t her father, he’d “date” her. He surrounds himself with overly-young women. And, good lord, the pictures. Did Epstien procure young, under-age girls for DJT? Seems likely. More than likely.
And then there are all the poo bahs and swells with whom Trump rubbed elbows (and other things). Billionaires galore. What would happen to them if word got out they’d been recorded schtupping little girls, girls Trump’s buddy Epstien obtained for them?
It was a cozy little club, they all knew who the other members were. Businessmen. Politicians. Celebrities. Churchmen.
The worst will be a snuff video of some religious icon killing a little girl as he rapes her. I bet Epstien has at least one.
Since my first episode in 1974, I have been plagued by gallstones. For those of you who don’t know about gallstones, they are the mischievous progeny of the gall bladder. The gall bladder, a small organ tucked under the liver, holds the bile (a fluid) produced by the liver until the gut needs some for proper digestion. The gall badder contracts, delivering it’s content to the gut and proper digestion begins.
Unfortunately gall bladders often times produce gallstones. The are made from stuff that finds its way into the liver and thence to the gall bladder and precipitates, forming stones, much in the way hailstones are formed. They grow with time, never stopping until they are removed. If that’s all they did, there’d be no problem, but they’re mobile and will on occasion, get stuck in the bile duct. The bile duct connects the gall bladder to the duodenum and when clogged by gallstone, the bile cannot pass and the backup pain is excruciating. It’s unlike any gut ache you’ve ever had. It feels like you’ve been rammed in the solo plexus by the blunt end of a telephone pole.
Such an attack is concluded — if it’s concluded — by a violet spasm of reteching whose force is sufficiend to peopell the gallstone down the bile duct and into the duodenum. You can feel the cool, happy gush of the bile and the blessed relief of the pressure. The gall bladder attack is over.
The next attack may never come. You may improve your diet. Exercise more. Drink and smoke less, or better. not al all. But remember the stones that are left behind still grow and one day, the duodenum asks for a sudden jot of bile just as an inadvertent movement — mayhap when extending your reach for the coffee creamer — maneuvered a gallstone precisely in front of he bile duct and, wham, in goes the gallstone and another season of pain is upon you.
You can always tell someone whose stricken by gallstone for they walk in an exaggerated posture; chest out thrust, head laid back as far it’ll go, and the face will be frozen in a rictus of pain, making little mueling sounds and the poor soul will walk like like he’s got a broomstick up his ass.
Lately, mine have become more frequent and worse. Last Thursday one was starting. I tried all my hard-earned tricks to stop it but nothing worked. Oh, yes, it reduced the attack’s intensity to a nuisance that spoiled the evening.
But it stayed with me throughout the night, waking me with heartburn at about 2:30 AM. A glass of milk and a cookie granted some relief and it was back to bed. I awoke at six. It was no better.
Friday is my day off and I had much planned but the gallstone said otherwise. I spent that warm, sunny day in my recliner, nursing by tummy. Friday night too. And Saturday. By Saturday afternoon I was miserable and began to feel the chill of a fever; sure enough, 99.7. Well I’d had enough. It was off to the ER. Jo drove.
The young doctor was dismissive. He thought me a hypochondriac or maybe some old disolute looking for drugs. He went through the motions, including a perfunctory ultrasound and a quick CT scan then came in to see me. “Everything looks OK but I’m going to give you something for the pain, then you can get out of here”, he said, then left. A nurse came in and gave me something for the heartburn (Maalox with lidocaine) followed by a massive hit of IV morphine. The nurse unhooked all the leads, pulled out the IV and put me out on the street. I did get a good night’s sleep. Fever? 100.2.
Sunday was truly a lost day. Blasted out of my head by the morphine, I shuttled between bedroom, bathroom and recliner. Oh, of course the pain of the gallstone was with me constantly. Sunday night fever? 100.4
Monday morning found me pale and hunched, sitting the the table picking at a fried egg. I really hand’t much to eat since the previous Thursday morning so you’d think an nice egg . . . Jo took a studied look at me and announced we were going to the urgent care clinic. We got there just after it opened at 7:30 AM and were shown to an exam room. A cheery young woman proceeded to take my blood pressure. She looked at the read-out and did a double take, then took it again. “I’ll be right back”, she said. In less than a minute she was back with a doctor. The both checked my blood pressure again. It was 73//35! I had sepsis! The doctor grabbed the phone, made a call and I was whisked off to the hospital by ambulance. The same hospital that blew me off Saturday night.
Well this was a different ER crew and in no time I hd IV’s in both arms, was being given two kinds if IV antibiotics, fluids, and meds for the unceasing pain of gallstone. Presently the surgeon came in. She told me I was being admitted and she’d already scheduled me for surgery the following morning, a Tuesday.
These, along with the ruined gall bladder, are the gallstones she removed.
Looks like I had a problem, huh?
This is Friday morning. It’s been a week. I’m on the mend.
PS: I think I’ll go see that young quack from Saturday’s ER visit.
The Hanukkah flames are gone, the Christmas tree lights are winking out and the world is once again quiet — well, sort of anyway.
I play Santa Clause hereabouts. I’ve been doing it for nine years now. 2016 will be my tenth. Sitting on my throne, I get to see a lot of people. And as I’m rotated between several malls, I get to see folks from different areas and demographics. Over this last decade I’ve come to notice America’s changing face. When I was a kid back in Minnesota seventy years ago, the only faces I saw were white ones; blond, blue-eyed with freckles. Oh, in the fourth grade there was an exception: A black girl who joined us in mid-year. She was in my class. She didn’t last long. A few weeks later I was walking onto the school yard one morning and heard frightful ructions coming from the front door’s vestibule.
It seems some of my classmates had the girl cornered in the doorway. This little mob was delivering vicious scurrilities, insults and racial taunts: Nigger, jigaboo, go-back-to-the-jungle-you-monkey . . . It was appalling. I elbowed my way to the front and there was my little classmate, hugging her books to her chest with a look on her face I’ll never forget. I tried to get them to disperse but they were having none of it. Their ringleader was a girl I especially didn’t like. She had one huge black eyebrow that ran across her face from one side to another. I tried to get her to shut up but she kept right on spewing and then turned her attentions to me, whereupon I drilled her right in the snot-locker. That had some effect so I got the door opened and helped the girl get inside. Making some awkward conversation, l accompanied her to the principal’s office.
We never saw her again.
Now it’s 2015 and what a difference. Helping me on the Santa set were “elves” — high school kids of every description and bent and, perhaps most happily, the children of mixed stock. Oriental, Negro, Caucasian, Semite, Native American, you name it. It was as if the adults had been tossed into a . . . well . . . a Melting Pot, if you will, and here were the children.
My elves spoke impeccable English. Their manners were exemplary. When there were dull moments, we chatted and I found all of them had aspirations way beyond pushing a broom in a downtown office building. I fancy myself to be a polymath and I could talk with my elves on almost any subject and they could respond in kind. When I offered new information, they didn’t sneer and turn up their noses as did so many young people of my day. No indeed. Also, as an added benefit, they were of comely appearance. Of course the tykes who sat on my lap to tell me their hearts’ desires were also cast from this same mold.
So then, it seems the “mongrelization of the races” so feared by the peckerwoods, rednecks and stump-jumpers has come to pass and it has turned out to be a wonderful thing! Give this trend two, maybe three generations more and their might well be only one race in this country; the American Race. A new people to be a lamp unto the nations.
Every x-mas season the world’s assholes send out newsy little letters about their families. These letters are filled with bombast and braggadocio designed to rub the recipients’ noses in the authors’ wonderful lives. If you know anyone who feels he or she is one up on you, you have gotten one too. Here is a letter I got in 1999. I thought I’d share it with you.
Happy Holidays, one and all:
Well it’s been another wonderful year at the Farquart house. So much has happened I scarcely know where to begin! How about January? That’s when Freddy was offered a job as CFO at that wonderful new startup, Penwiper.com. The day after New Years, he was approached by the VC underwriting Penwiper’s upcoming IPO. Freddy was first on the A-list of Penwiper’s search committee. Freddy had done such an outstanding job at his old company the president used to refer to him affectionately as “The Chef” because Freddy was so good at “cooking the books” (whatever that means, I’m so naive about all this business stuff).
The pay at Penwiper isn’t too good (only $1.5M/year to start) so the Chairman gave Freddy a $750k signing bonus, plus a contract where he vests immediately in a 8% share of the company and gets lots of options besides. Hoping for the pay-off later on, I believe we can get along on this for a while. (Freddy thinks the bonus might be enough to have Santa leave a mink coat for me under the tree, but we’ll see.)
As for me, my Lexus 400 Coupe acquired a funny little noise in the back somewhere. Freddy, bless his heart, didn’t want me to run the risk of having trouble on the way to Aspen (the kids are so looking forward to lessons from the nice European fellow) that he insisted I get a new Mercedes V-12 sedan. I can’t for the life of me remember the model number, but what’s in a name anyway? It’s just nice to have reliable transportation, let me tell you.
Oh, I almost forgot: The mayor gave me an award at the 4th of July hootinanny in Barfus Park. It seems all the work I did arranging for diaper cleaning service up at Sunny Acres Home for the Financially Disadvantaged made the local paper. When hizoner saw it, he called that afternoon. He’d already received several calls from the families of men who had lost control of their bowels at tax audit time, and who knew of my work – poor things, they even cried when they mentioned my name. I would have sent a copy of the article, but the photo of me wasn’t all the best; the Tiffany ring father gave me upon graduation from Bryn Mar was hidden behind that horrid little pink hat of Jackie’s that our little Jill insists on wearing to public occasions. (You remember; Freddy bought it for Jill on a whim from that dark-haired young fellow who looked so much like Richard Speck. The young man needed the money to buy an airplane.)
Speaking of our Jill, she received letters of acceptance to the pre-med programs at both Stanford and Harvard. Now we have to agonize over which one to accept. Freddie wants her to go out East as he wants to take motoring vacations through the fall colors each year when we drop her off at the dorm. I, however, opt for Stanford as it’s far closer to Aspen, where we can all vacation at Christmas time in the condo Penwiper is giving Freddy as a badly needed perk.
Only one dark blot: We have been having trouble with one of our neighbors. Earlier this year, just before Jill sent applications to a short list of med schools drawn up by our lawyer, she vivisected their wretched little dog. She wanted to have some first-hand knowledge of biology when she went before the application committees – how clever our little girl is – and the horrid neighbor called the police. I tried to explain to these small people just how important a medical education is to Jill, but they won’t listen to reason. As if to try making Jill fell bad about her quest for knowledge, they insisted on burying the remains of their little mutt in a tiny grave by their flower garden where it can be seen from Jill’s window – she gave all the icky stuff back to them without their even asking. I’m so proud!
Freddy wanted to sue them for “busting Jill’s karma” as he put it, but I am the voice of moderation so I vetoed the idea. Instead, Freddy pulled a few strings with another of the Premier Members with whom he golfs at the Skookumchuck Country Club, and got that loutish man fired from his job. I saw a “for sale” sign in their front yard yesterday so this problem should be going away soon. Maybe the new neighbors will do away with the little grave.
I should also mention that little Freddy (he’s is not so little these days), who has been on the accelerated program at Caltech, got his PhD in Astrophysics in June. As you probably remember, little Freddy had such a hard time deciding which way to go. First, Lou Gerstner, that nice fellow from IBM, wanted little Freddy to come to work for him after getting his doctorate at Princeton on a merit scholarship, but little Freddy wanted to give something to the world and just loved all that astronomy stuff. Finally, little Freddy persuaded his friend Lou that his talents can best serve mankind in the hard sciences. Lou was so impressed by little Freddy’s selflessness that he agreed to have IBM endow a chair in little Freddy’s name at a university of his choice. Little Freddy is now doing some post-doctoral research at a place called Sierra Tololo down in South America. He e-mailed us last week telling of this cute little local he met. She comes from a nouveau riche family from someplace in Columbia – a city named Cali, I think – and I understand her family is in international shipping.
Well, I have to get going. The man from the car dealer just called. The little red car I ordered for Freddy (I put it on my Platinum American Express card) has just arrived. I can’t remember the name but it’s Italian and begins with “F”. I hope Freddy likes it; he’s so hard to buy gifts for, you know.
I hope your New Year will be as wonderful as ours. Love and kisses,