Monday, October 20, 2003

Okay. This is gonna be a long one. So brace yourselves.

This past weekend was horrible. I had a chemo pump hooked up to a tube coming out of a vein in my right arm. The pump slowly injected a saline solution into me all weekend long. 'cer-chunk, cer-chunk, cer-chunk' all day, all night. To accomplish this, I had to carry a black bag with 2 litres of saline (changed once) from Saturday at 3, till Monday at 9:47am. Just the thought of the needle coming out of me made me increasingly more nauseous as the weekend wore on. By Sunday night I was vomiting every 30 minutes, on schedule. Ker-Chunk, Ker-Chunk. I know most of it was in my mind, but that is still part of this.

The great news is my pal Eileen drove me to the doctor's this morning, (and knit me a warm hat) and we got the hep-lock tubing and associated assembly out of my arm.

Where to start, What to describe first? Where to begin? Okay, I said this was going to be long and rambling, so it will be.

Divorce: Until now, the worst failure of my life was my Dee-vorce. I was in a realtionship for 5 years with a woman who did not comprehend the idea of "other people" and it pretty much went downhill from the moment we got married. I fought really hard to make it work. I tried counselling, I tried giving her anything she wanted, I tried to become someone else, hoping that guy may please her. In the end, I had to admit defeat, and get a divorce. I still see that as a large failure. I could not make it suceed.

To understand my degree of failure, and remorse, there is a story. And you have to understand the story, to realize WHY I was able to make the decision I needed to.

All my life growing up, if something was too difficult, Mom let me quit. Just Quit, do something else. I rarely finished anything. Then after college, I trashed a motorcycle, and part of my body, and decided to deal with it as an adult. I finished what I started. From then on, PIT BULL! I would finish anything, Just dig your teeth in, and GROWL and GET the job DONE. Divorce was the next thing I quit

A Beautiful Miracle: In December of 1999, one of my best friends, Jim Learmonth, and his wife Alva had a baby daughter. Maya. I was at the hospital. Moments after Maya came out, they let me hold her. I was holding, in my hands, with my long shaggy hair, and blue flannel shirt, a FRESH OUT OF THE OVEN BABY. Not just any baby, but the baby of my roommate, confidante, and close and dear friend. (3 guys in Austin, Jim, Chris and Joe, they are my brothers, nuff said)

I was looking into Maya's tiny little face, and realized, this is the greatest thing any of us will ever do. NEW LIFE. A new beginning, A new chapter in our history. And here, my best pal is standing around dumfounded, cause he realizes, he and Alva have just done it. For me, at that moment, I realized, Cars, houses, money, status, jobs, power, all worthless. Raising a kid is the hardest, best, most brilliant thing anyone can do. And here is one in my arms. I would still give up anything I have to make her smile. She embodied all that was good and wonderful about the world.

She's still a pretty cute kid. Though I am overdue a visit.

A Party and revelation: So on December 31st, 1999, Jim and alva had a small New Years Party at their house. Rona (the EX) and I had 2 stops. Jim and Alva, and my pal Ran & Bernice (friends of OMJ). We stopped at Jim's, and everyone was carousing and congratulation, and at some point, one of tha aunties brought Maya downstairs to visit the crowd. When she got close to Rona, the EX shrieked, backed away, and said "get IT away from me".

Everyone in the room was stunned. How could a human NOT like a baby? And have a violent reaction?

Of course, it was time to excuse ourselves, say some goodbyes and head over to Ran & Bernice's.

I may not have all the following quotes exact, but this is the general discussion in the car, that turned my mind. She said "when I saw the baby, I just wanted to grab it by the heels, and smash it's brains out on the wall. "


"You know, to save it from all the pain and misery people have to go through in life, just kill it there"

At which point, my vision of her changed. She no longer had a sharp face, glasses, and strong chin. She looked like some kind of drooling lizard-thing, hunched over the steering wheel, bat wiings, fangs, flickering forked tongue, bile spewing from every orifice

HOW could someone NOT understand how perfect and beautiful and amazing life is? How could someone have such a sick, twisted, bleak outlook on life. And if she EVER threatened that perfect baby.....

Signs By the time we got to Ran & Bernice's, I had all the signs I needed. During the previous month, on my Sunday motorcycle rides, I would be unhappy, coming back to the ranch, looking across the double yellow lines at oncoming trucks, and thinking "I am going 120, he is going about 75, if I change lanes, I'd never have any of this pain again" Of course I sobered up in time, every time.

Purging But that was a sign. And the reaction at Jim's. I knew. We got to Ran & Bernice's. I said hello to those I cared about and loved. Then I went out into the backyard and began vomiting. Not beer, not sick, just all the pain that had built up over the past 5 years. It was like purging out of me. And I knew what I would need to do. I had to get away from this person. She was killing me.

The divorce was final in July of 2000. Close to my birthday. Pretty amicable even, I kinda walked away. She still wants me to repay her "the $7k attorney's fees I asked for. $7k. And we can still be friends. I was not entitled to that money."

There are a bunch of stories that happened in those months that really need to be written down.

She hates me, every so often I get just hate filled emails, or whatever. Me, I actually still worry and care how she is doing. I stupidly hope she will be okay. And I realize it is because I invested so much of my life in trying to make things work, that I still care. That caring is part of who I am. Friends would be nice, or an occasional birthday card, or the photo albums with the last pictures of my grandmother, but nah, not gonna stress. I am a caring person. If I wasn't, I could easily walk away. But I would not like who I was

So okay, that was divorce. That was hard on me. That was 5 YEARS of my life. That was pain and misery.

Compared to Chemo, Divorce was a 25cent game of skeeball at the amusement park.

Chemo. I know I am going to survive. 98% chance of survival. If I could get those numbers in Reno, I would be there right now. 98%. In December, this will be over. And I will be able to move ON with my life.

C'mon, you went through 5 years of hell, what's a few months?

It is impossible to explain all the hard parts of chemo. Emotionally taxing, physically abusing, mentally draining, and we don't EVEN want to discuss how hard it is on a relationship.

Needle Hatred: I hate all forms of needle. Having the hep-Loc in my arm was like looking down, seeing a clear tube, but imagining a giant spider, an icky Brown Recluse Spider with massive claws and fangs and pinchers, slowly digging into my veins, and working it's way up them, headed to my heart. Spewing poision the entire way.

When the chemo pump sprays saline, you feel each pulse, chugging up your arm. Saline, the hydration of this weekend, is cold. So your whole arm is freezing. But if you put it under covers, you snag the line, and when you move it pulls, just little tugs, but there it is biting at you again.

When it sprays Chemo, it is hot. The Cisplatin has to go in slowly, or the heat from it will actually make you squeal in pain. That's done at the clinic. The nurses there can slow it or speed it, and help your comfort. No, this weekend was home alone. All my nausea was in force.

I could not eat. Just the thought of food going in makes me know it is about to come out. Sara bought me a raspberrey filled doughnut on Saturday morning. I had raspberry bile till Sunday night. No, you do not want to eat. And even though you know you SHOULD drink, it is hard. Cold water comes right up, lukewarm water is hard to get down. Sports Drinks, well, yeah, maybe, you can just try.

But the pump is chugging away, ker-chunk, ker-chunk, filling you with saline. The sound ringing in your oversensitive ears, also making you nauseous.

Every half hour, get out of bed, gather the pump, the bag, and all the tubing, make sure you are not caught on anything. Stagger to the bathroom, set the pump on the ground and decide, shich end is it coming out of. Sit or Squat, something liquid and forceful is about to painfully exit your body.

Brush your teeth. Bile rots the enamel on them. Most Bulemic girls have to have dental work because of this t some point in their lives. Brush. Mouthwash. And it starts. I have a sore spot on the upper right side of my mouth, and my inner lower right lip has a tear. These will not heal, because my white blood counts are so low. I have to keep them clean so they do not get worse.

Today I picked up a special mouthwash and some antibiotics that will help with this.

Sleep does not come. You know, every 30 minutes. So you lay flat, watching the clock, and thinking, maybe I could hold it for 45 minutes.

The telephone sounds like a klaxon. I do not know what the hell they want, and I am not gonna answer it.

Hair At 4am Sunday, after a very hard purge, I am brushing my teeth, crying, and I wipe my face. My beard hair wipes off with my hand stroke. The Etrophocide has affected my hair in wild ways. All the hair on my head thinned, then we clipped and finally shaved it. It is not really growing back in, but there is stubble.

I shaved my chest hair, it is blank still.

My eyebrows are thin, but still there. My eyelashes, seem normal

My pubic hair all turned grey and fell out.

But my beard kept having stubble and growth. Till last night, when it started rubbing off in chunks. Maybe a hot shower today and scrub sponge will help finish that off.

Arm and leg hair is thin, but still there. Oddly.

The veins in my wrists are tender from poking, and the nurses say they are starting to get "ropey" and hard to hit. Maybe this week off will help.

Line So in the midst of all this, last night, I am thinking all the thoughts. I KNOW it is gonna be over. I know the pain is temporary. I KNOW there is a finish line. I know I will survive.

But it is still hard.

then I think some [ositive thoughts. Cause I KNOW Positive energy will save me. Positive Mental Attitude will be the ONLY thing to get me through this.

Maya Learmonth. She is a reason for living. She saved my life once already. She told me to get away from the flaming Iguana Rat-thing. She told me to reclaim my life, and get back to living it.

Sara Jane Hammer. She is a reason for living. She loves me. And even though we have some difficult times, she tries to learn to work WITH me to make our relationship grow.

Sara's Family. They send cards and gifts, they send good wishes. I am blessed.

My Family. without them, I would not be here.

Then, the kindness of my freinds. I got an email from Joe's parents, wishing me well. Wow, that was nice.

AND, I got a positive, happy email from my sister. I love my baby sister, she is one of the greatest people in the world. But she has been known to say some nasty things in the past. I think she is maturing and changing. She said it so well, I need to just quote it. This thought helped me:

"Joe and Natalie brought little Giselle. She's now moved from being a baby to being a toddler and it was really neat to see her looking around the room. I can't tell which parent she favors, but hopefully she'll take after Natalie-- who hasn't aged in 10 years. My biological clock is ticking a bit, so I think all babies are precious BUT Giselle is especially beautiful. "

My sister thinks one of my best freind's child is especially beautiful, and his wife has not aged in 10 years! WOW!
so I thought about Joe and Natalie and Giselle, another perfect little miracle. Life is special, and kids are the key.

So then I thought about Chris and Chelle, and my main man Zack Thomas, who is now 16 and can drive a car. Wow again. I remember when Zack was about 4, and afraid of monsters.

Life has some powerful good things in it. And I know, going through this chemo is one of the hardest parts of my life. I am sick of "building Character" and "Learning Life's Lessons". I want the good stuff. and I want it NOW.

But I know, till December, more sick, and more pain, and more misery. When people ask me how I am doing, and get better and all that, all I can think of now is "I will be better in December" thanks for the good thoughts.

Anyhow, I rambled. Lots of stuff, Hope any of it is good. I will try to answer some emails now, and get some replies in, and drink this yummy Jamba Juice I bought on the way home. I bet I can keep it in too!

This is suposed to be my 2nd OFF Chemo week. We will see how stong I can get, and how social I feel.

I am thinking I will be better in December. I want to go to Texas to visit over the holidays, Check on my grandma's stove restoration, see pals, Then In July Jack will be 50 and I will be 40. We are going to Cork, Ireland to celebrate with his mum.

Somewhere in between there, I am thinking of a weekend gathering in San Jose. Maybe a Track Day for bikers on Friday, then rides in the hills and parties all saturday and sunday. For everyone. But that's a dream for a ways off.

Thank you all for your good wishes. I could not do this without my friends

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