Saturday, June 27, 2009

Brains, doctors

Laurel went with me yesterday to see my oncologist. We learned that the dose of the chemo that I'm starting with this month--today, in fact--will be the dose I'll continue with over the next two years, if I take the Temodar that long. So if I am going to have any side effects, they'll kick in this time. Which is good to know.

But the most interesting thing he had to say was when we asked him a question my acupuncturist asked me to ask: Can I take herbs while I'm on the Temodar? Can she prescribe traditional Chinese medicine to supplement the chemo? His answer was what I thought it would be: It depends on the herbs. However, I was impressed by how enthusiastic he was about me combining the chemo with acupuncture, and I said so.

He told us that when he'd been a resident, he'd worked with an ER doctor who had a brain tumor "like yours," he said. "A glioma." And this doctor was using acupuncture as an alternative treatment. It was working for him--so well that he quit western medicine, went to China to study acupuncture, and then became an acupuncturist himself.

"He's still alive and doing well," my doctor said. "Of course, it wasn't exactly like your tumor, every tumor is different and responds differently to treatment..." and he went on like that so I wouldn't sue him if acupuncture didn't heal me.

Regardless, hearing that story made my day.

Yeah, hope is a good thing. Hope and acupuncture. And friends who go to the oncologist with you. Thanks to Laurel, Megan, and Andy, who have all filled this position on this go-round. Thanks to Laurice, Claudia, Lauren, and everybody else who's accompanied me to all these appointments over the years. Nick who's met me at the emergency room, Rana who's taken me home from the hospital not once but several times... Yeah, this brain tumor is a pain in the butt. But I'm a lucky person.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Songs in Your Head

Some of us always have a soundtrack playing in our heads. I'm curious what songs are on your soundtrack. I discovered yesterday that "Abigail, Belle of Kilronan" (Magnetic Fields) is one of Megan's default soundtrack-in-her-head songs. "Papa Was a Rodeo" (also MF) is one of mine. My main default music, though--what I call up to to get other songs out of my head--is the medley of songs on the second side of Abbey Road, from "You Never Give Me Your Money" through the end of the record. (It's an album I grew up listening to on vinyl, dancing to in the living room, carefully, so it wouldn't jump--so it doesn't feel wholly pretentious, just feels right to refer to the second side of it.)

Billy Joel's "Allentown" shows up remarkably frequently, unsummoned. I have to think about it some more to identify the other major players.

Please post yours as a comment? Thanks.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

I never posted the Anne Blythe (née Shirley) quotes I'd dog-eared. But here they are. Two of them.

In Anne of Avonlea, 16-year-old schoolmarm Anne has a favorite student, another kindred spirit. Paul Irving, who lives with his grandmother, "the old Mrs. Irving," has an inner life that keeps him going, just as Anne's got her through her childhood--and keeps getting her through her life, even now when things are generally happier than before she went to live with -- and Matthew. Paul has special friends... Anne asks him, "'If I were to go to the shore some night with you do you think I could see your rock people too?'

"Paul shook his head gravely.

"'No, I don't think you could see my rock people. I'm the only person who can see them. But you could see rock people of your own. You're one of the kind that can. We're both that kind. You know, teacher,' he added, squeezing her hand chummily. 'Isn't it splendid to be that kind, teacher?'

"'Splendid,' Anne agreed, gray shining eyes looking down into blue shining ones. [And here Ms. Montgomery goes off into one of her poetic bits.] Anne and Paul both knew

How fair the realm
Imagination opens to the view,

and both knew the way to that happy land. There the rose of joy bloomed immortal by dale and stream; clouds never darkened the sunny sky; sweet bells never jangled out of tune; and kindred spirits abounded. The knowledge of that land's geography . . . 'east o' the sun, west o' the moon' . . . is priceless lore, not to be bought in any market place. It must be the gift of the good fairies at birth and the years can never deface it or take it away. It is better to possess it, living in a garret, than to be the inhabitant of palaces without it."


From Anne of Ingleside, published 1939

Diana: “Now, Jack is crazy to be a soldier when he grows up . . . a soldier! Just fancy!”

Anne: “I wouldn’t worry over that. He’ll forget about it when another fancy seizes him. War is a thing of the past.”


There was also a lot of incredible, tedious description. Which I skimmed, as a child.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Life Events, Still. Continued. Ongoing.

I've been through round one of chemo now, five days of Temodar, a pill each night before bed. My hair didn't fall out, I didn't barf, I took a couple days off and laid around but am still not sure I needed to. Maybe there was some fatigue, but it could have also been just ("just") end-of-school-year-eighth-grader-madness and almost-time-to-close-on-my-first-house-and-move and mother-visiting-to-"help" and hoping-I-have-a-job-next-year-through-the-recession (found out yesterday that I do! confirmed!), as much as chemo side effects. Always hard to isolate any factor.

I wrote this last week but didn't post it: "I am continuing to think about mortality in a very different way... but I am also thinking that if I can't be Alice Munro, it would be just fine to be Flannery O'Connor, minus the moving home to live with mom, and minus the peacocks. Also minus the Catholicism. And minus the lupus. Really just the dying younger than Alice Munro part might be something I can deal with--Flannery was 39."

I continued, "This is morbid. I don't mean it that way. Point was supposed to be, you do what you can with what you have. Which doesn't even sound morbid, just cliche."

I didn't post it because of the cliche-ness, and also because it's not really true. I am not at all resigned to the idea of dying any younger than... I don't know. Than Alice Munro, I suppose. Because she's still alive. I don't want to not die. But I am nowhere near ready. I don't even want it to be something I need to think about, something that is part of my daily life. I have to figure out how to just live past it, without it being too present. Also, 39 is less than seven years away. Fuck that. I have too much to do.

But I'm here, now, so. I'll keep living till I don't. SHRINK, tumor, SHRINK! (Join me in a rousing chorus, please! Those of you who pray, I'd appreciate some prayers in this direction.)


[I still don't know how I feel about this entry. It kind of makes me wish I did still make zines. Maybe it's time for another one. & yeah, it wouldn't be altogether inappropriate to call it Hope, now would it.]

Thursday, June 4, 2009

More insights from the students

From a student essay, one of a number of author study essays about Rachel Cohn and David Levithan:

In the book “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”, another stereotype about homosexuals is taken away. That stereotype is that all homosexuals are the same—Shy and quiet. Well in this book the lead singer in Nick’s band, Dev, is really out going and the farthest thing from shy. Oh yeah and did I mention that he’s gay? Despite being a party animal he was able to give Nick really good advice in order to help him “Get the girl” so to speak based on the Beatles first hit single “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”. Another funny thing about Dev is that he is a major flirt and has had a lot of boyfriends. Dev is very different from Tohm (he added the H) who is not quite as outgoing and has one steady boyfriend. Therefore this disposes of both stereotypes that I stated earlier.


I am curious about, fascinated by my eighth grade students' stereotypes about gay people. Well, some of them. The stereotypes belonging to the girls who are reading Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.