Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Water, water everywhere

New Orleans, my beloved city, is drowning, and it is absolutely breaking my heart.

I imagine that for many people, it must seem like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah or the fall of Babylon, but for me, it's the loss of my childhood home. Even though it's been more than 20 years since I lived there (if you count the two years I spent at Loyola University in the late 1980's, then it's more like 15 years), I still feel a closer connection to The Big Easy than I do to either Chicago (where I was born, and where the majority of my blood relatives live) or Atlanta (where we moved to after I finished 8th grade in school).

It seems a little bit silly, but for me it's almost as if I'm watching my childhood die right in front of my eyes (via TV and the internet). I take some comfort in the confidence that the people I know and care about there surely did the smart thing and got out before Hurricane Katrina blew through the area. Still, it will never be the same again. Tens of thousands of houses will have to be rebuilt after having been submerged in the flood waters from Lake Pontchartrain and the Industrial Canal.

I was planning to go there in October for a work-related conference, but that is almost assuredly out of the question at this point. It's more likely that my next trip there will be as part of a relief effort with UMCOR (The United Methodist Committee on Relief) than a pleasure trip.

The ironic thing is that for a while it seemed that New Orleans had once again, through its mystical powers, managed to escape the forces of mother nature, only to be surprised by a failure of its floodwalls. I am told that at present the Mississippi River is calm and almost blue in color. For me, it's an eerily unnatural picture of the river; churned-up mud and silt has always been a sign of the city's status as a hub of water-borne commerce.

Friday, August 26, 2005

It's not fair

But who said life was fair?

Why do some guys get testicular cancer and others don't? Some folks have told me it's not fair that I got TC, especially after other troubles I have experienced during my life (mainly, losing both of my birth parents in an auto accident when I was 19 - almost 16 years ago). Others caveat the"it's not fair" bit with a well-meant, but unhelpful, platitude like "God won't give you anything you can't handle".

Taking it a bit further, why do some guys with TC sail right through treatment as I did (relatively speaking, mind you - there were certainly times when I didn't feel like I was "sailing") while Andrew, who has a particularly nasty variant of TC called extragonadal germ cell cancer, has gone through chemo (twice!), lost his prostate gland, lost his bladder, gone through radiation therapy and neutron beam therapy (seriously!) and will still in all likelihood not live to see his 35th birthday? I honestly don't how I would deal with a terminal diagnosis myself, much less explain the situation to three young children.

It's times like these that can lead one to doubt one's faith. I know I would if I were in the same situation, and I'm an amateur theologian! :) I just want to know, "Why?" The answers are never easy to comprehend, but I think the mystery is part of what makes life worth living.

Andrew has been a fighter for the last two years and has been an inspiration for me as I went through my TC experience. I am quite sure sure that he won't stop fighting now and will continue to enjoy life to the full.

Livestrong, Andrew.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Perception vs. Reality

An interesting thing happened the other day. Sarah was talking to a friend of ours who's been going through some rough times as of late. Anyway, they were discussing my little sojourn through cancer canyon and our friend said I seemed pretty angry while I was going through treatment.

Sarah and I were both taken aback at this comment, mainly because I sure didn't feel angry at all. I was definitely intensely focused on my treatment, knowing what I had to do and what I had to put up with after arming myself with as much information as possible. It may have been this particular person was just reflecting what they were feeling inside while going through this turmoil. Then again, my intensity may have looked like anger to those who aren't intimately familiar with my mannerisms.

As I ponder the interpretation of my attitude our friend had I think in retrospect it may have more with our friend's anger and problems in the clear communication department (especially with family and friends), which in turn has given rise to the personal difficulties this person is experiencing. Thankfully this person is now actively working toward wholeness.

Communication is absolutely vital to healthy relationships. I don't want to toot my own horn (TOOT! TOOT!), but if there's one thing Sarah and I do consistently, it's talking to each other and listening to what the other is saying. It heads off lots of problems before they have a chance to really get rolling.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me!

So tomorrow I turn 35. I suppose once you reach 30 only birthdays evenly divisible by 10 count as major events. It's been a hell of an interesting year so far, much more exciting than I would have ever imagined.

The birthday celebrations have started and are expected to continue at least into the middle of next week. Had lunch with a friend today who's going through his own version of hell right now. Tonight is the local Relay For Life (actually the Relay Replay, since the first was canceled for inclement weather), where I'll get to walk the cancer survivors' lap and get a free dinner. I haven't decided which shirt to wear: "Cancer Can Kiss My Ass" or "kcuf recnac".

Tomorrow a friend has invited us to a progressive dinner-cum-drunken croquet party. I have no idea what it will be like. The Rev. will not be participating in the drunken part due to the whole church-on-Sunday business.

No plans for Sunday at present, maybe a nice dinner.

Monday I'll be flying, maybe with a new birthday present (I'm pretty sure it won't be a new plane, though). Then I have a urologist appointment (woo-hoo)! Monday night is the first rehearsal of the season for the chorale.

Sounds like an exciting weekend, no? I don't think so either. However, it beats the first half of the year. I can handle a little less excitement.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


As of Tuesday August 9 Frank no longer has to take COUMADIN®, the formal name for the rat poison (seriously) that he's taken to keep his blood flowin' through the port a catheter. The 15 minute procedure went fine although we were at the hospital for 3 1/2 hours. Someone referred to it as entering the "hospital time zone". I was unselfish enough to wish out loud that I hoped that the person his surgeon was working on before Frank was ok, since it WAS taking so long and all. I also recognize how big it is of me to recognize exactly how "unselfish" I was being as I said it.

Sarcasm can bite, can't it? Seriously, I'm so worn from being in medical situations with him. Not that I wouldn't go to a thousand more with him, and then a thousand more after that if he needed me to. Being willing to go and liking it are two totally different things. I think my impatience is a result of having successfully moved past what has happened and focusing on what the future holds. Did I mention that I'm wearing sun-glasses as I type?

Life is returning to "normal". Frank is working mostly full days and feeling good energy wise. He's grateful for the anti-neuropathy drug that he can take that makes the constant tingle sensation in his extremities calm down enough for him to be able to sleep. He's decided to keep his hair on the shorter side. At least he's said he wants to, if so the boy needs to get a hair cut. (love you dear) I treat him like this even after the trauma I felt as he was loosing it, boy he's lucky isn't he? ;-)

We're talking about maybe doing a mission trip in the future; by his own admission it may be next summer or fall before he's ready to tackle something like that.

In the mean time he's helping me find a vacation spot where a girl friend and I can escape to at the end of January. As I wondered if my cell phone would work, say in Mexico, he instructed me that I will be leaving my cell phone behind. He rarely makes any kind of ultimatum, so I guess I will have a few days w/out my little silver life-line to the rest of the world.

As Emily Saliers says in the song, Get out the Map, “I'm gonna clear my head I'm gonna drink the sun” Mexico here I come. I did add that last bit.

You’d think with the heat around here of late (it’s only 96 degrees outside right now) that I’d be making plans to visit a cooler climate…

Thanks for checking in on us.

The Rev.

Monday, August 01, 2005

A line from my book of pickup phrases

I forgot to mention that when we were in Kansas City celebrating Sarah's birthday, I had a flash of brilliance (the mojitos probably helped) and leaned in close to Sarah and said,

"You know, when I'm with you, I forget that I can't feel my fingers and toes."

Ahh...true love...the kind that makes your loved one shoot wine out her nose!

Keep on truckin'

Had my first post-RPLND CT today, as well as labs. Sarah started freaking out last night, "What if there are spots in the pictures? I told her, "Well, then I guess I'd be a leopard." She stopped talking about it after that.

As for today's pictures, they look good now that the "cancer leftovers" have been removed. Everything looks stable, including that one-time potential trouble spot in the lower lobe of my left lung.

Honestly we did more chit-chat w/ Dr. V. and nurse G. about life in general than talking about cancer; nice to feel mostly back to normal...There was of course that damn bump on my head that showed up about 5 minutes after they started pumping the contrast dye into my veins. So wonderful feeling like I'm wetting myself while my head sprouts a horn. They both chuckled at Sarah's comment regarding the cruel nature of removing a man's testicle and then surgically placing an arrow (the scars) on his body to point out the fact that it is gone. This is quickly becoming her favorite TC joke, but it makes me a little “testy” (which is her second favorite TC joke).

We did talk Dr. V about getting "Harry the Bastard" (the port-a-cath) out and he agreed it would be OK, so that'll be the next exciting thing. The best part about getting Harry out is that I can finally quit the coumadin I've been taking daily for the last 6+ months.

But, of course, I couldn't just give up one medicine without starting another now, could I? The neuropathy has been causing me problems at night, especially when trying to sleep, so I'm starting on Neurontin, which won't do anything about the numbness but will stop the pain receptors in my extremities from firing at random like they do presently. Hopefully this will help, and hopefully the neuropathy will eventually ride off into the sunset. The drug isn't cheap, even as a generic ($75 for this round, but I'll go the mail order route after since it's quite a bit cheaper), but if it helps it will definitely be worth it.