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March 12, 2010

Days 22 - 27 - Long Days, Longer Nights

As several of you have gently notified our publisher, we have not posted anything in a while. Had I not the will to document this human experience, I would simply say fuck it and stop typing now.

This was a huge week because Claire was going to be gone two nights and three days in Santa Clara for her work. We must support her not only because she's the sole bread earner but also because she is the life force behind this family. We oblige her in the ways in which she needs obliging. She is a super, human being.

I'll try to bring you up to date starting with Monday the 8th and adventures with PJ. He is a friend from my O'Reilly conference marketing manager days. I remember liking PJ straight away because there was no artifice. He was/is funny and self-deprecating and very intelligent which all seem to work well in a general formulaic sense when it comes to people in general and to people I like and admire in particular.
PJ was my unoffical coach for the AidsRide I did back in 2002 and we've remained in some contact even though we have at times both felt it slipping away. When PJ heard about my illness his words on support were "I'm all over that". Awesome. He drove Monday to the rads in his *sweet* smelling car and again on Tuesday where he not only drove to the rads but also to see Dr Andersen (chemo Dr). But as an added bonus PJ got to take me to a hearing test as well!

The Drs were worried that the first round of chemo obliterated my hearing (which it is known to do, and it has done) but my hearing therapist Nancy was delighted to report that my hearing is "very good, what we expect at age 54." I said that I felt I heard as well as any 30-year-old, but that the difference was in content rather than frequency. She didn't get the joke, but instead offered me her hand, a grim 'you're-going-to-make-it' look on her face, and added these words, "It was a pleasure meeting you Mr Morris, and best of luck to you." Ugh. YACP - Yet Another Cancer Patient. I've seen this scenario played out many, many times with the people I hang out with sometimes.

Some eagerly lap it up like it's the latest dose of the positive vibe medicine that will turn things around for you. Others rather avoid it, the defining moment of receiving the gift must be too much to bear. I'm a little off center. When I get it I am looking into the givers eyes and wanting to know what their experience is and I want to ask, 'Is this moment significant for you?' and get right into our shared assumptions about what the other feels or needs. Awesome.

With PJ it is not like that. PJ is as real as they come and has no problem keeping his eye on the ball. He's the one with the original quote "we take care of our own." I love that and have always loved it and thank you PJ for saying and living it.
On Wednesday dear Noah was on board to take me to rads and chemo. Noah is the Dude and no one is quicker nor smoother on the uptake. Noah had the double duty of crashing on my sofa Tuesday night "just in case". You might recall that it was Noah who stayed in the hospital with me after surgery. Salt of the earth.

The reality of my life right now is that the days are really long and the nights are longer. I can sleep for about an hour then I will wake up with a mouth like the Mojave: dry and full of cactus. I rinse for about 15 or 20 minutes then I can sleep for another hour or so. Sometimes I make it 2 hours before needing to rinse and for that I am grateful.

Chemo. Chemo is bad. Chemo is poison. Chemo kills cancer cells effectively but it kills a lot of other cells effectively. It has laid me out. I am so amazingly tired. This time I am also a bit nauseated too, which didn't happen the last time.

The throat pain is less too which is good because I can continue to hydrate, but food is another story. The taste buds are getting fried too and food is losing its taste. A lot of things taste like cardboard so there is little pleasure in chewing. I can taste strawberry and milk, but bread with butter is similar to paper, and eggs, once the staple on this journey, now make me wretch just at the thought.

The Drs say this is all "to be expected" although they can't tell you exactly what to expect when you start because "everyone is different". Sheesh what a bunch of crap.

I haven't eaten much and weighed myself today at 172. Not good and they're going to be freaking out on my weigh in on Monday's rads appointment. Oh well, I am hydrated and that's the key point right now.

1 more chemo treatment slated for the 31st and 15 more rad appointments scheduled to end on Good Friday. There is a lot to report, but I will leave you with this amazing gift I received from my son Finghín and it's making me cry as I recall it now.
Grandma Teresa collected Finghín from school on Wednesday and he made it home just as I was leaving with Noah for the chemo treatment. He came up to me with a huge smile and said, "Michael I have something for you. It's three rocks!" He had stowed the rocks in his jacket pockets. When he walks home he likes to collect these granite rocks from the path. He says they are rocks that have power.

"Oh, that's great pal, thanks," I said.

"Yeah and this rock," as he hands me the first, "is to help you eat." I looked up at Grandma Teresa and she shrugged indicating she had no idea where this began nor where it was heading. "This rock is to take away the pain," he said as he handed me the second rock.

"And this rock is to take away the worry," and he placed the third rock in my hand alongside the other two. I think all I could do was hug him but I may have said thank you. I'm not really sure because I was so astounded by Finghín's depth and understanding of my experience.

As you can imagine these great gifts from the youngest, the one we assumed had the least understanding of what I was dealing with, had shown the greatest understanding of the heart.

I sobbed in the car and Noah said "That's some kid." He sure is.

Posted by Michael at March 12, 2010 09:56 PM