October 2014 Archives

The Moores Cancer Center in La Jolla

» I went to the Moores Cancer Center today. In La Jolla ( luh 'HOY-uh ). I have actually driven by that road many times .. but never gave the name of the street much thought » Health Sciences Drive ..

The Moores Cancer Center in La Jolla.. because I never had any reason to turn down that particular street.

Until now. Feel me? "So this is what's down here."

Usually I was on my way down to the cove. (I *love* the La Jolla cove.)

Or maybe taking the scenic route down to Humphreys-by-the-Bay ..

.. to catch an outdoor jazz concert while sitting beside the lovely marina there at Shelter Island.

I actually took the Bug's mom to a jazz concert there at Humphreys .. when he was still in her belly. I forget who we saw (because I have seen so many acts there over the years) but I remember having a great time. Hot summer night.

She said he was jumping around inside her belly with the music. Later we moved back to where the music wasnt so loud and he stopped kicking.

Humphreys-by-the-Bay Outdoor Jazz Concerts on Shelter Island, San DiegoSo the Bug has been to Humphreys .. even tho he doesnt know it.

But I am avoiding my subject. My uncomfortable subject.

I dont know where to start .. perhaps because I am a little overwhelmed.

Which is understandable, I guess .. considering.

I was definitely hyper-aware-conscious .. on the ride down there. A one-hour ride .. with good traffic.

I mean, the voice in my head is saying » "Dude, you're going to the Moores Cancer center. A little difficult to ignore that fact .. wouldnt you say? If you forget you can always ask the driver where he is taking you.

Did you notice the word 'cancer' in their name? How can you not? Cancer .. that's what they DO there at Moores. In fact, that is ALL they do. No, they dont make hamburgers. And the REASON that you are going there is because » cancer is what you have.

Just like your mom had. And her father, your grandfather. You know how that turned out. Not pretty. Scary-ugly. And you have the same genes. You look a lot like your mom, if you ask me."

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Rad note » I am calling today's entry its own, separate entry .. but it is actually a continuation of this entry » The Existential No Man's Land Between Biopsy & Diagnosis - Part 2/2.

Beginning a week or two later. Things move quickly once you get diagnosed.

Here is the latest. Biopsies part deux. What I call the » 'chunks-of-flesh' biopsies.

» He lives! Had surgery earlier today. I am actually in no condition to to write. I have a wadded tissue stuffed up my right nostril. By now it is probably soaked with blood .. like the others.

Remind me to discuss the difference(s) in biopsy-methods between "fine-needle aspiration" .. and "chunks of flesh."

No, they dont call today's biopsies "chunks of flesh" .. but they could.

Way back on that (seemingly) fateful day in July .. when the dentist said, "This is not a tooth problem. You need to have a doctor look at this lymph node .. today!"

The day when a (seeming, hopefully, simply) tooth problem became a potential (then an actual, medically-diagnosed) malignant tumor ..

.. uh, it was on that day that a doctor was calling around to other (more specialized) doctors .. asking which route would represent the most bang for the diagnostic buck.

This is where the notions of "fine-needle aspirations" vs "chunks of flesh" first presented itself to me.

If this what I'm discussing here is grossing you out .. think how *I* feel.

Seeing it in Her Eye, Hearing it in Her Voice » My Asian Anesthesiologist

But there is a method to the biopsy-madness, which I may discuss at some other time.

Here is something I learned today » the "Michael Jackson drug" only lasts for a few minutes (depending on the dose, of course). But they use it to knock you out and then they KEEP you out .. with » gas.

[ You learn something new every day .. it seems. ]

I told my anesthesiologist » "If I was gonna be a doctor, I would like to be an anesthesiologist .. taking away people's pain."

The anesthesiologist said » "During your surgery, which is scheduled for an hour, I will stay with you the whole time."

[ That made me feel good. Very good indeed.

Because I passed-the-fuck-out during my previous biopsy, and my surgeon / doctor said » "You stopped breathing for fifteen seconds. I was not ready for that. Good thing that you told me that you were getting light-headed. How much do you weigh, anyway? [168.2] You are heavier than you look. You are solid. Dont do that any more." ..

(.. I am paraphrasing from an obviously compromised central nervous system and therefore memory. But that is (a part of) the gist that I got .. lying there on the floor.) ..

.. which he says as he's mixing up another batch of biopsy receptical-thingie, or something like that.

Most impressive skill-set. A pleasure to watch him work .. even from the freaking floor.

I actually felt safe with him. You can somehow sense competence. It's actually rarer than we-the-people might prefer. Sad to say.

Long Island Boys » A Tribute

Remind me to share with you my tribute about / to » Long Island boys.

My surgeon is a Long Island boy .. now a grown man, of course. He used to run the whole hospital. 'Chief-of-Staff' was the title he held .. rather recently.

But while it may appear that you can take the boy out of Long Island .. well, you know how the saying goes.

I know more than a few Long Island boys .. primarily from the four (4) years I spent station aboard a nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine .. as a reactor plant operator [ Mechanical / ELT ] ..

.. I dont know if the Navy actually PLANNED it this way .. but the Gold crew contained a lot of New England boys .. and the Blue crew contained a lot of Texans. Maybe it just happened that way randomly. Who knows?

Before I document my tribute to Long Island boys .. let me first note that .. if you found yourself a really big pole vault ..

.. and you RAN (real fast) right down the middle of Long Island .. and POLE-VAULTED OVER New York City .. so that you cleared the Hudson River ..

.. you would LAND smack-dab in Hoboken (Springsteen country) .. where the Dog grew up .. overlooking "the City." [ Yes, I have BEEN THERE, both to Hoboken and the City .. with the Dog, who knows his way around .. as you might imagine. ]

So, I ask you .. how different can they be?

Sure, there are differences. You could break-up the group like so:

  1. NYC boys (the Boroughs), which could be sub-divided again.
  2. Long Island boys.
  3. Northern Jersey boys.

[ I have LIVED WITH members of all three groups. ] But there are more similarities. And I find myself focusing on » the similarities.

What ARE these similarities, you ask? Good question. The most obvious similarity is the sense of street smarts that members of all three groups grow up with .. from their environment.

My parents tried to shelter me from the big, bad world. So, when I got away from home, I was not as street savvy as these New York City slicksters. But I learned from them, and they took care of me where I was not doing such a great job myself.

Anyway .. here is what I told my totally-impressive surgeon / doctor » "I know we can't stereotype .. but if we could .. and I had an important job to do .. that I needed to get done .. and they let me choose somebody to help .. from anywhere in the country .. I would choose a Long Island boy. They're smart. They're motivated. They're well-educated. And they're hard-working. They might not talk as pretty as you like .. but they know their shit and they know how to get the job done. And get it done right. At least, that has been my experience. From working all around the country. For a few decades."

He proceeded to tell me some interesting stories from his childhood, growing up there in Long Island, which resonated agreeably with my observation. But I will keep those private. ]

My Asian anesthesiologist .. you could tell that she was smart and knew her shit. You could see it in her eye and hear it in her voice.

She had an awareness that reminded you of a sixth sense, where it seemed like she would read your mind and state plainly exactly what you needed to hear.

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» This page is PART TWO, continued from » Part One. This entry was broken into TWO pages in order to adhere to principles of web site optimization. Here you go...

UPDATE - Saturday the 4th of October » The super-intense (downright exquisite) anxiety of the doctor's call finally wore off last night .. after a glass of chocolate milk and a long, hot candlelit bath. (I slept like krap Thurs night, as you might imagine.)

I woke today at 7 with the sun and got the paper but still felt tired. So I laid back down .. and woke again at 10. Nice. I almost feel normal again.

The neighbors called shortly after I woke the second time (Ralph's wife) to see "how things are going". They are both praying for me. Sometimes you dont really know about people, that they are pray-ers until something like this happens.

I had seen Ralph last week out while we were putting out our garbage cans. We sometimes race each other to see who will put out their garbage first. That is where I told him what is going on with me.

She said Ralph had been bothered when he came back from putting out the garbage cans that day and wanted to hear how things went with my biopsy.

Ralph is 66, but he is the picture of health.

I told her that I am reading » Christ the Healer (1925) .. because that may be my only option. Cuz once cancer has spread .. well, you know.

The book is really just a convenient packaging of all the scriptures that relate to healing. So it is very scriptural. Which I like. Cuz I like to get as close to the source as possible.

This guy (Bosworth, 1877-1958) .. he basically just points you to scriptures. "Look at this," he says. "And this verse, too." And he shares his own personal experiences .. regarding how those scriptures are congruent with his experiences. Rather convincingly .. if I do say so.

For example, the one I am looking at and thinking of right now .. is the verses in the Book of Numbers .. that talk about the bronze serpent. That has really got me thinking .. but not now.

I have always felt good, physically, so I never felt very much need to delve into that aspect of Christianity. But it is there.

But there is a lot contained there. I cant read more than a page or two without having to stop and lie down to think about what I just read.

Tho I can feel a good, calming 'therapeutic' thing flowing into me. It feels like (hard to describe) there is a large tank above me .. a 5-gallon tank .. with a small clear hose coming down to me ..

.. with a petcock in the line .. and when I 'get it' .. when I get what the book/scriptures is/are saying .. the petcock opens a little .. to give me a quick dose of this good, calming, therapeutic solution contained in the tank.

Of course, I want the whole tank. But I am only able to get a little dose at a time right now. But when you are in my situation .. that is enough .. to take the edge off. It definitely helps.

The unbeliever might say that this is just my imagination .. but when you are in the grips of the super-intense (exquisite) anxiety of a death sentence .. and you can hear the sound of Mr. Death sharpenng his sickle .. you will take whatever you can get. Trust me.

This kind of stuff is too personal for me to share here. But this is where I am right now. And I am still alive.

I already have an appt next week for a PET-scan. PET = proton emission. Protons are things that I happen to know a little about.

All in all, beyond the anxiety, I dont actually feeel that bad .. tho I seem to fatigue quickly.

I mean, I dont feel as bad as I do when I have the flu, or even a nasty cold. And I feel light-headed, at times .. particularly when I tire or feel hungry.

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» I had a biopsy yesterday. (Sept 30) My first ever. They suk, so I am not looking forward to any more. The doc said he should have results back from the lab "by Friday or Monday."

So I find myself here in this particular existential no man's land .. represented by the 72 hours between biopsy and diagnosis.

I didnt know if I were going to mention this here. I mean, problems started 4 months ago. So I have been able to keep it secret this long. But everything comes out .. eventually.

I will be honest and tell you that .. one reason why I may be writing about this now (.. timing being important, at times) ..

.. is because I am feeling whacked right now .. ever since I passed out at/during the biopsy. [ Passing out was yet another first for me. ]

What was I talking about?? Oh yeah » feeling very spacey, disoriented, almost confused (.. if such a thing were possible for my ego).

If you have never had a biopsy, I dont want to spoil it for you. So I wont go into any great detail.

But I feel comfortable that most experienced people would concur that it generally "sucks".

For my biopsies he used three small needles and "one big needle". Into my neck. The visual that this paints, I admit, is not pleasant.

On the third small-needle [ after the first two were surprisingly no trouble ] .. on the third small-needle he "hit a vein" and got a little excited.

I did not have the balls to ask him » "Uh, you dont mean the carotid, do you?" .. but I was thinking it. =)

Dude, I tell him from the chair in which I am sitting, "I am starting to feel light-headed."

Now, when I said this, I thought I would be okay. I mean, I have never passed out like that before .. where you wake up on the floor, looking up at the ceiling ..

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