Hurry, Hurry, Hurry, Before I go Insane

November 24, 2006

I have a secret. A terrible, disturbing secret that could ruin any potential career in conservative political circles: I love The Ramones.

Ok. Anti-climactic. It’s not like they’re Slayer or Twisted Sister (although that may be more of a problem in Al Gore’s office. I’m looking at you, Tipper). Sure they had their political moments, and Joey was a leftist. But hey, Johnny refused to play Bonzo Goes to Bitburg (a anti-Reagan riff, for the uninitiated) in concert after he put two and two together.

I’m not quite sure what it is about the band. Certainly it isn’t their musicality. They use more or less the same three chords in all their songs. But what three chords! And simply put, they rocked. Now that I’ve reached the level of being a mediocre guitarist and finally had the opportunity to jam with a drummer, I fully understand why they went through four drummers. The longest break we took in our jam was after playing “Blitzkrieg Bop.”

Maybe the appeal was in challenging all the political punk rockers during high school. Sure they had their political moments, but the fact that the two creative engines of the group were on opposite ends of the spectrum indicates that the band was about something more than that. It was about a certain spirit, a certain never-say die attitude. 180 beats per minute for two hours. Wow. Their music was always moving forwards, regardless of the lyrics. You could just feel it leaning. The same way a great blues band leans back, the Ramones leaned forward. No-they didn’t just lean. They pushed. They stood in front in our great cultural wall and pushed. With their feet firmly planted in the rock and roll past, they created something new from that same energy. Even today, it’s simply kinetic.

So why does this all matter? Simply put, I misinterpreted a lyric of theirs when trying to come up with a title post, and I needed material. The lyric in question? “I can’t control my fingers, I can’t control my toes” I thoughout it was TINGLING in my toes.

Now why is THAT important? Well, for starters, Joey Ramone died of Lymphoma (albeit of the non-Hodgkin’s kind). Secondly, this is a new symptom that has manifested itself. That’s right: tingling. Imagine your foot constantly falling asleep. Now imagine that it falls asleep ONLY in your heel and your toes. Sounds pretty annoying, eh? This is what I was facing on my way to chemotherapy today.

Again, not too much to report. The only real news is of the bad variety: Apparently some of my veins have decided that want no more of this chemical chicanery. The practical implication of this is that I had to have my nurse try my right arm first, as the left one appears to be getting red and sore around the main injection site. Bad move. Now I have a bruise on my right arm, and I had to get stuck twice on the left. But otherwise, everything else went fine (if not slow; I went in at 8 and wasn’t out till at least 3). Plus the cafeteria had catfish. Delish.

Right now I’m dealing with the usual Friday Night Fun of nausea, but I have yet another sleeping medication to try. So maybe there will finally be some rest for the weary. Good; I’m going to need it for the final dash to the finish of the semester. If you’re of the praying persuasion, save one for my Comparative Politics paper, alright? Alright.


It’s been such a long time

November 18, 2006

My apologies for the lack of a post since Election Day, but I have my reasons. First of all, I’ve discovered that although cancer tends to shatter one’s usual routine, it brings a replacement routine with it. Naturally, it’s a bizarre one, filled with needles and drugs with almost unpronounceable names and constant appointments, but the fact of the matter is after about a week the whole experience of having cancer develops a certain rhythm to it. Such is the case with my chemotherapy: needle in, drugs in, and I’m out the door for a weekend of nausea and sleeping. I know I have my fans, but to be honest, I can only squeeze so much drama out of each treatment. So frankly, I didn’t have a lot to talk about after last weekend, which I suppose is a good thing. I’ll spare you an overview of my nausea.

The other reason for posting is that I did not have that great of a week. Not only did I have two papers due, but I was also trying to ease myself on to a new sleep medication. Stress really built up, and by the middle of the week I was a bit of a mess. On Tuesday, I had to walk out of my first class, and during my second class I had become so ill that I switched to a run out of that class. I was so disoriented that I ended up getting ill to an audience of one in the lobby of UVA’s exquisite (ok, so it faces the stadium and is blocked by some steam generators). Not my proudest moment. I spent the rest of the week trying to get my act together and think I did; all I really know is that I am now at home for Thanksgiving (so if you’re thinking about sending me correspondence, please be advised I will receive it quickest at my parent’s address through the weekend after Thanksgiving).

I had a doctor’s visit yesterday. Well, actually, it was meant just to be bloodwork, but because of some ailments that developed through the week a full check-up was required. Dr. Densmore’s LNP Hayley checked me out, looking at my mouth for the pain and sores that I’ve been experiencing. She gave me some prescriptions, one of which oddly could only be made at Walton and Smoot. As for the bloodwork, my numbers were back up, but again, caution prevails.

Allow me to apologize once more for a lack of posting, but I’ll be trying to get back up to speed. Keep in mind, though, that we’re coming upon exams, which have always been a challenge for I, the master of procrastination, an experience that will be amplified by the needs of my current condition.

One shout out though: Since I am going to be in town for the week, drop me a line at craig.orndorff@gmail.com and maybe we can do lunch of something. And of course, I’ll be free later in December. Still, I’d love to see some of the people that I know are counting on me, and I want to show them they won’t be disappointed.


Touch and Go

November 7, 2006

Although (as with last time) this weekend was practically symptom free (although I was tired, as usual, but again, I never know what’s cancer and what’s college), today brought a mixed bag of news. Ok, so I guess the only actual news was good, while the downer was more of a realization. But enough nitpicking.

I had bloodwork done today to certify that I’ll be able to proceed with my next treatment. Although it took a bit longer than usual (I actually had to have my parking validated, as it was over an hour), the news was quite welcome. All my numbers were good, but the best one was my nuetraphil count. This is the one that determines the degree of my neutropenia. As it turns out, it was at 1500. While it needs to be at 2000 to be completely out of the woods in regards to infection, it was far higher than the 500 threshold for treatment. This also means that I’ll no longer need to run out a room screaming at the sound of someone sneezing; I can just hide under my desk from now on.

Now for the bad part. From the very beginning I’ve been assured that I would lose my hair; it’s just the nature of one of the drugs (adriamycin). I even went ahead and cut my hair in anticipation. Still, I can’t say that was thrilled with the prospect of being bald. Everyone knows that I’ve always depended on my looks to pay the bills…..in the sense that someone pities my terrible haircuts and gives me a tip to help rectify the situation. All kidding aside though, I have an interesting history with my hair. All through my childhood I was plagued by constant cowlicks, but I always kept my hair in more of a, well, typical little kid style. However, around 12, I got a buzz cut for the summer. It was so much easier to keep. Combine this with the fact that my mother could actually perform this sort of maintenance and that, for me, puberty brought a precipitous decline in my interest in all things “fashionable” (I guess it’s the geek gene), I just never went back. At times it could become unwieldy; if I went for too long I developed what was distinctly labeled “the poof.” Not quite an afro, as my hair is straighter than most rulers, but there was a distinct sense of “body” or whatever hair stylists use to describe just plain thick hair. Still, the style worked, as it helped undergird my credentials as an upstanding young man or a pretentious jerk, depending on your age. However, after graduating high school I lined up all my yearbooks to my page, leading me to coin the new adage “The more things change, the more Craig stays the same.” However, I never really pushed the issue. My mother seemed to enjoy cutting my hair, and college made me even lazier in regards to fashion. However, I kept missing in the field of romance, and suppose in my delusional state developed the one condition I had hoped to never have: vanity. Yes, I actually believed that perhaps my run of bad luck was not due to the fact that I lace my conversations with Simpsons references, or that I know of both John Anderson the Singer and John Anderson the politician, or that I still listen to vinyl records. No, I figured that, rather than simply having a unique personality that is simply hard to match, it surely had to be my appearance, specifically my 50’s high school football coach hair, that was impeding my success with the opposite sex. So I decided to let it grow, along with an ill-advised attempt at growing a beard. While the beard quickly succumbed to pressure from, well, everyone, the hair stayed. And I was satisfied. I thought it gave me a somewhat more professional look. But alas, it was not to be, because right when I had it where I wanted it, with a nice little “geek peak”  just peering over the edge of my head, I found out I’d be needing chemo.

As I’ve said, I’m not generally one to obsess over my hair. Particularly now that I’ve determined it really wasn’t my hair after all. But there’s still something unsettling about washing what little hair you do have and having your hands covered in follicles. Also, one hair or two is perhaps to be expected on a desk. But the entire area beneath your keyboard should not be layered with it. The real conundrum is that I don’t know how to approach baldness. Since I’ve always had a head of, shall we say, a peculiar circumference, I’ve never been able to find a hat that fit properly. Yet I’m just not sure if nothing up top is going to look right either. But that’s a problem for later.

For right now, I’m going to abuse the platform that I have with a wide swath of people and remind everyone to VOTE TOMORROW. I care not for whom you choose; certainly I have my opinions, but the glory of our country is that I can not only posess such opinion but also act on them. Indeed, we all can, and for that reason alone we should hold tomorrow as a celebration of Democracy, just not a day with an assigned task. I could go on and on with high minded rhetoric about how people have no right to complain if they don’t vote, but there’s no need. You know the choice. Make it.

As an aside, one upside of this whole ordeal is set to reveal itself tomorrow. In the past five years of being involved in politics, I’ve never been able to celebrate Election Day in the manner I’ve always wanted: my own personal Christmas. I know, geeky, but seriously, it’s just a really special day for me. Every year I’m completely floored by the fact that we live in a country where we can have a peaceful transfer of power with a full airing of the issues. For some people Election Day can’t come soon enough, with all the ads and calls and tension. But I relish the day. I just get a swelling feeling whenever I hear CNN’s Election Coverage theme music; my penchant for drama and narrative simply cannot resist the spectacle of Election Night. I have to admit I feel guilty that I’ve been able to add little to the cause this year, but I hope to be back in the swing of things soon enough. Besides, sometimes a break can remind people of why they do what they do in the first place.

Oh well. Enough for now. Busy day for tomorrow, then a long night. Best wishes, and remember: VOTE!