So far, I just can’t see….

Eleven down, one to go. That’s right, today was (hope of hopes) my second to last chemo. As to be expected, it was quite an ordeal to get an IV in. After several rounds of use (due to the early retirment of my right arm thanks to the discovery of a clot in my right arm), my left arm has now atrophied to a degree. They had to move up to my elbow, which although it required three pricks, turned out to be quite the charm. Apparently contrary to what they said earlier THEY can use the veins near the elbow when need be. Also, as it turns out, I get far less burning from the dacarbazine when the IV is placed up higher. Usually we have to go with a drip rate of 150; today, we were able to zoom along at 275, meaning I was able to leave the hospital by 2:30. Outstanding.

Now, the usual. A little nausea tonight, maybe some heart burn tomorrow. Plus we have the continuing problem of my jaw pain. It seems to settle in earlier and leave later now. As a matter of fact, I was in a good bit of discomfort last night, but I had to conserve my percocet. My LPN is unsure why the pain has gotten so intense, given that jaw pain is only a relatively rare side-effect from the vinblastine to begin with. She suggested watching it once treatment ends (MARCH 16th!) and then seeking the counsel of a dentist (Dr. Helsley, I’m looking at you.)

And so it continues. I’m a little fatigued for anything profound, but I’ve had plenty of revelations. Maybe I’ll get them together for next time. Of course, why put it off? Spring break IS this week.

That’s right. I’m on break through next Sunday. I’ll be in Woodstock the whole time. My body (and my wallet) are not up to disembarking for any exotic locale at the time being. Besides, “exotic” for me usually means the Wax Museum down in Virginia Beach. And I don’t even like wax museums. I’ve always had a problem with such a still depiction of real individuals. I have this conception of people as vibrant, dynamic, and to see even a depiction of them caught still in space has always greatly troubled me. I don’t have a problem with photographs. Oh sure, I may get misty eyed or smile depending on the subject, as would anybody, but photographs for the most part of depicitions of events. Still people, outside of the context of an event, dare I say, frighten me, as I consider people and events nearly inseperable. When a person is completely immovable, withdrawn from reality yet there nevertheless, well, I consider that troubling. This is the same reason I avoid open-casket funerals. After his passing I went to sign Ralph Bauserman’s condolence book. The body was open. I turned to pay my final respects, but I was stopped after that step. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t confront him in that state. You could accuse me of being scared. I’ve gotten this many times in the past month. But never of cancer or death. As my prognosis is very positive, those things simply don’t bother me. In fact, I’m constantly looking to the future. And it’s in this that I’ve been accused of being scared.

I’ve always made it clear that I wish to return home in some capacity following my graduation. For the time being it’s unclear how I’m going to make this possible. So there’s some uncertainty in that. But that’s not what I’m afraid of. I can make it work, and I’m so dedicated to moving back here that I’m willing to make some major financial sacrifices to make it possible. No, what I’ve been accused of being afraid of is the rest of the world. I tell my friends that I want to return home, and they look at me like I’ve completely lost it. “There’s a huge world out there. DC, New York, Pariee! Why miss out on that?” Then they ask why. And I tell them simply that I want to help serve others. And they say that’s never possible, that we just say that to get ahead, that we should be “young, wild, and free.” They tell me that it’s a complete tragedy that I have taken such a hardline against what I see as the mindless activities of my age cohort. I won’t point to any particular activities, but suffice it to say that I find them to be a grand waste of time, just simply standing around, losing ourselves in libations and talking of the smaller matters of the world.

Call me pretentious. Call me mad. But I feel a higher calling. I’ve always felt the call for public service. I feel it is one of the most noble pursuits a man can undertake, trying (and even failing) to produce a grand vision (or even a simple manner) in which to improve society. For we are not long for this earth. We are born, we live, we love, we die. But there’s a great deal of empty space between those commas. Even in the short space of eighty years there is alot (and a little) to be done. Our time is limited and yet we can do so much. Why squander any moment of it? I guess, though, there are widely varying of squandering time. One man’s party is another man’s nap. We all need time to ourselves. If we simply work towards one goal with no stop, we will soon be consumed with maddness, or worse, apathy, as we see that perhaps not everyone shares our enthusiasim for our project. And so we play. But as with work, play takes many different forms. And one man’s play should never be held in contempt, for it is that which makes his work possible.

But back to my desire to move home. I know that I was dropped her by providence. I had no choice in the matter. And yet the decision whether to make a life here is completely in my hands. Many of my friends are stricken with a great wanderlust. I often hear “I love my little town, but I can’t live there forever.” Well what’s so wrong with having the opposite sentiment? I know many world travelers who grew up in a time when the world was quickly expanding. Air travel was just beginning , sea travel was being refined, and the best way to see the world seemed to be get out of your little town. But now, the world is moving in the opposite direction. Great advances in technology allow us to communicate with anyone anywhere in the world in the flash. Woodstock is just two hours from the heart of our nation’s politics. With a computer and a phone I can be in constant contact with the goings on of our system in an instant. If you can find deep comfort in one place, even if you were put there by fate, why abandon it? And that’s how I feel about Shenandoah County. I’ve been around. I’ve seen Richmond, DC, Florida, Pennsylvania. I suppose I’ve never been out west or to New York, but the zeitgeist of instant fame and wealth just doesn’t appeal to me to begin with. Part of this place’s special charm is the great value it places on hard work. Sure, I’ve never traveled aboard, but I’m too much an American to ever feel comfortable in a foreign land. As for our own land, there are many places LIKE us, but none with just the same mix of elements. Say that I’m afraid. Say that I can’t let go of the people who raised me and taught me the good things in life and who will always be here for me. Maybe it’s not really possible, maybe I can’t love them. But I like to think it’s love, and I want to return it. So say that I’m afraid, that I’m limiting myself. But never question my motives. Because you cannot get inside my head and heart. You can’t know what’s like. Cancer has taught me that we all have a purpose, that we’re hear for a reason and that what we have thrown at us only helps to shape that reason. Perhaps I’ve had the great “misfortune” of suffering cancer early in life, driving me to find my purpose. Oh well. I must say, I’m not new to this thought. I’ve always been greatly aware of my mortality. Some have said it’s my great downfall, that I move too fast and have been prone to depression because I can’t move fast enough. But now I’ve seen how close I could be, and I don’t want to squander a single moment. There’s no reason to live life as if they greatest accomplishment is death. And yet, there is also no reason to use our time just for ourselves. As I’ve said before on this blog before, if I can comfort just one person, make their life just a little better, I will be able to die a happy man (hopefully, though, far from now).

Oh dear. It appears that I have gone and written something. Nothing that profound, either. Oh well. Such is the fate of having time and no ideas on a Friday night. (I at a party? Cute. I appreciate your optimism, though). Good night to all, and remember, I’m in town all week.

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