What a twist! (The Network Version)

I apologize for the light level of posting (particularly since so many of you seem to be held in spellbinding suspense, according to my parents), but alot has gone into to making this the most heart-pounding, exhilirating finale ever! Plus I had two exames and a paper this week.

Anyways, the doctors decided NOT to stop OR put in a port. (See, bet you didn’t see that one coming. Ask McGuyver. There’s never two choices.) Rather, they decided………..

To try again. See, this is a time honored staple of the sitcom writer. Build up great suspense, realize you can deliver on a twist that will alter the way we view television, and then merely do what you were expected to do but trump it up as a “gotcha.” Alternatively, your idea may be so horrendous that you have no choice but to do it, angering your loyal fans once. Now I am not a loyal fan of chemo, but I was relatively disappointed when I found out that the solution was simply to try again. Though it beats cutting stuff.

But what’s this? Another twist! Yes, it may appear that we are actually on our way to a story arc (ok, we’ve had a basic story, Craig has cancer, but this is that special story the fans really care about. It’s again, like Seinfeld. People were somewhat drawn to the basic dynamic of the main group of charcters and their wry observations on the absurdities of social conventions, but it wasn’t until Season Four, with a season long story-arc about Jerry’s pilot, that the show reached the Top 30. Whether everyone loves a winner, or these characters represented our worst traits and frankly we loved, we’ll never know, despite all the Facebook groups petitioning for the show’s return after 9 years. Not likely, given the skyrocking success of Michael Richard’s care………oh wait). So where are we?

Well again, options. A new character was brought into the mix on Wednesday: the CT machine. He may have a tough exterior but he has a heart of gold, or at least titanium, which is better than gold…..seriously, why do you think the things are so expensive? Turn him on just right and he’ll fill anyone up with radiance……or radiation, I can’t remember from the intitial character sketch. Anyways, I’ll encounter him on Tuesday. They plan on taking images of the whole body. And here’s where things get interesting. We have a magic number: 90, as in 90% reduction of the mass in my chest. If we get there, then no more chemo. We’ll have to re-evaluate our options, including the possibility of radiation, but it’s a heck of alot better than this “gentle nightmare.” (Hmmmm, catchy, maybe I should start speaking on this topic….). If we don’t get to 90%, then not only do I get more chemo, but there’s a good chance I’ll have to have a PICC line installed. A PICC line is similar to a port in that is a semi-permananent device implanted under the skin to allow for easy access for drugs. However, while a port is in the chest, this device goes up through the arm vein and dumps out over the heart. It requires more maintenance, but suits my short term needs better. Frankly, though, I’d rather have none.

Our public schools have turned 90 in a rather aggrevating number. Prior to the whole “Free To Be You and Me” push to increase our self-esteem (which no one has every really explained to me as a valid concept, other than keeping yourself from swerving off the road in the morning), 90 was the baseline for an A. You pull in solid 90’s, you can probably keep off the shame of your parents, eventually get into a decent school, work in a less-than-fulfilling job but have a happy wife and loving children that you not only love but provide for, you’ve done ok. But now that they’ve bumped an A up to a 93, the score has completely changed. Everyone’s special, but some are more special than others. It’s not enough to want to be satisifed by family, friends, and social actitivies. Everything has to be perfect now. It is, after all, FOR ME. When you bring home a 90, you’re showing your parents a blackhole of underachievment from which you may never escape. You’ll never be a doctor, and only the best women marry doctors. Sure they cheat on them, but who needs love when you have a career? Besides, you’re a doctor, you think that prescription pad is just for looks (CENSOR’S NOTE: We can’t insinuate that all doctors all drug addicts. Only Dr. House. And he helps people. Don’t you want to help people Craig?) Did I say Doctor? I mean lawyer. Lawyers are perfectly ethical all the time and are even known to be more ethical than doctors. (CENSOR’S NOTE: That’s it, I give up) But my point is, there’s alot of pressure for success in this country, a good deal of it misplaced. I’m terribly sorry for what I’m about to say, I really am, but here goes: Probably only four of the people I graduated with will become lawyers. Two will be doctors, and one might just be a vet. The simple fact of the matter is that these individuals help make up the backbone of society requires them to be highly trained and educated, and some people, even though they may think they do, simply don’t have the gumption, the will, or the intelligence (which is not a bad thing, as I will explain in a minute). But the thing is: these are NOT the only jobs that make society possible. Sure, they may have the highest profile and help the most people, but they aren’t solely holding society together. What about road builders? Can’t get to the hospital quickly on adirt road. Plumbers? Not easy to santize instruments with stagnant water. Butchers? You won’t be doing too many surgeries without the proper nutrition. The point is, everyone wants to be special, to be the best. And bluntly put, that’s why we created the concept of “excellence” in the first place: so we could recognize those individuals who can help us in ways we cannot help ourselves and go above and beyond what’s required for basic employment to aid society. But you see, excellence comes in many different forms. You can be an excellent father, an excellent political activist, an excellent fundraiser for charitable causes. And even in the field of employment, just because you aren’t “excellent” doesn’t mean you aren’t important. In fact, I consider anyone who does their job well, no matter how much it irritates them, and in turn does not drain from society, to be important, and indeed, capable of excellence. But in our current material society, the greater goods take a back seat to career success, because money can always get us what we want. I hope to challenge that notion. But not today. Too tired (Ok, bad example)

So to make a long story even longer, just when we saw the light at the end of the tunnel, we have started a new round of “hurry up and wait.” As I’ve said many times before, cancer simply tends to replace your regular routine with a more agonizing, agrregavating, and draining one. Cancer is very methodical in how it works, and so must be methodically fought. So it’s a continuous cycle of drugs, tests, and trying to get on with your normal life.

So as for today’s treatment: It went remarkably well. The first vein in the left arm didn’t take (despite 10 minutes of digging), but the right arm was beautiful. Thanks for the water, mom. However, the line was very particular; we had to apply continuous pressure to keep the flow. However, I had no immediate symptoms,and as a matter of fact I’m experieincing very limited nausea. That may be due to being hopped up on Percocet AND Ativan, though.

As for ME, I’m doing well. It was nice to have the past week off, and I’m relieved that we may be reaching an end to this ordeal. I’ve been experiencing some new…..well, more exacerbated than anything else. I’ve been experiencing a great deal of twitching in my legs. It’s not interfering with my function, but it’s still agrrevating. I’ve also experienced some diminished motor function. Now don’t sound the alarm bells here. Ask Coach Hockman. I’ve always been clumsy. I always figured those were sympathy As in gym; you can’t just punish someone who was given so little in the balance department. However, my balance seems to have been a little more precarious than usual. Yesterday I looked down before I crossed the street. Before I knew it, I was down. Quite a scene, and I’m still a little stiff. In fact, I didn’t even realize that I had been cut until I got a shower. Fortunately, by that time it was already healed over. This reminded me of an incident the other week, when I tried to get out of the bed to answer my cell phone, which was charging on the kitchen table, just a few feet from my room. Well, as I got up my left leg locked up, and although I was trying to move forward, I had no choice but to stand still. This caused me to fall backwards into my closet, which fortunately is on sliders. It hurt, but no damage done. This, in addition to the constant cramping, more frequent parathensias (a two dollar word for your limbs falling asleep) and the jaw pain, has led me to be concerned over possible long-term nerve damage or an underlying neurological condition. Upon consultation with my doctor he feels that the sympton complex is most indicative of peripheral nueropathy, which is associated with the use vinblastine. It should be temporary, but needs to be monitored just to ensure that there is no greater problem being masked by the treatment. God willing, I’ll be back to my regular clumsy self soon enough.

That’s enough for now. I’ll be sure to post an update after my scan Tuesday. Thanks again for all your wonderful thoughts and prayers, and your emails. Although I may not get a chance to to reply to them all, don’t think I don’t read and cherish each one. The outpouring of support from family, friend, and even family friends I’ve never met has been absolutely remarkable. Thus, since you all have been with me every step of the way, I’ll be sure to let you know how everything turns out. Until then, god bless.

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