Tuesday, August 14, 2018

DAY 037 -- "Shakespeare's Torpedoes!"

And now, just entering the aftermath:

I’ve discovered that right up to the end of my foremath (yesterday, when the Rad Chemo treatments were completed), whenever my chest burn dressing was being changed, or during the three failed needle “probings” for an unsuccessful chest biopsy, or any procedure/application that involved the excitation of nerves into a world of hurt, or when someone mistakenly circled ‘tapioca’ instead of ‘butterscotch’ on the menu (an insufferable error), I responded thusly:

I’d address whoever was delivering the medical slings and arrows and tapioca pudding (as they apologized profusely), and tell them: “Please, I’m a nurse, I know what’s happening, and unless you’re a sadist or a psychopath, it’s okay. Lay on, Macduff! And, damn Shakespeare’s torpedoes!”

I added that if they had to hurt me to heal me, they also had to listen to my pathetic squawks, flinches and begs for mercy (slightly melodramatic), but otherwise pay no attention to this grumbling man under the sheet.

This always helped to ease the tension in the room, prompt a laugh, and let them know that I knew that inflicting pain on me was necessary, not the goal.

So, as we navigate through this last leg of the first stage, if I had to triage myself, I’d start with this side-effected throat at the top of the list, moving my rad burn down a notch from its #1 spot on the billboard.

My throat is SO sore---

Really? How … sore … IS IT?

My throat is so sore that if you wrapped a serrated knife in steel wool, dipped it in carpet tack sprinkles and twirled it around in there whenever I swallowed, that would about cover it.

It’s so sore, that on the 1 to 10 pain chart, it’s a letter, not a number.

It’s so sore, that … well, enough of that. You’re probably having supper.

 BUT, always covering it in the background is the knowledge that what I’m experiencing now was mostly expected in this course of disease and treatment, as my body works hard at putting “This Too Shall Pass” back on my marquee.
This pain prompted me to return to the infusion unit today, where they dropped in a couple liters of IV fluid. Also, we tweaked the medications (a never-ending task in the pursuit of optimum comfort). Pain management is an art/science.

And, because my WBC is now 0.8 (significantly lowering my defenses and opportunistically opening a path for any nasty little infectious agent out there), I must wear a mask wherever said little nasty may be lurking, which is … well … everywhere, but especially any clinical environment and supermarket shopping cart handles.

Here I am: am artificially bald, environmentally taboo-ed, reduced to a liquid diet of unfrozen Popsicles (an inside joke) and protein shakes, muscling everything down the best I can, moving toward the upside.

One thing, though: I’M ALIVE! That’s nine out of ten points right there! (I’m saving one point for a plummeting piano). My life in the hands of top Docs, nurses and therapists, and Diane just coming home.

There! Big hug and kiss as I slouch back toward normal, and we continue to continue.

More as we go, El

Monday, August 13, 2018

DAY 036 -- "The Occupying Force"

Graduation Day!

I climbed down off the terrible table in the radiation room today, and this “diploma” was laid out for me. Signed by my therapists at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. I first dubbed them “The Radionettes” in this accounting when we began six weeks ago.

They never missed a literal beat, piping in the right music for the right day without a miscue.

To Duke, Jen, Tracy, Kristen, Lisa and Kerry, your words and deeds of encouragement and guidance were unfailing. You’re a class act, and I thank you for helping me to see through the mist. You said be patient, hang in there, steady on, and I’d come out the other side.

Well, I did. Today!

(And it didn’t hurt a bit that you played: “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, your last official act as my radiation therapists and disc jockeys.)  

It was unnerving to hear from my inner circle, that at this point (the end of this phase of chemo/radiation), I can expect things to get worse before they get better, for at least two or three weeks. I’m now moving toward restoration of this besieged body, and a reconciliation between me and the occupying force.

Right this minute, I don’t see how this aggravated throat and my chest’s radiation burn could be any worse, but just knowing we made it through, even though there’s more temporary descension ahead, is strangely empowering.

Sure, the idealist side of me thought: last day of chemo and radiation? Presto! Change-O! Healed!

I knew better, of course, but I let my heart do too much of the thinking there, and it beat the crap out of my head.

So, my “diploma” reads:

 “… with honors in courage …”

That part belongs to Diane.

More as we go, El

P.S. And, yes, they used “Bradley” in the credits. It’s from another home room assignment long ago, but I’ll still answer to it in a pinch.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

DAY 035 -- "Pulverized Bacon!"

Here we are at the edge of tomorrow. My last radiation treatment is late afternoon, Monday, August 13th.

Let’s see: if I were our fearful leader, I’d order a celebratory parade of saluting oncologists riding atop rose-covered linear accelerators being pulled along by pairs of yoked nurses in glowing scrubs. Ba-da-bonkers.

This all started a couple of months ago simply enough, with the discovery of a “primary malignant neoplasm of the right upper lobe of the lung.” Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but it might help you in your next game of Scrabble.

When I heard it, I so wanted my body to be the flesh & bone equivalent of a brave new world argonaut, but what flashed before me was Don Quixote on a dead planet.

In one of my first diagnostic tests, “an expression immunohistochemical assay was performed on paraffin-embedded tissue sections fixed in 10% neutral buffered formalin for 6 to 72 hours.” Yikes.

I was across the room talking this out loud to myself when my dear wife Diane overheard me, and her biochemist background surfaced:

“Oh, sweetie, that just means that they’re identifying the markers on the surface of your tumor cells that can be attacked by immune medications.”

“Of course it does. Silly me.”

She forgets herself sometimes, and sometimes I forget how smart she is.  There was a bit of little boy in me, however, that wanted to hear “Oh, that’s the test they do on the cool goop so they’ll know what to zip and zap you with.”

I’ve said before in this ledger, that “knowledge is power,” and I’ve long subscribed to that as a caregiver.

Along my path of peril, however, I’ve had my moments when I didn’t want anything resembling a crystal ball around me. No seers, no fortune tellers, no heads ups. No forewarnings, no preps, no getting up for the games. Just give it to me as we go, and with cool goop lingo and black raspberry applications. It’s summer, after all.

As I’m nearing the end of it, I am looking back on this descension  of cancer, this course of treatment and what it’s meant and how it’s changed me and Diane, fleeting and far-reaching.

I’m reduced to eating what Diane describes as “slippery cooking,” although I’ve come to see it as a delicious/nutritious augmentation. And, she’s done it so well. Soft, oily, smooth, wet and savory fare that will slide past this choking sore throat. It only hurts when I swallow, Doc, and no I’m not finishing that joke.

The plus side? An EXCELLENT food intake, like her cauliflower kale soup (to die for, but I hope not).

And, funny I should mention it, but she’s just come around the corner in her Bubba Gumpers cooking apron and announced: “Damn, the zucchini soup is so boring! Now… how to spice it up!” Zucchini from our garden, homemade with loving hands, delivered with a full heart. Boring? Silly girl.

Puddings and pops, flavored ices, smoothies, frozen yogurts, protein shakes, scrambled eggs, slurpy sides, slithery cereal, and I’ve even come to know and love the delight of a barbequed pureed hamburger. Again, it’s summer, and concessions must be made. I can’t give up yummy as a standalone.

Two other primary functions: bathroom privileges are now considered Constitutional Amendments, and any degree of manual labor needs to be recalculated beforehand using a slide rule, a sun stick, a child’s garden of verses, and dog years.

Re-enter Diane: “I’ve got it! I’ll add pulverized bacon!”

Far as savory goes, that may save the day … and the week … and the prognosis.

And, tomorrow? Graduation Day?

Watermelon soup!

It's summertime summertime, sum sum summertime....

More as we go, El

Friday, August 10, 2018

DAY 034 -- "The Next First Finish Line"

Raw hide.

At this point, maybe it should be raw run and hide.

We’ve arrived at the penultimate day of radiation. One … more … treatment!  That’s worth at least a ta-da!, if not an attaboy or two. I wanted to show you, at the risk of abandoning whatever vanity I have left, where we are, six weeks out. Once upon a body, I’d have been mortified to have this image out there.

Today? Poobah. Yes, publishing this unfettered exposure of my naked and irradiated meaty parts (uppers) should feel risky, guarded, embarrassing, and just plain oodgy. Who wants to see this? I don’t, and I’m in the skin.

No more. All that matters is the truth. Pretty or not. I’ve tried to give you that since we began. No point in doing anything else.

This picture, taken an hour ago, is where we are: me, and this thing I walk around in. It’s the truth, but still unnerving to me, like that first time years ago I looked in the mirror and saw my Dad.

Look closely: even if you remove the cancer, the burn, the pudgy corners, the neck waffles --- even if you put back the hair, sat me up straighter and subtracted forty years --- you’d still have this near wreck of a man, some of it Ma Nature’s fault, some of it Father Time’s, some of it the hard luck of the draw. And, some of it … a stupid human trick.

Still, even at this plateau (I’m not quite ready for a crevasse or a precipice), I’m going with the future as an opt-in add-on.

One more treatment and we’ll begin to know less of what we don’t know, and more of what we can’t know just yet, all as we set sights on the next plateau. Today, my white blood cell count is one-point-two.

1.2 is low-low.

“Normal” range is 4.5 to 11.

Low enough that the Docs are again giving me the needle (they’re good doctors) about what I should and shouldn’t be doing. Infection is always lurking when a WBC gets this low, and that could mean big trouble at this stage.

Okay, Doc. Yes, I’ll drink, eat, do everything in sub-moderation, and behave myself until the next horizon.

Worried? Scared? Angry? Resolute? Sad? Hang-dogged? Upbeat? Woebegoing? Every which way?

You betcha.

And, this picture? No Photoshop fixes. No filters. No touch-ups. No softening downs. No enhancements. No airbrushing. No attempts at artsy-fartsy. Nothing here but my hide.


See you at the next first finish line.

More as we go, El

Thursday, August 9, 2018

DAY 033 -- "Empty Space"

After days like this, we both need a breather.

Empty space is not the same as no space.

For now, that's all I've got.

Thanks for sticking with me.

More as we go, El

DAY 032 -- "Exact Blurring"

My bent has always been toward the textual, but I’m feeling more visual lately, and it’s just too damn bad that I’m not a sculptor, or painter, or photographer, or pole dancer. I will dabble in design, and sometimes stumble on a successful capture, but in my next life, I’m going for out-loud, stand-up comedy.

That may not work either, because I love improvisation, but I need to rehearse it a few times. At least with the printed word, it takes heckling longer to get here.

This pic is today’s attempted artsy-fartsy improv, well-rehearsed. And, sometimes, at least for me, a picture’s worth a single word.

 Like this one: fatigue. The big eyes, the endless hallway and floor legends, now all too familiar after weeks of making the treatment rounds, yet still feeling at once alien and comforting.

My cancer “script,” as written by the Docs, has been fairly well-cued up: We won’t know the net effect of all these daily frontal assaults (and a few reconnoiters and flanking maneuvers) until we re-run the diagnostics in a few weeks, but so far they’ve been spot-on with the side effects:

The skin burn, the pain, the nausea, the anxiety, the dry mouth, the hard swallowing, the dinosaur bowels, and now, the fatigue.

It comes quickly (no, in this case “quick fatigue” is not oxymoronic), and though it’s short-lived, it does freeze my frames with little warning. It’s almost narcoleptic. This can be a problem if I’m doing something requiring my full and attentive attention. (You may write your own joke here).

“Sudden sleep” is one way it’s described, and because I’m always aspiring to be a creature of balance, I guess I’m also suffering from sluggish insomnia.

I’m at the edge of one now. It’s after midnight, and again I’m giving you yesterday today. I’ll leave you with this photo. I took this just exiting the elevator on the radiation floor. It was rushed and presents here with its exact blurring intact.

Whenever I see this sign these days, I exhale a lifetime of dumb choices, arrested, we can hope, in time.

More as we go, El  

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

DAY 031 -- "And The Accidental Miracles"

 One down and who knows how many more whats, whens, wheres and hows to go, and I’m not sure if I even want to know what I’m talking about, but here we are. Finished today with my first (and hopefully last) six-week round of chemotherapies. So, woohoo! and a hearty retro round of Yabba-Dabba-Doo’s, for any surviving Fred Flintstonians.

When I arrived at my last chemo treatment at the infusion clinic this morning, I walked in and jokingly addressed the nursing team with “Hey, where’s my graduation cake?” It was met with a round of blank stares, looks askance, and no explanation or response other than a note or two of sarcasm. So, I let it go.

But, just as I was being set up for treatment, they assembled at my station, all beaming the cat ate the canary look, and yes, did in fact present me with a “Classic Coconut Chemo Cake.” Seems I’d stumbled on something they’d already planned, and if I hadn’t been dehydrated, I’d have dropped a few tears.

These people are the crop’s cream, the heap’s top, the show’s best, the pong in my ping, onion in my ring and the aforementioned cat’s pajamas. I’ve been a nurse for 35 years, and I know topnotch bedside (and chairside) care when I see it. Especially when I’m the recipient of it.

But, it’s never easy for a caregiver to be on the receiving end of care; we’re all good nurses, but terrible patients. I’d challenge you to get a nurse anywhere to say different. As health care providers, we really need to work on that.

I sure do. Knowing how to well-receive helps the healee, the healing and the healer.

Thus far, this phase of treatment(s) for my Rad Chemo has been steered through history with the innovations and applications of machine, substance and techniques arrived at via scientific technopop-pioneering and/or the accidental miracles of poetic caveman bumblings.

You know: it’s rather like how Diane and I operate (see: “The Dioecians – His and Her Love.” Go on, now. Buy the book. Save a world.)

So, let’s not mix metaphors and put our chickens in the cart before we take the long way around the horses. Today is a day to breathe a bit easier and really feel like we’re steadying on.

Much as I’ll still be in the grip of these damnable side effects for a while, I hope to trade ‘em in at the end of all this for a new body, thinking cap, pathway to better health, and a refueled imagination.

More as we go, El

Monday, August 6, 2018

DAY 030 -- "Wrong Reality!"

And then there was … Korea.

No … wait! … wrong reality! Today, the unmasking, if you consider a head of hair a disguise, which I do, now that I’ve seen me without it.

It was reverse déjà vu all over again after the deep buzzcut, because I haven’t looked at this frozen mug or felt this fuzz since Parris Island boot camp. The only difference this time around is the cancer, and no footlocker pushups. Otherwise the pain was/is about the same. Hoorah. Semper Fi.

 High praise and thanks to the lovely Split Ends Salon stylist at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. I told her going in that she could relax through at least one clipping today, because unless she used a flamethrower, it would be hard to do it wrong. She then took me in without an appointment, did a stellar job, then didn’t charge me! I insisted, however, on tipping her. She did have to suffer through my bad head puns, after all.

If anyone would care to offer a verdict, a commentary, an insult, a dirty joke, or any other evaluation of my freshly clipped dome, please do. Diane’s comment: “I like it!” Part of that might be that she’ll no longer find my hair in the supper stir-fry, but I do believe her.

Isn’t there an historical superstition about head-rubbing that is applicable here? Ah! My crackerjack columnist research shows that the jury’s split on this one. I’m going with the host of photos I found of George W. Bush publicly polishing the pates of total strangers. He was very nearly obsessive about it. Hmm … okay … good enough for Dubya, good enough for rubya! (See what I did there?)

So, before the day was out, I did press a few nurses to give me their opinions on my new headtopper cropper. The most popular answer: “It makes you look so much younger!”

Uh-huh. Bless them for the redirection, but I’ve been a nurse for a long time, and nurses will say things like that after you’ve had a successful heart surgery or bowel movement. We’ll call it praising with a faint damnation. Still, it helped to recharge my day and give me a break beyond these nagging short circuits everywhere else in and on this body.

Oh, and one last woohoo! I’ve just discovered that the cueballs among us have an annual Bald Is Beautiful! convention in Morehead City, North Carolina. There are even contests and awards for categories like “Sexiest Bald Head.”

Here comes Diane: “You’re a shoe-in for that one.”

Okay, now I’ve gone to the head of our class. Meet you there.

More as we go, El

Sunday, August 5, 2018

DAY 029 -- "Bald Is Sexy"

Okay, I need a head’s up (I couldn’t resist).

I told you yesterday that my hair is falling out. Little clumps, not all that noticeable right now, but I’m increasingly de-tufting, and because I know now that I’ll soon look like a poster boy centerfold for the mange, tomorrow I’m shaving my head.

Why do this? Sure, I suppose there’s a little vanity at play there, but I was receding on top, anyway, and I also don’t want to go out amongst ‘em looking like a half-plucked chicken and scaring the bejeebus out of little children and dogs.

There’s also bound to be a type of persona out there walking around unsupervised who thinks they can catch baldness from a toilet seat, and I don’t need to stir up trouble and be challenged to a duel in a public privy.

Of course, the humorist in me wants to carpe diem, let my fluttering pate go all shaggy-waggy, and use the opportunity to get a laugh or two when I’m eventually asked what happened to me:

“Way too much charcoal lighter fluid at the BBQ.”

And, just now, after telling Diane my plan, she assures me that “bald is sexy,” again calling upon her knack for knowing precisely what to say.

But, lately, I’m not sure if I’m in a time-in or a time-out mode. Can you go with me on that? Can you relate to feeling like you’re stuck in a cross between a freefall down a rabbit hole and a hot air balloon ride?

I barely can, and I’m in it.

Still, I’ve trusted you this far, and I know that you’re trying to vicariously don my disease duds for yourselves: rehearsing how you’d check the fit, shrug the shoulders, pull at the collar, snug up or loosen the crotch, just to see how they might feel and look on you in case you wake up one morning in cancer pajamas.

Don’t be embarrassed: we all do it all our lives. George Carlin had a wonderful bit about it, when he talked about attending a funeral. There we are, looking at the coffin, and the first thing we do is subtract our age from theirs. It’s old human math for trying to figure how much time we (possibly) have left. There’s some comfort in it.

Or, we will often offer this: “I know just how you feel.” We don’t, of course; we can’t, but we say it kindly anyway, hoping to support and console. It can never fit us exactly down to the ground, but we mean well by it. All of us, at one time or another, have tripped and fallen into the abyss of best intentions.

We’re also clumsy at commiseration, and that’s normal, too. We get scared that we might say the wrong thing at the wrong time, or the right thing in the wrong way. Don’t worry about it. I’ve found, in 35 years of nursing, that people are suckers for the truth. The closer you stay to that, the better.

Anything you level at someone with love in your heart will never be wasted.

But, even if you lived through cancer, or a shipwreck, or the Disco years, you never lived through my versions, nor I yours. Maybe yours was brain cancer. Maybe you were marooned with a talking soccer ball. Maybe you got a groove on with KC and the Sunshine Band (if so, I forgive you).

See you on top of the bottom.

More as we go, El

Friday, August 3, 2018

DAY 028 -- "Edge Of The Brink"

What we did on our summer vacation? Geesh.

Here we are on the edge of the brink of the beginning of the end of my last week of radiation/chemo treatments for lung cancer. Two days off, then we’re back in it and going down the home stretch next week.

After that? Well, you’ll know when I know. The greatest truths (and half-truths) will come when they do the follow-up diagnostics and we’ll see what we see. And, yes, it might make more sense to look for what we don't see.

Point of order: I’m not sure why I’ve taken to dragging you into this with the plural pronoun. Guess I didn’t think you’d mind, and I feel like you’ve been in the fold here with me all along anyway, as we both find the way through it.

I’ve danced with this devil many times in my nursing career, especially those years I spent working in elder and hospice care, attending my patients as nurse, facilitator, advocate, witness, doing my best to always be objective, think & work holistically, and … and … wait … wait---

Oh, hell. I’ve just reached up to scratch my head, and my hand has come back with a clump of hair. Dammit.

I was hoping I’d miss this one Rad Chemo undoing. Right this minute, we can’t know to what degree I’ll get all sparse and sprigly on you, but first … let me get this good whimper out of the way.

**whistling, looking stunned, wiping off tears, thwapping forehead**

Next order of business, and to keep from going mad, is to get ahead of this (pun intended) and find a good bald joke. And, because this is New England, you can't get there from hair.

Let’s drop everything (what else can we do?) and get the bad hairless humor established. I’ll start:

“Even though I’m going bald, I’m keeping my comb. I just can’t part with it.”

More as we go, El

Thursday, August 2, 2018

DAY 027 -- "Taking Off My Skin Suit"

Okay, time out! Whoa! Hold it! Stop right there!

Cancer and cancer, then the cancer cancered more cancering in cancer’s cancerous cancer! Then, cancer! And, cancer! And, what’s this? Cancer!! Well, CancerCancerCancerCancerCancerCancer!!!!

Whew. That should do it. You see where I am today. These side effects, beginning with this irradiated skin, may be doing what the Docs predicted (imagine a constant itchy sunburned sunburn), but knowing that everything is proceeding according to plan doesn’t help to get outside of it.

So, bullpuckey! Enough already! With an assist from Diane’s brilliant camera hand & eye, I’m stepping outside of it for today, taking off my skin suit and body casts, at least mentally, and redirecting my spirit to the grand beauty all around us.

Why, look there! Just today, right out in our back yard, gardens and woods: Mother Nature’s free show of shows. Hawks and deer and monarchs, oh my!

Let’s just enjoy it (the cancer will be here when we get back). Let’s take time for a few shots of the best life has for us, free for the asking. No artsy-fartsy effects needed. Ma nailed it.

Watch, breathe, live.

More as we go, El

DAY 026 -- "The Hitchhiking Gorilla"

Here we’ve gone again into the late late hours, writing yesterday today.

I used to joke, and I suppose I still do (once during therapy, and Dr. Wannabe Freud didn’t like it), that I was in the past, tense, and though I didn’t feel like I was in the present, tense, the way things were going I probably would be in the future, tense.

Another ho-hum day in the radiation glow room on the terrible table (eleven more to go) and I don’t mean to sound blasé about it. It’s probably the least blasé thing I’ve ever been through. But, an odd thing is happening:

I’m setting up some tension on my mind’s back burner, and I can feel it beginning to simmer. This regimen I’ve been in for more than a month, radical and un-blasé as it is, now also feels like a kind of sanctuary for the anti-heroic soup in me.

The side effects of radiation treatment have now become fully realized, and with two weeks to go, the Doc says I can expect some worsening before the bettering begins. My chest skin over the target area reddening and on the brink of breakdown, painful all the time, itching at the edges, -- bad as it is, and as much as it and other fallouts may not have reached their peaks, they're also the outward manifestations of the inner healing: a shrinking tumor.

We won’t know what degree of healing until we re-assess with the follow-up diagnostics at the end of radiation and chemo.

That’s where my anxiety sits like a soup about to boil over. I was going to say like a hitchhiking gorilla up ahead, but I’ve already mixed enough metaphors and clichés in this diary to touch a ten-foot bridge like there’s no tomorrow.

Point is: while I’m being treated, yes, there are these side effects we’ve been reading about, some annoying, some damned painful. But, underneath and inside, I’m on the mend.

And, as long as I’m being treated, I’m healing, and everything else is on hold.

But, when the treatment(s) stop, that’s when my “normal” life jumpstarts and we’ll find out just HOW MUCH healing.

And that will determine where my cancer has taken me, and where my next stops might be.

So, screw it, I’m going with the hitchhiking gorilla visual. I’ll just have to hope he’s got gas money.

More as we go, El

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

DAY 025 -- "To Pull Or Not To Pull?"

It’s now tomorrow and I’m very late posting, but I’m doing this so you’ll have your dose of entertainment from my adventures in pre-closure.

As usual, there I go misdirecting and evasive, and because I’ve never been a good liar, here it is:

I’m up in the wee hours for … yes … a case of the literal capricious wees. Nothing to do with cancer; this is strictly an old man’s nighttime comeuppance (though comedownance would be more accurate). A little later-in-life jest from whatever head honcho runs the Cosmos, or whatever you think does.

Yes, it’s a lovely pissing reminiscing regimen, but it’s also an insomnia driven by 35 years of night-nursing shifts and whothehell knows what.

 And, yes, yes, I’ve had all the counseling, including the Freudian lookalike whose office even sported a Victorian psychiatrist’s couch. He wanted everything to be about my paternal murder or maternal seduction. He’s dead now, and I hope he died wearing a Depends.

Digressing again, but I’ll try to refocus.

We’ve talked about this before, but a heightened awareness of a possible cancerous pre-mortality permanently changes the way one sees the world. It’s very much like skydiving. I’ve made over 300 jumps, and once you’ve been up there in the clouds falling at terminal (an unfortunate adjective) velocity with nothing between you and eternity but a parachute, you never look up at the sky the same way again.

It’s the same with cancer, and I suppose a host of other interceptions that have the net effect of introducing the nearer and thereafter life waiting up ahead for all of us.

It changes everything. Forever.

Okay, that’s enough. We don’t need no steenkin’ flowery phrases and lofty ideas. Today was just another good bad day.

Once again, it's my new course of how the world now comes at me and how I plunge word-long into it. It’s finding deep meaning in the shallow, and simplicity in everyone else’s complications. My new role as a cancer patient. My long-pursued goal as a humorist.

So, a few more signs, deep and/or simple on this day with a fiery chest radia-rash, sore throat, and shifting internals that have upset the hell out of my ins and outs. I'm coping well via my breakthrough meds, but my new traveling companions are backseat brats, and it’s a long way to the next off-ramp.

In a world of increasingly lazier, meaner and dumber-downing language, I love this sign: It used to be a firm but polite request: “Please keep off the grass.” Today, don’t trash it, pal. With no respect and giving all the discredit to our fearful leader, I can trash the tallest, greenest grass better than any grass-trasher in the history of the world. That I can tell you.

Or, this one. The longer I look at this, the more I see it as the complete meaning of life. Right in front of me in the parking lot (check both signs). If we have respect for how we move and stop on this big marble, this explains everything.

And, this. Maybe it’s the mask I see, and the intervention sitting patiently behind it. To pull, or not to pull? That is the suggestion.

More as we go, El

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