Goodbye is too good a word

a cancer blog

Not even God takes this long to get back

Interior: A cross between a telemarketing call center and a military war room, complete with futuristic screens showing maps and data and shit. Camera pulls back to reveal an irritated Scouser working the phones.

Scouser [to caller] : Yes, Mrs. Tingle. I understand, Mrs. Tingle. Mrs. Tingle I’ve told you, I’ve already given Him your complaint. [Exasperated] Mrs. Tingle of course He knows about it — He’s God! He knows everything! He even knew you were going to call today! Look, it’s right here in my agenda for this morning: ‘Placate Mrs. Tingle, 10.15 a.m. Remind her that prayer is sufficient and that the phones are for dire cases only.’ No, Mrs. Tingle, I’m not saying your case isn’t serious, this is Himself talking here. Mrs. Tingle, you’re bordering on blasphemy! Look Mrs. Tingle there’s a jingle on the other ringle and I can’t afford a bingle, I’ll have to let you go. Goodbye now Mrs. Tingle.

Scouser [typing angrily on an Amiga 4000 keyboard] : Mrs. Tingle, 108 Briarcliff Road, Durham NC 27707 USA. Accelerate rash. Send.

Scouser is approached by a Peter Gibbons type.

Scouser: Ah, Mr. Bright Eyes and Bushy Tails, learning the ropes are we then?

Gibbons: Oh yeah, this place is incredible! I can’t believe you can look up your own files! I also can’t believe –

Scouser: What a wanker you were, and how many times?

Gibbons: Well yeah, that. But just reading through some of the other records — so many lives, so many amazing stories.

Scouser [bored]: Mmmmmm.

Gibbons: In fact this one guy really caught my eye. Can I ask you about him, or are you busy, or –

Scouser: I’m just sittin’ here watchin’ the wheels go round. Let me guess, Elvis Presley? Jimi Hendrix? Wot?

Gibbons: Um, actually it’s just some guy, David Simmons?

Scouser: Oh dear, we’re not really meant to look at the files if they’re still alive.

Gibbons: Yeah, but, let’s pretend we’re having this conversation a week from now.

Scouser: Ah, no bother then. What you need to know?

Gibbons: I’m just looking at everything We threw at this guy after 9/11. I mean, the thing with his mother-in-law, then the thing with his father-in-law, then making him live in North Carolina…

Scouser: Now that was harsh.

Gibbons: And then We send him cancer – in his ass! And then We get that freak of a surgeon to butcher him, then the permanent colostomy bag, then We let him think he’s in the clear for a while and then We spread lesions all over everywhere,

Scouser [bored]: Mmmmmm.

Gibbons: I mean, what did he do to piss off the big guy so much?

Scouser: Did you even read the file? Look, first he gets born a child of privilege — his father has more money than Jesus. We give him brains the size you wouldn’t believe. Naturally he turns out to be a massive nerd, and you’d expect as far as sex he’d be a hundred percent handy-shandy. But We set him up with a honey of a bird. I mean I had my share down there but this one tops anyone I’d ever pulled.

Gibbons: Wow, hotter than Yoko?

Scouser: Listen you cheeky git do you want to hear this story or do you just want me to keep talking in cockney rhyming slang and made-up British tree stalk?

Gibbons: Talk.

Scouser: Right then, you see this chap has basically won the pools, he’s got all the advantages, and what does he do? Fuck all! After waiting through the feller’s twenties and early thirties with nothing to show for His investment, He decided to light a fire under his ass.

Gibbons: The cancer.

Scouser [as if to an infant] : Ay, the penny’s dropped, has it?

Gibbons: Okay but then he beats it, and then it comes back — why?

Scouser: Well, it’s obvious innit! He wanted more material for the blog!

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May 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Caption This!

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Captions rejected by the Kansas City Star sports editors in favor of Royals catcher John Buck looked on disconsolately Sunday after Texas’ Hank Blalock scored the game-tying run on Chris Davis’ two-out, infield single in the eighth inning in Arlington, Texas

Royals catcher John Buck looked on lachrymosely Sunday after Texas’ Hank Blalock scored the game-tying run on Chris Davis’ two-out, infield single in the eighth inning in Arlington, Texas

Royals catcher John Buck looked on woebegone Sunday after Texas’ Hank Blalock scored the game-tying run on Chris Davis’ two-out, infield single in the eighth inning in Arlington, Texas

All your John Buck are belong to us.

The weight of the world resting awkwardly on his heavily padded shoulders, Royals catcher John Buck looked on Sunday after Texas’ Hank Blalock scored the game-tying run on Chris Davis’ two-out, infield single in the eighth inning in Arlington, Texas

His spirits lower than the yield on a T-bill, Royals catcher John Buck looked on Sunday after Texas’ Hank Blalock scored the game-tying run on Chris Davis’ two-out, infield single in the eighth inning in Arlington, Texas

Royals catcher John Buck had a case of the mean reds Sunday after Texas’ Hank Blalock scored the game-tying run on Chris Davis’ two-out, infield single in the eighth inning in Arlington, Texas

For sale: Baby shoes, never worn. Please contact Royals catcher John Buck.

Royals catcher John Buck worried about the next call from his bookie on Sunday after Texas’ Hank Blalock scored the game-tying run on Chris Davis’ two-out, infield single in the eighth inning in Arlington, Texas

Wearing a face that he keeps in a jar by the door, Royals catcher John Buck looked on Sunday after Texas’ Hank Blalock scored the game-tying run on Chris Davis’ two-out, infield single in the eighth inning in Arlington, Texas

April must have seemed the cruelest month to Royals catcher John Buck, having seen the best leads of his generation destroyed by shoddy bullpens, leading him to struggle through an existential crisis to rival the ones by Camus and Sartre, had they played baseball.*

Royals catcher John Buck expressed second thoughts about putting Jamey Wright on his fantasy baseball team after the reliever gave up a two-out, infield single in the eighth inning in Arlington, Texas

Wondering who would stop the rain — and the bleeding — Royals catcher John Buck looked on Sunday after Texas’ Hank Blalock scored the game-tying run on Chris Davis’ two-out, infield single in the eighth inning in Arlington, Texas.

Royals catcher John Buck beat on, boats against the current, as the Royals were borne back ceaselessly another game in the standings Sunday after Texas’ Hank Blalock scored the game-tying run on Chris Davis’ two-out, infield single in the eighth inning in Arlington, Texas.

Catcher John Buck spent his final fit, his final bellyache as the Royals bullpen blew another save — no surprises there.

Buck wept.
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* This one was contributed by Buzz Bissinger. He’s a terrible writer.
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April 20, 2009 Posted by | Petty Editing | Leave a comment

St. Sadist Medical Center, how may I direct your call?

So I’m at the metastatic cancer support group meeting, chillin’ with three guys twenty years my senior my boys, bitchin’ about side effects, sad news, and the socialized medicine up in Canada. Well one guy griped about universal health insurance, at least until I adjusted his pillow for him just right. He didn’t say much else after that. Yeah I’m gangsta, I can kick an 80-year-old’s ass! Just, hold still while I get out the pepper spray.

Anyhow, the two senior citizens left my crew kicked around reviews of different doctors and hospitals, the consensus being that Kansas City was not known for superior health care* and that it was best to go to an elite hospital out of town. I pissed all over my entourage and told them about all the bullets I dodged at that Hospital of Eminent Influence in New York — HEINY. Then I looked for a towel to clean off the urine.

But I’d still rather go to HEINY than to St. Joseph Medical Center here in K.C. MO. Actually, I’d rather go anywhere than St. Jo. KCMO — a Dane Cook concert, a Ron Paul rally, Hell; anywhere’s better than the hospital where advances in medicine go to die, taking half the patients with them. If an ambulance driver tells me he’s headed there I’ll find the strength to bust open the back doors and roll my stretcher away to safety like Adam West did on that one episode of Batman. Technically two episodes, I guess, but, well, you know what I mean.

Why the hard feelings? Well there was that surgeon who bungled my first operation. Maybe ‘bungle’ is too good a word — all he did was leave a bunch of surgical staples kicking around my rectum, right where you’d want them to be. Then he lied about it. And he neglected to periodically dilate my anus in the months after surgery — as the British say, he couldn’t be arsed. He mangled the site badly enough that I now have a colostomy for life; I was told it’d be temporary. Maybe he figured I would be temporary and it wouldn’t matter.

Did I mention the pain medication Dr. Conner prescribed upon my release? Darvocet. Darvocet! As one nurse said, that’s only a step above baby aspirin. This nurse was a good one who also worked at St. Jo., but she got farmed out in a cost-cutting move. Her replacement at the radiologist’s office there couldn’t read a calendar and couldn’t pronounce the word “coccygectomy.” If you can’t pronounce it either, don’t feel bad — it’s an odd bird, this business of shaving off your tailbone. In fact, according to these guys,

This surgery is rarely performed, and the procedure is not even included in most spine surgery textbooks.

So you can see why the St. Jo radiologist was recommending it for a bout of anal bleeding. What could go wrong! I passed gas and found another doc in town to look into that bloody butt business. He ran a colonoscopy on me, or tried to at any rate. Come to find out that surgeon #1 had left a stricture in my rectum so tight that surgeon #2 couldn’t even stick the tip in get the scope past it. That sent me to surgeon #3 over at HEINY, eventually leading me back to surgeon #4 right here in River City. That feller saved my life — and come to think of it, he has an office over St. Jo. himself.

Focusing on the bright side — you know me Al.

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* Gang violence, meth addicts and a public school system that graduates teenagers who couldn’t spell ‘cat’ if you spotted them the ‘c’ and the ‘t’, sure, we’re famous for those. And ribs, we make great ribs here. But reliable health care, now that you’ve got to make an effort to find.**
** I stole that ‘cat’ joke from Reggie Jackson. If he wants to make something of it he knows where to find me, but I think he’s learned his lesson.
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April 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Quick Post

Ralcorp Holdings, Inc.
P.O. Box 618
St. Louis, MO 63188

Consumer Services, Post Foods:

I need your help.

It all started on that day when my mom took three-year-old me and my baby sister out to McDonald’s for lunch as a treat — and as a trick. You see when we came back we found the house was a father lighter. My mother was used to coming home and seeing my father lit, so I don’t think she was surprised. She was probably in on it, to tell you the truth.

What’s that? Oh you wanted to hear the cancer story from the beginning. Sorry, I’ll get Ed. to ed.it that part out. I’ll try again.

It all started on the night my wife and I pulled into a small town in Texas, fleeing our future on a one-week cross-country drive that ended up the opener of a mistake that lasted two years. Hours after eating a rancid burger from the Shamrock Motel’s diner, I shat out some blood, and not a little either. This was like having a ketchup bottle up my ass and squeezing it with my cheeks — SPLAT! That was the last night for those pajamas, and the last night for me being anything but ill.

Hang on — is this the heart-rending memoir we’re doing or the letter to the cereal company? Oh am I embarrassed! We’ll get the editing team of Ed. and Ed. to gut those paragraphs altogether. Now, onto the flakes.

It all started when our apartment building put out word that they would have to turn the water off for a few hours last Wednesday.* Perfectly routine maintenance on the pipes, they said. But then they found the tumor at the sigmoid junction. And the apartment’s plumbing problem was worse than they thought too. To make a long story short (bit late for that now — Ed.) a few hours turned into a day and a half with no tooth brushing and no tank flushing. Oh yeah. Use your imagination, if you dare.

Fortunately, I wear a colostomy bag (that’d be the cancer we touched on earlier) so I was able to throw out my waste in the trash. My better half, not as fortunate, so around noon on URBAN DRYOUT: DAY TWO we checked in to a local hotel. Oh, that was a glorious shower. Then again for $145 it oughta be, right? But I can’t carp about the hotel bill because it was an Embassy Suites and you know what that means:

Free breakfast! (Dear God, does that mean that the cereal is somewhere on the horizon? I’d given up all hope — Ed.)

Jesus Ed. Lighten up! If this thing is too long it’s your own fault for leaving that early stuff in. What, you woke up late or something? Well then you must’ve missed your breakfast! Ha, ha! Sorry Post, where were we? Oh right, the hotel breakfast, where I enjoyed some raisin bran. I thought mmm, mmm, this is the best raisin bran I’ve had since — well I’d never had raisin bran before! Learn something new every day, yeah? (Like how not to write, for instance — Ed.)

Ed. for God’s sake you’re ruining this for everybody! I don’t know where you went to editing school but it seems to me that whenever I hand something in to the desk, it actually comes back longer than before. You bitch about the pieces being too bloated but there’s never a sign that you’ve taken anything out. The chemo plays tricks with my memory, so for all I know you could be adding material to my drafts and making the problem worse!

(Post, did he get to the part about how he and his wife eventually got back to an apartment with running water? No? I’ll take it from here. It was only last Friday that the drought drama wound down. The following day, our hero and Mrs. Hero went to Target to purchase a mattress pad, so comfortable and persuasive was the hotel bedding. They were also seeking, wait for it, raisin bran. Alas, there’d been a little trouble in paradise earlier in the day, causing mutual peevishness {I wasn’t peeved! — Auth.} that even extended to the selection of, yes, raisin bran. You’ll see — Ed.)

Anyhow, I walk halfway down the cereal aisle and I grab the two scoops of raisins in Kellogg’s raisin bran — boo, hiss, the enemy! I walk back to the cart where my wife is holding up a box of Post Raisin Bran**, as if to say, “It’s right here, dingbat.” So I peevishly (told you so — Ed.) throw the vile satanic rival brand down on the floor, right on its acid-head sunshiny face. I bought the box my better half proffered, and it’s good, but what I really enjoyed was that triumphant throwdown of the bad guy. I just, it just felt like I was finally a man, finally after all these years of questioning my (Aaaaaaaand we’re done – Ed.).

Sincerely,
David Simons

P.S. Please send me free cereal.
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* Jeez, that was almost a week ago now — time flies when you don’t have any.
** Only now does the cereal deserve capital letters. Only now.

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April 14, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Warning Labels

As you can imagine, the doctors fob this job off on the nurses warn you of a thousand different side effects you may or may not experience from the particular chemo agent you’ll be taking. They run through so many potential ailments, stressing that they’re rare and probably won’t happen to you anyway, that you leave the consult room thinking, “Uh, okay, I might get diarrhea, or I might not, that’s the takeaway here.” There’s an hour wasted.

I wish someone had given me some more practical advice about life when I could have used it the kinky quirks and quirky kinks you get from taking these toxic chemicals. But maybe my loss can be your gain. I’ll share with you some of the side effects that I’ve noticed in the months that my veins have been sipping down Fluorouracil, Irinotecan, Oxaliplatin, and Xeloda. As always, this advice is worth exactly what you paid for it; your copay here is only $2,000.

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Your skin may exude oils invisible to the naked eye, but tangible enough to ensure that the first time you pick up anything with a surface smoother than sandpaper, you will drop it.

Your neurons may fire more slowly, causing your hands to keep strumming the G chord long after your brain has sent a message that the sheet music is calling for a D.

Your attention span may

Your hearing may be impaired just enough to ensure that you have to get out of your chair and go into the next room to make sure you got that right.

Your mind may forget whatever was said in that room in one to two minutes.

Your ability to concentrate may be

Your short-term memory may become so short that you find it difficult to keep track of the cheap jokes you make while blogging; you may repeat yourself.

Your sense of direction may be sufficiently impaired to require the use of your GPS to make it home from the infusion suite.

Your mouth may become just a bit sensitive to cold liquids; drinking them during your treatment cycle may feel like having dental work performed without Novocaine. You may wish to keep the iced latte on hold for now, unless you actually enjoy doing a spit take at the local Starbucks.

Your short-term memory may become so short that you find it difficult to keep track of the cheap jokes you make while blogging; you may repeat yourself.

Your feet may elongate sufficiently to make the act of changing trousers and boxers more of an adventure to you, and more of a potential source of humor to passersby wondering whether you’re bringing back the pogo.

You may experience confusion as you wonder how you can still be wearing the same size shoes if your feet are too big to fit through your regular pant leg. Your memory loss will take care of this problem for you.

Your cognitive functions will be too impaired for you to think of an ending for this one.

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April 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

That’s not Faith, that’s Desperation

In America, you cite Dostoevsky. In Russia, Dostoevsky cites you:

I am also superstitious in the extreme; well, at least enough to respect medicine. (I’m sufficiently educated not to be superstitious, but I am.)

Once again, Fyodor speaks for me. Usually he’s just saying “Here we have another pretentious liberal arts major who can’t find a job,” but in this passage he’s hitting a different nail on the head.* You see, I’m an analytical guy. Give me a spreadsheet and a couple hundred different convertible bonds to compare and I’m as happy a pig in a candy store. Baseball? I don’t care who wins or loses, so long as they generate enough statistical minutia for online showdowns. “How can you pick Perez and his career WHIP of 1.425 over Lowe and his ERA+ of 122?” Don’t get me started on Brian Bannister and the BABIPs.

But growing up Catholic, I can’t help but see purpose in every coincidence, imagining a cause for every effect in a manner that would do a paranoid schizophrenic proud. I missed the traffic light? Must be those impure thoughts from yesterday. Einstein Brothers is out of powerbagels? It’s because I said something blasphemous on Facebook. I have cancer? We know whose fault that is.

I admit it, won’t keep it a Secret. The idea that we’re responsible for everything about our lives, from our health and our love life all the way down to that guy taking our parking spot yesterday at the mall, appeals to my sense of justice and order. Even now I think that book has a lot to say about keeping the right frame of mind and maintaining a positive outlook. Or as they would have it, a positive “vibration.” Never knew that behind this billion-selling worldwide phenomenon lay Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, did you?

The reason I say “Even now” is because I broke with Oprah and Rhonda after following this line of thinking to the terminus. That station has a sign reading “You two million kids with AIDS over in Sub-Saharan Africa? Yeah, that’s on you.” Hey, no wonder it appeals to my Catholic side! Condoms don’t stop the spread of HIV — only an upbeat attitude can! The Nigerians and Kenyan babies should be thinking “Daddy will live,” but they keep expressing it as a negative: “I hope Daddy doesn’t die.” What do they expect from the Universe?

Here’s what I expect: That every seemingly mystical effect can eventually be seen to have a logical explanation. That if my tumors are way too numerous and huge for a 160-pound 38-year-old, it’s because of something in my DNA and my environment, not because of the raging self-hatred I carried in my heart for so long. That if a miracle cure is in the cards for me, it won’t be due to vibrations, but to the kooky organic foods I’ve been eating on the advice of David Servan-Schreiber. That guy was 31 when he started eating the seaweed and flaxseed oil, telling his brain tumor to eat a dick. He’s outlived his prognosis by more than a decade now.

And he’s an M.D. — science and reason ftw!

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* In the same paragraph he famously notes “I am a sick man… I am an angry man. An unattractive man. I think there is something wrong with my liver.” Yep, he’s got me pegged all right.

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April 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Anyone get the license plate on that thing?

Previously, on LOST GITGAW, we witnessed the thrilling adventures of the chemotherapy infusion suite, if by thrilling we mean anticlimactic and mundane. To recap, I tried to buy a snack and later enjoyed a sandwich. Yeah. That’s the kind of real-life drama you just don’t get on every other blog on the planet. Mmm mmm. And it was brought to you in gripping, real-time, “live blogging” style, if you ignore the fact that it wasn’t written live or in real time. Whether it gripped anything, I dare not say.

The good news was that some drama finally happened after I left the cancer center. The bad news was that the good news was bad and briefly made me wish for death. These good-news dramatics left me so weak that I never had a chance to document the bad news on the Internets.* The worse news is, now that I’m back on my feet, lying down with the laptop, ready to make the world sit up and take notice of last Tuesday’s shockers — I can’t remember anything that happened. Why do you, why do you think they call it chemo fog?

Let me see if I can piece together what happened using e-mails, phone records, and carbon-dating the carpet stains. I came home from the cancer center around 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, relieved that it was over and pleased with myself for tolerating the Oxaliplatin so easily. At about, oh, 1:31 p.m., as I explained in an e-mail to a friend,

Ohhhhhh it was vile. By the end it felt like my stomach was trying to digest a gallon of battery acid, maybe propane. Everywhere was hot and bothered, not in a good way. Appetite? Gone. Anticipatory nausea? Back for another stay. And I got a refresher course on how Oxy makes your mouth feel “sensitive,” meaning that if you take a swig of iced tea it feels like you’re trying to swallow some Lego pieces that have been in the freezer. A freezer in the basement of the Lawrence Livermore Labs maybe.

It seemed my pride at wrestling with the Platinum Ox had goneth before a fall. I crowed, inwardly, and then ate crow. To milk this e-mail just a bit further,

I had six months of that beast in 2006 and it was murder at the time — I would be flattened for two days solid after each treatment. Yesterday I was thinking “Well gee, I know what to expect this time — should be no problem!” Which is kind of like saying “I’ve been shot in the abdomen with a .38 before, I’m ready for the next time it happens, what’s the fuss?”

What could help our hero out of this predicament? Why, Oxaliplatin’s wingman Xeloda of course! After a dinner of who-can-remember with a side of all these moments will be lost in time, I took the prescribed 450 mg of m-m-m-my Xeloda. Then I lay down in bed and talked to my wife for 27 seconds before gently lapsing into a four-hour restorative nap. Thank you, Xeloda — you knocked my ass out, just when I needed it most.

Then again, three days later, the Xeloda had me vomiting up burgers and bagels, kicking my ass over into the land of the liquid diet. My better half rushed out and bought me some juice, some Boost, and something by Peter Coop. Sippin’ that gelatin and juice over the weekend, lying in bed, not a lot to say, felt almost like being back in the hospital, only with better Internet access.

And a cuter nurse.

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*How long does it take for a meme to turn into a cliche? Four and a half years maybe? Rut roh.
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April 8, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chasing the Platinum Ox

Well I’m getting chemotherapy again, and you know what that means: LIVE BLOGGING THE CHEMO!!

(Our lawyers hasten to add that by “Live Blogging” we mean “Taking notes live at the scene and then carefully editing them for the blog ten hours later after the side effects have worn off a bit.)

7:55 a.m. My internal alarm clock strikes “YIKES” and I’m up. I turn to my left and see an angel in blissful repose. So she doesn’t get jolted out of dreamland by the harsh alarm of the cell phone, I reach over to turn the sound off the Chocolate — which I drop with a thunderous racket as it seems to bounce off all of my bedside personalia before hitting the floor. “What the hell was that??” It was your husband’s idea of doing you a favor, that’s what the hell that was.

8:20. Fix meself a bagel with peanut butter. I get anxious just looking at the food before me as I sense that it’s bound to make me puke. They call it “anticipatory nausea” because you get physically ill from something in your mind. Also known as “parking lot syndrome” because chemo patients would often vomit out in the parking lot (see?) before they even got any treatments. I think about driving to the medical center and eating in their parking lot for a double-negative nausea cure. Turns out Ativan is a quicker fix. Great bagel.

9:00. Pull into the parking lot (ULLP!!) and begin a heated exchange with the change in my car. The coins keep slipping out of my hands and I lower the boom on them: “You can run, dimes, but you can’t hide!” HA! Now I’ve got 85 cents and a sense of superiority. The vending machine inside offers M&Ms for $0.75, so I jam the slot with all I’ve got but somehow come up short – what rot. I guess at least one of the dimes was able to run and hide.

9:30. Oh, right, the actual chemo. I’ve been away so long that I receive extra attention from two of the nurses, Martha and Myra. There’s some confusion about whether I’m meant to see the nurse practitioner Brenda, but it’s quickly cleared up by Jason. I start to wonder if the center isn’t leaving itself open to a lawsuit claiming preferential hiring practices for trochees.

10:00. No wait here’s where the chemo comes in. Martha (my dear) stabs me in the chest and hooks up three, maybe four bags, one of which is Oxaliplatin, which I know from experience is some heavy shit. Fortunately I’m on five different anti-anxiety / anti-nausea meds, which reminds me I need a re-up on my old friend Ativan. Only after I dial the number does it occur to me that I’m calling not a CVS but the on-site pharmacy. “Wait — aren’t you here in the building?” Well right they are! It probably would have been more efficient for me to drag my IV pole until I got within shouting distance: “I need a hundred Vicodin and a bottle of SoCo to go!”

11:00. Knowing that nothing bad can happen to you while you’re listening to Abbey Road, I load it up on the iPod. Two tracks in it’s time to skip over the song that cannot be named, like the Scottish play. An instant later somebody calls and talks to me for three minutes and twenty seven seconds, drowning out “Oh Darling” with military precision. Come on. If you can hear my iPod from where you’re calling, why didn’t you call when I was playing “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” ? I can’t even stand the name of that — oh God damn it!

11:30. A heartfelt exchange with another patient follows:

…………………….ME: **Cough**
……GUY OPPOSITE: **Cough**
…………………….ME: Copycat.
……GUY OPPOSITE: [Pretends he can’t hear]
……………………ME: Cocksucker.

NOON. The chips I brought for lunch turn out to be stale. But the turkey sandwich from Target isn’t half bad. I swapped out the bun in favor of two slices of whole grain bread. Don’t worry this will all be edited out later when more of the chemo fog has worn off and I can remember something more interesting.

1:00 p.m. Taking a closer look at how the infusion room is divided, I notice that I can see the tops of the IV poles and their faithful bags of toxicity, but a partition about 4′ high blocks me from seeing any patients. All these billions of dollars spent to develop better drugs and they end up delivering chemo to ghosts. It dawns on me that from their side of the fence I must be a ghost myself.

Someday.

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April 1, 2009 Posted by | Chemo fogs n' logs | Leave a comment

In like a lion, out like a punk-ass bitch

Faithful readers of GITGAW may have noticed the slowdown in activity around these parts. Hey I just follow the economy as far as that goes. It was while I was processing refund requests from subscribers irate over the low post total for March that I began wondering why I’d been so reticent the last few weeks. After all, the unexamined life is not worth living, so the more I gaze at my navel the more fulfilling mine must be. My life I mean, not my navel — that’s actually undergoing an existential crisis of its own, poring over the pages of Sartre’s seminal text Belly and Buttonness.

A thousand pardons. Anyway, I went through a bunch of excuses theories for my diminished output of late. Was I just uninspired? Evidently, but why? Was nothing interesting going on? As interesting as anything else that happens to a guy whose big night out is a trip to the all-night Walgreen’s. Were things just going so well I had nothing to complain about? HA HA HA HA HA HA HA, stop, you’re killing me! That’s somebody else’s job and they still aren’t getting it right.

Only this evening did I figure out the real reason I haven’t written a day’s worth of new posts over the last fortnight. Brace yourself for one of my patented, penetrating observations into the human soul, i.e. me.

I was tired.

I must have been tired, considering the astounding performance I put in today. It started round midnight, when I fell asleep easily despite my recent anxieties about death and taxes. Marrying some Ativan and Ambien will do that for you, with the added bonus fun of periodic sleepwalking, or sleep-jumping-up-and-down-and-giving-the-wife-a-heart-attack as I did around three a.m. Still, got in a solid nine hours before my internal alarm clock (that’d be the anxiety we just mentioned) had me bolt upright at nine. “Sorry I’m late boss I’ll have that earnings report on Sprint ready in an hour!! Where did I leave — oh wait, I’m only dying. Phew!”

So after some lunch I headed off 30 miles east for my 30th guitar lesson with a 30-year-old man. He was teaching me how to fingerpick Eric Clapton (gross) which I probably would have picked up on more quickly if I hadn’t been busy resting my head on the acoustic. The snoring helped to drown out my fumbling on the six string, itself a distraction from my knocking over a couple of the dozen guitars he has in his basement. To make nice I bent down to pick them up and proceeded to flip over a stool and two music stands. He sent me off with a book of sheet music where he had written down the day’s lesson, namely, “Acoustic guitar is not a contact sport.”

At least I think that’s what he wrote — my memory of this six-hour-old event is foggy because I crashed my Jetta on the drive home on the sofa the minute I got back. An hour later I heroically fought the brainy blurriness by ordering a pizza from Minsky’s. Even more heroically, I ate it and then passed out again, making it three hours with Morpheus over the prior seven, or twelve over the course of a busy, exciting, blogworthy day.

Time for bed.

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March 31, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

April 15

So last week my favorite instructor from the University of Yellow Kiosk sent me a link to a story about AIG in the NYT — OMG! Turns out our favorite corporate scofflaw, not content with the $200 billionish it’s received from the U.S. of A., is actually suing the feds in an effort to lower its tax bill by $300 million. The article is crisp and direct and points out the many ironies here, notably that “A.I.G. is effectively suing its majority owner, the government,” and that the company is using taxpayer funds to pursue the case. Think about that when you’re filling out your 1040, right?

The moral outrage is so thick you could cut it with your high dudgeon. Normally I’d be right there with you, fighting the good fight — and any fight that has capitalist pigs on the receiving end almost has to be a good fight. But as time goes by and I see more and more stories like this one, I’m increasingly seduced by the suggestion floated by the Economist a while back as to what the U.S. tax rate on corporations should be.

0%. That’d be your zilch right there.

I swear I haven’t been kidnapped by Steve Forbes, nor have I been watching too much (i.e. any) Larry Kudlow. I still think the supply-siders were practicing voodoo economics, which you could maybe tell from the fact that Reagan never did put a dent in that federal debt, despite the rosy talk about gold coins trickling down from the skies. (That was actually nuclear fallout raining all over the U.S.S.R. when we — for God’s sake Rush quit touching yourself!) The Laffer curve doesn’t do it for me — I’d like to see the top personal income tax rate back up around 90%, where Eisenhower had it, the commie. Why did he hate America?

No, Grover Norquist and the gang are kidding around when they say that that everyone benefits from a tax cut on the wealthy; doesn’t do a thing for the economy other than widen the deficit and put upward pressure on interest rates. But on the corporate side, I can see how a lower tax rate might actually deliver a wider payoff. Suppose Apple’s tax bill for fiscal 2008 wasn’t $2 billion but zero; that’s $2 billion more Apple has to spend on R&D, right? More jobs for geeks, more iPods for the stores, more sales tax revenue for the states when more geeks buy more iPods? You feel me? It’s no different from pimping single-payer health insurance as a way to reduce the burden on businesses, shaving $1500 off the cost of that Chevy and giving GM a fighting chance to compete with Toyota. Or just throw $25 billion in the general direction of Detroit and hope for the best, whatever.

The other notion in that Economist article that got me rocking was that corporate taxes are so difficult to enforce, they’re almost not worth pursuing. If the war pigs at Halliburton are looking at a tax liability of $500 million, how much will they pay their lawyers and accountants to dodge it? Maybe $499 million? That just goes against the German in me, the one who’s always striving for a dirndl that fits efficiency. Instead of seeing the illegitimi move their headquarters to the Bahamas, just let them keep what they earn. I hope that’s not just my world-famous defeatism talking.

But Simons, how are we going to pay for this $370 billion giveaway,
my imaginary liberal friend asks. I won’t pretend it will “pay for itself,” but I do think we’d see some benefits that its true cost would be, say, $200 billion. Then I get rid of the capital gains tax — I mean, get rid of the capital gains tax rate. Screw this 15% nonsense — if you made $500,000 selling your Lehman last year, you still owe us 39%.

The same as if you had actually earned it.

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March 26, 2009 Posted by | Hi Finance! | Leave a comment

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