December 23rd, 2008
2008 has been quite a year. My gut response is, “thank god it’s almost over.” The truth is, though, it was pretty fantastic in a handful of ways. I may have gotten cancer, which was REALLY inconvenient, but that would be a terrible way to sum up the year.
At the beginning of 2008 I built and sold my first bike (thank you matthew machine!) and since then have built nearly 20 more (the current wait list is in the 4-6 month range). Over the course of the winter and spring, my step father contracted and then survived a particularly brutal strain of hepatitis A (something he ate in vietnam, we think, which sent him to a place like purgatory for several months). In the spring, my little sister graduated from Columbia U. Over the summer, my parents bought an apartment just down the street from Hill and me, and after about 8 years of living in Kathmandu, are retiring to NYC (though I don’t think either of them plans to actually RETIRE any time soon). In the fall, Hill and I managed to get up to Nova Scotia despite cancer complications. Also in the fall, the people of these united states, after 8 years of tyranny, had the good sense to put a black man with a funny name in the white house.. an act that goes miles to restore my faith in humanity, and my sense of the potential of this GREAT NATION! Recently, I managed to make it to 35. Alive. And most significant of all, to me at least, Hillary L. Nanney agreed to marry me. It has been a year to remember, and memory is merciful. There was a pot of fish chowder (with fresh chantarelles) that we made up in N.S. that will be more significant in my memory than the misery of chemotherapy.
There has been a bit of a change in the treatment plan. There isn’t any more lukovorin(?!). It’s a vitamin that they drip you with to potentiate the i.v. 5FU. So they’ve switched me to oral 5FU. The upside to this is that i don’t have to wear a pump around. The downside is that I have to take the stuff twice a day for two weeks straight out of every three.. “for 8 months instead of 6.” “8 months instead of 6!? what happened to 4?” “I’m sorry if I ever said 4.”
Yesterday, they also started me on Avastin. Avastin is a drug that turns off your body’s ability to grow new capillaries. The idea is to isolate and starve tumors, or in this case, potential future tumors. Naturally, though, it makes healing from minor cuts and bruises pretty hard. That added to the wildly diminished white cell counts from the chemotherapy makes it absolutely necessary that I get NO cuts or scrapes or anything else. They have all but forbidden me from working in the shop. As it is, I don’t even weld with gloves on. They’re telling me now, that I shouldn’t so much as get out of bed without them.
I walked out the door of Alberto’s office yesterday, and immediately my hands went pins and needles numb. I was talking with Hill on the phone, and had to cut it short for fear of dropping the thing. It was nearly impossible to get change out of my pocket to get on the bus. It was a cold day in NYC yesterday and once my hands warmed up a little, they went back to normal. I got off the bus up in my neighborhood, and they went instantly tingly again. My hands have become (very suddenly) SO cold sensitive, that last night pouring Billy a cold beer from the fridge got my finger tips numb… rinsed my hands off with cold tap water after feeding the beasts, same thing. I did a little google search this morning, and it turns out to be a pretty common side effect of the oxaliplatin. Strange nueropathy.
Emotionally, I’m pretty beat up. Enough. I’m ready to be better. I have a lot to do. I know in my heart that I have this thing by the tail, but the marathon quality of the fight is pretty daunting. I’m just exhausted. Hillary continues to be a hero. She pulls her weight and about two thirds of mine around the house, and works, AND is applying to grad school. I can’t possibly be much fun to be around these days, but she continues un-phased.
I will try to get back into a bit more of a rhythm with this blog. It’s been hard lately to do it, somehow. Thank you all for soldiering on with me.