June 9th, 2010


[links] Link salad dreams of riding the comet's tail

1901 poster for Ben Hur

Huge seas 'once existed on Mars' — Light from a distant shore, indeed.

Possible naked eye comet on the rise — Something to watch out for while on your pre-dawn jog.

Sex & Money, part 2 — Slacktivist on picking and choosing. "The Bible is not a Rulebook for Other People" I'm glad my Christian friends understand that. Too bad about the Christianists who dominate so much of our politics.

Catholic Church Supports Discrimination Against Gays — Speaking of using the Bible as a rulebook for other people.

Elie Wiesel: Carve out an exception to free speech for Holocaust denial"We are in danger of losing the battle for freedom of speech," Mr. Rushdie said. It is being recast as a Western imposition, not a universal human right. Respect is being redefined as agreement, and censorship disguised as a virtuous defence of diversity.

Do We Really Want to Hear Someone Say 'I Was Wrong'?As usual, old 386 to the rescue. Who needs nuance or diversity of experience and opinion, anyway?

?otD: What planet or moon would you visit if you had the chance?

Writing time yesterday: n/a (chemo exhaustion)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 8.5 (lower GI follies)
This morning's weigh-in: 226.2
Yesterday's chemo stress index: 9/10 (sleepless night)
Currently (re)reading: The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett


[contests] METAtropolis contest winner

The winner of my part of the METAtropolis contest is T.E.P., with this submission.


As the Maltese Falcon first proved, there was a lot which modern technology could do to improve upon 19th century commercial sailing ships. But as the world was suddenly thrust into its second age of sail and those yards who still had the skills and materials scrabbled to put hulls in the water, the living fossils of that first age were much in demand. While in the early days they maintained those most delicate tendrils of physical contact between continents once more worlds apart, naval architects, shipwrights and mariners alike all sought to re-learn from those who’d gone before.

T.E.P. wins a copy of the Tor Books edition of METAtropolis, and a big smile from me. Check out the contest page itself for some awfully cool ideas from many other folks.

Bear's contest here: here.

Toby's contest here.

John's contest here.

Karl's contest here.


[cancer] Retreat from the ragged edge

As noted previously, yesterday was pretty much handcrafted of USDA grade A failure. My utter lack of sleep Monday night caused me to pretty much turn into a wax dummy by about 10 am. For the second time since this whole thing started, I had to take unscheduled sick time. (As opposed to the infusion sessions, which are pre-planned.) maclarke2005 came by a while, as did my parents, and the_child spent a couple of hours here. I fairly much do need to be watched over when I'm that messed up, because I have a tendency to do goofy things like forget to eat, which is bad.

Did sleep well last night, even if I was dreaming of scalzi, cats, and a post-apocalyptic art school. Ah, the wells of imagination are drilled deep into my subconscious.

As for the past few days, other than the sleep issues, lower GI restart was holy hell, too. Collapse )

Every time I think I understand this process and how my body handles it, things juke a different way. One more, then I can climb out. Otherwise I'd be on my way to bed-ridden.

I swear I'm walking away from this damned trainwreck with my head held high.


[cancer] Of ports, scans and the smell of ancient oceans

One of the minor but potentially significant questions that has been raised as we head toward the end of the chemotherapy process is whether to have my chest port removed. The port is a medical device just below my right clavicle that's tied into my carotid artery. Roughly this doodad here.

When the port was installed back in December, I went around for quite some time feeling like the surgeons had left a Bic pen in my chest. I can easily find the knot in my neck where the line ties into circulatory system. The port's head has become slightly more obscure over time as the device has sunk deeper into my chest tissue and acquired a tilt relative to the nominal plane of my skin. It can be palpitated, and the implant scars have never healed due to the effects of chemo, so it's not too difficult to find. As previously noted, we've had to alter the protocol for setting the needle, however. A one inch Huber needle is needed now, where we used to employ a 1/2 inch Huber needle, and I have to achieve a rather ridiculous pose to give optimal access to the port head. But basically, my body has adapted. The port doesn't feel invasive anymore, and it's composed of surgical grade material, so it can lurk in my chest for years if need be, given monthly flushing of the head so it doesn't clot into uselessness.

The primary argument for taking it out now would be because the device was bothering me. Except it doesn't. I may come to view monthly trips to the infusion center for a port flush as a bother, but there are countervailing advantages.

The primary argument for leaving it in is the quarterly CT scans I will be having for the indefinite future, as well as possible PET scans. The veins in my arms are a mess from these past few years, tough enough to get blood out of, but the larger gauge needles required for the contrast dye (CT) and radioactively-tagged glucose analog (PET) are holy hell to get into me successfully. The port provides a much more convenient access path.

(Which reminds me, did I ever describe the olfactory side effects of the chest port? When I'm being injected with saline, I can smell the ocean. Heparin doesn't give me any particular scent. Some of the chemo drugs do funny things to my nose, too. I assume this is a circulatory thing, but it's one of those minor chemo weirdnesses to which I've become accustomed.)

So basically, I can have day surgery to have the port taken out, and trade monthly flushes for quarterly jab fests. (The CT people call in a specialist from IV therapy when they see me these days, that's how bad it's gotten.) Or not.

That's logical enough, and for now I'm sticking with the port. But there's an emotional angle, too.

Though no one has ever formally told this in a medical or oncological context, my own perception of my cancer is that it's unusually aggressive. Onset was two decades younger than average, and metastasis was not expected at all, given the pathology of the primary cancer. In other words, colon cancer has struck me hard twice as a significant outlier on the bell curve. Given this history, I am quite suspicious that this aggression will strike again, with another set of metastases in the next year or two. This is an emotional response, not medical advice, but it's still very real for me. A somewhat subtle and sophisticated form of ongoing cancer fear.

It seems ludicrous to me to go to the trouble of having the port removed, only to have to put it back in six months or a year later pursuant to a subsequent round of chemotherapy. I know this is my heart talking, not my head, but I do have to think forward, and given my history, being slammed with more unusual medical crap would not exactly be a shock.

So I believe I'll be leaving the port in, hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. Living through this, one passage at a time.