July 2nd, 2010


[links] Link salad dreams of punk-ass rainbows

A luke-warm reader review of Green

Review: Jay Lake's Mainspring — A reader reacts. They liked it.

A review of Extraordinary Engines — Which takes a fairly dim view of my story therein.

A new review of Is Anybody Out There?

Death by Ham: Playing the Odds of Getting Published — Maggie Stiefvater on the odds of getting published. She's even more pessimistic than I am, I had the base number about 1:20,000 for novels, she has it at 1:38,000. But she has a lot to say about how those numbers unfold, which I agree with.

The Junkers F.13 — a beautiful photo of an inter-war float plane.

Genes for Extreme LongevityScientists can predict who will live past 100 using a subset of 150 genetic variations.

Russian spy ring needed some serious IT help — I probably shouldn't laugh at this, but it is funny. (Via my sister.)

More deadly than the male.The Edge of the American West on the cultural narratives about female spies. I found this piece both fascinating and creepy. A bizarre angle on sexism, too.

The sting of povertyWhat bees and dented cars can teach about what it means to be poor - and the flaws of economics. (Thanks to seventorches.)

Climategate’s death rattle — Unfortunately, the story will never die, because the same denialists who promoted and believed this in the first place will simply assume the truth has been suppressed by the liberal media. Amazing how hermetically circular counterfactual thinking can be once you discard evidence in favor of ideology in your foundational assumptions.

?otD: Can you describe your favorite color using sense-words that don't include the visual?

Writing time yesterday: n/a
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 7.5 (decent)
This morning's weigh-in: 227.2
Yesterday's chemo stress index: 2/10
Currently (re)reading: Children of Dune by Frank Herbert


[cancer] An abbreviated user's guide to the chemotherapy experience

[cancer] An interim summary of the chemo experience

In the course of this week I have written email to several people about cancer, chemo and surviving the experience. It occurred to me in working on those emails that I am now in the process of integrating the chemotherapy experience into some coherent narrative for my own emotional purposes. Following I present a very abbreviated user's guide to the chemotherapy experience, drawn from those emails with permission of my correspondents.

For me, chemo has been characterized by several basics. The one I miraculously avoided is nausea. Apparently either the drugs worked or I have a cast-iron upper GI.

However, the disruption to my lower GI was incredible. You'll want to be prepared for that. It comes on slowly, but eventually becomes nigh overwhelming.

Likewise the fatigue. The first month or so, I was doing alright, but around month three I was worn down all the time, and by month four I was in pretty much permanent collapse. I would tell people that I woke up every day for six months feeling like I'd just gotten over a terrible flu. As it happens, I work at home in both my day job and as a writer, but I would not have been able to commute after the first four months. I haven't even driven a car since early May, due to slowed reaction times and reduced attention span/situational awareness. So if you work in a location other than home, I'd be prepared for that, as well, and make arrangements for work-at-home later in the chemo process.

Cognitive side effects are a stone bitch as well. I experienced lacunae in both short-term and long-term memory, dyscalculia, loss of focus, and later on in chemo, a near collapse stereotypical right brain function. My analytical thinking skills remained strong, though I had to take a lot more notes and use spreadsheets for things I'd normally do in my head.

Another thing I did from the very beginning was track my chemo side effects carefully. That was me looking for trends and issues. I eventually identified about 30 issues, which I brought as a spreadsheet to every pre-chemo oncologist consult. That was useful for me to know how I was changing, and my oncologist appreciated it as well. As my memory eroded during chemo (many of the side effects were cognitive), the tracking spreadsheet meant I didn't have to rely on that iffy memory to brief the oncologist on my progress and issues. I strongly suggest you use a similar technique, whatever works for you.

The final thing I would want to share with you is that in my opinion, cancer is a social disease. It affects your friends and loved ones, and even people you might expect. My mother wound up hospitalized with health problems incited by her stress over my illness. More to the point, people are going to try very hard to hide the weirdness and fear they feel. One of the things I had to keep reminding people of was, in effect, "just because I have cancer doesn't mean that your [flu/flat tire/bad day at work] doesn't still suck a lot for you." Getting people not to treat me like I was made of china was good for everyone involved.

This is manageable and survivable, but it will be one of the hardest things you'll ever do. For myself, not having ever been severely injured, chronically ill or given birth, chemotherapy ranks right up with overcoming long-term clinical depression as the hardest thing I've ever done mentally and emotionally, and takes first prize as the physically hardest thing I've ever done.

I want to add that having a close, loving family, and thoughtful, dedicated caregivers, as I did with calendula_witch and shelly_rae, is perhaps the most important part of surviving chemo in one piece physically, mentally and emotionally.

For whatever it's worth, these last few days once the lower GI storm had passed have been the best I've experienced in months. I'm hitting the recovery curve. Which is to say, objectively I still feel like stewed boots, but it's a better class of stewed boots, I'm getting an extra hour or two a day of energy already, my mind is more clear, and I'm a damned sight happier to be visibly on the mend.


[personal] Plans, plans, plans

Well, JayCon X is almost upon us. (That would be tomorrow, for those playing along with the home game version of this blog.) shelly_rae swoops in this evening to celebrate. calendula_witch already has jkoke and karawynn at her house. Many other folks coming in from Washington, California, even Nebraska. Plus all my local friends and family. Promises to be quite a shindig, and my body is delivering sufficient energy and focus for me to enjoy the party, assuming I don't burn it up today.

Which I won't.

Day Jobbery first, and soon, after which I'm going to mellow with calendula_witch, jkoke, karawynn and the_child. That means sitting in my Big Chair while they bang around the house and one another.

I did get to see Witchnest Manor yesterday briefly, though most of my visit consisted of taking a nap while calendula_witch consulted with her workiepersons about paint colors and whatnot. It is coming along nicely.

So light socializing today, heavy socializing tomorrow, and more light socializing on Sunday. My plan is to try my hand at writing on Monday (or possibly this weekend if I find a quiet hour and the energy) and see just how awake Fred is. Deadlines postponed by chemo impend.

Next week, a more normal routine. I figure another week and I might be fit to drive a car again, which would be convenient for the ordinary errands of my life. I continue to wake up from chemo fog in so many ways, and I am terribly excited about celebrating that tomorrow with some, all or none of you.