Wednesday, July 24, 2019. 3:00 A.M.
July 15 1813
In a Letter From John Adams to Thomas Jefferson
“You and I ought not to die before we have explained ourselves to each other…”
Perhaps THAT’S what this is all about. To reconcile. Another attempt to explain myself. I’d rather not discuss spaghetti sauce, lawnmowers or construction jobs today. Not camping or the mountains of Montana. Not health insurance or the overwhelming heat wave. Instead, recent activities and the feelings/emotions connected to them is what I’d prefer to share.
It’s 3:00 a.m. and I am too tired to cry. The last time I REALLY slept was with a doctor-ordered drug-induced nap during my first chemo-therapy. I was too wired to go forward until the doctor ordered a sedative. Previously on social media I posted our schedule for the week. It was more maddening than I expected.
I am already weary of “abstination diets” as they decide which scans I need, which labs to prep for. I’m tired of being tired. And remembering to eat five or six times a day.
I’ve always been intrigued with speed. As a kid I liked fast bicycles. Long as I can remember I’ve liked fast, lively horses at the Derby, grew up watching record-setting race cars on TV. Fast trucks, fast airplanes, anything with speed. The trill of acceleration gave me a natural high no drug could have ever done. Through the years, I owned three different ’65 GTO’s all coming in at 3600 pounds from the factory. Always my first goal was to lighten these old cars and increase the horsepower to gain a few more miles an hour. I’ve owned stock cars, supercharged nitro burning, hemi-powered dragsters. IMSA cars, enduros. Cars that burned airplane fuel. A twin-turbo Thunderbird that my attorney nicknamed “Arrest Me Red”! I always teased Phil, “THAT car paid for your Canadian hunting trip last year!” Even a couple of pretty fast motorcycles. I’ve driven a hundred and twenty mile hour semi truck and flown small 200 mile an hour airplanes (which is really NOTHING now). I often thought that if I had concentrated on just one of them I may have been pretty good. We never won much of anything racing. Even managed to wreck a few! No money. No championships. Few trophies. Perhaps a few top fives and tens in my travels around the country seeking speed.
One of the engine shops I dealt with had a sign above the door of the machine shop, “Speed costs money. How fast do you want to go?” Lord knows I wish I had the money and hours spent on this adrenaline seeking addiction I’ve always had. Crap! The other day I got pulled over for doing 60 in a 35 with Sherry in the car. The officer was kind enough when I explained that lately, “I’m in a hurry everywhere I go. To accomplish all I can.” He shook my hand and let me off with an admonishment and said he’d keep us in his prayers. Nonetheless it’s all been fun and I cherish every memory. Every friendship, every minute I spent going faster every day.
There is a point to this and I promise to get there soon.
It seems every thing with this cancer has been at a maddening pace. Monday the 15th, meetings with radiation and more labs. Tuesday. Meeting with the chemo tech and port installation in my chest that afternoon. We put Takota in day care for that appointment. Wednesday a scan they couldn’t do before. The radiation doctor insisted it be done. Thursday they did more lab work in the morning. I met with the chief oncologist and began my chemotherapy regime. As I said earlier the anxiety, the adrenaline, my uncontrolled racing thoughts demanded that they sedate me in order to proceed. I laugh. It was the best nap I’ve had for a while. Friday we attended to a recall letter I’d received on our camper/ photography truck in the morning. Back and forth to the house with the truck for that. Then over to Bergen Mercy Hospital for the day and two more lengthy tests. Saturday was errands day. That’s the day I got pulled over with Sherry in the car. We had Cabelas, Menards, the Locksmith, Walmart, the grocery, TWO Ace Hardware stores, the pharmacy, the dry cleaners. God bless my wife. I drove. She provided the footwork in and out of each store, attending to the lists I made while I waited in the car. Engine running and air-conditioner on high. We managed to accomplish everything including organizing every key to everything we own. The house, the cars, the shed, the yard gates, the camper and even those little safety keys for the freezer. That was on my list of things to do.
The day care for Takota is working out okay but it’s not perfect for us. Their hours conflict with ours and we find ourselves rushing from leaving him at the door to being on time for yet another medical appointment. And so Sunday after visiting a couple of hours with a former neighbor, his wife and children, we spent some time with a man named Paul here at home introducing him to our dogs. We arranged for him to come here on a moments notice. We met Paul through another friend who I need to remember to call and thank for the referral. We still have a block of credit at doggy daycare which I’m sure we will eventually use.
Monday begin radiation which included a series of x-rays. Again God bless Sherry. We’re walking out the door of the Cancer Center I said to Sherry, “Let’s go get something to eat..” As we approached the car and she asked, “Aren’t you supposed to do labs after this treatment?” I swear if I don’t have it written down I don’t remember. The speed with which things are happening is faster than anything I’ve ever driven. Ever ridden. Perhaps even, ever seen. I thanked Sherry over and over again for remembering the labs and saving us a return trip later in the day.
Yesterday I met with Dr. Allen for two hours. He’s my family man and was scheduled for sort of a consolidated review. In addition they wanted to discuss my blood pressure medicine because it’s been running extremely low since this began. 80 over something this morning. It’s the first time I’ve seen Dr. Allen since the diagnosis and the mood was rather somber. Everything was fine until he asked, “Have you had such-and-such heart test? It’s stressless to your heart and I think you may consider having it done.” I exploded. “You’re the goddamn doctor, and I’ll do it if you think I need it! Just tell me where to be and what time!” I immediately started crying and apologizing for my outburst, saying over and over again “I’m sorry. I’m just a wreck. I’m sorry, I’m a wreck…” He patted me on the shoulder and said he’d call the rest of my team when we parted, to discuss the test and perhaps his concerns over my uncontrolled emotions. “We will help you through this” he said. “You have to trust us.”
From there to the house for another meet and greet with Paul and the dogs, then off for my daily dose of radiation. Yes I had a list. We had time after, to hit the grocery store for ginger ale and cleaning supplies, Walmart for pajamas, air freshener and ice cream, the home furnishing store for a candy jar. Again I sit in the car while Sherry does the footwork. I know that it exhausts her. She’s never had the stamina that I once did. But I can’t help it. It’s all I can do to walk 40 or 50 feet when the fatigue hits. My day today begins at 9 AM back at the Cancer Center for a consultation. There’s a three hour break where I have to be home to meet the oxygen supply company. Yes. That’s been ordered now. Following that appointment I’ll return to the Cancer Center for an appointment with the radiation doctor and daily dose of what I laughingly call my “glow-in-the-dark” medicine.
Quickness and speed used to be fun. I enjoyed the adrenaline rush. I savored the challenges associated with velocity, rapidness and preparing myself for the acceleration that was about to take place when the accelerator was firmly pressed. Now my energy comes in waves. Not by the event, the week, the day not even the hour. In an instant my mind will race through my “List of things to do:” Call the lawn guy, have the car washed, clean the fish tank, fill the bird feeders, water Sherrys flowers, forgot something at the grocery, pick up the dry cleaning, doctor at 11, lab at 4. Check the bank balance, don’t forget to eat, what time is Paul coming for the dogs? Did Sherry eat this afternoon? I need the vaccination papers for Takota, need to organize the garage sale two weeks from now. I have to shower before I leave. There’s a stack of two-weeks mail on my desk I need to address. The pharmacy called: another refill to pick up. I need to get Sherry’s 20 gallon fish tank moved upstairs. My studio is a mess. Did I charged the new camera battery. And sleep. My god it’s 5 AM and I haven’t slept yet.
Going fast used to be fun. Now, the rapidity of things taking place, the haste in which appointments are set and completed, the rush to take advantage of every give moment has been exhausting. I KNOW I need to slow down. At the very least, my racing mind.
I’m just done for today. Thanks for listening.