I've been working as an advertising representative for Connection Newspapers since February 1997. I responded to an ad in the newspaper, of course. The edition for which I am primarily responsible is the Potomac Almanac, although I can place ads in any of our other 14 newspapers. In addition, I have written a weekly, award-winning, column going on nearly 14 years, as of December 2011.
"Thoughtful humor and insightful commentary" and "Everything in general about nothing in particular" are two characterizations with which I am most comfortable.
Born in Brookline, Mass., I remain a loyal Boston sports fan, committed (or rather should be) and loyal member of Red Sox Nation. To set foot on the hallowed grounds of Fenway Park would be an experience I'd spend the rest of my life cherishing. I remember exactly where I was when Carlton Fisk hit his game-winning home run in game six of the 1975 World Series.
As much as last week’s column, "Scanticipation" was about my looking forward – in a non-foreboding way, to my scheduled CT Scan on the 27th and the presumptive positive (not negative) results, having to write a column for this week before having received those results makes this writing effort particularly challenging.
When I get CT-Scanned on Wednesday, November 27th, it will be nearly four months since my last diagnostic scan. That occurred during my hospital "staycation" during the first week of August, when I was admitted due to the extremely abnormal fluid buildup in my left lung.
As the person primarily responsible for stocking the house with supplies and maintaining miscellaneous inventory, I am frequently in stores (supermarket, drugstore, pet store, etc.) buying the staples (not an office supply reference) our family needs to maintain our lifestyle, such as it is.
But it was only a week, and I was able to leave under my own power, assisted by a wheelchair, which is of course standard procedure when leaving a hospital after an admission, so it wasn’t a total loss. It was three months ago today, Friday, August 2nd that I was "ambulanced " to Holy Cross Hospital where I spent the beginning of my seven, first-ever nights in a hospital; pretty fortunate track record for someone my age.
There’s more talk now than ever before, about the possibility of the Washington, D.C. professional football team changing its name.
If it wasn’t a coincidence, it was the next thing to being one. What it was, was the hiccups; occurring after chemotherapy infusion number one and again after chemotherapy number two. The first episode lasted only a few days and annoyed my wife, Dina, way more than it annoyed me. The first hiccuping episode was fairly constant; however it was not exhausting – and I wasn’t having any trouble sleeping because of them. Nor was I making any disturbing sounds or having any difficulty breathing – when caught in mid-hiccup, and/or eating because of the herky-jerky movements/spasms of my diaphragm. In general, it was a fairly benign effect. In the big picture, it didn’t seem particularly important that it was the hiccups I was having, so I never called my oncologist. It was the hiccups after all. It might as well have been a skinned knee. Jeez. And sure enough, within a couple of days, I was “hiccuped out.”
Meaning, in my head anyway, the future and what there is left of it. More specifically, I mean life expectancy. When you’re given a “13-month to two-year” prognosis—at age 54 and a half, by a cancer doctor, your cancer doctor—the timeline between where you are and where you thought you’d be when becomes as clear as mud.
The decision for yours truly to participate in a Phase 1 Study at N.I.H. or Johns Hopkins (depending upon availability and qualifications) discussed in last week’s column has been put on hold, temporarily. It seems that my oncologist was thinking about me over the holiday weekend and called me on Wednesday following Labor Day to say he had a diagnostic idea concerning me: a 24-hour urine collection (a “Creatinine Clearance Study”) which would provide a more accurate reading (than the regular lab work I have; from blood) of my kidney function.
I’m not exactly pretending that I don’t have stage IV lung cancer (non-small cell, to be specific), but ever since my hospital admission on August 2nd, I have been treatment-free; no I.V. chemotherapy, no oral medication, no targeted treatment, no nothing. And during this sabbatical (I use that term loosely; being off chemotherapy has been as much about recovering from surgery and recuperating from my hospital “stay-cation” as it was anything necessarily intended), I have progressed from feeling crappy and being short of breath—while being infused previously, to where I have become relatively asymptomatic, breathing normally and for the nearly eight week treatment-free interval mentioned, have felt mostly OK.
Do nothing (no more treatment) and live life to the fullest (for as long as I’m able, and right now, I’m extremely able); start another chemotherapy protocol – with an I.V. chemotherapy drug which, according to my oncologist, has not been proven in any clinical setting to be better than the patient doing nothing; or, try to get into a Study (Phase 1, 2 or 3) at either N.I.H. (National Institutes of Health) or Johns Hopkins (in Baltimore) and let the treatment chips fall wherever experimental/research medicine takes them. This is what my oncologist discussed with Team Lourie at my most recent appointment, my first appointment with him since my hospitalization and subsequent release.