Saturday, June 21, 2014

orca to fry

Orca to Fry

6/ 18/ 14

"Ah'm born but Ah ain't dead. No tellin' whut Ah'm liable do to yet." Zora Neale Hurston --Their Eyes Were Watching God

This time around, respecting chemotherapy, steroids, and the tumor(s), I decided to monitor my condition more diligently than last time. I have done well. In the beginning, I devised a system by which to keep track of my symptoms.  "Devised a system" is probably too impressive sounding. I can't even manage a spreadsheet. The system I devised was to keep a running log.

 > Symptom name [severity scale: 1 = worst to 10 = no sweat]. Of course I had to create a random baseline for the scale at the outset to leave wiggle room between Apocalypse Now and Toy Story 3. (3 because it's plenty frightening in its own right.)

For instance (an abridged excerpt):


Baseline @ 4mg  set 4 / 3/ 14
Cognition [6.5] > Confusion [6.5] > Memory [6] > Frustration/ Anger [6] > Frustration/ Depression [6] > Fatigue [6] > Speech [6.5] > Faintness [7] > Headache [6.5] > Ache right eye/ temple [6.5] > Nausea [7] > Faintness [7] > Vision [4] > Sleepy [6] > Bowels [7] > Vision [4] > Gait [4.5] > Balance [4] > Headache [7] > Nausea [6.5] > Short Breath [7] > Appetite [6] > Numbness (left mouth/ tongue^[4.5]^, left hand ^[4]^, left leg/ foot ^[6])

[Bracketed numbers are adjusted when I set a new baseline with [x!] if worse [y+] if better. If no change, then no change. Altogether new complaints are underlined. Eg, Cataracts [5!]

There you have it . . . Excel for troglodytes.


I saw my optometrist of 26 years on Monday to see if there was anything to be done to improve my vision. I wasn't holding out much hope; I had been just assuming it was irreparable as long as the cause was chemotherapy, steroids, or the tumor(s) -- as given as they are to skip down the lane holding hands, swapping bubble gums.

But I was wrong.

In the waiting room in my wheelchair, skinny legs and all, another roadside attraction, I fomented my doubts and ticked off the reasons why my eyes would just have get in line. When the optician came to take me back for preliminary tests, I could see it in his face, "This guy has bigger fish to fry."

Try orca, buddy.

After running all of the usual tests, the optometrist was beginning to think that nothing was wrong, that my new vision is actually better than current lenses, maybe just an updated prescription was all I needed. We were excited. He was excited.

He was wrong.

Cataracts in right eye, left eye to follow sooner or later. But I was wrong about there being nothing to do about it. There's eyeball surgery. That's surgery on the eyeball. Awake. I'm picturing, vividly, Kubrick's Alex in rehab. (I said, Ah, no, no, no.) In truth, I'm rather eager to get it done. I want some serviceable peepers again . . . almost more than anything, even more than the rectification of my dratted, mostly ineffectual, voice.


"De lake is coming!" Tea Cake gasped. It's comin behind us!" Janie shuddered. "Us can't fly."
Zora Neale Hurston --Their Eyes Were Watching God

I take research as part of diligence. Also as part of self-affliction. Not necessarily as fuel for any mild form of hypochondria -- which I own up to -- but it is important to heed something like: just because you're hypochondriacal doesn't mean your maladies are not compounding by the moment; perhaps in ways analogous to one of these:

Tether ball.

Push . . . good push . . . game face on . . . slap . . . bonk opponent's face, slap . . . opponent bonks back, smack . . . oh OK this is how it's going to be, smack . . . alright then, so be it . . . punch . . . dodge, punch     . . . dodge, dodge, dodge, punch at, fingertip, fingertip, swat air, swat, swat . . . whiff mightily, fall.

Roller coaster.

Enter the maze, join the shuffle. Hear the screams, consider retreat. Buck-up, there are six year olds behind you. Fate has it, be alone in your car. Buckle frayed belt, test restraining bar for your own self. Lurch, gasp. Hear teen recite, hands and legs inside. Be off, don't scream. Ascend, ignore clacks, the clacks the ratcheting clacks, descend, FAST, scream, let your breath rejoin you, continue because you must, you're tied, barred, you doubled checked.

This is the sense I'm getting.


I take combing the World Wide Web as part of research, on account of I'm a fool. Here's as foolish a method as any. I enter the malady plus the suspected perpetrator. For instance: cataracts + (tumor/
steroid/ chemo). I scroll through Google's suggested surgeons or a certain Robert Southey poem. Then I proceed to that behemoth compendium, Wikipedia, because if everybody doesn't know then who does, really?

Next, I find a forum of the likewise tormented and nod and empathize -- because now I know I'm not alone; then I shake my head and eke a whimper -- despondent now that I've had my doom pronounced in black and white and certified by no less a personage than Vickie's uncle Bruce who died back in '04 from a case precisely mirroring my own (I guess Bruce was left handed),and if Vickie doesn't know then who does, really? Bruce now in Abraham's bosom frying minnows? I doubt it. McribsBback234? That fool? No way.

Then it's back to my search results where I should have scrolled down farther in first place. At least to that well-organized lodestar, WebMd, under the auspices of which I have had great success with self-diagnosis. There was the common cold, the tummy ache, the neck crick, the dog tick-- to name only four.

Of course, I always cross-reference my pile of complaints with those of Peggy Ann McKay. I'm gaining on her. 

Sure, my prospects for play on Saturday are not quite as sunny; yet I don't begrudge Peggy her sudden remission. It gives one hope come Saturday next.

A man is up against a hard game when he must die to beat it. 
Zora Neale Hurston, --Their Eyes Were Watching God


  1. Just remember, hypochondria isn't serious, but it is usually symptom of something terrible...

    1. dratted aphorisms. i cannot catch a break.

  2. Jeeper creepers where'd you get those peepers hehe