Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hope in the Hospital

Hey all, day 3 in Sacred Heart Riverbend/Overlook Hotel I came in on Friday with a platelet count of 8 and I've been here ever since with CT scans of stuff and waiting for CT scans of stuff and I'm finally starting to get used to the bed.

But this is not the ideal weekend by any stretch. Energy is very low so I've got to cut this short.

I'm still here people. I'm still here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Movie Nearly Every Night: Anatomy of a Murder

Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
Dir. Otto Preminger
Starring: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, Arthur O'Connell, Eve Arden

It's a kooky little courtroom drama that pushes some pretty big buttons. I know! Cinema nice guy Jimmy Stewart playing loveable small-town lawyer defending creepy Ben Gazzara for murder? All this and no surprises, but, really, there are a few.

For starters there's never a doubt that Gazzara's Lt. Manion killed the guy -- he walks into a bar with a luger and shoots a bartender who had raped his wife: "I've got the unwritten law on my side," he says. When his lawyer Paul Biegler (Jimmy Stewart) tells him there's no such thing and he's got to come up with something better you can see the confidence drain out of Manion and then bounce up again in anger and deviance. He's a tricky little thinker, Manion, and Biegler, all nice-guy exterior, is a big manipulator of people and sees his chance to manipulate Manion into an insanity plea. Loveable + creepy = cynical dream team.

Manion and "10 guys who made the grade" behind him

There's no way Biegler can win, but he wants the challenge of seeing if he can get a jury to buy into Manion's lie. Innocent by reason of insanity? So very thin, so Biegler plays up the nice guy, the local guy, the every man, who fishes for trout and is beloved by his co-workers even though he can't afford to pay them.

You're paying me in fish again this week ... aren't you?

On the occasional weekends he even plays jazz piano with Duke Ellington.

He's just an ordinary guy. Unknowingly the prosecution helps Biegler out with this by double-decking the prosecuting legal counsel with the addition of Asst. State Attorney (and cross-examination pit bull) Claude Dancer, played by George C. Scott. It's two against one and America loves the underdog, friends. What was the prosecution thinking?

4 men trying to come up with a "nice" term for "panties"

The drama is not so much proving innocence or guilt, but which one of these guys, Biegler or Dancer, is going to win the pissing match. Will the jury dig Dancer's confidence and the fact that he's right 90% of the time? Will they like that he's actually got evidence on his side and a nasty character witness?

Because what does Biegler have other than his small-town gosh oh gee charm? His defendant is a punchy jerk with a short temper and his wife, Laura, is an unreliable party girl, who goes out dancing even while her husband's in stir.

"The kind men try to take advantage of ... and do"

There's no physical evidence to work with (although Biegler gets lucky later) and character witnesses all seem confirm the worst about his client.

So he puts Mrs. Manion in a girdle and glasses, which hardly looks natural --

And brings out the cute dog --- look how he carries the flashlight, isn't that the sweetest, most unnecessary addition to this testimony?

And things go well --- Biegler introduces things like spermatogenesis and rape ("How can a jury disregard what they've already heard?""They can't") to sneak in his side case, the "unwritten law" that Manion loves so much and that a jury might still hook onto --- until a cell mate of Manion's blows everything to hell. Then it's time to bring in the big guns.

That I'll leave for you to see. All's well that doesn't really end well for Biegler, but somehow you feel he gets what he deserves.

Alternative viewing options: Just watch the first 20 minutes for examples of rubber catch bags

And a whole collection of field wear. Is that a Pendleton shirt?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Thank You Post

I'm sitting here, eating some very tasty granola ---- "Li'l Hateful, you don't like nuts and raisins. What made you open the bag?""I was curious.""And now?""Now I'se in heaven." ---- wrapped up in a hand-woven prayer/lap rug with the rice bag across my lumbar spine and a Topsy Turban on my head, and I'm thinking:

I've got some very special friends.

Yeah, seriously, granola. I took a chance, Deep Fry, because it's not usually my thing unless it's in a foil-wrapped bar and there are kooky little marshmallows in it. But, boy-o, am I glad I chanced it. I feel like a complete mook to have gone this long without eating real, un-sugar processed granola. Then again, like Sara, who got me to eat her candy prunes, I'm thinking I only like this because it came from you and a bag bought at Trader Joe's would disappoint.

Thank you to everyone who has been chipping in through the PayPal and otherwise. I'm seriously trying not to use it for medical bills, but they tallied up January and it's not pretty. I have used about $30 to buy (2) Topsy Turbans for when I start the abraxane ... although I'm wearing them now because I'm tired of brushing my kinky wiry hair:

Good times. It will all work out. It will all work out.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


By the way, if it's any hint at all the recovery is still happening --- yes, that post was about a bowel movement.

And my pants have been on backwards for the past 5 hours.

Where do I even begin?

Okay, so the amount of phone calls coming through last night (People! We were trying to finish The Wire! Did they bring in Wee-Bey from Philly?) means that I'm not doing a very good job at keeping everyone in the loop.

But when you're asking a brontosaurus named Ray to please go pick up some ice cream and then that bastard doesn't even come back with your money ... well, you get a little distracted by mundane day-to-day hallucinations.

Friends, my sodium dropped this weekend. Something is always dropping, yeah? So combined with the pain medication, I was intensely out of it all weekend long. What was Saturday? Right, I went to work. You know, scary, but there it is. I spent my energy at work and when I got home I dropped like a bag of dirt never to rise again. Even now, I'm still really tired, but not like before, and I'll tell you why ............... but maybe you don't want to hear it.

Like chocolate pudding?

So, yeah, has anyone out there been constipated for an entire week? 7 full, complete, interminable days. Show of hands. There's nothing to be ashamed of. Come on. Okay, so you know where I'm coming from on this. The rest of you get to use your imagination. You're not the lucky ones.

As I'm sure you're aware, when you can't go, it backs up and each day you add to "the pile" means another day of having to truck it around in your gut. This can seriously restrict your movement and if you like food, like I do, it puts a crimp in your happy levels because it puts a kibosh on wanting to add/eat. You're not hungry if you're still holding on to dinner from last Wednesday, ya know?

I had 7 full days of nothing. It went in, but it wasn't about to come out again.

So I took Senacot and Miralax, both with a chaser of Mylanta. By Saturday I was onto an enema. (no, really, desperate times, friends...) Sunday I moved right into a Powerball of Miralax and prune juice. Nothin'.

Last night --- me cranky and my parents and cousin/roommate at a loss on how to help and me at a loss on what to ask them for --- mom and cousin suggested another go with the Powerball. Man, prune juice is just not appealing even with Miralax .... which is also somewhat unpleasant. To help get that nasty sucker down I used a straw.


I feel like a real live real person now. Look! Look! I just pinched myself (ow) and I'm enjoying coffee! I know what day it is! I just paid a bill! (ow again)

Overnight the world has changed and will change again. That's not a bad thing.

I'm going to work in my "office" now and see what went on yesterday. Man, I hope I didn't screw things up ....

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Having a good day? Skip this then.

Platelet Count: 7

That was on Monday. We went to the hospital and I spent all day getting a transfusion of IVIG and platelets, which shot the platelet count up to a whopping 35.

35. That's as good as I get for a day in a hospital bed watching basic cable?!?

It's not the cancer, friends. The cancer I can handle. I'm going in for radiation this week to shoot out some particularly bad spots on my lumbar and (hopefully) also take out some issues in my upper legs so I don't walk like a Weeble anymore. The cancer is still doing its thing, but it behaves accordingly and can be dealt with accordingly.

It's the platelet count that's screwing me. Steroids have apparently lost their effectiveness (I was taking them up through Saturday and still tanked on Monday), we still don't know if Rituximab is working, I was turned down for nPlate, which I wasn't entirely keen on anyway, and a transfusion looks like it's no more than a Band-Aid fix.

Or maybe this will be a weekly thing. Every week I spend a day at the hospital getting pumped with some stranger's blood and it'll buy me time to ... to ... eh ... yeah.

I just don't know.

Dark days without any idea what will happen tomorrow. I'm not physic (misspelling intended --- ain't you all never seen Harper?) and I don't pretend that I've ever been able to see into the future, but everyone likes to plan a little, right? You want to be able to think: "I can put in those anemone bulbs if the weather stays like this" with the idea that you're planning and predicting the weather to stay like this, albeit not fully seeing entirely whether or not the weather stay like this.

I'm rambling. It's the fatigue. I'm so tired I have to take a nap after putting on socks. I'm going to finish this and move to the chair in the Red Room where I'll be workin' on my back at the HO. hahahahahahaha.

I will one day take a picture of the home office (aka: The HO), but the camera tells me that "the battery is exhausted."

I know how it feels.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

A Movie Nearly Every Night: Return of the Jedi

Star Wars Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)
Dir. Richard Marquand
Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams (whoo!)

Yeah, we've all seen it. They're building a new Death Star, Luke's got finish his Jedi training, Jabba blah blah blah, cheering as Ewoks get exploded --- you don't need me to tell you about the basics. We threw this on to follow The Empire Strikes Back (1980) as part of the natural progression of all things Star Wars, but I've never really liked it much compared to the others. That means I could sit back and let it wash a little more over me without getting too involved.

And then I went and got involved anyway.

Like, why is it that the first paragraph of that opening is all about Luke and Han and no mention of Princess Leia?!? She's running things at the rebel base and making big decisions and, flippin' A, she's even got Jedi skills!

Nothin. We've got to talk about the men and it just keeps getting worse.

Triumph of the White Costume Design

So we start on the new Death Star, right? And all of the obvious comparisons to Nazi Germany are there --- Stormtroopers, the way they line up by section, the uniforms. I mean, der. We're not new. But as Darth Vader is threatening poor frazzled weapons contractor guy, it occurred to me that there's no reason to work for these people. Not that there were legit reasons to work for the Nazis other than keeping yourself from getting camped, but based on the World War II movies I've seen there were some perks to rising in power.

But what the hell are the perks on the Death Star? Where are the cabarets? Where are the stolen works of art and the shiny metals? There's not even a Death Star Youth. And what kind of people do they hire anyway? Certainly no women.

They laugh alike, they walk alike,
at times they even talk alike, you can lose your mind

Apparently you just need to be a Boy, Bland, British, and Brown-Haired. So Leni Riefenstahl need not apply.

Let's contrast that to "vile gangster" Jabba the Hutt.

Hair stylists? check. Good times? check.

It was the style at the time.

Okay, so maybe the women are hookers or singers, but it's work and it comes with drinks and dancing. And the men are bounty hunters or guards, so it's not any better for them really. Besides, it's not like he's beating you with a whip or making you march around in a uniform. Jabba doesn't even care what you look like. Heavy? Come on in and chicken dance all you want, sweetheart.

God love 'er

Okay, so on both the Death Star and Jabba's place you can get killed on a whim. I'm not going to deny that. You bolt that sheet metal on too loose and Darth Vader will snap your neck. Deny Jabba a little lick of your face and you get eaten by a monster. Meh. The difference is you have a much better time before your exit at Jabba's than you do on the Death Star.

Even R2D2 seems okay with his job serving drinks on the barge. No complaints from him until that whingey C3P0 knocks him over.

Cocktail? Canape?

Now, I know what you're going to say. Princess Leia. Let's get back to Leia and her metal bikini.

Luke, geez ... this is awkward

Sure, when Luke comes in she tries to hide behind Jabba's frog bowl (with no success) because who wants to be on display like that in front of your brother? But so what? She kills the guy! She kills Jabba! With her own girl power!

Friends, that's what I'm saying. That's where the power is. It's Leia and natural strength, not these men with their Death Star nonsense and big machines to prove their galaxy macho-ness. She doesn't need a light saber or blaster to take out her enemies. She doesn't need a space station with a laser probe. She just gets up there and does the job.

Leia is twice the Jedi of Luke, I don't care what anyone says. She's got moxie and her rebels take out the Death Star --- HER rebels, friends. Not Luke's. Or Han's. Those guys just work for her, same as anyone else.

By the way, does it seem kind of unfair to anyone else that the galaxy relies on 15 guys in tie-fighters to release them from the clutches of the Empire? All these places celebrating at the end after doing f-all to help out and you know someone on some planet's going to want to take over. It'll be anarchy or another empire.

Unless Leia takes charge.

You GO girl.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Okay Fine

I can't stop you. If you want to help you can help. Geez. Get off my back. It's harder to hold the tide then let it wash. From now on I'm the rock, not the waves.

I don't know what we need, so I'm going to tell you what we have and you can make your help plans from there. How's that? I think that's good.

So a lot of talk has been made of financial assistance. Here's where we're at: I still have my job and it's regular so I still have my health insurance. That is not changing for now and based on the starting up yesterday I think the transition to home is going to be just fine and there's no need to use that ugly D word anymore except with regards to getting a parking placard for the card. I'm relatively regular with paycheck and insurance. This has also helped my stress, you have no idea.

I'm on track to pay off last year's medical bills by April. This is kind of taking into consideration a tax return, which should be good since I've got a lot to write-off. We have Turbo Tax, but I publicly thank the big brother for the loan of the accountant. Anyway, that's 2010 taken care of. Haven't seen what the bills will be for 2011 yet because it's just started, so let's not talk about that either.

I'm canceling credit cards too and I predict that wearing fewer clothes (or the same flannel pants more than once) is going to reduce debt. Truly.

Hey, I know, here's one for you. I'm at a loss when it comes to food. I'm just not getting the "little meal" concept down very well. I need to boost up my appetite, but keep an eye on quantity and preservation, since it's stuff that gets tapped into a little at a time. Mal can have the big portion and I take mine in several little portions throughout the day/following day. Easy fixin' and low maintenance are the keys I guess --- archival foodstuffs. So far that's left me with potato buds and Ensure energy drinks. It's time to branch out.

There. We are all happy now. Are you happy now? You are happy now. I am happy now. Oh! Time to put on the flannels and get ready for work!