Sunday, July 6, 2014
Sunday Sundries, 7
1. Last week I posted about my quarterly visit to my oncologist, who's keeping an eye on the status of my persistent prostate cancer. I've been on Lupron--a testosterone-zapper--for about a year, and, as a result, my PSA has fallen from 22.9 to the undetectable range. Anyway, we were talking last week about my recent PSA test, and I told him that I was concerned when I couldn't get the result for two days. It had never taken more than one day since 2005 when I began having regular blood tests because of the cancer.
The doctor asked, "Why were you worried?"
And I said I was afraid it was bad news.
He told me not to worry, said even if it begins to rise again (rather, when it begins to rise again--Lupron is only a temporary inhibitor), they have other hormone therapies to move on to. "We have a plan," he said. And I found those words comforting at a time when psychological comfort is very rare.
2. A few weeks ago I came out of the house prepared for my morning walk over to the coffee shop, and I heard a bright--even piercing--chirping sound. I looked around for a bird. Saw none. But I did see, across the street, a chipmunk peering out of the drainpipe that connects our neighbors' downspouts to the street. About halfway out, the chipmunk was chirping like mad. I read later (see links) that this can be either (a) a warning for others, (b) a mating call. And I kind of liked that thought--how close together mating calls and warning calls are. (Link to chipmunk chirping; mating call link.)
3. As we wrestle with health insurance in this country, I think about the hundreds of thousands of dollars my insurance has paid for my prostate surgery, a month of radiation treatments, the countless visits to oncologists--to laboratories and specialists (for scans and other tests), and, most recently, for Lupron; each quarterly injection costs thousands of dollars. If I didn't have insurance (Medicare + a supplemental policy via the State Teachers Retirement System), I would not be able to afford the treatments. And so, of course, I am extremely grateful for Medicare, for STRS--and I grieve for the less fortunate who face serious illnesses with far fewer resources. I have been very lucky in my life--born into a tight family, parents who were highly educated (who insisted on our education--and found ways to pay for it); I halfway stumbled into a profession I loved, a profession that did not enrich me financially but which offered the benefits of health insurance and a retirement plan; and, of course, I was born Caucasian, male, and Protestant--a member, in other words, of the folks who've been high in the saddle in this country since Jamestown. And so I am delighted to pay taxes to help people who did not have the advantages I did. No one should have to forgo medical treatments--or suffer bankruptcy because of them. I want to believe we're a kinder, more generous people than perhaps we are?
4. I've always thought for a long time that it's not a good idea to talk about or write about bad dreams. (Words give them a reality--an enduring one.) Joyce is reading a book about brain research (The Future of the Mind, by Michio Kaku), by the way, that confirms this old belief. But the other night I had one so colorful and real that I talked about it--and now it's with me (and will probably come roaring back later on). I'll say just this: It involved punching out some members of my family (the ones I grew up with) and resulted in my exile from that group. It was kind of fun to punch brothers--but sad to leave the family, too ...
5, Finally, Blogspot keeps track of my posts, and this one is number 900. The first was on January 6, 2012. (Link to it). I didn't write every day at first, but now I do. I can't help it. It's just part of my day. I see, too, that I've had 181,020 hits on those 899 posts--an average of about 200 hits/post. I was surprised when I just looked at those blog stats (I very rarely do). It's nice to know that a couple hundred folks/day (more or less) are checking out the site. Keeps me humble. And I will take another look when/if I hit 1000.