Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Rude Intrusion :: Day 11

This is my blog for day 11 of cancer treatment, Thursday, 20 Jul 2017.

Slept well last night, even through the rainstorms. Too bad about the rain, especially for those waiting for the river to go down!

I have a question for everyone: is there anything that tastes better than a nice, cold glass of milk? Had one first thing this morning, and it was goooooood!

Have to work again today, but am still scheduled to be on short-term disability starting Monday. I'm not sure if I'll like that, or not. May still get on to work once in a while to stretch out the C# skills, but, ya know, ya never know. I do have a lot of books to read! (I just don't want to come back to thousands of unread e-Mail messages.)

So far so good today re: calorie count. Just at 800 for the morning. Now to try to get to 2200-2400 by the end of the day. It could be tough. Just sayin'.

Hey - got weighed at the hospital today. They say I gained a pound after losing ten the first week. Whaddya know? I know how to put on weight! Woo hoo!

Had spaghetti for dinner tonight. In what might be a "taste of things to come," so to speak, the sauce tasted "funny". Not like it should have. And that is a potential side-effect of the radiation treatments. While I haven't really noticed this in other foods (the milk this morning was especially good, as I noted earlier), it's a sign of things to come.

Nancy and I met our son Tim and his wife Kate at the Culver's in Crystal Lake for a birthday dessert. We all had sundaes, each different, and all were completely and thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks, guys!

And it's the 48th anniversary of the landing on the moon (20 Jul 1969). I was in Gerber, California at my grandma's house, watching on a small, rabbit-eared black-and-white set, enamored with what was happening. The Space Race was a really big deal to all of us of a certain age. I would have been in 8th grade at the time, at St Raymond's school. We considered the astronauts heroes, and I don't think there's a better word to describe them. They flew in machines that consisted of millions of parts (built by the lowest bidder, as was pointed out in one movie or another), using technologies that were new, lifted, as it were, through and into the heavens on massive chemical engines that required so much of their mass to be consumed that the remaining vehicle was a fraction of its original weight of 6,540,000 pounds (yes, that's over 6 million pounds!). The Saturn V was launched thirteen times - it never failed. It is still, "the tallest, heaviest, and most powerful (highest total impulse) rocket ever brought to operational status, and holds records for the heaviest payload launched and largest payload capacity to low Earth orbit." See Wikipedia, here.

In short, the men and women of NASA, the technologies, the missions, the vision; still, all never fail to amaze me!

For today's YouTube selection, we're going back to one of the good old good ones - Standing at the Crossroads by Elmore James (here) and Crossroad Blues by Eric Clapton and Cream (here). Same song, of course, originally by Robert Johnson (here). The influence of Johnson and James on Eric Clapton is well known, and I thought they deserved some recognition, too, as Clapton does.

For convenience sake, here a running list of all of the links I've posted to YouTube in the past few days:

According to Plan, Carolyn Arends - Link
Because We've Ended As Lovers, Larry Carlton & Steve Lukather - Link
Cross Road Blues, Robert Johnson Link
Crossroads, Eric Clapton and Cream Link
Groucho Movie Clips - Link
Lookin' At The World Through A Windshield, Bill Kirchen - Link
My Funny Valentine, Kristin Chenoweth - Link
My Funny Valentine, Miles Davis - Link
Route 66, Asleep at The Wheel - Link
Shim, Sham, Shimmy (dance) to Tain't What You Do, Jimmy Lunceford - Link
St Louis Blues, Stephanie Trick & Paolo Alderighi - Link
Standing at the Crossroads, Elmore James - Link 
Starts and Stripes Forever, United States Marine Band - Link
Sweet Georgia Brown, Wynton Marsalis/Mark O'Connor - Link
That's Jazz, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong & The All Stars - Link
Time to Blow, From That Thing You Do - Link

A Rude Intrusion :: Day 10

This is my blog for day 10 of cancer treatment, Wednesday, 19 Jul 2017.

First things first: it's my birthday! Sixty-one years old as of today. I received all kinds of Happy Birthday greetings, mostly by Facebook, but also by mail, phone and text message. Nancy's mom even stopped over at the house.

Today's medical included a regular old doctor visit, with blood work for cholesterol and sugar, as well as the radiation treatment. Have to say, my throat is beginning to get sore. I understand that it will get so bad that I won't want to take anything by mouth (something I'm not going to like, I'm sure). But I'm now approaching the end of the second week of treatment, 2/7 done (quick math: just under 30% complete), and I still feel pretty good.

Didn't do anything really special for my birthday, coming, as it did, during the middle of the week. But we stopped at Culver's for a short shake (vanilla for me, chocolate for Nancy), and had one of my favorite dinners: egg sandwiches! Egg, Krakus ham, cheddar jack cheese, grilled on the stove top. Not what some might call a "nice" birthday dinner, but as tasty as anything you'll ever eat. Of course, Nancy made brownies, too.

Today's YouTube link is to a really, really, cool version of Sweet Georgia Brown (here), featuring Wynton Marsalis, Mark O'Connor and more! Dare ya to keep from dancing!

For convenience sake, here a running list of all of the links I've posted to YouTube in the past few days:

According to Plan, Carolyn Arends - Link
Because We've Ended As Lovers, Larry Carlton & Steve Lukather - Link
Groucho Movie Clips - Link
Lookin' At The World Through A Windshield, Bill Kirchen - Link
My Funny Valentine, Kristin Chenoweth - Link
My Funny Valentine, Miles Davis - Link
Route 66, Asleep at The Wheel - Link
Shim, Sham, Shimmy (dance) to Tain't What You Do, Jimmy Lunceford - Link
St Louis Blues, Stephanie Trick & Paolo Alderighi - Link
Starts and Stripes Forever, United States Marine Band - Link
Sweet Georgia Brown, Wynton Marsalis/Mark O'Connor - Link
That's Jazz, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong & The All Stars - Link
Time to Blow, From That Thing You Do - Link

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Rude Intrusion :: Day 9

This is my blog for day 9 of cancer treatment, Tuesday, 18 Jul 2017.

Slept well last night, but I am not hungry at all. Yet I have to get in about 800 calories this morning. Rats. Okay, at least a little. Had cereal, milk and a slice of banana bread mid-morning. Think I'll lean on the meat at lunchtime - Reuben sandwich anyone?

For today's YouTube segment, here, I thought I'd add a little Groucho . . . Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx, that is. Noted in Wikipedia as an "American writer, comedian, stage, film and television star. He was known as a master of quick wit and is widely considered one of the best comedians of the modern era. His rapid-fire, often impromptu delivery of innuendo-laden patter earned him many admirers and imitators." This clip is damned funny, but definitely is not "politically correct". Note that his "three on a midget" remark comes from the bad luck of lighting three cigarettes on the same match (see here). With most of us no longer deciding to smoke, I'd say this has pretty well gone out of common knowledge and common usage. Or is it simply that I am now a product of older times?

Have to add one more, as well: John Philip Sousa's Stars And Stripes Forever, here, as performed by the United States Marine Band, the band he once led. Ran across this today, and I just could not pass up posting it for you. One of the finest bands, playing one of the finest songs!

Food came in at just over 2400 calories today, making me "good" for the day. It may have helped that we had Nancy's Pizza tonight . . . and it, too, was good! Excellent, in fact! (For those of you who don't know Nancy's Pizza, it's a Chicago-area franchise. It's not my wife Nancy's pizza.)

Went to a radiation treatment and a visit with the oncologist. Both went well. My blood work seems to have come back in the proper ranges, except for platelets, which are slightly below where they should be (142 in a range of from 150-450). They'll probably adjust the amount of chemo I get if my hearing continues to wane. But it (the hearing) also may come back next week. Only time will tell.

Funny thing - when I go for my next chemo treatment (Tue, 1 Aug 2017) it will be after my 17th radiation treatment - I'll be halfway done! I really don't want my days to fly by, I want to live them all, fully, but 1 Aug will be a red-letter day (though I realize the most difficult days may follow).

And here, at the end of the night, you get a poem, too! It's my Song Of An Aging Poet . . . written what is now a long, long time ago.

The Song Of An Aging Poet

The aging poet sadly sat there at this, his
Make-shift desk-table in the dining room
Centered in his comfortable suburban house
In an atmosphere of despair and gloom.

He despaired of writing, and writing this, his
First return to verse in too many years
Fearing the result of his work may lead him
To discover hidden feelings; feel, perhaps, tears.

Emotion, both friend and fiend, was hidden
Down inside, somewhere below his soul
Waiting to be freed from it’s weighty chains
To return in triumph and make him whole.

“Fool”, said he to he himself, the world
You view, a world of fact, you observe
Is missing many important things, but
Can you say that? Do you have the nerve?

Do you dare to dig up special events from
Your long childhood? Do you even dare
Write about things that, to you, are important?
Do you think any other stranger will care?

Gloom rejoiced as he sat with the blank
Page and pencil, simple tools of his art
Staring back at him, lining his tired eyes
Teasing him, daring him that he start.

Rhyme, oh hell, rhyme would you, you . . .
Just continue to taunt, insult and tease!
Wouldn’t it be a lot easier on us all to
Be Carl Sandburg and rhyme when we please?

But wait just a minute; hold that thought
Look what I’ve got written on the page!
Can it be that I’ve actually accomplished
The first one? Passed the first stage?

“Well, for the love of Mike”, he said.
“Look! It can be done! I’m through!”
The second, the third, the ninth, to follow
The Seventeenth, Two-Hundred Seventh, too!

Maybe I’ll write a ton and paste them
Together in a fancy-covered book
Fly from town-to-town for readings
With people just dying for a look!

I don’t think so. . . .

© 2000 Mark R. Dopita

For convenience sake, here a running list of all of the links I've posted to YouTube in the past few days:

According to Plan, Carolyn Arends - Link
Because We've Ended As Lovers, Larry Carlton & Steve Lukather - Link
Groucho Movie Clips - Link
Lookin' At The World Through A Windshield, Bill Kirchen - Link
My Funny Valentine, Kristin Chenoweth - Link
My Funny Valentine, Miles Davis - Link
Route 66, Asleep at The Wheel - Link
Shim, Sham, Shimmy (dance) to Tain't What You Do, Jimmy Lunceford - Link
St Louis Blues, Stephanie Trick & Paolo Alderighi - Link
Starts and Stripes Forever, United States Marine Band - Link
That's Jazz, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong & The All Stars - Link
Time to Blow, From That Thing You Do - Link

A Rude Intrusion :: Day 8

This is my blog for day 8 of cancer treatment, Monday, 17 Jul 2017.

Slept well last night.

While the river is still rising, there was no rain. We're pretty much out of the flood zone, but my sister Jan is right in the middle of it, on the Fox river north of McHenry. Have to call her today and see how it's going. Flooded - that's how it's going. Bill is in a kayak, paddling around their house. Ouch!

Am wondering if I should post a statistic like, "1/7 done!" or "5 of 35 radiation treatments completed" or "14% done!". Still sounds daunting, at least from this side of 50%. Perhaps I'll wait until the 50% mark is reached . . .

Am not nearly as bushed today as I was just after chemo. Not that I feel like running, marathon or other. But my appetite is good, and my attitude is, as well.

And I'm working! This is my last week at Hollister, until I return after a recovery period. I participated in some testing today, with an external vendor, and was able to make a contribution. This, too, makes me feel good.

Tim took me to treatment yesterday, after driving Nancy to her treatment earlier in the morning. My weight decreased by just over 6 pounds - guess that's what happens when you eat, but you're not really hungry. So I was told to make sure that I got 2200-2400 calories each day. I looked up "calories needed to maintain weight" on Google and found that one needs 2361 calories to maintain your weight. How to get these calories is the question.

We had a really nice dinner Sunday night - turkey, corn, mashed potatoes, gravy - so I weighted out 4 oz of turkey, 4 oz of corn and 4 oz of potatoes, topped it off with gravy, a little butter on the corn, and warmed it in the microwave. Then I calculated the calories. Turkey - 101 calories. Corn - 110 calories (what?). Potatoes - 400+ calories (that's better). Glass of milk - 190 calories. Full total was 873 calories. But then I had to eat it all. And that was the tough part.

Those of you who know me well know that I love to eat. But in the last few weeks I haven't been eating as much as usual. So putting down that turkey dinner was difficult, and left me feeling terrible. (Note: Even before posting this on Tuesday morning I still feel kinda full!) So I guess I'm going to have to move to more high-calorie, high-fat foods. It was suggested that I might want to have ice cream every day . . . suggest away. That I might be able to do!

To finish the day, here's another YouTube video. It's a song titled Because We've Ended As Lovers, made famous by Jeff Beck (from the Blow by Blow album), done here by Larry Carlton (Steely Dan session musician) and Steve Lukather (Toto).

For convenience sake, here a running list of all of the links I've posted to YouTube in the past few days:

According to Plan, Carolyn Arends - Link
Because We've Ended As Lovers, Larry Carlton & Steve Lukather - Link
Lookin' At The World Through A Windshield, Bill Kirchen - Link
My Funny Valentine, Kristin Chenoweth - Link
My Funny Valentine, Miles Davis - Link
Route 66, Asleep at The Wheel - Link
Shim, Sham, Shimmy (dance) to Tain't What You Do, Jimmy Lunceford - Link
St Louis Blues, Stephanie Trick & Paolo Alderighi - Link
That's Jazz, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong & The All Stars - Link
Time to Blow, From That Thing You Do - Link

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Rude Intrusion :: Day 7

This is my blog for day 7 of cancer treatment, Sunday, 16 Jul 2017.

I slept better than any day of the last few last night. Things are looking good as we start the day! Now just have to move around a little bit more than the past few days, when I've been really, really rooted in a chair.

Took a couple of walks today. Down to Newport, back past the house to Hale, then home. About .6 miles. I think if I can do this three times each day it will be helpful. I'm not going for 10,000 steps. but at least it's something. Thing about the walk is that I am really tired when I return home. Had no idea that chemo would drain me so badly, so quickly.

Am thinking about getting myself on a schedule. Have to think about it a little, but I think it would be best to do so. Guessing the weeks will go by better if I do.

For tonight's YouTube video, here are Stephanie Trick and Paolo Alderighi playing The St. Louis Blues. Well worth a listen, and really fun to watch, here, on YouTube.

But wait, there's more! Yes, dear reader, a poem. Not one of mine, but a very good one! I found it today, rummaging around in the attic which is my computer's hard drive, tucked away for just such a moment as this. Too bad I did not find this to give to my three, now-married, grown children on the day of their nuptials. Never too late, naturally, perhaps Andy will get his copy "on time" when he takes the plunge. The title, Epithalamium, means  a song or poem in honor of a bride and bridegroom.


That man who was married in the same black suit
he was laid out in, years later, and buried,
his widow's tears—they might all make sense to you,
now that the two of you are to be married.

You've seen old photos of the two of them
taken seven decades back or more.
They showed up smiling and said, of course
we will, for better or worse, and then

they raised their glasses, cut the cake and kissed
and tossed the bride's bouquet and garter out
and thanked their parents and assembled guests,
then danced until the candles were blown out,

then danced some more; they were that enamored.
And who could blame them, so nearly perfect
in their flesh and finery and desires;
in all ways poised and blessed and elect

as you are now, and may you always be:
each of you eager to please the other
to let the selfish minute pass, to see
yourselves perfected always in each other.

That old man, when he was young, he brought his bride
home to the house he had readied for her,
and swept her up and carried her inside
as was the custom then, and then together

they helped each other out of their new clothes:
his gabardines, her lace and satin gown,
his tie, her veil, his buttons and her bows
then stood there looking at themselves, alone.

Before they fell into their embracing,
because they thought they'd need them in the end,
they tucked their garments carefully away
in cedar boxes underneath the bed.

And when the going got a little rough
when patience frayed or tempers flared, when love
seemed to have left them only filled with loss
as in all lifelong marriages it must,

when forgiveness and forgetting seemed
impossible, they'd kneel beside their bed
and bury their faces in those wedding things—
her tears, his curses, her fears, his pride and dread,

all dried and muffled in that day's old raiments
which smelled of their sweet youth and promises.
And though they never settled everything,
they did their best to do the next best thing.

"Epithalamium" by Thomas Lynch, from Walking Papers: Poems 1999-2009.
© W.W. Norton and Co., 2010.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Rude Intrusion :: Day 6

This is my blog for day 6 of cancer treatment, Saturday, 15 Jul 2017.

I slept well last night, without getting up more than two times to shed the remainder of the water and IV fluids I received.

One of the side-effects of the chemotherapy drug I'm receiving is hearing loss, temporary or permanent, in the higher sound ranges. I think I'm beginning to have that. Things sound a little muddy . . . at least different than they should. We'll see, I guess.

Another side-effect is a general tiredness. I suppose I should expect it with the chemo, but it seems pretty bad to me, right now.

One good side-effect of being "lazy" - Nancy and I watched the movie "Loving" earlier today. This film is about an interracial married couple who were arrested in Virginia for breaking a law: seems that you could not marry outside your race back in the early 60's due to that state's anti-miscegenation statute (here's a link to the Wikipedia page on the subject). They had not married in Virginia, but had gone to Washington, DC. Still, they could not reside together as man and wife. I won't give away the rest of the story. 

With the way people live together outside of marriage, with same-sex marriage, and all of the associated nonsense the world is throwing at us nowadays, the "Loving" story seemed almost quaint. Best part of the film, though - where Mr. Loving, bring a bricklayer by trade, builds his family a home. In real life, the poor man was killed by a drunk driver at forty-two. Should have been a far better ending for someone of his type. His simple argument to his attorney: "tell the [Supreme] Court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can't live with her in Virginia." 

To end the day, another in a series of Mark's Favorite YouTube songs, albeit without much of a video: Looking At The World Through A Windshield as done by the one and only Bill Kirchen (here).

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A Rude Intrusion :: Day 5

This is my blog for day 5 of cancer treatment, Friday, 14 Jul 2017.

Was up a lot last night, going to the bathroom, shedding the extra IV fluid and water I drank on Tuesday. I was 10 pounds heavier after that! Have yet to weigh myself this morning, but I'm sure I'll be lighter, at least by a little.

Still a little tired, too. Kind of a general malaise over my entire body. My throat isn't in bad shape, though. The radiation treatments will take their toll in the coming few weeks. That's why I have the feeding tube - to get nourishment when I can no longer put anything down my throat.

I had a follow-up with the surgeon at noon today and another radiation treatment at 2:15 PM. Thus, the first week of treatment is over. six weeks to go!

Last night I finished the book Killing Jesus by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard. Tim gave me two of the O'Reilly books for entertainment during my treatment and recovery. It was an interesting read, I'll tell you that. But the complete and utter cruelty shown by the people of that time is insane! The number of people killed at various times, and the method of their execution and death is totally ridiculous. It makes what ISIS does look tame in comparison. But it makes me feel glad that we have moved on from such into what I would consider to be far more gentle times. I'll take jail over a scourging any day (not that I'm going to jail any time soon).

Went to bed early, so don't really have much else to say. But here's today's YouTube video (here): it;s the Shim Sham Shimmy, danced to Jimmie Lunceford's Tain't What You Do (It's The Way That You Do It). Enjoy!

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Rude Intrusion :: Day 4

This is my blog for day four of cancer treatment, with another radiation treatment in the afternoon.

I'd like to start out by thanking all of you who have written or called, and are ready to provide me whatever support I need. I really appreciate it!

In general terms, I feel pretty good today, but Sally had to wake me up at 5:45 AM, first for a tummy rub and then to let her out and feed her. And then she went back to sleep, of course, while I logged in to work and got started on my day.

A few of days ago I posted the lyric to According to Plan by Carolyn Arends. I just saw a Facebook post in which she has asked for prayers for her mom, who suffered a heart attack and has severe complications. Please add her to your prayer list; her name is Joy Jonat.

I had some success today, working on a program to archive data, but it took a long time for the jobs to finish, so it felt like I didn't do too much.

After radiation, I spoke with the nurse and dietitian at the hospital, about a number of things. Tomorrow I have a follow-up with the surgeon who put in my port and feeding tube.

Had kind of a general tiredness all afternoon. Guess that might be the effect of the chemotherapy. They said it would take 2-3 days for things to catch up with me.

Thought I'd leave you today with a clip from High Society, featuring Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong and The All Stars - That's Jazz. Watch it here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Rude Intrusion :: Day 3

This is my blog for day three of cancer treatment. Yesterday I got my first infusion of chemotherapy. Today will bring a dose of fluids and another radiation treatment.

I have to admit that I don't feel really good today. Have a bit of a headache, am sluggish and tired. I did sleep well last night, at least. Just to be certain, I'm taking an anti-nausea pill. Whether it's the coffee or the chemo, I don't know. But I have the pills. so I'm taking one. and it's worked!

One thing I'd like to comment on is the taste of my dinner last night. Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce over pulled pork (pork shoulder slow-cooked in the crockpot), potato salad, bean salad and applesauce. Mott's applesauce. Not the natural, not the cinnamon. Just good old applesauce - tasty! SBR's sauce is good, too, and with the flavor of slow-cooked pork, well, it's hard to beat. The potato salad was from CostCo, was quite mayonnaise-y, if there is such a word. (Perhaps I should write something like, "The flavor of the potato salad was distinctly that of mayonnaise. So much mayonnaise that one had to wonder if there was potato in the potato salad.") And the bean salad, four beans. onions and that zing of vinegar!

Now, I write all of the above because I may lose my taste buds. and if I do, even if for a while, I want to remember what good food tastes like. People who have been through this say that everything will taste like metal. And some of the people in the support group have lost taste for years. some folks came back after a few months, though.

As I said, I'm back at the oncologist's office today, at noon, to get 1000 ml of IV fluid. Be here about an hour. Then it's on to a radiation treatment at 2:15 PM. Fewer people here than yesterday, but it did thin out a lot by mid-afternoon.

Weight this morning was 271.6! That's up almost five pounds! I guess that's what you get when you take in all that liquid. I had at least eight 16.9 oz bottles of water, two 1000 ml bags of IV fluid and another large bag with the chemo drug. Didn't get much in the way of walking in. Plus, I ate well. So I guess there's an explanation. They didn't seem phased by this at the radiation therapist, so I'm not going to worry.

So now radiation is done and I'm back home. I have 2 1/2 more hours to put in for work and that will call it a day. (I'm working through the first two weeks of radiation and chemo, then will be taking short-term disability.)

Bottom line: still feeling good, after a bit of a slow start this morning.

Wanted to post something fun again today. So I'll add a link to a poem I wrote about our dog Bo (here). One of my friends commented that she read it last night, and thought it was good. So have a read, if you wish.

And, of course, since I've been listening to a good bit of music, I have to leave you with a song, too! How about "Route 66", as done by Asleep At The Wheel. Enjoy if here!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A Rude Intrusion :: Day 2

This is my blog for day two of cancer treatment. One of my friends said I wrote a lot. He didn't say, "too much," though. And away we go!

I slept well, though the alarm woke me at 5:30 AM, perhaps just a little early. It played Time to Blow from the movie That Thing You Do, found here, on YouTube. One of my fav's, which I hope to learn to play some day. I needed to be at the hospital for a 7:45 AM radiation treatment, done early because this is the day for my first dose of chemotherapy. I found Nancy asleep on the couch, the television still on. Sally was at her feet, of course, because where Nancy is, Sally is.

Sally is s a little black pug, now getting gray in her coat and on her muzzle as she approaches her twelfth birthday. She is feisty, as all black pugs are rumored to be. But she is also lovable, and the best furry friend anyone could have. When we first got her, she attached herself to me. That was not expected. While I love animals, I'm not the person (at least in our house) that our pets cling to - that's Nancy. But Sally was my friend . . . and then I took a two-week business trip to Denmark. When I got home, Sally was no longer my pal. She avoided me for a couple of days, letting me know that she was not happy that I had gone away. Naturally, I had no choice, but I still did feel bad about the change in our relationship.

As I write this section I'm sitting at the doctor's office, with about twelve other people and their companions - spouses, children or friends. I'm getting an hour's worth of hydration prior to four hour's worth of Cisplatin, the chemotherapy drug my oncologist has prescribed for my use. Another hour of hydration will follow. I'm in a type of recliner; Nancy is sitting next to me on a padded chair. It's nowhere near as nice as the chair I get to sit in when I go with Nancy to Northwest Community Hospital for her IVIG infusion, but it will do. This room is a busy place, with nurses coming and going, taking care of their patients. There's a nice hum of conversation I like. And route 53 is just behind me, so there's the occasional zip of a sports car or roar of a motorcycle.

The hydration is almost done; it will be on to the actual chemotherapy drug soon . . . I guess I'll find out what that's like, and if it has any side-effects.

They did blood work here today - all good. My BP was really good, too - 122/76. Weight went up two pounds to 266.6, too, which is "OK" as some weight will probably come off soon because of treatment. Not that I've ever been worried about my weight, of course. I remember being 175 pounds in high school - a skinny kid. Then, after college, getting down to 210 for our wedding. And being under 250 when I left Kemper. But I also remember weighing in at 296, so 266 isn't looking bad. It kinda bugs me that I never saw 300, since I was so close. But what would that really have meant? It wouldn't have been 300 pounds of muscle - not by a long shot!

Is it possible that I might be able to keep my weight down to a more healthy level once this unwelcome intrusion is over? Perhaps. I may lose my taste buds for a while - the support group told me that everything would taste like metal, a side-effect of the chemotherapy drug. (Some folks lost their taste buds and never got them back - that is so sad!) If that's the case, I might not want to eat. But, somehow, I have the feeling that it's not the taste of things that drove my eating. It's simply the act of eating and feeling satisfied, feeling full.

Think about it - why do I eat oatmeal at work every day? Is it for the taste? I put a tablespoon or so of brown sugar in with a large serving. It's still gloppy (unless I make it at home, when it's much better), but it's supposed to have benefits for the heart, cholesterol and digestion. Why do I eat french fries? (Truth be told I prefer the mashed potatoes at Culver's, or at any sit-down restaurant. Garlic mashed anyone?) French fries have a taste that, I think, is designed to be covered up by the sweet Coca Cola you'll get with your "burger, fries, drink".

In any case, my doctors want to see me keep as much weight on as I can. And because this is a blog post about my cancer treatment, I better get back to things related to that topic, and away from food.

But, really, aren't there two things that could unite the whole world? Good music and good food. I think we can all come together over ribs and blues. Or corned beef, cabbage, boiled potatoes and Irish folk music (and just a wee bit'o'd Guinness!) Or kielbasa and a polka? A big pretzel, sauerbraten and a little oom-pah? Corn-dogs and country music at the fair? Coffee or tea, biscuits and a string quartet? I'm being flip, but if there ever were two things that could bring us together, they are music and food.

As an aside, I'd add good beer, but some cultures don't imbibe. No booze for you! And doesn't "imbibe" sound like an old fashioned word? It is, originating in Latin, but used in English starting in the 1400's (see Merriam-Webster, here). And I like the synonyms: "Does he imbibe?" "Yep. He's been known to have a belt, sit at the bar and belt one down, gulp it down, guzzle ithoist a fewknock one backpound down a PBR, quaff an ale with a few with friends, take a sip right from the bottle (or a nip!), slug it down, slurp it up, take a swig, drink that swill or toss one down. (And sometimes tossing down a few too many leads to one tossing . . . well, you get the idea.)

Alright, back to medicine. Or the act of being a patient. As part of my chemotherapy infusion I was given Lasix (that's C12H11CIN2O5S for you chemistry majors). Have to keep the kidneys clear, and the chemo drug can be bad for them. Lotsa water (five 500 ml bottles so far - that's over 80 ounces) and a full 1000 ml of IV solution before (and another for after) the Cisplatin. So I've had numerous trips to the bathroon today, and I'm sure that I'll have a lot more before I get to sleep. So if you ever have to go through this - be warned. (I was going to say, "You're going to wee, wee, wee all the way home!", but that would just be a bad joke. Although I'm sure I'm going to have to . . . )

These days are long . . . it's 4:30 now, six hours after we arrived, and I'm not done with the chemo, though it's close. Still have 1000 ml of IV fluid after that. On bottle of water number six, bathroom trip number, um, I lost count. Nancy is bored stiff, and has to sit on a not-very-comfortable chair. Sorry!

And now the last IV bag is being infused. So, time to think about what "little extra" to add to this post. I'm thinking about music, again. Here are some lyrics to a song I put in an as-yet-unfinished vignette (on-act play) I was hoping to do in church. The tune I use (My Funny Valentine) is from the Broadway musical Babes In Arms, music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Lorenz Hart, book by Rodgers and Hart. It is reportedly Miles Davis' favorite tune to improvise over. I believe that's what I've read. And here (YouTube) is an instrumental version from a 1964 concert that is considered one of Miles best performances.

Personally, I love the Kristin Chenoweth version, from her album Let Yourself Go. It's here, again on YouTube (wonderful YouTube). It's what I used as the model for my lyrics, which are titled, You Are A Child Of God. Should I get time, I'll record it myself using only the piano. Enjoy, and please let me know what you think . . . about this or anything else I'm posting. God Bless!

Here's the original scene: a young girl, Chrissy, has passed away and is walking with an angel named Angelo. They come upon another angel, Tzofiya ("she who watches"). She and Chrissy have a short conversation, and Chrissy asks what her job is. Tzofiya describes how she watches the people of Earth . . .

You Are A Child Of God


I often look out on the Earth
Observe the give-and-take
Humanity, humanity
The picture that you make!

Too often lost within the crowd,
Too often you have strayed
But each an individual,
And each uniquely made . . . yes


You are a child of God,
Each one a child of God
You old a place in His heart

He breathed life into you,
Yet in the womb you knew,
You are His perfect work of art


Whether Gentile, Jew or Greek,
Whether strong in faith, or weak
If the Lord above, you seek for your part
Then this is what God would do
Perfect His love in you
Pray every single day, pray!
His spirit guides you each day



© 2010 Mark R. Dopita

P.S. I'm just about done . . . 5:45 PM!

A Rude Intrusion :: Day 1

Warning: I'm writing the post all throughout the day, so it may be a bit disjointed!

This is my first day of treatment for cancer. I'm sitting in the recliner, the NBC 5 news playing on the television, just about ready to start my day. Have to get ready to go soon. Today I get my first dose of radiation (with 35 treatments scheduled), where they'll verify the settings they've calculated for me and then give me the treatment. It's designed to kill the cancer on the base of my tongue, that underneath my right tonsil and that in a lymph node in my neck. But more than that, it's designed to ensure that all of the cancer cells are killed off, each and every one of them.

I weighed in at 264.8 pounds this morning. It is expected that I will lose weight during treatment. Let's see what happens. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep my strength up and not lose too much weight. Which leads to the three primary goals I have during treatment: get enough sleep, eat a good diet and get as much exercise as I can. Thanks to my co-worker Tom Engels, now retired, who has been cancer-free for ten years now, having had the same thing.

It's interesting to think of all that has happened since the 20th of May. The discovery of the cancer due to two bleeding incidents, two hospitalizations, multiple visits to the Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, a trip to my primary care physician, trips to see the radiation therapist and the oncologist. A CAT scan. A PET scan - no other cancer was found, thankfully. A treatment plan was put together. A medi-port was placed in the left side of my chest. A feeding tube was run into my stomach in preparation for the days when I may not be able to eat because my throat will be so sore.

I had to miss Kerry's wedding because of the second bleeding incident . . .

A longer blog entry is still in the process of being written, describing the run-up to treatment in a bit more detail. it's taking me a little bit to finish, so please bear with me, and watch for it to be posted.

Many, many people are praying for me, and will throughout treatment and recovery. Several have sent me messages or have called, wishing me well. My wife Nancy arranged a little get-together this past Saturday with family - she deserves a big Thank You! While Amy and Matt were vacationing in California (she called to wish me well), we had Kerry and Luke, Tim and Kate, Andy, Nancy's mom Sonja, my sister Jan and her husband Bill, Nancy's sister Linda and her two daughters, Meghan and Sarah, Nancy's brother Bill and his wife Pam, and the dogs Sally, Bailey, Jack and Thor. Everyone had a nice time. Only casualty was the screen in a sliding door that Thor knocked out - the fourth time this year I've had to repair that same door!!!

And with regard to prayer: I believe in the power of prayer. I've seen it work. No, I didn't get a new bicycle one year by praying for it; God isn't Santa Claus. But prayers have been answered, nonetheless. Friends of mine have seen it too, in my life and in theirs. But I don't need to oversell this; you'll either believe me or you won't. If you believe, please pray for my return to health.

Personally, I am praying that the Lord wash this cancer from my body; that the doctors, technicians and nurses treating me have all the skill, ability and insight necessary to help me effect a full recovery; that I have no side-effects, or that the side-effects be minimal; that my wife and children will receive all the support they need to get through this with me. Their support will be invaluable!

So now it's afternoon, and I've received the first of a planned 35 radiation treatments. Takes very little time, really.  Met with the radiation therapist's nurse, Karen, going over a number of things. Met with the Speech Language Pathologist, too, going over exercises that will help me maintain swallowing capabilities that could be affected by the radiation.

Finally, I wanted to post the lyrics to a song that has been helping me through my illness. It's by my "most favoritest" Christian singer-songwriter, Carolyn Arends. You can hear the song here, on YouTube. Her web site is here.

According to Plan

Rain comes, and so often it falls
On the good and the evil, it's not personal
The sun shines, ‘cause that's what suns do
Probably don't mean it's been thinkin' 'bout you
And even though God's in control of it all
Sometimes the sparrow is going to fall 

I'm not sure that God moves everything
Likes pawns in a chess game, or puppets on string
And I can't determine just whether or not
He causes our troubles or He makes them stop
But I am convinced we get one guarantee
There's no situation that He can't redeem
When He moves in our hearts, that's when we understand
It's going according to plan

We try to pull back the veil
We tug at the curtain, all to no avail
And we say, “There are no accidents”
But we can't account for all life's randomness
So maybe some things are not orchestrated
Oh but with God nothing has to be wasted 


Yes I am convinced we get one guarantee
There's no situation that He can't redeem
When what we meant for harm, He turns into some good
Where our hearts start changing, then it's understood
He's doing the miracles, only He can
It's going according to plan
Yes it's going according to plan 

© 2009 Running Arends Music/ASCAP

Monday, November 21, 2016

Unsolicited Advice to the New Government – Part 1: Overview

This series of posts is my attempt to help guide the political discourse directly to the center of the political spectrum, and aims to help influence legislation that the Congress will undertake this year. It is based on what President-elect Donald Trump has stated as the goals for his administration and my personal views of what is right for the country. Feel free to disagree with me as you so desire.

In no specific order, then, this is the advice I would give to the President-elect and Congress. The posts that follow this will provide more detail to the various items. I reserve the right to add more, too, as needs dictate, but this is the list that comes to mind today.

1) Ignore the “social stuff” – gay marriage, abortion, transgender bathroom use, et al.

2) Fix immigration. More specifically, fix illegal immigration. Deport criminals, not hard-working immigrants.

3) Replace the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare”. But don’t throw it out without a well-thought-out replacement plan, with input from healthcare providers, insurance companies, economists and others who have the skill and knowledge to come up with a workable plan.

4) Bring jobs back to the country with targeted tax laws that encourage hiring and discourage the movement of jobs overseas – even to the point of severely punishing companies who have moved jobs off-shore in the past twenty years.

5) Fix welfare, with an eye toward putting welfare recipients to work and getting them a solid education in order to get them off the welfare rolls and start contributing to society.

6) Work with other countries on global climate change, but don’t destroy our economy in doing so.

Short list, yes, with so many things demanding attention. However, it’s a start.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Ol' Bo

The other night I looked at this blog and found that not only had I not written a post this year, I only wrote one in 2015, and have only written eleven in the past three years. Woeful. Of course, I'm not a writer. I write well, I'm told, but I've never professed to be a writer.

Having said that, I read through the blog and found this post about our dog Bo, who has been gone since 2007. That got my to thinking, and writing, and here's the poem that appeared. I call it, "Ol’ Bo". I hope you enjoy it.

Ol' Bo

Were I writing in the 1800’s I’d call him "Ol’ Bo"
And everyone who read this poem would know
That he was part of me, as I was of he
Because we gave him his name (my wife and me)

Preachers will say (those who know their stuff)
That your life is changed when God says, "Enough!"
"A different name shall I give thee!"; and it is done
But "Ol’ Bo", bless his heart, didn’t come here with one

He came as a pup, just a tiny little mutt
He was hairy and black from his nose to his butt
And prob’ly lost enough hair to make ten more, too
If we could gather and shape it like the good Lord would do

He wasn’t really a "dog’s dog", not really, no
He didn’t play fetch, though he’d romp in the snow
And come in all covered, his fur packed in ice
And we’d towel him off dry, while he stood there so nice

When we moved to our house he came with us, of course
Two cats and a dog – lots less work than a horse –
While we went to sign papers it was Bo on the floor
With grandpa and Tim napping just by the door

So we moved our stuff in and Bo watched our kids grow
Getting bigger and smarter with each year, you know
And we went for walks, and we played in the yard
While Bo was around life was tough, but not hard

My son Tim will attest to this; the other kids, too
That Bo was a dog who was loved through and through
He was played with, and fawned over, at times got a treat
And was petted and cuddled by the kids on our street

But we all do grow older with each passing day
We noticed that Bo’s hair was showing some gray
Then he couldn’t quite stand at his bowl while he ate
And he whimpered at night, sometimes . . .
So we knew his fate.

I guess we all surely know this to be true
There are just some things you don’t want to do
But to know that your friend is so deeply in pain
There’s a term for it, isn’t there: to be humane

We’d been in our house for fifteen years or so
When we drove to the vet in the car with "Ol’ Bo"
And said our good-byes, and hugged him and cried
Then the doc did what we asked and Bo quietly died

So it is that our God who we pray hears our prayer
Granted peace to our friend Bo, who waits with Him there
It may be our dear Lord gave him a new name
But I’m sure I will know him, "Ol’ Bo", just the same

And we’ll play and we’ll romp, we’ll be family again
I’ll be happy to see my black, furry old friend
So when it’s my time, and I’m smiling, you’ll know
That I’m near to the presence of God, and "Ol’ Bo"

Saturday, January 3, 2015

I Am A Happy Man. I Have A Duty To Be.

"I am a happy man. I have a duty to be.

"Americans are meant to live, love, laugh and be happy. The quintessential American philosophy: work it out - make the best of it - lighten up. We're optimists. Leave agonized introspection to the Swedes and cynicism to the French and Weltschmerz to the Berliners and Ich bin nicht ein Berliner. Problems can be solved. Don't sweat it. Play it for laughs. Where there is love, there's comedy. Don't hang out with unhappy people; don't go into a profession full of the humorless. Be happy."

Garrision Keillor - Love Me

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Christmas Came October First

This is a re-write of Carolyn Arend's song "The Last Word", in thanks for her new Christmas CD.

Christmas Came October First (Her Christmas CD)
To the tune of “The Last Word”
Mark Dopita

Verse 1
Sat down at my PC, I just had to smile
A Kickstarter message, top of the pile
I clicked and it opened, announcing for me
Her Christmas CD

Verse 2
Now I got me Comcast, it just doesn’t fail
Selected the hyperlink inside the e-Mail
I entered the code and there waiting for me
Her Christmas CD

Chorus 1
Yes, today’s the day
And the download’s done
And all those songs are playing one-by-one
With the volume up
People know for sure
Christmas came October First
Christmas came October First

Verse 3
I sit here distracted, as I try to write
The music is playing, I’ll listen all night
There’s no doubt a legion, listening like me (to)
Her Christmas CD

Chorus 2

Solo Chorus

Verse 4
I know it seems funny, what I like to do
Rewriting lyrics to songs old and new
This I give as tribute, most thankfully (for)
Her Christmas CD

Chorus 3

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Poem :: The Peak Toward Which He Climbed

The Peak Toward Which He Climbed

The peak toward which he
Climbed is not attainable
And he,
Falls back into the Earth,

And so, now, the joy is
Gone from his life
Was he just
A little feller
Whose parents had taken
His favorite old toy?

For some not-well understood transgression

Yes, it was old
Yes, it was dirty
But it had once been
New, clean, loved
As he had been
Those many years ago

But it is now gone
And so he sits deserted
Will he get it back
From his corner
Small, betrayed, alone

Does the punishment fit the what is the crime

And he now realizes
As was sung many years ago
This is his own Tapestry
As he reached for that something
Only for his hand
too, to come up empty

And soon, worse still
The whole world would
Soon know of his failure
And his utter embarrassment
Would shine in the light of day
For others to mock him

Would that I were not he!

I am he

Friday, March 14, 2014

"The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives."
Albert Einstein

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I Know I Talk Too Much, But . . .

"The worst of all deaths is to be talked to death."
Mark Twain

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Science v. Creationism or Putting God In A Box

A big topic in the news lately is the recent debate between Bill Nye the Science Guy and "creationist" Ken Ham. As I understand it, Nye won the debate because he used the observations of science - observations of the world around us we all can make - while Ham's big argument was "the Bible says such-and-so": that is, billions of years of evolution versus six literal days to create the world.

Being the quiet wallflower everyone knows me to be, I decided that I would do the smart thing and stay out of it . . . right? But no! Jumping right in am I!

First things first . . . I am a Christian. Have been for as long as I can remember. And will be, forever.

Next, I believe in science. It was not too many years ago that Christian scientists made discoveries about our world. Gregor Mendel, for instance, was an Augustinian Friar who famously studied the inheritance of various traits in pea plants (leading to the science of genetics). Nicolaus Copernicus, Catholic priest, observed that the Earth revolved around the sun rather than the other way around. Amongst others: Galileo, Rene Descartes, Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler . . . There are many Christ-believing scientists, even today, I'm sure.

I believe in both the spiritual and the scientific. I don't know why anyone wouldn't. And that's why I can't back the creationist point-of-view. It's the ultimate in "putting-God-in-a-box".

Think of it - ages ago we were only trying to understand the world we were given. We identified and categorized various disciplines and investigated them. Hundreds of thousands of people have studied astronomy, biology, botany, chemistry, genetics, geology, mathematics, medicine, metallurgy, physics, sociology, psychology, zoology - all with the goal of adding to the understanding of the world around us. The world God gave us.

Is it possible to deny the facts of science? Take physics . . . what about gravity? Hold an item up in the air. Let go of it and what happens? It falls . . . every time, towards the center of the Earth. Why? Because the Earth exerts a tremendous gravitational influence on everything around it. Do the same thing while far enough out in space and the item will fall toward the sun. Again, why? Because the more massive an object is the more gravitational force it exerts. The sun is more massive than the Earth. Therefore, assuming one is far enough away from Earth, the sun wins.

What about geometry? Measure the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. Any circle . . . any size . . . anywhere on Earth, under its seas or in outer space. What number do you get? We call it (in English) pi: 3.14159, generally, but a number that has actually been calculated to ten trillion digits! A number that cannot be written as a fraction (e.g. 3/4), and never settles into a repeating pattern (e.g. 22/7 = 3.142857142857142857).

In those two examples alone we see the incredible work that God has done. (If you truly don't believe in God, the world is still awesome!) This is an incredible world we've been given, full of wonderful and amazing things. To say that we must believe that it was made in only six actual 24-hour days - or what, we're not Christian enough? - is ridiculous, when the science we've discovered over the past several thousand years tells us something different, but equally as wonderful. And if you believe God created the world, well, we are fearfully and wonderfully made, indeed!

Our intellect, the intellect God gave us, demands that we must use our minds to their fullest extent. Wonder. Discover. Postulate. Experiment. Prove. Pass on to the next generation a greater understanding of the Earth and the universe around us.

To those Christians who aren't swayed by these arguments, please remember that the Bible is full of metaphor - did Jesus actually tear down the temple in three days and re-build it, or was He speaking metaphorically? I believe it's the same with the creation story. But, assuming what I believe to be true actually is, I can ask Him myself when I die. And if I'm wrong, and it actually was six days . . . it was a heckuva six days!

Now, for those of you who don't believe in a God and think even my mention of such diminishes my arguments, I have to ask "what came before the universe"? I believe I know, and I invite you to seek Him, too.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


Has it been almost 10 months since I posted last? Hunh . . . wouldn't have thought that much time had gone by. I better post something soon. Something short but meaningful. Something like this. (He smiles.)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Anniversaries Bitter and Sweet

Tomorrow, 11 Mar 2013, will be a day both bitter and sweet. It's sweet because it marks six months to the day since my surgery to replace both hips. Things could not be better with my health since then, thank the Lord. I am doing quite well. However, it's also the birthday of my late friend Larry Dambeck.

Larry and I met when I first joined the Mount Prospect Midget Football League (the MPMFA) in sixth grade. He and I generally were the last two players to finish the opening run around the football field, which, no doubt, would still be true today. But while Larry played and started from sixth grade through eighth, I broke a hand in sixth grade and an arm in eighth grade, both on the gridiron; both injuries finished my season, of course.

It was during the second half of freshman year at Prospect High School that Larry and I found ourselves in the same gym class. Larry asked if I wanted to start playing softball and such with his other friends, and so began friendships that have lasted all these years. I met Hauslein, Brickwood, Drager and all the rest, as well as their siblings and parents.

Sometimes Larry and I used to ride our bikes to Randhurst mall, buy a Slurpee at the SS Kresge store and sit on our "freak bench" and watch the people go by. When we got our driver's licenses, and had cars of our own, the trips usually involved Jack in the Box, Luke's or Peep's. And, naturally, a little later still, some of our trips were across the state line into Wisconsin for a beer or six. When his folks moved back to Wisconsin, and Larry moved to Cedarburg with them, I often took the trip up I-294 from Mount Prospect to see him. He moved back to Illinois and lived with my folks and I for a couple of years too.

Larry was Best Man at my wedding, and at Drager's, too, though he himself never married.

As children came along our contact diminished, but it picked up some the last couple of years, aided by the cell phone. I'd call Larry once in a while as I drove home, usually a 45-minute trip (which is how long our calls would last). Went up to see him once in the fall, three years ago, and then four of us guys went up two summers ago. I'm certainly glad we did! We fell right into talking about all of the same things, reminiscing about school and old friends as if days had gone by instead of years.

Larry died on Christmas Eve this past December. He was found sitting in his chair, having just had dinner, TV still on. He went quickly, the doctors say. Too soon, I say, because I was looking forward to the next visit, when we could have renewed our friendship over a beer, some good food and conversations about everything . . . and nothing at all.

Happy Birthday, Larry! It was an honor to know you, and call you my friend.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Linus and Lucy

Here's the popular Vince Guaraldi composition "Linus and Lucy" done by yours truly on our Yamaha Clavinova: Click for MP3 on


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New Lyrics :: Dear Child

The following lyrics are scheduled to be sung in church the fourth weekend in Feb, 2013. They are sung to the tune of the Beatles song "She's Leaving Home", from the Sgt. Pepper album. (Note that there are two or three parts to the chorus.) Put on the song (or click here) and read (or sing) along.

There's a nice analysis of this song here.

Dear Child

Saturday morning, May 26, 1923
Fourth of six children, her family
Loses the youngest before he is three

She is raised Baptist in small town middle America
Reading her Bible her faith's confirmed
Over the years shares what she has learned

She . . .She always knew He was there
is living . . Offered her own life in prayer
LoveThe greatest gift any person can share
Her Heaven waits as she holds to her faith over many years
Dear child

California, she meets her sailor-husband-to-be
Moves to Chicago, is married, then
Becomes a Catholic, as she promised, when

They adopt two children and raise them both in suburbia
She shares her faith with her family
Worship and prayer and humility

She . . .She always knew He was there
is living . . Offered her own life in prayer
LoveThe greatest gift any person can share
Her Heaven waits as she holds to her faith over many years
Dear child

Friday morning at 86 her life slips away
Family and friends at her bedside, for they
Live now as she did, for her they pray

She . . .She always knew He was there
is living . . Offered her own life in prayer
LoveNow she looks into His eyes and He smiles
Home with her Lord in the place she prepared over many years
Now, she is home
Dear child

Lyrics Copyright © 2012 Mark R. Dopita

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Quotation :: Life at Every Age

Life at every age has its own compensation. I'm still looking ahead. I don't want to die. There's too much fun in this world and a lot of good folks. A lot of them. And good books to read and fish to catch and pretty women to admire and good men to know. Why, life is a joy.
John F. Smith, Speech and Drama Professor at Otterbein University

This quotation is found in AARP Bulletin, dated January-February 2013. It's from the editorial on page 3, The Magic of the Fountain of Youth.

John F. Smith was forced to retire in 1950 at the age of 70. He immediately went to work at the University as a custodian at the college gymnasium. The quote comes from an interview with the late Charles Kuralt, the legendary CBS reporter who travelled the country looking for stories. (Google "On the Road with Charles Kuralt" or click here.)

I guess Mr. Smith understood the meaning behind the Bible verse, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10 KJV).

For this same thing I must give thanks. For in reading this quote I understand that I have an abundance of the things that really matter: an abundance of family; an abundance of friends, young and old; and the abundance of spirit that comes from a deep, abiding faith in God. Without those things, life would be quite different!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Quotation :: Technology

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Arthur C. Clarke

A Quotation :: Science and Society

We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.
Carl Sagan

Friday, November 30, 2012

Surgery :: Post 12 (Final)

Yes, it's been a while, but here's the next, and last, surgery post. It's now been almost twelve weeks since surgery. I've had my last outpatient physical therapy session, and have been to my third and final doctor visit with the surgeon (or his staff).

According to the doctor, and his x-rays, everything looks good. They don't need to see me for another year.

According to the physical therapist, I've made substantial progress. I am doing as well as expected, but for a person who had a single hip replacement. For a double-hip, I'm doing even better! My flexibility is returning and my leg strength is improving, daily.

I feel so good that I even walked back to the train station from a meeting in downtown Chicago, to the tune of 1.4 miles. With no ill effects . . .

So, again, thank you to everyone who prayed for me, to everyone who visited, or sent a card, or called, or even thought about me! Thanks to the surgeon, his staff, the nurses and physical therapists who helped me when I was fresh from surgery, and in the two week period that followed post-hospitalization. Finally, a big, big thank-you to my lovely wife Nancy, who visited me almost every day when I was at the hospital or in rehab, who helped me with the many things I couldn't do for myself once I returned home and who has supported me from the decision to have the surgery through today.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Surgery :: Post 11

I'm into the second-to-last stage of my bilateral hip replacement. Being home, I'm now getting outpatient physical therapy (PT). If I ever thought I was over the "hard part" I was sorely mistaken (with emphasis on the "sore")!

I'm now being asked to stretch, bend, strengthen and generally abuse (well, not really) all of the various muscles around the hips and throughout the legs. I've been asked to cut down the exercises I do from inpatient PT from 25 reps to 10, and from four sets per day to two. In their place, I have about twelve new exercises to do twice per day, with two sets of ten reps each. Progress!

Oh, and two of the exercises are done on my stomach!!! I didn't know I could turn over onto my stomach! I'm going to check with the doctor tomorrow and see if I can sleep on my stomach . . . I've been sleeping on my back for weeks!

Finally, I can walk all I want, provided I don't do so much I can't move the next day.

I said I was into the second-to-last stage; here's what I consider to be the list of stages:

  1. Pre-Surgery Office Visits, Blood Donations, et al
  2. Surgery and Hospital In-Patient Stay
  3. Rehab Center In-Patient Stay with Physical and Occupational Therapy
  4. Home on Short-Term Disability with Out-Patient Physical Therapy
  5. Return to Work with Continuing Physical Therapy

The "next big thing" for me is being able to get into the car and drive. I'm limited by the "hip restrictions" that are in place, things I cannot do without the potential for dislocating a hip. And I do not want to dislocate a hip! So I'll practice getting in and out of the driver's seat, and test going around the block several times, before I believe I can try a longer drive. Currently, I can't sit for any length of time (in the car) without some little discomfort.

So this week continues PT, on an outpatient basis, and has me trying to drive, comfortably. We'll see how it goes!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Texas :: Quotations

I think these stand on their own!

"Good judgement comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgement."

"Always drink upstream from the herd."


From the site Washington Apple Pi found here.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Surgery :: Post 10

I have only one thing to say . . . I'm home!!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Surgery :: Post 09

Yes! It's true - I am going home tomorrow! While my time here at the rehab center has been well-spent, getting in shape for returning to work, I am sooooo ready to go home.

I went to the doctor today, with all indications that I am recovering very well. The circulation in my legs is good, so no more TED hose (those white stockings that help protect against blood clots). They also took an x-ray of my pelvis and I got to see the prostheses in place. Quite interesting . . . in a creepy sort of way.

I still have to respect the "hip precautions" that are in place for the newly operated-upon (no crossing the legs at the ankles while laying down, no pigeon-toed stance, no bending at the waist so that the angle between trunk and legs is less that 90 degrees) for the next three weeks, at least.

I can try to drive, but whether I can depends on whether sitting in the car breaks the precautions. I'll see about that this weekend, or early next week. And until I can drive to work, I'm still on short-term disability. No working from home.

The other good thing - I will play with Sing-A-New-Song the second Sunday in October.

In any case, tomorrow, at 11:00 AM, Nancy will arrive and I will depart! Yippee!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Surgery :: Post 08

Hey there, sports fans! Yes, my jaunty mood may indicate to you that things are going well, and, well, you'd be right! I have graduated from a walker to a four-prong cane to a regular cane during the past few days. I went outside to walk today during PT, both on asphalt, on concrete, on grass, through gravel, over brick and over wood. (The rehab center has it set up specially for folks like me.) I still have little to no pain - just muscle soreness - and am ready to move to the next step: going home.

I have a discharge-planning meeting tomorrow and a doctor's visit on Thursday. Provided nothing major happens I believe my last day here will be Friday. I've been getting great care, but I can shower on my own, take care of all my personal grooming needs, dress myself, handle all toilet needs and get around my room and this facility without a problem. Heck, I even made my bed today (before the CNA did)!

Oh, and I learned something you can use in case you're hospitalized. Know those TV controls in each room, that self-contained changer and speaker in one? The one that only allows you to move one channel forward or one channel back at a time? The ones that are prone to having a bad volume control? If you can't get it to stay at the volume you want, because the speaker cuts out, just give that puppy a sharp tap and it'll work! I've had to do this numerous times during my stay at the rehab center. Just a helpful tip . . .

Thanks to everyone who has visited, sent a card, called, e-Mailed or has had me in their prayers! I hope to see you/talk to you at home next time!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Surgery :: Post 07

Wanted to provide the latest information regarding surgery, and, now, recovery and rehab. It's been over a week since surgery, with a lot of PT and OT (physical and occupational therapy, respectively). I have little or no pain, to speak of, and have taken no pain medication since arriving at Manor Care, my rehab center. I have developed a rash, and that's being treated with a steroid cream and (starting today) Benadryl.

The major good news for the past few days is that I was able to walk with a four-prong cane, not a walker, during yesterday afternoon's PT. I've also gone up a set of three steps, using both feet to lead, alternatively. OT consists of several balance "games" involving stepping on a rubber disk and doing various things to test my balance, which, so far, is good. So things are progressing well.

The dressings covering my incisions were removed this morning, and the nurse told me that they looked good. But neither stitches nor staples - looks like they glued me together! (I'm not making this up.) I'd like to look, but I don't think I going to. I guess I might be stitched up inside. Won't know until I go to the doctor on the 27th.

So, for now, all things are looking good! Can't wait to get home!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Surgery :: Post 06

I have been unavailable to provide any updates as the Manor Care router went down last week and has just today been put right. I arrived at Manor Care on Friday afternoon, around 3:30 PM, and have been through several rounds of PT and OT (physical/occupational therapy). I'm following all of the instructions provided by both the PT and OT personnel. I am feeling remarkably well, I think, and continue to have little pain. I'm not taking any pain medication at all, and have only one spot on my left leg that needs special attention. It feels like I have a charley horse, but is most likely the result of some part of the surgery.

I don't know how long I'll be at Manor Care, but want to take advantage of all they have to offer here. I've heard anywhere from one to three weeks, but am uncertain of any specific end date. My surgical dressings are scheduled to be removed on Thursday. The nurses and doctor continue to say they're healing well. After Thursday, the surgical wounds will be left open to the air for additional healing.

I see the surgeon on Thursday, 27 Sep 2012, when my stitches will be removed. I have two additional follow-up visits thereafter, approximately one month apart.

Thanks for your prayers, care and concern! I think that's the reason I'm doing so well! (I give the Power of Prayer a lot of weight!)

And I've got my PC connection to the world again!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Surgery :: Post 05

This is my first post-surgery update.

Tuesday's surgery went well, from my perspective. It was delayed 90 minutes as the person scheduled to go in front of me was late getting to the hospital. I woke up in the recovery room at about 5:00 PM and was taken upstairs to my regular room. Sleep was haphazard that first night, but pain was under control.

I had a course of radiation therapy on Wednesday morning, about 2 1/2 hours from start to finish. Physical Therapy (PT) started that afternoon. I had two more courses of PT today, and have one more scheduled for tomorrow. Other than weakness, I'm in good shape, with no real pain to speak of. I'm now standing on my own and walking with the help of a walker. After the two rounds of PT I sat in a chair for an hour; it's a welcome change from laying in bed.

I'm scheduled to be taken to Manor Care in Libertyville tomorrow, either late morning or early afternoon.

The surgeon spoke to me yesterday morning. He told me that my hips were pretty much fused in place, due to the arthritis, and it almost led to him doing only one of the joints. Normally, he said, he dislocates the hips before cutting away the bone; in this case, he cut the leg bones while still in my body, and had to use every trick he knew to complete the surgery. Pays to have the best, I guess!

So now it's on to more PT. I'm much better able to move around than on Tuesday. Hopefully, improvements will continue at the same pace on into the near future!

Thanks to everyone for the prayers, kind wishes and compassion. I hope to return to normal living quite soon!