Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Well, thankfully Dennis’ vitals and labs were somewhat improved this week. Last week, the numbers were rather diminished, and so it was decided that he could not receive his scheduled infusion of gencitobene because his immune system had no immunity. But this week, his ANC went from .7 to a ripped 1.7! And his WBC doubled from 1.6 to a mind-bending 3.3. Again, I am disproportionately moronic enough not to fully understand all the decimal places, but I know a pint of chemo when I see it. And Wednesday, Dennis received the full bag…down to the last drop. Ordinarily I recoil from the nuisance of technological devices, because I am easily overwhelmed by gizmos and wizardry. And the convergence of tubes and tethers leading into my husband’s innards tends to be just a little off-putting. However, going home down a pint isn’t comfortable either. I want every advantage in the battle we fight daily, and there is nothing in the world so monumentally useless as an intravenous needle preparation that must be removed unused.

Last week when we returned home, we decided to watch TV in an attempt to take our minds off our disappointment. And it worked. With great fanfare, the tinseltown ad gurus announced the latest coming attraction…the reality show…”Hurl!” Apparently the sole object of this bizarre and monumentally absurd stunt show is for the contestants to stuff themselves with food at a frenzied pace and then be tethered to devices that completely shift their center of gravity by whirling, spinning and distorting the individual body parts with centrifugal force until one begins to sicken, belch…and ultimately hurl. (Actually, this sounds like what happened to me at Disneyland. But that was different. I didn’t win $50,000! More’s the pity.)

Now, don’t get me wrong. I like the preposterous as much as the next guy, and questionable bodily fluids don’t necessarily offend me…I just don’t get making it some kind of competition. At first we dismissed this whole reality phenomenon as exercises in mind-numbing brainlessness. But then we began exercising our own creativity, and, since we had some extra time with the cancelled infusion, we came up with some terrific ideas for competitive reality-based shows for the chronically vegetative…”Guts,” “Flatulence,” “Nasal Distance Expulsions,” “Corpulent Incontinence,” ...well, you get the idea.

I guess nostalgia ain’t what it used to be. I know I’m going to date myself as the “boomer” I am, but I really miss the good old days when we used to watch TV programs centered on mythical places like Mayberry, and the citizens were protected by a trembling Barney Fife, and everyone had names like Opie, Otis, Thelma Lou… and Aunt Bee, who prepared nightly meals with side dishes and dessert just before she went to choir practice. Things were infinitely simpler then, and the town’s inhabitants were a profusion of the endearingly addle-brained.

No one in Mayberry was bothered with bodily functions, let alone creating an athletic competition centered on them. There was no call for sphincter control due to the absence of sphincters.

Sometimes I find myself assaulted and insulted by the “entertainment industry,” who so often seem underequipped for anything remotely elevating. I am not an advocate of everything being perpetually profound. But there seems to be a profusion of producers who are bereft of discretionary judgment or accountability. We have deteriorated in progressive stages, beginning with a tolerance for things inane and proceeding to profound distortions of the ludicrous. There seems to be a migration toward increasingly disoriented delusions of entertainment…such a cruel misconception.

Now I am fully aware that Mayberry is something of an anachronism, but given the choice between the current entertainment menu and “the good old days,” I think I prefer the serenity of a porchful of rockers, fully-grown munchkins, and the agreeably imbecilic.

And while we’re on the subject of nostalgia, last week I went to a high school reunion luncheon. It has become an annual tradition for the women to gather, and it is so fun to get together and talk over old times. It is amazing that a group of women can pick up threads of conversations that began back in high school. Sometimes it seems there is a time warp, and I am not just sure where we are on the chronology spectrum. But I do realize that one is never too old to be 18. It is a matter of choice, and we can become “born-again adolescents” at will.

Now I’m not saying changes have not taken place. It is mutually agreed by all the women that our favorite household appliance is a good pair of tweezers. Remember how we used to pluck our eyebrows? Well, these days we no longer have need to pluck our eyebrows since…our eyebrows no longer exist. The hairs that used to be arranged in a saucy little arc over our eyes, have now migrated downward and re-located themselves in no particular pattern on the nether regions of our faces. Now, no one is averse to resorting to comb-overs to disguise age-related thinning female pattern baldness, but we do prefer the comb-overs not have their origins in the nasal passages.

Every lady at the luncheon has left detailed “last rites” requests of our daughters that before the tubes are pulled…pluck any hair sprouting in any region deemed socially gauche in polite society! That is a sacred oath that has been passed from mother to daughter for generations. And “mother’s tweezers” are bequeathed down the genealogical line of next of kin and referred to in reverent voices apropos of things of great worth. Our faces are beginning to resemble the portraits our three-year-old grandchildren have drawn of us. That’s OK, as long as the details do not include undulating rogue chin hairs. We can endure wrinkles that approximate the size of lacerations…but have zero tolerance for unruly follicles.

In fact, it is not just hair that has migrated. Many things have re-arranged and re-aligned themselves to all points of the compass. I guess some attributes become casualties of time, and we must all undergo the tectonic land shifts that compress and expand and cause stuff to converge and collect around our equators. But when old friends get together, time sloughs off, we are 18 again, and reliving the years when we all had toothpaste-commercial smiles.

Reunions are good. Nostalgia is better. Being 18 is best. Missing chemo infusions, however, can trigger aggravated anecdotal reverie that provides a brief reprieve and respite from reality and is rather refreshing.

It is all very good.

The Clot

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