Arriving in Houston is a little like being sucked into the vortex of Hades in the humid season. Just taxiing down the runway triggered a profusion of ringlets that made me look like a menopausal Shirley Temple. I’ve often wondered why nausea is the constant companion of unremitting heat. We were instantly swaddled in doughy, energy-sapping warmth. We perspired so profusely, we looked like we’d been shellacked. All my efforts to look glacial and glamorous were sabotaged. I feared all our facial features would melt into one another like molten lava. However, time has already accomplished what heat could not, so there was really no further disfigurement. This was a good thing.
We met with our Oncologist Extraordinaire, Dr. Wolff, to confer about Dennis. He is singular. He enters the exam room and immediately launches into a monologue about his most recent adventures. He had just returned from the desert sands of Qatar. Apparently an obscenely wealthy sheik had flown Dr. Wolff to his obscenely enormous palace located on the entire land mass between the Tigress and Euphrates. Talk about staging an intervention. That’s the ultimate house call. But it is evidence of the level of esteem Dr. Wolff is held in his area of expertise. Dennis and I were just happy the sheik hadn’t purchased the good doctor and retained custody. Flying to Qatar for our appointments would be terribly inconvenient.
Dr. Wolff is quite pleased with Dennis’ progress, and has modified the chemo regime to be a little more humane. He assured us this would not compromise the efficacy of the drugs, but would allow for greater tolerance. Ok. We can do that. In fact, Dr. Wolff is trying to persuade Dennis to consider taking a 1-month sabbatical from treatment altogether. I’m not sure either of us is willing to consider that right now, but it is on the table for discussion. Each decision demands deliberation. We were pleased it is an option. We continue to focus on the possibilities.
As if it were a feral instinct, the urge to live life in the left lane prompted us to drive to Cedar City for the Shakespeare Festival. This has been an annual tradition since medical school. It is our cultural sweet spot. We reunite with old friends and young grandkids to celebrate the creative imagination of a playwright who lived light years before computer-generated special effects. The strange thing is, the kids were entertained by it all. Perhaps seeing sword fights and Professor Harold Hill’s marching band with seventy-six trombones live on stage was actually better than 3D. Go figure. Everything old is new again.
We had tickets for “Richard III,” but decided to turn them in. It takes a certain energy reserve to watch the dastardly villainy of “Dicky 3.” (Talk about disfigurement!) Where Shakespeare is concerned, the “Wars of the Roses” is not exactly a stroll down the garden path. Besides, we get enough of murder, ambition, fatal curses and colossal ineptitude just watching the nightly news.
So, reciting our own soliloquys parodying “Richard III”: “Now is the summer of our discontent…” we waxed hysterical in iambic pentameter and opted out of the historic carnage. We’ll save the cruel swath of blood for next year when we return to The Globe.
At the moment, our favorite quotes are from Dr. Wolff, the preferred Bard of the moment: “Based on Dennis’ CT scan, we’re heading in the right direction.”
No poet could have said it better.