“Friends don’t let friends measure Page Views. Ever.”
Happy New Year: May 2016 have left you with only a headache and not a heartache and 2017 be not as bad as many of us think it will be.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
Treatment has begun to take on the feeling of a deadly boring job. Get up, off to work, come home and prepare for the next day, catch a few social interactions and some entertainment where one can.
HRM has settled happily into the Christmas dither, shopping for presents and planning the cake he intends to bake for us. I asked him what he would like for a present. He said, “A toy I can play with for a day and then forget.”
The week that began with great promise as to the course of my treatment came to a close with me feeling more like road kill. So, I complained to the hoards of technicians attending me at the hospital that I was beginning to question the value of experiencing the pain I was having balanced against the possibly living five more years or so. They gave me a prescription that I was to pick up the next morning at a pharmacy near the hospital.
The next morning, I arrived at the pharmacy and was given a bottle filled with a pink liquid. The medicine was labeled, “Magic Mouthwash.”
Now, I am of that generation where referring to something as Magic this or that was usually not medicine and certainly not approved by the FDA. In addition, this particular medicine did not come accompanied by those inserts containing, in small and unreadable print, descriptions and warnings about your purchase. Instead, it contained a one-page notice that read in part:
Uses: Consult your pharmacist.
How to Use: Consult your pharmacist.
Precautions: Consult your pharmacist.
Drug Interactions: Consult your pharmacist.
Side effects: Consult your pharmacist.
Overdose: Call 911 or local poison control center.
So, I asked the pharmacist. He took me into a corner and, sotto voce, rattled off several long GrecoRoman words representing the contents of the medicine. I gleaned there were a least two antibiotics and a pain control substance. The other two or three ingredients escaped me.
Anyway, I took the magic mouthwash with me to the hospital parking lot where, in my car, I poured the amount of liquid the pharmacist recommended into a small plastic cup and swished it around my mouth.
Suddenly pain shot through my entire body and everything went white. Sort of like what happens when one takes those magic potions that appear so prominently in the cheap fantasy novels I am so fond of reading. When my eyes cleared, I fully expected to see a few pixies tossing gold dust dancing in the car in front of me, a unicorn in the parking space beside me and Marley’s ghost. Instead, I found myself free of pain and washed in a warm comfortable glow.
So, I left the car, skipped through the rain and into the hospital to find the chief nurse of the Radiation Oncology Department.
She was in her office dressed in fuzzy antlers and Santa Claus cap and a dark green tunic covered in Christmas ornaments. “What do you know about “Magic Mouthwash,” I enquired?
The nurse is from England and speaks with a Cockney accent so thick that, at best, I could understand only every other word. She also refers to me as “my darling” instead of Joe, or Mr. Petrillo or even Pookie. “Oh that,” she responded. “That’s your doctor, Dr. Jones’, favorite potion.(yes she used that word).” “He and the pharmacist cooked it up for when the patients are experiencing too much pain.” She then listed the ingredients like the pharmacist did. This time I caught that one of them was a steroid. That, I thought, explained the skipping through the rain.
“Oh,” I said. “Uh, what about the FDA?”
“Don’t worry my darling, all the ingredients have been approved. They only mixed them together. The patients seem to like it a lot.”
“I can well understand that,” I responded.
A Christmas story:
Twas the night before Christmas. I had spent much of the day searching through Amazon for a book I could read that did not make me unhappy. You know, slightly better than trash but not enough content to engage my emotions. You would think Amazon would be full of such things. But, I have already read most of those remotely tolerable and the blurbs describing the content of the books I had not read pained my recently damaged gag reflex. So, I took a swig of Magic Mouthwash, forced myself out of bed and went searching the house for entertainment. Perhaps, I would surprise Santa Claus stealing Christmas presents.
When I was just a young nubbin at Christmas time, I would pray that the gathering of my family for that joyous holiday would not end in a drunken brawl. That prayer was never answered. I also prayed I would get a long list of presents that greed and an inflated sense of self-worth convinced me I was entitled. Alas, usually on Christmas morning, if even one item on my list appeared under the tree, I would be surprised indeed.
I believed that the only person roaming around the house from the time we all went to bed until I woke up in the morning and rushed to the tree to gather my loot was that fat, phony Santa Claus. The god’s of gift giving, I was positive, had heard my pleas but that corpulent poser had lifted the presents from my house, thrown them into his sleigh and along with his eight flying antlered rats whisked them off to the North Pole where he could spend the year playing with them.
I swore that when I became old enough I would buy a gun, secrete myself somewhere near the tree and when that red-suited miscreant exited from the fireplace shoot him right between his beady thieving eyes.
Alas, long before I was old enough to get a gun, I stopped believing in that villainous mercenary elf or that Christmas was all about me.
Now that I am older, I have a better understanding of what Christmas means — nothing in heaven or hell can stop members of a family from despising one another if they choose to and, you should consider yourself lucky if, in life, you get anything you wish for.
Stumbling into the new year.
Christmas came and went, obviously it is not my favorite time of the year. I think of it as the Donald Trump of holidays — all bluster and fraud.
After another week of treatment, the new year began. I had little to do this week but to travel back and forth to my treatments and obsess about them. This week I was alarmed and amused by their side effects. The information I had been given when I began this adventure listed a whole host of potential side effects up to and including sudden death. All of them, the materials assured, were expected to be experienced by only a small minority of patients. It has been my misfortune to have found myself experiencing to a greater or lesser degree a majority of them, two of which I have found to be both interesting and amusing.
The first was brief periods of confusion and memory loss similar to dementia. For a few days, I found myself having difficulty remembering almost anything or understanding what people were saying. I would sit at the table with a smile on my face listening to Dick talk about something and not understand a word. When it all passed and I thought about it, I was more amused than horrified. The experience was more like being a young child again wondering what was going on, sort of like that period between the first toke on a joint and the paranoia as the high begins to dissipate.
The second side effect I was warned about was the possibility of a rash covering parts of the head face or upper body and in rare cases all three. Alas, my face, head, and chest are now covered with something that looks like it falls somewhere between a bad case of teenage acne and smallpox. I am confident it has not progressed to the bubonic plague level because my pustules have not turned black and dripping bloody pus.
The explanatory materials state that the rash usually clears up in a week or two or shortly after treatment is terminated. In some cases, unfortunately, it is permanent. That, of course, got me thinking about becoming permanently disfigured and looking like some cinema monster. Now, for the young, attractiveness is something to be concerned about in that ceaseless search for sexual partners and also, because many studies have shown that in competing for a job where attractiveness and intelligence were measured, the more attractive but less intelligent usually got picked.
Since neither a job nor competitive sexual encounters are any longer an interest of mine, I thought this had interesting possibilities. To walk into a room and have it all go silent with someone moaning, “Oh my God” or being approached on the street by some kindly soul who would exclaim, “oh, you poor man, I feel so sorry for you. I will pray for you,” and then walk on by, had some real potential for chasing away the doldrums of boredom.
All in all, except for becoming stone deaf, bleary eyed and losing my sense of taste and wallowing in a miasma of dyspeptic emotions, I am feeling pretty good.That is what a cocktail of Benadryl and steroids and can do for you. I believe I am gaining muscle mass on my hallucinations,
Like many, I am not all that optimistic for 2017. I came into this world in 1939, 77 years ago, while the winds of chaos blew strong around the world and the world as we knew it ended plunging us into a decade of misery and slaughter never before seen. Now those chaotic winds are blowing once again and stronger than ever. In 2017, I am afraid, we may experience other endings, of our nation, our world and of course me. It is great, I guess, to have lived one’s life in the golden age between two great tragedies, but not particularly satisfying. Perhaps I can content myself with contemplating Jasper Fforde’s question in Today’s Quote below — have I done anything vaguely useful in the time I have been around? Who knows? Perhaps more accurately, should I even care about that now?
Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
He lay on his bed with the smartphone lit to his Facebook page. He typed in the words, “I refuse,” and sent it on to all his Facebook friends. Then he turned his face up towards the ceiling and screamed, “Eat your heart out Marcel.”
“Everything comes to an end. A good bottle of wine, a summer’s day, a long-running sitcom, one’s life, and eventually our species. The question for many of us is not that everything will come to an end but when. And can we do anything vaguely useful until it does?”
Fforde, Jasper. The Woman Who Died a Lot: A Thursday Next Novel (p. 2). Penguin Publishing Group.
Another fact about Jesus and, for that matter, the Apostles is that they were not poor. They have educated members of the middle class and perhaps even the upper classes. Jesus father is described as a carpenter. This would indicate he was an artisan, a home builder and furniture maker and not a laborer. Jesus and his apostles included rabbis and temple priests. The tax collector (Matthew) could not have gotten his position without political connections. As such, they were fully cognizant of the various streams of intellectual and religious thought that permeated Galilee at the time.
Finally and importantly, Jesus was a Jew, a Hellenic Jew, But a Jew nevertheless. He never said or even hinted at the creation of a new religion. As a Hellenic Jew, like Hillel and other great rabbis, he believed there was a meta-concept that transcended and unified the Law.
So, now that brings us to Big Paulie, or Don Paolo as I like to refer to him.