Sunday, August 27, 2017

A Cancer Journey ~ An Ex-Spleenation

It has been a while since I last posted. The reason is because of my spleen, probably no the most interesting or glamorous or popular of reasons to temporarily abandon one's blog, but there it is. So now I am going to do what I usually do not do on this blog – give an account of a personal experience – however, I think that was the original intent of the original blog.

May 11, 2017
I had severe pain in my abdomen after lunch. I was getting ready for my first book-signing on May 20th so I attributed it to stress and the broccoli, cabbage, spinach salad I had for lunch. The pain diminished but did not completely go away. It was there at the book-signing, but I was so thrilled to be selling my book I didn't care.

May 25, 2017
The pain became so intense I  went to the emergency room. There I underwent blood tests, an EKG, and a CT scan with dye. The results revealed a 5 cm. mass on my spleen. I set up an appointment with a surgeon for June 6.

June 6, 2017
The pain was gone. Dr. Lee showed me the mass; it was self-contained. There was no evidence of infection, elevated white blood cell count, or other masses in the body. I wanted to go traveling for the next two weeks. Dr Lee said I could as long as there was no recurrent pain. We set up a follow-up appointment.

July 15, 2017
I was awakened at 3:30 am by sharp abdomen pains. It was Saturday so I could not reach Dr. Lee's office until Monday.

July 17, 2017
I called Dr. Lee's office. They set up for another blood test and CT scan for July 27, 2017. The pain was intensifying.

Aug. 4, 2017
Dr. Lee had newest CT results; the mass was now 7 by 6 cm. I could no longer rest in a prone position. I slept sitting up in a chair at night. He scheduled a PET scan for Aug. 8 to determine if the mass was a cancer. Even if it wasn't, the spleen had to be removed.

Aug. 12, 2017
I went to the ER because of the pain. The PET scan showed evidence that the mass was a sarcoma; it was now 7 by 8 cm. I was given a prescription for pain management.

Aug. 14, 2017
I returned to the ER because of the pain and swelling in my feet. I thought I might be having a reaction to the medication. It turned out that my feet and ankles were swelling because I had not been able to lie prone for two weeks.

Aug 15, 2017
I had a consultation with Dr. Lee, who scheduled surgery for Aug. 23. When the spleen is removed, the usual procedure is to take a set of immunizations and let them work for three weeks. We determined that I could not wait that long for the spleen to be removed. The surgery was scheduled for Aug. 23. I got the injections that day. Now I just had to manage the pain for a week.

Aug. 23, 2017
The surgery took place and was successful in that the spleen and the mass were removed intact. There was no other masses in and around the abdominal cavity or organs. The mass had enlarged my spleen to double its normal size. A biopsy will determine if it was a cancer, and if so, what type.

Aug. 25, 2017
I was discharged from the hospital, and began the recovery process at home. There is still pain and discomfort but it is tolerable. I finally can rest horizontally; the swelling in my feet and ankles is gone.

I am so thankful that I was able to get the medical help I needed. I also feel blessed by all the prayers, love, and support I received during this time. My son and my sister are here right now to help my husband and me. They are wonderful. This experience has affirmed to me that our most important investments of our time, our money, our resources, our selves is in other people. The human connection is where we are at our best, where we really shine. That's the reason I am posting the blog. There are readers whom I have never met who take the time to read what I write. You are another connection with humanity for me; I want to honor your faithfulness with an explanation of why I have not posted lately. Many blessings to you.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Cancer Journey ~ The Horta

Blogger's note: This post originated in my personal journal. I decided to share it here as an example of how I start serious but never quite end up there. I take to heart Oscar Wilde's advice: "Life is too important to be taken seriously."

Bad night, bad! Pain all night! I carried the pain with me into brief intervals of sleep.

I cannot lay my body down. Right side, left side, front, or back position bring a throbbing pain in my spleen. I have to stand or sit all day and night. However, my back gets tired of sitting; its muscles beg for a rest. So I lay myself down, and my spleen responds with more pain.

My ankles are swollen from all the standing. My feet need to be elevated, but that triggers more pain in my spleen.

Dr. Lee called yesterday at 2:00 pm with the PET scan results. By some awful perversity, the ringer on my phone was turned off. I did not see the missed call until 6:00 pm, after office hours. And here I had my phone with me all day so I could hear it ring.

Earlier in the day, I checked the volume to make sure I would hear it ring; but I never thought to check the ringer status. I did not discover that until about 8:30 pm when I happened to check my phone and saw I had missed another call, this time from Andrew.

What that…? I had my phone right next to me. Recheck the volume: High. Hmm…maybe I should check the ringer. OFF! Arrgh!
(Or is it Ahrrgh! Or perhaps Aarrgh! I’ll put in all three so that you may choose your own expression of frustration.)

I called Andrew and poured out my tale of ringer woe; he was taken aback.

Andrew: “You mean you went at least four hours without checking your phone? If I were waiting for test results, I would be checking my phone every twenty minutes.
Me: “Well, I didn’t think about it.”
Andrew: “Arrgh!”
Me: “Arrgh!”

(Note to self: At least this episode shows I am not addicted to my phone.)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Maugham's Unicorns

Somerset Maugham uses two interesting literary devices in his novel The Razor’s Edge. One is that he is a cameo character in his own story.  He uses himself having conversations with the other characters as a means of advancing the plot.

 The story revolves around a group of friends that Maugham visits on occasion, sometimes after an absence of several years. Like real life friends, they update him on what has happened in their lives since the last time they were together. As a result, for much of the book, readers do not “see” the characters doing things in real time. Instead, they are told about them second-hand as Maugham records his conversations. It gives the book the feel of a personal journal.

The other literary device he uses is having the main character, Larry, drift in and out of the story. It reminded me of Madeleine L’Engle’s unicorn in her book Many Waters.

“Oh, that’s a unicorn. They’re very odd. Sometimes they are and sometimes they aren’t. If we want one, we call and it’ll usually appear.”

Larry makes sudden and unanticipated appearances throughout the book. He is there, and then he isn’t. Like L’Engle’s unicorn, sometimes when he goes out, he takes people with him, not physically but emotionally. Maugham makes it clear that if it weren’t for Larry, he would not have written the book—yet, compared to the other main characters, his story takes up the least number of pages.

I wonder why Maugham did that. Why would he cast himself as himself in his fiction? Why is his most influential character his most ephemeral? For that matter, why are there unicorns, and where do they go when they “go out”? I must think about this because I sense that they are connected. I wonder if Larry and the unicorns are acquainted. Or perhaps Larry is looking for unicorns. Perhaps he is looking for Rhino.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Children of the Con

“I’m telling you, Ms. Lamont, it’ll be colossal!” the young man said.

“Let me get this straight,” I said. “You want to make a movie about an alien race of vampires who lure their victims by means of children wearing dollar bills?”   

“That’s right,” he said.  He placed dollar bills on the ends of his fingers, and walked his hand across my desk.

“It’s like this.  People will see these little kids toddling off wearing shoes made of money.  They’re greedy, see, and follow the kids, thinking to grab the dough. The kids leads them down a dark alley and BAM! A vampire nabs ‘em.”

“Sorry,” I said, “but it’s just doesn’t send me.  It’s not spicy enough.”

“What!” he shouted.  “It’s got everything!  Aliens!  Vampires!  Babies!

“No,” I said, as I shook my head. “I’m not interested.”

He rose from his chair.  “You’ll regret this.  I’ll get financing…I’ll do GoFundMe.  It will be a HUGE success!”

In his haste to leave, he lost his footing and did a magnificent pirouette to keep from falling.

“That’s it!”  I said.  “Make it a musical!  Call it ‘Children of the Con.’”

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


Finding Your No

“Nothing we do as individuals matters, but it is vitally important to do it anyway.”

A recent news article in the Fresno Bee stated that the Fresno Police Department was inundated with calls regarding illegal fireworks during the Fourth of July holiday. It seems there were a number of scofflaws who felt “independent” of regulations regarding the sale and use of fireworks.

A scofflaw is one who disregards regulations and/or laws regarding legal activities, such as driving, buying alcohol, discharging fireworks, watering lawns, etc. Scofflaws are not necessarily criminals in that the rules they disregard are not forbidden—like murder or theft—they are merely restricted under certain conditions. For example, fireworks are legal if used by the proper authorities in a designated location, but they are illegal if launched from someone’s backyard.

What’s funny is when one person’s scoff is another person’s law. Someone who is outraged when drivers exceeding the speed limit may think it’s perfectly fine to discharge illegal fireworks.  
In my opinion, a scofflaw is a person who has not found his or her “No.” You may think finding your no doesn’t matter, but it is vitally important to find it anyway.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Amusing Partners

“Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.”
Salvor Hardin ~ Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Between the Lines ~ The Faerie Queen

Ed heard the door open.

“Thank goodness, you’re here,” he said. “Please, sit; I need your help—immediately.”

Clio and Calliope sat down at the table, looking mildly amused and somewhat puzzled.
“Well?” they said.

“It’s like this,” said Ed. “You remember when Muse and I wrote that nice little pastoral piece about trees and shepherds and babbling brooks?  Well, now she’s got it into her pea brain that I should write an epic.”


“That’s right! An epic—She thinks I should trade in my pipes and flutes for a trumpet.”

“For Heavens’ sake, why?”

“Oh, she’s hell-bent on…how did she put it? ‘Rivers of wrath, oodles of blood, outrageous acts of foolishness disguised as courage, and unbelievable stupidity passing for love’, and all set in a completely unreal world of fantasy.”

Clio shrugged.
“So she wants you to write an epic. Calliope can help you punch it out in a wink.”

“It’s more than that,” Ed groaned.  “Muse wants it to be a morality play. What do I know about morals? The last time I had morals, I got into no end of trouble. Besides, I think Wilson borrowed them a while back and hasn’t returned them.”

“Well, if it’s morality you need, Clio got loads she can lend you, “ said Calliope. “She has all those histories and such of Faerie knights and whatnot.”

“Do you really, Calliope?”

“Sure thing. If it weren’t for morality, there would be precious little history to record.”

Ed looked relieved, but then he frowned.
“Look here,” he said. “If I go messing around with morals, who knows what the consequences will be. I don’t want to be accused of abusing my muses for my own amusement. After all, look at what happened to King Arthur and all he suffered. You both have to promise to forgive me if we all end up dead.”

“Er…if we’re dead, does it really matter?”

“Then, how about a pre-forgiveness?”

Clio and Calliope looked at each other and nodded.
“That will work.”

“Great! Then helpe thou my weake wit, and sharpen my dull tong.”

To Be Continued.