I decided to start a blog, a repository of thoughts, ideas and general randomness. Today is the first edition, so welcome and I apologise in advance for the lack of slick bloggy skills and my overall general cluelessness.
In this edition and future ones can be found; interesting links, philosophical discussions, gratuitous squirrel abuse, and occasionally chocolate. But mostly, it will be what's on my mind, which as I will explain, is slightly uncertain territory at the moment. I guess I decided to start this partly because of what has happened recently, which some know and some don't. Hopefully if you didnt know you can forgive my keeping it quiet.
So How Are You?
its hard to explain how much I have dreaded this seemingly innocuous question recently. I hate questions I can't answer, it must be something of the scientist in me. I also hate lying, or even evading, much as I have had to at times in order to avoid questions I am not ready to face.
Headaches are nothing new for me, but they had become frequent and debilitating in April. Then, out of the blue, I woke up on the floor after a seizure. Like most guys, I am happy to ignore potential medical problems forever, like some sort of Black Knight out of Monty Python. Arm missing? Hah, tis but a flesh wound! For some reason though I knew I couldn't ignore this one, even though the sense of foreboding was like a black snake trying to strangle any calm I could find.
As a scientist, facts and technical stuff are second nature. As a pharmaceutical chemist, medical technical stuff is especially close to home. Getting inserted into a MRI is one of the few times I get to feel what my samples normally feel - routine nmr spectroscopy was a daily reality, and suddenly I am inside the same electromagnet feeling my own hydrogen nucleii precessing like mad (actually it doesnt feel like anything but jeez I wish it did so I could take my mind off the crappy muzak on the headphones....).
Dealing with facts, technical jargon and the like works up to a point. Glioma, neoplasm, staging, morbidity, population survival graphs. Sounds kind of innocuous. Suddenly, and embarassingly I have to admit, in the street outside the hospital, my scientist self fell away and I couldn't avoid the reality anymore - invasive brain tumour.
I apologise to whoever was unlucky enough to find me crying like a kid that day.
So since that day, life has been kind of a moment to moment proposition, hence my inability to answer the simplest of questions. How am I? Terrified but calm. Broken but strong. Thankful but angry. All at once.
The good news: I had surgery. Quickly I decided to fight, and that meant taking a risk. I would lose a piece of my brain, and given where the tumour was, possibly more besides. Survival is something I will no longer take for granted. I can say that I have no rcollection of lights, tunnels etc, despite being clinically dead for several minutes. I think I should demand a refund. I got out after about 3 weeks, and I am slowly getting stronger.
The news on the tumour is good, and with luck I will live for years to come. I have stared chemotherapy, a combination of deliciously toxic chemicals that will be my friends for the next few months. I can definitely recommend not being a chemist in these circumstances - it doesn't help being explicitly aware just how horribly nasty the stuff going onto your veins is.
The bad news: I am basically a brain damaged colt for the moment. My left hand only partly works, and typing is a real chore. Also, my brain doesn't work totally. I get odd moments when I can't put things together properly, like people's names and their details, or I start stuttering and can't stop. I am getting out more, and interacting with people, but I have good days and bad, and when its bad I get embarassed and flustered. I apologise in advance if you see me in chat or on Skype and I seem a bit odd, I am probably either having one of those moments or feeling woozy from the chemo.
In spite of all this however I have learned some important things. Like how much love there is around, and how much it can make you feel like nothing matters. A lot of it has come from people here. I am sorry I didnt tell more of you earlier than you found out. Truth to tell, I didn't want to because it made it real. That, and I didn't know how to say goodbye.
The fight goes on, but I have a lot to fight for. Just be patient when it comes to chapter updates, because I really suck at one handed typing and my secretary/nurse/boyfriend Daz is even slower than me .
On a serious note, I have found I stopped gibbering and shaking a bit once I got in touch with some support services. In my state of Victoria, there is an amazing body called the Cancer Council Victoria. Amongst a wide range of activites, they provide a huge amount of information and support for cancer sufferers. The link leads to their website - if you need any general info they can be a good place to start. They have a helpline you can call and speak to someone, whether you are a cancer sufferer, a relative or friend, or someone facing a possibility of a diagnosis. I was sceptical but it proved really helpful for me and my family - check out your local state or national equivalent and if they have something similar, don't be shy. I was embarassed but really after weeping in front of complete strangers at a tram stop I have recalibrated the whole embarassment thing.
Random Fun Stuff
There are days when I have felt it. Go on, you know you have too. When you feel like seeing a movie again, but really couldnt be bothered taking the time. When instead, what you really need is the movie, but re-enacted in 30 seconds. By cartoon bunnies.
Yes, I wanted that too. And now, my prayers are answered
Welcome to the world of 30 second bunny theatre, where cartoon rabbits re-enact famous movies in 30 seconds. My personal favourites are Brokeback Mountain, Titanic, and March of the Penguins, but to each their own. Go on, click on the link. You know you want it.
Real sports, none of this American crap.
AFL Australian Rules Football
Round 10 saw a series of huge upsets, with my team the mighty Collingwood Magpies surging to fourth on the ladder and equal on points with the top team. the poor cocaine addicted West Coke (sorry Coast) Eagles (hello Bumblebee.........) who had a surprise loss possibly due to an inability to find new dealers on their road trip to Brisbane.
In other matches, the Kangaroos were pathetic (sorry John), The Bulldogs amost as bad, and Carlton were good for a laugh as always.
Super XV Rugby.
As the Australian franchises are all crap, I am supporting my NZ team the Waikato Chiefs this season, and they are having a blinder. A hard fought win over NZ rivals the Auckland Blues at Waikato stadium sees the mighty Chiefs on top of the ladder with only one match to go. I hope the guy who is usually up a cherry picker with a chainsaw at the match had plenty of petrol, as it would have been a barn burner. The Chiefs have been the disappointment of the NZ franchises to date - this may be the year they finaly come good big time.
In other lesser matches, varous good South African teams won, various bad South African teams lost, and the Australian teams were the consistency of porrige. Also, the Melbourne team lost, so all in all pretty much standard.
The IPL came to a stunning climax as someone with a lot of money beat someone else with a lot of money and lots of fireworks went off. Occasionally, a cricket match broke out but was firmly stamped out by authorities. According to the BCCI press release, it was the best tournament ever in the history of the universe, which it must have been because they said so.
In more sedate fashion, the West Indies showed again that they are getting better but not quite good enough in not entirely falling apart against England, losing honourably on day 5 of the second test. England now lead the series 2-0.
English Premier League Soccer
Manchester United did not win. Honestly, beyond that, I didnt care as long as someone, anyone, could wipe the supercilious smirk off Alex Ferguson's face for one year. Manchester City, take a bow and a wheelbarrow full of Roubles.
Euro 2012 starts soon; prizes will be awarded for guessing the specific way England will crash out of the tournament to general heartbreak and much post mortem discussion.
Gratuitous Squirrel Reference
No Squirrels were harmed in this blog. Well...not yet.
Well, that is all for today. Gotta muck out my stall, so unless you want a shovel, may be time to leave the stable. I hope to see you back in a week, till then.