Thursday, December 29, 2011

Holiday Catch-up

Ludicrous. Skip gave me an iPad for Christmas and I’m reading a terrific book and I managed to leave both of them at home. So I spent an hour at the Southern Indiana Radiation Center (SIRA) with nothing but a bunch of Tennis magazines and Web MD issues to read. I was there to get my annual mammogram and also-- because Skip’s cancer caught us so off-guard-- a chest and lung X-ray (I’m an ex-smoker, too and suffer now from mild asthma). It all went well—or at least as well as they’d tell me at the time; and now I’m back home. I have work to do, but I’m restless so thought I catch up on the blog posts.

Skip continues to do pretty well. He had his 4th aggressive chemo treatment, which hit him pretty hard: fatigue, blues and joint pain lasting longer than usual. Then on Dec 21, he began what they called “maintenance” treatments—just one drug (alimta) along with an anti-nausea drip. The after effects played out much the same way they always have. Weds, the day of the chemo treatment, and the following day, Thursday, he felt fine. Then Friday, he was a little tired. Then Saturday, Christmas Eve, he felt pretty worn. We spent a quiet evening –read, ate cookies and fudge, made a fire, watched the Tom Waits special on Austin City Limits and opened our remaining presents. But then Christmas Day, Skip rallied (said he felt as though something had actually shifted inside), so we went to our friends’ Christmas party. Wonderful food—ham and a roast, two kinds of ceviche, bean salad, hummus, lots of champagne and sweets galore. And wonderful talk. Our friend L. showed up—a big surprise since she was supposed to be on a great adventurous trip to see Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti project in Arizona with her new girlfriend. But things turned out badly for her—the new flame abandoned her in the middle of New Mexico, taking the rental car and L’s house key with her. L. managed somehow to get back to the hotel, where the inn keeper helped her to get a flight reservation home. “I didn’t bring anything,” she apologetically told our hostess, Tamar; T. quite appropriately hushed her, gave her a glass of champagne, and sat her near me (knowing I’d be a sympathetic ear; actually I was outraged at the girlfriend’s behavior and was so incensed on L’s behalf that she sent me a sweet thank you note the next day). For my part, it was a kind of gentle kick-reminder that as bad as things seem right now, I’m not feeling rejected or unwanted or unloved. Quite the opposite, since Skip is very loving and tender.

The winter continues to be mild. We did have one snow two days ago—bitter cold and icy. Friends came to shovel our driveway- and it was so slippery I couldn’t even walk down the driveway to say a proper thank you. Just blew kisses from the top of the drive and then went to find salt. But by yesterday, things were already beginning to thaw, and today we managed a walk in the park. Skip suffers from chemo chill, so he was bundled up with scarf, hat, and ear muffs. But I thought it was positively balmy and walked bareheaded, with my leather jacket unzipped, gloveless hands shoved in my pockets. Tonight I’m making tostadas and margaritas and we have plans to watch an Australian neo noir, The Square. If I don’t post again before New Year, I wish you all a jolly and safe holiday; and I wish us all some better times in 2012.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

RIP Christopher Hitchens

RIP the erascible, frequently maddening but always interesting Christopher Hitchens. God knows I often disagreed with him but I was truly sorry to hear this news yesterday morning Nobody but nobody wrote about cancer with the same esprit and verve. I will miss his blog posts, his smarts, his will to survive, his 'je ne regrette rien" attitude and his gallows wit.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Good news

Dec 3, 2011

Today is Jean- Luc Godard’s 81st birthday. Six years ago we did a weekend symposium here at IU, to celebrate his 75th birthday. Jonathan Rosenbaum came down from Chicago with a copy of JLG’s as yet unreleased Histoires du cinema; Jim, I, Nathan Carroll, and Jonathan gave talks; we showed a smattering of both old favorites and more recent films- -and at least one rare film from the Dziga Vertov period. I remember Skip lugging a case of wine we got from the Swiss Embassy to the reception and the great Champagne and Baklava bash we had to celebrate the end of the festivities and to fête the great man himself. This year I’ve been so distracted I would have missed Godard’s birthday entirely if not for Facebook postings from other cinephiles. But I did rally sufficiently to order Histoires, which is finally commercially available here, from Amazon. And I spent a wonderful hour last night trolling You Tube for my own FB Godard nuggets to post.

On the cancer front, the news is good. Last Weds (Nov 23) Skip had a CT Scan to see how the cancer was progressing--or not-- and the results are terrific. The carcinoma (cancer cell growth) in his spine is reduced and the soft tissue in the bone is starting to heal. The lymph nodes in his chest are smaller. The spot on his lung and the one on his liver are unchanged, but no larger. And there are no new spots or lesions. So for now at least, the cancer's progress has been substantially slowed.

He had new labs this past Weds (Nov 30)-- also good. White blood cell count and immature white blood cell count are still fabulous (he could share with the entire family). His platelet count is high. The hemoglobin count is still 9.8-despite the valiant attempts of a dedicated acupuncturist and her arsenal of chinese herbs (thanks, Eliie!) and the sacrifices of several local grass-fed cows. So, the hemoglobin count is not quite the perfect 10 that continues to elude us, but it’s no worse than 3 weeks ago.

Skip had his 4th chemo treatment Weds-- still using two drugs: alimta and carboplatin. When he returns to the center in 3 weeks, he'll be starting a milder "maintenance" chemo therapy, just using alimta —and spending only about 45 minutes in the still pretty depressing infusion center. Dr. Dayton was obviously pleased with himself and twirled his mustache with even more élan than usual.

Asked about travel, Doc D said that if Skip feels well enough to travel in April, we can work his chemo treatment around a plane trip. So--as of now at least, we plan to fly to Stayton for Edith (Skip’s mom)’s 100th birthday in April. The invisible band around my chest has loosened. I feel as though I can breathe again and for the first time in months I feel as though we can make plans.

Back to Godard-- Stayed up late watching Olivier Assayas’s Demonlover, just one of the films that would have not been possible without him.