Friday, July 22, 2016

Chemo party; Super-Grandpa vs. Santa Claus

It was downright festive yesterday at the infusion ward, like being reunited with old friends. Hey, great to see you again!

The primary nurse assigned to me was Dana, the one I exchanged many movie reviews with. She's quite a character, with a quirky sense of humor, delivered in a deadpan style. At times it takes me a while to realize it was a joke; you have to be on your toes. She just celebrated her 60th birthday by running a half-marathon. Around mile ten, she said, she remembered why she stopped doing these. Tom is a great guy I've been assigned often. He's the one who complimented me so highly on my veins (actually I get this a lot around people whose job it is to stick needles into you). He said his wife gets mad when they're holding hands and he starts running a finger over her forearms, looking for a good vein. Rose just got back from a trip to Italy, but I didn't have much chance to talk to her yet. A great vacation Venice to Florence (well, da Venizia a Firenze) is all I know so far.

On Wednesday I'd done my bike-and-hike on a beautiful day, feeling great and in fact more energetic on both the bike and the steep hill-walking than ever. It makes it soooooooooo frustrating to go in and deliberately destroy that feeling. But dying would also be very annoying, so what can you do.
Day 1 is easy though. Get the PICC in, order a pot of coffee in the luxury suite and get out my math and Italian: complex cobordism of classifying spaces; Il marchese di Roccaverdina by Luigi Capuana. Very interesting so far and with lots of dialogue, (in the Italian novel I mean, not the cobordism!) which makes an easier read. It was written in 1901 so in effect a 19th century novel; I've found I tend to like this period, which includes also a surprising number of female authors. Also brought with me and finished the audiobook of ``Una stanza tutta per se''' by Virginia Woolf (it was 8 and a half hours in the ward, so lots of time to kill), a well-read translation of ``A room of one's own''. Never having read anything by her, it seemed appropriate to get the original English version too from the library. She certainly has a style of her own. It is a fiery feminist lament and call to action, written in 1928 (well, many of you have probably read it; odd that it took me so long!). Highly recommended, and short as it based on two lectures she gave on ``Women and fiction''.

Last night I went to bed not feeling all that great, then gradually felt better and better, was wide awake and thinking about math.
Finally got up at 1 and worked a bit on math and also on a short review of Woolf's essay for my Italian book reviews. The ondansetron effect has kicked in already! Went back to bed at 2:30 but still wasn't sleepy.

Today my body has reminded me that chemo is not inconsiderably unpleasant. Hiccups have started too, although at least those only come in week 1 of the cycle, from the dex. I'm not doing too bad though. While I'm typing, two young coyotes have been crashing around in the bushes right outside my window. If they're hunting, their parents ought to offer some advice; any rabbit within a hundred yards will hear them. Or maybe it's a strategy to flush out little critters. Or maybe they're just playing!

I'm very disappointed to miss Rebecca's wedding in California, but I made the right decision. Both the plane trip and the event would have been pretty miserable both for me and anyone around me. I insisted that Wendy go however (notice that English DOES have a subjunctive, albeit a pretty pathetic one) because there's really nothing anyone can do, not even my amazingly supportive wife. Enjoy the rehearsal dinner tonight! (I doubt I would. That reminds me, I need to talk to the med center about their choice of words on the dinner menu: ``vegetables infused with Thai flavor''.)

On another topic, I always feel vaguely bad about lying to children about Santa Claus, not to mention the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Jessie and Abby seem to have gotten over it and forgiven us, I think, but I still get that feeling now with my grandkids.
The issue came up on our Sunriver trip, in a way that surprised me. I was joking around about being Super-Grandpa, making a muscle with my biceps, to the extent that I have any left. I'm so strong I can pull a cloud down from the sky! I boasted, assuming this would be met with laughter and derision. Finley (all who know him can picture his wide-eyed expression) grabbed my arm and exclaimed, ``For real? In REAL LIFE?'' Rashly seizing the moment, I said yes, in real life! Super-Grandpa can even walk upsidedown on the ceiling! To my surprise even Kaia got in on this, i.e. instead of laughing ``no you can't'', both seriously wanted me to go out on the deck and pull down a cloud. Oh boy, now I'd gotten myself in a pickle. I invented a series of excuses to get out of it,
saying I'd do it the next morning---by which time, I thought, they'd have forgotten all about it.
 Not so. They came running up to the kitchen the next morning: ``Grandpa, we want to you to pull a cloud down from the sky!''
 Finley helpfully pointed out that several clouds were conveniently available, right above us.  Well, the jig was up. I had to confess that I made it all up. But as I said to Kaia, you didn't really think I could do it, did you? Do you really think someone could pull a cloud down from the sky, or walk upside down on the ceiling? Her reply:

 ``Well, a man couldn't really fly around at Christmas delivering toys to all the children in the world. There would have to be magic.''

 Oh dear. I have disillusioned her. She thought I had the magic too? And then:

 ``But even if you're not Super-Grandpa and can't walk upside down on the ceiling, you're still a super grandpa because you do super things.''

 If that doesn't melt your heart, I don't know what will.

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