Friday, August 12, 2016

One more ride on the roller coaster

Same old same old. Wednesday rode my bike into campus, felt fantastic. Met with my student James who's back from a conference
in Vancouver, and as I hoped it was a great success. He's energized, and that energizes me too. Thursday morning Wendy made some delicious blueberry pancakes! That's the top of the roller coaster.
Then back to the infusion ward by noon for 8 hours and a steep descent to make myself feel miserable. Ah well, you just make the most of it.

I thought I'd have met all the nurses in the infusion ward by now, but not so. This time I was assigned Mark, a nice guy but not as personable and funny as Tom. When he left for his four hour commute to Squim (he does double shifts, spending the night
in Seattle), a female nurse I hadn't met took his place. Much less personality than Dana and co., but then I learned her name is Jessica and she has a four-year old girl and a two-year old boy, which certainly gives her bonus points! I pointed out to her that
her job description specifically states that she has to look at pictures of her patients' grandkids. A couple of other nurses joined the viewing, with suitable gushing of ``awww, aren't they cute''. Well duh.

Dana was around and continues to crack me up. At one point my IV beeper was going off and she stopped in to check. ``Mark seems to have abbandoned me,'' I said. Without missing a beat she replied ``well can you really blame him?'' Or when I'm heading out to the hall for one of my many trips to the bathroom, if she's walking by she'll make some crack like ``where do you think you're going?''

For the first few hours I still felt fine, and as usual got a fair bit of work done. Like how maximal associated primes in a group cohomology ring are annihilators of primitive elements. This was in an old paper I was looking at in connection with Charlie's thesis project, and I suddenly realized it applies in James' situation too. It's really cool; beautiful stuff. If only I could channel my mathematical hero, the late Dan Quillen...he was about ten thousand times smarter than me, and I'm sure would have some beautiful, suprising approach to the problem James and I are working on with limited success. (I know the technical words don't mean anything to y'all, but I just want to get across how much fun I'm having with math, chemo or no chemo!)

Here's a question for the North Kirkland Philosophical Society (anyone reading this is automatically an honorary member): Can a man write a novel about a woman? Wendy says no. Having finished Capuana's ``Il marchese di Roccaverdina'', which I found very well-written, I got his first novel ``Giacinta'' from the library. Capuana seemed to fancy himself a student of female pyschology,
and this is another 19th-century novel whose main and title character is female, in the vein of Madame Bovary, Therese Raquin, Anna Karenina et. al. Although Giacinta was well-written and a fast, interesting read, I didn't find Giacinta very convincing. And why do these authors always have their heroines commit suicide? Giacinta does it creatively, with a curare-tipped needle. After first testing it on her canary, which seems rather mean. So what say ye, philosophers?

Or can a woman write a novel about a man? Currently I'm reading ``La via del male'' by Grazia Deledda, another 19th century author I may have mentioned before. She was Sardinian, and I love her vivid depiction of life on that intriguing island. Now ``La via del male'' has a young man as protagonist. The jury is still out on whether it works, so we'll see. The cultural context, so foreign to us, makes it difficult to judge. By the way, the title means ``The way of evil''. So ``male'' means ``a man'' in English and ``evil'' in Italian (when used as a noun). Make of it what you will.
This time around I planned to cut the dex even further, from 3 pills to 2 (the instructions are to take 6). You get a dose of it intravenously in the ward, and this morning the (expletive-deleted) hiccups had already begun. So I decided to go all in and cut the dex completely. I even went for a walk in the park, on the theory that if need be I could always puke discretely in the bushes. No nausea, just the usual crappy feeling, so although too soon to tell, it was looking like I could pull it off.  Then Susan the nurse practioner called just to check on me, probably because I'd been talking to her in the ward about my ambition of going dex-less.
And I did learn something; the other anti-nausea drug they give intravenously during the infusion only works when taken together with the dex. So, after some pleading on her part I agreed to take half a pill today and half a pill tomorrow. I'm hiccuping as I write this. However, I do keep a large supply of dex on hand in the TV room, in case Donald Trump comes on.

With perfect timing my latest Italian book order arrived today! It always feels like Christmas, and cheers me up. As of course do the little ones, and not only mine: On the trail as I was passing a day camp group, I overheard a little boy telling his camp counselor: ``Once I walked to San Diego.'' ``From here?'' Nod. I think he was about four, and probably, in his own little brain, telling the truth. He may have vacationed there and walked on the beach, who knows?

The other night while baby-sitting we had ice cream bars for dessert (the mere thought of which nauseates me at the moment)
and Finley came out with ``What if I ate two million ice cream bars?'', then immediately re-calibrated ``no, what if I ate a hundred?'' Good to see he has some self-restraint. I said that I thought he would expand into a giant round ball that had to roll instead of walk, that we'd have to take out a wall for him to get out of the house, and that he'd go rolling down the street while the neighbors exclaimed ``what the heck is that giant ball? Oh my gosh, it's Finley!''  All this to the great amusement of Finley and his sis.

Okay, time to attack these hiccups again. Then see if there's anything to eat I can successfully stare down. Wendy, who is a wonderful big sister, is taking Warren and Shirley out for birthday dinner. Normally I go too, but tonight is out of the question.
Don't even bother bringing back a piece of pie, I said. Maybe I'll have some more cantaloupe. But the big question is:
Can the Mariners make it seven in a row?

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