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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Skylla and Charybdis

In Homer's Odyssey, upon reaching the cliffs of the two rocks called the Rovers, Odysseus faced the difficult choice of losing 6 men to the howling terror, Skylla, or his entire company to the fierce whirlpool, Charybdis. Given these choices and following the counsel of the goddess Circe, Odysseus sailed close to Skylla. Six of his company were thus sacrificed in the interest of the whole group.

I think this is the perfect description of the balance we face between dosages and side effects on the one hand, and disease progression on the other. Do I pursue the maximum dosage for maximum benefits, only to succumb to side effects? Do I achieve the level of side effects I'm comfortable with, only to lose the medication's effectiveness? I'm once again living in anticipation of my scans 3 weeks hence, to see if the lower dose we've settled on to avoid side effects can in fact maintain the stability I've enjoyed for the last 18 months. For the past month I've been able to travel and enjoy something close to life pre-1997, and it's pretty darned pleasant. But in the back of my mind is always the fear that this quarter dose isn't enough, and that my period of stability will end. If I do see disease progression, what do we do next - increase the dosage and suffer the side effects, or move to a different drug?

Odysseus questioned Circe's wisdom, seeking in some fashion to avoid Charybdis yet deny Skylla her prey. Circe's response began, "Hardy man, your mind is full forever of fighting and battle work. Will you not give way even to the immortals?"*

There is an inevitability to all our doings here. Life is one long progression of choices to be made, balancing the negatives against the positives. In all cases, I think, better Skylla than Charybdis; but only after making an informed choice.

*Odyssey of Homer, trans. Richmond Lattimore, Harper & Row (1977 repr)


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Return of Routine

Sister J left yesterday morning for her son's and thence her home, with weeping on both our parts. We got to spend plenty of time investigating some of my favorite haunts, yakking, reading, and relaxing; she was good company and I miss having her here.

This 10-day departure from routine was the closest I've come to a vacation for years - life has been overcome, until recently, by illness or medical emergency or fatigue. Yes, I'm tired now, but it's within the realm of normalcy I think. And how much longer it has been for Saint H to find respite from this worry! I feel guilty that I can relax, and hope that he believes I'm better and will lay off his fears for me.

Yesterday afternoon saw me parked in Dr C's office for 4-1/2 hours for bloodwork, lab results, and an office visit. Patient load was worse than usual; 3 of his colleagues are on vacation so he had 40 patients to oversee. I took my usual books and knitting and passed the time. Good results: hemoglobin levels 11.6, blood calcium levels 8.8, both normal; BUN and creatinine continue to be slightly elevated but not threatening. I've yet to find out what one must do to balance these levels; something obnoxious, I'm sure, and I hope I don't have to find out.

Jezebel begins to look pregnant. Perhaps this is why she has decided that she likes us? Oh well. But like us, she does - this morning's visit to the porch included a gift of freshly-caught mouse. We are honored and amused.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

"Borta bra ...

men hemma bast." That is, "Travel is good but home is best" (Swedish; and yes I know the final 'a' needs an umlaut but my ASCII skills just aren't up to it at the moment). We went last weekend to my brother and sister-in-law's for an annual visit, joined by friend C2 and sister J. Saint H and C2 returned here on Sunday while J and I stayed to visit an aunt. We detoured to visit J's son in Indianapolis on the way here. J leaves here on Tuesday for her home, stopping again to see her son and spoil grandkids on the way.

We've been trying to balance visiting and running around with resting and relaxing and, I think, we're doing pretty well on that score. But I really am happy to be home. Much as I'm enjoying the visit I will also enjoy the return of my old boring routine - I've been on the go pretty much constantly for 8 days now. But we've gotten plenty of reading and snoozing in, and Duke is reveling in all the attention.

JezebelI don't think Duke enjoys this, though - Jezebel (formerly called "Barney" before we got to know her better) is the resident barn kitty. In the past 2 weeks she's decided that she likes us. She's happy to be petted but a little nippy yet - probably got dumped out here in the country after being somebody got tired of having a kitten. I don't think she'll be an inside child but we'll be happy to take care of her - every barn needs a cat, after all.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Beardie and the Sycophants

We've nearly stopped going to a favorite local restaurant for weekend breakfasts. Of late, there's been an invasion by a men's bible study group who meet, pray, eat, and talk about their beliefs. They make authoritative pronouncements about society, what's wrong with it and how things would all be better if their particular brand of God were completely in charge. Yes, I know this sort of thing goes on all the time and everywhere, and I generally don't let it bother me, but I think they all work with jackhammers daily because these words have to be uttered at the highest possible volume. One fellow leads the discussions and his every word is met with approval and, in one guy's case, a braying "Oh, YEAH. Yeah, Brother!! Right on! Yuk-yuk-yuk!!"

Did something happen to one of them to cause the group's founding? Was it sudden? Was it frightening? All I know is, one week they appeared and they've never gone away. What makes someone turn to religion? Why didn't I? Oh, there's no answer to these questions - I'm not religious and I probably wouldn't seek out their punitive God for comfort if I were. But it makes me wonder what triggered their creation. And I feel sorry for the restaurant owners, because their business is suffering.

I spent 10 days off Nexavar and resumed a quarter dose last Thursday. I now take 400 mg every other day. The hand/foot symptoms have nearly disappeared and I've not had any tingling or other warnings of renewed symptoms. I'll be back in Dr C's hands in Columbus in 3 weeks, and to Dr G's ministrations in 7 weeks. Life goes on.

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