Ups and Downs

Post Slug ImageI certainly expected there to be ups and downs over the course of these treatments and I haven’t been disappointed. They are highly correlated with the actual chemo sessions. For example, in the days right before a treatment I’m feeling very nearly normal. Which means I go in to work. Which I count as one of the “downs.” A few days after chemo, I start feeling very tired, wiped out, and sick. So I sleep a lot and therefore count that as one of the “ups.”

Exactly how I’m affected changes each time. I’ve had three sessions so far and so far the damage after each has been different. And with three or five more cycles to go, combined with the cumulative effect of the juice, I could be in store for all sorts of fun.

“How do you cope with that?” my imaginary friends ask me all the time. My very real answer to that is, “I can’t.”

And I don’t mean that as “Oh, I’m so overwhelmed and can’t cope with any of this!” No, what I mean is: I actually lack the wiring in by brain that would allow me to even treat any of this as something that requires anything like a coping emotion.

Dr. Sheldon Cooper

Leonard: Have you considered telling her your feelings?

Sheldon [exasperated]: Leonard, I’m a physicist, not a hippie.

My approach to this is most certainly what Dr. Sheldon Cooper’s approach would be: pragmatic. In fact, about the only emotion I felt when I first got news of this was relief. Because for the few hours prior to that point, I was under the impression I was almost out of liver, and that sounded like a far worse problem.

The hospital: You’ve got Bob Hoskins Linoleum.
Me: Whew!

So my view of this is very simple: I have a known issue. The medical community has a standard treatment for it. And I just show up when and where they tell me. I’m not on a journey, or fighting a battle, or anything along those lines. I’m not looking to inspire or be inspired. I’m immune to platitudes. My brain boils it all down to this: just follow the established treatment plan and everything will be fine, right?

I suppose another word one might use to describe this is “denial” but it’s not like I’m completely oblivious to what’s going on. I understand this is worse than catching a cold and that very bad things might still be in store for me. But I’m also reminded of one particular line from The Fellowship of the Ring, written as the company took refuge in Lothlorien:

The future, good or ill, was not forgotten, but ceased to have any power over the present.

At this point my imaginary friends are likely asking, “Are you some kind of robot? And if so, what kind of powers do you have? Do you use them for good or for awesome?”

Yes, I am some kind of robot. I’m a highly complex machine with quintillions of moving parts controlled by a three pound central processing unit stored safely in a nice, hard shell. My approach to this isn’t something I chose. I never voluntarily sat down with a spreadsheet and listed the pros and cons of various coping mechanisms then picked the empirically best one.

No, I just am the way I am. I can’t help it any more than I can voluntarily change the color of my hair or voluntarily get that song “Somebody That I Used To Know” driven clean from my head once and for all.

Forget all the philosophers, theologians, and great thinkers that ever lived. Popeye had it figured out. “I yam what I yam and that’s all what I yam.” And as of right now, it’s two o’clock in the morning and I yam very tired. So me and my quintillions of moving parts are going to bed.

Blog Post: Part Deux

But not before tossing in a quick status report. I’m two weeks out from the third treatment so it’s an up week. (As evidenced by the fact that you’re actually reading a new post.)

In spite of the fact that last month I thought I was a mere days away from losing the rest of my hair, most of it’s still there and patches are actually growing back already. The beard is extremely thin on the sides but I’m still left with enough of a goatee and mustache that it’s not too bad.

Of course, lots of stuff still doesn’t taste right but I’m months and months away from that changing, so I deal with it. The tips of my thumbs and forefingers are constantly numb, which is annoying and something I hope goes away eventually.

Bloodwork each week and overall progress is looking normal unless they’re just outright lying to me, which I’d be okay with too. (Helps with that whole denial thing I mentioned above, you know.) My weight has stabilized around 195 and I’ve recently discovered this new thing called “dietary fiber.” If you haven’t looked into it yet, I highly recommend it.

So all in all, I’d say more ups than downs, all things considered. Here’s hoping to continue that trend.

31 Responses to “Ups and Downs”

Miz said
June 8, 2012 at 4:51 am

only you could make me laugh AND quote my fave tv show in your status report post….

    Charlie said
    June 8, 2012 at 8:45 am

    Yay me!

Michelle said
June 8, 2012 at 6:01 am

That’s the way to tackle it – being who you are!! No point in overanalyzing like Leonard would!

Hope you have a great UP or DOWN day because they are both days to get through!!

Mr.T, T as in Tobin said
June 8, 2012 at 6:48 am

Ah crap! Now I’m reading a blog. Great, thanks Charlie, I’m pretty sure I could of spent this time looking at the Victoria Secret catalog.

    Charlie said
    June 8, 2012 at 8:59 am

    My advice to you: dual monitors.

JohnGL said
June 8, 2012 at 7:03 am

Those “imaginary” friends of yours sound suspiciously like the spirits of your real friends who do all the worrying for you.

Zen and the Art of Linoleum Maintenance…

There isn’t a day that goes by where you aren’t in our thoughts, dreams, and wishes.

Stay healthy my friend!

Biz said
June 8, 2012 at 7:26 am

I love John’s comment! I love you Charlie!! And one day soon I hope Cheez-Its taste good to you. And peanut butter!

Carmen said
June 8, 2012 at 7:28 am

I’m ridiculously proud of how well you are handling this.

Hang in there, Charlie. All of us “imaginary” friends are rooting for you.

What do you mean I have to take out the garbage?! « My Bizzy Kitchen said
June 8, 2012 at 7:38 am

[…] guess who my Inspirational Diet motivation is for today?  My brother Charlie!!  You can check out his latest blog post here.  He’s had three cancer treatments so far.  The last two days, he’s walked a mile […]

Helen said
June 8, 2012 at 7:43 am

I hope your imaginary friends are also telling you that they wish you didn’t have to go through this at all, even if you are handling it like a champ!

Shelley B said
June 8, 2012 at 8:27 am

Your pragmatic approach to this reminds me of how my mother dealt with her cancer diagnosis last year…she did what they said to do and guess what? She’s perfectly fine now. As you will be, too. πŸ™‚

Tami said
June 8, 2012 at 8:56 am

I’d like to hear more about things not tasting right. Does EVERYTHING taste bad, like metallic, or do oranges taste like peanut butter?

    Charlie said
    June 8, 2012 at 9:00 am

    That would be this post.

Charlie said
June 8, 2012 at 9:02 am

Oh, and regarding “imaginary” friends. I suppose what I actually meant is “questions nobody actually asked me but I pretend they did for blog fodder.”


Suzie said
June 8, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Hi Charlie, love your attitude and with that attitude will be a successful outcome to all this!! πŸ™‚

Tony (Mr. Biz) said
June 8, 2012 at 2:57 pm

I know if you were my son I would be very proud of you. It would also mean I had a child at six. Further it would make for some awkward holiday family get togethers.

I for one, believe that you wil make Bob Hodkins your bitch!

TexasDeb said
June 9, 2012 at 8:16 am

At least you aren’t wasting time or energy stressing over your situation. I guess your imaginary friends can provide a “stress reaction by proxy”?

As for your real friends? (the not-so-Velveteen ones I mean) We are all happy that you are still having days of any sort at all, so you just go ahead and have them any way it works. Up, down, and everything in between. (the Cheezits will still be there when your taste buds settle back down to business…or at least SOME Cheezits will be there. Depending on how long you take I might accidentally buy and eat some of them. But not all. Hand to heart: I PROMISE.

TexasDeb said
June 9, 2012 at 8:17 am

Dang it! I didn’t edit that comment and left off a close paren. More coffee! Stat!

    Charlie said
    June 9, 2012 at 10:38 am

    You could have added it in your second reply. Here, I’ll do it for you, just to ensure the universe remains balanced.


Michael said
June 9, 2012 at 10:03 am


    Charlie said
    June 9, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Ah, I see what you did there. In this post, I identified myself with Dr. Sheldon Cooper, who would indeed take a similar stance (namely, that of the pragmatist) should he find himself in my situation. I even went so far as to point out the exchange between he and Dr. Leonard Hofstadter, where it emphasized that he was not a “hippie” as he did not talk about his feelings. But then, by the very act of writing this blog post, I have now talked about my feelings (even if the lack thereof) and thusly switched my identity from one character to another.

    Well played, Michael. Well played.

      Michael said
      June 11, 2012 at 9:56 pm

      Exactly! God speed on your road to health, Charlie!

Joce said
June 9, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Glad to see another blog. I pray for you daily – and seeing that you’re a fellow Sheldon fan, I promise to put in a good word for you at the Klingon High Council!

Julie said
June 9, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Charlie, I think this is the best way to play this out. Why over think it, just go day by day and see what lays ahead as it arrives. Praying for you and your family Charlie. Take care. Blessings!!

Debbi Does Dinner Healthy said
June 10, 2012 at 12:53 am

I’m impressed you could type all that with numb fingers! πŸ™‚

Any bet as to how long the goatee will last? Keep smiling!

Mike Nickel said
June 12, 2012 at 3:47 pm

I mentioned your situation to Jim Wallace and — well, Jim being Jim — he’s decided to close his current business (selling high-end shoelaces) and head down to Austin to stay with you for a couple of months.

What a trooper that guy is.

Oh, and he’s bringing his drum kit.

    Charlie said
    June 13, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Well, bring your keyboards along, Mike. I’ll play bass and see if I can’t get that Barry guy to sing along.

Charlie said
June 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Just had to share this bit of comment spam: “My spouse and i maintain my personal website content inside my piano bench, the a new useful location.”

    TexasDeb said
    July 2, 2012 at 7:27 am

    Wow – maintaining personal website content INSIDE the piano bench… I’m embarrassed to admit it but pretty sure mine has been lying around OUTside the piano bench all this time.

    Thank you for sharing that comment Charlie, it is the kind of technically savvy pointer most other sites are sadly lacking.

Beverly Hirschfeld said
June 25, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Hi Charlie,

I don’t know if you remember me. I’m Beverly, your cousin in Virginia. Your mother, Jerry, is my first cousin. I think the last time I saw you was at my Aunt Virginia’s and Uncle Johnny’s house in Warsaw when you were about 16 or 17! Jerry has kept me updated about you with her Christmas letters every year. I am so sorry to hear about your illness, and I hope you are feeling better by now.

I heard from Jerry awhile ago that you have written a book. I would love to read it. What is the name of it?



    Charlie said
    July 2, 2012 at 12:38 am

    I definitely remember you, even if it has been several decades since we last saw each other! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a note. As far as the book (if you haven’t since run across it already) check out the “Shameless Self-Promotion” section on the top right above.