Wednesday, December 03, 2008

An Unwanted Journey: Day 1106 - Doing Drugs


The word on the street is that I'm having problems dealing with the opiates coming my way these days.

I've never been a user of opiate-based drugs, either for pleasure or pain, apart from those bleary weeks of April 2006 when pulmonary embolii threatened everything. The difference between now and then is that I seem to be having more problems and fewer benefits.

True, it's been a bum wrap for opiates over the years, since the only patients deemed sufficiently coherent to express gratitude have since "left the building". I'll want to get right back to this business of coherence momentarily, but for now let's briefly talk about the other kinds of problems associated with opiates.

Doing drugs doesn't symbolize a mechanical or mathematical problem for me.

I can find the painkillers I need. I can store them and keep them dried and protected. I can even tweak the administration schedule on my Pocket PC (HTC 6800) with alerts in Pocket Informant waking me at just the right time. I can figure out the dosages required for both baseline and break-through medications ahead of time.

So for the most part, the mathematical and mechanical issues are under control - with one exception. I can't seem to get Windows Mobile 6 synchronizing accurately with Windows Vista Ultimate. But that I'm even having the problem means I'm part of a small technical elite. It doesn't set the stage for appropriate sympathy.

What should garner some sympathy is that I have terminal metastatic colorectal cancer with a prognosis of "weeks, maybe small months" (whatever that means in common speech). Even so, I have been the beneficiary of an extraordinary number of email, phone calls, and visits whose intent was simply to express love and affection. I find this all very touching.

But I am having difficulties documenting what I am doing, thinking, and creating coherently and consistently. If you haven't already noticed, I'm fatigued and in a state of confusion when writing that simply wasn't there before.

My work life has been about analysis, discovery, creating optional solution scenarios, proposals, clarity, and communication.

Now I feel those skills and attributes slipping away.


Originally, this post was going to explain why a blog entry hasn't made it to the publishing stage recently. There were lots of funny stories I was going to share, stories that had all four of us here at home laughing out loud at my expense. And I didn't mind it at all. Laughter truly is healing.

But now it's beyond being funny. At this moment, I am completely exhausted with the effort of writing. I'll be back as soon as I can. See you then.


Gaye and Jean-Guy Leblanc said...

Take your time Don - you might want to let one of your sons help you if there is something you want to say.

We all don't want you to tire yourself for our sake - be there for your family now.

Gaye and Jean-Guy Leblanc

brie said...

Even if your words are not there right now, I know your intrepid spirit is.

Always in our thoughts.


Anonymous said...

I was idly checking what was picking up my name on google and came across your blog.
I'm really sorry that you have rectal cancer but mostly that you have local recurrence. As you noticed I've spent the last 22 years trying to reduce rates of this very unpleasant problem.

As a pathologist I don't see individuals only the operation specimenns so I don't get to talk to the poor people who end up in your situation.

I wondered whether you might provide me with a short quote that i could use in my talks to the people who treat your disease about how unpleasant it is to suffer your condition.

Fortunately we have made some inroads into reducing local recurrence but we still have someway to go to reduce it further.

If you could put up a quote then hopefully this will be useful in getting the professionals to improve their treatments to reduce the frequency of your unpleasant position.
Best wishes
Phil Quirke, Leeds University, UK

Don Spencer said...


I'm not sure where you got the idea of local recurrence. The metastases were to the liver and th peritoneal wall in that other words, and as this layperson understands it, non-local recurrence.

If you still think that there is something useful that I could do - apart from the blog itself - to improve use of diagnostic tests already available, then contact me privatly at and we can discuss it further.

Thank you,

Don Spencer