Saturday, May 30, 2009

An Unwanted Journey: Day 1286 – Sci-Fi Dreaming


May 2009 has been a month of pain and milestones.

Although neither I nor my hospice medical team have isolated the cause for the increased pain, we’ve made some progress on dealing with the symptoms. I’ve increased my use of dilaudid for occasions when I need to break through the pain, going from an optimal 2 or 3 times a day to sometimes as high as 12 pills when nothing else seems to bring relief.

It may be that I’m suffering some bursitis. One way to treat that is to use some anti-inflammatory medication. But because of the side effects of doing so (bleeding from gastric ulcers being the most worrisome possibility), we’ve left that as a last resort. Instead we’ve increased my gabapentin by a single caplet late at night before going to sleep. That has meant increased nightmares, some mental confusion, a lot more muscle twitching, and increased fatigue.

To give an example of fatigue, I regularly get up at 8:00 am for medication and breakfast. Afterwards, I tend to go back to sleep until fairly late in the morning. The rest of the day I tend to snooze unless there is something to focus on such as a book I’m reading, watching the NBA play off action, or talking with members of my family. I have not visited with friends or colleagues much at all in May.

Fatigue is insidious. The worst part is that when you’re not sleeping or snoozing, you feel like you’re watching your life rather than actively participating. If you add increased pain, fear of bowel incontinence, muscle twitching, and occasional mental confusion, then it’s obvious why I haven’t been out of the house much at all for this month.

On the other hand, I have enjoyed reaching several important milestones this month – our 36th wedding anniversary, my wife’s birthday, Mother’s Day, and my own 56th birthday. In another week, we’ll be celebrating my eldest son’s 22nd birthday. So despite the challenges, I am grateful not only to have been here for those milestones, but to have been in reasonably good shape, well enough to have thoroughly enjoyed the limited celebrations for each.

Reading has been and continues to be something which I can do, stealing time when in the washroom, when I’m well enough to sit outside in a well padded chair, or when TV is too dull or an NBA playoff game outcome is obvious. 

During May, I’ve dedicated my reading to science fiction, especially the works of Robert J. Sawyer. I borrowed the Quintaglio Ascension trilogy from the Kitchener Public Library and received 4 more Sawyer books for my birthday, having just completed reading 2 of them already since the 20th of May (Mindscan and Rollback). I also purchased and read his most recent book Wake and have just started reading Flashforward. Identity Theft will follow soon.

With the release of Star Trek in theatres this month, I’ve reflected on why I am such a sci-fi fan, especially of the Star Trek movies and television series (not so much the universe of books). To put it simply, Star Trek assumes an optimistic view of the future. So too does the work of Robert J. Sawyer.

As I approach the end of my life, optimism about the future, about the survival of humanity despite technology to destroy ourselves, about a world where cancer can be beaten … all these things bring me comfort. I wish the technology was available now to allow me to survive. But someday it will be available, perhaps even during my sons’ lifetime.


Daria said...

Congratulations on the anniversary and your 56th birthday ... as with all the other important milestones.

Haven't seen Star Trek yet but hope to soon.

Brie said...

I, too, have been a Star Trek fan from way back - just ask the boys!
I agree that part of it appeal is its optimistic, 'though not naive, view of the future. For me, there was also the underlying theme of the commonality of life forms, as well as the absurdity of some of our human weaknesses, like prejudice (the old episode where two peoples had been fighting for centuries because one people was half white and half black, while the oher was the exact opposite comes to mind). Not bad achievements for a television show!

Although we still have, and always will, many issues and problems to tackle, we have made enormous strides and will, I believe, continue to do so ....... including a cure for cancer.

In my thoughts, as always.


B-Optimistic said...

Well, Don, I can't say that I am a fan of sci fi; however, I will say that I've been following your blog for a while now and I am definitely a fan of you!

You show such calm in spite of all your body has been going through! Bless you! I look forward to reading your words .....

Brie said...

Just dropping by to say hi.... :-)

ken coe said...

Hey Don, as the pulp fiction guy—the one who repairs paperbacks--at WPL, much like your KPL but cuter, I have developed a new respect for SciFi readers. I used to think that they were generally folks who spoke in Klingon and awaited the second coming of Hubbard. But now, having meandered through paperbacks and more paperbacks, seeking out the injured and unused, there is a difference and sadly, as in so many ways, size does matter!

My research has uncovered the disturbing fact that the average mystery, parody or smut that I tend to gravitate to measures about 3 cm at best, and that’s a stretch. SciFi books hover in 10+ cm range implying that someone who reads one of those has a hefty grip and the ability to remember what the hell is going on 1000 pages after chapter 1. Me? I am back tracking to try and figure out who Maigret is trying corner a chapter after the villain is introduced. Maybe I should return to comic books or Viewmaster.

Anyway, good luck with these massive tomes. I will have to stay in my own league until at least after my first successful Dianetics adventure or a willingness to take notes and develop schematic diagrams as I venture beyond my 140 page limit.

The best to and your family from us

brie said...

Just dropping by to say hi. Thinking of all of you.