Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Destroyer and the Creator

I loved the spiders
at the Besakih temple
Seems like what an oncologist is always looking at is how much the chemotherapy might prolong your life vs. how much of you it will destroy. It adds time, and takes away functionality (though it has improved a great deal over the years.) I started thinking about this when I was reading The End of Your Life Book Club, in which the guy takes his mom to chemo and they talk about books. She had pancreatic cancer and lived around 18 months (much longer than she would have, probably, without the chemo.) During that time she did a lot of things. She also spent much of it inconvenienced at best, and at worst, miserable. She stayed alive as long as she could.

I sorta feel that I want to take care of myself in other ways, and let nature take its course. But I can't really say that until I am responding to a specific proposal. A while ago Dr. Nelson was talking about chemotherapy as if it might add a few months to my life. She is going to consult with Dr. Brooks at UCSF before we meet on January 15, at which time I guess I'll find out what chemotherapy she's going to suggest. (She won't suggest actually starting anything until I start having symptoms.) She will not be surprised if I refuse more treatment, since at least based on what she's told me before, what's on offer will be more reliably take away functionality than add time.

But saying I want to do what is 'natural' doesn't quite get to it either. I don't always choose 'natural'. My life, and probably yours, revolves around tasks, buildings, modes of transportation, and technology that are artificial, man-made, fabricated. I realized the thing I want to avoid feeling is 'force'. I don't want to feel like I'm forcing my body to live.

Still, all my records have been sent to Dr. Keith Block in Chicago and I have written to them asking if I can do a phone consultation with them the week I am back. Also, Nancy found a doctor/contact for me at UCSF clinical trials who I'll hopefully be talking to in February.

It occurred to me that my toes are still numb, but it doesn't bother me when I'm somewhere warm.

Travelogue: Yesterday we found an excellent hippy-dippy raw cafe called Down to Earth with the most delicious Middle Eastern plate, possibly the best I have ever had. Today we motored to Tanah Lot, a temple to sea gods on the ocean. It was fun, but physically challenging. Sitting on the back of a motorcycle is like an extreme yoga position for me. There is also some inhaling of exhaust that's involved, and when it's not raining the heat is of course...equatorial. I felt tired. Every night the air con irritates my lungs and my throat. If I turn it off, I start to sweat while being devoured by mosquitoes. (The mozzies aren't bad in general...only in the middle of the night when you turn off the air con!)

I don't want to complain, but I don't want to be vague either. This is a lovely place, and I am enjoying it. I think it's hard for people to get this when we aren't together in person: So far I do not feel sick, and I do not look sick. If you saw me the only difference you would notice is that my hair is very short. I have been described as "full of life" - that has not changed.

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