Inspiration

I have not been inspired to post anything for a few weeks and it was working on me a bit.

Where was my inspiration?

Didn’t think I was being particular choosy. But there was just a general lack of percolation going on; you know, no flow. Just nada, zero, empty, snake bit.  If I were a hockey player from Canada, I’d say I was “squeezing the old twig a little too hard / unable to put the biscuit in the basket/light the lamp and what not.” No beer and doughnuts and all that eh?

But then it occurred to me that being a bored, uninspired or whatever was a kind of luxury item, a “high class problem” worthy of my aspirations and attention. Boredom was also a likely bi-product of someone feeling a bit ungrateful. I mean really. Truth be told I should be grateful for ingratitude, happy to be dull, and inspired by my apparent lack of inspiration.

In a few weeks, if the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise and I don’t flip off the wrong 400 lbs Hell’s Angel in traffic or decide to fulfill my life long ambition to become a cobra charmer in India and/or free climb a Denver sky rise while window cleaning, I will celebrate 4 years since the day of my melanoma diagnosis. I am still topside baby! A few months after that, I will likely stroll into a room full of idiots like me with some chalk flavored cake from a grocery store and announce my 25th anniversary of continuous sobriety, you know without any mood or mind altering substances.

Now, I know, some of you are thinking 25 years without any booze is not something to be bragging about…but believe me when I say that I, along with society, have been, are, and will be better for this fact.

Truth is there’s legions of packs of scores of swarms of regiments of crowds of clouds of armies of populations of multitudes of many other things to be grateful for, beyond just taking my customary ~20,000 daily breaths or hauling my ~7 octillion atoms (7 followed by 27 zeros: 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) out of bed, today.

There is, in no particular order: pizza, music, running, dogs/cats/living together, job, television remotes, news feeds, Walking Dead shows, smart phones, wrinkle free shirts, computer geek talk, Avs, boys, Sarah, car, house, pillows, air fresheners, clothes, 5 senses, brain waves (however slow) etc.

And then there’s this guy – the G, Gibster, the Giblet, the Gibbyatollah, G-String, G-man, G-spot, G-force.

My brother Gib came to visit with his two righteous progeny last week.

I have few memories of being a young-young kid. But one stands out. I distinctly remember G at 2, wobbling around in his diaper. He was quite possibly the cutest thing I’d ever seen in my life…and I then remember a near imperious urge to -I don’t know- squeeze, pinch, beat the crap out of or generally make him cry. Bam Bam! That didn’t change much growing up. I used to rub my hands together in anticipation of coming home after a long weekend, enumerating the many ways I could put the hurt on my bro. Brotherly love worked, at least for him, in often unpleasant and contradictory ways. Ah inspiration, move me brightly.

Anyways, it was good to see you bro and little nephew dudes. I have and will, as long as I have any say in the matter, love you always. Thanks for making the effort and braving the crazy Colorado blizzard to see us and for not kicking my well-deserving-to-be-kicked-ass (except may be while running up Spruce Mountain) while you were here.

IMG_1394 IMG_1395 IMG_1393 IMG_1384 IMG_1380IMG_1387IMG_1371

Speaking of enjoyable inspiration for me, but likely tortuous for him, there were the Grateful Dead show I dragged Gib to…not this one, but one like it many years ago…

Terrapin Station, Hunter/Garcia, Anaheim, CA July 26, 1987

“Inspiration, move me brightly
light the song with sense and color,
hold away despair
More than this I will not ask
faced with mysteries dark and vast
statements just seem vain at last
some rise, some fall, some climb
to get to…”

Tanning bed restrictions

There’s a movement afoot at the American Academy of Dermatologists to petition the FDA for greater restrictions on sunlamps and tanning beds, especially for minors. I’m not a huge fan of extra legislation and believe ultimately that our problems are of our own making. Supporting a ban on x, or y or z seems to be more a matter of personal opinion and blurry reasoning at times- politicized, polarized and pulverized to the point where distinguishing real from fantasy, true or false, good and bad is nearly impossible.

If I were in charge of EVERYTHING, besides everything being really-really f-d, I would correct the causes and conditions to things we often ban in the first place (e.g. fix the low self-esteem rather than prohibit x, y, or z). But, okay, stepping off the soapbox and back to reality, that’s not the world we live in presently.

It is my opinion and experience, that tanning beds are dangerous. I mean a history of blistery sunburns followed by melanoma diagnosis, four surgeries, 60+ infusions, a trillion tests and doctors visits, 2 clinical trials, radiation, 10 gamma knife surgeries, 98 brain tumors, lung tumors, stomach tumors, liver tumors, excessive sweating, offensive body odors, and a bad sense of humor (okay those three may possibly have been pre-existing conditions)…that’l learn ya. And there is also this army of data suggesting that climbing inside a tanning bed a couple times a week is worse than making an addiction out of piles of smoking, Camel filter-less cigarettes.

So I think we should at least put some roadblocks in the trajectory of that 16 year kid who is too immature to make good decisions about his or her future and safety. If they want to circumvent or step around around barriers we put in place, if they think they can beat the odds or that the data is bunch of BS, that will ultimately be their choice. The initiative promises to make it harder for “smart guys or girls” to make stupid, potentially life threatening decisions…perhaps slowing them down long enough for some help/wisdom/clarity/whatever to seep in and save their lives.

So, if you are interested in this and agree, you can hit the link below and add your support:

https://www.votervoice.net/Shares/BAAAAATnACPyKATbseO7FAA

   

Besides there’s many other, better ways to let your light shine than getting irradiated in a tanning both.

Soul Glo for instance…that stuff, besides being able to peel paint, remove unwanted hair follicles, and fuel your car, probably isn’t toxic or anything, right Eddie?

 

 

A new pair of glasses

When I was cleaning up my routine almost 25 years ago, some friends suggested that I get a “New Pair of Glasses.”

At the time, I was sporting some funky and I mean capital P-FUNK-EE spectacles. Picture them cloudy, desperate for a spray bottle, a soft cloth, and some applied pressure. They sat crookedly on my skinny 150-pounds-when-soaking-wet-frame, below months of uncut man-fro hair, and above my favorite, ratty Grateful Dead t-shirt. The piece de resistance though was the twisty paper clip shoved through one end of the horn rims because a screw had fallen out weeks before. I was too oblivious, scared, cool, or all of the above to walk three blocks down Tejon, by Colorado College, to the eyeglass shop and have them repaired. There may be a couple of metaphors in those previous sentences.

Either way, my friends weren’t referring to the lenses hanging precariously down the end of my nose, but the book, “A New Pair of Glasses” by Chuck Chamberlain. I eventually got or “borrowed it,” or whatever, and proceeded to read over and over and over. Its been a few 24 hours since I’ve actually cracked those pages but not too many days go by where I don’t think about the words and concepts that somehow navigated their way through a pair of smudged lenses to my addled soul.

Published in 1984, it’s essentially a transcript from a series of talks that “Chuck C” gave to a certain anonymous fellowship. He does a phenomenal job describing key concepts that underpin the fellowship and, at least in my opinion, some of the collective wisdom, grace, and understanding found by many (including me, though retention is highly suspect) there.

This post from a few years ago by Daniel Isonov summarizes well:

“First of all, Chuck proposed a vision of Christianity that wasn’t even, to my Catholic mind, Christianity. He said that he believed “the gift of God was made at the foundation of the world.” What he meant by that was that God wasn’t capricious and God wasn’t punishing. God could be counted on the way that gravity or electricity could be counted on….

To talk about love was like talking about humility,” he wrote…If you love somebody or something, you do something for them. You just do it and you don’t make a big deal out of it.”

For me, this concept revolutionized my approach to life. It gave me a way to behave. Love was an action. If you wanted to get along in the world, you had to help people. If you needed to know what God’s will was, that was easy, too: Do something for someone else.

There’s a mighty set piece near the end of A New Pair of Glasses. Chuck recounts for us, in his own words, the story of the Prodigal Son…

‘And so the father saw the kid a long ways off, and he came to meet him. And the kid started trying to tell him what a bum he was, what a failure he’d been in the business of living. But again, the father didn’t hear him. He didn’t argue with him at all. He didn’t say, “Look, I’ve got the record on you right here, and you sure are a bum, you’re no good. I’ve got it right down here. I know every time you turned right when you should have turned left. Get the grubbin’ hoe and get back on the back forty, and grub out some persimmon sprouts and sassafras bushes. And, maybe, if you do a good job, twenty-five years from now I’ll invite you in for lunch. He didn’t say that. He didn’t say anything. He fell on his neck and kissed him. And he called the servants, and he said, “Kill the fatted calf. We’re going to have a party. The boy was dead and now he’s alive. He was lost, and now he’s come back home.’

When I say that this story was absurdly pertinent, what I mean is this, ‘No condemnation, no reprimand, no argument. The love of the father for his child…’

I was wrong about the nature of myself. I had thought I was a victim of my depravity, but it turned out that my depravity was the gift that had forced me to come home. Chuck explained this to me better than anyone: God wasn’t angry. Worse than that: God didn’t even understand anger.

I had thought that I was a desperado, coming in from the fields, begging for a handout. It turned out that I was a prince, and my father saw me from a long way off.”

Nice.

Who wouldn’t want to feel and pour out some of that to their kids or spouse on a regular basis? Or, man, when asked to fill out the latest TPS report at work? Or at the ice rink with the parents of the other teams? In traffic? Looking in the mirror?

In the context of cancer, the ability to change my mind, to be open minded to whatever happens, and even to believe that there could be a happy ending, regardless of outcomes or perceived goods or bads…that’s not easy.

Chuck had it pretty simple and I’m sure if he were here, he’d tell me its pretty simple for me too. But if I want an attitude like that I have to change my perspective. That’s a conscious decision. Heaven is, as he says in his book, putting on a new pair of glasses.

………………………

…………………………Um…or you know you can always try to buy your way through as well. That’s a thing too right?

Got some new frames this week.

The first thing Derek said to me when I walked through the door was, “What’s up nerd!”

Feel the love.

I guess I am guilty as charged, channeling my outer nerd here.

IMG_1347 Family-Matters-Urkel-Greatest-Blerds-600-319 IMG_1349 nerd7IMG_1352

Yeah unfortunately its an inside job. I feel your pain Paulie: Paulie, Sopranos, Shoulda been covered by my donations

 

Scanxiety

Had MRI and got results yesterday at the University of Colorado.  Great news! Tumors in brain are stable to improved.

We spent some time examining grey globs in my pea sized brain. Basically, nothing has changed in the last 3.5 years since they found them. Historically, they expect a fourth of the tumors to not respond to the treatment and require re-treatment and/or other measures (like surgery). With the exception of 1 tumor, all 98 of mine have responded so far. That’s basically a 99% response.

One study posted on NCBI looked at 51 patients over a 10 year period treated with GammaKnife stereotactic radiosurgery (GKSRS). It examined local and distant brain failure rates, overall survival, and likelihood of neurologic death.  Median survival time for the entire cohort was only 5.9 months. Local control rates at 1 and 2 years were 57% and 34%, respectively. Distant brain failure rates at 1 and 2 years were 58% and 75%. Fifty-three percent of patients ultimately died of neurologic death. On multivariate analysis, patients with extracranial disease (eg spread to distant organs or other areas) had worse overall survival than patients without evidence of ECD (extracranial disease).

Another study from 2014 examined morbidity of people with stage IV melanoma. Median overall survival was 5.3 months. Death probability of a patient with brain metastases was twice that of a patient with digestive metastasis, about 7 times higher than that of a patient with lung metastasis and 12 times higher than the death risk of a patient with extra-regional lymph nodes or subcutaneous metastasis.

Not sure what to say about ‘dem numbers…I’ve had brain, digestive, lung AND lymph node metastasis…thankfully, this is one of the few areas in my life where not living up to expectations is a resoundingly positive thing.

I also asked the PA if those monochromatic looking dudes in my head were metabolically dead and the answer was…inconclusive. Short of cracking my dome open and biopsying the best guess is that they are either “deet” or the  gamma knife treatments scrambled the DNA enough that the cells are no longer dividing. We dunno.

What I do know is that I can, hopefully, lay off the hypochondria for a few months, at least until the next scan. I think I have gotten more relaxed (easy to say now 24 hours later, but I do believe this is true) about the process. I was sawing serious logs during the 30 minutes in the tube yesterday, despite the rather alluring siren calls/whale mating shrill broadcast with deafening surround sound inside the MRI tunnel. But its almost impossible to avoid a certain amount of manic and panicked thinking prior to the day.

Somebody on FB recently referred to this as “SCANXIETY.” I like that. Its the beat I’m pretty much dancing to, starting @ a week prior to the big show. Benign, normal, everyday aches and pains become potential, life threatening indications. Anything  from a headache, eye twitch, or head rush from getting up too fast…on and on…whisper to me their deadly symptoms.

What can I do about them? Well…

  1. Talking helps. Lately this just saying to Sarah, “Thinking again. Got this headache and…” She is usually quick to remind I’ve had headaches before 0-;
  2. Pray. Pretty much, a lot. Not sure why that works but it does.
  3. Practice acceptance; attempting to remember that “at the end of day” I don’t have power over any of it anyhow/anyway. I can be miserable or get busy getting busy with whatever is in front of me.
  4. Sometimes I get pissed and sometimes I act out. I try to correct it as soon as possible and move on. As I’ve said before, have not  graduated to super hero. If sometime in the future I claim such a thing, just nod and wave, nod and wave.
  5. Work. I have the “luxury” here of perspective. While work is important, kinda, its if nothing else, full of worthwhile distractions. A Green Beret once told me, “Stress? This is not stress man. Stress is when people are shooting at you.” While I think the human brain is capable of making a “TPS” report as relatively stress worthy as taking fire from a gang of AK-47s, cancer, or whatever, I can relate more and more to what he was telling me today. There are no big deals except when I want big deals.
  6. Work out, everyday. Calms the brainwaves and smooths the turbulence between my ears.
  7. Boys. Hockey. Basement. Hanging out. Drive way. Footballs. Trampoline. Catch. Whatever we do – most of the time 0-; – is righteous.
  8. Sleep. Ah! Sleep.
  9. Elsa sleeping on our couch. The puppy dog is finally down. All praise Jesus.
  10. Mindless television…speaking of which iZombie is calling from the next room. Or should I feel guilty about not working on writing, reading something useful, or a thousand other more noble and productive callings…um…no…

Peace out!

PS. C-man’s team won a second tournament last weekend- their league championship. They are now 19-1 in the last 20 games. Next up is the state tourni. Love this dude.

After winning CCYWHL tournament

After winning CCYWHL tournament