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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fringeville #116, August 30 2014

...manning his watchtower

I get up every morning long before anyone else. Sometimes I'm up at 3AM or so. Sometimes I laze around until 5 or 6. But as soon as my feet hit the floor, our cat Psycho dashes out to the kitchen and waits impatiently for me to make coffee. We then trot off to the living room together to watch whatever political nonsense is on MSNBC (I like my comedy early in the day). Once my butt is on the couch, he jumps up on the armrest. He circles around and around about a dozen times to find the perfect spot ...stopping occasionally to nuzzle me ...then he mans his watchpost while I drink coffee.

He has captured the high ground. He will defend it against his two brothers or any other creature that dares approach.

This routine developed mostly over the last year. If I broke it for any reason; if I dared just leave the house without sitting a bit with him ...he held me in low regard the rest of the day.

But next morning I would find him waiting for me. All was forgiven.

I went out last evening to get cat food. By the time I got home, he was gone. He simply died with no warning.

I couldn't sit at the couch this morning. I made my coffee and went to my work table to post this.

Why do we have pets? Why do we knowingly invest so much into them emotionally when odds are we will lose them and not vice-versa? Why do we intentionally set ourselves up for pain?

Well, I think it is because our pets love us unconditionally. When the whole damned Universe is falling on our heads, our pets are there at our side. Or at our feet. Or manning a post on the couch.

I hope there is an abundance of small beads for you to chase across the floor wherever you are now, Psycho. Sleep well, dear friend.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fringeville #115, August 28 2014

...A Cheese Steak Day?

Today is Philly Road Trip Day. It's the first of a number of visits over which I will learn if I am still on the curable curve for prostate cancer, or if I have meandered into having a "treatable" disease.

So, ever the optimist, I'm going to try to get the most out of a couple of hours in Philadelphia. There may be a cheese steak on the agenda, depending on the mood after my doctor's visit.

I'm going to make this a multi-post day, so this edition of Fringeville will be a little different. Stay tuned.

* * *

The verdict from my doctor: I remain very firmly on the curable track. I am doing exceptionally well. The all-important PSA level is undetectable. I was particularly worried about the first post-surgery PSA result. If that showed a biochemical failure, then part of the visit may have covered options for "salvage" therapy.

Salvage therapy.

Like I'm a '57 Ford being rescued from the crusher at a junk yard. Prospects of radiation therapy with some hormones tossed in to keep things interesting. An uncertain future. 

Pardon me for not wanting to be "salvaged." I don't want to be treatable. I want to be cured.

In other good news, my post-surgery progress is excellent. My weight has stayed down. My urinary system is healing and I'm not dashing to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Really ...the news could not have been better.

I made the offer to be a resource for other men facing this disease. I do that kind of thing now as a cochlear implant volunteer. It just seemed like the natural thing for me to do.

Other than parking in the wrong damned lot and paying $21 for less than two hours to stable the Neon, nothing about the trip was a downer. But $21 bucks? Sheesh! That's two wings-and-suds meals up here in NEPA. I love Philly, but some things down there ain't cheap.

As to the rest of the day in Philadelphia:  I wanted to blog live using my phone, but I couldn't login to blogger. I have some cryptic password I cannot remember and I don't have a local copy of it on my phone. So I settled for posting a picture of a Geno's cheese steak on Instagram.

Here are some other all-important cheese steak pics:

...this might make a dent in my weight. Frankly, I don't care.

Geno's was busy but not crazy.

...I think the missus is texting she'll kill me if she ends up on the Internet...

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Fringeville #114, August 26 2014

...yesterday it was time for something completely different...

...after post-upon-post about my prostate cancer adventure, yesterday's post was a nice change of pace. I think I will continue to mix things up. There are weeks (like this one) where I really need to do that.

That's all back to your regularly-scheduled blog-o-rama...

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Fringeville #113, August 25 2014

State Senator Lisa Baker and Luzerne County Chair Bill Urbanski


It's a shame most people, including many who should know better, pass on events like Sunday's Luzerne County GOP picnic. They miss a helluva good time.

But they also miss a chance to get up close with candidates like Doc Moylan, office holders like Lisa Baker, and folks like Pennsylvania's Revenue Secretary, Dan Meuser (below, chatting up some happy picknickers)

Yes, you can expect to hear some "rally the troops to victory." But you never have a better opportunity to meet these folks and talk to them one-on-one.

This year's picnic was at Urbanski Farms in Rice Township. The attendance was good. The weather was outstanding. The food was great. (Disclaimer: I was the grill-meister. But it's one of the few things I'm half decent at if you keep it simple.)

...I was in my element...

And you never know what you will learn at an event on a working farm. I joined Senator Baker and Ron Ferrance for a tour of the shed where maple syrup is made. I learned red maples have 2% sugar in their sap, and that a 55 gallon barrel of sap will net about a gallon of maple syrup. I also learned that no one looks better in yellow than Senator Baker. Don't even try it, Yudichak.


* * *

UPDATE:  Some may be concerned about what seems like harsh words for Senator Yudichak. Not so. My fashion-wear warning was for his own good. I've met the Senator. He's affable. A sharp dresser. Senator, again, don't even think about doing it ...this is what happens when you put a guy in a yellow suit:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fringeville #112, August 21 2014

I've been told to make more videos. Probably because I am certifiably insane. What say you??

Y'all want more of this???

...a man. A phone. No plan. No talent. God help us.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fringeville #111, August 19 2014

...serves me right.
I said I'd be back soon ...and this time I really was.

I mentioned in my earlier post that I would get my PSA results before I went to Philly to see my doctor. That was the plan and a marvelous, splendiferous plan it was. I'd go to my usual lab, have the blood drawn today, get the results early next week, and take'em with me. And read them ahead of time, of course.

So I schlepped down to my lab today and handed in the sheet for the blood draw.

"We can't do that here," I was told.


It turns out it is an ultra-sensitive PSA test. Why "ultra-sensitive?" Because, with no prostate, my PSA should theoretically be non-existent or nearly so (less than 0.1 nanograms per milliliter, or the PSA equivalent of a reality TV star's IQ). We're looking for mere smidgens of smidgens of smidgens of PSA here, kids.

And my lab doesn't do the smidgens of smidgens of smidgens of PSA tests.

The nearest labs that did, and which took my insurance, were in Scranton or Hazleton. Scranton is closer as the crow flies, but pure hell as the PennDot flagger's flag flies, so Hazleton it was.

I found the lab and got the blood drawn. I asked if I would be e-mailed a copy ASAP.

Nope. They're gonna snail-mail me a copy.

Oh, Joy!

"When will I get them?"

"After the doctor does. The blood goes from this lab to Philadelphia, and then to California. You'll get the results later."

This meant that from the moment the blood was drawn until next Thursday I will be in the very place I was trying to avoid: THE DARK.

On the upside, at least my blood is seeing America. Happy vacation, corpuscles! Stop in Memphis and have some barbecue. Say hello to the antibodies for me. Miss you guys.

Now my family will be forced to watch me grow ever more manic with each passing day as I dwell on whether the ol' PSA is undetectable or if I will discover I have "biochemical failure." That's a fancy way of saying my prostate cancer has taken up residence somewhere else and is happily churning out PSA ...and multiplying some nook and cranny of my body.

Even though that is highly unlikely so soon after surgery, this will be the torturous game I have to play for a long, long time. Blood draw. Anxiety. Relief. Or "biochemical failure."

So my strategy is this:  I am going to focus on getting shit done. (Sorry for the cuss, but it is the only accurate way to put it.) If it turns out that I am the equivalent of a milk carton with an early expiration date, I will make a helluva lot of milkshakes before this ugly-ass carton goes bad. (Yes, a truly terrible metaphor, but I get a pass on that today. And at least I didn't dangle a damned participle.)

Ciao for now.

Their stomachs growling, the wings cooked. Sorry I couldn't help myself. 

* * *

Fringeville #110, August 19 2014

I'm a little hard to live with these days...

I said I'd be back soon. Soon is in the eye of the beholder, and this for me is soon.

It's been hectic since the last post on July 20.

My church had their annual Festival. It's a big commitment on my part. I practically live up there from Thursday night through Monday morning. When I had surgery in May, I was concerned whether I would be up to the demands. I have to say that I was probably in better physical shape this year than any of the last several, despite being just two months out from surgery. For one thing, my weight is down, so tackling the hill to the rectory from the grounds several times a night wasn't as big a problem. It's amazing what being a tad lighter does for your knees.

Anyway, I not only got through the Festival without issues but it was one of several things which lifted some of the darkness evident in my last post. Being involved in stuff does that for me. It keeps things in perspective.

I also had a chance to speak at a local Rotary about my cochlear implant experiences. That was uplifting as well, because there is always someone in the room that can either benefit directly from a cochlear implant or has a friend or relative who might.

I also had a chance to connect with a number of friends who are facing challenges. When you get cancer, you tend to turn too many thoughts inward. But I know people whose lives have been turned upside-down. I don't know how they cope with it.

Yet sometimes, turning thoughts inward seems unavoidable. I'm getting my first blood work done in preparation for my follow-up visit to Philly next week.  I am hopefully going to have an undetectable PSA. And hopefully that will be the case from now on.

But cancer is never about certainties. There is a good chance that somewhere in the next decade, my PSA will start to rise. If it does, depending on how soon and and how quickly there will be decisions to make. Decisions which I don't want to have to make. And that is why every PSA test is a source of anxiety, especially in the early going after surgery.

One of the downsides to all the research I did is that I will see that test before the visit. I know what to look for. If I like what I see, it should be a nice day in Philly and maybe a cheese steak downtown. If I don't like what I see, that trip will be one I dread.

But I am here. I am still kicking and kicking hard. I am somewhat impossible to live with right now (just ask my family) but over time I hope to become more my old self.

In the meantime, there's stuff to do. Lots of it.

But ..ahem ...I'll be back soon. Promise.

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