Friday, September 28, 2012

The More Things Change...

      Greetings everyone.  Last weekend was the autumnal equinox marking the end of summer and the beginning of fall. The changing of the seasons always brings to me some contemplation and a sense of large gears meshing and turning and a chance to stop for a moment and take stock of oneself.  This equinox is no different.  It has been a very long, hot summer here in SoCal, the hottest I can remember. It was only two summers ago that we practically didn't have a summer; it being so overcast and cool that our tomatoes had a hard time ripening.  That was not a problem this year.  The humidity in August hung around like a bad house guest that doesn't know when to leave.  This created some very hot conditions for the weddings I have been officiating. If you had told me 30 years ago that I would be donning a black wool suit on a hot and steamy August afternoon to go to work, I would have told you you were crazy!  But there I was, sometimes performing two wedding on one weekend!  Lot's of work for the dry cleaners, at least.  But even amisdst the heat, I was part of some very wonderful and memorable ceremonies, and I will cherish the memories of the lovely couples I have had the honor to meet and be part of their wedding day.
     Last weekend was also the birthday of my son Myles, his 24th to be exact.  As Amy told him, he is now in his "mid-twenties" instead of  "early twenties".  I suppose that means something to someone somewhere.  All I know is that the older he gets, the older I feel and I wish he would stop it!  He is, if I do say so myself, a fine young man, thoughtful, creative and sincere, and a helluva surfer. His birthday is usually on the first full day of Autumn.
Myles of Smiles

     And with another season passing, it is of course time for another visit to the oncologist, since I am on a 3 month schedule. This is a tough assignment, as on many days I can almost forget that I was diagnosed with stage 3 pancreatic cancer in March 2011, which carried a 1 YEAR survival rate of 23%! The uphill grind after surgery, the horrors of chemo, sometimes it seems far away.  That is, until I have another oncology appointment.  But the day always arrives and I once again gird up my loins for a venture into Medical World, an alternate universe of air conditioned grimness. If you recall, I had a bit of a scare last spring with my last CT scan.  Actually, there is nothing with cancer that is a "bit"; it is either cancer or it's not, and that is quite a big difference.  The deal I struck at the time was "cautious monitoring" with another CT scan after 3 months. But as the time drew near, I realized that my heart and mind were not on board for another CT scan in such a short time. That's a lot of radiation, and I don't want to irritate any nascent or lingering cancer cells.  Besides, I was still glowing from the last one! And the contrast that one must drink does not agree with my newly redesigned digestive tract.  So I convinced my doctor, or just told him, really, that it was a no go for the CT. He had me take a series of blood tests instead, including 2 cancer markers, a full metabolic panel and a CRP, or C-Reactive Protein test, which can show the level of inflammation in the body.
     Again, the waiting for results never really gets much easier, but I suppose I am getting better at distracting myself. Well folks, the results are in, an my cancer markers are good; low and normal.  My metabolic panel looks good, too, with just a few values outside of normal ranges, but only by a fraction of a point, so nothing to worry about there.  However, the C-Reactive Protein value, which at last test was <1, the lowest possible reading, had shot up to a very troubling 12!  This made no real sense, since any significant infection or inflammation would probably show up in the metabolic panel, and this was not the case. Apparently, this is no cause for alarm with the doctor, and his head nurse said that monitoring for a trend is probably the way to go.  Then I found out that excess Vitamin D can skew the results of this test, and I realized that the 2 drops of liquid vitamin d I was taking was more like 5 drops or more, according to my wife.  So perhaps it is nothing to worry about. That's what I'm going with.
     And I am still figuring out the limits of my jerry-rigged upper GI tract. I have an interesting story in that regard. My sister Stephanie, who works for a TV production company in LA,  had occasion to visit a psychic that was recommended by some colleagues.  This man is from India, in his 80's and is know as Chakrapandi.  Well, old Chakrapandi sits down with my sister, looks at her and says, "You have a brother with digestive problems, yes?"  Stephanie, surprised of course, affirmed that this is true. "He must avoid all milk, and curds, nothing, not even ghee!"  (Note: curds is the subcontinent's name for yogurt  and ghee is a form of butter) Stephanie passed this information along to me and I thanked her but was dismissive at first.  There are already so many restrictions on my diet, I chafed at any more. And I rationalized that I didn't really eat that much dairy, just some unflavored kefir and a little cheese on occasion and some milk in the occasional cup of coffee I allowed myself, not really enough to make a difference. But a few night later I woke up with a stomach ache after a cheesy meal, and then there were other correlations that kept creeping into my consciousness. Finally one day, sitting in my favorite chair, the scales fell from my eyes and it all came clear: I shouldn't do dairy!  I audibly uttered an expletive. Twice.  I didn't want to be that guy with the special diet! That guy who has to be accounted for when out for a meal or at a dinner party. But alas, I suppose I am that guy. And I suppose old Chakrapandi was right all along; and how he could diagnose me from afar, I have no explanation.  I will share that the transition away from the food of young cows has been easier than I thought. And I do feel better, with fewer stomach aches!  Thank god for almond milk!
   One more thing.  I invite you all to check out my garden blog at The Gardener's Footsteps
I use it as an excuse for my lack of posts on this blog.  Also check out  my daughter Carmen's blog at
Mint Blog  It is about fashion, vintage clothing, etc.  The family that blogs together.....

I wish you all peace and a happy autumn.
Swami bruce

Myles w/camera

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