I’ve been caught up in a swirling mass of indecision. Frozen in place. Can’t write. Can’t focus. Afraid to look forward. Unwilling to look back. Hung up in the now. It took a dead man with a saxophone to shake me loose. Driving along this morning, heading into town to meet with Dr. Pippas to find out his recommendation for a much-dreaded tyrosine kinase inhibitor medication, I was listening to the Classic Rewind channel on Sirius/XM satellite radio.
Violins and piano — I cranked up the volume until it hurt. Crystal clear highs delivered by tweeters, solid chest thumps from the big woofer that stretches across the back deck of my car and those strains so familiar from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s, 1975 album, Born to Run. Gooseflesh popped up on my arms. Then Clarence Clemons and his wailing sax delivered the iconic Jungleland solo and it all broke loose. Like a boot off my neck.
I felt my shoulders drop and the tension drain out of my face.
“The poets down here don’t write nothing at all. They just stand back and let it all be.”
My mojo was coming back, compliments of Clarence Clemons, God bless his soul.
Where did I leave you last? Oh yeah, screw Lance Armstrong — blah, blah, blah. And, I was to have scans again in mid-October. There’s been some new and not so good news since my last post. My creatinine levels have deteriorated from a stable 1.8 baseline to a baseline of about 2.3. This will preclude me from having any more CT scans with contrast (unless we’re in a life or death situation and simply must have the contrast). This is going to strongly, negatively impact our ability to clearly see what is going on inside my body in the future.
There is a new radiology group at The Medical Center and I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting the doctor who will be overseeing my case. He’s got a great name. One that I’d like to steal as the name of a character in my novel, if that ever happens. Virginia gentleman, Dr. W. Granville Batte, is a flatwater kayaker and a skeet shooter. I’m looking forward to introducing him to my kayaking buddies. He read my scans and through Dr. Pippas reported that they are stable. That is good news. What we’ve been able to accomplish is to live with this cancer as a chronic disease, not a life-threatening one. It is incurable and if it decides to turn it up a notch, it will kill me. But right now, it is stable and although it presents a challenge, I am able to live with it.
After a consultation with Dr. Dan George and Dr. Andrew Pippas, we’ve decided to take the Votrient route. Pazopanib is the drug name and it was approved for use against kidney cancer in April of this year. Although it is not the most potent of the drugs I could use, it is decidedly more kidney friendly and has a more manageable side effects profile. If you click on the drug name, the information about the drug will open in a new window. Most of the side effects won’t be visible to those around me, hopefully. What will likely happen that will be noticeable is that my hair will begin, very shortly, to turn completely white. Unlike some of the other choices we could have made, this drug isn’t supposed to destroy taste buds. These drugs are very powerful tyrosine kinase inhibitors and though they won’t deliver a cure, they can certainly prolong my life.
So, once we get all the financial implications of our co-pay for Votrient settled (this drug costs north of $100,000 per year), I’ll start taking the medication in a few days to a few weeks.
I’m sorry for the long dry spell. I haven’t been able to write and I’m just glad I was in the right place at the right time this morning for The Big Man to jolt me out of my writing reverie. This blog is a tribute to musicians of every stripe. Just how much good music does in the world is underrated.
Rest in peace, Big Man…..