Well, it’s November 7th, 2022.
I’m not sure I’ll ever recover from the times I’ve spent in hospital over the past few months stewing in ERs with high fevers and infections all over the place. At least I’m home now and I can sleep as much as I need to without being plugged into an infusion pump. No more infusions for me!
Of course no more infusions means no more chemo means not even any remote hope of help with myeloma from chemo or radiation. Well, the chemo was killing me anyway so what was the point of that?
Last night at about 2 AM I stared out the window of my bedroom at the moon. If it wasn’t full it must have been very close to it. The bare tree branches in front of it produced a most pleasing atmospheric effect. Clouds at times partially covered it, but they moved surprisingly quickly too. If it isn’t overcast tonight I may try to take a photo or a video of it. [Ha! It was overcast this evening!]
If I were to assess the current state of my mental health, and if I were honest about it, I’d have to confess that I’m somewhat depressed. I think it would be surprising if I weren’t depressed. Even bringing up the topic of depression is depressing. After all, how am I supposed to feel? I am facing death in the foreseeable future and the pain I experience every day as a result of myeloma is sometimes daunting. Lately, I’ve been provoked into taking more hydromorphone by a growing pain in my back brought on by chronic pain issues along with some new ones precipitated by a soft tissue growth in my back that will not go away, especially now that I’ve eschewed radiation treatments. I’m not ready for MAiD yet. I will know it when I am.
In an attempt to distract myself from my dire circumstances, I’ve been reading books about genetics, particularly Neanderthal genetics.
It’s November 9th, 2022
It’s 8:30 AM. I’ve just had breakfast and I’ve taken my meds. I’ll probably fall asleep in short order, but that wouldn’t be the end of the world either. Carolyn will go out for a walk with her buddies this morning along with their dogs. Tilly loves her morning walks. It’s cold but sunny here right now. Later this trend will continue. It doesn’t matter to me a whole lot although it would be good to get out for a walk along the river sometime. Carolyn would walk. I would sit in the wheelchair and she would push me. I have no strength in my legs. At least the pain in my back is attenuating.
We saw my GP yesterday. It was a good discussion. We agreed that there was nothing left for me as far as treatments go. I will get all the pain relief I need and that’s important. I’m not one of those people who will suffer through pain. Oh, I was, but pain soon disabused me of that attitude. I will not face pain heroically. Piss on that.
I mentioned above that I’ve been reading books on Neanderthal genetics. The first one I read was by Svante Pääbo. He’s been doing research for decades not only on Neanderthals, but also on Denisovans and other kinds of ancient humans. Pääbo’s book is well-written and exhaustive of the process by which he and his team at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Genetics in Leipzig, Germany came to unveil Neanderthal genetics. He won the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work. His book is autobiography to some extent. In it, he ‘confesses’ to being gay or at least bisexual. He has two children with scientist Linda Vigilant. Frankly, I care not at all about Pääbo’s sex life. I’m only interested in his scientific work (and making sure I type his name properly). It’s funny, though, how many of the science based books I’ve read lately do include biographical notes. It may be that editors think that readers want to see the human side of scientists. That may be so. Readers may feel for a scientist who loses a spouse to cancer or a parent to dementia. That may endear them to some readers. Not to me. It may be that editors suggested Pääbo include some biographical notes in his book. That’s fine if somewhat disingenuous. I see Pääbo as genuine. I read his book as well as some of his articles and I watched many videos of him online. He’s okay in my book.
I just finished another book on ancient humans and hominins. It’s by Tom Higham and it’s called The World Before Us. This book is good as far as content is concerned. It follows Pääbo’s fairly closely and that’s fine. The problem with this book is that it needs some proofreading. That may be a function of it being made into an e-Book for us Kindle readers. Frankly, I don’t know why it needs proofreading, but it does. It’s not cool to have sentences with verbs missing. Reading a book like this is not supposed to be an exercise in guesswork. Now, I’ve just started yet another book on the same topic. It’s by David Reich and is called Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past. Reich worked with Pääbo on the Neanderthal project. He was part of the Neanderthal Genome Project Consortium. He was primarily involved in the computer applications related to the Neanderthal project. He’s an American, one of three who worked on the project peripherally. He was not directly involved in the Leipzig work. From what I’ve read so far, Reich has found a groove, an approach to the study of ancient humans that complements Pääbo’s book rather than trying to eclipse it.
It’s November 10th, 2022
It’s 8:35 in the morning. I’ve been working on this blog post for a few days now. That’s ridiculous. I usually write them in a day or even a morning if things are going well.
Part of my problem with writing at the moment may be the increase in opioids I’m taking which leave me less cognitively sharp than I like to be. It’s a toss-up. More opioids, less pain. Less opioids, more pain, but sharper brain-wise. Now, I’ve chosen more opioids, less pain.
Another reason for my writing lethargy may be that I’ve settled into a place where nothing much is happening: no hospital visits for treatments or lab work, no trips to Victoria, just days of sitting and sleeping. And waiting.
Waiting for signs of whatever, improvement or decline. It’s depressing.
10 thoughts on “Waiting is Depressing”
Hello Roger: I don’t know if it will cheer you up to know that your readers care very deeply about what you write and how you are coping. You are a teacher to me as you go through this challenging stage in your life. I too was up staring at the moon and where I live it rises over the ocean in front of the house with a beautiful reflection on the water. When I wake up just before dawn it is shining in my window at the back of my house. I love how it seems to move around us. Keep writing for a long as you can and reading interesting books. I will always be waiting for your next post. Your fan, Kat Skerry Bay, Lasqueti Island.
Hello from Cumberland, Kat. It’s overcast here but the prognosticators tell us that we are in for a sustained period of sunny weather. We actually need rain, however. Oh well, The weather will do what the weather does.
The leaves on the wisteria are taking their time falling this year. It didn’t flower much at all this past spring contrary to the usual pattern of flowering. Such a strange year in terms of the weather. We got very little small fruit this year, but some great pumpkins. That’s odd too. I guess oddness is calling the shots for the moment. We’ll see what the coming year brings.
I just got back into the house after my daily walk with my dog and cat. I live on 150 acres of beautifully forested waterfront property. It makes me wonder how I got so lucky. We are not retired yet, but live a homesteading off the grid lifestyle that suits us just fine. I would send you pictures if I had an email for you that way you could dream about coming out on our walks with us.
I would enjoy a virtual walk on your property on Lasqueti. My email address is email@example.com
thanks for sharing Roger. Your writing is clear. Good to know what’s going on with you. We’re with you on this trip. Everything in it’s own time.
Anticipation has a power all of its own. I find it difficult sometimes to not dwell on the future and to take each day
one at a time. I will die. I can decide when too, but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier. I expect when the time comes I will know it. The anticipation will be gone.
A couple of weeks ago my mother quit taking her meds and eating. Her buddy the Queen had died and they shared many things. Same age, same sequence of children, same generation. Same name even. She said to my brother, what’s the use of taking these pills I get worse every day. She died last weekend at the age of 97 in her sleep. I’m heading into the land of the supposed centre of Canada in a day or so to witness her interment beside her husband, my father. I think she was looking forward to it.
Good post Roger.
I find it difficult to respond with the usual “Condolences” given the circumstances around your mother’s death.
You are undoubtedly correct to conclude that she was looking forward to it. She obviously lived a long life. I know nothing about the quality of her life, or anything about her. Knowing you, however, leads me to think that she had a lot going for her.
Take care, and don’t let Air Canada bite.
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Once again it has been a heart wrenching read. Somehow I find your writing very comforting..perhaps it is helping me with my thoughts on my own death. Death has been ringing its bells for our family with Bill dying in April and now my 99 1/2 year old Mother facing life challenging issues of macular degeneration, hearing issues, cognitive decline, and falls which land her in the hospital. She only wants to join her family on the farm, and my Dad.
Bill was so unprepared for his death..he was determined to beat his leukemia come hell or high water. Unfortunately they air vacced him to Victoria with intubation and a medical team and he never regained consciousness. Fortunately we had 2 weeks to say our goodbyes to him.
So I read your posts and see how different each death is..how we can choose to be aware of our situation and face it ..or keep hoping we are going to have a recovery. Each one is precious..
Keep writing…you are helping us all on our journey to the end.
PS I have a whole pile of hydromorphone left over from surgery..just say the word and I will get it to you.
And wasn’t that full moon amazing..I saw it bright orange leaving Cumberland a couple of nights ago just as I was passing your road.
I was going to say that I’m glad you enjoyed my post but then I realized that my last post wasn’t particularly
enjoyable to read. I don’t write to entertain. I write to educate and to provide people with a context to think about death and dying. I know a number of people actively dying. Some are hanging on to a thread of life. They live in hope. Who knows, they may pull out of it. Not likely, though. I know, I won’t pull out of it. It’s a one-way street for me…and a dead end to boot! (LOL)
It will be sad for you when your mother dies but from what you’ve told me here, she’s probably ready for dying. She strikes me as someone I would have enjoyed knowing.
As far as the hydromorphone goes, I really don’t need any more. My GP is always ready with another prescription. Thanks for the offer.
Bill and I talked about camping on the west coast of the Island. We didn’t get to an actual plan, but I would have enjoyed that. I love the sunsets on the west coast.
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