Empty Can

Instead of the routine follow-up with the oncologist yesterday, the visit turned into something a little different. After listening to my breathing—more like wheezing—she said she was concerned about that and my persistent cough. She prescribed an intense course of prednisone, coupled with a seven-day course of antibiotics. Then, she scheduled a return visit to see her in two weeks and sent me over for a chest x-ray. After I return to see her in two weeks, she said she will schedule a PET scan. I remember that scan from before my surgery; it was used as a precursor to the biopsy that confirmed my lung cancer. The PET scan assigned a number to the “brightness” of the tumor in my lung; the greater the brightness, the higher the likelihood the growth was malignant.

So, yesterday’s visit brought back unpleasant memories. But the planned PET scan doesn’t necessarily mean she is concerned about the return of cancer. Here’s what I found about the purpose of a PET scan (I knew this once, a year or so ago, but had forgotten…how quickly we forget):

“A positron emission tomography (PET) scan is an imaging test that helps reveal how your tissues and organs are functioning. A PET scan uses a radioactive drug (tracer) to show this activity. This scan can sometimes detect disease before it shows up on other imaging tests.”

I was surprised by her comments yesterday and was not thinking fast on my feet. So I didn’t ask her questions I should have asked. It bothers me when I’m caught off guard and don’t think to inquire why the hell these tests are being scheduled. Oh, well. There’s not a damn thing I can do about what’s going on in my body, other than take the drugs and undergo the treatments prescribed for me, so I’d better just not let it worry me. It is what it is. But, uckfay, anyway.


After yesterday’s immersion in the medical/industrial state, we went out for lunch. My wife suggested we go to Rocky’s Corner, across from Oaklawn Racetrack. Though I’ve lived in Hot Springs Village for almost six years, I had never eaten there; my wife has. We each opted for a sandwich, the “Upper Cut,” a combination of Italian sausage and Italian beef. I ordered extra hot peppers, not knowing that the sandwich came with the equivalent of a pound of chopped peppers (a slight exaggeration). I was impressed with the place and the food. Enough that I would happily return for lunch today if I could convince me wife. It was excellent! To top off our lunch, we ordered last night’s dinner, a large supreme pizza to go. Dinner was good, but lunch was superb. Next time we get pizza, we’ll get the Chicago style, instead of the thin crust (thin crust wasn’t quite what we expected). All in all, yesterday’s meals constituted a glutton’s delight.


My impatience warrants “chill pills.” I’ve been writing blog posts (on another blog) for about seven months and have had almost no success in generating readership and comments. Unlike this blog, which I expect to be ignored and overlooked and otherwise neglected, I write the other blog with the specific intent of posts being read and generating responses. To date, it has been a spectacular failure. I suppose I should place blame squarely where it belongs—with the writer—but I seem to be unable to help being extremely frustrated with the intended audience. I’ve tried cajoling, coaxing, and asking nicely. I’ve attempted to inject guilt into the equation. Nothing. I know I am largely to blame; if I wrote posts of interests to the audience, they would read what I write. If I encouraged, in the right way, dialogue, they would comment. But whatever I’m doing I am doing wrong. And that frustrates me. I’m frustrated with myself and angry with the audience. Hence the need for chill pills. I think I’m going to give up the other blog; that’s probably the easiest way to erase the disappointment I feel with both the writer and the readers. Yep, that’s it. I’m done. Hell, that was easy!


I invested far too much time last night in watching several episodes of a fourth rate television series entitled “American Odyssey.” It’s a military action drama set mostly in Mali, with plenty of simultaneous action taking place “back home” in the U.S.  If asked to categorize the genre, I would have to say it’s military/industrial schlock, tainted with over-the-top greed and unbelievable storyline. But, as I said, I invested a lot of time in it last night; four or five episodes, I think. The series was rightfully cancelled after a single series, but that means there are thirteen episodes in total. After watching so much, I feel compelled to finish what I started. Although it might be easier on me to just read the episode summaries and be done with it. Maybe I’ll try that and see if I can recapture my sense of decency and honor; those seem to have spilled with the blood of unnecessary characters in the show.


My wife plans to go into Hot Springs today to do errands, go shopping, and otherwise engage in behaviors during which I would not be welcomed nor would I enjoy. So, I shall find other things to do, probably right here in the Village. Maybe right here at home. Wash clothes. Vacuum the floors. Twiddle my thumbs. I’m tired of writing. I need a break from it and from the thought that accompanies it. Maybe I’ll take advantage of the time available to me today and will examine my life. No, that would require too much thought. I need to go find a chill pill. None of this lengthy post matters. I invest too much mental energy in stuff that should just roll off my back. Why can’t I just relax? Vegetate? Be smooth? Why, indeed. I’m feeling a little like an empty can. What’s the point of the metal tube when,  after using the can opener to remove the top, there’s nothing inside?

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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4 Responses to Empty Can

  1. Thanks, Bev. I am planning for good news, but cautious about being too optimistic.

  2. bev wigney says:

    Good luck with the tests. I hope whatever it is is something innocuous. Take care.

  3. Concerned in DC says:

    Best of luck with the PET scan! Hopefully, it reveals positive things that can be remedied quickly and easily…

    And, as for your time, I’ve already given you something to do! Cheers!

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