Clumsy Thinking

When a person refers to this blog as a diary, I am startled at the characterization, but I should not be surprised by it. It has become precisely that. This diary, though, is not a private record of my thoughts and experiences. It is a public unveiling of my experiences, my emotions, the way I feel about life, and much more. This blog has morphed into a medical journal of late, coupled with a frequently dull accounting of my stream of consciousness. On occasion, my writing delves into philosophical territory, but it has changed over the last few years and now generally sticks to experiential matters and snapshots of my emotions as they oscillate between joy and sorrow. I realize, of course, my emotional life is unlikely to be of more than passing interest to others; often, it is of little more than that to me. But I go on writing about how I think and feel, as if writing about my own thoughts and emotions will eventually reveal myself to myself; as if I may at some point come to understand who I am. That theme always has driven my writing. Even when I write fiction, I realize I am attempting to unravel secrets about myself my brain seems intent on concealing from my consciousness.  What if, though, there are no secrets? What if I am no more emotionally or intellectually complex than sand on a beach? Then what? There are no answers to those questions, of course. Like all questions, they hide behind walls of curiosity and fear.


My first diagnosis of cancer, five years ago, jolted me a bit, but I don’t remember thinking seriously about the possibility it might actually kill me. Maybe I have simply repressed that memory. Maybe not. This time, though, the way the cancer has expressed itself in multiple places in and around my chest causes me to wonder whether the disease can be eradicated. I am optimistic, as I’ve stated before, but I know the possibility—maybe a strong possibility—exists that it cannot be killed or controlled. From the start, the objective of treatment is to prolong my life; not to “cure” my cancer. That is a realistic approach, but it does not quantify how “prolonging” my life might play out. Might it mean two years beyond today? Six years? Ten years? Four months? These questions are pointless, at this stage. Only after more assessment might they become valid and be eligible for tentative answers. So, the best thing to do is not to worry; worry is warranted only if one has the ability to do something about the subject of worry, which is missing in this situation. So there you are. I am.


I will not attend church this morning, despite feeling reasonably well at the moment. Experience of late suggests I should not rely on how I feel at any given moment to predict how I will feel an hour or two later. And, though I have not been consistent in avoiding crowds, my weakened immune system says I should; so, this morning, I will. I was to preside over a congregational meeting which will be held to elect members of a nominating committee; the VP has agreed to stand in for me. Mi novia will attend this morning’s service and stay to make a record of the election. I hope attendance is sufficient to establish a quorum to validate the election; but I will try not worry about that for now. I cannot control it, so I should not worry. That is the advice others give me. And the advice I give myself.


The handyman we engage to handle odds and ends around the house worked yesterday to replace some aging water lines attached to the water heater in the crawl space beneath the house. He also leveled the slab on which the heater sits; ever since we moved in, the water heater has appeared poised to fall over. I think he installed a commercial grade dehumidifier we bought to control the moisture beneath the house, but that task may be scheduled for another time, when he can return. We have grown to depend on the guy to handle any number of such things that we either cannot or should not try to do ourselves. Unlike so many other so-called handymen in the Village, he is reliable and dependable and competent. And unlike so many others, he readily acknowledges the rare tasks he is not equipped to do or comfortable doing. Beyond that, he and his wife (who frequently works with him) are genuinely nice people. We enjoy opportunities to chat with them when they are here.


Temperatures dropped abruptly yesterday, transforming what had seemed like an early spring day into a powerful reminder that winter still is with us. At the moment, according to The Weather Network, the temperature outside is a brisk 23°F. It should warm to 50°F before the day is out and toy with the 60s for most of the upcoming week, even hitting 70°F around mid-week. I will not bet on that forecast, though. Why should I? There is no reason to count on it. I expect to remain a medical prisoner in my house for most of the next twelve days, when I return to my oncologist’s office for my next chemotherapy treatment. My newly-implanted infuse-a-port will be put to its first use then, both to extract blood for “labs” and to infuse the cancer-killing poison into my blood. That “first use” represents an example of the kind of excitement I have come to appreciate in my life.


Enough. Again. More enough. Time to rest my fingers and explore the possibility of breakfast.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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One Response to Clumsy Thinking

  1. Druxha says:

    In my case, having had triple negative cancer was worrisome from the begin. It has an entirely different conduct than the more common breast cancer which dominates 80% of breast cancer cases, with triple negative at only 10 to 15% of the cases. There is limited treatment, and tumors are considered highly aggressive compared to other breast cancers. Oddly enough, the first 3 years is the big marker for recurrence with triple negative, and a hurdle that is often not achieved, but once at the 5 year marker it rarely, if ever, returns. They don’t know why this is. The common breast cancer is the opposite, with any recurrence normally occurring any time after 5 years. Therefore, the treatment for TNBC is very aggressive from the get go. My medical odyssey journal on FB has been very useful for in many ways, John.

    It’s great you’re in an optimistic frame of mind. I believe that is so very important during treatment. I wish you the very best in your upcoming chemo round! 🙂

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