My visit with my oncologist yesterday was not quite as cheery as I’d hoped, nor was it terrifying. She reviewed my latest CT scan with me, showing me on her notebook computer images that looked liked a tree’s roots or, perhaps, its sky-facing limbs. She pointed out that the area around the white “roots” was black; that’s what the lungs should look like in that image. The white “roots” I saw were fibrous expressions of my lung’s response to the radiation treatment I had received, she said. I think she called it “radiation fluff,” but I might have misunderstood. I couldn’t find that term when I looked it up last night. What I found, which I think describes what she described to me, was “RIF,” or radiation induced fibrosis. That condition, she suggested, might be responsible for my chronic cough.

She suggested that the condition might resolve itself over time, but she prescribed prednisone to accelerate the process; 4 pills daily for 5 days, 2 pills daily for 5 days, and 1 pill daily for 5 days.  I got the prescription filled and started taking the pills this morning.  After 15 days, I am to contact her if the cough has not resolved itself. If not, she may send me back to the radiologist. For what, I don’t know; I wasn’t thinking fast enough to ask her.

I wish the doctors would confer among themselves before they offer prospective solutions. I mentioned that I’d been given various and sundry pills by my primary care doctor and his nurse; neither “fixed” the problem. She listened but did not react. What the hell. Give it 15 days and we’ll see. I sure hope my cough can be resolved soon; it could well squash our planned vacation to the Adriatic in September, if not. My wife said she would be surprised if I were allowed on the plane if I were in the midst of one of my horrific coughing fits. And she’s probably right.

Yesterday’s Friends of the Coronado Center Library (FOCCL) presentations were okay. But it seems FOCCL did absolutely nothing to promote the event. Even the guy who was supposed to introduce us didn’t show. Authors whose past presentations our presenters made a point to attend did not show. Even one of our own readers did not all show. If not for my wife, my sister-in-law, and the people invited by my next door neighbors, we would have had essentially no audience. There was no marketing done with the Property Owners Association website/e-blast system, no article in the local newspaper…nothing. If we had not asked about the promised wine (which we told people to expect), I am sure it would not have come. And we’re supposed to have another group of our authors feature at the FOCCL August meeting. If it were up to me, I would instruct our folks to ignore it. I’m not planning to attend an event designed to support FOCCL if FOCCL itself won’t support it. Am I pissed? A little. That having been said, I appreciated the small audience that did show up. I have discovered, much to my surprise, that I like reading my writing in front of an audience. I’m just not sure an audience likes me to read my writing to them.

I chose to read one short story from the Writers’ Club anthology and one vignette I wrote more recently. Both were rather dark. That’s what I write; I tend to write the darkness of the human psyche. That’s probably why the audience isn’t especially fond of hearing me read. My more cheery stuff seems, to me, artificial. The flavor of synthetic joy spilling from my fingers is a little like chemically created strawberry soft drinks; sickeningly sweet and obviously unnatural.

After the FOCCL fiasco, my wife and her sister and I went out to an early dinner with our neighbors (the painter and the writer). We talked about going to La Dolce Vita, but when we got there, we discovered it was closed. So, we went outside the west gate to Village Hibachi, instead. Nice meal.

My efforts to think and feel positive at this moment are failing miserably. I’ll make progress for a moment or two, then go smashing down against the rocks, pushed by incomprehensibly powerful waves of melancholia. I may be overstating my doleful state, but maybe not. I don’t know whether I’m despondent or just dispirited. I suppose it, whatever it is, will pass. It always does, though I wonder whether the “up” cycle is any more attractive than the down. Neither draws me into a state of euphoria.

There are days, and this is shaping up at this early hour to be one of them, when I’d like to make my way to the nearest train station for an impromptu escape. The destination wouldn’t matter much; it’s the journey I’m after. A journey away from the thousand petty annoyances that I encounter every day. But, in reality, I know they would join me on the train, for they reside inside my head. Meditation, that’s the cure, instead of travel. Or medication. Mind-numbing medication that soften the hard edges of the thoughts and ideas that inhabit my brain.

I will muddle through the day. Perhaps, if I can get some work done on the deck, my mood will brighten. If I had a helper, the project would move along at a much faster pace. Alas, I don’t have a helper and I guess I won’t get one. So I’ll muddle through alone. Eventually, the project will be a distant, bitter memory, even without a helper.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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