Friday, September 23, 2016

Genetics, Stubborness and Unstuck

About six months ago, similar to the time I was diagnosed with lung cancer, I decided to fork out the money to to learn my DNA. Part of my  motivation was that I happen to have a few rare genetic abnormalities, especially in my eyes, but then who doesn't. (This was before I knew I had a rare genetic lung cancer). It took three tries, as it turned out. Either my spit was not potent enough, or I wasn't coughing up enough. Finally a month or so ago the results were revealed. To my amusement I was mostly British Isles and Northern European, but I was also 28% Scandanavian. (I guess those Vikings made merry when they invaded England). The Ancestry profile also revealed I had several second cousins. So I picked one at random, and was delighted this week to hear from him, a real second cousin on my father's side named Gary, who is a rancher and politician near Trinidad, Colorado. I've been having great fun learning about him and his family. From my aunt Celia
(his great aunt) I inherited this photo of the Cross children, taken I imagine about 1898. They lived in a rough cabin in the Rockies, and according to Aunt Celia, it was an all day buggy ride to Trinidad to get the picture taken. My dad is the one on the  left, his brother Sandy  Sr. in the center, and then Celia, the oldest. Please note my father, dressed in a skirt as was the fashion,  has a stick in his right hand. According to Celia, he was playing in the yard with the stick when his mother called him in to get dressed for the trip. He refused to give up the stick, had a tantrum, and his mother finally dressed him with him still holding the stick. Even when they got  to town, the photographer was unable to get him to part with it, so the picture was taken with him still holding it. This was an example, Celia said, of his stubborness; a pattern, or gene, or trait, I'm guilty of  displaying as well.
I'm not especially proud of it, but sometimes it serves me well.
So I've finally decided, whether out of stubborness or just plain exasperation with research and doctors, to opt for trying the "pill" for my lung cancer. I'm satisfied that the robot radiation is not an option, nor is surgery, so that leaves me with the experimental pill to alter the genome, or to do nothing. It costs $12,000 a month, but insurance and other sources will pay for it, and if the side effects are too bad, I'll just stop it. Wish me luck, and that my stubborness works in my favor.

Friday, September 16, 2016

What Color Is Stuck?

Photo by Jan Hagan of me in more carefree days.
What color is "stuck"?
For several months now, in an exhausting,  sometimes merry go round of doctor visits, I've been trying to decide on lung cancer treatment options. All of the docs kindly, yet in disagreement.
It boils down to three options: 1) do nothing, 2) targeted radiation, or 3) the pill, a new kind of treatment for my rare mutation said to treat the genome.
All have their pros and cons. This week I saw a palliative care doc who wants me to decide nothing until we treat the pain. So I've added liquid morphine to the medicine cabinet, which is already spilling over to the sidewalk.
Meanwhile my creative friend Beth in Alameda has been sending me a tanka every day, highlighting a certain color. In traditional Japanese a tanka is 31 syllables, grouped as 5,7,5,7,7. Goodness, as I tried to write one, I kept substituting words because I couldn't decide on the number of syllables. Authors please check me out.
Here we go.

Indecision drags
Sucking me down, up, sideways
The color of ooze
With occasional lightness
Mostly void of clarity
A spiral of confusion in quicksand.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Missing Objects

We all understand about the dryer eating socks, but here's a new mystery. My gardener has been putting large baited rat traps in my back yard, because the population of rodents is exploding. We don,t like to use poison because there is so much wild life here. (Last week there were even sightings of mink and river otters.) I try to avert my eyes when I see a dead critter inside s sprung trap, and call my gardener to come to the rescue. However this week he appeared on my porch with a scowling face. It seems his traps are disappearing. All he can figure is that racoons or foxes are climbing the fence and taking home the booty, trap and all.
Meanwhile, the population of rattlesnakes is also exploding. A small terrier got bit by a baby rattler a couple of blocks from here. Fortunately his vet was able to save him, but it was a close call.
The rattlesnakes are our friends, of course, because they eat the rodents. Talk about coming to terms with the balance of nature!
Among home owners near the  vineyards there is much complaint about the bird cannons going off. These are load blasts every seven minutes to scare the starlings off the grapes. I understand they don't work too well, either. My goodness. Science has got us to the moon, and a probe to Mars, don't you think they would come up with a better solution to handle the balance of man and nature?