Dec 31 2012

Second Opinions

A few days ago, we had dinner with old friends, and one of them was recommending the new biography of William McKinley. Apparently, the president died of an infection related to a non-fatal gunshot wound a week after he was shot. The gangrene was caused by any number of things, not least of which were the lack of sterile instruments or the fact that doctors with unwashed hands kept poking around in the wound trying to find the bullet. At his trial, the shooter put forth the clever legal argument that even though he shot the president, he didn’t murder him; McKinley’s doctors did. (Argument failed and he was hung, but the man was, in a sense, correct.)

Another at the table volunteered that in a lot of ways, we consider medicine from the 19th century to be barbaric. He mused about what we would consider barbaric about the state of medicine in the 20th century a hundred years from now. Oh the possibilities! But I only poked him and pointed at my fuzzy head while laughing.


Dec 28 2012


I should have done chemo in Italy. Italy fulfills all of my chemo diet requirements: delicious pastas with cream sauces and tasty cured pig, fresh spaghetti with simple olive oil and garlic (con aglio olio), pineapple gelato, creamy risotto, artichoke and Parmesan salad with fresh peppery olive oil, insalata caprese (with heirloom tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella), white truffles, porcini mushrooms on anything, fresh fennelly sausage bursting out of its casing, pizza with crust so thin it’s transparent covered in fresh mozzarella and a hint of basil and some of my tears as I eat it, lovely little cafes where I can drink tea or cappuccino with foamed milk so stiff a spoon stands up and watch people who care about their appearance go about their daily business while I write amusing anecdotes for your reading pleasure, and, oh, the shoes! But I digress.

If you had asked me a year ago about the food I eat, I would have told you fresh organic veggies, fruit smoothies, lots of black beans, green tea, red wine or a fun vodka martini but only on occasion, organic meat but never pig, no cow milk products, no wheat, no peanuts, eggs (preferably poached and therefore farm fresh), dark chocolate, raw protein powder mixed with almond milk, and, very occasionally, a baked apple dessert product. I’d been on this food choice regime for so long that breaking it created problems: wheat made me swell; cow milk products gave me horrible gas, and pig or lots of alcohol caused self-loathing.


Dec 27 2012

Mary Poppins

Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down
the medicine go dow-on
the medicine go down
Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down
In the most delightful way

Last week, my brain melted. I’m sure that it’s happened to you. It happens to me when I’ve gotten a piece of really amazing or really horrible news, but only as a complete surprise. It happens when one of those things that you didn’t know you didn’t know comes flying at you, usually from behind like a flight attendant catching you using your phone after the doors are closed while wearing a ten-gallon hat and tasteless clothing just to make it even more overwhelming.