Week 30: So Far, So Good

A surprisingly good week, with most of the stomach burbles gone, even as I notched down my Prednisone from 3 tablets/per day to 2 (10 mg). Funnily enough, my stomach problems cleared up a day or so before clinic on Monday.

A good discussion with the clinical doctor on the following:

  • Tapering off Prednisone will be slightly slower as will be on 2 tablets/day for 2 weeks, rather than 1;
  • My slight flaring up of my rash on my legs is minor and not an issue and just manage with the cortisoidal cream as needed;
  • The numbness in my feet is a numbness in my proprioceptors, the sensors that work with my brain and muscles to ensure balance and coordination. Again, a normal side effect, one that may go slowly away – or not. Manageable, but I have to be a bit more cautious; otherwise no major impact on what I can and cannot do (e.g., biking will not be an issue);
  • I reminded the doctor that my donor had been possibly exposed to Hepatitis C and asked when I should be tested. Apparently, this information was either not in the normal follow-up file (reminder to all – one has to track these things oneself!) but she ordered the test as part of regular blood work that day. Hopefully will be a negative result;
  • On sunscreen, any sunscreen UVA/UVB of SPF 30 is fine;
  • Her office will follow-up on scheduling the MRI for my brain and spinal cord. I was warned that the damage to the leptomeninges may not be reversible – but I will be happy with it not getting worse;
  • I can start my re-vaccination given the low dose of Prednisone. Started Friday, and apart from two sore arms, no strong reaction; and,
  • No issues with local travel as long as normal precautions taken..
I also asked about the letter to my long-term disability insurance provider. She said their overall approach is to give their patients time to recover and the letter  was to give me the space I need to rebuild my strength. Expect there will be another review in about 4-6 months. While I am feeling quite good (touch wood!) these days, I am aware of the limits to my strength and endurance, and the ability to balance physical and intellectual rebuilding without the pressures of work makes all the difference.

Movie-wise, we watched Moneyball, the story of how quantitative statistical analysis trumped scouting and allowed the Oakland Athletics to build a winning team far more cheaply than other teams (cited by Daniel Kahneman as an example where the traditional use of scouts assessing possible players by their build and look – representativeness, i.e., they look the part - is replaced by selecting players by the statistics of past performance that other teams overlooked).

We also watched Game Change, the HBO film about the 2008 election and the McCain-Palin campaign. Very good tight script, well acted by Julianne Moore as Palin, Woody Harrelson as Schmidt the campaign manager, and Ed Harris as McCain. Sometimes have to wonder how the strategists, in their rush for a game change, could omit basic policy questions in the short vetting process. Another case of fast thinking gone wrong.

The film, as some have noticed, may be overly sympathetic to Palin on the personal level, given that she was thrust into a situation that she was not prepared for, and without the self-awareness to know it. The ongoing effect of ‘pride in ignorance’ has, of course, played itself out this primary season and we are all poorer for resulting dumbing down of political discourse. Whatever your politics, it is a gripping political film that relives the campaign of 2008.

I have also been listening to the new Springsteen album, Wrecking Ball. The contrast between his angry lyrics and warm music is striking; if one doesn’t listen to the lyrics, the anger does not come through. To give you a flavour of some of the lyrics (Shackled and Drawn, some of which also applies to living with cancer at times):

Gray morning light spits through the shade
Another day older, closer to the grave
Closer to the grave and come the dawn
I woke this morning shackled and drawn

Shackled and drawn, shackled and drawn
Pick up the rock, son, carry it on
I’m trudging through the dark in a world gone wrong
I woke up this morning shackled and drawn

No reading this week given that I have been busy with my various projects, in addition to getting out and walking a fair amount. I have started experimenting with Pinterest but have yet to figure out how best to use it.

Next week, will be making my first trip, a short one to Toronto, to see our son and some friends. Will be nice to have such a change.