My Birthday Week

Today is Day 3 of my Birthday. In keeping with the tradition that apparently only I truly believe is one; at a given age one has lived long enough to extend the birthday to the birth week, i.e. 7 full days to celebrate each year. A few years back on what I thought was the third day of my birth week, as I started to instruct Vanessa on how to situate my blanket and where to rub my shoulders she informed my by birth week was over. ‘But wait’ I said ‘It can’t be over; my birthday was only 3 days ago.’ ‘That may be so’ she said ‘but your birthday week begins with the first day you receive a gift.’ A quick mental calculation and I realized she had snuck in a gift before my birthday.
While I protested this ad hoc hijacking of the rules of the tradition she countered by questioning whether this was ever a time tested tradition, or just a product of my mind. So the rules of the tradition were changed, but the birth week is still celebrated.
In this my third day of celebration this year I finished a picture of her and I from her wedding reception and the ship model. Jocelyn gave me small ship model and the story of ‘the battleship’ for my birthday What a gift it is and in this way she spoke for not only herself, but her Sister and Mother as well. I am so exceptionally blessed on so many levels….

Monday March 22, 2010 Seeing the Ologist

1 AM. Cannot sleep, keyed up about the meeting this afternoon with the Oncologist. Had the meeting in the afternoon. We discussed the chemo treatments. Jennifer no doubt noted my deterioration, and hearing the realities was really tough on her. How do we know if it is working? “When he doesn’t have that look on his face” Dr. Noah said. Look? What look? Apparently I wear my cancer on my sleeve. My evenings with Rex, tonight over an hour, are amazing to me. Although we live very different lives, we have no trouble sustaining a visit for an apparent unlimited time. It is a savior for me tonight especially. And now I can visit with Paul in Oregon, my little brother bigger than I am. While his connection is not as strong, never the less the ability to see him means a lot to me. Soon we will start a game of battleship to pass the time.
Plumbing has slowed and pain is intense. Van wanted some of the pain to be from other causes, but the Ologist carefully explained this cancer is very invasive and hard to kill and everything I had going on was consistent with that. Even I have my doubts.


My Dear Sisters

Have my Sisters ever just popped in for a visit? Hmmmm, let’s go through the filing cabinet for the first 58 years. I don’t think so. Yet here I sit chatting with them about the disease. Renee trying for all her might to be non confrontational, Marty ever herself and I felt a bit of happiness. Probably we should have tried this before. And yet even though we are siblings, we all are very different. I am not sure my Family would survive a multi-generational living arrangement without mayhem and carnage ensuing. These two girls are still 13 and 14 in emotional age, in the presence of a sick loved one and trying desperately to stay on their own best behavior. I wished they could have just hung out all evening, but all too soon they were on their way. If we had little in common before we still do, but the disease is something we share, it is the disease that brings us together. What an ironic twist, kind of like buying oil from the Middle East. The disease that is the most hated of all things and the purveyor of suffering whose very essence I seek to destroy is the agent that brings me closer to those I love. How can something so bad do something so good?

Telling Vanessa’s Church Family

Sunday Morning, and off to church I go. During the prayer requests I announced to Van’s church in blubbering fashion I had a cancer in an advanced stage. I was so confident in my ability to handle it somberly but without sobbing. A miserable failure.
It was as if a pall was cast over the congregation, and you could have heard a pin drop for a few moments. The Deacons and Pastor gathered around and laid hands on me and said a prayer for me and the Girls. After the service many came up to give me a hug and a word of encouragement, and two came up to grill me on the details of the disease. It was a relief telling this group. Although never a member I have been part of the extended church family for as long as Vanessa has attended. I do have a love for many there, although to this day I get many names confused. Church families are often only for church, but I could have dinner with many of these folks, share a brew and just be myself. I know it was a relief to Van, who can now freely share as she wishes her heart and information.

3/20/2010 If This Were TV

If this were TV I would enter the hospital for a scan to determine why I was having pain and symptoms. Upon completion of the scan I would return to my room, only to be visited that day by the Doctor, to advise me I had a tumor. A biopsy the next day would confirm and by the end of the week I would be starting chemo. The process on TV is always such an urgent and smooth transition from one step to the next. Now 3 months since the initial scan, with treatment still likely weeks away from beginning I still have a lot to look forward to. During the three months that have passed I have not slept through the night, endured fairly constant pain and peed every hour on the hour, 24/7. Certainly this is a long way from House or any of the TV doctors back to Ben Casey and James Kildare, the earliest I can remember.
The process must take its course, and the only thing for the patient to do is follow that course. If along the way caregivers can relieve the pain and suffering, then the patient is fortunate, but I doubt no amount of personal urgency or pain and suffering can alter the process unless one has boundless cash reserves. Even then the process might defeat the effort to move faster.


March 19, 2010 Happy Birthday

Happy birthday to me. It is Friday, and the week has worn on me. I now am unable to take more than a few steps without pain. Jocelyn came over with the grand dog, treated me and Van to lunch and made my day. Presents and chocolate cake and now I have made it to 59 officially. Working in the morning was challenging since I was doing some stuff we have never done before with auctions. Although not successful with an order, the experience I can share with my comrades making us better prepared the next time.

March 18, 2010 What if...

What if I never get better? The thought crossed my mind today. If I never get better then I will never ever get a chance to play golf, go to another movie, or take a road trip with Nessy. I told her we had a couple of yard projects to take on, it was time sensitive. I am not going to be any help at all this year and it breaks my heart. I know I can’t dwell on it, so I won’t. Let all the Siblings know of my present condition today.

My First Talk With Dr. H. The Oncologist

So I want to talk to one of the Ologists at IU. I get an appointment to wait a week for a consult. I want to talk in between to better prepare my family. When the oncologist fails to return my call, I call the urologist, who has his staffer call and advise he can’t talk to me; I have to talk to the guy who won’t return my call. Of course he has a new baby, so we can let him off the hook. Then, at last he called shortly after I asked his scheduler to send him another message. What a relief. I frankly was beginning to think I was a back burner item for this group. He’s a young Ologist, his voice reassuring. Knowing that I understood the meaning of the new prognosis, he gave me a short rundown. After reading some testimonials on the ACS site I can spin it to positive, as I must.
On finding cancer in the lymph nodes….
If this were baseball, the other team just scored 4 runs
Surgery is off the table
Swelling is due to blood vessel issues brought on by the cancer
I may qualify for some interesting clinical trials
Chemo also possible, but a different recipe from the pre surgery mix
We will discuss all the options Monday
At last I have something directly from the Ologist for my Ladies, siblings and inner circle. Jocelyn took it great.
Rex gave me a fabulous experience, streaming video in real time from his booth at the Las Vegas show. Listening to his banter and serious conversations as well, I ponder how we could have gone separate ways so long ago. Together and by now we would likely be streaming video from the fantails, one sailing the great lakes and the other in Aruba.

The Pee Pain

The Pee Pain
PP, or pee pain, is the result of something or some combination of some things. As we progress the fire has grown hotter and lingers longer after each event. Another one of those nasty little things I suppose, you have to pee every hour, and it takes the pain away, but you dread to pee, because the pp is every bit as bad as the pre-pee pain, just more concentrated in the Richard and the Twins area. An indicator of my decline in the past few weeks is not only the increased frequency but also amount of time it takes to recover from each event.
How long since I slept? I forgot, although I know I was sleeping with only 2-4 trips a night in December, seems like I can remember even going to bed and waking up when it was time to get up. But the body adjusts. With enough narcotics one can feel rested with a wake up every hour on the hour and enjoy a few minutes of severe and often times ‘sit down to handle it’ pain.
A problem with sickness is it becomes a dominant topic. I try not to make it so. Of course this journal is a road trip through my sickness, and leaving out the pain would not be fair to the record, in that it is such an integral part of it. I think it is a mistake to fear pain, but a good idea to avoid it. It is astounding the suffering one’s own body can do to its soul. But pain is a part of life, and too much fear of it would take one out of too much life I think.

March 17, 2010 A Time For Reflection and Uncertainty

Wednesday March 17, 2010 now 6 weeks since my TUR. Let my neighbor Bob know of my condition. It was hard. Bob has always been a favorite, as we have raised our children together and shared many a great moment, as his humor is in many ways like mine and we are both professional salesmen.
This cancer thing is so new. Hell, I still do not have the nomenclature down. In research this AM I read comments on a chat line. One told of someone like me, had surgery 7 years ago and cancer free, another with 8 surgeries, including partial lung removal in the last few years but still kicking. The cancer spreading here and there and knocked down or removed with each step. The value of continuing life against the quality of life is an issue I have faced with dogs, and now find myself in a position where I may have to make such judgments for myself. Of course Family will want to keep me around for as long as possible, just as I did every dog. Realistically, with no safety net for long term disability, and health insurance connected to keeping a job, is it fair to take a course that would jeopardize that and leave Vanessa with nothing once I am gone? Or, if this progresses and I can no longer work should I take a course of pain management as the disease runs its course. For now I still have a job, so we will face future hurdles as we incur them. Certainly part of the current agony today is not knowing ‘the what’ and the ‘what next’.


Communication Breakdown...Always a Pain

March 16, 2010
On this date in 1951 I was only 3 days away from being cruelly dragged from my Mother’s womb and into the cold harsh light of day. Right now likely I was taking on nourishment, moving about the get comfortable in my dark fluid filled confines.
We all wonder about my new providers, where it takes days or more for appointments and it is our responsibility to make sure we have all test results, pictures etc. required for each step. I wonder how much time has been lost. The first ologist fails to send to the second ologist the info needed, so we have basically a wasted consultation.
The oncologist OK because at least he could look at CT pictures which we procured and took to him. So he orders blood tests and a CT guided biopsy. Day of procedure delays. The blood test results were procured after we provided MD’s and Nurses names and phone numbers which Vanessa had with her. She kept extensive notes. Calls were made. Information was then faxed from doctor to hospital. I always thought fax machines set back office automation by decades. I sent an e mail to Nurse M;
Hi Marietta,
I wanted to keep you folks up to date.
I understand the biopsy found cancer.
I have an appointment set with Dr. H Monday 3/22 at 1:30.
Talk to the Doctor:
I asked Michelle to advise the good Doctor of my wish to speak with him as soon as possible. He had indicated during our initial consultation this was possible.
She indicated that might be some time, and I advised her I would connect my cell number to my person so I would be available any time. If I would happen to be on the line I would immediately return the call.
In Anderson we were told I should have my surgery by last Friday. For my Dear Wife and Daughters and immediate Family of 4 siblings the days between referrals and tests since coming here weigh heavy on their psyche. Again we were told time was of the essence. They have done significant study on their own every step of the way, and the T4 diagnosis is devastating for them. I have some questions for the Doctor that will enable me to properly inform my family and reduce the stress suffering my condition has put on them at present.
I iced my marbles a few times (what fun-I could make a stand up routine out of it I think) and it knocked the swelling down. I am attempting to keep up with my job on limited travel with success as walking and extended driving or riding aggravates everything and swelling returns.
Pain Management:
I am finishing a second 40 tab prescription for Lortab in the near future. I am taking 5 a day, and if I overdo it (which is rare) 6. I presume at this juncture I have been accepted as a patient and my pain management needs to change from Dr. E to Dr. K and/or Dr. H. I would like to get on this as soon as possible, presuming it takes a couple of days to get a prescription called into my pharmacy resource for what ever is prescribed. I do not want to run out and suffer unnecessarily.
Stomach Ache:
I continue to have operational waste management, although urgency frequency as increased and I am basically on a 55 minute to 1 hour 10 minute schedule for evacuation 24/7. I have adjusted to this regimen and so far I do not think I am showing too may ill effects, except a reduction in work hours and slightly more convoluted schedule. The laxative/softener regimen is working, and I have moved the time to 8 or so at night. If I do not hear from Dr. H I will call tomorrow.
Dr. K:
Should I copy Dr. Koch on these reports or is he 'in the loop? If Dr. Hahn cannot call me, I can make the request of Dr. Koch. I know we are all on the same team, but I am also aware of communication breakdowns between facilities and departments that are often best handled on a personal level in a professional and respectful fashion. As a good patient, client and customer it does not offend me to help in nay way I can.
A Personal Heartfelt Thank You From Me:
In that regard thank you very much for responding promptly to Inger's request at Clarian North for the results of my blood tests so they could proceed with their procedure. We kind of knew that the communication breakdown thing put odds on they would not have that information on hand when it was time to do the test, and they try to run a just in time operation. Therefore Vanessa was prepared with your number and Dr. K's office and both responded within minutes.
That was a day of severe abdominal pain making the procedure difficult for me. Your prompt response and fax enabled them to move ahead. Afterward I resumed my pain medicine and got things under control. You greatly reduced a very uncomfortable time for me.
Thank you all for your attentive care and responsiveness.
Mike C


March 15, 2010 Icing the Marbles-It's All In the Technique

Monday March 15, 2010
Icing the marbles
In a v-con with Rex, Pendleton to Las Vegas, I mentioned in passing the joys of icing ones marbles. While he went through his protracted convulsive reaction attempting to digest the thought dew balls came to mind. DB, the two letter acronym for Dew Balls, refers to that condition that occurs to bikers in February, when the sun has peaked out, the highways and byways are relatively clear, but the bike is in the barn under its cover and the seat is a few degrees below the 33 degree temperature, and has been for weeks. As the biker straddles his ride he draws it up to center of his wide stance. Then he eases down on the saddle, onto a surface far beyond bone cold. The immediate reaction results in man tonsils, and if he has tonsils he now has an extra possibly hairy pair.
But when the marbles are in need of relief, I prefer the freezer gel pack against the traditional sack of peas. The smooth flexible surface, just the right width and length is superior to the plastic pea bag.
I like to start under a blanket in the recliner. I position my self slightly reclined, and bring my knees up putting my feet against the foot rest. Lowering my pants and wrapping the freezing cold bag in a thin towel, I lay the giggle monster up and carefully position the gel bag directly over the family business.
Ice has a funny effect on pain. I know this process sounds terrible, but as the cold penetrates pain and swelling are greatly diminished. The final stage is when the marbles demand direct contact, the thin towel pulls away, the BVD’s come down and ice cold gel gets up close and personal with 2 numb marbles. This all sounds so good I am going to have to go ice right now.

March 12, 2010 Chasing the Pain for the Weekend

This was an office day, got about 5 hours of good work in, calls, follow ups and some mailing. The day seemed like November to me, gray, wet and cold.
I remain concerned about the stomach ache, and plan to take the nuclear option tonight to make sure the spirits are thoroughly moved. Lortabs are an adequate pain reliever but I wonder if the stomach issue is not a side effect. Rock and a hard place, can’t with em’ and can’t without em’. Following ingestion of the N O (nuclear option) I cleared my pipes, and clearly I was not suffering from the John Wayne fate of packed colon. Although the toothless oracle made a couple of loud reports, little in the way of other stuff appeared, though some, which I judged to be consistent with my diet. No sleep to speak of with a high left back pain and general discomfort.
Now looking back, the TUR was on the eighth of Feb, and today is March 13, 2010. Tough night with back pain mid left running through hip, moving around made everything sore from Richard and the twins through to the other side. Again the nagging stomachache this morning, taking on water and a cereal bar at 4 AM. Walking only aggravates it. I believe the last good day I had was Wednesday. Perhaps a reaction in part to the chemicals applied to me during the biopsy Thursday to relax me and deaden pain. I am going to try to go without lortab medication for as long as possible today to see if it helps my stomach. I have been spared anything coming up or out where it should not, which is a blessing for both Vanessa and I. No sleep last night, unable to hold water capacity down below 150cc before the alarms go off, urgency bursts through the door and agents of the cancer disguised as yellow birds invade the stored urine and rush down to the end of the trouser snake and set fire to it. This in turn leads to superheating of the drain in general. Even as I write this the fire is a burnin’. So is the reality of this cancer?
I was a steady smoker, rarely more or less than a pack a day, perhaps I already said that. The hospitals keep asking. To that they assign my cause. While kind about it, the repeated asking only serves to remind me that most likely mine is a self inflicted wound and a failure on my part as Husband and Father, Brother and Friend. The pain then was mine to make and mine to deal with. Today is going to be a big water day. If I am making a trip every whipstitch I might as well make it worth my while. Rereading the info from Nurse M I discovered I had yet to actually use the nuclear option.
Van was out first thing to get me magnesium citrate. Downing 10 oz and 6 hours later definitely moved more than previous, but no legendary blow out and still the persistent stomach ache. Vanessa is repairing a sink drain today. She got a small snake at the hardware. What a trooper, stepping up without complaint or fear to the new challenges she faces with me incapacitated.
March 14, 2010 Much less stomach pain the nuclear option has done its thing, not explosively, but more like a cup at a time, 4 times yesterday and twice so far today, and it is not 9AM yet. The cancer makes you appreciate those things in life that you take for granted normally. Checking my physical condition the biopsy left a colorful large bruise. In addition the other pain beyond stomach is from swelling in the midriff and the pair of tired vets hanging low. Another cold damp day in paradise today, brightened by Van’s presence and the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. H and Family. We all ate like Henry the Eighth and then collapsed completely satiated. Tomorrow is another day. If only I can draw up the strength to convert the last Bee Gees album tonight.

March 11, 2010 The Needle Biopsy

Snickers came in the early morning for a hug. Up and out for CT guided needle biopsy procedure today. Arrived at 8:30 on schedule. I was ill prepared and suffered from severe stomach and back pain. After check in, sign again the privacy agreement, I think that is four for this group alone, and Nurse Inger led me gently down to the ‘holding room’. Vanessa helped me change into the backless wonder gown. Inger again went through the record keeping chores and briefing. Her attentiveness was exemplary. With Wife, one Daughter and dear Sister saying a prayer for all of us and my caregivers, away I went for the next procedure in the process. I laid in the CT scanner for over an hour, the relax agents doing nothing for my excruciating back ache. Into the hoop with a jolt and back out again, jarred to the teeth as the table was adjusted to just the right spot for the picture. With all of this technology one would think they could put a cushion on the table so motions were smooth and precise. In the end, a remarkable feat I thought, the Ologist skillfully probed and moved a fine needle to a node smaller than 1/8” in diameter and buried in a mass of structures, vessels, bone and fat, drawing cells from it to be cultured to determine if they are cancer cells. It took about an hour, I tried to levitate, which helped a couple of times. My arms were crossed in front of me and held to my chest with a wide restraining belt pulled tight. As the scanner did its thing, the room filled with the sound of a chiller not very well sound insulated. Through the constant racket voices could be heard. How many, 3, no 5, no Inger says 7, with the pathologist in the room, so we only do this once. Amazing customer service that I knew was possible everywhere, but so rarely found. Inger’s ever calming instructions breathe in through nose, out through mouth, and her admonishment repeatedly to not move. Never again will I go off the pain medicine prescribed for me out of some imaginary concern I decide I have.
Oh, and green beans and potatoes stew the night before might be something else I leave off of my pre surgery regimen. My vocal expressions of pain, which do not help anyone, brought my youngest to tears and me too.
When you have cancer, sometimes you just have to cry. And it was over, samples to process, and takes a couple of days, up to us to make our appointment with our oncologist.
Just before Van and Jocey came in with my phone to call Rex, Rex peaked in the door, grinning like a Cheshire cat. He brought his imaginary friend Carl and we were all thoroughly entertained. At the end of the day he passed us on the I465 heading home and I couldn’t help a tear escaping. I have always missed my Brothers, even growing up our age differences and life styles set us apart from each other. In another life years ago we all lived close together, but with work, families and individual schedules I still did not get to see a lot of them. I think my young Wife at that time had a limit to how much she could take in a given time frame as well, but perhaps I dreamed that part. Coming closer together is a positive unintended consequence of the disease. In many cultures and nationalities families are not so fractured. In my old age I appreciate the importance of Family and the unbreakable blood bond that exists within.

March 10, 2010 Wednesday Work

One wire. Yesterday line one in the office was down. We have a 3 line system for our small office and we are connected via DSL to the internet. With line one down we cannot forward our calls to answering service or connect to home office servers to conduct business. Amazing in the 21st century that one line down can create such havoc in corporate America. Set a sleep record last night, over 2 hours by my count solid in the recliner. I think I have to go back to December for a time when I slept that long in one stretch, wonderful. I never would have dreamed such an accomplishment would mean so much just a few months ago. Visited with PB last night. I swear he is a sensitive soul. Gave him my update, but he seemed dissatisfied with the report, so we went to joking around and had some good laughs. Several calls and a few visits today. Wound up around 2P. Not up to darts today, going to be an every other day thing I guess.
I enjoyed the swing on the porch with Tucker.

March 9, 2010 and I Am Full of It

Better this morning. Who was to know that apparently most of my issues were due to me being full of shit? Having never been on a narcotics regimen and never been constipated in my memory I frankly was not familiar with the symptoms.
I thought a BM every day was sufficient. In desperation yesterday I e mailed Nurse M, she told me to take laxative and softener every day with the narcotics, and within hours I was improved. What a difference a gassy dump makes. The through the middle back pain is gone; the unbelievable stomach ache is now but a faint echo in the distance. So there is something they don’t talk about in addict school, how this stuff binds you up and creates such distress. Gonna do opium, do exlax as well. Shoot up, blow out, that’s the name of the game.
I find increasingly limited movement. Pain through the back and middle front and always downward sense of pressure being placed. For me, this is better. Amazing how my quality of life simply disappeared and the last thing I remember is the gasman saying… Another great visit with Rex today. Unbelievable we talk for 45 minutes and get to see each other and it is just part of the IP service. We are diggin’ Skype. It is good to laugh with Rex and it is fun to make him laugh.
Jocelyn is my super advocate. I did not call her last night to advise that my biopsy was finally scheduled, but I did e mail I was feeling better. I got this e mail;
I’m glad to hear it. I strongly recommend that you call the Radiologist yourself today. Call the one at IU, the one in Anderson, and any others in the vicinity that are covered under your insurance. Ask them for the earliest appointment they have. Tell them that you will bring them your scans yourself (I can pick up any information that they need from Dr. Hahn, either at IU Med or at Clarian in Carmel, and ferry it to them). Feel free to send me the contact information for these folks, and I will make the calls. Or, I can call Dr. H’s office and get the contact info from them and start making calls. Either way, I really think we should take this matter into our own hands.
I hope this doesn’t make you mad. But if it does, I can live with that – this is too important for me to worry about making you mad.
Love you,

I responded by e mail advising her to put her pistols back in their holsters and let her know what the arrangements were. She called immediately. As usual she plans to be there for this procedure. She has the luxury and discipline to work at any location. Even at the first hospital stay, her trusty laptop was in tow. I can remember working that hard, and I miss it in many ways but I know that I have definitely slowed up. Now I must revise my strategy to reflect the additional travel limits I have physically. Tomorrow is another day. I will face it then.

Another Unintended Consequence

Another unintended consequence of my circumstance is the massive amount of additional reading I am doing due to my new time in the comfort station. Fortunately Vanessa subscribes me to deep thought lots of print like Wired and Nat Geo, and Jocelyn thoughtfully brought books for me to read. Wow, it’s like she new before I did. Huh.

Monday March 8, 2010 Biopsy scheduled for Thursday, Tracy called today to advise me my cancer was on the grapevine. Oh well. Sick all night last night and most of the day today with stomach issues.

Letting People Know

Telling people of my situation, those whom I hold dear, has been a work in process. I sent this to our long time friends K and F this morning;
Hi Ken,
In my ideal world, any issues of mine I would keep to myself. I am sure you appreciate where I am coming from. But, as you know we have our loved ones to consider first at all times, and I am no exception in that regard. Certainly my Women are my strength and continued challenge and inspiration.
News of sickness gets revised as it is passed around. I think I heard at one time you were having a heart transplant and nearly dead, and Fonda was going to lose a leg.
It is a measure of our friendship all these years that we can always start a conversation, no matter how long it had been since the last meeting. As good friends I want you to have this news from the source. As a side comment it is safe to say that any doctor whose title ends in 'ologist' is probably not a doctor you really want to see.
Following a CT scan in late January I had surgery on February 8 to remove a tumor. On Feb 12 I learned the surgery was not successful as the disease was more advanced, our worst fear. I have a cancer whose three letter acronym is TCC, or transitional cell carcinoma. In my case it is bladder cancer. I was referred to IU Hospital in Indianapolis. We met on February 26 with a big city Ologist and on March 1 with another big city Ologist. At the present time I am awaiting scheduling for further poking, prodding and analyzing to determine exactly what the nature of the cancer is and what level I am. We know I am at least T2 in cancer jargon.
Since the surgery I have been off and on. It took me a week solid to get mobile and for the past two weeks I have been an every other day is a good day guy, and the off days are good days too, just really uncomfortable. I returned to work last week although I am still not up to presurgery activity level. The drugs make me talky, a good thing for a salesman, so I am generating some business to keep things going.
I will let you guys know my prognosis as we know it.
I am asking that Vanessa, Jennifer and Jocelyn make all the prayer lists as well as me. I am being well attended by many dedicated professionals and first class facilities and I can legally take 'knock you down and don't take your name' drugs for my issues. I am positive about my outcome for I have faith and therefore any outcome will be the right outcome, regardless.
But the Girls are my advocates and support. They do not have so much to hold them up. Since my well being is so dependent on their strength and resolve I think they are in greater need of the power of prayer than I.
We know for sure there will be trying times ahead, but then, we knew the job was dangerous when we took it.
Love ya both,
Sentimentally way to early,
Mike C

This most personal of cancers elicits shudders among most men and women I encounter who first learn of it. It is after all so personal in nature and the prospect of any issue in that anatomical area is simply not one any person in their right mind would even want to think about. At first I struggled with what to tell people, but in the end the best thing is the truth. So when I tell K and F I have bladder cancer, I envision F telling her flock on Sunday of my condition, eliciting grimaces and moans in the congregation. I hate that exposure, but am resigned to it.
After all, I have already begged for a suppository in this journey, exposing my back side to perfect strangers and giving them that come hither look just to get another jolt from the magic torpedo. That is pretty low, so blathering about bladder cancer seems such a minor insult to my persona by comparison.
It is difficult not to be angry at something, myself, the disease, and the back ache, whatever. I had a great afternoon yesterday with the H family. They took me to a Mexican dinner, where I gorged on a burrito, but could not clean the plate like the old days, and drank margueritas, although we only did one pitcher, unlike the old days. After dinner we got ‘Airplane’ the movie. Settling in with them in their cozy family room I prayed I could hold up, but that persistent back ache had come calling. I tried to Zen it away and even dosed a little. It took over finally and before the end of the movie I had to pack up and go home. Unable to sit in any position and exhausted I knew the best place was home. We were having a great time with the movie, catching every pratfall, prank and one liner, and seeing some we had not seen before, even though we had seen the movie umpteen times. It was wonderful to laugh with them and I truly enjoy the grand dog. I was home at 8:30 took two lortabs and by 9:30 I was under control, able to sleep in short increments through the night. Up for good at 4:30AM and writing this as the sun rises on another clear blue day. Started with a lortab at 5:30A and as I write this the drug is working, a sense of floating, a dampening of feelings sensed, relief that I can relax for a while. I am angry that the disease has control over my actions. I must now factor it in at all times and be prepared for it. Hopefully this week we can find a better drug solution. It made me very sad to leave the party so abruptly.
I shall remember the evening, and have as a goal to enjoy repeating the experience after the cancer is gone.
Writing to another Minister this morning (recruiting some pros to the cause);
Hi Phil,
You may remember me, or not. I was a member of your extended Church and Home Family during your time as Pastor in Fortville. Extended in that I was not a member, although my Family was. Extended in that our children involved us in shared lifes experiences. I was the 'token unsaved loved one' listed weekly at the bottom of the bulletin as defined by many (I always appreciated being included in your prayer) and Bonnie assured my Daughters in terrifying fashion that I was destined to burn in hell for not being part of the deal. It has only been 10 or 11 years since I last visited with you, or had a laugh, or shared a joke. Your Facebook tells a story of contentment and success. I obviously share many of your core values and beliefs, but then, I always did, even if you did not realize it. I will now share a story with you that is my present drama in life. We have not told any of Vanessa's Church Family as of this writing, preferring to wait until the outcome is better known, perhaps in a week or two. Please keep this in confidence until we let them know.
I am telling you because I do believe in the power of Prayer and am not shy about recruiting both professionals and amateurs in the field. So welcome to the team. You are bound by profession to join, and would by ethical code anyway. Glad to have you aboard. Perhaps we can visit sometime in the future.
On a side note I am sharing with many, any medical professional with a title that ends in ologist is probably not someone you voluntarily want to visit, be it urologist, proctologist, cardiologist, gynecologist, or even ophthalmologist. So far the only ologist I have encountered that would make my Christmas card list is the anesthesiologist, but I keep forgetting his name.
Told him the same story….
I am asking that my Women, Vanessa, Jennifer and Jocelyn make all the prayer lists as well as me and for that matter they should be ahead of me on any such list of communication priorities with our Savior. They are very worried and clearly the load on them is increasing as the process goes on. The Girls are my advocates and support. They do not have so much to hold them up. I have no drugs to give them to take the pain from their expression at moments of weakness. I am no longer able to keep the disease to myself. My gate has been reduced to a totter, and pain sometimes elicits an involuntary groan. This I know weighs heavy on their hearts. I on the other hand am being well attended by many dedicated professionals and first class facilities and I can legally take 'knock you down and don't take your name' drugs for my issues. I am positive about my outcome for I have faith and therefore any outcome will be the right outcome, regardless.
We know for sure there will be trying times ahead, but then, we knew the job was dangerous when we took it. Thank you Phil in advance for your uplifting prayers on our behalf.
God bless you,
Mike C

Describing the Pain

Saturday March 6, 2010
Again the day starts at 2:30AM, following about 5 hours of sleep in fits and starts. Visiting with Rex yesterday afternoon on Skype and our conversation turned to analysis of my discomfort. Rex doggedly probed for details on my exact condition. So came up the matter of bladders and sphincters.
As with all of things, my situation leads to an endless parade of consequences, for the most part of the unintended variety. I remember when I had my rotator cuff surgery how for the first time in my life I had to face the reality of how heavy my arm was. You know, if I could weigh my limbs individually and realize how much I’m throwing around and knowing how little of my muscle is doing all the work I would have to forget the numbers, because it wears my ass out just thinking about it. Let’s face it, moving is a lot of work. Now in the matter at hand, yesterday to explain to Rex I took a third person view of my calamity. Remembering Dr. E saying the bladder has a mind of its own, I described to him an invisible baker decorating a cake, and in his one hand he gripped mightily a bag (which we will call a bladder) full of icing and in the other hand he gripped the soft yet pliable member, the nozzle connected to the bladder. With one he provided power to move the product, with the other he controlled flow and put the product where he wanted it.
In my case my bladder has been violated and cut on. When water reaches a certain level my invisible baker squeezes down on the bladder, get that wet crap away from me. At the same time my sphincter, trained by a Funk and Wagnall dictionary dropped on my head repeatedly whenever I failed to make it to the appropriate facility at a very young age. I always marveled at the book, with it’s cushy cover and thin pages, how could anything leave a pain in the head for so long and not a mark. Anyway, the point is the sphincter is operating on a basic behavior level that it was long ago conditioned to operate on. So the sphincter is as if the invisible bakers hand gripping the nozzle was possessed by some extremely evil entity that gave it super strength to grip down and close the nozzle, even as the invisible baker was applying ever more pressure, oh, he rests, oh, there he goes again. Rex then lit up with the glow of total comprehension, and we laughed until the tears rolled at my sorry ass situation.

Friday March 5, 2010 Waiting for the next step

Well, standing really did help a little, but sleep evaded me. Spasms prevent my bladder from filling to a normal level I like to think, so at 45minute to 1 hour intervals I am in for a short and painful regimen. Sleep in the conventional sense is now a distant memory.
It’s 2 am and sleep is gone,
Awake I am to cancers song,
Lortabs work for not so long.
So I start the day early you see,
With a smile on my face and a painful pee.
Finally about 9:30 am with a little medicine I get to work. Going after the close on a couple of new systems today. The sky is clear cold blue. On the road again.
But couldn’t do it. Tried, but realized at Anderson I was in no shape. Way too much aching to drive, and the rough roads don’t help. Tried to get it going but only worked half a day, just too uncomfortable. Again I have to overcome this, but this week it just seems a little overwhelming. The week passes without moving ahead. Waiting for a biopsy to be scheduled, I finally took matters into my own hands. E mailing Marietta and as usual getting a prompt reply. Once again I find that crossing into other departments from an ologist, in this case ultrasound and radiology; there is a breakdown in communications. Having had my first Ologist put the fear of the Lord in me about getting on this post haste, waiting without word on scheduling critical tests is cruel and perhaps even deadly in consequence. Presuming they were just too busy in Indy, I suggested a competitive Hospital for my biopsy, to which I got this reply late Friday from Marietta;

Mr. Courtney

I apologize for the slowness in scheduling your biopsy. I can call Community Hospital in Anderson on Monday and see if they can get you in next week. I left another message with the ultrasound dept at IU for them to call me ASAP to let me know when they can do the biopsy next week.
Dr. Hahn and I want to get things moving and I will get the biopsy scheduled somewhere next week… the location will be determined as to who can get it scheduled sooner.
Again I am sorry it is taking so long.
Take care,
From: Mike Courtney
Sent: Friday, March 05, 2010 3:16 PM
To: Marietta L
Cc: Vanessa Courtney
Subject: RE: Patient info

Hi Marietta,
Should I explore having the biopsy of the lymph nodes in question done at Community in Anderson, where the scan was done? Given the gravity expressed regarding my condition, I would have thought we would be moving a little faster getting this done.
Mike Courtney
Cell: BR549


March 4, 2010 Pain and guilt. Is it all my fault?

Thursday March 4, 2010
3:30 AM-after sleeping in 60 minute intervals and racking up about 5 hours I give up. Here I am, another day in paradise. Mamashealth.com had a short article. I am suffering pelvic pain, painful and frequent urination and unfortunate urgency largely and daily, classic symptoms. Again, not to belabor the point and my friend John from up north did contract breast cancer and survive, but cancer in the drain, I mean come on.
Having reviewed this issue of my daily symptoms and compared to listed symptoms I must again conclude I have an irritated bladder due to the cancer and bladder liner damage. Just going to have to live with it. I shall let others drive me today. I know it is presumptuous, and a load, but after all I am the sick one and might as well act it when I am sometimes. The pain has slowed my gate to a totter. No more throw your toes out, John Wayne stride that always exuded my overly narcissist side. Now my short gate and no doubt occasional wince belie my condition. In a way mama’s article was a blow to me. I had been saying and praying that my pain and pains were somehow related to my surgery, being folded etc. Not so though, it is the cancer that has so negatively impacted my quality of life. So, 5:23A and getting ready to get cranked up, cleaned up, and stood up for another day in paradise. Took a lortab and logged same, 3.5 hours since last one, Vanessa will check on me and her strength and skill born of her love for this bum is a gift the Good Lord has given me in this troubled time.
Can you describe the pain? So let’s say you have (if you had one, if not try to imagine) to have a solid object shoved up the length of your one eyed trouser snake and suddenly by remote control it is enlarged to several times its diameter and heated to the temperature of the sun’s surface. Then it is returned to normal size and temperature, then without warning it expands and heats again. Now repeat the cycle with long expansion and short contractions the length of your dipstick for what seems like eternity but is only likely a few seconds, hard to time when you are ripping the arms off the chair. Follow that by the sense that willy has been invaded and stuff just keeps on hurtin’. So what number would you assign? Well, where do we put makes your knees weak and makes you swoony and a little sick? Is that a 5 or an 8? Can I see the chart? Well that is the top level of my discomfort at this juncture, and fortunately for a lot of the day I am getting along ok.
I googled around on the morbid side, wondering about stages of death. Appears the manual for my demise should it be so is the same as Mom’s last year.
Most painful day as I sit here and the sun sets that I have had. Five lortabs so far. Feeling out my providers, I made connection with the Nurse in charge of Dr. H. Although many patients perceive the doctors as the drivers, movers and shakers in medicine, they are but bit players. It is the nurses that make the wheels turn. Somewhere along the way I learned to be nice to the nurses, even when they are trying your patience (so to speak). Marietta will be one of my favorites, starting with her prompt and complete responses. I shall not be shy in following up and expediting my treatment as needed. I will temper my method understanding that my Family can easily turn into three flesh eating pit bull bitches and even on a good day my influence and authority over them is at best minimal. So with these new folks to us at IU I am working with my first nurse contact. I decided to try e mail instead of voice mail today, much faster, provides record of conversation and Marietta was johnny on the spot with her response. Dr. E had neither e mail nor fax and the facilities are about 50 minutes apart in Indiana. There seems to be some disparity here. I am grateful for Dr. E, and also have benefited from the care at Community in an indirect way. I have gained a deeper understanding of the health care providers I will be interfacing with from here on out.

In any event my back and forth with Marietta follows, in reverse order of course with most recent coming first.

Thanks ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Until today I took 2-3 per 24 hours in the night to help sleep. Today I have taken 4 so far, beginning at 2 am. They do not work very well for me. My pain level is about 75% of weak knee sick at stomach hurt level, with occasional peaks at the weak knee moan and groan level.

From: Marietta L
Sent: Thursday, March 04, 2010 3:02 PM
To: Mike Courtney
Subject: RE: Patient info
Hello Mr. Courtney

You are always welcome to email or call me. That's what I am here for. :) IF you do have problems after hours or the weekend and need to speak with the medical oncologist on call, please call 317-br549 and ask the operator to call the medical oncologist on call.
I spoke with the ultrasound dept just a few minutes ago and they are waiting on the radiologist to ok the bx and schedule a date and time.
Regarding your pain, are you taking 1-2 lortabs every 4-6 hours for the pain? How long does the lortab work and how many are you taking in a 24 hour period?
I will let you know ASAP when I get a date and time from radiology.

Take care,
From: Mike Courtney
Sent: Thursday, March 04, 2010 2:42 PM
To: Marietta L
Subject: Patient info
Hi Marietta,
Could you advise the status of the radiologist review of my CT and when we can get the needle biopsy scheduled?
I am having a difficult week with a fair amount of mid section pain and discomfort and to be expected painful urinary symptoms and frequency. I am draining ok. I have not had visible blood this week. I have been prescribed lortabs for pain relief but wonder if that is the best medicine. Thanks for your help. Hope I am not too much of a bother, and hope you're having a great day.
Mike Courtney
Cell br549

Extremely important to be functional during the day. Work was hectic this week, with three deals floating. I was not physically up to working at my station or driving this afternoon, although I did for 2 hours and cleared most of my desk. I have decided that pain management is achievable to the degree I can be productive at work. Beautiful sunset, still, blue and purple, white patches of snow cling in the low ground, making a patch work pattern of clouds laid flat in two dimensions for as far as the eye can see. I tried to walk but could not so after a block I turned, rested and returned to my roost. Doing some filing on research and came across this article that I save a couple of weeks back. I saved it to remind myself that 40 years of smoking cigarettes likely brought on this scourge, so it was a self inflicted and maybe long term slow building suicide.

Chemotherapy before surgery improves
Survival from bladder cancer
Patients who received chemotherapy before surgery for locally
advanced bladder cancer lived an average of 31 months longer than
patients treated with surgery alone, an 11 year study of 307 patients
has shown (New England Journal of Medicine 2003;349:859-66).
The principal investigator, Dr H Barton Grossman, professor of
urology at the M D Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas,
Houston, said: “Treatment of this disease varies across the country,
but we believe neoadjuvant chemotherapy should be used more frequently
to treat patients with locally advanced bladder cancer.”
Patients in the study who were treated with surgery alone had a
66% greater chance of dying from bladder cancer than patients who
had both treatments.
Bladder cancer (cell shown above), is a worldwide problem related
to tobacco use. In the United States it is the fourth most common
cancer in men and the eighth most common in women. The American
Cancer Society says that about 57 000 people in the United (70,000 in 2010)
States are expected to be given a diagnosis of bladder cancer in 2003
and that an estimated 12 500 people will die of it.
David Spurgeon Quebec
Totally in your face. It’s your fault stupid, you did this to yourself. Now you might have robbed your family of who knows how many years of your company. Way to go douche bag. On the other hand I did love to smoke, and if I am terminal I might just pick up the habit again for one last time.
I am determined to improve my lot, so tonight I am trying to stand and avoid sitting in hopes of being able to recline when it is time to sleep without the through the middle ache that prevented me from any long sleep periods last night.

March 3, 2010 back to work day

March 3, 2010
Skyped Rex at 8 AM at his hotel in Rye NY. A good start to the day with a few hearty laughs. Still finding it difficult not to overexert and end up very uncomfortable. Went to Indy today, had a couple of nice visits, now it is 4:30 and gray. Lortabs are not as much fun, so I knocked down my last endocet 40 minutes ago and have just left the deck flying at a reasonable speed up to cruising altitude. Enjoyed my day though a little frustrated with my office and our continued low activity level and quiet phones. I have a few irons in the fire and have been enjoying being back at it. Looks like I might actually sell something, which in a way takes the fun out of the job. That is the way of life. I love to sell, to size up the prospect, to be forward, probe, find common ground. Talk on common ground, work the conversation slowly, and listen for the cues, the markers to turn the topic ever so gently. I sell a great product, with many benefits to owners. I thrill at the challenge of getting my message across. I like developing relationships and trust. Then you get an order. You have to make sure what you sold is what you deliver. You become a warrior advocate for your Customer when things go awry. You take the front line to face Purchasing, Shipping, AP, AR, CRM and so on. As you can see I definitely prefer the selling part over the order taking part.
Hoping today I get to hang around for 20 more years or so in a functional fashion. Pain persists through my center. Spasms front and back high and low, drain tube pain the length, hurts to pee and makes you tired because it hurts so thoroughly. Waiting for IU to call so we can make our next move, the needle biopsy. I am ready. Not to feel sorry for myself, but I never considered me lucky. I had a habit in college of smoking with very deep drawls, and KT often told me that would kill me someday. Got my ass beat in darts tonight by JG in the men’s room. Shaping up to be another tough night, bladder related pain and discomfort. Converting Bee Gee album to mp3-Van will rock this summer on the mower.


A note to Christopher-on his new Son
Savor every moment and never stop taking pictures and recording events is about all I can say. My two are grown and gone. I take great pride in telling my friends they went to college, never came back and sometimes actually take me to lunch. That my friend is I believe the ultimate and most elemental measure of success any parent can claim. Of course, they will always be children, and in this turbulent world communes may be just around the corner so we must always be ready to lend our support, or graciously receive it from our Family when the need arises and, perish the thought, be prepared to live with the kids under the same roof again. I therefore do not condemn my friends who's household includes cats, dogs and one or more siblings from twenty something and up but wonder at their courage.

Chris met me in the lobby. His lean figure, tall, with long features and an easy gate unmistakable as he turned my way in the hall. We grinned and shook hands. It has been years now that we have known each other, with the benefit of an added common interest in some mutual acquaintances we both hold in high regard. They got a lot of the business when the plant closed in New Castle, things were going good. Maybe another plant soon. He gave me a stern look as I fell behind on the way to his office, and slowing down to a painful crawl for him he walked next to me and leaned in to ask if I was alright. ‘Just a little work done and I are still tender’. ‘Nothing serious I hope, I need you long term you know’. ‘I’m pretty sure I will be alright.’ I was walking into a classic sales scenario, having predicted a failure that had recently occurred in the plant (it was 50/50 and no penalty if I was wrong). We started out thousands apart and ended hundreds from his starting point, yet even at that the local guy has a 7500 dollar Hyundai. I love selling the high end. I have a chance since they are longer range planners and my previous installation operates without issue. As I left he again grilled me on my condition and stressed my need to stay healthy to take care of them.
I smiled and assured Christopher I would be just fine and so would they, congratulated him again on the new son, and left after a couple of hearty handshakes and a good laugh.
Still find I must be careful not to overexert. Although my relationships of a lasting nature have been few over the years, my job has enabled me to be touched by so many. And yet as I left I thought that being too forthcoming about my situation would not be good, as Chris pointed out they rely on me and expect me to be around a while as they go through a growth cycle due to the demise of one of their former customers.
Bedtime and it will be a long and rough night. Overdid it a bit today I think. Oh well.
I have concluded that in addition to having a fire hose driven up my Johnson for a few days and all the joy that accompanied that experience, they had to fold me like a pretzel in order accomplish that feat, leaving me pulled and tattered and after moving about a bit downright uncomfortable. I did have to sign a release that if I bent where I was folded I could not hold them liable.

Fear and Frustration in March

March 2, 2010 up at 3:30AM and at the desk. Kicked up some stuff yesterday and got a couple of calls in. Great to be back in the land of sales. I guess I must have missed it.
Fear and Frustration
I heard the fear and overwhelming sadness in her voice. A tremor, a change in pitch, saying please don’t go away, please stay. Yesterdays news that the CT pictures had been reviewed by the IU supermen and we must face the concern that our T2 may already have progressed to incurable. It was almost too much for Vanessa and Jocelyn to contain in my presence. I assured Jocelyn that while I was very sad to have cancer I had it, and from the beginning of the process understood the very good chance of a bad turnout (Yet personally I remain optimistic and intend to end the day today in the same state).
I think that was little comfort to her. Crying is necessary, a part of the process. One can understand why some societies have professional wailers, and others carry on like banshees at the coming of an evil pestilence as a cancer is.
‘Hi Aunt Roline, how are you?’ Jeff extended his hand to hold hers with a Cheshire grin that belied an ornery streak inherited from his Father and Great Uncle Sam and honed to new levels by his own life experience. I watched his expression empty as she replied ‘Well, I’ve got cancer, doctors say I’m full of it.’ With only a momentary pause Jeff replied ‘I’m sorry to hear that, best of luck to you.’ And as they held hands a moment longer I saw in both faces sincerity that can only occur at the immediate family level, or so I thought. But there was something more there in that moment, some sharing at an unspoken level, like old friends maybe. No, Mom only saw Jeff occasionally, but her strong connections to his ancestors, from GGF to F and same on the M side of Andrew and Cecil of Elwood had ingrained her in his soul and he in hers. I can’t help but think these thoughts are a result of smells I sensed at the time, as love and hate at the elemental individual level is a sense of smell issue at least in part. If so, this points to a genetic transmission either through proximity or physical contact.
OK, must have been the coffee. 6 AM and I came in only to say the news yesterday brought out the fear and frustration. And the greater point of the courage with which my Mother faced her own demise. Her passing that early August morning in 2009 ended after 87 years with her at peace with her fate. I shall try to face my outcome if so sad with such grace. Going back to work now.

Reaching out for the first time

Having caved into acceptance of my circumstance, I have started reaching out some. Although I am trying not to talk about my illness I am constantly asked for details and find myself rambling on, trying to be brave and objective in the face of the unknown.
The responses have been warm like this one from my former co worker and friend in another lifetime.

From: Phillip Sent: Friday, February 26, 2010 8:15 PM
Mike. I just read your e-mail. I'm glad that you contacted me. You and your family will be on our prayer list this Sunday and we will continue to hold you up in prayer until your recovery is complete. Don't believe the horror stories about cancer treatments. The procedures are not near as harsh as they were in the past. I have had three bone marrow transplants for my cancer. Prior to transplant I received lethal doses of chemo. Although I was quite weak, I was never hospitalized or sick. And the times I was treated with radiation, I continued to work. It is natural to worry about your wife and family. But this will be a battle that you will win together. Let them help you just as you would want to help them. And believe it or not, there are about as many support groups out there for care givers as for patients. If Vanessa is interested I will look for some contact information. In May of 1997 my Doctor told me I would only live for 18 months. But prayer and Jesus changed that. The Lord can take something that is intended for bad and turn it into good. Please let me know when you are scheduled for surgery. If there is anything I can do or if you want to talk give me a call anytime. I will tell you my story about Golden Castings and remission. You can reach me at this E-mail address or thru the Church. My home phone is 521- and my cell is 524- God Bless, P

I took over Phil’s job when he became ill in 1997 and could not work. He was operation manager for a large machine shop. I stepped into his office and could not hold a candle to his technical expertise. But I am a whiz and logistics, project management, crisis management and getting completion. So every morning for nearly a year or maybe 2 I left the home at 5 am, slugging down a big shot of Pepto Bismal, which I bought pint size and kept in the last cabinet I passed on the way out of the house to the truck. When the shop opened at 7 AM I faced the typical number of job shop disasters and triumphs, exhausted at the end of every day. His miraculous survival inspires me. Today he is a Pastor. As a young Lutheran I was told I would make a good one. Hmmmm, Brother Mike and the Church of Blissful Sedation might have a big draw.
Great. Now I must go, my meds are kicking in and I still have some stuff to do. Life is great, tomorrow another day. As a side note, I put new batteries in my lap top mouse and it now operates my desktop simultaneously. I kept seeing this movement on the periphery, but would look and nothing was moving. Well dumb ass, when moving the mouse on this document as you watch it, the damn arrow is moving on the far right monitor. ‘Oh’, I said, ‘I see’. Spooky.

When there is a nursing shortage be strong

Care log
Entered room from Surgery 2/8/2010
Call time first response medication applied
7:55A request button pain 8:35 A
3:30 A 4A will get her 04:25:00 AM
10A 10:45:00 AM
Initially Morphine was to be given every two hours
Morphine intervals 5:30P


Suppositories, did not start until 7AM, next one at 11: 30, call was 11P

Released 2-9-2010

After the first delay between activating my call light and response I kept the log and noted the times. My efforts to manage pain through timely medication intervals were thwarted due to the inability of myself to walk and the failure of staff to respond to the call signal. Next door I heard a man begging a couple of times and suffering because he kept losing track of his button. My bed did not work making use of the large wired thing mandatory. I presume he was in the same spot, and the big thing seemed to always get buried or slide over and hang off the side of the bed.
The care itself was compassionate and very professional, but I was confused as to why I could not get a response to my call light. But this is just part of the surgical process, and even more of a reason to want to make sure it was the completely right thing to do. The next step was referral. The lesson from this part of the process is trust no one when it comes to getting information to transfer. My Ologist had to have another department do the CT on disc, and I had to sign a release to get it. New privacy laws and the unintended consequence of additional cost and load on the patient to make sure referral resources are given the information they need to make a valid treatment judgment. Lesson learned. And yet, just as only a few weeks ago I was willing to have something shoved up my ass and even tried to be charming about it to get it, the new experiences prove that one can stay young, and always have new things to take on, so to speak.

March First-Remembering my first real prescription pain killers

Monday March 1, 2010 starts at 4 AM, now we go back to work for a while. Sleep was a little tough but a few hours were captured. Today we met with another Ologist, this one the chemical guy. Now the next step is a biopsy of the lymph nodes that are not looking good in the scan. If they are cancerous then surgery is likely off the table and clinical trials on. Who knows, now with 3 Ologists and 3 different takes. But as the day passed I resigned to the idea. Why after all should I go through major surgery and not be cured? After all, I could be a research project. I pondered about the pain. Already a persistent back ache lurks nightly, always just at the edge. When it flares it is like sitting in the wrong way for way too many hours. Take a pill. Vance might not find it manly, after all why would you have yourself numbed for a tooth filling? If the dentist hits a nerve the numbing ain’t worth a damn he would say. Not I. I will take the drugs. I learned this with the TUR surgery. For the first time in my life, at age 58 and almost 11 months I carefully repositioned myself on my hospital bed and offered my hind quarter for the insertion of the magic black torpedo, swathed in KY jelly, loaded with opium and driven through my back door on the end of a gentle nurses finger until I could have no more or I would be seeking out dens to hang out in. The impact was immediate nearly, and suddenly I could feel everything, except for that general area below the navel and above the knees. Lasting only 2 hours and administered every 4, I certainly looked forward to the application and always beeped on the scheduled 4 based on the last dose. Nor was I shy to call for morphine shots through the IV at every allowed interval until I could have no more. Again, I was assured that it really hurt and the pain killers where justified. Sure seemed real to me. And by all accounts a TUR is a minor and regular process. A radical cystectomy is a major. I just like the idea of not doing it if it won’t fix it. Plus my first really in pain and dependent hospital stay was not all peaches and cream, in spite of the ten plus thousand dollar bill. The nurses made me suffer. I kept my own notes on the pain management which was supposed to be so important.

The Last of February 2010

Saturday 2-27-10
Thought it was Sunday until about 2 pm when Van put me right. Reached out to a former coworker and survivor by e mail and made a connection. Reading of his accomplishments and his comforting words for me brought a tear. Set around all day, with a visit from John to cheer me, and a talk with Rex. Suffering a little, but likely it is a result of medicines for pain and comfort, and not the cancer. Cold most of the day, probably due to lack of motion. More research on chemo, and the more I research the more futile it all seems. I fight to not succumb to those feelings, must stay upbeat and must keep working.
Sunday February 28, 2010
I sense the healing process from the surgery is finally kicking in. While still interrupted three times in the night, with the help of one Lortab I gained some real rest. Adjusting to this routine. Jenny returns home today to the big city, where the pace of life and work are weighing on her psyche with ever more stress. I wish I could comfort her in some way but I can only be sympathetic to her situation. The sense of responsibility that our Parents instilled in us was passed on to our Daughters. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Visited with the boys tonight, Joe and Gerald. Had Van up there last week. My Dad hung out with Merle and some others at the Texaco after hours at least once a week. As we chatted around the table with Linda on the floor (she would not have it any other way) it so reminded me of those glimpses of memory from a bygone day. Old men acting like old ladies I thought to myself, as they doted over me and bled from me the details of my medical update. We laughed and covered their issues as well, from Joe’s ongoing battle with the vicious dog owners to Gerald’s spaghetti recipe.
Have a rash, on a finger, irritating; just what the hell I need may have picked my nose with that finger. Vanessa keeps me in balance. Renee showed up this morning, seen and heard more of her in 2 weeks than in the previous few months I think. Another unintended consequence of the big C is reuniting with loved ones whom you naturally drifted away from over the years. Many species and even some past and present governments cast out their sick and dying or hasten death in some fashion. At the end of the day family is what really counts. I know another cliché. Speedbump, the neighbor dog, has been keeping Tucker’s litter pan clean and helping herself to any food in Tucker’s bowl I suspect. Appreciate the pan service, but not sure it is worth the food, or if the food is even good for little the little booger.

My First Visit To the Cancer Center

Friday 2-26-2010
Up early, coffee, painful pee and a pill to start the day. Green Tea, some cranberry juice, gathers the papers and gets properly coiffed. Must have slept over half the day yesterday, and slept over 3 hours last night in one stretch. Certainly am getting better over time. Pee equals pain, but it is better to pee well and pain some. I will have drivers today, a pleasant consequence of the disease.
Met with the Indy MD today with my Girls. My first steps through the doors of a cancer center. Simon Cancer Center is part of the IU Medical facility in Indy, part of Clarian and thankfully included in my insurance. Dread crept in as we walked to the entrance. Welcoming and helpful staff. This was a big time body shop for sure. After check in and close to appointment time the 4 of us were ushered into a small exam room. The Doctor came in with a smile, we shook hands and introductions were made. He was now my fourth Ologist. With a marker and white board and after a quick study of the report he got on fax from Dr. El he laid out the options. Enthralled, Jennifer I think was ready to pack this debonair guy up and take him home. Jocelyn focused questions she had comparing his dissertation to Dr. El’s. Wonderful to have someone on the team with a photographic memory.
His story was somewhat different and in some ways more encouraging, although he pointed out his colleagues all have differing opinions on best approach. The story though was fundamentally the same; you will be gutted like a fish, and then reconstructed so you can go on with your life. Now we must decide if risking chemo before surgery is something we should do, or risking surgery without chemo first is something we should do. Jennifer wishes we had more guidance, but it is not forthcoming. Simply not enough is known about the disease. On line articles back to 2001 show the trend to chemo first for my stage of the disease. We have the weekend to ponder and an app Monday with a chemo MD. Family all together tonight, looking forward to it. Dan stopped by enroute back home from a service call. Telling me of his work, his company and co workers and the many issues they have as they go through changes mandated upon them. How well he adapts viewing events from a perspective that demonstrates how ludicrous tired management clichés have become. He can now accept it, having seen it so many times over the decades with humor and usually patience.

February 25 2010 and Uncomfortable

Thursday 2-25-10
A tired day. A discomfort, pressure with no product, aches, sharp pains. I wonder how much is made up in my head, how much from moving around still inflamed tissue from the resection. In any event I acquiesced in the afternoon and took a pill. The Ologist has prescribed Lortab, part Tylenol, part opiate I suppose. Tried to work several times but simply could not get in the mind set. Sitting is uncomfortable, as is every other position it seems and I am so damn tired today. Seeing my Brother on Skype cheered me. I know my condition pains him to no end. It is the pain I cause other people that I can see in their face or hear in their tone that pains me most. I know it is a cliché but I never considered the toll my condition would take on those I know.
It is now apparent that cancer is one of those conditions that are not private in nature. I discovered that if I asked someone to not discuss it with those that do not know me it was going to place a great burden on them. So the choice is tell no one or make pronouncements. Tell no one is not an option because Vanessa, Jennifer and Jocelyn need all the support they can get. It is not fair to ask them to respect my wish to keep the details of my condition private. Make pronouncements and there will be discussions of the most intimate and gory details of my procedures, comparisons to someone who someone knew, those that give up and those that hold faith. A preacher will call with the wife, wanting to pray for a miracle and bring evangelical comfort to me. Neighbors will call, cards will come and soon I will be yesterday’s news. Vanessa decided to let her Church know after our meeting tomorrow at the Simon Cancer Center at IU Med in Indy.
Long days, the medication kicking in, have all my Girls tomorrow.

February 21 and a New Week

February 21-2010
Starting a new week, listening to Mike Pence spew forth his neoright gas that passes of as his speech but smells like shit. Got an interesting DVD summarizing the history of the Messiah, Moses, astrology and recent events, trying to digest it well, takes small bites.
Still a straight through animal but much better. Using the pain killers instead of living with it. Gave in. A quiet day. Wondering about crossing over. Taking the drugs, except the antibiotic-gut can’t take it. Sore ass, sore business. What can you say? Suck it up.
My cancer causes problems my Ologist says. ‘Like pissing fire and other grievous conditions?’ ‘Here’s three weeks worth of something to try, piss in the bottle and I will call you Monday.’ And with each passing day the time draws ever nearer. Struggling to be better, have control, no more painful urgency. Must work, justify my existence for one more week. Adjusting last week and did have some great calls, got some quotes out, some follow-ups. Went well. Should be money for the shop. I am not sure I have been able to get my message through. Change is so hard. I find us sometimes so close to sitcom material it is scary.
Soon the new regimen will begin. With the spring comes the hoped for cure.
Monday-a new week 2-22
Cancer, I still cannot get my arms around it. I have a cancer, and not a good kind. Seems impossible. Is overwhelming. Went to the office today, year to date sales report and I am below 25% I think. Not sure how much longer he can keep me on. Cannot let on about it. Did not work this morning, have to suck it up and do it. No matter. Going to use more of the pain stuff to make sure I get some real work done. Seeing another doc Friday, and only worried about how to get down there and back comfortably. The constant yes I am here and I will not let you forget it signals I get are a pain in the ass, literally.
One wire. Imagine the power of one wire. With each advance in technology we find even more power in one wire. One wire to talk, then watch. One wire to heat and light. Wires of glass to move the amassed knowledge of all mankind. Wires of gas, no wire at all, technology leaps, and then once again stalls.
The wonder of endocet is a joy to me. Nice drug. For just my kind of problem. I find if I take 3 a day properly timed I can sleep for 2 hours at a time at night, and work at least ½ day away from the comfort station. Tuesday will be a fine day for me. I must make it so.
I remind myself of those even close to me whose suffering and pain far exceeds my discomfort and pray for their relief, and as for me, let me pee.
As for me,
Let me pee,
And if you like,
You may say a prayer for me.
A cancer has come, and made home in me,
Do not grieve; I do not want to make you sad you see,
But as for me,
Let me pee.
It is nearly 6 AM, and I wish I was at the gym. It was a great routine, although it only lasted 6 short weeks. 30 minutes cardio, 30 minutes strength. My body responded well, dropped 5 pounds then my Ologist said no more. That was a sad day indeed. I will need it on the other end, so optimistically we are taking leave and not resigning membership. It is possible that Jocelyn’s will alone will carry me through. Jennifer will be home soon. I cry a little missing her. Although it has been just a short time, I measure my time a little differently of late, and it seems like ages. My Women are my blessing. An expression of God’s love for me. Of all the things in my life the one constant has always been my marriage and family, and my understanding that it must survive no matter what. A constant even in turmoil and trouble. It is bigger than me. It is the power of My Women, my pride and my strength.
I hate it when the damn computer goes duh duh at high volume because I messed with buttons early in the morning.
I have allowed myself a cry when needed. At present I am an outburster. Or to put it another way, I am the guy that does not do well at funerals. A sudden overwhelming flash of raw emotion, of loss, of foreverness manifesting itself in a blast of heavy sobs and flowing tears, deep draws to catch breath, perhaps another dive into the pool, throw in a little self pity, get it all out. Take a pill.
Strange pains pass through, a throb, an ache hitting hard and out of the blue, sometimes throbbing, sometimes lingering, sometimes fading away. Creaks I call them from my body rejecting this interloper’s intrusion. Much will be gone, lymph glands, prostate, bladder, maybe they could suck some fat out too. Shorten my small intestine. Still I doubt I will be able to play the violin. I am told there will be no feeling where now there is some and it will change my life. Well change is a way of life that we would all do well to embrace. Bring it on, just put the fire out in my penis while you are at it and we will all be tickled.

Pee Log in February

Two weeks have passed, and my routine includes 45-75 minute sleep intervals. Still struggling but my Ologist assured me it is the sickness.
‘Here’s my pee log’ I blurted as I proudly unfolded the 4 pages recording each event for 4 days. I quickly showed him that I had good afternoons, very tough mornings and I wasn’t sleeping. Sensing I was overwhelming my Ologist with too much information I withdrew my papers and assumed a docile subservient position and expression. He digested what he had just seen and asked ‘Just how many times are you going a day?’ Clearly he still could not get his hands around it. Collating my reports before leaving for this visit, I summarized the 3 days with totals. 24 on the sixteenth, then 15, then 18, 15 so far today….He waved his hand and lowered his gaze. ‘That’s a lot of pee.’ It always astounds me how much of the language must be used to express the shortest and simplest of thought or principal. It is part of the process. At last he had gained a fuller view.
Record keeping is important. Keeping records is especially important. So I had a pee log. We anticipated the question. We wanted to know the answer. And a pill log, we wanted to know when pain medicine was needed, and adjust to new medications on schedules that did not exist that Superbowl Sunday. Pee logs and pill logs, only part of the picture.
Pee log data fields
Date Time Code 1-Pee 2-Poo Comment
2/16 2:20a 1 light, clear

I find the concept that I of all people should be moved to keep a pee log on myself as most distressing. Likely I would be more distressed if I was compelled to keep such a record on someone other than myself, never the less, the idea never occurred to me until just recently.

Waking Up After Surgery

I woke up, easy to focus, as when my conscious mind awoke from it’s trip to whoknowswhere I immediately hit the ceiling. I think literally. The pain was exquisite and excruciating. What the hell kind of pain is that anyway? Throbbing, burning, in waves, constant, debilitating, all of the above, ah yes, that’s it and more. With my toes and fingers dug deep in the ceiling a kind nurse came to my aid. Holy cow. We can give you something….delirium…..we are moving you to a room….please don’t touch me. Can anyone put the fire in my penis out? The tired old vet has been beatin’ like a junk yard dog. We have something, ok, let’s break it out and apply it.
‘Oh my’ she said, ‘that’s the biggest catheter I have ever seen!’ ‘Inspiring’ I panned. Positioned now in a room and in bed I put all my Lamaze training to the test, panting and blowing through waves of pain that now filled my mid section from tits to knees.
With his comforting tone, Dr. El let me know the pain was not in my head, it was real, and was caused by an infrequently encountered condition called catheter intolerance, or to put it another way, that garden hose I stuffed up your Business not only ripped the shit out of the upholstery, but was also rejected by all the related tissue of the body in the general area. The nurse stressed that I keep on top of the pain. If I needed anything just push the call button. I did, and it did not work. She said she called maintenance, and later they brought me a large box that plugged into a wall socket designed for it; giving me a call button and making the TV work. Maintenance showed up the next morning, but I sent them away. As I lay there passing the time I found the need to call for pain every 2 hours, regular as clockwork. My first response would come 45 minutes after my first energizing the call light. Medication would follow within the next 45 minutes.
Afraid to sleep, for fear of the pain and ever so sad for being such a burden but so thankful for My Women. With health care you need an advocate.
I got this catheter routine. Mom’s final days included maintenance I was somewhat adequate help with but mercifully Vanessa would take charge when we were on watch. I shall have one for two or three weeks they say.
If I end up in Heaven, I hope I get a house with high ceilings.


February 12, 2010 the disease has turned my world on end. Thursday I spent the better part of two hours trying to output 150cc of urine while retaining 20-40cc. If I failed this test it would be more days of a catheter, a prospect I would not accept. Never had the measure of 150cc been so important, and I splashed water down and held on as long as possible. Just before lunch, my forefinger in the hot water stream at the bathroom sink, I reached the magic mark.
We had a lunch to celebrate of chicken sticks, fish sandwich and all the trimmings. It was fabulous.
This is Sunday AM-beginning the week of decision and direction change. Resign the gym, put affairs in order, and consult with Dr. K, E, and Nurse E. Meet with the girls, assimilate the information, and plunge ahead. Surgery seems the only step to take, the excepted step in the US at this writing.
There are no cliffs in Indiana. No easy way out. Even as I struggle with the whatifs that sneak into my mind every day, causing my stomach to lurch, I face details and put one by one each behind me.
Tea with Vanessa in the morning, who would have thought it possible. Cranberry juice, more in the last few days than in the previous 58 years. Rethinking resigning the gym, going to take a leave of absence instead I think. Maybe I can get a new bladder and live out the remainder of my life with some normality, albeit a different reality from the past. If so a lot of walking will be required to recuperate.
Yet many unintended consequences continue to surface. Skype with my Brother, seen him more this week than the last 2 or 3 years at least.
And how strange that now I keep running into articles and TV that discuss my issue. Never noticed before. Like buying a car then seeing them everywhere I guess.
How long has it been since I slept all night long? Seems like an eternity. These past few days have been especially grueling. Yet I seem to be getting better as the days go on.
Working from home this week, still not back on the road. Hope to get around and see most everyone before I have my surgery.
Solid sleep did I ever! Pains sharp and out of the blue, from what? Itching means healing, or something else, who knows. Whatifs fill my mind sometimes without warning.
After the first surgery my need to pee was hourly, all 24. During the first 3 days I wore the dreaded catheter. It is worthy to relive that experience.
My surgery was a transurethral resection. Or to put it another way, straight up your business with tools, lights, packed lunch etc to scrape a tumor off a wall. Dr. Gasman came in just before they wheeled me into O R. ‘Can you tell me your name?’ Mike Courtney and I mumbled my birthdate. ‘Oh, you know the drill. Can you tell me why you are here?’ ‘Cancer’. ‘Very good Mr. Courtney.’ I waited for my biscuit or a pat on the head, but only got his continued dissertation. His delivery was somehow forced, like he wanted to project calm but underneath he was a ball of pent up frustrations at the verge of blowing out a wall. Yet he was sing song like, calming as he went on. He made me a cocktail of triple whammies that will put me to sleep, he will put a breathing tube in me a pump me full of breathing gas. Then he paused, I thought I saw his expression crack, just a little. Was that a grin coming on? ‘It’s the gas that keeps you asleep’ the good doctor said.
I had Googled this surgery and done some reading. Once in the OR, Gasman positioned over my head, people milling about I was in the money making part of this service business. He then quietly started talking. Mr. Courtney, I am now placing my special recipe into your IV, as you are helplessly laid out like some over fed mammal washed ashore and unable to grasp the situation for lack of thumbs. Then we will……………
Hospitals are after all job shops. Fundamentally their function and product cycle is the same as your heating and air conditioning supplier. Hospitals sell new equipment in the way of services and products. Hospitals repair and do maintenance work on existing equipment, humans. Profitability relies on maintaining the right ratios of product and service sales at the volume and margins required to make the nut. Here I was, an older unit, but in pretty good shape, going into the express service bay (same day surgery) for what I hoped would be a cure for my cancer. I looked at the mechanics, the team. The Star still not there, and I will not see him.
Where does the mind go when Dr. Gasman comes calling? When you wake up you will be groggy, disconnected.

The Cancer

And then he woke up.
Great, another hairball. When you have a cat you take what is given, so to speak. Tell me are you puking or doing something totally disgusting? I would really like to know. Home was great this time. Warm and welcoming.
Awake again, another day of sitting, watching, wondering. Signals from the body, a pain, what was that? Is it meaningful? Suddenly a rush to do something, start something, get something done. Ah if only we could start. It always feels better to start. Consider the moments when you are at a crossroads, a decision. A new day.
In business the phone quit ringing. At home the child is 16, or leaving, or coming back. Crossroads. He sits pondering the next step. A cancer has invaded him, and he has known for a while. Ologists will enter his life. Fear of Ologists certainly must be a normal thing. Men dread the urologist and proctologist. Women search for the right gynecologist. The blind seek ophthalmologists and nobody wants a cardiologist or neurologist about. Often Ologists are bell weathers of hard times. Ologists, we have to have them, but generally not for the good things in life. I ponder this and consider other paths to take. What can it matter now, after all these years of taking the easy way, the natural way? Why then the yearning for something unnatural. Why desire to do what you can’t, what you must work at to accomplish? What the hell drives that? I don’t know.
But dreaming of the future never allows complete escape from the present. The tumor he feared he had there. What a difference a week makes. Watching Peyton get out played because he got shit mind early was a happy day. The sad loss became just another event in a day of Family and love. At 3:30 pm the next day I would be in excruciating pain with a garden hose stuck up ol’ one eye that my body was decidedly rejecting without regard to the discomfort it was laying on my soul. Carl Anderson on the turntable as I write this. Cancer, Dad said we all get it if we live long enough. He didn’t.
Yet I did know something in my body chemistry changed. I think I told Vanessa, and maybe discussed it as a matter of conversation with other friends. Smoking was a joy for me and a curse as well. From my first cigarette at 12, to a full blown smoker at 15, and then 40 years or so, I enjoyed all except the last few. With my weight up and breathing capacity down, I was stressed in 07. The fall was upon us and we looked forward to taking a road trip. Just get in the car and drive. At 3:10PM September 16, 2007 I stood in the men’s room, looking at the crumpled pack of Camel Lights, three left that lay in the top of the tool box where I had tossed that morning. I hadn’t smoked much that day, an autumn sun that warmed me through and the many things I had going at once made the day go by fast. Lighting one up I gazed across the yard to the field beyond, pondering how the view has not changed as the price of these coffin nails quadrupled. I had planned to smoke on and go into town to get a few packs for the trip, but as in drew deep I decided I could just do without this trip. I knew for sure it would be a breeze, because the urge simply was not there. A chemical reaction has effected my brain in some fashion. Somewhere, far in the back of my mind the thought formed, and perhaps that was my first warning sign.
It wasn’t the first time. Long ago cigarettes had been banned in the house proper to outside venues and of course the men’s room. I certainly was not going to smoke in the car with Vanessa. Beyond being extraordinarily inconsiderate of a non smoker, the car was not set up for a smoker, lacking lighter, ash tray and aerodynamics that assured a butt tossed out the cracked window would indeed go out, and not drop back in to pock the back seat or set the carpet on fire. So to decide I would not smoke for a few days was not daunting or a particular challenge.
I don’t want anyone praying for a miracle. I am in the hands of God, The One, Allah or whatever your particular spiritual father is called. I am part of the process. Charts are drawn, we do it sixty thousand times a year and four out of five work out OK. No amount of prayer can change the course; I am off the track, headed for the garage for some major modifications. Pray for and support my dear Vanessa and Jennifer and Jocelyn, and pray for those who must directly support them. Their course is not yet drawn through this process. I shall endeavor to minimize my load physically and emotionally upon them, and would never venture a word about how they cope with husband and father in such dire circumstance. In that regard, should my deeply evangelical Vanessa wish to hold vigils, bible studies, prayer meetings or what ever I would hope her Church would step up to the plate, and feel assured they will. Just do not ask me to participate nor, I pray, do not judge my absence as a lapse of faith. It is rather a desire to be private, to not burden others who have quite enough to worry about on their own, and the need to protect my Ladies, who are my primary support and upon whom I heavily rely.

The Novel

Last night we went down to the creek. The water smelled sweet and glimmered. You could see the fish darting about. He turned at the sound of laughter and caught a glimpse of three kids, family he guessed, as they plowed into the cool water. He was glad that he lived long enough to see it. Oh how Dad lamented as the fence rows and tree lines disappeared and clear cut farming turned his Indiana into a plains State. How could they let it happen? Didn’t anyone get the lesson of Easter Island? Clear cut anything is bad, cannot be sustained and ultimately leads to ecodisaster. No better way to put it.
On this very spot in 2005 signs pronounced the water unfit for human contact. Unfit to touch. Imagine. He couldn’t. Back then he lamented that there was something wrong with not protecting the watershed from e’coli, accepting old ways and rejecting available new technology because it might mean some change, some inconvenience, some work. How could conservative Hoosiers have been so blind? What could have motivated this largely working class undereducated but ethical demographic to allow the degradation that took so many decades to reach it’s inevitable collapse.
Many say he was lucky, unbelievably so. He fell to the pestilence twice, only to rise and keep going. Now, with pain in every step, and the weight of ten thousand sorrows he had to admit that luck likely did have something to do with it. Splash, and the blue water soaked his back, turning quickly he caught a glimpse of the culprit. But then it was gone. The robots were developed in California originally, an American innovation and some forward thinking individuals found them ideal for surface water management. Enforcers capable of warning and fining, they paid for themselves from the first deployment.
Auto policing of course started with transportation. Genius at work. Amazing what a wire in the road can do. Of course the car computers had been their a long time, measuring acceleration, speed and the like, and of course adding a few sensors for motion and proximity were nothing special, an offshoot of airbag technology. The first experience was a little unnerving, and the first fine maddening. Yet it was amazing how quickly drivers adapted to the new rules.
Drive too fast, follow to close, makes a dangerous lane change and the car and road recognize your action. The first warning was enough for most, but those who wanted to test the resolve of this marvel always lost. In automating traffic enforcement government starting actually getting smaller. Displaced workers found their way into the new opportunities arising from courageous energy and health care legislation that started with Obama. The first glimpse of hope was in the thirty somethings.
Amazing how much better traffic flows if everyone does unto others as. Sadly, it took laws to make it happen. Yet, as he cruised the fast lane at 95 on this clear day he pondered what took so long. It seems so apparent in retrospect. You have the technology, it is a win win, why not use it? The idea that individuals could make their own decisions on crowded highways with regard to basic safety and rules of the road went the same way as Route 66. Scanning his monitor he sees the speed is clear for the next 15 kilometers.
Ah yes, with the automated traffic enforcement came a new set of rules for the road. Since most drivers feared the fines, embarrassment and inconvenience of having a car that won’t start because of repeat violations the roads became a much more civilized place. Usage fees rightly assessed based on size and horsepower helped most adjust to the new transportation paradigm.
Yet now, these 25 years later violators still fill government coffers every year with more than enough money to support the entire system and employ a few hundred nice folks.
Alert, the cruise drops out and speed immediately slows to 50. I steer to the right as directed and take my place in the slow line. Ahead a Violator has done herself in with the guy wire. Having tangled with it several times and tumbles she was made to look like a julienne fry. Traffic somberly rolled passed. My monitor assured me emergency responders were at hand, although I wondered as I passed, for I did not see any, and the poor soul was left to display the product of her foolish behavior, her own demise. As he plodded along thinking of yesterday his mind drifted.
The shuffle of her step on the carpet belies the pace of a driven woman. She is on a mission. With the task of supper on the one hand, laundry on the other and preparing to go to work I marveled at her methodology. Waiting until the last minute to cram as many tasks in as possible does not appear to be a random act, but rather one of some deliberation. Perhaps it is actually a genetic trait relating to the gender. I wonder about other species but lack the enthusiasm to GOOGLE the subject.
“Alright, dinner is ready” she called from the kitchen.
What is it? What matters? It’s just this next step. Thirty minutes seems so unachievable. But wait; there are only 15 to go; now that is manageable. The machine is his great equalizer. An exercise device so eloquent yet serious. He equated it with the weed eater, a job he despised but one that had to be done. The very thing he never dreamed of as a younger man, a spitting image of his old man’s life style. He hoped he could die as well.
The warning light flashed, and he took control of the car as it slowed to maintain distance with the surrounding traffic. With his signal left he eased the wheels into the burm, now travelling at a crawl. Yet he remembered when such a restriction could easily leave him stationary for hours. The intrusion of automatic traffic enforcement, ATE systems as it was called was taken by many as a direct attack on their personal freedom. Of course there really never was any freedom as dreamed of because the overruling law of the land was we must share the road. Never the less, the idea that you could not violate traffic law when someone was not looking without paying a penalty simply did not set well at first. He rolls to the right and finds his way back to his lane, the green signal indicating his rightful place as speed picked up again. Leveling off at 95, clear ahead for 140 miles, he’ll make Chicago in time for dinner.
Ah the vanity of it, how it makes the clock tick. The retro Pontiac fitted with the latest in drive technology still burned gas, or kerosene, or diesel or cooking oil, and at this speed would require about a gallon of the stuff to make it to the City. In a few years even this will be a dinosaur. He wondered how the car changed so little from invention until Obama, and since the soaring technology has created demand for product far exceeding even the most liberal of hopes and estimates. Soon the Chicago trip will require no driving, and soon after the retro Pontiac will be relegated to the old two lane roads. Ah, the price of progress. If people didn’t drive to express their frustrations, their impatience, and anger, how then would those emotions be expressed? That was the question then. Who knows how all of that redirected rage once taken out on those you shared the road with manifested itself when vented on animate and inanimate objects as well. With the regulation of traffic came the end of the myth of freedom to do whatever you want on the road regardless of how it impacts others. It was of course a myth, perhaps true only decades ago, when there were actually rural interstates less travelled.