Michael and Spider version of David Bowie’s song “Aladdin Sane” (edited short version), 2010
September 10th, 2014
Cheri Z. phoned the other evening to check in on us. She asked how we were doing and I told her that everything was nearly heavenly right now. Spider is feeling better and better since his last procedure and he’s eating regular (he ate five ice cream bars after dinner the other night). In fact, he has already put back on eight pounds and he’s starting to get his color back. The fact that Spider is doing so good gives me hope. As I’ve said before, I don’t know how long we have together (maybe months, maybe years), but Spider is remarkable in his attitude and strength and I think he just might be around for a lot longer than we thought in the beginning of this whole cancer thing. No matter, it’s always the here and now that counts. All we have is the present and we’re making the best of it.
I feel sort of bad that Spider and I haven’t been spending much time with most of our friends, but we are still working on projects around our new home and still fixing up our old house in order to put it up on the market. The rest of the time, we’ve just been relaxing and enjoying each other’s company, just the two of us. I hope our friends understand, but right now we need some one on one alone time.
We continue to sneak (like quiet ninjas) into our community pool and Jacuzzi late at night for a swim and a soak. It’s just so nice being alone, a chance for us to totally be ourselves. We’re like a couple of big kids.
Spider played the cancer card last Saturday…..We have been getting hit with some heavy monsoons this year (the other day it was raining so hard that it felt like our roof was going to collapse) and when the rain water drains off of the back of our roof, it floods our back patio area, so we need to put up a rain gutter. The problem was that we couldn’t fit a nine foot rain gutter into the back of our car, so we asked Robert S. if he would let us use his truck. Robert dove with me in the front seat and Spider and Frappy wrote in the bed (Frappy’s first ride in the back of a truck). When we got to Home Depot, Spider put Frappy in a cart and as we entered the store an employee stopped Spider and said “I’m sorry, sir, but you can’t bring a dog into the store. It’s against our rules.” Spider replied “Look, I have terminal liver cancer and if I want to bring my dog into the store, I will. He goes everywhere with me.” The employee immediately backed down and said “That’s fine, sir. I just needed to inform you of our rules, but that is fine, sir.” And so we walked right in.
We’re planning to have our estate sale the last weekend of this month and we have lots of cool things that we didn’t have room for in our new place and hopefully we can sell most of it. We have given some stuff away to friends such as Marc and Cheri took our rod iron Moroccan lamp, and Robert S. wants our coyote and javelina heads, and Terry and Rex want our pink and gold pilsner glasses, and we sent our jackolope head to Ken (husband of Karen S.) in New York. Karen said that Ken was smiling ear to ear when he received it. I’m trying not to have any dead animal things in our new place, so, with the exception of an old cow skull and some old antlers, we are getting rid of all of our taxidermy pieces and the cow hide rug and cow hide lamp shade and anything else made of leather.
Spider continues to play his Angry Birds game. It really is an obsession with him. I mean, you should see his face when he is playing, all happy and involved. I mean, he really gets into it and he can sit and play it for hours if I let him. Last week, he even took it out and started to play it in our car at which point I put my foot down and said “You’re not going to play that game in our car instead of talking to me while I drive.” Then it happened….the other day Spider got up and started to play his Angry Birds and discovered that all of his acquired points (I think he calls them diamonds) were missing as well as all his magic doors (or something like that) and he totally freaked out. I told him “Jesus, Babe, it’s just a game. Why can’t you just build up your points again?” Spider replied “You don’t understand. It’s taken me months to get where I am now and it’s all lost.” Again, I said “Honey, it’s just a silly game. You need to get over it” but I swear, Spider looked like he was going to cry and for the entire day he looked frustrated and sad. Thank god, the following day all of his points magically reappeared and Spider was happy once more!
September 3rd, 2014
Late last night, Spider and I walked Frappy to the grassy area next to the community pool as we always do for his last potty before we go to bed, and we noticed that the gate to to the pool was not chained shut (normally the pool is locked up with a chain at 9:00 pm). Spider said “Do you wanna go for a discreet swim? Nobody will know if we are quiet.” Knowing that I’m weird about breaking the rules, I’m sure that Spider thought I would decline, but I surprised him by saying “Okay, if we are quiet, I’m up for it.” So, we brought Frappy back to the house, put on our bathing suits, grabbed a couple of towels and off we went for a midnight swim. We opened the gate and slipped in.. First we got into the jacuzzi. Spider turned on the power jets and we soaked for about twenty minutes. It was so nice and relaxing, sitting under the stars on a gorgeous night, just the two of us together while all the other residents were fast asleep. Spider was as happy as a little kid. He couldn’t stop smiling. He put his arms around me and said “I can’t believe you agreed to do this. I love you so much.” His arms felt so thin, and yet I could feel the same strength, that same secure feeling I always feel when he puts his arms around me. Then we decided to go for a dip in the pool and swim a few laps. While swimming I noticed a few June bugs floating around in the water and I carefully lifted them out of the pool so they wouldn’t drown. Spider saw me doing this and said “That’s why I love you because you’re so caring. No one else would bother to save those bugs.” He’s right, no one else would probably fuss over those bugs, but I felt sorry for them. After our swim, we returned to the jacuzzi and soaked for another ten minutes before drying off and heading back home. As we were walking back, Spider said to me “Thank you so much for sneaking into the pool with me. You really surprised me by agreeing to do that. This was one of the nicest things we’ve done in a while.”
With each day, Spider is getting better and better. With each day, the burning in his abdomen is decreasing. He is still a bit spaced out, but he is definitely recovering from the isotope procedure. Let’s just hope that the isotopes are doing their job and shrinking Spider’s tumor. When we first found out about the cancer, Spider told me “Don’t worry. I’m gonna live a long time. I’m not going to leave you any time soon.” Of course, back then, I was terrified that Spider may only have a few months to live, but he didn’t seem afraid at all. “I’m gonna live a long time” he told me. “You’ll see.” Now I’m starting to believe Spider as he already seems to be defying the odds. I have to believe him.
On Labor day, Cindy and Ryan H. came over for dinner. I asked Spider if that was okay and he said that he would enjoy the company as long as we kept it low-key. He and Ryan jammed on guitars for about an hour while Cindy and I sat in our Arizona room and chatted. Then we had dinner (I fixed us a vegetable stir fry) and after dinner we watched the movie “Hard Days Night.” I hadn’t seen the movie since I was a kid and I was reminded how innocent we were back in those days. Back then (in the mid-sixties), I thought that the Beatles were super rebellious and edgy with their long hair and flippant personalities, but in watching the movie now, I realized that they were fairly tame. Don’t get me wrong, the Beatles were definitely cutting edge for their time, but looking back, I realize just how innocent the rock ‘n’ roll scene was and how innocent we (the followers) were, however within a few years the sexual revolution would take hold and drug usage became the norm and that innocence would be gone forever. I mean, we went from “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” to “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road.”
Polly S. (our neighbor who spends her summers in Maine) wrote and suggested that Spider should try juicing and that he should consume micro greens to help fight his cancer. I wrote back to thank her, but explained that Spider doesn’t believe in special diets or alternative treatments for the cancer. Of course, Spider does recognize the importance of diet in one’s health (and we do eat a healthy vegetarian diet), but at the same time, he doesn’t believe that there are any foods that can actually cure the cancer at this stage, and he just wants to eat and enjoy a normal, balanced diet. I told Polly that maybe she can talk to Spider about micro greens when she gets back to Tucson (in mid-October) and maybe change his mind, but I wouldn’t count on it. Spider can be very stubborn. Anyway, I’m looking forward to getting to know Polly better when she returns. We only talked to her briefly a couple of times before she left, but I have a feeling she is going to become a good friend.
We had planned to have an estate sale at our old house next weekend to get rid of all the stuff we didn’t bring to the townhouse, but due to Spider’s procedure, we have put if off to the last weekend in September. Our old house is really hanging over us and we need to get it fixed up (re-coat the tile floors, clean the upstairs carpet, re-coat the rooftop, paint some walls, trim some plants, etc.) and get it up for sale as soon as possible as right now we are paying to maintain two houses! The problem is that Spider isn’t 100% right now and it’s a lot of work for us to do, but I’m sure we’ll manage. We have to.
August 31st, 2014
Spider was scheduled for his isotope procedure early Thursday morning, but two emergencies came in and were taken before him so his procedure did not take place until the afternoon. They used Versed on him during the procedure and they must have used a lot cause this time, unlike the last time, Spider isn’t clear on the procedure or how long it lasted. Then, after the procedure, he was kept for several hours so the nurses could watch over him to make sure there were no complications such as internal bleeding. While waiting to be released, Spider played Angry Birds (what else?) and he said that they served him a late lunch which was fantastic. Last time they served him a couple of pieces of stale bread with a thin cheese slice, but this time Spider said it was a wonderful platter of fresh fruit, hard boiled eggs and cottage cheese.
I picked up Spider at 5:00 in the evening. He was waiting outside in front of the hospital and he was not in any real pain, just a little sore from the incision. On the way home we stopped at Albertson’s to fill his prescriptions and pick up some milk and ice cream. Because they gave Spider some steroids before leaving the hospital, he was feeling quite perky, but he was still a little spaced out and dopey so a lot of what he said didn’t quite make sense. He was sort of acting like a big kid, sort of funny and cute. The only fucked part was that Spider’s insurance company wouldn’t pay for his pain pills. Because Spider takes pain meds for his bad back, his insurance company wouldn’t pay for extra (even though he just had a serious procedure) and so we had to buy some out of pocket at a cost of $300! When we got home, Spider went to bed and slept for a few hours, then he got back up and I gave him his meds and we watched some TV. I was worried that he was going to start vomiting or have fevers and chills (like the last time), but that didn’t happen and for the most part, he seemed pretty okay. He was able to eat some soup and then we both went to bed and slept ten hours (I think we were both exhausted).
The difficult part in bedtime is Frappy. Because Spider has fresh radioactive beads inserted into him, he is somewhat radioactive and Dr. Devis said that for a few days, Spider needs to avoid close contact with others especially with children and small pets, and so we have to build a wall of pillows in bed to separate him from Frappy and me. The problem is that Frappy loves to sleep right next to Spider, often in his arms, and there is no way to explain to a dog that he can’t do that because his sleeping buddy is radioactive! And we can’t put Frappy in another room for the night because he would totally freak out and endlessly bark, so it’s like a mini battle trying to get Frappy to sleep on my side of the pillow wall!
On Friday morning when we got up, Spider was in a lot of pain. He said it felt like he had a really bad ulcer, but after he took his anti-nausea and pain pills plus his steroid pills, and drank some milk, he felt somewhat better and we just spent the day relaxing, Spider occasionally laying down. In the evening, Robert S. came by and hung out with us. We had some dinner, listened to music and watched part of a Rolling Stones concert on TV and then Spider went to bed early.
Yesterday morning when Spider got up the pain in his abdomen was extreme. Spider is a strong guy and a trooper, but I could tell that he was really hurting and it freaked me out a bit. He was holding his stomach and there were tears in his eyes. He said it felt like an atomic bomb exploded in his abdomen. Once again, his pills helped to ease the pain, but not as much as the day before. In fact, Spider spent most of the day lying back in our easy chair and watching the clock, waiting for his next round of pills. I felt so bad for him, feeling helpless that I couldn’t make the pain go away. In the evening, Spider said he was feeling a little bit better so we took a drive up to our old house to pick up mail, but on the way back home, Spider’s pain returned with a vengeance. Even though the pain was bad, he was able to eat a little dinner when we got home without getting sick to his stomach and that was a good thing.
Today is Sunday and I’ve had very little sleep last night as Spider was moaning in his sleep off and on throughout the night and it worried me. He is still asleep now and, of course, I’ll let him sleep all day if that’s what he needs. Again, I hate seeing Spider in such pain, but I am grateful that things are not worse and I’m glad that he is able to eat (as he can’t afford to lose any more weight). I know that in another day or two, the pain will begin to ease and he will start to feel okay. I just hope that those isotopes are doing their job and attacking and shrinking Spider’s tumor on that side of his liver. If we can keep the cancer at bay, the hope is that Spider can live a few more years. There are no guarantees in any of this, but if anyone can beat the odds, it’s my Spiderman.
August 28th, 2014
I took Spider to the hospital early this morning for his radioactive isotope procedure. The procedure should last a couple of hours, then they will keep him several more hours to make sure there are no complications such as internal bleeding. Spider said to me “Not to worry. They’re just gonna cut open my abdomen, shove a tube up into my liver and blast me with radiation. It’s no biggie.” But, of course, it is a big thing and the aftereffects won’t be fun. When you insert radiation into the body, the body reacts and goes all haywire and the result can be intense fevers and chills and vomiting as the body tries desperately to rid itself of the poison. Hopefully it won’t be as bad as the last time Spider had this procedure as this time Dr. Devis is only focusing the radiation on one tumor as apposed to several, but you never know. I am prepared for anything. Actually I’m not really prepared. The truth is, watching my partner suffer through pain and discomfort is never easy, not something I can mentally be prepared for, but I will try to be strong. I have to be strong for Spider. Inside I might be freaking out, but on the outside I must be strong.
The last time Spider had this procedure (back in early March), we had Marc and Cheri here with us, and they helped me to keep Spider comfortable and helped to give him his meds and helped to keep me calm, but this time I won’t have Marc and Cheri. Cindy said that she would check on us when she gets home from work this evening and I really appreciate that, but it will be up to me to take care of Spider on my own. Again, I will be strong for Spider, but, again, I’m sure I’ll be freaking out inside if the aftereffects are as intense as the last time. My poor baby. How I hate that he has to go through this, but hopefully the isotopes will kick that tumor’s ass and buy Spider time.
How I wish I was a stronger person, not so fragile inside. It’s at times like this I realize how dependent I am on Spider for my own strength. He is such a strong man. How I wish I could be as strong as him, so when he has his times of need, I could be there for him in the same way he is for me. All I can do is try.
Most of the time, Spider and I focus on the here and now. We don’t allow ourselves to think much into the future. What is important now is that Spider is alive and we are together and we try to just live in the moment. However, I’m only human, and once in a while my mind goes into the future and I feel afraid, afraid of what life is going to be like for me when Spider is gone and I’m living all alone. For example, the other night, just as Spider and I were drifting off to sleep, we heard a loud crashing sound. To me it sounded like someone was crashing through our gate to the back patio. We jumped up, grabbed flashlights and ran out to investigate, but nothing seemed amiss, nothing seemed disturbed. In fact, the automatic security light that Spider set up over the back gate was not on. Not sure what the noise was, but it was clear that no one was trying to break into our house, so we went back to bed, however I could not sleep after that. Spider went right to sleep, but all I did was toss and turn. All I could think about is what I would do if I heard that sound and I was alone, how frightened I would be, probably stay up until morning afraid that someone was trying to get into the house.
While I’m waiting to get a call from the hospital to go back and pick up Spider, I am also waiting for a TV repair person to arrive and fix our satellite TV. Seems our disk is not connecting with the TV so we haven’t had any broadcast for two days. This will be the first time in my life that I will be dealing with a repair person on my own and I feel somewhat fearful about it as I get very nervous around strangers. Normally Spider takes care of these things, but, of course, Spider can’t this time because he is in the hospital, so it’s up to me. Guess I’ll just have to walk through my fear.
Our TV is not the only thing that needs to be repaired. When we downsized to this new place, we decided it was time to replace our old refrigerator and just two weeks after our new fridge arrived it stopped working for a few hours and everything in our freezer thawed out, a bag of ice melted and flooded out onto our kitchen floor. It was a mess and we lost about $200 worth of food. So we went to Christie’s Appliance, a local appliance store where we purchased the refrigerator (we’ve bought other appliances from them in the past) and we asked for a replacement reminding them that the refrigerator was only two weeks old, but the salesperson (Ron) refused us. He said the the refrigerator has a one year warranty and that we should call their repair guy to look at it. We told Ron that we didn’t want a brand new refrigerator that already needed to be repaired, but Ron would not budge, so we got our complaint in writing and decided we would wait to see if the refrigerator broke down again, and, sure enough, the same thing happened the other day and, again, we lost another $200 worth of food. So once more, we returned to Christie’s and asked for a new replacement and, once again Ron told us to contact their repair guy, telling us that it was all part of their protocol, that they couldn’t replace the refrigerator until their repair guy looked at it. To make a long story short, the repair guy came out and he is going to replace the circuit board….and if that doesn’t work, Spider and I are gonna burn Christie’s down to the ground (only kidding).
Watched an amazing YouTube video the other day of one of the largest (if not thee largest) construction cranes in the world being operated by Rusty G. (Spider’s nephew). The crane was built in Germany and has a 450 foot boom that can reach 23 stories high and Rusty is one of only two people in the world who can operate it. Rusty says the inside of the crane looks like an airplane cockpit and is all computerized. Like I said, the YouTube footage of this crane is amazing and it was filmed overhead by a drone.
Neighbor Glenn came to our door a few minutes ago. Knowing that Spider is in the hospital, Glenn just wanted to make sure that I was doing alright. He said that if I needed anything, to let him know. Isn’t that sweet? Glenn is turning out to be a very kind man, very different than how I had him pegged in the beginning.
Just received a text from Spider. Seems there was an emergency ahead of him, so his procedure is being delayed until this afternoon. It’s gonna be a long day.
Me, Kirby, Spider, Cheri, Marc and Cindy, having a wonderful Italian dinner at Caruso’s, Tucson, Arizona, August, 2014