Let's Speak The Same Language

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Short and sweet. Six more radiation treatments. They will end next Wednesday, the 31st of August 2016. Got back two more rejections. One for a set of three poems. The other for a short story. Bright spot? Both invited me to send more material. The task of rewriting The Porn Writer leaves me cold. Have I rewritten it to death?

Picture is of one of three marks on my body. One on each side and one in the middle of my body. They align these marks with laser beams for first rough alignment of my body to the radiation device. 

That's all folks. For now.

Monday, August 15, 2016


This is me in the external beam irradiation machine at PeaceHealth. I got Deana one of the techs to snap the photo. The big round head looking down on me is the piece that shoots me with radiation. To its left on the diagonal is one of the arms that takes x-rays. The other x-ray arm, a square, is peeking out below the table. The x-ray arms are retracted at the moment. The techs go into another room and extend those x-ray arms. The entire unit circles my body, then the x-ray readings of the location of my prostate with the implanted fiducials is fed into the computer and the table I lie on makes the final adjustments, then I'm zapped. The process takes about 20 minutes. Compared to the 40 minute Cyberknife treatments, it's fast. I tell the techs with a laugh it's a "zip... zap... zoom..." process. I'm hopeful and tranquil enough about everything. 

Mertie and I went into Portland to see Cafe Society, Woody Allen's latest. We weren't as impressed as by Paris Nights. We aren't alone in our judgment, but the film was interesting enough. 

The rewrite on The Porn Writer still moves along nicely, but as I said in an earlier entry, I'm giving myself permission to let the writing go hang if I feel stressed. Mainly I need to stay rested and get in some exercise and run necessary errands and prepare or serve [already made meals] when Mertie comes home from work. Nine more treatments. Will be done a week from this coming Friday. Though I haven't been sending out many things, I still have about 15 items out being looked at. The queries for my novels are falling behind because they require more work. I try to make my query letters fit the agent I'm sending them to. I imagine I sense things about them from looking them up on Google and from the presentations on their websites.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


Twelve more days of radiation treatments under this machine to go. Dr. Siddiqui tells me we'll wait three more months [time for the prostate to normalize] to take a PSA test and find out where we stand, i.e. did we get it in time before the cancer spread elsewhere in my body? A PSA of zero would be great, a 2 is not so bad. 

I wrote a new cancer poem yesterday, "Tabled Memories", and I've had three good days of work on the 7th rewrite of The Porn Writer. From time to time the fatigue caused by the radiation treatments make my mind feel like a pool full of slugs. Everything I write during those times seems awful, then a light comes on, the slugs slip away, and I know I write as well as many others who have been published. This morning I'm awfully tired again and uninspired, but I want to finish this last rewrite of The Porn Writer so I can get queries about it into circulation once more among the agents. Of course, it's been some time since I sent any of my novels out on query status. I'm starting to feel guilty again when I walk into the office where file cards are strewn about on a card table next to the outdated 2013 Writers' Markets book. 

Lastly I had a moment of self awareness yesterday while lying on that narrow table above, waiting for my irradiation to begin. The kind of moment when you see beneath the obvious and get a glimpse of some synaptic setting that underpins your personality at a fundamental level. The techs had stopped the process because one of the computers fell asleep and had to be reawakened. They requested, as they always do, that I lie very still. As I lay there clutching the ring they give us to hold so that our elbows don't fall off the table edge and ruin the process, I caught myself feeling quite proud to be lying so still and proper for them, the obedient little boy part of me. Smug it was and proud as proud can be. I didn't necessarily like what I saw, but our deepest selves, our un-mirrored selves, are just the sort of things that trip us up. I was watching a documentary tonight about Richard Nixon. I just realized he was like me too in his deepest self.

Monday, August 1, 2016


In the last seven days I crapped my pants twice. Fortunately the accidents occurred at home as I rushed from my living room recliner to the bathroom. The accidents were distressing, and I've bought adult diapers. Aside from painful urination which I tolerate pretty well, the second side effect that troubles me most is fatigue, so much so as to soften my acuity and make writing nearly impossible at times. As a writer I tell myself I ought to be able to describe how these occurrences distress me, how they play on my mind and emotions. I finally summarized it to myself this afternoon as I drove to my radiation treatment. A month ago, I felt like a virile youthfulfor 78attractive male who still enjoyed sex with his wife and thought of himself as funny and comparably confident, happier than at any time in his life while looking forward to achieving his single bucket item. Yesterday, after the 2nd accident, I was badly deflated and imagined a much decreased enjoyment of my final years, however long that might be. It was a gloomy appraisal, one which I don't like and one I'm trying to resist. Just writing it down helps me a great deal.

The upshot of what I'm getting at is that until treatment is over on August 31, I will not push myself to write but will concentrate on limited exercise, diet and pampering myself, plus meeting my responsibilities at home. I will be drifting sideways and making little progress on my goal to get someone other than myself to publish a novel of mine before I kick the bucket. I'll write only when strongly moved and in a fairly alert state of mind. Following is a list of potential side effects of radiation treatment. Ain't they a kick in the pants?

  • Frequent urination
  • Difficult or painful urination
  • Blood in the urine
  • Urinary leakage
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Rectal leaking
  • Fatigue
  • Sexual dysfunction, including diminished erectile function or decrease in the volume of semen
  • Skin reactions (similar to a sunburn)
  • Secondary cancers in the region of the radiation

Friday, July 29, 2016


I'm staggering today, the result of the hormone injection and also Flomax [increases urine flow] that relaxes the smooth muscle walls of my vessels and arteries. Sometimes when I stand too fast or rush up a stairway, I get a stunned feeling and my temples feel pressure. First time I thought I was having a stroke. Now I stand still until the feeling passes.

The writing is not going all that well. I have many periods of fatigue, a side affect of radiation treatments when I feel completely uninterested in writing. All I want to do is sit and watch TV. Even reading seems too much effort. Still I get some writing done and exercise at the Firstenberg Community Center, and believe it or not, the effort seems to overcome fatigue for a time, but first I've got to overcome the fatigue and make myself get going. I've been craving McDonald's "Egg McMuffins" for lunch, and my vegan diet suffers, but I crave the feel of solid foods in my mouth. Chewy stuff. Something to get my teeth into. I still have banana, spinach, strawberry, apple with grape juice and soy milk smoothies for breakfast.  

At 3:15 I go into PeaceHealth for my 5th low dose radiation treatment. Not long after that, Mertie comes home from work, and we begin another weekend together. Long live weekends with my wife.

Monday, July 18, 2016


Today in a couple of hours, I get my first treatment with the Cyberknife. Exercised early today at Firstenberg Center and have tried for several hours to get some writing done on poetry collection Up Your Ass and later on my novel about dysfunctional relationships The Porn Writer. I see that I'm unable to concentrate very well so I'll just go home and get a shower and take it easy until I have to set off for PeaceHealth Hospital in Vancouver. I'm told I will have to lie perfectly motionless for half an hour while the procedure is completed, but, even if I do move, the roboticized arm stops and recalculates the position of my prostate in order to continue to treat the cancer with high doses of radiation. I recall when we Americans were all in a tizzy about Strontium 90 drifting into America from Chinese atom bomb testing. Now, I'm hoping that radiation will kill the cancer cells that threaten to kill me. Nothing ever changes except change.

Friday, July 15, 2016


Ten days I've let pass without an entry. Sorry, but I'm keeping busy. I just began the sixth [or 7th] rewrite of The Porn Writer, and I didn't finish the 5th [or 6th] rewrite. My friend poet Geoff Peterson is visiting from Tucson, and it was his comment that caused me to return to "go" and start again. He made some sense about the history of an MFA in my narrator's past that made good sense. So I began again, and I'm happy with it. I had begun the novel with the idea Frank held an MFA then took it out because I thought the idea was cliched. Now I'm putting it back in again. Geoff's considerations had to do with potential audience, then, for other reasons of authenticity, I saw a good reason for it's remaining in the novel, because the real center of the novel is "dysfunctional relationships" that are divorced from the MFA considerations. The MFA is in it only to add to his sense of failure and inadequacy that have plagued all his relationships. 

Reason for relief above. As for the aggressive prostate cancer that threatens to lengthen the odds for my succeeding in my lone bucket list item to get someone other than myself to publish a novel of mine: I finally begin radiation treatments this coming Monday, July the 18th when the Cyberknife will shoot a first heavy dose of radiation into my cancerous prostate. It's only taken from April 25th when my primary doctor found the nodule on my prostate till now....