Mission: Implausible

Sunday, October 3, 2004 – 3:30 pm

Can you believe that I actually got my original green iMac (the very first version of the iMacs, which came out in August 1998) to run OS X? Apart from being a tiny bit sluggish, it runs surprisingly well! I think this is a true testament to the longevity of Macs, that a six year old computer can run an operating system that’s only three years old! (I mean, imagine running Windows XP on a Pentium II-233 with only 64mb of RAM…)

So if anyone wants a really basic computer for surfing the Internet and checking e-mail, you can have this little trooper for $300. (View full specs and estimated value here).

Mood: Amazed!

Happiness Reporting for Duty!

Tuesday, October 5, 2004 – 1:58 pm

FINALLY. I think I might actually be coming out of the funk from last week. I think it was a combination of doing something creative while listening to some damn good tunes. Got my mind off the whole situation, anyway.

I think the problem was that normally my optimism balances out my fears, kind of a Light Side vs. Dark Side battle in my head. The problem is, being told that there’s still a this-and-that chance I could still die, coupled with the idea of more treatment and more time off work just sucked the optimism right out of me – leaving only anxiety and fear.

I’m full of fears. The fear I’m going to die young, the fear of failing, the fear of getting fired. There’s hundreds of ‘em. There really aren’t any special fears that are unique to me – anyone could be afraid of these things. I suppose I have some additional fears like “I’m going to die a slow, lingering death.” But logic and reason teach me that if I spend my whole life worrying about these things, I’m never going to live life at all. I guess my logic went out the window at the thought of spending another three months on my ass playing video games.

This really is as much a mental battle as it is a physical battle. We all die, but most of us don’t see it coming. With cancer, you know as far as YEARS in advance. That’s not for me at all. I want to know about three seconds before it happens, hence my plan to have someone drop a safe on me when I get old and senile.

(Old AND senile. Not just senile. Keep that safe away for a few years.)

Mood: Better?


Wednesday, October 6, 2004 – 2:08 pm

The past couple of days have possibly been the worst in my short history on this planet. I think myself and everyone around me sort of withheld their fears and anxiety in the hopes that the nightmare would end on Wednesday, and when it didn’t, everything just kind of let loose. All the bad thoughts, fear and anger that was being repressed by my optimism has been unleashed on anyone within earshot, so it’s probably best I haven’t talked to that many people. I’m just clean out of optimism for the moment.

The more I think about it, the more it occurs to me that I haven’t gotten any new fears since I was very young. What I have learned is the ability to supress those fears through reason and logic. I mean, if I was terrified of getting hit by a car, I’d never cross the street, and then how would I rent DVD pornography?

(Just kidding, I usually buy it rather than rent it.)

Whew. There’s my sense of humour coming back. Slowly. Right now it’s hard to make a joke that doesn’t involve me trying to shrug off the fact that there’s a very good chance that this nightmare could never end. Well, until I’m fertilizer.

There’s that lack of optimism again. Whoops. Let’s try that again.

It’s just scar tissue. I’m a winner. I beat it.

(So why don’t I believe that?)

Mood: Worry-wort.

For Future Generations

Friday, October 8, 2004 – 2:39 am

I was sitting behind a group of smokers tonight, and I seriously had to fight the urge to lean over and say “Do you mind not smoking around me? I just finished six months of chemotherapy and I really don’t plan on going back any time soon.”

I – being the Canadian I am – resisted the urge to ruffle feathers. Plus I was at a Metallica concert, so they probably would have kicked my ass.

Mood: Conservative!

Gettin’ Ink Done

Saturday, October 9, 2004 – 2:56 am

Today I had the second major step in the process of going through Radiation Therapy. The first step was the initial meeting with the Radiation Oncologist, who was a very nice man who told me all kinds of scary statistics about how likely I am to die.

The second step had a very nice technologist position me on a bed just so and line me up to a machine with all kinds of “lasers”. Then she scanned me in that somewhat uncomfortable position (sorta lying back with my neck stretched ALL the way back) and I had to hold it while she took a plaster mold of my neck so they can duplicate the exact position later.

Then she tattooed me. Not like a bunny or skull or anything…or even a bunny skull! Just some dots at various points on my body where the “lasers” crossed. These will be used as reference points to position me properly for the treatment.

It was all very interesting. I don’t feel quite as hard core as a biker, but how many bikers get to lie in a room with no shirt on while plaster dries on their chin?

Mood: INKED.

There’s Someone Behind the Wheel, but How’s the Engine?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004 – 11:40 pm

As it’s now been almost 40 days since my last chemo treatment, the effects have started to wear off and my body is returning to it’s regular self. I even have new hair growing! Most of all, I can finally feel my brain starting to kick into gear. My creativity is slowly starting to trickle in. This had led to rather large abundance of boredom, and a certain amount of frustration.

I want to go back to work, but in less than two weeks I start radiation therapy, which won’t affect my mind, but it may have a detrimental effect on my body. I suppose I could just get them to prop me up at my desk and I could still function for at least 8 hours a day. There is the small logistical nightmare of reporting for treatment every day while trying to maintain some kind of façade of professionalism, but I’m sure they’d rather have me for 7 out of 8 hours rather than zero.

There’s just no telling what the radiation is going to do to me. Pamphlets and websites just don’t prepare you for the reality of these rather interesting treatments. I would hate to go back to work and then go right back out on more sick leave. On the other hand, I really don’t know how many more days I can spend in this apartment with no income or mental stimuli.

Mood: Gimme a B!


Thursday, October 14, 2004 – 5:05 pm

I’d like to formally announce the return of HAIR to the currently smooth surface of my skin.

It’s just started to show up in a few areas, and I see I even have eyebrows coming in! The hair on my head is, well, still lagging behind. But I have every confidence it will show up soon.

Either that or baldness has finally caught up with me. Damn genes…

Mood: Not So Bald!

Football? Brilliant!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004 – 9:46 pm

I’d like to just say how sore I am. Oh God I am so incredibly sore. After six months of next to zero physical activity (well, my thumbs have been working out consistently – Thank you Final Fantasy XI) I decided to play football on Sunday with some guys from work. I’m still paying for it, of course. I survived the ordeal…but we lost the game…

As my lungs burned and my legs ached on the field, I couldn’t help but wonder if everything I was feeling was normal. A year ago, I probably would have just thought it was due to the fact that I haven’t worked out…well…EVER… and I overeat, sleep too much, and generally conduct a sedentary existence. But of course, I have all these OTHER reasons for being unable to endure physical stress. And being paranoid, I can’t help but think some of my exertion is due to my ordeal.

So I’m just going to have to try to rebuild myself physically. Working out would be a good start as soon as I can afford a gym membership. Football will just have to become a Sunday tradition (It’s touch football, and you’re ALL invited), and I’m just going to have to push myself to get a little more exercise. Until I drop dead, we’re going to just have to roll with the fact that my inability to run a 10-45 passing play is due to the fact that I have NEVER been able to run a 10-45 passing play.

Mood: Sore…oh sooo sore…

“What is this, The Dark Ages?”

Sunday, October 24, 2004 – 5:25 pm

I’ve been gathering a lot of information on my condition (or lack thereof) lately. I sort of went through the first round of treatment doing whatever my doctor’s told me, because I trusted medical science to do it’s perverbial thang. But after entering the “after-chemo” phase, I’ve sort of become disillusioned with the state of affairs that is cancer treatment.

It’s like in Star Trek IV, when they go back in time to get the whales, and they’re going through a hospital looking for Chekov. Dr.McCoy runs by a woman suffering on a bed in the hall and stops to ask her what’s wrong. “Kidney failure,” she replies. Dr.McCoy is horrified (exclaiming “What is this, the Dark Ages?”) and quickly gives her two pills. Later on she is seen rejoicing her new kidneys.

I sort of feel like doctors don’t really know what they’re doing sometimes, especially when I can’t get a straight answer out of them. It’s not that they’re incompetent, we just simply don’t have the technology yet. I live in one big grey area.

People say that we’ve come a long way in the fight against cancer. I don’t even think we really know what cancer actually is. Well, we know it’s bad, and we know how to stop cells like cancer (All chemotherapy really does is kill cells that multiply quickly, it doesn’t specifically target cancer cells. That’s why you lose your hair), but we haven’t yet figured out how to stop cancer itself.

In fact, most experts agree that the term “cancer” isn’t even accurate. Saying you have cancer is like saying you have a cold – it’s a catch-all term for what is in reality hundreds of different afflictions. Even though I have “Large B-Cell Lymphoma”, there could be several different types of this same cancer when you look at it on a genetic level, yet they’re all treated with the same CHOP chemotherapy.

I kind of wish I’d gotten cancer about 10 years from now. We’re just on the cusp of some absolutely startling revelations about what cancer is and how to fight it. Thanks to things like the Human Genome Project, we know more about how cancer spreads in different parts of the body on a genetic level. In the next decade or two, you’re going to see more specific diagnoses – and more importantly – more specific treatment. It will be more targeted and therefore less invasive. It will literally be like taking a pill and waking up with a new kidney.

But for now we have chemotherapy and radiation. It’s kind of like using a flamethrower to cut the lawn, but it’s the best we have.

Mood: Dammit, Jim, I’m a designer, not a doctor

Creativity Strikes Back = Back to Work

Sunday, October 31, 2004 – 5:08 pm

It has become apparent that I have a surplus of creativity. For the first time in about 8 months I actually have more creative energy than I can reasonably use. I was kind of hoping that I might have had enough creativity during my time off to put it to good use, but as Murphy’s Law clearly states that just wasn’t going to happen. So I’ve decided to stop fighting with myself and just go back to work, where my creativity can be put to better use than sitting at home feeling sorry for myself.

I’m excited to go back to work, but at the same time I’m completely terrified. The problem with working for a dynamic company is that things change quickly and frequently. This isn’t a bad thing at all, but it’s scary when you haven’t been there in four months. It’s kind of like watching the sun rise. If you’re there watching it, it rises smoothly and slowly. But if you don’t pay attention, all of a sudden it’s over your head.

But I’ll just add this to my list of challenges for the year. That seems to be the theme of 2004: “Challenges”. That sentiment is so cheesy I could make pizza with it…

Mood: Mmmmmm….pizza…