Monday, February 28, 2005

The Weekend Report

Well, we wasted three and a half hours watching the Oscars last night. But Chris Rock was amusing and punched holes all night in Hollywood puffery, so what the hell. And Clint and "Million Dollar Baby" walked away with all the prizes - except for best actor, which deservedly went to Jamie Foxx for his role as Ray Charles. Foxx, without a doubt, made the most heartfelt speech of the night and cried as he spoke about the influence of his grandmother. He had me going. Sort of rescued my week-end, which was mostly spent collapsed on the couch, full of vicodin, listening to NPR. I'm hoping some day for better Saturdays. A minor goal: to be able to go to Saturday Market with Bev by summer time. That was one of our favorite outings. Now we take drives - when I feel up to it - with Beverly at the wheel. I've mostly had to give up driving - though I can still do it in a pinch. Sort of. It's not that I don't have the coordination to drive a car, it's more that my tracking system feels overloaded. Too many cars coming in too many directions, much too quickly. And where the hell am I supposed to point this hunk of metal next!! I feel like I'm moving in slow motion and the rest of the world is on fast forward. But we have found some nice routes for our Sunday drives. Sauvie Island is a favorite, as is the Ridgefield Wildlife Preserve. Yesterday we went to Fort Vancouver - stumbled on it, after driving around downtown Vancouver. Yes, there actually is a downtown Vancouver - and it looks like It's getting to be a pretty cool place. Fort Vancouver has all these nicely restored Officer's Quarters, which have been turned into townhouses and restaurants and shops. And there are plaques in front describing the history of the place that Bev read out loud. So, all in all a regular week-end. At least as regular as is manageable in this basically unmanageable period of my life.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Moving On Up

Finally got some positive results from the Procrit. Procrit is the newest drug I've been self-injecting; it was prescribed to deal with my dangerously low level of red blood cell production and the resulting anemia. My latest blood work results show that my hemoglobin count has come up slightly, but steadily over the last 3 weeks, which means my body is producing more red blood cells. It's still so low that I can't quite feel the difference, but I'm working on it - trying to imagine myself more energetic, or at least less unsteady. It felt really good to have some positive news in this ongoing petri dish experiment that is my body.
Tonight we're going to see "Death of a Salesman." I wonder if I'll have the same emotional reaction to it that I've had before. Guess it depends on the acting, but also I'm not sure I still have the same empathy for Willy Loman. Now I want Willy to have more self knowledge - but then he wouldn't be the character who has made me cry in the past. Maybe I'm just scared that I will relate too much to Willy's blindness and to his inability to give his family what they need. Art is dangerous, that's for certain sure. After we get home from the play, it's injection party time. Old hat now, but never fails to freak me out on some level. That's all I got.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Down The Road

Perhaps it's a good sign (I'll take whatever I can get), that lately I've been wondering what I'll do with my life after this treatment is all over. Up until now it's all I've been able to do to deal with my immediate experience. My job has been solely to get through this torture. And it still is, but peeking around the corner, a way down the road, is this concept of having a life again and wondering what it might look like or how I want to change it from what it was before. I haven't come up with anything specific yet; it's more of an abstracted pondering. And my mental processes are such right now that I no longer have a clear idea of who I am. I know that probably sounds weird, but I am simply not myself. I don't know what I will be able to do, but even assuming (as I must) a full recovery, I'm still not quite able to see the shape of the future me. What sort of work would I want to do? Going back to teaching is not appealing at the moment. The one positive thing I can say about 11 months of chemo is that I won't have had to read and grade a single dumb ass student essay during this time. I think I've put in my time in that arena. There's lots I want to write about, but again from this perspective I don't know what it would be. About the closest I can come up with now is that I want the re-born me (if that's the outcome) to do things that are helpful to other people. Can I be more vague? Maybe it means being an activist for hep c treatment and accurate information, maybe it means simply making myself available to other people in ways that I haven't allowed myself to be in the past. There's something inside that feels different - and it's not just the chemicals. Maybe what I'm experiencing is the glimmer at the end of the tunnel that all my family and friends keep pointing out. For now, though, I'm the one having his day in the barrel. And that's about all I can handle. Yet, it's good to note that maybe there is still a me who can climb out some day and kick around and have a new life.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Still Hanging On

No newts is good newts. I got no newts - only an expansive stretch of more of the same. How much can the body take? And when does it stop being worth it? Like I said, I got no answers. I'm in week 20, so my next goal is 24 weeks, the halfway point. It's then that I'll see if I've eliminated the virus from my system. It's a crucial test, shows whether all this chemo is effective. If the test were to show that the hep c was still rampant, there would be no reason to go on any further, which though appealing on many levels, is not the outcome I want. And even if I the blood test comes back saying that the virus is out of town or has its bags pretty well packed and is just waiting for the Airporter, that means I've got to keep doing this stuff for another six months. You can't win for losing - or vice versa. I'm getting punchy from all this sickness and symptomania. I feel like I'm not myself any more. But there will be an end. At least that's what they tell me. I just need to get it a bit closer before I can see it.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Alternative Treatments?

I'm glad it's Monday. I used to dread Monday morning: back to work, long week ahead and all that. Now, I cherish each weekday and get increasingly anxious as I approach the week-end and its injection of poison. Life does turn you around. I'm going for my weekly acupuncture treatment today. The whole process makes me feel better, more relaxed; it's an hour when I get away from my drug infected self. I don't think acupuncture provides a cure for Hep C, but that's not why I go. What I'm being treated for now is not the disease, but the side effects of the chemo. I wish something gentle and spiritual did work. I researched all the alternative treatments before I set sail on this course. And while there are many protocols in different fields of alternative medicine, none can claim a proven record of a cure. Once the liver is compromised and the virus is still tunneling away, you have to take radical action. I think many people with Hepatitis C get misled about this. Since one can go for many years with very few symptoms evident, people think they're safe, that the virus has gone into remission. That's a big mistake. All the milk thistle and licorice root in the world is not going to stop this virus. And whether you feel okay or not, the disease is progressing. It may take 20 years to get to a point where the liver shuts down, but it does get there and the end stages are not pretty (from what I've read about them.) The only way to accurately determine the stage of the illness is to have a liver biopsy. And yes, it's just as unappealing a process as it sounds. A very long needle is plunged in to . . . I won't go on. I felt perfectly healthy and vigorous when I had my biopsy. The results (which arrived in the mail on my birthday) told me differently. I had stage four cirrhosis of the liver - the highest level possible. All of a sudden I didn't feel so good. And all the alternative treatments I had tried in the preceding years and all the self-care didn't amount to squat. Now, I do believe that acupuncture and other non-Western forms of medicine are effective in many, many situations. I'm particularly appreciative of the time alternative practitioners take with their patients, and, even now, acupuncture will help me get through my Monday and increase my appetite. But when push comes to shove, as they say, I felt I needed to push back with all the heavy duty weapons I could find. Acupuncture and herbs are a gentle cure; this is not a gentle disease.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Getting the Groceries

Another shiny day here in Portland. I'll definitely go out for a walk - it's about my only exercise now, and calling it exercise is even a bit of a stretch. More of a shuffle than a walk, but for me it helps. I used to be a gym rat, now my muscle tone has receded further than my hairline. I'm surprised when people (who haven't seen me for a few months) tell me how good I look. Maybe we're all still in thrall to "never too rich or too thin." Models have to look like they're about to expire from malnutrition or from shooting up heroin. Well, I guess I've achieved the "look." And believe me, you don't want it. Skinny does not translate to healthy, nor does fat, but given the choice right now, I'd opt for the latter. At least there's some fun involved. I'm going to work harder to put some weight back on. I can't keep going down. It's a matter of simply having enough fuel to function, enough gas in the car, groceries on the table. Unfortunately, it's not that simple, though. I have zero interest in food - at least most of the time, and when some special treat does pique my interest, after the first couple bites, I have to force the rest down. Soup sometimes works out better than other foods. All those Jewish moms are right - chicken soup is still the best medicine. Anyway, so on my agenda for today is walking and eating. Bev and I are actually going out to dinner - something pre-chemo we used to do frequently. Maybe I'll even order dessert - and eat it all by myself. So there! Then when all that's done, it will be time for my Friday night injection. Not a pleasant scene. I've lost track of my injection sites. (I'm supposed to be moving them around. Can't inject the same site for seven weeks.) Then Saturday and Sunday tend to disappear in a swirl of fever. Ah, the good life. I'll be back (after a fashion) on Monday. Being this messed up and weirded out has become my norm. I don't think I like that I'm getting used to it.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Now Pass the Chopped Liver

I am sitting here at my desk wearing a baseball cap emblazoned with the name, Katz's Delicatessen. The cap was enclosed in a package that just arrived at our doorstep from the aforementioned Katz's in New York. The package also included an assortment of Katz's world famous knishes and, of course, fat kosher pickles. Though there is no return address other than Katz's Deli, I'm sure this fabulous present was sent to me by my nephew Scott. When we visited the East Coast last summer (before we knew that I would have to start on chemo), Scott and his wife Sarah took us on a walking tour of the Village and the Lower East Side, culminating with a meal at Katz's, one of those NYC delis that have been around for generations and continue to serve food that has been the same for all those generations of New Yorkers and food that you can get nowhere else on earth. As we sat there gorging ourselves that summer afternoon, I had no inkling that in a few months I'd be almost an entirely different person. What I do remember thinking at that time was how lovely it was to be alive and vibrant - we were all happy, feeling adventurous, - and hungry.
Like I said, things are pretty different now, and after Bev and I stopped bouncing up and down with excitement and I looked at the size of these Katz's Knishes, I felt a little overwhelmed. Big food does that to me these days. That notwithstanding, a knish (well, maybe a half) is on the lunch menu for today, along with a nice slice of pickle. I'm still continually amazed at the loving support that has come my way through these trying times. A bit of a cynic to begin with, this outpouring of love and care I've felt over the last five months will no doubt change me forever. I'm not saying that dealing with a serious illness and chemotherapy for 48 weeks is something I would recommend, but there certainly has been much that I've learned so far, much growth that would not have occurred otherwise. Try as I might to maintain my stuffy little distance and pretend to take care of myself, I see now just how sweet and generous people are and just how open to new feelings of all sorts I have become. Like I told Beverly, there's no way I can say thank you enough. But to all those folks out there in the world who are struggling, I share my good fortune and my love with you. Anyone for a potato knish?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Time For Change

It's tough when my sweetie, Bev, is out of town, as she is this week. As a political consultant she often has to travel around the country. This month it's Lansing, Michigan, of all places; she's working with the legislature there. And I'm here by my lonesome. I do okay while she's gone, at least I have so far, but there are times when I get lonely and times when I'm a bit nervous, imagining various catastrophes. What happens if I get one of my dizzy spells and fall down the steps? I think Bev worries about those sort of horror fantasies more than I do. And she's brought her organizing skills to bear on this issue by arranging to have many of our friends come by while she is gone and bring me dinner and spend a little time hanging out. I think the real intent is to make sure someone checks on me at least once a day. I'm stunned at times that I have the great good fortune to have such a person in my life. And to have friends and family who care about me and support my effort to get through this (including people out of town who call and check in. Those calls can make a huge difference on days when I'm down and feeling sorry for myself.) I don't know how people get through this sort of long term treatment for illness on their own, though I know that many do; many have no choice. The first person I talked to when I was about to begin chemo was a woman who had just finished up the 48 week program and was none too chipper about it (which I now, of course, completely understand). She had gone through the process on her own, no primary support person. Her adult son would stop by "once in a while", she said. She also told me that she spent the entire 48 weeks in bed, getting up only to take care of basic needs. The only thing she bought for herself during that almost one year of torture were new sheets. Once, on her way to the mailbox, she fainted and no one was there to pick her up. No wonder she was bitter. What kind of "cure" is that? But people do what they have to do. Including going to work every day through treatment because if they quit or try to take time off, their health insurance might disappear. Most people in this predicament, don't even tell their employers that they are undergoing chemo treatment for hepatitis c, because then they would risk being fired - and probably for good reason. From my experience, chemo patients shouldn't even be driving cars, let alone doing any sort of work that requires more than ten minutes of sustained concentration. I don't know what the answers are, but I do find myself increasingly frustrated with the level of care (or non-care) that is available to most people. It's the squeaky wheel syndrome on a societal level. And until hep c advocates and patients start squeaking, start becoming activists for change and for the dissemination of information; the situation will stay the same.

Monday, February 14, 2005

The Existential Joy of Complaint

I'm not sure how much longer I can handle this torture treatment. I'm in to the 19th week now, almost five months, and in a way I'm amazed I made it this far. But I'm really beginning to have my doubts about whether I can make it through another 7 months. Time does go by and , under ordinary circumstances, a year is not such a long time. There are a number of years I can't account for at all. But I doubt that I'll forget this one. There's no sense complaining, but there's no sense not complaining. Circumstances stay the same either way. I wish I had been told more of what to expect when this treatment began. At the orientation class, the nurses spent most of their time explaining how to deal with dry skin and what sort of shampoo to choose - as if those things were the major concerns we would have to deal with. No one said anything about anemia that doesn't allow you to walk up a flight of stairs without wheezing and no one said I'd be flat on my back for two days after the interferon injection. I'm pissed that these things get played down. I suspect that a lot of patients quit this treatment, partly because they are so shocked that that the symptoms and side effects are so debilitating. Dry skin is the least of my damn problems. Actually, complaining does make me feel a little better. I'm always worried that I'll come off as a whiner when I write about my experience. Oh well, I've got bigger fish to fry - whatever that means. I don't even like fish - especially now. Not that I ever did. I don't much like any food. I miss the simple pleasure of eating. (Though I don't actually remember what that pleasure felt like.) I even miss some of my old neurotic eating habits. I'd be happy now to be able to stuff my face with a pint of Ben and Jerry's New York Super Chunk. If I make it to the end of chemo, I'll probably turn into a fat guy. That sounds comforting at the moment. Now my big decision is whether or not to keep buying increasingly smaller size clothes. I'm shrinking away, withering up. I see my father in the mirror. Well, enough is enough. Just had to vent there for a bit. I'm still trying my best to make it through. I won't pretend for anyone that it is easy and I won't not call out when I start to fall. But I will keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

American Drivel

Watching television has been helpful to me in this period. I need activities where I don't have to expend much or any energy. TV fits the bill quite well. There are certain programs Bev and I like to watch together and even more (way more) that I look at by myself. Most of these shows are pretty bland, mindless, pablum. And that's the way I like it. I don't want to have to think that any of this really counts. Even the network news seems unreal and unrelated to my life - and that is definitely how I want my news these days. Bush and Cheney are cartoon characters - and Condi Rice is a porn star in my fevered brain. But to say I watch a bunch of TV shows is not to say that I approve of what's going on inside that magic box. Not all of it is benign. Last night I watched another of those "reality" shows. This one is called "Wife Swap." The basic concept is that two families exchange mothers for a period of two weeks. The stated premise is that both families will benefit from the exchange and learn something about how other people live. The not so hidden premise, though, is that the two families will quickly learn to despise the intruding women and the wives will likely have major emotional crises. What fun. In last night's intellectual love fest the swapees were: an uptight, bible thumping, African-American woman married to a rich, white Republican and the gentler half of a lesbian couple with one child. Hilarity ensued. Neither woman was particularly charming, although the republican woman kept claiming how excellent she was and, of course, the lesbian woman had to take her new husband to a gay bar where we could see just how uptight he was. (He actually didn't seem to be all that uncomfortable. Probably to the vast disappointment of the director.) In the end, nothing much is learned. The rich, African-American woman, who viciously castigates the lesbians for their "sinful" lifestyle, fails to ever see even a hint of her own hypocrisy. It wouldn't have been too many generations ago that she would have found herself abused and harassed for being in an unconventional relationship. The lesbian couple were more sympathetic, but also had their issues (as all couples do). But what I kept wondering as I watched was, What the hell is the point of all this? I should know better than to ask that of any program on commercial television. But there has to be some guiding thought behind such a show, something more than that people will watch it. Maybe it is simply the curiosity we have about other people's lives. Or our need to be titillated, to observe people more screwed up than we are. But these shows deal in such broad stereotypes that even that distasteful pleasure is unreal. I could find out more about people's real lives by going out for a ten minute walk around my neighborhood than I could in a hundred hours of watching Wife Swap. But maybe that is the point. It's where I came in . Like the rest of the world, I'm sick of real life. I want to be entertained. I don't want to have to angst about the state of the real world. So, "Survivor," yes. "The Amazing Race," a big thumbs up. Even "The Apprentice" I can get over my disgust. But this show, this "Wife Swap," this amoral, valueless, American drivel is more than even I can take.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Improving Treatment?

Why is the treatment for Hepatitis C so difficult? Sometimes it feels like extended punishment. I've talked to a couple cancer survivors who went through three or four months of chemo. They both expressed surprise and disbelief that anyone could deal with chemotherapy for 11 months. But that's the sentence for Hep C and researchers have yet to come up with anything better or gentler. The basic theory seems to be that you hit the virus with massive doses of chemicals (it's extremely difficult to completely eliminate a virus), but in the process you also inadvertently bomb away at all the other systems in the body. I haven't felt well, or even close, for one day since I chose to do this. That's not whining, it's simply a fact. At times I imagine some great conspiracy to punish Hep C patients. After all, like AIDS patients, they are getting what they deserve. It should be painful and we should have known we would eventually be punished by God when we were off debauching with tainted needles. But I don't truly believe that attitude, though it definitely exists, is what runs the treatment machine. Hopefully, the moral majority is not deciding policy for the medical establishment. And there are people doing research on new and better cures. But it's much slower than cancer research, for example. And that might have something to do with the client base and the amount of sympathy certain diseases generate in the public eye. I've yet to see a wristband for Hepatitis C - or a charity event of any sort (though the treatment is tremendously expensive and essentially unavailable to anyone without healthcare coverage). Hep C treatment is still very much under the radar of public perception. And many of the drugs that are used have been adapted from cancer treatments. The Procrit I now use is specifically advertised as a therapy for cancer patients with chemo induced anemia. What does that make me - chopped liver? I guess there's no sense complaining - especially if all of this turns out to be an effective cure (which you don't know until 6 months after treatment ends), and the treatment protocol for Hep C virus is definitely more powerful than it was even five years ago (though the side effects of treatment have become harsher). Conspiracy theories aside, I have to believe that there is more that could be done if the facts about this disease were more available to the public.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Super Duds

Philadelphia lost - again. I had a sinking feeling by the beginning of the second half, as Tom Brady got into gear, that disappointment was right around the corner. I wasn't surprised at all when Donovan McNabb and the rest of the Eagles choked in the final couple minutes when we still had a chance to win. It's what you expect when you've rooted for Philly teams all your life. I'd hate to be in The City of Brotherly Love today. Gloom and doom everywhere (which is the way it usually is in Philly anyway.) Oh well, there's always next year.
That's what I've been telling myself for the last four and a half months - and I ain't still talking football. Of course, I need to make a few changes to my current team in this off-season. Primarily we need to get healthy, though it will be a while before we can get back into the gym. But I can take inspiration here from my boy, T.O.( wide receiver for the Eagles), who proved all the nay-sayers and jerks wrong. T.O. played his heart out, caught just about everything thrown to him and all on a leg held together with screws. I'm planning to put myself back together also. I think we need some new draft choices, though. I'm planning to bring in guys with enthusiasm and level headedness. Guys who are willing to work, do those wind sprints, pack away some food, bulk up, you know. Sure, things aren't looking good right now for the home team. We're disappointed, sick, and spending the day licking our wounds. But give it a few more months (well, a bunch of them) and it'll be time to start working out for the new season: lots of road trips, wind sprints, and good food. Maybe being a Philly guy has at least made me resilient. I ain't happy, but I ain't going away either. There's always the 76ers.

Friday, February 04, 2005

At The Movies

I love going to the movies. Watching them at home doesn't have the same charge for me - too pedestrian, less engaging. I want the whole experience, the big screen, the popcorn, finding your favorite seat, even the previews are a kick when they don't overdose you with them. Bev and I would go weekly (at least) before chemo. Now, it's not so frequent and I've become wary of making the effort for a film that's either going to be disturbing or boring. I don't have enough reserves of energy to waste two and a half hours on a dull flick. And since my attention span is more limited these days, I often find myself sitting in the theater spacing out and going back inside my own world, which isn't exactly an amusement park. Even some films that have great reviews and are nominated for Oscars have left me cold. After an hour of "The Aviator" I was completely gone. Who gives a shit about Howard Hughes, anyway, and, even if I did, Leonardo DiCaprio still looks like he's a Bar Mitzvah boy. And don't even get me started about "Sideways." I was really hyped for that one and then all it turned out to be was a pean to middle class angst and drunkenness. Wine is not life. Sorry.
But amongst all the disappointing films, there are some that still totally do it for me, remove me thoroughly and deeply from my own troubles. Isn't that really why we go? Last night, Bev and I saw one such transcendent movie: "Million Dollar Baby" directed by Clint Eastwood. The acting was so good that you didn't know they were acting and, for my money, Clint is the best there is. I am in awe. Not only is the dude 74 years old and still producing great films, but he also wrote the score for this one. Was it disturbing? Did I become emotionally engaged? You bet. And I loved and was enlightened by every moment of it. Great art does that. I could barely talk by the time we left the Lloyd Center Theater. Bev asked me what I thought and the best I could come up with was, "That was very powerful." She looked at me weirdly. I guess, what I really meant was that I felt changed somehow. I no longer had to hold on to the idea that I needed to avoid films (and books) that might be upsetting. It's not the content of a film that is disturbing, it's the lack of same. My depleted brain and body wants to be filled up. "Million Dollar Baby" did just that.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

My Dark Secret

Bush gave his state of the union address last night. We didn't watch, couldn't bear to. Whatever he said was totally predictable and thoroughly untrustworthy. Anyway, I can't stand to even look at the man, let alone listen to him simper. It's as if the guy you hated the most in college - the dumb, rich, drunken, popular jock sniffer has become the moral leader of the world. It has to be a nightmare, doesn't it? We're all going to wake up soon and take a deep breath, right? Right???
But why do I continue to obsess about this? Maybe I have too much time on my hands - and obsession seems to fill the spaces like nothing else can. In fact, obsession seems ideally suited to chemo mentality. Each day you have to face a basically unpleasant reality, with no imminent signs of relief. I do my best to fill up those spaces and to stay positive. I know that's more important now than ever. I mean, why be irritable and cranky. There's no pay off there. Unfortunately, moods are rarely rational and it is hard to control the little voices calling out in my brain pan. Too much staring out the window, and the next thing I know I'm all nervous and angry, thinking about someone who has ignored me, done me wrong, not called when they said they would. Someone doesn't care about ME, dammit, precious, wonderful ME, ME, ME. Usually I catch myself at this point, but sometimes I go even further and send a nasty, insinuating e-mail. That always goes over well. Even your best friends won't give a shit about your weasly self-indulgence then. That's me at my worst. But, I work pretty hard to recognize when my emotions are getting the best of me, when I begin to descend into self-pity and obsession. I'm getting good at catching on to myself. Getting therapy regularly doesn't hurt at all either. I mean, you've gotta at least know when you're screwing up. You can't fix it unless you admit that there's a problem. Maybe this is why I hate Bush so much. In that dark place where there is no self-recognition, he reminds me of my worst self.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Down The Road

I'm on my own this week. Bev is in Las Vegas for business meetings. I wish I had been able to go with her - even though I'm not a big fan of the Vegas scene. Choosing not to be a gambler, there's not that hot attraction for me that I have observed in others. Still, if I could go, I would. I'd go anywhere, even Texas, just to get away from what has become the routine of my life - the routine of chemotherapy treatment. It doesn't allow for being too far away from the hospital and my weekly blood tests or for being at a distance if emergencies come up. In fact, I had to sign a contract at the beginning of treatment that I would not stray too far (I think their wording was more articulate). We have taken overnight jaunts to the coast, and will again, but even on these short trips I find that it's not so much travel as supplemental treatment. I still bring my sick self along for the ride. He just doesn't seem at all willing to leave my side. Damn needy little disease. But the short trips got me fantasizing about all the big trips that Bev and I want to take when this ordeal is over. Alaska, where my older daughter lives, is right up there. I can't believe I've never been. And someplace warm and tropical with amazing beaches and great food and fragrances is high on the list. Before I knew I would have to embark on treatment, we had made plans to go to Israel. Of course, we had to cancel for this year, but that journey still calls out to us. And there are many more destinations we hope to see. All of which reminds me once again, how damn important health is. If I had known that years ago, I might not be in the situation I am now. Youth feels invincible. I wish I still did. So what I'm aiming for is to get myself healthy enough to be able to go on some of these travels I can only fantasize about now. Probably we won't head to Vegas, though.