On the Medicinal Value of Some Bucket List Items

The secret of being a bore… is to tell everything.

And yet, there I go. This is my blog, which no one reads, so I can go bonkers.

During a short hiatus, we (this is not a royal “We”, this “we” is actually we—my wife and I; I am not allowed to meet alone with the people who gave the Hippocratic Oath, for it is evident to everyone—but me—that I am chronically unable to understand them correctly) met with the team, treating me—A.K.A., The Mandarin Factory—several times.

At the first of these meetings (the negotiations with the pharmaceutical company that develops the immunotherapeutic drug my doctor decided to try on me since my current chemo cocktail was doing a much better job on the host than my Cancer Al tenant/pet, were at that time not yet complete) my doctor looked at the results of my blood test and became noticeably confused.

“Have you had a blood transfusion?” he asked, “I do not recall ordering one for you…”


He checked my file. I had not had a blood transfusion.

“But your numbers are within or even better than normal, how is this possible?”

I had no choice but to confess.

For the second time during my acquaintance with my doctor, I saw the usually stern and composed man giggling like a middle school girl at a graduation dance.

“Anything,” he said, grinning ear-to-ear. “Anything which helps will do, katana included.”

“Excuse me,” I said, “it is not just some katana. it is Ō-katana!

Some recently learned technical info

The length of the traditional katana varies (27-29″/68.5-73.75cm). The length of my Ō-katana is 33 3/4 (86cm)!

Theoretically, it is not intended to be used by people shorter than six feet and some inches. I am five-eleven, but I have long arms and no difficulties so far drawing the sword from my side; especially edge down—which is a big no-no, because it dulls the blade, but I am working on the edge up draw, and I am getting there, along with my Tachi Kaze (Sword Wind Sound).

Of course, it is not the real thing—real would mean wrought of several kinds of steel, folded seven times, differentially tempered while partially covered in clay, and manually polished by a master swordsmith for six months after, all while fasting—mine is made of modern 9260 spring steel, first and foremost, the saya (the scabbard), while wooden inside, on the outside is covered in what feels like a thick (2.5 mm) polyurethane sleeve—not lacquered wood—the ray skin on the tsuka (handle), showing through the famous diamond-shaped gaps in the ito (cotton wrapping of the grip), looks quite plastic as well, but ask me if I care.

I do not.

All I care about right now is that I felt better the very moment I touched it.

I expected that. I swear I did. And it worked!

It would be nice, of course—for the fuller experience—to have some movie special effect applied to it, preferably, Highlander style:

but I’ll take subtle, with pleasure, just as well. The blood test is an excellent—and documented—start, whether my doctor believes it or not. I do. I will let him think that the chemo started working. I will even allow him to pump me up with the new portion on Friday.

But I will know. :-)

The second meeting with the medical crew resulted in the installation of a catheter for draining my ingrown camel hump. In addition to a Mediport input, which is used for pumping stuff into me on a weekly basis, I now have an output as well, which gives me hope to one day turn into a self-sufficient and fully functional cyborg. All I have to do is just hang on while they will keep adding artificial components to me as soon as they are developed and approved for use on rare individuals like myself—who refuse to die.

I do not mind. I was asking for a full-body transplant since last September. If this is the way they decided to go about it, fine.

The only inconvenience of having a catheter is that the thing needs to be drained (at least two times, until someone else in the household will learn how to do that) by a registered nurse, who only comes to those who are chained to a bed. When my pulmonologist learned that I still go to work, she sighed and asked if I can pretend for a while, else the visiting nurse service cannot take my case.

Small wonder I said “yes”, dooming myself to take off from the office half-day in today, because a nurse by the name of Jackie (I kid you not, this is how she introduced herself) decided to visit at 1:30 PM. I barely made it to Washington Heights from FiDi.

But: all is well. My internal hump is drained, my dressing is changed, no further visits needed (which is good, for I only have two left under the insurance plan), taking a shower is a pain in the ass, life goes on.

As it should.

And just in case something unexpected will suddenly happen—for as long as my sword is within reach, I am ready for Valhalla.

A. T. T. The pharmaceutical company has approved me for the immunotherapy drug, but we are holding onto it (just as I am holding on to my newest toy) because we still have hopes for this chemo, which pretends to work. If we switch to this drug, the chemo options will be over, and then there will not be much left, but Valhalla. That is for later. First—next chapter, damn it!

Also published on Medium.

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