Of Cancer and Car Batteries

I’ve been sitting trying to write a post for this week.  Can’t quite make it happen so you get this instead.  I am thinking that last week I must have busted a brain cell or something because this week I don’t have any complete thoughts happening.  I’ve got a couple of really cool posts that I am working on but they’re nowhere near done and not going to get finished tonight.

So instead of a clear, concise, meaningful, inspiring and humorous post you get the following:

Friday sucked.  Sucked out loud with big loud sucking sounds. If you were near the hospital and heard someone’s life suck – that was mine.

I don’t really want to talk about it. In the grand scheme of things it shouldn’t be that big a deal.  I’ve dealt with it a million times before and it’s easy to fix.  I even know how to do it and I’ve got all the tools.  I’ve lost track but I must have done it five or six times in my life.  Frankly it’s kind of embarrassing, but I was seriously traumatized by it.

So traumatized that I can’t finish any of the really cool posts I’ve been wanting to write all week.

So you get a post with a lot of paragraphs that start with ‘so’ a bunch of missing punctuation and a large number of one sentence ‘paragraphs.’

So, you want to know don’t you.  You’re still reading because you’re hoping to see a train wreck or me write about something very funny.

Okay – it should be funny.  There should be a deeper meaning here but when it happened all I wanted to do was cry.  Real tears kind of crying.  In public crying.  No hankie-in-my pocket crying.

Last week I mentioned about Thomas (the disciple, not the train engine) and had a nice email exchange with a friend and am really inspired to write more about it.  I’ve even read the related Bible passages and borrowed volume 9 of “The New Interpreter’s Bible” so I could read authoritative quotes about.  I got a lot to say about Thomas.  And in all honesty I have a lot to say about both, Thomas the disciple and the train engine.  It’s all here – I’ve got great stuff to tell you.

But Friday happened and it’s taking all weekend to move past it.

I’ve got a list going of “how to support a cancer patient” and was working on a humorist post on it.
But Friday happened.

Since I learned about my cancer I’ve been looking for ways to emotionally deal with all the scary things that come with the disease.  You know things like, “could I die?”  “Will I need to buy depends in bulk?” “Will I ever have sex again?”  “Will it hurt?” “How will I know if I am dead?” “Will anyone read my blog posts?”

One of the ways I am dealing with it all is to resort to allowing myself to indulge in “comfort activities.”  Things that I know make me feel better – watching favorite movies, eating favorite foods.  That kind of thing.  I’ve even extended that to my reading.  The first book I ever truly picked out to read on my own was, “Earth Abides” by George R. Stewart.  I was in eighth grade when I saw it at the drug store and with my own money, money I had earned, I bought it.  I loved it.  I’ve read it a number of times in my life.  There is something special in that book for me and I’ve been working on writing a post to explain why.

But Friday happened and now I have to reread the book.

Another thing I’ve been doing to try to cope with all this prostate cancer crap is to stay involved in my marquetry hobby.  In January I went to no less than three different club meetings and have worked a few nights and most Sunday afternoons on marquetry projects.  It’s great.  I can do something with my hands and let my mind and soul focus on creating something.  I can let my creativity soar and for a little while leave behind this thing that is tying me to a treatment regiment that is slowly taking all my emotional strength.

That treatment and all the concerns, fears and hopes left me without the ability to handle:


So you’ve gotten this far.  I’ll play nice and fess up.  Here’s what happened on Friday:

I went to the clinic and had my treatment. I left the building, got in my car and turned the key.  The starter went, “Click, click, click” and engine did not come to life.  The power I was expecting to take me away did not pour into my machine.

I turned the key again and “Click” no roar. No shaking.  No sound. Just the CD player quietly playing, “Amazing Grace.”  (seriously, I’ve got a CD with church hymns and I often listen to Amazing Grace while driving around.  Coping method number 4).

I must have turned the key four or five times before I pulled the key out and sat back stunned.  It felt like I had been shot.  I felt helpless and very alone.  Then a feeling that I’ve rarely known in an emergency – I had no idea what to do.  Couldn’t think of one thing.

I don’t really know how long I just sat there before I remembered this new device I carry – a cell phone. I pulled it out and was just about to call my wife to rescue me when I remembered that I’ve got a AAA card.  From somewhere I was able to pull out some last reserve and I started calling.  Doing something felt good but I was more than a bit resentful that I even had to be dealing with this.  I was angry with the car and then I was more than a little embarrassed with myself because I’d totally forgotten how to handle the situation.  I’ll tell you in all honesty that I came very close to walking back into the clinic to ask them to call my wife to come and get me.

Why? The clinic is safe. People know how to take care of you there.  And the have nice warm blankets to hide under.

So I did manage to get a truck on its way to help.  That took two phone calls since the first operator got the address wrong.  Good thing the towing service knew something didn’t seem right and had the good sense to call and confirm my location.  I did manage to call Heather and tell her what was up.  I did manage to tell her that I needed help.  We agreed that when I got the car started I’d drive to the dealer and we’d leave it there for them to fix.  She’d meet me there and bring me home.

When the yellow truck showed up the driver confirmed my suspicions and agreed it was a dead battery.  Then he said something I had never considered and didn’t know they did.

He said, “I’ve got a replacement battery in the truck, three-year free replacement if it fails, $118, I can put it in eleven minutes and have you on your way with a new battery.”

“You take Visa?” was my reply.

Somehow I made it to the office and managed to do real work for a while but had to leave early because I just felt drained.

It’s taken me most of the weekend to rest and recover enough to write and still I had to almost force myself to the keyboard.

You see this blog is another coping mechanism that I have.  I find that when I write about something it loses its power over me.  I find in the act of writing that I can shape the thought, channel the emotion and highlight the good things and force the bad things into their rightful place – the distant past.

It is likely that I get more out of writing this than you get out of reading it but still I’ve written about Friday and I can move on.

Now for one more story about car batteries.  I have a friend that is also going through radiation treatments for prostate cancer and I wrote a short note to complaining to him about my car trouble to which he replied, “Must be the radiation.  The battery in my truck died on Monday.”

So, there you have it – one of the side effects of prostate cancer is a dead car battery.

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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