Thursday, June 30, 2011

Death Cult

I think they call it the Law of Unintended Consequences.

But it is funny how these new post-Enlightenment philosophies, humanism, materialism, feminism, nearly always result in the precise opposite of what they ostensibly propose. The new Humanism seems to have produced a slavering, bloodthirsty anti-human death cult obsessed with enslaving everyone to their lowest animalistic passions; radical materialism inevitably seems to spawn weird religious cults, and feminism has resulted directly in the deaths of hundreds of millions of women.



Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Girly stuff

Boys, avert your eyes.

Hats! Dresses! Wonderful things!

Dear Irish Episcopate,

You're fired.



Self Portrait with Hair

So, the TIP regimen makes your hair fall out.

I had been in denial about this, but I've had it straight up from the doctors: it's all going to go.

I like Europe

I just wish it were being run by America.

This is funny
, but it has a rude word in it so I'm only going to link.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011


So, I have had a hard time fighting my natural fightyness when it comes to medical things, as was chronicled previously. I have an instinctive need to disobey doctors, to sniff at their outrageous demands and shrug when they issue dire warnings about... well, anything really. And yes, look at the fix I'm in for all that...

So, I'm learning a new spiritual thing: docility. (Yes, don't laugh.) Putting your life, your most basic needs, into the hands of someone else, a group of someones whom you know full well to be imperfect, flawed and more than capable of failure, is quite a little exercise in flinging yourself into the deep end of the spiritual life. I can't say I'm doing very well at it so far but I expect to be given loads more opportunities to practice.

Nevertheless, I am happy to report that I am, so far today, doing everything the doctors tell me to do. I have purchased everything they told me to purchase, and am taking all the drugs on time and in the correct doses.

This is really just an excuse to say thank you again to the people who donated so kindly to my cancer fund bleg. Today's excursion to the farmacia totaled €127 and was added to the cost of a cab ride back to Santa Marinella from the Gemelli, €100.

But we all got off quite easy today.

One of the many exciting side effects of the TIP regimen chemotherapy is killing off white blood cells, which I am given to understand are quite useful and important. To counteract this, they prescribed a one-shot injection of a drug called Neulasta that rapidly boosts your immune system by stimulating the bone marrow to produce white blood cells. A friend who was with me at the time we were getting the drug, himself a doctor, looked it up on the internet as we waited and saw that the one-off dose retails for $3000.00 in the US.

Yes, you read that right.

It was "covered"; everything else was over-the-counter and therefore on my own dime.

I am now going to bed.


Free of the tree!

I have been having drugs to help me sleep, and I'm happy to say that they work very well. They are of the sort that take you right out of this world for a few blessed hours, do not interrupt or significantly affect your dreams (some soporifics give one the most amazing Timothy Leary dreams, but such things are not for me) and you wake up feeling refreshed and alert. I wish I could take them all the time, because sleeping is for me usually something of a trial and doesn't often work out as one might hope.

Unfortunately, the beneficial effects of this drug can be had only when they are used in great moderation, and more than five days of it gives one first the phenomenon of diminishing returns, whereby one has to take more and more to get the same result, and then physical dependency which, though not difficult to break, can be uncomfortable for a few days. So, not really a long-term solution to my normal short, disturbed and intermittent sleeping patterns.

But they are ideal for short hospital stays and, with a set of industrial ear plugs, are part of my usual arsenal of coping tools. Nothing in the world will make me despondent more quickly than lying awake in a hospital bed at three am, hooked up to tubes, mentally begging a nurse to remember to come and shut off the hall light that she left blaring into my eyes after administering the last injection/pill/IV bag-o-death.

I am a light sleeper and moreso when in hospital with all my high-tension tripwire security neurons set to high alert, so it is always quite a shock when I have been sleeping under the influence of the wonder drug to open my eyes and find a nurse standing over me: "Senora Whaayt?" Due to some unavoidable delays, the regimen schedule was knocked off and they had to give me some of the drugs in the middle of the night, so on two occasions, I had happily drifted off to visit the mermaids and flying elephants, only to be rudely wrenched back into the hospital bed with a most apologetic looking lady in green scrubs standing over me holding up a big dissolvable pill.

But this morning, the nurse, who before I had woken had already injected into the IV tube the last of the detox drugs, took the last empty bag down from the drug tree and said, "Finish..."

I can't tell you what a relief it is to be quit of the drug tree, my constant companion for the weekend, festooned up top with lugubriously swaying bulbous plastic bags of colourless deadly substances, waving like poison fruit as I took my little strolls up and down the corridor, its tentacular tubes and little plastic gauges catching on door knobs, its wheels, that wanted to go in every direction at once, squeaking out their little reminder: "Things are not the same..."


Monday, June 27, 2011

The internet;

exactly as dull and pointless as TV, only there's ten thousand times more of it.

I've been dosed and blood-pressured, I've brushed teeth, washed hair and face, had my tea and crackers, taken my drug-tree for a little stroll up and down the hall...

so let's see what's in the little square Palantir today...


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Turns out that being in hospital is like war...

long periods of mind-numbing boredom, interspersed with short bursts of equally mind-numbing terror.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Chemo.

It turns out I have "difficult" veins. I've always had this problem and am the bane of all IV-inserters' professional lives. Yesterday I got in here by about 2pm and at 2:30, three different nurses had tried to put in a functioning IV into my arms and hands in four different places. On the fifth try, we got it to work, but the decision was made to surgically insert a veinous catheter which will have to stay in my arm for about a month. Until the next round of chemo.

That was fun, requiring a short surgical procedure during which I learned that I have a robust resistance to local anaesthetics. Great fun to be lying on a table, with them digging around 5 cm inside your upper arm, dodging important arteries, and suddenly they hit a part that the anaesthetic hadn't found yet. Four tank-fuls of local anaesthetic later...Gah!

Oh, and no swimming for three weeks. I can lower myself into the pool, but I have to cover the bandage with plastic wrap and try not to get it wet. Fun fun!

This morning, I had another batch of water spiked with a large dose of anti-emetics, anti-histamines and various drugs that are meant to protect the stuff chemo drugs attack and that I need to keep. This kind of chemo kills the cancer but also the cells lining the bladder, and the kidneys and the brain, so as I've been having the IV drips of the deadly stuff, I've been given small doses of "antidoto" in the form of pills that dissolve in a glass of water to stave of "neurotoxicity".

I realise they have to tell you these things to keep you up with "informed consent" but really, there are a few things I might be better off not worrying about. They know the signs to watch for and are so attentive that I'm growing in confidence.

Today we had to wait seven hours for a surgical expert to come to insert the "pic" and the next bag of poison was delayed. I am just about finished the second batch, cisplatin, and am having mannitol as a chaser to keep my kidneys from failing. There is a gaggle of nattering Italian ladies chattering away all at the same time, clustered around my roommate's bed, and I am torn between being slightly jealous of their customary stick-togetherness, and relief that I don't have to be pestered all day by crowds of relatives. Such an Anglo misanthrope, me!

Every time the nurse comes in and hooks me up to another plastic bag of clear liquid, I ask the same thing: "Che cos'รจ?" One of the nurses is obviously becoming annoyed by my obsession with knowing exactly what and how much poison they're pumping into me. When they hooked up the Mannitolo, I asked again, and she said that it's just "the protocol. The doctor esplain it all!" From now on I will just crane up and read the label upside down and quietly type the name into Google.

The nurse has just come and added another one to the ever-growing stack of plastic bags and bottles of incredibly toxic substances on the little table in the room, all waiting to go into my arm. At the other end of the table, the roommate's six female relatives are clustered around a little portable DVD player watching home videos. (The three men are all chatting in the hall outside the door.)

There is always something slightly surreal about medicine.

Oh by the way, a little note for people planning on getting cancer in Italy, don't get it in the summer. The Gemelli doesn't have air conditioning. I got a friend to bring over a fan (and the weather has not yet reached the Terrifying Italian Summer-On-The-Sun tipping point where even a fan at full blast ten inches from your face is no relief) but I can't imagine what everyone else is doing. Sweltering I guess. The procedure room where I had the surgery was at least ten degrees hotter than my room. I can't understand how they manage it, but I'm a northern Celt and we don't do hot weather.

More gruesome details as events warrant.



Passing the time

The view from Beachcomber park, the beach where my grandmother taught me to swim.

I'm sitting up in bed and have just had my first giant yellow bowl of delicious Gemelli tea, eaten my toast and apricot jam, had a teeth and face scrub and combed my hair and it's not quite eight am and I'm feeling ok.

Once again, the staff at the Gemelli have impressed me with their kindness and attentiveness. I came in late yesterday, and more or less terrified of chemo. I had spent the day before coming here to have last minute blood tests which, although they started early in the morning, with the train ride into and out of town, took up most of the useful parts of the day.

I hate coming home from any trip to a messy house, and I knew that chemo would probably put me in a non-doing of housework sort of mood. I also knew that I was incapable of doing anything with my brain like writing or drawing. Physical movement was required, so I bustled about: made sure that all the laundry was done, clothes all hung up, towels folded, clean sheets on the beds, clean bathroom, plants watered, surfaces dusted, all the dishes done and put away, and all my 50 sq kilometers of marble floors at least dustmopped and cleaned. After that, I cooked. Beef and lentil stew, fried chicken breasts, Thai chicken curry and frumenty. Simple stuff put in tubs and in the freezer so I won't have to do any cooking next week.

All the domestic busyness did succeed in keeping my mind off things. That and endless episodes of bad American Syfy channel tv shows played from the net. I was literally carrying my Mac into every room as I worked.

The next day, I woke up with a shock. I had spent the night dreaming, again, I was home again in my grandmother's house in Nanoose Bay, and woke with such a feeling of loss that I found I was calling for her.

This time of year, she would be sending me into the garden to fetch things for her to put into the dinner. Mint for the new potatoes from the herb patch in the shaded courtyard. Scarlet runner beans from the vines growing up the side of the veranda. Flowers for the table from the rose beds.

We would be going to the rocky beach down the lane so you could roll a log into the icy Pacific water and use it as a canoe, then come out and lie without a towel on the sizzling flat black shale pebbles. When you lie down on them wet with cold skin, they dry you instantly and stick to your back. When you've roasted enough, while grandma in her black straw hat sits on a white bleached log and sketches the arbutus trees with a stub of conte, you put on your hat and canvass runners and go climbing over the volcanic rocks poking your fingers into the green anemones that lined the tide pools like living velvet.

Then grandma would call you back, and we would pack up our things and climb through the cool forest back up to the road and go have our lunch, sitting at the table in the little dining room, while the crows sit in the Garry Oak in the courtyard, calling out their annoyance that they are not invited.

Yesterday morning, I woke up to discover again, as I have so many other mornings, that it was all gone, the house sold and grandma dead for twelve years. It was not the best moment to remember that I would be going into the hospital for chemotherapy.

More later.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chemo 1

Going to the hospital for round one of chemo on Friday morning.

Probably not up for visitors very much.

More later.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Quick update

Had my final consultation with Dr. Scambia tonight. The results of the lymph node dissection were all negative. This means that there were no occult metasteses and no cancer anywhere else. This means that they can go ahead with the planned conservative treatment, which means two or three cycles of chemo. If the tumor responds well to the chemo, they will be able to do a surgical procedure to excise the it, leaving my useful and important bits mostly intact.

This will all take a while yet. Chemo is to start after next week, but I don't know how long we wait between cycles. When that is over, they wait 40 days before doing any surgery (have to get my immune system back up and running).

Then, if all goes as we hope, that's it. I have reason to hope all this will be over by August or so.

Also, another big thank you to people who donated for cancer-related expenses. My appointment to day with Professor Scambia was at his private office, which meant I had to pay for the examination and consultation, to the tune of €200, which I was able to just cheerfully hand over. So thanks again.

Thanks also to all the people, and I know there have been a LOT of you, who have been praying and saying Masses and whatnot. Keep it up. You never know, it might help my soul as well.



Saturday, June 11, 2011

Off my game

Sorry, everyone. I guess I'm a little preoccupied.

Truth is that I think I've finally run out of things to say.

I'll get back to y'all later.


Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Why does the centre hold?

I just posted this to the LSN blog.

I may be totally off base here, not (I reiterate) being a science person myself. But aren't the two ideas, entropy and materialist Darwinian evolution, fundamentally in conflict?


Hey, has anyone else thought of this?

You know entropy? The tendency of things in the universe to fall apart, to dissipate energy, rather than come together in complex systems?

It's this: the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
No process is possible whose sole result is the transfer of heat from a body of lower temperature to a body of higher temperature.

In an isolated system, heat cannot flow spontaneously from cold regions to hot regions without external work being performed on the system. Entropy is a measure of the amount of energy in a physical system not available to do work, that gets dissipated in the working of the system. As a physical system becomes more disordered, and its energy becomes more evenly distributed, that energy becomes less able to do work.

This means that the entropy of an isolated system (a system that has nothing acting on it from the outside) can, at best, remain the same and will increase for most systems. Thus, the overall disorder of an isolated system must increase.

This is one of those universal laws of physics, the basic units of order that the universe is based on. For us non-science people, it can be compared with a statement like, "You cannot be both in the room and not in the room at the same time and in the same way".

I'm not a scientist, and I only made it as far as high school physics, but I remember a fair bit of it due to years of reading sci-fi novels (by real science-y people, like Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Azimov, not the dragons-and-teenage-girl kind). So I have a question for the evolution people (the science-y kind, not the thump-the-Christians-over-the-head-with-their-own-Bibles kind).

If there's entropy, and entropy means that systems don't spontaneously become more complex but instead tend to fall apart, become less complex and eventually dissipate entirely, why do the evolution people propose that things “evolve”? Evolutionists not only propose that living things, very complex systems, spontaneously change over long periods of time, but that they tend to become more complex. Phytoplankton “gave rise” to plants. Single-cell organisms “moved on” to become multicellular autotrophs.

Entropy is an amazingly complex idea and I have nothing like the background I would need to start understanding it as it is defined in classical thermodynamics and statistical mechanics.

But the concept isn't that difficult to get. It can be observed:

Unless you apply some effort to them, simple systems do not spontaneously become more complex systems.

Both simple and complex systems (a stack of bricks and a mote of phytoplankton photosynthesising in the sea) tend to break down over time.

Systems that convert mass to energy, lose a bunch of the energy in the process.

Ultimately, the system breaks down entirely and its component bits dissipate.

In cosmology, entropy is described as a hypothetical tendency for the universe to attain a state of maximum homogeneity in which all matter is at a uniform temperature. This is called “heat death” in which no more energy is exchanged.

Things fall apart, as the poet said, the centre does not hold and mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

I have physics friends back in British Columbia who refer to doing housework, fixing a car, paying bills, the general efforts one puts in to keep one's life going, as "fighting entropy". (Which goes to show that even strict materialist atheists need to apply some kind of cosmological meaning to daily life.)

I was fighting entropy in my kitchen earlier today, and the thought popped in there, "If complex systems only tend to fall apart when left on their own instead of spontaneously coming together in more complex systems - if there's entropy, in other words - how can evolution be true?"

I mean, the kind of evolution that is spontaneous, totally random, has no external force working on it. The strict God-is-out-of-bounds, Darwinian kind.

How can the less complex system just spontaneously become a more complex system? How can we have gone from inanimate matter, to phytoplankton to giant lizards? How can we have gone, spontaneously, from Homo Habilis to Homo Sapiens, without any external force acting on the system?

How, in fact, could life have come into existence at all from inanimate matter?

A while ago Pope Benedict addressed the atheists with this question: "Why does anything exist?" Why is there something instead of nothing? And, if there was nothing before, how did something come from nothing? Professor Stephen Hawking is said to have answered this by saying, in essence, "Before the something, there was another something”. Things exist because they exist; a banal response which only means that he has not looked back far enough in the chain of causality. If things exist now, but didn't before, where did they come from? To say they simply came from other things just ignores the question.

Cosmologists agree that "the universe," material existence, was not always here. In fact, they have even put a birthdate on the universe, about 13.7 billion years.

There was a time when something was not. But I have noticed something about cosmologists and physicists in general. Many of them are radical materialists, and seem incapable of grasping the existence of anything that is real, but exists outside of time and space. It seems like a kind of block in their imaginations. They can't seem to conceive of things that are real but not material.

But the non-material Real is actually necessary, logically, for the existence of (and certainly for the development into complexity of) the material universe.

Without an Actor doing things to the material universe from the outside, an outside force, the laws of physics say that things could not be. Systems could not have simply popped into existence from nothing on their own or become more complex over time.

Without God, their explanations of Where Things Come From are ultimately going to be reduced to absurd tautologies.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Smashed to pieces on the rocks of the 20th century

This institution ...
one of the greatest traditions in all of human history has been under a merciless and relentless assault for the last one hundred years. I'm referring to the accumulated knowledge of over 2500 hundred years, spanning from Ancient Greece to the early Renaissance and through to the extraordinary pinnacles of ...achievement ... These traditions, just when they were at their absolute zenith, at a peak of achievement, seemingly unbeatable and unstoppable, hit the twentieth century at full stride, and then

... fell off a cliff, and smashed to pieces on the rocks below.
I keep coming across this again and again. An almost exact parallel between the ending of the great artistic and liturgical traditions of the West.

Since World War I the contemporary visual arts as represented in Museum exhibitions, University Art Departments, and journalistic art criticism became little more than juvenile, repetitive exercises at proving to the former adult world that they could do whatever they damn well wanted ... sadly devolving ever downwards into a distorted, contrived and contorted notion of freedom of expression.

Hardly surprising considering how closely the two had been intertwined through the last 2000 years. So closely that it is difficult to guess which is dragging down which.

Some days, sometimes, for various reasons, I am brought up short, to a complete halt, and am forced to ask, again, what satanic madness hit the world in the 20th century? How have we come to such a pass that we can say that a woman must have a "right" to murder her children before they are born, that artists who create ugliness and engender despair are "great", that liturgy childish enough to insult the intelligence of very stupid children is the peak experience our 2000 year old Church can offer?

The ordinary secular world can smell this rot. How could they not? Everyone knows that SOMEthing is terribly wrong. Each may have a different idea of what it is, and especially how to fix it, but I can't imagine anyone over the age of 20 not realising that things are not turning out as hoped.

The rosy, bubbly naivete of a document like Gaudium et spes just reminds us now of cheap, sweet fizzy wine, the kind that leaves an aching head and some embarrassing, hazy memories the next morning.

Are we waking up from our 50 year-long binge yet? I sometimes wonder if the lotus has been so strong that it will keep some in its spell for the rest of their lives. I've known lotophagi of that generation who never gave it up, and died locked in their fantasies.

From such a horrible fate,

Dear Lord deliver us.


Friday, June 03, 2011

Government by the people

Give us Barabbas!

Make us a golden calf!

Give us back the fleshpots of Egypt!

Some years ago, I was speaking with a pro-life campaigner who had been in the front of the political fight for many years. This is a person who has spent much of his life working with politicians, organising petitions, rallies, protests; having meetings with cabinet ministers, senators and MPs; making speeches, organising conferences... doing all those things that one does in a modern liberal democracy to try to get things done.

I was new and learning the ropes and was only just starting to understand what my opinions on it all were going to be. I had of course grown up all my life in one of these so-called liberal democracies. Specifically, I had grown up at the time when it was all the rage to start using those political mechanisms to bring about massive societal changes, changes the extent of which we are only just now coming to understand.

My friend said that he had dedicated his life to the democratic process and was lamenting that it had availed so little. Of course, I told him that these things do not happen over night and that it is not for us to look for the results of our work, especially when it is being done on so large a scale, and the war is so immense, a vast battlefield from horizon to horizon.

But then I asked what was to become my personal million dollar question: "What if what the people want is wrong?"

My friend had no answer.

Daniel Hannan, a die-hard democrat in the "conservative" end of the pool, writes what I think is possibly one of the most telling editorials on the shortcomings of this system I have seen in a long time...
Congratulations to Lawrence Gonzi, the prime minister of Malta. He campaigned strongly to keep the island’s ban on divorce. But, faced with a clear defeat in yesterday’s referendum, he conceded graciously: “Even though the result is not what I wished for, now it is our duty to see that the will of the majority is respected.”

And guess what? He’s still prime minister, his – admittedly tiny – parliamentary majority is still in place and no one is calling for him to be replaced. On the contrary, he has shown himself to be good democrat.

A good democrat.

A good democrat will legalise absolutely ANYthing as long as it is the "will of the people," yes?


Thursday, June 02, 2011

So, did you know Orcas eat bears?

Today, for the first time in many years, I fervently wish I was back in Vancouver.


Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Rome shopping

Apparently I need to get one of those foam bed wedge, leg elevation things for keeping my legs above my heart at night.

One of these things.

Any of the Rome people have an idea where I can get one?


The Dress

I'll admit that she does dress quite nicely...on those occasions when she, you know, decides to wear clothing in public.


This one made me laugh

"But hey, you know, we ain't biased 'r nuthin..."

...and what's with the English? Can't anyone afford copy editors any more?