A Brief Litany of the Woes Experienced By My Family, Fall 2009-Present

Kidney cancer (in an image I won’t forgot anytime soon, I handed the phone to my sister so she could be told while she sat on top of my car at the beach house, fixing the bike rack)

Lumbar puncture

Post lumbar puncture blood patch

Kidney removal

Post kidney removal kidney failure

Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer surgery

Broken ankle

Surgery to repair broken ankle (ORIF surgery)

“Yes, this is the minute clinic. You might be having a stroke. Better go the ER”

“Yes, this is the minute clinic. You might have meningitis. Better get to the ER”

Giant hernia requiring major surgery removed

“Yes, this is the minute clinic. Because you just had antibiotics for another sinus infection, I cannot give you anything else. You’re allergic to too much. Better go to urgent care.”

“Yes, this is your university. Yes, we are being assholes about this, and this, and this. Suck it up, where else are you going to get a degree?”

Stage 4 bladder cancer

Strongest chemo drug known to man, given in four cycles, at nearly twice as much the normal amount

Radiation given

Insane side effects that I won’t even get into

Modified Brostrum procedure attempted on ankle, where it turned out there was no ligament: surgery failed

Job loss

Ankle reconstruction, hopefully successful, for the second time in 4 months. Lots of pain.

Turns out this kind of cancer gives one a prognosis of two to three years. That’s fun news to hear on a Thursday!

Also today: air conditioning not working (high today was 102, with a heat index well above that); roof leaking like crazy; pink eye, COBRA not working.


Universe. Give us a fucking break, already. I’m thinking swim up bar.



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Dad shares a moment with our 2.5 year old neighbor. Every time this little girl sees a VW Beetle (he drives a red one) she says “Bob’s car!”

Arlington National Cemetery, Sept. 9, 2010

I’d never been before.

It’s a strange place. So many graves.

There are so many, and the hippie, Unitarian Universalist Quaker school graduate in me cannot help wondering how many of those graves are of people who died in vain. I have to wonder—I always have to wonder—if the wars that these men and women (but mostly men) fought it were justified and how many of them were sent to die because of some political power play, or a lie.

It’s a strange kind of patriotism, to be willing to die for your country. Or maybe it’s the most obvious kind and I am missing that particular patriotism gene: I have always known that if asked to go to war, I would say no.

I saw the changing of the guard at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is so very ritualistic and I wonder if there is meant to be comfort in that ritual.

The entire cemetery does bring up an uncomfortable question: why all this for only soldiers? Of course, soldiers give up more then most of us do. They come back from war—if they come back—with wounds, both physical and psychic, that may never heal. Still, there are also soldiers responsible for war crimes that are never caught and no doubt some of them are buried at Arlington. And there are people who come out of childhood as if they have been to war. This is not to say that a cultural reverence of soldiers is a bad thing, merely to suggest that perhaps we revere other life just as much, and admit that soldiers are not immune to human foibles.

My father will be interred here. No doubt this is why I had to bite my lip as I walked out of the gates.

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