I anticipated my second round of chemotherapy with no small amount of anxiety. I had spent the first round sleepless and in pain, an experience I did not want to repeat.
It appears that I am tolerating the toxic stew a bit better today, which began at dawn with radiation followed by 10 hours at the infusion center.
I made an emergency stop at the office on the way home. The drug they had given me to clear my kidneys had not stopped working. I needed to use the bathroom in a hurry.
But I also wanted to tell my editor in person that Dr. Verma, the oncologist, is considering adding two rounds of chemo, which would extend treatment by six weeks. When I asked the doctor why, he nonchalantly answered that four to six weeks is standard, but he hadn't quite decided what would be appropriate for me.
My editor dismissed my concerns about missing more work. He has allowed me to make treatment and this journal “work” while artfully fending off pesky inquiries from Human Resources. Given how overwhelmed I have been, his kindness has been a great gift.
“Look, you could have taken all this time off as disability, but you've chosen to work and that's great,” he said.
I chatted briefly with one his bosses and we joked about why I had stopped in the office so late. He mockingly thanked me for choosing the PD over a fast food restaurant or gas station. He also apologized for being enthused about my story. I told him that's okay.
It's not every day that a newspaper has one of their own willing to chronicle treatment for a disease that he might not survive. Horrible subject matter, but a pretty good story.
Ironically, when I had my knee replaced three years ago, I considered writing about it but ultimately begged off. It seemed too personal, too invasive to air in public.
Journalism is such a strange and confounding business. I did not find journalism. It found me. I snagged my first paying newspaper gig the summer before my senior year of high school. Except for four years in the Army, I've remained in the business ever since.
I believe I've always had the requisite curiosity it takes to be a good newspaper man, But I've had to overcome a strange shyness and reluctance to invade people's privacy. In my nascent days as a police beat reporter, I found it disturbing and difficult to knock on strangers' doors late at night and ask if someone would talk to me about a child who had just been killed in a drive-by.
Eventually, I developed a patter that got me in the door. Exploitive? Yeah. But, for better or worse, that's what newspaper men and women have always done and will continue to do. We will show up on your worse day and ask you annoying questions.
After I had left the police beat, editors occasionally sent me, instead of my replacements, to interview grieving parents of dead children. I expressed my unhappiness when given those assignments, but completed them nonetheless.
Now, it's my turn to play the role of Susie or Artwon or Billy or Shanika. But this time, I'm interviewing myself. It's not pleasant, but it's my job.