Let It Bleed


I’ve been taking MS meds for over eleven years. There was an eight year period, which ended two Septembers ago, where I received a monthly infusion of Cytoxan, a chemo drug. Now I get Ocrevus infused twice a year instead.

I’m not the most observant guy in the world, but there are two things about my body that have changed, and I believe these meds are the root cause.

The first is I have lost all the hair on my legs. Now, I was never Sasquatch when it came to body hair, but I had a pretty decent pelt covering my legs for as long as I can remember. That is no longer the case. I’m sure it has been gone for some time, but I never notice these kinds of things. K made this observation a while ago, and I am sure it had been that way long before she mentioned it.

The odd thing is this hair loss as not occurred anywhere else: not my on my arms, chest, head or the nether regions. All remain the same, except for my head, but that’s more of the routine thinning that comes with age. So if the meds have anything to do with it, why there and not anywhere else? It’s odd, but quite frankly, I really don’t care. I am wondering however if anyone has experienced something similar.

The other change concerns the fact that my skin is about as fragile as rice paper. By that I mean I get bruises, cuts and scrapes which draw blood that never used to happen before. Most of the time I’m not even aware that it’s occurred.

Take last weekend for instance. I was abusing my body on a job where Nidan and I were making a patio outside the back entrance of the new house by laying a couple of hundred paving stones on a prepared surface. He lifted these stones from pallets and carried them to me, where I laid them in a grid that ultimately created a patio that was about twenty-three feet long and four feet wide.

I was on my hands and knees most of the time, but did have to get up on occasion, or lean onto or into something to keep my balance. The only time I knew I cut myself occurred when I got up from my knees near a window, and as I raised myself I felt the fleshy section of the back part of my shoulder blade dig into the corner of the window frame.

Back in the day, nothing would have come of it. At worst, it might have resulted in a small bruise or perhaps a small scratch that didn’t break skin. Instead, I lost a small chunk of skin and it drew enough blood where I could feel begin to trickle down my arm. So K exhumed a small alcohol pad  from the first aid kit, cleaned the wound (which felt wonderful), put a Band-Aid on it and we were good to go. It still looks nasty five days later.

When we returned home after eight hours at the site, Nidan noticed a gouge on the back of my leg near the heel that I didn’t know was there, and have no idea how it got there. I also noticed about a half-dozen zig-zag type scratches that had dried blood on them, in addition to a nickle-sized abrasion on one of my kneecaps, presumably from being on my knees all day long. I could see that happening if I was kneeling on solid stone, but I was kneeling on a cushioned pad instead. Somehow, the constant shifting peeled several layers of skin, and what I wound up with was an angry, seeping abrasion.

As I was finishing up that day I noticed that the nail on my big right toe was sore. When I was on my knees, a lot my weight was placed on tops of my feet, which were pressing into the patio surface most of the day. I inspected the toe and saw nothing unusual, and therefore didn’t give it much additional thought.

My foot often twitches during the course of the day, and when that occurs the big toe usually curls upward into the toe of my shoe. Most of the time I don’t pay attention to it, but yesterday my toe hurt every time it curled up. Upon removing my sock to inspect the cause, I saw that almost half of the area under the nail had filled with blood and was turning blue/black color. If anyone of you have ever banged your fingernail with a hammer or mistakenly kicked a hard, immovable object, you know what I’m talking Toenailabout.

These types of things have been occurring for several years, with more frequency each subsequent year.  Trivial mishaps that might have resulted in a bruise or small scratch that didn’t break the skin’s surface, always create a bruise or draws blood now, and sometimes a lot of it. Nothing that is stitch-worthy, mind you, but enough to use several tissues to stem the tide. Since my balance is so bad, I am frequently bumping into something, and if that something has a sharp corner or edge, I bleed.

My Dad lived until he was 96, and his 96 year old skin was a lot tougher and more durable than mine is now. The only explanation I can come up with is that the meds have done this. What else could it be?

Hopefully it won’t get any worse.




All Quiet on the Publishing Front


2019 is turning out to an abject lesson on how hard it is to get published.

The last few months of 2018 was dedicated to putting the “package” together for prospective publishers, which included a biography, a chapter summary, a book synopsis, a competition analysis and a market analysis. I silently cursed a blue streak when those requirements were laid on me, primarily because I had no clue how to go about preparing the last two items, and because it represented unexpected work during a time when we were just breaking ground on the new house.

Perhaps established or more experienced authors have a personal assistant they can pawn this shit off to, but us rookies don’t have that luxury. So I slaved away over a period of two weeks, trying my best to emulate some examples my agent sent me. I thought the final products were pretty good for a neophyte, and emailed them to my agent along with a long list of prospective publishers she asked me to vet, and in mid-January I received a list of publishers my agent sent inquiries to.

Although I am a glass-half-full kind of guy, I wasn’t naïve enough to assume the publishers would come flocking, begging to be the ones to let my brilliant debut see the light of day. But I was confident that there would be modest interest, and that I’d have a book deal by the end of the year.

Ever since, all I have heard is the sound of crickets.

I knew that my agent wasn’t sitting around eating bon bons because K was getting some interest in her manuscript, as we both have the same agent. Nothing came to fruition, but at least she’d get the occasional email telling her who received the latest referral and what the response was.

I got zilch! Complete and utter silence.

I’d send an email every couple of months to make sure my agent was still alive and hadn’t forgotten about me, not that I really thought that. Each time she indicated she was still fishing but wasn’t getting any nibbles. This was discouraging to say the least, because I honestly thought what I wrote was pretty good, and that somebody would want to take a peek. The last time I reached out she indicated summer is traditionally a very slow period, and she’d make another concerted push come fall if nothing turned up in the interim.

By now I had resigned myself to the reality that this wasn’t going to happen. For whatever reasons, what we had wasn’t enticing enough to generate anyone’s interest and ask for more. Part of me wasn’t displeased because I assumed once that happened, more work would be required of me, and that I’d have to start writing another manuscript if I became published. This would require time I did not have, with the ongoing house construction and subsequent move.

So I didn’t obsess over the lack of interest. Yes, it would have been a nice ego boost, and who couldn’t use a little extra income from book sales, given the cost overruns with the house. But honestly, I’m so fried from getting this house finished that I stopped caring about anything else. If it happened, great! If not, well, it was worth a try. I’ve got more important things to worry about, and I’d happily go back to regular blogging once the move was completed and we were finally settled in  the new place.

Then, out of the blue, I received an email late last week from my agent who informed me that one of the founders of a New York publishing house asked to see the manuscript, not just the first few pages, and my agent emailed the entire manuscript in addition to all that other stuff I had to prepare last year. I was assured this was a “BIG DEAL.” Shortly after that, an editor from another place in Toronto expressed interest and received the same package. Just this morning, she let me know a third publisher, a large New York firm whose stable of authors includes, or had included at one time, James Patterson and David Baldacci, Nicholas Sparks and John Grisham, is reading the manuscript.

I’m told they all good possibilities.

Am I doing cartwheels? No. I am cautiously optimistic though. I figure the more eyes that see it increase the odds that someone will want to take a chance on an unknown like me. It’s nice to know my work isn’t going to wither on the vine, and that some unbiased, professional people will read my work. Regardless of whether they want to take it on or not, I’ll get some valuable feedback. If I’m not for them, perhaps they might refer it to a colleague who they believe might be interested, and the action that I believed would happen early in the year might finally happen.

Who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky. Wouldn’t that be a nice housewarming present?

Random Thoughts


A few thoughts that have filtered through the frontal lobe as the monotonous grind of house building slogs along:

Age had always been an irrelevant number to me, but the longer you are upright and breathing, the more it seems that events conspire to make you think about your age. For instance, ever since I hit sixty I have noticed more people my age, and even younger, in the obituaries. How can you not think of getting older after noticing how often members of your age group are taking the dirt nap? It’s a chicken or the egg thing. Has it always been that way, or am I noticing it more because I’ve started to pay attention to the obituaries?

Your body also has a nasty way of reminding you how old you are. My teeth never bothered me until recently. I have to pee more frequently than ever before, and it isn’t because of the MS (that’s a separate issue, one of which requires me to wear pads). Age spots are beginning to appear, my hair gets greyer/whiter by the month, and is thinning to such a degree that I need to wear a baseball cap every time I go outside otherwise various parts my head will burn.

Physically, my once taut bod is starting to sag. I suspect women lament the day when their boobs start to drift south, but that also happens with men. When our pecs lose their tone, man-boobs are the often the result. I’m not there yet, primarily because of all the work on the new house. But I can see them getting to that point. Yuck!

Be that as it may, I mistakenly thought men got off relatively easy on the sagging front. That changed when I noticed that the sack that keep the boys close to my body has begun to sag in a similar fashion. This may not seem like a big deal, but I like to lounge in sweat shorts or sweat pants in commando fashion when I am at home during the evening. With a sack that sags and swings, the act of sitting down, primarily because that process can be clumsy, compliments of the MS, and sometimes results in them getting pinched between my legs, or they hit the surface I’m am trying to sit on with some force before the buttocks can cushion the blow. It’s like shock therapy that sends currents of pain reverberating down one’s legs, and it is yet another thing I have to pay attention to. Hey Tom! See what you have to look forward to?

Speaking of aging, is it my imagination, or do fat cells tend to gather in men’s stomachs and in women’s hips and butt as they get older? I’ve observed men I haven’t seen in a while with guts protruding over and beyond their beltlines, and women whose bottoms look like they are significantly larger and wider.

How come a women’s purse is as big as a duffle bag, and men’s wallets are the size of an index card?

And while we are on that line of questioning, why do women bring their purse and as many as three other bags to work while men only need a wallet?

From the Men Are From Mars and Women are from Venus line of thought: Most men I know, yours truly included, can get a call from a good friend they haven’t spoken to in months and the conversation lasts fifteen to twenty minutes. Women get on the phone with a girlfriend they spoke to within the last several days, perhaps even yesterday, and talk for over an hour. Why is that?

I remember Connecticut weather being very predictable when I was a kid. Each season was what is was supposed to be: cold snowy winters, warm and sometimes hot summers. Spring started cool and gradually got warmer as summer approached, and the exact opposite happened as Autumn morphed into Winter. Now? This winter was temperate with little snow. Spring was wet and cold, and this summer has been ghastly hot and humid. We just had the hottest July on record. Who knows what the fall will bring. Two years ago we were in a drought situation where water rationing was being seriously considered, then we made up for it in less than six months. Call it what you will: global warming, climate change, whatever. Something is going on, and if the powers that be don’t do something to attempt to remedy the situation, the our planet will take care of itself in the form of another Ice Age or something similarly catastrophic. It won’t happen in my lifetime, but perhaps my inland Connecticut home will become ocean-front property in my son’s lifetime.

The only good thing about the Red Sox free-fall is that I won’t have any distractions when it comes time to move.

And speaking of the Sox and teams in general, if a team has such an extraordinary year like they did last year, then follow that with an unexpectedly bad season, which year was the fluke?

I’m dreading the 2020 election cycle. It’s going to be long, tedious, nasty, cringe-worthy and supremely depressing, especially if the outcome doesn’t change the current status quo. I wish I could sleep through it all and wake up on election day. Then I’d have the option of being optimistic or going back to sleep for another four years.

As I have gotten older, I have become more and more like my father. I react like him about many things. I worry about the same things he did (and didn’t), I hear his words leave my lips and I look more and more like him. It’s taught me that no matter how much we swear we will  never be like our parents, we turn into one of their clones.  In my case, assuming it’s true, I hope the health and longevity he enjoyed is part of the package. That might be too much to expect with a disease like MS, but one can always hope.

If any of you decide to build a house, be warned. You become consumed by the process at some point in time, and lose all sense of time and perspective during the process. Nothing ever goes according to plan, it costs a lot more than it was supposed to, and as you get towards the end of the process you wonder why the hell you decided on such a foolish venture. Then you move, are established in the new place, and wonder what all the fuss and angst was about.  I’m still in the why the hell portion of this journey. As much as I enjoy summer, I can’t wait for it to be over because we’ll be in the new place, will have sold (hopefully) the old place, and I will feel settled for the first time in almost a year.









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