Your life is experiencing technical difficulties…please stand by…

It’s Sunday, 38 days after The News. And T-2 Days to Treatment.

Learning I had cancer was yet another excuse to get in touch with people. I’m not exactly a social butterfly, but after spending more than a year avoiding potential COVID-carriers (i.e. everyone) I’ve been looking forward to meeting in person now that we’re all vaccinated.

So last weekend I got together with one of those long-time friends I hadn’t seen since the pandemic started. (As you get older you have more of these “long-time” friends. This particular one I’ve known for…hmm…half my life…) He suggested we attend “breakfast.” Best I can make out it’s a ceremony honoring the rising sun and involves the sacrifice of pre-embryonic chickens. I opted for something called an omelet, where the sacrificial offering is scrambled, shaped into a giant sun-like disc, cooked, then wrapped around some cheese and vegetables. (The truly devout don’t seem to like seeing a semblance of their deity beaten. For them the anointed Chef de Petit DĂ©jeuner prepares the sacrifice in a manner called “sunny side up.”) I imagine eating the offering is supposed to imbue the worshiper with some sort of mystical power, though frankly I think everyone there was just crazy. Many of them were probably in the medical profession and taking a break after giving their patients wake-up calls.

Your life is experiencing technical difficulties…please stand by…

In addition to all the consultations, poking, prodding, scans, and seemingly endless slew of phone calls over the past few weeks I’ve also been preparing to put my life on hold. I intend to “enjoy” treatment. Or at least have the option of taking it easy if, say, I end up spending a lot of time paying homage to the porcelain god. (I recall that shortly after college one of my housemates had such an experience after drinking just a little too much beer. I wonder if the “chemo” drugs come out of a keg? Better message PAMF. My stomach generally doesn’t appreciate stuff that comes out of kegs. It much prefers barrel-aged liquids..)

For most people, preparing for cancer treatment might involve going on disability or working out a flexible work schedule with their employer. PAMF’s social worker seemed quite ready to help me with that – until she discovered I’m self-employed. I guess she’d heard about the boss side of me and considered it a lost cause.

Fortunately me, myself, and I all want to keep “working” as best we can during treatment. The area I consult in (consumer electronics and streaming/broadcast TV) are areas I’m passionate about, and I hope to continue to provide some assistance to one of the companies I helped start. After all, how often can you blame any errors or omissions on “chemo brain?” And I’ve got my own efforts in the NextGen TV space to continue. That’s not for everyone. Having managed people myself I’ve found some do best away from the office, while others benefit from social interaction with coworkers and remaining engaged in whatever capacity they can handle. But for me, “working” gives me a reason to wake up, and I’ll need that to keep crawling out of bed at unnatural times in the morning. (I completely understand why some people think cancer treatment is worse than the cure. It is. But it has nothing to do with drug side-effects. It has everything to do with the schedule!)

Then there are other obligations. I happen to be the sole director in my homeowner’s association. So when I’m not available the Association will effectively shut down. The homeowners will just have to live with that (yes you neighbors reading this – no refinances, no home sales, no whining about the overgrown or dead shrubs or potholes in the street, and absolutely no burning down the house. Got that? I’m serious! The Association is closed for the next year. That’s what you get for not stepping up!) Fortunately one of the former directors, who happens to still have check-writing authority since I “forgot” to update the bank, has said she’d take up the office of the Secretary and keep the lights on. But legally that’s about all she can do (in addition to being the only Director I’m also the President, Vice-President and CFO – positions that must be held by a Director. I must be running a too-benevolent dictatorship. I’ll have to change that…maybe a fine for failing to make the daily offering of chemo-friendly food to the Almighty Director?)

And before chemo-brain sets in I’ve called a Board of Directors meeting where I get to argue with myself over which contractors to use, whether we should have the trees trimmed, and how much to increase the assessments next year (the CFO part is saying “+$20/month”. The Director part is saying “Are you sure that’s enough?” The homeowner part is screaming “NO!”, but doesn’t get a vote and is being told to shut up and stop whining.) I’m sure I’ll be certifiable as having multiple personality disorder at some point. But assuming the Director, President, and CFO parts of my brain agree I’ll pass a bunch of resolutions that will (hopefully) let the Secretary pay the bills and change the lightbulbs for the next year.

Finally there’s just getting the house ready. I have a three-bedroom townhouse but plan to spend most of my time in one room. It happens to be the corporate headquarters of Koherence, LLC. Over the past couple weeks I’ve reorganized things so I can spend most of the day there. Small additions like bringing the kettle and microwave up ensure I won’t have to make trips to the kitchen if I’m not up to it. A mini fridge might make an appearance as well. (The oncology nurse said I should snack throughout the day and drink lots of liquids, so having food and drink at hand sounds like a good idea…it’s also oddly turning my office into a dorm room…) There’s currently an empty spot where one of Costco’s perpetually-out-of-stock euro loungers is supposed to go. Right across from the 75″ TV. (For reference the TV is test equipment – there are perks to being in the CE/broadcast TV space…) So if I’m not feeling 100% I can take a few steps from the desk to rest for a bit and “test” streaming from the DVR. (Hopefully it doesn’t crash – there are also some downsides to “dogfooding” your own projects…)

So with two days to go I’m almost ready for the first infusion. Hope someone lists a euro lounger on Craigslist soon…

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