Isolation Days 12-16: Organizing digital stuff

Back before it went to hell

The constant stream of images and reports from hospitals is hitting me with so many awful flashbacks.

Between that and the earache, I’m…discomforted.

Still, I thought I was ok enough to finally organize the massive amounts of videos and pictures I have of the boy. And Alison.

Do you remember when I said that I only have two videos of her?

That’s not completely accurate. My brother found a video of her and sent it to me, which brings me to three (good) videos total…before the cancer. Afterward, well, I’ve got a shitton.

They just sat in my computer all this time in a folder called, Alison (Sad, don’t open).

I never listen to me.

In the past three years, I’ve dreamt about Alison exactly one time. Since Monday, I’ve dreamt of her three more.

Just like our real lives, they started off so great. For some reason, I never remember she had cancer in them.

Her: Why are you looking at me like that?
Me: I dunno. It’s weird. It’s like I haven’t seen you in ages.
Her: (laughing) Werido.

But horror happens in each dream and the next thing you know, I’m watching her go. And then I remember.

Fuck. And then I remember. I don’t wanna remember.

Just last week, I joked that I would go to the back bathroom and scream because no one was around to hear me. Actually did that. Didn’t really help.

I’m out of my regular cheap sipping rum.

Time to start breaking out the fancy stuff, I suppose.

I spend a lotta time thinking about alla the people in Alison’s shoes right now. I remember the constant panic every time something happened. We went to the emergency room 11 times. 11 fucking times.

Can’t imagine what those people are going through now. Don’t wanna.

Around 11PM, I wrote someone that helped us. Don’t think I’ve really spoken to her in all this time.

Me: Sorry for the super late text. I just wanted to say, “thank you,” again for everything you did to try and help Alison. I’m using this time to edit videos and a lot of them are you helping her.
Her: Hey Logan, so happy to hear from you! Thank you for saying that. I think about you guys so often. And I miss your whole family.

This is one my shitty videos of Alison. I have more of these types but, as you can see, they barely count.

That first pic above is me almost exactly 19 years ago. It was taken March 29, 2001 by my brother sitting in the back seat of my old beat up BMW.

9/11 didn’t happen yet. I still had my life-savings. I still believed that god and happy endings existed. Man, I didn’t know shit about shit.

I loved that car. I loved my old red leather jacket. I loved that car stereo I installed myself. I loved tinkering with that car.

It’s been terribly isolating the last two weeks. I talk to friends but it’s different than having family in the room with you. So, I sit in the dark with my dark thoughts.

I think about alla the things and people that I love that I can can’t touch or hold any more.

Me: Hey. It’s me. Just wanted to make sure you’re ok.
Her: You called! I’m so happy you called. I missed you.
Me: I missed you too, mom. (sighing) I missed you too.
Her: Are you ok?
Me: (pause) Sure.

Location: Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn, waiting for strangers
Mood: gutted
Music: I wish I could turn it off sometimes. Oh, I can’t escape my mind (Spotify)
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Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine against cancer and COVID-19

If I had either cancer or COVID-19, I’d personally try to get some

I pause my usual nonsense to give you some information. None of this should be considered medical advice, only my own personal experience with chloroquine, a somewhat well-known adjunct cancer therapy.

When Alison first got sick, I immediately threw myself into cancer research. By the time four months had passed, I was often asked by doctors and nurses if I was in the medical field myself only because every spare moment I had was spent reading anything and everything I could get my hands on regarding cancer-treatments.

This video was probably one of the most influential things in my research.

In addition to three very well known GBM survivors, the rest of the interviewed are board-certified doctors and researchers from institutions like MD Anderson, Memorial Sloan Kettering, and Lenox Hill – the surgeon that’s interviewed, Dr. Boockvar, was Alison’s last surgeon.

If you go to minute 37, you’ll start to hear about the drug from both the narrator and Dr. Raymond Chang – a Yale MD, formerly of MSKCC. What he says about chloroquine for cancer could easily be applied to COVID-19:

A very nice example (of a repurposed drug) is the use of an old malaria drug – which is dirt cheap – chloroquine, for brain cancer. Nice (clincial) trials have been carried out showing improvement of up to 50% survival time when it’s added to standard chemotherapy. It has almost no side effects.* It’s one pill a day. [This means that the patient doesn’t] need to go to the hospital, get a drip, any of this. It’s dirt cheap. Why not? Well, the FDA hasn’t approved it’s use for this condition. Or the information is not widely disseminated. There’s no big drug company behind the manufacturing of choloroquine to bring to market for this use. Nobody makes much money. [If] suddenly every brain cancer patient takes choloroquine, it adds very little to the bottom line.

It took several months but I ultimately got some for Alison but we were never able to give it to her because she had chronic low white-blood cell counts and the fear was that this would further depress them.

*This is one of the side effects, along with a more common one of retinopathy, although even this is rare and can be tracked by your local ophthalmologist.

How it functions is that it (a) tampers down inflammation, and (b) it blocks virus from multiplying in the body – the latter is precisely how it was used as an anti-malarial drug.

In hindsight, I wonder if I should have given it to her after all. I wrestle with these questions in my quiet moments, all the goddamn time.

But I digress.

Hydroxychloroquine, like chloroquine, is a synthetic quinine and is a metabolite of base chloroquine because it has an additional oxygen and hydrogen atom (a hydroxide). It’s one of only two drugs currently considered to be fast-tracked by the FDA as a possible cure of COVID-19.

Note that, while chloroquine showed promised in clinical trials for brain cancer, hydroxychloroquine did not – see below. Also, hydroxychloroquine is considered both weaker and safer than chloroquine.

The former always puzzled me because the addition of the hydroxide means that it’s more basic/alkaline than chloroquine, and bases have tended to be correlated to longevity in cancer patients.

If you’re able to get a script, you can actually purchase chloroquine yourself. 100 pills are $23 here; it was in stock yesterday but appears to be sold out today. I would continue to recheck if you suffer from any cancer or COVID-19 and have a prescription for it.

Actually, if you can get a prescription – that is to say, convince your doctor to give you one – you can walk into any pharmacy today and get some if you’re currently suffering from either cancer or COVID-19. 

S/he’ll more likely give you a script for COVID-19 versus cancer but that’s a separate, very annoying, issue.

      • Here’s a recent paper on both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as available weapons to fight COVID-19.
      • Here’s a paper on how both were used against cancer in general.
      • This is a relatively recent summary of the dozen or so (very small) clinical trials on chloroquine as an adjuvant treatment for cancers, generally, including glioblastoma.
      • Again, studies show that hydroxychloroquine appears to provide no survival improvement in glioblastoma patients, as opposed to base chloroquine.

Anywho, I just wanted you all to know because people should know about this drug. It’s amazing, off patent, and needs to be further explored for other aliments such as cancer and the coronavirus.

We’ll get back to regular nonesense next week.

Location: a slightly less empty UWS apartment building
Mood: nostalgic
Music: We need someone to lean on
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It’ll never be ok

Just like that, I’m back

Woman: Mister. Mister. Are you ok?
Me: No.

This past week, I had a number of clients and friends contact all at once.
I’ve not really worked in any meaningful capacity in almost three years. But I’m right back as if nothing happened.

And yet, so much has happened.

Had a meeting on the Upper East Side with my buddy Steele’s wife for some work the other day and I’ve always prided myself on always being punctual.

She was on East 80th Street so I took the train to East 77th and got off.

When the train pulled into the station, I was so concerned about being on time that it didn’t occur to me that I’d been there. So many goddamn times.

I forgot that’s where the hospital was. The last hospital we went to.

As I walked up the stairs, saw it and my knees buckled. Ended up sitting on the stairs as I tried to catch my breath.

For those of you that know me in real life, that know my aversion to germs and dirt, picture me wearing one of my suits and sitting on a subway stairwell.

It was surreal.

Passerbys asked me if I was ok, if I needed help. Told them that I was beyond help.

Made it to my feet and made it to my friend’s door. Don’t even remember how.

Her: (opening door) Logan! Come on in. So good to…
Me: (interrupting) I forgot. (leaning against wall) I forgot this is where the hospital was. I…(chokes)
Her: (steps out, gives me a hug) It’s ok.
Me: It’s not. (shakes head) It’ll never be ok. (her baby cries)

Just like that. I’m right back as if nothing happened.


Steele and I chatted about it afterward.

Me: BTW, I’m sure the wife will tell you but I had a mini-breakdown in your apartment and may have scared your kid a bit.
Him: I can’t blame you. He’s gotta toughen up anyway…

Funeral Blues
by W H Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message ‘He is Dead’.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Location: A black desk
Mood: tired
Music: I’m broken and I don’t understand

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A Family Guy

There are storms we cannot weather

My father, a cancer patient.

Me: You know, while Alison was dying, I was watching Family Guy. And while my father’s dying, I’ll be fencing and then seeing a woman for dinner.
Him: What are you going to do? You can’t be in all the time. You were in it long enough. You’re still in it.

My father’s not doing well at all. So badly that my brother flew in on a one-way ticket from California to see him as we figure out what to do next.

I see a great deal of what was going on with Alison in the end with him, and I can’t bear it. Spent 20 minutes with him the past Thursday and I couldn’t stay any longer. He barely registered that I was there.

Took a walk that was longer than the time I spent with him.

The level of grief I deal with is like staring into the sun; you can’t do it or you’ll go blind. It’s more like you glance at it and turn away quickly because it’s so unbearable.

Here, if I’m in the moment too long, I know I’ll die. Because such a large part of me wants to. To rest. But I can’t, cause I got a little human that needs me.

The main fella that teaches my particular form of fencing invited me to a seminar over the weekend. Good buncha like-minded guys. He and another instructor pulled me aside and said some incredibly kind things to me.

Been there once before; the last time I went, Alison was still alive and my dad was fine.

Was only able to go to the first Friday class when I had to come back.

Gradgirl was there when I returned home.

We ended up walking in the park. I’d not been there since Alison passed.

Me: There’s a song in Les Miserables that goes, “There are storms we cannot weather.” Some days I think I can weather this, most nights, I don’t know. (thinking) You know, in the Bible, there’s a story that goes like this: King David’s son was sick. So he refused to eat, cried, and prayed. But his son died. So he picks himself up, gets dressed, and eats. And his servants ask, “What’s the deal? When he was alive you wept and starved. Now that he’s dead, you’re fine.” And David said, “I’m not fine. I thought maybe God would show me some mercy. But he didn’t. My boy can’t come back to me, but I can go to him. Until then, I have to live.” That’s where I am right now. I know I have to live. I just don’t know how.
Her: I wish I could say something. I don’t know what to say.
Me: What can anyone say? The other line from from that song goes, “I prayed that God would be forgiving.” For my family, he wasn’t. He f___ked us. I had my own family once. But it was only for five days. And now, I lose the only other family I ever had.

Location: another goddamn hospital
Mood: dark
Music: we will live the years together. But there are dreams that cannot be

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Constant Daze

Hoping for an empty mailbox

Empty street in Brooklyn

Gradgirl: I’m worried about you being home alone, drinking like this. Is the other girl free?
Me: Funny you bring her up…

My mailbox was empty today. Usually, most days, there’s some new awfulness for me to deal with.

Invoices for things I’d never wish for anyone to pay, letters of condolences from banks, overdue notices – all death-related s___t.

There’s so much death-related s___t that greets you after you lose someone by way of a ceaseless stream of banal horrors: Letters, email, voicemail.

For those new to my blog, prior to Alison getting sick, I don’t think I ever cursed in over a decade here. And now my days and this blog are an endless stream of profanities. Cause it helps deal with the constant pain.

Speaking of constant pain, that’s what my father’s dealing with.

So, while I got an empty mailbox today, I also had to deal with things for him.

I can’t interact with him too long; can’t handle the cumulative sadness of everything. It bears down on my soul, like the sky on Atlas’s shoulders.

Feels weird complaining about anything as my dad lies somewhere out there, nearing his end.

And yet, I just want a break from this misery. Even if it’s only an empty mailbox and a day devoid of just another helping of s__t by way of electronic device.

Summer Street Fair in the Upper West Side

Although I do get some respite here and there.

Artistgirl dropped out of this story but Daisy and Gradgirl are still around; both are sweetly concerned about my well-being and check in on me more than I woulda expected them to.

In addition to the company, they also provide me with some much needed levity along the way.

Daisy: You gave me “Daisy” as a name?! Why “Daisy?”
Me: Well, you said that New York puts you in a constant daze so…
Her: Oh. My. God. You’re a writer and that’s the best you could come up with for me?
Me: OK, maybe not my best work…
Her: (goes to fridge pulls out two of three remaining beers, putting one into her bag) I’m taking these.
Me: You know, the other girl brings me vodka and you take my beer.
Her: (mouth agape, glares) So rude! You never compare a girl to another girl, Logan!
Me: Man, I’m….
Her: (opens fridge again, takes last beer) Well, you just lost your last beer.
Me: Dammit!

My son chasing after a ball

And I did have a moment of pure joy today, too. My son came back from a week away.

Me: Hey! Gimme a hug, you!
Son: (laughs, hugs me)
Me: God, I’ve missed you so much, kid. (kisses him, sighs) I’ve missed you.

Location: home, with the boy again
Mood: just…bad
Music: It seems a heavy choice to make

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So, I’m not ready for weddings

Especially not her wedding

Rose: So, did you clean up at the wedding?
Me: No, not even close. I *grossly* underestimated how emotional it would be to (a) go to any wedding, let alone (b) the wedding of the woman that came every Wednesday to give Alison food.

My goal has been to cry less than five times a day. Most days, manage to keep it under three. Some days it’s just once. Those’re rare but welcome.

Cause a body gets tired of crying all the goddamn time.

A few months ago, told you about a woman named Annabel that cooked for us every Wednesday for over a year. Well, she just got married this past weekend.

It started pretty well. Hopped on the metro and sat next to a young lady wearing all white. I’ve been wearing all black since the day Alison passed.

Asked her to take a picture with me.

Lady in White, Man in Black

Then I got to the place in pretty good time and pretty good spirits.

But promptly lost it when Annabel saw me and gave me a hug. She looked beautiful, of course.

Reminded me of Alison on our wedding day.

Lemme tell you: I coulda died the day I saw I Alison on our wedding day and woulda died a happy man.

Wedding ceremony in Brooklyn

But I digress. Annabel sees me in the middle of taking pictures at the front of the ceremony and gives me a hug.

So there’s Annabel in her wedding gown – and she’s like the only soul I know there – hugging me in the middle of everything and I lose it.

Like I’m 10 and someone took my security blanket away. Which, I suppose, is kinda what happened.

Anywho, her entire family came over to try and console me.

Her mom: We pray for you.
He: I don’t believe he listens.

Turns out that, my max for not crying was about 30 minutes at a time. And I didn’t think to bring tissues so I’m running to the bathroom every half-hour.

Pretty sure some attendees thought I had food poisoning. (Food was great, BTW – I may have cleaned off an entire tray of steak myself)

After all that, I needed a drink. But it was a dry wedding. So I went with two people I met there for a beer around the way.

Beer at a Biergarten

Later on, another woman, who caught me during cry number six or so, told me she had whiskey in a flask and gave me some of that.

Told the bride and groom that I wished them every good thing, which I did and do.

Me: (to groom) My married life was the happiest time in my life. (choking) I hope it is for you too.

Jon, Annabel, and Logan

Left early and made it home by 11PM.

The next day, a friend of mine – who just got married herself not that long ago and knows about my single life – asked me how it went so I told her, per the convo above.

Rose: You need to meet some old family-money type girls. Like trust fund babies.
Me: Yeah, these looks aren’t gonna last forever – especially in my advanced old age. I’m time limited.
Her: (laughing) Botox.
Me: I’ll have to botox my entire head. 

Wedding arch in daytime in Brooklyn

The truth is that that’s not the entire story of the night.

And Gradgirl stopped by over the weekend but these are other stories for other times, I suppose.

Waitress: Do you want to start with some drinks?
Me: Oh, yes.

Picture of a Polaroid
That’s sweet tea and whiskey, courtesy of a prepared young woman.

 

Location: home, drinking again
Mood: back to being heartbroken
Music: all out of love, I’m so lost without you

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Alison Music: Oh, I’d better learn how to face it

The light has gone out

Friend: Sorry to call. We’re all just worried about you. (pause) Ridiculous question but: How are you?
Me: Drunk and heartbroken. You?
Him: It’s 10AM.
Me: I like to get an early start on things.

Teddy Roosevelt made a few appearances in this blog in the past. The entry I wrote about Xenophen wanting to die with his feet facing home, is one of my favourites and that picture is a statue of Roosevelt.

And I wrote another entry with a quote from him about daring greatly.

Always had an affinity for Teddy, but I’m hoping that it’s not because we will share similar fates.

See, Roosevelt was a New Yorker, like me. He lived walking distance to my pad, not too far from where I went to law school.

He was 25 and in Albany when he heard that his wife Alice gave birth to his daughter. So he rushed home – partly to see his daughter, and partly because his mom was sick.

By the time he got home to 6 West 57th Street, it was too late. His mom had died.

But the sick twist is that his wife died just 11 hours later from a completely unforeseen kidney issue. She was only 22.

Teddy kept a diary where he simply wrote a large black X and a single sentence: The light has gone out of my life.

I remember hearing that story as a kid and it affected me enough that I remembered it. But not so much that I truly appreciated what it must have meant to Teddy.

He couldn’t handle it. He gave his daughter to his sister to raise, put away everything that reminded him of Alice, and moved to North Dakota.

And he never spoke of Alice again and wouldn’t allow those around him to mention her name again. She didn’t even appear in his autobiography.

While that’s a bit much, I understand it.

After seeing my dad, spent the last week putting away as much of her things as possible; donating and tossing what I can. There are pictures and reminders of her everywhere.

They’re like constant papercuts over my shattered self.

Soon, everything will have been put away. And at some point, I’ll have to put Alison away.

Partly because, in the back of my mind, I worry that my other atomic bomb will go off. Mainly because my kid and my dad need me. Won’t be able to function if I don’t and they need me to function.

But, unlike Teddy, I’d never put Alison away completely.

Because, she was the best part of me and I need to give Nate the best of me. So that means keeping her here for him.

I just need a little time.

\’ FOR NATE

Location: in front of some rum
Mood: the same
Music: Now I can see love’s taken her toll on me

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No rest

You’re kidding me, right?

Me: Hi, dad. How’re you feeling?
Him: (tearing up) I’m so, so sorry.

Alison’s mother finally went home the other day. She came here with such joy, expecting to stay only a few days. She left heartbroken almost two years later. I grieve for myself, for Alison, for Nate, for her family, and for her.

I just grieve in general. But I don’t even have time to do that properly.

See, she took Nate with her for a week because I needed to attend to a completely new catastrophe.

It’s about time to tell you about one of the other two atomic bombs in my life: My father has Stage 4 Lung Cancer.

Do you read me and think: You’re kidding me, right?

Cause that’s pretty much how I’ve been going through life the past five years. Wake up and think: You’re kidding me, right?

The kicker’s that he’s never smoked a day in his life. Just like Alison didn’t fit the profile of a glioblastoma. These two tragedies hit us from far outta nowhere.

And there was a third atomic bomb I’ve still not told you about.

In any case, it was him I went to see in the ER last week while Alison lay dying. Saw him again yesterday.

My heart gets no rest.

Couldn’t stay long. Can’t bear being in hospitals anymore. Spent too many goddamn days and nights in them these past two years.

It’s a good thing that my brother’s in town – he came to see my dad and check in on Alison. He was here when she passed.

He’s here right now and staying over most nights, I suspect to keep an eye on me. Don’t blame him. If I were in his shoes, I’d do the same.

Then again, life seems determined to break me. I won’t let it. Can’t let it.

At least my brother provides some much-needed levity from time-to-time.

Mom: For Nate, you need to find help you can trust.
Him: (to me) Well, all that time you spent looking for untrustworthy help was a complete waste.

 

\’

Location: in bed for the first time in over a year-and-a-half
Mood: heartbroken
Music: Hopped on the metro and I make my way home

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Why she was my person

She was perfect for me

This is probably my favorite picture of her.

It was taken the day we got married. That’s what she wore. It perfectly encapsulates what our marriage was all about.

She didn’t wear white. There was no ceremony, we just got hitched in the local courthouse. She’s holding her phone because there was some last-minute thing at work she had to answer. She was always helping others.

We took the money that her parents and my parents gave us for the wedding and invested it in Facebook instead.

Similarly, when we got engaged, I bought her an engagement ring but it wasn’t a diamond. Instead, she told me to put the money I woulda spent on a diamond towards our mortgage.

I never wore my wedding band but she never had a problem with that.

Said it before, love is two people looking at the world the same way.

She was my person and I was hers because we were always more interested in doing stuff that was actually important to us rather than all the stuff that was supposed to be important to us.

What was important to us was each other and each other’s happiness. That was it. It was us versus the world.

Me: We’re team McCarthy-Lo – see, I gave you top billing.
Her: (laughing) You and me against the world.

As an aside, that investment in Facebook and mortgage payment came in handy when everything went to hell.

In any case, we had dinner together almost every night the entire time we were together. I think that’s why she never cared about the wedding band.

Because she knew that, at the end of the day, there was no place I’d rather be and no one I’d rather be with than at the dinner table with her. And I knew the same was true of her.

We didn’t care about any symbols or metaphors about relationships, we only cared about the relationship itself.

That’s the truth and the truth is a powerful thing.

The only thing missing from our idyllic life was the kid. When he came, we thought it was finally our time. But it never was.

At some point, I know that I’ll have dinner every night with only 2/3 of my family once again.

She’ll never have dinner with us again.

The thought of it is almost too much to bear.

Son: (smiles)
Me: (gently) It’s you and me, man. Us versus the world. We gotta take care of each other.
Him: (laughs)

Location: at the foot of her bed
Mood: agony
Music: say why don’t you and I get together? Fly to the moon and straight on to heaven

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I’m here

Our first date, revisited


We went on our first date together almost nine years ago today.

Went on other dates that week, but I don’t remember them. I remember Alison’s in particular because she was late.

She emailed me to tell me she was going to be late because she was working to get a generator for a village in Africa – which wasn’t an excuse I’d ever heard before.

She worked at Helen Keller, you see. She spent almost her entire professional career trying to help other people.

She set herself apart from the beginning.

With her education, she coulda gone anywhere. But instead she worked long hours for little pay trying to help others. She was always flying to Africa or Washington to try and make a difference.

She made such a difference in my life as well.

Just one of a million reasons why the world and I are better because she was in it.

That night…

Her: Hey, I’m here.
Me: (laughing) You were getting a generator?
Her: Yes – I was waiting for the donor to confirm.
Me: Did you get it?
Her: (beaming) Yep!
Me: Great, let’s drink to that.
Her: You’ll drink to anything.
Me: (nodding) This is true.

Last week…

Me: (waking up in the dark) Are you ok?
Her: (weakly opens and closes her right hand)
Me: (takes her right hand and sits beside her) I’m here.
Her: (squeezes my hand)
Me: I’m here.
Her: (squeezes my hand again)

\’

Location: at the foot of her bed
Mood: numb
Music: Don’t like reality, it’s way too clear to me

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