Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Another Good Day Today

Today was a good day. There were two major events.

First, at 12:30, we went to the follow-up post-surgery meeting with Dr. Fineman. I like Dr. Fineman very much -- he is an excellent neurosurgeon, and also a real "mensch" (a good, down-to-earth person). Plus he is a regular reader of this blog, which counts for a lot too!

He took the staples out of my incision, and says that in a couple more days I can even wash my hair (such as it is) again. It feels good to be staple-free!

He gave us some prescriptions, mostly continuations of things I am on now (Dilantin, for example), or lower-dose versions of meds I can ramp down, like the steroid.

We also talked about various aspects of the chemo- and radiation therapy, including who is good in the local area and would be covered by my insurance. We agreed the strategy to follow is to pursue the current standard-of-care procedures until they have done everything they possibly can. Then once the limits of conventional current-practice medicine have been reached, begin to think about various experimental approaches being developed at leading research centers in this area. We mentioned we may take a trip up to UCSF to talk to some people there, and he thought that was a fine idea. Also we told him we're going to go out to UCLa next Monday.

Dr. Fineman knows that I am very interested intellectually in some of these advanced methods (most of which use nanotechnology in some way). He thought I should start in now on the big job of reviewing the published literature on concepts for treatment, so that I'll be up to speed when the time comes to pursue getting into some clinical trials, etc. I also am planning to learn as much as I can about relevant work in my colleagues' labs at Caltech. Most of this is very basic science, but I want to know as much as I can about this whole field.

He also asked if I'm getting sleep - I think he was concerned that I'm staying up all night blogging and not resting... but I told him I'm getting 6 to 7 hours of sleep a night, which is my norm, going back to college days. He said that's about how much sleep he gets too, and was satisfied with how much I sleep.

He asked us to come see him again in a month, so we made that appointment with his staff, and said goodbye and came home around 1:40 pm.

Click image to enterThen the other big event was that Emre came over to the house around 2:30, and we had my first post-operative guitar lesson. It went very well, even if we did spend some considerable time simply chatting and catching up. We worked some on the Mazurka Choro (Villa-Lobos), especially the last passage with the triplets, leading to a final sustained A-minor chord.

But mostly it was just great to see him, and to get back to guitar playing. He told me one thing that I am a little worried about -- this Fall, he has to go back to Turkey to take care of his mandatory military service. Apparently, if you are highly educated (he has a Doctorate in Music, and a Master's in Mathematics), and own a business (He and his partners own the Los Angeles Guitar Academy), then the military service requirements are less stringent. But it is still possible he may be gone several months, which means no guitar lessons for me. But much worse, I would worry about him having to go to some very "hot" regions on Turkey's borders with its various middle-eastern neighbors... Hopefully, he will figure out some way to minimize the time he has to spend over there, and away from all his students here in Pasadena, who will miss getting together with him each week to make some beautiful music.

What I look like...

My last photo was not so pretty, so here's a better picture of what I really look like now. The main difference is that this one is taken with my expensive Nikon D40X digital SLR, instead of the tiny camera built into my iMac. But it helps too that I dropped the goofy expression, and picked up a beautiful prop (my guitar).

Some people have told me I look like the guy in the picture below... a certain "Gilligan," who endured a weekly "3-hour cruise" on television for three years in the 60s.
Each week, the weather started turning rough, and the tiny ship was tossed. If not for the courage of the fearless crew, the Minnow would have been lost. The ship set ground on the shore of an uncharted desert isle, with Gilligan, the Skipper too, the Millionaire and his wife, the Movie Star, the Professor and Mary Anne, here on Gilligan's Isle.

I can relate to him, since for me too the weather has had its rough moments lately. I am happy to report, however, that due to the diligent work of the Millionaire and his wife (government agencies such as NIH that fund research on brain cancer treatments, and private foundations that do the same), the Movie Star (those who raise public awareness of this potentially-devastating disease), the Professor (scientists and doctors involved in brain cancer research) and Mary Anne (family, friends, and others who provide the all-important emotional support), the castaways on the uncharted desert isle will be rescued, and returned to their lives before the ill-fated three-hour cruise.