Yesterday I had a friend come into town. I went to university at Davis with Ben. We lived in the dorms together in the beginning and shared an apartment as we wrapped up our final year. There were meals of rice, and ramen noodle sandwiches. Sometimes condiments were appetizers. Boxed wine made us feel like aristocrats. We studied a lot, rode bikes to class; home; cafes; libraries; grocery stores; parties (one should check out the hardcore bike culture in Davis), visited and became close with our respective families, attended weddings of mutual friends, went to each other's weddings, and our kids play together when we all get together. I guess you could say Ben is a brother. He moved to SoCal while I maintained the NorCal flag. What does this guy do when his buddy isn't feeling well?
Well, if you're Ben you fly up on Sunday night, so you can hang out with J all day on Monday. He got a little bit more than he bargained for, as I had a last minute request from my oncologist to come in on Monday to do some blood work, as the chemo I'm on completely runs an all out offensive on my blood platelets. Their numbers were dropping, and I was apparently poised for a platelet transfusion if the numbers went too low. Ben and I got some breakfast at Chow (good, clean food for a decent fare), then head over to the cancer center to get my blood drawn. I took him into the inner cloister, where other cancer patients and their loved ones go for a variety of awesome cancer-killing or killing-related activities. I even drag him into the "big room", which has a number of chairs that patients sit in when they receive chemo, and we sit down while a nurse and I chat away while she accesses my port (i.e. sticks this two inch needle into a vascular integrated device that's hardwired into my blood supply) in order to draw blood. Apparently the lab was slammed, so we left while they spun up my precious bodily fluid in centrifuges or pulsed it through thaumaturgic contraptions to determine my p-funkiness density and went to the Apple Store.
We then head back and learn that my platelets have skyrocketed back up to a more normal level, and that I will not need a transfusion. Happy days. At that point, I told my nurse and several other wonderful staffers that I won't be back until after Thanksgiving, as I need to be off chemo this week since I'm doing a week of radiation, after which I need to remain off chemo for another week to avoid making myself extremely sick. Even though I'm pretty juiced about being off chemo, part of me will miss losing hair and being sick to my stomach because I know that while I'm feeling poor, Toomie must be feeling downright shitty. Oh, here's a picture of me with no goatee. I haven't been clean shaven for the better part of a decade, and had to endure it as my goat whiskers started falling out recently.
Me and Ben leave dust in our trail as we ride off onto a feeder street that guides us back to the great wide-mouthed creature we call the freeway. We then grab some lunch, and make plans to go for a bike ride. I got a chance to hang out a bit at his parent's house and catch up with his mom and dad. After knowing Ben, and meeting his parents, you know where this guy gets his heart of gold. His folks are amazing. We talked about my family, their family, and eventually talk about the road on which we'll be riding. The road is closed to cars during a certain point, and looks like this.
Pizza Antica (my favorite is the fennel sausage, portabello mushroom, and onion - oh, and don't skip on the warm brussel sprout salad if you go) with my wife, our youngest son, Ben's parent's, and my wife's parents. It was a blast. Thanks for coming up, Ben.
I'll use this week to mentally prep for radiation, as the doctors keep telling me to stop blathering on about "receiving special Hulk-like powers", as more than anything I'll likely feel tired and or nauseous. "Will I have X-Men like mutant powers of vomiting nuclear death on evildoers?" is my reply. The staff simply shake their collective well-educated head at me, waggle a clinical index finger in my direction, and tell me to shut up and drink the damn barium that's needed for the CT scan.