This is NOT a medical blog and no medical advice is offered or implied. It is merely the sometime coherent and sometimes not so coherent ramblings of a brain cancer victim battling Glioblastoma (This is the first and last time I will ever refer to myself as a “victim”) because victims are helpless, and my mindset will not allow me to perceive myself as vulnerable. It may contain links to real medical professionals and their respective opinions. Other times I may supply links to what I consider helpful or relevant information such as recipes, reading material, etc.
If you are offended by strong language, I recommend that you click the “Back” button on your browser and get back to your safe space NOW! . Go! Go! Suck your thumb! Hug a fuzzy bunny! Maybe get some aromatherapy! But possibly you are strong enough to handle some cussing and general salty vocabulary. No crazy sexual or pseudo- sexual references because that type of shit belongs in a domain reserved for New York Post articles, Hollywood types and politicians, it seems. And, what rational person would want to be associated with that batshit crazy crowd? Not even a brain cancer patient like me.
You got triggered already, didn’t you, Trigglypuff?If that’s the case, there ain’t no sense in hanging around here because there’s no room for emotion in my Valley of Death, My valley is a war zone! (more on that later) I don’t have time to sugar coat anything because time is a short commodity in my valley Besides there really isn’t that much freaking room anyway because Glio B. and I are already crowding each other in.
I’ve already accepted the probability and statistics about glioblastoma’s fatality rates so, if you think that you’ll be offended by morbid humor or otherwise triggered in some manner like a precious flower blossoming with empathy for all living creatures, then this
blog ain’t for you. Glio B. and I recommend that you seek out a different source of fertilizer to make your, self-important, organic, non-GMO compassion germinate or run to your safe space NOW! You should know where it is by now. But, In case you forgot, the address is 759 Sheltered Thought Trail. There is a little unsophisticated code written into that
address. Let’s face it, I’m no Alan Turing but the 759 part spells SJW on a telephone keypad. Pretty clever, huh?
The Residents of My Valley
Who is the “Me” in Glio B. & Me?
My name is Brian Abate (pronounced like Abbott). I was born fifty-five years, six months, and twenty-eight days ago at the start of this blog, which will become more important later.Well, more important for me than you.
This is not a great picture of me, but it’s as cold as a well digger’s ass in New York today, hence the Carhartt jacket. The hood covers the Frankenstein scar on my head, and the sunglasses help with post-surgery light sensitivity. I was accused of looking like the Unabomber at radiology this afternoon.
That was enough to prompt me to give the radiology folks my Free Pass (you’ll read much more about the Free Pass later)
So let’s begin with this; on November 22 (2017), Brian Abate was asked to remove himself from his place of residence; that request came from Glio B. With no where else to go, he told Glio to take a flying fuck at the moon and started a war of attrition to control the valley in his head.
Who the hell is this Glio B. anyway? Glio is not my friend; he’s my enemy who is walking around in the dark valley in my head causing havoc and just acting like a genuine asshole. His full name is Glioblastoma. His friends and family refer to him as GBM or brain cancer. All in all, it isn’t really as if he has many friends and family unless you count all of the other cancer types out there.
He is an admittedly nasty fucker and within five years kills 95% of the people he interacts with. Yes, he’s a serial killer.
So, let’s talk about my relationship with Glio for a moment. There is no love lost between either of us. As I said earlier, he is my enemy. Actually, my one and only enemy and he undoubtedly hates me.
In short, Glio, B. and I are walking side by side in the valley of death that is the inside of my cranial cavity. When I first met Glio I told him that he should tread very, very carefully in the future because I am the meanest SOB in my valley and plan to find and use every weapon at my disposal to terminate his ass. An accurate definition of our special relationship may be described as ongoing warfare.
Do I sound angry? Good! Glio B. doesn’t deserve anything better.
Then there’s “Tim” aka Temozolomide (chemotherapy) a particularly nasty wanker of a chemical that wakes me up every morning by making feel like I’m going to puke. What a prick! In fact, he’s fucking with me right now as we speak. I’d like to strangle that fucker but his job is to try and kill Glio B. so, technically we are allies.
Of course “Al”, or alcohol, is still around somewhere. After drinking heavily for the better part of my life, you would think that Al would be echoing yodels happily through my valley but he hasn’t been a player and hasn’t been missed. Consuming alcohol would seriously fuck up my diet by converting alcohol to sugar in my system, which would supply Glio B. with a source of energy that I don’t intend to give him because I plan to starve that bastard to death. So, I asked Al to take a hike to the other side of my valley and hang out in a cave, and I haven’t heard a peep from him since. I am pretty reluctant to sneak a peek at his cocktail-induced, demented cave drawings. I’m pretty sure that George W. Bush’s paintings would be less disturbing.
I get radiation treatments whose side effects I named “Brady”. It has nothing to do with Tom Brady and is merely a lack of imagination on my part to be more clever creating imaginary names . Brady causes inflammation (edema) of my brain, which leads to headaches that have not been too severe to this point. Tylenol makes them bearable and Brady is also an ally.
Lastly, there’s Nick or nicotine. Nick and I have been buddies for a long time. Well not really buddies, but we are still on speaking terms merely because he didn’t give me brain cancer never mind lung cancer. It’s not as if Nick didn’t have the opportunity, and he is a bit of an addicting dick, but we made a deal. Nick and I were sitting around a campfire in my valley at the beginning of this ordeal when it was only me, him and Glio B. residing in my valley, and Nick imparted to me that I never met Tim or Brady before. He suggested that I let Nick stick around until Tim, Brady and I get better acquainted and I am better equipped to deal with their side effects. I know that Nick needs to be evicted from my valley, and both of us know his days are numbered anyway and, he’s just stalling.
So “why a blog about the trials and tribulations of brain cancer?” you may ask.
My nephew, Dave, mentioned in passing that I should keep a journal in case I stumble blindly onto an insight that may help another of Glio B.’s enemies in the future. The old adage that even a blind squirrel finds an acorn from time to time is true. I suppose that struck a chord on some level. I don’t think that the concept of this blog is what Dave had in mind. but I don’t give a shit. When the hate mail starts rolling in, I will supply Dave’s info so you can berate him personally if you are so triggered. Dave’s a really, nice guy and a manifestly dangerous badass, so proceed at your own risk if you manage to wind up ‘danger close’ if you take the chance of contacting him.
Another motivation is my all-supporting and loving girlfriend, Rosemarie, without whose dedication, Glio B. would standing over my casket grinning like the soulless asshole that he is. (Yes, I would be wearing my black, Ralph Lauren ‘funeral’ suit and no shoes, because you couldn’t see my feet anyway.
Rosie is a deeply spiritual person and Glio is unfairly preying on her emotional state, which, I will not tolerate. A word of warning, Glio. Rosie is more dangerous than she appears, dude, but don’t ever forget that it is me that is going to make you cease to exist in my valley. Frankly. there just isn’t enough room for both of us in my valley, and I plan on roaming through my valley for a long, long time after you are gone , asshole. So you better plan on sleeping with both eyes open… and even that might not be enough, chickenshit.
Now that battle lines are drawn, I am champing at the bit to begin hunting and ultimately killing Glio B. As Mark Twain once said,
The secret of getting ahead is getting started.
So don’t be complacent, Glio because it ain’t no secret that I’ve already started a-coming for your ass, and I am relieved that you’re not wearing assless chaps in this photo.
How Glio B. & I Met (or What a short strange trip it’s been)
A couple of days before Thanksgiving I experienced a debilitating pressure headache behind my eyes, sinus area and ears. It felt like my head was an over filled balloon waiting to burst. I had never, ever experienced headache pain anything like it before or thankfully since. But that’s not to say that I didn’t hesitate to self-diagnose my symptoms as sinusitis and self-medicate with some OTC antihistamine and Tylenol because I may not be a trained medical professional but I do play one in my mind. Of course, I refused Rosemarie’s advice to go see a doctor because I can be an irrational prick at times… OK, replace “at times” with “often” or better yet “usually’.
The symptoms expanded to include dizziness (tripping and falling) and irritability, which was not really that noticeable because I tend to be a bit of a shit heel [insert of of the adjectives from above].
But falling down and looking up at the ceiling while thinking “Shit, I really need to repaint that freaking ceiling” has a tendency to elevate the level of concern and immediacy beyond repainting and more toward a desire for real strong drugs. So, Rose managed to get my-dyed-in- wool, skeptical ass to an UrgentCare center, where a real doctor ruled out my ill-considered, and dopey self-diagnosis.
In fact, my self-diagnosis was so far off base that the doctor didn’t even recommend visiting an emergency room; instead he immediately put me in an ambulance bound for a hospital for more extensive testing. Anticipating your next question, No the EMT’s did not let me play with the lights and siren. Fortunately for them, my head hurt so much that I didn’t even notice eliminating a possible hissy fit.
The emergency room staff was great and immediately hit me up with pain meds that offered instantaneous temporary relief and ordered x-rays and MRI’s, which revealed an enormous “mass” in my cranial cavity causing pressure that forced my brain against the inside of my skull.
Two days later, a neurosurgeon screwed a steel halo to my skull and used a router to literally remove the top of my skull like a yarmulke after which he removed the offending tumor that he described as the size of a lime, which I thought was a pretty crappy subjective characterization since limes come in a variety of sizes. Key limes for instance are relatively small while Persian limes are comparatively larger. OK I’m being a douche for splitting hairs over such an inconsequential point. More importantly, the surgeon was confident that he removed 98% to 99% of the tumor and the mass that was attached to my brain, which is a great thing. A biopsy of the tumor confirmed that it is cancerous and is in fact glioblastoma. And that is how Glio B. and I met.
Four days after excellent care in the hospital I was released to go home. My balance was somewhat affected due to a “field cut” in my vision (not seeing to the periphery on the left side), which I was able to compensate for with some basic techniques recommended by a therapist. Since then, chemotherapy, radiation treatments and eating a strict diet have all begun and Glio B. is getting attacked from all sides.
Why the Hell Did Glio. B Pick a Fornicating Fight With Me?
OK. Glio B. is a fucking sexist and ageist, but that’s not reason enough to kill people, is it?
And the above statement does not refer to transgender people. The New York Times uses the term ‘transgender’ every 53rd word and WaPo comes in a close second at every 66th word and there’s not a peep about transgender people during a discussion about large-scale, human mortality. What a rip off! Caitlyn Transjenner must be having a hissy fit about this obvious lack of respect for the 0.6% of Americans that don’t identify as male or female and who may or may not suffer from glioblastoma.
I don’t doubt that Caitlyn wants to beat the shit out of me for that statement but let’s face it, I’ve got a free pass for saying and doing stupid shit because there has to be some upside for being harrassed by asshole Glio B. And if Caitlyn wants to sue me it won’t really matter because our court system is backed up well beyond my expiration date.
As an aside, I don’t even care what bathroom Caitlyn chooses to use. In fact, I would enjoy having a conversation about the NY Rangers at the urinals with her. Unless of course she happens to root against the Blueshirts, in which case I would kindly request that she use a toilet stall for decorum’s sake. It seems I used a lot of Free Passes above, so just pretend I inserted one here, too.
So Why Did Glio B. Decide to Pick on Me?
Upon reflection , I naturally considered 35 years of
over-drinking and heavy smoking as the most probable culprits. Dead end on the first count (no pun intended) so I can’t blame The Most Interesting Man in the World for Glio.’s presence in my valley. According to the International Journal of Cancer, despite the brain clearly being susceptible to the action of alcohol and potentially susceptible to its carcinogenic effects, few epidemiological studies have tested the association between alcohol consumption and the risk of glioma.
BTW for those of you that might not be aware, my father was a four-time national handball champion but finding The Most Interesting Man in the World playing handball was purely a twist of fate!
I guess that the Marlboro Man gets a pass, too because overall results from studies of smoking and brain tumors have been null, according to the National Institutes of Health, and how can we not value the fine folks at NIH since they have multiple institutes now.
Gliomas are the most common adult brain tumor and are associated with high fatality rates. Despite substantial efforts, the etiology of this cancer remains poorly understood. Presently, the only established risk factors for glioma are age, male gender, Caucasian race, and inherited factors. So I suppose that if I want to blame some source, the list would break down like this:
- Age. Really?They’re saying that I sat at the same fucking card table for 55 years waiting for a shitty hand? I knew I should have folded with that pair of deuces earlier! Dumb ass!
- Well, gender may be a reasonable source to consider because there is a general consensus that men are inherent assholes.
- I had a higher risk because I’m a white guy? Whatever happened to the luck of the Irish? What a rip off!
- I can’t really envision blaming Mom & Dad for this shitshow. Granted, I did inherit my father’s skinny ankles, but I can’t equate anything beyond that with brain cancer.
So, let’s go back to square one and wildly erratic guesswork, which leaves one final possibility;
I am and seemingly will continue to be a long suffering NY Mets fan. Yeah, I’m gonna blame fucking Fred Wilpon, the owner of the Metropolitans! After all, he did invest with Bernie Madoff.
What Kind of Ammunition Do I Have to Fight Glio B. With?
The following is purely speculative on my part, but even shallow research reveals some basics.
The Stage I primary glioblastoma that I have was operable and the neurosurgeon strongly believes that he was able to remove close to 99% of Glio B. But that is no guarantee that Glio B. won’t continue to flourish in my valley in the future, so other weapons need to be employed. Oral chemotherapy in the form of temozolomide, a chemical that is so toxically nasty that the manufacturer recommends wearing protective gloves before introducing it to my bodily system. How fucked up is that? Ingesting a chemical that is so dangerous that it may actually lead to a quicker death because of the havoc it will wreak on my immune system. That’s modern science for ya’! To really get a handle on its nastiness, read its MSDS.
Radiology treatments target where Glio B. was camping in my valley prior to surgery and emits gamma rays targeting Glio B.s last known whereabouts. Depending on radiation dose, site and other factors, radiation therapy for brain cancer may cause certain side effects, such as fatigue, hair loss, skin irritation and edema (brain swelling). OK. I can handle some sleepiness, and I’ve been losing my hair since I was in my 30’s. Skin irritation is usually itchiness and can be dealt with topically. But fucking EDEMA!!! That’s what started all of this. Remember the massive headache? Apparently, the cure mimics Glio’s cause. Maybe I should consider acupuncture because it has to be a safer regimen than the accepted measures.
The final ammo is a specific diet. I’ve never dieted in my life but this one doesn’t sound so bad. No sugar and no carbs because carbs are immediately transformed into sugar in my body. Cancer cells consume sugar in order to multiply, but a body needs energy. Sugar energy is replaced by energy produced by the liver, which requires high doses of fat and protein to produce said energy.
Ethnic peoples that produce energy in this manner include the Masai tribe in Africa and the Inuit of Alaska. It has only been a short time since the diet started, but I’ve already taken to standing on one foot and eating meat like an Inuit chewing blubber.
I hope the cultural appropriation police are busy protesting the Jewish guy that has a burrito truck at Venice Beach so that I won’t show up on their radar until after my expiration date.
OK. Are you triggered yet? I’m not surprised, but it doesn’t matter because I have lots of official GBM Free Passes in my wallet where they will undoubtedly not last long unlike the condom that I put in my wallet in high school.