My Wife is Perfect, My Life is Awesome, but Gary Coleman is Still Dead.

I am in the middle of writing up my Big Buck Rogers Rewatch for the episode “Cosmic Whiz Kid” guest starring the late, incorrigible child star Gary Coleman as a 500+ year-old President of some planet. I remember he gets kidnapped, trades snark with his captors, and waits for Fleet McChickynugz to rescue him.

But this is my last week on chemo drugs, so I had to take a knee before I puked all over my monitors.

It’s not that Gary Coleman is unwatchable. He was king of prime time back in the 1980s with Diff’rent Strokes and… I think that’s it. But Strokes was huge and it was the time before prevalent home video recording, so he was appointment television.

Holy shit, I just read that Strokes began in 1978. The seventies??? A year after A New Hope??? Christ, I am old.

Coleman worked all the way to his death in 2010. The jobs weren’t as flashy or lucrative as his sitcom hit, but has him in some film or series every year. He seemed to focus on Christmas movies which I hear are great for residuals because they are trotted out every year (if they don’t suck too bad) for people to ignore while arguing politics with relatives.

The Rewatch is really a parody of recap blogs, many of which I enjoy. But the show…oh my god this show…has not aged well at all. It wanted to be a kid show but ended up being a man-child fever dream with lots of pointless blinky lights and reused stock footage. Gary Coleman was just an attempt to boost ratings mid-season and, I guess it worked. To a degree.

Wait, why do I give a shit about Gary Coleman? Where has this blog gone?

Again, this is my last week of chemotherapy. I take my last dose Friday afternoon. That day, I will walk into the Hillman Cancer Center at CGOH-UPMC and ring the bell signaling the end of my treatment and the death of my cancer.

I still have to recover from the poison I’ve had to eat over these past eight weeks. And then there will be surgery to put my guts back where they belong, but I am in remission and – in five short years – headed for “cured” status.

I would not be alive if my wife, Pam, didn’t take such good care of me. She literally intervened to save my life twice in the past year and she made sure I had my meds, slept enough, kept hydrated, and that I ate something that day. We shared the waiting room. On top of that, she ran the household, made sure Colin was on track to get to work on time, ran to and from the hospital to check on me and ask pointed questions of anyone involved with my care, and told me she loved me despite my looking and feeling like a living dead man.

We also talked a lot about life after cancer and doing some of the things we put off because we were too busy living to work instead of working to live.

When you say “’til death us do part” and “in sickness and in health” it doesn’t mean just hanging out and making soup when your partner is sick. It’s being there when no one else wants to be, doing things that are disgusting and gross because your partner just can’t do it themselves. My wife was there, around the clock, sitting in my recovery room, ICU, and in-patient rooms, tapping away on her laptop to keep sane.

All that time, my lovely wife built a side-business and is guarding her alone time just to avoid exploding on me after a year of being my primary caregiver and lifesaver.

I am also beholden to so many people for keeping me alive. As my brother, who fought a battle with leukemia that makes my journey seem like a tourist visit to cancer hell, used to say:

Doctors and specialists will cure you; nurses and technicians will save your life.

This is true. During my chemo infusion, I had four nurses rescue me from a bathroom and drop me in a hospital bed. I had visiting nurses check my vitals and blood twice a week even in bad driving conditions. My case workers knew me by name and asked pointed questions to make sure I was on course with my treatment. I sat with hospital volunteers who just wanted to make sure I wasn’t lonely or in despair. I had paramedics carry my nearly-dead ass down steep stairs in a chair when my blood pressure dropped so low they did not expect me to make it to the hospital alive. (They also noted that I was the only patient they ever experienced with un-detectable BP who was not only awake but able to assist with his extraction while carrying on a conversation.) Clergy called me at home several times offering spiritual support. My insurance company and some ileostomy providers contacted me to see how I was doing and if I needed any more “free samples” of disposable products.

My coworkers got together and made me a Christmas basket which was teeming with generous and creative treats that helped us through the holidays. Coworkers and strangers donated some of their own paid time off so I could get paid during my treatment and recovery. Hundreds of hours from people across the system poured in soon after the call went out.

Dozens of friends, family, and strangers donated to our gofundme campaign which helped pay the bills and kept us in gas and food for the leaner weeks in this adventure.

And then there was Vickie’s Angel Foundation. During the latter months when my paid leave was long gone, these wonderful humans paid our rent when we needed it. Our landlord has been awesome, so we’re glad VAF was able to help us with that critical expense.

And in 2 days with five more doses as of this writing I will be done with my cancer adventure. Trogdor the Tumor will be declared DEAD and I will move forward with my recovery from chemo and then surgery to make me whole once again.

My surgery will likely happen in March or April. The part of my intestines that were sewn together will be unsewn and my stoma (which I affectionately call “my shit nipple”) will be tucked back inside my body where it belongs.

Doctors Mi, Richards, Weksberg, and Veliuona along with my PCP Johnstonbaugh cured me. Everyone else on the planet, it seems, helped save my stupid, purpose-lacking life.

So we look to a brighter future.

Farpoint is a convention I love attending because it is laid-back and fun. I don’t see many of my friends in the meat-verse very often. We keep to the social networks and acknowledge one another with reciprocal “likes” and “hearts” most days. Returning in person this year is a victory lap for me. I go back to work selling books and sharing stories but also seeing good people in the flesh again. It’s also a place where my dear wife has the same opportunity. We have a suite at the convention so that I can retreat to the room and rest while still meeting friends. I have books to sell. I have my old inventory and some newly printed stock to sell, all at a “FUCK YOU, CANCER! I WIN!” SALE prices.

(All books are $10. Credit and debit accepted. Cash is king.)

Let me tell you about author signings for writers like me at the outer orbit of small-press publishing. They suck. Not all the time, but most of the time. I was attending a convention and had a signing at a fantastic time and space. I was parked along the autograph line for Wallace Shawn and the tremendous voice talent for Pinky & The Brain, Rob Paulsen and Maurice Lamarche! Hundreds of people waited in a line that went right past the autograph tables. And I couldn’t have been more invisible than if I were a panhandler at a busy intersection during rush hour. People avoided eye contact. I got some polite nods when contact was made, but people preferred to stare dead into space than have a conversation with me or the other three writers.

Yeah, it sucked. And I can tell you stories about being eclipsed by talent like George R.R. Martin (roped off from all guests due to a death threat), David Gerrold (asked to run an errand by a convention goer confusing me with staff), and Nicholas Myer (was handed money for a photo and signing with him).

So come by and say hello. It would be great if you bought a book from me, but just stopping by is enough to avoid the least appealing part of being a writer at a convention of readers.

On Friday night, I will be having dinner with my bride and joy at the Opening Ceremonies. There will be a buffet followed by a charity auction and a performance by the always entertaining Prometheus Radio Theater. I doubt we’ll be awake for karaoke, but if you’re in Hunt Valley over that weekend, let us know and we’d love to say hello. Come and say hi to my wife, who deserves all the love she can get.

My wife has her own convention agenda as a judge at Masquerade (Saturday at 9pm) and a few cosplay panels, so she might want to nap periodically, too.

I think that brings us up to speed. I am going to nap now.

Fuck cancer.


One response to “My Wife is Perfect, My Life is Awesome, but Gary Coleman is Still Dead.”

  1. I never got to meet Gary Coleman, even though he lived nearby (I saw him in the parking lot of Home Depot once, getting into a truck so monstrously large, there’s no way he was compensating). And I’ve never gotten to meet you, and tell you in person how great the cover to “Resurrection Pact” is.

    One day, maybe.

    Well, not Coleman. He dead.

    Liked by 1 person

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