I Live in a Lab

It’s hard to write when you’re wondering why your body is breaking down and to what extent it intends to break down further.  My blood work reads like a horror story in places, most of it spelling out a resurgence of cancer.  (The official term is “regression”; but the cancer, if returning, is actually progressing.  Doesn’t it say a lot about us that our veneration of the word “progress” will not allow it to be used of any unpleasant event, even when it’s the obvious logical choice?)  Yet this is not entirely true: what my tests show, rather, is that I have an abundance of cellular particles floating around loosely, abnormally, in my blood, and that proteins are not being integrated effectively in the restoration of strained muscle cells.

At least… well, that’s interpretation competing with the “resurgent cancer” hypothesis.  I seems to me to account for more of the alarming values on the blood tests, and it also has a likely culprit within easy reach: the testosterone-suppressor Firmagon, which I have been taking in excessive doses (50 percent excessive) for half a year due to a clerical error.  Testosterone is needed for cell repair and is also an anti-inflammatory—but it feeds prostate cancer, as well, and hence is regularly targeted in prostate patients by drugs like Firmagon and Lupron.  As a result, unrepaired muscle tissue, overdosed with this poison, could well be expected to spill its disiecta membra into the blood system while also giving the patient chronic, anguishing pain (far worse, believe me, than, anything I encountered with cancer during our first tussle back in May).  An elevated Prostate-Specific Antigen test number (PSA) might well follow: the PSA’s mechanism apparently reads inflamed tissue indiscriminately as cancer cells on the move.  But my “regressing” cancer (please God that it indeed be regressing!) isn’t striking me along bones as it did earlier.  It manifests precisely as muscle pain—all over the place, dependent upon what I’ve been doing lately.  A long walk yesterday?  Pain in the glutes.  More stair-climbing than usual?  Pain in the calves and knees.  And a torn triceps I incurred in making a baseball video has constantly nagged me for three months now.  Clever son of a bitch, that cancer: it finds your most vulnerable muscle tissue and sets it on fire!

Or… well, it really doesn’t, you know.  In my personal experience, cancer doesn’t work that way at all.  Even when it was raging through me like a forest fire in late May (thanks to the American medical establishment’s refusal to diagnose and treat it: more important concerns like COVID had preoccupied it), I could always take a two-mile walk or do a medium-level workout without great discomfort.  I wasn’t paralyzed with pain.  No, I contend that Firmagon has done this to me.  My PSA had flatlined throughout the months of late summer and early fall: then, just before Thanksgiving, it surged to 42, and lately has almost doubled up on that plateau.  Yet there’s no specific generator to account for such an explosive resurgence.  I’ve been taking all my supplements; my vegan diet is exemplary; I keep very regular hours and nap during the day if my night’s sleep goes poorly; I religiously adhere to the regimen of therapies (hyperthermic pads and lamps both targeted and full-body, ultrasound cleansing of the prostate area—the prostate itself having been almost fully removed, by the way—and even hours of experimental Rife technology five days a week).  There’s simply no “driver” for a riproaring comeback of the disease in my case.

What there is, instead, is a steady build-up of Firmagon in my system for months.  I don’t know what the critical mass would be to trigger muscular meltdown: that is, I don’t know how much Firmagon you have to overdose on for how long before your muscles go to pieces.  By listening to my body, though, I’m utterly convinced that escape velocity for massive malfunction was reached some time shortly before Thanksgiving.  My body, after all, is a lab wherein I live every minute of my days.  I get to observe constantly running experiments there which men in white coats may never hear about.  Some of them don’t want to hear: they have their test numbers, their “objective evidence”.  This is the feigned wisdom of a pompous fool, however.  Numbers require interpretation.  If Smith’s manager refuses to start him in a World Series game that Jones is pitching, the decision may or may not be justified by Smith’s never having landed a hit against Jones.  Perhaps the sample size is small.  Perhaps Smith hit the ball hard most of the time but was unlucky.  Perhaps he had only faced Jones before in Jones’s home park, where the hitting background is poor.  Perhaps, through trial and error, he has completely overhauled his approach to Jones.

The further possibility exists, I acknowledge, that if Firmagon overdose stresses the system as much as I’m conjecturing, cancer cells may opportunistically profit from the chaos and proliferate while the body’s immune reaction remains focused on ailing muscle.  That just might be the driver for a genuinely resurgent cancer.  I’ve been poking about this morning into the subject of cachexia: the degeneration of skeletal muscle implicated in as many as a third of all cancer deaths, it seems.  One government site observes with a relevance to my case that’s pretty alarming, “Researchers still need to dig deeper into how cachexia develops in patients with cancer… and how its course is influenced by everything from nutrition and physical activity to disease-specific factors, such as reduced testosterone levels caused by cancer therapy or opioids to treat pain” (my italics).  That sentence froze me in my tracks.  Yet the onset of my muscle pains has been so precipitous, and my previous health was so unusual in a man of my age, that I’ll cling to the optimistic view of my still having time to flush Firmagon from my system and right the ship.  As I write these words, I’m engaged in a day-long fast with heavy water-drinking.  We’ll see.  At some point, you know, optimism is the only card one has left to play.

My present doctor has heard out my theories and very helpfully offered to keep me closely monitored for further verification, all the while encouraging me, as well, to lay the ground for some aggressive kind of cancer-fighting strategy.  I would return to the Immunity Therapy Center in a heartbeat if I could afford another long stay in Tijuana.  Even though entrusting me with booster shots of dangerously excessive potency was the gaffe of a low-level ITC employee, it’s the sort of thing that could happen anywhere.  (And believe me, it does.)  In the meantime, I’m working in my little lab and watching.  I need the honest truth, not a narrative that eases my mind; but I also need a sensible truth, not a line of crunched numbers that permits an arrogant “expert” to play God with my life.

I have this to say in closing: are you comfortable surrendering your life and lives of your children to guys in white coats who’ve never met you—who stick you in masks, confine you to four walls, declare public spaces off limits to you, and soon may decree regally that you be forced to accept an inoculation—all because… well, because they’ve actually never met you?  Because their Olympian vision isn’t obscured by farmhouses and shop fronts?  Because they have numbers at their fingertips, and you have only experiences?  Are you among their vast throng of idolaters?  I suppose I was, too, in the early days of my cancer… and then, after they had very nearly killed me with their indifference—their exclusive attention to the “big picture”—I learned the importance of working away in my lab. 

Author: nilnoviblog

I hold a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature (Latin/Greek) but have not navigated academe very successfully for the past thirty years. This is owed partly to my non-PC place of origin (Texas), but probably more to my conviction--along with the ancients--that human nature is immutable, and my further conviction--along with Stoics and true Christians-- that we have a natural calling to surmount our nature. Or maybe I just don't play office politics well. I'm much looking forward to impending retirement, when I can tend to my orchards and perhaps market the secrets of Dead Ball hitting that I've excavated. No, there's nothing new (nil novi) under the sun... but what a huge amount has been forgotten, in baseball and elsewhere!

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