Tuesday, July 03, 2007

retracing my steps

This afternoon I had a PET-CT scan at Sloan. Before the imaging scan I picked up the letter explaining why I wouldn't be able to report to jury duty from Dr. Castro-Malaspina's office.

Yesterday afternoon I went for a pedicure at a beauty shop only a few blocks away from home. My feet and hands still suffer from dryness from the chemo treatments though they have improved significantly. Following the pedicure, I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Craig Moskowitz, whom I saw back in January for consultation about transplantation. The appointment - a check-in following my treatment in Chicago and in preparation for the mini-transplant - is scheduled for next Tuesday at 3pm. I also called the office of Dr. Offit, the geneticist at Sloan. Remarkably, he's booked with appointments and other matters until February 2008. So, my appointment with him is scheduled for February 26, 2008 at 11am.

I met up with my good friend, Barbara, on Sunday evening at the Cornelia Street Cafe in the West Village for what turned out to be an exciting jazz performance mixed with science titled, Entertaining Science: Coltrane, Einstein, & Cosmology. She introduced me to the New York Academy of Sciences, which sponsors an array of scientific related events in the city which is how she learned about Sunday's event at the Cornelia Street Cafe. Following the performance, we made our way to my beloved Dante Cafe on McDougal, where we caught up.

On Saturday after the gym, I went to the American Museum of Natural History as planned where I checked out the new permanent exhibition, the Hall of Human Origins. Seeing this exhibit was one of the reasons why I went there. It was packed. People were everywhere in the exhibition space. I enjoyed it a lot. In fact, I spent the majority of my time at the museum in this exhibition in part simply because there was so much to read and it took me quite a while to do so as I weaved myself through the crowd. The exhibition as its title hints focuses on the evolution of primates, including the family of hominids and the birth of humankind. It spent a significant amount on how humans are different from and similar to earlier hominids and man's closest relative, the chimpanzee with whom humans share about 99% of the same DNA. It has some very cool dioramas showing the earlier species of hominids. And finally, it explained how genetics has become an exciting and fruitful field of study that has helped paleoanthropologists to understand more about human evolution and how homo sapiens spread from Africa across the continents. I was reminded of Spencer Wells' book, The Journey of Man, which I read last year and his work on the Human Genographic Project. In fact, since exploring the Hall of Origins I've been thinking about participating in the Project.

The only other exhibit at AMNH that I was interested in seeing this time was Beyond, a gallery of stunning photographs of Venus, Mars and Jupiter's moons, Europa and Io taken by satellites and space probes. Only in composing this post did I remember that I actually own the book (also with same title) in which these and other planetary images are found. About these remarkable photographs, Arthur C. Clarke said, "These images are a spectacular reaffirmation that we are privileged to live in the greatest age of exploration the world has ever known."

Dr. Roberts and I met at noon on Friday. I spent almost the entire session talking about my recent post in which I expressed my concerns regarding the next phase of my treatment. All of what I feel is normal, he assured me. All living things want to live. None want to die. All living things want to live. None want to suffer. Yet, as the Buddha said wisely: "Suffering is universal." I - my ego - feels under assault by the known risks of the upcoming treatment and the uncertainty that surrounds its outcome. So, my ego naturally is just trying to hold on, trying to buttress itself from the potential risks that potentially threaten its existence. The frustration expressed in that post and about which I spoke about at the session on Friday is really an expression of my grief for my own suffering as I prepare for yet another difficult treatment during these four years and also for so many others (some whom I know personally) who are ill and suffering and/or have passed away during the past several months. There's grief but also a considerable amount of anger as well as I have tried to make some kind of sense of it all. But truthfully, the anger doesn't help. It doesn't make matters better. I am reminded to send those for whom I feel this profound sadness and grief good wishes and happiness, love and health. It is this feeling of compassion which can help to ease the suffering and strengthen the bonds of connection between myself and others. I had forgotten some of the tools that I had worked on with Dr. Roberts before heading to Chicago, such as meditation. We talked about its usefulness in helping to create greater mental spaciousness. I'm reminded of what the Buddha said:

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.

He also encouraged me to continue to do those activities that bring me joy.

I spoke to Sinda on Friday. The donor's sample was received by the hospital on Friday, and consequently, its analysis wouldn't have been ready for yesterday's scheduled appointment. Therefore, my appointment with Dr. Castro-Malaspina was postponed until next Monday at 3pm.


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