The big news is that on Tuesday, my Oncologist decided that the side effects to chemo were outweighing the benefits and canceled the last two cycles. They even removed the PICC line that same day. So, I have finished treatments. Of course, I have a battery of tests to complete to make sure that I am tumor free. It will also take months for the side effects to fade away. And I'm still Neutropenic. More on that later. But the good – no, great news is that I finished with Chemo!!! I can eat ice cream (and I have). My particular drugs caused me to have a severe sensitivity to cold including food and drinks. That was fun. But no more of that unpleasantness. I can now start making plans for the rest of my life or lat least plans for the spring and summer. Craig is already suggesting that I train for a marathon (and he didn't even read last week's blog). I like the thought of training for something (I will be walking, not running). But Craig's idea of training usually involves running up a mountain. I wouldn't consider running up a mountain when I was much younger and in top physical condition. I sure won't be doing that now. There is a beach to walk along just 15 minutes from our building, for goodness sake. But all of that is for when I'm free of side effects. That will take time and me on my best behavior as a patient. So, for now, I'm behaving.
Not the Gordon Ramsay show. I'm talking about the potential dangers for someone on a Neutropenic diet. As I said earlier, I find it disturbing that fresh fruits and vegetables are considered a danger under any circumstances. Just how badly is food being handled in the supply chain? But wait, the advice gets more ominous when venturing to eat outside the home. The advice on eating at any restaurant – don't do it at all. In fact, I should wait at least two months after my counts are normal to eat at a restaurant. The same advice applied to eating anything prepared at a deli counter. That includes getting sliced meats and cheese, too. But my favorite bit of advice involves buffet tables. Of course, I'm not allowed anywhere near them right now. But the advice is to stay away from them for at least a year after my counts are normal. If they cause that kind of concern, it's likely that I will be avoiding them from now on. I'm far from a germophobe, but these sorts of warnings gives a girl pause about everything I do that's food related.
I'm batty enough without letting this make me crazy. I think I'll focus on making things that I am allowed to eat like ice cream! I'm also experimenting with dishes like roasted fruit salad and Caponata. Or I plan to experiment with those recipes. I have to gather the energy to go shopping for the produce and then to cook it. I've got some really healthy veggie dishes ready like hummus (with roasted garlic) and a big ol' pot of collards. So I'm set until Tuesday. And that's fortunate, because I'm also not allowed to have leftovers that are over 24 hours old. Yeesh! I'm off to have that ice cream.
Soldiers Update – Empathetic Killers
This book had brought up some new aspects of Rik and Vincent's personalities to explore. The visitors crashing in on their lives bring into sharp focus the fact that they were bred and trained to be remorseless killers. While he has few regrets over anything he did as a soldier, Rik had hoped that their work with the Foundation wouldn't involve any killing let alone killing individuals they are suppose to be helping. This bothers Rik a great deal. How can he and Vincent save washed out Altereds, gain their trust and bring them back into the fold while maintaining that the alternative is death? However, when it comes to dealing with Simon Molinar, Rik is glad for the lethal part of his persona, because he feels it something that Molinar can understand and either respect or fear. The relationship between Molinar, Rik and Vincent is complex and strained. Molinar is expecting respect and even awe from beings he considers his progeny. Rik has to find a way to keep the military brass from having him destroyed before they can get all the Delphi information out of him. Even beyond that information, Rik realizes that Molinar is valuable as a resource to all the history of Altereds he has witnessed. Meanwhile, Vincent is acutely aware that Molinar is a threat to the humans working closely with him. He is usually one second away from breaking one of the Vampire's limbs to make sure he behaves himself. This situation makes for some tense meetings in the beginning. Here is an excerpt that is the aftermath of one of their more heated encounters with Molinar. [MILD SPOILERS]
“It was a smart move to put Braun in the middle of it,” Auerbach commented.
“Aside from the kill order not being anything we want, the threat will carry more weight with Wolverine squad if it comes from him,” I said. “But he's the last resort. We need to try to reach them and persuade them to give retraining a try.”
“That's a tall order, Blitz,” Auerbach said. “They will be very angry and deeply hurt on many levels by their treatment under the military.”
“Hey, no one is better at anger than me,” Vincent said. “But I could be reached with the right amount of patience and kindness. We know they've seen what the Foundation is about. Who knows, maybe they were heading here to demand we fix them.”
“You may be right, Hardcase,” Auerbach said. “I pray that is the case.”
“Amen,” I said. “Even if they're willing, this is going to be a long, tough road.”
“We have time to prepare,” the Doc said. “They won't be alert and aware for quite some time. But to the matter that is more immediate, how is our aged guest?”
“We had a long talk during a tour of the facility,” I said. “We had to come to an understanding.”
“We told him we'd tear him limb from limb if he didn't behave,” I replied.
“Literally,” Vincent added. “He doesn't need arms or legs to cooperate.”
“How did he take it?”
“He understood that we are cut from the same cloth as he,” I said. “We got through to him.”
“That's good, but I need you fellas to understand something,” Auerbach said. “While I find our subject incredibly fascinating, I am not Doctor Bassett.”
Vincent and I gaped at him.
“I know how you boys think, and I'm grateful,” he replied. “But I studied all the records on our star guest, especially the staff logs. I know how manipulative he can be. That's why I want to know what happened to Doctor McKay.”
“I wondered why you asked about him,” I said. “What was so special about McKay?”
“Doctor McKay was as non-violent as a person can get. It was clear during the Delphi experiments that he had problems with Molinar and his killing though they had a clear rapport,” Auerbach replied. “A year after he escaped Delphi, Molinar was able to persuade McKay to leave with him and go on the run.”
“Why in the hell would he do that?” Vincent asked.
“Initially, McKay ran because the new version of Delphi was to feature him as an experimental subject. He carried the genetic marker that would respond to Molinar's DNA,” the Doctor replied. “But he stayed with Molinar for over a decade – long after there was anyone hunting him.”
“How does anyone know that?” I asked.
“The second project director, a Dr. Whitmore, kept a distant eye on them when they were traveling out of the country,” he said. “Delphi couldn't touch them, but I suppose there was curiosity about what they were doing. I'd love to know why McKay stayed so long and what happened after they dropped completely from the radar.”
“I get what you're saying,” Vincent said. “Anyone that could get someone like this McKay to stay with him despite hating the killing...”
“Is a master manipulator,” Auerbach said. “But I love my job and my office bar too much to be distracted. Still, I'm glad you drove the point home.”
“We protect our own, Doc. What's next for him anyway?” I asked.
“We'll debrief after we finish with the data chip. If the information passes muster, we put a transponder in him where he can't get at it and start looking for ways to make use of his information,” Auerbach replied. “You'll be spending a lot of time with him here and likely on that op.”
“Yipppeee,” Vincent muttered.
Despite this rocky beginning, Rik and Vincent will find themselves hanging out with an ancient Vampire who likes to kibitz on Vincent's cooking. But theirs will always be a complex relationship. Since I decided that I had more than one book with this story, it's been much more fun to write. I don't have to jam so much in a short span, so the character moments are happening naturally, and that's always fun.
I plan to have some love scene excerpts soon.
Jon and I have been busy bees working on scripts and editing stuff we've already shot. There is some new interest from a group of funders in our Jersey project. We're looking forward to hearing from them soon. As for the web series, I can't schedule a shoot dates until I'm fully clear of side effects. That's part of the whole behaving thing. I've even been yelled at by my actors about rushing into a shoot. Thus, I have no dates for the web series right now.