Friday, March 17, 2006

Outcome: Eyesight marginal but alive

2006 March 17 Friday.

Eyesight marginal but alive: that is my medical outcome. A sample taken from the spine was tested in the lab and was found to be clear.

The eyesight damage, presumably caused by radiation treatment, is irreversible. The optic nerve in the right eye had atrophied and the right eye is effectively blind.

I have no guarantee as to what will happen to the left eye, but currently it appears to be stable, giving me workable vision for the moment, though how long that will last for I have no idea.

Meantime, my oncologist tells me that if nothing catastrophic suddenly happens, then he is done with me.
I am currently taking eight milligrams of dexamethasone a day, and now I will taper off to zero over a period of four weeks. First a week on four milligrams then a week on two then a week on one then a week on a half, then done.

I plan to start regular exercise to build up my muscles. The dex has hit the thigh muscles quite hard, although this time I have not suffered any kind of minor bleeding such as nose bleeds or burst capillaries.

Provisionally, all going to plan, I will be heading back to Japan on or about 20 April, which is a bit surprising as I was expecting bad news, and, quite frankly, did not expect to ever see Japan again.

I now have the problem of finding some kind of economic niche for myself in Japan, but I figure that my prospects in Japan are as good or better than they would be in New Zealand.

My plan is to organize myself into a new life on a low gear basis, taking my time.
"It's a good news bad new situation," as my oncologist says.

I take the attitude that a lot of people who are currently dead would, if the had the option, prefer to be alive.

My wife and I have already decided on the hospital where I will get checks, a hospital at Shin Yokohama, a very short commute from our place in Japan.

So I have, at this stage, the bare bones of a plan, and the details will get fleshed out depending on how things go once I am in Japan.

Because I signed up for the national health scheme which operates in Japan, which anyone can join, I can show up at any hospital, and I don't have to worry about whether anyone would want to insure me. It's not an ideal health system but it's good enough for my needs, at least for the moment.

My next move is to get a new passport, and apparently this only takes ten working days. I was able to uplift the necessary form from a travel agent here in Devonport, New Zealand. Apparently all travel agents carry passport application forms, which is very convenient, and, all going to plan, I will mail my application by registered post on Monday, sending it to Wellington, the capital.

Meantime, workwise, I'm pushing ahead with a new edition of THE WORDSMITHS AND THE WARGUILD, which I expect to publish before heading to Japan.
I went to The Copy Shoppe yesterday and asked them to scan the maps for THE WORSHIPPERS AND THE WAY, and I anticipate having a new edition of this, too, on the market, inside of ninety days at the outside.

That done, all ten books of the CHRONICLES OF AN AGE OF DARKNESS will be in print, as Corgi originals for seven of the books can still be bought from, and I have published a second edition of WITCHLORD/WEAPONMASTER and, as noted above, will publish volumes two (WORDSMITHS) and nine (WORSHIPPERS) in a timely fashion.

Meantime, I have started work on COMRADE RAT MUST DIE, the second book in the TALES OF OOLONG MORBLOCK series, which features a drug which enables normal people to acquire paranormal powers.

And I am also assembling ideas for a third book in the series, INTREPID GIRL REPORTER, the girl in question being thirty-four years old and with two kids, one aged three and one aged five.

No completion date for these two novels at this stage, but I am anticipating getting COMRADE RAT MUST DIE done some time in 2006, and I would expect to finish INTREPID GIRL REPORTER in 2007 or maybe 2008.

The basic idea for INTREPID GIRL REPORTER is that Ruth Lordship is a reporter for AFTERLIFER magazine, dealing with postmortal existence, ghosts being an ongoing part of the social scene in the city state of Oolong Morblock.

The other main character is Halo Chat who, having been variously employed, is a ghost hunter, someone who scouts out ghosts, spooks, afterlifers and postmortals of various descriptions who might be available for commercials, film shoots or other purposes.
I was rather dubious about my prospects of bringing the projected twelve book series to a conclusion, and there is as yet no master plan for the twelve books, but at this stage I am cautiously optimistic that I will live long enough to see this project through, though it all depends on my eyesight, for which I have no guarantee.

I now have three pairs of spectacles, each just for the left eye. One is a compromise in the form of a progressive lens, one is optimized for working at computer distance and the third is optimized for seeing fine print at about 25 centimeters.

With the fine print lens, I can read an ordinary library book and I can also read a newspaper, so I am not, currently, confined to the world of large print books.
My life, from this point on, becomes an experiment.
Statistically, my survival chances, five years after treatment, are forty percent. So everything is provisional. But today I was thinking about INTREPID GIRL REPORTER and I was thinking that this could, potentially, be a book that I would very much enjoy writing.

One book I will probably not write is a book of death poems, THE DEATH OF BIRDS, though I have about twenty or so poems on the theme of death and dying, which I plan to include as a DEATH POEMS section in a book of assorted pieces which I am calling THIS IS A PICTURE OF YOUR GOD: A HUGH COOK READER.

This currently includes a handful of passages on Islam and some cancer blog entries, and a very lean HOW TO WRITE section focusing on the art of writing fiction.
I am also planning to include a very few stories, a smattering of poems, the DEATH POEMS and, possibly, a couple of essays.

If the cancer were to return then that would give me the impetus to finish off THE DEATH OF BIRDS, but I would prefer to forego the impetus, given the choice.

So there I am.

I have a result and I have the privilege of experimenting with staying alive and of seeing how that works out for me.

At this stage, having spent seven years in Japan, Japan feels like the truer home.


Blogger Steve said...

I guess congratulations are in order, Hugh ... it's great to hear that you'll be returning to Japan!

10:18 PM  
Blogger James said...

Here here!

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Bjorn Handeen said...

Your imagination, coupled with your willingness to exercise it, has given me so much over the last 15 years.

I wish you the best.

10:07 AM  

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