The Absurd Epistolary Adventures of the Astonishing FartMan chronicles the amusing escapades
of the lovable, stinky, and obnoxious Cape & Tights Super Hero, and his maudlin Alter Ego, W____,
as they learn to cope with Stage IV colon cancer, each other, and their annoying fellow human beings.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Tale of Two Whiners: 5FU You, Too!

A comment The Astonishing FartMan recently posted to ZoomberGirl's cancer blog:

TheAstonishingFartMan (unregistered) wrote:

Hey ZoomberGirl,

Here's a funny thing—well, not ha-ha-funny, but curious funny: We seem to be on the same chemo schedule.

That's right, even as I write this, I'm stumbling around with my ultra-fashionable butt-bag full of devil juice just like you are. (Did they tell you why our main chemo drug, fluorouracil, is abbreviated as "5FU"? It's a reference to the average number of times fluorouracil will majorly "F U up" during a typical treatment cycle.)

My big surgery, a right hepatectomy--removing 3/4 of my liver along with a couple of nice-sized mets—was a few weeks before your HIPEC procedure. Since you are younger than me, I guess they let me have a head start. And man-o-man, I am so impressed with the way you are sailing through your recuperation from the HIPEC, which, if I had to face something that big, would have scared the holy beans out of me.

(Speaking of holy beans, I now refer to myself as "The Astonishing FartMan," which is kinda like that other super hero, "The Amazing SpiderMan," except that SpiderMan's special super power, induced by radiation exposure, involves arachnid gossamer, while my special super power, induced by a repeated fortnightly exposure to chemo drugs, is of an even more ethereal, silent, and deadly composition.)

Another funny thing: Like you, I happen also to be a lawyer at a big fancy firm, which shall remain nameless, lest something I write hereinabove or hereinbelow (lawyer talk) reveal a career-ending political-incorrectness. And yet another funny thing, and this is actually ha-ha-funny from my point of view: My one and only major victory as a courtroom litigator, a form of practice I have happily renounced, came at the expense of an O'Melveny lawyer almost twenty years ago. Okay, maybe I shouldn't brag because I had better facts, better law, and a prettier client, so even I couldn't 5FU it.

So anyway, we are almost like blood-brother and sister, except whereas you are of the cheerier and spunkier type of cancer patient, I am of the grumpy and obnoxious variety. Cancer is a boon for grumpy people like me. You would not believe all the obnoxious behavior I can get away with now, behavior that heretofore would have gotten me disowned, arrested, fired, ostracized, or sent off for remedial sensitivity training. But now people think, "Gotta cut him lots of slack, 'cause the poor guy has got Stage IV cancer." Yes, cancer is the ultimate trump card, and I'm milking it for all it's worth. (It even gets me off the hook for mixing my cliched metaphors.)

The way I see it, ZoomberGirl, I have had a classically bad attitude since the day that mean bully kid told me there wasn't really a Santa Clause, and my bad attitude hasn't killed me yet, so I'm gonna stick with it. I ain't the least bit worried about dying of a bad attitude; but I am just a little worried about dying of cancer!

I do so enjoy my obnoxious attitude. I specialize in black humor, and savor a delicious guilty pleasure in watching healthy people squirm, when they can't tell whether they're supposed to laugh or cry when I quip out some especially cutting gallows humor. When they tell me--as they all invariably do--how good I look, I tell them to "just be patient." The sad fact is, I never looked good a day in my life, and I rather doubt having cancer has improved my appearance. Silly me, I prefer compliments directed my way to be colorably believable.

Yes, ZoomberGirl, all the stupid healthy people mean well, but meaning well is an excuse just one notch above the dog ate my homework. Really, sometimes I get the feeling that certain healthy people think it is my duty to make sure they aren't the least discomfited by the happy fact that Yours Truly, if you believe the stats, is highly likely to croak out in a decidedly unpleasant manner sometime in the next three or four years, give or take a half-dozen months of "chemo-enhanced" additional survivability. So I guess my cancer "trump card" doesn''t work all that well with certain people, and here's an interesting example:

I have a certain "friend" who complains constantly--every waking hour to anyone who will pretend to listen--about all her numberless unbearable troubles, a dodgy new cellphone and some mishandled dry-cleaning being two of the most recently insurmountable difficulties in her life, utter catastrophes that supplied her with material for six days of non-stop bitching. When I had the insensitivity to interrupt her latest gripe-a-palooza to mention that, "Hey, everybody's got problems and so do I," this "friend" got indignant and said I was "always throwing my cancer up in her face." She further informed me that I, The Astonishing FartMan who has taken an oath always to fight the good fight, am an evil person who doesn't care about anyone's problems except my own. Having put me in my place, with her nose upturned she stormed out of my house (where she had been living rent free for the last several weeks due to her ongoing "employment problems" that just might be related to her incessant grumbling about trivial matters), taking only the most necessary of her personal effects, but vowing to return at her convenience to remove the remainder from the guest room closet they presently completely fill. But, really, how can my "friend" be expected to cope with hearing me talk about my cancer when she can't get decent tech support for her four hundred dollar cellphone, her laundry is a spotty, and her new job is slave work?!?!

Yes, some people seem to think it's my obligation to help them forget I have cancer. Forgive me please, but that work is not billable, and I don't do pro bono.  (But I can refer them to you, ZoomberGirl, if you want to take on the (mis)representation.)

And when it comes to doctors, don't get me started. Most of them these days have less bedside manner than a cheap digital alarm clock. Excuse me, doc, you are supposed to be caring for me, but you seem to think you are supposed to be caring for my disease. So, doc, let's get this straight:

I am your patient.

The cancer is not your patient.

The latest battery of lab tests is not your patient.

My MRI Scan is not your patient.

My body is not your patient.

I, The One and Only Astonishing FartMan, I am your patient.

So, all you doctors, you can start by paying some attention to me, and can begin that process by contemplating the strange possibility that I might be able to give you some useful information about what's going on both inside and outside my body!

And all the other healthcare providers and health care bureaucrats are not much better than the doctors, although there are some happy exceptions (my infusion nurse, M______). But I excuse most of them because they, like me, are victims trapped in the medical bureaucracy: If filling out forms were therapeutic, I'd have been cured on the second day after my diagnosis. One time, ZoomberGirl, I kid you not, I filled out a three page form that asked for my home address nine separate times! I suppose it is possible--because I am, after all,  the One and Only Astonishing FartMan--that I could have relocated my entire household during the seventeen seconds that have elapsed since I last answered that question on your stupid form.

I would not mind so much filling out the dern forms, if somebody actually bothered to read them. But they don't hardly read them at all, except for the section with the toll free number of my health insurance company.

Whiz. Moan. Whine.
Whiz. Moan. Whine.
Whiz. Moan. Whine.

There! I got that out of my system, and boy do I feel better!

Speaking seriously (well, as serious as I can be), ZoomberGirl, if you ever do feel really down in the dumps, and need someone equally bleak and blue to commiserate with, you can count on me, assuming of course that I am actually still haunting this earth. Yes, a messy commiseration, slathered with tear-snot, is not something a tough gal like you ordinarily wants to partake and is somewhat contrary to the job you've taken on as cancerland's most exuberant exponent of positivity. But in case you ever feel that your dedication to that good and noble duty limits your freedom to interact with other people in crude reality (a reality that can be "positively" brutal sometimes), please, please, feel free to email me any time at astonishing-at-att-dot-net.

I hear it sometimes makes people feel better to learn that someone else is more miserable than they are, so you can always rely on me to fill that role. And if I'm not available, you can always call my "friend's" broken cellphone number. (That's a joke, in case you were wondering. )

But don't feel obliged to email me, now or ever, as I am sure you have more than enough admirers to contend with already.

I do apologize for this overlong comment. If I wanted to rattle on forever, I should probably start my own blog instead of monopolizing yours. And maybe I will start my own blog someday, and include this comment as an entry. (I could title it "ATale of Two Whiners.") But if I did have my own blog, some idiot would probably want me to turn it into some kind of cancer-diary book. Just more work. Like I don't have enough crapola to do already.

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