My trip to Houston for a checkup was enlightening. I saw much that the otherwise unobserving eye might have missed. I don’t miss much, though; after all, my name is Sharp.
I had been to see Hemosapien on 9/27/17. I had not seen him in a while since I have been on this clinical trial from BATCC, but Hemosapien is a vital part of my healthcare team. I respect him and I trust him. As advanced as they are at BATCC, it is Hemosapien who will likely mourn at my funeral, provided I have one before he does; if not, then I will mourn at his. It is unlikely that anyone from BATCC will do more than note my passing with some sadness when they hear of it, and they will, but not in quite the same way. It would grieve Hemosapien. In the long run, he and his clinic are where my final decisions rest. He has been a good sport about me participating in research protocols and now a clinical trial at BATCC, though this no doubt interferes with his own practice of medicine. Maybe it’s a relief to him. Maybe it’s a vexation. All I know is that he and his clinic are top shelf in what they do, though they are not a world-class research facility. They did not intend to be. They do not have to be. They do what they do extremely well, and Meridian, Mississippi, is fortunate to have that clinic and the excellent oncologists who practice there. I tip my hat!
My trip to BATCC started out with a side trip on Saturday to play music in Titus, Alabama, with the Clear Blue Sky Band. Shown below is the marvelous sunrise I had to stop and photograph as I approached Selma, Alabama, on my way there.
I’d have to say that the Clear Blue Sky is just about the best Bluegrass Band I have ever been a part of. The singing is delightful in performance, and in hearing. Everyone in this band is a top-shelf singer and veteran musician….Ray Benson, Mike Pace, and Steve Helton. I reckon I will include myself in there as well. Mike Caldwell is a dynamite banjoist, though I have never heard him sing.
On a previous gig, Steve and I got to singing Louvin Brothers duets and just enjoyed ourselves immensely. Later on, Steve said, “You know, I used to play with Charlie [Louvin].”
I had already noticed that Steve was covering Ira Louvin’s high tenor part more than admirably, actually fabulously. I was shocked. “You mean to tell me that you played with Charlie Louvin, and sang IRA’S part with him?”
“Yep,” said Steve.
“Well, that’s enough endorsement for me. If you can satisfy Charlie Louvin while singing his brother”s part, I don’t need any more affirmation,” I replied. I was already sold. Now I bought in double. It’s hard to do a good job singing like Ira Louvin. It’s more than doubly hard to sing like Ira Louvin to Charlie’s satisfaction.
I am fortunate to be able to play with these gentlemen and make fabulous music.
So, I got up at 3:30AM on Saturday, October 1, and drove 250 miles to Titus, Alabama. Played a show at 10:00AM, then another at 1:00PM, then got in my Tahoe and drove to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a distance of 400 miles. Two shows and 650 miles of driving. I was a whipped puppy. I spent the night in Baton Rouge with my long-time, life-time friends George and Myra McAllister. Sunday morning George and I drove around so I could see all the changes in Baton Rouge in the thirty years that have passed since I left there. Many parts looked the same, but Central (the community where we lived) had been incorporated, and grown like nobody’s business until last year’s floods. While Coastal Texas and Southwest Louisiana are still suffering from Hurricane Harvey, Baton Rouge has not recovered from the disastrous floods a year earlier. Debris, mountains of which have been hauled off, still lined the back roads in subdivisions, many of which were still empty. We drove through my old neighborhood.
It sits off of Richardson Road, down Fenchtown Road a few blocks East of Greenwell Springs Road, and just two blocks off the brand new Central Throughway, which was not there when I lived there. I could have made good use of that, but it didn’t yet exist. My old house, where we lived when Canaan was born, had been completely underwater. My house had flooded in 1982, about two feet inside the house. We bought it in 1986. At that time, they had re-zoned things due to additional drainage work, and then in that area one could optionally purchase flood insurance, but it was not required. For $300 per year, we took the flood insurance. We never needed it, but the house had flooded before, and Interstate 12 acts like a huge dam restricting water flow from the Comite and Amite river basins. I watched the water encroach closer a time or two than I liked, since my house was right off the Comite River but water never got in the house when we lived there.
I understand that the owners at the time of last year’s flood had chosen not to get the optional flood insurance. This time, nine feet of water got in the house. Now it sits empty, as does every third house in the neighborhood, rotting away, full of black mold, and soon to be demolished. We loved it when we lived there. We loved living in Baton Rouge. We loved our neighbors. I made friends I have kept and will keep for the rest of my life. Everyone should experience the joy of living in South Louisiana at least once in their life. There is nothing like it. It is a wonderful place to raise a family, even if you are an Ole Miss fan. I’ll admit, it is not easy being an Ole Miss fan in South Louisiana, but I survived…and prospered. A picture of our house as it stands empty is shown below.
From West of Baton Rouge to Lake Charles, everything looked pretty good, though I never veered from Interstate 10. Once I got just West of Orange, Texas, I began to see flood debris lining the frontage roads, all through Beaumont, Vidor, Baytown, and on in to Houston. Once I got to Houston, they had done a pretty good job of cleaning up. I did see a couple of electrical substations that had mobile transformers installed, meaning that there had been some damage caused by the floods. Mobile transformers are not cheap to rent or buy, and most folks would never have noticed them, nor knew what they were looking at if they had. Flood troubles!
My trip trip BATCC went in a not unexpected manner. My blood numbers were higher than I thought they should be, but I am at the stage in my CLL where the blood numbers are climbing and will continue to climb until they get completely out of order, particularly if the uptick accelerates. Then I will need treatment again. Gooday talked about a new trial that will work like a vaccine. The trial drug will target a telomerase protein that only exists on the cancer cell, and will reproduce itself so that it can continue to fight the cancer without the administration of any further drugs. I am all for that. Gooday said I would be a good candidate for this trial when it opened up. I have already benefited from the trial I am on. I am certainly open to the next one, particularly one that is curative in nature. All the existing drugs for CLL treat and control it, as best they can, but this new trial drug is designed to have a cure in mind. I like that idea.
On the way back from Houston on Monday, I stopped in again for a night with George and Myra. George had told me about a gift he had for me that he had picked up at a gun show in the many he travels to in his business. I was floored when he gave it to me. Never in my life did I ever think I would have an unopened half-pint of Sperm-Oil, but here it is, refined right out of the spermacetti of a harvested whale. You can’t get this anymore. Someone wisely decided that whales were far more important than the products derived from them, so it is pretty much now bad form to harvest whales, with the possible exception of the Japanese who harvest a “few” for “research” purposes. No one really buys into that program except those who tell it. I don’t know the exact age of this oil, but I suspect it comes from the 1920’s when trade in Sperm whale products was still legal. A can of this sells for about $250 if you can find it. What a fabulous gift! If any PETA types chide me about this I will enrage them by sending them a photo of me holding the can while eating a rib-eye steak, or perhaps a cracker with some hogshead cheese on it. I think this is a priceless, precious gift, for which I am truly thankful….for the whale that provided it, and the friend who was thoughtful enough to obtain it for me. When was the last time you held a can of sperm oil? This was my first.
I made it back home safe and sound only to rush back to Ole Miss, where I still am, to work through to a planned outage on the campus on Saturday while the team is away no doubt to be soundly thrashed by Auburn. Then, I can’t wait to get home for a few days and simply BE there, though I have a mountain of paperwork that needs attention. I am also anticipating a visit from my California friend, Wayman. There is no one quite like Wayman.
Between old floods, new floods, and deranged monsters in Las Vegas, there is a lot of trouble in the world, not to mention the Kim Jong Un types and others of his ilk playing fast and loose with nuclear weapons, strutting like banty roosters around a bunch of hens. Earthquakes in Mexico, volcanoes in Italy, and protesters protesting the lack of response to their protests….it sometimes is all just too much.
NFL protests? I’ll pass. I just turned off my TV. What about you? I am not protesting anything. I am just no longer watching it. I read an editorial that said my not watching the protests was proof of my white privilege. Bah! Humbug! Here’s a big scoop. The horses will be along in a minute. You’ll need it after they pass.
On another note, I stopped in Madisonville, Louisiana, and had lunch at Camilles’s Restaurant. Tuesday was oyster day. Oysters on the half-shell were 50¢ a pop. That’s just $6.00 a dozen. I looked at the oysters being shucked. I looked at the oysters being delivered to those sitting near me. I looked as the man as the next table ate two dozen. If you have learned that I love soft-shelled crabs, then know that my love for fresh oysters on the half-shell far exceeds that…the problem is that I can no longer eat them. Ever. Never. Again.
“Just this once,” I told myself. “Just a measly dozen,” I lied to myself. No, if I started, there would be no dozen, there would be four or five dozen, which was my usual amount when I could eat them. I have never eaten my fill of oysters on the half-shell. I only stopped ordering them when I was embarrassed to order any more.
“Order you a dozen,” said the devil.
“Go ahead an order you a dozen,” said the Lord, “It is not unlike you to do something you aren’t supposed to. Order them and come right on up and see Me.” I don’t think He was kidding.
“Don’t you dare,” I heard my Debbie say, just as if she was sitting beside me.
“Don’t you dare,” said Nurse Alice, Nurse Coy, Hemosapien, Gooday, and my mother, all at once, as if they were shouting across the distance right into my ear.
I ignored them all and motioned for the waitress. She came right over.
“I sure would like…..,” the tension was unbearable, I could hardly get the words out, “some of that peach cobbler, please.”
While the peach cobbler was delicious, and not good for my waistline, an insult to my waistline was far more preferable than a belligerent bacterium that my immune system could not deal with. I passed the test. It was hard. It was harder than hard. It took a Herculean effort to pass on something I love so much being displayed right before my eyes.
Too bad they didn’t have any soft-shell crabs, I might have eaten a half-dozen.
I raised my diet-coke in a silent toast to the man eating the oysters.
“Eat one for me,” I said, “in good health.”
P.S. Thanks to the lovely Beth McGuire (the late Ed Dye’s niece) and her friends for coming out to the Titus Festival to hear us.
©2017 Mississippi Chris Sharp