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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Final Countdown


Springtime and the flowers are coming out.

Friday, I lugged my hundred-foot garden hose from the back yard to the front yard. Took the wind out of my sails.

There's a handy man neighbor that I'm now paying to get the yards cleared of weeds that have gone crazy with all the rain we had last month. I think I can handle the watering, whenever the wind isn't blowing a gale.

Today I have only 5 radiation treatments left. The real chore is having to drive 12.1 miles every day for a 15-minute treatment and then back.

The side effects so far have been Dysuria, that's a UTI without the infection, and diarrhea. It's a pain having to run to the bathroom so frequently. It hits me the hardest on Sundays. I've missed a number of Sundays at church, but I'm fine for Tuesday when I teach a class at 7:00 to our men's study group. We're going over Acts, then have breakfast at Wecks, a local diner.

This last Sunday I woke up with my heart racing at 116 to 121bpm. By the time we got dressed and wife drove me to urgent care it was back to normal. A side effect of the dysuria, dehydration.

The surprise was my doctor was a young lady with the last name Sandoval. I had to ask, "Do you know an Anthony Sandoval in Los Alamos?"

She's, his daughter. I told her I used to run against him in high school. He scratched out of the mile at state meet to try and set the state record in the 2-mile. That opened up for me to be state champion in the mile and got me my scholarship to college. That night when the 2-mile was run the winds were 40mph. He ran a 9:19 a couple of weeks earlier the state record was 9.32, but without competition and the wind he fell short.

She told me he closed his cardiology practice in Los Alamos and is an instructor at UNMH here in town.

Side note: Tony Sandoval finished 4th in the Olympic trials in 1976 in the marathon. He won the Olympic trials in the marathon in 1980, the year the U.S. boycotted the Olympics in Moscow.

When I walk into the cancer center there are check in clerks. One of them is a former student. She always greets me with a smile and waves as I come and leave. I gave her one of my books.

There are two men in I'd say early thirties that are the technicians for my treatments. I'm using a cane now and bought a golf chipper and got a pro shop at the golf course near me to attach a four-footed tip to it. I get a lot of comments on it, everyone thinks it's a putter, but today the putters are shaped too square or look like the Star Ship Enterprise and come with an extra wide grip. Both of the guys are golfers and that gives us a bit to talk about while they get me positioned and check to see if my bladder is full enough for the procedure.

Every Thursday after the treatment I meet with Dr. Garg where he asks me how things are going. (When I learned my doctor's name was Garg I mentioned to some people at church if he had ridges on his forehead. Those that laughed I knew to be Trekkies.)

Dr. Binder is my doctor for my long-term treatment. He's placed me on two powerful drugs, one I take four tablets a day for 1,000mgs. I can only get it by mail, and it comes in a bag with a hazard warning to not let women or children touch it. I'll be taking these drugs for at least a year and up to three years.

Then I get a chemo injection every 12 weeks for a year. The first one didn't seem to affect me and the only thing the pills have done is turn my normally oily skin bone dry.

I went to my dermatologist Monday, and she prescribed an oil I put on three times a day to clear up the Eczema that developed on my hands and arms. They're clearing up.

The one side affect the doctor's harp on is weight gain. I can see if you're fatigued and in bed most of the time you'll put on weight, but my energy level is fine. I've even lost 15 pounds. Seems my Ozempic is countering the weight gain and maybe why oncologists are now prescribing it.



Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Lesson from Gibbon: Diocletian


Lessons From Gibbon


Gibbon wrote the eight volumes from 1776 to 1830’s. Most historians refer to him, but today I don’t think many people want to read it anymore. His writing is archaic, stuffy, stilted, and dry. The audio version, the narrator drones without any inflection or emotion. Still better to listen instead of trying to read all eight volumes.

I discovered that there was actually a lot to learn from Eddie. Well from Julius Caesar up to Diocletian not much I didn’t already know. A few insights but most books on Roman history focus on the emperors at least through Commodus. Gibbon places the death of Commodus, when the Praetorian Guard put the next emperor up for auction, as the beginning of the decline.

This entered a time where any general with an army marched on Rome to name himself emperor. Some lasted for a few years others didn’t make it to a year.

The Germanic tribes on the other side of Rhine seized the weakness and invaded carving out parts of the empire. Mercenaries from tribes across the Rhine and Danube were used in the legions. Total chaos.

Here are some of the lessons I learned from Diocletian (284–305 CE):

· Diocletian pulled the empire out of chaos. Once he had total control of the empire, he realized it was too big and cumbersome for one person to rule. He divided it up into four areas and placed a handpicked man to rule each one. He took the title of Augustus and the other three had the title of Caesar. Each area was called a diocese, taken from his name. The Catholic church still uses this term for each area under the direction of a bishop.

· Eunuchs were used for the bureaucracy. Not able to sire children and have a family they were considered less likely to be corrupt. Main reason for Catholic priest being celibate. It didn’t work and still doesn’t for The Church.

· Diocletian instituted the most thorough and ruthless persecution of the Christians. He noticed that many temples throughout the empire were shuttered, and others were suffering from poor attendance and money from sacrifices.  The temples were a major source of money in time of need. They built up large treasuries and then loaned the money out acting as bankers making even more off interest. They were the dragon sitting on a pile of treasure. Whenever emperors needed money for holding off an invasion or putting down a rebellion, they would raid the temples of the hoarded gold and silver. If the temples are going out of business the monetary backup plan was gone.

· Christianity doesn’t have temples, and they don’t sacrifice animals to raise money. This was a serious hit on the temples dedicated to emperor worship. Which provided the personal income of the emperor.

· Diocletian issued an edict of Milan outlawing Christianity. Milan was where the emperor resided not in Rome. For three hundred years the Christians were persecuted sporadically, but in the chaos of the second and third centuries stayed under the radar and prospered. In the larger cities they built churches. Now was the time of empire wide intense persecution.

· Gibbon relates that the wealthy class became Christians from their slaves. Slaves flocked to the religion and then converted their masters.

· The middle class or merchants were the most opposed to Christianity as they didn’t like the idea of equality in the afterlife. They also worshipped gods that promised wealth. The military worshipped Mithras.

· This persecution nearly destroyed all the good work in restoring the empire Diocletian accomplished.

· Only the wealthy were condemned and suffered. Freemen and slaves, he didn’t care about. Domitian was after confiscating wealth.

· Gibbon added up all the lives lost to persecution from Nero to Diocletian his estimation of the total was 150,000. He compared this to the lives lost in the Netherlands during the 30 year’s war which was 100,000.

I downloaded The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon on Audio. It’s 108 hours. I also downloaded the Kindle edition for only two dollars. Comes in useful if I want to look up certain lessons. So far, I’m through the reign of Constantine to the end of paganism. That’s already 30 hours a long way to go yet.

Next edition will cover Constantine.

Patrick Prescott is a retired public-school teacher and author of: Optimus: Praetorian Guard, Stephanus, I Maury: The Life and Times of a Rebel, Human Sacrifices, The Fan Plan Tribology, Three Medieval Battles and others in e-books and paperbacks on Amazon.com.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Sunday's are the worst.


I'm three fifths of the way through radiation. Five weeks to go. One of the check-in clerks is a former student. I gave her a copy of Human Sacrifices. She is very friendly.

During the week I'm fine. My only problem is having enough in my bladder for treatment. Only once this week was I short and had to drink water for a few minutes before they let me in again and there was enough.

Last Sunday I had bad diabetic nerve pain when I woke up. It was up to my kneecaps. I go into church early to fix coffee and tea for our Friendship Cafe, between worship service and Sunday School. My wife had to fill in for me. I'm getting get well cards, even from good blogger buddy Berthold in Ohio. 

This week I came down with a UTI. Friday morning I went into urgent care at 6AM, I was the only customer and was seen right away. I didn't get out of there with a injection of anti-biotic and prescription until 10:00. I made it through radiation, but Friday night I was going about every ten minutes, same for all day Saturday. I got some sleep last night and it's settled down some, but I was afraid to go to church if I had to run to the bathroom too often. 

Reminds me of an old book title joke: Fifty Yards to the Out House written by Willie Make It and Illustrated by Betty Wont.

Linda has to make coffee again. I'm a tea drinker connoisseur. Plain old orange, black tea gets boring. And the person getting the coffee never had hot water for tea or hot chocolate and when she couldn't do it anymore, I volunteered. 

I started something, an elderly lady decided to hold an afternoon tea last year. Ten ladies took a table and sold tickets and on a Saturday afternoon they held a tea. They had three different snacks for three different types of tea. They had an auction. I donated a fancy tea pot inherited from my mother. We raised $1,500 for the Heifer Project. This year the tea is in late April the day after my last radiation treatment. Linda and daughter will host a table and the proceeds will go to local animal rescue groups. Not sure I'll be able to make it.

My cousin messaged me on fb after I posted about my treatments. She told me that she was fine through all of her treatments, but two months later she was leaking from every orifice in her body for a month. Seems it has a delayed reaction. Oh Joy!

I put the picture of Edward Gibbon on top. I got a copy of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire on audio (108 hours), also a kindle copy for two bucks. So far, I've listened to 35 hours. I'm writing a series of articles that I'm posting on Medium entitled Lessons from Gibbon. It is filling in the time without rotting my brain streaming TV and giving me something to write about. I'll post them here too.

I'm confined to the bedroom as its closest to the bathroom, but I do have my faithful companion beside me to keep me company.

This is Sammie, she helped me through the time I fell and broke my hand and wrenched my back a few years ago. A good girl.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Hanging in there.

 I've had ten of the forty radiation treatments. So far, I've had few ill effects (knock on wood). Some loose stools and one night of the runs is about it.

I've started on the regimen of Zytiga and Prednisone without any loss of energy or other side effects mentioned. I'll be on this for a year of more.

I had my first chemo injection yesterday and will have them every three months for from a year to three.

I'm hanging in there for now. 

Thursday, February 29, 2024

The Road to Wellness

 First radiation treatment today. Monday, I saw the medical oncologist. He'll be overseeing my hormone therapy. I've started on two pills every day and an injection starting on the 13th every three weeks. The injections are for three years. 

The side effects of radiation treatment is tiredness.

The side effects of hormone therapy are hot flashes, high blood pressure, weight gain, fatigue, lowering muscle and adding fat add on cardiovascular disease and mood changes.

Talk about cured but dying from the cure!

I Keep thinking back over the doctor I had for five years. He managed my diabetes but didn't do a physical or prostate exam. Then the last three years was during covid, and I only contacted him by phone for year and the other was with my new doctor that did the blood test that led to this.

I'm trying to keep a positive mental attitude, but with such a gloomy forecast it's not going to be easy. 

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Fight of my life.

 February 29, I have my first radiation treatment. Five days a week for eight weeks. The information packet says the main side effect is tiredness. Usual doctor sugar coating what's going to happen. Fatigue is what will happen. Barely able to get out of bed while going though it and possibly for months afterward. At my age it takes time to heal.

Then hormone treatment. Estrogen and Androgen injections to kill testosterone. It seems T is what the cancer feeds on. 

I know I'm not alone in this fight. My wife is with me and will be driving me to and from the treatments and when I get as week as a newborn puppy tend to my needs. Married 45 years we've been there and done that many times. I also know from past trauma that the Holy Spirit will be my comforter. 

Jesus didn't promise us paradise on Earth. He said He must go so the Holy Spirit could come and be a guide, advocate, and comforter. 

I went through a divorce which ended my dream of being a missionary. It was a very painful experience, but the Holy Spirit saw me through my pain and depression. I wasn't alone He was there.

I picked up the pieces, remarried and considered my classroom a mission field, no to preach, but to teach them to read and write, to understand history and to do research which, if they learned would stand them in good stead in their lives.

 I've experienced the loss of my parents and my younger sister. He gave me solace in all the pain.

I know He will be by my side through all of this. I'm walking through the valley of the shadow of death, and I know He will comfort me through it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

NYC's Biggest Secret


Republicans Just Laid Bare One Of New York City’s Biggest Secrets

And you know what? It’s about damn time.

By Ossiana Tepfenhart


A couple months ago, I got a phone call from my friend Eli*. Eli is extremely housing insecure and does walking deliveries for a living. After eight years of sleeping on couches and in the street, he finally got his Section 8. He lives with his brother, Jason.*

Too bad SNAP doesn’t pay enough for food on a regular basis.

“Ossiana, is it alright if me and Jason come by?” he asked. “I haven’t had much food lately. I’m really hungry and I feel like if I don’t get serious food, I’ll faint.”

The answer, of course, was a resounding yes. We cooked him and his brother a turkey dinner, had them spend the night, and then let them raid our pantry. Then, we wrapped up the rest of the turkey and sent them on their way.

That dinner was a sight most people will never see. You see, Eli, Jason, my husband, and I all were homeless at one point. And yes, all of us squatted in New York City. So, we all get it.

Lately, I’ve been watching the Migrant Crisis unfold. And it was one of the most telling things I’ve ever seen in my life.

For those not in the know, the Migrant Crisis is a GOP-fueled crisis where they bus migrants to New York City.

The Republicans do this allegedly to prove a point that we need to secure the border. In reality, the GOP recently turned down border security bills. It’s a song and dance to upset blue states and flex their power.

But, I digress.

The Migrant Crisis is a real crisis. Over 100,000 migrants have arrived in New York City over the past year. This led to a multitude of emergency shelters, over $14.5 billion in spending for food and shelter, and a full overhaul of the schools.

Most of these people are trying to seek asylum, but the truth is that they don’t have much of a chance and the system is backlogged. Asylum is not for economic reasons. It’s for political persecution that has to be noticeable and proven.

Many of the working poor in New York City are livid about this — and rightfully so.

It’s not that New Yorkers don’t want migrants here. It’s that the Migrant Crisis put on a huge show about New York’s “humanitarian” side while proving that they had the means to shelter the homeless people in the city.

The hypocrisy is laid bare for all to see.

Prior to the crisis, there were 100,000 homeless people in New York City. Many of them were rejected for permanent shelter, denied food, and denied medical care that could have helped them get back on their feet. How do I know? My friends and I lived it.

We were told to “get a job,” despite no one wanting to hire a homeless person. The shelters themselves have about 100,000 homeless people sleeping in them.

Many people don’t want to sleep there because they are SO DANGEROUS. People rape you and steal your shit there. It’s happened to my late friend several times until he decided he preferred sleeping in the subways. Meanwhile, migrants often get their own individual rooms in hotels. What the fuck.

Schools have shut down to house them, hotels were converted into shelters, and many permanent buildings are now being planned for them. So, what the NYC government is telling me with this is that they could have done this all along for the homeless that desperately wanted safe shelter. They just chose not to.

Migrants are getting free daycare while New Yorkers have to pay for it. Fucking really? Even daycare?

New Yorkers who are working poor that struggle to keep a roof over their head with rising rents get to watch people who are not even from here get discounted rents, freebies, and job placement. The average rent in Manhattan is around $4,000. That’s not tenable for two people earning $50,000 each — and that’s very bad. NYCHA is backlogged and reasonable rents are done by a lottery that can take years to get.

It’s really, really bad in New York for the average person. There are tons of apartments that are sitting vacant because landlords don’t want to rent them out at a reasonable price — thousands, even.

 My friends who are in New York right now? They want to leave because they are fed up with getting slums for $3,000 a month and I can’t blame them.

Legally speaking, New York is bound to shelter migrants due to the 1981 “right to shelter” mandate, but that doesn’t explain the double standard.

New York is legally bound to shelter people who apply for shelter in the city, period. I get that. And I also get that these people are fleeing bad situations in their home countries. I also understand that.

But why is it that this city’s stupid-ass politicians are so okay with an increasingly cramped and stressed-out middle class? Why is it that people who were born here have to struggle to find SAFE shelter? Why is it so hard to find affordable healthcare?

More importantly, if New York really cared about the housing crisis, why the fuck does the city not stop developers and landlords from charging these ridiculous prices? They could. They absolutely could do that if they cared.

They don’t care. They haven’t cared for fucking decades.

As long as New Yorkers are willing to pay taxes and pay exorbitant amounts for apartment living, they will ignore the elephant in the room because these fucks profit off it.

For the longest time, New York was able to quietly ignore that double-standard. The politicians could quietly scuttle all the complaints of locals under the rug as long as they did the “we care” song and dance.

The Migrant Crisis? Yep, it’s forcing them to put their money where their mouths are. And Eric Adams is facing a world of shit because it’s time to pay the Pied Piper.

Newark is a prime example of a city that is working hard to remain affordable.

High-key, I love Newark’s politics. When I lived there, Newark was a lot more dangerous. Today, the city has turned around and despite that, the area still remains one of the most affordable in New Jersey.

Newark is currently giving working-class families homes for $1 as long as they agree to fix up the homes and live in them. The city also has one of the best-run social services net I’ve personally seen in a city that size.

This is one of the only cities where my friends can afford to live and still do their artwork. It’s also one of the only cities that seems to welcome working-class people and immigrants with open arms.

Newark is an example of what New York City used to be. Is it perfect? Nope, but I can tell you from personal experience that Newark is a lot more poverty-friendly and a lot more capable of upward mobility than the Big Apple ever will be again.

It used to be possible to go to New York with $20 and a dream, and somehow make it into an apartment. You can’t do that anymore. People are furious at New York’s housing crisis and the double standards they’re seeing.

This will reach a breaking point soon and I’m not beat for it.

There. I said it. New York City earned the veritable shitstorm it’s dealing with because it gave into every fucking whim of end-stage capitalism. There will be a point where you won’t find people willing to work minimum wage jobs in the city because it will make no sense to do so.

I mean, why work if you can’t pay the bills that way? Why work if the chance at having a roof over your head is a big fat zero? You might as well enjoy the permanent vacation or go to a place that’s not as fucking awful to you.

While I would still never vote for the party that took women’s rights away, I absolutely know of people in the Big Apple who switched political parties over this shit. And you know what? The political machine of New York has no one to blame but themselves.