Cancer and Concussion Crawl, 24 April 2024

If you’re just joining the show in progress, I’ve been on a tyrosine kinase inhibitor since 2019. It’s kept the spots in my lungs from growing, with side effects that the medical documents call “tolerable.” The good news it mostly works. The bad news is that it mostly works: one of the spots has decided to ignore the “inhibition” my inhibitors have been providing to the other tumours and is growing. The good news is that I can go in for 5 days of external beam radiation (plus one practice) and they should be able to kill the rogue tumour and then I can get on with my life. The bad news is I have to go in for 5 days of external beam radiation in late May or June. I don’t have exact dates yet, but everyone seems to think that’s a reasonable timeline and it works for me. My radiation oncologist, who did the work on me in 2010, says that the treatment is “well tolerated” but that I might have a dry cough or feel some fatigue (hahahahahahhahaha).

It’s been a bit of a bonkers academic year. Professionally speaking it’s been a wild ride (more on that in a future post) but very punishing on my body: Covid in September, a stupid knee injury that had me walking with a cane for most of fall term (now healed) and then a few days after that post before this one about applying for stuff, a tree branch fell on my head. It didn’t kill me but it killed my winter term. No awesome machine listening conference in April* or grad seminar connected with the conference, no awesome disability seminar, and no writing on the Sound of AI book. Instead, I discovered a whole new sensory world. In other circumstances, I would have blogged it for you but since screens were part of the problem, I didn’t. Suffice it to say I learned a lot about sensory processing issues. I heard in ways I’d never before, and I experienced artificial lighting in a way I’d never experienced before. Also, I was blown away at how many people in my social world have had concussions. Why don’t people talk about this more?

I’m now getting close to normal again. Not 100% but my screens are in colour, and I can tolerate more artificial light than before. I got through almost an hour under fluorescent lights today at a doctor’s office before getting nauseous. My tinnitus is back to where it was before (ie, part of me, an old friend), and I am no longer sensitive to certain sounds. Fatigue levels are more or less where they were before as well.

McGill’s short term disability benefits are very good. I’ve been on full disability, and done bits of work where I can.

Some people have told me I should write an essay about my concussion, and I think it will. But it won’t be another impairment phenomenology. Plenty of people have written great things about the experience of having a concussion. Instead I’m going to write about what my concussion taught me about enterprise resource planning software and related matters. I promise it will be a scorcher.

They say that you should take up a non-screen related hobby while recovering from a concussion. I am now officially a shitty pianist. I am not being self-deprecating. The keys are so smooth. They feel good.

The next post will be about a bunch of good news.

Yes, I will eventually do a goddamn newsletter.

*Had the conference gone ahead, the early April snowstorm would have disrupted a bunch of people’s flights, so it wouldn’t have gone ahead. It will be happening in April 2025.