Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Category: Science and Medicine Page 2 of 5

Random Topics, Streaming Offerings and Observations

This will be a stream-of-consciousness entry that jumps from topic to topic.

In other words, it will be just like my entire blog. (lol)

We are watching the Andrew Garfield “Under the Banner of Heaven” thing and also just concluded “The Girl from Plainville,” which fictionalizes the case of the young girl who urged her boyfriend to carry through on his suicide threats. While I was not aware of the “Under the Banner of God” underlying factualism (factuality?), I do feel as though I had already seen the story of “The Girl from Plainville,” because we watched it on “Dateline NBC.” Another one that is hitting me with that same feeling of “I’ve already seen this” is “The Dropout.” It was better as a documentary, because, instead of Amanda Seyfriend, you had the real woman who foisted that fraud on the nation. There is a fascinating documentary out about the case, which I saw at SXSW. (It was better than Amanda’s more fictional version).

So, that brings me to some documentaries I have known and loved.

Tonight, on Hulu, we watched “Three Identical Strangers.” I really enjoyed it;l it raised some serious ethical issues. It also has a “surprise” ending that, had I written it, I would be accused of making stuff up, I’m sure. Here is the write-up for this documentary, (should you be a documentary fan, as I am):  “Stories of sibling reunions don’t get any wilder than this one, a 2018 documentary that relates how three triplets who had been adopted by different families rejoiced in discovering one another at college age (19) before a disturbing truth emerged.”

We also watched the first installment of “Hacks,” should you be more in the mood for humor, and it was good. After that, we finished off “Candy” (Jessica Biel, Justin Timberlake) which had a rather disappointing denouement.

Here’s another couple of documentaries that sound terrific, and I’ve reviewed a number of little-seen documentaries (“Krimes” was good) many times on my blog, if you scroll through. Here is a second documentary that I want to see:  “Birth of a Family” ($3 on Amazon Prime), “The Wolfpack” (HBO Max) and “Tell Me Who I Am.” (Netflix) If you see “Misha and the Wolves” being advertised, that one I’ve seen; it is well worth watching.

I completed almost one entire week of radiation today—well, actually, 3 days and 1 simulation.

No, I am not radioactive, but I am hurting. Hearing that Iowa City wouldn’t make me do this and then ME making me do this out of concern about a recurrence may make me hurt more than if I had just cavalierly taken Iowa City’s advice and said, “Well, if it happens again I can just resign myself to another grueling six months of hell, with no good wishes from 90% of the social circle of women who were supposed to have been my friends for 40+ years.”

My way of saying “THANKS” to the long distance friends and Facebook friends and colleagues from other walks of life, who found it in their hearts to take a second or two to wish me well. What is it they say about your true friends revealing themselves in times of trouble?

Since some of my friends have moved from the area permanently, others have succumbed to Alzheimer’s, and a few have simply shuffled off this mortal coil permanently, I truly appreciate the casual “Good luck!” during what I hope is the home stretch of this ordeal. I was brought up to at least say, “Oh, I’m so sorry” (even to strangers.)  I guess that has gone out of style, judging from Christmas Eve.  I anticipated I’d hear that more than one time on Christmas Eve, (the first time I “went wide” with the news.) Besides thanking strangers or far-flung non-local folks (“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers” – Vivian Leigh), I have to say that my spouse and kids have been great. I’m currently loaded with lovely flowers from Mother’s Day.

On a completely unrelated topic (my goal here tonight and every night) has anyone else been deluged with those completely ugly stink bugs in their house? Every single night this week one or more of those pesky critters has landed on my arm or wrist or body, causing me to jump up and scream. Sometimes, they crawl on the lighted TV screen. They might have been attracted by the reading light near my seat in the family room. I hope they are done, because I’ve had enough jumping up and screaming to last me for years.

 

Day Number One of Radiation: 32 To Go

Today’s radiation was a non-event (which is a good thing)…so far.

However, as I was driving to the 12:45 appointment, at 12:28 p.m., the original radiologist who diagnosed me back on December 7th phoned me. Kudos to Dr. Gotswami for taking time out of her busy day to answer the musical question: “Should I try to make it through all 33 days of radiation?”

I could not speak with her at 12:28. I told her I’d be back home following the radiation. Could she please phone me at her convenience later? And she did. Her views on the subject of radiation confirmed mine (rather than Iowa City’s). I just hope that I am in the 52% who benefit, not the 48% who don’t.

Today’s radiation song was another Golden Oldie. (I can hum it, but I can’t tell you its name.)

The thing that concerns me is how tired I feel (and have felt since December 1st.) I can’t imagine that I could become even MORE fatigued through the process of radiation. I honestly feel as though I could lay down and go to sleep immediately. At my “wellness visit” of December 1st, I felt this way. The blood drawn at that time did not show any surprising or unusual results, but 6 days later I was diagnosed with cancer, so….

I must remember to call up and schedule my regular every-three-years colonoscopy. (The fun just never stops!) I’m thinking August for that gem, maybe. With a father and an aunt who died of colon cancer, one can’t be too cautious. As I remember, my father’s first symptom of his cancer was extreme fatigue, which first emerged in March. He died in October.

Known as “The Pond,” one waits for pick-up to the radiation room here.

I am so impressed that Genesis’ Dr. Goswami was kind enough to phone me today and confirm for me the logic of my current actions. She did give Iowa City some cover (additional explanation).

So far, I am glad I followed through on my own instincts, but I realize (from reading) t

doesn’t happen at the outset.

I am still, overall, stunned by my late-in-the-game Iowa City second opinion. And grateful for the chance to thank Dr. Goswami (of Genesis) for the phrase that has been ringing in my mind since December 7, 2021: “You did everything right. You’re going to be fine.”

Don’t Hug Me: I’m Radioactive!

Some of you may have noticed that my blog has been offline since about May 4th.

Why?

No idea. Something about “cloud flares.” Extremely distressing. I hope GoDaddy gives me a week’s worth of freebie credit, because this has been quite upsetting. Thank you, Allison, for running interference on this and finally getting it straightened out. Something to do with “upgrades” gone wrong.

I begin radiation tomorrow, and it will run for 33 days, if I make it. I made a quick trip to Iowa City and met with specialists at their new Beast Cancer Center (open only 2 weeks) on Friday. Dr. Vickas spoke with my husband and me and, when I asked about the risks and benefits of radiation, said, “Actually, if you had had us operate here in Iowa City , we would not have radiated you at all.”

Big silence from the both of us.

Me:  “Why not??

Dr.:  “We don’t radiate anyone over 70. It has negligible benefit in terms of longevity.” (Welcome to being thrown upon the trash pile of life, I guess).

Me: “What about helping ward off a recurrence?”

Dr.: “Oh, yes. There is about a 52% better chance of no recurrence if you are radiated.”

Me: “Then why wouldn’t I have radiation for THAT?”

Dr. Vikas: “Well, we know how to treat that. You’d just come back and have another lumpectomy and go through all the rest of it.”

I don’t want to say that MALE Indian doctors don’t pay much attention to how women fare in the world, but male Indian doctors don’t pay much attention to women and how they fare in the world. I could go on and relate a true story about how my husband received a Vitamin D long-lasting pill in release form from our mutual male (former) Indian doctor, while it was never even mentioned to me that my Vitamin D was low—in fact,far lower than his. How do I know this? I had the good sense to have my blood work sent to my regular OB/GYN, Dr. Mihm, who called me FROM VACATION to tell me to go to a drugstore, buy some Vitamin D. and start taking a lot of it because my levels were so low.

So, tomorrow, it begins. Wish me luck!

Home Is the Hunter, Home from the Hill

Our journey of 1,000 miles (give or take a few miles) has led us back to the Quad Cities, where the bush next to my garage is in full bloom.

Out of 19 phone calls on our answering machine, only 2 were important. One was from Iowa City, moving the time they want to see me up from 3:30 (May 6) to 2:40 (May 6) so that I can be told about some research studies that I might qualify for. This is interesting, because, earlier in the festivities, I wrote directly to the woman who is (ostensibly) in charge of all research studies at that venerable institution, and she told me I did not qualify for any of the studies currently ongoing.

I’ve been a devotee of trying to help other people with the same ailment ever since my mother volunteered for several diabetes studies during her days in Iowa City (ages 82 to 95). In fact, I’m currently in a knee study (control group) charting how arthritis ultimately gets us all and have had frequent MRI and X-rays of my left knee for that one for close to 20 years. I also was recently called from that same list of participants to ask if our joints hurt more or less after having Covid-19.

This time, the ailment is something far more life-threatening: cancer. I don’t know precisely what they want to talk to me about at 2:40 on May 6th, but it is one of the main reasons I am journeying to Iowa City at such a late date, after the barn door has been left open, so to speak, and the horse has gotten out. My treatment began last December. Hopefully, it will conclude on or about June 27th. I go tomorrow to have a CAT scan to set up radiation. On or about May 12th, I begin the radiation treatments that are supposed to kill any remaining cancer cells and, hopefully, prevent any recurrence on the left side of my body. I go every week day, Monday through Friday, for 33 days.

We may meet up with long-time friends Pam and John Rhodes for dinner on Friday night (May 6th) in Iowa City, another doctor appointment I have recently set up, but that part remains tentative. Regardless, we will drive up and listen to the experts give their feedback on everything that has been done (and is being done) so far, and listen to the study they mentioned in a phone conversation on our answering machine that they might like me to participate in. I have read that doctors around the country are trying to develop a vaccine to prevent breast cancer and that would certainly be a boon to mankind—or womankind.

The only other phone call that was important was simply to remind me to show up at 1 p.m. for the “simulation” with radiologist Dr. Stoffel and to have the CAT scan for planning purposes. I also have to stop and pick up one of the adjuvant therapy drugs that I was prescribed back in early February. I will have taken 90 of these Anastrozole pills (1 mg.) on Thursday of this week, so the side effects should have kicked in or be kicking in shortly. So far, taking them at night along with 5 other pills, I’m not aware of any extraordinary “bad” things, although perhaps February 5 to May 5 is not long enough? Don’t know. Can’t tell you, but have been told I have to take this pill for 5 years. Have read many horror stories about bad side effects, but, so far, so good. I have to have my bone density checked, which hasn’t been done since 2017, because that is one of the more serious side effects of this estrogen-blocking drug, and the other is high cholesterol (which I already have and for which I already take medication.) It sounded infinitely preferable to Tamoxifen.

Today, we drove from St. Louis and finished off “Comedy, Comedy, Drama” by Bob Odenkirk. We both agree that both books we selected were good, but the book “All About Me” by Mel Brooks gets the nod because of his much longer career. I started a “drama” book…actually 2 of them. One (“Devil House”) has definitely left me cold. It spent hours describing a trip to the supermarket (alert the media!) and barely used any real “” dialogue. Then, suddenly, in the middle of the book, the author began writing an ersatz version of Olde English.

Look: I was forced to memorize the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales when in high school (“Whom that Aprilluh, when the shoruh sota”), which I learned phonetically. It was pure torture then and putting in some made-up version of Olde English did nothing for the book or its plot—such as it is. It started out with promise: a story about a crime writer who moves into a house that witnessed the brutal murder of a high school teacher by two of her students. The teacher was subsequently thought to be a witch. Perhaps it was the fact that she took the time to hack up both students after dismantling them during their surprise attack and then wheelbarrowed their bodies down to the beach and threw them in the ocean. (Doesn’t sound like normal, ordinary, potential victim behavior).

The book was very sympathetic towards the teacher, but, then, just as we were trying to find a reason why an otherwise rational high school teacher who had successfully defended her life would not simply pick up the phone and dial 9-1-1- for help afterwards, there was a shift in tone and the author protagonist interviewed the mother of one of the high school victims.

O……K…….

I’m no expert, but I like good dialogue and a lot of it in the books I read, and I absolutely loathe lengthy descriptions that serve little to no purpose. On top of that, the Olde English thing lost me and—let’s just say that it is a toss-up whether I will continue residing in “Devil House” any longer, so I moved on over to a second e-book selection, the name of which escapes me.

The second book—as my husband agreed—just seems way too “slick.” It’s like a “Mission Impossible” vehicle for a Tom Cruise character. The not-that-original kernel of the book is that an orphan was raised to be an assassin (Orphan X). I’ve actually reviewed a book that had this same premise, only that book was better. This one has now thrown in talk of Mexican cartels and dialing for a Mr. Nowhere who will help find a beautiful young 18-year-old kidnapped by evil Mexican cartel members, and his apartment has been blown up, so he is re-engineering one of those James Bond-type residences that has all kinds of high tech things like hidden rooms and special glass to deter snipers and I-don’t-know-what-all. Meh. I am not getting into this one, either, even though the author has done a more-than-decent job of writing it. It’s just not my thing, apparently, and not my husband’s either, he says. There was one good sexy scene, which I appreciated since so many thriller writers avoid sex scenes like the plague, but, since I’m gearing up now for good old-fashioned radiation, which is supposed to leave one absolutely wiped out, I can’t want to, as my children used to say when young.

So, it’s “Home again, home again” diggety do. The spouse will have to hit the grocery store tomorrow, because I not only have to spend inordinate amounts of time at the radiologists going through a “simulation” but also have to stop and get more Anastrazole, which I run out of in 4 days.

I’ve unpacked. I’m getting ready to watch “Under the Banner of Heaven” with Andrew Garfield, and all’s right with the world.

“Merry Christmas! You Have Cancer!”

Craig, Stacey, Connie,
Wrigley the dog, Elise and Ava

My apologies to those of you who have checked my blog routinely and have found nothing new.

I learned I have cancer (via biopsy) on December 10th. Quite frankly, it has thrown me for a loop. I was advised to cancel my hostessing of close to 20 people at my house, but I went ahead, anyway, and surgery is imminent.

My sister-in-law thanked my husband for his efforts in hosting the Dec. 24th and Dec. 25th event, which went on until 3 a.m. one night and 2 a.m. the other.

News flash: I did all the planning, purchasing, and cooking. The health risks, for me, were considerable because of Covid. My surgeon suggested that I not do it. [Next time, maybe mention me, as well?]

I have seen quite a few of the movies out now and will return tomorrow with comments about: “West Side Story;” “Licorice Pizza;” “C’mon, C’mon;” and others.

Again, my apologies to faithful readers. Oh! And good wishes in the health category are always appreciated. Those were also in short supply.

Happy Birthday Night in Downtown Austin (March 20/21)

Birthday dinner in downtown Austin at Fogo de Chau.

This will be a stream-of-consciousness retelling of last weekend’s Birthday Weekend in downtown Austin.

It was my husband’s birthday AND we had secured appointments for our second Pfizer Covid-19 shots at the HEB store on 7th Street. That is truly something to celebrate, since we are supposed to fly to Mexico in early April and who wants to fly to a foreign country if unvaccinated?

We started our weekend adventure about 11:15 a.m. (for a noon appointment) and went to HEB first (did you know that the last name of the owner of HEB is Butts? Just wondering…). There was really no line, so we were done there in record time and picked up all kinds of stuff for our room: pop, beer, fruit plate, doughnuts (for the morrow), vegetable plate and dip, chips, etc.

We then drove to the hotel on Rainey Street and checked in early. We found out upon checking in that it was going to cost an additional $50 to park the car overnight. Later, we would find out that it would cost an additional $20 to watch a movie in the room. So, the tab was now soaring to over $550.

Our first shot weekend, the entire bill was $150, at the Stephen K Austin Sonesta Hotel downtown on Congress Avenue,  and it was quite quiet there.

Jessica and I celebrate at the Hotel VanZandt in downtown Austin.

The “live” band across the street played until midnight and then some idiot outside kept revving a motorcycle until 2 a.m. I had forgotten my omnipresent wind machine. Also, there had been no mention of their much-vaunted pool deck being under construction. (The one I show in my photo is an apartment building across the street). Nor did they mention “work on the outside of the building,” which meant that we were to keep our blinds closed unless we wanted to flash someone. I will attach a photo of the bathroom, which had a large tub overlooking the city—or, in this case, the workers outside.

There are robes in the room, but mine did not fit. There were no coffee pots. We asked that one be brought up when we checked in. It took 7 hours to get it. It made one cup of coffee and then would not work.

So, we hunkered down with the son, daughter-in-law and granddaughters to enjoy our goodies and watch Iowa in their first round of play. That went well, although Iowa would subsequently lose to Oregon, so there goes the season.

We also took advantage of the wine happy hour (5 to 6 p.m.) and, after that, went to Fogo de Chau, which I have probably misspelled, and ate.

Rainey Street on March 20-21st, Austin, TX.

This is directly across the street from the Convention Center downtown and was fairly busy. It is a chain (Brazilian Steakhouse). I think the price was $54.95 per person, but this was the son’s treat for his father’s birthday, and it was delicious. Waiters circle throughout the room constantly with roasted meats (sirloin, prime rib, chicken, pork, lamb) and they bring a very small dish of mashed potatoes to the table. Then there is a salad bar. Weirdly enough, they issue you a plastic baggie thing to use on your hand, like this is (somehow) going to protect you from spreading germs, were you to be infected with a disease of any kind. I don’t generally do much salad bar stuff, but I did take some potato salad (very bland) and two olives and some bread with butter packets. It was good that I took the bread, because the girls mainly wanted to eat bread and, at one point, they ran out of bread, which is odd. (Later, they brought some additional bread to our table, by request).

The dinner was delicious and very much appreciated. We then went back to the hotel, where we rented “Let Him Go” (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) and Craig—who had his shot first on Saturday—experienced some after-effects—(fever, chills) that put him out early. I stayed up until 2 a.m. and was very sorry that I had not brought my wind machine. I was finally forced to press my phone into service, as it has a not-that-satisfactory version of my wind machine on it.

Hotel Van Zandt, Austin, Tx.

Hotel VanZandt. Corner room. Austin, TX.

When we awakened the next morning, my phone was nearly dead and we had to check out immediately to make it to my 12:30 appointment back at HEB. We were supposed to check out at 11 a.m.. but had asked for a slightly later check-out, so we left at 11:30 a.m. As a result, we got there around noon and—fortunately—there was no one there but me, at first. They were looking for someone named “Emily.” Another Hispanic gentleman signed in with his paperwork right after me. He was first; I was second, and then the MIA Emily showed and was given her shot, following mine. It is now Monday and I have not had any fever or chills or unusual fatigue or headaches, all good things.

So, we are both vaccinated for Mexico and the birthday—which included shirts, an Amazon gift card, a Home Depot gift card, and the room, itself, (with a complimentary lime pie dessert at the restaurant) feted Craig’s 76th year on the planet.

Don’t Cry For Me, White House Staffers

President Contracts Covid-19: Debates Likely Dead

Trump has tested positive for Covid-19.

He was scheduled for a pair of rallies in Wisconsin tomorrow, October 2nd. What now?

Supposedly Trump and Melania will quarantine at the White House, according to the First Lady’s tweet.

In coming back from Cleveland, Trump was surrounded by a large number of advisors and family members.

The announcement comes only a few hours after he said, “the end of the pandemic is in sight.” 

“I think it’s safe to say this president is going nowhere for a while,” said Brian Williams on NBC News.

Hope Hicks began feeling ill while traveling on Air Force One and was quarantined on the airliner.

Ms. Hicks was subsequently diagnosed as having the virus.

“We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!” (from a Trump tweet).

As a 74-year-old overweight man, Trump is at high risk.

[This developing story came in at 1:00 a.m. on the East coast.]

SPECULATION

“We have it totally under control.” (Jan. 2020)

Upon hearing that DJT had tested positive the speculation then began to extend to VP Pence and whether he and his team had been exposed. If both men were to be felled, Nancy Pelosi would be next in line. The list of people on Air Force One extended to about 24 individuals, which included the president’s family and close staffers.

Some speculated that the president is attempting to avoid taking part in future debates which, to be honest, the Washington Post, the Atlantic and other leading newspapers have said should be discontinued anyway after September 29th’s fiasco, largely because of Trump’s interrupting opponent Joe Biden 73 times in 90 minutes.

On Tuesday night both men spoke for 90 minutes from podiums that were distanced. Could this expose Joe Biden?  The mask that Joe Biden usually wears was not being worn and, of course, Trump rarely has worn one and did not wear one for the first time until July 11th, 7 months into the pandemic.

Perhaps the realization that this disease is real and does not play favorites may sink in for the man who has persisted in hosting dangerous Super Spreader events at places like Tulsa or Mt. Rushmore.

I wish no one the bad luck to suffer having this virus, especially if they are of an age to make it very dangerous.

Thirty-two days away from the election, the president’s doctor Sean Connolly announced that Donald and Melania have both tested positive for Covid-19. He said, “They are both well at this time. They plan to maintain their quarantine at the White House. I expect the president to continue carrying out his duties without interruption.”

The debates are going to probably be scrapped, which will be a very small loss, based on what went down on September 29th. I will continue to discuss politics (and other topics) on my Thursday night Weekly Wilson programs,. But the talk will not be about the debates, because they (probably) won’t be held. That does not change my announced intent to give away BEE GONE e-book copies FREE on the scheduled debate nights and October 23rd (RBG Day).

Dr. Vin Gupta – MSNBC Medical Director (Remarks from him interrupting Seth Meyer’s late night show):

“This raises the specter of when did Hope Hicks display symptoms?”

This is bigger than just the President and the First Lady as the circle that traveled with them has been exposed.

Did the Vice President’s team become exposed at Case Western on debate nig

There is a pre-symptomatic period up to 48 hours, during which the person can give it to others, although asymptomatic.

Why did the President go to an event today if he knew he was positive and expose other individuals at a fund-raiser today? “That should have raised alarm bells.” Gupta asks, “Who is giving him this medical advice?” (Dr. Scott Atlas?)

Brian Williams raises the point that it may not be Hope Hicks who has exposed the president at all, since he has traveled extensively and has not worn a mask. A massive contact-tracing effort has to be made. “There should be no in-person gatherings for the rest of the campaign. This was preventable. The fact that this even occurred is a damning indictment. This was avoidable if they were practicing the proper procedures and not going to these rallies and attending these events.”

Trump was supposed to have had a conference call about the impact of Covid-19 on the senior citizens. Ironic that this will not now occur.

 

 

The Lincoln Project’s “Mourning in America” Paints a Picture of the U.S. Today

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