Well, guys, it turns out that the possible good news was only a chimera after all. The chemo did not work. I am still producing amyloids. Oh, well. I knew going in that I had only a 60% chance of a good result. I guess sometimes even my luck doesn't stretch far enough. The silver lining in that is that the disease is stable. There has been no further damage to my heart from three months ago. There is that.
On the good news front, I snagged the last of 38 slots in a study to see whether a drug recently (last month!) approved for treatment of multiple myeloma will work on amyloidosis. Treatments that work with multiple myeloma usually work well with primary amyloidosis, and Dr. Hayman has high hopes for this. It is in the same family as thalidomide, but much less toxic and with far less severe side effects. I'll take a pill a day for 21 days, lay off for 7 days, then go up to Rochester for a day, where they will do tests and give me my next month's supply. We don't expect to see any result in the first three months, but after 3 months of this regime, I will transfer to visiting the Mayo for a day every 3 months, adding a steroid at some point. I've been on this particular steroid before, short term. I had someone remove all the firearms from my house and study before I got home the first time I was put on this stuff, but the only side effect was a touch of euphoria. Harriet says I was very, very happy while taking it. So I guess I'll be grinning a lot. God, I hate people who smile all the time! Now it looks as if I might become one. Jeez Marie!
It's funny. If I hadn't been stubborn, I might not have made it into this study. You see, the time for 100-day checkup was supposed to be the beginning of August, but I said I couldn't do it then. (They aren't used to hearing that at the Mayo.) That is when I'm taking Harriet to that spa hotel for her birthday, and I wouldn't miss it. So by the time we had gotten around working back and around Dr. Hayman's vacation, it turned into an 80-day checkup and I was there for that last spot. Had I waited to go until August, that spot almost certainly would have been taken by someone else. You see? It pays to be good to your wife.
Getting into the study was good in another way, too. Since the drug hasn't been approved for amyloidosis, even if I could have gotten Dr. Hayman to write a prescription for me, my insurance wouldn't have paid a penny on it. And it costs $18,000. A month. In the study, I get it for free. If it gets approved, then I'll have to pay, but my insurance should pick up part of it. Though I have heard of $4,000 and $5,000 co-pays with this same drug. Oh, well. What you gains on the swings, you loses on the roundabouts.
Okay; enough of that.
I'd like to thank Mr. Dennis Fallon and Mr. Ulrich Santo for making contributions to the Mayo Clinic Hematologic Malignancies Program -- Amyloidosis Research. Thanks a bunch, guys. I really appreciate it.
For Teri, the dolphin I wrote about is a fish, not a mammal. In Latin America it is called dorado, while in Hawaii (and in restaurants) it's called mahi-mahi. Just so nobody will think they're serving Flipper. Terribly wasteful creatures, dolphins. The mammals, I mean. Many times I've seen a dolphin herd redfish or sea trout into shallow water, then, with a swoop of the tail, send the lot of them up onto a mud flat. The dolphin will then semi-beach itself, eat what it wants, and swim off leaving the rest of the fish, the majority of them, lying on the mud. Intelligent? Maybe. But not ecologically minded. Not at all.
For Lisa, Harriet and I have visited the U.K. a number of times, both for my English publisher, to do signings in addition to adding on a little site-seeing, and on our own hook. We like it a great deal.
For several people who've asked about a possible U.K. tour, or one in Ireland, you'll have to pester Time Warner (UK), my British publisher. I have toured for them, in England, Scotland and Ireland, but it happens because they want it to, not because I suggest it. I've heard rumors that I don't tour in the U.K. because I don't like to fly. That isn't true. I have so many frequent flier miles, I'll never have to buy another airline ticket once I get old.
For Richard Scholten, I have never discussed anything whatsoever with Terry Goodkind. I suggest that you check the publication dates of his books and mine. Of course, he says he has never read me, or so I'm told, and I would never contradict a statement like that. Just check out the pub dates on his books, and the pub dates on mine, those that contain the similarities you speak of.
By the way, I've seen posts various places suggesting that I've had Trollocs using gateways in previous books. I think this stems from the attack on the Stone of Tear where I speak of Trollocs and Myrddraal "leaping out of thin air." This was not meant to convey gateways -- no openings in the air were mentioned -- but rather the suddenness of their appearance. A cliche, I know. Later, in SR I think, I explained that they had been smuggled into the Stone using barges and wagons.
For Deadsy, I have occasionally played AT tennis, but I don't play the game. My knees don't hold up well under lateral motion any more. And as for Tori Amos, to the best of my knowledge I've never listened to anything by her.
For a fan of rolan_dcs, no characters in my books are based on any real people, living or dead. With the possible exception of myself, anyway. And the bits I took from Harriet for various female characters.
By the by, I've seen a lot of comment, apparently from men, that my female characters are unrealistic. That's because women are, for the most part, consummate actresses who allow men to see exactly what they intend men to see. Get behind the veil sometimes, boys, and your hair will turn white. I've been there, and mine went white and didn't stop there; a great deal of it actually turned dark again, the shock to my system was so great. Believe me, I mild it down so as not to scare any males into mental breakdowns.
For lilltempest, Perrin's agreement was only that he would not attempt to reestablish Manetheren. His later statements regarding Ghealdan being under his protection make it pretty clear that he doesn't mean to roll over for anybody.
For NaClH2O, your family put vegetables IN the Hoppin' John? I mean, not just black-eye peas , but veggies in the rice? Collards as a side dish are traditional, to be sure, but not IN the rice, man. I begin to think that the family history you relate is a legend, as they say in tradecraft. Plainly you are a first generation immigrant from Pakistan or Chicago or someplace like that. Veggies AND black-eye peas! Good God Almighty!
I don't know where the name came from, but I can tell you why it is considered lucky to eat it on New Years Day, especially with some benne wafers for dessert. In Charleston we add something with benne seeds, anyway. Hoppin' John and collards originally were slave food, you know. Slaves, at least here in South Carolina, were allowed to keep their own kitchen gardens, and their own pigs and chickens. Now COWPEAS and rice (but NOT black-eye pears and rice) together form a complete protein. Add in smoked pork, collards, and anything containing benne seeds (benne is a West African word for sesame, an excellent source of oils), and you have a very healthy diet. Now if I were a slave, I think I'd consider myself pretty luck to have a good, healthy diet. Most Southern country food comes from the African-American tradition, sometimes touched with Acadian (Cajun), and I suppose a good many of the folk beliefs shifted over, too.
For those who think I have adapted some name or other from another novel or series of novels, I have not. The names come from my head, from mythology and legend, from history, from the foreign news, often with a twist I give them to make them less a reflection of reality or less familiar. But never from anyone else's novels. Never.
For Dave, who wants to know what Infinity of Heaven means, thanks for asking the question. I've been thinking I'd never be able to post this. RAFO.
For several people, a LONG way back, regarding my statements about good versus evil. I wasn't claiming a total monopoly for fantasy. Andrew Vachs certainly writes about a good vs evil environment, for example, yet Burke, his main character, blurs many of the distinctions. For Burke there is one real evil above all others -- the abuse, especially the sexual abuse, of a child. And so say all of us. Anyone I'm willing to drink with, anyway. But remember Wesley, Burke's compadre, that stone killer who finally killed himself, if he actually did die, by blowing himself up along with a school full of children. Burke himself has stepped over any other moral lines often enough that only that one remains for him. Well, I think he would balk at rape, and loyalty to his self-adopted family is paramount to him. But nothing else would faze him in the slightest. That blurring, that acceptance of blurring, is widespread.
I certainly did not maintain that my characters always have proceeded, or will always proceed, from the perceived correct action according even to their own beliefs of right and wrong, good and evil. People have a tendency to make excuses for themselves in what they see as special circumstances. It happens.
The "realism" that I mock -- and I will mock it -- is that of writers who, in the final result, say, for example that there is no moral difference between the men who flew their airplanes into the Twin Towers and the men who hunt down terrorists. For those who think there are none such, I direct you to comments concerning the Speilberg movie "Munich." I have not seen the film myself and cannot comment on it, but both reviewers who seem to love the film and those who seem to hate it speak of the "equivalence" that Speilberg established between the men who carried out the murders of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics and the Israeli agents who later hunted them down and killed them. They are all supposed to be the same. Like hell, they are!
I'd better get off this topic. Next I'll be going after fool college professors who call the dead in the Towers "little Eichmans" and the fool professors and actors who seem to think September 11 was all a plot of the US government. Does Charlie Sheen have ANY brain cells?
For Deadsy again, who suggests that I have an e-Bay auction for something to put in one of my books, a curse word or the like, I already put up naming rights in an auction for a British organization that works with victims of torture. The woman who won asked that a character be named after her husband. Thus, after some checking back and forth, Charles Guybon Hudson became Charlz Guybon in KoD. The description used in the book is based on the description of the real man. I think NaClH2O already pointed this all out, though. And DomA, I think.
Somebody -- I can't remember who; it's a long way back -- called my recipe for quick-and-dirty okra gumbo atrocious, or some such words. Harsher, I believe. I agree with him, from a purist's standpoint. I much prefer the slow simmered version that takes half a day to get right. I just don't always have half a day, and sometimes I am willing to settle for an approximation when I can't get the real thing. A point to consider. When I make a pot of this, I always think of how often I can have lunch from it, but I never get to finish it myself. Everybody in sight lines up with their bowls as soon as they know I'm making it. Might tell you something, don't you think?
I have to apologize, I fear, for my comments regarding file (pronounced fee-lay; I can't put the accent in) and shrimp in gumbo. I happened to check Charleston Receipts, the wellspring of Charleston recipes, and among roughly half a dozen or so recipes for gumbo I found two that called for the use of dried sassafras leaf (file, to those of you who don't know), and one that called for shrimp, oysters, crab AND fish. At least I can say that New Oleanois are pikers when it comes to stuffing seafood into gumbo.
That's about it for now, guys. Liston took the first round on points, but the bell has rung for the second round. I just have to keep my hands up, keep the left jabbing, use the right to work the head and the short ribs. I am going to take this sucker down. You can bet on it.
Talk to you again soon.