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I should have expected that I would wind up needing gas pills in the middle of a fight against Alzheimer's and cancer....
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I Have Gas

Another twist in my cancer treatment

Text and photo by Tom Hintz

Posted – 1-12-2017

Nearly all of my conversations with the doctors coordinating the assault on my cancer are deadly serious. However, within that dark context I occasionally see humorous moments. Most recent was my weekly meeting with the doctor overseeing the radiation attack on my tumor. While most of his questions and comments relate to the radiation treatments and their potential side effects he had another concern instigated by scans they take of my “cancer area” during the radiation treatments.

I had been told to not eat or drink for at least 3 hours before my radiation treatments because the stomach is one of the more sensitive organs when it comes to the radiation with which the machines blast my tumor and stomach. The doctor said that the scans are showing good things in terms of alignment of the radiation on my tumor. Because I am abiding by the no-food period before the treatments, there is no food in my stomach to compromise the scans or the treatment. However, there is a small problem he noticed in recent scans – I have gas. That “bubble” is apparently distorting my stomach slightly in the scans.

Many years ago, Playboy ran a cartoon with a single line caption that has stuck with me ever since, “Never trust a man who laughs after he farts”. Funny certainly but taken at face value makes me ultimately untrustworthy. Considering the disease we are dealing with the idea that having gas has become a topic of concern seemed downright funny to me. Adding another level of giggles to this meeting with the doctor is the suggested medication - over the counter gas pills. I nearly cracked up right then in the meeting. I must be careful about that kind of outburst amongst this group of professionals that are quite literally saving my life.

So, I add gas pills to the double-fist-full of meds I am downing each day and will try to keep my giggling to myself. The last few years have been full of worry about first Alzheimer's taking me out then the current battle against a faster-acting cancer. If this gas rises to a level that could also threaten my life I just might laugh myself to death. Such a death due to something I have so long considered uniquely funny would indeed be poetic. Dust to dust, gas to gas. Tom might finally toot the big one.

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