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The portable oxygen concentrator came today. There are some issues, but it’s working well enough to make it clear that it was a wonderful idea. The best thing is, I don’t have to run it on full speed. A relatively small supplement keeps my head clear, and (surprisingly enough) if my head’s clear and I have enough air the pain isn’t so bad. One of the things I’ve realized since I started being more aware is that I don’t have my phone download cable with me. If I can get it I’ll post pictures, but that would be tomorrow at the earliest.

What I have to do now is refrain from using it as 100% support. The doctor has prescribed exercises to extend and renew my lung capacity, and if I do them I can be autonomous without having to carry the machine around. If I just use the machine instead of doing the exercises, I’ll end up tethered to it. I may anyway, eventually, but I don’t need to be setting myself up for that from the get-go.

My normal response to donations is to reply to each one with a “thank you”. In this case, that won’t be very practical — several thousand such replies would be necessary, and having to wade through them one at a time (the only way I can do it with my email program) would sort of cancel the good effects. But in every case I have, at minimum, looked at the name and location/address and sent a mental thankyou across the ether — and a couple of curses; some of you have no business digging into your own resources to support somebody else.

Several people have offered alternate therapies and/or treatments, and some of them look plausible. In every case I will, at minimum, investigate them further, with gratitude for the concern that led to the offer. And with the new clear-headedness, it becomes fairly obvious that simply discarding the notion of trying to treat this is foolish. The doctor is sly. At my last appointment, he simply mentioned that the next time we see one another there will be much more to discuss.

I can never quite believe I have that many friends. I still can’t believe I deserve that many friends. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

Stage III, inoperable. Median survival prognosis: One year after diagnosis.

Which is, as it turns out, the reason I haven’t been accomplishing much, including posting here and making progress on the sequel to Temporary Duty. The details are complicated, and I don’t have the energy to fully explain.

Medical insurance? Of course not. My doctor says it doesn’t matter much. Going full-bag on treatment, chemo and radiation and all that, for this particular cancer might, on average, add six months to the survival time at massive expense — and the quality of life for that additional half year would be miserable.

The only thing I could really ask for is an oxygen machine. I’m continually short of breath, and my blood oxygen hovers at the low end of the “satisfactory” scale, around 91 or 92. That means I don’t think or react as clearly or as quickly as I did, which makes it difficult to accomplish intellectual tasks like writing. There are also a couple of things on my “bucket list” that I’d really rather not do without, and one of them is one last visit to my brother’s grave — which is at 12,000 ft. MSL, more or less. At my current ability to breathe, that’s just plain out of the question.

The machine I think I want is the Sequal Eclipse, a relatively new model of portable that does both pulse delivery (for when the user is active during the daytime) and continuous delivery (for sleeping). List price is $4K or so; they’re available discounted and/or used for around half that. And because I’m a suspicious sort who was into servicing electronic and electromechanical equipment for a long time, I’d also like to have a home-type (non portable) machine — I think it highly likely that the portable would be lightly enough built that using the heavier-duty fixed one would be advisable when I’m not out and about. Good used ones of those can be had for $500 or less.

Money needed… because Temporary Duty sold so well, the IRS took a nice chunk (and wants another $1,555 before July 15th) and Social Security came along behind to inform me that they’re taking back $10K by simply not sending checks, starting in September. I have stuff around the place I can sell, not to mention the place itself, so I won’t starve, but there’s gonna be a lot fewer luxuries for a while.

The sequel to Temporary Duty (well, sorta; same world, different characters) is called Service Call, and it’s somewhere between half and two-thirds done. I can’t guarantee I’ll finish it; what I can guarantee is that at my current mental capacity, it won’t get finished. Think of it as a sort of Kickstarter. If I have enough tipjar hits to get the oxygen machine, it might get done.