Something to live for: HBO and sex

Believe me, I'm as surprised as you are.
Believe me, I’m as surprised as you are.

My health, my energy and my spirits are so up-and-down I really don’t know how I’m doing anymore.

In the past month, I have peed blood, sat down mid-stairway, napped all day, puked and fought for each breath. Thanks to a lung tap, a blood transfusion and new drugs, I have also had days of mobility, hours of easy breathing and bursts of energy. On Monday, I golfed, as badly as ever.

Some visitors have seen me folded in a chair, wheezing and falling asleep mid-conversation. One told another on Facebook: “I hear Mike isn’t doing well.”

Others might think “It’s remarkable how he’s bounced back” or  “I knew he was faking.”

I think I figured out one secret to this surprising upsurge: ensure you have something to live for. You know, in case the wife and child are not enough. Six weeks ago, I was deathly ill. Then I watched The Walking Dead to its conclusion. Then Mad Men started. Now there’s Game of Thrones. I come back, week after week, to see how the season turns out. Quality television is keeping me hanging on. I realized that to live longer, I needed to find one show that literally won’t ever end. So I’ve become addicted to the nightly news. Clever, right?

Unfortunately, I picked CBC news. I may get seven months, at most.

I want to make a special appeal. I see many people wearing T-shirts that read: F— Cancer. That’s nice and all. I mean, we cancerous appreciate it. But, if you really want to help, why not f— us? Our sex lives have suffered as a result of our disease. I am wrinkled, emaciated and bald. I don’t feel sexy. I don’t feel masculine. Five years ago, I weighed 200 pounds. Now I weigh 152. (“And this time, I’m keeping it off!” — Mike O, Winnipeg, actual cancer customer.)

The big advantage to sleeping with a terminally ill person is that there will be no drama. You’ll never have to sit by the phone and wonder “Will he call?” He won’t. He doesn’t have that kind of time. “Will he remember my birthday?” Not a chance. On the other hand, you won’t have to worry about us turning creepy and stalking you. Not for more than a couple of weeks anyway.

If you do this one thing, even as a purely charitable act, you will have given another person a beautiful memory they will treasure for the rest of their lives. Again, probably a couple of weeks.


Safe At Home



Some people who write me are sad for me. Thanks, but I started this blog to have fun. I’m still smiling and you should too. Besides, when the going gets tough, the tough get morphine.

I took my family to Victoria B.C. last week. It was a lot of things: a final holiday, a chance to see the ocean one more time, to stay at a hotel I had admired for thirty years, and to ride in a plane for the last time (thanks WestJet, for the complimentary bump-up to the big seats).

Anyway, we left our hotel our first morning, and within five minutes, this happened. (And, to be clear, this was absolutely random. The reporter Adam Sawatzky spotted Will and I while we were walking by the ocean.)

They sent the story out on the CTV national story wire, so people across the country saw it, including a friend in Newfoundland.

Good thing I went when I did. On the last day of the trip, my breathing became very laboured. The first day home, I awoke to find I can no longer walk across a room without becoming completely winded. A trip upstairs requires five minutes of huffing and puffing on my bed. Some days are better than others but I am now living life as a true shut-in with a permanent cough and long stretches of immobility. I get to see what my 80s would have been like.

My life is veering between one terrible band and one great song: Air Supply vs. Aqualung. I never thought I would cheer for Air Supply.