Posted by: donrhymer | April 17, 2012

Chinese Witch Doctors and Battlestar Galactica

When faced with the seemingly insurmountable mountains in our lives we like to think of ourselves as brave explorers. Fearless warriors, who grab a spear, put on our adventure pants and face our trials and tribulations head on.

Me? I’ve always found it much simpler to just fake a nosebleed and go wait in the car.

Regardless of who we are and whatever the struggle we face – relational, personal, financial, it’s human nature to find some way to cope with adversity. I’ve known people who cope by training for marathons, going Vegan, changing careers, losing fifty pounds. The unfortunate fact is we also cope in some pretty destructive ways: And yes, “Lawyer down the hall whose practice fell apart and you had an affair with the Cheesecake Factory hostess and your wife left you so you started living in your office and wandering around the hall in your pajamas” – I’m talking to you! And put some pants on!

Three years into treatment I continue to look for ways to properly cope with this disease and all it’s side effects. I hate to run, I refuse to go vegan, and I personally don’t find the Hostess at the Cheesecake Factory all that attractive so I’ve been forced to cast a wider net.

Which leads me to acupuncture, reflexology and Battlestar Galactica.

For years various friends have been urging me to check out Chinese medicine and for years I’ve rolled my eyes. I had done some reading and talked to some “real” Doctors about it. To be honest, I can’t say any of them outright encouraged it, but some shrugged and said: “some of my patients swear by it.” After one week of zero sleep and my neck in so much pain I just wanted to cut it off – I finally gave in.

Today was my first day. I don’t know what I was expecting. Humming? Chanting? Incense? But it wasn’t like that at all. A dear sweet man. Was extremely empathetic when he heard my story… then he stuck me with needles and I bled a lot.

And for the record – reflexology hurts. I did not know that. Anyway, I have no idea if a detour into Chinese medicine is going to help, but I’m going to go for a few weeks and give it a shot.  I figure, what’s a little blood and pain amongst friends if it helps me sleep at night.

And sleep is important, because cancer raises a lot of questions. Questions you don’t want to try and answer at three o’clock in the morning. There will be plenty of time for that nine to five, because cancer leaves you with a lot of downtime. Waiting for appointments, chilling out after appointments, recovering after appointments – that’s a lot of time left alone with your thoughts. Too much time. So you look for ways to fill that time, some people read, some nap… I watch Battlestar Galactica. Now, I am not really a sci-fi guy. Never have been. But somehow retreating into the world of Adama and Starbuck, Viper pilots, Cylons and the Lords of Kobol… works for me. It’s a great escape. A novel diversion. In a very real way, Battlestar Galactica is my Cheesecake Factory hostess.

Tomorrow starts nine weeks of chemo. No place to run and hide, no way to fake a nosebleed, this is a mountain that has to be climbed. A lot of coping lies ahead.

Thank God Netflix carries all eighty-five episodes.



  1. Don — 9 weeks 85 episodes. a little more than one one a day. almost like a vitamin. Yeah, that’s the ticket: Battlestar Galactica vitamins — sold only in video form…

  2. Praying for you and your family. Thanks for sharing your experience and perspective.

  3. Hey Don,
    My mother-n-law abused (treated) my feet for years with reflexology. All the nasty little kernels of bad stuff that gets balled up in your feet gets crushed into powder and very soon your feet begin to feel really good, so keep at it. Acupuncture made life really bearable after my compartmental knee replacement. All of those muscles you forgot you have and were tensed into the nth degree of pain get poked and are forced to release. But what is really nice is smelling incense instead of putrid hospital.

    I wish for you this week prolonged moments free of pain.

  4. a) Don’t know if acupuncture works but all the body piercing WILL make you more attractive.
    b) Battlestar Galactica was an excellent show, up to the final episode which was disappointing. Spoiler alert: They find Earth, Starbuck and Adama get married and open a coffee store named… wait for it… Adama’s! It’s next door to a Starbucks and fails.
    c) Reflexology must work since there are now over a billion Chinese and they can’t all be wrong. Plus, I once saw about ten of them at a Cirque du Soleil and they all had fantastic reflexes.

  5. Good choice on Galactica over the hostess. A form of medicine used by the largest country in the world can’t be all bad. Those Chinese seem to have good longevity. Praying for you buddy.

  6. Keeping you in my heart and prayers and hoping for some good nights of rest and sleep.
    Barbara Ostrye (Carol’s mother) – from James Madison U

  7. I have lost all respect for Cheesecake Factory hostesses. That lawyer in our building was a total dweeb. I would have stuck a needle in you years ago if you had just asked. Hang in there, man. I’m wishing for you one of those Battlestar hyper-jump things so that you can take off every 33 minutes…

  8. Thinking of you today as you start a long nine weeks.

    Also, your son is watching Mad Men too much. People are starting to talk. Don’t know if you approve or not, but I thought you should know.

  9. Have you watched Archer? That’s worth Netflixing, too.

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