A Cancer Story

(Author’s note: I wrote this over a sixteen-month period. It is too long and needs a stern editor. It isn’t dramatic or particularly compelling. It’s just a story about have cancer.)

I have cancer. I’ll repeat that. I have cancer. The tumor is dying, but it’s still considered active. Regardless, it’s not a cancer “scare,” although it is quite scary. It’s the real thing—a malignant tumor in my prostate gland. Medically, it’s an adenocarcinoma. Cancer.

I was 56 when I was diagnosed, not particularly young or old for prostate cancer. I found out in July of 2019. I got a phone call, and the doctor said something to the effect of “We have your biopsy results. You do have malignant cells in your prostate. It’s a low to intermediate grade tumor. It’s very slow growing, but at your age you probably want treatment. We’ll call you back today for an appointment to talk about it. Any questions?” Despite having rolled around numerous nightmarish scenarios for four weeks, I really didn’t have any questions. My only thought at the moment was “Huh. Well, that’s weird.”

About a month before my biopsy, I had my annual physical. By “annual,” I mean the physical examination I have every few years. My last one was four years ago. In all humility, I must say that I am in tip-top physical condition–so, why go to the doctor, right? Apparently, most men my age are big messes. Okay, so my cholesterol should be a tad lower. Oh, and my PSA level was elevated—two and half times higher than before.

You get reserved parking, which is nice.

PSA. Prostate Specific Antigen. Long story short, it’s something produced by your prostate gland for various reasons. One reason is cancer. Mine went up a pretty fair amount in four years. I also had my prostate examined. It’s examined by something called a “digital rectal examination.” “Digital” doesn’t have anything to do with any sort of high tech diagnostics. It’s “digital” as in “finger,” just in case you aren’t aware of how it works. So, after my PSA test and DRE, my doctor thought I should see a urologist for more blood work and, of course, more DREing.

So, I saw a urologist. Great guy. I’m pleased to report that my prostate gland is remarkably small for a man my age. In fact, my urologist says that it’s the “prostate of a 20-year-old.” I guess he means a 20-year-old with cancer, but still…. My incredibly small prostate was something of an indicator of cancer, believe it or not. The increased PSA could have been caused by an enlarged or infected prostate. Mine was in pristine condition.

I’ll admit something. I didn’t know much about the prostate gland until all this. Given my age, I knew well the hideous DRE, but I really didn’t even know precisely where the prostate is located. Now, I know WAY more than I ever thought I would. Naturally, I have thoroughly searched the internet for every hideous prostate cancer story I can find. Did you know that Frank Zappa died at 51 of prostate cancer? Bill Bixby was 59. Gary Cooper was 60. Basketball player John “Hot Rod” Williams was 53. Then again, a lot of really old guys die of prostate cancer, too. Dennis Hopper, for instance. He survived the ‘60’s and countless drug-fueled adventures. He didn’t survive this, though. There’s even a Wikipedia listing people who died from prostate cancer. I’ve studied it. Intently.

Men, if you live long enough, you’ll have prostate problems. You’ll probably have prostate cancer at some point. Like all cancer, the keys are: 1. When you get it; 2. When you find out you got it; and 3. How aggressive it is. Unlike some cancers, it can be treated. Like all cancers, if you wait too long to find out about it, it can also certainly kill you.

Well, my cancer wasn’t going to kill me, at least not any time soon. I was repeatedly assured of that. My oncologist even said, “You’re not going to die from this.” I really appreciated being told that, even though I was able to convince myself that I still might be dying.

In addition to the blood tests and DREs, I also had a biopsy. It was unpleasant. As with all prostate-related procedures, it involved rectal probing. Basically, a metal rod is inserted, then your prostate is located by ultrasound through the wall of your large bowel. After that, a needle is shot into your prostate numerous times to take tissue samples. All in all, it’s pretty painless, as rectal probing goes. Oh, there’s some revolting bleeding that goes on for a few days, but it’s not that big a deal.

It’s biopsy time.

All this happens, and then they tell me it’s cancer. It gets a Gleason Score which is a complicated scoring system using charts that get cross-referenced to give your grade. It’s all rather mechanical. More good news. My score wasn’t too high. Low to intermediate grade adenocarcinoma. That means it’s all inside the prostate—most likely. Now, you have to figure what to do.

This all sounds pretty positive, doesn’t it? Well, it is given the context, yet it was still terrifying. Even though there were some pretty strong indications before the biopsy that I had cancer, I still didn’t really think I had it. It just didn’t seem like something I would have. I’ve never been hospitalized for anything. I’ve never had surgery. Or a CT scan. Or an MRI. The only broken bones I’ve had were two small stress fractures on the top of my right foot about 20 years ago.

After the news sank in, I began to consider that this is the end for me. I’ll find out it’s some sort of unmanageable cancer that runs wild. I was reminded of my wife’s grandmother who liked to regale us with dire stories of her friends who were deathly ill. Once asked her what type of cancer one of her unfortunate friends had. Granny said: “The fast-eatin’ kind.” I figured I had that, too. Like most things that terrify me, it actually never happened. Mine was the “slow-eatin’ kind.” Regardless, there’s still a ton of stress. It’s just weird to think I have cancer. For example, when the dentist asked if I’d had any changes in my health, I had to say “Oh, yeah, I have cancer.”

In the majority of cases—mine included—prostate cancer is slow-growing. I could go a number of years doing nothing before I have major problems. That’s actually one option. Do nothing. Monitor the situation and then act when necessary. That approach wasn’t recommended for me, because I’m relatively young in the prostate cancer world. Plus, I wouldn’t deal well with the stress of being checked every six months or year. So, I had to pick a treatment option.

My choices were radiation, surgery or something called HIFU (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound). HIFU wasn’t covered by insurance, so it was a nonstarter. There are three kinds of radiation treatment: 1) External beam; 2) seed implantation; and 3) CyberKnife. Surgery is just what it sounds like. They cut out your prostate gland. My decision came down between CyberKnife and surgery. I’m not a good candidate for the other radiation treatments for a number of reasons. That’s good, because they’re really intense.

Surgery is the most conservative approach. You cut it out and have thorough pathology done on the gland and know exactly what you’re dealing with. As you might expect, though, there are some real negatives, too. How about walking around with a catheter for at least a couple of weeks? Bladder leakage for some period time or forever. Possible impotence. These are worse case scenarios, of course, but the doctors are blunt about the possibilities. If it came down to courting death or dealing with all this, I wouldn’t have hesitated on the surgery. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case with me. Side effects aside, I’m not real keen on being cut on unless it’s necessary.

I chose CyberKnife. CyberKnife is a high-intensity radiation beam that targets the prostate and then “slices” the tumor up. The goal is to kill it. If it doesn’t not kill it, you want to at least slow it down enough that something gets else you first. Why do this? Turns out I’m a great candidate. I’m very fit. I’m not overweight. My tumor is small and low to intermediate grade. Everyone was quite confident about the treatment.

Of course, this isn’t without its own side effects. There’s fatigue for a two or three weeks. or so. There are the dreaded “frequent loose stools.” The GI issues were minor–more annoying than anything else. All things considered, it’s not so bad.

Your author positioned to begin his fifth-and last-CyberKnife treatment.

So, I had the treatment. I laid on a table and a huge piece of equipment moved around me for about 45 minutes. I had to lie perfectly still. I listened to music. They put a warm blanket over me. Not bad, right? Well, it was a tad scary. In fact, I almost hyperventilated before the first treatment. While I was lying there, it suddenly struck me that I must have something seriously wrong with me. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be doing this to me. Plus, everyone was REALLY nice to me. This is how all patients should be treated.

I forgot about the enemas. I had to have one every morning before my treatment. I had to do it myself, which is preferable I suppose. After a while, one more thing up in there is no big deal. I also had to go on weird “low residue” diet which was about as bland as it sounds.

The treatments were weird. I didn’t feel anything. It didn’t seem like anything was happening, but I knew it was. I knew because no one could be in the room with me while it was happening.

There were side effects. Fatigue was the major one. A couple of days after the last treatment, I started hitting a wall in the afternoon. I’m an active guy. Crazy active. I work out every day, and I did so after my treatment, but I had to work around the fatigue. When it hit, it was like catching the flu in about five minutes. My legs would die. I’d be sleepy, almost achy. It passed after an hour or two, quicker if I could grab a nap.

It took a couple of weeks to start feeling better, but I did. By Christmas, I was hale and hardy again.

There were some urinating issues. The less said about that the better, but it wasn’t so bad. I took one one pill a day for that, and it helped.

So, here’s how we got here:

June 11, 2019: I have my periodic physical. Doctor calls later in the day to talk about my PSA level. It’s not good when your doctor personally calls you on the same day you have a physical.

July 8, 2019: Biopsy.

July 16, 2019: Biopsy results.

August 21, 2019: Meet with urologist to discuss options.

September 12, 2019: Meet with surgeon to discuss surgical option.

September 26, 2019: Meet with radio-oncologist to discuss radiation treatment. That same day, I decided to go with CyberKnife.

October 28, 2019: Fiducial markers inserted into my prostate. These are four pieces of gold about the size of grains of rice. They put in through a needle—again, more rectal probing. These markers make the prostate–and tumor– easy to locate. Unpleasant, but as cancer treatment goes, not that bad.

November 11, 2019: X-rays, CT scan and MRI to prepare a treatment plan. My markers are located and something of a map is created for the CyberKnife to follow in zapping my prostate.

November 25-27 and December 2-3: Treatment.

My diploma

Not much happened after that. I saw my urologist on March 11, 2020. Good news. My PSA level was cut by a third. The doctor and I also talked about this new virus “COVID-19.” He said it looked like really serious stuff and that I should be sure to frequently wash my hands. It sounded like we might be in for a rough few weeks.

Another physical in June 2020 (those will be ANNUAL from now on.) More good news: PSA level cut in half. Then, a follow up visit to the oncologist. He says I’m right where I should be. He’s confident the tumor is dying. I have one more appointment in July 2021, and he expects to release me from treatment. Whew.

In September 2020, I went back to the urologist. By the way, you can’t have a prostate exam during a telehealth appointment, so it had to be face-to-face, or something like that. PSA has fallen even further. Doctor says I’m clearly on my way to full recovery. He took me off my prostate medication.

So, that’s cancer my story (so far). As comic Norm MacDonald says, the best news you get from a doctor is that nothing is wrong with you…YET. Mine isn’t a dramatic tale of survival. I wrote this so I could remember it. The fog of time obscures a lot details. Plus, I want to share it with others who might be in the same situation.

Fifteen doctor/clinic visits; seven prostate exams; seven enemas; one biopsy; one procedure to implant the fiducial markers; and five radiation treatments: Not so bad as cancer treatment goes. Yet, I’m pretty that’s more medical treatment than I’ve had in test of my adult life.

I also learned a lot. In the past, I would hear of people with “non-serious” cancer and think “Well, that’s unfortunate, but it sounds curable. Good for him.” I don’t think that way now. It’s a chilling to be told you have cancer. It’s scary. It’s confirmation of your expiration date—if not now, it’s coming.

I also appreciate doctors and science in a new way. I’ve lived my whole life in Kentucky, and I love it here. Unfortunately, during the COVID pandemic, I learned that many Kentuckians don’t care much for science. They also come up with their own science. If you want to become a fan of science, get cancer. You’ll be all about science then. You won’t be looking for memes or your politicians to tell you what to do. Doctors will do quite nicely.

I can’t overstate how well I was treated. All my questions were answered. If I called, someone PROMPTLY called back. Everyone was nice. The way I am, it made me think I might be really sick. Why else would they be so nice?

I was likewise impressed by the effort to fully educate me. I got recommendations along the way, but the choices were mine.

Big thanks to my primary care doctor Dr. Eiyad Alchureiqi at Lexington Clinic; Urologist Dr. Stephen Monnig at Lexington Clinic; Dr. Alan Beckman, my radio-oncologist at Baptist Healthcare. They and their staffs were top notch from start to finish. My wife, too, deserves HUGE thanks. She was optimistic from start to finish. I needed that.

Here are few lessons I learned:

  1. DON’T tell a cancer patient about that person you know who died of the VERY SAME THING. No one wants to hear that. Your medical opinion is also not likely to be well-received. Okay, so you know a guy who had the same treatment, and it failed miserably. Keep it to yourself.
  2. DON’T tell a cancer patient that he or she should have opted for some other form of treatment. He or she is making a decision based on the available information. Don’t invite second-guessing.
  3. DON’T pry. Here’s the best thing to say: “How are you?” If the person feels like telling you–believe me–you’ll find out. If I feel like telling you that I’m have trouble peeing, I’ll let you know.
  4. DON’T pander. “I’m sure you’ll fine” and the like really don’t mean anything. Unless you’ve had experience with a similar situation, you don’t know if someone will be “fine” or not.
  5. DO be empathetic. I tend to dwell on myself which results in nothing good. This flaw was especially acute after my diagnosis. No matter how bad something seems, someone else has it worse. Just sit in the waiting area at a cancer center, and you’ll see. Think about others. Consider what you would do if you couldn’t get treatment or it didn’t work.

I’ll never look at people with cancer the same way. Cancer is like surgery. “Minor” cancer is someone else’s cancer. I’ve even heard people saying that cancer can be a blessing. I don’t agree, especially for the many folks I’ve known who have been seriously ill or have had debilitating forms of treatment. So, if you have or had cancer, I have, too.

©thetrivialtroll.com 2020 

The New Year at the Gym: Here We Go Again…

The new year is upon us, 2016 to be exact. As always, many folks have resolved that this is the year they will lose those unwanted pounds and get in top shape. How do I know? I’ve belonged to a gym for many years, and I see these folks every January. Today is January 1, and I saw them at the gym. Oh, they weren’t working out (after all, it’s a holiday). They were getting tours of the gym, meeting with trainers and signing contracts. Soon though, they will descend upon the gym like New Years Eve revelers.

I used to rail against the Resolvers, scoffing at their half-hearted efforts knowing that they would fall by the wayside within a few weeks. I’ve changed. I welcome them. Everyone should exercise. I am 53 and in quite good condition, especially compared to my peers. I feel good, both physically and mentally. Why should I begrudge that to others just because they get in my way for a few weeks?

Rather than resent the Resolvers, I want to help them. Understand that I am not an athletic trainer. I am not an athlete. I do, however, go the gym quite often–6 or 7 days week. If I’m on the road, I find hotels with gyms. If I can’t find one, I find a local gym that will let me workout for a small fee. I’ve been to gyms all over the country, from New York City to Hawaii. I know the rules, both written and unwritten. If you’re a Resolver, please read on. It will save us all some grief.


If you haven’t worked out in a while, act like it. “In a while” also means “ever.” Most people in the gym have been there before. They have workout routines that reflect their experience. You, on the other hand, need a routine that reflects your years of sloth. That may sound harsh, but it’s true.

You’ll see people who look like you want to look, with trim waists and rippling muscles. It is tempting to watch what they do and copy it. Stop. These people are working out like trim-waisted, rippling-muscled people. You need to work out like a flabby, doughy person. There’s nothing wrong with that, by the way. Your ideal may be doing 30 pound curls. You might need to do 5 pound curls. Do them.

You also must squash your ego. This is especially true for men. We want to throw around weights like they’re pie pans. We can’t, of course. Don’t worry about how much you bench press. Sure, it’s a tad deflating to realize you can only bench 50 pounds. Hey, 50 pounds is better than nothing. People aren’t watching you. The people who can really lift are concerned only with themselves. They don’t care what you lift. Note how often they look in the mirror. Trust me–they (we?) aren’t trying to catch a glimpse of you.

A good way to learn reasonableness is with a trainer. Trainers vary in skill. Some aren’t very good, but all of them know how to get a new person started on an exercise regimen. Maybe you have a friend who works out regularly. He or she can help you. Start slow. Workout warriors weren’t born that way. Neither were you.


Gyms are full of equipment. A lot of it is strange looking and not easily understood. This doesn’t stop the novice from climbing aboard and fumbling about. Usually, there will be an illustration on the equipment demonstrating proper use. If that doesn’t work, ask a gym employee. Again, a trainer can help.

If you don’t use a trainer, educate yourself on how to exercise. Weightlifting, in particular, requires certain routines for maximum results. You might work different muscles on different days. Rest is important. Strength training is different than toning or even muscle building. You have to know the differences.

Several years ago, I made the acquaintance of a former NFL player who also spent some time in prison. He described what he called a “jailhouse workout.” By that, he meant lifting with no program–a few curls, a few reps on the bench, a few random leg exercises. He said prisoners don’t have enough equipment or time to do it right. Hey, if you’re jail, do what you can. Otherwise, get a plan.

If you’re grossly overweight, you really must learn first. I know–it’s not good to say that people are overweight or “fat.” Come on, we know that’s the case. Losing weight is a process, not an event. You have to attack it a pound at a time. Becoming a crunch beast won’t help much if your six pack is buried under a foot of fat. Talk to a doctor. Get a trainer. Just get to work.


Your new gym will have an array of rules about attire, use of equipment and sundry courtesies. These are all good, but most gym etiquette is just common sense. Here are the big rules:

Clean Up: If you use free weights, re-rack them. It’s simple. Put them back where you got them. They’ll be on racks in ascending order from lowest to highest weight. An idiot can do it, but you’ll be surprised at how many idiots don’t. If you can help it, don’t be an idiot.

Seriously, Clean Up: No one wants to use equipment drenched in your sweat. There’s just no debate here. Wipe down the equipment.

Look But Within Reason: I direct this to my fellow men. Most gyms today are co-ed. Every gym has attractive women wearing attire not normally seen in public. It’s pretty cool. You can look. To some extent, it’s expected perhaps even welcome. Don’t go full-on perv. If you follow a woman around so that you can maintain a good view, it will be noticed. Much as it might surprise you, they aren’t looking back at you.

Silence Is Golden: I’ve been going to the same gym for years. I’ve gotten to know some of the regulars. We’ll occasionally talk, but it’s always brief. Regulars are there to work out, not chat. You should do the same. Most gym regulars are glad to share pointers or answer questions, but we aren’t there to socialize.

Cover It Up: By “it,” I mean everything. No one is comfortable around naked people, even in a gym locker room. There’s no need to be naked for any extended period. Don’t strike up a conversation while you’re naked. Don’t get naked and then start rooting around in your locker. There should be absolutely no bending over. Don’t get naked and stand and watch TV. It’s just weird, and people hate it. Those who parade about naked are also men who shouldn’t do so anywhere. They are usually old guys with a variety of obvious physical flaws which are wholly unappealing.

Of course, I speak only of the men’s locker. Like all men, I imagine the women’s locker room populated by super models who wear skimpy towels when they aren’t showering together. An objective look at most women in the gym reveals that they may have the same unsightly issues as the men.

Dress The Part: Even being clothed can be done wrong. Jeans, khakis, work boots and other fashion failures must be avoided. Look the part. A t-shirt and shorts will work. Sweat pants are perfect. A middle-aged man in a wrestling singlet is not welome anywhere. Bicycle shorts, short-shorts and skin-tight apparrel must all be evaluated with an eye toward aesthetics. What is athletic–even alluring–on one person is vile and revolting on another. In these politically correct times, I realize that it is frowned upon to say that any one person is more attractive than another. Some people look better than others. Get a full-length mirror and judge for yourself.


I believe that no one stays with exercise if he or she doesn’t like it. Experiment with different routines. Maybe you prefer cardio work to weights. That’s okay. Better to do cardio alone, than nothing at all.

Nothing ends an exercise program as quickly as an injury. Injuries are different than some pain. If you haven’t worked out in years, you’re going to have some aches and pains. When you get to my age-53 at this writing–you’re going to have some aches. If you over do it–lifting too much weight, for example–you will get injured. An injury will shut you down. That’s the quickest path to quitting. Even if you get injured, there’ll be other exercises you can do. Do those.

So, there you have it. I welcome you to my world. Now, get out of the way, and let me work out. Good luck.

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2016

Government Shutdown FAQ Page

As a public service, I shall now address the most frequently asked questions about the Government shutdown.


In this case, it’s the federal government, as opposed to your state, city or county government.  I live in an area with a merged city-county government.  It is sort of like Christian Rock combining the worst of elements of two conflicting disciplines.  The federal government is described in the United States Constitution.

The federal government has three branches:  1) Executive (the President and all his minions); 2) Legislative (Congress); and 3) Judicial (Courts).  The Shutdown involves primarily the Legislative Branch.


Our Congress has two parts.  The Senate consists of like 50 or 100 senators or possibly more.  The House of Representatives contains God knows how many people, maybe 1,000.  They make the laws, sort of.  Mostly, they just disagree about what the laws should be.  This is because the Republicans control the House and the Democrats control the Senate.  John Boehner, a leathery-faced chain smoker from Ohio, is the Speaker of the House.  Harry Reid, a feckless milquetoast from Nevada, leads the Senate.  They do not get along with each other.  Although Reid used to be a boxer, my money is on Boehner in an actual fight.

Congress has an approval rating of less than 10%, putting it just ahead of syphilitic dementia and just behind root canals in popularity.


It’s where the government doesn’t have enough money to operate and shuts down a bunch of stuff.  They won’t shutdown everything.  We’ll still have air traffic controllers, prison guards and, of course, Congress.


Not everyone calls it that.  Fox News calls it a “slim down,” which sounds like a really positive thing. It might be a real positive, unless you’re one of the million or so people not getting paid during it.

Others call it a slow down, as though the government could actually move any slower than it already does.


The House controls spending and won’t agree to fund anything unless part of Obamacare is delayed for a year AND members of Congress are required to participate in it.  The President and, hence, the Senate refuse to agree to this, saying that the law is law.  So, both sides would rather have much of the government grind to all a halt than compromise.


That’s hard to say.  There are three schools of thought:

The Right:  Folks on the right (the “Conservatives”) say that the President did it.  Why?  First, they hate the President, so he has to be blamed.  Second, the President is a Democrat, and the Conservatives are not Democrats.  They blame the President for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act a/k/a Obamacare.  They don’t like Obamacare and don’t want it implemented, even though it is now the law.  So, the House won’t agree to fund any of the government unless there are changes made.

The Left:  Those on the left (the “Liberals”) blame the Conservatives, more particularly the Republicans.  They don’t want to negotiate with the Republicans.  So they don’t.  They hate the Republicans.  As a result, they don’t really want to talk to them at all.  Their hate of the Republicans is probably the reason they made Obamacare a law to begin with.

Everyone Else:  The remaining Americans (the “Victims”) don’t know who the f**k to blame and don’t give a rat’s ass.


I’ve written extensively about that before.  No one really knows, but it exists.


I have no idea.  Just pick one.  They’re all about the same.


You got me on that one.  No clue.


It’s not really shut down completely.  Let’s say you worked in factory, and it got shut down.  There would still be security guards and some maintenance people working.  It’s kind of like that, but completely different.

Mostly, they’ve just furloughed a lot of employees.  That means they’ve told them not to come to work. Of course, they also don’t get paid. For example, of the 1500 employees of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only three are working.  Those three are complying statistics on how many people in the Bureau of Labor Statistics aren’t working.

If you are a “non-essential” employee, you’re not working.  “Non-essential” means they don’t really need you, which begs the question of why they’re paying you to begin with.


That’s likely because you don’t work for the government.  Private sector non-essential employees should still report to work and pretend to be busy like usual.


Something like 3,000,000, and that doesn’t include the military, CIA, NSA and a bunch of others.  That’s more than Walmart, IBM and McDonalds combined.  The Department of Homeland Security has 230,000 employees itself.  That’s hell of a lot but only one for every 1300 people in the country.  They can’t really protect all of us, can they?


What kind of idiot are you?  Of course, they’re getting paid.  The Congressional barber shop, gym and shoe shine service are closed, though.  So, they are suffering but not as much as Congressional Barbers, Shoe Shiners and Gym Attendants.  Besides, if Congress doesn’t get paid, the Washington D.C. prostitution industry will collapse.


You have 48 hours to get the Hell out.  If you don’t, the NSA will turn bears loose on your campground.


Luckily, no.


Probably not, unless you’re really poor or a member of Congress.


No, we’re not.


Yes.  For the time being, the microchip implant has been deactivated.  You’ll know when it restarts, because you’ll piss your pants a couple of times.


Yes, they are.  Much like jury duty, you may be called to serve at any time.


You’re wrong about that.  Most cops are state employees anyway.  Plus, I know an FBI agent, and he’s still working, although it’s questionable about whether he’s being paid.  Imagine how surly he’d be if he had to bust your ass for free.


Yes.  The Postal Service isn’t affected, because it generates income from postage.  Somehow a business that loses billions of dollars can still deliver a letter for you 3000 miles away for 46 cents.  Go figure.


First, that’s not a question. Second, your drunkenness does not explain your lack of understanding.  Many teetotalers, including the few sober members of Congress, don’t understand any better than you.


That’s a Frequently Asked Question About The United Nations.  I can’t answer it.


Mr. LaPierre, I told you to quit posting questions.


How should I know?  Golf?  Vacationing?  Fighting evil?  Doing evil?  Just the usual stuff that Presidents do, I guess.




©thetrivialtroll.wordpress 2013

Are You Mad? The Five Signs of Lunacy

If you’re anything like me, you occasionally wonder if you are going insane or, perhaps, are already there.  “Insane” isn’t really the right word.  That’s actually more of a legal term, requiring some sort of adjudication of your condition. Few of us will ever reach the point that such measures are necessary.   Madness and lunacy are much better terms.  Regardless of whether you call it madness, lunacy, bonkers or just plain crazy, we all think about it from time to time.  (We don’t?  Hmmm.  Maybe it’s just me.  That’s not good at all.)

In any event, I have identified certain markers of madness that may benefit others.  These tell-tale signs should be used as warnings  that we are close to veering off the path of the well-balanced into the median of lunacy.

I have had experience with all of these at various points in my life.  In fact, I’ve had days where I’ve experienced them all.  Those were not particularly good days, by the way.

I must qualify all of this by disclosing that I am NOT a mental health professional.  Indeed, I have no medical or psychological training whatsoever.  I am particularly unqualified to diagnose any condition or to offer any advice regarding appropriate treatment.  So, should you actually be a lunatic, do not contact me for advice.  In fact, don’t contact me at all.  You could be dangerous, you know.


Have you ever thought that you are a very important person, a VIP as it were?  Now, I’m not talking about being important to your family or friends. Don’t confuse this with being important to your dog, either.  Your dog thinks you are the lead dog.  If you think you are a dog, that’s another set of issues altogether.

I’m talking about general importance.  Your opinions are important, for example.  If people disagree with you, it is an outrage.  They are fools, because you are always correct.  Those who disagree with you are Communists, racists, homophobes, anarchists, ne’er do wells, welfare queens, robber barons or many other such disagreeable sorts, depending upon your particular view of the world.  These people lack your intelligence and insight.  They don’t know as much as you know.  Not only are these people wrong, they–and the rest of us–MUST know your opinion on everything for you are important and must be heard.

Chances are that you are like most us and only want to listen to people with whom you agree.  It’s likely–almost certain, in fact–that the only people who want to listen to you are those who share the same views as you.  Everyone else doesn’t want to listen to it.  Sorry, but that’s how it goes.  If you can’t accept that, madness lurks just around the corner.

Have you ever had the urge to say “Don’t you know who I am?”  I know I have.  Sadly, I’ve even said if before–and not just to myself, either.  Perhaps, if I were–say–George Clooney that would make some sense.  But, if I were George Clooney people would actually know who I am, and I wouldn’t have to say it.  Even thinking that is bad.  Thinking it may be even worse, because you might believe people do know who you are when they really don’t.  Then, you just walk around thinking that you shouldn’t have to stand in lines or wait in traffic or pay your bills or wear pants.  Maybe, we all should say it out loud every now and then just to be reminded that they don’t know who we are and don’t care.


This could be a subset of the first sign above.  Your job may actually be important.  If you’re a firefighter, cop, oncologist or teacher you certainly have an important occupation.  People depend on you.  That is a good thing.  Don’t confuse that with your job making you important.

I am a lawyer.  I think that’s an important job.  My clients depend on me to get them the results they want.  Each case I handle is extremely important to those folks.  Many people don’t think much of lawyers.  We rank slightly above crack dealers and slightly below pimps in the public’s view.  Used car dealers and insurance salesman are viewed largely the same.  Yet, we all think we’re important.  The painful truth is that a lot of people can do our jobs just as well–and even better–than we do.

Mathematician/Philosopher and all-round know-it-all Bertrand Russell once said that one of the signs of an impending nervous breakdown is the belief that your job is extremely important.  He was a lot smarter than I am, but I’m not sure that’s correct.  What I am sure of is that the belief that ME doing that job is extremely important is a bad sign.

I’m not irreplaceable.  Neither are you.  If you think you are, try this:  Go in to your place of business and quit.  I did that once.  Guess what?  They were fine without me.  Someone else started doing the stuff I had been doing, and everything continued on as usual.

I’ve worked with people who died unexpectedly.  People were really upset, some because they were human beings and others because death disrupts the workplace, what with the grieving and funerals and what have you.  Soon, though, we were trying to figure out who would get the deceased’s furniture or office.  Some of us were concerned that we might have to do more work.

So, the reality is that if you die at work, someone gets your credenza.  That’s it.


We all know that hearing things can be a bad sign.  Auditory hallucinations cause much trouble in the world.  Rarely do we read of “voices” saying things like “Have a good day” or “Be nice to someone.”  Usually, it’s stuff like “Eat that dog” or “Wear her skin as a vest.”  These voices–at least I’ve been told–seem real, so we do as they command.  If you’ve got that going on, for God’s sake, do something about it.

There is other stuff you can hear.  God, for example.  I’m not talking about something like a friend saying “God spoke to my heart.”  That’s a kind of metaphorical observation that means “I got this feeling.”  We’ve all had that.  I mean God actually talking and you possibly talking back.  Think of it like this:  God went silent late in the Old Testament.  Why would He start talking to you?  If it’s because you are really important, re-read my comments above.

Maybe the radio talks to you.  If you’re driving down the road screaming at Sean Hannity, that’s a problem.  He can’t hear you.  Perhaps you think 1970’s singer Dan Hill is crooning to you when you hear Sometimes When We Touch on the Oldies station.  He isn’t.  I used to think Olivia Newton-John was singing to me.  I don’t think that anymore, unless I’m watching Grease.

You may have pets.  You may love your pets more than any human.  Good for you, but they don’t talk.  Even if you talk to them in exaggerated baby talk that would embarrass any self-respecting infant, your dog or cat isn’t talking back.  If they do, just Google “Son of Sam” and stay far away from me.

Oh, don’t confuse this with seeing things.  There many benign explanations for this phenomenon–strong drink, drugs, poor lighting, etc.  Don’t worry about this unless the things you see start talking to you.


There’s nothing wrong with medication, assuming it’s prescribed and you need it.  Cymbalta, Wellbutrin, Zoloft and the like have done a world of good by altering troubling brain chemistry.  If you stop taking it, though, we have a problem.  This is especially true if you’re taking any sort of anti-psychotic medication.

When people start feeling better, they don’t want to take their medication anymore.  They are, in their dysfunctional minds, “cured.”  Here’s what you should do:  The day you stop taking your medication, note that this is the day you start down the road to full-blown lunacy.  You might even want to mark it on your calendar.


We don’t need to belabor this point.  Suffice to say that if you believe in any vast conspiracy that has remained secret for many years, you are not firing on all cylinders.  Here is a just sampling of topics about which you may believe a conspiracy exists:

  • The moon landing
  • 9-11
  • Marilyn Monroe’s death
  • Elvis Presley’s death
  • Bob Denver’s death
  • The Kennedy Assassination
  • Barack Obama’s birthplace
  • The firing of the original Darren on Bewitched
  • Anything involving a “New World Order”
  • Area 51
  • Communists
  • Big Foot
  • Yeti
  • The Knicks winning the 1985 NBA Draft Lottery

This list could be 10 times longer, but we’ll stop for brevity’s sake.  There may be conspiracies peculiar to your own circumstances.  For instance, your child may do poorly in school.  You may believe that this is a result of teachers, administrators and fellow students conspiring against your child.  Consider that your child may not be very bright or could be down right lazy.  It happens.

Try this.  Go out and see if you can line up 10 people you know for or against anything.  It ain’t easy.  Imagine now that you were wanting to kill someone with their help.  Not likely.

Just repeat to yourself each day:  There are no conspiracies.  If you hear a voice repeating it back to you, well, you know.


These are the five markers of madness.  You’ll notice that I didn’t delve into actual mental illnesses such as bipolar disease, schizophrenia, depression and the like.  Again, I have no medical training.  These specific diagnoses are best left to the professionals or you can easily diagnose yourself by searching on the Internet for your particular symptoms.  Here is an educational video to help you better understand such diseases of the mind.

There is good news.  Any one of these peculiarities, standing alone, is likely no more than a sign that you are weird or–if you are wealthy–eccentric.  Two or more, sadly, point directly to crippling lunacy.  You may be fortunate and become pleasantly mad–like many town characters throughout our great land.

It’s time to stop–at least that’s what the voices are telling me.  You know how pushy they can be.

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