Monday, July 19, 2010

Alan Sullivan

I've linked to 'Fresh Bilge' at the right side of this page for some time now. I found Alan's blog by searching for other CLL blogs. I'm the type of person who deals with serious and threatening news by trying to gather as much information as I can.

Alan passed away from CLL on July 9, 2010, after an abdominal infection. He lived in South Florida and was cared for by Dr. D, as he called him. The focus of Alan's blog was not CLL; he was a life-long writer, translator, and poet. Fiercely bright and a talented writer, he translated Beowulf and other works. Of late, he was engaged in translating the Psalms into succinct but poetic form, trying to capture not only the sense but the lyricism of these great Biblical works.

He was a gay man, and politically conservative, so that made us alike on one count. He was probably more libertarian in his views (for some reason this is more acceptable to the left than conservatism is) than I am, and he was concerned about the direction of the country, given our seeming inability to deal rationally on the subject of government spending. I think he would agree with the sentiment that government and the taxpayers alike have to start saying 'NO!' to good and caring ideas.

He also was an amateur photographer, geologist, vulcanologist, and meteorologist. He lived in New England, New York, Minnesota, on his boat at sea, and finally on land in South Florida. The clever title of his blog refers to the water that collects at the bottom of most boats. Generally it's a foul mixture of water, diesel oil, and whatever else ends up the the lowest place on a boat. He said that he wanted his blog to be a fresh dose of whatever.

He said he was diagnosed with CLL in 2005. I don't know the course of his disease, or the treatments he pursued, but I do know that he was cursed apparently with an aggressive form of the disease. He chose to deal with the CLL by treating it palliatively; he underwent a round or two of irradiation to his troublesome abdominal nodes, a problem which I am all too familiar. Living with a cantaloupe-sized mass in your gut is annoying at best.

He started spiking fevers a few weeks ago, along with serious and debilitating abdominal pain. Since he posted every day (generally multiple times per day), all of this unfolded in real time. I was bothered by the fact that his fever would routinely top 102 degrees, before abating at some point in the day. Finally, he went to the hospital.

They found that apparently he had had a 'leak' from the bowel into the gut. His body seems to have sealed off the breach. He underwent surgery in early July to find out what was going on. He never left the hospital.

I never met Alan. I did post comments on his blog, and I did give him some unsolicited advice about his CLL. I mentioned clinical trials and flavopiridol. I also liked to tease him about global warming. He didn't believe in man-caused global warming, and he pounced on the news of the fabricated data from East Anglia University as proof that the only warming on the planet was in the fevered minds of the Al Gore crowd.

So, another voice stilled by CLL. So much for the 'good cancer' (an oxymoron if I've ever heard one). Alan was a bright guy with a whole host of opinions on science, politics, and life in general.

As he lay in the hospital, he asked that his blog be shut down, but that his writings serve as his epitaph. The blog is still available. If you are interested, he has a memoir section that speaks of his growing up in the fifties, sixties, seventies and beyond, in a country increasingly dysfunctional, and believing more in fairy-land economics and taxpayer expectations.

He is missed, and, like all of us, cannot be replaced or duplicated. I checked his blog every morning for a dose of wit, volcano postings, and musing on the weather. I'll miss doing that.

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