Thursday, November 30, 2017

Better Late than Never

It has been a couple of weeks since I posted. There is a good reason for that.

After my first visit to the ER at Mayo I've been back in the hospital (Mayo) for a four day stint. During this period they installed a Pleurex Catheter in my right side. This allows me to drain the fluid buildup at home instead of going in to the hospital. It is not that comfortable, but doable with a little help from pain killers.

In addition, one of the doctors on the Palliative Care team recommended I stop taking the Stivarga as well as the Semvastatin I've been taking for years. He researched my file and could not find any evidence that the Stivarga was doing me any good. The Semvastatin has been shown to cause muscle weakness when taken for long periods. I am hoping to see my energy and stamina increase.

There was a complete screw up with getting the Pleurex Bottles and Sterile kits which caused Vicki to have to make 5 separate trips up to Mayo to get bottles and kits so I could drain at home. The case of bottles just arrived yesterday.

At first I was draining every day and getting a full liter of fluid. That went on for four days. The fifth day of draining only got 800 ML of fluid and I had extreme pain in my back and shoulder. I called Mayo and they recommended I come in to the ER again. We decided that I would just go to Chandler regional and get an X-Ray. The X-Ray showed the catheter was in place properly and they released me to got home. I waited a day to drain and got 500 ML of fluid.

I skipped a day again and then got 300 ML of fluid. After two days I drained again and got just 50 ML. I reached out to Mayo and they had me come in for another X-Ray. That was yesterday. The X-Ray was good and they put me on a 3 day drainage schedule. So I won't drain again till Sunday. If the fluid output remains small they will pull the catheter in a few weeks. That's the best news I could have gotten.

While at Mayo yesterday I had my first session with a Veterans with Cancer project that is set up to help Veterans with terminal illness. It was very interesting.

I will continue with the project if possible.

So that's why there have been no posts till now.

Here's this weeks contribution to the "New Normal"



Time Was (a singular conversation)

“Time was when we were relevant
movers and shakers were we”

Some can still shake it a little
Others think they have the moves
Now I don’t mean to belittle
but this crowd has lost its grooves

“Time moves on it’s the true Mover and Shaker
No holding it back or slowing it down”

I concede time’s the action taker
Nothing stops it coming around
So maybe we can’t shake our money maker
The way we did with the 60s sound

“Still we feel inside like we did back then
Though our exteriors have changed their shape”

Don’t blame us for feeling lost at times
We’ve forgotten more than you think
We’ve listened to many decades’ chimes
and many ice cubes clink

“We’re on second and third and 4th Careers
We’ve retired and come back again”

Many have found new spheres
Of influence and endeavor
So be wary my little dears

Though old we’re still quite clever
 
That's it from here.
Hang in there,

RT

Sunday, November 12, 2017

My Veterans Day

This year Veterans day came on Saturday. It meant it was the first time since I was released from active duty in 1971 that I actually had Veterans Day off. Unfortunately I was unable to put it to good use.

For the 3 or 4 days leading up to Veterans Day and especially the last 2 days I had trouble breathing along with severe pain in my right chest and back. Unable to sleep for those 2 days, exhausted and depressed, I made up my mind to get in the shower on Saturday morning, shave and brush my teeth so Vicki could take me to the Emergency room at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix.

I chose to go up there rather than the closer Chandler Regional Hospital because they had already drained the fluid from around my lungs once back on October 19th. They had all my records, my latest scan and I believed they would just do a better job at helping me. I was right.

Vicki pulled up to the emergency entrance and put me in a wheelchair. When I told the nurse who came out to get me that I was having trouble breathing she immediately took me into a triage room, pulled up my records and got me into a treatment room. There they hooked me up to a heart monitor, an oxygen monitor, performed an EKG and got me ready for the ER Doctor. He came in shortly thereafter and asked me what was going on. I explained about the fluid build up and the pain. 

He ordered a shot of painkiller and a couple of x-rays. The x-rays showed more fluid than I had back in October. I was taken into the ultrasound room where a technician prepped me for another Thoracintesis.

The radiologist came in and started draining the fluid. Once again it went smooth, I felt no pain and all was good till the very last. This time they removed 2.2 liters of fluid, a large amount. During the final moments I came down with a hacking cough and severe wheezing. It was very scary. I felt as if I couldn't get my breath and panicked a little bit. Luckily the cough and wheezing went away, then returned again, the went away again. It freaked me out.

Due to my coughing and wheezing they were unable to drain any more fluid. The ER Doctor had x-rays taken after the procedure and they showed I still had a substantial amount of fluid left.  We discussed my options which were having a catheter implanted to drain the fluid or have the lining of lung scarred surgically to cause the inner and outer linings to adhere to one another thereby leaving no room for the fluid. There doesn't seem to be any way to just stop the fluid build up. Kind of a bummer.

My next appointment is this coming Tuesday. I will talk with the Clinical Trial Coordinator and the Hemo nurse about my options. I feel like I need to stop or exit the trial and get this problem fixed first. The combination of the exhaustion caused by the Cancer drug and the inability to catch my breath (just getting up to go to the bathroom required a few minutes to get my breath back)   mixed with severe pain and the inability to sleep makes the prospect of repeating the process intolerable. I truly feared for my life at a couple of points during the previous week.

I am unsure what will come next. 

Here's this week's contribution to my "New Normal"


Uncommon Tones

Not everyone has the sweet mellifluous tone of Jewel
or the raspy, catchy blues brilliance of Stevie Ray
Some try their best but the result is cruel
and they find themselves unable to say

Just what it is that works them inside
Heightens their fears and makes them abide
Alone and afraid just wanting to know
That there’s someone to whom they can go

For shelter and comfort 
Laughter and Play
Hugging and Kisses
Someone who’ll stay

With them the whole night
Not slipping from their bed
Waking up in the moonlight
No note that they’ve fled

And leaving them lonely, stony and cold
There in the bedroom with no one to hold
Wondering, pondering were they the fool

Thinking they could sing their love like Jewel

Hang in there,

RT

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Halloween, The World Series, and nearing a week off

For the first time in  a couple of decades my wife and I participated in handing out Halloween Candy. This was due to our Granddaughter Briana asking us to join them at their house in Gilbert on Halloween night.

She and her boyfriend have just purchased their home and we were glad to see they had such a nice house. We put chairs and a table in the driveway and gave candy to the trick or treaters. Briana did the actual handing out and Vicki and I engaged the parents and kids in conversation. It was a nice night.

The World Series ended Thursday with Houston taking the championship. I hope it helps the Hurricane affected folks feel a little better. The series was both interesting and entertaining, with some midnite drama in game 5 with a final score of 13 to 12 for the Astros. The Dodgers tied the series at 3 to 3  in game 6 forcing a game 7. For the first time in many years the games kept my interest and were enjoyable to watch.

This week and the first of next marks the end of taking pills for Cycle 5. After this coming Tuesday I get a week off. I am hopeful that this month I will regain some strength during  my off week.

That's it from here,

Here's this weeks' contribution to my "New Normal" 

Stuck (Poet’s complaint)

I am stuck with unfinished poems
Like laundry left undone in the machine
Some thoughts and threads do splinter
Before I find out what they mean

I’ll take it as a sign to be patient
Forgetting the ease of the past
Remembering what work must be done
If what I’ve created will last

Even though to me they’re living
Just in this moment alive and complete
To readers or listeners in the future
Perhaps they need legs more than feet

To mention their timely creation
And their living in memory so brief
Would be far more than gilding the Lily
More like teaching theft to a thief

More like mist are these thoughts poetic
More like rain than water or ice
More intense than flame or fire
More often more naughty than nice

If given free rein this thing would remain
In limbo neither darkness or light
So I attempt to control, though I often extol
Damn it’s difficult to get them just right.

Hang in there,

RT



Friday, October 20, 2017

Cycle 5

On Tuesday of this week I started my 5th cycle of the Clinical Trial. In addition I had blood work and a CT scan the same day. 

When I met with my Oncologist and told him about my shortness of breath and the fullness in my chest he showed me the scan taken that day. There was a lot of fluid in the space between the inner and outer lining on my right side. Way too much. He scheduled me for a Thoracentisis to drain the fluid.

I was not familiar with this procedure, however we scheduled it for yesterday and they drained over a liter and a half of fluid from my lungs. I feel much better. 

The scan also showed that the tumors in my lungs have not grown and may have even diminished a little. My Oncologist stated that the drug is working and we will continue on with the trial.

All in all good news. I am experiencing less fatigue so far and I have a good appetite. This is about as good as it gets while in treatment. We'll see how the next 3 weeks goes.

Now for this weeks' "New Normal" contribution.


Twixt

Twixt perfect and decrepit
that’s where I belong
on the way out but trying
to go out feeling strong

Twixt smart and seriously stupid
not a genius but not a dunce
One who learned from his mistakes
though some happened more than once

Twixt handsome and butt ugly
scars and deformities abound
yet still presentable in public
as funny as that might sound

Twixt sober and inebriated 
that would explain this rhyme
not for nothing is it “Twixty”

I’ll explain it some other time

Hang in there,

RT

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Simple Pleasures

In spite of the continuing fatigue even though I am in my off week we had a fire in our fire pit tonight. I had a stogie and a couple of whiskeys as well. These are the simple pleasures I miss so much.

Vicki and I sat in our backyard around the fire pit and reminisced about times we spent camping with the kids on our boat on Apache Lake. The fire brought back a lot of great memories. We talked about her parents, her high school years and lots of other stuff. I treasure these times. There are never enough of them.

My "Off Week" has been somewhat disappointing. For what ever reason I have not gotten my strength back this week. I struggle getting out of bed and feel too tired to do much of anything. Just splitting some wood for the fire wore me out tonight. Never the less we had a great time and I enjoyed a good cigar and some good whiskey. 

There are 2 more days left before I start taking pills again. I intend to enjoy them as much as possible.

On Tuesday I will get a scan as well as some blood work at the Mayo clinic. I am hoping for good results.

That's it from here.

Hang in there.

Here is this weeks' contribution for the new normal,

The Answer

In time 
I found the answer
to the question
life had put to me

nothing big and spectacular
just what it meant to “be”

Our very mere existence
a miracle so rare
we take for granted every day
we just can’t see it there

Yet if you’ll heed what I say
perhaps you’ll come to care

That God is in the living
the here and now and you
Believe it if you feel it
come to know it’s true

Be thankful for every little bit
of water green and ocean blue

God’s in everything you see

Observe and get a clue

RT

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Peach Cobbler

The last 4 pills of cycle 4 of the clinical trial went down tonight. I celebrated with the last of the Peach Cobbler that Vicki and I made last week. For some reason I had a craving for cobbler; peach, blueberry, or whatever other kind of cobblers you can make.

Cooking with Vicki is one of the joys of our being retired. I look forward to  cooking many more dishes (mostly desserts) with Vicki. Food is still important to us, though we are having to change our diet to more healthy offerings. She ordered a book for pre-diabetics that contains a lot of new recipes we can try. 

This next week I hope to get back some energy, start walking in the mornings and just generally feel better. I feel like I have aged past my chronological age during these last few years of chemo and cancer treatments. It would be great to be able to get back in to shape, if even just a little bit.

We are going to our daughters' for haircuts on Thursday. That will probably be the only time I get out this week. Maybe we'll stop by the cigar store on the way back and pickup a cigar for me. The nights are getting cool enough for a fire and smores. We can hang out in our back yard and I can have a drink and a stogie. 

I know, the excitement never stops, huh?

That's about it from here.  

Since we're talking about food, here's this weeks' offering.

The Crockpot

On those Sunday mornings
when my wife puts beef or pork
into her crockpot
I find myself transported by the smells
which for me are like hyperlinks to past times
and my childhood

On this morning with hands in dishwater
looking out the kitchen window
at Robin and squirrel and solitary finch
the aroma of the crockpot wafts me back
to family homestead and country life

a small rural Alabama town
Boiled peanuts and largemouth bass 
my first motorcycle and my first kiss
when the world was still new to me
and I to it.


Hang in there,

RT

Sunday, October 1, 2017

More New Normal

It's Saturday night and I'm watching the premier episode of Saturday Night Live. I miss the good old days of John Belushi, Gilda Radner and Jane Curtain. The weekend update is still pretty good most weeks, but the sketches these days are lame. 

The yard is looking great thanks to our gardener, Ryan, who takes great care of all the plants and trees. I have 9 days left in my 4th cycle of the clinical trial and then I should feel good enough to have whiskey and a cigar in the off week. It's very pleasant to sit on the patio and view the yard in the cool of the evening.

These last two weeks have went pretty good, though we did go to a funeral service for Vicki's Uncle Clint last Saturday. He was 79 and contracted a fatal infection in his spine after receiving an injection a few months ago. He was a nice guy and a good Christian man. 

On the way home I got caught by a red light photo camera at an intersection on Arizona Ave. I went into the intersection under 40 mph on the yellow but it turned red when we were halfway through. Vicki says they won't send me a ticket, but I am doubtful. State law says if you enter the intersection on yellow it's legal, though I think they will send a ticket anyway and I'll have to fight it. We'll see.

Speaking of Vicki, she went to her Doctor this last week and they are changing her Thyroid medication to help with her aches, pains, and fatigue. I am hopeful.

In keeping with the "New Normal" here's this weeks' contribution.


I live with a Woman
I live with a woman who I Love
When snuggling we so tightly cling
And fit together like hand in glove
That between us there can be no thing

After all these years, hours and days
Many kids, jobs, houses we have had
Still I prefer her special ways
Of being like a second skin clad

Of moving with me, against me slow
Then warming needing space and time
Yet knowing when the need does grow
Back into my arms and sphere to climb

I make time and take time 
If needs I push and shove
To clear the deck for mission prime
To live with the woman I love


Hang in there,

RT