Friday, April 21, 2017

God is laughing Again

The old joke is "How do you make God Laugh?" "Tell him your plans."

The scan came back with 2 extra small tumors in my lungs, so I had chemo today. The oncologist is on vacation and his assistant gave us the news. We were disappointed to hear this. It made Vicki cry when a lady we met in the chemo room asked after me. Both the ladies were crying and hugging and I tried not to cry because seeing Vicki cry breaks my heart.

I think she took it harder than I did. I spent the 4 hours we were there figuring out how to get the remodeling on our RV done while in Chemo. I have already reached out to my brother in law for help. Now I will need another helper and I will call my youngest son to come help if he's not working on Saturday. 

The next step is removing the washer/dryer combo unit from the bedroom. After that we have painting, cabinetry to move and reinstall, a full 60" X80" platform to build, and new flooring. And that is just in the bedroom. We will also be replacing the 22 year old carpet with Vinyl Plank Wood Look flooring in all but the cockpit area. But before we do any of that we will need to finish removing the old carpet from the rest of the coach. ( I took the carpet out of the bedroom along with the storage cabinets that went under the original twin bed setup.)

After all the carpet is out we will still need some time to remove all the staples from the half inch plywood underlayment in the RV. I was happy and reassured to find real wood and not pressboard or some other crappy substitute.

Today we are supposed to get a big order from Camping World with more projects, including replacing the not functional vent fan in the bedroom with a
new fantastic fan with thermostatic control and the ability to reverse the fan for blowing out or in. Walmart has my order for door minders ready to pickup whenever I get the energy this weekend.(These are little plastic gizmos that hold up the basement storage doors.) It doesn't sound like much, but it requires drilling out the heads of pop rivets used to attach the holdup rods that are currently used to prop open the doors. These clips will keep the doors all the way open for loading and unloading the bins.

Yesterday I worked on the oak cup holder that the previous owner had mounted on the doghouse. I routed out the back to make it fit like it should. I hadn't used my router in over a year. It was nice to be doing a project instead of laying around feeling tired and funky. In addition I  bought a hole saw to put holes in the bottom to allow soda cans and water bottles to stay in the holder.  The way it was made was just for coffee cups.(Wide with room for the handle, but not deep enough to hold other drinks)

I am considering going out to garage and working on it. The chemo has other ideas. We'll see how I feel later this afternoon. I will probably be too busy playing with the new stuff from Camping World.

On a much lighter note, I turn 68 on Sunday. Officially entering Geezerville.

Vicki has just 5 days to work before her retirement. That's really great. We are looking forward to her being home with me. Plus we will be able to travel and  camp during the week at some point. I just need to get the RV finished and get out of this damned Chemo.

I feel challenged by this turn of events, but not overly bummed out. I will continue to carry on.

Wish me luck,

Rich


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

We finally found a Motorhome

Yep, we sure did. It's not all that pretty, not that new and thankfully not that big. It's a 31 foot Class C Fleetwood Tioga. This particular unit is on an HD Chevy Chassis with a 454 Truck V8 and an auto tranny.

The Winnebago we looked at before the Tioga was 35 feet long and a class A. It unfortunately had issues we did not want to deal with. 

So, we will be remodeling the bedroom on our coach in the next week or so. New flooring and removing the washer/dryer combo that the original owner from Florida had installed. Our seller (second owner) had the unit for 12 years and never used it and neither will we. In addition our seller changed the layout in the Bedroom from single beds to a queen by putting the two mattresses together. 

We (by that I mean me and brother in law) will be removing cabinetry and adding as well, plus building a platform for a standard queen mattress that is 80 inches long. It turns out that an RV queen is only 74 inches long which is a tad tight for me at 73" tall. 

Also this thing has 2 TVs in it. I tried to talk Vicki out of the one in the bedroom, but she nixed the idea. So when we change and add cabinets I've got to find another spot for the TV. I hope we never ever use it when camping. 

Anyway when I get the RV cleaned up a bit more I'll put a picture of the exterior and interior.

In the meantime I've made reservations for our shake down cruise in May to camp with full hook-ups in Buckskin State Park on the Colorado River outside of Parker. I might even get in some fishing if I can get my cheap self to spring for the 37 bucks the state wants for a fishing license.

Things went smoothly today getting the sale finalized and getting tags and insurance. I am hopeful the remodel and refit will progress as well as today.

My next Oncology appointment on the 21st will be to review my Cat Scan. I am very hopeful we will be able to stop chemo and move on to intervention.

I am looking forward to getting the RV ready and hitting the road.

Hope your days are going well,

RT




Friday, April 14, 2017

RVs, Medicare Supplements and Retirement

We looked at an RV last Sunday and thought we had a deal. It turned out the unit had a check engine light which would keep it from passing emissions or getting registered and tagged. The lady selling it is very nice and perhaps it will get fixed and we will get it.

In the meantime we looked at 2 more RVs on Wednesday after my scan that morning. It wore me out doing the roof and outside inspections. In the end both units had issues we did not want to deal with. So... We will look at one out in Mesa on Saturday.

This week saw us finalize the transition from private Insurance to Medicare Parts A & B plus supplements D & F. After all this it looks like Insurance will take about 20% of our retirement income. We will definitely be on a tight budget.

This makes my retirement dream of traveling for 6 months of the year in an RV even more of a challenge. I am hopeful we will be both creative and frugal in obtaining our traveling home. We will see.

Wish us Luck and the best to you,

RT

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Very Good News

OK, so let me say this first. I have been thinking and planning with the idea that   it was possible I just had a couple of years left to live. The percentages posted on The  American Cancer page for my disease seen here https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/survival-rates.html give me a whopping 12% chance of survival after 5 years. I fall under the metastasized group farther down the page.

Vicki addressed this belief with my Oncologist today. He stated first that the studies used for that statistic were too old to be valid because the drugs and therapies used now were far superior to the limited drugs used 10 years ago.

Secondly he said my tumors, their placement, and the slow progression of the disease indicated a much more optimistic outlook. He stated that since my disease had not migrated (metastasized) to my liver, (the more common action of an aggressive form), that my disease was more controllable.

Third and last, he stated that if the results of my scan next week show no more tumors and the existing 2-5 small masses haven't grown, then we could consult an Interventionist.The procedure would burn the tumors in my lungs with fine wires that use radio frequency to produce targeted heat. If successful, Chemo would stop and a maintenance regimen with visits a month or more apart would be the new norm. Oh and I have to stop Chemo at least one month before this procedure to reduce bleeding. I am all for that.

This is fantastic news. I feel much better about our chances to do some serious RV camping. 

Speaking of which, we looked at a couple of more RVs this week. Both of these units where at dealers on Main Street in Mesa and Apache Junction. The used unit we looked at Power RV was a joke. They don't clean the units, go through them and fix the systems, or even start the damn thing up so you can check engine and trans. It was laughable and to me very unprofessional.The salesman who had been alerted we were coming(the original Sales guy I spoke with was out sick or something that day) told us they just take them down the road to their service site and fix everything. This is after you buy the unit. Wow! I asked how long they warranty an RV that has gone through their shop and he stated there was NO Warranty. They would show you every thing working the day you picked it up. When you drove if off the lot that's it. One wonders if they are familiar with a local plumbing commercial featuring a guy named Melvin.

We also looked at a new Jayco RV at another dealer. This was just 24 feet long, but had 2 slid outs. We do not want to buy an RV with slideouts. This was a medium sized dealer whose name I don't recall. We looked at just the one RV and left. Nothing there for us.

We ended up at Camping World where they wanted to show me the only used RV they had on the lot under $20,000. This was a Majestic RV from their or some other Dealer's  Rental Inventory with a 150,000 miles on it. No thanks.

We are scheduled to go see a 2 owner RV out in Peoria on Sunday if I can hack it. I will do my best. Right now I am eating apple slices to help with my Nausea. (We learned this trick from when a waiter suggested it to Vicki on one of our cruises and it really helped with her Sea Sickness.) I cannot take anymore of my Nausea pills for a few more hours.

So...More hopeful about living a little longer? Sure. Still optimistic we will find an RV that will serve us well? OK. Looking forward to this possibly being my last Chemo treatment? You bet your ass I am.

Hang in, 

and PS: Ant, sorry I didn't see your comment till today. Jack as always I publish your comments as soon as I see them.

RT



Sunday, April 2, 2017

What do you want first, the good news or the bad news?

The good news is that I had enough energy this weekend to drive down to Tucson on Saturday to look at an RV. It was really nice to be out on the road again with Vicki. The drive down wasn't too bad. We averaged close to 75 the whole way. When we got into Tucson the exit we needed was closed for construction and the detour to get to our destination was a bit tedious.

We did eventually find the storage yard where the RV was stored. This brings me to the bad news. The RV had several issues not to mention a roof patch over the rear bedroom and serious delamination of the sidewall. Once moisture gets into these RV walls and ceilings it's a big deal and a major pain in the ass to fix.

The first thing I did was climb the ladder to the roof of the unit (the ladder itself was flimsy with just one of the two lower fixtures being actually attached to the rear wall). I was pretty sure at this point we weren't going to buy this one. Once inside the cab I found that the ABS light stayed on, meaning there was some issue with the brakes. The interior was pretty whipped as well. The pictures posted on the Internet must have been taken some time before.

So.. We thanked the guy for his time and headed back to Phoenix. On the way back we were delayed about 45 minutes by a multiple fender bender just 10 miles south of our exit off the I-10.

Anyway, we were happy to get out together and travel. We even used some of the traffic delay time to do some carpool Karaoke. I noticed some of the folks in the next lane laughing at us, but it did help kill the time.

We are just chilling out today. Vicki put a roast in the crockpot and made brownies as well. 

Hope your weekend went as well,

Hang in,

RT

Friday, March 24, 2017

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished?

The extra week between treatments ended up not working out. This is because I spent that week fighting a terrible virus that affects the sinuses and lungs. I medicated myself with Mucinex that week and was OK to go to Chemo by myself today. Because, guess what, I gave the virus to Vicki who missed work for most of the week fighting the aforementioned virus.

She is doing better today, but still not up to work or much of anything right now.

I am having my usual side effects on the day of Chemo. Staying focused on managing the side effects is the best I can do. I had to stop the anti-nausea patch because it gave me a rash, so my options are more limited than last treatment. I will persevere. 

My Oncologist and I talked about changing the treatment to allow Vicki and I to get an RV and travel. He indicated I could go on maintenance which could extend the time between treatments to a month or more. I like the sound of this, but it does not cure my cancer or even make me cancer free. That's something to think about. The last time we had a break in treatment the cancer metastasized to my lungs, which got me back in this heavy chemo. 

So...it seems like a gamble to me. I could do OK or the Cancer could move to my liver or another vital organ. It will not happen till we have another scan and maybe even take a shot at freezing the two small masses in my lungs. We'll see.

Hang in,

RT


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Somehow I feel like "Alice's Restaurant" should be playing in the Background

Well, Well, Well, Well, Hell,

So.... I received a check for the 10% they want to give me. It was for back months from Jan of 2017. It was minimal. In the meantime the Doctor from the VA called me today to ask about my prescriptions. I am pretty sure he already had that info but I gave it to him again. He may be a little clueless as to how his organization works. When I told him I had already been sent their final decision and that it was just the minimum amount he stated he didn't know that. DUH!!!

On top of that I had to deal with the Social Security folks as well. I got the forms I needed to sign up for Part B from a phone call with the SSA in New Mexico. I downloaded the forms, filled them out as instructed, including getting a signature from Vicki's work proving I had coverage for the last two years. I explained to the lady that had I not had coverage I would have been dead. I don't think she got the joke.

Anyway, the paperwork needed to be rushed so I decided to take it to the SSA office out in Mesa. This was the office I signed up for Social Security at 2 years ago. This was my first mistake. The office moved to a bigger and much less friendly location. Instead of a comfortable waiting area and open desks behind a short wall, the new building features an armed guard,(who we shall refer to as Colonel Clink throughout the rest of this post) in spite of the fact that he was a late 20s to mid 30s hispanic mail in full regalia including bullet proof vest, pepper spray and glock sidearm.

This guy really got on my nerves. You weren't allowed to even bring in a bottle of water to the waiting area. Oh, let me tell you about that. Instead of any kind of decent chairs they have a few rows of all metal chairs, noted for their discomfort and really hard on the  backside and back. I felt sorry for some of the folks older and more debilitated than me. 

The whole place felt like a prison waiting room and the atmosphere seemed hostile to me and I let them know it. They were not amused. The guard came over to me and I told him that I had nothing to say to him and I didn't want to hear anything from him either. That went over like a lead  balloon. In the end I told him if there was any problem it was with him and not me. Yea, I made a lot of friends there.

After almost two hours I was called to one of the windows that are placed around two walls of the small holding area. I expressed my concerns to the lady at the window and my disappointment at their customer service and lack of hospitality. She apologized and then a little later told me she did not want to hear any further negative comments from me. What a sweetheart. She did get my paper work going and help me with a logon issue with their website. It was obvious that she was good at her job, but like the guard needed  some help with desk side manner.

The good news is that I did not get kicked out or arrested. The bad news is that for whatever reason the social security office now thinks it needs an armed guard and a less than hospitable attitude. And just for the record, No one likes being given petty bullshit orders and treated like cattle. So I am happy I said something.

These folks need to understand that they work for us, we don't work for them. Our tax dollars pay their wages and benefits. They don't pay our Social Security. We paid for years into the system and are just trying to get some of our money back.. No one should have to put up with their petty crap.  I will not be returning  to that place for any reason. I don't have the time or patience to do that again. 

While all this is going on I have had to switch computers. My HP finally bit it. It can take up to four hours to fix it's software glitches to just to get it to boot up. I don't have time for that either. After seeing a news article about a shop in Tempe that rebuilds Mac computers I went on line and found the Apple Exchange. They had a refurbished MacBook Pro, 15 inch with the Retina Display. That's what I am using for the first time on this post.

The laptop was three times the price  of the new HP we bought at Best Buy a couple of years ago. I think it's going to be worth it. It is lightening fast in comparison to the now defunct HP. It will take me some time to get used to it as it seems most everything is deliberately backwards from the windows environment. I hope I still have enough geek in me to learn how to use all of this machine's capabilities. 

Oh and we went and looked at an RV after all this other stuff. That didn't work out as we planned. The son of the owner balked at letting us drive the unit and have it checked out by a mechanic. It got a little sideways and we left without buying the RV. I guess this just wasn't the one of us.

This was the longest day I have spent out and about in months and at the end of the day I was exhausted. It started at 6 AM when we left for Vicki's work and ended a little after 6 PM when we got home. I did enjoy the early driving (the 300 owns the freeways) but by the time we were driving from far north Phx to Sun Lakes I was beat.

All in all a somewhat productive day for an old geezer in chemo.

I hope your days go a little better than mine.

Hang in there,

RT