Friday, May 19, 2017

Second Opinions and RV shock

I reached out to the Mayo Clinic this week and have an appointment set for the 31st  to get a second opinion. I was originally going to have an appointment with a general oncologist, but after they looked at my info a nurse coordinator called me and suggested I see a Colorectal Cancer specialist. So that's what I am going to do. 

There may or may not be something they can do to help me. I am hopeful they will offer me an alternative to chemo. We'll see.

In the meantime our work on the RV continues. I took it to an alignment shop on Tuesday of this last week and the mechanic found issues with front end components to the tune of over $2000. It bummed me out and made me feel like the guy who sold us the RV took us.

Nothing to be done but eat the expense and move on. Which we will do. I worked on the dining table top and the cabinet  next to my side of the bed in the bedroom yesterday. I was able to change the fittings that hold the dining table to the wall so that it will be permanent and more stable. This required routing out the underside of the table top to accept the fittings in reverse. When I mount this to the fittings on the wall I will be able to screw them together on the underside of the table. 

In addition I fixed the drawer guides on my bedside cabinet and changed the top.(The old top had a couple of large holes drilled through the top) It turned out to be more of a job than I thought but still well within my abilities. So job well done for me.

Next I will modify another cabinet to be Vicki's bedside cabinet. This will take more work than mine since there are no drawer guides and the cabinet must me cut down in depth to match mine. We will also be removing the rest of the wallpaper in the bedroom once the RV tech has moved some plumbing and electrical from the now useless washer/dryer hookups. 

The coming weeks will be interesting if nothing else. I still am working on the RV every other day at most, though this last week I worked two days in a row.

Vicki is pulling staples as we remove carpet, so that project is going along as well. If this all seems like a lot of work, you're right. I don't believe it is beyond our abilities though. It will just take us longer than it would have a few years ago.

That's the latest from here.

Have a great summer,

RT

Friday, May 12, 2017

Another Great Week without Chemo

As the title states I did not have any Chemo this week. Vicki and I worked on the RV on two different days this past week. We were only able to work about 4 hours each day. After each day we took the next day off and slept in till almost noon. We were both really pooped. 

In spite of our inability to work for extended periods or work consecutive days, we did make significant progress. The carpet is ripped up all the way to the kitchen and all the staples have been pulled with the exception of the bathroom. It took quite a bit of effort on my part to get the carpet up in the john. This included removing the toilet which is always fun. So the staples need to pulled in there.

I also did some small repairs on the drawers in the kitchen and started removing the wallpaper from the walls of the bedroom. In addition, I have made a good start on countersinking the screws in the sub floor. This has to be done so that I can level the floor prior to installing vinyl plank flooring.

Vicki has been working very hard on the RV and I greatly appreciate her doing so. I cannot do this alone. 

I will probably go over to the storage yard tomorrow and do a little work by myself, but not too much. It will take some time to get my strength and stamina back. I like fixing things and working with my hands, but right now I just don't have the energy.

I received a letter from the VA today as well. They have denied my appeal. My benefit stays at the lowest amount. At least it's something. I will not waste any more time on the VA. I have never had much use for them and I certainly don't want to spend any more time thinking about Agent Orange or any of that crap.

The good news is that I feel a little better each day. I plan on calling the Mayo Clinic next week to see about getting a second opinion. It would be great if we could go after my tumors without chemo. There are intervention options, but they depend on the status of my cancer. I remain hopeful.

Wish me luck,

RT

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Chemo? No thanks!

As you may have guessed from the title, I did not have chemo this week, nor will I have it for the next 3 weeks. My Oncologist thinks it possible that the two small new tumors that showed up in my last CT scan could be inflammatory and not cancer. Either way they are very small, 4 to 5 mm. 

So he agreed with me to stop chemo for a while. I told him I am just too tired and sick to function and I need to function. 

At the end of the 3 weeks he wants me to start on a pill call Stivarga. The reviews I have read on it are not good. Many complain of heavy side effects with no progress on suppressing or killing the cancer. A couple however did report good results. I will continue research for the next 3 weeks and then make my decision.

I do not want any Chemo if I can help it, not infusion or pill. The poisons in the drugs are waring me out. At my age I need something that builds me up not tears me down. After a while I begin to feel like a guinea pig. At this point I believe I've been given about every drug recommended for colon cancer. 

In the meantime I will continue working on the RV. I have an RV tech coming to look at it on the 15th and I'm taking it to Spectrac for alignment on the 16th. We had to cancel our reservation at Buckskin Park for the 15th and 16th. I just couldn't get all the work I needed done in time.

I remain hopeful we will finish the renovations on our rolling home and hit the road sometime this summer.

Here's to you having a great summer.

RT

Monday, May 1, 2017

After Effects

Vicki and I are struggling today. We worked two days in the RV this weekend. Our son that helped last weekend had his 13th Wedding Anniversary this Saturday, so we did what we could on our own. 

Still, some progress was made and some questions answered (it's surprising all the things you have to know about your RV) and some new ones asked. I'm taking the unit to get it's two front tires changed and balanced tomorrow. Then later in the week or maybe next week to another place to get it aligned. 

In the meantime we are officially on medicare as of today. I learned that Cancer Centers of America doesn't take medicare patients when I called to check today. 
I am looking at what options are available to me if I decide to change providers, if indeed I can change.

There are other oncology and cancer providers in Phoenix. I will talk to as many as I can find. 

We will have a talk with my oncologist this Friday about treatment without Chemo. Maybe even a clinical trial. Who knows.

This will be another busy week I suppose.

I hope yours is more  calm.

RT


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Arriving at Geezerville's Gates

I turned 68 today and I feel pretty damned good for a guy who had chemo on Friday. I know it's more about my mental attitude than my physical condition. 

It comes from working with my youngest son yesterday on our RV. I worked with my Dad in a cabinet shop in rural Alabama when I got out of the Marines in 1971. Working with Damien yesterday brought back some of those memories.

The cabinet shop was on the second floor of an Old Barn in Verbena, Alabama. The train tracks ran behind it about 50 feet away. In the winter (it gets cold in Alabama in the winter) We would sit by an old wood stove taking a coffee break and watch the freight cars go by and marvel at all the different states and locations they came from.

I spent a lot of time yesterday sitting on the RVs couch and watching Damien work. My stamina is pretty low, I can work in spurts, but not continually for any amount of time. He worked tirelessly and smartly as well. It was a real pleasure to work with him. I am looking forward to the next time we work on the RV together.

Vicki made me Taquitos this morning for Breakfast. Right now I'm watching the Bruins and the Senators playing game six in their playoff series. The Senators just scored another goal and lead 2 to 1. If the Bruins lose they are out of the playoffs.

It's a great day to be alive regardless of your age and ailments. 

Hope your day is as good,

RT

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