Thursday, December 24, 2015

Twas the night before

Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even my spouse

She was cuddled up snug in her blanket with care

Hoping that Santa Claus would soon be there.


OK, so I cheated a little bit. This was taken a couple of days before Christmas Eve. We're actually sitting together tonight watching sappy Christmas movies as I write this.

We had a busy day today and tomorrow we will have a house full of kids and grand kids. I am looking forward to having a great family Christmas this year.

We are both recovering from medical procedures and treatments, but getting better each moment. I remain hopeful that the coming year will bring us better health.

In the meantime we will focus on all the good things that have happened and enjoy being together.

I won't ask Santa for anything else.

RT

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Week that Was!

This week started off OK. Both Vicki and I worked Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday is where it got weird and then shitty.

Wednesday I was scheduled for what I thought would be a PET scan out in East Mesa. The cancer center I use in Chandler didn't have any openings before Christmas and our other option was Glendale. We drove out there Wednesday morning and entered the lobby of the East Valley Branch of Ironwood Cancer Center. The lobby was full of freezing cancer patients. The heat in the lobby wasn't working. The thermometer registered 61 degrees. It may not sound that bad, but it was colder than old people with cancer find comfortable.

We waited and shivered with the rest and finally I said something to the staff at the desk. They said the heat was being fixed but it was still freezing in the lobby when I left 4 hours later. It was cold enough in the lobby that Vicki went to our daughter's salon and waited for me.

Oh yea, I forgot to mention that they ended up doing 2 scans, both a CAT and PET scan which more than doubled the normal time one scan would take. After that we went to lunch and then on to Sonora Quest for blood work for the both of us. It was around 2:30 or 3 by the time we got back home.

We thought that our busy medical day was over, but instead it was just starting. A little before 6 PM Vicki started getting severe pain in her back. Since she was waiting on surgery to remove a kidney stone we rushed her to the hospital and I mean rushed. I had the 300 moving pretty good when I could on the way there.

They good folks at the emergency room at Chandler Regional took her right in and got her on morphine for the pain. After that things slowed down. They took her for a CAT scan a couple of hours later and then a urinalysis to look for infection. 

The urinalysis came back clean  and the CAT scan showed the Kidney stone had moved to the line between her Kidney and Bladder. It was decided between the ER doctor and Vicki's Urologist that she would stay night in an Observation Unit and have a procedure, not quite surgery but they put you out like it is, to break up and remove the stone the next day. We waited past 1 in the morning until they found what they called a room, but was actually just a large cubby with curtains at the front and sides. The patient next to her had her TV on at 2:30 in the morning; not a good environment for sick person.


It turned out that her doctor was the chief of the Urology department and booked in surgery till past 7 PM the next day. I stayed with Vicki till 3 AM and then went home to catch a couple of hours of sleep. I slept till 9 the next morning and went back to the hospital to spend the day with Vicki till she went into surgery. 

The procedure/surgery went well, though the doctor did not find a stone, but scar tissue from a previous surgery some 50 years ago that had caused the blockage. He was able to clear out the line (ureter) and put a stint in to open up the blockage. Unfortunately the stint will have to come out in a month or two. So it looks like she will be back in for more surgery during the first quarter of 2016.
 
She was back in her room by around 10 PM or so. (She really did have a room this time. I had made some comments on the previous night's accommodations to the Unit manager/ Dept Head when she came around) and they moved her the next day. I rewarded the entire dept by going to Sears and getting them a Humongous Box of Whitman's Chocolates. Not even Nurses can resist Chocolate.   

The good news is that she's home tonight. I was able to get her discharged and out the door just past noon today. We are both glad to have this week over.

The better news is that tomorrow we will celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary. Even better, I had my oncologist appointment today to go over the scans and I am done with
Chemo for a while. I have an appointment with my radiation doctor the 29th to see if we can start stereotactic radiation for the 4 small nodes that remain in my lungs.


So... I am looking forward to a great anniversary dinner tomorrow night with my wife and a happy and merry Christmas with kids and grand kids next week.

Here's hoping your Christmas will be as Merry as it can be.

RT

Friday, December 11, 2015

Pre Midnight Ramblings

In case you don't know, there are just 14 shopping days left till Christmas. I know this because I started my shopping today.

My semi-annual trips to the Mall and other stores usually go OK and today was no different. After trooping and stomping up and down the corridors at the local mall, I finally found some of the stuff I needed, thanks to some very helpful sales people. 

Vicki and I are having trouble getting into the Christmas spirit this year, but I think we'll both come around. 

She is still sick and in addition will be going in for surgery just after the new year.
I am awaiting my next Pet Scan to find out if I have more chemo or radiation.
We are definitely an exciting pair.

Nevertheless, I am looking forward to Christmas and Family and a little joy and celebration to go with the hardships we have endured and continue to endure this year.

I hope your shopping goes as well as mine did. I also hope that you have friends and family to celebrate with this year.

That's about it for ramblings tonight.

RT


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Great Support Group

This will just be a short post to thank the people who came to our house yesterday and put up our Christmas Decorations. The Girls helped Vicki with the tree, it looks beautiful by the way, and the boys did the outside.

I supervised and did a little on both the inside and outside, but really the Kids, the 
Grand kid, and our ex son-in-law did all the work. 

So here's thanks to Jamie, Damien, Chris and Brianna for all their help yesterday.

Thanks and thanks some more,

RT

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Before starting this post I was reading an article on gratitude. A couple of scientists and researchers found that people who have gratitude for their lives, events, circumstance or whatever, tend to  be happy people or at least happier people.

OK, I can go along with that. Which makes me think those first settlers were smart to create a Thanksgiving Day. Maybe we would all be a little happier if we had a Thanksgiving  moment every day. Anyway I know that I have a lot of things for which to be thankful.

The number one thing I am thankful for is Vicki's results from her 5-year MRI. We got the results from her oncologist yesterday. She is not just cancer free, she in now considered cured. It was a great thing to hear.

I am also very thankful for all the family I saw today at our Thanksgiving Outing. My oldest daughter got us a Ramada at Skyline Park out in Mesa. I got to see 8 of our 14 grand kids and lots of nieces, nephews, kids, and cousins. I walked down through the park and marveled at all the different folks celebrating the holiday. It felt good to see people out having fun with their families. That's something some people never get to experience, all Thanksgiving Dinner nightmares aside.

I am thankful as well for the treatment I am receiving and the support from  friends and family. I am also very thankful for the support I get from people at work. That's another thing right there; I am thankful to still be able to work. 

When you think about it there will be a whole lot of things to be thankful for, that deserve your gratitude.  

I won't bore you with any more of mine, there really isn't room on the page. I have had countless blessings in this life and I am grateful for every one. Take a minute and contemplate all the wonderful things in your life.

RT

 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

"Hold on a Minute"

Turns out that yesterday was my 5th Chemo treatment and not my 6th as my last post erroneously stated. Even so, this one got me more than any so far.

I didn't go to bed till 3 AM this morning. It took me that long and multiple pills to get the nausea under control enough to attempt sleep. It also helped that by that time of the morning I was pretty damn tired as well.

My daughter Bridgette just came by and picked up Vicki to go get her 5 year MRI at St. Judes in Phoenix. If she gets another clean MRI she we be declared cured, not just cancer free. 

I am sitting in the easy chair, watching Antiques Roadshow, and blogging. The don't call me Mr. Excitement for nothing.

Looking forward to Thanksgiving. We are having a family outing at a Park in Mesa. I should get to see a bunch of folks I haven't seen in ages. 

Have a great Thanksgiving day.

RT

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Waiting on 6

I'm watching the Cards tonight and resting up for work tomorrow. Side effects have been manageable this weekend. I haven't had a lot of energy, but what energy I have I believe I've put to good use. 

Vicki came down with a kidney infection on Thursday, which we had confirmed on Saturday when she went to the urgent care a few blocks from our house. I cooked dinner on Friday night and did some minor chores on Saturday. Sunday I had enough energy to do the ironing for both of us, so I feel pretty good about that.

How I will feel in the morning is a whole nother deal. (excuse my hillybillyism)

I have my 6th treatment this coming Friday and I wonder how much it will wear me down. Each treatment has made me more and more tired. It's getting to the point where even 3 days a week will be more than I can go to work. Right now I'm scheduled for 4 days a week, but I haven't made more than 3 days for the past month. 

I'm hoping we can get Vicki healed up by my next treatment. We'll just have to wait and see. 

It just started raining again. We had the roof done last week and I'm hopeful it's holding up. This has been a very wet fall for us here in Phoenix. Climate change?

Hope things are going well for you.

RT



Sunday, November 8, 2015

I take the 5th

I had my 5th chemo in this round of treatment  yesterday. I am handling the chemo better this time around than on the previous two rounds. There is still nausea and a couple of other minor side effects, but I keep them under control with meds. 

My biggest concern right now is my wife Vicki's health. She has been sick with nausea since Thursday. We think it may be stress related.  She's been through a tough year. Her Mom died on Christmas Eve last year and her Dad passed seven months later. In addition she has her last MRI coming up. This one is for her 5th year checkup. If her MRI is clean she will officially be cured of her cancer. Her work place moved a couple of months ago to a more difficult commute and a huge warehouse like space with 3,000 people in one open floor plan. And of course my treatment is more than half way into it's second year. I don't doubt I am getting to be a drag.

So... I am hoping that the treatment I am taking is killing my cancer. I also hope that we can determine what's going with Vicki and how to fix it.

The weather is beautiful this weekend. We are blessed to live in Phoenix in the winter.

Hope have a great weekend.

RT

 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

God is Great, Beer is Good, People are Crazy

Well this last week was hectic and weird, but ended with good news from my oncologist. 

On Monday I went in for a PET scan. This was to determine how the treatment is affecting the cancer nodules in my lungs. After that Vicki and I went to brunch at Village Inn where I managed to leave my favorite ball cap. (I am wearing them now till my hair grows back) We went back on Wednesday but no one had turned it in. It was a good looking ball cap from one of my builders back in the 80s. Oh well, I have a bunch more I can use.

Tuesday was a very strange day. It was the reason for the title of this post. Our company is currently a mess. The new owners are struggling to understand our business and how much it differs from their other plants. We are the only one that has a large installation and service  operation and they are having trouble getting their act together. In the interim the first symptom of this is the parking issue for employees. It has gotten so bad that many people are having to park off site. Worse than that, in the morning when I get in the service vehicles have all been pulled into the parking lot. These vehicles block access to parking and even use some of the few available spaces. SO.....this particular morning, in frustration, I parked in one of the two handicapped parking spaces. The other was being used by a company service vehicle. Someone at our company called the Tempe police complaining there were no available handicapped slots. The cops were at the company by 8:00 AM. I was notified by our HR dept around 10:30. Too late to do anything and left with a $475 ticket and only 7 calendar days to respond. 

My solution was to take half day off on Wednesday and get the paperwork done for a temporary disabled parking placard. First I downloaded the form from the MVD, then took it in to my oncologist office and had them fill out their portion. Next, since my chemo was on Friday I went for blood work. That accomplished we went to MVD to get my placard. It went surprisingly well there. We were in and out in 30 minutes or so. So now I had the disabled placard. But I was not done. The ticked required I go to court and show them the placard to dismiss the ticket. 

We got word on Tuesday that our middle daughter Jamie was in the hospital out on the 60 and Higley. It was around 3:30 by then so we headed on out to see her. She was having tests for a heart irregularity. They found a birth defect that had never shown up before (she is 42 now). She is home now with more than strong recommendations from the doctors to change her diet, quit smoking and take nitro pills as needed.

My only option for a court appearance was Thursday morning. Friday would be my 4th chemo and I had no idea how I would feel on the following Monday or Tuesday, the last days I could appear without a penalty for being late. The court is on Fifth street in downtown Tempe. I got there around a quarter after 8:00 AM. The court is protected by guards and a metal detector. I flunked the metal detector part. My brief case had a kit for nails with a clipper, a nail file and worst of all tiny scissors destined to land in the neck of the judge should the case go against me. The guards dutifully took these from me and returned them when I left. Next I went to a bank of windows where I was asked to give them my ticket, my driver's license and my temporary disability placard. The clerk entered all the data from those items and sent me to courtroom 5. 

Courtroom 5 was approximately half the size of my living room, with 3 rows of shiny black benches in the back of the room and the court clerk and the judge sitting on a raised platform in the front. I was told to sit in back of the room till called. The counter clerk electronically transferred my info to court clerk's computer, who then sent that info to the judges computer. Now she knew my name and my offense. I was then called to the bench where she looked at my ticket and my placard. She asked me one question; who was the placard registered to? I answered to me and the ticket was dismissed. We chatted while paperwork was produced and I doffed my ball cap (did I fail to mention I wore a ball cap to court?) telling the pair that I was in my third round of chemo and if this was the worst thing I had to do today I was good with it. I then thanked them for their quick service and commented on the intimacy of their courtroom. I told them I felt quite special being in their boutique courtroom, which got a good laugh.

Friday was a doctor visit first before chemo. I learned my PET scan showed a small decrease in the size of the four nodules in my lungs. This means I will have another 3 treatments then another scan. If that one is good, then perhaps a few weeks rest before radiation for the spots left. All in all great news.

It was a very hectic week. The PET scan news was God being great, I had my last beer with pulled pork barbeque and it was good. The whole parking thing at work takes care of the people are crazy. So there you go.

Have a great weekend,

RT

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hair today Gone tomorrow

My hair started falling out last week. It was a mess to get off my pillow, so I had my oldest daughter buzz cut my hair after this weeks treatment. She got it down to fuzz and then my wife and I finished if off with a razor later that night. So at least I won't have to worry about the pillow issue any more. 

This was my third treatment is this cycle. The Oncologist wants another scan before my next treatment, so I should be going in for a Pet Scan in the next couple of weeks. 

I am still working 4 days a week and hope to be a able to work 4 days this next week. It all depends on how I feel when I get up. Some days I can do it and some I can't.

Vicki is hanging in and helping me get through this as always. I would not be able to do this without her.

That's it from here.

Hope all is well with you.

RT

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Round 3 Chemo 2 Me1

If you think the title of this post has a point, you're right. I went to Chemo by myself today; my wife had to stay home. She is recovering from what could be a contagious throat infection. Therefor ME1.

Today's treatment was the second in this round. So, Chemo 2, and including my first round of oral chemo this is Round 3. So there it is, the meaning of the title.

The chemo went OK today, I'm tired, but otherwise good. I also saw my oncologist today as well. He tells me the blood work is OK for now and I should expect a couple of months of treatments every other week, for as least the next couple of months. After that a scan to see if the chemo is killing or at least stopping the cancer from spreading anymore.

So.... Vicki is getting better and for now I'm doing all right. We'll see how the weekend goes. Oh and yea I've got the on body injector deal on me that will give me a shot of Neulasta tomorrow around 3:15 in the afternoon. Then the whole treatment will be done.

Hope you have a great weekend.

RT


 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Three is a Charm?

After finding two small masses in my lungs and then a biopsy to determine if it was cancer, which it was, I had a PET scan to see if the cancer was anywhere else. If it had just been two little masses they would have radiated them, but they found two more so that meant I must do chemo first to stop the cancer spreading anywhere eles.

So this will be my third round of chemo if you include the oral chemo I took with radiation for 28 days straight at the start of this process last year. Then I got a break for a few weeks before surgery and then I went on chemo again. That second round was infusion chemo using a port surgically implanted in my chest. This latest round will be the same, though the drugs used are different.

In addition to some very expensive toxic chemo drugs to kill the cancer floating around in my bloodstream (The billing lady at the clinic told us each dose of one of the drugs was $5000), I am also being treated with a biologic which requires a shot of neulasta 27 hours later to help keep  my white blood count up. This is accomplished through an on body delivery system that gives me the shot while I am at home. The unit injects a needle into the skin on your stomach, then removes the needle and replaces it with a thin plastic tube. This tube delivers the dose over the course of 45 minutes 27 hours after treatment.

In order for the chemo nurses to know the unit is working properly the needle injection takes place at the clinic, then you wear the unit for the next 27 hours till it delivers the drug. It seems that in this I am an early adopter. The unit has been in use about 4 months. It worked fine yesterday and I have no complaints since it beats going back in to get a shot.

Speaking of being an early adopter, we purchased a new 4K UHD big screen TV recently and had to go back to Best Buy today to choose another brand and have ours picked up for return. The TV we initially purchased was the Sharp Aquos 65 inch Smart TV. I was familiar with the great picture quality from Sharp sets after viewing Sports on an older Sharp big screen at my local cigar store. Turns out the picture is still great, but programming of the smart portion just doesn't cut it.

The home theater manager was very helpful in showing us the pros and cons of Samsung, LG and Sony. We chose a Sony to replace the sharp . We took the Sony because he made us a deal on an open box unit with 5 years of in home service. I am hopeful this one will work better. We really enjoyed having Netflix direct to the TV through the build in WiFi till it quit working on the Sharp. (one of several glitches we experienced with the Sharp)

I am  hopeful we'll have better luck with this set and I am very hopeful that this round of chemo will get rid of my cancer.

Hope things in your world are going OK.

RT

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Back to Treatment

It's been a while since I've posted because I have been awaiting the results of my last scan and then a biopsy of three small spots in my lungs. I got the results on Monday from my oncologist. The small tumors are cancer, the same cancer that was in my colon. It has moved and bypassed my liver, stomach and other organs. Instead it found a home in my lungs.

The masses are quite small and this coming Monday a Radiation Oncologist will tell me if they can attack them with focused radiation and how the treatments will go.

First though I'll need a full body PET scan to see if the cancer has landed any where else. If it has not, then treatment will begin on the three known tumors. After that I may need chemo (something I wished to never partake of again) and then way down the road surgery to remove the dead tumors after radiation and chemo.

All this is speculation till I have the PET scan. 

I am hopeful that this round of treatments will be successful and will be the last, but the reality of cancer is that you just can't predict its' behavior.

I remain hopeful and enjoying my life. I am back at work 4 days a week and will try to keep working as long as I'm able. 

The good news in all this is that Vicki had to have a biopsy as well this week for a small tumor in her breast and the results were negative for cancer. This was the best thing that has happened to me in a while.

Here's hoping everything is going great for you and yours.

RT

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Great Concert



We went out to Ak-Chin Pavilion this Saturday evening to see the first concert we've been to in years. It started out with Sam Hunt. He got the crowd rocking and the girls loved him. His set was pretty short, but very good.
Next was Hunter Hayes. This little guy can play the hell out of his guitar and really showed it. He did a couple of long songs with great guitar riffs.
And last was Lady Antebellum. These folks got me through  my mornings going in to work when I was on Chemo. I have a soft spot in my heart for this group and their great harmony. They played some songs off the 747 Album and some new and old tunes as well. Here's a short clip from one of the oldies but goodies and a few shots of their set.
video


 
 Here's a shot of the crowd. One of the security guys told me he believed they were well over capacity for this show.


I took this shot of their last song as we were heading out.

It was a great night and I enjoyed the music. We had a little spat with folks getting out of the parking lot. Not everyone gets the "you go then I go thing" it seems. Other than that it was fun.

We went by the Ve Quiva Casino on the way home. They had an R&B band in the lounge when we got there so we danced a long song and then gambled till around 1:30 in the morning. 

It is really nice to have enough energy to go out and have some fun.

I hope your weekend is as good as ours has been so far.

RT

Friday, July 3, 2015

Independence Day

Happy 4th of July to all my fellow Americans. That's all of them. The immigrants, the newly wed gay couples, the old school Hetros, the tall and short, white and black, brown, red, and even orange.( We don't want to leave out John Boehner) The Rednecks and Yankees, the farmers and businessmen, the hunters and the tree huggers, the soldier and the peace corps volunteer. The city dweller and the suburbanite, the Uber driver and the Taxi Driver, the cat people and the dog people, the folks that like the toilet paper to roll off the bottom, the folks that must have it roll off the top and those that don't give a damn.

Our big, beautiful country is so diverse and so different, yet alike in one thing for sure. We all value our freedom and independence. True, some much more than others. There are passionate Tea Partiers and liberal big government wonks as well.

I hope that on this day when you are gulping down beer, tea, soft drinks or whatever while devouring burgers, hot dogs and all the delicious accessories, that you'll take just a minute to appreciate how lucky we are. No doubt this country has a shitload of problems , but we've got a lot of great people working on them. 

So watch the fireworks, eat and drink till you've had your fill and remember how special we are to have this day and this country.

RT

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Back at Work

Well, the party is over. No more laying around and eating bon bons. I got the release from my doctor and went back to work for two days this last week. I will work three days a week for a couple of weeks and then transition to 4 days and then finally 5 days down the road. I'm trying to ease my way back into the routine.

It was great to see my workmates and I got many  hugs and welcome backs.

The company is really busy with lots of folks working overtime, so they 
needed me to come back  and take on some of the workload.

I got a different cubicle and a better set of monitors for my computer, so that's a bonus.

Vicki and I are commuting together again and we love it. The HOV lane is awesome.

We both feel blessed to be back in the swing of things.

Hope your world is treating you as nicely.

RT

 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Great Mother's Day

Vicki got a surprise visit from kids and grandkids today. They had to track us down at the pool to find us, but in usual fashion they excelled at surprising us. It was very nice.

I did my bit and made breakfast for Vicki this morning; hens in the nest with bacon and watermelon. I know it sounds funny, but it was great.

We came back from the pool and had munchies and watched the tube. Altogether a very relaxing and pleasing day. I am feeling better every day. Life is good.

RT

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

O Happy Day!!!

No more chemo for the at least the next 3 months. The scan came back clean with no sign of any active cancer. The blood test had a miniscule marker for cancer, it may be a false positive caused by the chemo. I just have to keep my eyes open for any changes. I will get another scan in 3 months with another blood test and we'll see what that brings.

Till then I am cancer free and fancy free as well. It may be difficult to stay sober tonight.

Thanks to all who supported me with their prayers and kind thoughts. It worked!

RT

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Waiting again, but just for the good news

Had a scan on Friday.  My appointment with the oncologist is this coming  Tuesday. All I want to hear is the scan was clean. When that happens then I'm done with treatments. 

All I can say is come on Tuesday.


RT

Monday, April 13, 2015

Waiting

I am still waiting today to hear from the scheduler at the cancer center for my scan date. 

The weekend was tough with lots of exhaustion and some minor side effects. I want this to be over.

I am hanging in because I know eventually it will end. It can't come soon enough.

Wish me luck,

RT

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Done with Chemo !?!?

Today was my last chemo treatment. I will have a scan in the next couple of weeks to confirm that I don't have any active cancer cells  in my body. Then I'll need blood work before the appointment with the oncologist, where I'll get the results of the scan and the blood work. Vicki and I expect the reports to be positive  and to be done with chemo!

I will not even contemplate any other outcome.

I can only give voice to positive statements on this subject, it is unproductive to do otherwise.

So .....

Wish me luck,


RT

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Eight Down and 1 to Go!

Today (Tuesday the 31st of March) I had my 8th chemo treatment and an office visit with the oncologist. The good doctor informed me that the next treatment will hopefully be the last. 

So... I take a long treatment on the 7th of April and then the next week a CT Scan to look for any signs of lingering cancer cells. If the scan is clean, I'm done. 

He gives me a 95% chance of being done and I am very,very happy to hear this.

I cannot express how I am looking forward to getting back to my old self. The doctor says I may need a couple of months of rehab to get back my strength and muscle tone, but that should do it.

Wish me luck,

RT

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

SEVEN

Since my visit to the ER this Sunday before last my schedule and dosage for chemo has been changed to allow me to come back in to the chemo room at the cancer center during the week if I need help handling side effects. They can administer the fluids and anti-nausea drugs much easier than the ER folks.

So... I now go for labs on Monday and have chemo on Tuesdays. Yesterday was my 7th chemo of this second round. This was a long chemo with all the drugs that give me bad side effects. They lowered the dosage and gave me some extra pills to fight the nausea and so far it seems to be working.

The test will be in the next few days. If I can control the side effects and function somewhat normally then it will have been a success.

I am hopeful to get a chance for a Scan after treatment #9 to see if we need to go further with the treatments. Wish me luck.

Still hanging in,

RT

Monday, March 16, 2015

Too Much Fun

Though I was feeling pretty good the Friday after my last treatment, by Sunday I was in trouble. Between Friday before last and yesterday I lost another 8 pounds. When they weighed me in the ER last night I weighed 149. I haven't been that skinny since high school. Which I can reliably tell you was a long, long time ago.

So... You might have determined from the above paragraph that I had a rough week. You would be correct. Still I managed to have a little fun with the ER nurses and PAs. What a great group of folks. I am amazed each time I end up in Chandler Regional how awesome their people and their work ethic is.

With that being said there are some caveats about the system. It took almost two hours before I had blood work done and saw a doctor. We learned today while looking at the discharge notes that they changed the reason for the visit as well. I believe I know why.

It seems that it is standard procedure to order a CAT scan for almost all who come to the ER. When they came to me and said they were there to take me to the CT scan I declined their generous offer. That's got to be a money maker or profit center (as the bean counters call it) for them. I went in due to nausea and severe diarrhea,  but their intake form says severe abdominal pain, which I did not have.

I don't blame the great people who worked on me, it is the way their system works. So..
when you go the ER make sure you get the tests you need.

Now, this Monday I feel well enough to write this blog and maybe even shower and brush my teeth. For the past week I did not have the energy to do both each day.

I am going to ask the Chemo Doctor this Friday if the next three treatments are really necessary or not. Because I don't think I could handle another bad week right now.

On a positive note we now know what's going on with Vicki. She has severe Bursitis that has caused muscle swelling throughout her body. We are hopeful they will start treating this soon and get her back to normal.

That's it for me,

I continue to barely hang in, 

RT

Sunday, March 8, 2015

2/3 done I hope

This treatment last Friday was number 6. It was the long treatment with the crazy side effects. The good news here is that I should only have two more of this long treatment left. They always put a short one in middle and I get two weeks off between the long ones.

There's more good news as well. I told my chemo nurse I was considering going back to taking 500 mg of Naproxen due to the arthritis pain in my knee. She suggested I not do that since my platelet count was low on my last blood work. It seems any drug that thins the blood could be quite dangerous at this time. So.. something else was needed. It so happened that my wife had been prescribed a topical gel for arthritis in her hands, but it did not work for her. It did work great on my knee though. So I able to walk normally now without a limp and with very little pain.

The not so good news is something in either the chemo or the arthritis gel or the anti-nausea drugs has given me insomnia.  I've had no more than 8 hours of sleep in 2 days. It has made me quite fatigued. The weather is so nice I want to be outside doing something, but the energy is just not there today. Still I feel good otherwise. One of the weirdest side effects is the reaction to cold drinks. Even moderately cold beverages make my tongue swell just enough to make me talk funny. It doesn't last for more than 30 minutes most times, but it is a very strange feeling.

Now a plea to those few who read this blog. Not going in to work any more for a while has made me miss talking with you and getting your support. If you read this post, please take a minute and comment. It would help me to have even a small connection back to the regular non-cancer world.

OK, that's it from here. I continue to hang in. I hope you do the same.

RT

 

Monday, March 2, 2015

The 5th

Friday was my 5th Chemo treatment. This one was a short one, only a couple of hours and change. It went OK but that night I just couldn't get my stomach settled.

Saturday was a different case altogether. I managed three good meals, including a pastrami sub for dinner. In addition, I found the energy to do a little trimming in the backyard. My backyard is semi-lush and suffers from extreme shagginess if I don't trim it regularly. I also had a nice cigar and a whiskey on the patio late in the afternoon. Vicki had lunch with friends from South Dakota at the local Native New Yorker earlier in the day and came home to tell me all about it.

Sunday was different as well. Vicki woke up feeling poor and I did laundry, dishes, changed the bedding and generally did everything I could to let her rest. I am hopeful she will get her issue worked on soon. Her health is not that good right now.

So... It would have been a great weekend if Vicki had been OK, but still, this was the best two days in a row I've had in quite a while. Let's hope it continues into the week. My next treatment this coming Friday will be a long one which includes a drug that gives me the intense sensitivity to cold and more nausea and fatigue. 

I am continuing to hang in. Best to you,

RT

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Second Session

I had a visit with the chemo oncologist this Friday as well as a chemo treatment. He stated we had two more rounds then a scan. This means two more in the next two weeks then a week off before I start the third round. As long as my white count and my weight stay up I can continue on pace. 

The side effects are becoming more pronounced with each additional treatment. This weekend my hands are not able to hold a bottle or can from the fridge. My jaws and mouth have strange sensations and pains when I start chewing. Fortunately, these go away as I continue to chew. Otherwise I would not be able to eat. I have been able to keep the nausea mostly under control, at least enough to eat. 

The fatigue is another matter however. I woke up this morning and felt more tired than when I went to bed. It just creeps up on you and never lets go. It's frustrating because I would like to do a few little things around the house, but there is just no energy for doing much of anything.

Still, I can't complain. I see people at the cancer center in a much worse shape than me.

Instead I think I'll remain focused on the positive. I just watched the end of the Daytona 500 and on another channel I can watch some Hockey. So life isn't all bad. A good friend at work gave me a bottle of single malt scotch whiskey, which I hope to sample today with a cigar if I can get my stomach right. 

Vicki is out at the Renaissance Fair with the girls of the family. This is a day for her to forget about me and my cancer and just have fun. I so hope she is doing just that. She needs it. She has been great, but the stress of caring for me and grieving for her Mom is getting her down. She needs a break and I think a girls day will help in that regard.

That's if for me. I hope your weekend went well. 

I will continue to hang in.

RT

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Week 4

This has been the toughest week so far. Even though I did not have a chemo treatment this week the effects of the last treatment are still with me. I am reduced at this point to trying different combos of nausea meds to keep whatever food I manage to eat down. So far I have been successful in that regard.

What I have not been able to get a handle on is fatigue. It is unrelenting at this point. 

So... I will continue to soldier on as best I can. 

Wish me luck,

RT
 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Threes a Crowd?

Last Friday I had my third infusion chemo treatment. This one kind of snuck up on me. Saturday I was able to be moderately active, but by Sunday I was done in. 

In addition to nausea and fatigue I am starting to feel some of the other side effects. My hands and feet are increasingly sensitive to cold and I get this weird pain in my jaw each time I begin to eat. It only lasts a minute or so, but it is so strange.

The good news is that I get a week off now. My next chemo is the Friday after next. I am hopeful that will be enough time to build up some strength and maybe even gain a couple of pounds. I was at 158 last Friday and I hope to be at least at 160 by my next treatment.

In the meantime I continue to hang in.

Wish me luck,

RT

Sunday, February 1, 2015

2 down ? to go

I had my second infusion chemo this Friday. This one was considered the short one and only went about 2 1/2 hours. It went OK. I am still lucky to not be experiencing the more troubling side effects that come with this treatment. Wish me luck, I might have some time yet to enjoy before they hit.

Saturday we hung out around the house and did chores. I was able to do a few things as well. 

Today, Sunday, Vicki went  shopping and I changed the sheets on our bed and put the towels and wash clothes in the washer. Not much I admit, but changing the bed linens took me 2 attempts. I had to rest between the efforts. 

I am doing well considering my cancer and treatment. Vicki gives me awesome support and is patient with my weird diet and other peculiarities associated with my condition. We talk a good deal these days and we get that we are blessed to have each others love, support and companionship during these days.

We are both doing our best to live in the moment and enjoy what we can of it.

I wish you and yours the same. Please take time today to fully invest yourself in who you are, where you are and who you are with. It may sound simple, but you'll be pleasantly surprised to find out how much you've missed by not doing that all the time.

Hang in and Stay Cool,

RT

 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

My first Chemo Treatment

This Friday I had my first long chemo treatment. It went from a little after 1:00 PM to around 4:30 or so. The freshly installed power port worked fine though it still freaked me out a little when the nurse hooked it and uncoupled it. In spite of the need to be put out and the uncomfortable feelings for a few days I think the port will work out just fine.

Today I feel the best I've felt in quite a while. The worst of the chemo side effects ( a severe lack of tolerance for cold on my hands, feet, mouth and throat) has not shown up yet. I am happy for that. I am even hoping to fire up a cigar and the fire pit tonight. Maybe a whiskey to go with it as well.

We had a big breakfast this morning and I ate it all. Then we worked on getting some Christmas stuff in the overhead rack in the garage. We made it less than  halfway through that project before I pooped out. My heart was racing and I was breathing hard. I had to use Vicki to push me up the ladder with the large containers in hand. We decided to try again when Vicki gets back from grocery shopping, something I am just not able to do yet.

So....There it is. Vicki thinks I'll only have 8 more treatments, I think like 11 more. We'll see. I intend to live my life as normal as possible till I can't. The pain from the surgery is getting less and less every day and the uncomfortable feelings from the installation of the port are lessening also.

I am very hopeful I can heal up as close to completely as possible before I start to feel that Chemo. If I can go a couple of weeks more and go to work every day, that would be awesome.  Everyone has been supportive at work and it is nice to see some friendly faces each day and not be home laying in bed staring at the walls or sleeping.

That's my story for this week,

I hope your week went as well as mine,

Stay Cool,

RT
  

Friday, January 16, 2015

New Year, New Gear,& Randomness

Thursday the 14th I had a port put in my upper left chest for the coming chemo treatments. The procedure was done at Chandler Regional Hospital by the same doctor that has performed my last 2 operations. The surgery went well and I was back home by 1:30 or so. I had something to eat, took some pain medication, and crashed till around 5 or 6. 

Vicki made beef soup for dinner and I even had some dessert. I need to get my appetite back and gain some weight. When they weighed me at the hospital on Thursday I was down to 151. I start Chemo next Friday.

So that's my new gear for the new year.

Concerning randomness.....

Did you know an easy way to feel instantly better about yourself is to watch the People's Court or Judge Judy. When you hear some of the stuff these folks come to court about you just know you're smarter than them. (cause they were dumb enough to air their petty grievances on national TV) 

OK, OK, yea I know I am a 65 year old white man with cancer. I get that. And I know that after a very aggressive round of radiation and chemo and pretty serious surgery I am still going to have to take more chemo for the next few months. With all that said, one episode of Judge Judy and I don't feel so bad about my situation. Don't hate me for these guilty pleasures, at least I haven't sunk so low as to watch Jerry Springer.

On the way to the hospital on Thursday morning we were forced to detour off Alma School at the sports complex just north of the Safeway. A big construction truck had T-boned a small car at the intersection. Judging from  the wreckage that remained it did not look like the driver could have survived. Life is precious and it can be gone in a flash. We should cherish every moment and live in that moment as much as possible.

It turns out Hollywood may be more racist than your average American worker. At least that's what the critics are saying about why the Oscar Nominees are all white this year. I hope I never feel the need to look to Hollywood for advice on how to live. Their movies mostly show us what not to do anyway. (Whether the writers, actors, directors, etc, intended it or not) Yet I still love movies.

When watching the media's  coverage of the shootings in Europe I get the feeling like I'm living in the Matrix. Like all the stuff that comes out of some anchor man's or woman's mouth is just melodrama doled out to the masses. I'm pretty sure I'm mistaken, but I still believe a healthy skepticism is in order when watching what we call news today.

It feels like my pain meds are wearing off, so I'm done for this week. I hope I'm doing good enough tomorrow to have a whiskey and a cigar. It may be the last one for several months.

Stay Cool,

Oh, and I'm thinking about naming my port. Not Portsmith, or the Port of New Orleans, or Import or Export, no none of those. Something more along the lines of Excelsior or Entrance, or Burl. Let me know if you have any ideas. 

RT