Tuesday, December 19, 2017


Today is our 31st Anniversary. It doesn't seem like it has been that long. We will celebrate with a catered (sort of) dinner from Olive Garden tonight. It's one of the few food choices that I believe I can eat. My nausea and lack of appetite keep me from enjoying foods I would otherwise love.

We both noted that the time has seemed to fly by. We looked back at our time together in our 30s, 40s, and 50s and wondered where it all went. The special thing about this anniversary is that we both know we love each other more now than ever. It would be impossible to stay together otherwise. 

Vicki has been taking excellent care of me even when she is feeling under the weather. It has been a struggle for her. We are hoping she will get some relief next month from the pain in her legs. She is scheduled or will be scheduled for vein surgery. I am hopeful that it helps.

I am draining my right lung every 4th day now. That is a 3 day interval. I'm not getting much fluid which gives me hope that they will remove the pluerex catheter as soon as the end of January. We just have to wait and see what they say when I go back to the Mayo Clinic on the 17th.

My Grandson Caleb visited me today. He brought me cookies my  oldest daughter Bridgette had made me. It was nice to talk to him and find out how things are going with him and his brother. It turns out that he was really messed up when he broke up with his first love. They had been together for several years and he took the breakup very hard. I hope he can get himself back together. I believe he is trying.

I am doing my best to eat and gain weight back. I am down to 151 which is too low for my size. Ergo cookies and Ice Cream whenever I feel like it. My breathing is coming easier as well. I am able to walk to the mailbox and back without running out of breath. I will start walking as soon as I can.

I am off the clinical trial for Stivarga and won't know what we will do to combat my cancer till my appointment at Mayo on the 17th of January.  Right now my focus is on getting my lungs in shape and getting rid of this catheter.

That's it for now.

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


Rain drips, soggy trees bend in wind
the skylight sounds like a snare drum
when the storm throws its fury down
in long lashing streams of liquid bullets
ricocheting off the house and landing harmlessly
on lawn and flower bed and shrub

a small river runs down the middle of our street
washing from side to side and then finding its course
the low spots of the tarmac are instant riverbed
detritus, leaves and other debris float by
like tiny barges set out for market 
only to run aground just past the pothole

Winter’s waning with this storm
the moisture stays after the fury is gone
bringing succor to bulbs and living roots
giving hope to new life and friendlier days
Though the Storms outcome 

is surely unintentional

Hang in there,


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,


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,


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,


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 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,


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


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,


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,


Friday, September 15, 2017

My "Off" Week

This Monday was the last day of my third week in cycle 3 of the Clinical Trial. I will not have to take any pills till next Tuesday. While I have this time without Stivarga in my system I hope to be able to enjoy some different foods and maybe even a Cigar and a Whiskey.

It takes a few days for me to bounce back and each time I bounce back it's a little slower than the time  before. I held off on taking Marinol today  because it makes me tired and I am tired of being tired. There were a couple of errands that only I could do that needed to be done(just one really, getting propane for the grill) and I gassed up the car as well while I was out. That was a major event for me.

We had some sad news this week. My wife's uncle Clint passed away earlier this week. They have a big family and it will take some time to get the whole family together. His service will be on Saturday the 23rd. Vicki has just one surviving Uncle now who lives in South Dakota.

As I said in last weeks post about my new normal, I have some writing from 10 years ago that I am adding to my posts.

Here's this weeks' contribution,   

Life & Death

Love is such a powerful 
force for good 
or bad
I blush to think of what I’ve had
and wasted, trashed and thrown away
thinking there’s always another day

Friendship is so
wonderful and
Simple pleasures you can share
when someone fits into your life
is there in pain and bitter strife

Breath in the
Delights of
existence Grand
Rejoice in those who take a stand
to live as fully as they will
take the cup and drink their fill

For pain and suffering 
will surely 
It’s up to you to add the sum
of life’s sweet blessings into the mix
Knowing that fate will play its tricks

And stand and fight for all you can
Make the best of your maker’s plan
Live with Passion to your last breath
Your story’s told between life and death

There it is, 
Hang in there,


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The New Normal

I am well into the third month of the Stivarga Clinical Trial at Mayo. My strength and stamina are slowly getting better on most days. If I am to continue to take this drug for the foreseeable future it will take some adjustment on my part.

I must be willing to get up off my ass regardless of side effects and do something, anything really, other than laying around in my easy chair and wishing I felt better.

While I may not be up to great physical exertion quite yet, I am going to attempt some intellectual muscle building at least.

I have held off commenting on our current political status and hope to continue in that mode. Instead, I dug up some writing I did in another time and place. At one point my wife and I moved to a small town in North Carolina and bought a fixer upper in a semi-countrified community just north of the town on a lake.

During the almost 2 years we spent there working on the house I had a few months of inspiration and found myself awake at 2 in the morning writing poems. I am going to add one of those to each of my blogs till I run out of them.

Here's this weeks contribution.


Anybody can write anything these days
And post it on the Internet
Not really dependent on older ways
Of finding audiences with interests met

I know this factually to be true
of course the deed I've surely done
not willing or able to wait on you
just writing like I'm the only one

who has got the magic words
to tell the world it's troubled state
and not giving the reason why 
it's coming from this old reprobate

Fortunately or unfortunately for my reader this is but one of 50 or so I penned during my period of inspiration a decade ago. Be warned, more will come. This is my new normal.

Till next time,
Hang in there,


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Results Are In

We had a full day yesterday going from my early morning appointments at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale to my afternoon appointments with my Clinical Trial Coordinator and my Oncologist at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix.

The results of the lab blood work were good with a couple of exceptions. My platelet count is still at 81,000. I would like to get it higher to control some minor bleeding problems the low platelets cause. The rest of the numbers were either just a little low or good. 

The scans of my head, chest and abdomen were mostly good. There was no evidence of any neurological reason for my headaches, so that was very good. We had to check because my father died of an aneurysm in his brain at 67.

The chest scan showed that the 7 small tumors in my lungs had not increased in size and no new tumors were discovered. That's very good news. The Oncologist and I discussed what to look for in the next scan which will be in 2 months. At that time it could be possible to see some change in the tumors.

The not so good news is that I must continue to take the maximum dose which can be quite debilitating.

It's a small price to pay for continued survival, it's just that I want to be more active. I need to get to work on the RV and help Vicki around the house.

So that's it from here. 

Hang in there,


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered

I got my dates mixed up on the 2nd cycle. I actually finished taking the pills on Monday the 14th, but won't get my scan till the 22nd at Scottsdale Mayo. I am easily confused these days.

Went to my cardiologist today for another 6 month check and all was well. I have been running on my bypass for 4 years now. I see him every six months so things don't get out of hand with blood pressure and other heart stuff.

I worry that all the drugs I've been given will damage my heart or my one kidney. I was told by my hemo nurse that the current drug I'm taking is processed out of my system by my liver. That's another organ to worry about.

I may get to take a smaller dosage of Stivarga in the next cycle. It depends on the scan results. They think I shouldn't be as tired as I am from the drug. We'll see. I want to be more active.

No more news from here.

Hang in,


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Close to Finishing Cycle 2

There are just a few days left in my second month of the Clinical Trial. On Monday I will get lab work and a CT Scan to see if the drug has had any effect on the tumors in my lungs. In addition I may get a full body scan. My Hematology Nurse wants to see if something organic is causing my headaches.

I have days with some energy and days with none. The nausea comes and goes along with the corresponding digestive issues. My weight is staying around 160 pounds, a little low, I continue to try to eat as much as I can.

I have procrastinated on the RV parts. I still need to order a battery disconnect switch and a solar battery charger and solar controller. Just haven't had much energy to do anything lately.

Vicki is still struggling with her right shoulder. In addition she pulled a muscle in her stomach lifting a case of water last week, so she is hurting a bit. We are chilling this weekend. We'll watch some Game of Thrones tonight and maybe a little Saturday Night Live. Other than that we will rest up till Monday.

We have to be a Mayo Scottsdale at 6:45 in the morning on Monday. That means we have to get up around 4 or 4:30 in the morning. That's much too early for us.

I have both labs and a scan at Scottsdale, then afternoon appointments at Phoenix Mayo. It will be a long day. I just hope the scan shows something positive this time.

That's it from here.

Hang in,


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Second Cycle

I started the second month of the Clinical Trial last Tuesday. It is referred to as the second cycle in the Trial Diary. I continue to take the maximum dosage each day, though I have changed the time I take the pills to just after dinner. It helps with managing the nausea.

My energy level today is pretty low. I have stayed up tonight to get my stomach more under control before going to bed. I think I'll hit the sack after I finish this post.

Vicki was very tired today. She cleaned the entire house this last week, plus we had  Zero Rez in to clean the carpet on Thursday. We're just getting ourselves  back together this weekend.

We moved most of the furniture from the living room and dining room. That took a while to put back when the carpet dried on Friday. The bad news is we're both beat, but the good news is the house is clean. If only we had the energy to start working on the RV. That would be great.

Speaking of the RV, I have ordered the first set of parts needed to make a battery shut off switch and solar battery recharge system. I still need to order the solar panel and solar controller for the system. There are a bunch of products out there and I am continuing research before ordering these items.

When everything comes in I will get my mobile RV tech to come and install the system. I may need a chassis battery as well. We'll just have to wait and see.

That's it from here.

Have a great weekend,