Friday, November 29, 2013

Giving Thanks

Dottie and I are very grateful for all the support.  Thanks so much to all Family and Friends.  We love you all!

What? No Turkey?
Lucy chows down on Deer Sausage on Thanksgiving.

I'd be disgusted, but I did the same thing most of my life.

...and now for something completely different....

Anybody remember this?

Enjoy the Holiday weekend.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

That's How We Roll

Swallowing problems return for the weekend.  Quite frustrating when you are hungry and trying to eat tasty food (that you fixed). 

Frustration gets the emotions a little sensitive.  I spent a little time Saturday night seeking refuge in some music.  Came across a cover of one of my (many) favorite songs, "Wagon Wheel."  Found more versions, got choked up.  Love that song.

This experience reminded me of a quote from "Freuds Last Session" that Dot and I saw at the Rep the other night…
Freud:  Works of art have a powerful effect on me, but music mystifies me.  Something within me, something rebels against being moved by a thing without knowing why it moves me.  It's like being spoken to in a foreign language and being asked to agree to a statement you can't comprehend.

Sunday continued with the problems swallowing.  It sucks!  This time I diverted myself by running to the store.  Started the car.  The radio came on with Old Crow Medicine Show doing "Wagon Wheel" my favorite version.  Coincidence?  I think not Dr Freud.  While I agree "Musik kann furchterregend sein," it can also be uplifting.  I laughed and cried all the way to the store, loving it the whole way.  That's just how some of us humans roll Sigmund, understand it or not.

Sunday night and ever since, I can swallow again!  Hooray!

Monday I had my 4th out of 5 Infusions (chemo) and my 13th out of 25 Zappings (radiation).  I even had the honor of being zapped while connected to my IV.  It was a little tricky, but they made it work.  It was a good day!

All I got left for now is…

Rock me mama like a Wagon Wheel, Rock me mama anyway you feel,
Oh.... mama Rock me...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

My Chemical Romance

Wednesday we met with the Medical Oncologist.  His plans are for only 2 more Chemo treatments for a total of 5, the last one being Dec 2nd.  Radiation runs through Dec 13.  After a recovery period and another PET scan, surgery will probably follow in January.  The doctor said that the current plan is to NOT have additional Chemo after surgery (if all goes well). 

I guess I can handle the Chemical breakup.  Did I hear a Woo Hoo?

Current conditions include appetite okay, swallowing okay, but feeling more tired and sleeping a little restless.  The Doc says I should not lose all my hair, but I am noticing increased shedding.

Not much more right now.  Continued thanks to everyone for the support.  I'll leave with a couple of pics of young ones that keep me smiling.

Thanks Antonio for the "stand up"

Thanks Lucy for being so gosh darn cute!

Monday, November 18, 2013

So Much For Pancakes

1) Pancakes

Sunday morning we had pancakes and fake bacon for breakfast.  While some people might find the idea of fake bacon hard to swallow, I just could not get the pancakes down.  I worried this was the beginning of the real swallowing problems I was warned about.  Even before breakfast I seemed to have problems the small pill I take before I eat.  I wondered if I would be able to eat solids or take my pills.

I had a smoothie for lunch and then luckily I was able to eat dinner, careful to chew it into small pieces.

Monday I met with the Radiation Oncologist and his nurse.  When I told them about the difficulty in swallowing the nurse asked how bad the pain was on a scale of 1 to 10.  I said there was no pain, I just couldn't swallow the pancakes.  The Oncologist explained that the radiation and chemo are making the tumor shrink and the opening wider but people will feel a lump when they eat some things.  Some foods in particular (bread-like) may pose difficulties.  They stressed to keep hydrated and sip water frequently to keep the throat clear.

I felt relieved.  I was able to eat and take my medicine okay today.

2) Pillars

In the MoBap Cancer Center they have structural pillars that are decorated with hand painted tiles from patients, family and friends.  I find these inspiring, offering support to all.  It makes me think about the pillars in everyone's life, the people who provide support during times of trouble.  Those pillars of strength, hope, faith and love are real heroes.

A couple of examples come immediately to mind. One is my niece Ashlee who is such a pillar for her young son Jack and his health problems.  The other is Dottie.  She is my pillar, my strength.

I know I'm getting schmaltzy.  Tough.  Thanks to all the pillars.  Thanks to all those that offer thoughts, prayers, love, strength and support to everyone.  You Rock!


For a little less inspiring example:

Talk about STRENGTH: Here is Al providing support for a good buddy's company…

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Magic Carpet Ride

Today was day 6 of the Radiation Ride.  On the Radiation Room Radio they play KLOU (oldies): sometimes soothing, sometimes poignant.  Today I heard, Somebody to Love and Dr. My Eyes, yesterday was Lean on Me.

The Coolest was the 1st day of Radiation.  As I lay on the moving table, Steppenwolf came on the air with Magic Carpet Ride.  The table stopped.  The Radiation ensued, "bzzzz".  I felt the hairs on my arms and upper body quivering.  Wow!

It's not so dramatic anymore.  My hairs still quiver (while I have them) but it has become a routine.  A good routine.  I feel happy to work this problem through.  It will be tougher as it goes on, but it is worth it.

Here is my buddy posing on the Magic Carpet...

"Close your eyes girl.
   Look inside girl.
    Let the sound take you away."


Monday, November 11, 2013

Full House

Today I had my 2nd Infusion (chemo) and 3rd Radiation Treatment:  a pair and 3 of a kind.  Mondays are my long day (4 hours at the hospital).  Everything went well, still no bad side effects, but got warned that in a couple weeks it might get painful to swallow.  Just in time for Thanksgiving!

Still can't complain.  Everybody is great and no nausea!  And yet I did have one disappointment: no Animal Crackers this week!  What gives?

Dottie came to the rescue with Sweet Potato Fries from the Cafeteria.

Another bright note is that today I heard from Debbie E., an admin on the team, who is still pursuing my records.  She had contacted St. Alexius which merged with Forest Park/Deaconess Hospital (thanks Sal) and they continue to dig through the stacks.

One last shot.  This one from 1990.  Is this look in my future?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

2 Zaps, No Waiting

The start of radiation was quick and easy this week.  Wednesday was a dry run with Thursday and Friday bringing the real thing.  It only took 10 minutes each and I didn't notice any ill effects.

Luckily the Chemo from last Monday didn't make me feel too bad.   I've been warned it gets worse.  In the mean time, so far so good.  One week down!

Thanks for all the support.  It helps tremendously!

Speaking of help, my good friend Becky Blackfoot introduced me to a new companion to help me through this.  I named him Al.  He accompanies me to my sessions...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll

Well 2 out of 3 ain't bad!

Day 1:  Chillin' in my chair diggin' on chemical infusion.  Rockin' on my roost to the roar of the Rolling Stones.

Dottie warned that some people may get queasy over details.  These asterisks are my attempt to notify of such sections...

                >> Detail section you may want to skip <<
On arrival the nurse accessed my Port A Cath pushing a needle through my skin and into the port.  I did not flinch.  She said, "You are going to be good patient."  I thought, "just you wait."

She drew 3 vials to run my chemistry and hooked me up to a Saline drip.  I was given about 11 small pills (4 different kinds) to help manage the side effects; then a half hour wait.

Next came 2 separate Chemicals each for an hour.  Overall we were there about 3 hours.

This is a big place and there were a lot of people coming and going with quite a few people getting treatments.

 At one point I noticed a two different people leaving that had started treatments after me.  I felt like jumping up in my chair and shouting something like, "why them?" or, "this is wrong."

Honestly, it was fairly easy day.  We read, played Words with Friends, listened to music, and had several visits from staff and volunteers to provide help and info.  Below is the Dietician Gorilla Animal Cracker saying, "eat me."

So Far So Good.  The people were great.  I have not experienced much in the way of side effects except being light headed, but HELL, I have been dealing with that for years now.

We do this for at least 2 or 3 more Mondays, see the Doc and probably set up for a couple more if I tolerate the chems well.

Radiation this week:  Dry run on Wednesday and treatments Thu & Fri.

p.s. they say my hair WILL fall out.  Can any one say HEISENBERG?  Gots to get me one of those hats!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Schedule is set ( for now )

Today I got a Portacath put in the front of my right shoulder to make it easier to administer the chemo and draw blood.  Monday I start my six weeks of chemo, all administered on Mondays.  The chemo treatment changed since Radiation is now in the mix.  I will not have the pump doing the 48 hour treatment (just 2 hours on Mondays).

Radiation starts Wednesday (11/6) and goes Mon-Fri thru 12/18.  Surgery will follow after a recovery period.