Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ouch

I take back everything I said about wanting this to hurt.  The accumulated effects of the radiation really hit this last week. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Post Chemo


Chemo has caught up.

I may be officially done with chemo and radiation, but it appears they are not done with me.  It's been a rough week.  Suffice it to say the magic words nausea, cramps, vomiting, pain, more pain, and side effects, and you get the idea.   The oddest side effect is what I call the "Burnt mouth effect".  My mouth hurts as if I've burned my tongue.  My taste buds act as if they, too, have been scorched.   Eating and drinking anything has become a real battle against nausea.   Swallowing is a battle against pain.  It sucks.  Keeping my pain meds down is a problem.  Ironically the only thing that makes my throat feel better is a clove cigarette.  Can that count as medical usage?

Three weeks ago something happened that I should have included in my blog but didn't.  I was hoping the situation would resolve itself and it did, sort of.  My immediate support network of help collapsed.  The two people who had been helping with rides, medical paperwork, etc, completely and without warning stopped helping.  Furthermore, one of them had my entire file of medical documents in their backpack and became impossible to contact.  The reason for their sudden and inexplicable betrayal seems to spring from the mistaken allegation by one that I had become romantically involved with the other.   I can't express the ridiculousness of such an allegation nor can I explain where it came from, but it destroyed a friendship and lost me an invaluable support network when I needed it most.

My brother to the rescue

About the same time my support network went down, my brother arranged to come visit to come in from Denver and see me through the last week of chemo and a week beyond.  Like the cavalry arriving in the nick of time he was on the scene to go with me to my last chemo and week of radiation.  His presence has not only been crucial in helping keep me functional, but the psychological joy of seeing him again can't be properly measured.  Thank you Troy, and thank you to his wife Tara for making this visit possible.  I know this has to be insane-crazy back home in Denver for his family right now with all three sons to juggle. 

Meanwhile I'm working with my ex-wife to arrange having my son out to visit before my surgery.  Fingers crossed: I want so very much to see him while I'm still relatively healthy before the main hospital adventure begins. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Medications and Chemo: such stuff as dreams are made of.

I've always had vivid nightmares.  The medications and chemotherapy have made them all the more unbearable.  I just awoke from one that promises to keep me awake for several hours.

At first I was staying in a hotel, some pay-by-the-week run down dive of a place,  I was alone but it was obvious in the dream I'd just had some break-up with someone I cared about.  In the dream it was night and I'd just returned to the hotel after going out for dinner.  Almost immediately I was "attacked" by a ghostly girl in a sheet trying to strangle me.  I fought her off and tried to speak to her, and she revealed she was a ghost trapped there from a suicide and wanted someone else to die in the room to keep her company.  I was talking to her when the door opened, and it was a woman I'd never seen before but apparently married to in the dream.  She said she had heard me talking through the door and knew I had someone hidden in the room, then shot me through the throat. 

The dream transitioned so I was a child in an old turn-of-the-century sanitarium.  I was sick and vomiting on the wide, Spartan stairs in the night.   A doctor was watching, he was my father, helplessly as a nurse held me.  I was vomiting up pins and needles and tiny brass keys and cogs, and the nurse was saying that my illness was a psychic curse for which there was no cure.
Then I woke up in my room into reality this time, choking on the pain in my throat.
Such are the things my dreams are made of.

I'll be very, very happy when I'm off these medications.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Last week of Chemo and Radiation



Here it is Sunday evening and my last Chemotherapy is this Tuesday and final Radiation treatment is Thursday.  Time has certainly passed with amazing speed.  As clich├ęd as it sounds, it feels like last week I first reported in for treatment.  The constant medication may have something to do with my sense of time dilation, but I really have little sense of passing time.

In all honesty this last week has been difficult.  The effects of chemo have been catching up with me and it's been pretty rough.  Even so, I'd not have it any other way.  The rougher it is, the more I know the treatment is hurting the cancer.  That's my motto.

The hardest part of the chemo effects is actually the least painful.  I'm having extreme difficulty keeping my attention focused and am prone to sudden expected periods of complete mental exhaustion, but my brain is functional enough to be completely aware that it's not working properly.  If I were in a happily drugged state of semi-consciousness it might be better, but I'm fully conscious of the fact my brain isn't working as fast or as nimbly as it should.  It's a very scary experience, like being in a car going at high speed but realizing the steering wheel isn't working.  

On the plus side, however, my brother has arrived to help out!  He couldn't have come at a better time because I'm seriously not up to driving currently.  But his help and support goes far beyond that.  In the last day since his arrival he's fast becoming my pillar, my foundation, to keep me propped up as I head into the 5th week of my treatments. 

 I seriously doubt I could do this without him.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

One week of treatment to go... Counting Down!

It is now May 2nd and my chemo ends may 8th and radiation ends May 10th.  I am extremely excited to get the subsequent test results to see how the cancer has responded to the process.  My primary fear is that I seem to have an unexpected super hero power: an immunity to radiation.  The Radiologist has expressed profound surprise that the skin on my chest has shown absolutely zero reaction to the radiation.  No burns, no rashes, no effect on my skin whatsoever around the targeting areas.  This is apparently unheard of.  So, my plan to be radiated into a Marvel super hero has been set back by my epidermal resistance.  I can only hope the cancer cells are not so resistant.

I am planning a Big Party for the weekend of the 10th / 11th to celebrate getting through chemo / radiation.  I expect I will still have some sparkle from the radiation and am planning on giving out little radiation  badges as party favors. 

Radiation this week has gone well other than their sign-in computer constantly "forgetting" that I've signed in.  But if that's the worst of it, then I'm doing very well indeed.

Chemotherapy Tuesday knocked me off my feet for a while (literally and metaphorically), but that which does not kill me, hurts my cancer.  I hope Nietzsche forgives me that misapplied quote.

There has been a problem getting my daughter out for a visit due mostly with her work schedule.  I'm hoping that can be resolved before my surgery later this month.

On the plus side, my brother Troy is coming out to see me through my last week of chemo and recovery before the surgery.  I cannot express how happy this makes me.  My uncle Dickie has arranged to pick him up at the airport this Saturday!  This is joy unbridled.

I am also working with my ex-wife Julie to have my son Alex and she come out to visit before surgery.  The snafu in that process is paying for their air-fare, which is an extreme hardship for me but I'm optimistic we can work something out with the help of my family.

That's all the news that's news from here at Lake Woebegone where are the results are above average.  Stay tuned for further developments!