BOGO

Gonna have to make this one a BOGO; Buy One Get One for those of you not up on the lingo. Had some technical issues and internet gremlins ate my homework, so to say.

Day 8 was a bit of a let down. Had my Chemotherapy Infusion right before Memorial Day weekend. That has a tendency to put things in perspective for you. Regardless of what you believe or how you choose to celebrate; Memorial Day started out Decoration Day and was a time to tend to and decorate our Veteran’s graves. It doesn’t matter where it originally started or when, the truth of the holiday remains. Those sobering thoughts are what struck me during Day 8.

Every two weeks I show up for my treatment. Same Bat-Time; same Bat-Channel. I start to see the same people every time. I start to see them slowly waste away from their treatment; thinning hair, skin going pale and translucent. Whether it’s a battle or a disease; I see them slowly losing their struggle. Some days, I’m not sure what’s worse. Seeing the same people every week or not seeing them. Did they reschedule their treatment that day? Has their treatment run it’s course? Is there another reason they’re not there; is their struggle at an end?

I’m in my early 40’s. It weighs on heart to keep seeing posts on Social Media remembering family and loved ones who has succumbed to Cancer. It hurts to keep hearing about funeral arrangements; sending flowers; crying during phone calls. Cancer is a relentless killer. It doesn’t care who you are, what plans you had with your life. It keeps coming for you.

A story was share with me that a woman described cancer like a mountain lion. It chases and follows you relentlessly; trying to kill you. Your only hope is to find a bear that lives at the top of a mountain and get it to attack the mountain lion.

Going into Day 9 was tough. For the first time since October of last year, I got sick. I’m not talking the flu, roto-virus, or even a stomach bug. Nothing exotic, just a head cold knocked me on my keister for four, maybe even five days. Truth in lending, I’m probably still not completely over it a week and a half later. The first day, I spend 90% of the day with a thermometer hanging off my lip like a nerdy Steve McQueen.

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The doc had the stuffing scared out of me getting sick with a fever over 100.1. Now, that’s not much of a fever; I typically run at 98.8 or so. Pop 100.1 and it’s not go to the Doctor but hit the Emergency Room. Needless to say, I spent most of the first day off work chugging Dayquil and taking my temperature. The second day, was spent catching up on Netflix, Dayquil, and drinking all the fluids I could handle. Not even the good fluids, like a cold glass of water. Warm Gatorade. Yummy. Since Cancer sucks and doesn’t take a day off; this is all in addition the “normal” side effects that I go through every week. Sore hands, sore throat, can’t hold an ice cube, can’t drink anything colder than lukewarm; my quasi new normal.

But that’s OK. At least I’m not doing something stupid like going out of town for work for the week. I’m on chemo, getting over a cold, and gonna get into a sealed metal tube with 200 of my closest plague bearers. What could possibly go wrong?

Lucky Number Seven

Lucky number seven is in the books. It’s official, I’ve passed the peak and am officially on the downward slope of my chemo treatments. This one was tough. If you’re familiar with Jackie’s story, you know that we won bout the worst lottery you can imagine. If you’re not familiar with her story; it’s hers to tell, not mine. I’ll just say that we got rocked pretty hard. It left us questioning quite a few things and asking God some pointed questions. That’s OK. Our God is one that can withstand scrutiny. At the end of it all, we know that God has a plan. However bad our lottery winnings may seem, it is for a purpose. Granted a purpose and plan that we may not understand or be witting of, it is still for a purpose.

After my infusion was over, Mom and I went out and grabbed a bite of lunch. For something different, we stopped by a nearby mall and hit up the Panda Express at the food court. Gotta admit, they serve the best panda. I was a little … perturbed when I received the following fortune in my fortune cookie.

The strength of your character will come in handy this week.

For realz? I’ve got fat pandas trolling me now? Not cool. I’m still holding out for the “Help! I’m trapped in a fortune cookie factory!” Yeah, not exactly what I wanted walking into this week.

After a break of two infusion sessions, my old friend Oxalplatin popped back in for a visit. Ah, Oxalplatin.

How do I love thee, let me count the ways.
I love thee to the finger tips and the toes
My tingling can reach, when the feeling goes
My hands can ache, when grabbing a drink
or anything that’s cold, I really do think
My throat is a mess, undoubtedly sore
these are the things that make me love you more
I love thee to the level of every effect
Most are annoying, some leave me wrecked
I love thee freely, when you leave me like mush
I shall but love thee better after from my body you are flushed

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All apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning for butchering her Sonnet-43. That two hour infusion of Oxalplatin gives me significantly more issues that the other two medicines that I have to deal with. I’m not gonna lie, after a couple of weeks of catching my breath on easy street, I got hit with a rude awakening. All of the old side effects started coming back: cold sensitivity, tingling in my fingers and toes, throat sores, nausea. What can I say but, it was a wonderfully, fun filled weekend.

Slowly but surely the side effects are going away and lessening in their time. I have been checking, no super powers yet. Which is really disappointing at this point in time. What’s the point of going through all of this if there isn’t at least a small chance of shooting flames out of my fingertips, maybe even turning green and doubling my size? I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Pretty sure at this point that it’s not an oncoming train, but you never know.

Mid Field

Finished up Chemo week #6. Made it to the 50 yard line. Halfway there. As exciting as that is, it was a tough week. I had a lot of pain this week. The neuropathy in my hand was still bothering me. With the sore throat and mouth sores, I just didn’t feel like eating some days. When I did, it was because I knew I needed to, not because I was hungry or really wanted to eat. Add in some other things going on that have been taking me a while to wrap my head around; I’ll admit, I was in a craptastic mood most of the week.

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Chemo itself was a mixed bag. On the plus side, I had luxury accommodations. A nice private room, with get this. A hospital bed to relax in. No beat up hospital recline for me this week. I was living large. Since the Doctor cut out my Oxalplatin for another week, I was expecting a nice and short appointment. Nope. Apparently, someone previously had the Leucovorin over 30 minutes (like I just had last time) and was complaining about his skin itching. Now, I’m not a doctor, but Leucovorin is similar to folic acid, a B vitamin. Hmm. Large dose of a B vitamin. Itchy, burning skin. If I was asked my expert medical opinion, I would give the poor person a large glass of water to help with the flushing. Strangely enough, they didn’t ask me. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to poke fun or minimize anyone’s chemotherapy. This IS my blog, and it’s all about me.

Even though I handled it just fine last time, I was on the slow train of chemo. Because one person (who was not me) had an issue earlier (even though I didn’t). So, I took advantage of the hospital bed and had a nice, long nap. Since, we didn’t have lunch before chemo, I treated my Mom to Smash Burger. Love that place. It’s starting to become my go to for a good burger and fries when I’m having a less than stellar day.

Cut Short

Wrapped up Chemo Day #5. Went into it with a lot of the side effects from the last treatment still bothering me. The neuropathy in my right hand and arm were pretty prevalent. Not to mention starting to get some tingling in my feet. This stupid sore throat wasn’t any better walking into chemo either.

The Oncologist decided to cut back one of my chemo drugs, Oxaliplatin, as it is the primary culprit to the symptoms that I’ve been having. We’ll have to see if cutting this out lessens the effects this upcoming week or not. This is getting old.

On a lighter note, I got my old infusion station back. The one looking right down the hallway. Last time I did my best Jeff Goldberg. This time, I figured why bother just being eye candy. I was born to be a front man. Lucky for me they happened to have a house band, The Bad Decisions. Took me a bit, but we hooked up some smoke and laser lights and we were able to jam out a couple of songs.

I started with an old favorite. The optional third verse to the Air Force Hymn. It’s, of course, dedicated to all the missileers that I’ve known. Hey. If Garth can have an optional third verse, so can I.

Lord be with those under the ground;
Watching TV and sitting around.
Pushing buttons, turning keys, Lord help their hands move with ease.

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Then I broke out something of a new classic. Simon. Garfunkle. Disturbed. We all have one thing in common. We just want Creamer for our coffee in the morning.

Hello creamer, my old friend
It’s time for coffee once again.
You make my coffee taste so good.
Call you nectar of the goods I would.

Your words of nutrition
Are written in a tiny font
On your back.

You give taste. To coffee.

White Ceramic Pitcher With White Cream Pouring on Black Coffee Mug

Unfortunately, I had to deprive the screaming masses an encore. Always leave them wanting more. Without having to wait for the Oxaliplatin, my treatment was over in just under an hour. The upside was that we were able to hit up Smash Burger for lunch. In other words. Lunch was fantastic… My chemo nap was just as good.

 

Sundae Funday

Not gonna lie, it’s been a bit of a tough week. The side effects from last weeks chemo stuck around longer than they have in the past. This whole cold sensitivity thing can stop now. It’s starting to tick me off that I have to wear gloves to grab ice for a drink. I almost dropped my Hungry Man meals taking them from the freezer the other morning. It’s getting old quick.

Top that off with a pair of canker sores that make it painful to eat or drink anything, mix in some shoulder pain, and you have a week that’s been the cheeks. Now that the week in-between is over, it’s time for round four to get started. I feel like I haven’t really had a chance to recover from Week Three and here I am again. The cherry on top of my sundae is that I’ll be dealing with chemo over my birthday. I’ve been pretty cranky this past week. My mood has been ruined by my miserableness.

Dentist appointment Wednesday night (no cavities, thank you very much). It wasn’t as bad as having a dentist appointment on my birthday. That was a way to celebrate my 30th birthday. First cavity, no Novocain. Yeah… that trip was one to remember. Chemo on Thursday. Saturday, a quick trip to have my chemo takhomasak removed. Due to my appointment, I missed out on the Family trip to AwesomeCon.

Look, I’m not one to get overly hyped up about my birthday as I’ve gotten older. It’s honestly OK. When I turned 40, my Doc gave me Type II Diabetes. I tried to take it back and exchange it for a gift card to Outback; turns out the return policy is bogus.

I’ll paraphrase what Jackie told me. “I’m excited that you’re alive”. I lost sight of the big picture this week. Thankfully, God put someone into my life at the right point in time to put it back in focus for me. When I think about the last few months, making it to my upcoming birthday wasn’t exactly a guarantee. I’m so over chemo and dealing with the nonsense that I have been, I took this last trip around the solar system for granted.

This week was the cheeks. I honestly thank God for Sunday. Sunday is Easter. Jesus is Risen. That is the hope and truth that I cling to.

Sunday also happens to be April Fool’s day. Due to my chemo schedule, I won’t be able to attend my office’s upcoming Off Site meeting. Now, who would leave me in the office. Little old me. Alone. For a Week. I’m sure that everything will be OK.

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Three Down

Yes this post is late, compared to the other ones that I’ve made. Chemo Day #3 is in the books. Only nine more to go and I can exit the chemo train. Man am I ever looking forward to that day.

This week was easier in some ways and much harder in others. I felt better on days 1, 2, and most of day 3. Worse on days 4 and 5 than the last time. We made some changes and learned some more lessons. I got my chemo on Thursday this time, and had my port removed on Saturday. This was great as I was able to miss less work. Yeah, I’m that guy; trying to be at work while this is going on. Even had a meeting Friday I was able to get to, Yay! Saturday and Sunday were nice to spend at the house and by Sunday night I almost felt human again. The corned beef I had for leftovers probably helped. No green beer or Jamesons Irish Whiskey was left over I noticed. The hand pain and cold sensitivity was worse this week. If this keeps up I’ll be dressed like Michael Jackson whenever I get something to eat.

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The big change that was made was that I got a second medicine for nausea. That really helped, and made a big difference Friday and Saturday. Stacking those meds like Lego kept me upright most of the day. Just got tired after a little while, but that’s to be expected. Not gonna lie, though. I kinda felt like trash on most of Monday. Just general trash; tired, sore, kinda tired, that kind of thing.

Now, for the harder part. This is going to sound bad, so please let me finish before throwing hate and stones my way. Due to some scheduling fun, my mom went with me to chemo this past week. Not something that I ever wanted to happen. That’s not because we don’t get along, we do. Not because I don’t like her, I love my mom very much. Pretty much the exact opposite. I know I make chemo sound fun and exciting; something that everyone wants to experience. Let’s be honest, just the two of us. The chemo is trying to kill me slower than it kills the cancer cells. That’s the point of it. Ok, that’s not entirely true. This chemo is preventative. Meaning, the Oncologist isn’t even sure that I have any cancer left. There’s a better than even chance it was all removed when Seamus was plucked from my colon. My doc is slowly trying to kill me in the off chance there are cancer cells floating around my body.

Now, I’ve had people try to kill me. There is an office that I work with, that I’ve joked about this very thing in the past. They would try to drop ladders on my head, starve me, drag me to Border Towns and gunfire, that kind of thing. It’s been a running joke for several years. Up until now, I kinda thought that they’d all given up on trying to off me. I’ll admit I was even hurt a little bit. Looking back, it seems they went with the long game. See, I’ve lost track of the number of hot dogs that I’ve had at Pink’s with those folks. I must say, Bravo. Well played. Before anyone gets horribly upset or thinks that anyone, or any hot dog is to blame, they/you are not.

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Based on the studies, preventative chemo for someone in my boat only takes me from a 20% to a 15% chance of re-occurance in 20 years. In a sense, I’m literally going through chemo for fun. It isn’t even a guarantee.

This is not something I ever wanted to put my mom through. I don’t want her sitting next to me for those three hours. She already has to put up with me at home; this was something I wanted to shield her from. Unfortunately, I  couldn’t any longer. For that I’m genuinely sorry. She’ll say, that she wanted to be there; that she was glad that she could be there for me. It’s just not a place I wanted her, or a situation that I wanted her put in.

I’m such riviting company besides. I end up dozing a good bit during the infusion, sleep most of the afternoon and evening after chemo, including the car ride home. Regardless, this marks three trips down with only nine to go. I’ll take some comfort in slicing that up various ways: 1/4 of the way done, single digit trips left, etc. Any way I look at it, I’m one step closer to done.

Round Two – FIGHT!

Mistakes were made. I underestimated my opponent; didn’t respect what he was capable of and got sucker punched. That’s on me. I didn’t take my last chemo appointment seriously.

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I felt pretty good when I left. Little tired, but not bad. I went into work the next day. Didn’t think anything of anything. Slept like a rock Tuesday night. Slept like a rock well into Wednesday. Most of Wednesday to be honest. Then the nausea hit.

Fortunately, I think we’ve learned some lessons. I need to keep up on the drugs that they give me. You know, for nausea. I’ve been eating ginger everything. So much so, I think my hair is turning red. At the very least I’m starting to develop a hankering for human souls.

This time, I got the chair in the infusion center that faces the door. I get to see everyone that comes in or leaves. Most importantly, I’m either the first or last thing they see.

It’s kinda like this. Who am I kidding? It’s exactly like this. G.R.owl.

Round Two just started. How it’s going to end is a different story. I’ve got my drugs. Ginger out the yin yang. I’m going to take things a bit slower this week than I did last time. Remembered to shave; sheared would probably be more accurate. They taste like chicken, BTW. Human souls that is.

Hey Girl. Want to do some chemo?