Surprise side effect

Here’s something strange and wonderful about chemo treatment. I think it is clearing up my psoriasis. Strange but true. I’m not saying I would recommend it as a treatment, but it’s a nice side effect.

Just over half way through this first chemo and I’m feeling pretty good these days. I just realized this round ends on Christmas day. Its the gift I didn’t know I always wanted. The dark horrors of last Monday Tuesday have faded to a queasy memory.

We learned a lot from this round. Next time we will be prepared. We’ll stock up on the best anti-nausia drugs, make more of an effort to stay hydrated and I’m thinking about getting sleeping pills so I can sink into a self-induced coma for the worst three days. I don’t need to worry about it until February, so I’ll stop dwelling on it for now.

Be at peace my friends. Hug everyone you love. Cherish them. Most importantly, allow those who love you to cherish you. Be loved. Be kind.

Merry Christmas.

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Yes, you can add your mom

I’ve been asked by a few friends if I will add their mom, friend or cousin who is going through the same process as me. It warms my heart to hear that people are getting something positive out of my ramblings and they want others to read my blog.

I started this as an easy way to keep my family informed without repeating the story dozens of times. But if there is one cancer patient or family of a cancer patient who will get something useful out of this, please feel free togo to the blog page and add whoever you want.

Oh! And if anyone you add pisses me off in any way I will remove them. wink emoticon

If you’re having trouble finding the actual blog page, it’s here…
https://m.facebook.com/groups/878390842197098/?ref=bookmarks

I am a whimp

Feeling a little bit better this morning. It must be due to the dozen or so sleeps and maybe the eight or ten trips to the bathroom last night. Over the past few months I have been convinced that the leaps in cancer treatment have virtually eliminated the unpleasant side effects of treatment. HAH! I am a naive child.

Chemo is poison. Deadly, nausea inducing, horrible, ugly poison. I deliberately pumped about a quart of it directly into my circulatory system over a period of 2 days. All I can really say, my friends, is you don’t want to do that. The first time, I am told, it definitely won’t kill you (that danger comes later) but about day three you will wish it would.

Yet I live. And I even woke up hungry this morning. Thankfully, I am allowed a light breakfast before I go back on clear fluids in preparation for a CT scan this afternoon. It’s the “after” pictures from the radiation treatment. I don’t know when I get a chance to see them. My next appointment with the radiation oncologist is in January. Maybe I can request 8 x 10 glossies.

Tomorrow I trek in to St Paul’s again. This time for my very first MRI. I like the procedures that just examine me from a distance. I think the whole cancer treatment process should be that way. Scan me, shoot lasers and radiation at me, prod, poke and push at me, but don’t pump me full of any more poisons.

I am a whimp. I do not deny it.

My first MRI

Back from St Paul’s and my first ever MRI experience. Those machines make the strangest assortment of noises. Amongst the buzzes and clicks and nearly vocal murdering there is a heartbeat. I commented on this to the technician and he confirmed, “It’s alive”. I don’t think he was entirely joking.

They must have pretty thorough pictures of my innards at this point. They did 8 separate scans; 30 seconds, 5 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 30 seconds, 3 minutes, 3 minutes and another 3 minutes. That is a long time to lie in a small culvert with your arms crossed over your chest. It’s not a place for anyone with claustrophobia issues. Although narrow, the platform is comfortable enough and they make sure there is padding in all the right places. Earphones block out most of the racket the machine makes but it is still eerily vocal at times.

All in all, this is the kind of medical care I like. Noisy but no needles, cuts, pokes, prods, invasions or poisonous medications. Scan me any day doc! Lying perfectly still for a half hour is right in my wheelhouse.

So this is it until January when the good Dr Carl Brown will make his final surgery assessment and the very kind Dr. Rose will review the efficacy of the radiation. That means a few weeks with no medical interventions. I have to admit, despite my desire to get on with the eradication of this cancer, I am looking forward to the break.

Merry Christmas everybody! Unless inspiration strikes between now and then, I’ll see you in January.

The poison is in

Good morning everyone. It’s almost empty. Hooray!

It’s been 41 hours since the bottle was attached to my porthole. 41 hours of worrying that I might pull a hose out, knock the needle, spill the bottle or sweat the patches off. Considering that I sleep, as Wendy says, like a crocodile in a death roll, I have done remarkably well, I think.

Still, I think this is the most stressful part of my treatment so far. Mostly because it’s the first time I have had to personally take responsibility for something serious and technical. I’ve spent the whole time mentally reviewing the myriad of problems the nurse warned us about and the corrective responses to each. Clamp this or that hose, not the wrong one, remove this or that connection, again not the wrong one, cap this or that end depending on what’s happening and for SURE don’t spill any of this stuff on anyone! It’s been a stressful couple of days and especially nights. I am so looking forward to sleeping contraption-free tonight.

And that hair! Have you ever seen a Chemo patient that looks like they need a haircut?

Rocking the ugly Christmas sweater

A short shout out to the folks at Johnston Meier Insurance Agencies Group who have been so supportive as Wendy struggles to balance her work with her dedicated care of me and my medical needs. The Christmas party last night was a noisy, delicious and incredibly friendly affair. A special thank you to all of Wendy’s colleagues who came by to say hi. Especially those who read and appreciate this blog. It is always a little surprising and a lot meaningful to hear that readers are getting something more than entertainment out of my writing. The encouragement is deeply appreciated.

Nurses are my heros

Today was my first visit to the chemo clinic for a full blown blast of the poisons that will, maybe, save my life.

They had signs on the wall that say “No one fights alone”. It got me thinking, you hear a lot of prideful anecdotes about people who “beat” cancer. Rarely do the heroic doctors and nurses, who are the real fighters in this battle, get any credit. I want to dedicate my successes to those who deserve the credit. Nurses are my heros!

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Moving right along

Things continue to move along. Its hard to remember the waiting days when it seemed forever would be a historical concept before I would know anything. Now it all seems to be happening so fast its a bit frightening.

My surgeon initially wanted an MRI done in early January and expected to cut me open a few weeks later. I would be waiting to start chemotherapy until I healed from the surgery in late February.

Suddenly the MRI is next week and we are embarking on a chemo journey starting tomorrow. I’m not ready to be injected with a cocktail of cancer poisons tomorrow. A body needs a little time to adjust to the idea!

The swift response here is reassuring and frightening at the same time. I’m so accustomed to stories of notorious hospital waiting lists and delays that I’m a bit startled in the face of efficiency. I’m not some celebrity or sport figure or other queue jumping superstar so there must be some other reason for the uncharacteristic efficiency. Is there something they aren’t telling me? No! They are just a very very good team! I am a pretty lucky guy considering the horrible luck that landed me here.

Now seriously though, I have a Christmas party to attend on Saturday for Wendy’s office. Are these chemicals coursing through my system going to interfere with my social life? I simply cannot allow it. Wrap me up in an ugly Christmas sweater and wheel me into the party. If I nod off just prop me up in the corner with a glass of eggnog. The party, like the proverbial show, must go on.

This medical team is the best gift I could ask for. Merry Christmas to me!

And to all of you.

A new doctor enters the fray

So, Wendy told me the object behind me was the scope the surgeon was about to use. Turns out St. Paul’s may be an old hospital, but not quite that archaic.

Dr. Carl Brown is a very thorough, very impressive, extremely experienced, cutting edge (no pun intended), gastro surgeon whom I will trust with my life without a second’s hesitation. He does more bowel cancer surgeries than any other doctor in the province and is leading the profession in the newest methods and procedures. I am in the best hands.

He wants to go in sometime at the end of January. I was initially concerned that was a long wait but he assures me that is the ideal time. I will have fully recovered from the effects of chemo and the radiation will have completed its job. As he says, the food doesn’t stop cooking when you shut off the oven. Its the same with radiation. The effects can continue for two months after the last treatment. He doesn’t want to operate until I finish cooking, I guess.

On examination by Dr. Brown and his 2nd year intern, the tumor has shrunk! What was a 2 cm gap is now 4 cm. I took that to mean what was a 9 cm mass is now more like 5. Not necessarily true according to the expert but he does say it leaves room to resect the colon and still leave everything working properly.

Over all,and despite telling me the myriad of ways he might kill me, his analysis was very positive. He said ten years ago he would have told me there was no chance of successful surgery. Today he’s pretty sure he can get it all in one operation. Still, he says, we have one shot at this. I’m absolutely convinced he is the right guy to take that shot.

We will be meeting again after I go for an MRI in early January. Meantime my job is to stay as healthy as I possibly can between now and the surgery. I’m going to try to get more exercise; build up my strength. Stay well away from germ infested environs. No air travel, unfortunately, so we are home for Christmas (sorry Shirley). Wendy and I have agreed no Christmas shopping either. It’s as though we have hit the “pause” button and are waiting to resume our lives. Personally, I would rather hit “fast forward”.

I’m seeing the Oncologist, Dr. Shan, again this morning to follow up on the planning. I don’t expect anything to happen chemo-wise until after the surgery, but I need to pick up a dose of chalk-paint to drink for my post-radiation CT scan next Tuesday. Looking forward to seeing the before and after pics! I’ll ask for copies. Does anybody else want to see them?

I feel good today, bye the way. Last night was the best sleeps I’ve had in months. All three of them. Does anyone know how to avoid waking up in night sweats? I soak the sheets and shiver myself awake at least twice a night. Poor Wendy wakes to my whimpers and curses too. We need some sleep.

Merry Christmas everyone. Damn! I’ve written a small book here. Somebody come and visit!