Sunday, August 31, 2008

DAY 95 - Another Day in Paradise


Got birthday cards, emails and phone calls from family and friends. My two younger sons and their girlfriends will come over later tonight. It will have to be a short visit, as I cannot talk and I am not much fun. I never dreamed I would spend my 61st in this manner. I will definitely have to re-celebrate on another day down the road.

I got three Ensure-meals in today, and I only lost the last fifth of the third one. I also had a little bit of oatmeal this morning. I definitely got my birthday wish from yesterday. My stomach had been on fire, and my throat had been excruciatingly sore. I couldn't swallow, and anything I could get down came right back up for the past two days. All I wanted for my birthday was to be able to have a not-so-sore throat and a stomach under control. And guess what? I woke up with both. God took pity on me.

Sarah brought my favorite candy from her trip to the mall for me to eat in the future. Chocolate peanut clusters. A very sweet thought.

Song of the Day1: The Beatles-Birthday
Song of the Day 2: Happy Birthday - The Beatles

Saturday, August 30, 2008

DAY 94 - Another Day in Paradise

Celebrated the day before my birthday by spending six hours in the emergency room. Unable to keep any food down. Stomach is upset; feels like it's on fire. Throat is constricted; makes me gag. Other than those things, I feel great!

Didn't come away with any real solutions--just EKG patches and an IV bandage. Got hydrated. Very boring. My butt got numbed sitting on the gurney. It was close to 100 degrees outside, so I went in wearing Levis and a T-shirt. It had to be 60 degrees inside. Had to wear four blankets over my feet and over my shoulders.

I'm at a loss as to what to do about keeping food down. I've basically not eaten in two days. May have to decide on the feeding tube after all. Will probably go below 140 by tomorrow morning.

Got lots of cool birthday cards from friends and relatives. Thanks to all you guys.

Song of the Day: I'm so tired, The Beatles

Friday, August 29, 2008

DAY 93 - Another Day in Paradise

!!!!!!!!! The good news is that there is just one day left of radiation. The bad news is that I have to wait until after the Labor Day weekend until Tuesday. Today was the roughest day yet--only kept breakfast down. Threw up three times today--mostly stomach acid and pills. We drove all the way to Rancho Cordova for treatment, but the machines were not operating. Waited an hour before they told us. Then we had to drive back to Sacramento, pick up Sarah from school, and fight the east bound holiday weekend traffic to Roseville to get treatment there. ABOUT A THREE-HOUR DELAY!

Can't seem to keep anything down today - not even water.

My wife is the strongest person I know. My song of the day is dedicated to her:

Song of the Day: Beatles VI - Eight Days A Week

Thursday, August 28, 2008

DAY 92 - Another Day in Paradise

Just got back from third-to-the-last radiation. This is also the day the chemo hits hardest. Two more days to go. Have to wait through the 3-day weekend to have my last radiation on Tuesday the 2nd. Lost dinner in pretty short order and feel lousiest I have so far. Too early to go to bed, and I am am not up for anything else.

Got email from M - n- law and birthday card also. Birthday is on Sunday. Will postpone celebration to a day down the road.

Got two neat cards with notes from my good friend Denise at work. They mean a lot.

Song of the Day (from Denise): Ben E. King - Stand By Me

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

DAY 91 - Another Day in Paradise

Just three more radiation days to go! Doctor said she could not "feel" any signs of the tumor in my neck and that I was responding well to treatment. That is the first good news I have heard in a while. She said the effects of radiation would accelerate and would intensify over the next few weeks. That part is not good. Mouth feels very dry and furry. Very odd. NO moisture except for mucus. It makes me gag to try to swallow.

My son Dustin and his girlfriend came by for a short visit today. They would have stayed longer but I can't talk much and am on the verge of throwing up after the chemo on Monday. Not good party material. I really appreciate the thought though.

My other two sons call on me regularly to check up. I really appreciate their thinking of me.

Song of the Day again: The Beatles -- Help!

Monday, August 25, 2008

DAY 89 - Another Day in Paradise

Finished my last chemo today. This is the good news. Was not able to do my radiation today because both machines were down. The bad news. I was disappointed. I go to my regular radiation tomorrow at 3:15, and if the machines are working all week, will do the 4 of the last 5 this week and then the very last one the day after the Labor Day weekend.

Lise was sweet enough to take the whole day off work, and it turns out we were not able to have the radiation in the morning. And the chemo ran late. She had to drive all the way across town to pick Sarah up from school then come back to pick me up.

Having chemo adds more pills to the mix--more than my little daily containers can hold. The next three days will be pills, pills and more pills. I'm sure most of the pills I'm taking cause constipation, so I'm having to take two or three pills to work it in reverse. No pun intended. Just a minor trial in the list of tribulations I'm encountering.

Song of the Day: Start Me Up - The Rolling Stones (Stop Me Up)

Thanks to my sister Sharon and my niece Erica for the never-ending flow of fabulous get-well cards. There was a new twist in the card from my sister today. It was a picture of a "freak cod," a.k.a. Greek god, reminding me that I will always be older than her.

My blog has now gotten a comment from somebody in India. It's now truly an international blog. Ha.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

DAY 88 - Another Day in Paradise

Had my blood test run today to see if my white blood cell count was up enough for my chemo tomorrow. It's 2.8, which is 6/10ths of a point higher than last week when radiation was resumed. Radiation in the morning and chemo in the afternoon. When that's all over, I'll be down to just four radiation treatments.

I have a big canker sore underneath my tongue. My tongue is really raw on the edges, to add to the dry throat. Can't wait for this to all end. Seems like 60 days ago I couldn't wait for it to begin. Now I'm very interested in having it come to a close. Big week. I hope I'm up for it.

The hard part is knowing that the symptoms will increase in the weeks following. The "sunburn" on my neck is starting to peel. Just five more days of radiation, and then my neck can start to heal permanently.

I have been truly impressed by the Olympics and the human stories attached to them--particularly impressed by the Para Olympic stories. These guys seem to be the true heroes, with courage and strength.

Song of the Day: Olympics Theme Song

Saturday, August 23, 2008

DAY 87 - Another Day in Paradise

Well, I've finally done it. When you have as many things going wrong with your body as I do right now, you get desperate enough to try just about anything. I'm now the proud owner of a teapot for my nose. It's called a Neti pot and traditionally is used by advanced yoga practitioners as one of the seven ways to cleanse themselves before practicing yoga. I have to make everybody leave the room while I try it, as I can only imagine what it looks like to have a grown man leaning over the sink with a little tiny teapot stuck up his nose, bent over at an angle so that the water flows out the other nostril. However, it does seem to work. Any little help I can get I am thankful for. This was an idea from Lise, who finally found one for me at the natural foods co-op. She also got me a container of aloe vera gel for my neck and something called "mucus relief," an expectorant and cough suppressant combo.

Picked up a couple of B grade movies this afternoon to help pass the time. One is about a monster versus the Vikings, and the other is about an earthquake that ate California. My attention span is so short, it is easier for me to watch a movie that has very little plot. Watched the first one, and it lived up to its B rating.

Have to go in for a pre-chemo blood test tomorrow, then I have my radiation earlier in the day on Monday. Normally it's at 3:15, but it's now set for 11:15 so we can get to the hospital where the chemo treatment center is (20 minutes away) for the afternoon.

I've noticed that my vision is starting to blur, so Lise has graciously been typing my blog posts and reading my emails to me. I hope my vision problem is temporary.

Song of the Day: Joe Cocker - Cry Me A River

Friday, August 22, 2008

DAY 86 - Another Day in Paradise

Day 6 gone. Five days left. Last chemo on Monday, but have to go for a blood test on Sunday afternoon to determine whether we can to forward with that. Met with the doctor today. I told her how miserable I was, and she said there wasn't anything she could do and it was going to get worse. Whee. Still, daily, I'm reminded how fortunate I am, just by looking around me at other people in life. As long-term as this is, this is still short-term compared with people who have permanent afflictions. I see people in wheelchairs, amputees, homeless, etc. You just need to watch the news or read the paper about conflicts going in the world to know how lucky we all are...even me.

Song of the Day: the rolling stones - you can't always get what you want

Thursday, August 21, 2008

DAY 85 - Another Day in Paradise

Well, I'm back on track. Day 7 down, with Day 6 to go tomorrow. Chemo is on Monday, then radiation daily through Friday next week. And that will be it! I have to get a pre-chemo blood test on Sunday, so let's hope there aren't any more delays.

Still difficult to keep all three meals down. It's a good day if I can keep 2 1/2 down. Tail bone seems to be improved. I can bend over and pick up things without making a four-step process. Still sore to lie down straight on my back, but most other angles seem to be OK. The two biggest issues right now are my tongue and the back of my throat. If I could fix those, I'd be in great shape. The mucus at the back of my throat makes me gag, even if I'm just drinking water, which I often do. My tongue feels like it's fat and thick and sliced by razor blades. But other than that, I'm the picture of health!

Song of the Day: Chuck Berry - Back in the USA

The Song of the Day and the photo of the day are in homage to all the great American athletes in the Olympics.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

DAY 84 - Another Day in Paradise

Hopefully this is my last day of vacation from treatment as I'm very anxious to finish so I can get started on recovery. Go in for blood test tomorrow to see if my white blood cell count is up enough to finish treatment. I'm hoping. If not, I hope they can help me do something to boost my white blood cell count...some magic pill.

Spent the last two days watching old silent movies of Harold Lloyd brought to me by my friend Gary from work. Very entertaining and does a good job of passing the time. Also, listening to music from a cool group called They Might Be Giants. Like the one about Istanbul (Not Constantinople) the best.

Even while camping, my sister keeps up her daily messages by sending texts from her iPhone.

Well, should know more tomorrow. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Song of the Day: THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

DAY 83 - Another Day in Paradise

Suffered a setback today. My white blood cell count is too low for them to continue treatment without sending me to the hospital. Suspended chemo and radiation. Just seven radiations and one chemo left. Have to wait three or four days to resume. Have another blood test on Thursday morning and will hope for the best. Hopefully, we'll be able to finish everything up next week. Down to 144 pounds, so need to hurry up and get treatment finished so I can start on the upswing.

Got two more cards from my sister today. I'm pretty much averaging two a day--all very good, very funny. I even have my long-lost cousin from Hawaii reading my blog.

Was not able to keep my lunch down today. I'm hoping to keep my dinner down. Two out of three meals is the best I can do these days. Still sitting on ice as often as I can to ease the pain of my tail bone. I go to the chiropractor each Friday.

Song of the Day: to be posted later

Saturday, August 16, 2008

DAY 80 - Another Day in Paradise

Noticed some improvement in my tail bone, so it's a little easier to move around and sit down. But also can tell it's going to be a long time before it heals completely.

Been having a hard time keeping my meals down. Lost lunch and dinner yesterday, and my throat feels like I'm about ready to lose my food constantly. The only way we figured out how to get around it is to eat my meals 1/4 at a time and take a nap in between. So lots of sleeping today.

Got a nice card from my sister. The picture of a sad-looking bulldog on it wanting to know when I was going to get my problem fixed -ha. Also got a card with a photograph of me as a baby and a lock of my baby hair to use in the cloning process and followup treatment to grow my hair back. I'll be a redhead.

Song of the Day: Beethoven - Fur elise

Friday, August 15, 2008

DAY 79 - Another Day in Paradise

A friend of mine sent this picture to me with a quote about the real pot at the end of the rainbow. Ah, so true - ha.

Having a particularly hard time keeping food down. Lost both attempts at dinner.

Finished Week 6. Hurray! Only 1 more chemo on Wednesday and 8 more days of radiation!

Song of the Day: Hair - Song Hair

Thursday, August 14, 2008

DAY 78 - Another Day in Paradise

Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
John Wagner

Only single-digit days left--1 chemo (next Wednesday) and 9 days of radiation--and then the climb to recovery.

It is getting tougher to keep food down, so hope I can hold on until taste buds and saliva come back. I am not as burned as I thought I would be in the neck area (see photo). No worse than a day at the lake with a big neck tee-shirt. Hair loss in back is a bit more that I thought (see photos by my daughter Sarah). Wasn't a whole lot there in the first place - ha. Maybe no one except me notices. The burn is supposed to fade (starting in 9 days) and the hair(s) should regrow after radiation stops (but only back to original areas unfortunately).

Song of the Day: James Taylor - Help From My Friends

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

DAY 77 - Another Day in Paradise

All of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.
Dale Carnegie
I have enjoyed life very fully but I still can't express how even the smallest details of our everyday life should be reveled in. As the saying goes, "You don't know the worth of the water until the well goes dry." I can't tell you how much I miss just being able to go up to Starbucks, sit outside, and have a mocha with a friend. Or shopping for ingredients for a gourmet meal, enjoy the prep, and being able to sit down with the family and enjoy the results.

Hump day in Week 6 nearing a close--just two more days of radiation this week. And then just eight more days left and one chemo (next Wednesday). It seemed so long ago when I started this ordeal. I can say with great assurance that when my taste buds come back and I can eat regular food, I will not have Boosts or oatmeal or pureed carrots ever, ever, ever again. I still have more weeks of it as nothing changes for awhile--so have to keep gagging it down.

The chemo/radiation still builds for awhile after I stop treatment. It is kind of like having a roast in the oven. Once you turn the oven off, your roast continues to cook and it is quite a while before you can reach into the oven without gloves. That is how I understand this treatment is. It may be a month before I notice any change in my mouth or taste buds (could also be a year-- -yipes!). If I am very lucky, I may notice a change by the end of September.

I have decided to hold off on the feeding tube after having watched the inspiring stories of the Olympics. I will give it one more try to make it without having it installed. Since I am almost to the end, I'm going to try to tough it out.

I had my weekly visit with the radiation oncologist this afternoon, and she said I was doing extremely well. She was surprised that I have gone this far without the feeding tube and have maintained my weight fairly well. She thought that if I haven't had the feeding tube installed by now, I probably wasn't going to need one.

My spirits are lifted a bit. My wife noticed that I am a bit cheerier tonight, with the tiniest of the tiniest smiles turning up one corner of my lips. I'm starting to believe that I just might be able to make it. There have been times in the past when I have not been so sure. Obviously, I have to make it, because there is no choice, but mentally one likes to feel one has a certain amount of control. I got encouraging emails today from my friends at work, from my sister, from my cousin in Oklahoma, and from my mothers-in-law. I appreciate the love and attention.

Song of the Day: Simon & Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water

Monday, August 11, 2008

DAY 75 - Another Day in Paradise

I'm in Week 6. After this is done, there will be another week and a half left to go. Eight more days until my last chemo. Twelve more radiation treatments. In email I sent to my sister, I was lamenting about all my physical ailments and told her that other than those pesky detriments, I was as fit as a Greek god, but typos had it come out "as fit as a freek cod." After some deep soul-searching thought, I figured God was working through my fingertips, and I let it stand as it was a more description term. My sister thinks I'm disturbed because I am able to describe so accurately a snot-Velcro-hairdryer experience, although it must have worked because she could visualize it quite easily.

I am maintaining my weight at about 150, but I can say honestly, I hate mealtimes. It is very hard for me to concentrate on anything for very long, and I look forward to being able to fall asleep in the evening.

Today's Song of the Day is not a song, but a bit from the movie Dodgeball with Lance Armstrong.
Lance Armstrong: For whenever you feel like quitting

Sunday, August 10, 2008

DAY 74 - Another Day in Paradise

Put Week 5 behind me. Facing Week 6. Have seven weeks plus three days of radiation in my schedule. Thirteen more days of radiation, and one chemo on the 20th. Wednesday after next. Early this weekend I had decided to have the PEG tube inserted, as I just couldn't see myself finishing being able to eat on a regular basis. I have a case of thrush in my mouth, which makes my mouth feel like it's full of sores, my tongue feels swollen, my throat is extremely sore, and the production of thick mucus is getting worse. Can't seem to get rid of the mucus. Combined with a runny nose, it is really difficult. I can't spit it out of my mouth; sometimes I just have to pull it out of my mouth with my fingers. It is like trying to blow thick snot across a piece of velcro with a hairdryer. It has affected my voice. It is getting very difficult to speak. I talk like I have a piece of cotton in my mouth, as my tongue is quite swollen and painful. I mostly nod and use hand gestures when talking with Lise....or uh-huh or uhn-ah (yes or no) grunts.

However, after having watched the stories in the Olympics this weekend, I am going to give it one more week of eating without the tube. Some true stories of never giving up. I feel inspired.

Thanks again to my wife and sister for their unswerving love and loyalty and constant checking on me. My sister's recommendation for today's song:

Song of the Day: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers - Won't Back Down

The photo is of her on a whitewater trip with her family. I'm going to have to try that when I'm all done.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

DAY 71 - Another Day in Paradise

"A strong positive mental attitude will create more miracles than any wonder drug." --Patricia Neal

I'm trying to make this my mantra, as it's the only thing that I seem to have any control over. I have to rely on the doctors to provide me wonder drugs, and I'll have to supply the positive attitude.

I managed to add a new item to my diet. I made a big batch of beans from scratch for the family, and Lise pureed a serving for me. I'm sure it didn't taste as good as it did to everyone else, but it certainly was a nice change from oatmeal and milk.

Tomorrow is the end of Week 5. Two more weeks of treatment to go. I'm told that the weeks following treatment are the roughest yet. I hope that I can remain strong.

My tailbone still aches and I feel like I've torn something inside, but I can't have any operations while I'm going through treatment. Will probably see the doctor next week. Maybe I have a hernia.

Got a cool card from my sister with a guy's arm sticking out of a shark's mouth. His fingers are set in the OK sign. Oddly, that's about how I feel. Good card.

Song of the Day: Bobby Darin - Mack the Knife

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

DAY 69 - Another Day in Paradise

Haven't posted anything for a couple of days as most days are, unfortunately, all the same. The toughest part of the day is trying to get calories down as my meals have become just oatmeal and nutritional drinks.

Made a couple of sales for my work and stopped by for a few minutes, but tired easily. My friend Gary at work and I often enjoy de-motivational posters, and he recommended a great site, This plays to my dark sense of humor and so explains today's picture.

Tomorrow will be midway through my fifth week, with a total of seven weeks for the treatment plan. I know it's more than half way, but I am very anxious for it to come to an end. Made a change in my hourly mouthwash at the recommendation of the radiation oncology nurse, made an addition of meat tenderizer to the salt, water and baking soda mouth rinse. It seems to do a good job of cutting the mucus, but it's hard on my throat when I gargle. I may have used too much and tenderized my tongue - ha.

Drove the new Cruiser a couple of times. Drives well. Handles well. A little bit fancier than the last one.

Am putting lots of lotion on my neck, and the radiation burn seems to be under control. It's red, but not too bad.

Nothing funny or bad has happened lately, but I do notice that I'm very apprehensive about approaching the open stairwell and make sure I have my hand on the rail before I step into it.

Days are somewhat monotonous in a mildly depressing way. It could be much worse, and I know that the highlight of my day is when Lise comes to pick me up for my radiation treatment.

Song of the Day: Janis Joplin - Mercedes Benz

Saturday, August 2, 2008

DAY 66 - Another Day in Paradise

Definitely a good day today - thanks to my Sister! Got two "caring about you " packages and a great email with today's song.

The first package is a poster of hot air balloon lifting off at at the annual Sonora County Hot Air Balloon Festival with the title "Looking Up." I have it posted on my wall of hope with my cards of encouragement...see photo above.

The second gift was a totally awesome handmade album of old photos of us from 50 years ago in a variety of places - we have been friends for 56 years. Each picture had captions of things we would do when I am well. Very cool.

Can't top this with any blog nonsense. I love you, Sharon.

Song of the day: James Taylor - You've Got a Friend

Friday, August 1, 2008

DAY 65 - Another Day in Paradise

Not much to comment on - First full week of radiation - always had some accident to make me miss a that is good news.

Got a borrowed "donut pillow" to sit on until my bruised tail bone heals. Had x-rays today at the chiropractor and no fractures are present...good news.

Neck is starting to get burned from the radiation - have to put a heavy cream on each morning and night.

Saliva glands not working so well tonight but the aloe vera juice Lise got me made my sore throat practically disappear...that is good news.

I am tired and my butt aches.

"Anything that has real and lasting value is always a gift from within." Franz Kafka

Song of the Day: The Guess Who - Hang On To Your Life