Thursday, October 30, 2008

DAY 155 - Day 58 in Recovery Paradise

I have some good news to report. I went to my ENT specialist today for my first checkup since she diagnosed me with tonsil cancer 155 days ago. After her exam today, she said that I look really clean and that there was no sign of cancer. I now have to go back in two months and do regular checkups for the next five years. Somewhere down the road, I will have another PET scan to make sure the cancer hasn't come back. As you can imagine, we are all very relieved here in this house. My thanks go out to all of you who read this and have been kind enough to send me words of encouragement.

I had bean soup for dinner tonight and a bit of ice cream afterward to celebrate. I'm still waiting for that cheeseburger, however.

Song of the Day: Jimmy Buffett - Cheeseburger in Paradise

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

DAY 153 - Day 56 in Recovery Paradise

I'm feeling a bit better today. My sore throat is almost gone, and the little gag reflex thing doesn't seem to be there. It's been there for months. I woke up this morning and it was gone. I still have dry mouth and upset stomach. I had five single-can meals, 1500 calories today. My stomach is just a little bit upset.

I managed to list four things on Craigslist, hopefully to get rid of some things in the garage. I also did some work for my job today.

Song of the Day: Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah

Monday, October 27, 2008

DAY 152 - Day 55 in Recovery Paradise

A bit improved today. My stomach is still sore. My mouth is very dry. My mucus is a dry foam. I took a couple of naps and did a little bit of work for my job. I'm still planning on going back to work part time in the near future, but I do need to get over this stomach issue first. I had two double meals today, so my calories are still in decent shape. I must say, I'm getting very tired of feeling bad. But the good news is that while my mouth is dry, it has no sores. I'm able to talk without sores rubbing on my tongue.

I made ham sandwiches and salad for dinner tonight. Sarah had four ham sandwiches. She surprises me how much food she can put away sometimes. The local TV station came to her school today to interview her class about a class project making a "Recycle City." She is the second kid who was interviewed by the TV reporter. Here's a link. She now thinks she's a TV celebrity.

Song of the Day: Dion & the Belmonts - Teenager in Love

Sunday, October 26, 2008

DAY 151 - Day 54 in Recovery Paradise

My mouth is very dry. The upside of a dry mouth is that there is not very much mucus. My throat is still a little sore. I still have acid reflux pain in my stomach. I tried some oatmeal this morning. The first half came back up in a few minutes. The second half stayed down. I drank one Ensure, except for a few sips. Later in the day I tried the few sips and it came right back up. I had other meals today. Total calories for the day: 1,655.

My daughter Sarah is going to be in The Nutcracker. They had their official photos in their costumes today. She looks very cute. This is her fifth year. The local production uses over 500 kids in different casts--about 100 per show. The parents have an opportunity to take snapshots for the few moments they are in their costumes. This year Sarah plays the part of a child in the street scene before the curtain rises for the first act.

Song of the Day: The Nutcracker Suite - Dance of the Reed Flutes

Saturday, October 25, 2008

DAY 150 - Day 53 in Recovery Paradise

My stomach is upset, throat sore, lump in throat to swallow around. Only had two meals today. Not much changed.

We went to the ballet tonight. I was glad I was able to make it. It was fun; nice to get out of the house. The worry was that I would get sick at the ballet, but I didn't. However, I got a big set of dry heaves within a half-hour after coming home. I will try to get some thin oatmeal down tomorrow morning.

I got some good news this evening. My youngest son, Dustin, has been accepted into Sac State University and will transfer in January.

Song of the Day: Loggins & Messina - Your Mama Don't Dance

Friday, October 24, 2008

DAY 149 - Day 52 in Recovery Paradise

Not much to say. My mouth is really dry. The doctor suggested taking Claritin, which has made my sinuses dry up, but it has made my mouth drier. My sore throat was improving, but now it seems to be coming back again. I still have that lump in my throat that makes me gag. I drank two Ensures today in addition to using the tube to take in one can of Fibersource. I took a nap after breakfast in my Zero Gravity Chair and slept fitfully until 11:30 a.m.

Dinner for the girls was enchiladas and salad. Thank goodness for frozen entrees.

Song of the Day: Joan Baez - Diamonds and Rust

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

DAY 147 - Day 50 in Recovery Paradise

I think I may have the flu. My stomach hurts and I feel nauseated with a bit of a headache. I managed to get four half-meals down today. That's 1500 calories. My last visit to the doctor ended up in me taking even yet more pills. If I didn't know better, I'd say my body is falling apart. I take pills for a heart condition, eye drops for glaucoma, pills for acid reflux, nasal spray and pills for my sinus problems, fluoride trays for my teeth, and dealing with recovery from chemo and radiation treatments for my cancer. Life is still good, and I appreciate what I have, but it would be nicer to feel better.

Song of the Day: Blondie - Call Me

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

DAY 146 - Day 49 in Recovery Paradise

I still have a problem with my stomach and my throat. I had dry heaves for 15 minutes twice this morning. I got an emergency appointment with my doctor and, ironically, concurred with our own evaluation and treatment plan. Got a prescription for some acid reflux capsules. I will also step up my salt water swishing and gargling. The gargling is new. Also, I will take a Claritin once a day and spray my uvula (the little hangy-down thing in your throat that makes you gag) with Chloraseptic spray often.

I made hamburgers and corn for dinner tonight. It looked good. Wish I could have joined 'em.

Because I've been gagging and dry heaving, I've not kept up with my food intake. I managed to get in 1500 calories today. It will be about three days before the acid reflux tablets' positive effect kicks in.

Hopefully, I'll feel better this weekend. We have tickets to the ballet. My intent is to go.

Song of the Day: Doobie Brothers - Black Water

Monday, October 20, 2008

DAY 145 - Day 48 in Recovery Paradise

The good news is that the sore on my tongue doesn't bother me too much, and my throat is not so sore anymore. The not-so-good news is that my stomach is still upset and I feel nauseated a lot. I had four small meals today and didn't lose any of them. But I had periods of dry heaves a couple of times during the day. It's 11 p.m. and my stomach really hurts and I feel like I might throw up. I'm hoping the feeling subsides before I try to get some sleep.

A bit of other good news is my eye appointment for my glaucoma today. There was some concern that my right eye was getting worse and I might require some laser surgery, but we learned that there has been no further deterioration and the pressure is still in the acceptable range.

When my boys were small, I used to make up stories to tell them at bedtime. They loved them a lot more than the ones from the books. I could get really creative and come up with some crazy things. It was always about three little boys about their age, with three different names. Sarah has now decided that she likes the ones I make up better than the ones in the books, so I did that tonight. I couldn't make it as scary as I did for the boys. It had to be G-rated with no monsters or scary situations. It was fun.

Song of the Day: Argent - Hold Your Head Up

Sunday, October 19, 2008

DAY 144 - Day 47 in Recovery Paradise

I'm not feeling so well. I worry about losing my food, my stomach hurts and is upset all day, I've got mucus that makes me gag hanging on the back of my throat, and I've gone a couple days without having much to eat (maybe 600 calories in a day). I can't tell what's wrong with my stomach. I take antacid tablets and I drink Maalox, and it doesn't seem to help. I take anti-nausea and anti-acid reflux pills, but they don't seem to help either. I had three meals today--just one can each time. Not much food, but I have to eat something. I just don't swallow so I don't trigger the gag reflex. It's like trying to not think of a white elephant.

One positive note is that I drove myself to the medical lab today in Lise's car. I was nervous the whole time since it's the first time I've driven in a couple of months. I drove up to get a blood test for my a-fib condition.

I watched T.V. until my butt became numb. Lise cut my hair today. It's really, really short, but still longer than in the parts where it hasn't grown back yet.

Song of the Day: Paul Potts sings Nessun Dorma

Thursday, October 16, 2008

DAY 141 - Day 44 in Recovery Paradise

My tongue and throat are still sore. I'm still having problems with mucus. I've thrown up a couple of meals after drinking them. I had to follow up by using the tube. Not much is different. Not much to report.

Song of the Day: ZZ Top - Sharp Dressed Man

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

DAY 139 - Day 42 in Recovery Paradise

I felt tired today, even with a long nap after breakfast. I took a walk around the block, and it tired me out more than usual. Even with my salt water oral rinses, my mouth still feels messed up today. Very dry, to the point of gagging me when I try to swallow. Sarah wanted me to read to her tonight, and I had to stop after awhile as it hurt too much to talk. My mouth was dry, which caused me to cough and gag. The only talking I do is when Lise comes home for lunch. This part will have to clear up before I go back to work.

I seem to get cold easily. When Sarah is sitting at the counter in a T-shirt, I'm putting on a fleece jacket and a windbreaker because I'm so cold. However, I do like bundling up against the cold versus being too warm.

I drank all my meals today. This is a good trend. I've not used the tube in a few days now, except for water just to keep the tube clear.

This year Sarah is 10, and we've decided that she's too old to go out trick-or-treating. So she's picked out a costume so that she can meet the tricker-or-treaters at the door. She'll probably have a friend over and have a good time handing out candy.

Song of the Day: AC/DC - TNT

Monday, October 13, 2008

DAY 138 - Day 41 in Recovery Paradise

Except for my mouth, I'm feeling pretty good today. I still have that sore on the right side of my tongue and a little bit of a sore throat.

I tried a little bit of fruit cocktail tonight. The peaches and the cherries went down OK, but the pears were too hard and stuck in my throat. The grapes' skin didn't slide down well either. I only had half of it, and then had to give it away.

When I had cake and ice cream the other day, the serving was only about the size of my thumb. It wasn't pleasant to eat more than that. The main advantage was that I could taste it, so I'm glad my taste buds are back.

It appears that I am back full time fixing dinner for the girls. It's good to be active enough to be an asset to the family, instead of a drag. They enjoy having dinner on the table when they walk in.

Lise brought a copy of the newspaper home at lunchtime on her lunch visit. I actually sat in the window seat and read the whole thing, which is a nice change. It wasn't that long ago when I wasn't able to read the paper. My eyes wouldn't focus. So that's a good progress point.

My sister was giving me a hard time about having ice cream and cake and sent me tonight's video as an exercise plan.

Song (Video) of the Day: Ice Cream and Cake Dance

Sunday, October 12, 2008

DAY 137 - Day 40 in Recovery Paradise

My throat is still slightly sore and I have the soreness on the side of my tongue, which keeps me from talking much.

I have a small success to report. I ate a tiny piece of cake with water, a small bowl of peaches and five green beans. The good news is that I could taste everything, so my taste buds are OK. We bought more canned fruit tonight so I will try a little bit each evening. Oh yes, I also had two bites of ice cream, but didn't want to push it any.

Lise and Sarah were at a wedding shower for my niece yesterday, and a story came up about me trying to suppress an exploding bottle of champagne by sticking it in my mouth in a crowded bar. This was many years ago but still is one of the family stories that will never die. Apparently, Sarah had never heard the story, so when it came up at the shower, she defended me by telling them that they shouldn't be laughing at her daddy, who wasn't there, and that she was going to tell on them. It's good to know that my daughter has got my back!

Song of the Day: Randy Newman - You've Got a Friend in Me

Saturday, October 11, 2008

DAY 136 - Day 39 in Recovery Paradise

I'm feeling stronger every day, but I still get tired easily. Today I saw the girls off at 9 a.m. on their trip to San Francisco and lay back in my recliner for a nap. Didn't wake up until 1:30 p.m.! I felt very rested. This is why I think that I will only be able to go back to work part time in the beginning.

My mother-in-law called from Texas today to check up on me. We spoke for about a half hour. That just about used up my voice. I still have sores on my tongue that rub up against my teeth when I talk. I drank all my meals today, so I feel good about that.

I read some depressing messages from the Google group today about the survival rate for tonsil cancer. I'll need to stay positive. It does include older patients, different stages of cancer, and different treatment plans. Everyone is an individual. I feel confident that my treatment plan was a good one. I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed for the next five years. I like what D Boyer from the group said: "If you get your relationships in line, exercise, eat better, appreciate the fleeting nature of life more, you might just find cancer was the best thing that ever happened to you."

Song of the Day: The Mamas and the Papas - California Dreamin'

Friday, October 10, 2008

DAY 135 - Day 38 in Recovery Paradise

I'm feeling a little better, a little stronger today. I still have that canker sore on the side of my tongue, and my throat is a little bit sore. The mucus has not been so bad today. I drank three of my four meals and had the fourth by tube. The only reason I had the fourth by tube is because I wanted the one that tastes like cardboard; it has more fiber.

I took a short nap after everybody left the house this morning and watched a couple of movies. I also worked online. I went for a walk today around the block. It was very cold and very windy. I wore a fleece jacket with a hood, and I was still cold. It helped motivate me to walk faster!

I went to my weekly chiropractor appointment, and he said that my muscle tone is coming back.

Lise and Sarah heading to a wedding shower for my niece in San Francisco tomorrow. It's a girls-only event, so I'll stay here and pine away for my girls. I'll see if I can have some spectacular dinner ready when they get home.

Sarah has to do a biography and check a book out from the library. There's no copy at our local branch, so I spent some time on the phone getting a copy shipped over. My tongue was a little sore afterward. It was a test of how long I can talk before I go back to work.

Song of the Day: Phil Collins - On My Way

Thursday, October 9, 2008

DAY 134 - Day 37 on Recovery Paradise

I still have the sore on the right side of my tongue, but it's getting better. I think it is healing because of the salt water rinse I gargle with 5 or 6 times a day. I think it is a canker sore and not related to thrush. I still am taking the thrush medicine and the rest of my mouth/tongue feels better. I still have a bit of a sore throat, however. The mucus was heavier and more apparent today than in the past few days. I also had more dry mouth today. Weird. I traded off between dry mouth for awhile and then mucus. I had most of my meals by mouth today, using the Instant Breakfast mix (375 calories) (2 cans each meal), but used the tube for the other brand, since it tastes like cardboard. It only has 300 calories per can, but it has fiber, unlike the IB.

I weighed in at 148 tonight with my pajamas on. I am hoping to get to 150 lbs. soon. That is what I was before I started all this (before I bulked up to 162).

My son Nick and his fiancee came by for a visit, and we exchanged birthday presents. He hadn't come by on my birthday and Sunday is his 23rd. Lise and I gave him a gift card to Safeway. (Food is always a safe gift for a young, starving man.) He and Dustin gave me a "Dad's Memory Book." Very cool. It is formatted to record the story of your life and what is important to you.
It will be a good gift back to my children after I am gone. Maybe after the glaucoma, the heart arrhythmia, and now the cancer. . . . The boys think I should get started on the memoirs. I asked my mom to do the same for me, and she got one page done.

Song of the Day: The Eagles - How Long

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

DAY 132 - Day 35 in Recovery Paradise

I met with my radiologist oncologist today. Good visit. She was very positive and said I look great and that I'm making good progress. She felt my neck and said she couldn't feel any trace of cancer in the lymph nodes. I will have a CT scan in two months to make sure. She gave me a new "tube top" made of mesh (would have been a big hit in the '60s) to hold the tube against my chest and give some relief against the port plate pressing up against my skin. I weighed in at 149.2 on the doctor's scales (clothes and shoes on), up from a low of 134.8 about a month ago. She was very pleased with that and thought that we might be able to get the tube out within the next two months. She recommended that I start eating shakes and maybe mashed potatoes in another month. I'm taking in 2700-3000 calories a day.

I may be able to do a little work for my job. I have started, and I seem to be able to do it OK. I'm hoping to get my car fixed and back driving within a month. Perhaps go back to work part time in November if I'm strong enough. I'm scheduled to be off until February, but I think I'll be stronger before then.

I have been fixing dinner for the family again each night [from Lise: woo-hoo!]. I try to have it ready to go by the time they get home from school/work. They like it. [ :-) ]

Song of the Day: Jimmy Cliff - You can get it if you really want

Monday, October 6, 2008

DAY 131 - Day 34 in Recovery Paradise

I still can't seem to get rid of the sore spots on the right side of my tongue. My throat is still a bit sore, but getting better. Lise put some Anbesol on the spot on my tongue, and it seems to give me a little relief.

I had a pretty good day today. I worked on putting contacts in the database for my job. If I can get rid of the sores in my mouth so I can talk, maybe I'll be able to go back in to work part-time, early. Maybe by November or December.

I'm gaining weight fairly regularly. I'm up to 144.5 (146 at night). I'm getting to the point where I'm achieving the weight that I want. I just need to work on my exercises and getting some strength in my arms and legs.

Song of the Day: Mendelssohn Italian Symphony No. 4 (1st mvt)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

DAY 130 - Day 33 in Recovery Paradise

I just now realized it's been 130 days since first diagnosed. Sometimes it seems like that was forever ago, and sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday.

I still have sores on the side of my tongue, but my throat is not quite as sore. I'm stilling have the mucus problem, but I'm encouraged by an email from someone who is further down the road. He said that his mucus problem stopped at about a month post treatment. That would be great if the mucus problem stopped, as it seems to be my most aggravating symptom. My vision is improving.

I seem to have a small problem with my portal hole in my stomach. It seems to be oozing and there's a little bit of blood. The area is red and inflamed. I've been cleaning it with hydrogen peroxide and putting triple antibiotic ointment on it. But it doesn't seem to be getting better. I'll have the doctor look at it on Tuesday. This will be my first post treatment appointment with my radiation oncologist. I hope I get good news.

The battery is dead in my Cruiser and needs to be replaced. I'm going to try to get that fixed this month and try to start driving again by November. That way I can start taking Sarah to school and maybe start making some of my own appointments.

Song of the Day: Tom Petty - Runnin' Down a Dream

Friday, October 3, 2008

DAY 128 - Day 31 in Recovery Paradise

My throat is still a bit sore and there's still some soreness in my mouth. I still have a lot of mucus. I can't wait for that part to be gone.

I have been waiting all day for the delivery guy of the new nutrient drink to show-up. Then I finally discovered that he had left the delivery on the front porch. The new supplement drink is made by Instant Breakfast so I could drink it also when my mouth is ready. I'm up to 142.5 pounds. I'd like to gain another 5.

I have noticed several new tonsil cancer victims logging on to the general tonsil cancer blog. I had never even heard of it before I was diagnosed. It takes longer to recover I think because the treatment affects your mouth, taste buds, and saliva. It has been 31 days since my last radiation treatment, and I can see some improvement, but I still have problems, mostly with the mucus. There were a couple of days a week or so ago that I could drink supplement, but the mucus has come back to prevent that.

Song of the Day: Joni Mitchell - The Circle Game

Thursday, October 2, 2008

DAY 127 - Day 30 in Recovery Paradise

"To the soul, there is hardly anything more healing than friendship." Thomas Moore

I'm feeling pretty well, except for my mouth and throat. They are still sore. I lost my breakfast feeding after gagging on mucus, but the other feedings went OK. I will be switching to another brand of nutrient. It is made by Instant Breakfast and carries additional calories so I can cut back on the number of cans to eight instead of ten, and four feedings a day instead of five.

It has been one month since my last radiation treatment, and I have an appointment coming up next week with the radiologist oncologist. I think she will "scope me," meaning she will put a scope down my throat and take a look. Hopefully she won't see anything that shouldn't be there.

My friend Gary from work came by on his lunch hour yesterday and brought me some music CDs and some movies from his personal collection. Thanks.

I've been getting some great cards from my sister, a lot of them containing black and white photos from our youth. Great blasts from the past. I'm about 11 and she's about 8. Good memories. She has decided to hang in here with me. I appreciate it. I love you, Sharon.

My wife Lise comes home every single day for lunch. It's the highlight of my day. After lunch we walk around the block to get some exercise in. She makes me do it, even when I don't feel like it. It feels good to make lunch and have it ready for her. I do the same for dinner and have it ready for Lise and Sarah when they get in at 6. This is definitely a positive change over the last month.

Song of the Day: Gary Wright - Dreamweaver