Day 4 – 32 Radiations and 5 Chemos to Go!

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Day 3 – Back in the shop! 182 lbs

Hey guys!  I hope that it was a good day for you, I am quickly realizing that this is a game of ups and downs.  Today was not especially a good day.  I woke up about 4am and and lounged in bed reading and dozing until about 8, when I finally got up and fixed my breakfast protein smoothie.  I have a table I am working on and I got dressed and put a coat of stain on it before I went to radiation at 1:50. That way I could put a second on it when I came home.  So after forcing down lunch, macaroni and cheese and hummus, I decided to get cleaned up and lay on the couch to catch the news.  Not such a good a plan!  I awoke at 2:10 and had to call Hanna to let her know that I was late for a second time this week.  It all worked out because there was another

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Bread Board Table Top

patient who got done with his doctor appointment  early and she switched us. Well that didn’t stop the sleepy head jokes when I got there….I got plenty of good-natured kidding from everyone. On they way home I stopped by the store and did get the second coat on the top before I collapsed on the couch.

Expectations are going to have to become a thing of the past if I am going to get through this with my sanity.  I am going to have re-adopt a real “one moment at a time” attitude.  Today my expectations were to get that table finished, not just stained, go to my appointment, run by the bank and the store then come home to turn some acorns, before i went to yoga and writing to you.  As you can clearly see that was a pipe dream.   I have to go back again to early sobriety where my job was to don’t drink, call my sponsor, go to a meeting and perform necessary functions.  I have to switch my expectations to taking my medication and treatments, consuming calories and taking care of myself, then anything else.  I cleared my calendar for a reason.  The problem is admitting I need help….EGO, letting go of the idea that I am not enough.  It seems that this would be an easy thing with all the love, support and offers that I get everyday from people who are happy to do it.  It’s admitting that I am sick and that I need help and being okay with that. Peter and I had a discussion on the phone this morning about what really is humility?  It is defined; the quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc. Wow!  My self worth is not defined by how much I get done, the household and world will get by if I don’t meet my expectations….Who Knew?  We have Bernard and Susie coming for dinner tomorrow night and guess what?  They are coming to spend time with Kat and I, they don’t care if the house is picked up or the laundry is done – hell, they would probably do it if I let them, OR even better, asked them! I am acceptable and lovable just as I am, they know I am sick.  The love and caring that I get are not contingent on what I get done, or how my house looks, they love me for who I am.  They know and accept that my only task is to fight cancer and take care of myself.  They are okay with that and so should I.  God will sort out the rest if I ask, have faith, and set aside my ego to humble myself to ask for help.

Tomorrow I am scheduled for 2 radiation treatments, one at 8am and one at 3pm, come home and ice down my neck and apply aloe vera, consume 2000 calories of high protein food and rest if I need to.  That is my job, anything else is gravy!  When Bernard and Susie get here if I don’t feel good I can spend a few moments and get some hugs then go to bed and let them enjoy time with Kat…..It will be okay – they love me and understand.

LESSON OF THE DAY – Remember that you are not defined by what you get done. Let go of your stinking ego and ask for help if you need it. My only job is to get well.

 

Day 3

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Day 3 182lbs

Welcome back!  Today was a day of differences.  I was a little head-achy, my tinnitus was a little louder, but I woke up and was grateful to begin another one. (even though it was 5am)  I know I’m supposed to be eating but I never thought that I would have to force down food!  I have been eating between 2500 and 2800 calories a day high in protein, drinking at least one Pedialyte  and 2 liters of water.  Between peeing and rubbing my belly I use up half the day. Then there are the every 2 hour baking soda rinses for the mouth and after radiation icing down for 15 minutes and an aloe vera rubdown.  But I feel good.  I wish that I could get out to the shop – I have been working on a table that is turning out very nice, but I was on the phone with insurance, finances and doctors all day.  I did take some time to talk to my  friends Mac Brown in the morning and Jeanie Theirault in the afternoon.

The center waiting area is light and airy and full of life. Casey, the receptionist, greets

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Reception and waiting room

you with a smile and your name.  There are art projects, kid’s play room, kitchen, coffee and plenty of families and patients to talk to.  I partook of the weekly lunch for patients, families and caregivers.  It was very cool.  It is catered by different restaurants and today was Zoe’s Kitchen.  There were beef, chicken and spinach, wraps, rice, fresh fruit and a complete salad bar….top that off with chocolate cake-

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lunch

delicious calories plus! When we settled down at our tables they went over activities that are available to patients; dinner at Indochine, a tour of the Federal Reserve, a cocktail hour another night, reduced tickets to the Icemen, and the free events around town.  Next they had a doctor come up and explain his specialty for about 15 minutes, then went around the room letting alumni, and graduating patients share their experience strength and hope to the newcomers.  Then we got to introduce ourselves talking about where we were from, our cancer and treatment.  As I’ve probably told you, we

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chime ringing

Jacksonville residents are few and far between.  In the room of about 40, only two of us were from here.  I made it a point to run down some folks to let them know if they wanted to know where to go or what to do please ask or call….I’m going to have to start carrying more cards! I even sent one guy over to the Dreamette, he was jonesing  for good soft-serve.  When the lunch was over we all gathered in the lobby where to graduates rang the chimes in the lobby to signify hope and completion and had their pictures taken.  It was touching to watch these families say goodbye to the friends that they had shared so much with and the gratitude they had for a new beginning.  Next it was off to treatment with Hanna and Jennifer who tied me down and gave me a sunburn……it is one expensive tanning bed!

Today was very reminiscent of early sobriety.  You come into the rooms a broken person thinking it is the end and you are sentenced to a glum existence.  I was accepted with open arms into a community of experience strength, hope and fellowship. Before I knew it I was getting out of myself and helping others,  I just had to show up and be willing to do some new things.  I came home smiling, happy and filled with love and gratitude.  Who knew so much good could thrive in a place filled with so much tragedy.  Thank you for letting me share – it means so much.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – Be willing and take action, you won’t be sorry.

 

Day 2

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I-10 Morning traffic

Another blessed day!  Thank you all for your messages on Facebook, Instagram, text and calls.  They mean so much I can’t adequately express my gratitude.  I did make it through the traffic!  For a normal 25 minute trip I have to leave 45 minutes early for the I-10 traffic and to make matter worse I passed the chemo exit and had to side street it.  But, as usual, God was on my side and got me there 5 minutes early.

Today started my 1st Chemotherapy therapy.  I thought it was

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“Hooked Up!”

going to be a 1 1/2 hour visit but forgot about the weekly exam with Dr Guthrie. Soooooooo it turned out to be 4 hours.  When I finally got to my recliner and John started hooking me up he asked when my radiation appointment was, I told him 12:40 and got the “No way you are making that dude!” so he called radiation and got me a 2 hour extension.  For my treatment they start with 2 anti-nausea medicines and a steroid, followed by the Cisplatin and finished off with a bag of electrolytes.  2 hours, easy as pie!  I passed the time reading, snacking and talking to the nurses.

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The infamous lines!

Next was a quick trip up the street to radiation for another ride with Ms Hanna.  She praised Kat for her restraint of Motherhood in not taking off my stripes and stickers so 30 minutes later I was heading back home to ice down my neck and put on some aloe vera.  I caught up with some phone calls, answered some emails and headed to yoga.

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Trisha starting with her reading of the night

I do yoga with another group of people that are part of my family.  I have been part of the group for about 9 years and we meet at St Marks Episcopal church on Tuesday and Thursday nights.  The practice is lead by a Yogi named Trisha who is also in recovery and she intertwines readings, stories and music to accentuate her life lesson of the day and the practice.  We are for the most part an older group and it is held in an old church sanctuary with stained glass and candlelight and the object is like my other program….progress not perfection.  I consider them meetings for the physical, spiritual and community growth that they provide.

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yum!

Finally, I am at home where my lovely wife made me a pot of Chicken Tortilla Soup, it was AWESOMESAUCE!  I talked to my Mom in Louisville tonight and found out she has a battle with some skin cancer in her leg, but like me, she is in good hands and they will get it taken care of.  She could use some prayers if you can squeeze them in.  It was a great day filled hope, love encouragement and growth.  The “Go Fund Me Campaign” has raised $3,300 in a week and a half!  Thank you all for your help in the way of donations and sharing my posts; every little bit helps.  We can now pay most of the the bills we owe so far. We are so grateful and thankful for having you in our lives – Thank You!

Here is the last picture, my Day 2 morning shot.  Have a wonderful night and we

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Day 2 182 lbs

will catch up tomorrow!

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – Be cognoscente of and grateful for the people that love you and care

Day 1

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182 lbs ready to go!

The treatment begins!  Today I had my 1st radiation treatment at the UF Proton Center.  I am having traditional radiation but people come from all over the world to be treated here.  In my orientation class today we had people from England, Ireland, South Carolina and Maine.  Cancers ranged from prostrate to brain and ages from 10 to 78.  But we got to see the facility and the amenities it offers.  There are yoga classes, art classes, cancer support groups, caregiver support groups and a weekly lunch to meet others going through treatment.  The blessing of another community.  I met with Dr. Dagan, Carlene and Michelle, my Nurse Case Managers.  They went over treatment care and products to use to help the burn and sore throat.  They even gave me an aloe plant so I could use fresh aloe!

Next I was off to treatment where Katy and Jennifer prepared me for treatment.  First they wanted to know where the alignment sticker on my chest went and I had to confess that Kat had an incident of momitis

and pulled it off while she spit on her finger and tried to rub the marker line off!  Thank God I stopped her before she removed the line, they both laughed and told me to tell her to LEAVE IT ALONE!  I then asked them to take a picture of me on the table so I could share it with you and after they locked me down they photo bombed me taking pictures of each other!  They did a CT scan to compare to the placement to the treatment plan then made some adjustments and off we went.  It took about 5 minutes. Finally,  I had to run down to Lavilla for a blood test to get ready for chemo tomorrow. It was a long 4 hours, but I really had a good time and could not ask for a more caring and competent team.  God is definitely watching out for me, thank you for your prayers.

The most humbling part of the day was the overpowering support I woke up to.  Kathy was like she was sending her child off to school. Texts from Coleman, Keith, Bobbie, Jan, Albert, Patti, Jeanie, Susan, Amy, Joe and Abby and calls from Joe and Chaz.  I was crying because I felt so loved and cared for, it was overwhelming.  On the boring side I went over my 2000 calories, got a bunch of filing done – I have been inundated with paper and cleaned off my desk.  I finished the day  with a call to my mom and settling down on the couch with Kat to catch you up and watch The Voice.  Sleep well and we do it again tomorrow! Thanks for letting me share.

LESSON OF THE DAY – Grow your community