Day 68 – Not a Good One

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Day 68

Monday evening sitting in the couch watching the sun set on a gorgeous day.  I wish that I had been able to take more advantage of it but I am thankful for the temperature hike and the sunshine that came with it. Before I forget – Happy Birthday Susie Ross!  I hope your day is better than yesterday and not as good as tomorrow! We love you!  Now with that done I probably should go back to last Thursday and Friday to get you caught up.  They were great days with some promising activity.  I walked both days, practiced yoga Thursday night and got the laundry done and most of the house cleaned on Friday. But, you’ve been there with me before, Saturday decided to be the the spoiler of the week and I didn’t roll out until 1:30.  Now the problem with getting up at 1:30 is that you don’t get done with mouth-care, dressing and breakfast until 2:30. Then add a chore and a giggle or two and you have pretty much shot your day because you still have 2 meals to eat AND just because you slept all day doesn’t mean you go to bed any later.  Kathy tried to boost my spirits with the promise of a trip to Redi Arts and Eco Relics on Sunday but I got up fatigued and moved straight to the couch for a day of napping, TV and couch surfing. I just didn’t have it in me.  We had Superbowl and birthday party invites but, to be quite frank, I am freaked out by the flu scare and didn’t really have the energy to go.  I can credit Mrs Fantastic for a succulent roast pork dinner with butter beans and roasted brussel sprouts with bacon and Parmesan cheese. Quite tasty and easy on the taste buds and the Eagles for an exciting Superbowl so I really had a pretty nice day.  Not what I planned but perfect none-the-less.

Today was a total disaster.  I  finally fell asleep last night sometime after 3:30 and was up about 6:30.  I did not feel good so I got up and got dressed because Jan and Albert were dropping Finn off early this morning for their birthday trip to Louisville.  I ended up throwing up and could never go back to sleep so Finn and I laid around and ate simple food all morning together.  Feeling guilty we got up and went for a short walk followed by emptying the dishwasher, doing some tax work and hitting the couch until Kat got home.  Tomorrow will be better, or it won’t and either way I am OK with the process.

As I mentioned Wednesday, the American Cancer Society discussion board has been a God send. It has really taken a lot of the guesswork out of this  time of healing.  If nothing else it has reassured me that there is no normal in this phase of our treatment and nothing going on with me hasn’t been experienced by somebody else who can give me tips on how to deal with it.  My only complaint is the negative people who can’t seem to get over the fact that these are side effects of being cured of a potentially fatal disease.  They complain about the physicians, the treatment, the lack of definitive timelines. Sometimes to the point  that I wonder if they would not have been happier if they had gone undiagnosed. Thank goodness they are in the minority and most are as grateful as I am to be given this chance.  The only thing you do not see much of is the power of prayer and the belief in a Higher Power so my job, it seems, is to start interjecting some faith to the board.

Alright, that is my story for the day and I am sticking to it….well kinda…I am going to depart with a request for a prayer for continued acceptance and health – Thank You.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “How can a society that exists on instant mashed potatoes, packaged cake mixes, frozen dinners, and instant cameras teach patience to its young?” Paul Sweeney

 

Day 17 – Better Every Day

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Day 16 A little tired!

It was a wonderful day!  Of course I slept until 11:30 but that is expected anymore.  But I got my chores done before Kat got home from her visit to the library and we shared lunch together.  Peanut butter and jelly for her, straight peanut butter for me! I just can’t taste the jelly so I forgo it…lol.  Next we went out and got the Mrs tools together for Zoo Lights.  It a a wonderful thing the turners club participates in every year.  We turn on Friday and Saturday nights during the month of December at the Jacksonville Zoo during their Zoo Light Holiday Celebration.  We turn small items, Christmas trees, snowmen, angels, cars, tops, etc., and give them to children who are watching us turn.  They are amazed to see blocks of wood turn into the object of their choice.  I had not signed up due to the treatment, but after a nap this afternoon decided to tag along.

We had dinner at McDonald’s – woo hoo!  But I could kind of taste the fries and I did eat a Big Mac.  We met Loretta and our good friend Ray at the zoo and the 4 of us switched off turning from 6:00 until 9:30.  It was nice to get out and as I said it is such a treat to be able to make something for a child.  Their smiles and surprise make the whole season a little sweeter.  As I said it was a good day and hopefully I will be able to go again tomorrow night, but it is 11:30 and I need to head to bed.  I hope that you all had a great start to your weekend!

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “Some pursue happiness – others create it.”  Anonymous

 

Day 15 – We are getting it now!

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Day 15 WooooHoooo!

Wow I can’t believe it had been 2 weeks since I finished treatment!  I just have no concept of how I lost 2 weeks.  I had to go back through the blog posts to see where I have been.  Pretty scary stuff if you ask me but, it is clear as a bell that I could not have gotten through it without you, so again thank you for getting me here.  I got up at my normal noon this morning but again felt passable.  After breakfast and chores I headed out to WoodCraft to get some goodies and deliver the spindles.  Then traveled to the Post Office to mail my DVR controller to Nova.  Success on both counts and the Post Office wasn’t even crazy yet!.  I ran into two friends at WoodCraft, one was Jim Ford the owner and the other was John Catches from the woodturning club.  What an awesome name for a woodturner!  John Catches, hell John we ALL catch! And he is such a nice guy, it is always nice to spend time with him and swap stories.  Jim is one of the finest craftsmen I know as well as being a kind, caring, and fair man.  If I need a piece of equipment I try to talk about with Jim because I know he will not steer me wrong – even if WoodCraft is not in the equation and despite what Julie thinks, he can be pretty damn funny. All joking aside, if you need a last minute wood working gift you cannot go wrong at WoodCraft of Jacksonville.  I got home in time to change the sheets and get out a little Christmas. It dawned on me today that it is only 12 days to Christmas and if any decorating was going to get done I had better get my sick rear into gear…lol.2017-12-13 19.28.34

Today as I talked to my friend Peter on the phone I was overwhelmed by the realization of how truly blessed I am.  I talk about it almost every night, but God has truly shined his light on me and given me so many gifts over the past 6 months.  Friends, finances, health, love, family and so much from each.  Hugs, cards, phone calls, gifts, prayers and today I know that I am healing.  What more can I ask for?  Nothing that is what, it is like we tell newcomers in sobriety – Make a list of all things that you want out of sobriety and put it away for 10 years – in 10 years when you check that list you will find that you so shortchanged yourself.  If I had made that list at the beginning of this I would have already shortchanged myself 10 fold.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”     Joseph Campbell

Day 14 – Breakthrough!

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Day 14 and Feisty

It could have been the weather or the process but after breakfast I decided to head to the shop!  It takes so little to make me happy.  I finished a spindle job for WoodCraft and took apart my lathe head-stock.  Did I tell you about Kathy coming in and asking me why my lathe was smoking a couple of weeks ago?  Somehow, someway, the electronics on my DVR unit melted down, so I had to remove it from the lathe, pack it up and send it to St. Pete for repair.  Good news it only has to go to St. Petersburg – better news Kathy has a lathe! – best news people may still get Christmas presents!  We will see how tomorrow goes!  It was really nice to wake up motivated to do something, I have kind of felt it coming on, but believe me I will not rely on it!  One Day At A Time! It is starting to fall together, yes I am still weak and the brain is only banging on 6 or 7 of 8 cylinders but I am aware of it and double check my safety points before I start.2017-12-12 16.51.56

I kid about the “chemo -brain” but it is a serious part of this mess.  Thank god for spell check and proofreading or you would never understand a thing that I write.  I sit here pouring out a well thought out sentence only to see that I left out words or totally typed letters in the wrong order.  It’s like my hands aren’t quite connected to my brain.  I get tpyed, onlu, spll, nwes, and it’s one or 2 words per sentence and then you get to numbers.  I am only marginally competent when fully functioning  because I naturally transpose numbers and hell maybe I’m getting them right for a change.

I am just going to close with I am so grateful for a good day.  It feels nice to accomplish a little something for a change.  We don’t need much to keep us going going, just a spark of hope that there is something more out there.  A little improvement, a little closer to the finish line makes me want to go to bed earlier, eat a little better, rest a little more often and share the victory with you. Good night we will catch up again tomorrow!

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “The strength of every life lives in it’s expectancy. It is not the whole truth to say that who we have been makes us what we are. We must add that what we hope for–and–expect–makes us what we are.”       William Ralph Inge  Anglican priest, professor of divinity at Cambridge, and Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral

 

Day 8 – Even the best days can start badly.

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Day 8 1 week out of treatment

6:15 am headache – quietly slip out of bed and steal into the kitchen to warm up my hot packs, take some aspirin and return to the bed where Kathy’s alarm had just gone off.  I quickly disabled mine, crawled under the sheets and blankets, placed my hot packs, and snuggled up to make a sleepy agreement to remain in bed for 15 minutes.  WooooHooooo!  It takes so little anymore to make me happy – especially when it comes to sleepy snuggling with my bestest girl!  Headache abated we rose to face the day.  I had hydration and she had to go to work.

Before I left the house I reheated the hot packs and used an ace bandage to put them on my arm to raise the veins and it worked!  Emily was able to tap in on the first try.   I cannot believe how much better I feel this week.  Epson salt and baking soda soaks, getting in the calories and fluids, the extra sleep and hydration who know what worked, but I’m keeping it up.  Lunch was another variety of half sandwiches, ensure for a snack and cream of chicken soup and a grilled cheese for dinner.  The soup kinda resembled an herbed wallpaper paste and the sandwich was kind blah but it was solid food!

I have kind of avoided this topic, but what the hell – SMOKING!  Yes I quit before treatment, but it is the most insidious drug that I have ever encountered.  I made the mistake at about age 16 of being one of the cool kids and picked them up. Over the next 45 years I have been involved in this love – hate relationship with the demon tobacco.  Several times I laid them down for 8 years,  5 years, 2 days, you smokers know the drill.  But I always made the stupid mistake of picking one up thinking I could get away with it this time, only to find myself back to a half to three quarters of a pack within a week.  I know with all of my being that picking up the first drink will lead to my death and will go to any length to avoid that drink.  I inherently know that smoking will do the same thing, but I cannot seem to develop the same fervor or desire to give it up – I am in denial and addicted.  You don’t know how good it made me feel to hear that my cancer was not caused by smoking – ah ha take that! It was then explained that my chances of re-occurrence would be greatly increased if I didn’t quit, so I did.  That does not make me want them any less.  I could get in the car, go to the store and buy a pack tonight, but I’m not going to do it.  Non-smokers, public service announcement – no amount of encouragement, shaming, threats, tips or attempts to make it harder are going to deter a smoker from smoking. We will go to any lengths to smoke.  They have to make that decision on their own.  We all know the risks, it would take being deaf, dumb and blind not to know the hazards – the addiction overrides the knowledge.   Okay – enough, I got it off my chest I hope it helps deter me from making the same mistake again.

Hey I did make it to the shop for a couple of hours today!  Just mostly cleaned up but I was out there and I am grateful to feel good enough to do it!  OK, It’s time to soak so I bid you adieu and wish you a peaceful night – Thanks for letting me rant I do feel better.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – Don’t ever pick up another cigarette! – Don Penny

Day 44 – Phase 1 Completed!

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Day 45 – I AM Blessed!

The end of Phase 1 – Hallelujah! Thank God, sobriety, Kathy, Jan, you, texts, emails, phone calls, cards, prayers, support through the “Go Fund Me” drive, the many Doctors, Nurses and Techs and myself for getting me this far!  When Kathy woke me up this morning, I truly thought that I was going to die. I had another one of those headaches, my throat was sore from one side to the other and my ears ached.  Soon after rising the headache was gone, a shower helped my ears and the Throat Coat Tea soothed my sore throat and I guess I earned some grace because there was no traffic on the way in.  It was a beautiful morning that picked me up even further.  Upon arrival at 9:30 our receptionist Casey was out sick which bummed me out a little but I was ready for the last one at 9:40!  Hmmmmm, little did I know!  Jan showed up at 9:50 and Kat at 9:55 but they came out and got me just before 10.  Jenn was back from the holidays and it was reassuring that she was going to run my last treatment.  That’s what I thought!  After they got me strapped down Jenn realized that the tech before her had not correctly exited the sequence and the computer was frozen up.  Not to sweat it, 10 minutes and a hard reboot got us underway.  I got to give hugs to Jenn, Hana and Michaela on the way out, but they were to busy to come out for the celebration.  Carlene was waiting for me at the desk, we picked up Jan and Kat and I had the privilege of ringing the “Chimes of Hope.” Here is the link for the video Ringing the Chimes of Hope  It was so cool when everyone in the reception area applauded, but I wanted to applaud them for just being there.

I wish that I could tell you that I danced home, went to the shop and cleaned the house before Kathy drug her sexy self home, but alas I would be lying.  I worked on my neck and went straight to bed for another 3 hours then sat on the couch until 6 when I got up, emptied the dishwasher and fixed my dinner.  It was a let down in some respects.  Yes I knew that there was going to be a period of healing, but I have done so well that I did not expect to feel this bad.  I know, I have been subjected to 45 days of chemotherapy and radiation and that there is no reason to think that I would feel better today, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t want to or that I am giving up.  I ate 3 meals today, drank 2 electrolyte drinks, and had 2 ensures as well as sleeping and resting.  I WILL feel better, I know it, sometimes I just have to have a “Pity Party” to put it behind me, and tomorrow is another day where I can sleep until I get up and see what the day brings – If God sees fit.  I had a good day today – I woke up next to Kathy, I completed treatment, Jan, Kathy and I graduated – no we all graduated – and I was given a day of healing – God is Good!

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – Just because you graduate doesn’t mean the journey is over.

 

Day 41 – 2 Radiation Treatments To Go!

The battle trudges on!  I had a pretty good night’s sleep and stayed in bed until about 10

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Day 41 171lbs Grateful and Happy

.  When I finally drug myself out I was treated to a cornucopia of smells and sights as I entered the kitchen where Chef McCall was putting together our non-traditional Thanksgiving Feast for our non-traditional family.  She was finishing up her manicotti, chicken piccata, meatballs in alfredo sauce and fresh yeast rolls.  Jan brought a salad and dessert and JoAnn brought her special lentil soup for me and everybody else brought good cheer.  There was Kathy, William and I, Jan, Albert, Finn and my nephew William, his wife Jessa, and their dog Braylee, Uncle Mike and last but not least Keoni and Amy.  I will admit up front that I missed lunch having gone back to bed after breakfast but was able to get up for the digestion and discussion phase as we gathered around the fire pit and enjoyed a beautiful Florida day.  Brownie and pecan balls were consumed, cigars smoked and a few adult beverage were enjoyed. Sydney even came out and joined in the festivities.

It was absolutely wonderful to spend the afternoon talking with no disagreements, fights or hurt feelings.  Keoni, Amy and Uncle Mike all lost their houses in Irma and they compared notes on how it was going and swapping tips for getting through it.  William talked about his new life in Jersey City and Kathy and I talked about treatment.  New owners of jobs, troubles at work, anxiety and fear were all shared, but at the end of the day every one of us were grateful for what we have, hopeful about the future and thankful to be sitting together enjoying the day. The biggest problem of the day was lack of beds for naps!2017-11-25 15.34.122017-11-25 15.34.37

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Amy and Sydney

Tonight William, Kat and I are sitting in the living room watching TV and chatting.  William flies home in the morning very early.  Kathy has to have him at the airport by 4am.  As this Thanksgiving weekend comes to a close I am thankful for my family, as patched up and pieced together at it is it makes us stronger, thankful for my treatment because despite the ups and downs I am getting better and thankful to have you to listen to my story and help to carry me on the way.  And REALLY THANKFUL the weekend has another day!  Until then – happy Saturday and peace to you and yours.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “Stop acting as if life is a rehearsal. Live this day as if it were your last. The past is over and gone. The future is not guaranteed.”  Wayne Dyer