Day 4 – 32 Radiations and 5 Chemos to Go!

2017-10-19 10.56.31
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

2017-10-19 11.02.25
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

2017-10-18 19.34.59
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

2017-10-18 12.07.27
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-

2017-10-18 12.39.27
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

2017-10-18 13.37.50
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.

 

Here We Go Again!

It’s a semi-true story
Believe it or not
I made up a few things
And there’s some I forgot.
But the life and the tellin’
Are both real to me
And they all run tog
ether and turn out to be
A semi-true story.

Jimmy Buffett – Semi-True Stories

 

2016-06-11 19.54.47

Welcome back my old friends and hello to new ones.  As you all carried me through wood school I need you by my side again!

Imagine my surprise when a healthy guy, other than having a year filled with some injuries and a bout of pneumonia, got a call from my Internist stating that she needed to see me that morning.  You guessed it, CANCER!  It was a shock to say the least, especially because at that time all we knew that it was in 3 lymph nodes on the left side of my neck.  Dr. Ilene Levinson, from now referred to as Doc Ilene, is one of the most knowledgeable, compassionate, caring and intelligent internists that I have ever had the privilege of knowing and being treated by.  She cares about her patients.  She was by my side and directed the treatment of Sally for the last 10 years of her life and I have grown to love and respect her.  As only she can do, she looked me in the eye and assured me that we have been through tougher battles and in the end, it would be ok.

So, let me catch you up, this all started in April when I had an accident in the shop. I know, ME AN ACCIDENT?  I was cutting 4x4s on the table saw and had a kick back that hit me in the mouth causing a split lip and 4 loose teeth.  22 sutures later and a couple of dental visits I was good as new – or so I thought.  The trauma left me           physically down and susceptible to pneumonia that decided to attack in May.  During the diagnosis stage Dr. Levinson and I noted some enlarged lymph nodes and she ran bloodwork to check them out. When I returned in June for a follow-up they were still enlarged so she ordered a sonogram.  Good news – I wasn’t pregnant!   But, no other definitive information.  Next step was a biopsy in mid-August and diagnosis of metastatic squamous cell carcinoma in the left cervical lymph node with a P16 marker on Friday August 18th.

Well, after the initial shock wore off, Doc Ilene scheduled a PET scan for the next day and the journey began.  She also texted and scheduled a consultation at MD Anderson with Dr. John Vu, medical oncologist. The PET scan showed 3 affected nodes and a confirmation was made that it was a cancer caused by the MPV virus, but no point of origin was seen.

2017-09-04 19.42.01

Being faced with this dilemma I assembled the two women in my life that I could trust to be by side at every appointment and treatment and have the balls to tell me that I was wrong.  Kathy Lynn, my rock, confidant, my supporter, my wife and best friend.  Jan Carol, has been my closest friend since the age of 18 and my sister.  I moved to Jacksonville because I needed to be close to her and her family. So, the three of us began this journey of education, frustration and a little bit of joy.

I want to share my journey with you guys because of the love and support that you showed me when I jumped ship and ran off to be a woodturner.  It has been a bittersweet joy to talk to all of you who care so much, the outreach of callers has been humbling and I know that I am loved.  At the end of the day, I just run out of time to call all of you.  Please use this blog knowing I love each and every one of you and want to keep up with what is going on.  I can only hope that the journey brings you the desire and strength to face your fears and move on with your life, no matter what that obstacle is.  If I have learned nothing else in this life, it is that God is good and will provide for you – If you get the hell out of the way and let Him (or Her or It)!  It may not always be what you think you want, but in the end, it will be better than your dreams.

LESSON OF THE DAY – God has a plan!  It may not be what we dreamed about, but something wonderful is going to come from this journey