Day 8 – 29 Radiation and 5 Chemos to Go!

2017-10-23 11.43.12
Day 8 176 lbs

Okay, fasten your seat-belts,  we are going to rumble tonight with an age old dilemma.  WEIGHT!  God bless those of you who have been born with the weight and shape of your dreams and even more to those at peace with yourself.  I know that is all over the board and I appreciate your contentment and happiness. I am not so blessed and haven’t really come to terms with the subject.  The Penny clan has always been characterized by it’s ability to look at a piece of cheesecake and put on 2 pounds.  Since childhood I have been up and down the ladder.  To keep my weight I have run, worked out, Adkins, Sugar Busters, South Beach, walked, starved, high protein, low carbs, moderation and through it all I have figured out how to maintain a 10 pound range between 175 and 185.  I feel best, ie clothes fit, work comfortably, at the 175 mark, but I know that Halloween through Christmas are going to put me near the 185.  Candy, cookies, ice cream, cake, special foods, eggnog I’m there!  And I have become at peace in that range.  Normally by summer I am back down and life is good.  This year with the injuries and pneumonia, it wasn’t coming off and secretly I was tickled to death when they told me I could lose around 20 pounds in treatment…..yes I know some of us ARE sicker than others.  When they did the throat biopsies I lost 10 pounds and was digging it, but the reality of what the doctors where telling me sunk in and I knew that I had to put it back on before I started.  I ate everything that wasn’t nailed down a gallon of ice cream a week, double desserts, honkin’ steaks, fried chicken, potatoes, biscuit and gravy, ribs, field peas, fish sandwiches, Kystal, McDonald’s, Wendy’s the Dreamette, anything that I thought that I might love and more and I made it!  1st weigh in was 186 pounds.  Dr. Guthrie told me that I needed to consume 2000 calories of high protein food every day, drink 2 liters of fluid and make one of those an electrolyte drink.  Well friends, it is without a doubt the hardest thing that I have ever done.  I keep a food diary and record everything that I eat.  For breakfast I drink a smoothie – one banana, one cup of coconut milk, 2 scoops of egg white protein, one cup of greek yogurt, and a cup of berries  and while it gets me 700 calories and 75 grams of protein – it fills me up!  I start immediately thinking of lunch because treatment is mid-day and I know if I wait too long I’ll really screw up dinner and miss my mark.  So I think of what sounds good and try to add to it.  Bologna sandwich, add mayonnaise and cheese to get the extra calories and protein, wash it down with eggnog and finish with a cookie.  Snack is peanut butter on crackers with cheese and then dinner!  Scrambled eggs made with cheese and milk mixed with sausage with a side of toast and finish it off with a bowl of ice cream before bed.  I AM FULL!  And you know the really stinking part of it?  When I stepped on the scale this morning I was 176 pounds… I have lost 9 pounds in a week.  WTF?? So I really packed it in today and we will see tomorrow.  I wander through WalMart, yes I am WalMart junkie, looking for that high calorie, high protein treat and worry what is going to happen when my throat gets sore and I have to go to softer foods.  BUT I will get it down because I DO NOT want a feeding tube.  Maybe the next time I need to lose a couple of pounds I will try the Dr. Guthrie EAT IT ALL DIET.  I know quit bitching.

Today was a good day.  I gave a little blood, spent some time on the radiation table with Hana and Jenn, wandered WallyWorld and came home and took a walk.  Just a little fatigued and sore, but tolerable.

I walked in the rain today and realized how much I missed it.  It was just a light drizzle, but cool and relaxing.  I met a couple of critters, a garden snake and a banana spider.  (that’s what we call them anyway) and communed with nature.  Bernard and Susie stopped by to deliver goulash, mashed potatoes and  corn muffins for dinner – it was spectacular! and I spent some time on the phone.  God is good and has given me another wonderful day.  Kat, Sydney and I are watching The Voice and getting ready for an appointment with Dr Guthrie, chemo and radiation tomorrow.  I hope that your day was just as magical, enjoy your evening and we will catch up tomorrow!

LESSON OF THE DAY – Be careful what you wish for, God may give it to you!

Day 7 – 30 Radiation 5 Chemos to Go!

2017-10-22 13.46.06
Day 7 178lbs

Today was another day in paradise!  God smiled on us all day.  I had a great night’s sleep and was only slightly muddle headed and weak for the day.  The nodes are a little tender and a small headache, but nothing an aspirin or two didn’t cure.  I woke up about 9:15 but had to lay in bed and read because Kat is afflicted with the mother gene!  You know the one…whenever someone in the house is up or moving you immediately wake up to check to see who is in trouble or needs your attention!  God bless her she is as tired as I am, especially if she sleeps past 7, and thankfully she made it until 10.

2017-10-22 19.39.57
Sydney

Our girl Sydney even slept until we got up so all was right with the world!  Sydney is a 16 year old Senegal Parrot who will live until about age 85.  She was raised by Kat and is very loving of women, Jan in particular.  Men she could take or leave.  It has taken me 5 years to develop a mutual toleration of each other.  I feed her and clean her cage and even though she is very protective of letting me know, I am growing on her…LOL

2017-10-22 12.14.13
Let the Fun Begin!

Nothing is nicer than weekends at our house, if there are no pressing engagements we start with some reading and chat on the porch enjoying the surroundings, fix a little  breakfast and move quickly to the shop.  Kat went out first while I caught up the laundry because she is under the gun for the big woodturning competition at the Jacksonville Fair.  Our club sponsors the booth and I am in charge of the competition. We usually have about 40 participants

2017-10-22 12.13.39
Top Secret!

in 2 categories, traditional turned objects and embellished turning.  This year the judges are Micheal Cottrell and Brian Fruss, Art Professors at JU and Dixie Biggs, an incredible turner and carver from Gainesville, FL.  So the stakes are high.  You will get to see the entries in a couple of weeks.  I did finally get my tabletop finished and it is turning out really nice, I just need to assemble it.  The nice part of spending the day together in the shop is that even though we don’t always talk, we sing along

2017-10-22 13.41.13
Table Top

with the Ipod and create together.  It is so nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of and to help figure out what you are really trying to do.  Seeing Kat go off on a new design or using a tool in a different way opens the possibilities to the endless opportunities of the mind.

About 3 I snuck off for my walk and just enjoyed the world.  There were cows in the fields and a dog or 2 to greet me along the way.  Ghosts are appearing in the trees and pumpkins are showing on the porches.  I am really enjoying the strolls.  There was a finch that walked with me today flying and landing on a fence staying about 10 feet ahead until she flew off into a tree.  It reminds me of the wonders of life and this journey has slowed me down making the sky more blue, the grass more green and the world alive with wonder.

Arriving home I talked to Chaz, my nephew, and Debbie Whittenberg from Louisville before embarking on my afternoon nap.  When I got up my good old country girl fixed Fried Catfish, cheese grits and white field peas for dinner.  Finger Licking Good!  Ms Kat is without a doubt one of the finest cooks in Jacksonville.  She can grill, smoke, chop, fry and bake with the best of them, just ask many of the folks who clammer for one of her dinners.  I am one lucky man to be able to dine with her daily!

As I said in the beginning – Another Day in Paradise!  God continues to bless me in countless ways.  I just have to continue to open my eyes and watch it unfold.  Tomorrow starts week 2 at the hands of the diabolical Hana and Jenn at 11:30 and a trip to the medical oncologist to give some blood before chemo on Tuesday.  Thank you for sharing my day and giving me the opportunity to see the best in this journey.  You make it easier and better than I could have imagined.

Don

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.

 

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