Day 41 – The Beat Goes On

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Day 41

So much has been going on – so little time, mea culpa for my absence.  We left off last Friday on my birthday and I am so glad that it is over and I can get back to some normalcy.  The next celebrations are my mother’s and sister’s birthdays February 9th and 11th and I have already bailed on those festivities.  Jan and I normally head to Louisville for the big occasion but I am going to forgo the plane trip, infectious winter diseases, cold weather and a week of running around for a boring but safer and less stressful week at home.  I will make the trip when I have a little more energy and a stronger immune system.  Saturday we both slept until 11 then got up to go pick up the truck and as with any automobile adventure it was a disaster.  Before we left Kathy transferred money to the checking account and away we went.  Well she drops me off, kisses me goodbye and heads for home while I stroll in to pay Ted and pick up the keys.  I get to the counter, Ted rings me up, I swipe the card and declined.  I say we just transferred the cash and Ted suggests we try it as credit and you guessed it declined again.  So I sheepishly ask if I’m okay until Monday  and of course I am because the Mercury keeps Tubel’s afloat and they don’t even wants me considering going anyplace else.   So with keys in hand and spring in my step I glide out to the truck, open the door, wallow in the magic of sitting in my own vehicle, a free man – no longer dependent on the whims of others to transport me, I turn the key and nothing, nada, no bells, dings or juice in the battery.  So back into see Ted who sends out the mechanic to jump me. As he is jumping the battery the mechanic says “you know you ought to consider replacing that battery soon it’s getting kind of weak” – you would be very proud of me for not raining on his parade – its like you had the *@$% truck for a week, I spent $2,600, why didn’t you just put in a stinking battery???? But I just thanked him for getting me back on the road shook his hand and drove home happy and free.  Oh and after a call to Wells Fargo, I found out I have a $2,000 daily limit and without blowing a gasket nicely asked for it to be raised.

That being handled, we came home and got ready for a birthday dinner at Picasso’s with Albert, Jan, Will and Jessa.  We had a wonderful meal and a terrific time, but before we were done I was ready to fall into my plate!  Kat and I came home, sat on the couch for a bit and laughed about the day.  Needless to say the bed was a welcome respite, so much so that I slept until 3 the next afternoon – and if that wasn’t enough I was back in bed by 9.

Monday, Kat woke me up about noon with a phone call and I immediately went into a funk over all this sleeping.  I started second guessing the whole healing process and what I am going through, well it was short lived.  I called Carlene at the Center and right off the bat she is surprised at how good I sound and I launch into the yeah I sound good, but should I still be sleeping 12 hours a day?  Well, when she quit laughing, she told me she wouldn’t be surprised if I wasn’t sleeping more.  She told me that if was still consistently going on in 6 months we would have a chat, but even then the 12 hour night will often be in my repertoire.  Crisis abated  I worked on some woodturning stuff and got ready for our meeting that night.  It was good to see the crowd and begin to think about woodturning again.  I really miss being in the shop with the smells, the creating, the shavings and the feeling of accomplishment when a job is done.  It will come, but the warming days bring on the anticipation.

Today I got up at 6am for doctor appointments….wooohooo!  It was really good timing because I had Dr. Moy my the ENT and Dr Trish Andrews my dermatologist.  Dr Moy scoped me and checked my ears and found nothing out of the ordinary and several things on the good side.  He says that I am healing well and that I look terrific.  The staff each sat a minute with me and shared that they were all worried and wanted to call to check on me but were so happy that I am doing so well.  It was very humbling and brought tears to my eyes that in some way I have become a part of so many peoples lives through this journey.  I finished the day with Dr Trish who told me the ears, the pealing skin and all the other funky things happening to me are just unfortunate reactions due to having my body pumped with radiation and chemotherapy and that eventually it would all clear up – then she smiled as she froze 3 spots on the top of my head.  Pre-cancer from sun exposure so wear your hat and sunscreen.

All and all it has been four days that have become so familiar in my life and yours. So familiar that I don’t see the forest for the trees all the time.  I forget that day to day this is all about cancer.  Diagnosis, treatment, healing and hoping that we got it.  Food, sleep, ups, downs, people, places, regimes, pains, peeling, are just the things we do for a cure.  Birthdays, Christmas, New Year, love, family, friends, broken trucks, broken lathes, and jobs are the things we fight it for.  God continues to bless me with hope, help, love and understanding – wonderful friends to pick me up and help me fight – a family committed to the cure, and giving, loving wife to hold my hand and comfort me.  And that God of my understanding to guide me.  Thank you.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “Faith ultimately can’t be argued; faith has to be felt.”

Steven Colbert

 

Day 10 – Really?

I cannot believe that it has been 10 days since I got my last treatment.  I really have no

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Day 10

concept that it has been that long the days run together.  I am back to that that rest, rest then rest.  I did make a trip to Lavilla for fluids this morning and repeated everything that I did Tuesday and Wednesday and it took 3 sticks today instead of the one it took Wednesday.  No predictions or expectations hold true, but on the upside – every day is an adventure and it’s not for the faint at heart!  I do think that today will probably be the last fluid addition as they told me 2 weeks should probably do it, but i will decide that next week.  I came home and the sexy chick was already in the barn creating, but I lured her in the house with Krystal’s and fries for her lunch,  I did eat one, but it was most unsatisfying tasting only slightly Krystalish.  I immediately parked it on the couch and napped and read until my friends Jeannie and Trisha came to visit. Jeannie is my yoga buddy, cancer coach, artist and friend and Trisha is my yoga instructor and long time friend.  It was nice to catch up with them and to share with them the little shop of horrors we call home.  By the time they left I had been up long enough and was ready to put on my pajamas and hit the couch for a couple of hours.  I got up about 6 and fixed chicken and rice soup with a peanut butter sandwich for me and tomato basil soup and a grilled cheese for Kathy.  It was nice to fix dinner for her for a change, she does so much for me and it makes me smile to do something for her.   As I said, sleeping seems to be the only thing I feel like doing lately, but I am okay with that.  I am sleeping longer uninterrupted and the “throat foam” seems to be a thing of the past. I am so grateful for the little things and they are adding up exponentially.

I am struggling with this eating thing.  I keep trying new foods looking for something with a flavor or even a palatable off flavor.  I told Tricia today that I wasn’t so sure that I wanted to find out what the throat coat tea really tasted like because it is still satisfying and the only taste that I can rely on.  I have been falling back on the ensure more and more because it is quick, easy and palatable.  That is why I eat so many peanut butter sandwiches.  It is quick to make, washes down with water, predictable consistency  and good nutrition.  Nothing like spending the time and money making something that sounds exciting only to have it burn your throat or taste incredibly horrible.  If you could have tasted that banana the other day you  would never put another in your mouth again.  I am really going to have to see major improvement before I even try one again!  I am thinking about trying a hot dog to see how that goes.  Warm, moist and meat – I’ll tell you when I get my guts up.  I’m not complaining, just frustrated and looking for answers.  I’ll take no taste for awhile for being healthy and I don’t even mind drinking it or eating the same thing all the time.  I just need to noodle through the right combination.  God love my sister, Monday is Kathy’s birthday and she wanted to know if she could take us to the Cowford Chop House this weekend to celebrate.  I told her that she could take Kathy, but I would just be a waste of money and time!  We laughed and decided to put that trip off for awhile. Enough for today – it is time for me to lay down.  If you have any food suggestions, please let me know.  Stay warm and dry and we will catch up tomorrow.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.”    Arthur C. Clarke

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 22 – 17 Radiations and 3 Chemos to Go!

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Day 22 176lbs

Another one of those “What a difference a day makes” kinda days.  I think that it has to do with the chemo drug level coming down in my system, but I really don’t care why I’m just thankful for the day.  I probably have told you that I am on the early rotation for radiation, so I am usually scheduled at 8 or 8:20.  That works because I normally wake up about 5:30 and that gives me time to shower, eat, medicate and be out of the house by 7 for the hour in traffic.  But the advantage is that I can come home and take a nap and be pretty good by noonish.  Today was a breakthrough in dining!  On a whim I thought about chicken noodle soup and chicken won ton soup.  None of that fancy smansy stuff – just plain old Campbell’s.  IT TASTED JUST LIKE IT WAS SUPPOSED TO! HALLELUJAH!  I also tried breaking up oatmeal cookies in a glass of milk, then cake in a glass of milk.  It worked!  Tomorrow I am going to run by Taco Bell on the way home and pick up a bean burrito.  The arsenal is building bit by bit, I just have to remember to buy one or to make 2 servings of something until I taste it. It was so gratifying to look forward to eating something.  I am going to talk to Dr. Guthrie about the indigestion that I get on Friday Saturday and Sunday and if we can get a grip on that.  If we can it will be much better, but if we can’t after 3 of them I know it is just temporary.

Reality played a huge part in today too.  I ran into my friend who was crying last Monday that she couldn’t go on, but they fixed her with some extra fluids and today she was smiling looking forward to her last 4 treatments.  We talked about food and she gave me some wisdom, hope and strength and the reassurance that although it sucks, just keep

exploring until you find the foods that you can still taste.  Next Michaela, came to get me asking how my weekend was, and I told her pretty good but I started losing my beard, she replied “just a part of it, but if it makes any difference, it just looks like you trimmed it closer”  Later I got to talk to my friend Jeannie who has been through breast cancer and it is just nice to talk to others who know what you are talking about.  Metallic zing, 1 1/2 hour sleep blocks, losing concentration, nausea, indigestion, hair loss, and daily change.  It is reassuring to see someone who has been through it and is relatively normal again…lol love ya Jeannie!

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1/2 Done

No expectations completed a wonderful day. 2 naps, did the laundry, did a little burning on the fish that Kat and I are doing for the mobile, ate and watched tv.  Tonight I can do this! Especially with the help of you, my community, because without you to tell my story to, I would be lost in the depths of my own mind and a lot of us know what a dark place that can be!  I love you Kathy and Jan and the rest of you that make my life so special.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – One day at a time one moment at a time

 

Day 13 – 24 Radiations and 4 Chemos to Go!

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Day 13 178 lbs

What an amazing day I had today!  I owe most of it to my beautiful wife who took me out into a wonderful world that only God could have created.  We got up about 8:30 and after my smoothie, Honeybun, Pedialyte, anti-nausea pill, aloe vera rubdown and a baking soda moth swish we were ready to go!  We headed out to see two of our favorites, Ray and Phyllis Smith.  Ray is a woodturning buddy of both of us and has a stash of  ramin wood that is perfect for a project Kat is doing and, as always, Ray was gracious and generous.  They are such a great couple that will do anything to help another person and Ray puts on a fresh fish fry that is indescribably delicious.  Phyllis is a sweetheart in a league of her own.  They are bright spots in our lives and we love them dearly. No trip to the Smith’s is complete without checking out the garden, a cup of coffee and a smile.

Next trip was to the see Keoni and Amy Mc-Switzer, our brother and sister-in-love. Remember, they lost their house in hurricane Irma and we wanted to check in them. It was such a nice day  that Amy was relaxing in the shade.  That and and they are at a stand still on reconstruction until the City, FEMA and the insurance companies get their acts together – it may be awhile. We just enjoyed some time together and looked at the horses.  We were just going to run by the store to pick up a pork loin for dinner so we invited them to join us for dinner later.

At home I set up the live stream for the Florida Georgia game and settled down for a nap while Kat whipped up one of her feasts and watched the fiasco that was once called a football game. Needless to say the 42 – 7 romp was a good day for Georgia fans.  Just about sunset I was sitting on the patio enjoying the quiet thinking about what a wonderful day it had been so far.  We had spend the day with friends, all going through their own difficult times and, you know, we all shared what was going on in our lives and every single person was so grateful to be where they were and to have each other in our lives.  What more in life could you ask for?2017-10-28 18.43.19Dinner was bacon wrapped pork loin, baked potatoes with butter, sour cream, and bacon, field peas, cauliflower casserole and pound-cake with ice-cream, strawberries and whipped cream. Add in phone calls from Kat’s daddy Larry, Bernard and my sister Jan…..it is wonderful to be me!  and I’m already done with a 3rd of my treatments.

God blessed me today by putting all these wonderful people in my life and giving me the time to spend with them.  I need to remember that life is more than checking off things that I need to get done.  Yes they are important, but what happens if I don’t get them done?  Probably not as bad I I think, after all they will still be there tomorrow.

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Getting ready for the fair

Tonight I sit with the love of my life, the woman who took me by the hand and spent the day with me.  Reminding me that if you don’t get in the way, it is all good.

LESSON OF THE DAY – Those lists can wait sometimes…you are important too

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