Friday, September 15, 2006
Eric's Cancer Story
My name is Eric, and I have Hodgkin's Disease. It's been in remission for over 5 years now. At the time of my diagnosis in 1998/1999, I posted a diary-of-sorts so my friends could keep track of my progress, which will explain the consistently flippant tone: it was originally meant for people who knew me well. It was written some time ago, but you'll see recent comments within [square brackets].
Here's what I wrote:
A while ago, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease. Hodgkin's is a type of cancer that attacks the lymphatic system (your lymph nodes are glands involved in fighting infection, they are located mainly in the neck, armpits, and groin, but the lymphatic system is all over your body). The good news is that Hodgkin's reacts very well to both chemotherapy and radiation, and has had very high recovery rates (better than 90%). So, the upshot of this is that I am sick, and am undergoing chemotherapy, but the outlook is very good, and in 6 months' time, I will be my quietly charming self again ...
The first thing I want everyone to know, is that I deeply value all my friends and family, and that I don't mind talking about this at all. In fact, I quite like hearing from people and answering any questions they have, but I realise that it's an uncomfortable situation (much as I don't want it to be) so I've put together this website for anyone/everyone to keep track of my progress.
Around late December 1998, I had a large lump at the base of my neck, near my collarbone. It was large enough that I thought it was a pulled muscle, and let it go. I started seeing a chiropractor (professionally, you cheeky monkies) and he said we'd keep an eye on it. After a while, he suggested I tell my GP (family doctor) and maybe she would send me for an ultrasound. After a stupidly long wait, I did see my doctor, and she did send me for an ultrasound.
It's worth mentioning here that in the previous 6 months, I had several 'killer flus' that knocked me on my butt, which included symptoms of nausea, high fevers with heavy night sweats, chills, dizzyness and fatigue. And on the subject of fatigue, I had a lot of it, so much so that my partner was starting to think I was depressed: I slept in uncharacteristically late on weekends, and was taking naps in the afternoon. I just chalked it up to being way out of shape, even though I could still get out and run, or do aerobics. I was just tired all the time. A windsurfing vacation to Venezuela that should have been paradise turned into a drag because I just didn't have the energy, and just plain couldn't do what everyone around me was doing. Again: "Man I'm out of shape, why couldn't I just have gone to the gym a few more times?"
So please, be aware of this stuff. ANY KIND OF LUMP is a cause for concern. And don't overlook symptoms that are real. Cancer was eating away at me and all I could think was: "Jeez, I should get a grip on myself". Stupid, stupid, stupid...
Back on the farm: I had gone for an ultrasound and chest x-ray. When the doc got the results, she informed me that she was referring me to a specialist. She became somewhat somber and told me she was doing this to rule out Hodgkin's disease. "You do know what Hodgkin's disease is, don't you?" Like an idiot, I said yes, because I'd heard the word before, and I remembered that some hockey player had gotten it and was OK. So I went back to the office and did an internet search on "Hodgkin's Disease" and was surprised to find a site match at the American Cancer Socitety. "Oh, I guess they do non-cancer stuff too." So I followed the link, read a bit, and found out that I might have cancer.
Bit of a shock.
What does someone do when they find out they might have cancer? I can't speak for everyone, but my first move was to make up an excuse to get out of the office. Driving towards my home, I would burst into angry tears, then get a grip on myself, then explode. I occured to me that this was not the best way to be piloting a ton of steel on the highway. I turned off, and found myself driving past a movie theatre. So I went to see a movie: "Analyze This", I calmed down. THe movie allowed me to turn my overloaded brain of for a while. And that Billy Crystal is so charming...[I'll warn you right now that this whole thing drips with sarcasm]
In all seriousness, that was a rough afternoon, but It slowly sank in, and I started doing a little research. It came time to see the specialist and he dug a needle into my neck and pried it around to get lymph node tissue into it. Yeah, I don't recommend it for kicks. He told me it would be 4 or 5 days for the results ... in all of this, it's been the waiting that has most frustrated me, and I haven't even had to wait that long. It's hard to be patient when you know there's something very wrong, and it could be fixed right now if you had money pouring out your wazoo.
It was a while before I got the news. Over the phone, of all damn ways: "Yes, Eric? It's Doctor X", he had a nice British accent, which was normally reassuring, "It's lymphoma I'm afraid". He (they) diagnosed me with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (NHL), and yes, you're right, that's different from Hodgkin's Disease. In hopes of getting a quick result, he did a needle biopsy, which doesn't collect much tissue, but is good enough to determine whether or not a person has cancer, and from there, his opinion was that other experts would take over and do further biopsies. Indeed. I went to see my GP again, she wanted me to see her when I got the results, perhaps she saw the writing on the wall. She discussed it with me, reassured me quite a bit, actually. Then I went home and broke the news to my partner [she's a private person, so I'll say "my partner" a lot]. She was shocked, in a terrified sort of way, but very quickly (in the space of seconds... ok, maybe minutes) got herself together and we started talking about what it all meant. We had a bit of a cry, and spent the rest of the night just hanging together. She's been very strong, and helps me out when I get temporarily bummed.
Then the fun started: telling everyone. First it was really tough. After the n'th time, though, I sort of watched myself give the spiel, on auto pilot: break the news, then fill the shocked silence with bio-babble about NHL. I think the worst delivery was when I told some of my friends in Toronto, and I started with "I have some news". I'm pretty sure they thought I was going to announce that we were engaged. Big smiles, then I drop this friggin' bomb. Oops... Since then, I've always started with "I've got some BAD news". Eventually, between her and I, everybody got 'in the know'. We visited my folks. They were taking it well, my mom was in remission from breast cancer, so she knew what was up. One of my coworkers had a friend who was in remission from Hodgkin's, and we got together for a very helpful chat, and still email now. My in-laws were great, even dropped off info for me.
I finally got to meet with the hematologist (blood doctor) at the Civic cancer clinic. She told me some stuff I already suspected: she needed a full biopsy because the 'needle biopsy' didn't get enough tissue to fully type the lymphoma. All I knew at that point was that it was "Large Cell" type, and Large Cell lymphoma has several sub-types, which the hematologist needed to ascertain. I also needed to get a CT scan (also called "Cat-scan") to tell exactly where the lymphoma has spread (they call this "staging", there are 4 stages). She worried me a bit when she said the wait for a scan could be up to 5 weeks, and I knew I couldn't wait that long. I immediately started asking around about going to northern New York state and just paying for one. There's a clinic just over the border in Ogdensburg where they can take you the next day for US $1500. Turns out I had nothing to worry about, I got an appointment 2 weeks from then. This also gave me the chance to do something else quite important: chemo can sterilize you, so I had to go to a sperm bank. I'm sad to report that science has actually come up with something that takes the fun out of self-ingratiation. Anyway...
I went to the General to meet the doctor who, I assumed, would do the biopsy later. After a bit of poke'n'feel he decided to do the biopsy right there and then. OF course, he had two really hot female med students with him, so I had to play "big brave man" while they sliced into my neck under local anesthetic, which at one point wore off while they were tugging on a grape-like buch of nodes. "Ummm..", I squeaked, "little help?!?". It actually wasn't that bad. In the end, I'm glad they did the biopsy right then, because the results were pretty surprising. It's weird, to be all geared up for one disease (NHL), then to be told you have something else (Hodgkin's). I'm not complaining, mind you...
At this point I had a few rough nights experiencing 'B-symptoms' of Hodgkin's. Night sweats, fevers (above 103 degrees F), chills, and a cough violent enough to actually cause me to vomit from the squeezing. Oh yes, I was the perfect bedmate.
I got the news that it was actually Hodgkin's over the phone, at work, and at first wasn't sure what to make of it, but the doctor was excited, so dammit, so was I. I just had to figure out why. (It was actually one of the weirder calls I've received in my life: "Hey! Good News! You have Hodgkin's Disease!") So, back to the internet to do more research, where I didn't find a whole helluva lot more than I had found for NHL. Not surprising, about 10 times more people get NHL than Hodgkin's and it's a more complex disease. Anyway, I got the distinct impression from several people at this point that I had dodged a bit of a bullet, and that Hodgkin's is generally better to have than NHL. That's the thing with NHL, it runs a wide range of severity, from completely benign, to...
So all that was left was a bone marrow sample, and a CT Scan. The bone marrow was another local anesthetic party with more pushing and pulling, the odd twinge of "Yow!", and a priceless moment when the doctor, who was behind me, started going to town on me with some kind of manual bone drill that only my beloved better half could see. She was just trying to stay conscious while I was doing the dopey "What, what?" thing. The CT Scan was uneventful except for having to drink 2 litres of X-ray opaque fluid (goes in the blood, gets sucked up by cancer cells, which makes them easy to spot on CT Scan) in an hour and a half. When it was all done, a pee of epic proportions was had by the subject.
Here are my previous updates ( from oldest to newest, go to the bottom for news ):
12 May 1999:
I've started chemo. So far (day 1) I feel fine. I'm taking some new kind of kick-ass anti-emetic (anti-nausea) pill called Odansetron. Yup: Oh-Dance-A-Tron, how fitting ... we'll see how tomorrow goes. I still have a bit of a bruise from the bone marrow thing (I only notice 'cuz I'm sitting on my ass so much; must walk).
What's chemo like? Well, I go in the day before to meet with the doc, who checks my blood cell count (white blood cells, indicating infection, and platelets, indicating anemia, I think) from blood work I get done at any lab prior to coming in. If all is well, I go the next day to the chemo clinic, and enter a room with a buch of beds, like a small blood clinic. It's mostly older folks there, I'm junior by an average of 35 years. I lie down and a nurse finds a vein (or artery, I'm not sure, but it's not the same as where they TAKE blood from, that's going downstream, they want to inject the juice so it goes upstream) last time it was on the thumb-side of my right wrist. They set up a saline solution drip, and then, one at a time, they give me the four drugs that make up my mix, called ABVD, after the trade names of the drugs (tylenol is a trade name, acetaminophen is a generic name). Two of them come in small bags that take about 30 minutes to go in, one of them is in a syringe, which plugs in the tube, and the nurse slowly 'pushes' it in (like ER: "30 CC IV push, STAT!"). The last one is a big monster bag, that takes over an hour to go in, and is covered in a dark bag because it reacts to light. They also put a hot compress on my wrist, because this stuff can burn going in, but it didn't. Once it's all done, I suffer a bad side effect: I have to take a monstrous pee from the 2 litres of shit they've pumped into me. "No, I don't think I'll have a hot compress for this one, thanks".
These are the drugs I know:
What is it? ( don't worry, I don't understand this either )
It is an antineoplastic - adriamycin interferes with the growth of cancer cells ( DUH - ed. ). It is one of the older chemotherapy drugs, having been in use for decades for several types of cancer.
bleomycin is an antitumor antibiotic, interfering with the growth of cancer cells. ( well I hope so - ed. )
An antineoplastic, vinblastine interferes with the growth of cancer cells - it does this by inhibiting microtubule production on cells. ( damn those microtubules - ed. )
An alkylating agent (in the same family as mustard gas - ed.), it functions as a methylating agent after metabolic activation in the liver. It is toxic to rapidly-growing cells.
These mean nothing to me, but it's there in case you wanted to know...
Anyway ... so far, so good. T-minus 3 weeks for the hair, though...
May 25, 1999:
The last week went very well, and ended with a great trip to Mt. Tremblant. I did quite a bit of mountain biking and felt fine. I ate like a pig.
Now the crappy news:
I got my cat scan results back and they indicated that the cancer is in stage 4, as it has spread outside of the lymphatic system and into my lungs. OK, it sounds terrible, but it's not as bad as it sounds. My current treatment will kill the cancer wherever it is, and there's still a roughly 70% chance that it will go away and never come back. That's down 20% from before, when they thought it would be in stage 2 or 3. I'm still going to be OK, and I was pleased that the doctor didn't seem all 'doom and gloom' about this news. It was more like "Well, this is odd, but we'll go on just the same". It's been my experience so far that the doctors don't pump you full of hope if there's no call for it. The last thing she said was: "Hey, there's still a really good chance that you'll just zip right through this" And that's what I'm focusing on ...
Next chemo is tomorrow, and I'll update soon to tell you how I'm doing, stay tuned.
May 27, 1999:
Had chemo today ( yesterday, really, as it's almost 2 am on Thursday now ) and I'm feeling allright. I felt well enough to go take in some theatre; staged readings of new plays at Arts Court. BUT, and this is a big but(t) (no doubt -ed. ) I seem to be getting one of the side effects I noticed before, which they had warned me about; restlessness. Can't sleep a freakin' wink. Oh well, to surf, or not to surf (and play Starcraft), that is the question. Zerg must die.
June 9, 1999:
Sorry folks, been a while. That's mostly because nothing's been going on, no aches and pains or anything to report. I guess one thing I didn't mention in my last update was that my white blood cell count was a bit low before my last treatment, but just barely, so the doc decided to go ahead anyway. Well, this time it was too low to go ahead, so, after a 2 hour wait in the 'room of unbearable humanity' ( = waiting room -ed. ) I was sent home. I am going to be put on some drugs to increase my white count. I am apparently not white enough. Side effects of this drug include spastic, irregular dancing, and a neuropathy which causes one to lose everything and sing about it in a twangy, yowling manner. Bummer...
Anyhoo ... this is pretty frustrating, since they have no advice to give me as to why my count is low, or what I can do to help it. BUT! on the plus side: my lymph nodes are noticeably (sp?) shrinking. This wouldn't be so bad, except that, apparently, most of my penis was a lymph node. Bummer...
I will be getting another cat scan in about three months, and that will determine whether I get two ( woo woo! ) or four ( doh! ) more months of chemo. This beats the old method, whereby you are let out of the cancer clinic, and if you see your shadow has no hair: BOOM! Four months for you!
In summary: I go on special drugs this week, and we shoot for chemo next Wed. ( the 16th ). Apart from that stuff, I can't remember anything else to tell y'all, except to thank everyone for their continued support, unless, of course, you have some spare white blood cells...
June 11, 1999:
Minor update: turns out I won't be taking drugs to increase my net whiteness; time will do the trick. So I'm just marking time, thinking white thoughts, 'til Wednesday...
June 17, 1999:
Did chemo today, so here I am at the keyboard at 2:45 AM, even after taking my 'sleepy pill'. Only notable note was that my left arm, where the IV was, broke out in some weird rash. Then an alien burst out of my chest and I thought to myself; "Well, it all makes sense now", and then, "Aaaaarrggghh!!". ( ok, well, the rash part is true ) My White Blood Count ( WBC ) was marginal, but not low enough to have to delay chemo. We'll see how next treatment goes. As you've noticed, we've changed over to [ISP X] as our internet provider, hence the new address. Been working all night to get that bleedin' automatic forwarding thing working. If you don't know what I'm talking about, just nod, don't you know it's dangerous to interrupt a large geek in mid-rant. Where was I? I don't know, grrr... Look what you've done, you've got me all upset. Now I have to go kick the cat .... There, all better. Oh stop it, it keeps him on his toes. Oh, and we have wunna 'dem fantzy schmantzy counter things at the bottom of the page now so we can tell how many ( few ) people read my illegible drivel... and I've drivelled all I can for today... ta.
June 25, 1999:
Okay, OKAY!! Well, folks, I've been berated, castrated, and aggravated about not keeping things up to date 'chez ereek', so here's the latest and greatest.
Some people have asked me if I'm sleeping better, and indeed I am. The 'restlessness' I usually feel after chemo is caused by a drug they give me ( only on the day of chemo ) called Decadron. It's a pretty powerful steroid, so it has that side effect, as well as an incredible bulging of the pectoral muscles and buttocks, not to mention a considerable shrinkage of the ... stomach lining, yes, anyway... So that's fine, let's see what else; nausea wasn't too bad. The slow march of the hair continues, it's starting to thin. For those of y'all out of town, I've started cutting my hair shorter in order to beat the fall, and to allow my head to gradually get some colour, but I think I'm kidding myself. When I shave it, I'll have cue-ball head for a while.
What have I been up to? So glad you asked. I've been attending the 1999 Ottawa Fringe Festival. The Fringe is a theatre festival wherein groups ( professional and amateur ) can put up pretty much any type of play they want. I've seen about fifteen plays now, and they've ranged from excellent to truly poopy, with most falling in the 'pretty good' range. I also got to see the worst piece of detritus ever defacated onto a stage. There is no experience without extremes, you can quote me on that ... I've been reading an awesome book called 'Spontaneous Healing' in which the author discusses a lot of the failings in modern medicine and looks at a lot of 'alternative' approaches in a very no-nonsense way. I'll rant about it when I see you.
My contractual obligations fulfilled, I will bid you adieu, my daily movement class at the fringe bekons ( yes, they teach you how to move )
June 30, 1999:
I did something different this week: I brought a laptop along with me and recorded the chemo experience as it happened, so here it is:
I feel a bit sick to my stomach, but I think that's mostly psychosomatic, I start feeling sick the moment I get close to this place, which is strange since I always considered myself above that sort of "illogical" stuff. Call me Spock. But there it is, as we drive up Parkdale towards the Civic: queasy time.
The dude at reception ( who, to quote a US Army officer: "has all his shit in one sock" this is a good thing -ed ) tells me to head in, so I go on the Chemo Treatment Room 1. It's about 50 feet by 30 feet, with a big wide desk space for the nurses. There are 2 computers and a big ass printer on the desk area, and the rest of the room is for treatment chairs and beds. I notice a printout on the side of the monitor about how to play 'EMail Bingo'. Man, the wonders of technology, eh? A nurse, Norma, tells me they're uderstaffed today, so I'll have to go back to the room of unbearable humanity ( waiting room, yes, I've used this before: deal ).
I go sit down and read through a bunch of monologues in a book I brought. I find one I really like: "I hate Hamlet" by Paul Rudnick, about a hack actor who is stuggling with performing Hamlet.
My stomach is still cranky.
After a while I wander back in and tell them that if I don't get my Chemo now, I'll optimise their computers. Just kidding, as soon as I walk in, a chair comes free.
A nurse, Joan, inserts the IV needle in a big fat vein about 6 inches upstream from my right thumb, and hooks up a 500 ml bag of saline. She sets it dripping at the right rate by adjusting a little plastic wheel trick on the line, which squeezes the line more as you roll it. Then she hangs the first bag of drug stuff on the IV rack, and plugs it into one of the many ports on the main line. There's a slight chill along the vein where the drug is going in. This really gives you the impression that something foreign is being put into you.
The first little bag is done, Doxorubicin, the red stuff. The nurse unhooks the bag from the IV ( did Roman paramedics call them "fours"? ) and saline flushes the red stuff out of the line. Another nurse puts another small bag on. This time it's Bleomycin, 100 ml. So by now, I have about 400-500 ml of fluid in me. As you go along, you get more and more stuff pumped into you, and by the end, you REALLY need to pee.
In typing and editing all this stuff so far, the bag of Bleomycin has run out, and Joan is administering the next drug, Vinblasine, which is injected directly into the IV line with a syringe. She asks me what I'm up to, and I tell her about the whole website thing. She hopes I'm writing positive stuff, because she tires of hearing nothing but negative stuff about where she works. It's unfortunate, but I guess chemo is one of those things that you're only thankful for after the fact. Kind of like Miltary College, right guys?
Whoa ... wave of nausea ...
Now the Dacarbazine is on. It's a big bag, 500 ml, shrouded in a darker plastic bag, because it reacts to light. This is the really caustic stuff. Joan gives me a heated IV bag rolled in a pillowcase to apply to the IV site. This helps reduce irritation caused by the drug as it goes in. We're using the right arm because I mentioned about my left arm breaking out in a rash last week.
I'm feeling a bit pukey now, this might be because I asked them to reduce the dosage of my Decadron, a drug that increases the effectiveness of the anti-nausea drugs I take ( Zofran, Stemetil ) but also causes restlessness ( which is why I'm usually typing this report at 3 to 5 AM after chemo )
Random beeping sounds emerge from some apparatus for automatically administering drugs to some patients. Magic100 FM is 'muzaking' away over the speakers. I'm conviced this is to work on our bowels, keeping us all regular.
For some reason there's more people here today with no hair, or with that small amount of "chemo peach fuzz". I don't mind the idea of being cleanly bald, but don't look forward to that in-between phase when it grows back. Maybe then it'll be time for that monster afro wig I joked about so much when I was first telling everyone about the cancer. Boy, wasn't that a fun time! "I have some bad news" ... It's become so matter-of-fact now: "Heard of Hodgkin's? Yeah? Well I have it. Prognosis good. Doing Chemo. Be fine. Blah, blah ... What's fer lunch?"
So here I am, all done ... Joan's unhooking me, which is great, because between the drugs, the saline, and the Magic100, I really need to GO!
Til' next time ... E
July 12, 1999:
Been a while, sorry. Stuff I didn't mention last update:
- I met my new oncologist ( actually, she might be a hematologist, I'm not sure ) who was away on maternity leave when I was diagnosed. She can't say the letter 'D', and if you use the word "actually" in conversation, she puts a steel bucket over her head and sings 'Over the Rainbow', but apart from that, she's pretty sharp...
- If my white blood cells are low, the new doc would prefer to put me on a white booster called Neupogen, rather than delaying the treatment. "Bring it on!", I say. The more, the merrier.
- One of the plethora of chemo side effects is bloating of the extremeties. I can't wear the two rings I used to. You know, I hate to continue this thread of jokes, but: Unfortunately, the bloating isn't occuring in any extremeties where it might be useful ... Yark, yark.
- I like traffic lights.
It's so good we had this time together,
July 15, 1999:
Just had chemo, and I feel jumpy. My heart rate is noticeably high. I'm actually considering asking the doc to take me off Decadron entirely. I really don't like it. I come home from chemo and my first reaction, when I feel like this ( buzzed, hyper ), is to eat like crazy, which then makes me feel ill. It's taking all I've got not to run downstairs and eat us out of house and home. Anyway, I'm dealing.
My white count is way low again, so I'm being put on a drug called Neupogen ( or GCSF ) rather than delaying the treatment. Looking at my previous posts, I see I've mentioned it. What I didn't know at that time was that it's a self-administered injection, so the VON ( home care, 'nurses on wheels' ) is sending a nurse to show me how it's done on Monday. I asked if they would send me a naughty one, and they told me to get a life, 'nuf said.
All I need now is for the insurance company stuff to get straightened out, because this is a very expensive drug, and they needed a letter from the doc to say whether they'd cover it or not. Red tape... I'm getting our HR person to politely suggest to them that, unless they would like to have a large naked man barge into their offices and begin kicking asses at random, they'd best cough up the coverage, thank you very much, have a nice day.
So that was treatment number 6, putting me over the 3 month mark. Two more treatments 'til the next CaT scan tells us where things are at. I am quite anxious for that...
ciao fer now,
July 22, 1999;
Well, as I mentioned before, I'm on this new stuff called Neupogen ( GCSF ) which I'm injecting into whatever spot I find most interesting that day ( EMail me your suggestions ). Yes, after FOUR home visits from VON nurses ( VON: Violent Order of Nurses ) I can finally stick a needle in myself. Sorry, no shots in el posterioso yet. So, I have a new side effect now: BONE PAIN! This new side effect gives me what I like to call "cranky hips". Every once in a while, I'll step a certain way and; YOINK! Ouch! It's not too bad, but enough to keep me on ( off? ) my toes. I'm also sleeping more, if that's possible. Now Playing: Eric in - MY LIFE AS A THREE-TOED TREE SLOTH. Wow, that's cool: say "Three toed tree sloth" ten times, fast ... Not much else to report, really, other than to say that I understand the cat's lifestyle way too well...
"ahhh, Pig, how I understand thee now. Wouldst but thou move thine fat carcass off yon couch, that I may recline"
July 30, 1999;
Today was a bit of a crappy chemo day. I'm just whining really, since I didn't feel AWFUL or anything. I was just really cranky, and I made the mistake of bringing crappy reading material with me, so I kept putting it down every two minutes, and watching the second hand on the clock move ( it had a nice steady movement, like a rolex, not one of those second hands that jumps from one second to another, that's so déclassé) I also found out what my "nausea trigger smell" is. For some reason the smell of the tape they use to secure the IV to my hand makes my stomach do aerobatics. So anyway, I just sat there and willed time and gravity to pick up the friggin' pace a bit. They didn't comply, but I figgured it was a good mental exercise for when I finally start going to meetings again. [here I'm referrring to work meetings, not AA. Err, not that there's anything wrong with that]
< Cut to dream sequence: >
Coworker A: "Why is Eric always doing that 'straining' face when we're in meetings?"
Coworker B: "He said it's a relaxation technique they taught him when he had cancer. I don't mind so much, but it really puts me off when he starts making those 'AAAaaaarrrgh!' noises"
Coworker A: "So you'll talk to him about it?"
Coworker B: "Well, sure,
Coworker A: "
Coworker B: "Putting a shoe in my butt, it confuses him when he's winding up for the kick, gives me a second to run."
Coworker A: "Ahhh, you've been reading Sun-Tzu, "The Art of War."
Coworker B: "Indeed, grasshopper, <affixes shoe> well, here I go..."
< End dream sequence >
Ok, now that the mandatory silliness is out of the way, I learned something interesting. One of my friends, who shall remain nameless, even though his name is Marc, sometimes bugs me when I brainfart, by saying I've got 'chemo brain' ( don't worry, I ask for this sort of thing ). Well, that's apparently not far from the truth. I visited my GP recently, and she asked me how my memory was. After she filled me in, once again, as to who she was and what the hell I was doing there, I admitted that it was even worse than normal, of late. This appears to be yet another one of these bountiful side effects: short term memory loss. It's short term, but watch me milk this one forever.
Who the hell are YOU, anyway?
Well, it's another late night, but this time it's 'cuz I slept all day. Chemo was over by noon, and I slept pretty solidly 'til about 6 pm. So I'm understandably not very tired. I will see what the information superhighway has to offer...
Dream of kicking butts, and you'll feel better in the morning,
August 10, 1999;
I guess I'd be lying if I said all was fine and dandy. Don't be alarmed - health wise everything is fine and dandy. I'm just starting to find this whole cancer thing a bit tiresome, that's all. Can someone remind me why I signed up in the first place?
I'm feeling pretty tired, and I'm a bit crankier than before. One day sticks out in particular; I was in a mood I have felt a thousand times before, only before, the remedy was to go out, down too many drinks, get very jovial and vent and laugh and wake up feeling shitty yet refreshed. The classic definition of 'blowing off steam', and I REALLY needed it. Only now, that's verboten. It was one of the first times that I've felt really limited by this. Up 'til now, I've never felt much different from everyone else, but that night I did.
You see, the shitty part is the not knowing. Maybe I could have gotten blasted drunk without any ill effects at all. Or maybe it would have made me sicker, or opened the door to an infection leading to pneumonia or something else. Who knows... I won't know untill September 15th, which is my next cat scan. Today I met with the doctor and she said that even if this scan is totally clear ( which would not be typical ), I would still be looking at November. And December is more likely if there's still some cancer left in my system now ( or September 15, to be more precise ). I thought the end was going to be in October. I guess I'm just a bit bummed that the tunnel seems to have gotten a bit longer.
To make things even better, my hair loss has accelerated. It's a bit of a surprise. I was starting to think I was going to go the distance 'with lid', but when I did a standard 'pull check' tonight, I was a bit stunned by the result. Normally, if I gently tug on some hair between my fingers, maybe a few would come out, this time it was, well, "tuft" wouldn't be far off. This is not such a huge deal to me, since I'm going to shave it off, but this just forces me into deciding when. I don't want to get to the point where I look stupid due to 'patchy head', but I'd also like to let my scalp get a bit pink before I mow it all down. Anyway, I'm going to keep it for the wedding I'm going to in T.O. this weekend, then we'll see. Don't be shocked if I'm bald the next time you see me. When I do it, I'll post a picture of me sans cheveux.
God, bla, bla, bla ... anyway, I'm sorry to whine so much, but I needed to. This is so weird, sitting here typing in Windows Notepad, yet feeling like I'm talking to someone.
It's midnight, and the crickets have not yet been silenced by Kanata bylaws, their strength lies in a flat organizational structure.
there, I feel better,
August 24, 1999;
Man, am I ever taking a long time between updates! Sorry. Anyway...
I was thinking.
Dangerous, I know. To be avoided, generally, but on the drive from Kanata to downtown, it's unavoidable, particularly when the only company you have is Ottawa radio programming. So I was thinking. There was a recent movie with Gwyneth Paltrow ( mmmmmm, Gwyneth Paltrow -ed ) called 'Sliding Doors'. The concept of it was to follow the different paths a person's life can take after a critical moment in that person's life. I was thinking about that in my own context.
"What if this hadn't happened?"
Well, you would expect, human nature being what it is, that I would weave my own fantasy tale of a cancerless life in which I was rich, famous, good looking, and was a flawless ultimate 'quarterback'. For some reason, the more I envisioned a 'parallel future', the more I came up with alternate disaster scenarios.
All far worse, and more permanent than the temporary setback I find myself in now. It was really strange. I really didn't feel like this stuff was coming up as some sort of defence mechanism. Like some form of rationalisation, to make me feel better about my current situation. It just felt like I was honestly thinking, and my
'alternate future' was invariably some kind of really insidious, evil disaster, in which I permanently lost something ( friends, career, freedom, limbs, you name it, it all went through my head before I got to the Metcalfe exit ).
Maybe it was all rationalisation, but as I said, it didn't feel like that. And the end result was that I felt pretty good about where I am. I mean, taking stock of all the things I feared when this first started: Wicked side effects, nasty complications, being bedridden, losing my friends - none of it has happened.
And you can't believe how thankful I am for that...
Anyway, that's what I was thinking.
PS - I'm bald now. Turns out I have acceptable skull geometry, so my fears of looking like a Klingon have been assuaged. I'll post a pic next update. I have also posted a listing of all the previous 'bubble quotes'. Ciao -E.
September 2, 1999;
FINALLY! the bald head picture!
In other news: I'm sick. I seem to have picked up some sort of bug, it's a mild flu type of thing. My nose runneth over. Doc's put me on antibiotics, which is more of a precaution, since what I have is probably viral. C'est la vie. I was going in to work for a bit there, but I'll have to cool it 'til I'm better. No biggie. Anyway, hope you enjoy the photo...
September 14, 1999;
Well, I got over the cold I last reported and am doing fine, I'm a little more tired now than before, so I just sleep a bit more. I guess the biggest thing to report is that I had my Cat Scan today, and I'll probably have the results by next Tuesday, when I see the doc prior to chemo next thursday. Please keep all appendages crossed. In the meantime, we're off to a cottage for a week, to sit on our butts, and to float as the need arises ... If you need to reach us; tough.
with love, as always,
September 22, 1999;
The cat scan showed that the cancer is almost completely gone. The doctor was very pleased, so once again, I take my cue from her, and am also very happy. Short of some type of "miracle remission", this is the best news I could get. It's basically to the point where, if I walked in there with that cat scan, and they didn't know I had cancer, they would have a hard time saying for sure that I actually had Hodgkin's. So I'm almost there.
The schedule now is to finish my current cycle of chemo ( that's 2 treatments, starting this Thursday ) then to do 2 more cycles of "mop up chemo", which should take me to December 2. At that point, the doctors who do radiation therapy ( shudder ) will take a look at my case and determine whether I need the evil rays. I hope not. The current philosophy with nuke therapy is that they have to weigh the benefit of using it as a last step to finally kill any remaining cancer, against the risk that the patient will develop cancer at a later age because of the radiation - nice. Anyway ... cross that bridge when we get to it...
Had an awesome week of sloth at a cottage 2 hours west of here, and had a great weekend of carnival-like atmosphere when a bunch of y'all came up to visit. Thanks to those who could make it, and 'maybe next time' to those who couldn't. And to those who weren't invited: you were obviously snubbed for a reason, and you now need to devote great energies to sucking up to me ( not Her, cuz I wear the pants around here ).
just begging for trouble,
October 14, 1999;
Ok, so I've outdone myself in sloth. To those of you who have awaited this update, I apologise profusely. I've been lax because, well, there's really not much to report after last week's ( month's, shurely -ed; ) good news. I'm just really anxious to:
- Get on with my new job (sales support engineer)
- Get in shape... Any shape.
And I just don't want to get into a lot of bitching about chemo. Well, if you insist: last week at chemo was the first time I've puked ( from treatment ). Right there in the treatment room. Well, not really, I was being unhooked from the IV as I dashed for the can for "a bit of the old heave-ho" ... anyway. I'm really thinking about getting stoned before my next chemo. At treatment time, the nurses always ask for your name, address, birthdate, etc. to ensure the right person is getting the right drugs. I can just see it now:
Nurse:"Your name is?"
Eric:"Uh, yeah. Like, could I get one of those cookies?".
So I was in the tub the other day. You'll find you do this sort of thing when you've got all day to do nothing. I'm a guy. Guys don't 'tub' much. So there I was in the shower, turning off the water, feeling that first chill as the air from the other side of the curtain starts sneaking in and feeling you up. Looking at the drain plug I thought, 'hey, there's something I haven't done in a million years; soak in a tub'. So I turned the water back on and started doing some first-class soaking. Of course, being a little long of limb, I had to do some serious yoga to get any kind of water coverage, but I managed, and it was really nice...
so I soaked...
After I became quite numb from the extreme folding I had done to get mostly underwater, I just kicked the plug out and let the water drain out. After soaking for a while, if you've had your torso in the water, you get used the sensation of floating, 'til it doesn't feel like floating any more. You're just there, comfy. If you continue to just lay there as the water drains out, you get to feel the truly odd sensation of the return of gravity, as the weight of your torso slowly begins to press against your back, more and more until you're not soaking anymore; you're just lying on your back, wet and naked in a tub, with your cat peering over the edge ( maybe that's just at my place ). Life has returned to normal, and unless you have a really big water tank, there's no going back, you have to get up and join the world,
but at least you feel refreshed ...
It occurred to me that maybe that's what finishing chemo is going to be like.
The past six months have been a little like floating. Nothing really mattered, every day was Saturday. Bit of a blur, really. So I got to thinking that when the treatment's over, the gravity will come back. And like having to get out of the tub, it'll suck in some ways, but at least I'll feel ready for it. God knows I'll feel ready for it...
have a soak on me,
October 21, 1999;
Well, I'm glad to say chemo went 100% better today. One of the interns suggested that I take a dose of one of the drugs they had originally given me to sleep better atavan ) to see if 'calming me down a little' would help with the nausea at treament time. Well it did. It actually zonked me out quite well. I slept a little, which was nice.
Wife unit has arranged to get leave on my chemo days, so she was there with me, which was also nice. We had way too much food afterwards at a chain restaurant called Montana's, including some reeeeely good wings. Yes, I'm eating healthy, thanks for asking...
I'm currently in a play right now at Kanata theatre. It's a very small role in a play that opens next week. I'll send an email out re: open dress rehearsal. It
should be fun.
So, I just wanted to get a quick one out to say that my nausea fears were unwarranted, and I will dutifully over-opiate myself before future treatments to avoid unpleasantness, and the treatments will fly by.
By the way, the "Bubble Quote" of the day is a classic from Rob Dumbrille, whose house I park at when I'm going to the Civic Hospital. We I were chatting with him and made it clear we had to go, so in way of a parting statement he added, in complete deadpan:
"Well, I'd say 'enjoy' but...."
For some reason, maybe it was the delivery, I busted a gut...
November 19, 1999;
Man, have I been a bad boy or what? Ok, I was pretty busy with my play, and I slept for, like, 3 days straight after it closed, but after that, I was just plain lazy... Ok, state of affairs: I only have one treatment left!! The Doc is scheduling a cat scan and a consult with the radiation guys ( they're not doctors, just some russians with leftover cobalt ) on my next visit, and I won't have results from either 'til after XMas. She says I'm doing really well, my bone marrow has done excellently, apparently. If you can figure out how to pat your bone marrow, email me ... Anyway, in general I'm really tired. My sleep schedule is all messed up. That's why I'm finally updating the page, another sleepless night. What kind of freak is on his computer after 4 am and NOT surfing porn?? Has my life come to this? I guess at this point my biggest concern is not getting sick, because my immune system is at its lowest, and will remain that way for a couple months. Which is unfortunate, because I'm going to be drunk for 6 months after I walk out of the chemo clinic for the last time. Hey, at least the nausea drugs will come in handy. I'm just kidding...
I guess that's about it. We are nearing the end of the ride, but it ain't over 'til the fat radiologist sings, baby...
I'll update sooner this time, sorry,
December 6, 1999;
So that's chemo all finished with. Of course, on my last treatment, we managed to burn one of my veins, but that'll go away. I feel pretty run down in general, very low energy, but I haven't gotten sick. I'm still sleeping like a hibernating bear, but hopefully that'll start to change soon. That will depend on what happens as far as radiation is concerned. My chemo doctor told me that, given her experience with patients like myself, she thinks it's probable that I'll have to undergo radiation. When you get radiation, first they do all sorts of measurements on you in order to create a shield, or template, with a hole in it where they want the radiation to go. Then, for about 3 weeks, you come in to the hospital every day, and the procedure is like getting an X-ray. No doctor involved, so there's no waiting. In, zap, out. The side effects of radiation are less severe than chemo, fatigue, mostly, so I'll be sleeping even more, if that's possible. Anyway, the
consultation with the 'nuke doctor' is next Monday ( the 13th ) so I'll tell you more then. Let me just say that I'm extremely glad to be finished with the chemo, and I thank everyone for the support, emails, kind words, and occasional acts of unspeakable carnality I've received from you all over the last 8 months or so ... they were a great help...
LOOK! me being Santa for the company kids' XMas Party
January 7, 1900 (tee hee);
Wow, over a month without an update ... jeez! Well, as the less than slightly bitter
humour in the bubble above indicates, I'm still in the holding pattern for radiation
therapy. I've had 2 cat scans in under 1 month ( one diagnostic, the other for planning of the radiation therapy ) but no word yet on when they're going to start. Oh, I should start by saying "Merry Freakin' New Year!!" to any and all of you I haven't spoken to since the wholly anticlimactic arrival of the mil ... god, I can't even bring myself to type that friggin' word, much less say it. Anyway, I'm still a little on the tired side, but have managed to escape the onset of many maladies currently en vogue, such as influenza, bronchitis, pneumonia, rickets, beriberi and the dreaded 24-hour ebola. Thank goodness! So really, my utter and total disregard for updates has been a direct result of the complete lack of anything to update you with. I guess I should say that the diagnostic cat scan that I just had was good, or clear, or whatever, but I haven't heard it from the doctor's mouth yet. Some scattered radiologist called me up to ask me when my last cat scan was and I
managed to squeeze from him that the one in his hand looked clear, but he was a bit of a nutcase, so who knows, he might not have even been looking at mine. "So how do my ovaries look, doc?", "Oh, err, fine, yes, quite nice, indeed, yes .. err, what?"
So, anyhoo, this is a non-update, to fully brief you on all the inaction that's been
frantically not occurring, and also to say that I'm not doing enitrely unwell in this frenzied lull of maxed-out, extreme sloth ( which is an event in the next X-games, if I'm completely mistaken )
It's time to take out the trash! Semper Fi, soldiers!
PS - Crazy? Don't mind if I do!!
January 13, 2000:
Well, I got in to see the radiation people, and they marked me up with lines for the nuke techies to aim at, you can see the bullseye here:
Gee, I hope the radiation doesn't kill my curly abundance of chest hair! Anyway, I finally got my appointment for my first radiation treatment, and it isn't 'til a week this coming Monday, which makes it the 24th of Jan. I was hoping to get started sooner, but I'll be completely done treatment by Friday, the 11th of Feb. Which means I'll be completely drunk by about 6 pm of said day...
In considering things guys consider when they're walking down Metcalfe on their way to lunch, discussion turned to the fact that all superheroes invariably receive their superpowers as a result of exposure to radiation. So I came up with a grid of possible consequences, and their inherent pros and cons:
|Incredible Hulk-strength||Immediate upper hand during intense bargaining||New wardrobe/vehicle required at end of morning commute from Kanata on 417|
|Superman-abilities||Oh so many pros, most tempting, though, is the ability to turn back time by speeding|
around the earth, or, wait a minute, is it the x-ray vision?
|Superman was tragically reduced to shlepdom by the invention and mass production, in |
the late 80s, of millions of Kryptonite(tm) bike locks, powers now only effective at the
polar ice caps
|Web-slinging power||Capable of ensnaring foes by simply cocking wrist and squeezing||Masturbation becomes an extremely delicate operation ...|
|Super intelligence||Understanding the deepest mysteries of the universe, ability to solve humankind's|
|Inescapable desire to talk about LINUX|
|Breathing via gills ( a la Man from Atlantis )||Ability to effortlessly glide through the majestic depths of the world's oceans||Not much use in Ottawa; have you ever swam in Mooney's bay? Eeecccchh! Secondary|
con: being called the "Alanis Man"
|Super-stretchy limbs ( a la Stretch Armstrong )||Never having to get up to fetch the remote, or, for that matter, to relieve myself||Runing the risk of overstretching one limb in particular in the pursuit of fun and |
|Herculean strength ( ok, so Herc didn't get his strength from radiation, let me run|
with it, will 'ya? )
|Ability to move great masses without exertion||Friends constantly asking you to help them move, worse than owning a truck. Secondary|
con: having to yell OLYMPIAAAAA!! whenever you leave a room
|Super Evil-ness||Hatch diabolical plots to rule great empires, command armies of black-clad minions,|
hang with the most evil people on earth
|Evil club president is Marc Labonte|
Well, I haven't really decided which power I might like, if you come up with any good ideas,
mail me ( see link below ) and I'll add them here...
February 7, 2000:
Ok, well, if no one's reading this, it's my own damn fault, but for all it's worth, here's what's up:
I'm in my last week of radiation therapy now. Radiation is way easier to take than chemo. It's like a glorified XRay that you take lying down on a table. The table is motorised so they can line you up under the crosshairs of the machine. The whole huge radiation machine swivels so that you can be shot from the back and the front, which is something I didn't know at first. I wasn't too keen on the fact that they'd be nuking through my spine, but, well, if I start twitching and winking uncontrollably, you'll tell me won't you? I have an appointment once a day, every weekday, at the Civic hospital. I've never had to wait more than 10 minutes to go in, which is great. It goes like this:
I walk in, and take off my shirt. When they stop laughing and pointing, I lie down on the table. As I am moved into into firing position, they re-mark the crosshairs on my chest, and rotate the machine around to shoot me in the back ( cowards! ).
Then they run out of the room ( see previous parenthetical remark ). I hear some clicks and a buzzing sound. When the buzz changes tone, I know I'm actually being radiated. There's the change in tone, and also a big red flashing light on the wall ( no joke ). So the buzz goes on for about 30-40 seconds, and when the smoke clears, they come back in, poke me with a stick, and see if I grunt. At which point they go on to rotate the machine back around and repeat the process to shoot me from the front, no blindfold, no cigarette, no last words. Which is just as well: "Any last words, Mr. Schmidt?" "Yes, (gets paper from pocket) Ahem: So the Pope dies, and they elect a new Pope...". Yark, yark... [note: this is an infamously bad joke that I tell] So, what about me: I'm reeeeeeeeeeeeeely looking forward to the end of the week. After a few days to let my aesophagus recover, ( oh yeah, that's the only side effect I have right now, sort of a perpetual lump in the throat, I have to watch what I eat because it's easily irritated ) I can start really breaking in the treadmill we bought for XMas. I've publicly lamented the 20 or so pounds I've put on since the start of all this, and I have a bit of work to do to get rid of it. It'll be tough, as I've really no stamina to speak of after almost 10 months of utter sloth ( poor sloths, get such a bad rap ). I went back to work because I was getting a bit antsy, but I may have been a bit premature, it's pretty tiring, but everyone there is being really nice, giving me shit and telling me to go home,
so it is, at the risk of repeating myself, my own damn fault. It's nice to feel useful, if chubby, again...
well, here's to next week, where an ending marks a beginning
cancer can kiss my ass,
E, the everlasting, entertaining, effervescing essence of everything egregious.
( and etymological, for that matter )
February 24, 2000;
I'm done ... All in all, not an overly bad experience, I'd say. So, where do I stand? Glad you asked. I will get cat-scanned every 3 months or so for the next year or so, then it'll be every six months, then every year, then never. The next
scan ( in March ) will act as a baseline for future scans, it'll be the one they compare subsequent scans to see if I've had a recurrence, which will never happen, as that news would surely trigger my newly-acquired "supernova power". And there's no way the powers that be would allow that to happen...
So, I'm back at work full time, doing my new, sales-related job. It's pretty busy since I wear a lot of hats, ranging from dealing with existing customers' bug reports ( few, of course -ed) and enhacement requests, to overseeing the installation of new systems, to answering technical questions from every clown that reads our website. "Dear Sirs or Madams,
I am for the bridging design of the systems to speaking the protocol of many SS7, please for telling me help, urgent please" they always end in "Urgent" ... sigh ... but it's good. I do a lot of different stuff.
I'm still way out of shape, but should get to work on that soon, since I plan to go
windsurfing with the usual suspects in Cape Hatteras in April, see if I can bust some
more gear... henceforth, every now and then, I'll post something here about my general state of affairs, strange happenings, musings on life, etc...
ta, for now,
June 15, 2000;
Good Lord, It's been almost 4 months now, hasn't it ... Jeezus ... Well, I doubt anyone's still reading, but for what it's worth: sorry. Two things spurred me to write this, ( oh, I'm sorry there's no witty graphic today, my system crashed a while back, and I haven't reloaded most of the apps I need to do stuff like that ) one is that my friend Phil from work made a sarcastic remark about my upkeep of the site, and the other is that I have something to say: "It's better to burn out/than to fade away" no, just kidding, that was for all the "Higlander" fans out here ( It's ok, non-geeks, have a nerd explain it to you ). No, really, I finally thought, or felt something that I wanted to talk about. But I'll get to that in a sec...
So I've basically returned to life as usual, I've started a new job within my company, and gone at it with a bit of a vengeance ( a bit of a vengeance? wat dat? -ed ) I have hair, and I'm generally back to normal. Way out of shape, but back to normal. There are some residual effects of the chemo, like a semi-permanent rash in a couple of places, nowhere embarrasing, and I find my memory is pretty scrambled, and I can blame the chemo, so I do. Apart for that, it's normal life...
Except every now and then, it hits me like a rock, out of nowhere: "Cancer ... what the *%$#*% ?". Exactly like that ... I'll be walking along, and boom. All of a sudden, I'll be shaking my head, wondering how the hell... It's like I've come full circle. Cancer is almost foreign to me again, and then all of a sudden I'll remind myself I have it, or had it, whatever, I'm not sure what the proper term is. It still surprises me. But in the end, the whole thing really has taught me to take things with a grain of salt. Stuff that probably would have had me passing bricks in the past, I'm now able to shrug off a bit more easily. It's much easier to remind myself that it's not the end of the earth if this little project or that client gets put off a bit.
It's funny, reading that over, I say that I put things off more easily, yet I'm travelling around like a maniac, pulling long hours. But I'm not stressed, I guess that's what I'm trying to say. I'm at a point where I'm finally allowed to push myself a little, so I am.
God ... me, me, me, ...
so how 'bout you? How are you?
May 30, 2002!
Well, well, well. How soon I forget, eh? I guess mostly since my assumption is that this isn't being read, I haven't bothered with updates, particularly since it all seems 'over' ( knock on wood, knock real hard ). What do I say? I continue to get cat scans regularly, though the frequency's gone to about 6 months now. I guess the biggest thing is that I constantly second-guess every bad cold I get. A while back, I went to the optometrist because I was occasionally having blurry vision in one eye, but my imagination had a golf-ball sized tumor in my brain waiting to be discovered. Fortunately, it was all in my head ( yark yark -ed ) ... For a couple of years, I carried some extra weight, and was pretty sloth-like still, with varying degrees of energy, but I'm back down to just under 210 lbs, with a little more to go, and I just started playing ultimate again ( it hurt, a lot ). Since my last update, we eloped and got married in Newfoundland, where we hiked around a great park called Gros Morne, we also spent 7 weeks in Australia and New Zealand the following year. We've gone down to Belize, and I went back to Cape Hatteras North Carolina to windsurf for the first time since chemo ( this also hurt a lot ). It's funny, your body just expects to pick up where it left off with all these activities, and it's a rude shock when it can't do what it used to...
We also just bought a house, me move in Sept.
I guess one thing I can say looking back at the post-treatment period, is that I started with a great attitude about work: nothing was going to get to me ( I just reread the entry above, and yeah, that's exactly how I felt ). I would do my job as best I could, but if things didn't happen every time as they should, hey, it wasn't going to get to me. So, as the entry above says, I started to push myself, and very slowly, insidiously, stress returned to my life, culminating in a business trip that made me so sick it took weeks to get back to health, I was coughing up blood and had my first real scare about a cancer recurrence. That was a wake-up call. I changed jobs within my company a couple of times to accomodate less travel, which is good, and things have generally been ok. All this to say that it doesn't take too long to slide back into bad old habits.
BUT!! I'm aware. When I get stressed, I realise it, and I realise that I need to fix it, or I'll wind up sick again ( cold and flu sick, not cancer sick ), so that's one thing that's changed in my life permanently.
I guess I'll leave this entry as it is now, and hopefully I'll be diligent and add an entry now and then, if I think of something interesting to say.
Hope you're well,
January 30, 2003!
Good lord, updates are few and far between, aren't they? Well, let's look at the last entry, and add news. In the last entry, I mentioned that cat scans were 6 months apart, now it's 12. I still second-guess my illnesses, in fact I'm currently experiencing some soreness in the right side of my neck which I'll have the GP check out with a quick feel-up... My weight's under 200 now, and I'd like to get down to 190, but who knows. I'm doing that diet where you try to minimise bread, pasta and rice, and get as much of your carbs from vegetables and fruit as possible. It works. I eat as much organic stuff as possible, milk, veggies, whatever, and I'm looking into an organic farmer who does freezer orders of chicken and beef. I was running a lot before it got cold, now I'm on a swimming kick.
So, I mentioned we were moving into a house. We did, but the same week we took posession, I got laid off. Yeah, bad timing, but the best part of the bad timing was that were just about to announce to our families and friends that "we" are pregnant!! She's due March 23rd, and we know it's a boy. So that's good news on the health front too. I was positive that chemo would have lating effects on the old 'million man march', but it worked out... So, I've been out of work for 4 months now, but I'm getting interviews, and once my severance package runs out, there's always EI... The pregnancy is going well, no nasty side effects, and a 7 months, she's feeling some pretty substantial kicking.
So, yeah, a lot has happened sonce the last update, but health wise, it's all good.
The rest is all just colour, isn't it?
Sept 16, 2006
(I'll stop with the exclamation marks)
Our son is 3 1/2 years old, and baby #2 is 9 months old, so life is busy. My hematologist has stopped ordering CT scans, as she considers me to be "out of the woods", we'll see if my radiation oncologist concurs, as I just went for what will hopefully be my last CT scan.
I decided to post all this stuff to a blog, which you're reading right now.
Re-reading all this, I see again what a wild trip it all was, and that I can't take anything for granted. Not a day goes by that I don't think about it. And when I look at my son, I hope to hell that all his genes lined up right and that he's not disposed to get this bloody thing, but at least he'll know to be aware of it. In any case: I'm healthy (if a bit tubby again) and have 2 beautiful kids, and a great life with a wonderful partner.
knock on wood,