Monday, January 25, 2010

The Wall - A Marathoner's analogy

Deanna (my wife) has run many marathons in the past few years.  Last year she qualified and ran the prestigious Boston Marathon.  One of the things I have learned from her is that there is a phenomenon that marathoners refer to as "The Wall."  The wall comes upon some marathoners (even the best) usually at around the 22 mile mark.  For those of you not up on marathon details, the race is 26.2 miles.  So, the wall hits at around the last quarter of the race.

Evidently The wall experience is a predominantly psychological thing rather than a physical challenge.  The runner begins to have thoughts of quitting or letting go of their personal goal.  Of course there is a physical aspect to this, but the best of runners overcome the challenge with their minds through mental, or even vocal self talk.  When teamed with another runner, they can also get through this period with lots of positive coaching and verbal affirmations.

For cancer treatment patients, there is something sort of analogous to the marathoner's wall. Much like The Wall in marathons those of us undergoing chemo, radiation, and surgery can become mentally challenged with self defeating thoughts and burned out with the process.  It is at this point that having positive affirmations, strong faith in a positive outcome and,  for those of us that call ourselves believers, a continued belief in the power of prayer to keep mantra of "stay strong" a reality.

I took my first dose of Vicodin,, since starting the chemo/radiation process, tonight (I did need Vicodin for a few days following both the tonsillectomy and tube insertion surgeries).  I've been okay with Tylenol to this point, but after today's radiation, the pain needs a bigger foe.  I'm tired of getting poked for hydrations/chemo  and radiated and am dreading tomorrow.  I receive my final dose of cisplatin (chemo) tomorrow morning.  The week following the first two rounds was tough.  I have only 6 (out of 30) radiation treatments left with the last coming on Tuesday of next week. 

I know that God is with me each day.  Deanna is the wind in my sails and the prayers of others instill  hope for a cure and a cancer free life for whatever time God allows me to remain on this rock in this dimension.  Life here is really precious and there is so much left to experience (grand kids, growing old with Deanna, working in my garden, travel, and music, music, music!).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Beautiful Rain, Voiceless in SoCal

I looked at the schedule for treatment this morning and see that I have 9 more rads. and one more chemo before the cycle is through- less than 2 weeks to go.  My voice is pretty much gone with occasional surprising periods of being able to make an utterance come through, albeit not with much volume or clarity.  Deanna has had to work on some response habits in order to help me from becoming frustrated with her.  I get a bit cranky with her when I try vocalizing something and she gives me the "what are you trying to say" look.  But, all in all, we are making it work fairly well.

Continuing with stomach tube feedings or gatorade (almost hourly), salt water and green tea with lemongrass gargles (at least hourly) and aquafor or cortizone cream applications to my neck regularly.  My neck has become reddish brown and itches/burns off and on. Tylenol is still sufficient for the throat pain, but I'm getting tempted to hit the hydrocodone (vicodin) on occasion.

As I've mentioned in the past, Deanna has been a rock for me though this stuff and I'm so, so grateful for that.  She is forgiving of my sometimes childish impatience and offers head and back rubs nightly...the best medicine by far.

On ward and forward trusting God, prayers, and the healing powers He has provided.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Hounds, PEG feeding, Voiceless

A friend sent me a cute card with a picture of a hound dog with an 6 inch druel hanging from it's chops.  I relate.  The past few days have been mucous overload to the point that I've not been able to sleep for fear that I'll aspirate the gunk and choke or drown.  Thank God that last night brought some relief and I was able to get some quality rest in.  I gargle with warm salty water several times a day and that helps temporarily.

I'm now strictly on the PEG stomach feeding tube.   So my day is pretty much filled with loading the syringe and slowing depressing the plunger to receive the prescribed liquid food.  It's called "Jevity" and comes in an 8oz yellow can.   The ingredients are loaded with high octane nutrients, but it sure ain't a carnitas taco smothered in guacamole and salsa with a side order of rice and beans...not to mention the Corona.

My voice left me after Friday's radiation session.  Just kind of shut itself off  like a dial on the radio.  I now communicate with Deanna using an erasable white board.

The tumor in my lymph node is shrinking...praise God!   The radiation doctor told me that the next two weeks should accelerate the process of killing the cancerous cells.

Onward and forward in prayer and faith in all of God's healing methods!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Chemo - 2 down, 1 to go

The side effects of chemo 2 are similar to #1 with the exception that I know what to expect and how long the crummy flu-like symptoms will probably last.  So I'm less anxious knowing I won't feel like this for the rest of treatment.   My throat is getting much dryer and increasingly sore.

Today was a tough test for Deanna's and my patience with some things and people at the chemo oncology center (aka fusion center)  Lot's of scheduling snafus and insurance hiccups.  I'm so glad my sweet loving Deanna can morph into a bulldog when challenged by systematic red tape and b.s.!

Onward and Forward, one day at a time

Monday, January 4, 2010

Chemo # 2 Tomorrow

I've had a 4 day break from radiation because the treatment folks took a long weekend.  They certainly deserve it.  Their days seem very intensely filled with serving  those of us who are in need of their care.  God bless them all.

My next chemo treatment - #2 -  is tomorrow morning.  They have scheduled me for some follow up saline infusions on Thursday and Friday...this because my wonderful wife's intuition after chemo #1 convinced our chemo oncologist that I had become dehydrated. Based on her observation he, without batting an eye, scheduled them  On a side note, the medical statistics show that married men have a 4 times greater  cancer treatment recovery history than single guys!   I am so lucky to have Deanna in my corner.

The radiation starts up again today (Monday) and I'll be receiving treatments 5 days each week for the next 4 weeks.  That said, I continue to focus on keeping my head in a one day at a time frame - "Why worry about tomorrow?  It will have it's own worries."

By-the-way, in regard to Deanna's last post.  While I'm wearing the radiation mask I am pretty much continually talking to God, asking Him to guide the molecules to destroy the cancer and avoid the good cells.  Oh, and they've been playing Alison krause and other inspirational type of music while I'm pinned there.  If anyone ever had the voice of an angel, I think she is the one.

Please remember to pray for us and the wonderful Drs. and UCSD.  Surely God is with us!

Onward and forward!