Friday, July 23, 2010

Rocky Mountain High

Back from CO, and had a nice break away from the worries, etc. of
normal daily life. I must be feeling nearly 100%, as we did a hike at
9,000 feet (though fairly level, its a high-mountain valley) that took
us past a ghost town and within a mile of the entrance to the Indian
Peaks National Wilderness area, which is a little like the Boundary
Waters in its primitiveness and ban on motorized vehicles. The last
time I was through there I was not doing chemo of course, but I felt
stronger this time. One of the advantages of having been back at the
gym for the past few months, though I have been slacking since chemo
began. I have a little more energy to spare, I guess.

I have been sleeping well, even without prescription sleep meds, and
experiencing no nausea at all. I still forget to eat unless prompted,
but have a healthy appetite when I do. I realize this is part of the
cycle and this will probably start all over again with tiredness and
(controllable) nausea when Chemo start up again next Monday, the 26th.

People have been asking so I want to reassure everyone that my
expenses and costs during chemo and surgery are covered, and I *do*
have health insurance, so please don't worry about me in that way.
Everyone's amazing emotional support that I've gotten throughout this
ongoing process remains very key to my (generally speaking) positive
attitude, and I appreciate it wholeheartedly.

I talked to the nurse at my Oncologists' office via phone while in CO
as well. They have had me on a slightly reduced dosage of Cisplatin
(what I think of as the more evil of the two drugs because of its side
effects) in order to avoid more hearing loss. I have some hearing loss
that I've had most of my life (when I was a child I had some ear
infections, PE tubes in my eardrums and even a burst eardrum) and I
have always had tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Cisplatin can *cause*
these things, so for a person who already has them it can increase the
symptoms dramatically. My oncologist originally agreed to put me on a
reduced dosage of Cisplatin, but is now recommending that we go back
to the full dosage in order to fight the cancer most aggressively. I'm
still considering, but I am leaning towards upping the dosage.

This entire process is a series of tradeoffs. I will not emerge from
this cancer process exactly the same as I went in. Chemo can have
lasting side effects, and there is a surgery planned at the end of it
what will leave me with a slightly smaller bladder capacity forever
and a big scar on my abdomen. Its a livable consequence, but there is
a the possibility that they will recommend an even more severe surgery
at the end of chemo if the outcomes are non-optimal. Again, its a
series of trade offs. I do not want the most invasive surgery (who
would?) and am doing everything I can to avoid this being the only
option. If I need to increase the Chemo -- and have a very real risk
of more hearing loss as well as some numbness in my fingers -- its
still a better option than what's behind door #2.

Yes, it sucks that I was dealt this hand. I have gone through a
microcosm of the 12-step grieving process virtually every day, from
anger to denial to bargaining to fear, etc. Even through I am the sort
of person that does an unhealthy amount of looking back, I have found
myself loking mostly forward throughout this process. We all have
things that we might change if we could wave a magic wand, but its
unhealthy to fixate on what could have been. I have a bumpy road ahead
of me, but I still have some choices that I can make. To mix metaphors
shamelessly, I *am* up shit creek, but I *do* have a paddle.

As my tattoo says: "That which does not kill us only makes us
stronger". A quote from Nietsche that I had translated into latin. I
designed it and and had it inscribed (along with the date of my
undergraduate college graduation, which took 21 years from start to
finish) on my upper arm. The saying remains as an inspiration to me
daily, and is perhaps even more relevant now than it was for my


Eclector2 said...

Good post my son, you make me proud. I will go with you to Chemo on Monday. Can it just be us two so we can talk?

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you posting again. About that oil change: We get a flyer from Precision Tune every so often, usually offering a total oil-change and checkup deal for $15.95 or some such. I'll just get it to you over lunch, maybe.

Iffen I were you I would baby the Honda for the time being. Also, Dan might be able to resolve that oil-pan prob on the Saab. He can weld and all.

Access said...

Well said, bro.

John Slade said...

You know it was really Conan the Barbarian who said that first. That German guy just stole it from Conan, which makes sense because of the Ahnold Schwartzenegger connection...

Also a good post.

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