Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Scottish New Year Blessing

May those who love us, love us.
And those who don't love us,
May God turn their hearts;
And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles,
So we will know them by their limping.

Happy New Year to All! We will all look forward to good stories to tell in 2009!

For last year's words belong to last year's language And next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning. ~ T.S. Eliot

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Was Proud of Myself Until....

Yesterday was the dreaded "first day after steroids" and I was ready for the fade to happen that normally happens in the early afternoon. Nothing happened, so I kept going. Then...about 6:30 PM, it caught up to me. Nothing awful, just the general listlessness, etc. as before. Needless to say, last night was not the most restful night of sleep. However, I don't have any of the other dreaded side effects in conjunction with this, so it's all good.

On another note: I had an epiphany about complaining yesterday. I have done my fair share of that in the past and even recently. I realized that for every minute spent complaining to someone I like, it takes away time from enjoying their company. Complaining is a character flaw I'm going to work on.

“One act of beneficence, one act of real usefulness, is worth all the abstract sentiment in the world.” In other words, “No one wants to hear what you believe. We’re watching. Show us.” - Ann Radcliffe (Source: Monday Morning Memo© of Roy H. Williams, the Wizard of Ads®)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Why The Economy Can Be Fixed

A blend of innovation, good marketing and humor will fix the economy. Check out the link below and don't even think of telling me you weren't the least bit amused and amazed (The link to this was sent to me back in August and I have no idea how or why I received it, but I finally checked the site out last night).

http://www.spam.com/fanclub/


The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.






Sunday, December 28, 2008

Because one day......

...I will visit Ireland and Scotland.

The holly green, the ivy green.
The prettiest picture you've ever seen,
Is Christmas in Killarney.
With all of the folks at home,
The door is always open,
The neighbors pay a call.
And Father John before he's gone,
Will bless the house and all.
How grand it feels to click your heels,
And join in the fun of the jigs and reels.
I'm handing you no blarney.
The likes you've never known
Is Christmas in Killarney.
With all of the folks at home

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Two Great Ladies


Today, I'm remembering "Gladys." She was a family friend and the grandmother of Gina, Jay and Dana, who were friends from elementary through high school. I was in the same grade as Gina. After 95 years of making those of us who knew her feel special, she passed away on the 23rd of December. I have countless memories of her, but the one that I hold closest is her handwriting. She had miraculous handwriting. A few years ago, I started saving every Christmas or Birthday card she sent me and right now they are framed and hanging in my bedroom with the nice comments that she wrote. I always felt that the beauty of her handwriting was a glimpse into the beauty of her soul (SEE SAMPLE ABOVE). I got to visit "one on one" with her in September of this year. She told me stories of her younger years. I will never forget her.

Today is the anniversary of the death of Benazir Bhutto. In February 2003, I had an opportunity to meet her, exchange pleasantries and have my picture taken with her (SEE PICTURE TO THE LEFT) through my employer's association with The Richmond Forum. In those few minutes, she also allowed a glimpse into her soul.

May Gladys and Benazir Bhutto rest in peace. May their spirits always continue to be a gentle, persistent fire that lights the world.

Matunda ya kwanza!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Joyous Boxing Day (and other stuff)

Just in case you the Boxing Day thing has you flummoxed: http://www.calendar-updates.com/info/holidays/canada/boxing.aspx

I had another chemo treatment on Christmas Eve and the amount of time it takes is being compressed due to my being able to take the bigger doses of it when it is being injected. When you first receive chemo, they drip it in through the port in small doses (you still get the same amount every time you go), to determine at what level of volume you can tolerate. The first time I went in, I didn't finish until about 5PM. The second one finished at 4PM and I was done the other day at 3PM. I'm on the 5 day steroid regimen and feeling well and also the 3 day "hiccup" drug regimen that ends today and let me tell you, I'm winning the battle of hiccups this time. I only had one episode of hiccups in the middle of the night last night and I promptly told them to leave me alone and let me go back to sleep. My command was honored. The day after I come off the steroids, I have been OK in the AM, but the afternoon has usually been a washout. We'll see what comes this time.

The chemo nurses also told me that my oncologist and nurse practitioner are ecstatic with my progress and I wasn't to worry about the weight loss (I am now 68 lbs. lighter than I was on November 4 - again, alot of it was fluids and "the alien"), and that I am doing well in their eyes.
So...I'll wait until the results of the CAT scan on Jan 13 to see exactly what is going on with the alien, spleen and liver. Blood work numbers are good and platelet numbers continue to improve. Hopefully, some of that is the effect of chemo. I get a Neulasta injection (to help stimulate platelet production) the day after my chemo treatment (however, this time I get it today since yesterday was Christmas) and that is also helping with platelet production.

Took a two mile walk yesterday. Felt great! Today, I am going to do some weight lifting and also some yard work in a bit. The caregivers are encouraging any and all physical activity I can get in.

Had some Preston County,WV Buckwheat cakes for breakfast yesterday, today and will have some tomorrow. That's some good energy food!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sounds of Christmas

(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), 1867)

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

"Sure Charlie Brown, I Can Tell You What Christmas Is All About."

Said Linus to Charlie Brown when Charlie asked "Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?"

I was going to post my "Christmas Epistle" that I wrote a few years ago in response to a newspaper editorial that bemoaned the need to wish "Happy Holidays" in order to be politically correct. However, I could not find it in any of my files. Since it is over 500 words, I took it as a sign that I can present it in a short synopsis (since one of my friends complimented me on the brevity of my blog posts). I will preface it with the fact that I was raised in the Christian tradition of observing Christmas and adhere to that tradition. However.........

1) The Christmas observance has taken on traditions of other cultures and traditions throughout the ages. It wasn't until the mid 1800's that it was recognized as an official holiday in the United States.

2) Christmas isn't mine to keep. It is mine to give away.

3) Christmas isn't over at 11:59PM on December 25. Christmas "starts" on December 25.

4) I believe society is being called to bridge the gaps. When the blending of observances occurred in the past (as mentioned in item 1), history didn't relate the gnashing of teeth and civil unrest.

5) Some day, when we all have the opportunity to gaze upon the Creator of this world, I believe we will see a figure that will seem familiar and yet will be very strange to us in that we could never imagined such a figure. We will stand in amazement at what we see and question It's origin. At that point we will hear, "You could have done the same, I gave you all of the ingredients."

6) Unless I know how a specific individual observes the holidays, I will wish "Happy Holidays" with all the joy of the season I observe. That's how I give away Christmas.

May all the joys, hope, desires and peace of the holiday you observe be yours until you get to meet the Creator of this world!

"That's what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hair Today.......Gone Today

What little hair is left on my head is going to be shaved off this morning. There's anxiety about it, but if it wasn't for all the cool hats folks have given me, it would be really rough.
Every day means one day closer to new hair. I could maybe even get a pool going on whether it comes back curly, darker, lighter, etc.

"Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
"

From - "Ring Out, Wild Bells - A Christmas Poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Monday, December 22, 2008

I Messed Up

A door to door solicitor came to my door last Thursday about 2:15PM. I had awakened from a nap in my bed about 20 minutes earlier and was laying there working on convincing myself to go downstairs. I heard a knock on the front door and went downstairs feeling (and looking) very grumpy. The person standing there represented an investment firm, that according to a friend of mine, is known for door to door soliciting.

I told him I wasn't interested, didn't have time and then.....made reference to my medical condition and shut the door. As soon as I shut the door, I wished I hadn't included the last sentence in my "blessing." Funny side note, the first time I ever heard the term "blessed out" was when I moved south of the Potomac River. When I asked for it's definition, I was informed that it was the southern version of "cussed out," but with more charm.

A friend of mine told my my reaction was probably one of my "anger and resentment" moments over my medical condition. May have been, but it still wasn't right for me to do that.

Confession is good for the soul.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Holidays - Day 1

To my Jewish sisters and brothers, I will hold you in my thoughts as I light my own Menorah tonight and for the following 7 nights. Shalom.


Transliteration
Hanerot halalu anachnu madlikin
Al hanissim ve'al haniflaot
Al hatshu-ot ve'al hamilchamot
She-asita la'avoteynu
Bayamim hahem, bazman hazeh
Al yedey kohanecha hakdoshim.

Vechol shmonat yemey Chanukah
Hanerot halalu kodesh hem,
Ve-ein lanu reshut lehishtamesh bahem
Ela lirotam bilvad
Kedai lehodot leshimcha
Al nissecha veal nifleotecha ve-al yeshuotecha.

Translation
We light these lights
For the miracles and the wonders,
For the redemption and the battles
That you made for our forefathers
In those days at this season,
Through your holy priests.

During all eight days of Chanukah
These lights are sacred
And we are not permitted to make
Ordinary use of them,
But only to look at them;
In order to express thanks
And praise to Your great Name
For your miracles, Your wonders
And your salvations.

Source: http://judaism.about.com/od/chanukah/a/hanukahanerot.htm

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Another Inspiring Person

When I first moved to Richmond from Harrisonburg VA in 1992, a friend of mine from Harrisonburg knew someone named Jackie over here who was fighting a form of cancer I can't recall, but if memory serves me well, she had been in remission and had a recurrence. My friend asked me if I would visit Jackie in the hospital.
I had never had to do that grown up of a thing before, but I said I would do it. When I met Jackie during the first visit, she looked pretty rough, but still was able to communicate and said she appreciated my visit. I went back one week later and stopped in my tracks the minute I saw Jackie. She was sitting up, her eyes were bright and she said, "Hi Greg, how was your week?" The only words that could come out of my mouth were, "You look fantastic." We had a good visit and she was released from the hospital a few days later.
I will confess that I didn't stay in touch with Jackie as it was an awkward family situation and her friend recommended that I not visit Jackie at home.
About 5 years later, the movie, "The Jackal" (with Bruce Willis) was being filmed in Richmond. There was an article in the local paper about it and in the article, there was a picture of an extra wearing a mini-skirt suit, looking like a million bucks. You've figured out who the extra was, but just in case you haven't, it was Jackie. Need I say more?

A friend of mine has a magnet on her refrigerator that reads, "Why limit happy to just an hour?" That's one of the million or so reasons she is my friend.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Funny Friday News

News stuff from the internet that cracks me up. I found these stories on the websites of major metropolitan newspapers ( In reference to my news rant the other day, I don't watch the news, I read it online because that way I can edit what I want to read about and also I don't have to listen to it being delivered by a screaming banshee).

1) "Burger King launches beef-scented body spray" - this is a true story!
2) LONDON (AP) — A British pilot said he ran into an unusual hazard while making an emergency landing — a cow. Accident Report (PDF): http://tinyurl.com/4tlltn
3) Couldn't find any other funny headlines, but this is a pretty good website with offbeat stuff. http://www.newsoftheweird.com/index.html

"To you the earth yields her fruit, and you shall not want if you but know how to fill your hands. It is in exchanging the gifts of the earth that you shall find abundance and be satisfied. Yet unless the exchange be in love and kindly justice, it will but lead some to greed and others to hunger......And before you leave the market place, see that no one has gone his way with empty hands. For the master spirit of the earth shall not sleep peacefully upon the wind till the needs of the least of you are satisfied." - "The Prophet," Kahlil Gibran, 1923

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Clinical Break

Met with the Nurse Practitioner today. She said things look great. I am anemic and will be until the treatments are done, but that is normal.
Main blood numbers and platelet counts are good (platelet count is back in the normal range for now).
When they weighed me today, I was concerned and they said it's OK. I have lost 65 lbs. since I met with the oncologist after I left the hospital. Heck of a weight loss program (a lot of it was fluids and the alien, but a lot of the other gobs of fatty matter that were there before are also gone).
They are encouraging me to start walking and doing some weight lifting, which I will start this afternoon.
Appetite is good, except that I can't eat large quantities of food at any one time (went through that experiment last Friday and it requires lots of reading material afterwards). They recommend that I "graze," eating smaller portions throughout the day.
Going to take a nap and then go for a walk later on.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Enough To Make You Feel Sick...

Turned on one of the morning "news" shows today. If I didn't have a headache when I woke up, I would have quickly developed one.

"WEATHER ADVISORIES IN 37 STATES!!!!" - So does that mean the other 13 aren't having any weather? I know that bad weather affects travel, etc., but I will tell you there are more kids PLEASED with the weather than adults who aren't.

"FED CUTS INTEREST RATE!!!!!!!!" - one finely coiffed "expert" initially said there was nothing else the Fed could do and then later on, listed some other things that could be done by the Fed.

Since I have been sick, I bet I have watched a total of less than 60 minutes of "news." Every news story is delivered with a sense of impending doom and frankly (to quote the great philosopher, Popeye), I'se had all I can stand, til I can't stands no more!"

"It's the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you "Be of good cheer"
It's the most wonderful time of the year
It's the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It's the hap- happiest season of all"

Note about tomorrow's post...I have a check up at 9AM and will post after that so I can give you some up to date medical info.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

D'oh!!!!!!


A lot of the followers of my blog have their own blog sites and I want to sign up to be a follower of their blogs.
The question is....How do I do it? I was all proud of myself about how easy it was to set up my own blog, but I am drawing a blank on this simple task.
Have a good day, y'all!
Best late night TV show to watch when I can't sleep..."Diners, Drive Ins and Dives."

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Secret Is Out

"Progress is made by lazy men looking for easier ways to do things" - Robert A Heinlein (American Science Fiction Writer, 1907 - 1988)

One of my caregivers was doing an interview with me a few weeks ago and asked, "How do you deal with stressful or challenging situations?"

I replied, "I'm too lazy to deal with them. If it's something I have to deal with, I will. Otherwise, I move onto something else that I think I would enjoy."

I used to have a habit of finding and focusing on at least one good thing about the day when I would wake up. I have gotten away from it. Sometimes, waking up is enough. Yesterday, it was going to church and hearing amazing music in the regular morning service and then attending a concert at church (which included Vivaldi's "Gloria") later in the evening. WOW!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Good Terp Day



Terps Win National Championship
"Graham Zusi scored from 18 yards midway through the second half to lift Maryland to its second NCAA men's soccer championship in four years, a 1-0 victory over ACC rival North Carolina at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Tex., today." - source, The Washington Post

Cultural reference alert! From the movie "Popeye" (with Robin Williams) my ode to the "alien"...
"I'm one tough gazookasThat hates all palookas
That ain't on the up and square
I biffs 'em and buffs 'em
And always out-roughs 'em
And none of 'em gets nowheres.
If anyone dass'es to risk his fisk
It's boff and it's wham unnerstan'
So keep good behavior
That's your one lifesaver
With Popeye the Sailor Man"

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Places I Like....

Seneca Rocks, WV

From ground level to the very top of the rocks is about 1,000 feet.

When I was in college, one of my Phys Ed electives was a rock climbing class. Our "final exam" was a caving and climbing weekend in Franklin WV and then we spent Saturday and Sunday at Seneca Rocks.

There is a nice hiking trail up the front of the rocks and the view from the top is pretty amazing. I've always wanted to sit at the top at the rocks when there is snow on the ground. It's a pretty inspiring place to visit.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Neat Conversation




Through my job, and our association with The Richmond Forum, I have had an opportunity to hear and meet some of the speakers presented by The Richmond Forum. In 1998, I had the opportunity to meet and have a conversation with Prime Minister Shimon Peres of Israel (the picture is from our meeting). I was struck how comfortable he made myself and my 3 other friends feel. At the end of the conversation we were awestruck and yet we said to each other, "It was like having a conversation with a favorite uncle." Later on, as he spoke to the crowd, we knew we saw the real man during our conversation. He conveyed the same sincerity and desire for peace in the world that we experienced during our conversation with him.
It is those moments that still inspire me and that I draw upon through my current medical condition. Knowing that Shimon Peres lives every day, knowing in the back of his mind, that there is some person or group that does not care if he survives another day, while maintaining focus on his calling, is a model of behavior to follow.


Lesser known, but just as inspiring, are those who have surrounded me and offered support. Every day, I go through the tally and shake my head in amazement.


Thank you(and did I tell you are invited to a big party in my backyard in the spring? I know I have, but it's still fun to to keep saying it.)!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wow!

Almost 2500 visits since the blog went up. It's been a good thing to do because it has forced me to set a goal of writing every day. Hopefully, practice will enhance my writing abilities.

All of this has helped put things in perspective. Last year, when I addressed and mailed holiday cards, I multitasked by having a football game on in the background while I worked on the cards. Last night, I turned on some Christmas music, lit some candles on the dining room table and addressed cards. Much nicer than what I have done in the past and miracously, the cards are getting mailed out earlier this year.

Yesterday was first day off of the 5 day steroid regimen that I take after chemo treatments. The fatigue hits somewhere early afternoon and I am wiped out most of the afternoon. Then, I get a little energy back for making dinner, and some TV before I go to bed. Looking forward to constant energy when this is all done. Have I told you about the big party in the back yard in May?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

When I Have Nothing...


A friend sent me an e-mail today asking for the "morning blog" (Today's picture is courtesy of them).


Was going to ask you all what you want me to do when I have no medical stuff to tell you. Today, I will give you an excerpt from a book idea I have from the viewpoint of an Uncle talking to kids who are and aren't related by blood. I'm open to any suggestions of what to post on "non-medical info" days.


Chapter 4: I WISH I WOULD HAVE GOTTEN INTO A FIGHT IN HIGH SCHOOL


Not really, but it made you wonder what this chapter was all about, didn’t it? I have to tell you the truth; I have said that in the past and am not sure if I may never say it again.


There were lots of opportunities to get into fights and I got away from them. A senior did rough me up once when I was a sophomore in high school. In my mind, the senior was doing an injustice to a sophomore who was learning disabled and I questioned the senior why he was doing that. You’ve heard the saying; "There’s no such thing as a stupid question." I’m here to tell you that, "Yes, there is," and the one I asked the senior was a good example of one. His explanation came in the form of getting shoved into the supply closet and getting punched by him for what seemed like 3 or 4 hours (in reality. It was most likely 5 minutes).


Another time, I was in a class setting with a group of people including one guy I just didn’t like. We traded some witty repartee and I knew I was going to take him down with my brilliance. That was until he countered with a sucker punch to my mouth and split my lip. I walked away.
I guess my favorite was the time I was a senior and a sophomore wanted to fight me. I am sure there is something I said or did that annoyed him about me. We passed by each other every day in the hall and he never failed to give notice of his intentions. He equally annoyed me, and I vented by creating scenarios about him in my typing class when I had free time and we were free to practice our typing as we wished. I was probably about 2-3 weeks of getting into my first fight in school ever (about 5 weeks from graduation and carrying a 3.4 GPA), when he backed off. I attributed to him moving on to better challenges until I asked a mutual friend of his and mine about the "cease fire."


My friend told me, "I told him to leave you alone."


I replied, "I can take care of him by myself OK."


The friend replied, "No, you don’t get it. I told him to leave you alone because I told him you could take care of him pretty easily. There is no question in my mind you would win. Face it man, you are bigger and stronger than he is. It wouldn’t be pretty."


"Yeah, but," I said, "I could graduate knowing I beat a kid up!"


"No man, you do that and you will mess up being able to graduate, with a suspension and all. Don’t do it. Enjoy the legend that I created for you!"


Wow, that guy thought there was a legend quality about me. I am not egotistical enough to believe that I have been or ever will be a legend. What I do like is knowing that by holding it in when it would have been easy to let it all hang out, I appeared stronger in other people’s eyes.
I don’t know if I would have been suspended had I engaged the sophomore in a fight. I don’t know if I would have had to take summer school classes in a summer when I needed to work and make as much money as possible to pay for college. I do know that I wasn’t suspended and I do know I made some money that summer. That was only one potential situation and had there been others, it might have established a pattern of behavior for me that would have led to a different life experience for me.


If all that resulted from a fight in school was a bloody nose or black eye that would eventually heal, I don’t know how worked up people would get about it. Our animal instincts are all about establishing territory and supremacy. It’s natural.


I think people get worked up about fighting because as humans, it isn’t natural. We have the additional asset of a brain that works better than the other members that make up our animal family. We know how to turn the switch on and off. Sometimes we don’t know when.


Uncles can antagonize you and make you "fighting mad." Next time an uncle does that to you, show him a light switch and ask him if he knows how it works. - Greg Frazee, 2006



Monday, December 8, 2008

Good Stuff!


A great visit by some friends that drove down from DC yesterday to visit. We had fun with hats - the one I am wearing is a Terp mascot they gave me. Folks who have already seen this picture say I look good. Why wouldn't I (did you notice the company I'm keeping in the photo)?



"These changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes.
Nothing remains quite the same.
Through all of the islands and all of the highlands.
If we couldnt laugh we would all go insane." - Jimmy Buffett

I Reckon I Forgot To Tell You This Part

The initial word on chemo treatments for me was that there would be 6-8 total treatments based on reaction to treatments, etc. The schedule is set up for 2 treatments out from now (i.e. I know when my 3rd and 4th treatments are), but the treatments after the 4th are not scheduled yet. After the 3rd treatment, and before the 4th, there will be another CT scan to see what the heck is going on in there (as far as Alien size, liver and spleen activity, etc.). I have an appt. with the Nurse Practitioner on the 18th for "checking in" and blood work activity.

Today is the next to last day of steroids after chemo, so I'm feeling OK. Probably will be a little sluggish towards the end of this week, but I know what's coming, so that's OK. Knock on my noggin, but I have not had any neck pain at night. I haven't taken any over the counter pain medications in several days. Even though I have been credited with a great attitude, etc., there have been times when anxiety has caused some symptoms (i.e. the neck pain). Amazing what a good pillow and asking the doctor questions will alleviate!

This is cool: If you go to "Google" and type in "Greg's Alien," I have the two top responses.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday Stuff

"Miracles, miracles that's what life's about.
Most of you must agree if you've thought it out.
Well who is rich and who is poor, who has more than me.
Why I have quite enough to eat, And my mind is free.
Miracles, miracles that's what life's about"
Lyrics - Don Williams
Tune-Dvorak, New World Symphony - 2nd Mvt Part 1

Yesterday started with bluebird hanging out on a holly bush in front of the house and ended with a dusting of snow on the yard. Enough said.

Medically, some side effects (water tastes funny, chocolate tastes the same though!) Some muscle aches. Sleeping better at night. Hair should all be gone by the end of the week.

What I'm learning: It's easier, and more fun, to make people smile.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Can't Prove It By Me

I have NO idea why anybody would want to electively take steroids. I take 5 days of steroids (5 pills daily - 3 at breakfast and 2 at lunch) after each chemo treatment and even though I can detect some effects on taste, I can tell you that the steroid pills taste awful. However, I chase them quickly with water or juice and since you take them during a meal, the bad taste is gone quickly. That, and knowing that they are helping the overall condition, makes me fine with any of the bad stuff.

I just had a conversation with a good friend and one of the things we talked about is his appreciation of this blog and nice comments left about my style of writing on this blog. I told him that it's easy for me to be positive when I think of others who have more difficult challenges than me. We talked about Kay Yow (the Women's Basketball Coach at NC State) and her determination which inspires the rest of us.

From "Wide Awake" by M. Night Shyamalan (another movie I highly recommend)
Frank Benton: Hey Josh, is today tomorrow?
Joshua A. Beal: No Frank, tomorrow's tomorrow. Today's today, and tomorrow's tomorrow.

Friday, December 5, 2008

I Hope I Get This Write (err, I mean Right)

From the movie, "Arthur" that a friend of mine and I watched during chemo yesterday:
[Arthur suddenly laughs uproariously]
Gloria: Why are you laughing now?
Arthur: Sometimes I just think funny things.

I didn't know where to put the humor today, so I thought I'd do it first.

I'm thinking about a news story out of Wake Co. NC that has affected my friends that live there. The story involves 4 teens who have been charged with murder of another teen. The story is unfortunate in that the 4 teens had labeled themselves as "outcasts." None of us know what events brought on this label they gave themselves and none of us have a right to judge them. The event does bring to light the power of positive communication.

I remember a "barn cat" that came to live in our barn one fall while I was a farmboy growing up. The cat would stand at the top of the hayloft and watch us each night as we fed the cattle below. I started having a conversation with the cat each night (telling it about my day, asking about it's day) and would work myself closer to it (if only inches at a time) each day. I have no idea how long it took to eventually be able to get close enough to pet it (and maybe I did sneak food out to it), but it did happen. The following spring, the cat had kittens and I remember playing with them in the barn and recalling how the relationship with the mother cat began and being amazed how it all transpired.

It all began with positive conversation. I was having a conversation with a client friend the other day we talked about how the most powerful tool in the world is our brain and how we only use a small fraction of it. No one will ever confuse me with Norman Vincent Peale, but as I have gotten older, I realize I have no time for negativity. Come with solutions to challenges. Ask how you can help alleviate pain. I gave blood platelets because I realized that even though I wanted to write a big check to cancer research, I couldn't. At the recommendation of a co-worker who was already donating platelets, I decided to give of myself instead and not once did I regret it.

Don't judge the kids in NC. Send them your thoughts and prayers and during that time, ask for insight on how you can be aware of the same type of situations where you live. Realize that as one person you can't fix it on your own, but also realize the power of positive conversation that you have the gift of delivering, in all parts of your life.

I'll never forget that cat in the barn.

P.S. I promised medical information. Still on the disabled list. Stomach distention going down, a bit anemic (part of the process), allowed to do some light exercise, no neck pain last night due to new memory foam pillows that I'm using. Hiccups back due to medicine I take for 3 days after chemo (hiccups beat the alternative).

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Chemo - Part 2

Today is the 2nd chemo treatment.
Let's hope it's not as bad as "Home Alone-Part 2" or "Caddyshack-Part 2."
Learning that my body does not like it very much when I take a non-gel form of acetaminophen in the middle of the night. Will spare you the details.
Hat attire today will be the Scottish Hat.
Will fill you in on blood work details, etc. tomorrow.
Wondering if sound of crowing carries all the way to the state of Michigan from the state of Maryland today.
"Come on you target for faraway laughter, come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!......Come on you raver, you seer of visions, come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!" - Pink Floyd

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Oh Say Can You See...

My eyes if you can,Then my hair's too short....
Gimme head with hair. Long beautiful hair. Shining, gleaming. Streaming, flaxen, waxen."

The above means that the chemo drugs must be working because it's starting to fall out. Even though you know it's coming, it's a little freaky when it starts.

Then...creative thought kicks in and one says to themselves, "Wonder if I could sell adspace on the cranium?" You know, it could be a combination of Craigslist and My Space and I could call it "Greg's Space."

Then, another thought is to really have fun and find a talented makeup artist who could draw eyes, nose and a mouth on the back and freak people out. Of course that would echo what alot of you have said in the past about me ("He doesn't know if he's coming or going").

On another note, I really like the older Christmas songs like "Coventry Carol" and others from that era.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Broke My Own Rule Yesterday

I looked something up on the internet and it kind of bummed me out for awhile. Then....a co-worker sent an e-mail with some encouragement and by the end of the day, two other friends passed on some survivor stories they knew of personally (one involving a late 40's single male who was diagonosed with lymphoma a year ago and is now planning his annual massive holiday social gathering). So, in the words of Carl Spackler in "Caddyshack," "So I got that goin' for me, which is nice."

Another piece of wisdom I'm going to pass on from a good friend is his use of the expression, "Let it go." I was talking to someone the other day who was still wound up about a issue they had with a billing error that was resolved in their favor. I told them they still seemed upset about it. They replied that they were even though things worked out in their favor. "Let it go." If you are still carrying resentment over something that is over and done with, it seems you are preventing yourself from directing any positive energy towards other things you can make better for yourself or others.

Heck, even Carl Spackler (so many great quotes in "Caddyshack"), was an optimist: "Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a miracle... It's in the hole! It's in the hole! It's in the hole!"

Monday, December 1, 2008

Fun Times and Learning Things

Some great visits over the weekend from my brother in DC, friends in Richmond and friends from Apex NC (The children of the NC friends even decorated my house and Christmas tree for me!)
My smart friend Bobbi R posted a comment with words that had me puzzled, but I found their translation on the internet. She refers to my "meanmnach and àbhach personality!" What I found was a Gaelic translation site and the words translate to: àbhach - humorous, merry;
meanmnach - high-spirited, mettled, magnanimous, brave,courageous. Well, I'm not so sure those kind words apply 100% of the time, but I will take the compliment.
I will tell you there are doubting times, but as I told one of the nurses the other day, "I think about the bad stuff sometimes and then I realize I'm too lazy to worry about it, so I go do something else like call clients, read, watch a movie, or take a nap (the best therapy for getting away from the concerns of the world).
I think I figured out the headaches - it's a matter of my head position when I am sleeping, so one of today's distractions is getting pillow that supports the neck.
Other than that, the next chemo party is Thursday of this week. A very funny friend of mine is going with me to that appt. and we have our plans to pass the time figured out - there is some "concern" that we may get in trouble, but we're adults we'll behave (or drag everyone else in the room down with us - which is the ultimate goal.).

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hat Pictures - By Request


I'm just saying, these hats make me feel almost 50 years younger. Check out the pictures and tell me what you think!


Medically, doing OK. In a weird way, looking forward to the next "chemo party" on Thursday of this week. Sleeping OK, but not perfect. I do get some pretty fierce headaches where my head joins my neck- may be due to weird sleeping pattern or some muscle loss in there. Going to call the doc today just to make sure.

Not going anywhere near a shopping area today except for drug refills at Kroger.







Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving: A State of Mind

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo of Muddy Creek Falls in Garrett County, MD by:

Crede Calhoun, http://www.windrushonline.com/

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"Stevo's" Grocery Cart Story

When Stevo was in Germany for an extended period of time about 10 years ago, he made his first trip to a local grocery store. As he got out of his car, he noticed a mother and daughter had finished unloading their groceries and the daughter was taking the cart back into the store. Being the swell guy that he is, he walked up to the girl and told he would take the cart back into the store for her. She began to freak out somewhat, upsetting Stevo. What Stevo didn't know was that in order to use a grocery cart at this store, you had to give the store a small cash deposit to use the cart and when you returned the cart, you received your deposit back (Any of you all that have shopped at Aldi's here in the states understand the system). I think that is one of his friends favorite stories from his stay in Germany. It still makes us chuckle.

Now, travel safe and have a great Thanksgiving (which is an event and not just a single day). I triple dog dare you!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Things I'm Looking Forward To (not in any order of significance)

1) Making a sign with a picture of Frau Blucher from "Young Frankenstein" on it, taking it with me to the next Maryland football game at UVA and then holding it up when the mascot on his "noble stallion" rides through the tunnel and onto the field.
2) Marshmallow rabbits at Easter
3) The next time I eat "real" Buckwheat cakes (meaning the flour was milled in Preston County WV)
4) College Bowl Season
5) Attending the final Green Bay Packer home game of the season at Lambeau Field just to say I did it.

I'm sure there are others - and if you have some, post them in the comments section (Keep 'em clean....)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Other Things

I've always liked this: "The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom like the rose."(source: Isaiah 35:1) The reason I initially liked it was that I found out that it was the inspiration for the name of the area where I grew up in Maryland - Blooming Rose. I don't think it's on any map, but it's near Friendsville MD. I still like if for that reason, but I also like the inspirational nature of it.

Today - some improvement - still on the disabled list and won't be in any starting line ups yet. I'm no longer on some of the restrictions (Note: If you have to wear a medical mask in cold weather and you wear glasses, make sure you have a cloth to clean your glasses as you pass between outside and inside). I'm clear for no more visits to the doctor until my next "chemo party" - unless I detect a change in how I feel. Just getting used to what is the best time to go to bed and that if I have energy in the AM, realizing how much gas is really in the tank and spreading it out over the day.

After the doctor appt. today I was very excited about getting to go to the store and buy a scrub bucket (what a sad, pathetic man). However, it felt great to put on a pair of jeans that were baggy in the posterior.

Another note: I know you may be rushed over the next month, but be nice and return your shopping carts to the little stalls they have in the parking lots.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thank You

Wow...some friends from work came over this morning and mowed my lawn, cleaned up leaves, cleaned gutters, made me laugh, all within 1.5 hours.
Some other friends stocked my refrigerator last night.
I have several invitations to Thanksgiving dinner if medically it is not recommended that I have guests to my house for Thanksgiving (I should know that tomorrow).
Other folks just seem to know when to call or send encouraging e-mails at the right time and check in.
I got a "shout out" on the Ralph Friedgen radio show on Wednesday night sending best wishes (You can hear it if you go to http://www.umterps.com/ and click on "Multimedia." You will have to download some Microsoft Software. After that, you find the Ralph Friedgen radio show link and click on the Nov. 19 show. Go to the 35 minute mark and you will hear it. If it's all too complicated, call me and I will play it for you.)
I could list everything, but the orchestra is playing for me to end the speech and leave the stage.
You all are teaching me alot about how to respond to others in the future.
Right now, every day is Thanksgiving.
Feeling pretty well today.
Terp Field Hockey Team is playing for a National Championship today. UPDATE: "Maryland Downs Wake Forest In National Championship 4-2"
GO TERPS!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Economic Crisis

Reading a book yet? Are you finding yourself caring about the character(s) as a person? If so, you are on your way to helping fix the economy.

Another book recommendation (I read it a few years back and then reread it last year and will read it a third time soon): "Peace Like a River" by Leif Enger. Another richly detailed, well told story.

Some of you have mentioned "Skippy" and his devotion to the blog. I won't divulge his identity, but he is a good friend I know from doing theatre in Richmond. I remember walking into an audition and seeing this guy that I didn't know wearing a shirt with the "SPAM" logo on the front. We were friends shortly after that.

Not much else to say today. Need to sleep off a headache. Other than that, my razor sharp wit is still intact.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hats and stuff

The Scottish hat showed up today (all of them are now here). I think it is my favorite because it just seems to have a bit of an attitude about it (plus it has Terp colors in it). And....it fits perfectly!

Medically, things could be better, could be worse. Got to wear a protective mask out of the hospital today because my immunity is down. In addition to the good thoughts you are sending to me, also send them to the caregivers. I could tell they were disappointed. They are working on adding other items to my arsenal, so we'll keep punching back.

Right now, my attitude is November 10, 1984. Halftime score: 31-0. Bring it alien punk. I WILL get all Frank Reich on you!

Here's a link that you may find helpful: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/When-Someone-You-Love-Is-Treated

Don't know why this popped into my head, but it's a fun quote from "Carousel":
Jigger Craigin: [trying to hit on Carrie Pipperidge] Oh, Miss Pipperidge, I'm just crazy fer you! Why, just to see your lovely smile I'd swim through beer with my mouth closed!

Tomorrow: My solution to the Economic "Crisis." Step #1 - Quit watching the news and read a good book. My current recommendation ( I was on this before Oprah - just ask my sister-in-law): The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What's that sound?

Why it's me crowing a little bit. Some of the stomach distention is down today and I am wearing a button down shirt that didn't fit last week. It's a little snug, but every play doesn't have to be a touchdown; first downs are fine too (Still haven't gotten over Chris Turner's run on 4th and 5 against the Tar Heels last week).

There were two winners of the "Guess What Hat Shows Up First" contest. My friends Joy and Jackie called it. The stocking cap showed up Monday. The Irish hat showed up yesterday. Prizes to be selected and named later.

Overall, feeling good. I get all I can in (errands, work, calling clients) by mid-afternoon and then I chill.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Blogs and Evolution

There is no intelligent design in my blog. It's a collection of what I have to tell you on that specific day. What I say today may be different than yesterday, a week ago, a week from now. All I ask is that you consider the most recent input from me. Hence, the lyrics from yesterday.

The hardest thing for me to accept from caregivers is: "This is about you. This is your own challenge. You will process things differently on a day to day basis. You will be ornery sometimes (now who of you does that surprise?). The next day you will regret it. Maybe you should get a "Mea Culpa" shirt (OK, they didn't say that, but I thought it was clever)."

So...the rules are, we need to be flexible and adjust (However, not the rules that some members of my immediate family use when playing board games - you know who you are!). I'm enjoying the calls and visits while I can. They may need to tail off. Until then, we are playing by the current rules..."Bring On The Fun!" The only rule that will need to be in place full time is I can't have visitors with any kind of sniffles, colds, exposure to viruses. If you have planned to come by and aren't comfortable about a sniffle, that's OK. I'll take it as you looking out for me.

Medically, some of the numbers were lower yesterday than previously, but that's not a setback. It's all part of this process and those numbers are being closely monitored by the caregivers. Next visit with the caregivers is Thursday of this week.

The first hat showed up in the mail last night. I don't think anyone guessed it correctly. It was the red stocking hat.

Do at least one fun thing today!

Monday, November 17, 2008

I SAW YUL BRYNNER SING THIS!

First things first...I incorrectly typed Tar Heel the other day. With apologies to my UNC friends, it is two words and not one. No slight intended.

I once saw Yul Brynner in a touring company of "The King and I." It was the first professional level show I ever saw. Love the lyrics of this song, "Puzzlement." I'll leave you with excepts of the lyrics for today. (There is health news and all is OK and I'm OK. The nurse practitioner told me I am OK physically and mentally. I gave her permission to look at me and say professionally what so many have you have said in regular conversation, "You are full of it." I'll forward the health details tomorrow.)



"When I was a boy
World was better spot.
What was so was so,what was not was not.
Now I am a man;
World have changed a lot.
Some things nearly so,Others nearly not.
There are times I almost think I am not sure of what I absolutely know.
Very often find confusion in conclusion I concluded long ago.
In my head are many facts that, as a student, I have studied to procure,
In my head are many facts..Of which I wish I was more certain I was sure!
[Spoken] Is a puzzlement......

And it puzzle me to learn that tho' a man may be in doubt of what he know.
Very quickly he will fight...He'll fight to prove that what he does not know is so!

If my Lord in Heaven Buddha, show the way,
Everyday I try to live another day.
If my Lord in Heaven Buddha, show the way,
Everyday I do my best for one-more day!"

Sunday, November 16, 2008

SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY!!!!

Contentment over the MD-UNC game yesterday (Hope none of my caregivers are Tarheels.). A great friend from Silver Spring MD was here yesterday to watch it with me (I just knew the Terps would score on that final drive. When they did, I told my friend that the Tarheel ensuing and ultimately, final drive would end in an interception). Credit to my good Tarheel friend for calling with congrats immediately after the game.
Movie recommendation - Watched it last night again after I have seen it several times and marvel every time I see it: "Waking Ned Devine." A well crafted and layered movie with excellent comedy, and character personalities that leave nothing on the screen.
We capped a great visit off with a visit to Joes Inn of Bon Air (here in Richmond) for their Sunday breakfast buffet. Confirmed that I have a great appetite right now.
Wondering who the following followers on my blog are: Karen,Blsgmsb,KSQ,BushMan. If I should know, forgive me and either post or shoot me an e-mail. Thanks for following! A friend of mine who follows thinks it's hysterical I have followers. I told her I don't, it's the blog that does.
Hoping it's a great Terps weekend overall and the Terps soccer dudes beat UVA in the ACC final.
Just chilling out today and going for a follow up appt. with the doc tomorrow to see if the platelet count continues to improve or hold it's own.
Ahhhhh...it's Sunday afternoon. Take a minute, or 60 to sneak in a nap. I've already captured 30 of them so far.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

"THE MIDNIGHT SPECIAL"

Now to all you kiddies out there, that's a 70's cultural reference to some excellent TV programming from those days along with "In Concert." Good times! This is the Midnight Special blog because I was awake around 12:30 with hiccups.

If you hear me hiccuping when we talk, or that I am awake because of them, that's a good thing because it beats some of the other ones that are possible that I haven't had yet.

First person to guess which hat arrives first will win some sort of memorabilia from my collection of stuff. If you are unable to post a comment on the blog, you can send an e-mail to my home e-mail: gregterpATverizon.net. The hats are: Nightcap, Bavarian Hat, Irish Hat, Scottish Balmoral.
Have fun!

Friday, November 14, 2008

I WOKE UP TO THIS TUNE ON MY IPOD TODAY

From the opera, "The Tender Land," by Aaron Copland. Have a great day, my friends!

The promise of living
With hope and thanksgiving
Is born of our loving
Our friends and our labor.

The promise of growing
With faith and with knowing
Is born of our sharing
Our love with our neighbor.

The promise of loving
The promise of growing
Is born of our singing
In joy and thanksgiving.

For many a year I’ve known these fields
And know all the work that makes them yield.
Are you ready to lend a hand?
We’re ready to work, we’re ready to lend a hand.

By working together we’ll bring in the harvest,
the blessings of harvest.

We plant each row with seeds of grain,
And Providence sends us the sun and the rain.
By lending a arm
Bring out the blessings of harvest.
Give thanks there was sunshine,
Give thanks there was rain,
Give thanks we have hands
To deliver the grain.

O let us be joyful,
O let us be grateful to the Lord
For his blessing.

The promise of living
The promise of growing
The promise of ending
Is labor and sharing and loving.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

HOW TO TELL WHEN A SISSY ALIEN TRIES TO FIGHT

Some possible side effects of the first chemo treatment can be nausea, night sweats, jitters, wanting to do the Hokey-Pokey in the middle of the night, trying to figure out why the UNC football uniforms have Duke Blue in them this year (OK, the last two are me being ornery). All the alien could do to me last night was give me hiccups (I scoff at his efforts). Today's blood work showed some progress with platelet counts. My platelets yesterday were at 73 (the target numbers for platelets are 140-415). When I was donating platelets, I was reading 210 and that allowed them to take a double platelet donation. The spleen is the organ that pumps the platelets into the system and as some rogue aliens decided to go to happy hour at my spleen instead of attending the big alien party in the abdomen, my platelet output was being affected by the spleen being the unwilling host to the happy hour. Happy hour seems to have quieted down a little bit as my platelet count today is at 104. Good news. I get another reading tomorrow so we'll see how it goes.
When I walked into the chemo room today it was like Norm walking into Cheers. I will repeat what I said yesterday, the atmosphere in there is very upbeat and very supportive.
I have another blood work appt. and more fluids into the system tomorrow and then hopefully a break from lab stuff until the next chemo treatment on Dec. 4.
At this point, it's all day to day how I will feel and I know what my goal is, but I'll let my body be my guide. I've had a good week of energy and if a couple days of "blah" sneak in there, that's OK too. Don't hesitate to call to talk or set up a time to come over, I'll be honest about how I'm feeling. If I miss your call, leave a message and I'll call you back or send you an e-mail. As far as offers of food, favors, etc., I'm open to everything and am not going to set up the formal list until I get an idea of how this cycle goes so that no one has to do anything that they don't need to do as far as food preparation, etc.
Life is good.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

HATS I ORDERED

Here are pictures of the hats I ordered. I'm excited.













HOW IT WENT

Started at 10AM or so and was there until 4PM. That was perfectly fine with me. The chemo room is one of the most upbeat rooms you can imagine. If there is such as thing as chemo room heaven, I was there today. The work that the folks there do in conjunction with their personalities is beyond words. When I was on the phone with someone today, they would ask, "What party are you attending?" They were floored when I told them where I was. Because of today's experience, I'm actually looking forward to the Christmas Eve treatment and being part of the fun.
The first round of the chemo cocktails are in there and the big bad drug is going to work immediately. I don't think the "alien" has anything it can do now except die a slow, painful death. I will have a follow up tomorrow, Friday and Monday to do another follow up injection tomorrow, blood work on Friday, follow up on Monday to review how it went today.
Some of you have mentioned that you want to post a comment and you are having trouble. If you are having trouble, send me any comments you want to post at my e-mail:gregterp@verizon.net and I will post it for you.
To those of you who have posted comments, I read every one of them and they mean the world to me. Don't think that I overlook any of them. I consider them your written prayer for me.
I'm already looking at some cool hats to wear (because my thick and bountiful hair will start falling out sometime around the 2nd treatment) and have decided to honor my family heritage. I found an Irish patchwork driver style hat with Ireland and a shamrock embroidered on one of the patchwork panels, a Scottish version of a beret, and a German Alpine hat (complete with pin and feather). Then, just for fun, I found a nightcap that I will wear at Christmas. No matter what you think about my choices, that's what I'm going to do.
In the words of the great philosopher, Popeye the Sailor Man, the reason I'm fighting the alien is "I'se had all I can stand, tills I cans't stand no more." The reason I'm going with the cool hats: "I Y'am what I Y'am!" (I love using spell check and have it freak out with the Popeye words). Now in honor of Wimpy, I'm going to eat a hamburger for dinner.

IT'S TODAY!


At 9:30AM

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

WE HAVE MR. ALIEN CORNERED

Tomorrow morning (Wednesday the 12th) at 9:30, the assault begins. I start chemo that will take place every 3 weeks on Wednesday and we'll go from there. There are no promises with the treatments, but...things are encouraging and I was told if it goes well, I would start feeling some relief from fluid retention and the stomach distention after the first treatment. It is quite the concoction they are putting in me and some of the treatment is intended to make me comfortable. How cool is that? There are side effects, but they are manageable. I asked when I would have the "stinky days" that you hear chemo patients have and they said those are usually the first 48 hours following the chemo cocktail and the main symptom is listlessness. I have a resource to help coordinate meals, and other things I may need, but I'm going to work through the first cycle just to track the days when it would be good to have stuff brought in and then kick in the "meals on wheels" and other stuff towards the end of the first cycle. In the meantime, feel free to call, stop by, check in and since it will be day to day, we'll play it by ear until I get through the first cycle. My family is coming for Thanksgiving, so I'll be OK for Thanksgiving. I've read all your comments and will get back to you within a couple days about any questions you have or offers of assistance.
I went to work today for about 4-5 hours and it actually felt great! Talked to some clients and even had lunch with a client!
Health Note to you: GET YOUR FLU SHOT! Got mine today.
Don't know if I said this in an earlier blog (too lazy to look), but before I go to bed, I turn on a Light Classical music station on my cable system to a real low volume and have that playing in my bedroom all night. It's very soothing. If you are ever experiencing any illness, and aren't sleeping well, I recommend it. Heck, even if you are sleeping well, I recommend it.
The following lyrics may explain my outlook on all this. They are lyrics from a traditional tune known as "Simple Gifts." The tune is used in Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring (my favorite piece of music).
'Tis the gift to be simple,'tis the gift to be free,'tis the gift to come down where you ought to be.."
I've been told in the past that I'm pretty simple minded. I'm OK with that.

Monday, November 10, 2008

AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR

Don't get scared, I didn't sign up for ads to be posted on this site. However, I would like to be a little serious for a minute and mention the importance of donating blood platelets. In addition to regular blood donations (which take less than 15 minutes of actual sitting in a chair), there is the option of donating blood platelets. It does take considerably longer but you can read, watch a movie on a portable DVD player, listen to music, etc (you can't take a nap, because they need you to squeeze your hand). They remove your blood, put it through a centrifuge device, remove the platelets and then put your blood, minus the platelets, back into you along with some solution to help regenerate platelets and keep you healthy. Your body regenerates the platelets you donated within 48 hours.
It's also a good way to get a mini-physical (pulse, blood pressure, platelet count) on a regular basis. Because of the donation/restoration process, you can go every 2 weeks rather than waiting every 56 days for a regular blood donation. I have been a platelet donor for over 8 years as my way of contributing directly to the fight against cancer. If you are already giving blood on a regular basis, great! However, I encourage you to explore the blood platelet donation process. There can be some discomfort, but the folks at the blood centers will treat you tremendously. It will also require you to give up about 2 hours of your time, but there are flexible time frames - some on Saturdays, early AM, after work, etc.
Advantages: Your platelets get used within 48 hours by cancer patients; With your permission some locations will retain your information and register you on the National Bone Marrow Donor list; Sometimes you are matched directly to a cancer patient (I knew I had been matched to a 13 year old girl, but today when I called the blood center to let them know I wouldn't be around for awhile, they told me there were at least 5 other people I was directly matched to in the last year); You do get a close monitoring of your platelet counts (they detected a month ago that my platelet count had decreased over the previous times and urged that I go to my doctor - I didn't because I diagnosed the situation myself using the internet. I was wrong and should have gone to the doctor sooner).
This isn't about me and my current situation, it truly has been a rewarding thing to me. I have never felt bad about and it really has been a fulfilling experience for me. When I thought I was being inconvenienced, I reminded myself of the people who would be receiving the platelets. Frankly, it helped me prepare to deal with the needles that have been stuck in me lately. Today, I had blood work and it was "nothing but a minor flesh wound."
To get more information contact the major blood donation center in your area to explore how to be a donor. In addition the process makes you chill out for about 2 hours plus the amount of "no heavy lifting, etc." time afterwards. If you can't do blood donations, encourage someone who can.
Errands and yardwork can wait when you are helping to save lives.
No post of mine is complete without some humor. Steven Wright is one of my favorites. "Ever notice how irons have a setting for PERMANENT press? I don't get it... "

Sunday, November 9, 2008

DAY OF REST

Football - Bummed about Packer/Viking game outcome
More alien origin ideas from a friend:
1. This is what happens when you swallow gum! 2. A watermelon seed has finally taken root. 3. I told you to stop wearing your cellphone on your belt! 4. It's everything you never said, but wanted to. 5. It's where belly-button lint really comes from. 6. There was no more room in your head for your brain. Constipation might result in a mental block. 7. It's where false-sneezes really go. 8. It's your other Vulcan heart.

Tomorrow is the day I find out the chemo schedule.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I DROVE SOMEWHERE THAT WASN'T A MEDICAL APPT.

Took some self imposed Jedi Mind Tricks to tell myself to do it, but I went grocery shopping today. Felt good to get out knowing that I wasn't going to stuck with a needle or something. Life is good! Heck, I'm even watching SEC football.
I have a question from the Thursday night MD-Va Tech game. Why do they sell turkey drumsticks at Va Tech to help raise money for their athletic program? Something seems..well...a little odd, possibly cannibalistic about that.

Friday, November 7, 2008

AND NOW BACK TO THE SHOW...

Yesterday was "Name the Lymphoma", Consult for Chemo port insertion and a PET scan (they could have just asked, I have no pets - well, there are these Camelback crickets in my crawl space..). So...the question you all want answered is, "What is the alien's name? He is: T cell rich, Large B-cell Lymphoma. He is a stage 4 lymphoma that has also enlarged my spleen and liver (I figure if they can handle me drinking a Milwaukee's Best once in my life, they can handle this). The good news is he is highly treatable with chemo and potentially curable. I start chemo next week and will receive treatment once every 3 weeks for a total of 6-8 treatments. Small pity party time: One of the treatments is on Christmas Eve. The doctor recommended I milk the pity for that appt. for all it's worth. My treatments will take about a half day, so that's why I'm glad I bought a portable DVD player the other year. A good friend (the creator of the "origin list" has promised to go with me that day and watch goofy Christmas movies with me that day.).

The PET scan is a radioactive (My glow that I've always had was enhanced some yesterday - not really) test that helps pinpoint the location of all the bad mini-aliens for treatment. Today, I had the chemo port inserted. Lots of anxiety, very easy and simple procedure that was done in 15 minutes once they started applying anesthetic. The port is a state of the port (www.portadvantage.com). By the way, that's the only time I will refer you to a web site. The oncologist recommended I tell my family and friends to not do any web research on my condition as every case is different, dosages are different, etc. You will find nothing definitive on me unless you have my medical records.

So....that's all there is for now. Thank God I get a few days of no appts. Although it was getting kind of cool to walk through the halls of the hospital and wave at familar faces.

See you soon!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

HUMOR TEST

I got this e-mail from a friend. There are political references, and even if they make reference to your side of the political fence, you cannot deny they are funny.


I had some thoughts as to the origin of the Alien, especially as it's malignant.
1. It's Dick Cheney's soul. But I haven't figured out why it's in your stomach.
2. It's Osama bin Laden! We finally found him!
3. It may in fact be Elvis. Have you been channeling Elvis lately? Can't figure out why that would be malignant, though...
4. Um, OK, your spleen foreclosed on a bunch of lymph nodes' homes, so they're all homeless and seeking shelter in your intestines. And they've been drinking to cope, which is making them rowdy. Bad economic times, dude.
5. Do you know any scientologists? The Alien could be that guy who founded scientology that they all worship. L. Ron Hubbard. That would definitely be malignant, and that guy was definitely from a different planet.
6. It's what's left of Eliot Spitzer's political career! (Oh yeah, I went there.)
7. Well, all this started as John McCain's campaign started to loose steam, and now the Republican party is kind of curled up in the fetal position, rocking itself...so maybe the Alien is actually the GOP! It's hiding in your stomach so that it doesn't have to explain why it thought picking Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate was a good idea.
8. It's the effect of a lifetime of musical theatre on a straight man.
9. It's the Flying Spaghetti Monster! (Google it, you'll appreciate it.)
10. It's Voldemort! He's back!
...That's all I have right now. If it pops out of your stomach and starts dancing across the bar singing "Hello, my ragtime gaaaaal," call me. =)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Most people say "What?"

Today was a MUGA scan (that's what people say "what" about). It's purpose is to examine the pumping chamber of your heart to determine if your heart is going to be able to pump the chemo. Ideally, a painless procedure. However, since Mr. Alien is very afraid, when I am laying flat, he puts pressure on my torso and causes this sharp pain behind the left shoulder blade. It hurts (especially when laying flat and dealing with it for 30+ minutes). I wasn't amused or very witty after that.

Tomorrow is 3 appts. and then UMD vs. vatech. So. I might not post until Friday with tomorrow's and Friday's details. I'll try to post something witty (or maybe even inspiring - probably from the Stuart Smalley school of motivation, or from the Steven Wright school of wit.).

Hey, we're up to over 300 hits in 3 days! Goal....by end of week...1,000 (or 600 and a TERP win tomorrow night will be just fine.).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

WHO WOULDA THUNK IT?

I will admit that in the past I have been told that someone was "gonna take a piece out of me." I never imagined that it would come at the hands of a nurse practitioner. Today's appt. was for a bone marrow biopsy. Purpose is to use it to further verify the "first name" of the lymphoma and also what stage it is in. They will use the information gleaned from the bone marrow biopsy in conjunction with the biopsy of "the alien" to determine how we not only take a piece out of "the alien," but how we send him away. How it's done is amazing. They numb the heck out of your backside and deep into your tissue, including your bone and go into your hip bone - which is connected to the leg bone - I love that I have that tune in your head right now. Told them I was glad it wasn't my rib, because the last guy to have some rib bone taken out ended up with a wife as soon as he woke up. Brag time: she said I had really strong bones. Then, they use this device that has a metal tip on the end that goes in to your bone, rotates around (I refused to let them do the Hokey Pokey - because THE TERPS ARE GOING TO COME BACK FROM BLACKSBURG WITH A "W!" ) and gathers a small piece of your bone about as thick as a filler in a pen and about 1/2" long. I told the nurse practitioner, "All that effort and that's all you got?" She was truly amazing. Honestly, the pain was the initial sedative needle stick - felt like a small bee sting and when she hit the bone the first time with the sedative. After that, the only way I knew the device was in me was that she was standing there with her hand on my hip. Tomorrow, the MUGA scan (a heart thing - I don't think they'll take anything out of it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

NEW CONTACT ME INFO

I possibly overstated a comment about contacting me. Feel free to call as you wish. I will take your call if possible. If I don't, leave a message and I will get back to you via a call or e-mail. Any and all e-mails are absolutely appreciated (especially those with hysterical cultural references).

Visits, of course. Just call me and check to see if I will be around. I will get back to you at some point to say, "Come on over" or "Let's look at an alternate date/time."

The more people taunting the alien, the better.
Fun Times at Results Appt.

First, I gotta tell you, the building (Virginia Cancer Institute at St. Francis in Midlothian VA)where I went for today's appt. is pretty cool! It looks like a ski-lodge!
Below, are the details from today's appt.

1) There is a mass that is a collection of swollen lymph glands that measures 7.5" x 5.9" in my abdominal area (Now I know what it's like to be in the second trimester of a pregnancy).
2) It is a malignant lymphoma.
3) There are multiple lymphoma types ( A good analogy is that we know it's last name, we don't know it's first name yet). They are still testing to classify the type. Once classified, they will know what form of chemo will be used to get it out of me.
4) I am scheduled to know the type of lymphoma by Thursday of this week.
5) There are various preparatory tests and procedures that have to occur prior to the beginning of the chemo treatment. The are a total of 4 tests and procedures and 1 consultation that I will be going to every day of the rest of this week. After I return from the test or procedure, I will post the details on my blog.
6) The goal is to start chemotherapy at some point next week.
7) Length and frequency of chemo treatments will be determined once we identify the type of chemo.

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, Mr. Alien is showing some fear!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

First things first

I'd been feeling very bloated in early October. As the 49th birthday was approaching, I attributed it to old age, etc. Went to the doctor complaining of stomach ailment, thought I had an ulcer (didn't have one) from taking too much pain medicine (brand name withheld to avoid legal action). Was prescribed Ultra-Strength gas minimizer (ditto, on the brand name). Took it for a week. Called doctor. Schedule CAT scan for Oct 29. 3 compassionate co-workers recommended/urged me to go to ER on October 27. Went, drank CAT scan elixir (it's not all that bad - you even wind up with frequent flier miles to visit the land of Montezuma multiple times). CAT scan and blood work detected some swollen glands in the abdominal area, enlarged liver and spleen which are strong indicators of lymphoma. When told of this by the doc in ER. I tried to change the channel on the TV to find a movie with a little more humor (that's right...TV in your ER bed. That's cool!).

Admitted to hospital (broke my string of being the only immediate family member to never have been admitted to the hospital - well, guess I was when I was born, but that wasn't my decision). Schedule for biopsy to look at a mass (hereafter referred to "the alien) that is inside my stomach (we're talking some serious bloating issues). CT guided biopsy took place Oct. 30 and I was home in time to answer the door for Halloween in my costume as a potential cancer patient (love them Embolism Socks!).

Biopsy results are scheduled for Nov 3 at 3:30PM. Results to follow.

A great friend near Warrenton VA has already told me, "You aren't sick. You won't spend the possible time off from work moping around. My fear is you are going to reload and come back a more intense individual and what scares me most is you are going to be even more ornery!" I don't know what she's talking about.

Feel free to post comments. Please don't hypothesize or paraphrase things. I will give you all the information you need. If you want to share my information with someone, forward them the link. I encourage not to relate anything without something I have written in front of you. Below is a list of seven items about how you can best relate to me right now:
1) Saying "I'm sorry" about how I feel physically is not necessary and actually...not recommended. 2) Saying "How are you"....ditto 3) Asking if I want company and understanding that a "no thanks" from me is not a rejection. It's me finally accepting my body has limits and I'm going to honor those signs for awhile. However, I have learned I love visits and they made my hospital visit very painless. It will take a lot for me to turn down your visit. 4) I'm not sick, I'm reloading and when I am reloaded, Greg Frazee will be back with a vengeance unmatched by anything you've ever seen from him. 5) Conversation topics...same old good stuff that always makes us laugh, ponder, etc. There is a moratorium on political discussions. 6) Asking if I would like a meal...Absolutely...there will only be two rules. Don't be offended if I don't eat as much as you think I should, but more importantly, you must be willing to sit down and share the meal with me if you can. 7) Personal medical assessments are taboo. I know I received excellent care in the hospital. Not all things were perfect, nothing is. That's why duct tape was invented.


Hold off on phone calls (immediate family excepted) until I get things under control. I will send info as I get it about how you can help out. I won't turn my back on your offerings. I met an Amish woman from South Central VA once who told me, "Greg, a gift not accepted is a blessing denied."

See you around! Shalom Dudes and Dude-ettes!

Friday, October 31, 2008

I PROMISE

Everything else that follows will be much more interesting and much more witty!



October 31, 2008
A couple of favorite photos. The two ladies (from L-R) are my Maternal Grandmother and my Great Aunt in a non-posed photo taken almost 30 years ago. Both ladies have since passed away, but the pictures captures their personalities. The banana trees were grown in front of my house this year. I started growing them last year, starting with 4 trees. One died at the end of it's growth cycle. I gave one away and ended this year with 9 total trees. My math is not wrong. Banana trees are amazing regenerators of themselves. That is what this blog is about. Regeneration.
I was recently hospitalized and there were tests taken. Results are pending and I will offer no speculation on the results. There are some strong indicators of the possible results, but other than that, nothing will be confirmed until November 3 at 3:30PM. After that, this blog site will have current updates as to "the deal." No gloom, no doom. Just reality and....observations from myself that are soundly based in my "clueless oblivion" philosophical approach to life.
"Goodnight, and have a pleasant tommorrow."
Shalom y’all, (a closing phrase "borrowed from a friend)
Greg