Tuesday, March 30, 2010

They Saw Nothing

There was nothing in the CT scan that indicated further review by a PET scan was necessary.

For now, no further testing or scans until blood work on May 6 during a regular visit with the doctor.

Next CT scan in June and then another bone marrow biopsy in August.

I move on.

Monday, March 29, 2010

I'll Share This

There will be news tomorrow about the scan from Friday. There was some information today, but I need to get a couple things clarified before I share it with you. I'll get that information tomorrow.

A friend of mine is putting together a Watchnight Service for her church on Saturday. She asked me to write something to be a part of their service. It was to be about waiting. I searched my blog for how many times I used the word "wait" or "waiting." You know the answer. Following is what I wrote. Thought I would share it with you. It follows:

There were several points in time during the whole process when I thought, "This would be the toughest wait."

From the day when I was admitted to the hospital, feeling lousy, but not knowing what was causing me to feel so bad. Then, I waited to find out what the CT scan identified was generating the discomfort in my body. I then waited for a biopsy to yield information to determine what form of cancer had taken root in me. There were countless waiting times after that. All of them were chapters with their own titles. Titles like, "How are we going to treat this?" "When will I start treatment?" " When will it finish?" "How sick will I get?" "Are we buying time with this treatment, or are we buying life?" "What are the odds of this treatment not being successful?" "What did the scans show this time?".

Sometimes, the doctors and nurses had to wait with me. They had to wait for me to show them grace when some of the information they gave me was a bit too overwhelming to process and I reacted adversely, as a result.

With each set of answers, came another set of questions. With those questions, came more waiting.

The waiting that snuck up on me was the waiting to return to normal. I didn't jump up and down in elation when I got the "all clear." Could I trust that information? Right behind the word "remission," in the lexicon of cancer, is the word "relapse."

A friend of mine told me the key is to learn how to wait well. You learn to say, "I was, but today, I am."

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I Will Say This

I don't hate insurance companies. I don't hate drug companies. They all serve a purpose.

I have friends that work for both.

My insurance company has done some pretty cool stuff for me since Day 1 and needless to say, I'm a big fan of chemotherapy - not as an elective choice, but for it's capabilities.

However, some of their employees have forgotten how to communicate. Because one of a various form of communication devices in our world (E-mails, Texting, Facebook, Telephone calls, Snail Mail, etc.)is utilized, it doesn't mean effective communication has taken place.

7 days until I eat a Peep.

Friday, March 26, 2010

We Have To Talk

As promised, a picture from my CT scan. It is a "slice" from my abdominal area. I've labeled some things for you. It is from the approximate area where the alien may have resided. I don't know what the item I've marked with a "?" is. I wonder. I haven't reviewed these images with the doctor yet, so I don't know. When I do see her next (in May), I'll ask her.

What does this scan show? It shows if anything looks odd in there. The doctor is able to view it and determine if the organs look abnormal or if there is anything unnatural in there. It's the type of scan I had when I was first admitted to the hospital.

I haven't heard from the doctor if the scan showed anything abnormal. If it did, I'm sure I would have heard by now. She did tell me that if I hadn't heard anything from her office by mid next week, to give them a call.

I was scheduled for a PET/CT scan instead. The PET scan shows signs of any metabolic activity in addition to what a CT scan shows. The PET scan would show signs of any cancerous activity before it got out of hand. However, the PET scan was denied by the insurance company....two days before it was supposed to occur. Never mind that the PET scan had been scheduled for at least a month and a half.

It's easy to beat up the insurance companies for denying tests and procedures. What I take issue with is their notification process. They called me at home and they called me on my cell phone. I remember when they called me on my cell. I was in a meeting and did not take the call. Figured they would leave a message. They didn't. They didn't leave a message on my home phone either. Instead, they called my doctor and advised her they were denying the PET scan. After getting the insurance company to approve at least a CT scan, my doctor's office then called me and passed on the news.

I'm open for education. However, if a decision is going to be made, please explain why. Please let me understand that if it were the actual person making the decision that needed to have follow up testing, they would agree that the more exact testing would not be required for themselves, either. I'm sure the people making the telephone calls for the insurance company are not the ones making the decision.

Let's not kid ourselves. There are folks who label themselves strong believers in their chosen faith (and proudly wear the badge they have bestowed on themselves....That's right, I'm calling you out! If you want to call me out, go for it. That's what the comments section on this blog is for.) who are opposed to any form of discussion on making health care available and affordable to all. Their belief is the market can make health care affordable for all and that everyone can receive the same treatment. That's not true.

Until you are able to show me how a poverty level child with brain cancer can receive the very same treatment that the child of the richest person in the world will receive, I will not listen to your rhetoric. "How can it be done?" you ask. If we are truly brothers and sisters in our belief in a higher being, we will let that unite us rather than letting our political choices divide us. I have no answers. I have ideals based in my faith beliefs. I'm willing to discuss how to find answers based on those ideals.

Here's a good article about of what I speak.

My next project is to inquire of the folks at MCV if they are aware of the insurance company's resistance to covering the testing that was recommended for the next 5 years. I'm sure it's a new wrinkle. As a matter of fact, every person in the hospital that I mentioned the scenario to, said, "That's been happening a lot lately. We've seen it more in the past month or so than we have ever seen."

When I was first diagnosed, there was only so much information I could, or wanted to, absorb. Now, I'm good. In the words of Audrey II, "Feed me!"

I've said before, it's not all fireworks and sunny days after you get the all clear. You take steps to get your "normal" back. I've done well. It was a challenge for a month or two for myself, but I've hit a nice stride and actually believe I can speed up a little bit. However, getting tripped in the middle of your stride can set you back a little bit. You choose how to deal with them.

I've been told I have a cold stare that can be a bit intimidating. I think I know when it crosses my face. It's when I'm annoyed or challenged. It's when I'm realizing I need to battle something head on. When that happens, I retreat and prepare my game plan. Then, I unleash the storm.

The Christian faith observes the most significant of their holidays next weekend. To some in the faith, there is sadness associated with the holiday. I see it as holiday of joy. I see it as a holiday of defeating that which is considered "the end." It's a holiday that says, "No matter what comes your way, there WILL be good that follows." Maybe, it's a good spot on the calendar for everyone to quit staring at each other.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

"What We Have Here...."

Heard back from the insurance company about the big potential bill for the bone marrow biopsy lab work.

The clinic has used the lab in question before because they provide a quicker response and there is an additional test they do on the bone marrow that the "in network" lab does not do.

My question: "So, they have used the out of network lab for my previous two biopsies and there hasn't been an issue, so why is there a potential issue on this one?"

Insurance company: "We spoke with an administrator in your doctor's office and there should not be any additional cost to you. Do not worry about it unless you get a bill."

Me: "Here's how it will work for me. Let's say I get a bill from the lab. I will return it without payment and state that because of the precedent of no prior additional charges, I don't feel that I should be responsible for this bill."

Insurance company: "That's exactly the process you would want to follow."

Me: "In that event and with this knowledge, we are on the same page."

One needs to have the courage to advocate for themselves. Especially since,left unquestioned, this line item by itself would total close to $100,000 over the next 5 years. If I'm going to be having that much money hanging over my head, I'd rather spend it on silly stuff. Oh wait, I meant donate it to a worthy cause. Yeh, that's it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

T'is Today

Giving you three for one as I did not put any on the past two days. Also, t'will be a while for the next post. Nothing on the schedule until next Friday (the 26th) which will be a PET scan. Will post the results after I get them - (maybe even pictures!)- which will be sometime the following week.

Thomas Murphy was selling his house, and put the matter in an agent's hands. The agent wrote up a sales blurb for the house that made wonderful reading. After Murphy read it, he turned to the agent and asked,

"Have I got all ye say there?"

The agent said, "Certainly ye have...Why d'ye ask?"

Replied Murphy, "Cancel the sale...'tis too good to part with."

Barty was trapped in a bog and seemed a goner when Big Mick O'Reilly wandered by.

"Help!" Barty shouted, "Oi'm sinkin'!"

Don't worry," assured Mick. "Next to the Strong Muldoon, Oi'm the strongest man in Erin, and Oi'll pull ye right out o' there."

Mick leaned out and grabbed Barty's hand and pulled and pulled to no avail.

After two more unsuccessful attempts, Mick said to Barty, "Shure, an' Oi can't do it. The Strong Muldoon could do it alone, mebbe, but Oi'll have to get some help."

As Mick was leaving, Barty called "Mick! Mick!

D'ye think it will help if Oi pull me feet out of the stirrups?

Three guys, one Irish, one English, and one Scottish, are out walking along the beach together one day. They come across a lantern and a Genie pops out of it. "I will give you each one wish, that's three wishes in total", says the Genie.

The Scottish guy says, "I am a fisherman, my Dad's a fisherman, his Dad was a fisherman and my son will be one too. I want all the oceans full of fish for all eternity." So, with a blink of the Genie's eye FOOM! the oceans were teaming with fish. The Englishman was amazed, so he said, "I want a wall around England, protecting her, so that no one will get in for all eternity."

Again, with a blink of the Genie's eye POOF! there was a huge wall around England.

The Irishman asks, "I'm very curious. Please tell me more about this wall." The Genie explains, "well, it's about 150 feet high, 50 feet thick, protecting England so that nothing can get in or out."

The Irishman says, "Fill it up with water."

Grant me a sense of humor, Lord,
The saving grace to see a joke,
To win some happiness from life,
And pass it on to other folk.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I Don't Think So

To fill you in...I got an Explanation of Benefits letter from my insurance company on Saturday. For those of you who don't know what that is, it is a statement from the insurance company that details how much of a claim they will be paying. If there is a balance, you wait and see if you are going to get a bill from the provider of the service. The letter I received on Saturday said they were denying payment of the lab work on my recent bone marrow biopsy. In addition to the letter from the insurance company, I received a letter from a pathology lab based in California stating that they did do the pathology work on my bone marrow sample and that even though they are not an in network provider, they would work with the insurance company to make sure I wouldn't have to pay any more for the lab work than I would if they were in the insurance company's network.

Here's the issue. I pay zero dollars for that lab work under my policy coverage. The insurance company was advising that my potential payment could be over 5 figures. Doesn't make me happy to consider that.

What do I do? I call the insurance company and ask about it and am advised that since the lab was out of network, I would probably be responsible for that amount. I then asked if it was the same lab that did the lab work on my previous two bone marrow biopsies and if it was, why is there now an issue. I must insert, "Good question, Greg.", here because the representative from the insurance company then said, "Let me call your doctor's office and get back to you."

I'm not telling you this for pity, but rather for informational purposes. I'm not the least bit annoyed if the bone marrow sample went to the wrong lab by mistake. Those things happen. I am a little annoyed at the possibility that the lab knew I was out of network and didn't question it prior to examining my bone marrow. However, there may be some logistical problems to that, i.e. what I would call the "freshness date" of my sample and whether or not it could have been returned to the correct "in network" lab in time.

I am learning that the "fun" doesn't stop after you get the all clear. It's just a different sort of fun. Initially, you are fighting for your physical life and then it evolves into trying to at least maintain your mental life.

Don't know the outcome of the claim yet, waiting to hear back from the insurance company. When I made the comment in an earlier post about health care reform, I will tell you I am as confused as the next person about the details in any of the bills or proposals. My "bill" boils down to this. No one should be denied coverage or treatment, for a serious illness based on their ability to pay or because of a pre-existing condition.

I'm lucky. I've had, and have, great people in my corner pulling for me and helping me when I need it.

"For I was....ill and you cared for me....I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"We're In The Money"

Prior to all of the "fun" starting, I had no clue what an "Explanation of Benefit" letter was. I do now. Interesting story about a recent "EOB" letter and another letter from a Pathology lab. I have to make some calls and get some details and as soon as I get them, I'll pass the rest of the story onto you. Hint: Not only is it great fun to navigate the physical side of it, but the "administrative" side of it is a real hoot.

Insert editorial comment here...Anyone who says that this country does not need some sort of health care reform will get an engaged discussion from me.

An American tourist travelling in County Clare came across a little antique shop in which he was lucky enough to pick up, for a mere 200 Irish punts ($350), the skull of Brian Boru*.

Included in the price was a certificate of the skull's authenticity, signed by Brian Boru himself.

Fifteen years later the tourist returned to Ireland and asked the man from Clare, who owned the antique shop, if he had any more bargains.

'I've got the very thing for you, 'said the shopkeeper, 'It's the genuine skull of Brian Boru.'

'You cheat, 'exploded the American, 'You sold me that fifteen years ago, 'and producing the skull added loudly, 'Look, they're not even the same size.'

'You have got it wrong,' opined the seller, 'This is the skull of Brian Boru when he was a lad.'

* Brian Boru (940 to 1014) managed the rare feat of uniting Ireland. In a turning point in the war with the Vikings, Brian Boru defeated the Viking leader Ivar in single combat. Not only was Brian successful in battle, but he also had at least 4 wives and founded the O' Brien clan.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Another One Down

Another "pre-alien event" down today.

Changed the oil and rotated the tires of my car by my own hands. First time since before the alien era. Therapeutic and I still got it. Felt good.

Funny Irish Phrases

* You've got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was.
* The longest road out is the shortest road home.
* The Irish are very fair people; they never speak well for one another.
* A quarrel is like buttermilk: once it's out of the churn, the more you shake it, the more sour it grows.
* God invented whiskey to keep the Irish from ruling the world.
* Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat.
* The Irish gave the bagpipes to the Scotts as a joke, but the Scotts haven't seen the joke yet.
* The Irish ignore anything they can't drink or punch.
* When anyone asks me about the Irish character, I say look at the trees. Maimed, stark and misshapen, but ferociously tenacious.
* He is bad that will not take advice, but he is a thousand times worse that takes every advice.
* One of the worst things that can happen in life is to win a bet on a horse at an early age.
* A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book.
* Every St. Patrick's Day every Irishman goes out to find another Irishman to make a speech to.
* An Irishman is never drunk as long as he can hold onto one blade of grass to keep from falling off the earth.
* As you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never point in the wrong direction!
* If it was raining soup, the Irish would go out with forks.
* Here's to our wives and girlfriends: May they never meet
* I can resist everything except temptation.
* My mother's menu consisted of two choices: Take it or leave it.
* Cheaters never prosper, unless they get away with it.
* The Irish don't know what they want and are prepared to fight to the death to get it.
* God is good to the Irish, but no one else is; not even the Irish.
* If one could only teach the English how to talk, and the Irish how to listen, society here would be quite civilized.
* The Irish forgive their great men when they are safely buried.
* Irish Alzheimer's: you forget everything except the grudges.

(Source: http://lifestyle.iloveindia.com/lounge/funny-irish-phrases-3082.html)

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Letter from an Irish Mother

Dear Son,

Just a few lines to let you know I'm still alive. I'm writing this slowly because I know you can't read fast. You wont know the house when you get home, 'cos we've moved.

Your Father has a lovely new job with 700 men under him - he cuts grass at the cemetery. There was a washing machine at the new house, but it's not working too good. Last week I put in 12 shirts, pulled the chain and I haven't seen them since.

Your sister, Colleen had a baby this morning, but I haven't found out if it's a boy or girl, so I don't know if you're an uncle or aunt.

Your Uncle Mick drowned last week in a vat of Whisky at the Dublin Distillery. His mates tried to save him, but he fought them off bravely. He was cremated and it took four days to put the fire out.

I saw the doctor last week and your Father went with me. Doc put a glass tube in my mouth and told me not to talk for five minutes. Your Father wanted to buy it from him. It only rained twice this week, first for four days the second for three days.

We had a letter from the undertaker. He said if the final payment on your Grandmother's grave wasn't paid in seven days - up she comes.

Your loving Mother XXXX

P.S. I was going to send you 10 Punt, but I'd already sealed the envelope.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

To explain the recent onslaught of Irish humor. As 25% of my heritage is Irish and 50% is Scottish, the blood starts running faster this time of year. I started a tradition with a friend of mine the other year where I tell them an Irish joke each day for the 10 days leading up to St. Patty's Day. We're including you in on the fun.

An American tourist was driving in County Kerry, when his motor stopped. He got out to see if he could locate the trouble. A voice behind him said, "The trouble is the carburetor." He turned around and only saw an old horse. The horse said again, "It's the carburetor that's not working." The American nearly died with fright, and dashed into the nearest pub, had a large whiskey, and told Murphy the bartender what the horse had said to him.
Murphy said, "Well, don't pay any attention to him, he knows nothing about cars anyway."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Makes Me Smile

This picture makes me smile....

It is of Bo and his parents and was taken last week. Do they all look great or what!?!?!

I had my final conversation yesterday with the Case Manager Nurse for Transplants who works for my insurance company. We've talked several times since our first conversation last June. She's another good soul in the right job.

As I "let go" of some of these folks, it's bittersweet. This time last year, I was seeing the doctor or nurse at least once every two weeks. I miss the regular interaction with them, but seeing them less often means the obvious and it also means they have done well. I'll let them have it. Anyway, I'm banking on the "absence makes the heart grow fonder" thing, so that when they see me the next time, it will be a heroes welcome from them. I'll go with that.

Murphy won the Irish Sweepstakes $100,000.00 and was on a long holiday in America. He went on a bus tour and traveled for hours and hours through desert country and oil fields.
Murphy said, "Where are we now?"
The guide said, "We're in the great state of Texas."
"It's a big place," said Murphy.
The guide said, "It's so big, that your County Kerry would fit into the smallest corner of it."
And Murphy said, "Yes, and wouldn't it do wonders for it!"

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It's A Wrap

To put a lid on yesterday's post....

I find that once the reminder of the event happens and then once I think about it and finally, I process and resolve it, I'm over it. I move on. I don't come back to visit it. For instance, the next ride on my bicycle, will simply be a ride on my bicycle. Fair enough. As I said yesterday, there's other events to come and I know it. I won't shy away from them and no one has to protect me from them. They will be like bad party guests. They'll show up. I'll interact with them. They'll leave and I won't invite them back for another party.

Some excerpts for you to peruse from something I found on the website of The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship:

"...Another emotional concern for many cancer survivors is grief. You may be surprised that grief is included in this program for survivors of cancer. Many people think of grief only as a reaction to a death. But, we can actually feel grief after any kind of loss. This is important, because, as you know, there are many losses that can come with cancer. When they first heard their diagnosis of cancer, some survivors describe feeling that they lost their sense of who they were as a healthy, well person....Many survivors have gotten so used to coping with lots of changes, big or small, that they don't allow themselves time to deal with the natural feelings of sadness or anger that accompany losses. Too often, people close to these survivors don't either. Often, friends and caregivers are trying so hard to say only positive things that they may not even want to think about anything negative. So, they may not recognize that survivors might be feeling angry or sad. You might even find yourself feeling that you can only think or say positive things.

However, experts agree that it is helpful to let out your feelings of grief so that you can get past these feelings and start to enjoy the positive feelings and experiences in life again."

A Swiss man, on holiday in Dublin, needed directions. He was standing outside Davy Byrne's pub when he saw two youths walking by so he stops them and asks, 'Entschuldigung, koennen Sie Deutsch sprechen?'

The two lads look at each other blankly and stare back at him.

'Excusez-moi, parlez vous Fran├žais?' He tries.

The two continue to stare.

'Parlare Italiano?' Still absolutely no response from the two lads.

'Hablan ustedes Espanol?' The Dublin lads remain totally silent.

The Swiss guy walks off extremely disappointed and downhearted that he had not been understood. One of the boys turns to the second and says, 'Y'know, maybe we should learn a foreign language!'

'Why?' says the youth, 'That guy knew four languages, and it didn't do him any good!'

Sunday, March 7, 2010

"You Say Black I Say White..."

"I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like"- QUEEN

For the first time since the summer of 2008, I rode my bicycle today. The pictures are to show you where I was. At the corner of Huguenot and Stony Point Road in Richmond VA, there is a park with trails throughout. The entrance is hidden from the road (even though there is a sign indicating that the park does indeed exist). A few years ago, I read an article in the local paper about and went to explore. It really is a hidden gem. The pictures show that even though you may believe it is pretty secluded, at any one point in the park, you are less than a half mile away from a main road. The pictures were taken at the same location in the park. One is facing west and the other is facing east.

As I hopped on my bike and for some of the ride, there was some grieving on my part. I didn't have a big old bawl-fest, rather, I processed it internally. I remember once when my car was broken into over 20 years ago. Even though the intent of the perpetrator was to steal it, they were unsuccessful. They did manage to mess up the ignition switch, broke a rear window and made my passenger door lock non-functional. I had everything repaired, but after that, rather than everything working with just one key, I had three keys (one for the ignition, one for the driver door/trunk and one for the passenger door) because it was the most economical way to repair the car. My car was once again functional, but it wasn't the same.

That's what the today's grieving was about. As I am truly grateful to be a miracle (as one of the chemo nurses and a friend from church recently labeled me), I hate that there was a part of my life that was wasted by the diagnosis, treatment and killing of the alien. As it was with my car, something was taken away from me and I had to learn to accept what followed.

I will tell you that I don't regret meeting the people I've met over the last year and a half and without the vehicle of my diagnosis and treatment, I would have never met them. I would have never been "spoiled" by those who called, sent cards, sent e-mails, visited with me, sent and made meals, gave me rides, did my laundry, cleaned my house, made me laugh, went to chemo treatments with me, etc., etc. and so forth. I've been challenged by some folks to express where I believe God was in the process. I've known and told you since Day 1. Like I just did.

But, back to grieving. I'm learning it's part of the process. The way I processed it today was that I found myself with more energy to pedal through the trails than I had almost two years ago. I do believe I'm healthier than I was two years ago and these kind of events are helping me realize it.

There will be other events that will cause some grieving moments. For instance, I would like to appear in another theatrical production sometime soon. The last one was May 2008. If I am fortunate enough to be cast in a show, the first rehearsal or so could (or couldn't) be interesting. We'll see. But I know that once rehearsals get under way, I'll feel that same energy I felt on the bicycle today and like I felt on the escalator last week.

Another friend at church was telling me about a family member that was recently diagnosed with a form of lymphoma. She told me that he had sent out an e-mail detailing his diagnosis, but that for now he didn't want any phone calls, visits, etc. She said, "He didn't say anything about e-mails, so I sent a reply back to him." I told her she did good. But, I told her I understood what the other person was saying as I said the same thing in the early going. One needs time to process the information and then decide what and how they want to move forward. I told her that he might loosen up a bit once things settle down. His initial approach to his diagnosis reassured me that I wasn't being a jerk in the early days.

So maybe some of this stuff that I'm talking about and experiencing now is also within a "jerk free zone." If I come across as one, I don't mean to be. Again, not seeking pity, just helping you understand what goes on.

- It's that time of year.....

An elderly couple were driving through County Kerry, Ireland. Irene was driving when she got pulled over by two Gardai, one of whom asks her, 'Ma'am did you know that you were speeding?'

Irene turns to her husband, Mick and enquires, 'What did he say?'

Mick yells out, 'He says you were speeding!'

The Garda said, 'May I see your license, please ma'am?'

Irene, once again, turns to Mick and says, 'What did he say?'

Once more, Mick, shouts out, 'He wants to see your license!'

Irene gives the policeman her driving license.

The Garda retorts, 'I see you are from Kerry. I spent some time there once and had the worst date I have ever had.'

For the final time, Irene turns to Mick and asks, 'What did he say?'

Mick yells very loudly, 'He thinks he knows you!'

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Two For One

Well....since I did have a big time last night watching the Terps beat the evil empire in basketball, I'm feeling generous today.

When the doctor walked into the exam room today, she said, "Why are you here? It's great to see you, but everything looks great, so why are you here?" I told her that my port needed to be flushed out (it is supposed to be flushed out every 4-6 weeks) and because my evil oncologist (I.E., her) wouldn't let me have it removed just yet, it had to be attended to. She did say that it could go 6-8 weeks and it would be fine, hence the scheduling of my next appt. in May vs. April.

I did tell the medical assistant when she asked if I was feeling any pain, etc. that I had what felt like a "tweak" in a tendon or something behind my left knee. It's not constant or uncomfortable pain, but rather it comes and goes. I told her that when I go for my walk, it goes away in the middle of the walk. Her response, "Well then get up off your tail and go for more walks." She and I also get along in our own unique way. There was once that we had to hold off taking my blood pressure because we had made each other laugh too hard. She actually left the room so both of us would quit laughing.

As far as the "tweak," you do become sensitive to those kind of things and you wonder if it is latent issues with the chemotherapy treatments. So, you ask the medical professionals and you get your answers. Then.....

Last week, when I was in DC, I parked at the parking garage at Union Station. You can park there for 2 hours for $1.00 if you get your ticket validated. I was down to the wire and I found myself jogging up the escalator to get out of the garage in time. It's a long escalator and two years ago, I would have been pretty winded by the time I got to the top had I jogged up it. Last week, I literally felt great when I got to the top. No tweaks, no severe heavy breathing AND I got out in time to get the $1.00 rate.

Maybe one should stick with Fearing The Turtle and not the chemo.

I Got Nothin

I had a regularly scheduled appt. with the doctor today.

All things are still fine. Platelets are still low. As before, within the range of where they are expected to be at this point. However, if I had to have surgery, there would be no danger that they are too low.

Next event is a PET scan on March 26.

Next doctor appt. isn't until May.

It's interesting when the appts. start getting spread out even longer than before.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Pressure Gradients

I was looking at a weather map last week. In particular, was looking at the storm that affected the Northeast United States. The winds were very high in that area and they were also pretty gusty in Richmond. Because of my meteorology science elective in college, I could look at the map and tell that the winds were of high speed without even stepping outside. I could tell because of the "pressure gradients." Here's an explanation of how they work. It's a natural process of filling in a void.

I wonder sometimes if I "did it right." I.E., When I was first diagnosed, did I ask the right questions, did I pick the right doctor, did I get the best treatment for me? I am satisfied with my outcome and current status. But still.....

As I've mentioned before, I'm a "gut feeling" kind of guy. Without her permission, consultation or input, I will make the statement that my doctor and I get along just fine. She has gotten used to me and accepts what I call humor. She may not think it's funny, but she accepts it. That's the way it is. Are we similar personalities? Absolutely not. I think one of us is a high pressure system and the other is a low pressure system. However, when we interact, it's natural and comfortable. Because of that, I trusted her early in the process.

I now know more than I did when I was diagnosed. By no means, am I an authority. Looking back, I would have asked for more information up front, just to satisfy my own curiosity and to be better informed. I would encourage anyone to do that. I took a wind up watch apart once, just to see what was in there. If it were possible, I would take a peek inside of me just to see what the remaining alien looks like. The only problem with taking apart the watch and the self-administered examination is that I wasn't and wouldn't be able to reassemble things as they were. One reason I was kind of OK with the potential surgery early this year, I was going to request to see what they took out without having to do the reassembly myself.

After church yesterday, I stopped by the grocery store. The cashier asked me, "Are you on your way to church?" I replied that I was coming from there. She said, "I bet I know what your sermon was about." I asked her to fill me in. She replied, "I had a dream last night that preachers everywhere had to change their sermons this week and they all preached about the end times because of all the recent earthquakes."

I told her that the sermon at my church was about being patient while waiting (Apologies to my pastor if that's not what he wanted me to hear, but that's the message that I heard and it was timely for me).

Even though I was affected by the high winds on Friday, I've learned that they are part of nature and that they can act as a pruning and shaping device.

In my case, I'm working to be comfortable with the pressure gradients in my life and accept them for the miracle they are.