Keeping Busy and my Head Up

Waiting to talk with Dr. Phinney has been a challenge, but I am doing pretty good with it. I’ve found that keeping myself busy seems to help keep most of the negativity out of my head. I certainly have moments throughout the day where I start to think about it all, but I try to turn my thinking around as quickly as I can. I worked eleven hours on Friday and then, after getting my haircut, I met Tina at Longhorn Steakhouse for dinner. Afterward we went home and watched some TV and went to bed. I slept pretty well last night, with no bad dreams.

I got up at 7:00 this morning and was at work before 8:00. After a long day of database work and some programming, I am getting ready to head home to meet Tina. After a quick change of clothes we are heading over to our daughter Susan’s house for a cookout. After that, if I am not too tired, Tina and I are planning to go to Cinamark Theaters at Franklin Park Mall to watch a movie. We both want to see The Dark Tower, Spider-man: Homecoming, and Atomic Blonde, so we have plenty of choices. We’ll probably pick the one that starts closest to the time we leave Susan’s house, because I am very tired.

Keeping busy has helped and the time is shortening that I have to wait to talk to Dr. Phinney. Prayer has also helped me a lot, as well as thinking of my beautiful wife, wonderful children, awesome grandchildren, and the rest of my family and friends who are behind me and counting on me to fight. Knowing that I am not alone, and have so many reasons to keep pushing forward in this battle, has made it easier to squash the bad thoughts when they creep in. I have no idea what Dr. Phinney is going to say or what we’re going to try next, but I am not going to give up. I am going to fight with everything that I have.

New Medications

Last week I got prescribed two new medications, both of which I’m hoping will help me a great deal. When I met with Alicia, one of the nurse practitioners at the Toledo Clinic Cancer Center last week for my monthly checkup, I told her about the fact that almost eight weeks after they stopped the oxaliplatin, I still have very bad neuropathy (the feeling of pins and needles and often times a bad burning feeling) in both my feet. While she did remind me that the neuropathy may never go away, she did suggest that I try Gabenpentin, which sometimes provides relief.

I’ve been taking it three times per day since last Wednesday, however because it takes a while to build up the right levels in my system, I have no relief as of yet. I am hopeful that I do get some relief, because the feeling of pins and needles is constant in both my feet. Constant like all day, every day. It really does suck. But, even if I have it for the rest of my life with no relief, if the cancer keeps shrinking, I’ll take it.

While talking with Alicia last Wednesday, I also talked to her about Provigil, and the potential side effects with my chemo. I read an article about Provigil a couple of months ago where they said that it is kind of like the real life version of the “limitless” drug, from the movie Limitless. The article stated that about forty percent of the executives in Fortune 500 companies use this drug. I showed my wife Tina the article, and she did some research into it (and shortly after got a prescription for herself).

What the drug does is help people who are chronically tired, or get very little sleep, concentrate and focus better. Tina has been on it for about a month now and she says it helps her at work, over her twelve hour shifts. Since I am always tired and feeling drained from the chemo, I thought it was worth talking to Alicia about it. She said that it is not only okay to take while on chemo, but she knows of at least a few patients at the clinic that are using it.

With her blessing, I went to my primary care physician on Friday and got a prescription. I have to say, after starting it on Saturday and also taking it today, I see a difference. Both nights I only slept for about five hours each, and yet I was able to focus on quite a few things that normally I would have had difficulty with, such as reading documentation on JQuery and some development stuff I wanted to knock out for work.

We’ll see how both of these new medications help me over time, though I have to say that I am more than a little hopeful that the Gabenpentin provides some relief, and I’m also hopeful that the Provigil helps me to focus at work and get more done.

Working Today to Rock Out on Wednesday

After a long week of chemo, I am back in the office this morning for a full day of work. I don’t mind it, I actually came up with the idea, so I only have myself to blame. While I am tired and would rather be home sleeping, I am working today so that I can have this Wednesday off. What’s so important about Wednesday? For Father’s Day, Tina got us tickets for Metallica in Detroit, which is this Wednesday. So now I can sleep in that day, and then head up to Detroit to enjoy the concert. Best of all, my boss is letting me work 11:00 am to 8:00 pm on Thursday, so I can get some good rest after rocking out all night.

Today at work I am going to check a couple of workstations at the office, finish off a short list of outstanding items, and then I am going to finish installing and start configuring osTicket on our new CentOS server. It’s a great open source helpdesk system that we are going to use to track user computer issues at the office, as well as build a good knowledge base for the users to fix their own computer problems, if they so choose.

If I can get all the way through the osTicket installation and configuration today, I am going to start to work on installing and configuring Zenoss Core, so that I can proactively monitor our internal servers, router, switches, Internet connections, VoIP, and other IT systems. It’s not my ideal monitoring system, but it is open source and free, so we will be using it until we grow enough to allow for me to spend a few thousand dollars on the one that I prefer.

Weekend Update

It’s been a good weekend so far, and it’s winding down. The diet is still going well and I haven’t had any setbacks, so I’m still excited about weighing in at chemo in another nine days. Hey, at least it’s something to look forward to on chemo day!

I had to work a few hours on Saturday and about an hour today, but it all went pretty quick and easy. I did a little more than my back likes me to do, but that’s just the normal for me anymore. Hopefully losing some serious weight will help with my constant back pain.

I took my youngest son David to the pool hall today and we got some good games in. Well, by good I mean that we enjoyed playing, because I certainly wasn’t playing too well. I’d like to blame my back but to be honest I’m just out of practice, and yet I still feel like I should be breaking and running every table like I used to. Though it’s certainly been quite a long time since I played like that, so I’m not sure why I expect myself to play like I did way back then.

So to wrap up my weekend, I’m going to watch the UFC event tonight and try to get to bed early. I’ve got a doctor appointment in the morning and a long day of work tomorrow, and then hopefully some quiet time with my beautiful wife tomorrow evwning.

Yet Another Weekend

Sometimes I’m really glad to have the weekend finally come, after a long week of work, and other times I’m just wishing it would be over. This was my six day work week, because I have Tuesday off for chemo, and it was a hectic week at work. One of those weeks in IT where chaos is the normal and you never stop jumping from one task to another.

Typically I would be excited for a day off, but I miss Tina tonight, and am having a real problem sleeping. Even after working about fifty hours this week, I’m still awake, more than 19 hours after I woke up Saturday morning. My brain is whirling about my disease, among other things, and I can’t talk with Tina because she’s working.

Hopefully later today I can wake up and hang with my kids for a little while, for Father’s Day, before they go about their typical daily rituals. Having older kids is great, but I never know what will happen, and this year I really want to see them all. I mean, let’s be honest and say it: who knows how many more Father’s Days I’ll be around for? This cancer thing is unpredictable and I have no idea what it has in store for me.

I know this all sounds negative, and I am not sure what’s going on with me tonight, but it is what it is. I guess I’ll try again to go to sleep, and hope that tomorrow brings me a good day, with more positive thoughts.

Clean and Clear!

The colonoscopy went well yesterday. After a long wait for registration, I was taken back and quickly prepared for and taken into the exam room. As always, Versed and Fentanyl did their job and I don’t remember any of the procedure. If you have never had those two drugs, together they make it so that you are very relaxed and have temporary memory loss. Good stuff for a procedure like this.

The doctor came back while I was in recovery and told Tina and me that everything looked perfect; I have healed fully from the resection surgery last November (when they took the tumor and a section of my colon out) and there was no evidence of new disease. Woohoo! Finally, some good news. The doctor even went so far as to say that I didn’t need to come back for three years, unless something comes up on a future scan.

After getting only about three and a half hours of sleep the night before, and only a couple of 20-30 minute naps yesterday, I went to bed at a little after 8:00 pm. I slept great, but unfortunately woke up at 4:30 am today, so I got showered and headed into work to get the day started. Hopefully I will get a chance to sneak out of here a little early today, since I have to be in to work tomorrow for a full day, too.

What a Weekend

This weekend started off with me sleeping half of Friday evening and then being up past 2am Saturday morning. I didn’t mind it too much because I was tired and knew that I had to work Saturday evening on a phone system upgrade.

Saturday I woke up at 6:30am, picked up Tina from work, and then went back to sleep until after noon. Then I watched a little TV with Bree, dropped her off for a babysitting gig, then went home and took Tina and Ava to dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse. It’s always a good time having Ava join us for some quality fun time, just the three of us.

Unfortunately, Bree was not feeling well when I picked her back up, after dropping Tina off to work. I slept a couple of hours early Saturday evening, went to work for about three and a half hours, and was again up way too late. While I was at work, Bree woke up and told me that she had a fever of 103.2 and didn’t feel good. That lead us to the local urgent care on Sunday, where we found out she has strep throat. The rest of Sunday was spent taking naps, running to the store, and staying away from Bree.

Then I was up until after 3am on Monday morning. My sleep schedule is totally messed up and I have to get it right by tomorrow for work. I’m still coughing up major junk, even after finishing the Z-pack, and feeling pretty poopy. Ill be calling the doctor again on Tuesday for another prescription and hope that I feel better soon.

Chemo Break and No Break From Work

I am so excited about my two week break from chemo! Every cycle I get to feeling almost human right before I go back to get another treatment. This time I might actually have enough time to feel “normal” again. And with no more of the oxaliplatin, I am hopeful that the cold sensititvy and neuropathy will eventually go away and not return!

Unfortunately, this weekend was filled with a lot of work, due to some issues with our VoIP at the office. Outgoing calls work fine but incoming calls are intermittently failing over to our secondary source (cell phone). It started Thursday night about 10:00 pm and has been going on since. I worked on it all day Friday, then again Friday night from 7:00 until almost midnight. I was back in the Saturday morning from 7:30 until about noon, and worked on it through the day Saturday and Sunday from home. To me it looks like an issue with our ISP’s upstream provider, but I can’t be certain (they surely won’t admit it). The whole situation has been very frustrating.

So tomorrow morning it’s back to the grind. I’ve got a couple more ideas to try, that I thought of tonight, and hopefully I can get it working quickly. While we aren’t missing any calls because of the failover, it isn’t ideal for our operations team, and it needs to get resolved.

I have to say though, even with all the work and frustration, I’m still very grateful that I am able to do it. So many cancer patients struggle with the treatments and have the side effects affect them much worse than I do. I know that it is due to God, and my faith, that I can get through this with so few problems.

Fatugue, Work and a New CT Scan

Another Saturday is upon me, and I’m back in the office this morning to get some work done. Sometimes these long weeks wear me down and this week that has certainly been the case. I feel like I just can’t get enough sleep no matter how much I get. Every day this week has been difficult to get up and going and by the end of the work day, I am ready for bed. The fact is that the fatigue from the chemo treatments is hitting me a little harder and lasting a little longer each cycle. While I know the chemo is helping me fight the cancer, it is also starting to wear me down. In truth, that’s why I have not been updating this blog as often as I would like.

The last PET scan, in January, showed that the lesions on my liver were either gone or too small to see (less than 1 cm). It was also confirmed that no new cancer was found, though the lesions in my lungs were still there and about the same size. This morning I have a CT scan to see if my lungs are clearing up. The good news is that I already have an appointment on Tuesday morning to get the results of today’s scan, so I won’t have to wait 10 days, like the last time. Thank God I don’t have to go through scanxiety for so long like I did in January.

After the scan this morning I’ll be back in the office for the remainder of the day. The good news is that I will be plenty tired tonight and should be able to go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep. I plan to make Sunday a nice, quiet day of resting around the house, trying to do as little as possible. I am going to need it because I am working Monday and Tuesday I am back at the infusion center for round twelve of chemo.

Working to Pay Off Play Time

I’m back in the office this morning after a good night’s sleep, to make that money to pay off what I did twelve hours ago. Tina and I had a nice dinner last night with our youngest son, David, and then we went home and booked our trip for our anniversary this September: 6 days and 5 nights of Caribbean bliss at the all-inclusive Hard Rock resort in Cancun, Mexico. We were originally planning on a quick weekend getaway in Florida, because of the medical bills coming in, but decided that it will be our 25th anniversary and we need to do something special.

Tina has been wanting to go to Mexico for a few years now and I figured it was high time we do it. I mean, let’s be honest, since I have cancer, we don’t know how many more times we’ll have the chance. Besides, being married for 25 years, especially in today’s world, is certainly something to celebrate! Plus we got a great deal with Costco Travel, including our flights, transfers from the airport to the hotel and back, and the hotel room all for a great price. On top of that, we are getting a $214 Costco gift card in the mail and get $3,000 credit at the resort for extras like couples massages, merchandise from the on-site store, and much more.

Now all we have to do is pay off the credit card we put the trip on and wait another 168 days…