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.

CT Scan Results Before Doctor Consultation

Last night I got an email from Promedica telling me that I had a new message in their My Chart web site, which is a portal for patients. I logged into My Chart and looked at my messages, but there weren’t any new messages. Then I clicked on the Test Results section to see if the results were in from the blood work that my PCP had requested, and not only were those results posted, but also the results of my CT scan from this past Monday.

Normally the CT and PET scan results just say that the results are ready and that the requesting doctor, in this case my oncologist Dr. Phinney, has to release them to me. In the past, that has always been after I meet with him for a consultation, where he goes over the results with me and we discuss what we are going to do next. Unfortunately, this time was very different, because both of the doctors in radiology actually posted their complete reports. Once I saw this, I immediately began to read the results, with my wife Tina, and we were totally shocked by what the reports had to say. It seems as though my lucky streak of seeing good results from the chemo have come to an end.

The CT scan report for my chest, compared to the CT scan on 4/22/2017, noted that a nodule in my right lung that had previously measured 6 mm is now 11 mm. In the left upper lobe, a nodule that was previously seen as sub-centimeter now measures 6 mm. There is also a new mass in my left upper lobe that measures 3.2 cm. It was also remarked that multiple nodes seen within the right lower lobe have increased in size from previous study. The doctor’s impression was “Diffuse worsening of metastatic disease, now with dominant solid lesion within the left upper lobe.”

The CT scan report for my abdomen and pelvis wasn’t any better. Compared to the CT scan on 4/22/2017, there is a new low density lesion at the caudate lobe of my liver, measuring 1.2 cm. The doctor also remarked that the multiple low density hepatic lesions demonstrates the mild prominence in today’s exam, specifically the posterior inferior right hepatic lobe segment which currently measures 1 cm. The doctor’s impression was “There is interval development of 1.2 cm low density hepatic lesion at the caudate lobe. This is worrisome for metastatic disease.”

So, after 18 chemo treatments with FOLFOX, including 12 with Oxaliplatin, the cancer has decided to fight back. Not only has it spread with new lesions and nodules, it has also made some of the existing ones grow. For now, I have no idea what is going to happen; I don’t meet with Dr. Phinney for the consultation and his recommendations until next Tuesday, August 15th, at 4:30 pm. Until then I need to find a way to keep myself busy and my mind off the obviously worrisome news these reports have brought.

Tonight my sweet granddaughter Ava is coming over, so that we can watch some of the American Ninja Warrior episodes that I have recorded on our DVR. She loves that show and it’s some good quality time that we can spend together, which I love to do. I also have to work tomorrow and Saturday, so that will help keep my mind busy. Fortunately, Tina is also off work for the whole weekend, which is a rarity, and I will have her to lean on Friday and Saturday night, as well as all day Sunday. Until next Tuesday afternoon when I meet with Dr. Phinney, I am going to do a lot of praying and try to keep my thoughts as positive as possible.

Good Weekend ending with a CT Scan

I had a good, relaxing weekend and did pretty much exactly what I wanted, nothing. Saturday I ran a few errands and got a service call setup for our refrigerator which has a few issues. Fortunately, it is still under warranty, so the service call is completely covered. After my errands on Saturday I played some PS4, watched a couple of TV shows, and took a solid nap.

Sunday was much of the same, without so many errands. After picking Tina up from work I went home and watched some TV, played some PS4 and took another glorious nap. Then Tina and I went to Longhorn Steakhouse for dinner, and after dropping her off at work, I went to the grocery store and picked up some stuff that we needed.

This morning I am at Flower HospitL to get the latest in a seemingly long line of scans. This is my third since starting chemo back in October of last year, and is becoming a regular thing, every three to four months. After eighteen chemo treatments, I am hoping this scan shows continued progress on the nodules in my lungs and nothing new, but at the same time I am ready for whatever the results are.

I won’t get the scan results until my next appointment with Dr. Phinney on Wednesday, August 16th, but honestly I’m not too anxious about it. After fighting this horrible disease for the past nine months, I’ve adopted a whole new attitude about it. Ultimately, the scan is going to be what the scan is, and there’s nothing that I can do about it. I’m just staying strong in my faith and know that whatever the outcome is for this latest scan, it is what it is.

I’m not going to fight any less or change much of anything based on whether this scan is good news or otherwise. It is what it is, and I’m going to keep doing everything that I can to beat this thing into submission.

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.

A Great Night’s Sleep!

I’ve been feeling worse and worse the past few days. I’ve been coughing up a lot of junk and generally feeling like I got hit by a bus, with my whole body aching. After working yesterday I stopped at Kroger to pick up some dinner for Tina and myself, as she was also not feeling well and had called off work. I got home dead tired and laid down about 5:30 for a quick nap before grilling the steaks and steaming the lobster.

The next thing I know, I wake up at 10:45 because I had to go to the bathroom. After taking care of my business I went back to bed and decided to go back to sleep. Tina woke me a few times through the night but otherwise I slept really good until 9:00 this morning. It has been a very long time since I went to bed and basically slept fifteen hour straight.

I woke up with the same cough, but feel very well rested. Hopefully the extra sleep gave my body a chance to fight the nasty sickies and help get me feeling better soon. I’ve got chemo this week and the last thing I need on top of that is to hbe sick.

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.

Seeing a Difference

The diet is holding strong and I am feeling better because of it. One of the most important parts of a diet, especially for someone like me, is controlling my portions. I am the kind of person that would typically eat unhealthy food, and to make it worse, I ate too much of it. This often ended with me having heartburn or acid re-flux, upset stomach, and all of the other fun stuff related with overeating.

This time I have been very mindful of my portion sizes, and only eat until I am starting to feel full, because I know that shortly my stomach and brain will catch up with each other and tell me that I am full. I am also eating less often and trying to stick to only three reasonable meals per day. Sure, I might have a low carb protein bar in between meals if I am hungry, but not that often. All of this has kept me heartburn and stomach ache free for the past week.

I am also drinking a ton of water every day. In fact, since about two months ago, I only drink water. Once in a while I may add a Crystal Light pack to my water, but that’s rare anymore. One thing that cancer did for me is to give me an excuse to quit drinking pop all the time. I used to go through an average of 5-6 bottles of Diet Mountain Dew per day. But since my diagnosis, and the surgery in November, I haven’t had a drop of pop. Once in a while I miss the flavor, but don’t have any desire to go back to it.

The best news is that, after only one week of dieting, I am down nine pounds! I am so excited to see the weight loss and it is keeping me even more focused on my healthy eating and I am excited to see how much I will be down when I weigh in at chemo on July 5th. So, while I have almost two weeks until my next weigh in, I am feeling stronger than ever in my fight for a healthy lifestyle, and will not falter in my course!

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.

Time to Start Living Healthy

It’s been a crazy eight months since I was diagnosed, and it’s been even longer since I took my health seriously. I’m very overweight and it’s causing a lot of problems for me. Mostly my back is affected, but surely bad food and being overweight isn’t good for me in my fight against cancer.

I have finally had enough and started eating better today. I also plan to start going to the gym, though that is going to be tough, since I’m working full time and still feeling really tired all of the time. I assume most of the fatigue is from the chemo, but I also don’t get as much sleep as I should on a day-to-day basis. Whatever it is, I’m going to do my best to meet my goal of two days in the gym per week.

The Atkins diet has always worked well for me in the past, which is why I decided to go that route again. Once I get closer to my goal weight, of 220 pounds, I’ll look for a diet that can help me maintain the weight loss. But for now, I’m going to stick to what I know, and what I know works for me.

It’s going to be a long and difficult journey, but one that will be well worth it in the end.