October 13, 2010

First chemotherapy coming tomorrow....gulp

Sorry for the delay getting this blog going and an update posted.  I have been bogged down in last-minute medical lunacy before I begin the first chemo slug out Thursday - October 14.  I had a dose of morphine an hour ago to deal with the pain from a nasty feed tube the doctors cut in to my stomach a few days ago to get chow into me.  The morphine is the only painkiller they have tossed at me that will put down pain from the feed tube entry point. Suppresses the pain.....but half the time I take the morphine, it makes my head fill with non-stop thoughts so I can’t sleep.  Tonight is one of those nights.  Man, it was a lot simpler to be just a plain ol alcoholic 20 years ago!

I have had three surgeries during the last two weeks with the following results: 

  • The doctors removed a marble size cancer down in the throat as well as 23 lymph nodes from the right side of my neck area.  Six of those nodes had cancer in them, unfortunately.  This little soiree into the OR took 70+ visible stitches to close me back up. 

  • I now have a feed tube down near my navel going through the skin and muscles and into the stomach.  It allows me to take all my nutrition from cans of liquid poured into my stomach via this tube. ( Should have had that when I drank ! ) My upcoming chemo and then combo chemo/radiation treatments are going to cause enough swelling to seal off the throat as a path for any food and nearly all liquid.  I still hope to be able to take some liquid through the throat---actually I have to so that the throat does not atrophy during the treatments.
  • I have a Port-A-Cath planted under my skin a few inches below my collarbone on the right side of my chest.  Instead of having to have endless IV needles stuck in my arms, wrists, and hands during all the treatments, the nurses will stick an IV needle through the skin covering over the Port-A-Cath and then pump in the chemo juice.  The Port-A-Cath has a reservoir under my skin that is connected to a tube that goes into my jugular vein and down to just outside the heart.  This arrangement allows the nasty juice to get mixed well into the blood stream and quickly around the body to ruin my day....and the cancer's as well, I presume.
I have told all the doctors (eight of them) on my cancer team in no uncertain terms to hit me as hard as they can while not killing me in the process of saving me.  We have reworked an earlier treatment plan and made it into an aggressive Chips-All-In attack. The doctors are telling me I am probably only to get one chance at getting this right so I certain that more is better in this case. I like to refer to this as my QRO cancer treatment package.  As they say, life is too short of QRP.  

We will start with nine (9) weeks of treatment using the nastiest stomach-churning chemo brew they can come with.  My only rule was that if their poison melted out the bottom of a cocktail glass, they had to back off a bit before pouring it into my jugular vein.  After that opening round of 9 weeks, I will try and absorb 5 days a week / 7 weeks of a combo chemo/radiation treatment without regressing into a pathetic whining big baby.  Hmm….well, at least no more than other guys have that have walked down this particular path with the Sluggo chemicals…

If they do not kill me during those 16 weeks of treatment, I will have about 60 more days of feeling as cruddy as I will during the treatment.  Then healing begins.  Meaning hair returning some day and since my voice might disappear at some point during all this, I will be eager to have it back.  The voice come-back is probable but isn't a promise they can make - that is why God made Morse code, right? 

It looks like my return to some semblance of a normal life will be in the later portion of the first quarter of 2011.  

God, I wish this hadn't snuck up on me so quick because I didn't get a tower or any antennas up at the new NC country place this year like I planned.  I would have so loved to have one of my short term goals be to live through this freaking treatment and then go out there and just sit in front of a radio with a whole new appreciation for ham radio and all that it has given me simply by being on the air with all my friends around the world.

The E-ticket part of this whole ride starts tomorrow when the heavy-duty chemo starts. The cocktail will be made up of 3 kickass chemicals....yes this is the part of the ride where the hair falls out. :)  I will be the consummate Yaesu Poster Boy with my Yaesu hat covering my bald head and my skinny silly looking face with big ol Howdy Doody ears!  The skinny face will come from the most expensive weight loss program available....all you have to do is get yourself a dose of Gotchya Cancer.  Then you sign up for the chemo and let them light ya up with radiation!  Geeish, I have lost 10 lbs from the surgeries and have not even had my first controlled chemo poisoning!

So many nice folks have been asking for updates - I cannot keep up....which is totally heartwarming and humbling.   My brother suggested  I do this blog. I will try to post daily updates and "here is what the crazy SOBs did today" stories to remind me to laugh and let my buddies get a chuckle too.  I didn't keep my alcoholism a secret over the last 20 years; talking about my drinking experiences helped me stay sober and find the humor in the sadness.  I am not going to hide this cancer either.  I did not do something wrong, soiled the Admiral’s daughter, break any laws, etc.  I have nothing to be embarrassed about. 

Life is a ride of ups and downs; it’s not how well you ride it; it’s how much humor you find in the ride if you want to survive when you get your butt knocked in the dirt (even if you kinda had it coming to you...blush).

I will soon post up some really funny stories of things that have happened with the doctors, nurses, technicians, and medical facilities that have been my family and very life since early August.