Friday, May 30, 2008

Undacovah Brothah

Okay, my wife keeps making little comments about my lack of a recent post, so I guess I better get back on the ball!

Shameless Plug

I am really lucky. I have my very own Personal Media Advisor. Most people don't have one of those, but I do. In fact, I think he might actually be a superhero - Mild-Manored English Teacher by day - Investigator of all things Media related by. . . well, day and night, I suppose. He's first in line for the movie premier. He reads books first so I don't have to. He watches live TV, TiVo's TV he can't watch live and buys seasons of shows that he really likes. And, yes, he's my brother. He's awesome. He's really good at this stuff. He is teaching English in Georgia and is an aspiring novelist. And he knows his stuff. Ask about some obscure author and he can give you five reasons why he didn't like his last book. Unsure about the new Indiana Jones, Joel says, "Wait for video!" Need some quality television to watch while recovering from major surgery? Have no fear - there is an answer!

So, while in the hospital the first time around, we got a package from Georgia - Season 1 of Friday Night Lights. It came with the strong recommendation from Joel that we would really enjoy it. Now, Joel has hit several home runs for us in the TV series on DVD genre - he turned us on to both Arrested Development and Veronica Mars - two must sees. And now Joel is 3 for 3. Friday Night Lights is awesome. I have just the season finale to watch, but I am definitely looking for Season 2! It's not too much football, but enough for those of us that enjoy football. The characters are really compelling and the story lines - struggling to survive in this football obsessed Texas town - are really strong. The best character on the show besides the coaches wife is Landry - who disappears a bit in the middle of the season. The episode where he reads of Mice and Men to Tim Riggins is just hilarious. I haven't quite convinced Leah of the greatness of the show - I watched most of it while lying in a hospital bed. But, due to our 2.5 years living in the town after which the book was written and the show is patterned, watching the exterior shots makes Leah a bit sick to her stomach. So, maybe down the line she'll take a shot at it. But, if you're looking for something really interesting, it's got my vote.

In preparation for my upcoming Chemo exhaustion, I purchased several movies, as well as Season 2 of Arrested Development and Season 3 of Veronica Mars and The Office. Joel's latest recommendation? Lost. I've never gotten into it on regular TV, but my Personal Media Advisor says it is great, so I just may have to give it a shot.

Health Update

We are getting closer to the start of chemo. Despite some confusion about when I need to stop taking my blood thinners so I can get the Portacath put in, I have been going through the preparatory steps for the Chemo. I had two CT scans a couple of weeks ago - one on my chest that showed some lingering pneumonia and one on my brain that was normal. My regular doctor switched me to a blood thinner that I have to inject into my abdomen. That stinks, but I should only have to take it for a month. We thought it was to get ready to put the port in that the oncologist will use to deliver the chemotherapy, but the surgeon's office said I shouldn't be on any blood thinners, so we're a bit confused on that front. The injections are really painful for about 15 minutes and they make my abdomen really sore in the evenings. But, I haven't been getting the headaches I got with the other stuff. The injectable costs about $4K for a months worth ($50 co-pay - Yeah for insurance!). We had to get special approval from the insurance to cover it once. Later today, I got in for the PET Scan to make sure I am essentially tumor free - we'll never be able to tell if the cancer leaked out of the tumor in my belly or not. Next week, I get the port put in and then start the Chemo.

It's all happening very quickly. I'm ready for the chemo to start simply because I want to know how it's going to affect me and, once it's started, it will be over in six months. I will probably lose some hair and have some sensitivity to cold, but the biggest side affect will be exhaustion. I'll go in every two weeks on a Wednesday and be in the office for 3-4 hours while I take the medicine. Then, I'll have a bag that I'll wear for the rest of the day on Wednesday and all day Thursday. The bag will come off on Friday morning and the oncologist thought the exhaustion would last another 4-5 days. Then a week off to get my system back up and start it again. I'll have twelve treatments, so I should be finishing up around Thanksgiving. I'm nervous, but ready. That's the best way I can describe it. Six months from now, I should be completely cancer free. I can't wait.

One More Thing

Leah wrote a great post the other day letting people know that we haven't just been sitting around in hospitals and doctor's offices these past weeks. Check it out. Here's the link:

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

This, Too, Shall Pass

Remember how I was saying I need a new mattress? Well, that's still the case, but that's not what was causing my severe back pain. Turns out, I had blood clots in my lungs! Last Wednesday, the pain was getting worse and worse. I got home from work and couldn't catch my breath. The pain started to move to the front and just kept getting worse. We called my Home Health Nurse and she suggested we go to the ER just in case. So we did. After a CT Scan, they found the clots and put me on blood thinners. And so I spent the next week in the hospital! This time was even more boring than the first, after the incredible pain started to back off. Though the pain continued to recur, the severity was never as bad as that first night. Mostly, I just had to sit in my hospital bed and wait for my blood to thin. The down side of all that sitting is that I developed some fluid on my lungs. That is also causing some pain. They decided not to drain it, but to see if it would clear up on its own. That's because they would have to take me off the blood thinners to drain it, then drain the fluid, then get back on the blood thinners and get my blood regulated. That would be another week in the hospital. I voted against that and the lung doctor agreed for now. However, if they don't clear up on their own, I may have to go back in and have them drained. Fun stuff!

So, that's been my week. I'll be working from home this week and probably next, since that's when I have my first visit with my oncologist. That visit will set my chemo schedule.

On a more serious note, today Leah's sister, Gretchen, suffered a brain aneurysm while walking with her youngest daughter. They found it early and it's on the surface. She is in surgery this evening. Please keep Gretchen and her family in your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Back to Work

Well, I've been back at work for two days now. Let's just say, at the end of the day, I'm bushed! I can't believe how hard it is to do something I've done a thousand times before. It's really strange. But, I'm happy to be back and working. I really enjoy my job and I'm glad to be contributing.

Here's where we stand right now - nothing really has changed. I've met with my in-home nurses three times. Everything seems to be going well. Dr. Abey removed the staples last week and the incision, though sore at my belt line, is healing well. The muscles underneath feel pretty tired and my back has been pretty sore from having to sleep on it for so long, I think. Leah and I really need a new mattress, so that may be on the docket for this weekend.

Other than that, I seem to be doing okay. I've heard from so many friends and loved ones. That has been really nice. The thoughts and prayers of everyone are definitely felt and heard. I can't thank you each enough for that.

Going forward, I'm meeting with the oncologist in about two weeks and should know the chemo schedule at that time. I'm a bit apprehensive, but also ready to get it going so I can get it finished. Does that make sense?

The big news this week is that we sold the house in Edgerton - well, it closes later this month, but we are really excited. I can't believe it finally sold. We had no offers for so long, then got two on the same day. It's really a blessing to get it sold. We really miss our friends from the Ottawa Ward. That's for sure. It's funny. The ward here has been great. They have been so supportive. As we make friends, it will be even better. But we certainly miss the familiarity of the Ottawa Ward. That makes such a difference in a ward. It really can feel like family. We are excited to get to that point here, as well.

So, that's about it. Not much more to say this time. Next post better be sports related or my image is going to be ruined.