Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Things You See in Vegas

So, last night, we took the kids to The Flamingo to see the bird preserve - which is actually pretty nice and just the right price - free.

So, as we're leaving the parking garage, we drive by this seedy little "establishment of ill repute" that is truly "off the Strip." The sign on the building says "Groceries, Liquor, The Stage Door" with an arrow pointing to the door. That is some serious one-stop shopping.

Leah wouldn't let me take a picture.

Friday, June 20, 2008

2/12 = 1/6, 16.7% Complete

Well, with two treatments down and ten to go, I felt like I was less apprehensive this time around. I had a better idea of what was going to happen, so I was more prepared for what did happen, if that makes sense. I seemed to be less sick, but more tired. Now, with a few days of recovery in front of me, I can also expect some nausea and continued exhaustion over the next few days, but I should be ready for work by Monday. At least, that's what I'm hoping for.

Let's see, the rest of the updates are pretty simple. First, the PET Scan results were very good. They showed some inflammation in my abdomen, but that is normal since I'm still recovering from the surgery. The scan can't tell the difference between that kind of inflammation and cancer, but even if there were more cancer in that area, the treatment would be chemotherapy. And since that's what we're doing anyway, the doctor wasn't too worried. I'll have another PET Scan at the end of the chemo and that should be more definitive.

We're still working on regulating my blood's clotting. That's from the clots I had in my lungs last month. We had it under control, but then I had to go on some different medications so they could put the port in my chest for the chemotherapy. One of the drugs was an injectible called Lovonox, which left me with bruises all over my stomach and thighs. These bruises were nasty - really purple and black - so bad I wouldn't even let Leah take pictures of them. Oh, the vanity! Well, my blood had been to thick, but now it's too thin, so I have stopped the injectible and they are trying to use the Coumaden to get it right. Coumaden, by they way, is the same thing they put in rat poison. Oh, the fun things you learn with health problems. Anyway, by blood is still on the thin side - no shaving with a blade - but it's better than it was. All it really means is that a couple of times a week I go back into the cancer center for them to test it. You want the PT/INR level to be between 2 and 3. Mine was below 2 when the clots started. It was 4.5 on Wednesday and 4.0 today. Once we get it back to the right level, I should be able to maintain it with medication throughout the chemo.

As for other side-effects, I haven't lost my hair, though we did cut it really short. See Leah's blog for before and after shots when she gets them posted. I still have the cold sensitivity in my mouth, which is a real pain. It was 115 degrees at 11 am today and I can't drink anything above room temperature. That's a bit inconvenient. Warm Gatorade and water all around! Other than that, I'm just really tired. I'm ready for the recovery process to pick up, but I probably won't start feeling a lot better until Sunday or so.

I've appreciated all the thoughts and prayers sent our way. It's been so nice to know that you are thinking of us. That helps a lot. I'm trying to focus on a more positive outlook - you know 10 treatments left is better than 12! Like all trials, this one also will "come to pass". More health updates as they become available. Now it's time for a nap!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sorry Tiger, You've Been Karpowitz'ed

I should feel bad. Really, I should. You see, this is my fault. If you want someone to blame, the someone is me. I can prove it. Check out the post titled "Just the Way It is" under this link: Just the Way It Is.

Did you see it? I jumped on the Tiger bandwagon and I believe it was the equivelant of covering the driver's eyes and barreling over the cliff. Season ending, career threatening knee reconstruction surgery! Are you kidding me? I become a Tiger fan and now his very career is in jeopardy? Really, I should just stop watching sports. (Forget it, Leah. Everytime I try to get out, they suck me back in!)

Really, I thought I was on my way to turning this thing around. I mean, first the mighty Jayhawks win the National Championship. Then the Chiefs nab Glenn Dorsey and the best draft class of 2008 (this could be deleted in 2112. It takes a long time to truly judge a draft class). The Royals even got in on the act by hiring Trey Hillman and having a really solid April. No, not a World Series. A solid April. We have to look at the little picture with KC sports!

But, it looks like the wheels are trying to come off. It starts with the Royals and all new levels of losing. I’d forgotten just how irrelevant the Royals are in the national picture. I have to scour the internet for highlights of games. I think the only time they appeared in the first 30 minutes of SportsCenter was when they got no-hit by the Red Sox earlier this year. Anyway, my favorite baseball team is trying to set a record for most ridiculous losses in the final three innings of a baseball game. Remember that bullpen that was supposed to be such a strength? Not so much.

Then, Mario Chalmers decided to stay in the NBA draft. Honestly, I guess I can’t fault him. It’s the right decision. He’s probably going to go in the First Round and guarantee himself several million dollars. Still, kind of crappy for the Defending National Champion Kansas Jayhawks. (yes, that’s their official name until at least next March, at which time it will either become the Two-time Defending National Champion Kansas Jayhawks or the 2008 National Champion Kansas Jayhawks. I prefer the first.) So, Mario is done and Sherron Collins is on trial for allegedly exposing himself and groping a woman. Thanks, buddy. So, despite the euphoria of winning it all, the reality of college basketball must go on. At least we’re not Indiana fans. Ouch.

Tiger was the final straw. And you see how the Hall of Fame, greatest player ever handled it? Yeah, he only won three majors with a ruptured ACL and the last one with a broken freakin’ leg! That’s amazing. Now, I know the Tiger camp is saying that he’ll be able to return at 100% in 2009 and I won’t ever count him out. But major joint reconstruction is a bit of a crap-shoot. Will he be strong enough to win four more and tie Jack Nicklaus? I hope so. Am I sure it will happen? Absolutely not. My suspicion is, if I go back to the Mickelson camp, Tiger will win 15 more majors and Phil will be in full manzier mode by the end of his career. But that’s just me.

So, Tiger, here’s to hoping you can get it back. I’ve decided to provide Tiger with a little motivation by showing him the greatest motivational moments in the greatest motivational sports movies of all time. These are motivation for specific situations. Use them as needed.

Motivational Moment Number 1: Getting Ready:

Here’s the situation. You’ve decided to retire, but out of no where, Ernie Els challenges your old friend, Mark O’Meara to an exhibition match. Els beats an old and past his prime O’Meara so badly that O’Meara falls into a sandtrap on the 1st Green and dies. Of course, you immediately challenge Els to a match on “his turf”. Strangely enough, Els does not choose his native South Africa, but instead has you come to Communist Russia at the height of the Cold War. We are not sure how he accomplished this, so just go with it. You accept, but you will need to train “old school” to survive this match. Press play now.

Motivational Moment Number 2: The Bully:

Let’s say you come back in 2009, but all the surgery recovery has left you the shell of your former self – seriously, you’re down to like 98 pounds. And, the cool guys on the tour – the Kobra Kai of Wingfoot: Mike Weir, Justin Leonard, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson as Johnny– have started pushing you around and kicking sand in your face. What do you do? Well, you sign your former swing coach Butch Harmon who teaches you how to build muscle and perfect your swing by remodeling his house. Then, you enter the All Valley Golf Tournament and kick some Kobra Kai butt! Press play now.

Motivational Moment Number 3: The Comeback Delayed

Okay, now you’re back on the tour, but getting no respect. Because of the incredibly unwise decision to stay at Barbara Hershey’s hotel on the way to Chicago, you’re comeback took about 15 years longer than you expected. But, you finally get back in and are really knocking the cover off the ball. Then, just before the 2023 Masters, you find out that the knee is not going to make it. You have to retire or risk permanent damage. This is it, the 18th hole of the final round. You need to be perfect to save Pop and the team from the Judge. Press play now:

Motivational Moment Number 4: Heart

Now, if that wasn’t enough and your heart just isn’t in it, remember that there are thousands of us out here who would love to do what you can do. We’d give it all – even spend a year getting our butts kicked on the Nike Tour just to have a chance for one round at the US Open, one at bat for our favorite team, one sack for our favorite college football team! And if you can watch these without getting a little misty, you’re a better man than me. Press play now:

And now:

And now:

And both of these:

Now, get out there and play! I’m still on your side! I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, but I’m not giving up!

One final health thought: I started chemo 2 of 12 today. Doing well, so far. A bit tired. I’ll post on Friday after I get the pump off.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Practice Makes Perfect

Click to play Karpowitz Family
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With Kate's baptism coming up, I'm looking at different websites and programs for slideshow ideas. I didn't love this one, but it's fun to play with the pictures. If you know of a good one, pass it on!

Friday, June 06, 2008

1/12 of the Way - 8.3% Complete

Okay, I've completed the first round of chemotherapy and I can honestly say. . . pretty crappy! I went in on Wednesday and got hooked up to the chemo machine. Good times - six hours in the doctor's office. When I finished there, I got hooked up to the chemo pump and got to wear that for the next 46 hours. I can tell you, it pretty much sucked the energy out of me. One weird side-effect - cold drinks burn my mouth. I'm hoping that goes away while I'm not actually on the chemo. Anyway, I went in today and got the pump removed and they gave me a shot to build my white blood cell count. Probable side-effect - achenes. Another fun one!

On the whole, I'm looking forward to spending the next 11 days getting my strength back before I go back in. I had some nausea with the first round, but apparently things were a lot more mild than they could have been. I'm not sure if that makes me happy or sad!

I've been feeling a bit sorry for myself today. I need to snap out of that. Things are going fine and, once the chemo is over, I should be able to get back to normal. That will be awesome.

Other things are going well. The kids are out of school for the summer. Leah is working hard to keep them busy. She's trying something new with their chores. She writes the chore lists for them at night and they can see them first thing in the morning. The rule is, once your chores are done, the day is yours. Kate and Emma have gotten right up each day and gotten things done. Ryne was a bit slower to motivate today, but he'll get it.

Other than that, things are pretty quiet around here. Leah has been awesome. She is so much stronger than me. She is truly a blessing in my life. I'll try to make the next post a little more exciting - maybe some NBA finals fun or a little baseball. For now, I'm just happy to have the first treatment over with. Good times!

Monday, June 02, 2008

It's a Deal

So, I was sitting outside with Ryne on Sunday and I asked him what I could do to be a better Dad. His answer? "You could be healthier." Man, that made me want to get healthy just about more than anything. I sure do love my kids.