January 22, 2008

Discharge date!

I'll be getting out of rehab in a week to continue my recovery at home with outpatient care and continuing PT. Between now and then I have to really focus on my physical recovery so that I can be self-sufficient around the house as much as possible. Exciting news to say the least.

Today I'm feeling a little slow as I took more pain meds than usual last evening . . . because I was in more pain than usual with a sinus headache; once I was out, I was out though. It's rainy and cold here today . . . good day for sleeping; but no, two hours of PT and another hour of OT. It's tiring, but great to see the progress, sometimes without being aware of it myself until my PT therapist or Anne points it out to me. Visitors have been light, which is fine for now with my workout schedule.

Anne has been great about brining me stuff from Trader Joe's Market, as the "Food" here is barely recognizable as such and virtually tasteless.

I can't wait to get home next week.

January 21, 2008

Happy Monday

I know those two words don't go together normally, but those days are gone for me. There are no more bad days, as Lance has said.

I had yesterday off from PT so I spent most of the day relaxing and watching tennis. A few friends came by to say hello, but other than that it was a quiet day, which I needed. I'm definitely making progress physically. I've been told that I'll be here another two weeks. As long as I get to see my three girls I'm fine.

I figure it will take as long as it takes and try not to think about how homesick I am.

January 16, 2008

Too much tennis

It would stand to reason that in a place where I can sleep better than at home or in hospital I would take advantage of the opportunity and do so, right? But the Australian Open Tennis Tournament is on in the middle of the night! I doze in and out as Maria Sharapova dances across the court in a display of both skill and grace, while dismantling her opponents with ease; I'm just glad she's stopped calling finally.

So I'm sitting in my bed at RISB (Rehabilitation Institute of SB), blogging away and watching a replay of the match that will end up eliminating Roddick from the Open. I've finished my three hours of therapy for the day with the knowledge that the infection is being not only controlled, but eliminated by the meds. They're saying I'll be in here for another two weeks; so I will lose the whole month of January. I'm homesick. I just have to focus on how much stronger I'll be when I get out and be grateful that I'm here at all . . . not too tough to do under the circumstances.

I'm sorry if I gave you a scare in the multi-day "neglect" of this blog. Hopefully you had a connection to get updated before now. I understand that some of you talked to folks you had not made contact with in years and in doing so may have re-connected with an old friend. Don't let those connections break again. When it comes right down to it, they are the the things that make truly wealthy.

January 15, 2008

Long awaited update

Sorry for the silence, but I nearly died last weekend; so you'll forgive me, right? I know it sounds overly dramatic, but it's evidently the case as I'm told by my rock-strong wife. Friday morning, as previously blogged, I think, I had a fairly significant seizure that put me in bed for the rest of the day. I had an MRI later in the day which confirmed the infection and sent me to the hospital for emergency surgery, no choice in tht matter according to my doctor. Do or die and all of that. I'm not sure just what the formal name of the "bug" is, but I know it was not good nor was it easy to diagnose, evidently. Fortunately, one of the docs in my surgeon's group is a diagnostician (like Dr. House on tv sans the attitude) so I was in extremely capable hands, once again; somebody up there likes me or has unfulfilled plans for me or something. I appreciate their trust in my ability, I just wish they (He) didn't have so much confidence in me at times, to paraphrase Mother Teresa.

It looks like I'll be in rehab for about two weeks, which both Anne and I think is great. They'll get me physically strong enough to normal so that I can be confident about going home in good shape. It's extremely draining right now, but well worth the effort in the long run.

I'll try to keep up with both the blog and your comments.

January 13, 2008

It's just a flesh wound!

I'm resting comfortably in SB Rehab and I'll give a full update soon.

January 3, 2008

More treatment

I had my second treatment yesterday; 3 hour infusion of Avastin and CPT-11.  I felt anxious and tired at the same time for the rest of the day, other than that few side effects beyond nausea and headache.  Okay, I guess it wiped me out and made for a very fractured sleep last night. Fortunately I bought a bunch of old Erroll Flynn movies last week, and there's plenty of political coverage on today, so I've got plenty of entertainment for between naps today.
I asked my doc about the numbness in my hand and face.  Fortunately, I have my neurologist's cell number, so they were able to talk during my appointment and his opinion is that my problems are consistent not only with the location of the tumor, but may well be due to necrosis, or tumor death, and the ensuing clean up process.  Gregg (my oncologist) shared that opinion as a possible scenario, which is great news.  Either way neither he or Dave (my neurologist) seemed particularly concerned, so I'm not going to be; doesn't help to be anyway - still, keep your fingers and toes crossed,please, until further notice. 

The toughest part of this process is waiting, once again, for the side effects to subside.  If it stays consistent with the first treatment, the symptoms should change within a few days; whether they will improve or worsen remains to be seen because of the overall process.  If it's killing the tumors I have all the swashbuckling films, drugs and all the time in the world to wait.

January 2, 2008


Okay, this is ridiculous.  I mean waking up is great . . . but being awake enough to get up to blog?  You can't be serious?!  Why am I asking you?
Another treatment today after seeing my doc.  I report in at 10:00am and will probably be getting juiced until 2:00pm.  It could be a lot worse; my friend, Rick, has been in the hospital for his chemo treatment since last Friday, I think.  Hell of a way to bring in the new year.

Speaking of bringing in the new year, now that a few days have passed since New Year's Eve I suppose I can laugh about this.  Anne injured her left arm (thankfully she's a righty) a while back, then she re-injured  it again, and again.  She really did a number on it a few days ago to the point that she was grimacing . . . this from a woman who never admits to pain, unless it's describing living with me, which is completely understandable, of course.  So she goes to the doctor, ends up with her left arm in a sling and in more pain than childbirth, according to her, which I made it through with no problem - I don't understand all the fuss about that one.  Just kidding - please no hate mail, moms.

Anne picked up a couple of beautiful filets at Costco - best place for beef, by the way.  She also got green beans and potatoes - basically my favorite meal.  So Caitlyn got the George Foreman Grill down, one of the best gifts Anne ever bought for me/us, by the way.  I had dry rubbed the meat earlier (right after I marinated the steak - sorry - it's my blog; sue me).  And now the picture appears; my left hand is numb and can't grip a thing, basically.  Anne's left arm is killing her and she's taking her frustrations out about the Vicodin not working fast enough by freaking out on the fact that the heater is on with the bathroom window is open; totally unlike her.  The girls are both getting ready to get out of Dodge because they have parties to go to and because they can see that the night is going to be ugly ay home with the cripple twins trying to make a nice dinner with two functional arms between us.  

So the meat is cooking, the potatoes are cooking, the beans are cooking; thanks to the patented over and under fat-decreasing grills on the George Foreman Grill, the filet is cooking itself, basically.  Where's the champagne?  We got a very nice bottle of Chandon champagne for our anniversary . . . last March that I was not about to let stay bottled into 2008; I think that would've been bad luck for some reason and I wanted to drink some good champagne anyway.  Now picture this; the meat is done, rested and ready to be cut . . . but how to do that with a bad wing?  Like everything else Anne and I have successfully done to face this challenge; teamwork.  She forked the filet and I sliced.  No forks or knives necessary, fingers work fine.  Great food, great drink, great company, even through the pain and looking back now probably one of the most entertaining evenings to have had a hidden camera in the kitchen to replay later for laughs.

In a few hours I'll be hooked up to a different kind of elixir.  Not quite as fun or the same kind of buzz certainly, but hopefully just as good a vintage.

January 1, 2008

"Not everything is symptomatic..."

One of the most important things that my local oncologist, Gregg Newman at Sansum Clinic, told me early on is just that; not every ache and pain is attributable to, or symptomatic of, the cancer.  That having been said, I think that a cancer survivor (which I believe you become from day one), whether newly diagnosed, in treatment, or 10 years out from the end of treatment,  would be less than truthful if they said that in the deep, dark recesses of their minds, that specter materializes when a strange pain or condition suddenly appears.  As Lance Armstrong has said, "Cancer may leave your body, but it never leaves your life."  
While my left leg and my balance have continued to improve, since last Friday my left hand has been feeling numb, weak and listless and it continued periodically over the weekend around my lips on the left side (new tumor, right side).  That has since gone away, but the hand numbness is constant now, which is troubling, at best.  I called the clinic and talked to the on-call oncologist (tongue-twister).  His opinion was that it may be attributable to the decrease in steroids that we did after the last dose, so he suggested an increase back to the higher dosage.  Who knows if the increase is what stopped the face numbness, but it has indeed stopped; the same can't be said for the hand numbness, though.  Of course, with the increase in the steroid dose, my left hand, ankle and both knees feel swollen and tight.  Steroids, as I've said before, are the double-edged sword in this whole mess; damned if you do, damned if you don't.  I'm scheduled for another infusion tomorrow. 

I try to keep this in perspective.  I try to tell myself it's not related to the tumor, just a side effect, and I do a damned good job of convincing myself (he said, wiping the bead of sweat from his forehead).  It's always there, though, in that deepest, darkest recess of my own mind, keeping company with the Boogie Man.

Now, on to the big announcement.  I'm inviting anyone who would like to join me for the Bay Area  LAF Livestrong Challenge on July 13, 2008, to become an official member on TEAM TOMSTRONG (I'm working on the jerseys, don't worry).  We'll be raising money as a team to benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation.  More information will follow shortly.  In the meantime, some preliminary info to hold you over  http://www.livestrong.org/site/c.khLXK1PxHmF/b.2661929