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Keane's Chemo Adventures, Update #4 - June 11, 2009

Hi Guys!

Haven't had the chance to post lately, been busy going through old stuff in the house I want to rid myself of, and Bruce (the same guy from my Dec 2008 Trip Report) came up to Chicago for a few days. Well that, and you know, work. The place that pays you.

Finished my 5th Chemo treatment yesterday. I was determined to post something, but the vein my nurse found was right below the ring finger on my right hand, and was right over the muscle for said finger. So every time I tried to type, it let me know. So I read my book instead. In fact, I finished the book 10 minutes before the end of chemo. What timing.

So that leaves 3 weeks and 5 days, plus the post-chemo tests. I can't believe it all started two-and-a-half months ago (9 weeks, 4 days). It seems like such a long time ago. One more chemo session to go.

Woke up this morning with a touch of nausea, took my 'pre-breakfast' meds and had breakfast with my 'with breakfast' meds an hour later. By that time the nausea was gone. I still continue to think that it's the Emend that's keeping me non-nauseated. (If that's a word.) I still have to applaud it.

I had my CT scan last Friday. Got in right away, and was back in the waiting room 15 minutes later with PiC asking me why I was back so soon. The last time we were in radiology, she had to wait over an hour. (That was because the doc that looked over the X-Ray saw the pneumonia in my lungs, who then called my oncologist, who called a specialist. Then they incarcerated me and did various tortures upon me for the next six days. But I digress...)

Anyway, there's good news and bad news from the CT scan.

The bad news is, between the barium and the iodine, the iodine won, big time. And I mean biiiig time. I'm not sure if it's the stuff you drink before you get there, or the stuff they shoot into your veins during the scan, but I barely made it home before an accident would have occurred. And for those curious, the iodine you drink before the CT scan tastes absolutely terrible, and the berry smoothie barium tastes...almost okay. The texture is almost too smooth, but it did taste berry-like, but had a funny finish to it. Vodka or rum (or Everclear) would probably have improved the drink. Heck, they make Listerine 43 proof, don't they?

The good news is, good news! The lymph nodes what were approximately 4 cm, have shrunk back to the normal 1 - 1.5 cm. Prognosis is excellent. My oncology doc said after my 6th session, I should be good to go. He asked me what I was going to do with the rest of my summer, to which I immediately replied, "I'm goin' to Disneyworld!" (Ask PiC. I have a witness. People actually do say dumb things like that spontaneously. :-))

Still, I seem to have a problem with someone pumping drugs with the word "toxin" in its name into my body. I'd rather get my doses orally in the form or bourbon or scotch, thank you. The best part is, there are two drugs that the nurse has to get into a special gown, gloves and mask before administering. The first is a red solution, which will color certain bodily fluids red. And I don't mean your blood. The other is clearly marked "Fatal" if used incorrectly, and it comes in its own little plastic bag which states that the drug will be fatal if used incorrectly in nice, big, fat, red lettering. Now, not only do *I* not get the mask and the gown and the gloves, but they're putting the stuff right into my circulatory system. Then the syringes, gown, gloves and mask all go into the biohazard trash bags. The reality of the situation is not lost on me.

And I need to get a couple of those Biohazard trash bags they use. I wonder if Disney Security would question it if I used it to carry stuff into the parks. (Not filled with used IV bags or bloody rags, of course...)

We had arrived at the Hospital Parking garage at 8:30am, ate breakfast at the hospital cafeteria (which I will not do again, I would sooner eat at the ABC Commissary), and got out of the parking garage at 2:45. So it was a fast day. PiC got out of dinner, saying she had a dinner/graduation for her niece she had to go to. Some people have such lousy excuses...

I still get out of breath carrying a weeks worth of groceries upstairs, but it's getting better. Still get fatigued too often, too soon, but that's probably because I'm a slug one out of every 3 weeks. One of my goals after this is over is to get back into my semi-soft muscle-toned state. And my yard needs weeding. I'm looking for volunteers. Anyone? (Weeding would be so much easier if the ground was at waist height.) And the lawn needs mowing too. I should have done it on Sunday, but Bruce was in town, and it was conveniently forgotten about. Now there's the question of whether I should be operating such machinery at all while on Prednisone. I'm also cleaning up a few years of sloppiness on my computers, and doing my annual full backups, reorganizing data on disk and literally moving terabytes of data around. And I got some e-mail from Disney about AP rates that I have to look into. I apologize, I'm babbling.

So I hope to have all of this over in about 35 days, including the post exams. Can't come soon enough for me. Having a normal life once again, would be nice.

Talking about babbling, those of you who don't want to hear about me talk about hair, leave now. You've been warned.
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Bruce and I were watching "The Lord of the Rings, The Extended Edition", all 734 hours of it, and by the end of "The Two Towers", all I could watch was Gollum's head. His hair and mine look remarkably alike. And no I don't mean dirty and stringy, I mean a little thin in places. ('Course, there's a resemblance of posture in there too, but I won't go there.) I remarked this to Bruce, who was remarkably restrained in his answer. See, he's four younger than I am, and laughed at me when I turned 30. By the time he got to 30, he wasn't laughing. (He's still not laughing.) Coincidentally, his brother's lymphoma had recurred, and was taking his first session the day before I was. (I hope not to be in that position....)

I don't know what it is about me and my hair. I'm not vain. I dress like a slob. It's probably the fact that I've had a full head of hair for 51 circles 'round the Sun, and within a few weeks, the guy who stares back at me in the bathroom mirror isn't that same guy. (I haven't checked all the mirrors yet, but they'll probably show me the same thing.) All my other friends who have male pattern baldness, have had years to get where they are now. It took me about a month, and there's no pattern to the baldness.

Now when I see other bald guys, I wonder if they're really bald or are doing chemo. The cancer center I go to has a remarkable number of patients.

I'd get it all shaved off except for two things. One, I look normal with my floppy green hat on. (Okay, so normal is a subjective thing.) Second, when I pass my hand over my head, I still feel hair. It may be weird, but it makes me feel better. :-)

On the plus side, it's a piece o' cake to wash and dry it.

On the down side, I lose a certain percentage every session, so I suspect the hair battle has been lost.

And no, I'm not really obsessed about it, but it is one of the more bizzare oddities of this adventure. It's the only external sign you would recognize that I have cancer (if you knew what I looked like in the first place,) and it's not from the disease, it's from the treatment for the disease.

Hair (or lack of it) talk over. Remember, you were warned...

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