September 19, 2015 (Sat) – The Drought is Over

DroughtIf you are living in Southern California as I am, you are probably saying to yourself, he’s full of cr*p. Well, apparently I am. But we will get to that in a minute. No, the recent downpour we received helped, but in no way way made much of a dent, in our water shortage. However, the ending of the drought I am referring to is a different breed and falls in line with other negative but positive sounding things we cancer patients can’t get used to like “progression” and “enhanced.” Or if you’re a guy, a word like “enlarged.”

Beep, beep, back up the truck.

Last you heard from me, I left you hanging with all of my scan tests the day following my last blog posting. Well, as luck(?) would have it, I dont-leave-me-hangingwas able to get my brain MRI done but as I was getting ready to head out for my PET scan, I received a call. The PET machine was down and they would have to reschedule. And this after I sacrificed all day the day before in not eating any carbs. And that is a big sacrifice for moi. Unfortunately I was leaving for the Bay area for a week the next day and had to reschedule the scan for this past Tuesday after I returned. Carb-free again all day Monday and no eating at all Tuesday until my scan at 1pm.

stability-in-lifeFirst the (mostly) good news. The brain MRI that I had back on the 4th showed that “the 8-9 mm ring-enhancing metastases in the superior cerebellar vermis is stable.” Yea! We cancer-types love the word “stable.” But of course it was tempered later in the write-up by something new: “a questionable focus of enhancement involving the subcortical anterior right temporal lobe.” Couldn’t leave well enough alone, could they? So this will be something they watch for on my next scan in October. Small stuff.

Green checkAs for the radioactive sugar-juice PET scan, my shoulder showed no seismic, er, metabolic activity indicating that my frozen shoulder is just that – a frozen shoulder. No fuzzy hiding in the tundra. So maybe with enough rehab, I can return to the softball diamond. Sorry guys, you may get me back after all one of these days.

As for the remainder of the PET results, this is where the drought ends and me being full of cr*p begins. This itsy bitsy spider got thoroughly soaked by an Full of crapearly El Nino. In addition to the eight known problem areas in and around my lungs, four newbies popped up. My pancreas, my left hip wing, my pelvis area and my right upper thigh/femur area all lit up like those Christmas LED’s I was hoping to avoid. Overall the term “intense metabolic activity” was used no less than 6 times in the write-up covering about 12 total identified locations. Although this may not be PC, I’m beginning to feel a bit like General Custer. Yet, I still have a lot more weapons in my arsenal than he did.Body spots

As it stands now, I have yet to discuss these results with my lung-onc specialist at Moores Cancer Center as she was out of town at the end of this week. I’ve been putting together a list of treatment options and other drugs/drug trials to quiz her about that might come into play. Yet from prior conversations with her, I suspect she will recommend chemotherapy. However, I may have some directed radiation treatments in my hip and upper thigh areas first. The latter area has been bothering me for a few weeks, but true to form, I thought it was from an injury from trying to leg out an infield grounder. Nyet. So I am hoping a quick zapping of that area will address that one spot as it did when I last had hip radiation. But this is all supposition at this point because I need to have that conversation first.

To add insult to injury, I picked up a nasty cold while traveling and this past week has been a challenge feeling crappy and at the same time finding out that I am full of it. Had to forego my long anticipated and planned volunteer stint this weekend at Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times as I knew I should not be around kids with compromised immune systems while I had a bad cold. One of these days I will make it back there.

I also, over the past several weeks, had noticed what appeared to be an edge of a tooth poking out through my gum sideways near where my wisdom tooth would have been if I had any, which I don’t. When I mentioned this to my lung-onc-doc, she became very concerned since being on Zometa increases the chance of developing osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ). Although I went off Zometa a few months back, apparently the half life of that drug in your jaw means that there will be residue for a long time. As for what ONJ is, you really don’t want to know. And you really do not want to Google-image it since you will ruin whatever meal is next on your agenda. And there is no cure. Lovely. Keeping my fingers crossed that there is no correlation to my alien tooth and this nasty affliction.

I saw an ortho surgeon who removed the edge of the exposed tooth so it won’t bug me any longer and I will be seeing him in a couple weeks to keep a close eye on it to be sure no infection sets in.

Netx PhaseSo we now enter a new phase in my journey, whatever it is. This is certainly the biggest challenge I have faced in the last 2 1/2 years of treatment. But even if I jump into chemo, the hoped-for result would be that it keeps the fuzzies at bay long enough until there is another new drug or treatment available to switch to. Just staying ahead of the tsunami is what I aim for.

On another note, assuming whatever treatment options are put into place allow it, I will traveling to Chicago in two weeks for training as a LVNG With Ambassador. I know a couple of my brethren that are in their own journeys will be in attendance as well. Essentially we will be offered training on how best to tell our stories and then participate in regional programs as a speaker. Should be very interesting.

So, I wish I had better news overall but this is yet again just another speed bump in my very zig-zag journey. A big speed bump, yes. But just an obstacleFrankenstein none-the-less.

But do me a favor. If you are non-local follower of my blog, please stand up. Now put your arms out like the old stereotyped picture of Frankenstein’s monster. Now wrap them around me for a virtual hug. For those that see me in person, I expect a real one. 🙂

Business as usual. Day at a time.

September 3, 2015 (Thurs) – Christmas in September? Let’s Hope Not.

Xmas Sept 3I may actually beat Target and Costco to the punch in mentioning the “C” word (Christmas, not cancer) this early in the season, and especially before Labor Day. And I’m sure there are people who would appreciate having Christmas come early. I’m just not one of them, for reasons described momentarily.

I just realized that I haven’t posted a blog in over a month. Wow. Been crazy busy at work so I guess that’s a good thing. My wife may beg to differ but hey, I’m still working full time. Plus some. Beats the alternative.

Last I left you, I was powering down a less-than-scrumptious club sandwich. Well, tomorrow we find out if I need to add another layer of Limburger Cheese. And if a fuzzy IS hiding out in the frozen tundra that is my right shoulder. Or anywhere else Human Christmas treefor that matter. Because of the uncertainty about some anomaly that showed up on my shoulder MRI, they are opting to go the whole nine yards and switch to a kitty-cat + PET scan this time around. It’s been a long time since I had one of those light-me-up radioactive sugar juice injection procedures. And that is where Christmas comes in. I really am not looking forward to a result that may have me mimicking a brightly lit LED covered (I’m nothing if not energy saving) tree. So getting lit, unlike during my college days, is not a positive thing.

Right now I am having a tough time typing this blog since I’ve been required to go on a low-carb diet all day so that no-carbs-sign-vectorfalse readings are kept to a minimum tomorrow. I guess my blood sugar must be low as I have a bit of the shakes. I never realized how tough it was for a carbivore like me to ignore the mashed potatoes I had to leave on my plate at Rotary today, the slice of birthday cake I had to pass up on in our office, or the handful of Cheez-its I was almost tempted to grab when I got home. Maybe after all of the tests tomorrow I’ll stop at KFC (that’s Kentucky Fried Chicken for you younger folks) to make up for lost time. OK Kim, just kidding…

Of course, prior to the Geiger counter clicking starting up, I have to have my regular brain MRI to check on Mr. Upstairs Fuzzy. And after those two are a wrap, head on over to UCSD for my every-twelve-week echo-echo-echocardiogram. Somewhere in that scheduling fray a regular blood workup needs to happen. And finally wrapping everything up with my regular onc-doc appointment in the late afternoon where I may, or may not get the results of my tests already. Nothing like getting everything out of the way at once. My luck, I will get the news the next day while out of town. Of course. Those of you that have been on board my fuzzy wagon for a while may recall the time I got the news while sitting on the tarmac at O’Hare Airport. That would be my infamous Chi-Town meltdown. But perhaps I’ll get good news instead and celebrate during my vacation/business trip.

InjectionAs for my shoulder, I was finally able to get approval for the fluoroscope-assisted steroid injection which I had earlier this week. Although “immediate relief” is a phrase that was dropped a lot as it relates to this procedure, I can’t say that I notice much of a difference yet. We shall see. It obviously doesn’t affect my golf swing as I actually had my second lowest round ever the other day. No numbers are being provided, however, as it really is embarrassing to claim what I had was a “good” score. But hey, I’ll take it.

I just realized that this whole blog has been a medical update. Yeech. Somebody slap my hand, will you? Or better yet, slap me upside the head. Maybe you’ll nail my fuzzy.

After all of the junk above, I must say that I am still feeling very good. My hips were giving me a bit of grief but that was self-induced and have mostly resolved themselves. My shoulder is still a question mark but overall I really cannot complain.

Off to see my sister-in-law perform this weekend in Berkeley. It will be a bit of a reunion with several family members meeting up for the event. Plus I will get to spend some quality time with my daughter in San Jose over the Labor Day weekend. Can’t wait.

Last but not least are the results of our third major remodel. Here are some pics (before and after) of our new master bath. My designer wife, who teaches PE, missed her calling.
Before and After 1 Before and After 2 Before and After 3

Business as usual. Day at a time.